After months and months of analysis, promoting players as busts or values, the season is on the brink of arrival. Still somehow, many of the late surges provided by fantasy players in 2012 begging us to notice them have gone relatively unnoticed.
Here’s a look at some players who are being relatively ignored in current drafts even though they finished last season trending upwards— and we’ll decide whether or not they are worth a late round add to your fake football team of destiny in 2013.
Greg Olsen - Current ADP: TE9 (104.3 Overall)
Final nine games of 2012: 40 receptions, 496 yards, four TD – 12.6 PPG (PPR)
I’m semi-cheating here, because Olsen is being drafted before the super late portion of drafts. The problem is it’s still unbelievably far, far too low. He finished 2012 as the seventh best tight end in scoring and still being selected as the ninth option today.
His 12.6 PPG in the final nine weeks over the course of an entire season would’ve been good in making him the fourth best points per reception scorer overall. When Cam Newton was the number one fantasy option at quarterback over the second half, it was because he was spreading the ball around and utilizing Olsen.
Olsen had 26 more receptions, 305 more receiving yards and three more touchdowns over his final eleven games than Vernon Davis had over the same timeframe. Davis is currently being taken at 58.4 overall, nearly 46 spots and four rounds later. Take advantage, friends.
Brandon LaFell – Current ADP: WR64 (159 Overall)
Final five games of 2012: 20 receptions, 281 yards, two TD – 12.0 PPG
I’ve already explained in a recent post why you want to target LaFell and why he’s a classic post hype breakout candidate. Over his final five contests in 2012, he was targeted six or more times while scoring double digits points in three of them.
The Panthers have hardly changed offensive personnel from last season at all, only bringing in Domenik Hixon to challenge for wide receiver snaps. Another lost aspect is the absence of Jonathan Stewart, a player who has 64 receptions and 10.8 percent of Newton’s completions over the past two seasons.
LaFell already has a red zone score this preseason and appears to finally be set in returning on his unfulfilled promise of 2012.
Knowshon Moreno – Current ADP: RB56 (152 Overall)
Final six games of 2012: 130 attempts, 510 yards, three TD, 20 receptions, 155 yards – 17.4 PPG
Moreno was a PPR stud over the final six weeks after taking over for injured Willis McGahee. He had 20 or more rushing attempts in five of those contests with a touchdown in three. He also topped 65 yards on the ground in all but one of those starts.
So far in the preseason, Ball and Hillman have a combined 27 attempts for 80 yards (2.9 YPC) on the ground. Hillman has also fumbled twice, including once on a goal line attempt that was returned 106 yards for a touchdown by the defense.
I still maintain that Hillman is no threat to be involved in any big capacity, 36 of his 84 carries (43 percent) last season went for two yards or fewer.
Per ProFootballFocus, Moreno has only played 13 snaps in two games this preseason, compared to 29 for Ball and 34 for Hillman. Coming off a knee injury may play a small role in that usage, but I tend to think that Denver is seeing what they have in their two backs behind Moreno since they know what he can and did do for them already.
For a price tag in the thirteenth round, the return investment could be just as fruitful for those who rode him through their 2012 playoff race.
Bilal Powell – Current ADP: RB52 (144.7 Overall)
Final seven games of 2012: 75 attempts, 299 yards, four TD, 12 receptions, 95 yards – 10.8 PPG
Powell played in 40 percent or more of the Jets offensive snaps per game over the final seven weeks of 2012. In those games he averaged double points while seeing ten or more carries in five of them.
This year, the Jets brought in Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson to compete for running back snaps. Goodson has yet to play at all in the preseason and is coming off of a weapons and drug arrest in the offseason. Ivory has seen more time on the exercise bike than the practice field during training camp, and played in just nine snaps in the Jets second preseason game.
Powell has carried the ball 16 times already in preseason action for 82 yards, including a 37 yard scamper this past week against Jacksonville.
Another thing Powell has in his corner, per PFF he posted a +1.7 grade in 89 snaps of pass protection last season. Ivory has only played 24 snaps in pass protection total over his entire career.
Rod Streater – Current ADP: WR65 (180 Overall)
Final five games of 2012: 18 receptions, 351 yards, one TD – 11.8 PPG
Streater notched over 60 receiving yards in four of his final five games last season while hauling in a massive 19.5 yards per catch. He also topped double-digit scoring in four of the final five weeks of his rookie season.
He gets a chance to open as the starter opposite oft injured Denarius Moore this season. Oakland doesn’t figure to be involved in many close ball games, similar to last season. Just like Darren McFadden, defenses will likely be playing plenty of accommodating coverage late in ball games versus Oakland.
I love buying in on second year wide receivers, but it’s hard to call Streater a breakout candidate based on the Raiders’ current quarterback situation. However, if Matt Flynn holds the starting job for most of the season, he is capable of being a bye week filler or extreme matchup play.
I’m not suggesting you target and draft all of these guys over the next two weeks. But I am suggesting that when it comes time to select your teams’ Mr. Irrelevant, he doesn’t have to be so irrelevant at all.
*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com, ADP Data Provided by FantasyFootballCalculator