- Todd Gurley, LAR
- Le’Veon Bell, PIT
- David Johnson, ARI
- Despite missing most of last season and getting a new QB, Johnson remains a threat to be the #1 running back in PPR formats.
- Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
- Melvin Gordon, LAC
- Alvin Kamara, NO
- Kareem Hunt, KC
- Leonard Fournette, JAC
- With 1,340 yards on 300 touches, Fournette proved that he can be a three down back in the NFL. Now, after the departure of Hurns and Robinson, he may be asked to do even more.
- Saquon Barkley, NYG
- LeSean McCoy, BUF
- Devonta Freeman, ATL
- Dalvin Cook, MIN
- Joe Mixon, CIN
- The questions surrounding Mixon have nothing to do with his talent, and everything to do with how Cincinnati destroys the value of it’s running backs seemingly every year. I’m cautiously optimistic that Mixon approaches 250 touches this year.
- Jerick McKinnon, SF
- Jordan Howard, CHI
- Christian McCaffrey, CAR
- Alex Collins, BAL
- Derrick Henry, TEN
- Derrius Guice, WAS
- Rashaad Penny, SEA
- The noise out of Seattle is that they’re committed to getting their run game going again. The selection of Penny shows me that they’re serious. He may not have as much room to run behind that OL as other rookie backs, but he should have a large share of the touches.
- Lamar Miller, HOU
- Royce Freeman, DEN
- Kenyan Drake, MIA
- Sony Michel, NE
- Ronald Jones II, TB
- Marlon Mack, IND
- No longer splitting carries with Frank Gore, Marlon Mack is the defacto lead back in this continuously dysfunctional offense. It’s likely he’ll cede passing down touches to Hines, but offers a ton of value at a very low risk pick.
- C. J. Anderson, CAR
- Jay Ajayi, PHI
- Mark Ingram, NO
- Tevin Coleman, ATL
- Marshawn Lynch, OAK
- Carlos Hyde, CLE
- Hyde is the most polished runner on the Cleveland roster, but Chubb should keep him from finishing in the top 20. Don’t expect much work on 3rd down either with Duke Johnson owning that area.
- Isaiah Crowell, NYJ
- Kerryon Johnson, DET
- Aaron Jones, GB
- Chris Thompson, WAS
- Tarik Cohen, CHI
- Dion Lewis, TEN
- Duke Johnson, CLE
- Rex Burkhead, NE
- Just when we thought Burkhead would be the guy in New England, the Pats signed Sony Michel in the first round. Best as a waiver wire pick up or late round stash in deep leagues.
- Jamaal Williams, GB
- Theo Riddick, DET
- Devontae Booker, DEN
- Ty Montgomery, GB
- Doug Martin, OAK
- After finally wearing out his welcome, Martin joins a crowded Oakland backfield with a proven starter ahead of him. His value comes mostly as a handcuff for the aging Marshawn Lynch.
- D’Onta Foreman, HOU
- Chris Carson, SEA
- Bilal Powell, NYJ
- Nick Chubb, CLE
- LeGarrette Blount, DET
One of the most useless exercises that gets perpetuated during every sport’s preseason time is the “bold predictions” article. But since this is the fantasy sports blogger equivalent to “if all of your friends jump off a bridge” argument, I suppose I’ll jump too (featuring a whole lot of sarcasm).
1. Leonard Fournette has a monster sophomore slump, finishing outside the top 20 for running backs and costing his teams a shot at the title.
2. Jared Goff wins the MVP. With added weapons, and an elite defense protecting leads, Goff throws for 4,500 yards and 33 TDs.
3. Juju Smith-Schuster pushes Antonio Brown for the most targets on the Steeler’s roster and easily crests 1,200 yards receiving.
4. Evan Engram finishes as the TE1, scoring 16 touch downs to fall one shy of the TE record of 17.
5. Tyrod Taylor rushes for 700 yards and finishes as a top 5 QB despite Cleveland losing 10 games.
6. Saquon Barkley is a monster disappointment, costing fantasy owners a top 20 pick but rewarding them with less than 500 yards and nearly no contributions in the passing game.
7. Sam Darnold beats out the other quarterbacks in the preseason to start week one, and manages to win 8 games for the Jets as a rookie.
8. Sammy Watkins passes Tyreek Hill on the depth chart in Kansas City and coasts past the 100 target mark to finish as a top 15 WR.
