Monthly Archives: June 2018

Winston Suspension Official: 3 Games

jameisJustice has been served like a plate of cold crab legs as the NFL announced it’s suspension of Jameis Winston for an altercation with an Uber driver a few years past. In his stead, Ryan Fitzpatrick will start under center.

Winston should drop down draft boards a bit, as the three games represents about 20% of the season, but what about it’s affect on the skill positions around him?

Mike Evans: Evans played three games with Fitzpatrick in which he threw for more than 20 passes, and he averaged 4.7 catches on 10 targets for 265 total yards and 1 TD. While the efficiency could have improved, the proof is in the pudding. Don’t drop Evans down your board on account of the change under center.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson, on the other hand, was inconsistent but still targeted fairly regularly with two games over 10 targets. It’s safe to say that the wide receiver group is going to be healthy across those three games.

Cameron Brate/OJ Howard: Brate was the forgotten man in the four games that Fitzy played. His four catches in those four games was disappointing, especially when you consider that Howard did see an uptick in production with 100 yards between the two final games. Neither one is exciting for the first two weeks, but the more athletic Howard should produce a bit more for Fitzpatrick.

Running Backs: I firmly believe this is Ronald Jones’ backfield, but don’t expect more than a handful of targets in the passing game as Fitzpatrick only looked his backs way 12 times total over the 4 games he started. Still, he should see a fair amount of touches as the offense looks to remain balanced with the aging QB starting the first three games.

Tampa Bay’s offense sputtered last year, and one would be justified in expecting some of the same this year after the suspension was made official. Expect a bit of a slow start for the running game, and for Winston himself, but draft the wide outs with confidence.

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Early Tight End Rankings

  1. Rob Gronkowski, NE
  2. Travis Kelce, KC
  3. Zach Ertz, PHI
  4. Jimmy Graham, GB
    • Graham has had several peaks and valleys since his time in New Orleans, but he finds himself in an ideal situation in Green Bay. As the teams best red zone target, double digit TD’s is a reasonable quest.
  5. Greg Olsen, CAR
  6. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
  7. Delanie Walker, TEN
  8. Jordan Reed, WAS
  9. Trey Burton, CHI
    • A contract with $22 million guaranteed is proof the Bears plan to use Burton heavily in the passing game. Beyond Allen Robinson, Burton could slide in as the #2 target for the young Mitch Trubisky.
  10. Evan Engram, NYG
  11. George Kittle, SF
  12. O.J. Howard, TB
    1. Howard only managed 26 catches last year, but his athleticism was on display through his 16.6 yards per reception and 6 TDs (that’s a score almost every 4!). He’s a big breakout candidate in his 2nd year.
  13. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, JAC
  14. Charles Clay, BUF
  15. David Njoku, CLE
  16. Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI
  17. Austin Hooper, ATL
  18. Jack Doyle, IND
  19. Eric Ebron, IND
    • By all accounts, Ebron looks like he’s adapting to the Colts offense well. While his talent never matched his on the field accomplishments, sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes for a player to pop.
  20. Virgil Green, LAC
  21. Jared Cook, OAK
  22. Tyler Eifert, CIN
  23. Hayden Hurst, BAL
  24. Ed Dickson, SEA
    • No longer playing second fiddle to Olsen in Carolina, Dickson has a great opportunity to produce in Seattle. On a roster that’s top heavy in the passing game, Dickson is sure to be involved heavily in the red zone. 
  25. Cameron Brate, TB
  26. Rico Gathers, DAL
  27. Vance McDonald, PIT
  28. Stephen Anderson, HOU
    • Anderson flashed at times, but still needs to prove he can be consistent enough to be worth rostering. The retirement of C.J. Feidorowicz means we’ll know sooner than later for the Houston TE. 
  29. Jesse James, PIT
  30. Luke Willson, DET
    • One of my favorite positional sleepers, Willson has all the athletic intangibles to be a contributing member of the passing game. Despite that, overcoming the organizational depth means fighting for touches with several good passing options.
  31. Mike Desicki, MIA
  32. Ben Watson, NO
  33. Gerald Everett, LAR
  34. Jake Butt, DEN
  35. Adam Shaheen, CHI

