Category Archives: Player Articles

Week 1 Thoughts

While week 1 featured several stellar performances by high-profile rookies, it also featured some dream killer injuries along the way. I’ll be brief, but below are the highlights of the Fantasy Seasons kickoff week.

Rookie Running Backs Shine

huntThe incoming group got off to a blazing start in the NFL opener in New England as Kareem Hunt stepped into the void following Spencer Ware’s injury and dropped almost 250 total yards and three touchdowns. His 41 points in standard leagues paced the NFL.

Also turning in solid performances were Leonard Fournette (124 yards, TD) and Dalvin Cook (137 total yards), Deshone Kizer (239 total yards, 1 Passing and 1 Rushing TD) , Tarik Cohen (110,1 TD), Kenny Golloday (69 yards, 2 TD), Cooper Kupp (76 yards, 1 TD) and Corey Coleman (53 yards, 1 TD).

Major Injury Woes

The injury to David Johnson (dislocated wrist) was a huge blow to fantasy teams as Johnson was, for all intents and purposes, the #1 pick in fantasy this year. At this point he’s expected to miss 8-12 weeks which would put his return right at the fantasy playoffs with no promises on what he may be able to produce.

Also injured: Allen Robinson (ACL injury, placed on IR), Danny Woodhead (Hamstring Injury, no timetable), Kevin White (Shoulder Injury, placed on IR).

Struggling to Get Going

While there were many players who surprised in week one, the more important story line are the players who failed to meet expectations.

Tom Brady: Brady’s value skyrocketed in the preseason thanks to a strong supporting cast, but an 8 point week 1 in a blowout loss against KC was not what owners were hoping for.

Russell Wilson: This was supposed to be a bounce back year for Russell but less than 200 yards against a GB defense that wasn’t the stingiest last year was awful for the former top 5 QB.

Le’Veon Bell: While David Johnson had an uninspiring week one prior to his injury, Bell had a disastrous one. 47 total yards and a 3.2 YPC line isn’t good enough for a player many believed was the best player in fantasy.

Joe Mixon: Maybe it’s not fair to read into his first NFL action, but Mixon’s opening stat line was borderline embarrassing as he managed only 9 yards on 8 carries. After a strong preseason saw Mixon jump up rankings, this should temper the expectations surrounding him for a bit.

Adrian Peterson: While I wasn’t very high on him coming into the season simply because of the crowd already in the NO backfield, I didn’t expect him to struggle in the run game to the tune of 6 carries for 18 yards. While Mark Ingram wasn’t impressive either, it appears that Peterson will play third fiddle to Ingram and rookie back Alvin Kamara going forward.

Brandon Marshall: With OBJ missing Sunday nights game, many expected Marshall to be heavily targeted, but he turned in a dud with only one reception on the final drive of the game.

Jamison Crowder: A popular preseason pick to elevate his game, Crowder’s struggles in week one may have been because Cousins couldn’t seem to hit open receivers. Still, it’s not encouraging going forward.

Martavis Bryant: It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that Bryant hadn’t played much football in the past two years, but his 2 catches for 14 yards certainly contributed to fantasy losses in week 1.

 

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RB Committee Review

prosiseOften times the running back position is the most volatile when we enter the preseason as NFL head coaches have begun to compliment their rosters with a deeper stable of running backs, ultimately leading to ugly fantasy committees.

While we do our best to read the tea leaves early in the preseason, ultimately there are several surprises that pop up as we enter the games that matter.

Washington Redskins – Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine

What started as one of the trendiest picks of the off-season, the hype surrounding Perine has cooled off considerably after a roller coaster of a preseason. At times he was dominant, but at others he was lethargic and failed to hit the holes. It seems for a time that Rob Kelley is back in the driver seat in the Washington backfield. If you’re an owner of either of these backs, though, I’d compel you to pay close attention to how Kelley plays early because the leash will likely be short.

Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey

There is certainly going to be a division of responsibility in this backfield but what seemed early on to be McCaffrey’s backfield to lose has become a bit of a committee after a rather impressive preseason by incumbent starter Stewart. At his current ADP Stewart is the far more valuable back as he’ll be in line for the bulk of the goal line carries and a good amount of inside the 20 runs, but McCaffrey certainly offers a lot of upside especially in PPR leagues. Be cautious at his current value, though, as Stewart is all but guaranteed to get a good portion of the split.

Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr.

