The Kaepernick Question

Updated: July 23rd 2017

One of the more interesting debates this NFL offseason revolves around why former San Francisco quarterback does not have a job yet. The arguments tend to range primarily around 1) declining football skills versus 2) bias due to his political stance last season but also move into somewhat bizarre areas such as his vegan diet. This article focuses the discussion to the football realm and whether his football abilities, recent production, and market forces dictate he should indeed possess a starting job.

What Kaepernick is as a Quarterback

Before we examine where the free agent quarterback is in his development, we need to look at how he was viewed early in his career. Perhaps no statement demonstrates the sky-high expectations for Kaepernick better than a certain ESPN analysts’ famous quote (one I am sure he would like to take back) leading into the 2013 NFL season.

“I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” – Ron Jaworkski.

Obviously this quote seems silly now but Jaworski was not alone in thinking Kaepernick could be a game-changer at the quarterback position. Kaepernick displayed a rocket arm combined with a tremendous athletic profile which was showcased during his spectacular 2012 playoff run in which he made one big play after another leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

So what happened? The most basic answer is that Kaepernick never evolved as a passer in the league.  Looking back at a few weaknesses reported in his NFL Draft Profile sheds some insight into the issue: “Has not been asked to make NFL progressions and reads. Misses too many short passes. Doesn’t have consistent touch on the deep ball. Release is somewhat elongated and can dip down to sidearm at times.”  Sound familiar?  It should if you have watched many San Francisco games.  Kaepernick still has major accuracy issues, struggles to make the most basic NFL-level reads, and never addressed his throwing motion.  In addition, he also breaks out of the pocket far too often from imagined pressure.  But do his weaknesses on film show up on in his production?  We can take a look at the numbers below.

We can clearly see his career play deteriorating from Table 1 below. QBR (ESPN) and DVOA (Football Outsiders) are respective measures of quarterback value per play from each site. Both measures are publicly available and rely on play-level data to assess quarterback play taking into account surrounding circumstances.  QBR, for example, splits responsibility for drops and yards per reception among quarterbacks and receivers on each play.  QBR and DVOA listed in Table 1 reflect Kaepernick’s QBR and DVOA rank among qualified NFL quarterbacks over the past five seasons.  His DVOA rank went from one of the best during his rookie season to one of the NFL’s worst over the last couple of seasons among starting quarterbacks.

Colin Kaepernick Jay Cutler
Year Games QBR Pass DVOA Games QBR Pass DVOA
2012 13 N/A* N/A 3 15 22 25 27
2013 16 8 25.5 7 11 3 35 13
2014 16 17 30.3 29 15 16 32.6 22
2015 9 29 0.4 35 15 10 45 9
2016 12 23 -0.3 30 5 N/A** N/A N/A
Table 1: Kaepernick vs. Cutler
*Not enough plays to qualify but ranked 4th.
**Not enough plays to qualify. QBR was far below Kaepernick’s and DVOA one spot ahead.

Possibly even more indicative of his struggles as a quarterback over the last couple of seasons is examining his expected points added on passing plays (Pass in Table 1). Kaepernick, quite literally, added practically no expected points in the passing game during the 2015 and 2016 seasons where he ranked at the bottom of the league.  To put this in context, he provided far less value as a passer in 2016 than other much-maligned starting quarterbacks including Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Case Keenan.

So what does Kaepernick bring as a quarterback? The answer is clearly the ability to take over games with his legs where his athletic abilities can truly shine.  The 49er accumulated more expected points from rushes than any other quarterback during the 2016 season despite playing in only 12 games.  He can bring value to a team relying on the run game where Kaepernick can be utilized substantially on play action passes limiting his deficiencies as a pocket passer and also on zone-read schemes to further emphasize the rushing attack.

The Market for Kaepernick

As detailed in my report on possible quarterback landing spots, Kaepernick faced a market loaded with players available who have starting NFL experience.  In addition, the former 49er’s limited passing abilities make him a niche player in the league with only a handful of coordinators and coaches willing to structure an offense around his skills.  Most rebuilding teams prefer a more traditional pocket passer to match with developing young receivers. This left very few teams in a position to utilize Kaepernick’s skills with coaching staffs willing to restructure their offense around him.