Early WR Rankings

  1. Antonio Brown, PIT
  2. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
  3. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG
  4. Julio Jones, ATL
    • Despite the chatter about lack of Red Zone participation, Jones finished tied for 11th in red zone targets last year with 19. His talent should produce an uptick in TD’s this year.
  5. Keenan Allen, LAC
  6. A.J. Green, CIN
  7. Davante Adams, GB
  8. Michael Thomas, NO
  9. Mike Evans, TB
  10. Tyreek Hill, KC
    • Hill is a home run hitter who may fall in the rankings as the season nears. Featuring a new QB and former first rounder Sammy Watkins, KC is a difficult passing game to gauge. 
  11. Stefon Diggs, MIN
    • Cousins likes to sling it, and Diggs has the chops to go out and get it.
  12. Alshon Jeffery, PHI
  13. Doug Baldwin, SEA
  14. Josh Gordon, CLE
  15. Adam Thielen, MIN
  16. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
  17. Demaryius Thomas, DEN
    • While the jury remains out on Keenum as a viable NFL starter, the consensus maintains that Thomas is an elite wide out. As Sanders slows, Thomas should retain a large number of targets this year.
  18.  Allen Robinson, CHI
  19. Amari Cooper, OAK
  20. Golden Tate, DET
  21. Brandin Cooks, LAR
  22. Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT
    • Juju is the future in Pittsburgh, and the future is now. He won’t overtake Brown as the top dog but it isn’t a stretch to imagine 100+ targets for the immensely talented youngster. 
  23. Devin Funchess, CAR
  24. T.Y. Hilton, IND
    • If I could drop him further down this list I would, but Hilton presents a problem as his consistency is far more often on the “BUST” side than the “BOOM” side. Like Ajayi the year prior, he’s due for major regression.
  25. Marvin Jones, DET
  26. Corey Davis, TEN
  27. Devante Parker, MIA
  28. Will Fuller, HOU
  29. Jamison Crowder, WAS
  30. Michael Crabtree, BAL
    • There’s a very real chance that Crabtree goes from castoff to top dog in an Baltimore offense that really struggled to find an identity last year. 
  31. Jarvis Landry, CLE
  32. Chris Hogan, NE
  33. Pierre Garcon, SF
  34. Robert Woods, LAR
  35. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
  36. Jordy Nelson, OAK
  37. Allen Hurns, DAL
    • Quite possibly the latest you’ll find a top 25 WR, Hurns has a chance to steal the WR1 spot in Dallas with a strong showing in the off season.
  38. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF
  39. Randall Cobb, GB
  40. Sammy Watkins, KC
  41. Robby Anderson, NYJ
    • Off the field issue may scare others away, but until I hear otherwise, I’m betting on Anderson being the top receiving option in an offense that’ll be forced to throw.
  42. Julien Edelman, NE
  43. Cameron Meredith, NO
  44. Rishard Matthews, TEN
  45. Marquise Goodwin, SF
  46. Marqise Lee, JAC
  47. Nelson Agholor, PHI
  48. Calvin Ridley, ATL
    • The Atlanta media is making a lot of noise about how well Ridley has fit in this off season. As one of the more polished rookie wide outs, he should have an impact on day one.
  49. D.J. Moore, CAR
  50. Cooper Kupp, LAR

Looming Suspension For Winston

jameisAs is being reported all over the place, ESPN Tallahassee host Jeff Cameron reports that the league is close to suspending Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston for a failure to report violation of the CBA stemming from a 2016 incident with an Uber Driver (Story Here)

Here at the Dr.’s Office, we’re more interested in the potential fantasy fallout. As we’ve read, it appears to be likely a 1 game suspension, but at maximum he won’t serve more than 3. Of course, where areas of discipline are concerned, the NFL makes it’s own rules. So we have to take that with a grain of salt.

If Winston only misses one game, it’s not an end of the world situation, should you like him as your starting QB. I’d suggest caution at this point, though.

As Winston has progressed through his NFL career, he’s struggled to shake the idea that he’s a bit of a bad egg. This does nothing to dispel the notion, and a down year in 2017 could spell a bit of a hiccup in the former first over all pick’s career.