While I personally think that Crowell will get the bulk of meaningful carries in this offense, the truth is that the fantasy community is divided over the value of the 24 year old back. With Johnson in the fray, third downs and passing situations are going to be his, so Crowell’s value caps at roughly a RB2 but both backs could be in line for a lot of work as the passing game took a bit of a step back with the loss of Terrelle Prior. It should be interesting to see if Crowell can be more consistent this year, because he has a chance to really reward drafters during the season.

Green Bay Packers – Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams

I’m not sure if I’m in the minority on this one, but I find it hard to believe that the Green Bay drafted Williams this year without the intentions of starting him at his natural position. Montgomery is a fantastic passing option out of the backfield but he struggles in pass protection and he hasn’t nearly shown the consistency necessary to be considered a top 25 back, yet here we are. I’d argue that Williams will be the starter before season end and in the first few weeks the time share in the backfield will skew heavily in his favor.

New England Patriots – Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead

A mainstay on these committee lists, New England went out and procured two new running backs in the off season and fantasy players were left scratching their heads at how all of these backs could possibly be used. As the season inches closer we still don’t know. The truth is that Gillislee is the most talented back on the roster in terms of running the football. After his success in Buffalo, New England sought out a back they could give the ball to 15 times a game and he should be the guy. Burkhead was a trendy pick after a few really solid practices and preseason performances, but I’d caution that James White is the true pass catching back in this offense leaving little more than scraps for Burkhead to work with.

New Orleans Saints – Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson

It seems disingenuous to your 27 year old former Heisman trophy winner to go out and sign a 32 year old Adrian Peterson to compete for touches, but that’s exactly what the Saints did. Are they worried about Ingram’s injury history? Possibly, but I think that they saw a possibly stud that could help the team and said to hell with the consequences in terms of fantasy. For me, I’m not touching this backfield because both backs are capable number ones and there’s little reason for the Saints to favor one over the other. This is a straight up 50/50 committee and unless you think one or the other is going to get hurt, this is a backfield to avoid (especially that both backs are being drafted in the top 30-35 of the position!)

New York Jets – Bilal Powell and Matt Forte

One wonders if Matt Forte has anything left in the tank. After a surprisingly effective start to the year, Forte slowed significantly, opening running room for Powell who managed 750 or so yards on only 131 carries. Even if Forte starts the season at the top of the depth chart, Powell figures to be the third down pack, and is in line for 50-60 receptions on top of whatever yards he manages on the ground. Neither back is going to be a big factor in terms of touchdowns leaving Powell with the only back with value on the roster as Forte is likely to see his touches and yards decline.

Seattle Seahawks – Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise 

I could have included Carson’s name in there as well, but the competition really features a who’s who of injury report players and ineffective cast offs. Lacy was once an early fantasy pick after two monster years in Green Bay but now he finds himself running behind a porous offensive line with younger, more talented backs breathing down his neck. With Thomas Rawls, his only question is his health, as he is mightily effective when he DOES play. Will he play? Who knows, as he’s alreaddy dealing with some bumps and bruises. For my money, pass catcher C.J. Prosises is the best pick in the backfield. It’s not unrealistic to think he’ll lead the ground game too, but he’ll be in line for 40+ catches and at his current draft spot (later and later) he’ll return your investment in spades if you flex him right.

 

TE Review

Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts. 

Elite Tier (1)

  • Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
  • Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
  • Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington RedskinsBefore you jump down my throat that “how can you elevate these two guys into Gronk’s class!?” I’d like to point out that I’ve really just pulled back on my Gronkspectations as an injury or two are nearly guaranteed. Still, these guys offer the highest ceiling at the position.

Very Good Tier (2)

  • Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
  • Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
  • Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks
  • Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

My plan this year is to grab one of these guys in the middle rounds. I’m amazed that Jordan Reed doesn’t get the same pass on his health that Gronk gets because when he’s on the field he’s really, really good. Delanie Walker has probably the weakest claim to this tier as the Titans offense should spread the ball round better than previously but he still offers plenty of talent.

Decent Tier (3) 

  • Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
  • Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
  • Martellus Bennett – Green Bay Packers
  • Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions
  • Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers
  • Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
  • Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints

I’m personally a big believer in Kyle Rudolph’s ability as a pass catcher. Last year was just a start to what he should accomplish. Hunter Henry should certainly see an uptick in targets between the 20’s but until proven otherwise the red zone still belongs to Antonio Gates.

