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.
With the NFL season creeping ever closer, we’ll examine current consensus ADP data provided by Fantasypros.com to discuss the players we love and the players we hate based on where they’re being drafted.
- David Johnson, RB – ARI
- Le’Veon Bell, RB – PIT
- Antonio Brown, WR – PIT
- Julio Jones, WR – ATL
- LeSean McCoy, RB – BUF
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR – NYG
- Mike Evans, WR – TB
- Devonta Freeman, RB – ATL
- Melvin Gordon, RB – LAC
- A.J. Green, WR – CIN
Player I love – Mike Evans: It’s the first round so you can’t really complain about Evans being ranked as the 4th best WR, but the fact is he was better than anyone NOT named Antonio Brown on a per game basis and finished as the #1 WR in overall points in 2016. At 24 years old and the undisputed #1 weapon in an improving offense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish on top of the WR pool.
Player I hate – Melvin Gordon: Gordon’s career so far has been polarizing to say the least. After not recording a TD in over 200 touches as a rookie, Gordon returned the investments of his faithful by finding pay dirt 10 times. Still, he finished with less than a 1,000 yards and a sub 4 YPC mark that doesn’t exactly instill confidence that he’ll return as a RB1. Being drafted as the 5th RB is far too rich for my blood.
- DeMarco Murray, RB – TEN
- Jordy Nelson, WR – GB
- Jordan Howard, RB – CHI
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL
- Jay Ajayi, RB – MIA
- Michael Thomas, WR – NO
- Aaron Rodgers, QB – GB
- Dez Bryant, WR – DAL
- Todd Gurley, RB – LAR
- Rob Gronkowski, TE – NE
Player I love – Todd Gurley: On the flip side of the Melvin Gordon coin is Todd Gurley. After an abysmal season Gurley has fallen down draft boards to the end of the 2nd round, but this isn’t like Trent Richardson or other flash-in-the-pan backs of the last 10 years. Gurley is the real deal, and the Rams offense looks like it’s improved dramatically in the off season thanks to free agent signings and trades. As the 10th back off the board, I’m more than comfortable with Gurley as my #1.
Player I hate – Jay Ajayi: The skills are there to be a very good NFL back, but the shine from three 200 yard rushing performances has blinded his fans from the fact that he just wasn’t that great in the rest of his games. Check out this article at Fantasypros that shows how often Ajayi finished as a top 20 back (TL:DR folks… it’s not enough to justify the 15th over all pick).
- Leonard Fournette, RB – JAC
- T.Y Hilton, WR – IND
- Tom Brady, QB – NE
- Amari Cooper, WR – OAK
- Marshawn Lynch, RB – OAK
- Lamar Miller, RB – HOU
- Doug Baldwin. WR – SEA
- Brandin Cooks, WR – NE
- Isaiah Crowell, RB – CLE
- Christian McCaffrey, RB – CAR
Player I love – Doug Baldwin: He’s not a sexy name but he’s a machine that hauls in just about everything thrown his way. Last year he finished with 94 catches for 1100 yards and a top 10 WR finish in standard leagues, and that’s with the first half issues at QB. Especially in PPR leagues, Baldwin is a lock for about 100 receptions and 1,100 yards again.
Player I Hate – Amari Cooper: Just to clarify, I don’t hate the player in general, but he’s still being drafted based on hype rather than statistics. While it’s fair to assume that he’ll eventually overtake Michael Crabtree as the more productive Oakland receiver, I still won’t spend a 3rd round pick on the teams 2nd best receiver over the past two seasons.
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR – HOU
- Drew Brees, QB – NO
- Demaryius Thomas, WR – DEN
- Terrelle Pryor, WR – WAS
- Joe Mixon, RB – CIN
- Alshon Jeffery, WR – PHI
- Travis Kelce, TE – KC
- Carlos Hyde, RB – SF
- Dalvin Cook, RB – MIN
- Matt Ryan, QB – ATL
Player I love – Carlos Hyde: Hyde, on a per game basis, finished as the RB10 despite San Fransisco’s abysmal offense last year. This year, the needle is pointing up (ever so slightly) with the addition of high flying Kyle Shanahan to the offense. Don’t buy into the buzz that Hyde isn’t his guy; he’s the most talented back on this roster and will push for RB10 again this year.