Of course, if he were to face a three week suspension, I’d be forced to dock him appropriately in my QB rankings. Until such time he’ll remain where he currently is, as my QB15.

Early RB Rankings

  1. Todd Gurley, LAR
  2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT
  3. David Johnson, ARI
    • Despite missing most of last season and getting a new QB, Johnson remains a threat to be the #1 running back in PPR formats.
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
  5. Melvin Gordon, LAC
  6. Alvin Kamara, NO
  7. Kareem Hunt, KC
  8. Leonard Fournette, JAC
    • With 1,340 yards on 300 touches, Fournette proved that he can be a three down back in the NFL. Now, after the departure of Hurns and Robinson, he may be asked to do even more.
  9. Saquon Barkley, NYG
  10. LeSean McCoy, BUF
  11. Devonta Freeman, ATL
  12. Dalvin Cook, MIN
  13. Joe Mixon, CIN
    • The questions surrounding Mixon have nothing to do with his talent, and everything to do with how Cincinnati destroys the value of it’s running backs seemingly every year. I’m cautiously optimistic that Mixon approaches 250 touches this year.
  14. Jerick McKinnon, SF
  15. Jordan Howard, CHI
  16. Christian McCaffrey, CAR
  17. Alex Collins, BAL
  18. Derrick Henry, TEN
  19. Derrius Guice, WAS
  20. Rashaad Penny, SEA
    • The noise out of Seattle is that they’re committed to getting their run game going again. The selection of Penny shows me that they’re serious. He may not have as much room to run behind that OL as other rookie backs, but he should have a large share of the touches.
  21. Lamar Miller, HOU
  22. Royce Freeman, DEN
  23. Kenyan Drake, MIA
  24. Sony Michel, NE
  25. Ronald Jones II, TB
  26. Marlon Mack, IND
    • No longer splitting carries with Frank Gore, Marlon Mack is the defacto lead back in this continuously dysfunctional offense. It’s likely he’ll cede passing down touches to Hines, but offers a ton of value at a very low risk pick.
  27. C. J. Anderson, CAR
  28. Jay Ajayi, PHI
  29. Mark Ingram, NO
  30. Tevin Coleman, ATL
  31. Marshawn Lynch, OAK
  32. Carlos Hyde, CLE
    • Hyde is the most polished runner on the Cleveland roster, but Chubb should keep him from finishing in the top 20. Don’t expect much work on 3rd down either with Duke Johnson owning that area.
  33. Isaiah Crowell, NYJ
  34. Kerryon Johnson, DET
  35. Aaron Jones, GB
  36. Chris Thompson, WAS
  37. Tarik Cohen, CHI
  38. Dion Lewis, TEN
  39. Duke Johnson, CLE
  40. Rex Burkhead, NE
    • Just when we thought Burkhead would be the guy in New England, the Pats signed Sony Michel in the first round. Best as a waiver wire pick up or late round stash in deep leagues.
  41. Jamaal Williams, GB
  42. Theo Riddick, DET
  43. Devontae Booker, DEN
  44. Ty Montgomery, GB
  45. Doug Martin, OAK
    • After finally wearing out his welcome, Martin joins a crowded Oakland backfield with a proven starter ahead of him. His value comes mostly as a handcuff for the aging Marshawn Lynch.
  46. D’Onta Foreman, HOU
  47. Chris Carson, SEA
  48. Bilal Powell, NYJ
  49. Nick Chubb, CLE
  50. LeGarrette Blount, DET

