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Fantasy football: Late-round draft picks can be keepsakes

Danny AmendolBrandGibson

Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson

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Updated: December 22, 2012 6:24AM

The closest any of us ever will get to being an NFL general manager is playing fantasy football. But there is a way to get a little closer: Play with keepers.

It’s hard enough assembling a team from scratch every year. Try employing a multiyear plan or trading draft picks two years from now. That’s what the pros do.

A league I play in allows two keepers per year. The owner loses the pick with which the player was chosen. We used to keep six, but the draft became so boring we had to scale back. Still, two might be too few. Owners generally keep the obvious players and sacrifice picks in the early rounds, where they would have been selected anyway.

But an owner’s greatest reward in a draft is a late-round pick who breaks out. Keeping that player allows you to use your early picks with the knowledge you have an ace up your sleeve. It puts you a player up on the competition.

For you keeper-leaguers out there, here are a handful of such players. They were chosen from the 10th round on in my keeper league, which consists of 10 teams with 20 players each. If you own any of them and have a keeper spot to spare, keep them in mind.

Rams WR Danny Amendola (Round 14)

He’s Sam Bradford’s favorite receiver by far. In seven games this season, Amendola has an average of 10 targets per game, according to That puts him in the top 10 among wide receivers. He’s gold in point-per-reception leagues, and he’s coming on strong in basic-scoring leagues. Amendola is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, but he’ll be back with the Rams, either with the franchise tag or a long-term contract — and he’ll be drafted much higher.

Packers WRs Randall Cobb (Round 18) and James Jones (19)

Greg Jennings’s contract expires after the season, and considering how Cobb and Jones have picked up the slack (15 touchdowns combined), Jennings probably won’t return. Jordy Nelson will be back after signing a modest three-year deal last year, and the Packers have other free-agents-to-be they might deem more important (Clay Matthews’ contract expires after next season). With Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback, Cobb and Jones are valuable even if they’re not No. 1 receivers.

Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (Round 10)

The Panthers handed the feature-back role to Stewart after their Week 6 bye. They even changed their scheme to suit his power-running style. That bodes well for next season, when DeAngelo Williams figures to be out of the picture. Williams has three years and $18 million left on his contract, but the Panthers signed Stewart to a five-year, $36.5 million deal in August. He’s also four years younger. Securing a workhorse running back with such a late pick is a steal.



Packers at Giants: These teams have top-half passing games and bottom-half passing defenses. In their last five overall meetings, they’ve combined for an average of 57 points.


Seahawks at Dolphins: These teams have offenses in the bottom quarter of the league, and they’re averaging fewer than 20 points per game.


Bengals QB Andy Dalton: The Raiders’ pass defense has come unglued, allowing eight touchdown passes in the last three games.

Bills RB C.J. Spiller: Spiller is averaging a league-high 6.6 yards per carry, and the Colts are allowing 4.7 per carry, fourth-highest.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: Don’t fret about his one-catch performance. The Rams have allowed a wide receiver to score in five consecutive games.


Chargers QB Philip Rivers: The Ravens rank 23rd in pass defense, but they’ve allowed a league-low eight touchdown passes.

Lions RB Mikel Leshoure: The Texans rank second in run defense, and they’re the only team that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown.

Browns WR Josh Gordon: The Steelers have held wide receivers to an average of 90 yards in the last five games with two touchdowns.



QB Carson Palmer: 312 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs

RB Steven Jackson: 86 total yards

WR Steve Smith: 61 yards


QB Joe Flacco: 164 yards

RB Willis McGahee: 73 total yards (injured)

WR Michael Crabtree: 31 yards, TD

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