We also need to look at Kaepernick’s remaining completion for a starting job. Let us begin with Jay Cutler, another spited quarterback on the unemployed block.  Referring again to Table 1, it is fairly clear that Cutler has been the superior player in aggregate over the last few seasons.  The former Bear produced QBRs in the top half of the league in each of his last three qualifying seasons (2013-2015), each of which exceeded Kaepernick, while also amassing more production as a passer.  We also need to remember that the NFL draft has not yet occurred and that many teams will be looking toward rookies for near-term and future starters.

The demand for starting quarterbacks has only shrunk since the start of free agency. Buffalo restructured Tyrod Taylor’s contract.  San Francisco (Brian Hoyer) and New York (Josh McCown) signed cheaper short-term stopgaps, likely in preparation for adding a longer-term starter in the near future or further evaluating young quarterbacks on the roster in the Jets case.   Chicago opted for Mike Glennon.  Only Houston and Cleveland remain as viable starting options.  The Browns just released Robert Griffin III, a player with a similar skill-set to Kaepernick, making Cleveland an unlikely landing spot.

Kaepernick’s Expectations

I am not privy to Kaepernick’s thoughts but we can extrapolate his possible initial expectations based on his actions and reports coming out of free agency. Kaepernick opted out of his $14.5 milliion base salary with San Francisco in 2017.  Various reports also had the current free agent initially asking for a starting spot at about $10 million per season while teams signed other starting options for significantly less money.  It becomes fairly obvious that Kaepernick’s contract expectations did not match the thinking of NFL teams.

The Verdict

I do not doubt that some teams may have removed Colin Kaepernick from employment consideration due to his political views, but the data overwhelmingly suggests Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment relates primarily to his football skills. He has not performed as more than a lower-tier quarterback for years and his passing skills never developed in the time with San Francisco.  Kaepernick likely viewed himself as a definitive starter on the open-market where NFL teams probably viewed him as a backup or bottom-tier option competing for the starting job.  His employment opportunities were also likely hurt by the high number of quarterbacks with starting experience available this offseason.  Kaepernick will probably find a job eventually based on his early career success but that opportunity could very well come following the NFL draft where teams firm up their rosters.

Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

Most Frequently Cut Players in 2015

Updated: June 4th 2016

Knowing how to manage your available cap space is integral to championship caliber Reality Sports Online teams.  As Sir Isaac Newton, an early proponent of salary cap management, once said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”   The cap penalty for cutting an under-contract player is not “equal” to the amount that is owed, but it is significant and owners must be cognizant of the penalty when constructing their team.  Sometimes cutting dead weight may be worth the penalty while other situations may call for holding on longer.  As RSO owners get ready for their free agent auctions, I thought it would be wise to take a look at some of the mistakes that were made last year.  In next week’s piece, we’ll apply those lessons to 2016.


  1. Robert Griffin (average contract value: $983,000)
  2. Colin Kaepernick ($2,034,000)
  3. Joe Flacco ($2,188,000)
  4. Jay Cutler ($1,891,000)
  5. Sam Bradford ($5,574,000)
  6. Peyton Manning (15,375,000)

I originally planned to list just the five most frequently cut players but I figured adding in Peyton Manning was prudent based on his massive contract value.  RGIII, Kaepernick and Manning being on this list should surprise nobody but they are cautionary tails.  In the case of RGIII and Kaepernick, that lesson would be not overpaying for a relatively small sample size; as for Manning you need to be wary of overpaying for an aging star.  I’m not sure there is a big takeaway on Flacco and Cutler.  They are serviceable backups or borderline starters in bigger leagues, it makes sense to me that they would be signed to reasonably priced contracts and would be signed/cut throughout the year.  The glaring mistake in this list is obviously Bradford.  Unfortunately it seems that too many RSO owners were drinking the Chip Kelly Kool-Aid.


