Many of you may be asking, “What the hell does this title mean?” Well I, just like you probably, just had to Google what the exact word was for the “Most likely to…” game that nearly every high school yearbook has played for the last century. Well that word is apparently “superlative”, so here we are.
Just as in middle school, high school, or college, we’re going to play a little game of predicting who will fail this upcoming season. The only difference is that I won’t be picked as the loser this time around.
Bad joke or brutal honesty? You’ll never know.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Donald gave me the very important mission of detailing who I think will be the biggest “losers” of this season’s first 3 rounds according to ADP. Before I begin, this is based off of FantasyPros standard rankings (which lists Donald’s exclusive rankings every week so check them out during the season) for a 12-team league, meaning the first 36 picks are up for this debate. Let us begin!
Melvin Gordon: ADP: 9, RB5
Gordon finally had the breakout year every fantasy owner had hoped for the year prior. Gordon carried the ball 254 times for 997 yards with a weird average of 3.9 yards per carry. He also had 10 touchdowns on the ground. A thing to note here is that Gordon also caught 41 passes and scored 2 receiving touchdowns, even in an offense with Danny Woodhead in the backfield. In all, Gordon’s Pro Football Focus grade was a 82.5%, which is an above average score for the position. With Woodhead in Baltimore and Gordon expected to see even more touches in 2017, it’s fair to assume that Gordon will finish as a top-seven running back.
I’m here to tell you that those TDs may have been a little fluky. Seven of Gordon's ten rushing touchdowns were inside of three yards. I understand that the Chargers did what teams should do and run the ball in for a touchdown when inside 3 yards. Just because teams should do it, doesn’t mean they will. The Chargers added Mike Williams to an already-pass-happy lineup of a healthy? (emphasis on the "?") Keenan Allen and the tight end combo of Antonio Gates & Hunter Henry commanding red-zone looks. With only three games over 100 yards in 2016, it’s a little alarming to be drafting Gordon ahead of players like A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson. In games in which Gordon didn’t score a touchdown, he wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t the elite level that comes with being the fifth RB off the board. The running back situation in fantasy football is hazy once you get out of the top 4 RBs, but I'm not on board with Melvin Gordon being a top ten pick.
DeMarco Murray: ADP: 15, RB9
DeMarco Murray was a top candidate for bounce-back player of the year heading into 2016. After a very disappointing season with the Eagles, Murray found himself in Tennessee behind a young QB in Mariota and a surprisingly great offensive line. Here, Murray was able to succeed, running 293 times for 1287 yards, a 4.4 average, along with 9 touchdowns. Murray was also a great receiver out of the backfield to help his young QB, finishing the year with 53 receptions on 67 targets (79.1% Catch rate) and 3 touchdowns.
Why is Murray on this list as most likely to fail in comparison to his ADP? Well Murray was strong throughout the year, up until Week 12 versus Chicago. This is where the drop off occurred. Murray had at least 80 yards total in 8 of 11 games prior to the matchup versus the Bears, scoring in 7 of those 11. After week 12, Derrick Henry started to get a concerning amount of touches. Henry had 8 rushes for 60 yards and a score in that Week 12 matchup versus Chicago. Week 13 was Tennessee’s bye week, followed by four straight games to end the season in which Henry had at least 40 yards to go along with 3 total touchdowns in that span. During that time, Murray had his worst 4 game production of the season, rushing for an average of 61 yards per game while only scoring one touchdown. I am a strong believer that Murray will continue to get the majority of the work in Tennessee, but Henry will definitely get more snaps as the season goes on. Look for a 60-40 workload in favor of Murray, which is nowhere near what you want for a second round pick.
TY Hilton: ADP: 17, WR8
I literally never draft Hilton, and I honestly can’t think of a reason why...until this year. Hilton is riding an all-time high in fantasy expectations after having a career year last season. Hilton had career highs in targets (155), receptions (91), and yards (1448, which led the NFL). So why is TY on this list? Well mainly his price. While he was a knockout last year and has been for his entire career, Hilton’s progress is still projected to regress.
Part of the reason for his production was the general absence of Donte Moncrief. Moncrief was hurt early in week 2, then missed weeks 3-7, 14, 15, and 17. In the games Moncrief did play (with the exception of a injury-shortened week 2), he scored in 7 of 7 games. Hilton ended up scoring 1 TD in the 7 games Moncrief did play. In addition, in games where Moncrief did not play, Hilton posted the following standard scoring performances: 4.1 (week 2), 23.4 (week 3), 10.2 (week 4), 23.1 (week 5), 4.9 (week 6), 19.3 (week 7), 17.5 (week 14), 4.5 (week 15), 9.5 (week 17). Assuming Moncrief doesn’t miss the majority of the season again, I expect Hilton’s numbers to reflect more of a high-end WR2 simply because Moncrief will command more targets, especially in the redzone.
Dez Bryant: ADP 18, WR9
What? How is Dez Bryant on this list?
Simply put, Romo isn’t the QB anymore.
That’s nothing to take away from Dak Prescott, it’s just that Dez isn’t the main weapon anymore. The Cowboys prefer to attack on the ground with Zeke Elliott, but Cole Beasley did have 75 receptions for 833 yards and 5 TDS. While Beasley is more of a PPR-type of player, the fact that he did out-target Dez 98 to 96, though Dez did miss three games and was hobbled in plenty others. While the target amount is not overly concerning, the catch rate comparison is. Dez had a catch rate of 52.1% whereas Beasley had a catch rate of 76.5%. For a young QB focused primarily on the run game, Beasley will continue to be a huge focus of the offense simply because Beasley is the safe option on shorter routes. Dak isn’t going to sling the ball like Romo, who frequently gave Dez the opportunity to go up and out-muscle the competition for a big gain. If shorter, safer routes continue to be the main focus of this passing attack, Dez won’t return second round value.