Early QB Rankings

  1. Aaron Rodgers, GB
  2. Russell Wilson, SEA
  3. Cam Newton, CAR
  4. Drew Brees, NO
    • A quiet yet efficient season has bred this idea that Brees is no longer elite. Expect a return to the top 5, especially with Ingram missing time.
  5. Carson Wentz, PHI
  6. Deshaun Watson, HOU
  7. Tom Brady, NE
    • This off season has been difficult for the Patriots as they have faced infighting, suspensions, and denatures. Brady will likely still be elite on the field, but his fantasy prospects take a hit.
  8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
  9. Kirk Cousins, MIN
  10. Matthew Stafford, DET
  11. Philip Rivers, LAC
  12. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
    • The 5 game stretch to finish the year was impressive, but too many quarter backs have wilted under the pressure after securing the big contract. If reports of Jimmy G’s struggles at camp are correct, caution should be taken.
  13. Jared Goff, LAR
  14. Matt Ryan, ATL
  15. Jameis Winston, TB
  16. Patrick Mahomes, KC
    • The weapons are there in this high powered offense, but the difference between the potential floor and potential ceiling is where the questions begin. As likely as he is a top 10 QB, he’s a bottom tier guy who struggles in his first real action.
  17. Alex Smith, WAS
  18. Mitch Trubisky, CHI
  19. Dak Prescott, DAL
  20. Marcus Mariota, TEN
  21. Eli Manning, NYG
    • The age is a real concern as Manning turns 38 this year and has tons of mileage on his tires, but his situation has improved immensely. Getting back OBJ and Shephard, receiving better protection, and having an effective run game should have him back in the top 20 conversation.
  22. Derek Carr, OAK
  23. Case Keenum, DEN
  24. Andrew Luck, IND
    • This is likely to change as we approach the season and his availability becomes clearer, but for now we have him ranked conservatively, should he start the season on the roster.
  25. Blake Bortles, JAC
  26. Andy Dalton, CIN
  27. Ryan Tannehill, MIA
  28. Jacoby Brissett, IND
  29. Joe Flacco, BAL
    • I would once have defended Flacco against the haters but I can no longer ignore the writing on the wall. One year older, and an early round addition in Lamar Jackson give Flacco very little room for error.
  30. Tyrod Taylor, CLE
  31. Sam Bradford, ARI
  32. Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ
  33. Sam Darnold, NYJ
  34. Josh Rosen, ARI
    • Of all the rookie QB’s, Rosen feels like he’s the closest to a starting gig, mainly because Bradford is a safe bet to get injured. If you’re drafting in re-drafts, most of these rookie QB’s aren’t an option, but Rosen may be the best of the bunch.
  35. Baker Mayfield, CLE
  36. Nick Foles, PHI
  37. Josh Allen, BUF
  38. A.J. McCarron, BUF
    • Neither McCarron, nor Allen, excite me much, but it’s likely McCarron’s offense for now. If you need a really deep play – he may be worth a look in the last round of your draft. Ideally he’d be a waiver wire pickup, though.
  39. Lamar Jackson, BAL
  40. Josh McCown, NYJ

Keep It In The Family: Pairing Same-Team Combo’s

RodgeAdamsEvery year I run an article where I examine the what I consider to the be the most rewarding same team pairings in fantasy football. The idea, if you’re not familiar, is that by adding high tier quarterbacks with elite wide receivers or running backs you give yourself a larger share of the available points. Of course, this works best with high scoring offenses.

Last year I missed the mark a little bit with my go to; Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, as both disappointed. Luckily I planned well enough that it didn’t impact me too much (I won the league after all), but the same risks exist for any strategy as some guys just don’t show up.

But this year presents a different challenge, as the number of elite quarterbacks have dropped precipitously and the number of sure fire fantasy studs is at a questionable level. Let’s begin:

Earl Round Pairs ( Most Difficult To Manage)

Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams: Adams is finally getting the respect he deserves, ranking 7th among wide receivers. Pairing the #7 WR with the #1 QB is a healthy strategy regardless of what team they play for, but getting extra point for yards and touchdowns shared has this pairing at the top of list. Still, it’ll cost you two of your first four picks to assemble this pairing.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown: While the jury seems to be out on Roethlisberger every year in the off season, Big Ben grinds his way to a top ten finish at the position. What’s NEVER a question is how good Brown will be when he’s on the field. The easy answer is that Brown is the safest pick in fantasy, but it will require you have a top 3 or 4 pick.

