The Fire Sale (cont.)
Right now Broyles is an afterthought in re-draft leagues because he's coming off a knee injury but he looks fully recovered to me. Currently, Broyles is only owned in about 2 percent of fantasy leagues, but I own him in all of mine. It won't take long for Broyles to become a big fantasy factor at all. I won't even be surprised if "not long" is Week 1.
However, you can probably wait on him a little bit if you don't have an open roster spot at the moment. Just don't want you to wait too long. If Broyles catches 10 balls for 120 yards one week do you really need me or any other idiot fantasy writer telling you to pick him up? The key is to get these guys first before everyone else knows about them.
I predict by October that Broyles will be a hot waiver wire pickup in fantasy leagues, so you'll want to be ahead of the curve on him.
Damaris Johnson, WR Eagles -- In my last Fire Sale I mentioned I covered Tulsa football during Charles Clay's college career. Well, the same thing goes for the dynamic Johnson.
Two months ago I told my Twitter followers to keep an eye on Johnson. During time at Tulsa, Johnson was a spectacular return man. He's actually one of the top return men in college football history, so I was certain he would make the Eagles roster based solely on what Johnson provides on special teams.
No matter where Johnson lines up, and no matter against whom, he'll make plays. This preseason, Brown looked like a guy who belonged in the NFL. There's a key difference between guys who are just hoping to make a roster spot and those who act like they belong in the NFL. Antonio Brown acted that way last year. So did Victor Cruz. And now Johnson is, too.
Look at the Eagles receivers. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are locked in as the starters. Jason Avant is a solid veteran and dependable third receive as a possession man.
The Eagles have very little after those three. Riley Cooper? Sorry if I'm not jumping on that bandwagon. I believe Johnson is already the Eagles No. 4 receiver. That may not seem like much, but if Maclin or Jackson gets hurt (a distinct possibility) Avant's role won't change much. He's not going to provide a lot of big plays. If Philadelphia has an injury to one of its top two receivers, it's Johnson who will step in and have the most fantasy value.
You know a lot of fantasy writers spend money on math books and developing complicated formulas to tell you who will have fantasy success. I go about it a different way. I spend my money on the NFL Sunday Ticket, The Red Zone Channel, the DirecTV sports package and I watch as much college and pro football as humanly possible. I have three TVs and four DVR boxes. I watch football during the season and all throughout the summer. Then I go with my gut on who I think can and can't play. That's how I do things.
Well, my gut tells me Johnson is going to be a productive receiver in the NFL. My gut isn't always right but you can either trust a guy who puts in the time to actually watch football or trust the guy who uses long division to tell you why Jordy Nelson's production will decline in 2012. It's your call.
Dennis Pitta, TE Ravens -- Pitta came on at the end of last season when Ed Dickson was struggling with drops, but people have forgotten about him because he's spent most of the summer recovering from hand surgery.
Pitta is expected to be back for Week 1 and fantasy owners are going to want to get reacquainted with quickly. Dickson is still the better fantasy option right now but that may not be the case at the end of the year. Dickson has talent but again he struggled with inconsistency and mental lapses last season. Plus, Dickson is returning from a shoulder injury himself.
Dickson caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. Pitta came in with 40 receptions for 405 yards and three scores. However, if you look at the last four games, Pitta caught 13 passes for 142 yards and two scores, compared to Dickson's eight catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. While neither guy set the world on fire, it was Pitta who was the more productive tight end at the end of the year.
Even though I'm not a big Cam Cameron fan (Is anyone?) the Ravens are expected to open up the offense more in 2012 and not run the ball up the middle on every first down in every big game they play. That will be a refreshing change. Remember, no team ran more two tight end sets last year than the Ravens -- not even New England -- so Pitta will have plenty of opportunities as long as he stays healthy.
Pitta caught 40 balls last year but didn't really come on until the second half of the season. Joe Flacco is going to throw more and Anquan Boldin is another year older. Add it all up and would you be totally shocked if Pitta caught 60 passes this season in the Ravens offense? Would you be totally shocked if Pitta produced better fantasy numbers than Dickson? I sure wouldn't.
As a bonus, here's a guy who has fantasy value right now but more than many think:
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Falcons -- Astute owners know Rodgers has more fantasy value long-term than the declining, plodding, slowing Michael Turner.
However, apparently not all fantasy owners are astute because Rodgers is still available in almost half of all fantasy leagues. That needs to end and it needs to end at once. If you play in a PPR league and Rodgers is on the waiver wire, I don't care what you have to do to get him, just get him.
I don't know if you've seen the new Falcons offense this preseason but that offense isn't built for Turner. It's built for Darren Sproles. Since the Falcons don't have Sproles, they'll just have to use the next best thing, which is Rodgers. I'm telling you right now Rodgers is going to have a big fantasy season in PPR formats. He's not going to have a decent fantasy season; he's going to have a big one.
You see, there's perception and reality. Let's take a guy like 49ers rookie running back LaMichael James. The perception is James spent most of his time at Oregon running wide and using his speed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all of James' runs at Oregon came between the tackles and he was arguably the best goal-line runner in the country not named Montee Ball.
Just because James doesn't weigh 250 pounds doesn't mean he isn't a good inside runner and he'll prove that in the NFL. Rodgers is in the same boat. While Rodgers isn't quite as strong as James, he's a lot more than just the pass catching back some fantasy writers are calling him.
Watch when Rodgers runs inside. He's a lot tougher and stronger than people think. Granted, Rodgers wouldn't be successful in the Jets 1950s offense but that's not the kind of stuff the Falcons are running. They're actually running an offense from this century that's going to spread defenses out and make them cover the entire field.
Catching passes has never been a problem for Rodgers, so when you add his abilities as a receiver, Rodgers' underrated toughness between the tackles and the Falcons' switch in offensive philosophy, Turner is the starter in name only. Rodgers is going to see more touches, he's going to catch far more passes and may even score more touchdowns.
So while you've already heard people talking up Rodgers this summer, I felt I needed to mention him before the season started because he's not being talked up enough. I actually missed out on Rodgers in a couple of my drafts but I worked my trading magic and now own him in most of my leagues. Heck, I'm giving up guys like Jonathan Stewart and Jermaine Gresham to get Rodgers, that's how high I am on him. Then again, very few people trade like I do.
Rodgers is a fantasy stud in the making. The fact that Rodgers is still available in roughly half of the fantasy leagues out there is baffling. Please do your part to end this madness.
Follow Thomas Casale on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy.
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