Monthly Archives: August 2018
In our quest to provide the most pertinent information and analysis, we will use current ESPN ADP rankings provided as of Friday 8/31. If you draft in a 10 team league, adjust the rounds accordingly, otherwise this will review the ADP values for a 12 team league. We’ve highlighted three players in each round we like at their current ADP, feel free to argue your point of view in the comments section.
As I look out over the fantasy landscape on the eve of Labor Day weekend, I’m amazed at how different things look following the brutal four week stretch we like to call the pre-season. Littering the battle field are high profile injuries, unresolved position battles, and early draft casualties left to rot in no man’s land.
With a large percentage of drafts scheduled for the final weekend before the NFL kicks off the 2018 season, it’s only appropriate that we make one last run at addressing the current ADP data provided by the largest players in the game. By addressing the value’s assigned to each proverbial tier, we can provide you with extra tools in your quest for fantasy dominance.
Round 1 – 3
The early rounds of your draft are simultaneously the most important and the least important picks you can make all day. As we preach gratuitously… you won’t win your league with the picks, but you can certainly lose.
- 1.01 – Le’Veon Bell, RB – PIT
- 1.02 – Todd Gurley, RB – LAR
- 1.03 – David Johnson, RB – ARI
- 1.04 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL
- 1.05 – Antonio Brown, WR – PIT
- 1.06 – Saquon Barkley, RB – NYG
- 1.07 – Alvin Kamara, RB – NO
- 1.08 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR – HOU
- 1.09 – Odell Beckham, WR – NYG
- 1.10 – Kareem Hunt, RB – KC
- 1.11 – Leonard Fournette, RB – JAC
- 1.12 – Dalvin Cook, RB – MIN
It’s far from a surprise to see the backs dominating the first round; after all, a large number of league champions can point towards a break out back as the catalyst for their wins. Still, I’d consider grabbing a WR at the back end of the first – the value is just too great.
Best Value: Odell Beckham at 1.09 is stealing – his career per game fantasy production is greater than DeAndre Hopkins single best season. He’s as safe a pick in the first as you’ll get.
Worst Value: Dalvin Cook could have a monster year, but with a capable back in Latavius Murray spelling him, and the unknown of returning from a major knee injury means too many question marks for a round 1 pick.
- 2.01 – Julio Jones, WR – ATL
- 2.02 – Melvin Gordon, RB – LAC
- 2.03 – Keenan Allen, WR – LAC
- 2.04 – Christian McCaffrey, RB – CAR
- 2.05 – Michael Thomas, WR – NO
- 2.06 – Devonta Freeman, RB – ATL
- 2.07 – A.J. Green, WR – CIN
- 2.08 – Rob Gronkowski, TE – NE
- 2.09 – Davante Adams, WR – GB
- 2.10 – Mike Evans, WR – TB
- 2.11 – LeSean McCoy, RB – BUF
- 2.12 – Aaron Rodgers, QB – GB
This years second round features even greater value than the first as the top tiers at several positions become available. For years I railed against drafting Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd, but this year may be the exception with the New England offense likely siphoning through him.
Best Value: It wasn’t long ago that Mike Evans was considered a first round talent. The off season issues Tampa has experienced and the lack of help have suppressed his value, but he’s still the same dominant receiver. Draft confidently.
Worst Value: I’m not suggesting LeSean McCoy is washed up, but even ignoring the off field issues, McCoy is a thirty year old back with high mileage and a terrible team around him. There’s been some great articles about fantasy production for backs on bad teams (Like this one at Rotoworld), and this situation screams bust from day one.
- 3.01 – Travis Kelce, TE – KC
- 3.02 – T.Y. Hilton, WR – IND
- 3.03 – Jordan Howard, RB – CHI
- 3.04 – Joe Mixon, RB – CIN
- 3.05 – Jerick McKinnon, RB – SF
- 3.06 – Tyreek Hill, WR – KC
- 3.07 – Stefon Diggs, WR – MIN
- 3.08 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR – ARI
- 3.09 – Tom Brady, QB – NE
- 3.10 – Adam Thielen, WR – MIN
- 3.11 – Zach Ertz, TE – PHI
- 3.12 – Amari Cooper, WR – OAK
You can see in the third the effects of all those backs going early with some pretty fantastic wide receivers falling in the draft. Most of them are excellent values and some could prove to be top 10 at their position. The backs going in the third are the boom or bust guys who have the talent or opportunity to be in the RB1 conversation.
Best Value: Especially in PPR formats, it’s amazing how Larry Fitzgerald continues to be overlooked simply because of his age. While he’s shifted mostly to the slot and runs far shallower routes, he’s still a lot for 90-100 receptions, 1,000+ yards and 5-7 TDs.
Worst Value: I’m a firm believer that drafting a QB early is a poor way to start your draft. You can make a solid argument for Rodgers as an early pick, but this is the year to fade Brady in the first 5 rounds. He’ll win a lot of football games, and he’ll play efficiently despite the lack of weapons, but his last few seasons have shown that he’s no longer the 3rd round asset he was in years past.
Rounds 4 – 8
These rounds are far more important to your fantasy health that the three that came before. While you’re guaranteed to grab a few guys worthy of early picks, these rounds separate the researches from the consensus drafters. With dinged up superstars, rookie running backs, and one dimensional players, there’s as many pitfalls as league winners sprinkled throughout.
