Keeper leagues pay dividends to the savvy fantasy owner year after year. The basic premise is simple: Keep one (or two) players from the previous season’s roster in exchange for the draft pick said player was selected.
Here’s 15 players targeted as the best keeper options of the summer.
ADP: (Average Draft Position numbers are courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com)
15. Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots 2012 ADP: 144.8 (15th round)
Analysis: Amendola owners need to ask themselves the following question: Do I put more weight on the WR’s injury history (12 appearances over last two seasons) or the fact that the four-year veteran could become the next Wes Welker while playing with Tom Brady in New England? If it’s the former, apply the franchise tag somewhere else. If it’s the latter, sacrifice the 15th round pick without blinking an eye.
14. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos 2012 ADP: 52.8 (sixth round)
Analysis: On average, eight QBs were drafted ahead of Manning last summer, yet only three (Brees, Brady, Rodgers) finished the year with more fantasy points. The 37-year-old tossed at least three TDs and amassed 300 or more passing yards in nine of 16 starts en route to a QB rating of 105.8 (second in NFL). He enters his 15th season with an upgraded arsenal that now includes first-down specialist Welker. Surrendering a sixth-round selection to lock up one of the league’s most consistent passers will give owners the freedom to stockpile at the RB position early in the draft.
13. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs 2012 ADP: 63.7 (seventh round)
Analysis: It’s a calculated gamble because despite Bowe’s anemic production in 2012 (59-801-3) we all remember the 153 receptions for 2,321 yards and 20 TDs the LSU product rolled up from 2010-2011. The Chiefs spent the offseason making upgrades at two crucial organizational positions by trading for veteran QB Alex Smith and hiring former Eagles head coach Andy Reid. The KC offense will be much improved and as a result, Bowe should experience a significant uptick in production over last season’s modest results.
12. David Wilson, RB, New York Giants 2012 ADP: 73.9 (eighth round)
Analysis: As it pertains to Wilson, the later your fantasy draft, the better because the 2012 first-round selection out of Virginia Tech has to hold off Andre Brown for the starting job to make this one count. Wilson was a total bust through the first 12 games of the 2012 campaign, carrying the ball only 28 times for 111 yards thanks to a nasty case of “fumble-itis.” But the rookie rebounded to record 247 rushing yards and three scores on 43 carries over the final four games of the season. With Ahmad Bradshaw no longer on the roster, surrendering an eighth round selection for a starting RB on a quality football team is the type of move that adds some serious depth to a contending roster.
11. Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions 2012 ADP: 50.3 (sixth round)
Analysis: Ranked 14th in fantasy scoring at the RB position last season (standard scoring format) despite catching only 35 passes, the second-lowest total of Bush’s seven-year career. While the USC product has produced some inconsistent results during his time in the NFL, there’s a reason why the Lions put the full-court press on the former Miami Dolphin during free agency (4 years, $16 million). Head coach Jim Schwartz sees Bush as the high volume pass-catching back that former first round pick Jahvid Best was supposed to be. 70+ receptions is not a stretch.
10. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts 2012 ADP: 108.0 (11th round)
Analysis: Luck averaged 273.37 passing ypg as a rookie on a team that was supposed to produce exactly squat. Instead, the Colts went on to win 11 games with the Stanford product finishing the season ranked 10th in fantasy scoring at QB. As mentioned above in the Manning analysis, this is an exceptionally deep year at QB so owners with only one franchise tag may be better served keeping a productive RB instead. Just remember that Luck is going to improve in every statistical category during his sophomore campaign.
9. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts 2012 ADP: 72.9 (eighth round)
Analysis: Reggie Wayne was 33 when Manning left town to sign with the Denver. The Colts were rebuilding and it looked as if the highly productive WR would spend his final few NFL seasons producing mediocre stat lines until the Indy brass decided it was time to part ways. But Wayne had other ideas and paired with rookie QB Andrew Luck, the 12-year veteran caught 106 passes (second most in career) for 1,355 yards and five scores. Those who rolled the dice on the eighth-round pick in 2012 should bring Wayne back for one more spin, as another top-20 fantasy performance is likely.
8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos 2012 ADP: 58.0 (sixth round)
Analysis: How Thomas fell all the way to the sixth round is shocking, considering the entire world knew the Georgia Tech product was poised for a big year. And a big year Thomas did produce, as the three-year veteran set career marks in receptions (94), receiving yards (1,434) and TDs (10) en route to a top-5 fantasy finish. Welker is going to steal plenty of targets, but sacrificing a sixth rounder to keep Thomas on the roster is still a huge bargain.
7. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012 ADP: 67.8 (seventh round)
Analysis: It’s about time I founded the VJ fan club because it seems that every summer I’m hyping this guy more than anybody else on the internet. V-Jax is a 6-5, 230-pound load to defend who put the doubters out to pasture last season. The eight-year veteran followed up a lucrative free agent contract signing with the best statistical campaign of his career (72-1,384-8), which resulted in a top-6 fantasy finish. PPR owners should drop Jackson’s stock a tad, but the rest of you should be chomping at the bit to surrender a seventh-round selection for one of the game’s best big-play receivers.
6. Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots 2012 ADP: 56.0 (sixth round)
Analysis: Ranked seventh in rushing yards (1,263), sixth in carries (290) and third in TD (12) while solidifying his place as New England’s first true workhorse RB since the Corey Dillon days of 2004-2006. Ridley’s highly productive top-9 fantasy season from 2012 is going to make the LSU product a hot commodity come August. Taking a shot on this guy during the sixth round last summer gives you a serious leg up at RB before this year’s draft even gets underway.
5. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys 2012 ADP: 39.5 (fourth round)
Analysis: Bryant’s 2012 seven-game stretch that featured 46 receptions for 808 yards and 10 TDs (64 targets) was no fluke. It was the coming out party for a third-year player who will be considered one of the league’s elite WRs by the end of the 2013 campaign.
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings 2012 ADP: 18.4 (second round)
Analysis: One year ago at this time we were all questioning whether or not AP would be able to recover from a gruesome December knee injury in time to start the 2012 season. As a result, Peterson fell as far as the fourth round in some leagues as owners found themselves unwilling to risk a high draft pick on the Minnesota ball carrier’s bum wheel. A few months later and All Day is receiving league MVP honors after falling just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. Think about the possibilities of retaining this year’s top pick in exchange for a second or third round selection and pairing him with another elite RB.
3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins ADP: 94.9 (10th round)
Analysis: Yes, the knee is a concern, but all reports out of Washington indicate that RG3 will be ready to go in time for the season opener against Philadelphia. And while the 815 rushing yards Griffin amassed during his 2012 rookie campaign may appear to be a bit of a stretch, how many owners are willing to turn down the opportunity to keep the league’s seventh highest scoring fantasy QB in exchange for a tenth-round pick? Not many.
2. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks ADP: 119.5 (12th round)
Analysis: Most fantasy owners are halfway drunk by the time they reach the 12th round, so why not hang on to Wilson. With Percy Harvin now in the mix and a full offseason spent in the film room, it’s highly unlikely Wilson takes a step back.
1. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins ADP: 144.8 (15th round)
Analysis: Last year’s unknown sixth-round pick out of FAU, Morris ranked second in the NFL in rushing (1,613), TDs (13) and carries of 10+ yards (55) en route to a second-team All-Pro selection and a place in Redskins history as the all-time single season rushing leader.
Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com. You can reach him at [email protected].