Fantasy football draft season is in full swing, so at this point we have a general idea of which players are rising up draft boards thanks to preseason hype, and which players may still be a value pick.
So let’s take a look at a few players who, as of August 27th, still present great value as potential sleepers and breakouts relative to their draft position.
Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
According to the ESPN.com draft results, Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams is outside the top 100 players drafted in 2013 fantasy football drafts. He’s the 36th ranked receiver, which seems odd given his top 20 finish last year.
Don’t follow the trend. Draft Mike Williams.
Williams is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL at leaping up to grab passes, particularly in the end zone, and he is therefore one of the more reliable red zone targets in the league. Williams has 23 touchdowns through his first three seasons, and can be counted on for at least 7 or 8 more in 2013.
Among the players ahead of Williams on the draft board are rookie Tavon Austin, oft-injured Miles Austin, and one-year wonder Sidney Rice. Williams has already shown in his three years in the NFL that he has the touchdown scoring ability to set himself apart from this group, and there’s no reason you should leave him on the board with any of your 7th or 8th round picks this year.
Daryl Richardson, Running Back, St. Louis Rams
As Dave Mattek pointed out not so long ago, Richardson is a starting running back available late in drafts, when most players are stuck getting second and third wide receivers that will ultimately disappoint.
There is no better value on a starting running back in fantasy football than Richardson, as ESPN.com still shows him being drafted as the 31st running back off the board, which puts him behind a myriad of injury-prone and unproven players in less than ideal situations.
Richardson will be the featured back in an offense with an improved offensive line, and what should be a decent passing game that may help take some pressure off the running game.
He’s not the biggest or strongest back in the NFL, but when you’re looking for a running back in the middle rounds, you often have the choice of Richardson or injury-prone nightmares like Rashard Mendenhall and Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson may see fewer carries per game than either of these veteran backs, but he’ll also play more games, and has more raw athleticism and skill at this early stage in his career.
Bilal Powell, Running Back, New York Jets
Yes, the New York Jets are likely going to be a bad offensive team this season. But the same team that provided fantasy relevance to Shonn Greene will do the same this year, and it won’t be with Chris Ivory.
The idea of Chris Ivory is great; a hard-running tailback with a combination of speed and strength. But the reality is that he’s spend more time on the injury report than the field over the last two years, and has no history to prove he’ll be a reliable, every down back.
That’s where Bilal Powell comes in. As I pointed out in an article for numberFire.com, Powell has shown an ability to catch the football (something Ivory has never done) and has been an efficient runner as well. And with Geno Smith likely playing quarterback for the Jets this season, there will likely be better opportunities for Powell than there were for Shonn Greene in 2012.
So in the late rounds of your draft, you have a chance to get a player who could be the Alfred Morris of 2013 by selecting Bilal Powell. Don’t let him hit the waiver wire, take him late, stash him away, and watch him help you win your league.