9. Jeremy Hill fends off former teammate Rex Burkhead for the Patriots first two downs, and while he misses the 1,000 yard mark, manages 10+ scores for the first time in 2 years.
10. Minnesota Vikings fails to produce a top 15 WR as Kirk Cousins struggles in his first season for the Vikings.
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
The 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.
After looking at the middle round gems for QB’s, we turn our attention to the muddled mess that is the middle to late round “committee” backs. While studs like David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliot will dominate the backfield touches for their respective teams, there are plenty of potential stars slogging through the expanded depth charts of “RB by Committee” coaches.
New England Patriots: There’s little doubt to the risk one assumes when drafting a NE running back. Gillislee projects to man the bulk of the running downs, but White is my early pick for passing downs (Lewis and Burkhead will likely battle for the last roster spot). Back to draft: Mike Gillislee
Cincinatti Bengals: Despite the addition of Joe Mixon at the draft, the Bengals have bucked conventional wisdom and rolled with a mostly effective committee over the last two years. With Bernard and Hill still on the roster, none of the three can be counted on to have an early fantasy impact. Back to Draft: Joe Mixon
Cleveland Browns: While the jury was out prior to last season on whether Duke Johnson could steam meaningful touches from the Crow, the biggest question mark this year is do they remain in a nearly 50/50 split? Crowell is likely to man the bulk of the rushes but Johnson is more than effective with the rock (4.9 ypc and 55 receptions for 500 yards). Your leagues format should dictate who you draft – Standard Scoring, Crowell – PPR, Johnson Jr.
Philadelphia Eagles: If the waters were muddled enough last year with both RBs often on the sidelines with injuries, the Eagles have added short yardage specialist LeGarrett Blount to the fold. Don’t expect 300 carries from the plodding back either, but he should syphon the bulk of the goal line carries effectively ending Ryan Mathews as a fringe RB1/RB2. Sproles will still garner some attention in PPR leagues, but even then he’ll cede some 3rd down touches to Dalton Pumphrey. Back to Draft: LeGarrett Blount
Seattle Seahawks: While things look a bit more stable with the addition of former stud Eddie Lacy, the talent of Rawls and Prosise behind him on the depth chart mean that Seattle will offer a short leash on Lacy’s tenure as the lead back. If he struggles early, Prosise will likely get the first shot at the lead role but his health could impact as well. Back to Draft: Eddie Lacy
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags drafted Yeldon and added Ivory in an attempt to add both a dynamic between the 20’s RB and a head down goal line back. The addition of Fournette could make both obsolete as the massive rookie has both the speed and size to play three downs. Still, if the rookie finds a lack of footing in the NFL, Yeldon could still steal a chunk of carries.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos seem to make things interesting every year. First it was Montee Ball and whatever other bum he was fighting for time with, then it was he and Anderson, then Anderson and Booker. To make matters worse, the Broncos took a flier on the ultra talented (and oft-injured) Jamaal Charles. By all reports he’ll be ready for the start of the season, but it’ll take a rough patch early for Anderson to really lose out on touches.
Detroit Lions: Abdullah missed all of last season to injury but the Lions front office is saying they expect the young back to return at the top of the depth chart. He has the goods, but with Riddick eating away at the passing downs, there is a risk of a true two headed committee in Detroit.
Minnesota Vikings: When AP finally left town, the Vikings shelled out 15 million to land the athletically gifted Latavius Murray out of Oakland. Then, to make us all wonder aloud what the heck is going on, they trade up to select potential superstar RB Dalvin Cook in the draft. I would expect that the supremely talented Cook shows up atop the depth chart early, but with Murray waiting in the wings it could be a while before he really sees meaningful fantasy touches.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Any committee list isn’t complete until you discuss whether or not the Muscle Hamster can retain his tenuous hold on the starts role in Tampa Bay. Charles Sims (like Theo Riddick) is an obvious bet to see a lot of third down work, so Martin will have to have a monster year again to remain relevant as a RB1/RB2.
With the excitement and surprise of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in the rearview, it’s finally time to start looking into the impact and fallout of the skill position players taken early in the draft.
As I say every year around this time; be mindful when drafting rookies… for every Ezekiel Elliot there’s two or three Bishop Sankeys torpedoing your squad. Do your research and don’t committ to the rookie class too heavily (a mistake I’ve made myself).