Make A Prayer Tier (4)

  • CJ Fiedorowicz – Houston Texans
  • Jason Witten – Dallas Texans
  • Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Julius Thomas – Miami Dolphins
  • Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
  • Antonio Gates – Los Angeles Chargers
  • Evan Engram – New York Giants

This is a fantastic late round tier of tight ends as very little investment gets you a starting quality TE. Austin Hooper is the darling of the off season so be wary of where he’s being drafted but in the later rounds he’s a steal. Evan Engram is another TE that is getting a lot of buzz after playing very well in the preseason but anything other than a late round flier in deep leagues and dynasty/keeper formats may be a wasted pick.

Worth a Flyer Tier (5)

  • O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • David Njoku – Cleveland Browns
  • Erik Swoope – Indianapolis Colts
  • Dwayne Allen – New England Patriots
  • Benjamin Watson – Baltimore Ravens
  • Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers

If you’re drafting these guys then make sure you do your homework. OJ Howard may be the most NFL ready TE from this draft class but that doesn’t mean he’ll unseat Cameron Brate as the top dog in Tampa. Jesse James is a sneaky good late pick if you miss on the top guys and want a back up to mitigate disaster. LeDarius Green is gone and Big Ben has a history of using his TE’s in the red zone.

I’ve never been in favor of spending a pick on a TE in the first 5 rounds, it’s effectually throwing away a very valuable asset so your team looks pretty on draft night. While Gronkowski is as dominant at his position as any other player, the fact is he can’t stay on the field and I’d rather take my chances with a WR or RB in the 1st or 2nd round and hang my hat on Kyle Rudolph in the 9th instead.

To Cuff or Not to Cuff

While it sounds logical to protect your early investments by targeting their backups as handcuffs, I’d argue that it may impede your ability to draft the best team possible in the middle to late rounds.

Now, before you think I’m advocating the idea of skipping handcuffs all together, I’d like to qualify this by saying there’s a handful of backs every year where the situation dictates having a backup plan and often the best backup plan is the backup themselves.

Still, I’d argue that drafting a middling to poor NFL back because they sit 2nd in the depth chart is a bad strategy. If the backup makes sense, then sure, pull the trigger, but drafting the best available player depending on your needs is always the best plan.

washingtonGood

DeAndre Washington – Oakland Raiders (ADP 202): Washington excelled in a limited role behind Latavius Murray and now finds himself playing second fiddle to the un-retired Beast Mode himself: Marshawn Lynch. At his age and after a full season off, Lynch owners are going to want to protect themselves and Washington offers starting caliber skills at the end of the draft. A very small risk, but would be relevant immediately following a Lynch injury (or re-retirement).

Joe Williams – San Fransisco 49ers (ADP 157): I don’t personally buy into the negative buzz surrounding Carlos Hyde and new coach Kyle Shanahan but it pays to be prepared. In Atlanta, Shanahan managed to feed both of his running backs, lending fantasy value to Tevin Coleman via 1,000 total yards. While Williams is doubtful to accomplish this much his rookie year, it’s possible he contributes even if Hyde doesn’t flounder. If he does? Then Williams could be a steal.

Jonathan Williams – Buffalo Bills (ADP 164): Drafting LeSean McCoy can be nerve wracking thanks to the poor offense in Buffalo and his age and usage. Identifying who will be his back up is one of my goals every off season. Williams is the clear cut #2 behind McCoy and if Mike Gillislee’s usage last year is any indication, he should touch the football a bit more than most #2’s do. If McCoy goes down, don’t expect the same level of production, but he’d be valuable regardless.

D’Onta Forman – Houston Texans (ADP 193): Lamar Miller is a fantastic fantasy running back when he’s healthy, but as last year taught us, he gets a bit dinged up with how often he’s asked to run the football. As it turns out, D’onta Forman looks to be a better backup than Alfred Blue, and he could find himself with a larger number of touches should Houston’s season look similar to last years.

Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts (ADP 182): For the record, I love Frank Gore the football player, but his time is nearly up and Mack offers the best value in the Indianapolis backfield when the inevitable happens. If you’re drafting Gore yourself, then Mack makes a lot of sense to stash if you have a deep enough bench, because it’s only a matter of time before Gore is on the shelf.

Better

Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings (ADP 111): The consensus is that thanks to Murray’s injury this is now Dalvin Cook’s team; and I tend to agree. Still, Murray has freakish athletic ability and Minnesota gave him a pretty penny in the off season so I expect at least a time share with Murray having the inside track should Cook look like a rookie early on.

Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers (ADP 142): Williams is my pick to emerge as a one of the biggest late round steals as we enter draft weekends. I’m convinced the Ty Montgomery is poorly suited to be a starter in the league and his inability to pass block is going to see him on the sidelines on early downs. Williams is likely to grab those early downs and has the type of game to fit the scheme in Green Bay.

jacquizzJacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccanneers (ADP 128): One could argue he belongs in the “best” category as he’ll start the year as the starter, but all signs point to Martin taking back the gig when he returns. The fact remains that predicting Martin’s performances when he returns is a difficult prospect, and should injury or inefficiency become an issue again, Rodgers, and not Sims, will be the guy to step in and run the backfield.

Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 96): While I put him on this list because he has some fantasy upside in the KC offense, I’m not personally drafting him where he’s currently being drafted. Ware was very effective before his concussion and he should return to form this year as a RB1. Of course, there’s always a chance that he doesn’t in which case Hunt has the ability to match other backs in the 2nd and 3rd tiers.

Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins (ADP 109): It’s dangerous to draft a backup as early as Perine is going but unlike Hunt, I’m not sold on Robert Kelley as a starting RB. He was dreadful for long stretches last year and by all accounts Perine is looking like a lock to usurp the role. Of course, if he does win the job then his ADP would skyrocket and he’d come off lists like this, but for now he’s a no-brainer backup to target.

Best

C.J. Prosise – Seattle Seahawks (ADP 128):  The depth chart may disagree with me, but the crowded Seattle backfield has everyone doing mental back flips trying to figure out the pecking order. Everyone seems to be in love with Rawls, but should Lacy stumble (and it’s looking like it may already be happening) Prosise has far better skills in the backfield and would looks really nice leading this attack.

Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys (ADP 117): While it may feel like cheating as Zeke faces down a possible suspension, the fact remains that even suspended, Elliott is going to be drafted in the first 3-5 rounds and McFadden is a must have for those first 6 weeks as it appears he’ll get the first crack at starting duties. Even if Elliott’s suspension is reduced or rescinded, McFadden is one of the safest handcuffs due to the production he’s had in that offense previously.

Adrian Peterson – New Orleans Saints (ADP 70): The future hall-of-famer takes over the backup role from Tim Hightower and figures to play a prominent role in the high flying New Orleans offense. Even if Mark Ingram is healthy and retains the number one spot, it’s a real possibility that Peterson sees 150 touches as a backup with the very real potential to fill in when Ingram inevitably gets hurt. In truth, he may just steal the starting gig all together making for a potential RB1 in the 8-10 round range.

Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns (ADP 131): While he’s not your prototypical lead back, Johnson has the goods to be effective should Crowell go down, but the news in Cleveland is that the backs are going to handle the ball a lot this year. Expect Johnson and Crowell both to have a bump in usage on the ground and for Johnson to continue to push the top of the league in terms of RB targets. In the 14th round he’s one of the safest picks in the draft.

Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans (ADP 86): I’m not convinced that DeMarco Murray is Carolina Panthers v Tennessee Titansgoing to fall apart due to age and milage, but Henry’s ability as a three down back is undeniable and his timeshare should increase this year and eventually he’ll take over lead back duties. If you bet on him this year and it doesn’t happen, don’t be discouraged as he’ll likely touch the ball more than any other RB2 we’ve already named.

Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons (ADP 61): While Coleman as a backup is a bit of a stretch, the bottom line is that he’ll contribute significantly even if Freeman plays in all 16 games. Last year Coleman managed about 1,000 combined yards and finished in the top 25 of all running backs despite being a 2nd stringer the entire season. He’s fantastic in his role but his potential as a top 10 RB is what plants him firmly at the head of this list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WR Review

Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts. 
evans

The wide receiver position features unparalleled depth this year, and despite the relative safety of the position thanks to the new NFL and how teams tend to spend more time passing these days, there are still pitfalls in each tier that need navigation to draft effectively.

Elite Tier (1)

  • Antonio Brown  – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
  • Mike Evans – Tampa Bay
  • Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants
  • A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals

There are few surprises in the Top tier so we won’t spend too much time dissecting these picks. Despite his obvious skill, OBJ in the first  round requires a bit of caution with the red zone addition of Brandon Marshall. The aging Eli Manning is as volatile a QB as there is in the league and while I fully expect fantastic numbers from Beckham Jr, I would not be surprised if he has a few weeks where he disappears, which could be an issue for a top 5 pick.

