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Hidden Treasures

Editor’s Note:  Our newest writer, Thomas Casale, runs a fantasy football blog at www.ThePigskinGuy.com. His column, “The Fire Sale,” is featured on CNN/SI every week during the NFL season. Thomas started writing about fantasy football in 1998 and his work has been published on a number of different web sites and magazines.   We’re excited to announce his addition to the DLF team and post the first of what we hope to be countless insightful articles, exclusively found on DLF.

One of the best parts of playing in a dynasty league is trying to find those hidden gems. I always say I love to win my dynasty league, but I love playing in it even more. Making trades, scouring the waiver wire for the next big thing and loading up the back end of my roster are the reasons why I play fantasy football.

When looking for a player who has a chance to surprise further down the depth chart, fantasy owners need that guy to have a combination of talent and opportunity. It’s an ongoing process, but if you were one of the people who hit on Miles Austin or Victor Cruz, it’s a great feeling.

Here are four players early on in the summer I believe have a chance to help dynasty league owners in the near future if a few things break the right way:

Joe Webb, QB MIN

I know Webb is a quarterback some dynasty owners are holding onto as a developmental guy and I say give him one more season before throwing in the towel.

Christian Ponder will be the Vikings starter, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to survive the season. Even with the addition of first-round pick Matt Kalil, Minnesota’s offensive line still has a lot of holes.

Let’s be honest, by playing the NFC North, the Vikings will have to throw the ball a lot to keep up with the high-powered offenses of Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay. While the Vikings offensive line should be improved, Ponder is still going to be running for his life if Minnesota is playing from behind and forced to throw.

Ponder got beaten up pretty good as a rookie and overall there are a lot of question marks surrounding this Vikings offense. How much better will the line be this season? Will another receiver step up to take pressure off Percy Harvin? Will Adrian Peterson be healthy to start the season? Will Leslie Frazier be fired before Thanksgiving?

Teams with that kind of uncertainty are where guys can emerge during the season to really help fantasy owners. Webb is a great athlete, but he was extremely raw coming out of UAB and he’s still a work in progress. Is Webb a long-term answer at quarterback? I don’t know about that, but if he plays he will always have some fantasy value because of his ability to run.

Regardless of what you think about Tim Tebow as an NFL quarterback, he’ll always have value in the fantasy world when he starts because of his rushing yards and touchdowns. Webb isn’t Tebow, but his rushing numbers would be an added bonus for fantasy owners. Plus, with the Vikings weaknesses on the offensive line, Webb’s ability to avoid the rush and throw on the run may actually help the offense if Ponder goes down.

Right now, Sage Rosenfels is listed as the Vikings backup. Although, if something should happen to Ponder I believe the team will turn to Webb because of his mobility and athleticism. We know what Rosenfels brings to the table and it isn’t a whole heck of a lot. If Minnesota is 1-5 and Ponder gets injured, look for Webb to get the call.

I won’t be surprised at all if Webb ends up helping dynasty league owners by the end of the season. Minnesota is one of those teams where a lot of things can change in a hurry. If you’re holding onto Webb, I would give him one more year and see what happens in Minnesota. It could pay off for you.

Andre Holmes, WR DAL

I’ve been a Dallas fan for over 30 years and there are certain things I know about that team. I know they’ll never win another Super Bowl in my lifetime because of the way Jerry Jones runs the organization and I know Kevin Ogletree can’t play.

Only in Dallas would Ogletree still be on the team. The guy has been given chances to produce and has shown no signs of being an NFL-caliber receiver. Last year against the Redskins when the Cowboys had injuries at receiver, Ogletree struggled so badly running the wrong routes that he had to be replaced by a guy Dallas signed earlier that week. His name was Laurent Robinson.

In other words, Ogletree knew less about the offense than a receiver who had been on the team for five days. In my opinion, the Cowboys third receiver job will come down to Holmes and Dwayne Harris. I just don’t believe Ogletree will ever produce, even if he ends up winning the job initially.

Holmes has been receiving some rave reviews because of his play in OTAs. Take that with a grain of salt, though. A lot of guys look good playing against air. Still, Holmes has physical skills. It’s hard to find receivers who are 6’5″, 208 pounds and run a 4.4 40. Those are impressive measurables.

Holmes played at Division II Hillsdale College where he caught 181 passes for 2,444 yards and 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons. He spent last year on Dallas’ practice squad for the first 13 games before being signed to the active roster in December to prevent another team from stealing him away.

Holmes is certainly an intriguing prospect on paper, but I also like the fact that he’s 6’5″. When the Cowboys used a three-receiver set last year, Robinson lined up on the outside with Miles Austin moving into the slot a majority of the time. Dallas likes to use Austin in the slot next to Jason Witten so defenses have a tougher time taking away both players. Holmes has the size where he can be utilized in a similar role as Robinson was last year, allowing Austin to be used more out of the slot.

