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Second and Third Year Player Development: Week One

Editor’s Note: We are very excited to welcome Andy Miley to the DLF Family. Andy has been a leader in providing fantasy football information for years and is well respected in the industry. He contacted us last week and after some discussion, we came to an agreement that DLF and Andy were a match made in Dynasty Fantasy Football Heaven. You’ll see Andy contribute along with all our new writers and Senior Group to provide the single best resource for dynasty leagues on the planet.

First of all, I am very excited to join the ranks of Dynasty League Football. This is the premier site dedicated to my favorite type of league – dynasty! If you would all indulge me, I would like to give you some background on who I am and why I am so passionate about the game of football.   As someone who has worked with people working the steps to recovery, here I go….

The game of football has been my passion in life since age five. I was fortunate to be born in Ann Arbor, Michigan while my parents were going to school at the University of Michigan. We later moved to Smithville, Ohio which is less than 30 miles from Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the age of seven, I was blessed to be able to go to eight Ohio State vs. Michigan football games as my grandfather was an alumnus of Ohio State. So needless to say, football has always been in my blood.

The concept of fantasy football was crazy when I first heard about it back in 1990. I was a junior in college and I wasn’t interested in it at all. Football wasn’t about stats, it was out smarting and out muscling the competition. The next year I picked up a fantasy magazine, and ended up starting a league. Several years after that, the explosion of the internet caused me to really step up my game. I was one of those players in the early pre-internet days that went to the newstand to read all the sports sections of each paper they had to gleam more information than anyone else.

Fast forward to 2012, I am a fully committed addict as I am in 13 leagues, nine dynasty. I took on the challenge of joining two 32 team dynasty leagues this year. These are really just 16 team leagues with doubles of each player. I love having 53 roster spots and starting 11 IDPs. I have been a commissioner of a few leagues, written league rules from scratch, been a part of several league steering committees, made so many trades, and helped replace owners, etc.

I am willing to help anyone with any question that I can answer. Hopefully my 20+ years of experience (nine of them in dynasty) will be benefit some or all of you.


In this weekly column, I will explore some young players who haven’t made much of an impact to date. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap/moderate trade. Acquiring these players could decide how well your dynasty/keeper team does for the next few years.

Andrew Hawkins WR, CIN

He certainly took the fantasy world by storm on the first Monday Night Football game by catching eight out of his nine targets. Hawkins, a 26 year old, isn’t a young second year player as he played in the CFL for two years and starred on the Spike Network before making his way to the NFL. The former runner-up on Michael Irvin’s failed reality tv show took the slot role and made it his own. Hawkins is a very fluid athlete who can create space from the defensive backs. He catches the ball away from his body, but does not have much in physical strength and toughness to break tackles. While he did not overly impress anyone with his run blocking, he did well enough to stay on the field regardless of down and distance.

Defenses will continue to focus on AJ Green with double coverage every game, so Hawkins will usually be left one on one with a nickel cornerback. This is a matchup that favors him and the Bengals. I have my doubts he will be the number two passing target every week for Cincinnati with the talented Jermaine Gresham at tight end. I’m convinced that Hawkins will be a great fantasy play when the opposing defense have a strong cover cornerback to counteract Green. I doubt that he will get nine targets each week; however, six passing targets should be easy to support. This amount of targets should make him a bye week starter or have flex consideration most weeks. Hawkins may still be on your waiver wire or just recently plucked off the wire, so throw some blind bidding down or try to make a small trade to get him while his value is still low.

Emmanuel Sanders WR, PIT

He had a decent start to his season against the Broncos on Sunday night when he caught half of his eight targets for a modest 55 yards. There seems to be much uncertainty found with the Steelers offense, both in the running and passing games. This is even more clear when the Steelers offensive line suffers injuries, like they did against Denver. Heath Miller’s role then shifts from possession tight end to would be blocker to help protect Ben Roethlisberger and seal off running lanes instead of running routes.

The Steelers tend to lineup in three wide receiver formations to stretch out the defense they are facing. This usually puts Sanders against the opponents’ weakest defender in one on one coverage, because defenses usually have a safety help over the top with coverage on Mike Wallace and need to put their best cover corner to handle Antonio Brown alone. Sanders has not been very healthy in his career so far, but it speaks volumes that when Pittsburgh did not know if Wallace would holdout the first ten games, Coach Tomlin had complete faith in Sanders. If the Steelers do not re-sign or franchise tag Wallace next year, it will be Sanders time to shine as he was considered the more physically gifted athlete over Brown. He makes a great number four or five fantasy wide receiver as his value week to week is not as a starter unless Brown or Wallace suffer an injury. Make a trade for him now while his value is the lowest, because after an injury to either Brown or Wallace his value will skyrocket.

Dennis Pitta TE, BAL

Now many dynasty owners will get excited with his game of five receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown on Monday Night Football. He seemed to be forgotten by the Bengals as he was running down the seam while the defense concentrated on Ray Rice and Torrey Smith. Although he can line up on the line, in the backfield, or in the slot, Pitta is still just a guy with great hands and is very limited after the catch.

The best way I can describe him is that he is a true possession only tight end. There is almost no wiggle to his game; however, he is quite effective finding soft spots in the zone and sitting down to give his quarterback, Joe Flacco, a safety blanket. The Ravens may look to limit the workload of Rice who has received well over 1,100 touches since he entered the league in 2008. Pitta is very effective with screens and the short passing game so he might see an uptick in targets to keep Rice healthy.

His counterpart, Ed Dickson, is a better blocker and has better downfield ability, but can be plagued with stone hands. If the game against the Bengals is any indication, I would expect Anquan Boldin to be slowly phased out as he was looking a bit older and slower to me. Pitta is a perfect number two tight end or a great third tight end for your dynasty team. I just acquired him of the waiver wire this week for the cost of $1 in blind bidding cash.

We’ll see you next week as we break down some more of your players in this weekly series. You can follow Andy on Twitter – @AndrewMiley.

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Bryan Fontaine
9 years ago

Nice work Andy, good luck with DLF

Rodney Dawson
9 years ago

Welcome to DLF Andy. Good article. Well, are you a Buckeye or Wolverine?

Alan Bauerle
9 years ago

Andy keep those keepers comin!! Any insight to help dominate my league is always welcomed!!

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