Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Jay-Z and I don't share a lot in common but when it comes to fantasy football, I think our philosophy is pretty much the same.
My fantasy season is over but just like H.O.V.A., I'm already "on to the next one."
2013 is right around the corner, folks. For those of you competing in keeper leagues, it's time to start thinking about which players to hold on to for next season.
To keep or not to keep? That is the question. Here are a few borderline players you might be wondering about for next season:
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: In his first two seasons in the league, Bryant had just one 100-yard receiving game. In 2012, he's already had five with his most impressive one coming in a gutsy Week 16 effort against the Saints (nine catches, 224 yards, two TD). Pro Bowlers Reggie Wayne and Calvin Johnson have scored a combined 10 touchdowns this season. That's how many Dez has in his last seven games. It took him a bit longer than expected but Bryant has finally developed into the superstar we all thought he'd be. If Bryant is on your team, there's no way you're letting him go.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Cobb is quietly on the verge of his first 1,000-yard receiving season. Sure, he's been the beneficiary of injuries to Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings this season but the chemistry he has with quarterback Aaron Rodgers is real. Cobb has reeled in an insane 76.9 percent of his targets this season. Even slot wizard Wes Welker can't top that (67.9 percent success rate). Call me crazy but if Cobb was on my team, I'd hold on tight.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants: Cruz hasn't racked up the yards like he did a season ago (1,040 compared to 1,536 in 2011) and he's had a few weeks where it seemed like he was invisible (two catches for 23 yards against Dallas in Week 8, three grabs for 15 versus Atlanta in Week 15). With that said, Cruz is still getting plenty of looks from Eli Manning (137 targets this season versus just 131 all of last season) and only seven receivers in the league have more touchdowns than he does (nine in 15 games). He's no Megatron but Cruz is still a good guy to have.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: After producing three 1,000-yard campaigns in a row between 2009-2011, MJD laid an egg in 2012. Of course injuries played a role in that (he missed the final 10 games with an ankle injury), but even when Jones-Drew was on the field he didn't look like the same player who won the rushing title in 2011 (69 yards per game this season compared to 100.4 ypg last season). With a healthy ankle and hopefully a new team, Jones-Drew should be better in 2013. But with all the depth at running back in the league right now, you can afford to let Jones-Drew go.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Last season, Manning came within 70 yards of becoming the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a single season. This season, he might not even make it to 4,000. Manning's touchdowns are down (eight fewer than last season) his completion percentage has fallen (59.8 versus 61.0 in 2011) and his overall quarterback rating is his lowest since 2007. It's understandable if you drafted Manning as a top- five quarterback this season. Just don't make the same mistake in 2013.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: One word comes to mind when I think of Morris: consistency. In 15 games, Morris has finished with fewer than 75 yards in a game only twice. That kind of reliability is unheard of for a rookie. With running back guru Mike Shanahan as head coach, Morris is only going to get better. Make sure you have Morris locked up for 2013.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Newton had a roller-coaster start to the season but he's come on strong in the second half and is now back in the top five among fantasy quarterbacks. His QB rating is higher than last year (88.0 versus 84.5 in 2011), his rushing totals are about the same (707 yards in 2012, 706 last season) and he's been able to cut down on his turnovers (17 interceptions last year, 11 this season). This guy is pretty darn good and will be for a long time. I think Newton's a keeper.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: I can see why owners would be skeptical about holding on to Spiller. As terrific as the third-year back has been (1,185 yards, six TD), there's always going to be the threat of Fred Jackson stealing his carries as long as both players are in Buffalo. But think about this. Jackson has missed 12 games over the last two seasons and he's going to be 32 when next season begins. Plus, Jackson was brutal this season (43.7 yards per game) while Spiller led the league in yards per carry (6.5). Spiller has earned a full workload and I see Jackson as more of a change of pace back in the future. I think it's safe to hold on to Spiller.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: The yardage is still there (313 ypg) but other than that, Stafford has regressed in every way you could imagine. The most stunning drop-off for Stafford has been in the touchdown department. Stafford's 41 TD throws ranked third in the NFL last season. This year his touchdown total (17) won't even crack the top-20. Fantasy owners deserve better.
Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots: Welker will always be Welker. He'll get you 100 catches and probably something in the neighborhood of 1,300 receiving yards. But he's only caught more than eight touchdowns once in his career and we're not sure if he'll stay with the Patriots beyond this season. Can Welker still be a star without Tom Brady throwing to him? I don't know and I'm not sure I want to find out. As much as I love the Slot Machine, I wouldn't waste a keeper on him.
Sometimes, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Your best player for next season might already be on your roster. Fantasy owners in keeper leagues need to make sure they figure out who that player is.
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