Player I hate – Terrelle Pryor: I mean… it’s a fun story that Pryor has resurrected what looked like a lousy career by switching to WR but going from Cleveland where he was targeted 140 times to Washington where he’ll split looks with Doctson, Crowder, and Reed doesn’t really scream “better”. He’ll be good, but he won’t be round 4 good.
- Keenan Allen, WR – LAC
- Allen Robinson, WR – JAC
- Spencer Ware, RB – KC
- Devante Adams, WR – GB
- Greg Olsen, TE – CAR
- Ty Montgomery, RB – GB
- Tyreek Hill, WR – KC
- Michael Crabtree, WR – OAK
- C. J. Anderson, RB – DEN
- Jarvis Landry, WR – MIA
Player I love – Michael Crabtree: When Crabtree was drafted with the 10th overall pick, there was little question surrounding his talent. Instead, he struggled out of the gates and eventually fell from favor in San Fransisco, leading him to his current home in Oakland. Since he’s been catching passes from Carr, Crabtree has finished as WR19 and WR11 and compiled a very nice stat line, yet he’s still being drafted far below his value. I won’t suggest he’ll finish as a WR1 but he’ll finish close.
Player I Hate – Ty Montgomery: This one is mind blowing to me as Montgomery wasn’t even very effective last year as a lead back, yet this year he finds himself being drafted as high as the 20th back off the board. I’ll say it now, there’s zero percent chance he finishes as a RB2, and even as a flex play he’s difficult to praise because his usage will likely be spotty and unpredictable. I won’t have Montgomery on a single team this year.
Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts.
While the classic RB / RB draft strategy has long since gone the way of the dodo, this year is a perfect example of how snagging an elite back early will save you headaches down the road as the questions surrounding the mid tier backs all come with some concern. (these tiers are mostly applicable for re-draft leagues so don’t freak when you see a suspended player far below their actual value)
Elite Tier (1)
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals
- Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
The role of three down back in the NFL has become increasingly rare, and these three guys will be called upon to lead their respective teams on both the ground and through the air. While standard scoring formats may close the gap, these three guys should be the first three RB’s picked.
Very Good Tier (2)
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears
- Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers
- DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
- Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams
- Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
Any one of these guys could elevate their game to Elite status but a few questions remain for each of them. Most of them suffer from a lack of sample size. I’d bet Todd Gurley falls in drafts this year due to his dismal 2016 campaign and I’d argue he may be the best value in the rounds 3-5 depending on your league. Jay Ajayi on the other hand is riding high on the back of his 2016 statistics despite the evidence that he’s a boom or bust player who’s three 200 yard games masked lengthy stretches of inefficiency.
Decent Tier (3)
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
- Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns
- Carlos Hyde – San Fransisco 49ers
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
- Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
- Spencer Ware – Kansas City
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
- C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesotta Vikings
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons
- Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks
While you may not enjoy drafting in this tier, the fact remains that getting the guy who’ll dominate touches is never a bad thing. Even for rookies like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook the question is only how effective will they be with the ball because they were drafted to be workhorses. Ezekiel Elliott certainly an elite talent in this league, but he’s slated to miss 6 games due to suspension and with the bye week coming in week 6, Elliott won’t suit up until week 8 effectively costing you 50% of the fantasy season – in re-draft leagues I don’t touch Elliott until round 4 or later (assuming he’s there at all)
Make a Prayer Tier (4)
- Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts
- Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions
- Bilal Powell – New York Jets
- Paul Perkins – New York Giants
- Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers
- Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles
- Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions
- Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens
- Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins
- Terrence West – Baltimore Ravens
- Adrian Peterson – New Orleans Saints
- Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
- Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins
- Matt Forte – New York Jets
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
Here is your reward for drafting with a ZeroRB strategy… a combination of backs from this tier. I’m not hitching my wagon to any of these players as a RB2 yet you’ll likely see at least one or two teams you draft with end up here. Sure, if you ignore injury histories, Ameer Abdullah and Danny Woodhead offer fantastic value as odds on favorites to contribute significantly (albeit in very different ways) to their offenses. But the questions surrounding backs like Ty Montgomery who had only two games with 15 touches, are enough to force me into drafting backs early.
