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Finding Value: D/ST

VmillerFirst, I’d like to preface this entire article by saying it’s a far better strategy to wait in your draft to select your D/ST. As we’ve seen over the years, there’s very little value in paying above value for an “elite” D/ST. Whether it was last years Bears, the prior years Jaguars, or the Rams, Saints, or Cardinals defense before them, prevailing wisdom says your just as likely to get a top D/ST off the waivers as you are in the middle rounds of your draft.

So why even focus on Defenses and Special Teams? Because we want to try and find next years Bears defense in the late rounds.

Of course, with defenses there’s far more volatility in terms of scoring as there are at the skill positions. Any time your relying on an entire unit and its game plan to secure you points, there’s a large degree of uncertainty going into the year. This is true of all D/ST’s – including the top ones.

Who’s Available?

So who are we going to see at the end of my draft? Let’s be clear – unless your playing in an experts league, there’s no way to provide truly accurate D/ST information. In friends and family leagues, there’s always a strange run on defenses far to early, so we tend to ignore the top 7 or so D/ST’s in our research. That means we’re ignoring the following teams:

Chicago Bears (ADP: 91), Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 106), Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 124), Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 128), Los Angeles Chargers (ADP 131), Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 140), Houston Texans (ADP: 149).

Cleveland Browns (ADP: 152)

The first team we’d expect to fall late in the draft (assuming your league doesn’t have 9 guys drafting defenses early) would be the Cleveland Browns. Their current ADP is 8th among D/STs and may be one of the better values at the “position” in 2019. In addition to bolstering an ascending offense, they added several key pieces to their defense via Free Agency and the Draft.

Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson were added to a D-Line that already featured elite pass rusher Miles Garrett. This unit will be a headache for opposing coordinators from the jump, and the drafting of Greedy Williams adds depth to a defensive backs group that still features the services of T.J. Ward. Expecting this defense to perform above expectations isn’t a difficult stretch, and I like the Browns D/ST to provide pretty solid value with a pretty excellent ceiling.

Denver Broncos (ADP: 169) 

Ranked 8th among D/ST’s in season long scoring last year, Denver is currently going in the 17th round of drafts, and aside from a few losses in free agency, returns a very similar lineup in 2019. Once a popular early selection, it seems that the fantasy community has soured on the Bronco’s for one reason or another, and we’re just not with it.

Of course, we could be wrong, but basically getting a team with a good defensive pedigree, who added one of the leagues best corner backs in Kareem Jackson, and who added a little depth on the D-Line and the line backing corps during the draft, may prove to be a steal on draft day.  Of course having to play the Chiefs and Chargers twice each hurts their overall value, but from a potential perspective they’re a low risk high reward selection.

Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 224)

Tied last year with the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawk defense is being completely disrespected with their 21st round average draft position. The big concern was the Seahawk’s inability against the run, finishing 17th against the run last year. But they still have plenty of talent, and Pete Carroll has put a quality group on the field (in terms of fantasy production) for nearly his entire tenure.

It’s also important to note that this team ran a TON last year, and should figure to do the same in 2019. If the offense can help the defense by keeping them off the field, it should be another solid top 10 finish for the D/ST in 2019.

Honorable Mention: I don’t think I can advocate anyone to draft the Jets D/ST but given the improvements they’ve made through the draft and off season moves, and the addition of Gregg Williams to coach the defense, they are one of the defenses on my radar for waiver-watch. I will admit that Williams last 3 or 4 years hasn’t been up to the standard he had prior to bounty-gate, but his weapons here (names like Leonard Williams, rookie Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley, and Trumaine Johnson stand out) could help them compete against two perennially underachievers in Miami and Buffalo twice a year, and a New England team that seems content to win lower scoring run-first games these days.

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Committee Report: Denver Broncos

We’re going to take a little different approach to the Committee Report this year. Instead of one giant article covering each team, we’re going to do a Monday Committee Report that focuses on a different NFL team expected to employee a Running Back By Committee approach in 2019. 

plindsayIf you take a look at the early ADP data being collected from mock drafts being done as we speak, you can see a clear favorite in the Bronco’s backfield when it comes to Fantasy drafters. Currently, Phillip Lindsay is being drafted around the end of the third round, while Royce Freeman is going closer to the 10th round, and Booker isn’t being selected in most drafts.

