Editor's Note: The Tuesday, August 21 War Room is LIVE HERE
The Fantasy War Room wrapped up a wild first day on Monday with questions running the gamut of topics. We discussed drafting Lions running backs, where to look for Cam Newton, drafting rookies in a dynasty league, handcuffing Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson, and of course, what to do about Peyton Manning. We'll be here every day for the next two weeks, so odds are good we'll address most every topic under the sun during that time.
When it comes to discussing drafts, some of the most sought after advice is about sleepers. Most people know what to do with their early picks, but winning championships comes from grabbing Arian Foster in 2010 or DeMarco Murray in 2011. Thus, it was not surprising that most of the questions were about sleepers and where to get good value beyond first-round picks.
The sleepers that people were most intrigued by were backup running backs. While rule changes have started to turn the NFL into more of a passing league, running backs retain considerable value. They are losing ground to quarterbacks and some of the top wide receivers, but the top three picks in most drafts this year will be some combination of Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy.
Given the physical nature of the NFL, running backs can get worn down pretty quickly. Last year we saw big injuries to Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson potentially cost people in their leagues. This year, with Maurice Jones-Drew threatening a lengthy hold-out, Frank Gore potentially losing carries and nobody knowing what to expect from Reggie Bush this year, Rashad Jennings, Kendall Hunter and Daniel Thomas are intriguing options.
Handcuffs have long been a staple of the fantasy running back, and they are only becoming more valuable. The value of those keepers varies by league, but even in a straight re-draft league, those three have value for different reasons:
1. Rashad Jennings: Maurice Jones-Drew continues to hold out, potentially raising Jennings' value as he continues to impress in the preseason. If you are drafting now, I recommend either avoiding this situation entirely, or doing what you need to in order to get both these running backs. MJD will be back, but it could be anytime between now and Week 10. I think he is back by the start of the regular season, but it remains a roll of the dice.
2. Kendall Hunter: Frank Gore remains the lead back for the 49ers, but the 49ers are cutting down on his carries. If Gore remains healthy, this is a bit of a sticky situation for 2012. For 2013 and beyond I think Hunter has huge value as a keeper. For just this year, he has potential, but don't overpay.
3. Daniel Thomas: After struggling for years to reach his college potential, Reggie Bush came out of nowhere to put together a strong stretch run that likely won a few people a championship. During the Week 14-16 standard fantasy playoff run, Bush scored 16, 13 and 18 points. At the same time, he was inconsistent for much of the season. Thomas appeared likely to secure the starting job after a strong week two performance, but it was downhill from there. Bush is the man in Miami right now, but you'll want to wait and see with him.
Best Question: Who is the second best kicker? Which easily surpassed Who is the best kicker?
In all seriousness, there are two strategies with kickers. Many folks will wait until the final round to grab a kicker. Last season, in my primary keeper league I drafted 49ers kicker David Akers. I happen to be a 49ers fan, but also a fan of Akers' relative consistency from week to week. Little did I know he would blow up like he did last season. Even still, there is enough variation in points scored that it is not necessarily worth trying to invest in specific kickers.
The flip-side to that idea is the notion of grabbing a kicker a little bit earlier so you can get a guy on a known high-scoring team. Two examples of that are Stephen Gostkowski and Mason Crosby. In years past, if I was going to select a kicker a little earlier, it was usually Sebastian Janikowski. Seabass has arguably the strongest leg in the NFL and if you get any particular bonuses for longer field goals, he can be worth the investment.
Your actually necessary Tim Tebow reference
Unlike ESPN's wall-to-wall Tebow coverge, I expected fantasy football coverage to veer away from the eventual train wreck that will be Tim Tebow's 2012 NFL season. However, given the varying nature of leagues, we managed two questions (question 1, question 2) about Tebow that brought up a pertinent issue. The Jets will figure out ways to work Tebow into their lineup, and people wondered if he was worth a late flier based on his potential for rushing touchdowns.
While a guy like Jerome Bettis late in his career was an interesting flex running back option because of his short yardage use, the potential for Tim Tebow to put up anything resembling consistent points based on his rushing is too difficult to gauge right now.
At the same time, I actually don't think it is the worst idea in the world to draft Tebow late and stick him at the end of your bench at the start of the season. If Tebow ever leapfrogs Mark Sanchez, he can actually be a great fantasy option because of his rushing. He may not be able to hit the broad side of a barn with his passes, but rushing yards and touchdowns for quarterbacks are like gold. If you've got room on your bench, you can stash Tim Tebow and wait it out. If you reach a bye week where you need a free spot, and Tebow is not doing anything consistently, feel free to release him.
Next War Room: Tuesday 6-10 p.m. ET
The Fantasy War Room sponsored by Sprint will be back Tuesday evening to continue assisting you with your draft needs. No question is too ridiculous, so make sure and join us again for another fun evening of fantasy football discussion. If you are new to SB Nation, you will need to register to post a comment, but that only takes a moment.
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