It’s that time of year again – the time for family, food, and fantasy introspection. We tend to indulge in a bit too much food and perhaps too much navel gazing when it comes to our rosters. But even when times are tough, as they were for a lot of teams this year (I know I had my share,) we have to try to pick up the pieces and start thinking about next year. So if you’re on the outside looking in on the playoffs in your keeper league, now’s the time to make some last minute pickups and moves not for this year but for the next. With the future in mind, here are some players to target as the season winds down and in the off-season. As in the past, I’ll break it down into three sections: one for keeper leagues of 3-4 keepers, one for leagues of 5-6 keepers, and one for leagues of 7-8 keepers. Any leagues with keeper numbers 9 or beyond tend to function a lot like dynasty. Let’s get to it.
3-4 Keeper League Targets
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Josh Doctson, WR WAS
This is a great first player to focus on, because it helps set the stage for things to look for and take advantage of in keeper leagues. In this case, we’re looking at a player who has become affordable due to injury. Doctson barely saw the field this year, but Washington drafted him in the first round, and that offense looks like it could really support a top wide receiver option. Doctson came into the draft last year as one of the top receiving prospects, and he still may have a bright future.
Kevin White, WR CHI
It’s almost like Doctson is this year’s Kevin White, if you think about it. Both are wideouts with loads of talent that have lost significant time due to injury. White looked like he was beginning to “get it” on the field when injury knocked him out again. He’s affordable and could still net you top ten wide receiver talent.
Doug Baldwin, WR SEA
Baldwin is one of those players who continues to produce at a consistent level, but doesn’t get a lot of respect. That means he’s a good guy to have around, and it means you may be able to snag him from someone else. People just tend to overlook Baldwin, he tends to bleed into the crowd and fall behind bigger “name” receivers. Take advantage of this and get yourself a nice, steady producer.
Michael Thomas, WR NOS
This is probably the hardest “get” of this section. But there are still people out there who might not realize what they have in Thomas. He’s a guy I’d also be willing to pay a little more to get on my team for next year and beyond. It’s a great offense, and he’s looking like a great fit there.
Doug Martin, RB TBB
He missed quite a bit of time (again), but has looked productive since returning. He’s still the guy in Tampa Bay, and this offense should continue to get better as its weapons mature. I realize Martin is hard to count on, but he’s also a player who has won leagues, and could do it again.
Mark Ingram, RB NOS
Ingram had some real ups and downs this year, which may help you land him. For all the coaching staff sounding down on him, it may have motivated him to do even more. He’s looked great for much of the year, and if you’re not sitting on a top five running back, he could be a really good get. People forget he’s still fairly young at 26 as well. Buy him if you can.
CJ Anderson, RB DEN
He’s another player missing time due to injury, but his replacement Devontae Booker (who a lot of people like) hasn’t done a whole lot yet with his opportunity. Similar to Martin, I think this is a situation where the job will still be there for CJ Anderson when he returns. Anderson looked strong before the injury, and this offense will continue to run the ball.
5-6 Keeper League Targets
Thomas Rawls, RB SEA
Talk about a player on a roller coaster. The undrafted Rawls has been all over the place in terms of ADP. Back in September of last year, Rawls didn’t even make the ADP list. He bolted up later on last year, and hit his high point of 42 in April of this year. Then the running back turnstile in Seattle commenced, about the same time as we realized Rawls was taking longer to heal than many had hoped. Now Rawls finds himself back on top of the RB heap in Seattle, and he’s still at a reasonable price, as he burned quite a few owners. I’m buying.
Derrick Henry, RB TEN
Henry has looked pretty darn good in his rookie campaign. Sure, he doesn’t have a clean situation right now with DeMarco Murray carrying the load, but that very dicey situation is what might make another owner part with him as he starts to cut down his own keepers. There is a path to the starting job for Henry, it just isn’t clear quite yet. I think his payoff will be worth a little patience.
Michael Floyd, WR ARI
I can hear what some of you are saying right now: “why the heck would I want Michael Floyd?” While at the same time others have a very different opinion. Can you believe Floyd’s ADP reached as high as 14 back in September of 2014? Yet this year he has toyed with exiting the top 100. However, the guy still has talent, and he’s also an unrestricted free agent next year. Would you feel differently about Floyd if he landed in, say, Green Bay? Good buy low target here.
Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
As you well know, in single QB leagues their values are quite depressed. This also applies to keeper leagues just as much, and I’m reluctant to use a keeper spot on them depending on how many you have available. So I’ll caveat this pick with this – I would only really target him with six or more keepers. So why do it at all? Because Mariota looks like he may be a superstar in the making. He’s someone who you can potentially plug in as your starter for the next ten years. There is real value in that.
Terrelle Pryor, WR CLE
Pryor might have saved his career by switching positions from quarterback to wide receiver. Not only is he performing well on a (really) bad team, he’s also an unrestricted free agent after this year, and if he finds even a marginally better situation he may show us even more. And with the versatility he has shown this year, I do believe he’ll be an asset many WR-needy teams target. He’s also a player you can likely get without giving up too much. He might not be a sexy name, but sexy names cost a whole heck of a lot more, too.
Dion Lewis, RB NEP
He’s one of the reasons fantasy football owners talk about “injury prone” players – whether or not that idea has any real merit. (And if you really want to get into the weeds in regards to “injury prone players,” Scott Peak has a great piece right here at DLF for you to read.) Because of that question, however, this is an awfully big gamble. But the payoff should Lewis stay healthy in that offense could be significant, especially so in PPR leagues. He can be a monster contributor, and can likely be had for pennies on the dollar.
7-8 Keeper League Targets
Will Fuller, WR HOU
He’s a rookie who surprised quite a few people early in the season, but as time has gone on he’s looked more and more like a rookie. And oh yeah, there’s the fact he has Brock Osweiler throwing to him. (Houston fans, don’t think about Brock’s contract, I don’t want you throwing up – but I’m a Bears fan so I know the feeling of paying way too much for a middling QB.) But I digress, Fuller is indeed a rookie, and he’s shown flashes of being a huge home run threat. He’s worth a flier for me, at least.
Ameer Abdullah, RB DET
I’ll admit it, I was all-in on Abdullah as a rookie. I loved Matt Waldman’s take on him, and really loved what I saw on tape. I also thought he landed in a good situation, given the competition in the backfield in Detroit. Well, I was wrong – Abdullah had that great looking run early on, but since then he’s been largely a disappointment. Injury derailed him this year, and perhaps he can put it together next year – I still believe in his talent and skill set. Be warned that it wouldn’t surprise me if Detroit made a move at this position in the off-season.
Martavis Bryant, WR PIT
I typically avoid players with issues like Bryant’s. Problems around substance abuse don’t just go away, at least in my experience. But he’s got talent, and he’s (still) a Steeler and part of that great offense, so he’s worth the lottery ticket as you get into deeper keeper selections. That fact that the Steelers didn’t just cut him loose says a lot, and we haven’t heard much more about him, which is a good thing.
Latavius Murray, RB OAK
A lot of people are really down on Murray, and they have been since last offseason. I can’t blame them however, as Oakland wasn’t giving him a whole lot of public support. But it also led to a little bit more love for the fifth round rookie DeAndre Washington. I think Murray is better than people give him credit for, and he’s going to be cheap – even though he is performing as the RB10 right now. He is a free agent after this year, so we’ll have to monitor his situation, but I think he’s worth a get.
Jordan Howard, RB CHI
While many of the players on this list are here largely due to the value proposition, in this case I just really, really like Howard. John Fox will run the ball with impunity, and I think he’s finally on board with Howard as the starting running back in Chicago. Howard has shown the ability to do a little bit of everything from running hard, hitting the edge, catching passes and beyond. He also has the good fortune of a lot of folks still not believing in him, which should help keep his price reasonable. I’d get him where I can.
Tyler Lockett, WR SEA
Yeah, I was one of those guys – I targeted Lockett pretty heavily last off-season. Granted I didn’t pay a huge price for him anywhere, but I liked the potential seen by guys like Matt Harmon. Then they played games this year, and Lockett was largely invisible most of the year. But he still has that same skill set, and now he’s finally healthy. There are owners out there who probably had more than enough of Lockett and will let him go for a song. I’m still buying.
Hunter Henry, TE SDC
“Wait, you don’t list a single tight end the whole time, but then give us Hunter Henry?” I know it seems weird, but just like in dynasty leagues, sometimes you have to try to land a guy before he really busts out. I did the rookie profile on Henry and I’ve been in love with him ever since. He hasn’t let me down this year on the field, either. He also landed in a great spot, as San Diego has leaned on the tight end position for quite some time. So the talent is there, now we just need Antonio Gates to retire. He’s bound to retire one of these years, I’m just starting to wonder if he has another five seasons in the tank or something.
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