As stated in my latest entry I have decided to write a series of columns about the top 3 draft day bargains by division. I started off with the AFC West with Eric Decker, Carson Palmer, and Malcom Floyd making the list. So now time to go to the East coast and see what the AFC East has for in terms of bargains. (all points based on ESPN standard scoring, and mocks done are 10 team league, at ESPN.com)
1. Aaron Hernandez: Am I the only one who remembers that Aaron Hernandez was 3rd in fantasy points last season among TE’s, or in other words was the top scoring TE not named Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham? I ask because I think the fact that Aaron is ranked as the 7th best TE and 93rd overall behind James Starks and Lance Moore on ESPN.com is preposterous. I suppose that many are foreseeing a decline in production this season due to the addition of Brandon Lloyd, but I am not one of those people. Lloyd will be stretching the field this season and opposing defenses will be more concerned with shutting down Gronk and Welker meaning Hernandez will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of. One trait Bill Belichick prizes in his players is versatility and Hernandez is one of the most versatile players in the league as he can be lined up next to the tackle, in the slot, and in the backfield. The departure of Green-Ellis leaves a void in the running game so I actually see Hernandez getting a decent amount of work in the backfield this season racking up some rushing yards. Most mocks I have done have him coming off the board in the 8th or 9th round (70-90 overall). I very rarely target a TE before the 6th round and considering Hernandez can be selected this late he likely will be the TE I target in my drafts.
2. David Nelson: Nelson is not nearly as bad as many people think and is going undrafted in almost every mock I have so far. ESPN ranks him as their 79th best WR…31 slots lower than his 48th place finish in 2011. Last season he finished with 61 catches for 658 yards and 8 touchdowns. Fantasy wise his numbers were good for 9 games last season with at least 6 fantasy points and 4 with 9 or more. Donald Jones appears to have the the number 2 WR spot in Buffalo but I still see Nelson having a better season. He is a great red zone threat standing at 6’5 and he was the tied for 4th with Calvin Johnson for targets inside an opponents 10 yard line. Stevie Johnson will be getting the majority of the coverage leaving Nelson with plenty of one-on-one opportunities to use his big frame to and make plays. He is entering his 3rd season in the NFL, the season that most WRs have breakout seasons, and while his production may be some what limited I don’t think its a stretch for him to post 700 plus yards and 7 or more touchdowns this season, making him incredible value for someone who can be taken in the last round or on waivers this season. Remember his name as you could definitely do worse with your final pick in the draft.
3. C.J. Spiller: Spiller was one of the most productive fantasy players from week 12 and beyond after filling in for an injured Fred Jackson. He scored 89 of his 108 fantasy points (81.6%) in the final 6 games of the season averaging just under 15 points per game. Spiller has the tools to be a featured back in the league though that likely won’t be the case in 2012 as a healthy Fred Jackson will take the lion share of the carries. He certainly showed that he deserves more than the 3.1 touches per game he was getting prior to Jackson’s injury. I see the Bills getting creative with Spiller possibly incorporating two back sets, splitting him out wide, and in a variety of ways to get him the ball in space so he can showcase his big play ability. If he can get around a dozen or so touches a game I feel he can easily out play his current ADP of the 8th and 9th round. He definitely has better upside than the players like Mark Ingram and Steven Ridley who ESPN have ranked ahead of him. If you have Jackson on your roster you may want to consider taking him in the 7th round as he will be an extremely valuable handcuff as Jackson is aging and coming off of injury.
All three of these players have great value this season and can easily outplay their current ADP’s. Remember these names as they have potential to add good depth to your roster and are better than many players that are being taken ahead of them. As always comments are encouraged.