- 4.01 – Demaryius Thomas, WR – DEN
- 4.02 – Kenyan Drake, RB – MIA
- 4.03 – Royce Freeman, RB – DEN
- 4.04 – Doug Baldwin, WR – SEA
- 4.05 – Jarvis Landry, WR – CLE
- 4.06 – Derrick Henry, RB – TEN
- 4.07 – Allen Robinson, WR – CHI
- 4.08 – Golden Tate, WR – DET
- 4.09 – Alex Collins, RB – BAL
- 4.10 – Josh Gordon, WR – CLE
- 4.11 – Brandin Cooks, WR – LAR
- 4.12 – Cam Newton, QB – CAR
There’s a handful of players who could crack the top ten at their position in this round, but each features a good deal of risk. While fantasy champions require a great deal of luck, there’s something to be said for minimizing risk. If you’ve drafted your first three rounds well, then a player like Kenyan Drake or Josh Gordon could put you over the top assuming their healthy and resume the kind of production we expect.
Best Value: Fantasy production doesn’t need to be flashy; 75 yards and a TD is the same if it’s on 5 touches or 15 touches, so seeing Alex Collins fall behind players like Freeman (a rookie) and Henry (entrenched in a committee) lends to his value as a potential 3 down bell cow. He’s not exciting, but he gets the job done.
Worst Value: I won’t go so far as to suggest Cooks is a bust candidate, but considering that he’s going to one of the most crowded wide receiver corps in the NFL, and the headlines in LA have been mostly about the relationship that Kupp and Goff have formed, and you can see how this may be a bit too early for a guy competing for targets.
- 5.01 – Greg Olsen, TE – CAR
- 5.02 – Marvin Jones, WR – DET
- 5.03 – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR – PIT
- 5.04 – Deshaun Watson, QB – HOU
- 5.05 – Marshawn Lynch, RB – OAK
- 5.06 – Jimmy Graham, TE – GB
- 5.07 – Russell Wilson, QB – SEA
- 5.08 – Jay Ajayi, RB – PHI
- 5.09 – Lamar Miller, RB – HOU
- 5.10 – Chris Hogan, WR – NE
- 5.11 – Mark Ingram, RB – NO
- 5.12 – Dion Lewis, RB – TEN
Here’s the best example I can give for the ZeroRB crowd as a handful of lead backs are still available in round 5. With enough knowledge and few late round targets still in tact, there’s plenty of value here at a position many think dries up in the first few rounds. The pit fall here is a potential TE run with Olsen and Graham likely to go at some point. Don’t fall into the trap.
Best Value: Can we all agree that Lamar Miller is the only healthy running back in Houston? With the prevailing opinion being that Houston should be a high powered offense with Deshaun Watson back, how is it that we’ve ignored the RB1 numbers Miller put up when the two were playing? He’s not a sexy name, and his time is coming to an end, but for this season, he’s as safe as you get at this point.
Worst Value: Meanwhile, Juju Smith-Schuster continues his meteoric rise to fantasy stardom in spite of a few important details. He’s got two target hogs ahead of him on the depth chart. With Big Ben aging and a rookie in James Washington also in the picture, it’s going to be difficult for Juju to carve out a role large enough to justify taking over other players available at this point in the draft.
- 6.01 – Alshon Jeffrey, WR – PHI
- 6.02 – Delanie Walker, TE – TEN
- 6.03 – Carson Wentz, QB – PHI
- 6.04 – Evan Engram, TE – NYG
- 6.05 – Michael Crabtree, WR – BAL
- 6.06 – Emmanuel Sanders, WR – DEN
- 6.07 – Robert Woods, WR – LAR
- 6.08 – Marquise Goodwin, WR – SF
- 6.09 – Drew Brees, QB – NO
- 6.10 – Jaguars D/ST
- 6.11 – Tevin Coleman, RB – ATL
- 6.12 – Kyle Rudolph, TE – MIN
There’s a lot to like in the 6th round; a defense isn’t one of them. I won’t waste too many words letting you know why you should draft a defense in the 6th round (after all, the Jags were likely a waiver pick up in your league). The wide receiver depth continues to show itself with several high upside picks reside in the middle of the round, as well as some of the less heralded RB2’s in the league.
Best Value: Drafting the top wide out in an offense that figures to improve dramatically in Kyle Shanahan’s second year with San Francisco is a boon in the 6th round, so grab Goodwin if you can. A lot of the buzz in the Bay is centered on RB Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy G’s dating habits, but the real prize is Goodwin at a seriously inexpensive draft position.
Worst Value: Evan Engram was a revelation last year, but not enough focus is being placed on the laundry list of injuries and inefficiencies that made his TE5 finish possible. With Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard back and healthy and Saquon Barkley likely to require a good number of touches, there’s little chance that Engram repeats the numbers that he put up last season.
- 7.01 – Carlos Hyde, RB – CLE
- 7.02 – Duke Johnson, RB – CLE
- 7.03 – Corey Davis, WR – TEN
- 7.04 – Sammy Watkins, WR – KC
- 7.05 – Rex Burkhead, RB – NE
- 7.06 – Randall Cobb, WR – GB
- 7.07 – Devin Funchess, WR – CAR
- 7.08 – Jordan Reed, TE – WAS
- 7.09 – Isaiah Crowell, RB – NYJ
- 7.10 – Andrew Luck, QB – IND
- 7.11 – Kirk Cousins, QB – MIN
- 7.12 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB – PIT
This is one of my favorite rounds in the draft as there’s really no one here that’s not worth picking in their spot. The hardest part about evaluating it is only choosing three players I like, and finding someone I really don’t like. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t consider reaching beyond this group of players if it was me picking.
Best Value: It’s been a few years since Andrew Luck has been on the field and been right, but even at less than 100% in 2016 he managed 4200 yards and 31 TD’s in 15 games. After taking his time to rehab and not putting himself in a bad position, Luck appears ready to take back over under center. With his track record, it’s insane value grabbing a potential top 3 QB this late.