Leonard Fournette: ADP: 20, RB11
I’m here to break some news to you: Leonard Fournette is not the next Ezekiel Elliott.
I’m not saying the guy isn’t talented, I think we all know that he is. The main reason that I don’t think Fournette will live up to his late 2nd-early 3rd round pick is because of the guys in front of Fournette. I don’t mean Chris Ivory, although I do seem to have a love affair in drafting him every year. What I mean is the Jaguars’ offensive line. Jacksonville’s O-line ranked 22nd last year which isn’t great. I can’t tell you how many times I watched Chris Ivory get stuffed on the goal-line last year because there simply weren’t any holes. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Fournette by assuming that he will be a better athlete with better decision making than Ivory, but what good is having those skills if the defense is on you before you get the ball?
Jacksonville is also pass-happy. Is that because they just couldn’t develop a run game? Probably. But Blake Bortles was drafted and resigned to be the guy to take Jacksonville to the next level (which is a .500 record for them). Allen Robinson is still a top receiver who is only going to get better. Factor in his redzone presence and you have less opportunities for fantasy points. I think Fournette will get the main work this season, but drafting him this high is a BIG risk with a potentially low reward.
Davante Adams: ADP: 35, WR18
My initial reaction was to write Doug Baldwin into this spot, but he’s actually become the most reliable fantasy player on Seattle. Instead, this spot will be audibled to Adams, who had a career year in 2016. Last season, Adams finished the season with 75 receptions for 997 yards and 12 (!!!!!!!) touchdowns. Is there a chance that Adams continues to be the redzone threat he was in 2016? Well yes, but I wouldn’t bet on it. In 16 games last season, Adams had 75 yards or more in 5 games. While not being considered an elite talent, it’s fair to assume that Adams’ redzone production will regress.
While assuming is great, facts are better. Randall Cobb missed 4 games due to injury last year. Cobb was on the field for 695 snaps (57.9 per game) compared to Adams’ 915 snaps. 57.9 snaps per game multiplied by four (for the amount of games missed in 2016 by Cobb) equals 231. Add that 231 snaps to Cobb’s 695 snaps he actually played gives us 926 snaps. Now if you’re still with me you’ll realize that, assuming health isn’t a factor, Green Bay should have had three receivers (the other being Jordy Nelson with 1015 snaps) over 900 snaps. The problem is, Green Bay won’t have three receivers with 900 snaps.
So what does this mean? Well what I’m trying to say is that Davante Adams will still get a significant snap count comparable to a number 2 receiver on any team. Green Bay will just have to push the receiver depth chart down a little bit, meaning Jeff Janis and others will most likely decrease in snap count in order to ensure Adams, Nelson, and Cobb all get their snaps. The problem is, you don’t want to be paying a WR2 price for a WR3 heavily reliant on touchdowns.
Questions, concerns, or comments? Feel free to reach out to me on my Twitter @FFMilkman or leave a comment!
You’ll find it pretty much everywhere you look this offseason. The general consensus is that the top 6 players are as follows:
Anyway, those 6 are usually followed in some order by Mike Evans, A.J. Green, LeSean McCoy, maybe Melvin Gordon, maybe Devonta Freeman, and maybe Jordy Nelson, among a few others.
It’s hard to argue with the top 6. All of those guys are proven, whether it’s after one year (Zeke, kinda DJ) or after seven years (Antonio Brown). They all come with generally high floors and incredibly high ceilings.
There is one guy, however, who is being banished to the end of the first round, and I don’t like it.
LeSean “exiled by silly Chip Kelly” McCoy was an absolute stud last year, and he should be even better in 2017.
In 2016, McCoy recorded 1,267 yards and 13 rushing TDs to go along with 50 receptions for 356 yards and one more TD in the passing game. He started “slow” in 2016, recording only one 100-yard rushing game in his first four, but he saved fantasy owners by scoring four rushing TDs in that time frame. After that, he had six 100-yard rushing games but did put up a few duds due to injury. He had four games with 33 or less rushing yards, but scored TDs in two of them. In addition, one of those non-TD, sub-33 yard games was in Week 17, so fantasy owners don’t even care.
McCoy did all this with only two games over 20 carries.
Twelve running backs had over 1,000 rushing yards in 2016, and only two of them had less carries than McCoy’s 234 – Devonta Freeman at 227 and Mark Ingram at 205. Freeman finished with 188 less yards; Ingram finished with 224 less.
Beyond that, McCoy was incredibly efficient. Among the 27 RBs with over 150 carries, McCoy ranked first in yards per attempt (YPA) at 5.4.
Shady also finished 4th in rushing touchdowns with 13, while his then-teammate Mike Gillislee was tied for 11th with 8.
Side bar: Gillislee now plays for the New England Patriots.
So, McCoy scored 13 rushing TDs (14 total) in a season where he missed one game and recorded eight or less carries in three others (due to his constant desire to stress out his fantasy owners, probably). Pretty good, eh?
McCoy’s new offensive coordinator is Rick Dennison, who was the offensive coordinator for the Texans from 2010-2013 and for the Broncos from 2015-2016. Let’s check out his rushing production as well as McCoy’s since he’s been in Buffalo.
Aside from a few hiccup years (i.e. injured Arian Foster or horrid Broncos offensive line), Dennison has been either respectably productive or incredibly productive in the run game. Since McCoy’s arrival, the Bills have absolutely dominated the NFL’s rushing attack, though I must admit that having a capable backup RB as well as a running QB in Tyrod Taylor definitely help the overall numbers.