Dallas drafted Danny Coale out of Virginia Tech in Round five, but he broke his foot in May, so the rookie will already be playing catch-up once he returns in training camp. Harris was very productive at East Carolina, but he struggled to pick up the offense in his first season. I believe out of this group that Holmes is the favorite to be the Cowboys third receiver this season.

I have no idea if any of the guys vying for that third receiver job can play, but Holmes has the most upside simply because of his size, speed and leaping ability. If you’re in a dynasty league and looking for a receiver who may come out of nowhere and be a fantasy factor, Holmes is a solid candidate when you combine physical skills and opportunity. I think he’s worth a shot.

Charles Clay, H-Back MIA

I actually covered the Tulsa football team when Clay was in college, so I’m very familiar with him.

Clay played both running back and H-back at Tulsa, but I always thought he was miscast as a running back. Tulsa fans heard that from me virtually every week. Clay was such a productive receiver from the H-back position, so I always questioned why the team even bothered using him in the backfield at all. It made no sense to me.

He has really soft hands, so catching the ball isn’t a problem for him. Also, because he used to play running back, Clay is a monster to bring down in the open field. I know a lot of people don’t see Tulsa play every week but trust me, he had some of the most impressive open field runs in college football during his time there.

Clay is listed as a fullback, but he’s going to line up at different positions for Miami, so in reality he’s an H-back. Now let’s look at the Dolphins tight ends. Anthony Fasano is what he is at this point. Fasano is a good blocker, but he’s nothing special as a receiver and I don’t think he really fits into what new coach Joe Philbin wants to do on offense.

Some people like rookie tight end Michael Egnew. I’m not one of those people. I certainly don’t see Egnew being a major factor as a rookie. Very few rookie tight ends have fantasy value to begin with and in my opinion Egnew’s game still needs a lot of work.

That leaves Clay as a bit of a wild card. When I break down teams that don’t have a lot of playmakers on offense like Miami, I look for guys who have the ability to step up and make plays. I think Clay is one of those guys. I believe Philbin will try to get the ball into the hands of the few playmakers he has on the offensive side of the ball as often as possible. That could mean a much bigger role for Clay in the passing game.

Clay may end up being a guy without a position in the NFL, but I’ve always thought he could excel as an H-back in the right system. Now with Philbin in Miami, the stars may be aligning for Clay. Keep your eye on him.

Josh Cooper, WR CLE

Cooper is in an interesting situation with the Browns. I personally was surprised that Cooper wasn’t drafted, but at the end of the day he ended up in a perfect place for him to succeed.

Because Cooper is white and has lined up in the slot once in his life he’ll obviously be compared to Wes Welker by everyone in the media. Cooper isn’t nearly as quick as Welker, though. The guy he reminds me of is Bobby Engram, who was a darn good slot receiver in his own right.

Again, I’m always looking for opportunity. There’s no better opportunity for a receiver that displays any kind of ability than in Cleveland. Other than Greg Little, the Browns don’t have much at receiver. I believe this is the tenth straight year Mohamed Massaquoi is supposed to have a breakout season. Sure, call me when he learns how to catch and run a route and then maybe I’ll listen.

Now Cooper may not even make the team, but he’s battling with guys like Jordan Norwood, Carlton Mitchell and Travis Benjamin for reps. Maybe one of those players will end up being a star, but on paper that isn’t a very daunting list. Plus, Cooper has more experience running routes out of the slot than any of them, so he has a bit of a leg up in that department.

Then there’s the most obvious plus in Cooper’s corner; he was college teammates with Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State. Anyone who’s watched the Cowboys play over the last couple of years knows Weeden and Cooper already have tremendous chemistry together. Being a rookie quarterback and not having a lot of accomplished receivers to begin with, there’s a good chance Weeden will be looking Cooper’s way a lot if the two end up on the field together.

We’re obviously looking for longshots here and Cooper certainly qualifies, but I like his prospects in Cleveland. He’ll need to have an impressive camp to make the team but if he does, Cooper will be a guy to watch in PPR leagues.

If a receiver is going to come out of nowhere and help fantasy owners, it could very well be in Cleveland where there’s a lot of uncertainty at the position. If you’re searching for a lottery ticket at receiver to grab and stash, track Cooper’s progress closely over the next couple of months.

Follow Thomas Casale on Twitter @thepigskinguy.

 

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Daniel Malone
10 years ago

Seconded on Clay.

William Latin
Reply to  Daniel Malone
10 years ago

Can you name me any fantasy relevant H-backs?

