Twitter has been an amazing tool for fantasy sports enthusiasts. It’s paramount when getting information quicker than your competition and is the only place in town where you can go from talking fantasy football to talking about “Saved By The Bell” within four tweets. Twitter is also where I found my love for writing. I would have never started this unique journey had it not been for Twitter- so blame them when you read my work.
I posed the following question to my Twitter followers one week: “Who are your biggest concerns going into the 2013 fantasy football season?” I’ve never asked questions like that on Twitter, but thought why not? The results varied and responses were all across the board. As I previously stated, Twitter is such an invaluable tool, especially for fantasy sports, that it seems like I should be asking these types of questions more frequently.
That got me thinking.
For this weekly series, I decided to take some of the most popular questions floating around Twitter and post my own viewpoints on them here on DLF. Remember, if you have specific questions, Tim Stafford answers all the mailbag questions for DLF and he’s an excellent source for information that can help you in your decision making this off-season.
@FinzZombie asks: Is Danario Alexander a number one wide receiver?
Alexander is an interesting name that will be discussed by many dynasty owners this off-season, and for good reason. When he was signed by San Diego off the streets in October, no one could have predicted the fantasy goodies he would giveth to those who took a chance on him. Less than a month after being signed, Alexander exploded onto the fantasy radar in week ten against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching five balls for 134 yards and a touchdown. In that game, Alexander’s first catch (an acrobatic one at that) went for an 80-yard touchdown as he broke two tackles along the way. Needless to say, the Twitter machine was turned on end.
“DX” was the most-added player that week and ended up averaging nearly 12 points a game (seventh best among wide receivers) for his owners in the nine games he played in. What’s even more impressive is he averaged that total while being held catchless in week 15.
As I eluded to in my last article, Alexander and Philip Rivers were PFF’s most dynamic duo in the league during the aforementioned stretch of games. The two combined for a 134.1 WR rating, connecting on 37 of 54 targets for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Alexander was also the 17th ranked wide receiver for yards per route run at 2.1. It was a breakout season for Alexander, but did the dynasty world hit bedrock or was this just a season only redrafters would be able to enjoy?
The biggest knock on Alexander has been his degenerate left knee (he’s had five surgeries on that knee in three years). He came into the league in 2010, signed by the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent because during the week of the Senior Bowl, DX injured his knee, thus plummeting his draft stock. Since the injury, Alexander has yet to play a full season, frequently showing up on gameday injury reports as “out.” No one has ever questioned his talent, only his durability.
Looking at 2013, the Chargers have fired Norv Turner and hired former Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy. McCoy led the Broncos to the fourth-best offense in the NFL, largely in part to having Peyton Manning as his quarterback. He was also an integral part of transforming the Broncos’ offense into a read-option when Tim Tebow was in town as well. He knows how to utilize his players’ talents and will feature Alexander as long as he’s able to stay on the field.
Vincent Brown will be back (and healthy) which will be a huge shot in the arm for the Chargers offense as well. With Antonio Gates on the down slope of his career, there should be plenty of opportunities for Alexander to put up WR1 type numbers.
Would I value Alexander as a WR1? I wouldn’t, and I doubt others in your leagues will, either. He’s certainly someone I’d want on my team as a WR2 because has shown he can put up WR1 numbers, but having that many surgeries on one knee in that short amount of time scares me. If for some reason people in your league value DX as a WR1, I’d trade him while his value through the roof. I don’t expect him to give you a full season of production, ever, because of the chronic knee condition. Sell high my friend, but do NOT sell low.
@Jordan_TC2 asks: Will Vernon Davis actually do something productive in 2013 or will he continue to anger me every Sunday?
I touted Davis as an elite tight end option this preseason, and did he ever disappoint. He started the season strong, catching 13 balls for 169 yards and four touchdowns (a 13.6 standard scoring average) in the team’s first three games. Then, he got Dennis Pitta’d, or is it the other way around? Either way, he had only one game where he scored in double digits over the next six games.
Exit Alex Smith, enter Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick would surely vault Davis back into elite status again, right? In Kaepernick’s first start, he connected with VD for six receptions, 83 yards and one touchdown. Davis owners were once again giddy for their man from Maryland. In the next six games, Davis averaged one point per game. One. Six games, six receptions, 61 yards, zero touchdowns, averaging just under two targets a game to close out the regular season.
But then the postseason began.