Drew Brees and Michael Thomas: Despite still playing at a high level, Brees has sort of slipped behind Thomas and Alvin Kamara as the top targets in the New Orleans offense. That in no way diminishes his ability to produce in fantasy, and I’d argue is a better option than both Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but that’s a different article all together. Getting Michael Thomas, though, is the hard part. His ADP of 15 will mean drafting 1-5 will preclude you from drafting him unless you get lucky. If you do get lucky, a 6th or 7th round pick will land you Brees, who’s ADP of 69 is criminally low.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski: Draft Brady at your own risk, but if you’re confident that the off season malaise in New England won’t affect Brady’s ability to perform then have at it. The truth is that Rob Gronkowski could set records this year as the only reliable pair of hands left for Brady to chuck it up to. Sure, Edelman will be back in 4 games and Hogan has shown he can play with Brady, but Gronk should see the end zone 10-15 times this year on top of a ton of yards. Grabbing him in the 3rd round to pair with Brady in the 7th gives plenty of time to add skill players besides.

Middle Round Pairs (Easier To Coordinate)

Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin: This one isn’t as impactful in terms of fantasy because Wilson tends to supplement his passing stats with his legs. Unfortunately for this exercise, his rushing statistics can’t be taken into account. Still, Doug Baldwin is one of the leagues best slot receivers, and as a 4th round pick has a lot of value regardless. Without Jimmy Graham in the red one, he may even see a few more looks there. This one may not be the sexiest pair on the list, but they may be the most effective.

Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz: It may seem strange to see another WR/TE combo, but the fact is Wentz and Ertz seem to share a brain in the red zone, meaning a ton of points are up for grabs between the two of them. While Alshon Jeffrey may be the #1 wide out on the team’s depth chart, the true number one is Ertz. if you miss out on Gronk but you want a stud tight end, pair a 4th round Ertz with a 7th round Wentz and reap the benefits.

Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs: Wait, you say. This should be Thielen and Cousins! I’m here to tell you, not so fast. Now, I can see a scenario like in Denver years back with multiple 1,000 yard receivers, but the guy I’m targeting is Diggs in the late 4th round. He was excellent last year even though he wasn’t the top target for the Case Keenum led Vikings. Now, he has Cousins tossing the ball to him. A classic gunslinger, Cousins’ game best fits the strengths Diggs brings to the table. This is one of the least expensive pairings you can get as a 4th and a 10th gets you both players.

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones: You may have to spend a 2nd round pick on Jones, but the wait on Ryan is a bit longer than the other QB’s on this list. As the QB13, he’s being drafted in the 11th round, and I’d argue his value is sky high this year as a bounce back candidate. If you’re like me, and you see more value in grabbing high end skill players to pair with the later round QB, Matt Ryan is a slam dunk. Have him and Julio, and you’ll reap the rewards for all those yards.

Odell Beckham and Eli Manning: If you’re nervous about drafting either of these guys, I’d say you’re hardly alone. Beckham is an otherworldly talent when he’s right, but the combination of recent injury woes and an inability to stay level headed means he may fall towards the end of the first round. What I will say is that if you manage Beckham, Manning is a wonderful pairing if you waited a bit long on your QB. In the 16th round of drafts (current ADP is 152) Manning presents a conundrum. He was awful last year but much of it could be logically blamed on the terrible circumstances around him. With healthy weapons, an upgraded offensive line, and an elite RB to draw the attention, and Manning could be a surprise top 15 QB this year.

Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen: Allen proved last year that when he’s healthy, he’s every bit the stud we thought he was. Rivers remains one of the most under appreciated QB’s in fantasy, and his ADP of 112 presents tons of value. Without Hunter Henry, even more weight will be given to Allen, meaning these two could hook up for a ton of points.

Honorable Mentions: Derek Carr and Amari Cooper (a new coach could help get these two back on track). Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks (it’s a new look for Goff, but Cooks could be his go to early and often). Jameis Winston and Mike Evans (This requires a bounce back year for both, but not guaranteed). Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis (There’s so much talent between these two, it’s hard to imagine both of them laying duds this year).

3 Potential Busts

It’s not always a skill issue, but every year there’s several players that turn into monumental busts. Having one of these guys eating up roster space halfway through the season is demoralizing, but sometimes unavoidable.

Thielen

Adam Thielen, WR – Minnesotta: It’s funny how fantasy football tends to have fairly predictable ebbs and flows, and after the monster for Thielen (92 catches for 1276 yards) the fantasy community has gone all in on the 27 year old. Currently ranked 11th at his position and 30th overall, I’d argue to exercise caution when selecting Thielen that early.