Worth a Flyer
- Duke Johnson Jr – Cleveland Browns
- C.J. Prosise – Seattle Seahawks
- James White – New England Patriots
- Jeremy Hill – Cincinatti Bengals
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
- Joe Williams – San Fransisco 49ers
- Jamaal Charles – Denver Broncos
- Rex Burkhead – New England Patriot
If you do wait on backs, there’s several in this tier who offer fantastic upside at a very low cost. Jamaal Williams will have every chance to steal the job from Ty Montgomery this off season, and if the Packers value his pass blocking skills (which in that offense I can’t see how they won’t) I could see Williams stealing significant time share in that backfield. Rex Burkhead is another intriguing back that can be had at the end of drafts as he’s closing in on Mike Gillislee for early down work due to the later’s inability to get on the field. James white will dominate 3rd downs so it’s a committee to watch going into the season.
While some will argue that there is great value in loading up on WR’s early in the draft, I’d say it’s just the opposite after reviewing the RB tiers. There’s questions swirling in each tier beyond the top and I’d argue grabbing your favorite low risk RB as early as you dare.
2017 Running Back Rankings
Updated June 27th, 2017
Not much changed in the top 10 with only minor changes coming as a result of some consistency research. I’ve added 10 more to the list to even out the rankings as a top 50. We’ll add more next time.
- David Johnson, ARI (E)
- Le’Veon Bell, PIT (E)
- Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (E)
- LeSean McCoy, BUF (E)
- Jordan Howard, CHI (+1)
- Devonta Freeman, ATL (-1)
- Melvin Gordon, LAC (+1)
- DeMarco Murray, TEN (-1)
- Jay Ajayi, MIA (E)
- Todd Gurley, LAR (E)
- Lamar Miller, HOU (E)
- Carlos Hyde, SF (E)
- Leonard Fournette, JAC (E)
- Marshawn Lynch, OAK (+1)
- Isaiah Crowell, CLE (-1)
- C.J. Anderson, DEN (+1)
- Spencer Ware, KC (+2)
- Christian McCaffrey, CAR (-2)
- Mark Ingram, NO (-1)
- Joe Mixon, CIN (+1)
- Ameer Abdullah, DET (+3)
- Eddie Lacy, SEA (-2)
- Frank Gore, IND (+2)
- Tevin Coleman, ATL (-2)
- Ty Montgomery, GB (-2)
- LeGarrette Blount, PHI (+2)
- Dalvin Cook, MIN (-1)
- Mike Gillislee, NE (-1)
- Paul Perkins, NYG (+1)
- Doug Martin, TB (+3)
- Robert Kelley, WAS (E)
- Bilal Powell, NYJ (-3)
- Samaje Perine, WAS (+2)
- Danny Woodhead, BAL (-2)
- Theo Riddick, DET (+2)
- Matt Forte, NYJ (+3)
- Adrian Peterson, NO (+3)
- Latavius Murray, MIN (-2)
- Duke Johnson, CLE (+5)
- Jonathan Stewart, CAR (-6)
- Jeremy Hill, CIN (+5)
- C.J. Prosise, SEA (-1)
- Jamaal Charles, DEN (+2)
- Kenneth Dixon, BAL (-2)
- Terrance West, BAL (+4)
- Derrick Henry, TEN (-8)
- Jamaal Williams, GB (+5)
- Kareem Hunt, KC (-5)
- James White, NE (+2)
- Ryan Mathews, PHI (+6)
- Adrian Peterson – Peterson is still the king and will be until the numbers say otherwise. 1700 total yars and 11 TD’s and enough in the passing game to plant him at the top even in PPR leagues, he’s the most likely of the top 10 to finish the season atop the most volitile position in Fantasy Football.
- Todd Gurley – He average more per touch than anyone not named Doug Martin (that carried the ball a significant amount). With a new QB in rookie Jared Goff, it will be interesting to see what he’ll do with more informed defensive schemes. I expect he’ll be just fine, but don’t be surprised if he has stretches where he disappears.
