The island of misfit fantasy players

The island of misfit fantasy players

Published Sep. 8, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

Wait, isn’t “Living Single” the title of a 1990s FOX sitcom that starred Queen Latifah and Kim Fields from “The Facts of Life?” Yes, it is. Isn’t corporate synergy great? Next week, I plan to drop a “Herman’s Head” reference.

Draft season is over, and your fantasy football season begins tonight. Unfortunately, some poor NFL souls have been left behind, as they’re owned in less than 10 percent of leagues. Maybe you don’t want to mess with your roster just yet, but you should keep these guys on your radar for when the inevitable tinkering begins. The ground rules are as follows:

• No kickers or team defenses are included. They’re crapshoots, and you usually mix and match them, anyway. Predicting their performances is futile.

• No players are included just because they’re someone’s handcuff. If you want to grab Toby Gerhart (Vikings), Javon Ringer (Titans), Cadillac Williams (Rams), etc., to back up your starter, go ahead. But you don’t need us to help you with that.



Jason Campbell, Raiders (9.3 percent owned) – Campbell threw for 2,387 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games last season, and ran for a respectable 222 yards as well. He’s not going to lead you to a fantasy title, but he could be a decent backup/bye-week replacement. One of those fast wideouts in Oakland has to catch the ball one of these days.

Rex Grossman, Redskins (2.5 percent owned) – Grossman has been a disappointment to some, and maddeningly inconsistent to most. However, did you know that in three starts for the ‘Skins at the end of 2010, he threw for 840 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 42 passing attempts per game? Grossman’s penchant for turnovers keeps him from being trustworthy, and he’ll be looking over his shoulder at backup John Beck every time he makes a mistake. Still, Mike Shanahan’s quarterback won’t simply be a game manager. Grossman will have weeks where he puts up some numbers.

Kerry Collins, Colts (1.9 percent owned) – No, no, no!

Running backs

Jason Snelling, Falcons (6.1 percent owned) – Snelling isn’t just Michael Turner’s handcuff, as he caught 44 passes in 2010. In PPR leagues, he can help you during the bye weeks. And if Turner happens to slip on a banana peel in the lockerroom, Snelling’s 2009 numbers (872 yards from scrimmage, five TDs) will be a reasonable target.

Delone Carter, Colts (2.6 percent owned) – Peyton Manning or no Peyton Manning, some people think Carter could take over for Joseph Addai at some point this season. Addai has averaged 160 carries over the last three seasons, and it’s not like he’s been that great when healthy. The Colts will likely need to run more for as long as Peyton Manning is out, and Addai is unlikely to be the answer. The 5’9”, 225-pound Carter may have fallen into an ideal fantasy situation.

Leon Washington, Seahawks (0.8 percent owned) – Washington carried 19 times for 69 yards during the preseason, and he’s always been a pretty good pass-catching option. Those things pale in comparison to Washington’s return skills – he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season, and has seven in his five-year career. Pete Carroll has been talking about involving Washington in the Seahawks’ offense more, and his breakaway ability makes him an interesting PPR proposition. Most leagues don’t award individual special team points, but if yours does, Washington should be on a roster.

Wide receivers

Jordan Shipley, Bengals (3.3 percent owned) – Shipley caught 52 passes for the Bengals during his rookie season, and figures to serve as a solid possession receiver/safety valve for rookie QB Andy Dalton in 2011. My colleague Joel Beall thinks Shipley could catch 90 passes, and he lives in Cincinnati, for crying out loud! PPR owners are going to like Shipley a lot.

Earl Bennett, Bears (2.1 percent owned) – Bennett is the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart in Chicago, behind Johnny Knox, Roy Williams and Devin Hester. Unfortunately, Williams and Hester share the bad habit of not catching the ball when it’s thrown to them. You know Bennett and Jay Cutler were college teammates, right? Look for Bennett to earn his keep as a bye-week replacement in PPR leagues.

Josh Morgan, 49ers (1.8 percent owned) – Morgan caught 44 passes for 698 yards in a part-time role last season, so he’s no slouch. He’s also going to start until Michael Crabtree’s foot injury gets better, and while that might happen soon, Morgan should remain a viable part of the Niner offense all season.

Jabar Gaffney, Redskins (1.7 percent owned) – Another set of college teammates! Gaffney and Grossman were a dynamic Florida Gator pair years ago, and with Gaffney set to be Washington’s No. 2 wideout, you can expect Grossman to look for him quite a bit. The 10-year veteran averaged 60 receptions and 803 yards over the last two seasons in Denver, and could put up similar numbers this season.

Denarius Moore, Raiders (0.8 percent owned) – The Raiders have been raving about the speedy Moore since training camp started. Unlike some of his predecessors – I’m looking at you, Darrius Heyward-Bey – he seems to actually have the ability to catch the ball once in awhile. Moore was a fifth-round draft pick, and while he’s a longshot, he’s got the potential to pay off.

Tight ends

Travis Beckum, Giants (2.4 percent owned) – The monstrous Jake Ballard is currently atop the Giants’ depth chart, but Beckum is the better receiver. The Giants lost Steve Smith during the offseason, so Eli Manning will need a third receiving option behind wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. In the eight games following Smith’s knee injury last season, starting TE Kevin Boss caught 21 passes, with four of them going for touchdowns. That’s a lot of end zone appearances for a mediocre tight end, don’t you think? Beckum could become a really nice bye-week replacement.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (1.7 percent owned) – Visanthe Shiancoe is the Vikings’ starter, but if they falter – they’re probably the worst team in the NFC North – they’ll probably want to see what Rudolph can do. The 6’6”, 259-pound Notre Dame product was drafted in the second round this year, and it wasn’t for his blocking. Unless you have one of the stud tight ends, you’ll be mixing and matching at the position all year long, By midseason or even a little earlier, Rudolph should be worthy of a pickup.