Between a new quarterback that seemed to favor the long ball (Kirk Cousins) and an OC in John DeFilippo that has shown a commitment to their down field targets (examples; Travis Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, Alshon Jeffrey) the expectation should be that regression is coming. Now, I’m not suggesting that Thielen falls completely off the map, but expect a far less consistent stat line. A more reasonable expectation would be roughly 1,000 yards and 5 TDs; similar to his 2016 numbers.

T.Y. Hilton, WR – Indianapolis: This one certainly feels like low hanging fruit, but Hilton continues to see an ADP of around 33, good for 13th among wide receivers. What’s disconcerting is that Hilton seems to have enough monster games each year to hide the fact that he’s more likely to bust than he is to boom.

With 9 weeks of 50 or fewer yards and 7 weeks with 30 or fewer, the reality is that Hilton is no better than a flex start. Regardless of how confident you may be at identifying when Hilton is set to go off, it’s still a waste of a pick in the fourth round when you can only reasonably rely on Hilton 25% of the time.

Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay: I’d like to preface this portion of the article by saying I believe Rodgers, pound for pound, is still the best signal caller in the NFL. Still, at 34, and returning from a near-season ending injury, he’ll have the most difficult fantasy schedule among all QBs with 7 of his first 11 games coming against the top 10 stingiest defenses in terms of QB scoring.

While Jimmy Graham should help, there’s also a possibility that he’ll get off to a slow start and an aging Rodgers may resume running for his life. A healthy Aaron Rodgers is a valuable fantasy asset, no matter how you look at it, but in the 2nd rounds of drafts, there’s little chance he pays off in terms of the return on that investment.

Drafting Rookies: RBs

Using current ADP and positional ranking data, 6/15

It’s become increasingly clear over the years that NFL clubs are employing their first year backs with greater frequency. In response, the fantasy community has finally gotten over it’s own unwritten rule of ignoring rookie backs, and the practice of uncovering those middle and late round gems has become an important task.

The obvious name that sits on top of the list is Giants first round pick Saquon Barkley (ADP 7) . An otherworldly talent, Barkley is an obvious choice to be first off the board among rookies in fantasy drafts as well. Beyond that, the waters grow murkier.

GuiceDerrius Guice – Washington (ADP 41, RB21)

Hailing from LSU, rookie back Derrius Guice fell out of the draft’s first round due to concern surrounding off the field concerns. What isn’t a concern is the talent level of the potential three down back. Of course, navigating the perennial backfield changes in Washington can be difficult, but given how ineffective the run game has been over the past few years, the opportunities on first and second down should be there for Guice. If he can carve out 150-200 touches and goal line responsibilities, it’s not a stretch to see Guice finish in the top 20 at the position.

Rashad Penny – Seattle (ADP 46, RB 23)

Penny, the San Diego State product, falls onto the board right behind Guice at 46th overall. While the talent is certainly there, the major concern surrounding the poor offensive line remains. Some of our fears have been smoothed over after Pete Carroll publicly stated his desire to run the football a ton, but efficiency could be a problem. If Penny can carve out a three down role, he can be a valuable fantasy asset, but if he has trouble finding room, he could be frustrating to own.

Sony Michel – New England (ADP 53, RB 25)

New England surprised everyone by selecting a running back in the first round of this years draft, but boy did they get a good one. A very capable receiver out of the backfield, he fell into an ideal situation in the wake of Dion Lewis’ departure. Further impacting his ability to play meaningful stats is his ability to pass block. Of course, New England could take another approach all together and use him as a change of pace, but not much stands between Michel and the 200 touches vacated by Lewis.

Royce Freeman – Denver (ADP 61, RB 27)

When Denver moved on from productive back C. J. Anderson prior to the draft, the first reaction was that they planned on giving Booker the reigns. That quickly changed when the Broncos added Oregon running back Royce Freeman in the third round. Freeman represents a potential upgrade on early downs, but is currently listed 2nd on the depth chart behind Devontae Booker per CBS Sports. Take that information with a grain of salt as Booker has managed a mere 3.6 YPC across 250 career touches. It’s only a matter of time before Freeman is the lead back in Denver.