  1. Ryan Williams ($597,000)
  2. Fred Jackson ($1,270,000)
  3. Lorenzo Taliaferro ($1,340,000)
  4. Montee Ball ($1,670,000)
  5. Denard Robinson ($1,346,000)

Well that list was surprising.  Clearly a whole lot of owners thought that Ryan Williams was going to be a factor in Dallas; thankfully, most owners used an un-guaranteed $500,000 minimum contract on Williams.  The trend with the other backs was equally as hopeful: Jackson looked like he could be a valuable change of pace to the bruising Marshawn Lynch; Taliaferro, Ball and Robinson were three young backs in the running for their team’s starting role.  I think the lesson here, as it is in the NFL, is that running backs are so interchangeable that the guy who you target in May and June is unlikely to be the bell-cow in November.  Luckily, these guys were all on cheap, and likely short, contracts that would limit the penalty to cutting bait.


  1. Charles Johnson ($5,310,000)
  2. Brian Quick ($2,484,000)
  3. Roddy White ($3,690,000)
  4. Cody Latimer ($2,150,000)
  5. Nick Toon ($945,945)

I was expecting WR to give us the most interesting set of frequently cut players and I think this is borne out in the above list.  Let’s start with Roddy White, the elder statesman of this list.  Roddy has been second fiddle to Julio Jones for a few years now but managed to maintain some PPR value until 2015 when his targets plummeted.  The other four WRs, much like our young RBs above, had some buzz going into the preseason about emerging as a starter but they did not pan out for various reasons, namely injury or the rising stock of a teammate (i.e. Stefon Diggs and Willie Snead).  Given the higher salaries here compared to QB and RB, I was surprised that owners didn’t hold onto see if free agency would change the outlook for the younger WRs.


  1. David Johnson ($583,000)
  2. Dwayne Allen ($2,715,000)
  3. Owen Daniels ($2,289,000)
  4. Josh Hill ($2,106,000)
  5. Alex Smith ($546,000)

No, the Arizona RB and Kansas City QB were not mislabeled in my statistics, David Johnson and Alex Smith were both sleeper tight end prospects heading into 2015 training camps.  Johnson was behind an old Heath Miller and Smith was in the running with Josh Hill for the Saints TE job after Jimmy Graham was shipped to Seattle.  Neither Johnson or Smith are with those teams anymore so I’m not sure why I’m wasting my breath here but, alas.  Hill was disappointing in 2015 but that should not have been surprising given his unsustainable touchdown rate of 2014.  Allen missed four games and was not involved in the games in which he did play.  Daniels ended up with a respectable season (46 receptions, 517 yards, 3 TDs) with a few big games but it was so hit-or-miss that you likely missed.  Let’s face it, most of today’s TEs are inconsistent and near enough to the replacement level that if you don’t have somebody like Gronk, Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen you shouldn’t bother paying more than the minimum.

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Cap Analysis: Bears

Updated: March 1st 2016

Chicago Bears

Trending: Slightly Down ↓

It’s hard to be excited about the Bears in 2016. They’re heading into year eight of the Jay Cutler era. Barring unforeseen success, it’s likely to be the final year of the Cutler era. At this point in his career, he is what he is – just talented enough to win some games, just reckless enough to lose some games, and just brash enough to be unlikeable for the general public.

The Bears need to rebuild, and it could be a fairly long process. It seems likely that they will take one step backward in an attempt to take two steps forward. They’re probably going to let Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffrey walk in Free Agency. They’ll probably put a lot of young players around Cutler, and they could end up as one of the weaker teams in the league. The question isn’t really how good will they be in 2016, but who will still be in the most important positions – coach, general manager, and quarterback – in 2017.

Projected 2016 Team Salary$95.7M (not including escalators and NLTBE* incentives) *Not Likely To Be Earned

Projected 2016 Cap Room: ~$60.47M (~$155.27M Estimate; ~$0.9M Rollover)

Situation: Weak 

The Bears have almost $60M in available cap space and lots of needs, but it’s far from a certainty that they will make any real splash in free agency. Even if the team spent every penny, it’s not likely they would leapfrog the Vikings or Packers, and definitely can’t improve enough to compete for the NFC title in 2016.

