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For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the past year and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. We are thankful for our families and friends, steady jobs and warm homes, food to eat and clothes to wear. Basically, Thanksgiving is the one day to really focus on the essentials that most of us take for granted 364 days a year.
Hopefully, throughout those 364 days, your life has been filled with some big events that are sometimes easier to be thankful for. Personally, I have enjoyed a couple of those events the past few weeks. First, my wife and I found out that we will be having our third child this summer. Then, just days ago, I discovered that I had passed my National Boards, the next step beyond a Master’s Degree for educators. When huge life events like these occur, it is easy to be thankful, yet we still overlook things that help us survive each day.
I think this same concept is true in the world of fantasy football. There are players posting impressive weekly performances that are easy to be thankful for, yet at the same time, other players quietly guiding our teams to victory that we all too often take for granted. After all, it’s easy to be thankful for Calvin Johnson, Arian Foster and Drew Brees, but there are other players that, despite strong performances this year, are being overlooked and undervalued. If this is true in your league, these players could be strong candidates to add to your team.
Andy Dalton, QB CIN
The Bengals second year signal caller has quietly had a top ten fantasy season in 2012. Through ten games, Dalton has posted three 300 yard passing games, but even more impressive is Dalton’s 20:11 touchdown to interception ratio. The twenty passing scores match his output from his entire rookie season a year ago. With other young pieces of the offense like wide receivers AJ Green and Mohamed Sanu and tight end Jermaine Gresham, we can expect Dalton to continue to improve over the upcoming seasons.
This season, Dalton is outperforming more hyped young players like Cam Newton and Josh Freeman as well as some of the older reliable veterans such as Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Michael Vick. While his numbers have improved, his dynasty value seems unchanged and he can be had at a very reasonable price. Dalton makes a great target for any team. Contenders lacking consistent quarterback play can plug and play Dalton and look forward to upcoming matchups against the Raiders, Chargers, and Eagles. For owners who might be out of the running this season, Dalton, at only 25 years old, has the potential to be a borderline QB1 for years to come.
Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Titans running back Chris Johnson might not be the name you expected to see on a list of underappreciated and overlooked players, but considering the disastrous beginning to his season, the title is fitting. After Johnson’s first five games, he was ranked as the RB30 and fantasy owners spent much of their time trying to coin new versions of the CJ2K nickname to amuse their followers on Twitter. In the five games that have followed, Johnson has averaged 130 rushing yards per game to go along with four touchdowns. Those impressive numbers rank him as the RB3 over the past six weeks, behind only Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson.
All fantasy owners are aware of the great years Johnson enjoyed in 2009-2010 when he posted back-to-back seasons as a top five running back. Prior to the 2011 season, Johnson was rewarded with a huge new contract, and his statistics promptly dropped. He barely cracked 1,000 rushing yards and only managed four rushing touchdowns, a number he has already matched through ten games this season. At 27 years old, Johnson does carry some long-term risk as the carries mount up, but with so many running backs faltering due to injury or inconsistent play, Johnson has great value to contending teams.
Vincent Jackson, WR TB
Throughout his seven seasons as a San Diego Charger, Jackson earned a reputation as an inconsistent wide receiver, posting all or nothing type statistics. This year, his first with the Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman, Jackson is on pace to set career highs in receiving yardage and touchdowns and has been much more consistent. Jackson has eclipsed twenty fantasy points in half of his ten games this season and currently ranks as the WR10 in PPR leagues and the WR4 in non-PPR leagues.
Like Johnson, Jackson’s age affects his value as he is already 29 years old and will be 30 before the next season begins. For now though, Jackson is a great asset to any playoff bound teams.
Brandon Myers, TE OAK
Raiders tight end Brandon Myers entered the 2012 season with only 250 career receiving yards and no touchdowns through three seasons with the team. During his tenure with Oakland, Myers had been sitting behind Zach Miller and Kevin Boss on the tight end depth chart. Both have been solid, yet unspectacular and are no longer with the team – this gave Myers the chance he needed and he earned the starting job in training camp. As the Raiders have often fallen behind, quarterback Carson Palmer and the passing game have been in full force. Myers has been one of the top beneficiaries, hauling in 50 catches for 554 yards and three scores. Those numbers earn Myers a rank of TE7 and put him on pace for 80 catches and nearly 900 yards.
Myers has certainly been under the radar and continues to be, even though he is outscoring players like Vernon Davis, Jermaine Gresham, Kyle Rudolph and Antonio Gates. Like Dalton, Myers value has not seen much of an increase and can be had very cheaply for those teams who might have just lost tight end Rob Gronkowski.