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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