Notable Free Agents:

Bears FAs

In eight seasons with the Bears, Matt Forte has played in and started 120 of 128 games. He’s been amazingly durable, averaging nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage during that time. 2015 was the only year in that span in which he put up less than 1,400 from scrimmage, and he still put up 1,287 in 13 games. The Bears are making the right decision to move on, because Forte is still good enough to make them better, but won’t be by the time the Bears are good enough to compete.

Alshon Jeffrey, who has averaged 6 receptions, 88.5 receiving yards, and 0.55 touchdowns per start since 2013 will have many suitors if he enters free agency. There’s a significant gap between him and the next set of free agent wide receivers (T. Benjamin, M. Sanu, M. Jones, R. Matthews, R. Randle). Veteran tight end Zach Miller (no, not the one who had a few good seasons with the Raiders and won a super bowl with the Seahawks) emerged as a threat late in the season (31 receptions, 404 rec. yards, 5 TDs in 8 game span), and is also a free agent. **Editor’s Note: Alshon Jeffrey was franchise tagged subsequent to Matt writing this article.

The Bears released Jermon Bushrod after he fell out of the rotation while battling a shoulder injury. Starting guard Vlad Ducasse is also a free agent.

In the front seven, the team is likely to lose Shea McClellin, whose fifth year option was declined after he failed to meet his first-round expectations, plus Jarvis Jenkins and Sam Acho. In the secondary, veteran journeymen Tracy Porter, Ryan Mundy, and Alan Ball are free agents.

Top Projected Cap Hits:

Bears Cap Hits

Jay Cutler’s cap charge is very reasonable for any starting quarterback not on their rookie contract.  The cap figure of Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston are not completely unreasonable, although the team is paying roughly $1M per sack for their 14 combined sacks in 2015. Martellus Bennett turns 29 in March, and the team will need him to return to form, especially if Alshon Jeffrey departs.

Cap Casualty Watch List:

Bears Cap Cas

As mentioned earlier, this is likely the final year of the Cutler era. The Bears need to be bad before they can be good again. So why not just suck it up and eat his $13M cap charge in 2016? Separately from the cap decision, the Bears owe Cutler $10M in guaranteed base salary triggered by the fact that he was on the roster in mid-March, 2015. If the Bears cut him today, they would still have to write him a check for $10M. On March 11, 2016, the remaining $6M of his base salary becomes guaranteed. The team can release Cutler in February 2017 with only a $3M cap charge, and no additional cash owed.

Many of the other veterans on this list that manage to hang around in 2016, could find themselves on the chopping block a year from now.

Extension Watch List: 

Bears Ext Watch List

If I were Martellus Bennett, I would play out my contract and take one more crack at a multi-year contract in free agency in 2017. The team may be interested in keeping him around beyond this year, though it’s hard to know what the regime that inherited him (John Fox/Ryan Pace) thinks of his quirky personality.

Kyle Long is likely to have his fifth year option exercised, pushing his free agency out to March 2018.

Marquess Wilson won’t turn 24 until September and showed some flashes of promise. He’s coming off of a foot injury, but if he is healthy for camp, the team may decide to invest in a small extension before he becomes a potential starter.

Position Needs: 

Linebacker, Defensive Line, Offensive Tackle.

Sleeper Watch: 

Eddie Royal has been a perennial sleeper since his outstanding rookie season in 2008. He turns 30 in May, but with Matt Forte leaving and Alshon Jeffrey potentially joining him, there will be a lot of targets to go around if this team is playing from behind as often as I envision.

Matt Papson (@RealitySportsMP) formerly worked in football administration for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the President, co-founder and creator of Reality Sports Online, a fantasy front office platform that enables fantasy owners to build and manage their fantasy team like a professional sports general manager. The Reality Sports Online platform has been featured in Fortune, on Bloomberg TV, and was the 2012 Fantasy Sports Trade Association Rookie of the Year.