Worst Value: This is a bit of a cop out because I don’t necessarily dislike Sammy Watkins, but of all the names on the list here, he’ll have the hardest time reaching his ceiling. With Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and a very capable backfield, there won’t be as much opportunity for the former first round pick to really light up the scoreboard. He’ll have weeks that he dominates with big plays, but he’s harder to predict than these other players.
- 8.01 – Pierre Garcon, WR – SF
- 8.02 – Julian Edelman, WR – NE
- 8.03 – Will Fuller, WR – HOU
- 8.04 – Chris Thompson, RB – WAS
- 8.05 – Chris Carson, RB – SEA
- 8.06 – Eagles D/ST
- 8.07 – Cooper Kupp, WR – LAR
- 8.08 – Rams D/ST
- 8.09 – Robby Anderson, WR – NYJ
- 8.10 – Tarik Cohen, RB – CHI
- 8.11 – Kerryon Johnson, RB – DET
- 8.12 – Jordy Nelson, WR – OAK
As always, these ADP lists are made with consensus and compiled data, so while we understand that in mock drafts folks draft more loosely, we never advocate drafting a defense this early. With two going on average, there’s a growing trend that I aim to buck. There’s a lot of value still at the RB position so eschew the special teams and build a juggernaut instead.
Best Value: It’s a toss up here but Cooper Kupp is inexplicably being drafted as the third WR off the board from the Rams despite leading the team in targets last year and running as the top target for Jared Goff. Cooks may be better than Watkins, but it won’t be enough to keep Kupp from approaching 100 targets.
Worst Value: Drafting based on the “bottom line” is short sited, and a player like Will Fuller gets a bump because of a handful of crazy Sport Center Top 10 highlights. The truth is that Houston doesn’t throw enough to give him the targets needed to overcome an unsustainable TD percentage and a 55% catch rate. Much like Martavis Bryant, this is a bit of fools gold.
Round 9 – 14
In these rounds, there’s fewer “hate” players as your general drafting a late QB or TE, or taking fliers on roster depth. It’s imperative that you read up on your targets as hitting on a few of these players gives you the kind of depth that provides a playoff and bye week advantage.
- 9.01 – Rashaad Penny, RB – SEA
- 9.02 – Matthew Stafford, QB – DET
- 9.03 – Matt Ryan, QB – ATL
- 9.04 – Stephen Gostkowski, K – NE
- 9.05 – Jack Doyle, TE – IND
- 9.06 – Vikings D/ST
- 9.07 – Sterling Shepard, WR – NYG
- 9.08 – Kelvin Benjamin, WR – BUF
- 9.09 – Greg Zuerlein, K – LAR
- 9.10 – Jamison Crowder, WR – WAS
- 9.11 – Adrian Peterson, RB – WAS
- 9.12 – Jamaal Williams, RB – GB
If there was ever a picture of how ZeroRB should work, it would be this round. Seeing a first round pick in Rashaad Penny and two starters in Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Williams available in the 9th should prove that the depth at RB isn’t as barren as many make it seem. Sure, it requires a great amount of care and planning, but you can win your league with these players.
Best Value: New quarter back Alex Smith may have had a career year throwing the ball down field last year, but he’s proven to be an efficient passer who finds the receiver who gets open. Not many receivers find separation like Jamison Crowder who should be his go to from day one. This is a potential WR2 being drafted as a WR4; that’s some great value!
Worst Value: Thankfully the rest of the round is worth a pick in the 9th so I can sound off on the practice of drafting a kicker in the 9th! DON’T DO IT! Matt Prater, the 10th ranked kicker last season was only 23 points shy of top ranked kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s 169. There’s no need to spend this kind of draft capital on a kicker… ever.
- 10.01 – Trey Burton, TE – CHI
- 10.02 – Ronald Jones, RB – TB
- 10.03 – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – SF
- 10.04 – Sony Michel, RB – NE
- 10.05 – Nelson Agholor, WR – PHI
- 10.06 – David Njoku, TE – CLE
- 10.07 – James White, RB – NE
- 10.08 – Peyton Barber, RB – TB
- 10.09 – Patrick Mahomes, QB – KC
- 10.10 – Philip Rivers, QB – LAC
- 10.11 – Alex Smith, QB – WAS
- 10.12 – Kenny Stills, WR – MIA
Round 10 could be called the Rodney Dangerfield round due to the number of players who just seem to never get the respect they deserve. Whether it’s Philip Rivers being in the QB 1 conversation nearly every year or Alex Smith who almost won an MVP last season, there’s plenty of names in this area of the draft worth throwing darts at. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some pitfalls.
Best Value: With the injuries at the running back position in New England and the lack of reliable passing game targets, James White is looking more attractive than ever. With excellent passing down abilities and the trust of Tom Brady, he could be a RB2 if the Pats don’t address their current issues. While he won’t be asked to do much more than he has on the ground, he’ll approach the 90 or so targets he seems to get every year.
Worst Value: When the draft concluded, many were proclaiming their love for the rookie running back selected by Tampa Bay, but Ronald Jones hasn’t looked like he deserves the comparisons to Jamaal Charles just yet. While the jury remains out on him in his first season, it’s crazy that he’s being drafted before Peyton Barber who is expected to start. With Charles Sims no longer on the roster, and Jones being awful in the passing game, Barber is a safe pick either way.
- 11.01 – Dak Prescott, QB – DAL
- 11.02 – Josh Doctson, WR – WAS
- 11.03 – Jared Goff, QB – LAR
- 11.04 – Texans D/ST
- 11.05 – Ravens D/ST
- 11.06 – Justin Tucker, K – BAL
- 11.07 – DeVante Parker, WR – MIA
- 11.08 – Allen Hurns, WR – DAL
- 11.09 – Mohamed Sanu, WR – ATL
- 11.10 – Derek Carr, QB – OAK
- 11.11 – Marcus Mariota, QB – TEN
- 11.12 – Marlon Mack, RB – IND
With the depth beginning to dwindle, you may be justified stabbing at a player you like here despite them not showing up on many rankings sheets. Don’t feel bad doing something the “experts” wouldn’t do, the truth is many would do the same thing. Guys like Tucker and the Texans defense are far better values here than the guys taken several rounds ago, but I still don’t advise locking up either this early.
