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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Proven Players Off Of A Bad Year: 2013 NFL Edition

While Matthew Berry helped popularize this concept last year during 2012's NFL pre-season, that is a concept that all experienced fantasy players are fully aware of. For the most part, players are who they are. Every once in a while, that player will have a bad or down year, but that shouldn't deter us from the large sample size they gave before us. Take Ryan Braun for example.

For the first year ever in fantasy baseball, I drafted Ryan Braun. This was a guy who has been a consistent superstar the past few years, so even if he didn't perform like the #1 player in fantasy, I knew he'd still be good. Suspension notwithstanding, he was terrible. Yet, I will still gladly draft Braun next year. Because no matter how much he hurt me this year, and no matter how poorly he performed in 2013, his career as a whole tells me that he'll not only rebound in 2014 and play like the stud that he is, but I can also get him for a discounted price.

That's how you win your draft, by finding value no matter at what spot you draft. Players like Stevan Ridley and Alfred Morris last year in fantasy football were amazing values that helped you win your fantasy league. However, based about what the Patriots and Redskins did in 2011, using multiple backs to frustrate you week to week, dropped each player's value significantly.

This Recency Effect is what creates the value. We too often put too much weight on what the player did the year before, as opposed to looking at their career as a whole. Therefore if a player comes off a bad year, that player automatically drops in ranking. But if you looked at said player's career as a whole, and not just what they did last year, then you can find great value to help you win fantasy leagues.

Here is my list of potential proven players coming off of a bad year (as well as players who's value are depressed based upon Recency Bias and not career numbers)


Tom Brady

While Brady is not per se coming off of a bad year, the hate has definitely gone too far on him. This was a guy who has consistently been a top 3 QB throughout the past few years and his stock has fallen based on his "lack" of receivers. Tom Brady has dealt with this problem for most of his career, so I don't see why it should be THIS big of an issue now.

Ben Roethlisberger

While Roethlisberger hasn't been a top 10 fantasy QB in a while (or ever?), he's always been a slight notch below that. In my 12 team .5 PPR league last year, a friend of mine was "stuck with" Big Ben as his QB when he ended up spending most if his auction budget on Ray Rice and Arian Foster. That's what Roethlisberger is and has been, a starter for your somewhat deeper leagues. However, being the 18th best QB last year certainly has caused his 2013 ADP to unnecessarily drop.


LeSean McCoy

The Eagles RB was a consensus top 4 RB in EVERYBODY'S 2012 pre-draft rankings who is going as the 9th or 10th back off of the board in 2013.

Maurice Jones-Drew

see: McCoy, LeSean. MJD has the potential to be the best running back in the game, has always produced massive fantasy numbers when healthy, and is currently ranked as the 15th or 16th best running  back.

Matt Forte

Forte's fantasy numbers are hindered because he's always been horrific in goal line situations. However, his past numbers (outside 2012) along with new head coach Mark Tressman's offense equals fantasy gold.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis

This may be me just being an idiot and not following too closely anything anybody's said regarding Giovani Bernard, but I was bullish on The Law Firm last year, so I'm especially bullish on him this year. Read what Matthew Berry wrote on BJGE last year, and look at how Marvin Lewis traditionally uses running backs and tell me really what changed after one season.

Rashard Mendenhall

A former top 20 RB playing for a coach that made him a top 20 RB in the past (who, BTW, doesn't have any real competition for his job) who is currently ranked as the 32nd best RB behind both Cincy guys, Montee Ball, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, and DeAngello Williams on


Mike Wallace

In 2011, ESPN's K.C. Joyner wrote a great article about why Mike Wallace, not Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game. I have been a HUGE Mike Wallace fan ever since he became a starter in Pittsburgh, and his 2012 drops and campaign doesn't scare me. While Miami's Ryan Tannenhill does make me quiver a bit for fantasy purposes, I think he is more like Vincent Jackson from last year- an elite wide receiver coming off of a down year who switches teams and becomes a superstar again.

Larry Fitzgerald

Now granted Fitz is coming off of MULTIPLE "bad" fantasy years in a row, he now has a QB throwing to him who is better than Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, ans Ryan Lindley. Look what a Hall of Famer like Reggie Wayne did going from a barely-backup-QB-who-gets-the-job-by-default in 2011 to a good QB like Andrew Luck in 2012. Or even what Steve Smith did in 2011.

Greg Jennings

While Jennings hasn't played well over the past few years now as well as being injury prone, thus making his low ADP a result of a trend and not a small sample size, it's former superstars like Jennings that are more often and likely to become your gambles that pay off, and not one-year-wonders or rookies. I would much rather bet on a guy getting his second wind and returning to glory over a young guy with not the greatest pedigree outperforming his ADP.

Mike Williams

Figure out which one doesn't belong:

2010: 964 yards / 11 TDs
2011: 771 yards / 3 TDs
2012: 996 yards / 9 TDs

You're darn right Blues Clues watchers! It's Williams' 2011 campaign! Granted, Williams' doesn't have as long of a track record for us to determine whether his 2011 campaign was truly the outlier or not; however, Williams was a top 25 receiver last year who is currently ranked 36th by, 34th by, and 29th by I'd be willing to bet that two years ago was William's "fluke" season, which still probably remains in drafters mind's, and why he deserves a spot on this list.


Personally, I agree with the Tight End rankings as a whole, but there us one name that stands out that fits this criteria, and that is:

Antonio Gates

While Gates does have a significant sample size of being injured, and his age and situation (or lack thereof) does make (near) non-top ten ranking make sense, like with Greg Jennings, it's these proven veterans that have done it before that has shown us time and time again that they have at least ONE more season left in them.

Jered Cook

While Cook absolutely does not fit this Proven Player Off Of A Bad Season criteria, I decided to throw him in this list for the same theory just flipped on its head. Cook has never shown himself to be a reliable fantasy TE, or even a viable one. According to Yahoo!, Cook was the 20th best TE last year and the 15th best the year before. So why does ESPN rank him as the 11th best TE, Yahoo! as the 13th best, and FantasyPros as the 9th best when he's never been that good before? This is a case where you need to look at his career to help determine what he is now, not just his new situation (which frankly I personally don't think is much better than it was in Tennessee)

Which veteran coming off of a poor or less than stellar 2012 campaign do you think will have a big comeback in 2013? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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