- Jamaal Charles – Every year he could be number one, but his injury history isn’t promising. If there was ever a handcuff candidate, it’s the ultra talented Jamaal Charles.
- Lamar Miller – I’m firmly on the hype bandwagon surrounding Millers move to Houston. A team that knows how to run the football will use him as their bellcow… a rarity in the NFL these days. It’s not a stretch to see him approach the league lead in combined yards by the end of the year.
- David Johnson – Carson Palmer was healthy all last year, and Johnson emerged as the Cardinals lead back. Now he has to prove it as the starter that it wasn’t just flash and smoke. If healthy, he’ll be a top 5 back.
- Le’Veon Bell – The only back in the Gurly/Peterson level of fantasy production, Bell did his owners a disservice by being suspended to start the year a second season in a row. Even missing 4 games, he’s nearly a top 5 RB.
- Mark Ingram – Will he be 100% to start the season? Who knows, but the New Orleans offense will put up points, and Ingram has proven that he can do what the coaches ask of him in both the run and the pass game.
- LeSean McCoy – Is Reggie bush an insurance policy or motivation? There’s some question marks with McCoy, and adding Bush to the backfield added just one more to consider when making that late 2nd round RB pick.
- Doug Martin – I feel like I’m being a bit harsh with the “Muscle Hamster” – after all he put up a top 3 season last year. But he’s always been mercurial and he’s just as likely to return to earth as he is to continue at the top of the position.
- Eddie Lacy – I haven’t seen a lot of lists that have Lacy in their top ten, and I can say honestly that I’m excited about getting him later in drafts than he should be going. Lacy clearly heard the chatter surrounding his awful season last year, and he’s put the work in over the offseaon to come into camp ready to go. If it’s one thing Mike McCarthy is, he’s loyal to the players who do what the team asks. Green Bay is still a top 5 offense, and Lacy is likely to get the bulk of the work early on to see if he’s indeed the same player they thought he was when they drafted him.
Missed the cut
Ezekial Elliott (I don’t care that Dallas has the best O-line in football, he’s done nothing at the NFL level to justify a top 10 pick), Devonta Freeman (Whether or not he’ll put it together for 16 strong games remain to be seen. Freeman is gifted and could be a steal if he gets it together), Latavius Murray (A monster, Murray touched the football more than all but a handful of NFL backs. He’s likely to get even better as the youthful offense in Oakland gels) Thomas Rawls (This is a player I’m intrigued by. He’s quietly accepted the mantel from the departing Beast Mode, and we all know how stubborn Pete Carroll is. They’ll run the ball a ton and he’ll have a chance to put up huge numbers if he can run the offense beside Russell Wilson).
Casual fantasy fans be damned, the most fun you can have playing fantasy sports (in this humble bloggers opinion) is by building your team not just for this year, but for years to come. Dynasty and Keeper leagues are becoming more popular every year even as daily fantasy sports like Draft Kings and Fan Duel are soaking up the spot light.
But what’s the right way to do it?
Now, for those of you who haven’t experienced the joy of keeping the top ranked RB in the 6th round, a keeper league (or dynasty league) is simply put: A fantasy league that you keep a certain amount of players. I’m not hear to discuss the best way to run one of these, instead we’re going to decide when it’s time to throw a player back.
I play in a competative Keeper league that allows a limited number of years on a players “contract”. After said time they are thrown back into the draft pool and will find their way to a new home (unless your Lamar Miller… then I’ll draft you every single year). Some people don’t put limits, while others have a sliding scale that moves the pick closer and closer to the top of the draft as the years tick by.
It’s all well and good in year two when you have to decide who to keep and who to throw back, but when you’ve had a player for several years and they haven’t quite reached the promise of the first campaign, you face a difficult choice.
How long is too long?
I’ve had Le’Veon Bell since year one, and I’ve enjoyed every minute he’s been on the field for my squad (sure… it’s been rough going the last two years but still). But our format only allows me to keep him for one more year. The value is right even with the suspension (I have him currently in the 6th round). But do I sacrifice one of the three keeper spots for a player I’ll have for 10-12 more weeks? Or do I dump him and commit that to a player for a longer term?
