So many people fall in love with that breakout player they scooped off the waiver wire late in the previous season. If you were lucky enough to have picked up C.J. Anderson or Odell Beckham Jr. off waivers, or perhaps drafted them, there is pretty good chance you made it deep into your fantasy playoffs. There is no denying the impact these two had on teams down the stretch and into the playoff run. Their performances were among the tops in the league at basically no cost to your preseason draft strategy. This year however, everyone in your league has no doubt caught on to what these guys did last year. Chances are they watched one of them torch their team in fantasy playoffs, or simply caught the highlight reel that is OBJ all over television. A catch like Beckham Jr. had on Monday Night Football will stick in peoples minds, not only for the upcoming draft, but for years to come. When this happens, and the hype train starts rolling, it can severely over-inflate these players’ value.
There is no doubt that a Peyton Manning running back is generally a solid choice. Add Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme to the mix and this could be a dream setup for a running back. Anderson flashed brilliance down the stretch and was only slightly outperformed by Le'Veon Bell fantasy–wise in the latter half of the season. What’s not to love right? I think caution is the correct word to use here. Gary Kubiak has already spoken that C.J. will have to "earn the starting job". In case you have forgotten he was third on the depth chart at the beginning of last year. Yes, Montee Ball was downright useless fantasy wise (I got burned on that one), but Ronnie Hillman was also solid in weeks 5 through 8 when he got his shot last season. If they both pick up the new system and show they can carry the load it could simply come down to who performs better in pass protection. If either of them allows too many hurries or Peyton sacks they could quickly end up watching from the sidelines. There is a high fantasy ceiling here but also a low floor. I’ve seen C.J. ranked as high as 3rd for RBs in early mock drafts. I however, think he’s more in the RB 7-10 range worthy of a mid-second round pick. If you do draft him, I would recommend hedging your bets and taking Hillman as insurance in the later rounds.
Don’t get me wrong here I love this guy, and who doesn’t. I’m lucky enough to have him in my Dynasty league. Nobody has forgotten the fantasy clinic this guy displayed from Week 5 on last year. Pile on top of that the human highlight reel this guy has become with his electric one handed grabs and you can bet there are those guys in your fantasy league that want him Round 1. I will remind you once again of that word – caution. I am a believer that this guy will definitely be a WR1 but I still have 5 to 6 receivers ranked ahead of him. He could very well maintain his fantasy dominance, but there are a few reasons why I think he will probably slightly regress (in PPG) next season. First, if Victor Cruz is back from injury, and fully healthy, he will no doubt take some targets away from OBJ. Cruz was playing pretty solid until his season ending injury last year and should bounce back (although that’s a tough injury). Another big reason is that I think that Beckham Jr. caught most defenses off guard in a big way. He was hurt for the entire preseason, as well as Weeks 1 through 4. Nobody knew the kind of explosiveness he would have at the next level and I think many defenses underestimated it. No teams had any NFL game tape on him in and I think this hurt many teams' preparation, but you can guarantee they will not underestimate him going forward. He may find himself in double coverage a lot next year. You can’t forget the people who fell in love with Cordarrelle Patterson in the second half of the 2014 season, then probably drafted him, and that turned into one of the busts of the year. I think OBJ is on a completely different level than Patterson in every aspect of the game, but OBJ exploded with such a torrid pace that I’m not entirely convinced yet that it's sustainable. I only warn you because I’ve seen OBJ ranked as high as 1st overall for WRs in some early mocks; I think I would have him more in the WR 5-7 range warranting a late first to early-2nd round pick.
I stress that word caution when falling in love with a player form the previous season. It happens to us all and then we tend to draft them too early or have too high of expectations. I found C.J. Anderson and Odell Beckham Jr. were two guys I’ve seen in mocks ranked perhaps a little too high for my liking. I think they both have high ceilings and could very well be fantasy studs, but for first round picks I think there will be plenty of safer and more consistent players available.