Pikachu
Reply to  William Latin
10 years ago

Cooley early in his NFL career was one.

Josh
Reply to  William Latin
10 years ago

Aaron Hernandez

Greg Lippincott
10 years ago

Love the article. Got a question though? Who do you like better as a stash for a competing team, Armon Binns, or Andre Holmes?

HoppaLong CassID
Reply to  thepigskinguy
10 years ago

So much for that article. 🙂

Just revise it to add an (*) to Holmes and then reference Binns.

Problem (with creditability) solved.

Long writing career extended.

greg saunders
10 years ago

Woo hoo

The Fire Sale is back!!!!!

Bob Ray
10 years ago

I’ve always contended that if Danny Amendola can make an NFL team, that Josh Cooper can.

ben nelson
10 years ago

Unfortunately these guys are already rostered in my league. I’ve have to go deeper for treasure hunting.

Boomer
10 years ago

Damn. How big of rosters do you guys play with? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but the guys mentioned are pretty extreme longshots.

Ryan Krcil
Reply to  Boomer
10 years ago

60 person rosters here 😀

ben nelson
Reply to  Boomer
10 years ago

12 team, 49 man roster including IDP.

tebow
10 years ago

what about dan herron? i was looking at him because the talent in front of him isnt that great

Scott
Reply to  tebow
10 years ago

Dan Herron isnt that great

Scott
10 years ago

Im gonna say 0-4 on these guys. Sure Holmes in dallas is a possibility, but everybody’s looking at that DAL WR3 position as a fantasy gem because of last year in that offense. But, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was a gem more because of L.Robinson than the anything, and how he and his skills was a perfect fit for that offense. I mean there wasnt even good production at the DAL WR.2 spot for a long time before Austin/Bryant even (anyone remember Crayton? Blah). I dont think some random can replace that production. You would need another talent like Robinson.

*Rant*
In my humble opinion, I actually believe the Boys’ would have been better off quietly signing him to a modest contract to replace Austin, and trade Austin away for a goldmine. Who’s really to say Austin is the superior player? Sure he’s been good in stretches but one could say the same about Robinson. Robinsons always been a good player when on the field, plus, was a more coveted prospect than Austin coming into the league to begin with. I think the Cowboys would have been better off selling Austin and sliding Robinson into a starting role full-time, he so well performed in last year. Instead they’re stuck with a monster Austin contract, no Robinson and no compensation for losing him. Terrible GM’ing.
*Rant*

Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

you may not be so far off with the rant. many cowboy fans feel the same?

Alex in Tulsa
10 years ago

As an OSU fan I can tell you that Cooper is a stud. He could be a great value in a PPR league.

suchislife
10 years ago

Vick Ballard anyone?

Joquie Bell?

Tandon Doss?

suchislife
Reply to  suchislife
10 years ago

Best one on here is Joe Webb. If Tavarious Jackson wasn’t in Minn. he could have had a fair shake to develop a couple of years ago.

Love this site! Thanks for digging up these guys for us! But, too much digging can leave you stuck in a grave 😉

Clyde
Reply to  suchislife
10 years ago

WEBB is a fan favorite here in Minnesota… PONDER may go down sooner than planned… if you’ve got the room… pick up WEBB

sixshooter
Reply to  Clyde
10 years ago

I hate handcuffing RB’s bad enough but handcuffing a QB is even worse. I am just not big on stashing a player that really has little chance of playing unless somebody gets injured. Webb falls into that category.

The Vikings drafted Ponder last year and the reports that I have heard is that they like him and I thought he looked decent for a rookie QB. Better than most rookies and better than Gabbert.

I don’t believe the Vikings would have drafted one of the better rookie QB’s in the first round if they felt that Webb was starting material.

It would definitely have to be a deeeeeper league than the 12 team, 27 man roster league I am in today before I would stash a QB who is on a team that just drafted a QB with the 12th overall pick the year before.

john harstad
10 years ago

I agree Scott..
Cowboys should have traded Austin and kept LR..

jeff hemlick
10 years ago

I can understand SOME of the criticism of Austin. No one here can say that he is not a talented WR though. He just happens to disapear for stretches at a time and that is absolutely infuriating. If i remember correctly last year it was a hammie problem, and who DIDN’T have a hammie problem last year. I don’t think he is tradeable though with his contract.

With that said, i still like him better than Dez. When will they get a full season out of him? I am a Dallas fan and i try to avoid them both in fantasy.

Robinson was great in the role he was in last year and only time will tell if he is the real deal. My suspicions say no. There has to be something wrong with a guy who bounces around like him. It was too easy for Jerry to let him go.

Ogletree….come on!!!

Maybe the one of young guys can step into the WR3 job. My hope is actually Radway, but we will Have to wait to see how it plays out.