Best Value: Despite being a constant on the “bounce back” lists, Mariota is still being drafted as an afterthought. With a new OC in Matt LaFluer (who turned Goff from an embarrassment to an exciting NFL QB), an improved passing game with a healthy stud in Corey Davis, and a complimentary run game with pass catcher Dion Lewis, there’s little chance he disappoints in this round.
Worst Value: It’s sad when we finally give up on a player we’ve been behind for years, but that’s the case with DeVante Parker and Dr. Fantasy… as I write this brief obituary, I’m reminded of all the talent that he has yet the inability to catch the football or beat out lesser receivers. With all the competition now in the Miami offense, it’s time to give up on Parker as a break out candidate.
- 12.01 – Tyler Eifert, TE – CIN
- 12.02 – Eli Manning, QB – NYG
- 12.03 – Chris Boswell, K – PIT
- 12.04 – Patriots D/ST
- 12.05 – Ty Montgomery, RB – GB
- 12.06 – Keelan Cole, WR – JAC
- 12.07 – Charles Clay, TE – BUF
- 12.08 – Kenny Golladay, WR – DET
- 12.09 – Matt Bryant, K – ATL
- 12.10 – Aaron Jones, RB – GB
- 12.11 – Paul Richardson, WR – WAS
You have now entered the “Dart Throw” zone where you’re drafting sleepers and backups in the hopes to land the next diamond in the rough. Guys like Alvin Kamara (who was likely later in your drafts or undrafted) are the kinds of names you hope to scratch off in what is the fantasy version of a 5 dollar scratch ticket. I’m less inclined to berate someone for a special teams pick, but again, don’t do it.
Best Value: When the Packers needed a running back and Montgomery and Williams were hurt or ineffective, Aaron Jones was a workhorse, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and looking like a true RB1. Now suspended, and sitting behind the vanilla Jamaal Williams, Jones value has plummeted. The talent is still there though, so it’s only the opportunity part that is lacking, and Williams may not be good enough to keep Jones down.
Worst Value: I believe in Tyler Eifert’s talent, but until he proves to me he can stay healthy, I’m not touching him in any round. Coupled with the fact that Marvin Lewis (the greatest destroyer of talent in this current NFL generation) plans on using him as sparingly as possible to preserve him for a playoff run that won’t happen, and I’m even less inclined to draft him.
- 13.01 – Nick Chubb, RB – CLE
- 13.02 – Chargers D/ST
- 13.03 – Benjamin Watson, TE – NO
- 13.04 – Tyler Lockett, WR – SEA
- 13.05 – Calvin Ridley, WR – ATL
- 13.06 – Jared Cook, TE – OAK
- 13.07 – Cameron Meredith, WR – NO
- 13.08 – Danny Amendola, WR – MIA
- 13.09 – LeGarrette Blount, RB – DET
- 13.10 – Latavius Murray, RB – MIN
- 13.11 – Tyrod Taylor, QB – CLE
- 13.12 – Broncos D/ST
This is where the forgotten men come to be drafted, despite there being a lot of value even this late in drafts. First round pick Calvin Ridley may be considered a more marquee name, Tyler Lockett and Danny Amendola should contribute a healthy amount too. If your league is a keeper league, Chubb and Ridley begin to look even more attractive, assuming they’ve fallen this far. Don’t forget to know your format!
Best Value: When the Seahawks gave Tyler Lockett a big contract extension, it was a bit of a head scratcher as he’s only ever flashed in limited action. Still, the extension coupled with the loss of Jimmy Graham and the ongoing injury issues with Rashaad Penny and Doug Baldwin, and Lockett could see a big increase in work as well.
Worst Value: I was a Cameron Meredith fan last year before his injury, and I expected him to make the leap in New Orleans as the number two target for Drew Brees, but this offseason has been a complete bust for the former Bear. With very little rapport with the QB and not much success even against lesser competition, he could be a roster drag that forces you to drop him much earlier than you’d like.
- 14.01 – Michael Gallup, WR – DAL
- 14.02 – Cameron Brate, TE – TB
- 14.03 – George Kittle, TE – SF
- 14.04 – O.J. Howard, TE – TB
- 14.05 – Mike Williams, WR – LAC
- 14.06 – D.J. Moore, WR – CAR
- 14.07 – John Ross, WR – CIN
- 14.08 – Mitchell Trubisky, QB – CHI
- 14.09 – Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE – JAC
- 14.10 – Giovani Bernard, RB – CIN
- 14.11 – Courtland Sutton, WR – DEN
- 14.12 – Corey Clement, RB – PHI
If you’re in need of a Tight End, there’s plenty of upside with any one of these guys, but the real value is at the wide receiver position. It’s impossible to hit on every one of these guys, but with so much talent still on the board, these are all low risk options with plenty of high reward upside.
Best Value: Much like Corey Davis several rounds earlier, Mike Williams was once considered one of the best WR prospects in football. Injuries derailed his 2017 season but there’s no excuse for the degree of his fall from grace. With his back healed and only Tyrell Williams to compete with for the #2 spot on the Chargers depth chart, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll outpace the draft spot.
Worst Value: While I like D.J. Moore as a long term prospect, his 2018 prospects are poor. There’s far too many hurdles to meaningful target shares for me to invest in him in redraft leagues. Already behind Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen, it’s become clear that McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel will out target him as well. In deep formats maybe, but not in the 14th round.