You may infer from this that any controversy over snaps is null and void, but I’d caution that outlook.

First, we know that Lindsay is returning from a pretty brutal wrist injury in 2018, and his availability during training camps is going to be up in the air. While that doesn’t automatically mean he’ll lose the touches he earned last season, it does leave the door open both on early down (to the much bigger Freeman) and on the passing downs (to Booker… who led the team in RB targets last season).

Second, we have plenty of history to use to determine how running backs fared in Joe Flacco led offenses. There’s always a chance he doesn’t play well enough to retain the starting gig, but at this time, we have to use what data is available to us. In this persuit, we’ve looked at he and his backs production from 2010 to 2017 (ignoring an incomplete 2018 affair) and found some interesting things.

On average, Flacco targeted his running backs a total of 137 times per season, siphoning about 72 of those to his top target. That amounts to roughly 24% of his passes travelling to a player out of the backfield (and almost 13% going directly to his top passing option). The numbers we saw in Denver last season were a little more spread out than that, as the lion’s share of the 128 or so targets were more evenly distributed between Booker (51 targets) and Lindsay (47 targets) with Booker being marginally more efficient with a half a yard (give or take) per reception better than Lindsay. The 20 targets Freeman saw can be thrown out for this conversation.

Now, I’d argue that some of the numbers in Baltimore were skewed, as Ray Rice had a four year run where he averaged 80+ targets per season. In recent years, it’s been a larger number of contributors (less than 10% of his attempts were to his top back from 2015-2017) but the overall target total remained about 25% to running backs. This suggests Lindsay and Booker could continue to share about 50 / 50 the passing downs. Freeman, again, is a bit of a throw away in passing situations, as he can be expected between 15-20 targets; not enough to make it worthy of discussion.

So how does this affect the overall usage in 2019?

Well for starters, I expect Lindsay to pass Booker as the top target getter. He’s a far more dangerous runner, meaning he’s more valuable from a play calling standpoint. Still, I don’t see the number of attempts rising from 2018. In fact, I think the 190 attempts mark is a difficult ceiling to attain. With Freeman the more violent runner, he’ll be utilized more heavily if the defense improves as we expect. Short yardage and clock management situations should see almost a 50/50 split emerge in these terms.

Sadly, our predictions show that value is going to be a difficult thing to squeeze out of this backfield. Lindsay being selected as a top 15 back is expecting him to perform at his absolute peak and overcome a pretty difficult injury early on. Freeman on the other hand offers little upside in the passing game, even if Lindsay suffers a set back in his recovery. Each back presents a bit of upside, but it will be difficult to envision any of them on my roster at their current draft prices.

Predictions

  • Phillip Lindsay: 170 Attempts, 815 Yards, 6 Ru. TDs, 50 Receptions, 350 Yards, 2 Rec. TDs
  • Royce Freeman: 170 Attempts, 715 Yards, 6 Ru. TDs, 20 Receptions, 95 Yards
  • Devonte Booker: 30 Attempts, 140 Yards, 1 Ru. TD, 38 Receptions, 270 Yards, 1 Rec. TD

 

Broncos Agree to Trade For Joe Flacco

When the Bronco’s paid Case Keenum like he was a proven NFL quarterback following his Cinderella run as the backup-made-starter of the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, many of us scratJFlaccoched our heads. After all, he’d been a below average NFL quarterback for every other year he’d played so the idea he was worth $36,000,000 (25 million guaranteed) never really made sense.

Following a disappointing 2018 that saw Keenum regress towards his previous career marks (3,800 yards and only 18 TDs to 15 INTs in 16 starts), it’s not surprising the Bronco’s are prepared to move on quickly.

We are surprised that they’re moving on to the 34 year old benched-for-a-rookie Joe Flacco. Sure, the former Ravens starter has a Super Bowl MVP under his belt and plenty of solid playoff performances, but he’s also been declining steadily since 2014. Over his last 25 starts with the Ravens, Flacco averaged less than 225 yards per contest, and his 30:19 TD/INT ratio was nothing to write home about.

So can Flacco turn back the clock in Denver? I doubt it.

