After finishing in the top 10 among WRs in 2014 and top 20 in 2015, Emmanuel Sanders finds himself in the unenviable position of playing second fiddle to Demaryius Thomas in the newly minted Mark Sanchez show. In obvious fashion, his fantasy relevance has taken a bit of a hit. Using the FantasyPro’s consensus rankings, he finds himeself as the WR26 this year, a far cry from the high regard he’d previously attained.
But is it fair to say he’ll suffer that much under Sanchez?
Between 2010 and 2011 Mark Sanchez played QB for a defenisivly dominant New York Jets team, managing to win 19 games and play efficiently enough in a run first offense to make one AFC Championship game. His wideouts during that time?
2010 Leading Jets Receivers: Braylon Edwards (904 yards and 7 TDs) and Santonio Holmes (746 yards and 6TDs)
2011 Leading Jets Receivers: Santonio Holmes (654 yards and 8 TDs) and Plaxico Burress (612 yards and 8 TDs)
Now, I’d argue that not only are the tandem he’s throwing to in Denver are better than either of those teams, I’d argue (and don’t flay me for saying this) that he’s actually a bit of an upgrade over Peyton Manning at this point.
Sure, it’s likely that Sanders numbers will take a hit, but his big play ability coupled with the fact that he won’t have Noodle-arm Manning throwing him the ball, it’s reasonable to expect he can approach 1,000 yards and another 8 TDs which would result in a similar WR15-20 range.
Considering he’s dropped already, it’s not a stretch to expect him to drop further in fantasy drafts: don’t be afraid to draft him a little higher than he’s projected.
As we finish up team minicamps, we’re left to sift through copious homerisms about players beat writers love, and buzz killer articles for players they love to hate. How much of this information is useful? That is open to interpretation, but it it makes sense to keep an ear open for pre-season movers; otherwise how can we know who’s positioned themselves to be the next Arian Foster?
Speaking of Arian Foster, his old coach Gary Kubiak has made comments leading Denver Post’s Troy Renck to declare that the battle for RB touches in the Bronco’s backfield is all but over. Kubiak sounds like he’ll go with one feature back regardless of who is on the depth chart, preferening to avoid a committee. This is music to C.J. Anderson fan’s ears. I’ve been highly critical of the 3rd year back, choosing to take the under without knowing what he’s capable of over a full 16 games, but if he sticks and stays healthy, Anderson could finish at the top of the league in RB points.
This has less to do with anything McCoy has done in training camps or OTA’s and more to do with how awful the Bills QB situation has become. Matt Cassel has “look like the worst QB at Bill minicamps” according to sources, and this opens the door for perenial disappointment E.J. Manuel to win back the reigns. In the end, this offense will funnel entirely through McCoy, Rex Ryan tends to field a smash mouth running team anyhow. I expect that even if McCoy doesn’t put up the gaudy 5 YPC type numbers he’s capable of, 300+ touches is a given.
I doubt that going into the offseason anyone would have pegging Robinson as an early riser. The Jacksonville offense was anemic to say the least, but with Marqise Lee proving he’s not a legitamite #1 and with Justin Blackmon suspended (again), Robinson has seemingly run away with the starting gig, and his performance so far has people applauding the young receiver. If he wins the favor of strong armed QB Blake Bortles, Robinson should see a ton of targets and will likely still be a value pick come draft day.
While Tennessee struggles to nail down a deal with 2nd overall pick Marcus Mariota, Cobb has quietly positioned himself to steal the lions share of carries from incumbent starter Bishop Sankey. Despite that this team invested heavily in the passing game with Mariota and Green-Beckham, this will remain a run first team and Cobb should be the guy that eats up the yards. As far as rookies go, he’ll fly well under the radar, and I expect him to be worth far more than several of his contemporaries.
The news being leaked about the Bronco’s shopping Manning prior to his pay cut can’t be helpful when evaluating how much Manning has left in the tank. While the team attempts to become more balanced, and try and replace the quality receiver in Julius Thomas that it lost, expectations for Manning continue to fall. At his current ADP (34.4) he’s a huge risk, and the reward is likely to be in the QB2 range.
