Author Archives: Dr. Fantasy

QB Competition in Jacksonville

bortlesAfter a second straight lackluster performance, Blake Bortles was officially placed on the hot seat after head coach Doug Marrone told interviewers following the game that the Jacksonville starting QB position would be up for grabs.

While most had dropped Bortles in their rankings following a bizarre up and down year for the young signal caller (I have him as my 20th ranked QB), this announcement still comes as a surprise.

Bortles had a very good fantasy year in 2015, throwing for over 4,400 yards and adding another 300 on the ground while contributing to 37 total TD’s (35 passing and 2 rushing) and most of us were salivating over the potential top 10 QB considering the weapons and the Jag’s commitment to adding more weapons around him.

Then the big fall came in 2016 with regression across the board (3,900 yards and 23/18 split for TD/INT). Bortles still managed 350 yards on the ground and 3 rushing TDs (as well as one receiving TD) but the heat was formally turned up in the off season.

The funny thing is that Bortles still finished as the QB8 in standard ESPN leagues last year. We usually say “He’s a good real life QB but not so great for fantasy” but Bortles is proof of the other side of the coin.

If Bortles loses the job, Henne figures to be a bottom tier QB despite the weapons around him. It’d be more an elevation for the running game should he find himself starting. Fournette should already get 15+ touches a game, but keep an eye on the competition for the wideouts as Allen Robinson could find himself over drafted if Bortles doesn’t win the job.

Monday Quick Hits

Joe Mixon, RB – CIN: With only one pre-season week in the books, any and all mixonobservation must be taken with a grain of salt, but Mixon certainly impressed in his NFL debut, rushing 6 times for 31 yards and hauling in one reception for 11 more. Mixon’s draft position has been slowly climbing as the hype machine gets louder, but a few more performances like this and the fears surrounding Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill’s presence on the roster will lose their weight.

Andrew Luck, QB – IND: The news out of Indianapolis is that Luck will be ready “around” the time of the season opener. This situation is sticky at best, considering that Luck is still being drafted as high as the #4 QB. Forecasting a QB’s effectiveness following his return from a lengthy recovery like Luck’s is difficult but I’ve already dropped Luck to #9 on my QB rankings as I anticipate some rust as he works his way back to game shape. If Luck misses any significant time, it could be even worse for owners who invested in him earlier in the preseason on the promises of Jim Irsay and the Colts front office.

Jordan Matthews, WR – BUF: Newly acquired wide out Jordan Matthews found himself injured following his very first Bills practice with what the team is reporting as a chip fracture in his sternum. At this point, he’s been labelled as week to week which makes for a messy situation as Matthews has to still learn the offense and his new role. While he may return from this injury quickly, it’s important to note that Zay Jones could very likely lead the passing game early on, and can be had for next to nothing at the end of drafts. If you’re high on Matthews in the Bills offense, just understand it could be a while before he pays off on the score sheet.

Alfred Morris, RB – DAL: Most (myself included) looked at Darren McFadden as the obvious stand in for Ezekiel Elliott’s 6 game suspension, but after a fine performance from the once-starter Morris, the waters are certainly muddied. I’m not suggestion that a single pre-season game would change the entire outlook on the Dallas backfield, but it’s far from the realm of possibility that Morris at least steals enough carries from McFadden to render either of them a flex starter at best. If I were forced to bet on either of them getting the bulk of the carries for 6 weeks, it’s still on McFadden, but I’d monitor the situation if you’re a Zeke owner who’s keen on snagging his handcuff.

Ezekiel Elliot Faces 6 Game Suspension

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting per sources that the NFL is planning to suspend Cowboys second year RB Ezekiel Elliott 6 games to start the season. This is a massive blow to early drafters who spent a first round pick on a player who’s set to miss 40% of the upcoming fantasy season.

Still, with the lack of information or evidence surrounding the domestic violence case and the other two incidents being far less egregious, I’d expect an appeal to at least shorten the length on his band to somewhere in the 3-4 game range.

Either way temper your expectations on Elliott and elevate McFadden as a possible handcuff and mid-late round guy for owners of Elliott and Doug Martin.

Monday Quick Hits

Jay Cutler signs in Miami: While the consensus is that this was bound to happen, I can’t help but feel that Matt Moore was a better option to run the offense in Tannehill’s absense.cutler Either way, expect this offense to run like Gase has traditionally operated, and his wide receivers should maintain the value they had prior to the Tannehill injury. Cutler himself is a middle of the pack fantasy QB, but don’t be surprised if it takes a few games for him to shake off the rust.