Very Good Tier (2)

  • Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers
  • Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
  • Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
  • Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks
  • T. Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
  • Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys
  • Alshon Jeffrey – Philadelphia Eagles
  • Brandin Cooks – New England Patriots
  • Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars

If you miss on one of the elite guys, there’s several fantastic options in this group. Expect to spend a 2nd or 3rd round pick to grab one though. Dez Bryant could be the biggest problem child of the bunch, though, with the difficulty surrounding his early season schedule. He faces a murders row of elite DB’s and while he’ll very likely put up decent numbers, Prescott may be forced to look elsewhere to move the chains. On the other side of the coin is Brandin Cooks who’s stock began rising the moment he became a Patriots. Despite the number of mouths to feed it’s evident through joint practices that Brady is interested in using his new weapon to the fullest of his ability.

Decent Tier (3)

  • DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
  • Sammy Watkins – Los Angeles Rams
  • Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos
  • Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Michael Crabtree – Oakland Raiders
  • Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
  • Golden Tate – Detroit Lions
  • Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
  • Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
  • Terrelle Pryor – Washington Redskins
  • Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers
  • Stefon Diggs – Minnesotta Vikings
  • Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins
  • Julien Edelman – New England Patriots
  • Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos

At the top of the Third Tier are our stud wideouts who drop on boards thanks to poor quarterback play or significant injury history. Michael Crabtree may fall several picks behind Amari Cooper in Oakland, but his rapport with Derek Carr is undeniable and should lead him to another WR15 season. Terrelle Pryor seems to be continually overrated; not because he’s lacking in skill but because he’s leaving an offense where he was the only weapon and joining a Washington team that has many. He’ll likely disappoint if you select him as a WR2 as he’s more suited to the WR3/4 role.

Make a Prayer Tier (4)

  • Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • DeSean Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
  • Willie Snead – New Orleans Saints
  • Eric Decker – Tennessee Titans
  • Jordan Matthews – Buffalo Bills
  • Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers
  • Donte Moncreif – Indianapolis Colts
  • Devante Parker – Miami Dolphins
  • Cameron Meredith – Chicago Bears
  • Kenny Britt – Cleveland
  • Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
  • Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans
  • Rishard Matthews – Tennessee Titans
  • Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings

Undeniably there are several fantastic athletes in this tier but either quarterback situations or log jammed wide receiver charts mean that you’re taking a bit of a risk by drafting these guys in the first 7 rounds. Eric Decker has been the subject of a lot of fantasy talk as he continues to  recover from off season surgery but the talk out of Tennessee is that Mariota and Decker have shown an immediate chemistry and Decker could emerge from the preseason as his #1 target. Donte Moncrief on the other hand is firmly in my “do not draft” list thanks to the ongoing saga in Indianapolis. At this point, even if Luck does play in the first four weeks, the lack of practice prior to the season means Moncrief fails to live up to his expectations yet again.

Frequent Flier Tier (5)

  • Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns
  • Jeremy Maclin – Baltimore Ravens
  • John Brown – Arizona Cardinals
  • Mike Wallace – Baltimore Ravens
  • Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions
  • Josh Doctson – Washington Redskins
  • Kevin White – Chicago Bears
  • Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
  • Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
  • Robby Anderson – New York Jets
  • John Ross – Cincinnati Bengals
  • Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
  • Taylor Gabriel – Atlanta Falcons
  • Kenny Stills – Miami Dolphins
  • Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers

While I’m well aware that we may disagree on the ranks of some of these bottom tier guys, the truth is that there’s plenty of upside for each of them, even if it’s far fetched to expect most of them to reach those expectations. Josh Doctson has been a pre-season darling in Washington yet the arrival or Pryor has completely taken the wind out of the sails coming into the season – expect a great value. It’s hard to bump Sterling Shepard too far down my list because the skill is there, but the Giants are OBJ’s team first and Brandon Marshall is going to eat up touches inside the 20 severely limiting Shepards upside in re-draft leagues.

As with any rankings list, I beg you to do your own research. Much of what builds my opinions are the observations of people close to the teams, and as always information available before the season is often times skewed to the positive. Don’t be discouraged if your rankings don’t look like the experts and have fun drafting!

 

RB Review

Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts. 

leveon

While the classic RB / RB draft strategy has long since gone the way of the dodo, this year is a perfect example of how snagging an elite back early will save you headaches down the road as the questions surrounding the mid tier backs all come with some concern. (these tiers are mostly applicable for re-draft leagues so don’t freak when you see a suspended player far below their actual value)

Elite Tier (1)

  • David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals
  • Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills

The role of three down back in the NFL has become increasingly rare, and these three guys will be called upon to lead their respective teams on both the ground and through the air. While standard scoring formats may close the gap, these three guys should be the first three RB’s picked.

