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!