Kerryon Johnson – Detroit (ADP 83 – RB 33)

It’s tempting to look at Detroit trading up to select Johnson in the 2nd round and think “where there’s smoke there’s fire” but the truth is that there’s very little security in year one for any of the backs currently rostered by the Lions. A quick prognostication reveals that Theo Riddick, if healthy, is going to dominate passing downs, leaving three capable backs fighting for first and second downs. LeGarrette Blount is as good a short yardage back as there is in the league, but he’s not a bell cow. Neither is Ameer Abdullah, who’s athleticism has kept him relevant in fantasy circles for years now, but isn’t enough to force Johnson further down depth charts. As 9th round flier, there’s still some risk, but Johnson is the kind of back that could erupt into fantasy stardom with an injury to any one of the backs blocking him from extra work.

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay (ADP 88, RB 37)

It seems that thanks to Doug Martin’s on-again-off-again years of inefficient production has finally soured the world to Tampa Bay running backs, otherwise Ronald Jones would be valued far higher than he is now at 88th overall. Of course, there are concerns about his size, at 5’11” and roughly 200 pounds, but Jones held up just fine with nearly 300 touches his senior year (totally 2000+ yards). Even more telling is that only undrafted Peyton Barber is blocking him from meaningful snaps, and I expect that to be remedied in short order. At his current draft position (in the 9th round) he’s a no-brainer to surpass many that sit higher on this list.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland (ADP 96, RB40)

Unfortunately for Chubb, one of the more highly touted prospects in this draft class, he finds himself lagging behind his contemporaries for opportunities thanks to Cleveland’s depth at running back. Carlos Hyde was impressive with a bad San Fransisco team last year, and Duke Johnson is one of the most proficient pass catching backs in the league, leading many to ask, “where are Chubb’s touches going to come from?” It’s not an easy question to answer. Sadly, barring an injury, Chubb is nothing more than a handcuff. With an offense full of weapons, the odds of him performing well enough to roster are slim to none.

Nyheim Hines, IND (ADP 159, RB 54) 

A broad look at Hines’ situation in Indianapolis may lead you away from him as a potential late round steal, but if one takes a closer look things get far more clear. Head Coach Frank Reich has long employed a jack of all spades type back in his offenses, and Hines has the look of a Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead type contributor. I’ll stop short of saying he can be this year’s Alvin Kamara, but in terms of potential contributions, he’ll be a PPR sleeper for me.

Kalen Ballage, MIA (ADP 214, RB 66)

It’s likely that Ballage will be a total after thought in drafts this summer, but keep in mind that Alvin Kamara wasn’t drafted in many leagues last year either. Ballage is large for a back, and didn’t run the ball nearly as much as the others on this list. In fact, the 157 carries he saw as a Senior at Arizona State was the highest number of his collegiate career. That hardly inspires confidence, but neither Kenyon Drake nor Frank Gore have the passing game ability that Ballage possesses. As a third down option, Ballage will likely earn some looks early on, and his draft stock will depend on what he does with those looks. Either way, he’s a back to flag as a potential dark horse for big passing game contributions.

 

 

 

Can’t Touch This: 7 Players I Won’t Target

I’d like to preface this by saying that every player has some kind of value, but the real issue I take with the following players is the value other fantasy players have assigned to them. As always, take these with a grain of salt, as I’ll likely look at any of them if they fall into a round with appreciable value.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – San Fransisco: It sure looked like Jimmy G was the real deal as he lead the listless 49ers to 5jimmy G straight wins to close out the season. And it certainly helped his stock that he beat three playoff teams in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and the LA Rams. But has he done enough in his brief time as a starter to warrant being drafted as the 9th QB off the board?

Instead of targeting a QB with 7 career starts and expecting a top 10 finish at the position, it’s a far safer proposition to look at the names directly behind him on the list. Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers can all be had, and all offer far more consistent value in my opinion. Do I think Jimmy G is a bust candidate? No, not particularly, but with all the buzz surrounding the former heir to the Tom Brady empire, I’ll let someone else overpay for the unknown commodity.

Tom Brady, QB – New England: This may surprise some, especially being a Patriots fan living in Massachusetts, but the news out of New England has been mostly terrifying, yet Brady is still being drafted as the QB4. Between a lack of off season work, his top target from last year being traded, and his former safety net in Julian Edelman facing a 4 game suspension after missing all of last year with a knee injury, and you have a recipe for disaster if you lob and early round pick at Brady.