Very Good Tier (2)

  • Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
  • Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears
  • Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers
  • DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
  • Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams
  • Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins

Any one of these guys could elevate their game to Elite status but a few questions remain for each of them. Most of them suffer from a lack of sample size. I’d bet Todd Gurley falls in drafts this year due to his dismal 2016 campaign and I’d argue he may be the best value in the rounds 3-5 depending on your league. Jay Ajayi on the other hand is riding high on the back of his 2016 statistics despite the evidence that he’s a boom or bust player who’s three 200 yard games masked lengthy stretches of inefficiency.

Decent Tier (3)

  • Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
  • Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
  • Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns
  • Carlos Hyde – San Fransisco 49ers
  • Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
  • Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
  • Spencer Ware – Kansas City
  • Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
  • C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos
  • Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
  • Dalvin Cook – Minnesotta Vikings
  • Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons
  • Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks

While you may not enjoy drafting in this tier, the fact remains that getting the guy who’ll dominate touches is never a bad thing. Even for rookies like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook the question is only how effective will they be with the ball because they were drafted to be workhorses. Ezekiel Elliott certainly an elite talent in this league, but he’s slated to miss 6 games due to suspension and with the bye week coming in week 6, Elliott won’t suit up until week 8 effectively costing you 50% of the fantasy season – in re-draft leagues I don’t touch Elliott until round 4 or later (assuming he’s there at all)

Make a Prayer Tier (4)

  • Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts
  • Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions
  • Bilal Powell – New York Jets
  • Paul Perkins – New York Giants
  • Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers
  • Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles
  • Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions
  • Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens
  • Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins
  • Terrence West – Baltimore Ravens
  • Adrian Peterson – New Orleans Saints
  • Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
  • Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins
  • Matt Forte – New York Jets
  • Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans

Here is your reward for drafting with a ZeroRB strategy… a combination of backs from this tier. I’m not hitching my wagon to any of these players as a RB2 yet you’ll likely see at least one or two teams you draft with end up here. Sure, if you ignore injury histories, Ameer Abdullah and Danny Woodhead offer fantastic value as odds on favorites to contribute significantly (albeit in very different ways) to their offenses. But the questions surrounding backs like Ty Montgomery who had only two games with 15 touches, are enough to force me into drafting backs early.

Worth a Flyer

  • Duke Johnson Jr – Cleveland Browns
  • C.J. Prosise – Seattle Seahawks
  • James White – New England Patriots
  • Jeremy Hill – Cincinatti Bengals
  • Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
  • Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers
  • Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
  • Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
  • Joe Williams – San Fransisco 49ers
  • Jamaal Charles – Denver Broncos
  • Rex Burkhead – New England Patriot

If you do wait on backs, there’s several in this tier who offer fantastic upside at a very low cost. Jamaal Williams will have every chance to steal the job from Ty Montgomery this off season, and if the Packers value his pass blocking skills (which in that offense I can’t see how they won’t) I could see Williams stealing significant time share in that backfield. Rex Burkhead is another intriguing back that can be had at the end of drafts as he’s closing in on Mike Gillislee for early down work due to the later’s inability to get on the field. James white will dominate 3rd downs so it’s a committee to watch going into the season.

While some will argue that there is great value in loading up on WR’s early in the draft, I’d say it’s just the opposite after reviewing the RB tiers. There’s questions swirling in each tier beyond the top and I’d argue grabbing your favorite low risk RB as early as you dare.

Anquan Boldin Retires

anquanAfter 14 productive NFL seasons, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin has announced his retirement from football. As frequent fantasy owners of Boldin’s services, Dr. Fantasy wishes him nothing but the best with his humanitarian efforts he’s voiced his interest in pursuing.

What does this mean for your fantasy draft? The truth is not much. Maybe you were targeting Boldin as a late round TD-vulture type flier. You can officially cross him off your list.

While Jordan Matthews heals from his sternum injury, Zay Jones is the trendy target in this offense as Taylor will need someone to throw to. He was productive in his preseason snaps and should see a lot of time on the field early on so there should be little to no gap in acclimation.

Aside from the passing game, LeSean McCoy and Jonathan Williams should both receive a bit of love for what looks like another season at the top of the NFL in terms of attempts. McCoy is a no-brainer in the first round at this point, but Williams is a smart handcuff for owners and should be targeted late in drafts along with Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams as potential sleepers.

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.

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.