Round 15 and 16
I won’t spell out the 15th and 16th rounds (or beyond) as they tend to be more specific formats that require help in these areas. In standard Redraft leagues, you should be drafting a D/ST and Kicker here. I suggest grabbing whichever is the highest rated on your board in the 15th and grabbing someone to stream in the 16th.
In case you went off script and drafted one or both previously, here’s a list of players I like that are going later than this.
- Anthony Miller, WR – CHI
- DeSean Jackson, WR – TB
- Jeremy Hill, RB – NE
- Jordan Wilkins, RB – IND
- Chris Godwin, WR – TB
- James Washington, WR – PIT
- Tyler Kroft, TE – CIN
- Blake Jarwin, TE – DAL
While the Dr. typically does his sleeper prognosis earlier in the off season, it is a beneficial exercise to examine who our newest breakout and sleeper candidates are as we approach the final countdown to our drafts. While there’s still a ton of players we like outside of this list, these are some of our favorite late round targets and the reasons why we’re targeting them ourselves.
Tyrod Taylor, QB – CLE
It’s a fair concern for drafters that the Browns selected Baker Mayfield first overall in the draft. With as well as he’s playing, it would make sense to expect him to start at some point in 2018. But the fact remains that Hue Jackson has been unmovable in his stance that Taylor is his starting QB. With the chemistry already building between Taylor and his receiving group, especially Jarvis Landry, a hot start could mean less chatter about him being replaced. Being able to add a potential top 15 QB in the 19th round (current ADP data shows him going around pick 183), sure qualifies as a sleeper to the Dr.
Blake Bortles, QB – JAC
We understand why Bortles is considered a bottom of the barrel NFL starter, but the real-world hate has seriously suppressed his value in the fantasy community as well. According to data supplied by the consensus ADP rankings at FantasyFootballCalculator, Bortles is being selected on average with the 204th pick of drafts. As the 29th QB off the board, it may surprise you to know that 2017 was his worst finish as the QB 15; his previous two seasons were as the QB9 in 2016 and the QB3 in 2015. While we expect a similar finish in 2018 thanks to an elite defense and high end run game, being able to select a borderline QB1 in the 21st round is larceny.
Jeremy Hill, RB – NE
I’ve been pounding the Jeremy Hill drum since he was released from the Bengals in the off season. Much to my delight he landed with my hometown Patriots, and has slowly been working himself into the good graces of the coaching staff and fans alike. Currently, both Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead are on the shelves with non-serious injuries, but their absence opens up the door for Hill who was far more impressive than Mike Gillislee in the teams first preseason action. While it’s unlikely that he’ll receive the massive workload that saw him compile 1,400 rushing yards early in his career in Cincinnati, the chance to be the primary goal line back and work on early downs makes him an intriguing play at 180th overall. His ADP has been climbing steadily, but currently provides incredible value as a flier.
Bilal Powell, RB – NYJ
When Isaiah Crowell was brought in, it was seen by many as a sign that the Jets didn’t believe in Powell as a starting running back. What we’ve seen through the first weeks of the off season is that Powell may have the better chance to start, especially with Crowell experiencing a head injury in the first preseason game. With his role pretty well defined as the third down back, Powell offers excellent value in PPR formats regardless at his current ADP (192nd) but his status with the teams starters means there’s a chance he could provide even more value as the clubs lead back despite Crowell’s presence on the roster. While I doubt he’ll be a full three down back, the needle is pointing up for one of the leagues most underrated backs.
Dede Westbrook, WR – JAC
The wide receiver competition in Jacksonville is wide open with the uninspiring Marqise Lee sitting atop a receivers group that has plenty of depth but not a lot of experience. A lot of folks were high on Keelan Cole after his explosive stretch to finish the fantasy season last year, but talk in camp has centered on 2nd year receiver Dede Westbrook. A talented receiver, Westbrook has been turning heads with athletic plays and his growing chemistry with Bortles. I’m not a big believer in Lee, and while I was in love with Cole last year, it’s sounding more and more like Dede is going to be the late round guy to draft.
Chris Godwin, WR – TB
Staying in Florida, Chris Godwin has been turning up on a lot of these sleeper lists, yet he’s still being drafted on average around the 21st round of only the deepest drafts. The Tampa coaching staff has already expressed it’s interest in starting the young receiver opposite Mike Evans as the teams #2 receiver, and with DeSean Jackson running as often as he has out of the slot, I’m beginning to believe it. Working in Godwins favor is that Evans draws as many double teams as he does, opening up the other side of the field for plenty of work. Expect a bit of a delay in his progress, as Fitzpatrick tends to target his #1 receiver an inordinate percentage of plays, but it won’t be long before Godwin is a must start.
Mike Gesicki, TE – MIA
It’s nearly a clean sweep for the Florida teams, as the Miami Dolphin’s rookie TE Mike Gesicki pops up on our list. A lot was made of the high number of targets that are up for grabs in the Dolphin offense after Landry left in the off season, but all the attention has been on the incumbent receivers and the two off season additions in Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. What I’ve been reading, though, is that Tannehill has begun to target Gesicki as one of his favorite receiving weapons. In the past, his TE usage has fluctuated, much to the dismay of owners, but I expect a flier on Gesicki to offer a sizable return on that late round investment. I don’t expect a top 5 finish like Engram had last year, but a border line TE1 finish is in the conversation
Michael Gallup looked good in limited action, and the timing pass that Prescott landed in his hands is a good sign that he’ll be heavily involved in Dallas. Jordan Wilkins has been on and off these lists, but with Mack nursing a hamstring injury, a fine showing could move him up the depth chart and put him within striking distance of lead back duties. Jameis Winston may still feel like a risk, but given his pedigree and obvious ability, he’s more than worth a flier in the 19th round. Make sure you have a starter to pair him with, though, for the first three games.