According to FantasyPros PPR ADP, McCoy is currently being drafted 8th behind Julio, Beckham, and Evans. Let’s poke some holes, shall we?
Julio Jones finished 2016 with 1,409 receiving yards (second in the NFL) and six touchdowns in only 14 games. For being a stud WR (and I’m not saying he isn’t), he was pretty inconsistent in 2016. Julio went over 100 yards seven times (including a 300-yard pillaging of the Panthers) and under 36 yards four times. He had three touchdowns in his first four games, then three touchdowns in the remaining ten. Eek. There were also seven games where he had five or less receptions.
Odell Beckham Jr. posted 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns, but only had four games over 100 yards. Beckham had eight games with five or less receptions. His teammate, Sterling Shepard, snagged eight touchdowns. Shepard is still there, plus Brandon Marshall is in town now. The thing that always gave Beckham the edge over Julio for me was the red-zone usage, but it’s looking a little crowded out in New York.
Mike Evans led the galaxy in targets in 2017, but when you dive in, there’s a little more than meets the eye. Evans had eight games with five or less receptions and four games over 100 yards. He added twelve touchdowns because he’s an actual giant. DeSean Jackson recently arrived in Tampa Bay, and he’s bound to take some targets as well as pull some attention away from Evans. In addition, the Bucs drafted TE O.J. Howard in the first round, and he’ll definitely garner some looks in the red-zone. Jameis Winston has been solid, but his 1.5:1 TD:INT ratio gives me pause (for reference, that number is 4.1:1 for Aaron Rodgers). Jameis wasn’t incredibly efficient in 2016, and if he takes a step back this season and spreads the ball out to his new weapons, it’s going to kill Evans.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the above guys, but I’d drift towards McCoy at the fifth pick. It’s not so much that I don’t like Jones, Beckham Jr., and Evans; it’s more of a draft strategy preference. Most people prefer to get a RB and WR in some order with their first two picks. I’d personally rather take McCoy in the first and then a guy like Dez Bryant or Michael Thomas in the second. If you take a receiver in the first, you’ll likely be looking at DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller, or Todd Gurley in the middle of the second as your RB. I’ve mentioned it before, but if you let the RBs go early, you’ll keep letting them go. The receivers in the early-mid rounds are immensely more attractive.
There you have it. McCoy at 5. Simple enough.
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Do you know who succeeds the most at fantasy drafts?
They have this uncanny ability to know exactly when players are going to be drafted, and it allows them to either let certain guys fall to them or go out and grab someone that might go earlier than expected.
When you're drafting on a web-based platform (i.e. ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, etc.), it actually puts you - a premier drafter - at a major advantage. Everyone is at the will of that particular site's rankings, whether consciously or subconsciously.
For example, at one point before fantasy drafts in 2016, Mark Ingram was ranked 8th (or so) overall on ESPN in PPR. I'm personally not a huge fan of Ingram - something that Sean Payton and I have in common - but at points approaching draft season I kept catching myself trying to justify reasons why Ingram was better than I thought initially, simply because there was a time in the offseason where I saw a big sexy 8 next to his name.
If you're aware of this and you can tune out that site's rankings, you can go ahead and scoop up all of the guys that your platform may have too low. Everyone else will be looking at the next 10 guys in their little scroll bar while you're down in the weeds scooping up a 149th ranked Marcus Mariota in the 10th round.
Donald, what are you getting at?
Okay, okay. I've been casually mock drafting lately, and there are a bunch of players whose ECR (Expert Consensus Ranking on FantasyPros) and ADP (Average Draft Position) just don't jive. The experts (myself included!) may have a guy going in the third round. Why is his ADP in the sixth?
Let's find out why.
Note: these are PPR rankings and ADP according to FantasyPros
Doug Baldwin - ECR: 19, ADP: 25 (-6), Donald's rank: 18
I was never the biggest fan of Doug Baldwin, mostly because the Seahawks offense used to revolve around Marshawn Lynch, and all of the receivers were completely hit or miss on a week-to-week basis. I avoided Baldwin in season-long leagues and DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) because I just never trusted him.
I'm kind of coming around now, as the Seahawks have realized that they have to throw now since their run blocking is horrid. Baldwin only had two games in 2017 with less than four receptions, and he's always good for a monster touchdown week at any given time.
I honestly just think people are stuck in the same mindset that I used to have: Seahawks receivers can't be trusted. Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are the only legitimate receiving weapons there now, and I think Russell Wilson realizes it.
Alshon Jeffery - ECR: 25, ADP: 36 (-11), Donald's rank: 28
This one is pretty easy to dissect. Fantasy analysts are spreading out Carson Wentz's targets, and Jeffery is getting the lion's share...and for good reason. He is clearly the most talented receiver on the Eagles and also one of three receivers on the roster that can actually catch a football (Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, definitely not Torrey Smith or Nelson Agholor).
Drafters are letting Jeffery fall a round or so because he's extremely fragile and can't seem to stay on the field. His last full season was in 2014, but if Wentz can utilize Jeffery - in the red-zone especially - the sky is the limit.
Travis Kelce - ECR: 28, ADP: 33 (-5), Donald's rank: 37
There are two things that most fantasy drafters don't like to do:
1) Draft TEs not-named-Rob-Gronkowski early
2) Draft Chiefs
Kelce was a beast in 2017, but I, and many other drafters apparently, am probably not going to be willing to pay a third-round price for him when I can still get guys like Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Marshawn Lynch, or even Sammy Watkins at that spot. If you are willing to pay for Kelce, however, there's a good chance you can grab him.
Leonard Fournette - ECR: 30, ADP: 22 (+8), Donald's rank: 23
I really wish I had a time machine.