Impact listings are in order of their draft position
1. Mitchell Trubisky – QB, Chicago Bears: If the Bears are smart (and there’s been precious little in past seasons to suggest that they are) Trubisky will be nothing more than a first round clipboard holder for a year or two. With Mike Glennon on the roster and lowered expectations, there’s no scenario that Trubisky starts or plays meaningful football this year. Don’t Draft
2. Leonard Fournette – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Following the failed Yeldon/Ivory experiment (they combined for 4 TD’s and 904 yards) the Jaguars got aggressive and selected the first RB off the board. Touted as an Adrian Peterson clone, his size and speed make him and intriguing pick for a team looking to get more balanced. If you believe he played hurt last year and has more to offer even than he did, this could be a day one fantasy asset, assuming you don’t have to draft him too early. Draft: Middle Rounds
3. Corey Davis – WR, Tennessee Titans: This team was in drastic need of a top end wideout to pair with Marcus Mariota, and they think they got him at the 5th spot in the draft in Davis. A sizable reciever at 6’3″ and 210 lbs I expect Mariota to look his way early and often. If he can improve on his drops (16 across his college career), his route running ability and verticle speed should make him a decent NFL player. Draft: Late Rounds
4. Mike Williams – WR, Los Angeles Chargers: Arguably the top receiver in the draft, Williams is now the new face of the LA Chargers as they make the move from San Diego. While he’ll be battling Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen for snaps, it’s only a matter of time before he sits atop the depth chart. Temper early season expectations, but don’t be surprised if he’s looking like a fantasy stud sooner rather than later. Draft: Middle Rounds
5. Christian McCaffrey – RB, Carolina Panthers: A Jack of all trades, McCaffrey is a perfect fit for a Carolina Panthers team desperate for some spark other than from the helmet to helmet shots Cam Newton takes when he runs the football. McCaffrey provides that being a fantastic options to line up in the slot or next to Newton as a flexible starter who can run the ball and catch it out of the backfield. If your league awards points for return yards he’ll be even more helpful. Draft: Late Rounds
6. John Ross – WR, Cincinnati Bengals: While laking the size of his contemporaries, the speedy Ross will line up opposite A.J. Green and should be in line for plenty of looks thanks to doubleteams and defensive schemes that will be forced to focus elsewhere. His production will likely be boom or bust in year one, so he’s probably more of a matchups play. Serious risk of being a bust if drafted too early though as the Bengals offense can become one dimensional at times when A.J. Green is right. Draft: Late Rounds
7. Patrick Mahomes – QB, Kansas City Chiefs: The same argument made against drafting Trubisky should be in play here as well; Alex Smith is still the starter of this playoff caliber team. The advantage is I believe Mahomes tracks to have a better NFL career than Trubisky, and his destination with the Chiefs is more enviable in the long run. Still, he’s no more than a dynasty stash. Don’t Draft
8. DeShaun Watson – QB, Houston Texans: If any of the three first round QB’s have a chance to play meaningful minutes this year, it’s Watson. Bill O’Brien has some work to do in rehabilitating his image with young quarter backs, but this Texans team will expect to win this year, and if Savage and Wheedon (Assuming both are on the roster by pre-season) there’s a reasonable chance Watson will find himself under center before long. Draft: Last round flyer
9 O.J. Howard – TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of the best TE in the draft, Howard will likely be the best pass catching TE on a team who often times trots two of them on the field together. With another year under his belt, Winston could be looking Howards way often, and with Mike Evans the only other real red zone threat, Howard could find a nice number of TD’s be years end. Draft: Late Rounds
10. Evan Engram – TE, NY Giants: The Giants have a lot of pass catchers after adding Brandon Marshall in the offseason, but Engram is by far the best TE on the roster. He’ll find immediate playing time but will likely have to be evaluated week to week based on matchups. I predict plenty of 100 yard, 2 TD weeks followed by 5 yards on 1 target. Draft: Late Rounds
11. David Njoku – TE, Cleveland Browns: The biggest knock against Njoku is that he’ll be playing for the Cleveland Browns. Maybe it’s not fair to expect a rough start for the athletic TE, but without consistency at the QB position, it’s a crap shoot to expect more than below-average fantasy statistics. IF the Browns add a QB via trade (Kirk Cousins for example) then I’d bump Njoku up on my board, but as of right now, he’s a dynasty/keeper pick but not in redrafts. Draft: Late Rounds (Keeper/Dynasty only).