In a move many expected, the Washington Redskins have signed 33 year old future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson to a contract in an attempt to shore up a banged up backfield. With 2nd round pick Derrius Guice out for the season with a torn ACL, Peterson will be asked to compete with last years 4th round pick Samaje Perine (currently out with a minor ankle injury) and Rob Kelley for starting snaps.
While it’s a long shot to expect Peterson to step in with no offseason reps and be a difference maker on a fantasy team, it’s not hard to imagine this team giving him a lot of reps. Despite a 30 yard scamper before exiting the first preseason game with the injury, Perine was a largely ineffectual runner last year, and no enough has changed to inspire confidence.
So with Perine on the shelf and “Fat Rob” Kelley still the boring inefficient runner he’s always been, Peterson may be the back to target in the late rounds. Of course, there’s no guarantee that he starts the season on a roster, but he’s a great value despite his age and distance from his last NFL starting gig.
In what ended up being a pretty milquetoast preseason game, the Colts vs Ravens game featured several off season story lines that we’ve had our eye on all along.
The most important of those being whether Andrew Luck can return to form following an injury filled two year stretch that has seen his value go from a top 3 QB to a middle round prayer. In limited action, Luck failed to impress as his 6 for 13 line with only 50 yards and one INT was hardly reminiscent of the gun slinger he was early in his career. Still, seeing him on the field is encouraging nonetheless.
Catching passes primarily from last years starter Jacoby Brissett, the receiving corps was paced by the tight ends as Eric Ebron secured the highest catch total (4) and Jack Doyle brought in his two receptions for 32 yards. The landscape for the Colts will surely look different when the season starts, but this is a TE position battle that may be one to monitor if Ebron can eat enough into Doyles production to keep him from being fantasy relevant.
The Colts run game wasn’t very impressive, but the Ravens’ Kenneth Dixon flashed the talent that has many wondering how much of a leash Alex Collins will have. His 5.3 yards per carry mark (32 yards on only 6 carries) and team leading 3 receptions for 24 yards is the kind of production that had many targeting Dixon last year in drafts. While Collins job is secure for now, Dixon is a name to watch if he continues to play with the kind of burst and efficiency we saw last night.
Aside from Dixon, the passing game was a color by numbers performance as 14 Colts players secured at least one pass. While John Brown has remained the buzziest player in Ravens practices, it appears that percentage share is going to be an issue for any Raven’s receivers. Consider the value when drafting a Ravens’ receiver as you’ll likely see inconsistent production regardless of who you draft.
Russell Wilson got an extended look as he attempted 21 passes in preseason game #2, completing 13 of them for 193 yards. Secure in his role as a top 5 fantasy QB going into 2018, there’s little to be concern about despite only 1 rushing attempt.
The running back battle that was skewed with a Rashaad Penny injury seems to be centered firmly on Chris Carson as he took his 9 carries for 34 yards, a 3.8 yard per carry mark. While the sentiment is that he’ll be the starter come week one, he’ll need to improve slightly on his efficiency if he’s going to hold off the first round pick.
The receiving game looked a bit off as well as the Seahawks continue to play without injured WR Doug Baldwin. While he was seen doing sprints, it’s likely going to be a showcase for the depth receivers as guys like Jaron Brown try to ingratiate themselves to Wilson and the offensive coaches. Taking 2 receptions for 74 yards certainly doesn’t hurt his case for being a starter, especially considering how cheap he can be had on draft day (likely for free as a waiver add).
Still, it was the Chargers in the end who won the game on the effort of it’s run game. Not one signal caller ended the game with more than 8 passing attempts, as each Geno Smith and Philip Rivers only threw one incomplete pass. Instead it was Detrez Newsome who put on a clinic with 78 yards on 19 carries. While it was certainly impressive, there’s no real threat to Melvin Gordon’s starting gig as he turned his 10 rushes into 35 yards and a TD.
Despite his continued poor efficiency, Melvin Gordon made good in the passing game with 2 receptions for 18 yards. It’ll be something to consider at the end of the first as Gordon has put up decent receiving numbers despite being pegged as a standard league only option.
While the rest of the receiving game was surpressed due to the lack of attempts, it’s interesting to see Virgil Green excelling, as this Chargers offense should continue to use it’s TE’s in the passing game. With Hunter Henry out for the year, Green could be a late round target with plenty of value in redraft leagues.
The story line for both of these teams has been somewhat consistent as the focus on first year starter Mitch Trubisky and free agent price Case Keenum has dominated for each team.
Mitch Trubisky continued to look improved as he completed nearly 65% of his passes for 90 yards and a TD and INT a piece. It wasn’t a world beater stat line for sure, but against a stout Bronco’s defense and without is top wide out Allen Robinson, it was a solid showing for the young QB.
Likewise, both Trey Burton and Anthony Miller looked the part as they each were used early in roles that should see them succeed. Burton’s 4 catches for 45 yards and a TD is the kind of stat line that has fantasy owners buzzing about his potential. While Miller didn’t see the endzone on any of his three catches, the young slot receiver should continue to see his usage upped as the season approaches.
On the other side of the field, Trubiski’s counterpart Case Keenum was efficient as well, throwing only 13 passes for 78 total yards. Still, the lack of depth at QB shows how secure his job is in Denver, as Chad Kelly is a solid depth piece at best and Paxton Lynch is no lock to make it to the season on a roster.