Paxton Lynch struggles in Denver: Despite the only competition comes in the form of former 7th round pick (and incumbent starter) Trevor Seimian, Paxton Lynch continues to fall short of the expectations set forth when Denver spent a first round pick on him in 2016. While it’s far from over in terms of being labelled a bust, Lynch has shown very little spark in practices and will need a huge turnaround or a Seimian injury to win the starting job,

Quarterback Battle in Houston: There seems to be some contention surrounding the quarterback competition in Houston. There are reports that both Savage and Watson are playing far above their head in terms of the on-the-field stuff, but it’s being reported that Savage has the resect of his teammates while Watson is still getting acclimated to the NFL. Assuming Savage wins the starting gig, it’ll be a difficult road to keeping it with games against Jacksonville and New England presenting elite secondaries.

Tyreek Hill gains Chemistry with Smith: The opportunity will be there regardless for Hill in the absense left by Maclin’s depature, but his budding chemistry is good news for Hill fans. Experts are speculating a 70-80 catch season which would put Hill solidly in the WR2 camp with a potential to push top billing as the #1 in Kansas City.

Turmoil with Tannehill

tannehill

By now you’ve heard that Ryan Tannehill had to leave Dolphins practice on Thursday, and the news out of Miami is that potential season-ending surgery is on the table. Maybe you weren’t planning on drafting Tannehill anyhow, but his absense certainly will affect fantasy targets around him.

Matt Moore – QB: The most obvious first-domino would be who steps in under center. Despite rumblings that Jay Cutler may be interested in the gig due to his ties to Adam Gase and his offense, my money is on Matt Moore. Moore performed admirably against all three AFC east teams last year posting 240 yards per game with 8 TDs against 3 INT’s in his three starts. If Moore does start, a reasonable expectation would be around 3,500 yards and 20-22 TDs but the turnovers could rise a bit. He’s a late round flyer at best.

Jay Ajayi – RB: Stacked boxes could mean a change of fortunes for a back many considered to be a top 10 talent. If last seasons disparity between his three 200 yard efforts and the rest of the season is any indication, consistency may be an issue for Ajayi. Draft data suggests that people are already tempering expectations following the Tannehill injury as he’s fallen into the 2nd round on average. In the first round he’s a bit of a gamble but if you can get him in the 2nd or even the third he could be a steal as he’s unlike to relinquish many touches regardless.

Jarvis Landry – WR: While you may find yourself concerned with Landry’s outlook with Moore under center, it’s important to remember that as primarily the slot receiver, he’ll likely be targeted with a similar frequency. In the three games Moore started, Landry had two very good fantasy performances (9 catches on 12 targets for 76 yards and a TD in New England – and 4 catches for 108 yards and a TD against the Jets). If I were to bet on his usage, I would expect him to be a saftey blanket for Moore, leaving his value mostly untouched despite Tannehills absense.

DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills – WR: It’d be wise to bump both of these players down a bit in your rankings, but neither was an after thought in the three games Moore started last year. Parker has a bit more upside and his size makes him a redzone threat, but if the Dolphins find themselves throwing late in games (playing teams like New England will do that to ya) then both have potential to shine.

The bottom line is Tannehill could very well rehab and return, or he could opt for surgery and miss the year. While most teams would notice a massive step back without their starting QB, Moore has proven to be more than servicable as a starter and with Adam Gase coaching the team you can expect some fireworks from the passing game. Obviously playing in the AFC East presents a few challenges, but the Dolphins should still produce a few fantasy stars; provided you can get them at a reasonable draft price.

Selecting A Backup: QB’s

BWhether your throwing an early round pick at a top 5 QB or your waiting until the middle rounds to grab a back end QB1, it’s important to remember that eventually you’ll need a second quarterback for byes and injury.

Sure, you could opt to skip drafting a second QB and stream the waiver wire as the needs arise, but depending on how deep your league is you may be left with slim pickings for late bye weeks. Below we’ll examine each of the consensus QB1 selections and I’ll attempt to  give you 3 targets to keep in mind when drafting your backup.