Davis and Kaepernick were on the same page as evidenced by his production differential. In their three postseason games, Davis caught 12 passes on 19 targets for 254 yards and a touchdown. Davis also had one more 100 yard receiving game (two) than he did during the entire regular season (one). More importantly, Kaepernick connected with Davis on multiple passes over 20 yards – this is where they need to be on the same page if Davis is to become the tight end his owners want/need him to be. Even during the regular season, Davis had the third best catch rate for tight ends on passes of 20 yards or more at a 54.5% clip. Kaepernick was the best quarterback in the league on deep passing, completing on 19 of 33 throws for five touchdowns – that’s a completion percentage of 60.6%. For comparison’s sake, Aaron Rodgers was second to Kaepernick, completing on 53.2% of his deep passes.
I think we can look at what Davis has done recently to get an idea on his outlook for 2013. Kaepernick will continue to grow and develop as an NFL quarterback. With the emergence of Michael Crabtree and an always solid running game with Frank Gore and company, Davis will have a bounce back year looking more like his 2009 self (78/965/13) than his 2012 self.
I’ll buy the 29 year old on the cheap for what should be another two to three years of top five production.
@HayesBundy asks: Will David Wilson emerge as a lead back in 2013?
I’d like to direct you to the DLF Podcast for some thoughts about Wilson from C.D. Carter, Tim Stafford, and Jarrett Behar. At about the 69:30 mark, they discuss the value of Wilson all owners should give a listen to.
There’s only a small sample size to analyze when talking Wilson. What we do know is as follows:
1.) He wasn’t a good pass protector
2.) He clearly fell out of Tom Coughlin’s favor when he fumbled in week one (pass protection and ball security are two traits that are imperative to have when playing for Coughlin)
3.) he’s one of the most electric players the NFL has to offer.
As the weeks went on, Coughlin began loosening the reigns on the Virginia Tech rookie. In the final four weeks of the season, Wilson carried the ball 43 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns (5.7 YPC). During those weeks, Wilson owners salivated at the possibility he could deliver top ten running back numbers for their fake teams in 2013.
Matt Waldman, a highly respected scout I follow on the Twitter and friend of us here at DLF, had this to say about Wilson before the 2012 NFL draft:
“Wilson’s quickness, speed, balance and stop-start agility are among the best in the country, and it makes him a special athlete/runner in the open field. Get him in space and he’s a nightmare to bring down. When he’s disciplined about what he’s doing, he has the pad level, acceleration and technique to be productive as a between-the-tackles, chain-moving runner.”
So we know the talent is there, but will the opportunity be there as well?
Ahmad Bradshaw and his foot can’t seem to stay healthy and are the only obstacle standing in between Wilson and his fantasy owners. The soon-to-be 27 year old hasn’t played a full slate of games since 2010 and while he clearly has some juice left in those legs, it’s only a matter of time before he concedes his number one status to the prodigal fantasy son, Wilson.
A very telling stat to take into consideration when predicting Bradshaw’s future demise is his elusive rating (a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers). Per PFF, with the formula being [(Missed Tackles Rush + Missed Tackles Rec) / (Rushes + Receptions)] * (Yards per Carry after Contact / Att. * 100):
Bradshaw has clearly lost a step and wasn’t able to make tacklers miss like we’re so used to seeing from him.
With that being said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say believe Wilson will be the lead back next season- or at the very least, the better side of a 60/40 split. Pass protection can be taught and Coughlin fixed Tiki Barber’s fumbling issues. The Giants used a first round draft pick on Wilson, so he’s not going to be sitting on the sidelines unless he does absolutely nothing to better himself this off-season.
He’s too dynamic of a runner to not be used more in his second year. In 2012, per PFF, Wilson rushed the ball 71 times. Of those 71 rushes, he broke off a run of 15+ yards six times. Those six rushes of 15+ yards was tied with Trent Richardson (267 carries), DeMarco Murray (161 carries), and Jonathan Dwyer (156 carries) – that’s an impressive stat.
When it comes to valuing Wilson for 2013, the sky seems to be the limit. In Ryan McDowell’s recent dynasty startup mock drafts, Wilson is being drafted as the RB14 with an ADP of 31.67, or in the middle part of the third round. While that might seem lofty to most dynasty enthusiasts, I’m sure that ADP will get even closer into the second round by the time June rolls around.
The Giants haven’t had the propensity to churn out top ten running backs for fantasy owners in recent years, but they’ve never had a talent like David Wilson either. I expect big things out of Wilson in 2013 and beyond and will attempt to get him on every roster I possibly can.
If you have any questions you’d like answered on “The Pulse of the Twitterverse,” follow me on Twitter @Chad_Scott13 and I’ll do my best to get to your questions this off-season.
Editor’s Note: We’ll have more on David Wilson with a special write-up in the coming days.