What We Learned: Week 12
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
So About Last Week...
Remember when I said it was clear Gibson is the workhorse in this offense? Yeah.. Looks like I may have jumped the gun on that one. In week two, it was McKissic who led the backfield in receptions, targets, and fantasy points. The most concerning thing to see for Gibson owners was McKissic getting the only goal line carry of the game, argh, and also played every snap during WFT’s 2 minute drill at the end of the game. Of the two, Gibson is clearly the more efficient runner between the tackles and is going to receive most of the carries every week, but McKissic is simply too good of a player not to have a role on this offense. It is no fluke he was the most targeted RB in 2020.
Part of me wants to believe this was just a way of managing Gibson's workload on a short week, after all he did have 20 carries just four days prior. McKissic was fresh by comparison. The thing about this backfield rotation is: it works. It’s good for the team so, if it ain’t broke, I’m all of a sudden not so sure it needs fixing, so to speak. Looks like we’re gonna have to pump the breaks on Gibson’s workhorse season for now, at least until his receiving usage becomes more of a focal point.
Don't Panic on Herbert
An average of 14 PPG is not what fantasy owners were expecting when they drafted Herbert as their QB1. His fantasy totals, however, have been misleading thus far. Herbert and the Chargers have been on the receiving end of a few unfortunate penalties/bad calls in weeks one and two. We all saw that “fumble” in week one. I mean, come on. That’s a -2 Herbert did not deserve.
He had two passing TDs called back in week two because of penalties. One of those revoked TDs led to an INT soon after. That is a 6-point swing in the wrong direction. But it is not an accurate reflection of how good Herbert has played. At one point on Sunday, he had 16 consecutive completions. He has now thrown for 330+ yards and a TD in both games. He’s playing good football. He just happens to have had some bad luck to begin the season. I think he is going to be fine moving forward. Now would be a great time to buy low if the Herbert owner in your league is panicked. If you are the Herbert owner in your league, fear not friend. Better days are ahead.
Marvin Jones: WR to Own in Jacksonville
Last week DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones all seemed to get an equal piece of the pie. But in week two it was Marvin Jones who seemed to separate from the rest. He looked every bit the part of a security blanket who will be leaned on heavily by his rookie QB, finishing with six catches for 55 yards and a TD on 11 targets. In week two, during a game the Jags struggled to move the ball, Jones accounted for roughly 47 percent of Trevor Lawrence’s passing yards. Through two games he has enjoyed a 24 percent target share, A TD in each game, and an average of 18.1 PPG. He’s played 91 percent of snaps so far, more than Chark and Shenault in both games.
Now, I’m not saying he’s going to be a sure-fire weekly play, but similar to Brandin Cooks, he is the top receiving weapon on a team with a bad defense that will likely be throwing the ball a lot this season. He could quickly enter the WR3 conversation. After all, we have seen the veteran WR deliver some solid fantasy campaigns in the past.
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Jameis Revival Incoming?
I can’t lie, that Lasik eye surgery worked wonders. That makes two eye tests Jameis passed as of Sunday. He looked polished with an impressive five TD passes and no turnovers. His weapons, aside from Kamara, are a bit suspect so I don’t want to get too carried away here. But don’t forget, he’s just two years removed from finishing as the QB4 in fantasy. He is QB3 as of now.
Don’t be surprised if Juwan Johnson becomes a thing as well. There is precedent of converted receivers making for good TEs. There is also precedent of Jameis making use of his TEs in the red zone, just saying.
Antonio Gibson Workhorse Season
Based on the final fantasy point total, you would think it was a quiet day for Gibson, but what I saw was encouraging. In week one, he picked up 108 total yards on 23 touches (3 rec on 5 targets). McKissic eating into his workload and his low snap percentage have always been the main concerns for Gibson throughout the offseason, but McKissic picked up eight yards on just one touch and was only targeted once. No other Washington RB touched the ball more than twice on Sunday.
Gibson played 70% of snaps in week one, and continued to be fed even after fumbling the football. He is clearly trusted by the coaching staff and is, in my eyes, filling the workhorse role. Moving forward, I expect to see more of the same (hopefully with some more TDs sprinkled in).