After all, this is a team that features a wide receiver group headlined by an aging Emmauel Sanders and employing a veritable who’s who of potential one-game wonders with names like Cortland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick, and an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries and struggled to keep a much-more-mobile Case Keenum off the ground.

Of course, I could be way off base here, and maybe Flacco goes to Denver and his monster arm is even more monstrous in the thin Mile High Air. Maybe that defense and rushing attack help to balance the offense and he does enough to make it to the post season where he seems to play the best.

But my money’s on the under here folks. I can’t see a scenario where the 34 year old Flacco looks like anything other than a struggling quarterback close to his retirement. The Dr. is advising that you skip Flacco in all but the deepest leagues, and stick to the guys who haven’t shown they’re slipping.

Weekend Recap: Bears vs Broncos

Chicago Bears v Denver BroncosThe 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.

 

Team Rankings: 32 through 26

32. New York Jets

It’s low hanging fruit to bash on the listless Jets, but the relative lack of fantasy fire power is hardly a surprise to anyone. Aside from deep sleeper lists and waiver wire conquests, the Jets boast a roster devoid of much except late round fliers.

Worth Drafting:  Isaiah Crowell (ADP 102), Robby Anderson (ADP 104), Bilal Powell (ADP 169)

While none of these players should be selected with anything but serious flyer considerations, Powell may offer the most upside in PPR leagues only. Crowell, on the other hand, doesn’t project to work much with the passing game, so it all depends on how you think he’ll be used. I expect this team to pass a lot, similar to how last years team found themselves training early. Anderson could out perform the 11th round price tag, but I expect Quincy Enunwa (undrafted in ESPN leagues at this point) to return to some relevance in terms of offensive workload. Every target he steals from Anderson is a massive hit to his fantasy value.

Deep Sleeper: While Sam Darnold has his work cut out for him behind both Bridgewater and McCown in front of him, it’s only natural that the best QB of the bunch get some consideration. He probably won’t play, but in dynasty leagues he’s worth a late round pick, and as waiver wire fodder he should be on your radar until the team finally names it’s starter.

31. Buffalo Bills

This could be even worse, pending the fallout from LeSean McCoy’s domestic violence accusations. Even if he remains on the team, though, I expect a decline across the board as this team is littered with youth and raw future talents. With the pending media firestorm, I’m out on Buffalo unless it’s dealt with sooner than later.

Worth Drafting: LeSean McCoy (ADP 17), Kelvin Benjamin (ADP 91), Charles Clay (ADP 145)

Obviously McCoy’s inclusion on this is difficult, as the ADP data hasn’t caught up to the fall I’m expecting. If he’s found guilty, he’ll be gone from the league post haste, making this team even worse. Unfortunately for Benjamin and Clay, the prospects working with AJ McCarron and Josh Allen are nebulous at best. While Taylor didn’t have as massive a year statistically as we expected last year, this team should struggle to find consistency.

Deep Sleeper: Zay Jones’ rookie year was a disappointment to those, like me, who had him pegged as a high end rookie option. His 10 starts only yielded 27 receptions and 316 yards; not good enough. Still, the talent is there, and Jones is a downfield threat who may work well with Allen’s monster arm. It’s a long shot, and a player I only look at in the deepest of drafts, but Jones could be a contributor by the end of the season.

30. Baltimore Ravens

A common theme among the teams named to this point are the potential quarterback controversies. While I fully expect Flacco to start when healthy, it’s important to note that Lamar Jackson has the potential to unseat Flacco, especially if he’s awful again this year. To combat that, the Ravens brought in free agent receivers Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, so expect a bit of an uptick in Baltimore’s overall numbers.

Worth Drafting: Alex Collins (ADP 53), Michael Crabtree (ADP 72), Kenneth Dixon (ADP 180)

One of the more interesting competitions is going to be Collins and Dixon in the Baltimore Backfield. Dixon was labelled as the heir apparent last year before an injury ended his season. Collins was fantastic in relief, giving many the impression that the team had moved on. But even after several off the field issues, Baltimore expects Dixon to be a part of it’s offense. The leash will be short, but this may start as a committee and coaches will likely ride the hot hand.