Week 5 BYES: Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins

Having the early bye, it’s important to have a backup plan in place for the bye week and any potential injury issues later in the year. Both Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco are available in the 17th round or later in standard drafts, and both have favorable schedules during the home stretch of the regular season. Playing the Raiders (Flacco) and the Titans (Tannehill) are particular boons considering both teams finished in the top 10 for most generous fantasy defenses for opposing QBs. If you’re interested in late picks in deep leagues or just want to watch the waivers, Josh McCown of the Jets offers very little upside but does play the Browns in week 5 so could be a valuable stand in while your QB is on their bye.

Week 6 BYES: Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott

Neither one of the guys inspires the confidence of an Aaron Rodgers despite the potential for monster seasons. The Vikings’ Sam Bradford has a nice matchup against the Packers that should feature higher scores while Blake Bortles draws the Rams in week 6. Sticking with the he’s playing the Browns theme, DeShaun Watson (should he win the starting job) will not have much difficulty putting up decent points in week 6, and aside from the week 8 matchup against the Seahawks, has very winnable games down the stretch.

Week 7 BYES: Matt Stafford

Sure, he’s not really a QB1 to most, but in 12 – 14 team leagues he very well may end up your starting QB. Alex Smith (Rnd 16) draws the raiders, and Carson Palmer (Rnd 14) draws the Rams. Odds are you’re not going to wait too long to grab a backup but if you’re convinced of Staffords abilities, McCown has another nice matchup in week 6 against the Dolphins.

Week 8 BYES: Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota

Week 8 offers a ton of value in terms of backups, and you could choose to wait until late if you grab Rodgers by drafting Mike Glennon (26th round) or Sam Bradford (playing the Browns). If you want to hedge you bets with Mariota, Andy Dalton is available in the 13th round and plays the Colts, and Carson Wentz has fallen back to earth a bit in the 14th round but could put big points but against the 49ers.

Week 9 BYES: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

Both Brady and Big Ben are two potential top 5 (or better) fantasy QB’s assuming their health holds up. Brady (despite being older) is a far less likely injury risk but it’s something to take into account when drafting an aging QB. Matt Stafford is a relatively low risk option to add in the 11th round assuming you’re concerned about missed time. Espcecially with Roethlisberger it’s important to be realistic. If you’d rather wait, both Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill can be had at the back end of the draft (both in round 17 or later) and both have above average schedules for fantasy production. Either or is a valuable addition to your team if you drafted Brady or Big Ben.

Week 10 BYE: Derek Carr

It depends on who you ask, but Carr is a borderline QB1 who should be drafted under the assumption that he should remain consistent. Still, having a backup for a starter who’s coming off a serious leg injury isn’t a bad idea. Eli Manning may only be drafted a few rounds later, but if he falls, he’s a perfect fit for the bye week and if Carr faces any missed time for injuries. Should he go before the 14th round, DeShaun Watson could fall to you as well, and his week 10 matchup against the Rams (and other favorable matchups in this area) mean less risk. While the by week matchups aren’t as good, Bortles (Rnd 16 – against the Chargers) and Bradford (Round 18- against the Redskins) could put up sizable numbers and serve as a valuable back up for the rest of the season.

Week 11 BYES: Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston

What a murders row of “who the hell knows” in week 11, although most questions should be answered by then. Still, there’s significant injury risk to Luck and Newton, so preparing is a necessity. Bortles matchup against the Browns makes him an obvious option in the 16th round, as does the potential shootout Joe Flacco (Rnd 17) is looking at against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, but the real crown jewel would be Carson Wentz in the 14th round; his ceiling makes for a dramatic backup but should he be needed for more than a week or two, he could produce in spades from the bench.

Of course it’s important to consider the bye weeks, but as always don’t compromise your strategy to fill in one or two weeks on the schedule. There are no worst case scenarios you’ll face that the other 9-13 teams you’ll play won’t also face, so make sure you start the best possible team and build around them as best you can.

Chargers Rookie May Need Surgery

RFrank Zombo, Tyrell Williamseports out of L.A. today point towards a possible season-ending surgery for highly touted rookie WR Mike Williams. While this is certainly a wrench in the gears for a player many expected to make an immediate impact, what it does is open the door for last years suprising success Tyrell Williams to return as the #2 WR on the outside.

I expect Benjamin to remain penciled in as the slot receiver, and if he’s healthy, he’ll take a chunk of the looks Williams was expected to have. But the real winner, assuming Williams misses significant time, is Tyrell Williams.