I would LOVE to know what this ECR/ADP would look like had Ezekiel Elliott not been drafted early last year and subsequently gone on to snag the NFL rushing crown. If Zeke disappointed, I bet Fournette's ADP would be down four or five rounds.
Regardless, he didn't and it isn't, and drafters are actually reaching for Fournette eight spots ahead of his ranking. Everyone knows Fournette was a lunatic in college, and we all expect him to be the focal point of the Jaguars offense after spending the fourth overall pick on him. Everyone is willing to pay a premium for a workhorse running back, and I don't blame them.
Brandin Cooks - ECR: 34, ADP: 24 (+10), Donald's rank: 16 (actually laughing out loud)
So go ahead and re-read what I said about Alshon Jeffery above. Analysts are projecting his production, and drafters are afraid of his injury so he drops.
The exact opposite is happening with Cooks.
Analysts are crunching the numbers and saying that there are way too many mouths to feed in New England, and there's no way he can exceed - and often times match - what he did the last two seasons in New Orleans.
Drafters as well as the author of this article don't care. He's a dynamic receiver that moved from an offense led by a 99.9% future Hall of Famer to a 200% future Hall of Famer, and we all want to cash in.
Update: yes, I'm still delusional...clearly.
Golden Tate - ECR: 38, ADP: 47 (-9), Donald's rank: 31
I love Golden Tate. Even after starting 2016 on a horrible note that had plenty of fantasy owners jumping ship, Tate still finished with 90 receptions and 1,077 yards. After week 5, Tate only had one game with less than 5 catches. I think Stafford has accepted that Tate is his number one option, and I can't wait to see that grow in 2017.
I'm assuming that drafters are discounting Tate because he's a slot guy and not a red-zone threat (only four TDs in 2016), which is understandable. I personally tend to draft for involvement in the offense and avoid trying to chase touchdowns, so that explains the difference.
Larry Fitzgerald - ECR: 41, ADP: 50 (-9), Donald's rank: 48
Would anyone like to guess who led the league in receptions in 2016?
Antonio Brown? Odell Beckham Jr.? Julian Edelman?
Nope. Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald did average only 9.6 yards per reception, which ranked 116th in the NFL in 2016. Regardless, in a PPR format, the guy who leads the league in catches will be valuable.
My issue with Fitz is his QB. I'm very concerned about Carson Palmer, as his TD:INT ratio dropped from 3.18 in 2015 to 1.86 in 2016, plus his yardage, completion percentage, and touchdowns all decreased. I'm worried that his regression is going to continue and Larry's production will suffer as a result.
Danny Woodhead - ECR: 52, ADP: 73 (-21), Donald's rank: 38
I've mentioned it plenty of times before, but I'm from Baltimore and get the pleasure of watching one of the most frustrating offenses on this side of the asteroid belt.
Joe Flacco checks down ALL THE TIME. If Woodhead stays healthy, I legitimately think he'll break the RB receiving record by like a million receptions. He's perpetually under-drafted and just fell into an offensive scheme that fits his skill set like a glove.
Tyreek Hill - ECR: 63, ADP: 43 (+20), Donald's rank: 80
Player A's rookie season: 61 receptions, 593 receiving yards, 9.7 yards per reception, 6 receiving touchdowns, 24 carries, 267 yards, 11.1 yards per carry, 3 rushing touchdowns
Player B's rookie season: 45 receptions, 469 receiving yards, 10.4 yards per reception, 4 receiving touchdowns, 12 carries, 158 yards, 13.2 yards per carry, 3 rushing touchdowns
Player A is Tyreek Hill. Player B is Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson followed up an explosive ending to his rookie season with a whopping 501 total yards and 2 touchdowns in his sophomore season. I can't help but draw comparisons to Tyreek Hill, as they were both late bloomers that flourished in the rushing, receiving, and return games. I'm on board that Hill is more explosive than Patterson, but these all-or-nothing players scare the hell out of me. I won't have any Tyreek Hill this year.
Doug Martin - ECR: 91, ADP: 64 (+27), Donald's rank: 94
Just wanted to take a second to remind everyone that Martin is suspended for three games and has been *ungood* over the past few seasons. He could absolutely be a steal, but I'm not spending a seventh rounder or earlier on him.
Adrian Peterson - ECR: 101, ADP: 68 (+33), Donald's rank: 60
As I mentioned previously, Sean Payton hates Mark Ingram. If Adrian Peterson stays healthy, I'd be willing to bet that he will win his owners plenty of championships. I don't think one can ignore how dominant he is when he's at his best, and he's now on a top five offense with Drew Brees at the helm. The Saints offense will be terrifying, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he lights the league on fire. Yes, I do have him ranked higher than Ingram (81).
At his current ADP of 68, a lot of your team is probably settled. In a 10-team league, I'd probably have 2 RBs, 3 WRs, and a TE by the time I can consider AP. That's the part of the draft where you should start looking at upside, and it's hard to pass up one of the best running backs in NFL history, especially when he's sitting among the likes of Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Gillislee.
That's all for now. I'll probably do this again as drafts get closer and the ADPs get refined, so don't hesitate to reach out if you're looking for a write-up on an intriguing player.
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I've written previously about how it's going to be very easy to disregard the running back position early in drafts in 2017. The way I see it, there are three excellent guys at the top (David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott - in whatever order), followed by a guy in a tier by himself in LeSean McCoy, then two pretty solid, high-ceiling guys in Devonta Freeman and Melvin Gordon.
After that, look out.
Unlike the last few years, it's going to be very easy to get a top-flight wide receiver in the first round. First round wide receiver Average Draft Positions (ADPs) according to FantasyPros are as follows:
Antonio Brown - 4th overall
Julio Jones - 5th
Odell Beckham Jr. - 6th
Mike Evans - 8th
A.J. Green - 9th
There's a decent chance that you'll end up with a wide receiver in the first round, and a very good one at that. In a world where people may think they need a running back on the way back in the second or maybe even the third, we need to know what we're working with. And, again, I would recommend that you address that position early.
In a 10-team league, there are seven running backs between Devonta Freeman (RB6, 11th overall) and the end of the third round. Let's take a quick look.
DeMarco Murray - ADP: RB7, 13th overall; Donald's rank: RB7, 14th overall
Murray surprised many last year, as his dominant days from Dallas seemed to resurface in his first season in Tennessee. In 2017 between he and Derrick Henry, Murray had 73% of the total carries and 9 out of the 14 total touchdowns scored between the two. There is still plenty of concern that that 73-27 split is going to drift closer to 60-40 as a result of the desire to work the 22-year-old Henry and take some of the load off of the 29-year-old Murray.
Jordan Howard - ADP: RB8; 15th overall; Donald's rank: RB9; 18th overall
You've probably heard by now that Howard quietly had the second-most rushing yards in the NFL in 2016, and he didn't even start until Week 4. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and only had two games that he started in which he failed to reach 77 rushing yards. Howard clearly has the ability and seems to be easily the most talented person on that offense. I am very concerned, however, that defenses will hone in on him and the Bears will drift away from the running game since they'll be down a lot, probably.
Jay Ajayi - ADP: RB9; 17th overall; Donald's rank: RB8; 17th overall
Ajayi is a very polarizing player heading into 2017. In 2016, Ajayi's yardage numbers were either 111, 204, 206, 214, or less than 80. He averaged 4.9 per carry, but again those numbers are inflated from the big games when he may as well have become the chancellor of Buffalo - twice. Ultimately, Ajayi should be a workhorse running back in an improved offense (don't we say that every year about the Dolphins?), but I'm a little hesitant considering the drastic inconsistencies.
Marshawn Lynch - ADP: RB10, 19th overall; Donald's rank: RB10; 21st overall
He's back. According to ProFootballFocus, the Raiders had the fourth-best offensive line in 2016, and Derek Carr's continued emergence can only help to keep defenses on their toes. We know the story with Lynch: he's a beast, he's a touchdown specialist, and he's - eh - maybe a little fragile. Ultimately no one knows if the year off helps or hurts him, but there's only one way to tell. If Lynch turns into himself from 2012, I wouldn't be surprised.
Todd Gurley - ADP: RB11; 20th overall; Donald's rank: RB13; 27th overall
Lettuce (see what I did there?) not forget that we're only a year removed from drafting Gurley as an early first rounder and claiming he was the next Adrian Peterson.
I'm very concerned about exactly what happened last year. Defenses will try to shut him down, and the Rams won't be able to pass to keep them honest, and he'll average 3.2 yards per carry on like 16 carries and everyone will be sad. I hope the arrival of Sean McVay's offensive prowess helps the passing game and gets Gurley justttttt a little bit of space.
Leonard Fournette - ADP: RB12; 23rd overall; Donald's rank: RB11; 23rd overall
I wish I could see what this ADP would look like had Zeke not lit the world on fire last season.
Fournette was drafted to be the focal point of this offense, and plenty of people think that will be the case. The Jags leading rusher in 2016 was T.J. Yeldon with a whopping 465 yards, followed by Chris Ivory at 439; both averaged less than 4 yards per carry.
At a minimum, Fournette should be a workhorse, and there's only a handful of those in fantasy football. Hopefully Jacksonville can keep games close so they can feed Mr. Fivenette.
Lamar Miller - ADP: RB13; 26th overall; Donald's rank: RB12; 26th overall
Ultimately the entire Texans offense was very odd (bad) in 2016. They've now upgraded? from Brock Osweiler to Tom Savage, so time will tell if Miller can get back to the explosiveness we saw in 2015 and, to be fair, glimpses of in 2016. Miller only had three games over 100 rushing yards, and two of them were against the Colts. Another area of concern is that Miller only recorded 31 catches for 188 yards in 2016 - down from 47 for 397 in his last year in Miami. If this offense gets rolling, Miller may be great, but I can't really see myself paying this price for a guy with Tom Savage as his quarterback.
If I had to categorize them:
High floor: Fournette, Miller
High ceiling: Lynch, Ajayi
Scared about game flow: Howard, Gurley
Should be fine but I'm still kinda nervous: Murray, Ajayi, Howard
If you're a fan of mystery: Lynch, Fournette
Would make me sad if I drafted them: Gurley, Miller
Could make an argument that he has a feminine name: Gurley
In the end, there are plenty of question marks with all of these guys, whether it's their job security, their physical shape, or just their team in general. Keep in mind that if you already have or plan on getting a safe RB (McCoy, Gordon, even someone later like Isaiah Crowell), you can take a chance on someone like Lynch. If you want to roll the dice with someone like Joe Mixon or Ameer Abdullah later, you may want to drift towards a safety net like Miller.
A bunch of these guys will win you championships. A bunch will win you something like a cup of tap water. Here's to hoping we get the right ones.
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Football is back people!
Well not completely, but the draft is over, teams have started OTAs, and we are getting our first glimpse of how every team’s roster is shaping up. It is still way too early to know exactly what every team has planned, but at this point we can definitely get a great idea of what everyone is thinking. There are only two months until the preseason starts and I for one am extremely excited!
The lead writer for Fantasy Fusion, Donald Gibson, already has his initial rankings up and they are awesome!
...for the most part.
You will not find two fantasy analysts out there that have the same exact rankings. so there are bound to be discrepancies. In this article, you will find some players that Donald is simply not getting right.
These will reference Donald's half-PPR rankings. Updated rankings are always found here or on FantasyPros.
Devonta Freeman- RB4
Don’t get me wrong, I think that Freeman is an excellent running back and should have a solid year. He has proven that he belongs in the top-tier of running backs after his non-PPR RB6 finish last season.
The Falcons also had an amazing year on offense but lost their offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. Under Shanahan, Matt Ryan and the rest of the offense thrived and put up huge numbers. I just do not see how the Falcons can replicate the offense they had last year, so I expect a substantial amount of regression out of the Atlanta offense.
Tevin Coleman missed three games in 2016 and still had a very good season. Coleman has a ton of talent and you can tell that the Falcons want him on the field. If anything, Coleman should be getting increased touches this year. I expect to see more of a shared workload between these two backs.
If there is any kind of regression in the Atlanta offense, it is likely to come directly from Freeman. Right now, Donald has him as the number 4 overall running back. I would prefer drafting other running backs like LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, DeMarco Murray, and Jordan Howard over Freeman.
Keenan Allen- WR11
Look, Allen has the potential to be an outstanding player for you fantasy team. I get it. When he has played, Allen has been a pass-catching machine. We must also realize that he has played a total of nine games the last two seasons. I think it is fair to officially label Allen as “injury prone.”
Take a look at the other pass catchers that are on the Chargers roster. Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin and Hunter Henry all put up respectable numbers last season. Tyrell Williams actually was a borderline top 20 wide receiver. The Chargers also just used the 7th overall pick on another wide receiver: Mike Williams!
There are just so many mouths to feed in this offense.
Allen could pay off in a huge way, but with my second or early third round pick I will be avoiding the kind of risk that could put my entire fantasy season in jeopardy. Donald has him ranked as his number 11 overall wide receiver. That is way too much of a gamble for me, especially when I look at the names behind him such as Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, Alshon Jeffery, Sammy Watkins, and Demaryius Thomas.
Mike Gillislee - RB23
Patriots running backs are scary! How do you like that science?
Golden Tate - WR15
Just a bit too early for me buddy.
Davante Adams - WR21
Is he a one year wonder? Are his touchdowns fluky?
Frank Gore- RB37
I know I know, a lot of people out there are going to see the name “Frank Gore” and think to themselves, “hasn’t he retired yet?" He’s 34 years old now, he plays for a team that isn’t known for running the ball, and they just drafted a running back (Marlon Mack) in the fourth round. It seems like everyone is ready to throw in the towel and say that Gore is washed up.
Having said that, I will probably end up having a lot of Gore on my fantasy teams this year. Now, am I saying that I want him as my number 1 running back? No.
Am I saying that he is just about as reliable as they come? Yes!
Every single year he produces, and it just seems like age isn’t a factor with this guy. He has finished under 1,000 rushing yards only three times in his entire career and he was a top-15 running back last year. He also plays in a very high-powered offense that will be on the field a lot, which will lead to more opportunities for him. Marlon Mack is more a pick for the future, and he should learn a lot playing under Frank Gore.
Right now Donald has him ranked has the number 37 overall running back. That probably puts his draft position somewhere in the 9th or 10th round. At that point Gore is a steal and a great security blanket, especially if you made some risky picks early on. I would prefer to have Gore over other running backs ranked ahead of him like Jeremy Hill, Latavius Murray, Theo Riddick, Samaje Perine, and Rob Kelley.
Michael Crabtree- WR27
There are certain players that get disrespected by the fantasy football community every year but still always out-produce their average draft position. Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker and Frank Gore ring any bells?
Whether it’s because of age or other factors, these guys just can’t catch a break. We can definitely put Crabtree in that category. He has finished as a top 15 wide receiver each of the past two seasons. Donald has Crabtree ranked as his number 27 overall wide receiver, and I would gladly take him at that position.
Last year everyone assumed that Amari Cooper would take over and become the true #1 receiver for Oakland.
...that didn't happen.
Crabtree is Derek Carr’s safety blanket, especially in the red zone. Look, if I had the choice of taking Cooper or Crabtree at the same price, I would take Cooper without much hesitation. Cooper has a ton of potential and could truly explode this year, but their Average Draft Position (ADP) is the key.
Cooper will probably be going somewhere in the second round, while you can get Crabtree in the 5th round or later! Last year Crabtree had 89 catches, 1003 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. Cooper had 83 catches, 1153 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. Hmmm those stats seem pretty close to me, in fact I would say that Crabtree had a better season.
Give me the guy that is going 3-4 rounds later with the talent to produce top-15 wide receiver numbers. Either way, the Raiders look primed to have a fantastic season this year. I am buying in on Crabtree over guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Stefon Diggs, Pierre Garcon, Jarvis Landry, and Davante Adams.
Donte Moncrief - WR52
The #2 WR on a high power offensive; could easily be a top 20 fantasy WR
Breshad Perriman - WR58
3rd year WR; could be #1 option on Ravens; a lot of potential
Be sure to follow FantasyFusion on Twitter and hopefully Josh some time in the near future!
So! It's almost June, which means it's almost July, which means it's almost August, which means it's time for fantasy drafts.
FantasyFusion will be welcoming a couple new writers this season, so keep an eye out for a bunch of quality content that will be ready to be consumed by your eyeballs.
Anyway, I figured I'd take a look at some early thoughts around draft strategy for the 2017 season. The way I look at it, there are three main points, and honestly they're the three main points I used last year.
1) Don't ignore the running backs
Last offseason, I was adamant about getting your running backs early. I got in countless arguments with readers, friends, and enemies alike about how they thought the "Zero RB" strategy was perfect I was an idiot and yadda yadda yadda.
I didn't listen.
And I don't plan to this year either.
The pendulum has definitely begun to swing back towards running backs, as seemingly every analyst - myself included - has David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott in some order as their top three players off the board. Some may have a receiver in there, but regardless, it's RB-heavy at the top.
If you don't have the luxury of getting one of the above guys, you can still get someone like LeSean McCoy. After him, there are a lot of uncertainties and situations that could blow up in your face.
Will Derrick Henry begin to steal a substantial amount of work from DeMarco Murray? Was Melvin Gordon's breakout legit? Was Jay Ajayi's breakout legit? Was Jordan Howard's breakout legit?
Do you see where I'm going here? The concerns don't end there, either. And let's be clear, I love the potential of some of these guys, but we would be silly to ignore the concerns and uncertainty.
Let's say you pick fourth overall (10 team PPR) and you end up with Antonio Brown in the first. On the way back at 17th overall, according to FantasyPros ADP, you'll be looking at Jay Ajayi, Dez Bryant, Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins, and Rob Gronkowski.
I don't know about you, but Dez and Gronk look much better to me than Ajayi or Gurley. We take Gronk.
At 24th, we're looking at Brandin Cooks (insert devil-face emoji), Doug Baldwin, Leonard Fournette, Allen Robinson, Aaron Rodgers, and Keenan Allen. Again, all of the receivers look more attractive except maybe (definitely) Robinson. I am (obviously) taking Brandin Cooks, but I'm sure plenty would rather have Rodgers or Allen. Let's take Cooks just so I can be happy for once.
So now, our roster is AB, Gronk, and Cooks. Two WRs and one TE. I love the quality...for now.
The RBs left at 37th overall and forward are: Spencer Ware, Christian McCaffrey, Tevin Coleman, C.J. Anderson, Mark Ingram, Joe Mixon, Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery, and Bilal Powell. I look like the damn Riddler out here with all these question marks.
We got sucked in by the allure of AB, Gronk, and Cooks and thought we could get a quality RB in the fourth. Trust me, I like these guys as RB2s and Flex guys and they may very well end up being incredible, but if I'm forced to start two of them, I'll be feeling very queasy and in need of some Pepto by round six.
Running back gets ugly very quickly. Don't fall into the trap of passing them up for the sexy wide receiver. Which leads me to...
2) Receiver is crazy deep
Just like every other season, you can get some high-quality receivers deep in the draft. Like really deep.
Don't believe me? Check out these post-fourth-round ADPs:
Michael Crabtree: 44th
Julian Edelman: 47th
Golden Tate: 49th
Larry Fitzgerald: 53rd
Stefon Diggs: 59th
Kelvin Benjamin: 63rd
All of these guys except Crabtree are the WR1 on their respective teams, and plenty of people would argue that Crabtree > Amari Cooper, especially considering the price difference.
I'd be much more comfortable taking these guys as my WR2 instead of having to start a RB that may not even be first on the depth chart.
In addition, here are the ADPs of by-team-WR1s (on stinky offenses, obviously):
Corey Davis (maybe?): 75th
Corey Coleman: 84th
Eric Decker: 88th
Pierre Garcon: 92nd
Cameron Meredith: 94th
Mike Wallace: 112th
Jeremy Maclin (kind of): 115th
Robert Woods: 190th
3) Don't pay for the QBs
Again, this is a season-to-season strategy that most analysts will preach.
You don't need to use a third-round pick on Aaron Rodgers when you can use a 10th on Jameis Winston, an 11th on Kirk Cousins, or a 12th on Matthew Stafford. I fully believe that they won't do as well as Rodgers overall, but the difference will probably be 4-6 fantasy points per game, and you can use that third round pick on Brandin Cooks instead! How exciting!
In all seriousness, the first couple rounds are crucial, and I'd much rather focus on loading up at the scarce positions than taking a QB that I can almost replicate seven rounds later.
4) BONUS! Check FantasyFusion for all of your draft needs
We at FantasyFusion are always happy to help out our readers, so come by often and don't hesitate to reach out to us @DonaldGibsonFF @FFMilkman @FantasyFusionFF on Twitter with anything, anything at all.
Also, updated rankings are always located here!
Hey you beautiful people.
FantasyFusion has been on somewhat of a hiatus during the offseason. Simply put, there isn't a ton going on, and it's hard for my to justify writing about a ton of stuff that could change at any moment.
For example, I could have written 87,000 words about how DeAndre Washington was going to be the breakout star of 2017. Then, the Raiders agree to terms with Marshawn Lynch, and I could have used those 87,000 words on Brandin Cooks instead (insert heart eye emoji) (insert big dumb smiley face emoji) (insert fire emoji).
I've been pretty intrigued thus far about where certain guys are being ranked. Keep in mind that it's way too early to fully gauge a player's average draft position (ADP), nor has the draft happened yet. As we get closer, we should be able to drill down where certain guys will be going, but exploring some trends can't hurt, right?
The spots that I will be referencing are PPR rankings courtesy of FantasyPros, which is where you can always find my updated rankings along with those from many others. You know, the smarter people than me.
Jordan Howard - 12th overall, RB7
Jordan Howard is the first guy that you see then subsequently rub your eyes and make sure 1) your vision is okay and 2) the website that you're viewing is in English and not Swahili.
Howard was quietly second in the NFL in rushing yards in 2016, and that in itself demands plenty of respect. At this point, he's clearly the focal point of the Bears offense, as Mike Glennon and Cameron Meredith have plenty of question marks to say the least. My rankings have Howard at RB9 and 17th overall, so I'm pretty close to the consensus here. Regardless, he seems like a guy that you can justify ranking there, but when draft time rolls around, he'll slide a bit.