Deep Sleeper: It’s been a while since Willie Snead has popped up on the fantasy radar, but in Baltimore, he’ll have every opportunity to show the talent that flashed in New Orleans. With John Brown no safe bet to see the field, Snead should be heavily involved in the passing game, and Flacco does love to fling it.

29. Miami Dolphins

A team that maybe deserves a bit more respect than they receive annually, the Dolphin’s roster is a who’s who of mediocre players. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is back, so it’s possible he and Davante Parker rekindle the magic that made them both trendy picks a few years ago, but I’m not going to go that far just yet. Likewise, the questions in the run game need to be answered before I invest heavily in a run game that’s actually produced some fantasy relevant backs in recent years. While Kenyan Drake has the inside track, don’t count out Frank Gore as he will likely see a healthy dose of carries early on.

Players Worth Drafting: Kenyan Drake (ADP 41), Devante Parker (ADP 91), Kenny Stills (130), Mike Gesicki (ADP 165), Frank Gore (ADP 172), Albert Wilson (ADP 182)

It was a strange development that saw the Dolphins bring in an aging Frank Gore via free agency, and Kalen Ballage in the draft. If the team believed in Drake, then I’d argue that at least one of them would be elsewhere. As a 5th round pick, that scares the hell out of me, and may force me to look elsewhere. That elsewhere, in this offense, are the 160 targets vacated by Jarvis Landry. While Parker will get his, Albert Wilson is a sneaky pick to slide into the slot. If the Dolphins like his game more than Amendola’s he could be a monster producer out of the 19th round.

Deep Sleeper: I should probably stop screaming his name from the rooftops if I want to secure him in the later rounds, but Kalen Ballage is an intriguing player in that he possesses all the skills necessary to become a 3 down back in the league. Possessing impressive speed for his size, and above average hands in the passing game, Ballage could easily see his timeshare expand to a level that supports a roster spot.

28. Denver Broncos

The addition of Case Keenum elevates this team from dead last, to near last. That’s not to say there’s no one worth drafting, because I do like some of the talent on this roster, but the days of Denver popping out top 30 players is in the past. While Demaryius Thomas still possesses the skill to overcome sub-par quarterback play, the question is can Case Keenum’s arm support multiple fantasy receivers in Denver like it did in Minnesota? Given the age of guys like Emmanuel Sanders, and the inexperience at TE and in the backfield, and I’m cautious when drafting a Denver player.

Players Worth Drafting: Demaryius Thomas (ADP 38), Royce Freeman (ADP 58), Emmanuel Sanders (ADP 68), Devontae Booker (ADP 151), Case Keenum (ADP 157)

Case Keenum went from draft bust to hero last year as he brought the Vikings to within one game of the superbowl. Cashing in on that success, he’s slated to take over the starting gig and I’m not so sure that he’s the franchise cornerstone that last years performances convinced Denver he was. If he reverts back to the player he was before, and I’d argue it’s far more likely that he does, then this offense could continue to struggle beyond Demaryious Thomas.

Deep Sleeper: 2nd Round pick Courtland Sutton has a steep hill to climb with fantasy stalwarts ahead of him in Thomas and Sanders. Expect him to be up to the task. With Sanders coming to the end of a sparkling career, Sutton may see enough of the field to warrant a roster spot after a few weeks.

27. Dallas Cowboys

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I’m sure there’s plenty of Dallas fans shaking their head at the ranking, but the bottom line is that aside from Ezekiel Elliott, their roster is middle of the road at best. When you consider the talent that walked out the door in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, it’s easy to see why this roster doesn’t inspire much confidence in the fantasy community.

Worth Drafting: Ezekiel Elliott (ADP 4), Dak Prescott (ADP 122), Allen Hurns (ADP 128), Michael Gallup (ADP 164)

A whole lot of mediocre pretty accurately describes the Dallas passing game. While the bulk of the offense is going to run through the run game, it’s a burning question as to where the passing game will trend. It’s clear that fantasy players are out of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, the two incumbent receivers of note, but I think Hurns isn’t talent enough to be a true number one receiver. At his current cost, he’s a low risk option, but I’d ignore him at any steeper a price.

Deep Sleeper: I doubt it will be this way when drafts come along, but Gallup is the best chance Dallas has to replace Dez Bryant with a player on it’s roster. He’s not as talented as Bryant in his prime, but Gallup has all the tools to eat up a ton of targets. It might not happen right away, but he has #1 written all over him.

