It was 1998, and by then Pearl Jam was seen as a novelty, no longer the surefire hit machine they were back in their “grunge” glory in the early ’90s. With albums like Vitalogy and No Code it was clear the artistic image of the band had won out over the hit making machine. Their new album hadn’t even gotten much publicity when the year ticked over into 1998, even though it was their first in a couple of years. But then Yield was released, and it was well worth the wait. It didn’t matter to true fans everything that had gone on with the previous two albums. Pearl Jam was back, and that was the most important thing.
It’s how I feel about some players who have been injury-prone lately (or maybe who have always been injury prone for whatever reasons), or who just can’t seem to avoid suspensions. I think that’s how we start thinking about them, as solid guys (or even great guys) who aren’t as solid, who aren’t as great anymore because of those injuries. They’ve gone through their “artistic” phase, and we just aren’t waiting for brilliant records anymore from them. But they’ve still got more in the tank. They’re Pearl Jam sticking out that “Yield” sign and letting us know it’s not over yet.
The glory about these players is that they slide down many boards on draft night, not enough team owners willing to give them a chance, but they could easily make or break your fantasy season. They tend to get lumped up in one group, but there’s a difference between them so they should be looked at individually, especially when you’re charting your rankings. You can take into account their various issues, but in the end do you think they won’t produce? That’s all you should be thinking about when you sit in front of the draft board.
Many of these players I wouldn’t think twice about drafting if they fell to me a round below their average draft position. That’s called value. Here is my list of 8 players who are dropping in drafts but who could easily yield high results:
Adrian Peterson [New Orleans Saints, RB]
Do you expect him to be the player he once was, before the allegations, before the missed time, before the poor stats, when he was “All Day”? Because he’s not that guy anymore. He is now officially injury prone, and he is splitting reps with Mark Ingram by all accounts, in a pass-first offense (Brees, anyone?) so why am I saying he retains value. It’s because he should get goal-line carries, he’s got a solid offensive line, and Brees commands attention. In ESPN leagues, AP is going in the 7th round on average, after Tevin Coleman. Coleman won’t have a season like last year, and AP won’t either. He’s healthy now, and I’d pick him up in the 6th round with no reservations.
Martavis Bryant [Pittsburgh Steelers, WR]
This is the ultimate “if he can stay on the field I’m starting him with confidence” pick. Except that his issues aren’t physical, on the field, issues. They’re that he can’t seem to stop getting suspended, wasting such a supreme talent. He reminds me a lot of Josh Morgan, the guy who can transform an entire offense, but he can’t get rid of his own demons. But I feel like the time off last season helped him do that as well as anything could have, that he’s got his priorities in order now. For a guy currently going in the 6th round, he has 3rd round talent. He could be a steal for you in the 5th round, where I feel you should target him.
Rob Gronkowski [New England Patriots, TE]
He is the epitome of injury prone. I think it has everything to do with how hard he plays, with how necessary he is to his offense, and with just the large nature of the man. There is MORE of him to be hurt than most others on the field. This is 1st round talent, clearly, especially in PPR leagues, but even in non-PPR formats, but he’s routinely going late in the 2nd round. I say if he’s available at the beginning of the 2nd round and you’re drafting in that spot, pick him up. He’s one of the few true difference makers at position that you’re going to find for such good value, even though 2nd round is still high. I’m targeting him in every draft.
Keenan Allen [Los Angeles Chargers, WR]
Currently going in the 3rd round, when he’s on the field Allen is a certain 2nd rounder, but he just hasn’t been on the field lately. He allows Philip Rivers to spread the field, and gives him a quality top tier receiver to target. That means more fantasy points for you. When he hasn’t been hurt Allen is a 2nd round talent, but he’s going on average late in the 3rd round. And the truth is, I don’t think he’s injury prone. He just hasn’t been the luckiest guy in the world. I think that changes now, kind of like how Sam Bradford stuck out the whole season last year. Allen is this year’s Sam Bradford (except he’s actually a good player).
Brandon Marshall [New York Giants, WR]
Marshall didn’t suddenly get bad. His problem was he was playing on the other New York team, for quarterbacks like a guy named Fitzpatrick, which was his own fault after playing on poor Chicago teams with a guy named Cutler. Well, now Cutler is in Miami, and Brandon Marshall hasn’t even changed cities this time. I am not all in on Eli Manning (regression city), but last I checked Marshall will have a guy named Odell on the field with him taking away coverages that he never had taken away with the Jets (Decker just wasn’t healthy last year). This is bounceback time, and Marshall never lost any skills anyway. So even though his stock has dropped in drafts (he is currently 66th off the board in PPR leagues) it shouldn’t. I’d take him top 50.
C.J. Anderson [Denver Broncos, RB]
Look, I know Anderson didn’t really have the kinds of issues as these other guys (poor QB play excepted). When he was given the ball he just didn’t produce as well last year, and getting injured didn’t help him at all. But he’s healthy now. So why is he going so low as the seventh round with backups like the aforementioned Coleman (who is only two spots below him in the recent ESPN rankings)? Oh, you say Jamaal Charles is in town? Think about why Charles stayed a free agent so long. If no teams were really sold on him as still an elite talent, why would Denver be? Why would YOU be? I would draft Anderson with confidence, knowing that Charles is now injury prone, but also knowing that Charles was never really atop this depth chart anyway. Anderson will be the horse. Go grab a wagon.
I could mention many more, like Tyler Eifert, Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy, and John Brown, but you get the point. Analyze each and every one of these players on an individual basis. Check out their unique situations, and keep your charts and analysis handy on draft night. You might be able to land all of these talents at a discount, and then watch the fantasy points add up.
Oh, and Yield was Pearl Jam’s best, most cohesive effort since Vs. I’m off to listen to it now.