The receiving game was a bit underwhelming as the offense spread the ball around to 16 different players, no one seeing more than Emmanuel Sanders 3 for 27. Demaryius Thomas’ wrist injury opens up space for buzzy youngster Courtland Sutton to impress. While he only had the one catch for a 16 yard TD, he’s a player to target in the later rounds.
Neither teams rushing game was impressive, though, as Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen’s roles are secured in the bears offense, and Royce Freeman continues to be the back most used on rushing downs. It’ll be a question as to how much use Freeman will get across three downs with Booker still there to leach passing downs, but he’s distanced himself from some of the other rookie backs as he inches ever closer to the starting job in Denver.
It was a busy weekend with NFL action featuring several story lines that may or may not make your life easy as you prepare for your drafts. As we continue to inch towards D-day, we’ll continue to review the position battles and injury updates to help you navigate the potential pitfalls.
Tampa Bay vs Tennesee Titans
Suspended Jameis Winston showed why he’s still the best quarterback on the roster with his 13 for 18 performance, putting up a stout 226 yards and 2 TDs. DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans both saw down the field targets as their 4 combined cathes went for over 100 yards.
On a more concerning note, rookie running back Ronald Jones continues to lose ground to incumbent starter Peyton Barber as he managed only 2 yards on 4 carries. It’s been a bit of a slow start to his NFL career as he continues to make headlines for a lack of pass protection and efficiency. Peyton Barber is seeming like a more consistent weapon in the backfield. At their current ADP, you should be targeting Barber in redraft leagues.
On the other side of the football, Mariota wasn’t asked to do as much, but his 80 yards on 4 completions wasn’t too shabby.
In the absence of Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, it was Taywan Taylor that garnered all the attention as he took his 4 receptions for 95 yards and a TD. If Matthews is forced to miss time, Taylor could be a nice deep sleeper target, or waiver wire add if you drafted early.
Unfortunately, not much headway was made in the running game as both Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry were ineffectual again with neither one doing much on the ground. While it’s mostly a blip on the radar, it’s a backfield I have highlighted as one to avoid. Aside from Lewis in PPR leagues, this backfield is one that I’m not keen to take a chance on at their current ADPs.
Much like our updates to the sleeper list, the Dr. is here to tell you who he’s avoiding in drafts this year. Of course, any time we’re suggesting to NOT draft a player, it’s understood that we’re referencing the current cost to acquire said player. All players have value, we’re just trying to help you maximize the value you receiving with each of your picks.
Tom Brady, QB – NE
As a card carrying member of the Tom Brady fan club, it pains me to include him on this list, but it’s important to remain realistic. His late season struggles in the last few years has been well documented, and much of the blame can be assigned on his offensive line. At 41 years old and behind one of the worst offensive lines he’s had in years, Brady is no safe bet to stay healthy all year, and the late season regression he’s seen for years now is a near guarantee. Sure, he’ll win 12 games for his football team, but he’s not as safe a pick as he has been in the past for your fantasy one.
Carson Wentz, QB – PHI
I’m not suggesting Wentz isn’t a good quarterback by including him on this list; I’m merely drawing attention to the fact that he’s being ranked far to high for my liking. While it’s encouraging that he’s returning from his injury so quickly, it’s important to remember that QB’s returning from knee injuries tend to take time to get up to speed. Head coach Doug Pederson went as far as to describe Wentz’s play as “tentative” further reinforcing the idea that he may not be 100%. Expecting the rushing game to return to the levels it did last year isn’t realistic, and neither is expecting him to remain hyper efficient in the face of NFL defenses. Expecting a low end QB1 finish isn’t outrageous, but drafting him at QB5 is expecting him to play at his ceiling; something I’m not confident a QB returning from injury can do.
Jerick McKinnon, RB – SF
When McKinnon was handed a three year contract by San Francisco in the offseason, I was one of the first to declare that McKinnon was set to breakout in a big way. After all, he was playing the lead back role in an up and coming Kyle Shanahan offense. Then, I put the time in to research, and while most of the industry is expecting big things, there’s a well defined group in the community who expect McKinnon to fall flat on his face. While I exist somewhere in between, the truth is that McKinnon has never really shown that he’s got lead back ability. Between losing snaps to Matt Asiata when Adrian Peterson went down, to posting sub 4 yards per carry in limited action over the last two seasons, it appears that we were a bit premature anointing the second coming of Emmett Smith. Expecting him to play all season as a RB1 is a recipe for disaster.
Derrick Henry, RB – TEN
Henry is a back that I personally think has the talent to be a top 10 RB in the league, but Tennessee had the great idea to add elite satellite back Dion Lewis to muddy the waters that had begun to clear when DeMarco Murray left town. Currently being drafted 25th overall, Henry has a steep hill to climb to secure a three down workload, and with a pick in the third round, I’m not sure I’m willing to spend it on a back who’s whole claim to the position was his college production. Henry could prove to be a very useful fantasy asset, but it’ll be only at the expense of Dion Lewis, who’d need to suffer a major injury to open up passing downs for the young Henry.
Tyreek Hill, WR – KC
I’d like to preface this by saying I think Hill is one of the most talented down-the-field receivers in the NFL, but not enough is being made of the situation he’s facing with a first year starter and added weapons suppressing his overall value. Alex Smith may be rightly panned over his career for being a conservative quarterback, but expecting Pat Mahomes to step in and play even close to the season Smith had last year is insane. As an MVP candidate, Smith was one of the most efficient deep ball practitioners last year, and while Mahomes features a monster arm, there are going to be growing pains. While Hill should still be productive, he’s a regression candidate yet he’s being draft as though that’s a fallacy. If he falls a round or two, he’d be worth grabbing, but not as a WR1.
Juju Smith-Schuster, WR – PIT
I’m amazed at how quickly a player went from being un-drafted to being over drafted, but Juju managed it in record time. While he’s a name that I was hoping to target in drafts this year, I’m not touching him at his current price. Being drafted before Brandin Cooks, Josh Gordon, Larry Fitzgerald, and Demaryius Thomas, there’s clearly an unreasonable expectation that the Pittsburgh offense can support both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell as top 5 players and elevate Juju to anything more than a back-end WR2. The issue with drafting him at 42nd overall, his current ADP, is that you can’t expect him to outperform that position. We say it all the time, never draft a player at their ceiling, unless you’re prepared to be disappointed.
Jimmy Graham, TE – GB
Sure, it wasn’t long ago that Graham was considered one of the two or three best pass catching tight ends in the league. His time in New Orleans saw him secure no less than 85 catches over a four year period from 2010 to 2014, but the wheels came off in his first year with the Seahawks. While he was much better in 2016, the now 31 year old TE looked his age last year, performing admirably in the end zone but failing to record more than 65 receptions for the third straight year. In Green Bay, he’ll likely be asked to play a similar role, featuring mostly in the red zone, with less target share thanks to a deeper wide receiver corps. Expecting a return to the pre-Seahawks form is asinine, yet he’s being drafted 5th at the position, before Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, and Delanie Walker; all candidates I expect to finish ahead of Graham by seasons end.
Adam Theilen has seen his ADP drop a bit, so he’s no longer a focus on these bust lists, but he’s still being drafted a bit too high for me to like his value. Kenyan Drake was impressive in his limited time last year, but he doesn’t have the pedigree or track record to perform as a top 10 RB over a full season, and Miami’s offseason moves seem to say the same thing. DeShaun Watson has had plenty of time to recover from his major knee injury, but the obvious regression coming seems to be ignored when setting expectations. As the 4th QB off the board, I’m out on Watson.
With the 2nd week of Pre-season games coming down the road, it’s important to stay in tune with all of the noise coming out of training camps around the league. Here is a small collection of those headlines, and the Dr’s take on the fantasy impact.
Alshon Jeffery On PUP To Start The Season?
Ian Rapoport is a name we should all be familiar with in terms of breaking NFL news, so his tweet suggesting that Jeffery could miss the six weeks required for a week 1 PUP designation comes as a surprise. While we haven’t been super high on Jeffery due to the way head coach Doug Pederson’s offenses spread the ball around, this would be a huge blow to his fantasy outlook. I’ll take the tweet with a grain of salt until the team releases some kind of update, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you draft early in the off season.
Sam Darnold Working With The Ones Again
After years of futility at the quarterback position, it’s hardly a surprise that the Jets are willing 3rd overall pick Sam Darnold into the starter role. While we here at the Dr’s Office expected the team to bring him along slowly after burning out several prospects, it’s clear that Darnold’s ability is making it hard to ignore. With a few more successful appearances, Darnold could leapfrog incumbent starter Josh McCown and free agent addition Teddy Bridgewater, and suddenly find himself a target in dynasty and keeper league formats.
HC Dirk Koetter Declares Peyton Barber “is our starter.”
It’s a bit of a surprise given the draft capital the Bucs spent on Ronald Jones, but Barber has been the better back through the camp process and in early preseason action. There’s no telling how tentative his hold on the position is, but if you’re high on Ronald Jones, it’s a situation worth monitoring to ensure you don’t overdraft a player who may not start right away.
Joe Flacco Singing John Browns Praises
An ESPN article quoted Flacco as saying “I really think that’s a credit to [Brown] and just how well he can get off the ball and get going vertical and put those DBs in a bad position” when asked about the improvement in his deep ball. With Michael Crabtree garnering all the attention in regards to the upgraded wide receiver corps, the talented but oft-injured Brown continues to go under the radar. As we mentioned previously, a healthy Brown can be a steal as he’s proven in the past he has what it takes to be a top level NFL receiver.
With a batch of games looming Thursday and into the weekend, we thought it’d make sense for us to take a few minutes to give you an update on what’s happened in practices this week.
- In Tennessee, Delanie Walker was seen leaving the field after suffering a “lower body injury” as reported by area sports writer John Glennon, Coach Vrabel is not discussing the severity of the injury, but per Rotoworld, the thought it is it’s a “toe” injury. This one hurts a bit as Walker looked to be a factor in the middle rounds, monitor the situation before spending too early a pick on the aging Titan’s TE.
- With what was initially reported as a concussion, Ben Roethlisberger appears to have dodged a bullet as he passed the concussion protocol, setting minds at ease. At his age, the prospect of head injuries is terrifying as the next one may be the last one. While we don’t anticipate this lingering, it’s still something to think about when spending a pick on a QB that finds themselves hit as often as Ben does.
- When Saquon Barkley was reported as suffering a mild hamstring tweak, the fantasy community held it’s collective breath. After reviewing the play in question, there doesn’t seem to be anything worth getting concerned over despite the fact that Barkley is continuing to sit during practices. Chalk it up to a club being overly cautious and draft Barkley in the first round without any fears that the injury is serious.
- Doug Baldwin was seen at practice running sprints, something that’s very encouraging considering how mum the Seahawks have been in terms of off season injuries. With the concerns over the aging wide receiver seeming to buzz louder, this bit of good news should put prospective drafters at ease. There’s always the chance the injury lingers, but if he’s on the field, Baldwin is a lock for WR1 volume.
- It was less than great news, thought, for Rashaad Penny who had to have surgery to repair a broken finger suffered recently at camp. The recovery time puts the beginning of the season at jeopardy, despite coaches saying he’ll be ready for week one. More concerning is the ground he’s lost on Chris Carson as the late round pick from a year ago continues to impress in camp. It’s fair to dock Penny a few draft positions, but be ready to pounce if the value gets too great.