Promising Lions Backfield
Before kickoff on Sunday it was announced Jamaal Williams would start and “carry the load” for the Lions. Well, even with the Lions actively trying to limit D’Andre Swift’s workload, he couldn’t be contained. He still managed to lead the backfield in carries, and pick up eight receptions on 11 targets for 65 yards and a TD. Jamaal Williams was also very productive, taking his 17 touches (8 receptions on 9 targets) for 110 total yards and a TD. And this was supposed to be a tough matchup.
I can see a scenario where Swift and Williams are both heavily involved and provide standalone value each week. I mean, Anthony Lynn is their OC so I guess we already saw that coming. Any concerns about them capping each others ceilings should be eased. Swift projects as a mid to high-end RB2 while Jamaal Williams looks like he’ll be one of the best RB3/flex options you could ask for.
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It’s the eighth round of a 12-team (PPR) draft. You’re on the clock.
Who would you rather have? Former undisputed fantasy WR1, and recent favorite target of Tom Brady, Antonio Brown… Or unproven Jets rookie RB (likely to split touches with Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson) Michael Carter?
It seems like an easy decision. But often times, it’s not that simple.
Let’s say, for the sake of this exercise, you’ve already drafted a QB, TE, two RBs and three WRs. Or maybe one anchor RB, and four WRs.. You wanted to secure that high-upside QB & TE, and you did. BUT.. you passed on starting RBs like Myles Gaskin, Mike Davis and Gus Edwards to do so.
Now, it’s round 8 and you need an RB2 or RB3. Unfortunately there are no RBs left that aren’t second-string or stuck in a committee. Well crap. How did we get here?
This seems like a problem many people have been running into when drafting their teams this season, especially in 12-team leagues. With season ending injuries to players like Travis Etienne, JK Dobbins, and Cam Akers, the mid-round, high-upside RB pool has thinned out more than usual. Most times, you're going to end up with a sketchy RB3 you don't have much trust in.
So, how do we solve this problem? My answer: go RB-heavy early on.
Take the two players listed above for example. You’ve made it to round eight in a 12-team league. Trust me when I say, you’d MUCH rather be looking for a WR at this point than an RB.
RBs available in 8th round range (84-96 overall):
Michael Carter, Sony Michel, AJ Dillon, Zach Moss, James Conner
All are players that are either a second option on their team, or are stuck in a timeshare/committee and are FAR from a safe bet. On the other hand..
Some WRs available in same range:
Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry, Corey Davis, Will Fuller, Marquez Callaway
All of these players are not only likely to score more consistent weekly points than the RBs listed above, they all offer LEAGUE WINNING UPSIDE !!!
But if you wont take it from me, how about from Matthew Berry? In the TMR’s ‘7 habits of highly effective drafters’ article, he lists understanding position depth as a key to being an effective drafter. He details the difference in fantasy points between a top-20 RB and a top-20 WR, and how over the last decade numbers have proven you’re MUCH more likely to find a WR1 in the WR2 pool than vice versa with RBs. I would highly recommend checking it out as he puts it much better than I could. I’ll post a link to it below.
In essence, Berry tells that the average drop-off in points among RB2s and WR2s is, on average, a nearly a 20 percent difference. Long story short: WR is always deep, QB is usually pretty deep, RB hardly ever is, and is the last position you want to wait on.
The solution, in my opinion, is to grab as many top-30 RB's as you can before it is too late. Trust me when I say, you can wait on WRs. There are plenty of trustworthy options with a clear path to fantasy-friendly usage in rounds 6-10. The same can't be said of RB's.
Now, am I recommending you pass on Tyreek Hill in the second round to draft D'Andre Swift? Absolutely not. I'm not suggesting you grab someone you know is going to score less points than the player you want. I'm simply suggesting you bolster depth at a position where depth is hard to come by.
The fact is, fantasy WRs literally grow on trees. It happens every year. Take Travis Fulgham last season for example. Did he get drafted on fantasy teams last season? No he did not. Did he have a stretch of games where he basically put up low-end WR1, high-end WR2 numbers? He absolutely did.
How about QB/TE? If you want to grab your TE/QB early, my advice is to pick one, and punt the other.