The man being asked to fill Jimmy Graham’s shoes after his departure has shown very little so far in mini camps. It’s led to speculation that veteran TE Ben Watson may actually find himself on the field a great deal more. As this team prepares to hand a larger role over to RB’s Mark Ingram and CJ Spiller, expect Hill to be a huge bust.
Another NO “starter” finds himself on my falling list. The reports out of New Orleans is that CJ Spiller has looked electric, and will find himself on the feild in most passing situations, severly limiting Ingram’s value if the Saints D looks as bad or nearly as last year. Couple that with the fact that Ingram has shown very little prior to last year in the way of staying healthy, he could be a huge mistake on draft day if injuries of Spiller keep him from repeating a solid season.
Steady Freddy may find himself without an NFL team come the end of minicamps, and he’s echo’d as much himself. Although I find it hard to believe that he’ll be cut after his history with Buffalo, it’s clear the writing is on the wall. While he’s managed to stay fantasy relevant, this could be the year he falls off the radar completely. With McCoy in the fold and capable of 300 touches across all three downs, Jackson is a handcuff only pick.
- Andrew Luck
- Aaron Rodgers
- Russell Wilson
- Ben Roethlisburger
- Peyton Manning
- Drew Brees
- Matt Ryan
- Tony Romo
- Eli Manning
- Tom Brady
- Ryan Tannehill
- Matthew Stafford
- Cam Newton
- Phillip Rivers
- Colin Kaepernick
- Joe Flacco
- Carson Palmer
- Derek Carr
- Jay Cutler
- Alex Smith
- Teddy Bridgewater
- Andy Dalton
- Blake Bortles
- Sam Bradford
- Marcus Mariota
- Jameis Winston
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Brian Hoyer
- Geno Smith
- Josh McCown
- Robert Griffin
- Matt Cassel
- Nick Foles
Colin Kaepernick – Reports of the discontent in San Fransisco are overshadowing the progress that Kaep has made in the pocket as a passer. Despite a tumbling ADP, Kaepernick continues to rise on my board, especially considering his ability to make plays with his legs. It may not always be pretty but he’ll finish as a top 15 QB you can get at a discount.
Derek Carr – The hype train was slightly derailed recently when fears surround the injury sustained to his finger had many wondering if he’d be ready for week 1 of the season. Back at practice and getting to work with his new #1 in Amari Cooper, Carr’s injury won’t be an impact, and he has the tools and weapons to find himself in the top 15 QB’s.
Marcus Mariota – He may end up over valued by inexperienced drafters due to the buzz surrounding Mariota, but he’s already impressed coaches and team mates with his ability and work ethic. He’s jumping up on my board, and I’m beginning to feel he’s what Cam Newton was expected to be in the NFL,
Tom Brady – In spite of his performances after similar issues (see his 2007 stats after spy gate for an example) Brady’s attention may be too focused on his legacy as he fights the 4 game suspension from the deflated football… thing. I’m not insinuating he’ll be terrible, but he could begin to fall down draft boards with fears that he won’t be elite for all 12 of the games he’s availbale for.
Jay Cutler – They added Kevin White, he still has Alshon Jeffrey and Matt Forte, and you’re wondering why I think he’s a down? Jeffrey is a great athlete, but he’s a throw and go type WR who’s strength is pull down a jump ball. White may have more upside in the long run, but this team will hurt for a route runner early and Cutler struggles when he throws into coverage. I expect an rough season for Cutler without Marshall on the roster.
Andy Dalton – This offense isn’t any better than the previous year when Dalton was expected to jump into the conversation for top teir QB’s. Instead, he constantly disappointed, and this team didn’t do enough in the off season to mask his deficiencies. They will likely lean heavily on the run with two solid backs, so Dalton is unlikely to show much more than last year.
I recently read an article about Emmanuel Sanders and the concerns about his production with Gary Kubiak at the helm. While these questions often arrise in the off season, the biggest factor for Sander’s production has less to do with Kubiak and more to do with Peyton Manning.
They often refer to players of his ilk as “Field Generals”. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers… they call their own number more often than not, meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s Gary Kubiak, or Jack Del Rio, or John Madden coaching the team.
I’d like to argue going into your draft to expect recievers for the top 5 or so QB’s to generally repeat their numbers unless huge shakeups occur on offense. Feel confident that Emmanuel Sanders is going to see enough targets for 1100 yards and 5 TD’s, and that Brandon LaFell will continue to grow as a Patriot and find Brady looking his way just as often as last year. Don’t read too heavily into who is the head coach, because they aren’t the ones throwing the ball to them
Ryan Tannehill quietly put together a borderline top 10 QB season, and Lamar Miller proved he could run the football with some consistency and catch it on occasion in the passing game. The receivers on this team are young and talented, with high volume option in Jarvis Landry and burners in Kenny Stills and Rishard Matthews. Adding Jordan Cameron only makes it harder for defenses to match up when they want to spread you out. Worth Drafting: Ryan Tannehill will likely be valued lower than he should be, as a later QB1 he’s worth it. Lamar Miller may have some competition later in the year from the uber talented Jay Ajayi, expect him to be a workhorse if healthy. Landry should be a good bet for 70+ catches, and Stills could be a weapon for Tannehill over the top. Jordan Cameron, if healthy, will step in and replace Charles Clay’s production very well.
11. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers manages every year to put together a top 10 QB season, and expect this year to be no different. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd should still see the bulk of the passes, new addition Stevie Johnson has a lot to prove and could be a nice late round WR addition. Despite Ledarius Green’s presence, Antonio Gates went out and killed it last year, and I’ll never again doubt the big mans ability or drive. Worth Drafting: Philip Rivers as always falls just shy of the NFL elite, but is a solid QB if you miss out on the top teir guys. Keenan Allen has the tools to be a WR1 and Michael Floyd will still stretch the field a bit (16.5 YPC last year). Stevie Johnson is a risk/reward player as his pedigree may trick owners into jumping early. Antonio Gates should be himself again this year, and I would caution against Ladarius Green fans against expecting any real fantasy value unless Gates gets hurt. Melvin Gordon could be this years highest scoring rookie… don’t be afraid to draft.
10. Chicago Bears
I know what you’re thinking, “the Bears in the top 10?” They may not be a top 10 NFL team, but we’re talking in terms of fantasy contributions. Jay Cutler may be inconsistent, as is evidenced by his second half slide, but he still has plenty of tools and a big arm. Alshon Jeffery will have an uptick in attempts as Cutler has shown a propensity to seak out his top target despite double teams. Matt Forte is a top 10 RB and top 3 in PPR formats, and Martellus Bennet moves into the top 3 conversation at TE thanks to Jimmy Grahams change of scenery. Worth Drafting: I was high on Jay Cutler last year, and this hasn’t changed. If you look at his first 5 or 6 weeks last year, he had some pretty good numbers that would have been even better if he didn’t turn the ball over. Kevin White is an unknown quantity but he should replace Marshall in the long run with the same kind of build. Jeffry should be a top 10WR and Bennett is a top 3 TE.
9. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan did the best he could with the rash of injuries that clipped the Falcons wings last year, but a healthy squad will make a world of difference. Ryan is a top 10 QB even without his top two targets healthy. Tevin Coleman could push Devonta Freeman but both are talented and whoever makes it out of camp as the #1 should see above average RB numbers. Roddy White is still an every week start even with the top 3 WR in Julio Jones across from him. They have question marks at TE as Toilolo Levine led their active TE’s with 62 points last year (in 1pt PPR). Worth Drafting: Matt Ryan had a few brutal weeks and still managed a top 10 finish, he’ll have a better grasp on this offense and health not withstanding should be a top 10 QB this year as well. Julio Jones has the talent to finish #1, and he’ll likely go in the first 15 picks. Roddy White gets over looked more every year but he’s still a top 20 WR. The real question is Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman? I think it’ll be a battle in camp, and both guys should have some fantasy relevance come week 1.
8. New York Giants
The world was against the Giants after a brutal season prior, but Eli Manning still finished top 10 at QB, and Odell Beckham emerged as a top WR threat. With the return of Victor Cruz this offense could have two scary weapons for Eli to use. Rashad Jennings may be a little older than the other top RB’s, but he still averaged 10-11 points per week (depending on your scoring system). Larry Donnell put together an admirable season and the Giants like to use TE’s in the passing game. Worth Drafting: Eli is a safe bet to out perform his numbers last year if he has a healthy WR corps. Beckham will likely be drafted incredibly early, but with Cruz back, he’ll be hard pressed to repeat his second half numbers. Rueben Randle is the real steal here, as his value takes a huge hit with two studs in front of him, but in a passing offense, he should out perform his ADP. Rashad Jennings was fine when he played, but grab Andre Williams late as a handcuff if you need to use Jennings as a RB 1 or 2.
7. Detroit Lions
I hate to say that Matthew Stafford is overrated, because I think he’s an entertaining gun slinger in the Brett Favre mold, but his terrible efficiency actually lowers his ceiling despite as often as he throws the football. That being said, he has two elite WR’s in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Either one can carry the torch if the other isn’t performing. At TE, they have two question marks: is Brandon Pettigrew capable of being used in the passing game and can Eric Ebron be healthy enough to contribute. I think Ebron is the TE the Lions would rather emerge. Joique Bell got a lot of touches last year, but averaged under 4 YPC. His value lies in the passing game, but the Lions served notice in drafting what they think is a 3 down back in Ameer Abdullah. A great talent, he should push Bell for touches early and often. Worth Drafting: Matt Stafford at the right price has enough volume to contribute but he’ll drive you crazy. Calvin Johnson slipping down the ranks only helps the owner who gets him, he’s still the best in the game in my opinion. Golden Tate is a solid second option, and a good one two punch in Bell and Abdullah in the backfield make this a formidable offense. Ebron is the TE to look at with a much higher ceiling.
6. Seattle Seahawks
The beautiful thing about this offense is that it’s predictable and consistent. Russell Wilson will beat you through the air or on the ground, and his ability to run at the right time means he’ll get you a ton of points that other QB’s won’t. Marshawn Lynch is a workhorse unlike any in the league. He’ll touch the ball with greater consistency and efficiency than anyone else. The homeruns aren’t always there, but 4-5YPC and double digit touchdowns make him my #1 back. Doug Baldwin has proven to be a solid #1 for a team that doesn’t throw it that much, his value will reflect that. Beyond him, Jimmy Graham should give Wilson a redzone threat, but no one else is more than a flier. Worth Drafting: This team features three top 5 position options. Russell Wilson ran for 850 yards last year… he’s in my top 3 for QBs. Marshawn Lynch may not have as many 30+ point weeks as a Le’Veon Bell, but his unparralleled consistency (12 weeks above RB average) make him my #1, and Jimmy Graham will likely be the #1 option inside the 20 plus just a tick behind Baldwin elsewhere. Draft all three confidently. Doug Baldwin is a safe WR if he’s available after the top options are off the board.
5. Dallas Cowboys
My value of the Dallas Cowboys is contingent on the offensive line. Darren McFadden’s ability hasn’t been his big question, it’s been his health. If he can stay on the field he’ll benifit greatly from the O-Line that helped DeMarco Murray lead the league in rushing last year. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo have a special connection, allowing both to creep towards the top 5 in their catagories. Cole Beasley should be a good value pick in PPR leagues, and Jason Witten is ageless and productive. Worth Drafting: At their relative ADP’s I’d say nearly all of the offensive weapons are worth a look. Bryant, Romo and McFadden all three will be drafted in the first 4 or 5 rounds. Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley all have a good chance to produce weekly for this team as well.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Who knew Le’Veon Bell would bounce back from a tough rookie year to lead the league in fantasy scoring? We knew he’d be good, but it gave the offense the freedom to throw different looks at the defense. They were rewarded with a career year by Roethlisburger and the emergency of Antonio Brown as a top WR office. Marcus Wheaton will put up solid WR fantasy stats as well, and Heath Miller, although no longer Elite, still has some gas in the tank. Worth Drafting: Ben Roethlisberger may not finish with the totals he had last year, but he’s a good bet to finish at or near a top 5 QB. Le’Veon Bell is going to miss a few games to start the year, but it’s clear he’s the focal point of that offense and he’s young enough to eat up 300+ touches and is a beast in PPR. Antonio Brown is the Marshawn Lynch of the receiving game. Quietly posting 300 or so points in PPR leagues and nearly 15-20 points every week. Bell and Brown are likely first or 2nd round picks. Don’t sleep on Miller either as there is really only 5 or 6 elite TE’s on the board, and after you’re looking at either consistency (miller) or home run weeks.
3. Denver Broncos
This wouldn’t change if Peyton Manning was 50 years old, and that’s because they finally found their RB to compliment their lethal passing game. Peyton is a general, and will use his elite weapons liberaly, and will make mediocre talents look even better. Julius Thomas is gone but anyone that can run routes will look solid in this offense. CJ Anderson as a 3 down back compliments Manning in ways Montee Ball never could, averaging 180+ points in PPR formats over the final 7 weeks (on par with Le’Veon Bell). Worth Drafting: Manning may be falling behind his contemporaries a bit but should still finish in the top 5. Demaryius Thomas looks to be a top 2 WR with Emmanuel Sanders not far behind. CJ Anderson is a bit of an unknown quantity but even if he’s only a quarter of the back he was over the last 7 weeks, he’ll be a top 10 back. Not sure about Virgil Green, but I think we said the same thing about Julius Thomas a few years ago, and Manning turned him into a top option.
2. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy… do I need to say more? A high powered offense with consistency and familiarity unlike any squad in the league, they could break records if the schedule shakes out for them. They play through the air, and on the ground, but they give everyone their due which is rare for a team with as many options. Worth Drafting: Aaron Rodgers may have been supplanted by Andrew Luck, but he hasn’t fallen far. All four of the players above will be gone in the first 3 or so rounds, which is scary for opposing defenses. Andrew Quarless is the other player to target, but they’ve never been a heavy TE use team.
1. Indianapolis Colts
AFC Championship withstanding, this is the most outstanding offense in football. A team that is often in shootouts, Indy has a quarterback to compete with them all. Adding Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, and Phillip Dorsett through the draft makes this offense even better than last year. Luck could (and I’d argue should) crest 5k yards and 50 TD’s, contributing to TY Hilton’s continued emergence as a 2nd round WR. Frank Gore has proven he can play forever, and in this Indy offense should contribute on the ground and in the air, and Andre Johnson may have lost a step but as a route runner, the dangerously accurate Luck should have no problem finding him in the soft spots of the defense. Worth Drafting: Andrew Luck will finish the year as the highest scoring player in football, draft him in the first round if you want him, he’s that good. TY Hilton and Andre Johnson should both have 70-80 Receptions with 1100 plus yards, although I expect Johnson to be the bigger red zone threat and higher ADP. Frank Gore may not be a top 5 or even top 10 RB, but expect some huge weeks from the old dog as he will be highighted in the passing game. Even Dwayne Allen, for all his deficiencies, should finish inside the top 10 of the TE ranks.
If you have a problem with any of these rankings, I say good, because debating and conversation is the best way to explain why we feel the way we feel. Tell me where I’m wrong, and who is your Fantasy Elite?
As a veteran Fantasy enthusiasts, I’ve seen several anti-RB draft stratagies sprout and die with a wimper. This years “zeroRB” philosaphy takes the cake in lack of common sense. If your arguement is that running back is a shallow and unpredictable position, that should only strengthen your resolve to grab a RB early and often.
Lets compare ADP data from 2014 for the top 5 picks at QB, RB, and TE.
- Peyton Manning
- Aaron Rodgers
- Drew Brees
- Matthew Stafford
- Andrew Luck
- Calvin Johnson
- Demaryius Thomas
- Dez Bryant
- AJ Green
- Julio Jones
- LeSean McCoy
- Adrian Peterson
- Jamaal Charles
- Eddie Lacy
- Montee Ball
- Marshawn Lynch*
I included Marshawn Lynch because most people were aware of Adrian Peterson’s legal woes and we can’t infer from the single game played his return value.
Examining the statistics:
Of the top 5 QB’s drafted, 4 of them finished in the top 5 at the seasons end. On the surface this seems like a predictable position, but looking at the consistency of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning show that down the stretch neither lived up to the billing. Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson outperformed all 5 of the names above in playoff weeks.
Of the top 5 WR’s drafted, 2 of the 5 finished at in the top 5 of their position. If you’re playing in a PPR league, the middle of the pack begins to compress and you’re looking at 25 WR’s that all finished around 200 points total. Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, and Emmanuel Sanders, the other names in the top 5 could all have been had in the 3nd round. A larger number of the top 20 WR’s were late round or undrafted players, showing that the flux is greatest here.
Of the top 5 RB’s not named Adrian Peterson drafted, 3 finished in the RB top 5 (Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, and Eddy Lacy). Beyond DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster, there was difficulty predicting the RB’s 10-20.
Now if you’re argument is that the inconsistency for RB’s like Montee ball and Gio Bernard are your reasons for going with a zero RB stratagy, more power to you. This just means your RB’s come the 4th or 5th round end up looking like CJ Spiller and Ben Tate. I’d argue I’d rather have an underwhelming 9th over all pick in Arian Foster paired with a Julio Jones or Randall Cobb than Dez Bryant and Ben Tate or Bishop Sankey circa 2014
More than any other position, the QB position feels the least amount of fluctuation as starting gigs are usually wrapped up before the NFL draft. With the two rookies sliding into starting spots, lets see where our QB’s stand in terms of Fantasy Rankings in our Way Too Early Rankings.
- Andrew Luck – IND
- Aaron Rodgers – GB
- Peyton Manning – Den
- Russell Wilson – Sea
- Drew Brees – NO
- Ben Roethlisberger – Pit
- Matt Ryan – Atl
- Tom Brady – NE
- Cam Newton – Car
- Ryan Tannehill – Mia
- Eli Manning – NYG
- Tony Romo – Dal
- Philip Rivers – SD
- Matthew Stafford – Det
- Carson Palmer – Ari
- Colin Kaepernick – SF
- Joe Flacco – Bal
- Andy Dalton – Cin
- Jay Cutler – Chi
- Derek Carr – Oak
- Alex Smith – KC
- Teddy Bridgewater – Min
- Sam Bradford – Phi
- Robert Griffin III – Was
- Blake Bortles – Jax
- Nick Foles – StL
- Jameis Winston – TB
- Marcus Mariota – Ten
- Brian Hoyer – Hou
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ
- Josh McCown – Cle
- Matt Cassell – Buf
- Derek Carr – A young team with some exceptional weapons, Carr could very well vault himself into the top 15 conversation.
- Blake Bortles – Jacksonville seems committed to creating an offensive culture that will see Bortles succeed. He certainly has the intangibles.
- Alex Smith – He may have shown age last year, but I think cleaning the slate with his receiving core could work wonders for Smith this year.
- Tom Brady – We’ve seen Brady play with a chip on his shoulder, but at 38 and facing a possible suspension, Brady may not be worth his draft day value.
- Nick Foles – If Sam Bradfords fall from grace was any indication, St. Louis could be a bad spot for Foles. They also have a brutal schedule for QB’s fantasy production.
- Drew Brees – Age is certainly a factor here, but losing Jimmy Graham and the news that New Orleans is looking to dial back on the reliance of the passing game could see Brees dropping out of the top 10.