26. Indianapolis Colts

It’s amazing how poorly a franchise can manage it’s star players, but the job the Colts did last year with Andrew Luck’s injured shoulder takes the cake. By not properly handling the injury, they set back the franchise years and forced fantasy owners to look elsewhere for production. The Jacoby Brissett experiment wasn’t all bad, but it didn’t produce much in the way of fantasy points.

Worth Drafting: T.Y. Hilton (ADP 31), Andrew Luck (ADP 91), Jack Doyle (ADP 97), Marlon Mack (ADP 98), Jordan Wilkins (ADP 185), Eric Ebron (ADP 191), Nyheim Hines (ADP 193)

It’s got to say something for how important you are as a player when the success of everyone on this list comes down to if you play or not. For Andrew Luck, that scenario is very real, and could affect who and when you draft. With Hilton especially, the cost is so high that any doubt you have that Andrew Luck is healthy should dissuade you from drafting him. With half of his yards in only 2 games, he’s a massive bust candidate with Brissett under center.

Deep Sleeper:  Ryan Grant may not be a sexy name, but the disregard may work in your favor if Luck is back on the field. A healthy Luck is a safe bet for 550 attempts and someone other than Hilton is going to get involved. Grant is likely to be that guy as the tight ends and depth receivers aren’t great options.

 

Quick Hits: QB

With the offseason well underway, and the NFL draft looming in the distance, the time is now to evaluate the many moves that went down following the start of free agency. Over the next week, we’ll evaluate each position individually, and attempt to break down the impact of each move to this point. 

Kirk Cousins Signs With Vikings:

With the ink drying on Kirk Cousins’ 84 million dollar contract, the fantasy community stirred in it’s offseason slumber. While too many unanswered questions rest between here and fantasy drafts, this represented the first major offseason domino in many to come. The question remains, though; what does this mean for fantasy owners?kirk

A top 5 season is a general expectation, especially considering that Cousins finished 6th in standard ESPN leagues last year. Minnesota’s roster is litered with game breakers, and a more consistent run game should mean a more consistent threat to score for the Vikings new signal caller. With their sights set on the super bowl, the Vikings should be a great source of fantasy contributors, and Cousins should be a target for anyone.

Alex Smith Signs with Washington:

Replacing Cousins in Washington will be Alex Smith, the notorious game manager previously starting for the Kansas City Cheifs. His track record is far from inspiring, but surprisingly enough he managed to finish as the fourth highest scoring quarter back in standard ESPN leagues last year.

Much of that can be attributed to the lack of healthy QB’s, but Washington presents a unique challenge in terms of predicting success. No longer stocked with weapons like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Smith will instead be throwing to a stable of unproven youngsters and oft-injured tight ends. Whether or not he’s a target come draft day depends on what the community suggests his average draft position is. A low end QB1 is as good as I’ll give him at this point, but may not select him as anything but flier in the later rounds, assuming he falls that far.

Case Keenum Signs With Denver:

Continuing the trend of displaced QB’s, Minnesota’s surprising star Case Keenum moves on to Denver after a season that witnessed him outscore superstars like Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, and Jameis Winston. While it’s fair to question the validity of those numbers, as Keenum was viewed mostly as a backup to this point, there’s not a lot of drop off in terms of talent around him going to Denver.

Elite wideouts Demarius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should help him continue to produce, and an elite defense should give him plenty of opportunity to score points. While I won’t say he’s ready for prime time, another top 15 finish isn’t out of the question.

Tyrod Taylor Traded To Cleveland Browns:

While it’s with a great deal of consternation that I even include a Browns QB in this article, the truth is that Taylor has been a very productive fantasy QB over the last few years, and should have plenty of opportunity in Cleveland with the weapons surrounding him. Elite wide outs Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry present a major upgrade to what he found himself working with in Buffalo, and two capable pass catchers out of the backfield in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson mean Taylor’s ability to run will be on full display as teams will be forced to respect the weapons around him.

Does this mean I’ll be reaching in drafts to select a Browns QB? Absolutely not, but as a back end top 10 QB, Taylor may have the moxie to bring fantasy success to teams in the middle to late rounds thanks to what has become the curse of playing for Cleveland.

Sam Bradford Signs With Arizona Cardinals:

The biggest risk in the NFL in terms of fantasy quarterbacks has got to be the always injured Bradford. Every year it’s the same thing; superlative starts make way to lengthy DL stints and surgery. While my personal opinion is Bradford is no more than a last round flyer, the Arizona Cardinals present an opportunity for him to bounce back into fantasy owners good graces.

With enough weapons to be successful, and a run-first scheme that may help him stay healthy, Bradford should be on your radar in the preseason as a backup candidate. When healthy, he’s a top 15 QB, but I’d be willing to bet we’ll be seeing an Arizona backup by week 6.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Garoppolo signed a massive deal to stay in San Fransisco, and the fantasy community is chomping at the bit to see what he can do with a full seasons worth of reps. Teddy Bridgewater, the least impactful of the Minnesota triumverate that departed in the offseason, finds himself in the Jets’ backfield as a potential starter. The talent is there, but questions surround his surgically repaired knee. Andrew Luck has resumed throwing, and while there’s plenty of concern that his career may never get back on track, the pedigree is there for the man to be a top 5 QB again. With less risk in late rounds, he’s a nice bounce back target that costs nothing if he never returns to form. 

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.

Emmanuel Sanders and The Sanchize Effect

Emmanuel SandersAfter finishing in the top 10 among WRs in 2014 and top 20 in 2015, Emmanuel Sanders finds himself in the unenviable position of playing second fiddle to Demaryius Thomas in the newly minted Mark Sanchez show. In obvious fashion, his fantasy relevance has taken a bit of a hit. Using the FantasyPro’s consensus rankings, he finds himeself as the WR26 this year, a far cry from the high regard he’d previously attained.

But is it fair to say he’ll suffer that much under Sanchez?

Between 2010 and 2011 Mark Sanchez played QB for a defenisivly dominant New York Jets team, managing to win 19 games and play efficiently enough in a run first offense to make one AFC Championship game. His wideouts during that time?

2010 Leading Jets Receivers: Braylon Edwards (904 yards and 7 TDs) and Santonio Holmes (746 yards and 6TDs)

2011 Leading Jets Receivers: Santonio Holmes (654 yards and 8 TDs) and Plaxico Burress (612 yards and 8 TDs)

Now, I’d argue that not only are the tandem he’s throwing to in Denver are better than either of those teams, I’d argue (and don’t flay me for saying this) that he’s actually a bit of an upgrade over Peyton Manning at this point.

Sure, it’s likely that Sanders numbers will take a hit, but his big play ability coupled with the fact that he won’t have Noodle-arm Manning throwing him the ball, it’s reasonable to expect he can approach 1,000 yards and another 8 TDs which would result in a similar WR15-20 range.

Considering he’s dropped already, it’s not a stretch to expect him to drop further in fantasy drafts: don’t be afraid to draft him a little higher than he’s projected.

Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas Both Sign

After the fantasy world collectively held it’s breath awaiting word on the extensions for Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant (both were recent hold outs), we can all breath a sigh of relief since both players signed 5 year $70 million dollar contract extensions.

However unlikely it was that either or both players were going to hold out for actual NFL games, we can now stop pondering how Terrance Williams would do in the absence of Bryant, and get back to drafting both of these guys in the first two rounds with confidence.

Field Generals: Impact on Recievers

IEmmanuel Sanders recently read an article about Emmanuel Sanders and the concerns about his production with Gary Kubiak at the helm. While these questions often arrise in the off season, the biggest factor for Sander’s production has less to do with Kubiak and more to do with Peyton Manning.

They often refer to players of his ilk as “Field Generals”. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers… they call their own number more often than not, meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s Gary Kubiak, or Jack Del Rio, or John Madden coaching the team.

I’d like to argue going into your draft to expect recievers for the top 5 or so QB’s to generally repeat their numbers unless huge shakeups occur on offense.  Feel confident that Emmanuel Sanders is going to see enough targets for 1100 yards and 5 TD’s, and that Brandon LaFell will continue to grow as a Patriot and find Brady looking his way just as often as last year. Don’t read too heavily into who is the head coach, because they aren’t the ones throwing the ball to them