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Our Machiavellian approach of hacking Fantasy Football leads us to a hot topic; players to avoid in 2015.

Mammals discovered that working in packs provided many benefits: finding food, protection and a collective sense of belonging. A distinct disadvantage to following the herd, however, is that the group can lead you down the wrong path. A single member of a pack may know they are headed for doom, but the urge to be included is so strong that it defeats survival instincts.

This happens in Fantasy Football as well. It’s easy to say Doug Martin is a bust, but it’s much harder to stick your neck out and say you think he can have a rebound-Fantasy season. You personally might even think he can have a good year, but you’re afraid of what the Fantasy herd will say if you go against everyone else.

I passed on Jordy Nelson in 2011 because a bunch of people in a mock draft told me I was an idiot for drafting him. I decided to avoid the embarrassment in my real drafts, and I let Nelson fall to one of my opponents. Do you know what happened? He finished 2011 with 1,263 receiving yards, five games of 100 receiving yards or more and 15 touchdowns. I decided to never follow the heard ever again.

You may hear a lot of chatter about players to avoid, but are you going to buy into the noise? Who is worth taking a chance on and who isn’t? I address that very issue in our attempt of hacking fantasy football.

Players to Avoid or Take Advantage of? 

There was a Reddit topic asking player who they would avoid this season. I dug through the 402 comments, and two names were continually mentioned as backs Fantasy players wanted nothing to do with: the aforementioned Martin and C.J. Spiller.

Fantasy owners have been heavily burned by these two players in the past, so I understand the decision to put a barrier between yourself and Spiller and Martin. Before we join the herd, however, let’s see if either of the backs are worth adding to our rosters in 2015.

Doug Martin in 2015

I’m looking for undervalued players when hacking fantasy football leagues. I think Martin falls into that category with an average draft position of 8.01 on FantasyFootballCalculator.com.

Doug Martin 2015 Fantasy Football

The graph above shows that Martin’s ADP has jumped from 9.01 to 8.01 in 12 days. I loved him in Round 9, but I still think he is valuable in the early parts of Round 8.

Along with injuries, I believe the 26-year old back’s game has suffered because of his lack of involvement in the passing attack. He went from averaging 29.5 receiving yards per game in his rookie season to an average of 8.4 over the last two seasons. You can find all the reasons here why I believe Martin is a value for 2015 here, but the main reason I was won over was because of new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

Koetter was the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville during Maurice Jones-Drew’s prime, and Jones-Drew never saw under 300 receiving yards in a season under Koetter. He moved on to Atlanta, but Koetter still made sure his running backs were heavily involved in the passing attack.

2012: Jacquizz Rodgers- 402 receiving yards

2013: Jacquizz Rodgers- 341 receiving yards, Steven Jackson- 191 receiving yards

2014: Combined rushing total from Jacquizz Rodgers, Steven Jackson, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith- 768 receiving yards 

It’s true that Charles Sims excels as a pass-catching back, but I think it’s very important to note that Koetter fought to keep Martin after watching his tape. Martin also states that his body fat is now down between 5-4%, and you can see from the video that he does look slimmer and shifty in OTAs. Fantasy players took a big hit drafting Martin in the past two seasons. He certainly didn’t return RB1 value as a first-round pick in 2013, and he hurt Fantasy owners as a second-round pick in 2014. As a pick in Round 8, however, you aren’t taking a massive hit if he doesn’t perform.

It appears the fourth-year back is becoming trendy because of his recent ADP jump, so it may not be ludicrous to see Martin selected in Round 6 or 7 at the start of the 2015 Fantasy Football season.

I’m not going to rely on Martin too heavily and expect him to be a top-10 option, but I think he is a player who has the potential to finish in the top 20 in 2015. I’m willing to find out for a current pick in Round 8.

C.J. Spiller in 2015

The New Orleans Saints took a big loss with the departure of Darren Sproles in 2014.

Since 2011, the Saints heavily relied on the combination of Sproles and Pierre Thomas in the passing attack.

2011: Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas combined receiving yards – 1,135

2012: Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas combined receiving yards – 1,021

2013: Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas combined receiving yards – 1,117

The offensive may focus more on rushing the football, but the team still needs a pass-catching back  heavily involved. Mark Ingram is not a pass-catching back. Before last season, he never exceeded more than 11 receptions in a single season. The offense will focus on less gunslinging in 2015, but the team still needs a pass-catching back to help move the chains.

Ingram will be relied on to plow through defenders, but Spiller finds the most Fantasy production when he’s heavily involved in the passing attack. You can’t rely on him as an every-down back, but he was able to excel for Fantasy owners in 2012 with only 207 carries. I hesitate a little over Spiller because a Fantasy alert went out to draft him ( I don’t like when players start to get trendy or hyped up), but I think he can find a great groove in New Orleans if he is utilized correctly.

The ADP of Spiller is also currently friendlier than that of Ingram. A third-round pick for Ingram is steep, but a fifth-round selection of Spiller is reasonable. Spiller’s ADP has climbed from the back of Round 5 to near the front, but it has remained steady around 5.04. He’s obviously a much bigger investment than Martin, however, so that is why I personally favor Martin. Though, I still wouldn’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Spiller in Round 5.

I’m fine if the Fantasy herd avoids these two players. I’ll zig while everyone is else is zagging.

Make sure to follow our series on hacking fantasy football leagues to prepare for your 2015 Fantasy Football drafts.

Hacking Fantasy Football Series:

Hopefully, this Hacking Fantasy Football Series will help you make the playoffs in your league!

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