Michael Thomas - 15th overall, WR8
I've already heard plenty of comparisons of Thomas to Allen Robinson in 2016. Robinson generally went right around 15th overall, and that's where Thomas should go. Both Thomas and Robinson are 6'3" and coming off breakout seasons where their touchdown totals were higher than anyone anticipated. We know the story with Robinson - yes I'm talking to you Mr. Sir in the corner who's still crying about it.
I don't see a similar result with Thomas. There are a healthy amount of targets to go around with the departure of Brandin Cooks, not to mention another year of rapport and development with a quarterback who absolutely slings it. I also have him at WR8.
Keenan Allen - 26th overall, WR14
I actually have Allen notably higher than this: 18th overall and WR9. The appeal with Allen is allllllllllll volume. If he can stay healthy, he will absolutely eat - something like DeAndre Hopkins in 2015 and Mike Evans in 2016. Are you willing to take a risk on that ACL, though?
Travis Kelce - 32nd overall, TE2
Well, well, well. It looks like Kelce is finally getting some respect. After erupting in 2016 (and almost costing me a championship, ahem), Kelce finds himself slotted in as TE2. I'm generally a guy that waits on tight ends. I'm behind Kelce being the TE2, but I think the overall price is too high, as that would be an early fourth rounder in a 10-team league. I have him at 41st overall, and also TE2.
Robert Kelley - 51st overall, RB18
I actually have Kelley at 33rd overall and RB14. Simply put, I believe. Kelley ripped the job away from Matt Jones last year and never looked back. I loved his running style when actually watching him play, and the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson - despite the arrival of Terrelle Pryor - should tip the scales in Kelley's favor, at least a tad.
Jamison Crowder - 56th overall, WR27
Same situation here: I have Crowder much higher than the consensus. He's my WR20 and 37th overall player. The two best Redskins receivers in terms of yardage are gone, and someone has to take that spot. I think it's Crowder before Pryor or Jordan Reed. He'll be gold in PPR.
Danny Woodhead - 66th overall, RB24
Okay. I think I've been pretty clear about the fact that I'm a Ravens fan, and I live in Baltimore. Watching Ravens games, however, is insufferable. The one main thing that makes my blood boil is watching Joe Flacco throw a two-yard dump-off on 3rd and 9 - and that happened about 500 times last year (at least it felt that way).
He. Throws. So. Many. Dump. Off. Passes.
Danny Woodhead may break the RB receiving record this year. He's always underdrafted, so he'll be a massive value if he can stay healthy. I have him 49th overall and RB18.
Kelvin Benjamin - 71st overall, WR32
I won't have any shares of Benjamin on my team in 2017. He was a major fantasy disappointment in 2016, and I need to see a year of productivity with a healthy Cam Newton for me to get anywhere near him. I have him at 104th overall.
Tyrell Williams - 104th overall, WR42
I think Williams is being vastly underdrafted. He went for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016, not to mention he's 6'4" and a matchup nightmare. Even if Keenan Allen is healthy, Williams will be involved, especially in the redzone. He's 83rd overall and WR36 for me, and that's probably going to creep up throughout the offseason.
Adrian Peterson - 112th overall, RB40 and Jamaal Charles - 119th overall, RB43
Carson Wentz - 134th overall, QB19
I liked what I saw from Wentz last year, and now he has actually has some weapons, headlined by the addition of Alshon Jeffery. Wentz is my QB14, and he may be the guy I'm targeting if I decide to go late QB.
That's all I have at this point. The NFL draft is a mere 12 days away, so keep an eye out for some draft takes on Twitter @DonaldGibsonFF or, more than likely, an upcoming draft article.
Start preparing now. Football season will be here before you know it.
Not often in life do we see a team so eager to part with the man who invented fire, put men on the moon, and invented the smallpox vaccine.
That man, of course, is Brandin Cooks.
The Saints sent Cooks to New England among a swapping of picks on Friday. As the unofficial president of the Brandin Cooks fan club, and therefore the whipping post when he gets zero catches in a 49-point rout of the Rams, I felt it necessary to elaborate on the ripple effects of this offseason's first blockbuster trade.
Let's start with Cooks. I'd say that the Saints passing attack is the best in the NFL, so leaving that environment obviously hurts. He does, however, move to New England which very well may be the second-best passing attack. Tom Brady has a rapport with the guys already there, but I expect Cooks to be a crucial part of that offense. Bill Belichick is a fan as well, which clearly can't hurt.
I bumped Cooks down from WR8 to WR10 following the trade. He's probably going to end up on all my teams (as usual) because I imagine most analysts will have him in the 15-20 range. Cooks may see a tiny dip in his stats, but he'll still be strong.
I don't think it hurts Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, or the running backs too much. It will probably cap the upside of Malcolm Mitchell and/or Chris Hogan, however. Tom Brady is now my QB2, jumping in front of Drew Brees - a man who just lost his best player who also happens to be the future chancellor of the universe.
As for the Saints side, Michael Thomas is now up to WR8, and there's a chance he'll keep moving up. Willie Snead is up to WR35, and that's only going to increase throughout the offseason.
Don't ask me about Ted Ginn, Jr.
Updated rankings can be found here.
Ultimately, I don't see a huge change in production for Cooks. Hopefully New England utilizes him at the line of scrimmage and in shorter routes as opposed to the "clear out" style that New Orleans tended to use, which was the leading cause of Cooks's frustration.
Cooks moved from an efficient passing offense that spreads the ball around to an efficient passing offense that spreads the ball around. It's really that simple. All this trade does is prevent me from buying a Cooks jersey. A Patriots jersey will never rest upon my shoulders...not even if it represents the savior of humanity.
More to come on this front - I guarantee it.