Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Breakdown: The regular season of fantasy football is coming to an end in many leagues. With that in mind we realize that, minus the opportunity that may arise due to injury, the players with something to bring to the table this fantasy season are pretty much well known to all. Therefore our perspective must change a bit, leading us to look beyond just this season but to next season as well. Whether for keeper league purposes, trade purposes, or whatever other purposes may be pertinent, we’ll be taking a weekly look at players and situations that fantasy owners should be aware of in order to be on top of their game moving forward.
Davone Bess (MIA) – Davone Bess is in an interesting situation and has plenty of things that should warrant the attention of fantasy owners. First, he is pretty much a possession receiver, and in general not the big, tall, fast receiver that becomes a team’s feature wide out. He is, however, coming into his own as a big time player even though he sometimes gets lost in the spate of receivers that see the field for the Dolphins. He’s in a mix with Greg Camarillo, Ted Ginn, Jr., and Brian Hartline, all of which are signed for at least the next couple of years or longer. Bess, on the other hand, becomes a free agent after the season, meaning it is tough to predict exactly where he’ll be. I try to avoid too much speculation on the nature of where players will end up when writing this piece, so I’m not going to start here, but I do believe the odds are more in favor of him playing somewhere other than Miami than staying in south Florida. That being said, I do believe, wherever he ends up, that he’s going to be a solid fantasy option going forward.
This season Bess is on pace to have about 75 catches, and while he won’t have 1,000 yards to go with it (he’ll likely end around 650), those kind of reception numbers make him a very nice mid-to-late-round pick on draft day especially in PPR leagues. He’s got the talent to excel, and if he does stay in Miami it will be at the expense of Camarillo – at least in playing time. He’ll be in that coveted ‘third-year receiver’ role next year as well, making him a prime target to ‘break out’ wherever he goes. His yards after the catch leave a lot to be desired, and he hasn’t had any touchdowns this season, but those will come soon enough, at least enough to make things interesting. As it stands, as far as possession receivers go, Bess is one of the best of the latest crop.
Sam Aiken (NEP) – Aiken is going to be a fairly hot property on some waiver wires this week due to his long touchdown catch Sunday, and that’s not a terribly bad thing. The fact is, he’s a pretty good receiver and fits the New England system very well. Tom Brady has found a chemistry of sorts with him and he’s quickly taken over the third receiver spot on the Patriots offense. It has taken him a while to really ‘fit in’ somewhere, and he’s no spring chicken (28 when the season began), but he’s a veteran who seems to be able to fit into his role and play it to a “T”.
The fact is that the receiver set in New England is likely set for at least another year or two. Randy Moss still has at least one more season on contract, Julian Edelman three and Wes Welker at least a couple, so it wouldn’t appear that there is a ton of serious room to move right away for Aiken. So, while many may be out trying to grab Aiken this week, there is room for caution. However, the room for excitement is there as well, and the trust he’s built with Brady is worth a lot. It shouldn’t be forgotten the success Jabaar Gafney had in New England, and Aiken could be in line for a couple of years filling a role similar to that. So, the bottom line here for fantasy owners, Aiken is a promising performer, but caution should abound unless you’re in a deep league where you can start 3-4 receivers. If you’re in one of those, Aiken should be on a roster somewhere and if he’s not, put him on yours.
Deon Butler (SEA) – Butler hasn’t been heard from much this year, but there is plenty about him to warrant keeping half an eye on, especially in keeper leagues. The Seahawks drafted him in the third round this year and the team fully expects him to contribute sooner rather than later. None of the three guys ahead of him is a free agent at the end of this year, but with the health issues that have plagued Deion Branch the past few years it is always within the realm of possibility that a fourth receiver will end up as a third receiver or better before too long.
There are other reasons to think that Butler will see some good days ahead, statistically speaking anyway. With the emergence of Justin Forsett it appears that the team may at least have part of its running game problem solved, meaning better things for the rest of the offense. Along with that, Seattle is likely to remain a passing team for the foreseeable future. They’ve been relatively effective in getting the ball spread out to quite a few on a weekly basis in recent history. Look for the team to try getting a good look at what Butler can do throughout next season, giving him plenty of playing time and opportunity for fantasy numbers. The team will want to see if he’s capable of replacing Nate Burleson as the number two guy the year after next, which will be to the benefit of fantasy owners. If you’re in a keeper league that has extra allowances for rookies, he’s a good one to grab. He played in a very good system in college and has all indications that he’ll be the next solid receiver in Washington in the not too distant future.