Last year with Allen and Benjamin missing time, Williams stepped up big time to the tune of 1059 yards on 69 catches, and 7 TDs. Williams has the size (6’4″) to be a big redzone target, but add to that a rise in the depth chart, and you have a recipe for success for the 51st WR being selected.

While he likely won’t repeat last years numbers, it’s still not a sure thing that the wideouts ahead of him on the chart last a full 16 games. Obviously keep an eye on Williams progress, but Williams should still be good for 800 yards and 7-9 TDs.

Mock Itch – A ZeroRB Mock

While I’ve certainly been a detractor of the ZeroRB strategy, I certainly see the value in loading up on elite talent and a well put together strategy can reward any owner regardless of how they feel.

I’ve been a mocking fool lately (one of my favorite parts of the fantasy football process is the mock season during the run up to the our actual drafts) and I decided I would take some time and really try to hammer out a solid ZeroRB strategy to share with you.

Strategy

Before we discuss how my draft shook out, lets revisit the cardinal rules when adopting a ZeroRB strategy. It’s important to load up on top teir wideouts early in drafts; I suggest not swinging at a QB or TE in the first 3 or 4 rounds unless one of the elite guys falls to you. Once you’ve filled out your starters at WR, QB, and TE is when you throw a whole lot of heat at the RB position in the middle rounds.

The Mock

I used the fantastic Draft Wizard at Fantasypros.com to set up the draft to my preferences, and I started by opting for a straight PPR format with one RB/WR/TE flex position. Standard scoring and 6 bench spots made up the rest of the rules. Randomizing the draft spot I ended up drafting 8th.

  • Round 1. Mike Evans (WR5) – Evans is a stud, but in the first round you get what you pay for.
  • Round 2. Jordy Nelson (WR7) – Nelson could easily finish as a top 3 WR, not bad for a 2nd round pick.
  • Round 3. Demaryius Thomas (WR15) – This one was a bit of a stretch, but with a big run on WR’s in round 3, I had to decide if I wanted Thomas, Alshon Jeffrey, or Jarvis Landry.
  • Round 4. Tom Brady (QB2) – Brady fell to me in round 4 and I felt comfortable with the remaining RB pool to push off my first RB selection to add an elite QB.
  • Round 5. Carlos Hyde (RB17) – For my first RB I grabbed the boring but effective Hyde. Despite the rumblings that Hyde may not be a fit in Shanahan’s offense, at 26 he presents a safe floor in round 5.
  • Round 6. C. J. Anderson (RB19) – For my money, Anderson offers the closest thing to a top 10 RB of the remaining backs. Dalvin Cook was available but throwing a rookie in as my 2nd RB scares me.
  • Round 7. Bilal Powell (RB22) – Drafting Powell in standard leagues is nerve racking, but in PPR (with his ability to catch the football) he’s one of the safer committee backs.
  • Round 8. Eddy Lacy (RB25) – I’ll admit it, this one is a crap shoot. Lacy has turned in two fantastic seasons and two awful ones… which back will show up in Seattle this year? I hope it’s the former.
  • Round 9. Frank Gore (RB35) – I don’t think Gore will ever get the respect he deserves, and in the 9th round I’m giddy that a starting RB on a high scoring offense is still available.
  • Round 10. Zach Ertz (TE10) – Ertz still has some proving to do but his skill set and place in the Eagles offense makes him a safe pick in the 10th round as the tenth TE drafted.
  • Round 11. Jordan Matthews (WR 45) – Adding an impact player in the 11th is difficult, and with Decker and Rishard Matthews as the the next highest ranked WRs it was a no brainer to add Matthews and his 100+ targets.
  • Round 12. Mike Wallace (WR 49) – This is Baltimore’s Mike Wallace, where I consider him a flier after major offensive shakeups leaves hundres of targets up for grabs (even AFTER adding Jeremy Maclin in the off season).
  • Round 13Tyrod Taylor (QB 18) – I could have gone with Blake Bortles here, but Taylor put up top 10 QB numbers for a good portion of the year and I’m not keen on starting Tom Brady without some kind of backup plan in case the 40 year old struggles or goes down to injury.

Overall, the draft went pretty much as planned. I could have Greg Olsen or Jimmy Graham in the 5th round and started my run on RB’s a round later, but that would have left me exchanging a player like Carlos Hyde for someone like Samaje Perine or Jamaal Williams, two players I like but who are no lock to play meaningful snaps.