Sources: Spotrac, Pro-Football Reference, and Rotoworld

More Analysis by Matt Papson

More Time For Some Auction (Rankings 26-50)

Updated: July 3rd 2014

You’ve now read my piece about my Top 25 ranked free agents going into the 2014 season.  Now let’s take a look at my 26-50 Free Agent Rankings.  These picks reflect overall rankings and suggested contract values for those players, a lot of which I’m recommending on one year deals:

Rank Player POS % Owned Rec Contract Value
26 Lance Dunbar RB 1% 2yrs, $8m
27 Ben Tate RB 49% 2yrs, $10m
28 Ryan Tannehill QB 26% 3yrs, $15m
29 Donald Brown RB 3% 2yrs, $12m
30 Reggie Wayne WR 31% 1yr, $5m
31 Greg Jennings WR 31% 1yr, $5m
32 Jay Cutler QB 15% 2yrs, $11m
33 Greg Olsen TE 27% 1yr, $6m
34 Ben Roethlisberger QB 11% 1yr, $6m
35 Carson Palmer QB 11% 1yr, $2m
36 Eli Manning QB 41% 2yrs, $11m
37 Ladarius Green TE 0% 2yrs, $12m
38 Danny Woodhead RB 9% 1yr, $7m
39 Ronnie Hillman RB 14% 2yrs, $8m
40 Marvin Jones WR 1% 3yrs, $17m
41 Bryce Brown RB 32% 2yrs, $10m
42 Jarrett Boykin WR 1% 1yr, $5m
43 Cecil Shorts III WR 38% 1yr, $7m
44 Alex Smith QB 18% 1yr, $4m
45 Knowshon Moreno RB 5% 1yr, $4m
46 Brian Hartline WR 9% 1yrs, $4m
47 Golden Tate WR 14% 1yrs, $6m
48 Kenny Stills WR 47% 1yr, $3m
49 Heath Miller TE 4% 1yr, $4m
50 Doug Baldwin WR 0% 2yrs, $8m

26.  Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Scott Linehan is the new Offensive Coordinator in the Big D.  That essentially makes Dunbar the Darren Sproles/Joique Bell type in Dallas.  Add in the fact that DeMarco Murray is injury prone and in a contract year, while Dunbar is a restricted free agent in 2015, and Dunbar’s outlook is pretty awesome.  He can play in the slot and be a great PPR option or flex play as well.  Love his upside.

27. Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns

When he was signed by the Browns, most people were way more excited about Tate’s prospects. Then he sat out OTAs and Terrance West was picked in the third round by the Browns.  Tate could have been sitting out as a precaution as new OC Kyle Shanahan likes to lean on a “bell-cow” type running back as no #2 back in Shanahan’s system has had 100 or more carries.  Head coach Mike Pettine recently mentioned a running back by committee and West does have serious upside both this year and in dynasty.  Still, if Tate can stay healthy, he figures to get plenty of run on a team that is more than committed to it in 2014. He’s on a two year deal with the Browns, so in spite of the fact that Tate is 25, he’s a banged-up 25 and shouldn’t get more than two years from any RSO owner in the Free Agent Auction.

28. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Bill Lazor was brought in as OC from Philadelphia to spice up the Dolphins offense, which was pass heavy in 2013.  The offensive pace figures to pick up immensely, which should limit the league leading 58 sacks Tannehill suffered last year and result in more deep balls thrown.  2014 is a critical year for Tannehill to make the leap to the first round quarterback that he was drafted to be and a lot of money and draft picks were spent to improve the offensive line this year, which should only help after last year’s mess.

29. Donald Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers

It was quite puzzling that Brown decided on the Chargers crowded backfield when he was coming off a very solid season.  The Chargers want to keep Ryan Mathews healthy in 2014, so Brown may get more carries to keep Mathews’ quality high.  These carries probably come at the expense of Danny Woodhead, who factors in more as a pass catcher.  Brown’s real value will be in 2015 when both Mathews and Woodhead are free agents.  Given the reduced value of starting running backs these days and the contract that Brown signed, he could be the Chargers starter in 2014 or more likely, 2015.  There’s value in that.

30. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts

No player seems to defy age lately more than Reggie Wayne.  Make no mistake, he is still one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets on a good offense.  He works incredibly hard and still has some gas in the tank.  He’s certainly worth a one year deal and should still produce around 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards.

31. Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Nobody was happier that Matt Cassel was coming back as the potential starter in Minnesota more than Jennings who had his better games with Cassel at the helm.  He had 68 catches for 804 yards and 4 TD’s in 2013, which was a down year, especially when Christian Ponder was at the helm.  In Week 15 last season, Jennings showed he still has serious talent with an 11 catch, 163 yard performance with a touchdown.  With new OC Norv Turner in the fray, Cordarrelle Patterson is viewed as the #1 wide receiver, but Jennings figures to be involved plenty.  He’s still making big money, so look for the Vikings to keep him involved.

32. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

By virtue of having one of the best wide receiving tandems in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and an offensive mastermind for a head coach in Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler is a serious upside play for the next few years in fantasy football.    If he can remain healthy, he has Top 5 fantasy points potential at a seriously reduced cost.  Definitely target him if you are coming into your auction without a QB as a “Late Round QB”, but make sure you don’t overpay in dollars, and especially in years.

33. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

One of the better tight ends in the NFL and now part of Carolina’s depleted receiving corps.  Olsen had a solid 2013 with 73 catches for 816 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Cam Newton definitely looks his way frequently.  If need be, he’s a Panther for a few more years and you could up the years, but as my rankings reflect, there are lots of options at tight end, so don’t overpay.

34. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben seems to be getting up to speed in OC Todd Haley’s offense.  He has a good deal of options on offense, headlined by Antonio Brown, complimented by a solid running attack with Le’Veon Bell and free agent signing LeGarrette Blount. Roethlisberger remains a QB2 with upside and definitely worth a look as a backup or spot starter, with the potential to be more.

35. Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Similar to Cutler’s situation in terms of offensive weapons and a Head Coach in Bruce Arians that is an offensive genius.  If Palmer gets improved offensive line play with the additions of Jared Veldheer and getting Jonathan Cooper back from injury, he figures to reduce the high amount of sacks he took last year and 22 interceptions which loomed large.  As mentioned in my 1-25 rankings, Michael Floyd is a star in the making and Larry Fitzgerald remains a top option and the coaching staff is comparing rookie John Brown to T.Y. Hilton.  All of these things make Palmer a very attractive cheap option.

36. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

Every few years Manning seems to make himself fantasy relevant again.  Manning has good receiving weapons and finally an offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo (formerly of Green Bay) that figures to open things up a bit.  Look for a bounceback in 2014 and consider the younger Manning brother a potential value this fantasy season.

37. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

After coming on strong at the end of 2013, Green seems to be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates in San Diego.  He shows the ability to make plays that nobody else on the team can and is improving his route running as well.  You probably want to speculate and lock Green up for two years to not miss out on this season’s Julius Thomas at the tight end position, who could also double as the #2 passing option in San Diego behind Keenan Allen.

38. Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers

I personally love Woodhead.  He had over 100 carries last season and was a Top 20 fantasy running back, especially in PPR leagues.  He does all the little things and is quite effective despite his size.  The addition of Donald Brown certainly crowds the rushing attempts, so I’m thinking Woodhead will revert more to a third-down back type in 2014.  As such and given that he’s a free agent following the season, I’d stick to a reasonable one year deal for Woodhead.

39. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

Hillman once was the starter in Denver and then his fumbling issues caused him to lose his job to Knowshon Moreno, who had a career year.  Hillman still has impressive edge speed and is only 23 years old, so if he can shore up his fumbling issues, he could still get a good run in Denver’s offense behind Montee Ball and potentially emerge as the pass-catching back for the Broncos too.  C.J. Anderson stands in his way as the #2 running back position is an offseason battle to pay attention to.

40. Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Any wide receiver with 10 touchdowns and 4 in the same game that isn’t named James Jones is always on my radar.  Marvin Jones is penciled in as the Bengals #2 starter opposite A.J. Green, one of the top wideouts in the NFL.  He’s only 24 years old and is signed through 2016 and has prototypical height and speed.  Jones also had 8 catches for 130 yards in a playoff loss to San Diego and has proven himself to be able to get open down the field.  A nice multi-year play.

41. Bryce Brown, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills traded for Brown on draft day more with 2015 in mind as both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are free agents after the 2014 season.  Brown flashes serious upside and did perform well in 2012 in Philadelphia when Lesean McCoy missed time with a serious concussion.  Brown does have some ball control issues, but has significant talent that is worth the risk.  Don’t expect too much for 2014, but remember he is behind two running backs who have a history of getting injured.

42. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers

Filled in admirably in 2013 when the Packers experienced injuries to their receiving corps, as well as when Aaron Rodgers went down.  Boykin moves to the outside this season, but faces stiff competition from rookie Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are free agents after the season, but at least one figures to be back.  Don’t overdo it on Boykin, but if he’s around late in your auction, jump on him.

43. Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Shorts is a 2015 free agent and operates out of the slot.  He’s a PPR machine and should be better now that the Blaine Gabbert experiment is over in Jacksonville.    While the Jaguars did draft two wideouts early in the draft, there should be enough balls to go around for Shorts to be effective.

44. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Smith is more of a game manager, but was a solid fantasy QB in 2013.   He had 23 TD’s and only 7 interceptions in 2013 and fares fairly well as a running QB.  The Chiefs schedule gets tougher in 2014, so figure that Smith will have to throw it more.

45. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins

In spite of a career year in Denver after numerous injury-riddled ones, the Broncos opted not to keep Moreno.  He is very effective as a pass blocker and pass catcher and feasted as a runner when Peyton Manning smartly audibled against 6 or less man fronts.  Just had arthroscopic knee surgery, but should be ready by training camp.  Unfortunately this injury, plus being out of shape has led to Lamar Miller gaining a potential edge as the starter on an Eagles type fast paced offense in 2014.  Definitely not worth a multi-year deal due to injuries and timeshare, but after last season’s breakthrough where he essentially was a Top 5 running back, in spite of being picked near the end of auctions, one has to consider Moreno for their team.

46. Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins

The pillar of consistency from a receiving standpoint the last two years.  Hartline has had 76 and 74 catches, respectively the past two seasons combined with two straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons.  Hartline did have a PCL injury late in 2013, but figures to be ready by the start of camp.  Not a touchdown maker, but very solid, albeit in a quiet way.

47. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions

Turned a career year in Seattle and a Super Bowl ring into a big free agent contract to be the #2 wideout opposite of Calvin Johnson in Detroit.  Lots of balls to go around for QB Matthew Stafford.  Tate also may be used in the return game if your league rewards that.  Expect similar statistics to 2013.

48. Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints

The deep threat in New Orleans who should get more looks with Lance Moore gone and Marques Colston getting older.  In fact, Drew Brees’ QBR was the highest in the league when passing to Stills.  He had 5 TD’s and averaged 20 yards a catch.  Definite upside-the question is how the targets will be split between Stills and rookie first round pick Brandin Cooks, even if Cooks plays in the slot.

49. Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Don’t be fooled by Antonio Brown’s spike in touchdowns and Heath Miller’s mere one TD last year.  Miller is Big Ben’s security blanket, especially in the red zone.  He’s fully recovered from the late 2012 knee injury and is signed for a few more years.  In a season with tight ends a plenty, Miller is a nice sleeper and good fill-in for Rob Gronkowski if Gronk misses time to start 2014.  Catches good volume and 800 yards and 6 TD’s are definitely within reason.

50. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

One of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL.  Baldwin excelled in the Super Bowl and will a spot on the outside as the “X” receiver.  The Seahawks seem like they will keep teams guessing on defense this season, so Russell Wilson may look down the field more and rely less on the power running game this season. Baldwin has good hands and is one of the better route runners in the league.  He recently signed a 3 year, $13m contract, so don’t be afraid to offer him more than a year if need be.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin