We’ve covered a few different league types in our weekly Friday Mock Draft reviews, but this week we’re going to do something a little different. With alternative scoring formats becoming a trend, it’s important that we take the time to look at one of the more popular out-of-the-box formats; the 2 Quarterback leagues.
Of course, if you’ve never drafted in a two quarterback league, you’re in for a surprise, as your traditional “don’t draft a QB early” strategy has to be shelved in the interest of building a contender on draft day. That doesn’t mean I’m advocating taking multiple quarterbacks early; in fact I tend to maintain that I will likely be the last roster to add a starting QB, but adjusting one’s expectations is key.
For the sake of this mock, we randomized our spot in a 10 team league and received the third overall pick. Scoring is PPR and the only roster change is the addition of a 2nd starting QB.
Pick 1.03 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL
At the third overall pick, I’m not even considering taking a QB. I’m exclusively looking RB in the first 5 picks of the draft this year thanks to the drop off at that position. Kamara (okay…) and Barkley went 1 and 2, so this was an easy decision.
Pick 2.08 – James Conner, RB – PIT
Three quarterbacks went off the board between my two picks, Mahomes, Luck, and DeShaun Watson. One of the best things about these two QB and super flex leagues is that players tend to fall a little further into the second and third, and I can’t pass on the chance to own two of the leagues highest volume runners. I did consider taking one of the available WR’s here (Juju Smith-Schuster and Mike Evans were potential available targets) but the short turn softens the blow at the position and lets me maximize my roster by adding a second top 10 RB with my 2nd round pick.
Pick 3.03 – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR – PIT
It always feels strange selecting two players from the same team back to back, but of the available WR’s (Mike Evans and Antonio Brown were still available) I feel best about Smith-Schuster’s ability to produce consistent WR1 numbers. It’s important to note that three more QB’s were selected during the short turn. It does allow me to bulk up at the skill positions, but I’m looking more and more at the pool of QB’s and the time to pull the trigger on our first signal caller is approaching.
Pick 4.08 – Cam Newton, QB – CAR
The idea that middle of the pack QB’s are still the best value doesn’t entirely go out of the window in a 2 QB league, but making sure you’re not leaving yourself deficient at the position is important to. I’ll wait to pair Newton with a 2nd QB, but I didn’t want to hitch my wagon to Winston or Goff, so Newton it is. A bit of opinion here though… having an early pick seems to be the easiest way to navigate this format, since the short turn from 2nd to 3rd round gave me a great team core, and gives me the ability to come back from this QB pick and still have a decent selection available in the 5th round.
Pick 5.03 – Julian Edelman, WR – NE
There was a moment here when I considered taking a third RB as both Damien Williams and Aaron Jones were available, but knowing I’ll have to invest in a second QB within the next 6 picks meant I was uncomfortable with waiting too long for my second WR. Among the top remaining WRs (Brandin Cooks, Kenny Golladay, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods), Edelman represented the safest floor thanks to the PPR format. I don’t expect him to put up too many monster weeks, but he’ll be a safe play from week one to the championship rounds.
Pick 6.08 – Cooper Kupp, WR – LAR
I really wanted to ignore the bye week issue and take one of my favorite breakout candidates in Chris Godwin, but with 66% of my roster already off on week 7, I went with my second option in Cooper Kupp. While I was critical of him a few seasons back, I’m convinced that the connection he and Goff shares is something special. He was his top target for most weeks he was healthy last year, and while Woods and Cooks are still there, Kupps ability to find the end zone on top of that makes him the WR to own in the Rams offense.
Pick 7.03 – Kenyan Drake, RB – MIA
I’ve been singing his praises for the better part of a month, so I won’t dig too deep. His talent, and ability to catch the football, make him a perfect fit for a likely Patriots-esque offense that uses it’s backs on third downs. Available backs like Sony Michel and Philip Lindsay would be solid gets here, but competition in both offenses could cap the ceilings of both players while Drake only has Kalen Ballage to fend off for ownership of all three downs. The QB runs have certainly slowed down as well as Kyler Murray’s selection at the top of the 6th round marks the last one taken. I can feel a run coming.
Pick 8.08 – Mike Williams, WR – LAC
I wasn’t far off as the 7th and 8th rounds saw Winston, Brady, Rivers, Garoppolo, and Lamar Jackson come off the board. That also means potential top 25 WR Mike Williams falls to me at pick 83. I love Williams combination of size, speed, and opportunity. Rivers connected with Williams on 11 TD throws, and Williams managed to put up a stellar season despite not seeing 100 targets. As an ascending player, he’ll likely see an uptick in targets, and could be a real league winner in 2019. The danger, though, is that that the QB position is beginning to thin and I’m not sure I’m going to lose a few targets in the next couple of picks.
Pick 9.03 – Dak Prescott, QB – DAL
In the ninth round, I’ve reached my limit on pushing the position off and decide to take Prescott, who represents one of the better sleeper values at the QB position in my opinion. After a 5 week stretch to start the season saw his value plummet, Prescott turned in a pretty solid conclusion to the 2018 season, going over 20 points 6 times, and scoring less than 15 twice. With Amari Cooper still in the fold, it’s safe to assume that Prescotts second half is far closer to what we can expect.
Pick 10.08 – Latavius Murray, RB – NO
I was tempted to add Hunter Henry here to fill out my starting roster, but I’m not keen on having 6 players from three offenses anchoring my core. So I turned my attention to the running back position, which features a who’s who of committee backs and PPR specialists. While there’s a lack of upside for many of these names, we know how New Orleans likes to work their ground game, and Murray represents legitimate flex upside considering how Mark Ingram managed excellent numbers despite Kamara being the focal point. If Kamara goes down, too, then Murray’s upside skyrockets.
Pick 11.03 – Rashaad Penny, RB – SEA
I’m not jazzed about the available WRs, especially given that I’m moderatly confident I can land a solid player in the rounds to come. What I want to do is add a potential work horse back in Penny who’s rookie season has many convinced he wasn’t worthy of the first round pick the Seahawks spent on him. I’d argue the opposite, and given that Mike Davis is gone, and Carson’s knee was acting up, this may be the cheapest you’ll get a potential lead back. Seattle wants to run the football, and Penny is going to see a healthy number of touches regardless of Carson’s status, but his ceiling is far too high to pass up in favor of bench players like Emmanuel Sanders and James Washington.
Pick 12.08 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR – ARI
He’s not an exciting player at this point in his career, but what manages to do year in and year out is stay healthy and in the game plan. Hakeem Butler and Christian Kirk at the future at the receiver position in Arizona, but Fitzy is going to be heavily involved regardless. With much of his time spent in the slot, he’ll be a solid contributor to Kyler Murray’s development, and as a WR5, I’m more than comfortable adding him to my bench. I could have taken David Njoku here, but there’s some good value at the TE position in the next few rounds, and I’d rather secure a wide out who’s a safe bet for 100 targets in the 12th round.
Pick 13.03 – Vance McDonald, TE – PIT
While McDonald doesn’t really generate much excitement, he’s an interesting case considering over 200 targets vacated the Steelers offense when Antonio Brown and Jesse James left. With McDonald having the starting gig to himself, he’s got potential to be a solid fantasy contributor, although unexciting. We’ll have to pair him with a high upside guy later in the draft though if we’re going to be comfortable with our roster. There are a few interesting names available, notably Ronald Jones Jr, who I’m high on as a bounce back candidate, but with a similar player in Penny on the roster, I’d rather add starters.
Pick 14.08 – Adam Humphries, WR – TEN
If it feels like I’m reaching here, it’s because I am. With only four bench spots left and a plan to add one of each of the skill position players as well as a third QB, I’m going to be reaching on the next few picks. I love the potential with Humphries, given that Chris Davis’ star is slowly waning, and Mariota needs someone to throw to. AJ Brown may steal some targets, but despite the concerns I may have surrounding his ceiling, I’m comfortable with the 80-110 targets I expect him to see in Tennessee.
Pick 15.03 – Delanie Walker, TE – TEN
While many seem to think Walkers days as a fantasy contributor are over, I think he’s the perfect target to pair with a player like Vance McDonald. Walker has only seen fewer than 100 targets one time in his Titans career, and that was his first year on the team when he saw 86. Even if he regresses following his lost 2018. I expect 80+ targets and borderline TE1 numbers. If McDonald stumbles, you could do way worse than Walker as your back up.
Pick 16.08 – Nick Foles, QB – JAC
We’ve ignored the QB position for a good chunk of the draft to this point, but with so many being rostered, it’s wise to consider spending a bench spot on a third QB. Foles is the type of QB I target in 2 QB drafts ever year, as his change of scenery scares off suitors, but the same coaching staff that helped Blake Bortles turn in some decent fantasy outputs should help Foles do the same. He’s a bye week/injury fill in only, but considering that players like Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and Josh Rosen are the names he’s being drafted around, I feel pretty good about it.
Pick 17.03 – Damien Harris, RB – NE
I’m not sure how much stock I put in the fact that Harris beat out Josh Jacobs for his college starting gig, but the truth remains that he’s an immensely talented runner, and he was drafted by one of the leagues most innovative offenses in New England. With their 41 year old QB Tom Brady showing signs of decline, the Pats rushed the football nearly 500 times in 2018. With concerns surrounding Sony Michel’s knee, and a willingness to use the best player, there’s a possibility that Harris could be this years surprise breakout. If he doesn’t contribute, he’ll be an easy waiver cut. Very low risk despite the potential for decent reward.
Pick 18.08 – Cleveland Browns DST
I love the Browns as a late round DST… I stream 99% of the time so it’s no sweat off my back if they don’t perform.
Pick 19.03 – Generic Kicker, They’re All The Same
- QB: Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, Nick Foles
- RB: Zeke Elliott, James Conner, Kenyan Drake, Latavius Murray, Rashaad Penny, Damien Harris
- WR: Juju Smith-Schuster, Julian Edelman, Cooper Kupp, Mike Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Adam Humphries
- TE: Vance McDonald, Delanie Walker
One of the biggest advantages a 2QB league offers is the ability to add a few extra high value pieces. While players like Pat Mahomes and Andrew Luck become far more valuable, seeing ADPs approaching first round valuation, there’s still too much value later in the draft to over draft the QB position. We suggest taking your first QB in the 4-6th round range, but doing it when you have the shorter turn is always a good idea.
The basic advice we offer every year really applies two fold here as well. The rounds may shift forward, but you shouldn’t be among the first ones to draft that QB or TE for your team. With the knowledge that your going to add a third QB and a second TE, try and maximize your value up front. I’d rather have a roster like the one above, with an elite RB group and a versatile, high volume WR group and sacrifice slightly at the other positions than be forced to play catch up in the middle rounds while wiser drafters sit back and build strategically.
Superflex and 2QB leagues are fun, and they do provide you with a few different angles to the draft, but as always, have a plan but be flexible, and don’t let early runs dictate how you draft!
Injuries happen, we’re all familiar with the pain of a lost season, but as we enter the doldrums of the off season, it’s as good a time as any to talk about the players who didn’t finish the 2018 season due to injury, and what we can expect for 2019.
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
When the Rams lost Kupp for the season due to a torn ACL, it was a big blow to owners who were enjoying the solid fantasy season Kupp had posted to that point. His 40 receptions and 550 yards, not to mention 6 TDs through 8 games, looked like it was the start to a potential WR1 season. Instead, the Rams plodded on, the strength of its run game, and its depth at WR keeping Kupp’s loss from being too big a liability.
Until it wasn’t.
You saw how much Kupp was missed in the super bowl, and with the recovery going well, it’s only a matter of time before we start speculating on his return. With a 10 month window between the surgery and week 1, I’d expect his availability to start the season to be in doubt, but just how long we’ll have to wait will determine how far he falls in drafts. If he were to play the bulk of the season, I’d have no qualms with ranking him as a mid level WR2 knowing full well that if he’s 100% he’s got WR1 ability in an offense that gets him in the red zone.
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 100 Targets, 75 Receptions, 1,050 yards, and 8 TDs
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
The Dr. was certainly high on Marvin Jones coming into the season. After his breakout 2018 saw him turn 61 receptions into 1,100 yards and 9 TDs, we expected him to resume his role as the top outside option for the gunslinger Matthew Stafford. Instead, we saw him struggle to perform consistently before a knee injury ended his season.
Even when he was on the field, though, he’d taken a back seat to youngster Kenny Golladay, who came on strong in his second year. You may expect a large portion of Golden Tate’s vacated targets to benefit him, but the truth is that Jones’ ability to command outside targets will certainly take a hit this coming season. Currently ranked in the 25-28th on the WR rankings, he’s a tough projection. Unlike last year, we’re not sold on Marvin Jones as a consistent fantasy producer.
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 50 receptions, 700 Yards, 6 TDs
Will Fuller, Houston Texans
It never ceases to amaze me how a player like Will Fuller can consistently be heralded as a top fantasy options despite not really putting together a season that screams “fantasy stud.”
With his season cut short last year, Fuller has now missed 17 games in his brief three year career. That’s not just a red flag, it’s an inevitability. Expecting him to be healthy is a bit insane, but beyond that, it’s his reliance on the endzone for fantasy scoring that scares me.
With only 32 receptions in 10 games last year, it’s obvious to me that he becomes a gameplan option for Bill O’Brien. Let’s face it, DeAndre Hopkins is option #1 at all times, and Fuller benefits from Watson’s big arm, but it’s unpredictable and unsustainable. With the injuries piling up and his health no better guaranteed in 2019 than it’s ever been, I’ll be avoiding him unless his price fall precipitously. He’s a fine talent, and he has a nose for the end zone, but I’d rather any number of talented guys being selected behind him on draft day.
The Dr.’s EARLY Predictions: 35 receptions, 560 Yards, 4 TDs
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
It was hardly the ideal situation for Kirk to be starting his NFL career, as the quarterback battle in Arizona was between Sam “Glassjaw” Bradford, and Josh “Oops, he’s on the other team” Rosen. Still, Kirk managed to demand targets, seeing six or more, 7 times over his 12 games.
With 2019 bringing with it another year of NFL experience for both he and Rosen, and the continued decline of future hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald, and it’s easy to see a path to 100+ targets for the 2nd year pro. If he can command a few extra redzone targets, he’s a safe bet to outperform his current ranking.
The Dr.’s EARLY Prediction: 72 receptions, 950 yards, 5 TDs
Honorable Mentions: It feels like A.J. Green is included in these lists every year, and he’ll likely be considered a high profile bust candidate again in 2019. The thing is, when he’s on the field he’s getting targets. If he falls in drafts, he’ll be a steal. Unlike Green, Marqise Lee had been hyped despite never really performing like a #1. With Keelan Cole failing to live up to his own hype, you may be expecting Lee to walk back on the field in 2019 and resume his role as the WR1. Don’t expect it. This is Dede Westbrook’s job to lose, and as long as Blake Bortles is throwing the football, there isn’t much to get excited about when you look down the depth chart.
While the Dr. hasn’t really spent much time focused on the Daily side of Fantasy Sports, the noise has grown too loud to ignore. Of course, the strategy around building solid daily lineups is both similar, and all together different from what you’re used to in season long leagues.
If you’re a veteran of Draft Kings or Fan Duel, you can skip this section, but for first timers or newbies, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
- Take the time to learn the names at the BOTTOM of the price list
- It’s more important to nail the inexpensive players you choose to roster as their value can be the most helpful for placing you in the money. Players like James White ($4,000 on Draft Kings) can be super helpful if you know how New England’s offense is trending.
- Understand the matchups
- If you’re on the fence about a player or two, sometimes it helps to understand the game plan. If two high powered offenses are playing each other, it may mean more opportunity for pass catching backs and depth receivers. Targeting a player like Matt Brieda ($4,600 on Draft Kings) can help you maximize the points from the bottom of your roster.
- Pay attention to trends
- This one is tougher to do in the first few weeks of the season, as trends haven’t yet begun to show, but keep an eye on players who consistently out perform the more expensive options. As mentioned above, with a finite cap number, you’ll need players to perform like Chris Thompson did last year when healthy.
Week 1 Targets
We won’t spend too much time on Tiers in this article, although come back later for more information on those particular contests later in the week. Instead, we’ll look at players throughout the league at each cost and highlight a few we think should perform at or above expectations.
Week one may be the easiest time of the year to justify spending a large amount on a player or two, as these players are easier to predict than mid level or inexpensive roster options.
QB – Tom Brady, NE ($7,200) – While you may argue that the lack of weapons will be a problem for Brady, starting quick has never been an issue. With a Houston defense that’s not been great against the pass, and the likelihood of a shootout, and Brady looks like he’ll be a fine option despite his large price tag.
RB – Alvin Kamara, NO ($8,500) – The signing of Mike Gillislee may scare you away from last years breakout running back, but the truth is that one week isn’t enough time for Gillislee to learn enough of the play book to make an impact. Kamara will be a huge part of the offense all season, and during Ingram’s suspension he’ll be a workhorse.
WR – DeAndre Hopkins, HOU ($8,300) – There’s a lot of names at the top of the list that oyu’d be justified in using, but the New England offense is one of the worst against the pass in the league, and Hopkins is a constant mismatch even against the great ones. With Watson returning from injury, it’s likely he’ll rely on the talented receiver all game long.
TE – Rob Gronkowksi, NE ($6,900) – This is a bit of a cop out since there’s no other really expensive options at the position, but Gronk is the only reliable pass catcher available to Brady in week one. He’ll have plenty of opportunities for a TD or two right out of the gates.
The Rest Of The Field
Crafting a winning lineup will require a handful of players at each tier. We’ll give you an idea of a few players who may be considered a value come game time, and can give you a boost without costing you an arm and a leg.
- Russel Wilson, SEA ($6,200) – It seems like the disrespect for Wilson being a top tier fantasy asset has gone too far, and this just reinforces my opinion. A healthy Wilson is a threat regardless of how good a defense may be against the pass thanks to how well he runs the football. With Doug Baldwin less than a 100% it’s far from a stretch to see him run the football for 75+ yards and a TD.
- Blake Bortles, JAX ($5,600) – He’s been the butt of many jokes but he’s quietly produced in fantasy terms nearly every year of his career. With the Giants defense being ugly against the pass, he’s an inexpensive option if you’ve invested elsewhere.
- Mitchell Trubisky, CHI ($5,600) – While the expectation is that the second year start is going to struggle out of the gates, he’s playing a Green Bay team that should force Chicago to pass. If I were drafting a QB to win I may pass, but Trubisky could be playing catch up from the opening drive.
- Saquon Barkley, NYG ($6,700) – We’ve seen rookie backs come out and dominate early in the season for several years now, and Barkley is in a unique position to carry a large portion of the load for the Giants. With Jacksonville on the schedule, you may worry about the defense, but they were one of the worst against the run in terms of fantasy scoring. I’d be surprised if Barkley doesn’t find the end zone at least once.
- Kenyan Drake, MIA ($5,900) – I’ve been critical of Drake in the past, but recently I’ve softened my stance on him. While I still expect Ballage to take some of the passing downs, his concussion issues should leave Drake in line for a solid three down work load against a Tennessee team that’s made opposing backs look really good.
- Carlos Hyde, CLE – ($4,500) – While it’s true that the Cleveland backfield is a bit crowded, it’s still Hyde who figures to be the defacto lead back going into week 1. With the most impressive play through the preseason and a history of three down work, he’s an impressive discount at his current DFS value.
- Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – ($6,600) – There’s a case to be made for Washington’s secondary as one of the leagues best, but Fitzgerald’s primarily lined up over the last few years in the slot. With the DB’s locking down the outside, Fitzgerald should be targeted heavily in week 1.
- Emmanuel Sanders, DEN ($5,000) – As bullish as I’ve been on Demaryius Thomas of the Denver wide outs, part of that is because they’re planning on using him more in the slot. Despite that, it’s still Sanders that should see the bulk of his snaps at a position Keenum targeted a ton last year. Think Adam Thielen level production out of Sanders, who is probably a more talented receiver than Thielen anyhow.
- Anthony Miller, CHI ($4,600) – Much like the case for Trubisky, Miller should settle right in as one of the top target getters for the Bears right out of the gates. Given that Green Bay was one of the three worst teams in terms of providing production to fantasy wide outs and that Chicago will likely be playing from behind, and Miller’s value as Trubisky’s safety blanked can’t be highlighted enough.
- Delanie Walker, TEN ($4,900) – He may be closer to the top of his position group than the other names mentioned, but he’s a discount at his current price. The match up against Miami is as good as it gets (Miami ranked at or near the bottom against TE’s all season long) and the potential for a lingering injury to keep Rishard Matthews at less than 100% means an increased workload for one of the steadiest producers at the position.
- Jack Doyle, IND ($3,600) – Andrew Luck should be back in week one, so we expect an immediate boost in performance for Doyle. He proved his connection with the former all pro two seasons ago, and a favorable match up against a Cincinnati team should work wonders to get the two off to a soaring start to this season.
- Antonio Gates, LAC ($2,600) – If you think this means I expect him to be used heavily in the passing game, you’d be wrong. What I do expect is his usage in the Red Zone to be prolific. With an understanding of the offense and a great rapport with Philip Rivers, the 39 year old Gates should have a strong start thanks to the high potential for early season TDs.
Dr. Fantasy’s Daily Sports Lineup
- QB: Mitch Trubisky ($5,600)
- RB: Kenyan Drake ($5,900) Carlos Hyde ($4,500)
- WR: DeAndre Hopkins($8,300) Emmanuel Sanders ($5,000) Anthony Miller ($4,600)
- Flex: Alvin Kamara ($8,500)
- TE: Jack Doyle ($3,600)
- D/ST: Ravens Defense ($3,800)
Every Friday, until the season starts on Thursday, September 6th, we’ll run our NFC and AFC Player Profile article. You know what to expect from the guys at the top of your draft, now it’s time to learn what to look for in the later rounds.
It doesn’t feel that long ago that former first overall pick Sam Bradford was a trendy sleeper pick, but 2018 may be the year that the Fantasy community finally gives up on the talented but always injured signal caller. It would be a sad way to fade into obscurity, but with Josh Rosen and Mike Glennon on the roster, there won’t be a second chance should he falter of find his way to the IR.
The real issue with grading Bradford’s performances and supplying worthwhile analysis of his 2018 projections is that Bradford’s career has been beset with injuries and changes in personnel. After being selected first overall in 2010, Bradford surprisingly played 16 games twice in his first three seasons. It wasn’t until 2013 that the major injuries reared their head.
Looking at the numbers reveals a level of inconsistency that would make your head spin if you thought about it too long. Is he the player who completed under 60 percent of his passes and averaged less than 7 yards per attempt? Or do you project closer to the player he was in Philly and Minnesota where he paced the league in completion percentage and showed the efficiency of an above average NFL quarterback?
A Look Ahead
The long and short of it is you can project it somewhere in the middle. Efficiency shouldn’t be a problem, expecting playing time is. If Bradford plays 14+ games this year (and that’s a BIG if) you can expect him to protect the football while leaning on his run game. David Johnson is the big dog in this offense, so expecting Bradford to handle anywhere close to 500+ attempts is a bit of a pipe dream.
At the very least, he’s got one of the NFL elite’s catching passes in Larry Fitzgerald. Even in Minnesota, where he had Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph, he didn’t have the luxury of a stud like Fitzgerald. Of course, age could reign in his production, but my guess is he’ll be the go to early and often.
While I’m loath to provide season long predictions for a player I have no faith in, a 16 game slate would barely put him at a low end QB2. Despite the obvious efficiency numbers I listed above, this is David Johnson’s team, and even he can’t help Bradford across a full year. While you can spot start him against bad defenses, expect no more than 3,200 yards, 22 TDs with 5 INT from the aging veteran signal caller.
The Dr. advises caution when drafting.
The NFC West has undergone major changes in terms of success. With the 49ers looking to enter a multiyear depression and the Rams still struggling to get out of their own, it’s up to the Cardinals and Seahawks to bring respect to the West.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Jimmy Graham (TE6), Russell Wilson (QB8), Doug Baldwin (WR11), Eddie Lacy (RB20), C.J. Prosise (RB41), Thomas Rawls (RB48), Tyler Lockett (WR59)
Synopsis – The Seahawks will go only as far as Russell Wilson will take them, and an effective run game will go a long way in keeping him healthy. With Prosise and Rawls proving to be injuried or ineffiecient, the Hawks added Eddie Lacy who hopes to bounce back with the new club. Doug Baldwin should garner the bulk of Wilsons attention between the 20’s but Jimmy Graham finally achieved symbiosis in Seattle and can be relied upon as a top 5 TE again.
San Fransisco 49ers
Notable Fantasy Stars: Carlos Hyde (RB12), Vance McDonald (TE29), Brian Hoyer (QB32), C.J.Beathard (QB39), Pierre Garcon (WR39), Joe Williams (RB54), Jeremy Kerley (WR80)
Synopsis – Barring a miracle, this San Fransisco team is looking like an abject disaster. Brian Hoyer as a starting QB isn’t the worst thing that could happen to this team, but between Pierre Garcon and Jeremy Kerley, there isn’t much to work with in this offene. McDonald may be a servicable backup TE but only Carlos Hyde is worth investing in as he proved last year he can be effective despite a crumbling organization around him.
Los Angeles Rams
Notable Fantasy Stars: Jared Goff (QB31), Todd Gurley (RB10), Robert Woods (WR60), Tavon Austin (WR73), Cooper Kupp (WR74), Tyler Higbee (TE27)
Synopsis – Things went sideway on the Rams last year as Gurley faced too many stacked boxes to show the burst we expected of him. With Goff likely to start this year, no one knows if they’ll actually be improved or not, but Gurley should still garner attention thanks to the high volume of carries. Robert Woods will outperform Tavon Austin, but not by much, with Tyler Higbee being the true sleeper candidate on a roster devoid of much fantasy bright spots.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Carson Palmer (QB23), David Johnson (RB1), Larry Fitzgerald (WR26), John Brown (WR48), J.J. Nelson (WR63), Jermaine Gresham (TE36)
Synopsis – David Johnson returns as my number one fantasy player this year, and this season could be the perfect record breaking scenario following the obvious decline to aging Carson Palmer and the lack of weapons not named Larry Fitzgerald to compete with. John Brown is an underwhelming option and J.J. Nelson has more questions than answers. This is David Johnson’s team.
Below is a list of the top 10 teams in terms of total offensive plays in 2014.
- Philadelphia Eagles (1,127 plays)
- Indianapolis Colts (1,105)
- New Orleans Saints (1,095)
- New York Giants (1,086)
- New England Patriots (1,073)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1,068)
- Denver Broncos (1,067)
- Houston Texans (1,062)
- Carolina Panthers (1,060)
- New York Jets (1,052)
What’s important to understand is that this merely a baseline to understand how often a team puts its offensive players in position to score fantasy points. The uptempo offenses in Philly and Indianapolis enabled them to run 70.4 and 69.1 plays per game; this means players who line up in large percentage of their teams offensive snaps have a greater ability to procure fantasy points. This would seem rather obvious, but is important to note nontheless. Below is a list of the top 10 players ranked by participation percentage (using snap count statistics gathered at Sportingcharts.com)
- Torrey Smith* (1,098 total snaps, 96.7% of team snaps)
- Jordy Nelson (1,083, 96.5%)
- Dez Bryant (935, 93.7%)
- Vincent Jackson (969, 93.5%)
- Brandon Marshall* (988, 93.4%)
- A.J. Green (1,056, 93.3%)
- Mike Wallace* (951, 92.6%)
- Larry Fitzgerald (998, 92.1%)
- Demaryius Thomas (1,106, 91.6%)
- Alshon Jeffery (963, 91.0%)
*players have changed teams
What can be gained from these statistics? Well for starters, you can infer based on usage that a player like Kevin White in Chicago is in for a large number of snaps as Brandon Marshall vacates the roster. The same for Kenny Stills in Miami as the new top target for Ryan Tannehill in place of Mike Wallace. It certainly appears that Chicago uses their two top targets an awful lot, running them out for more than 90% of their snaps on offense. You could also argue that Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald are both heavy target receivers with a better QB outlook this year, and if the numbers are consistent could be in for a bump in usage.
A few surprises on this list would be players who were used far less than surface stats indicated in 2014.
TY Hilton only saw usage on 71% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps. A number that if rising could mean enormous stats for the possession beast. Doug Baldwin as the top target in Seattle only saw 74% of the snaps, proving again that Seattle doesn’t trust its passing game, this is likely an indication of Baldwins value in the future. Houston, one of the leagues leaders in terms of total offensive snaps, had both the departed Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins in the 88% range, this could mean a huge uptick in Hopkins usage considering the lack of weapons behind him.
Like anything, it’s important to view these kinds of statistics as secondary, I’m not suggesting that Vincent Jackson should be ranked even close to Antonio Brown (4% less usage), but it’s fair to say that he’ll have far more opportunity then someone like Michael Floyd in Arizona who sees the field less than 85% of their offensive snaps.
The frustration is real as fantasy owner when a player you invest heavily in doesn’t return that investment. We see it every year, and subsiquently that players value drops, leaving him falling on draft day. Are you an owner who likes to grab a previously touted player in hopes that he’ll bounce back and pay off in spades in the later rounds? If you are, and I’d gamble most of us are, then keep reading for a list of bounce back candidates.
QB – Robert Griffin III : Injuries that derailed his electric rookie seaon can be pointed to as the cause for the mental issues that have since plauged the outlandishly athletic Griffin in seasons since. It’s gotten so bad that at the conclusion of this last season, Jay Gruden alluded to the fact that he no longer believed in his QB and speculation that he’d be dealt or demoted ran rampant. Fast forward to the post-draft news and we see that RG3 is back again in the drivers seat for the QB job in Washington, and I’m confident that a new Griffin will be taking the field this year. Time to adjust to the game and to his injury history should allow Griffin to return to a semblance of the player we saw his rookie year: a rocket arm, good decision making, and the ability to make something out of nothing. Although he won’t finish as a top 10 QB, I expect him to bounce back as a solid QB2 worth a late round pick if you’re in need.
QB – Sam Bradford : Another highly touted prospect coming out of college, Bradford has shown glimses in his brief career, but a hefty injury history has left him on the scrap heap come draft day as owners have grown weary of the letdown. Shifting from St. Louis to Philadelphia should work wonders for Bradford on the field. He finally has weapons around him and a running game to keep defenses honest. He may be an in vogue pick come draft day, but if he starts the year healthy (and this is always an if with Bradford) I expect a much better year than he’s given in the past.
RB – Doug Martin : A lot of owners watched their ships go down in flames when they invested a top 5 pick in Martin a few years ago. Last year, Tampa Bay was the worst team in the league, securing the #1 overall pick and finally shoring up a QB position that features Mike Glennon as the top guy. I’d argue it’s tough to find running room when your team can’t complete more than 10 passes in a game. Still the top option in Tampa Bay, Martin should find more success after finding himself under 100 fantasy points last year. He could likely be had as a 4th RB, and should far outperform this ranking.
RB – LeSean McCoy : McCoy had 175-180 points in PPR formats last year, but was disappointing in terms of consistency. He touched the ball more than 300 times but struggled to return the top 3 pick spent on him. He’ll likely still be drafted early but has the pedigree and the situation to replicate the 1500-2000 total yard years that we’d become accostumed to out of McCoy.
WR – Larry Fitzgerald : For some, this was just the writing on the wall as Fitzgerald found himself scoring at or under 10 points per week for the first time in his career. The problem was that after Carson Palmer went down, John Skelton and company couldn’t keep the offense clicking, and Fitzgerald suffered. A Healthy Palmer creates more opportunities for Fitzy and inside the 20’s he’s the go to guy, and I expect him to crack to finish inside the top 25 WR’s this year.
WR – Dwayne Bowe : A supremely talented wideout, Bowe has never had a great QB throwing him the football, and that won’t change this coming year. But being a number 1 on an offense that managed to coax good to great seasons out of Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Andrew Hawkins will help Bowe regain some of that swagger he had before Alex Smith got to KC. He won’t challenge for the top spot, but Bowe is an afterthought in leagues but should provide some scoring punch from the bench, for byes and in case of injuries.
TE – Vernon Davis : A freak of nature, Davis has the skills at the TE position to dominate his competition. This wasn’t the case this year as Kaepernick struggled to find consistency. If offseason reports of improved pocket pressence and throwing motion are true, Kaep could bounce back and this would impact Davis the most. Expect the consistency to continue to frustrate, but he’ll jump back in to the top 15 TE’s.
TE – Kyle Rudolph : He may have all the tools to be the best TE in football, but he’s rarely put it all together. Another year of Teddy Bridgewater and the return of AP makes this Minnesotta offense formidible for the first time in a long time. Without a proven #1 wide receiver, a healthy Rudolph could be asked to do more than he has. I think this is the year we finally see Rudolph ascend to an elite TE.
Our previous exercise continues as we look at our teams in the middle. You may not agree with all of my rankings, but each of these teams pair good to great fantasy options with other question marks on offense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
I know what you’re thinking, “they have Jamaal Charles!” That alone does not elevate this team higher on my list. Alex Smith is a fine game manager, but his deep ball is lacking and if the numbers from the WR’s last season indicate anything, this team doesn’t have a lick of consistency. Jeremy Maclin is an upgrade over Dwayne Bowe, but even this is speculative as Maclin could be the next WR to disappear from relevance. Travis Kelce has elite talent but had several brutal weeks to go with his successful ones. Worth drafting: Jamaal Charles is going to go in the first round, for good reason, but to expect 16 healthy games is unrealistic, Knile Davis is a fine handcuff. Travis Kelce finished near the top of TE’s but had some really bad weeks; draft with cautious optimism that he can be even better. Alex Smith is a QB2 or bench depth at best; he’ll never be a top 10 QB.
22. Oakland Raiders
Young, skilled, and unpredictable. This team could very well surprise and finish with several high profile fantasy heroes. Derek Carr showed flashes of brilliance last year, and the addition-by-subtraction move to let Darren McFadden go means the talented Latavius Murray will get the start in the backfield. Add Amari Cooper into the mix and you have the makings of a solid offensive team. Worth Drafting: Latavius Murray is a popular pick to elevate his game, especially after reports indicated they’ll be tailoring the offense to Murray’s strengths. Cooper will likely be valued a little high on draft day so you may be disappointed in year one. Carr showed he has what it takes to make it in the NFL, I expect him to elevate his game even more.
21. Minnesotta Vikings
There’s a lot of distraction with the Adrian Peterson saga still unfolding, but I’m operating under the assumption that he starts in week one for the Vikes. Even still, expect them to ease him back into the line up, lightening the load early. Teddy Bridgwater is in the same boat as Carr; a ton of talent but still has to prove how to use it. His WR’s are a bit of a question mark. Charles Johnson seems like he might be a breakout candidate, but Mike Wallace is an over the top receiver with little upside compared to his contemporaries. I’d love for Kyle Rudolph to bring it all together, as he has elite TE talent, but can’t stay on the field. Worth Drafting: Adrian Peterson could still be the AP of old, and many will bet that he is. At worst he’s still a RB1. Bridgewater has to do it with less weapons than the other youngsters in the league, so I figure he’ll struggle to find his stride early, but could suprise; a good upside QB 2 with no threat to his job. Maybe I just don’t like Mike Wallace, but I don’t think he’s as much of a difference maker going forward as I think they’ll look to involve Johnson and Patterson a bit more, both of whom are worth a look later in drafts. Kyle Rudolph will be less expensive than he has been in the past, I’d bet on the production if healthy.
20. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is only 26 years old, so the feeling that he’s past his prime is just wrong. He’s matured and should be healthy heading into the year. Top 5 finish isn’t out of the question, but a conservative view has him around 10 in my rankings. Jonathan Stewart has the pieces, but the health elludes him. He’ll be good when he’s on the field but I’d rather go elsewhere in the first 3 rounds. Kelvin Benjamin should benefit the most from Newton’s presence, and should be a top 10WR target. Worth Drafting: Newton and Benjamin need each other for success, as the other pieces are lacking. Stewart is a fine back but I’d bet it’s more probable than not that he misses time. Cotchery in PPR leagues could be worth a look in the middle rounds, or a late flier in non-PPR.
19. San Fransisco 49ers
Every year there’s a QB that I think is going to elevate to the top teir. Last year it was Ben Roethlisber, this year it’s Colin Kaepernick. He struggle last year trying to adjust to a pocket passing role. In the off season he’s worked tirelessly to improve his efficiency and I expect hiim to see a spike in fantasy production. Carlos Hyde will likely get drafted far to early, and I caution against over hyping a player that has never been a full time starter. Adding Torrey Smith means more room for Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin to run. Both should continue to see good production, and Smith should benefit from Kaep’s strong arm down the feild. Worth Drafting: My bold prediction is Kaepernick finishes inside the top 10 at his position. Boldin is a machine and should produce, and Vernon Davis will bounce back. Carlos Hyde will look good for stretches but I don’t want him as my RB1.
18. New England Patriots
At this time, Brady is expected to miss 4 games, meaning a quarter of the season will feature backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite that the experts think he’s still the best QB in the division, I sense a down tick in production for each of New Englands big guns. Edeleman relies on Brady’s accuracy and LaFell is usually a later option. Can Garoppolo read the D like Brady and involve all of his weapons? Brady could beat his suspension which would likely rank this offense higher. Worth Drafting: Tom Brady has a chip on his shoulder, if you can survive 4 weeks with a backup QB, he’s worth a pick. I don’t draft a Patriots RB ever, for reason that should be obvious. Blount is not an elite NFL running back. Gronk shouldn’t see too much of a dip in production, but LaFell and Edeleman may struggle for a few weeks.
17. Cincinnatti Bengals
Andy Dalton has been the most frustrating of NFL quarterbacks in terms of fantasy. He produces for a time, then he kills you for a time. AJ Green is a stud, even if his numbers took a hit with Dalton’s struggles last year. The big question is does the team invest in surprise starter Jeremy Hill or does it go back to Gio Bernard? Worth Drafting: Dalton has shown he can be a low end QB starter, but you’re asking a lot from a player that struggled at times. A.J. Green is a safe pick, he’s as elite as any in the league. Despite Jeremy Hill’s success on the field, he put up similar numbers to Gio Bernard when he started, I feel a committee coming on.
16. New Orleans Saints
If you’re convinced Mark Ingram finally hit his stride, that could spell disaster for Drew Brees as he’s tumbling down draft boards with managements admittance that they’d like to balance the offense. No more will Brees attempt 650 passes, and this hurts them across the board. Brandin Cooks is a great WR and should do well taking over for Colston as the #1, but Ingram is the big question mark. An underwhelming start to his career was instantly wiped out of the minds of fantsy owners after a solid, if unspectacular year. Worth Drafting: Despite the reports, I’m not convinced Ingram can carry the load, and if Brees falls due to the buzz, I wouldn’t hesitate to draft him in the 3rd or 4th round. Ingram isn’t going to hit a lot of home runs but he should avg around 4 YPC and have a handful of TD’s. The fear is injuries or regression. Cooks is a stud in the making, and Brees will be looking to him often. Colston is another player who may fall beyond their value in your draft. PS. Josh Hill is not Jimmy Graham, so don’t mistake the two come draft day.
15. Baltimore Ravens
When Torrey Smith left, I was worried that Flacco lost his deep threat, but Breshad Perriman could prove to be an even better reciever than Smith. Steve Smith Sr. will likely prove his doubters wrong, and Justin Forsett finally provides stability in the backfield even with Taliefaro lurking in the wings. Worth Drafting: As always, Flacco takes a hit due to the scheme Baltimore runs, but his up weeks are great, solid back up or QB 2 in two quartback leagues. In ways that I don’t with other backs, I believe Forsett can run the football well enough to be a fantasy contributor. Steve Smith will be good again, and Perriman should be one of the rookies to perform in the top 20 of his position.
14. Arizona Cardinals
The team didn’t replace Ellington in the draft, meaning they think he can still perform. Maybe they’re not ready to say that a healthy Carson Palmer will make things different across the board. The stable of WR’s in Arizona are deep and talented, and they should create mismatches across the field. Worth Drafting: Palmer when healthy has the tools around him to be a top 15QB. Fitzgerald is a safe bet to be a top 10 WR and between Michael Floyd and John Brown, defenses will have a hard time adjusting. All of these players will be in play come draft day. Andre Ellington will either play well or be pushed out by the talented David Johnson, who I’d look at as a sleeper in the late rounds. Either way, there should be more consistency the backfield to open up the passing game.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
I personally think all things being equal, Sam Bradford is a superior quarterback to Nick Foles. Add in DeMarco Murray and you have the makings of a good to great offense. Jordan Matthews is only 22 but has big play ability and Chip Kelly has excelled with speedy talented players. The biggest boon for this team was the addition of DeMarco Murray. If LeSean McCoy’s troubles were less about running lanes and more about the runner, Murray should be in for another good year with a ton of touches. Worth Drafting: DeMarco Murray is still a top 5 back, and in Chip Kelly’s offense has a chance to finish at the top of the league again. Bradford will be a sexy pick on draft day, but try to maximize value at the QB position and he may not be that guy. Cooper should continue to see targets on intermediate routes and Matthews was a beast as a 21 year old, but Nelson Agholor could eat into his touches just a bit. Speaking of Agholor, he’s a quality sleeper candidate on a good offensive team. Look at him later in drafts.