Roster

  • QB – Tom Brady
  • RB1 – Carlos Hyde
  • RB2 – C.J. Anderson
  • WR1 – Mike Evans
  • WR2 – Jordy Nelson
  • WR3 – Demaryius Thomas
  • TE – Zach Ertz
  • Flex – Bilal Powell (RB)
  • D/ST – Houston Texans
  • K – Sebastian Janikowski
  • Bench – Eddie Lacy (RB)
  • Bench – Frank Gore (RB)
  • Bench – Jordan Matthews (WR)
  • Bench – Mike Wallace (WR)
  • Bench – Tyrod Taylor (QB)

 

Draft Board

ZRBMock

Bad Luck in Indy

With the Hall of Fame Game set to kick off the pre-season in just over three weeks, we still have very little information regarding the status of Andrew Lucks rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

LuckThe most obvious fallout from this is with Luck himself, where my previous QB rankings had him still in the top five despite the lingering issues. At this point, with as little information as we have, I have dropped Luck in my postitional rankings from 5 to 9, falling behind Kirk Cousins, Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, and Dak Prescott.

Beyond that, we have to consider what life without Luck would be like for the first few weeks. Hilton is a safer pick as he’ll likely be the focal point of the passing game. Frank Gore is a safe bet at his current ADP as well since it’s unlikely they’ll use him more or less regardless.

I’m not the biggest Moncrief fan in the world and depending on how much time Luck misses, he falls on my board, but I’m intrigued about Jack Doyle and his potential contributions. While there’s not enough statistics to provide answers for the young TE, it stands to reason that beyond Hilton, he’d be a likely saftey net for a young QB filling in for Luck. Don’t adjust your rankings on him.

Despite all this planning, we could hear in the next few days that Luck is a pillar of health and his rehab is progressing nicely. By all accounts, the Colts front office expects Luck to be ready for week one, but in the absence of solid evidence, it makes sense to prepare for the worst.

UPDATED: Top 50 WR Rankings

2017 Wide Receiver Rankings

Updated June 8th, 2017

Antonio Brown, PIT (E)
Julio Jones, ATL (E)
Mike Evans, TB (E)
Odell Beckham Jr, NYG (E)
Jordy Nelson, GB (+1)
A.J. Green, CIN (+1)
T.Y. Hilton, IND (-2)
Michael Thomas, NO (E)
Amari Cooper, OAK (+1)
Doug Baldwin, SEA (+1)
Dez Bryant, DAL (-2)
Alshon Jeffrey, PHI (+1)
Sammy Watkins, BUF (+2)
Allen Robinson, JAC (E)
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (-3)
Brandon Cooks, NE (E)
Demaryius Thomas, DEN (E)
Keenan Allen, LAC (E)
Michael Crabtree, OAK (+2)
Davante Adams, GB (-2)
Jarvis Landry, MIA (+1)
Golden Tate, DET (+2)
Terrelle Pryor, CLE (-3)
Julian Edelman, NE (+1)
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (+1)
Tyreek Hill, KC (+3)
Stefon Diggs, MIN (+1)
Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (+3)
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (-6)
DeSean Jackson, TB (E)
Jamison Crowder, WAS (+1)
Willie Snead, NO (+4)
Eric Decker, TEN (+2)
Brandon Marshall, NYG (E)
Martavis Bryant, PIT (-2)
Pierre Garcon, SF (+3)
Donte Moncrief, IND (-10)
Corey Davis, TEN (-1)
Devante Parker, MIA (+2)
Rishard Matthews, TEN (-2)
Cameron Mereditch, CHI (+1)
Kenny Britt, CLE (+1)
Randall Cobb, GB (+1)
Jordan Matthews, PHI (+1)
Adam Thielen, MIN (+1)
Corey Coleman, CLE (-5)
Jeremy Maclin, BAL (+4)
John Brown, ARI (E)
Mike Wallace, BAL (-2)
Marvin Jones, DET (+2)
Josh Doctson, WAS (+4)
Kevin White, CHI (+5)
Sterling Shepard, NYG (+1)
Mike Williams, LAC (-1)
John Ross, CIN (+3)
Robert Woods, LAR (+4)
Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (+5)
Taylor Gabriel, ATL (+6)
Kenny Stills, MIA (+2)
Tyrell Williams, LAC (-11)