If only all our rosters could be stocked with the Arian Foster’s, Calvin Johnson’s, and Jimmy Graham’s of the world. If that were the case, we’d all be winning championships and life would be grand. Unfortunately, we all have to make due with what we have. Almost everyone has a hole on their roster they’d like to fill, and while it feels nice to have a young buck like Michael Floyd or David Wilson waiting in the wings, there’s a good chance players like that are not going to help you in 2012.
If you are chasing a championship this year, but have a gaping hole on your roster, you may need to look to a member or two of the all-ugly team to get you over the hump. These guys may or may not put you over the edge, but they require a minimal investment and at worst will provide you with a stopgap starter until you make a move to fill the void.
The all-ugly team is meant to promote those who otherwise might not get a second glance. Even I don’t like all these players, but there are arguments for each, and at the right price they are each a good buy.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB BUF (PFF ADP 16.3, QB27)
If you have a hole at quarterback and are lacking ammunition to make a move, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the cheapest quarterback I would feel semi-comfortable starting on a weekly basis for 2012. If there is one thing we’ve learned in the past two years, it’s to expect a hot start from him. His 2011 slump has been attributed to four cracked ribs suffered in Week Eight against the Redskins, although he still ended up being the league leader in interceptions. Playing in the pass-happy Chan Gailey offense, Fitzpatrick will likely play from behind again in 2012, which will inflate his yardage numbers even if he continues to struggle as a quarterback.
Carson Palmer, QB OAK (PFF ADP 15.7, QB26)
If you take Carson Palmer’s 275.3 yards per game average and stretch it over a 16 game season, he was on pace for a 4,400 yard season in 2012. Factor in the fact that he sat on his couch for much of the season, learned a playbook on the fly and had never played with his teammates before this season and he has plenty of potential in the short term. I wouldn’t expect Palmer to blow the league away, but he could easily put up lower level QB1 numbers if he improves upon his 2011 numbers. He obviously needs to throw more touchdowns than interceptions in 2012 for that to happen, but he has a nice set of young weapons to rely on.
Shonn Greene, RB NYJ (PFF ADP 9.4, RB35)
I will never be mistaken for a Shonne Greene apologist (wait, I am making a case for him here), but he is a perfect buy for a running back needy contender. Greene finished as the RB20 in PPR leagues last year, and while it wasn’t pretty, he has a chance to match that and build on it this year. The counter-argument to this is that a third of Greene’s production came in a couple of games late in the season, but New York brought in offensive coordinator Tony Sparano from Miami, and you cannot ignore what Sparano did with Reggie Bush last year. Sparano will get the most he can out of Greene, and it is telling that New York did not spend a high pick on a running back in the draft. I see Greene in the same vein as Cedric Benson, as what I like to call a “volume carrier.” It will be considered a success if Greene cracks 4.0 YPC, but as long as he is in a run-heavy offense as the main back, he will remain a middling fantasy starter at worst.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB CIN (PFF ADP 10.2, RB37)
Speaking of Cedric Benson, how about his replacement in Cincinnati? Head coach Marvin Lewis has been talking up BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s ability to perform as a three-down back, and while it may be unlikely that he fills that role, he should get the bulk of the carries and has always been an effective goal-line back. Green-Ellis will get more carries than he had in New England, likely landing between 250 and 300 in 2012. He’s a cheap filler for a flex spot, and should put up RB2 numbers if he plays a big role in the Bengals offense like I expect him to.
Santonio Holmes, WR NYJ (PFF ADP 10.5, WR44)
He is just 28 and is reportedly working very hard this offseason. Many wide receivers have a bit of a diva attitude, and Holmes may be being discounted a bit too much because of his. If I had Mark Sanchez throwing me the ball, I’d be upset too. Last offseason, Greg Cosell was on Twitter touting Holmes as one of the best receivers in football, and this year Holmes is the scorn of the league. If he decides to prove everyone wrong this year, and Sanchez or Tim Tebow go to him as their main target, his numbers could rise dramatically in 2012. Holmes is a worthwhile gamble after the ninth or tenth round, and I would give up a 2013 second for him in a heartbeat if I needed a wide receiver.
Davone Bess, WR MIA (PFF ADP 14.3, WR61)
The slot machine Davone Bess had a down year in 2011 with just 51 catches and 537 yards (compared to 79/820 in 2010), but I expect the numbers to come back up in 2012, if only out of necessity. Who else is there to throw to in Miami? The new offense should be a more wide open passing attack than Bess played in before, and if he can become Ryan Tannehill’s safety valve early he should rack up the receptions. Touchdowns have always been an issue with Bess, but if he can catch 80 balls he’ll be fine. When Bess caught 79 passes in 2010 he finished as WR25, and if he becomes a focal point in Miami’s new offense he could put up similar numbers again.
Note: Wide receiver value seems to be much more at equilibrium than running back to me. While you can find middling starters like Green-Ellis and Greene after the ninth round (sometimes as late as the twelfth), old guys like Steve Smith (don’t forget he’s 33 and getting older every day) are going much earlier. As a disclaimer, I would not feel comfortable starting Bess or Holmes even as a flex in the way I would Greene or Green-Ellis.
Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL (PFF ADP 12.5, TE16)
Keep going to the well with Tony Gonzalez until it dries up. I have tried to talk myself into giving up each of the past two years, but I won’t do it again until he stops producing. Gonzalez is the perfect backup if you draft a team with Coby Fleener or another youngster as your top tight end. He will give you TE1 production until he retires it seems, and that is quite a find as late as he is being drafted. At some point Gonzalez will ride into the sunset, so don’t draft him as your main tight end, but if you are in a bind and need production this year, this is your guy.
Owen Daniels, TE HOU (PFF ADP 12.7, TE17)
Coming off a torn ACL, Owen Daniels still managed to finish as the TE13 in 2011. He should be healthier following a healthy season, and with DeVier Posey the only notable addition at wide receiver, he should be the second option in the passing game. Daniels would be best served as a spot starter on your fantasy team, but if the rest of your team is solid and you have nothing at tight end, he will do as a starter. If Daniels ever gets back to his 2008 numbers he will be a nice piece, but until then he is another stopgap player capable of filling in a hole on your roster.
Editor’s Note: Chase Wheetley can be found on Twitter @Chase_Wheetley.
- The All-Ugly Team - May 27, 2012
- Dynasty 101: Maximizing Value on Your Dynasty Roster - May 15, 2012
- Trading Tactics: Mass Trade Offers - July 20, 2011