Now, the beauty of fantasy sports is this: It’s all up to you! Rankings be damned, if you love a player and think he’ll help your team, draft em when you want em. (You think the buddy of mine who drafted Brady/Moss in 2007 remembered the ball busting by the end of the year?) The same concept applies here. For a reference, I decided against keeping Bell. Not because the player I traded him for was better, but because I’d rather have Latavius Murray late in the draft for the next 3 years than 3/4 of a season out of Bell.
My suggestion to you is don’t hold onto players too long. They may have helped you last year, or the year before, but don’t get too caught up in what they did instead think about what they can do in the future.
Well the NFL Season is right around the corner and The Dr. is in the house! I apologize for my late arrival, but the world around us never ceases. Alas, here we are!
To ease us into the new Fantasy year, we’ll come back with 3 quick hits ( a veritable Fantasy 3 and out, if you will ).
1) Ezekial Elliot, worth the hype?
I wrote this article last year when the Todd Gurley train was a-rolling. I still feel very much the same way about rookie RB’s. Let them be the other guys mistake! Now, I conceed that Elliot is in a fantastic position to provide hefty fantasy dividends, and I’ll also admit that he looks like he’ll be a solid NFL pro at some point, but for every Gurley or Peterson, there are more still of the Bishop Sankey/Felix Jones’ of the world.
2) Suspensions Galore!
One of the most difficult things to gauge is how a player is impacted by a suspension (or even injuries). The offseason so two elite Fantasy players in Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell find themselves with 4 games suspensions, and leave drafters wondering what their value is. Truthfully, I think both players will provide elite fantasy production down the stretch, and their draft positions will likely reflect that. You’ll have to go earlier than you probably would like to get them, so make sure you’re prepared with a good plan to suppliment their numbers in the middle rounds, otherwise skip on them all together.
3) The continued fall of the RB.
Last year we saw more leagues than ever load up on QB and WR early and take swings at middling RB’s in the hopes that they turned into gold. I was one of the unlucky ones who retained Bell’s services and felt the egg as it hit my face simultanious to his knee injury. Owners of Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray, and other top of the draft RB’s who didn’t live up to expectations can attest to that now. Remember, RB is no longer the easiest position to draft, there’s too many committees and offenses that run through the air. Your best bet? Draft elite WR’s first, they’ve shown to be more consistent over the past few years.
It seems that every year the giddy excitement surrounding the deeper sleepers finds its way to the mainstream news outlets and the air is slowly let out of the balloon until it’s a shriveled up prune-looking hunk of strange smelling rubber. All disappointing birthday imagery aside, it’s time we scale back expectations in the on-coming preseason buzz machine that I can hear starting up.
Below are 5 players whose Buzz may have gotten too loud. Keep in mind I like most if not all of these players, but not nearly as much as THAT guy in your draft… you know who I’m talking about.
Ameer Abdullah, RB – DET: A nice player who has a lot of upside in that Detroit offense, the overwhelming exposure in light of Joique Bell’s nagging preseason injury has become so bright he’s in danger of burning up. There is a scenario here where Abdullah pans out; but that would involve Bell being on the shelf for an extended period of time, and I’m not sure we’ve reached that point yet. Draft Abdullah with the understanding that the likely committee in Detroit will hamstring his ability to be a viable starter for much of the season but as a keeper/dynasty target will return the investment in spades down the road.
Nelson Agholor, WR – PHI: Agholor has the potential to be a top 10 WR, this much is true, but as we’ve found in the past, hitching your wagon to a rookie can be a precarious thing. At his current ADP (94) he’s an excellent value, but don’t be the guy who drafts him in the 6th round thinking you have the next Jerry Rice on your hands; keep in mind Chip Kelly will spread the ball around, and as such temper year one expectations.
CJ Spiller, RB – NO: Spiller seems to be a buzzy player nearly every off-season, and this year is no exception. The idea that the team has to replace the departing Tavares Cadet and Pierre Thomas is a sound one, but consider that they’ve shown commitment to 3rd year pro Mark Ingram and it finally paid off last year as he quietly turned in a top 15 season and you see why Spiller is more of a middle to late round handcuff in standard leagues (and slightly more valuable in PPR). If you’re looking at Spiller in the 3rd round, and I’ve seen some mocks that reflect this, I think it’s too early for a player who has NEVER turned in a full productive season.