Scott
Reply to  jeff hemlick
10 years ago

Im not saying Austin isnt talented – trading him would have given back a goldmine in return – Im saying keeping a cheaper, just as, if not more productive receiver in his place would have been a better move. The offense was clicking with Robinson, and no one can argue his weekly production wasnt top15, top10 if I remember correctly. Now their left with nothing but Austin and his huge deal and I think thats a big mistake.

Robinson was open to signing a deal in Dal, but they low-balled him and allowed him to hit the open market. Jax overpaid, and Robinson’s not gonna turn down that kind of money, so he left to be their WR1 at the time. To me, that whole situation playing out the way it did is whats wrong with Dal, and a reason to not put too much weight into their WR3 position right now.

sixshooter
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

Well the whole Bryant vs Austin debate seems to be a popular one these last couple weeks. As a matter of fact there is a video debate of this on the NFL’s website today!

It really sounds like the ‘boys are feeling that Bryant is going to have a monster year and may be the #1 receiver on the team based on a few stories I have been reading.

SJ
Reply to  sixshooter
10 years ago

Im not really sure what this has to do with Bryant..

sixshooter
Reply to  SJ
10 years ago

Huh? Jeff’s initial post mentions how he likes Austin better than Bryant so I was only pointing out that the Austin vs Bryant topic seems to be a popular one lately.

Not really sure why you bothered posting what you did quite honestly!

Eddy Rohrmeier
10 years ago

Better deeeep WR sleeper for this year Homes or BJ Cunningham? PPR

Scott
10 years ago

Cunningham I like, but I also think Fuller could sneak up and contribute the most out of prospective rookie Dolphin WR’s this year (Cunningham, Fuller, R.Matthews). But it could be a longshot.

Ocho bothers me some – if he ‘wins’ (see: player to bring in fans) a starting role, he may not get benched for under-performing, as long as hes creating excitement. Sadly I think thats what the Dolphin’s organization has become these days. I think they’ll actually cater to dumbing down the offense to let him freestyle plays like he did in Cin. Hartline seems likely at the other spot and Bess will likely keep the slot job, although I’m far from sold to both. I just think one of the young guys will get a chance to play out of those three. We’ll see

I’d also nominate Lockette (SEA), Morgan (NO), Burton (Min), and mayybeee Brazill (Ind) as some potential deep deep deep sleeper WR’s this year. They’re cheap and could contribute a bit and maybe gain some more value going into next year – everything that dynasty’s all about.

sixshooter
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

It is quite obvious the fish signed Ocho for entertainment value just as much as they signed him to be a starting wide receiver so they killed two birds with one stone and I actually think it was a brilliant move on their part. Remember he was signed just after they announced that they are going to do the Hard Knocks thing on HBO. They needed to bring some excitement to the team and Ocho was just the guy!

Other than Ocho, Bush and Lauren Tannehill, the Dolphins really do have a pretty boring team!

bbwayne
10 years ago

What I learned out of this article is to target Austin! If he is going to be in the slot, then we have a PPR machine with speed plus he’s looking great in OTA’s. Throw in a couple of reverses and we have a Harvin. Hamstrings vs. Headaches?

10 years ago

I would nominate Adrien Robinson at TE. Marcellus Bennett has a long history of unfulfilled expectations, and he showed up 291 pounds to OTAs. Ballard is gone. Beckum is not special. Pascoe is not much of a receiving TE. Jerry Reese called Robinson the JPP of TEs. I think Robinson has intriguing talent, and not much competition. If he shows superior skills, he could rise up quickly.

Ken Dogson
10 years ago

Vick Ballard, RB, Colts.

James Casey, RB/TE, Texans.

Niles Davis, WR to TE convert for the Redskins.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. He’s perfect for a WC offense. Vick is fragile and Kafka won’t be the #2 for more than a season or two.

Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles. A long shot.

And if your league is really, really deep, BJ Coleman, QB, Packers. He has elite arm strength and MM will teach him how to be a QB. Then he’ll get traded/move on and be a starter somewhere.

sixshooter
10 years ago

Anybody familiar with how the RB situation is going in New England? I have Ridley but am considering picking up this Brandon Bolden character out of Ole Miss after reading a piece on him today and watching some highlights of his college days…..holy cow! He hasn’t had a ton of carries but has never averaged less than 4.8 yards.

Also read some on Deonte Thompson who is a WR on the Ravens. Sounds like he has a decent chance of making the roster but with the recent signing of Jacoby Jones, the emergence of Tandon Doss, the expectations for Torrey Smith and still having Anquan Boldin on their roster, I just don’t like his chances. Sounds like he may make the roster as a return guy if he beats out Jones and David Reed. The guy is FAST……4.23 fast!

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