NFL fantasy football: 10 potential draft bargains

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: No quarterback's stock has dropped more than Vick's. He's not a top-12 fantasy signal-caller, and you'll be hesitant to draft him as a No. 2 because of his injury history and tenuous hold on the Eagles starting job. However you could catch a resurgent Vick in 2013 who is fighting for his football life. There are some "ifs" involved: If Chip Kelly's offense takes off as advertised, if Vick stays healthy. But "if" that happens? You could be sitting on a top-five fantasy quarterback for this season. There's a long time between now and opening day, but he's worth the risk of drafting as your No. 2 quarterback and hoping all goes well. If not, what damage did you do to your team? You can always pick up another backup.

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers: Not quite fighting for his football life like Vick, but that's certainly the case if he wants to stay in San Diego. New head coach Mike McCoy knows how to get the most out of his quarterbacks - getting career seasons out of Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and seeing to the resurgence of Peyton Manning all in the past three years. Danny Woodhead will be a big addition catching balls out of the backfield, and with the return of Vincent Brown and drafting of Keenan Allen, suddenly the Chargers are pretty deep with playmakers in the passing attack. Make no mistake: San Diego is going to throw it a ton. Rivers will be more than available for you when it's time to get your No. 2 quarterback.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: Marshall Faulk-like. That's how I see Bush in Detroit this season. They didn't bring in another wide receiver to help Calvin Johnson, so Bush automatically becomes the second biggest weapon at Matthew Stafford's disposal. Bush may split some carries with Mikel Leshoure, but he'll get more than his fair share of passes out of the backfield, which is what's really going to make this season a success for him. He'll be huge between the 20s. He can put up double-digit fantasy points for you each week as he'll accumulate somewhere around 125 total yards per game. After his disappointing 2012 campaign plenty of owners are ready to turn the page on him, so you could even get him as your third running back depending how your draft goes.

Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots: First of all, he's probably three fumbles away from taking the number one job away from Stevan Ridley. Bill Belichick will have no sympathy for Ridley if he continues to put the football on the ground, and Vereen will inherit the workload. But there's more to Vereen, who I like more and more with each passing day. We've heard how New England may deploy him at WR in the regular season, but even if they don't, he's catching a ton of passes out of the backfield, which turns him into a poor man's Darren Sproles. Regardless of Ridley's status, Vereen is going to be hugely involved in the game plan every week. If Vereen rushes for 40 yards a game and catches 40 yards worth of passes - which is completely reachable - he's a great flex option with the potential for much more. 

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills: Don't turn the page so fast on Freddie. Yes, C.J. Spiller is a monster, and will continue to be fantasy elite. However, he's not a running back you can give the ball to more than 20 times a game. Breaking in a new quarterback, the Bills will lean heavily on the run, so expect Jackson to get 12 to 15 touches a game, including the goal line work. This is how Doug Marrone was successful in Syracuse: using a two and sometimes three back system to attack the opposition. You can expect that sort of thing in Buffalo. Jackson won't ever be the player he once was in fantasy land, but could he wind up being a nice flex option/bye week replacement for you this season? Absolutely. And if Spiller gets hurt, you know who they're going to lean on.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers: Yes, you put out a missing tight end report midway through last season if Davis was on your team, and while he eventually came back around, it was too late to save your fantasy season. But his playoff performance (11 catches for 210 yards in the 49ers final two games, including the Super Bowl) leaves a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. With Anquan Boldin in the fold, the middle of the field will open up more for Davis. There could be as many as 10 tight ends selected before Davis in your draft. And let's face it: after the first few tight ends come off the board it's a complete crapshoot. Why not scoop up Davis late and see if he recaptures his 2009 magic? He could give you top-five tight end production in 2013 if he does.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: This is the biggest conundrum at the RB position in fantasy: Bernard or BenJarvus Green-Ellis? But now there's a clear answer. Bernard is getting a ton of first-team reps in the preseason and teams only do that with guys they want to play a lot when they kick it off for real. Already the Bengals are realizing what a huge playmaker they have. Cincinnati wouldn't have spent such a high draft pick on someone with whom they planned on spelling Green-Ellis a few times a game. Think of Bernard like you would the Giants' David Wilson. Owners are going to be scared off by the threat of RB-by-committee, but don't be. Bernard is the star and will play like it. He'll slowly take over the majority of the workload. I expect him to reduce Green-Ellis to basically being a goal-line back by mid-season.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: I keep calling myself crazy for thinking I want to draft DeSean Jackson - and it's not because I've seen Silver Linings Playbook fifty times. If I'm going to believe the Eagles offense will terrorize opponents, then Jackson has to be the biggest weapon in the passing game. Before getting hurt last year, he was on pace for a pretty decent season - and this was without any stability at the quarterback position. Chip Kelly's offense puts his skill position players in spots to succeed and put up big numbers. Jackson is likely still not coming off the board before the eighth-round, and he could have a 2009-type season this year: 1,200 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals: He threw for over 4,000 yards last season in Oakland with basically no one to throw to. He's still got enough of "it" to be a difference maker when he's surrounded by weapons, and I'm more than happy with the top three of Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd in Arizona. Considering the fantasy depth at QB, he's going to be someone you draft late, as your second quarterback. He'll most likely be one of the final two or three QBs to come off the board, but don't let that deter you. There's a reason why you're hearing the words Kurt-Warner-like-resurgence-in-the-desert with Palmer. Hey, it may not affect the wins column, but 300 yards and two TDs in defeat counts the same as if he won by 20. Draft him and by mid-season you'll want to start him.

Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills: I've seen a lot of this guy the last couple of years at USC, and he's the real thing. His stock - which was once as high as a top-five draft pick - fell because of the blossoming of Marquise Lee opposite him in college, and an ankle injury that slowed him down. Buffalo got a huge break when he fell to them early in the second-round, and you'll reap the rewards by drafting him as your fourth or fifth wide receiver. He can dominate one-on-one coverage, and reminds me a bit of Brandon Marshall in the way he uses his body to shield defenders to make catches. With Steve Johnson moving to the slot, Woods is going to get every chance to make an impact from the outside. He will. I expect him to be the offensive rookie of the year in the NFL, and one of the best late-round picks in your fantasy draft.

Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. He hosts NFL Fantasy Live during the regular season on the NFL Network, and you can download the weekly NFL Fantasy Live podcast with him alongside Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison. Talk to him on twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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