Martavis Bryant, WR – PIT: A huge red zone target, Bryant seemed to be flying under the radar earlier with the talk about how good Bell and Brown were in this Pittsburgh offense, but every time his name pops up on a sleeper list is bad news for those looking to snag the 8-10 TD’s he’ll bring on the cheap. Bryant is certainly a specimen, but this offense has two studs with very large expectations, and to think that Bryant will contribute significantly beyond TD’s may be a mistake in the long run. He’s a nice cuff to Brown owners and a possible semi-flyer, but his numbers don’t suggest a huge breakout in my opinion despite what the pundits would have you think.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB – MIN: At a position with very few Elite options, fantasy owners are constantly on the look out for players poised to break out, and Bridgewater seems to be the name of the day. While he’s certainly poised to improve on an impressive start to his NFL career, to expect him to provide fantasy starter level production might be a reach. Sure, the chance exists that he blows up to the tune of 4,000 yards and 28-30 TD’s but he should be drafted with an eye to the future, not necessarily as the guy for the present. A fine player, Teddy will likely be drafted too early thanks to the buzz.
- Le’Veon Bell
- Adrian Peterson
- Marshawn Lynch
- Eddie Lacy
- Jamaal Charles
- Matt Forte
- Arian Foster
- C.J. Anderson
- DeMarco Murray
- LeSean McCoy
- Lamar Miller
- Jeremy Hill
- Alfred Morris
- Justin Forsett
- Carlos Hyde
- Latavius Murray
- Mark Ingram
- Melvin Gordon
- Jonathan Stewart
- Frank Gore
- Joique Bell
- T.J. Yeldon
- Andre Ellington
- Giovanni Bernard
- Joseph Randle
- Rashad Jennings
- Darren McFadden
- Isaiah Crowell
- LeGarrett Blount
- Tre Mason
- Todd Gurley
- Tevin Coleman
- Devonta Freeman
- Chris Ivory
- Doug Martin
- Ameer Abdullah
- Bishop Sankey
- Ryan Mathews
- C.J. Spiller
- Shane Vereen
- Fred Jackson
- Montee Ball
- Knile Davis
- Andre Williams
- Matt Jones
- Terrance West
- DeAngelo Williams
- David Cobb
- Stevan Ridley
- Lorenzo Taliaferro
- Fozzy Whitaker
- David Johnson
- Roy Helu
- Dan Herron
- Charles Sims
- Reggie Bush
- Danny Woodhead
- Jonas Gray
- Toby Gerhart
- Jay Ajayi
- Darren Sproles
- Trent Richardson
- Khiry Robinson
- Matt Asiata
- Alfred Blue
Justin Forsett – New OC Marc Tressman has worked his magic in previous stops turning RB’s into intergral parts of the offense (think Matt Forte in Chicago). The advantage is that Baltimore intends to retain a semblance of balance so a healthy Forsett could see a spike in overall touches as he sees the ball in the passing game.
Frank Gore – Every year it seems that Gore drops down our draft boards only to reward loyal owners with consistency and fantasy production. Leaving the disfunctional fold in San Fransisco for greener pastures in Indy should help him remain near the top of the middle teir of RB’s. Although he won’t be featured heavily in the passing game, Gore is a safe bet to out perform his draft position.
Tre Mason – Todd Gurley is the heir apparent in St. Louis, that much is clear. But it will be at least until late in the season for him to supplant Mason as the starter in the offense, yet when looking at respective rankings, Mason’s value seems to far out pace his teammate. I expect a solid 4-6 weeks of unchallenged leadership, and if he plays great, the Rams will be in no rush to put Gurley back in harms way.
Andre Ellington – A return to the passing game with a healthy Carson Palmer, and the addition of David Johnson in the draft means that Ellington’s value takes a massive hit in non PPR leagues. He’ll still get the lions share of passing attempts to RB’s in the offense, but John Brown figures to make more of an impact in the passing game, limiting Ellingtons contributions there as well.