Of course, he’ll probably prove me wrong, but there’s no way I’m drafting Brady before Brees, Wentz, or Newton – the next three QB’s on the list. If I can get Brady for a discount, I’m comfortable with his superior talent making up for these things, but in the 5th round I’m drafting skill players and snagging someone else several rounds later.

Dion Lewis, RB – Tennessee: Every year the final running back rankings reveal a few surprises, and Dion Lewis’ 203 points (RB13) was certainly the stand out name to me. But now a member of the Titans, Lewis’s name keeps popping up on watch lists as a name to watch, something I just can’t get behind.

While he’s undoubtedly an electric player when healthy, 2017 was the first time Lewis turned in 16 games in his career, and betting on anything more than 7 games is a crap shoot with the diminutive back. Also against him is his role in the Tennessee offense, as he slides in neatly on the depth chart as the 3rd down back behind elite runner Derrick Henry. Sadly, no team targeted their backs less than the Titans 66 total RB targets. The ceiling is so low in Tennessee with a healthy Henry on the roster that I’m staying away from Lewis at all costs.

Kenyon Drake, RB – Miami: On the surface, Drake seems like a logical name to take the “next step” into fantasy relevance, especially after he dominated the touches for the Dolphins down the stretch, turning 91 touches into 444 yards and 2 TDs from week 13 on. How did the Dolphin front office repay him? By bringing in Frank Gore via free agency and adding Kalen Ballage in the draft.

We’ve seen similar situations before, and I’d argue caution when investing in the Miami backfield. Much like the Spencer Ware/Kareem Hunt situation last year, there is likely very little room for error when it comes to touches for Drake. Of course, staying healthy should see him resume the roll of the top dog, but touches will be limited, and his prospects of turning in a top 20 RB season are slim in my estimation.

T.Y. Hilton, WR – IND: It’s easy to look at the bottom line and say “but Hilton was productive” while ignoring the deficiencies playing in Indianapolis’ offense creates. The news on Andrew Luck has been mostly positive, but it still doesn’t look like he’ll be returning any time soon, yet fantasy drafters haven’t seem to given up on Hilton as an elite WR.

A closer look reveals how inconsistent Hilton was with Jacoby Brissette throwing him the ball. More than half of his yards (966 on the season) came in only three games (505) which in this case can’t be offset by the threat of scoring, as his 4 TDs is about what you can expect for the smaller receiver. If he continues on the pace he’s at, he’s a flex start at best, which is something that you can’t afford out of a 4th round pick.

Tyreek Hill, WR – KC: This one may sound strange, as I was a big fan of Hill’s going into last season, even going out of my way to own him in several leagues, but every year we must re-evaluate each players value and leave the past love in past when ranking players. Hill is currently the 10th WR coming off the board, but presents many of the same problems highlighted above with T.Y. Hilton.

Similarly, his final stat line is a bit of a mirage as the 75 catches for 1,183 yards only represents half of the story. Aside from four big games (552 yards and 3 of his 7 TDs), Hill failed consistently to hit 5 catches or 100 yards. Add to the roster a WR the caliber of Sammy Watkins, and he’s now relying on the big play to score, further damaging his fantasy value. While I can see a similar 100 targets, the effects of additional receiving weapons, an elite run game, and a first year starter are too much to overcome when drafting a player as early as Hill needs to be drafted.

Evan Engram, TE – NYG: Another player I preached judiciously last year, Engram turned in one of the finest fantasy seasons for a rookie TE ever, and is being rewarded for it by being the 5th TE off the board in 2018. As a TE being drafted in the 6th round, you’d like to be relatively sure that his production will remain consistent, but that’s where the problem begins.

Last year, as we all know, was a perfect storm for Engram, as the receiving corps for the Giants was decimated all year, leaving Engram as the only reliable starter capable of catching the ball. Now, he’ll be fighting for targets with a healthy Odell Beckham and Sterling Shephard, and he’ll see far less usage in the red zone as the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley, the best RB prospect for Big Blue in years. Could he surprise, sure, but will be finish as the TE5? Not a chance.