Rashad Jennings – Averaging less than 4 yards a carry and having pay dirt stolen away by rookie Andre Williams spells a downturn in production to the aging Jennings. Expect Williams to push for more touches, and eventually supplant Jennings as the starter.
Joique Bell – A knee injury has opened the door in OTA’s and mini camps for Ameer Abdullah to run with the first team offense, and all accounts show that he’s impressed Detroit’s coaching staff with his play. Even if Bell returns as the starter in Detroit, his days as the bell horse in this offense are nearing an end as Abdullah is the future for the Lions.
In the world of fantasy, we all want to be the best. I find myself checking to see how my teams members are scoring against the other elite of the world, and it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to see my guys excel. Obviously there are week to week fluctuations, but in the end, only one can be crowned the best at his position.
QB: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – At only 25 years old, it’s impressive to see the poise and talent that Luck brings to every NFL game. At at time when the Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s of the world are entering the twinkling twilight of their careers, Luck hasn’t even entered his statistical prime. Still, after throwing for 4700 yards and 40 TD’s, it’s hard to imagine him being any better. Then he got new weapons to offset his already elite talent. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore may not be top 10’s anymore, but Luck certainly won’t regress with them added to the roster. I fully expect Luck to repeat his numbers, if not improve on them.
Runner Up: Aaron Rodgers – He has the same tools as Luck, but still has a bit of an injury history and Green Bay can be a more balanced attack with Eddie Lacy in the backfield. Still elite, Rodgers will push Luck at the top of the totem pole for a few more years.
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Tomlin loves a balanced offense, and Bell is a rare blend of speed and power. Playing all three downs, Bell will be the focal point for the offense going into the year despite missing time due to a suspension. Like Luck above, Bell has already established himself as elite despite only being 23. The difference this year is that from his first snap to his last, he’ll be a top option in a powerful Pittsburgh offense. Between his use in the passing game and his dominance on the ground, expect a few huge weeks and numbers that come close to last year even minus the two game suspension.
Runner Up: DeMarco Murray – Many will list Murray over Bell, and you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. This is a 1A, 1B situation, but I dock Murray a bit being in a new location running behind a line that couldn’t open up quality lanes for another elite back in LeSean McCoy the year before. He’ll be used a lot, but my concern is that he won’t duplicate the health or the numbers after a stellar year in Dallas.
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos – As steady as they come, being the number one option for Peyton Manning doesn’t hurt either. I’ll argue that as Manning’s skills regress, his smarts become his strength and he’d be stupid to not rely on the elite talent he’s got in Thomas. With the offense shifting a bit (no Welker or Julius Thomas) Demaryuis will be called upon to do even more, and he’ll be up to the challenge. As a WR, he’ll pace the league and I’d be surprised if he didn’t push the single season TD record for WRs.
Runner Up: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers – Consistency is a boon in the world of fantasy football, and Brown finished at the top of the list for WR’s last year. As great as Brown is, he’s still relying on Ben Roethlisburger to remain elite and for Le’Veon bell to not shift the balance to a run first team. A lock to be top 3 WR, you can’t go wrong with Brown either way.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots – The big gifted TE in New England had to prove he could stay healthy after a rash of injuries in consecutive years. All he did was return and pace the leagues TE’s with 1,100 yards and 12 TD’s. If you account for a few rough weeks during the first few weeks of the season as Brady acclimated himself and Gronkowski returned to form, it’s not hard to imagine Gronk putting up a full year similar to his second half numbers. As a TE there is no other weapon in the league like Gronkowski and he should continute to be Brady’s primary target, especially in the red zone.
Runner up: Greg Olson – TE is a murky position going into the season. Antonio Gates continues to perform like a young stud, but the wheels will fall off soon and Ledarius Green is waiting in the wings. Jimmy Graham has pushed Gronk for the top spot in the past has left NO and gone to Seattle, where there’s no garuntee Wilson will use his as judiciously as Brees did. That leaves Olson who showed flashes and remained consistent throughout for fantasy owners. A healthy Cam Newton should see Olson’s numbers improve slightly while the other two mentioned should decline.