As for TE, If you can secure Kelce, Waller, Kittle, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, TJ Hockenson I certainly wouldn't blame you for taking that route. But if you miss on those guys, you don't have to feel like it's time to panic and reach. There are plenty of intriguing, albeit less safe, options going later like, for example, Logan Thomas (ADP: 96th overall, finished last season as TE3 in total points, undrafted ADP in 2020). RBs available in that range listed above.
As for QB, the minimum requirement for a good fantasy QB is a lot more lenient than any other position. Sure, it is nice to have a solid bet for elite production like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, etc. But you don't always have to spend one of your top-five/six picks to get that. Ryan Tannehill was/is a fine late-round option that scores consistent points and offers elite upside, and can normally be drafted AFTER you have 4WRs/4RBs and a TE. Last season, Josh Allen's ADP was QB10, Aaron Rodgers was QB13! How outrageous does that sound knowing how they performed?
My point is, it's fine to grab an elite option at either QB or TE early on, but if you grab both, your depth (at least for one position) will often suffer as a result.
Hopefully the position it doesn't suffer is your RB slot, because to overcome that, it'll be an uphill battle.
Photo courtesy of @TimsFantasyTips on Instagram
Antonio Brown and Michael Carter are going in the same range in fantasy football drafts this season. One clearly has more upside, so why is the decision so close? Read the enclosed article to find out!
Disclaimer: This list is not intended to make you reach on players, or avoid them altogether. It is simply a reflection of their current value and whether or not I believe they have an appropriate price tag. Players to target are either appropriately priced, or steals at their average draft position (ADP). Players to avoid are those I designate as overvalued or being drafted too early. A PPR format is assumed.
Now that we've gotten that riveting introduction out of the way, let's get down to business. Shall we?
1. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Let's just start with the resume:
In other words, he comes with the pedigree of a workhorse back. As we all know, the Steelers are no stranger to riding a workhorse. I caved and stole this stat from Matthew Berry to really drive this point home, but from 2013-2018 the Steelers lead back averaged 20 touches per game.
Add in Harris, a player who totaled two or more rushing scores in nine of 13 games last season and well, I'll take my chances with those 20 touches every week. With that kind of volume, he is talented enough to produce RB1 numbers.
The main argument against Harris seems to be the condition of his o-line (spoiler alert, not good). Personally, I’d be more worried about that if I didn’t see him as a true three-down back. But if you won’t take it from me, take it from Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert.
In July, Colbert stated he would be “disappointed” if Harris doesn’t turn out to be a three-down back.
He went on to say how they drafted him because they thought he could be a three-down back at the NFL level.
That is the expectation in Pittsburgh. It is now my expectation as well.
He is currently sitting at RB10 in my (PPR) rankings but even then, I may be too low. I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish top-seven. His ADP has him as a second-round pick at the moment, and I'm here to tell you that is just right. Depending on how you feel about Ekeler/Aaron Jones, I could even see him as a late first rounder.
2. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: I love Terry McLaurin. (I'm president of the fan club, in fact) I loved him playing with dollar store QBs, and I love him even more now that he'll be playing with the best QB he's ever had. At least, as far as his fantasy value is concerned.
To put things into perspective, the last three seasons Fitzpatrick has started at least 12 games, he's been responsible for a top-15 fantasy WR (PPR scoring). Another stolen stat from Matthew Berry, I'm killing it, I know. Jokes aside, here's the list of said beneficiaries:
If you combine all those players stats, their season averages under Fitzmagic would be: 86.7 receptions, 1,313 yards, 10.7 TDs, off 8.9 targets per game.
This is a match made in heaven for McLaurin, a player who averaged 19.3 PPG when targeted eight or more times last season.
Fitzpatrick has reached a point in his career where he's not afraid to let it rip, force throws in to coverage and give his receivers a chance. Let's be honest, what does he have to lose? One thing is for sure, when targeting Terry McScorin' that behavior is going to be rewarded.
Here are just a few accolades McLaurin has piled up since entering the league:
Simply put, McLaurin is a true WR1. His ceiling is very high this season, and I don't want to miss the boom.
(I've drafted three teams so far and he is on every one of them. So, my money is literally where my mouth is on this one.)
I have Terry as my WR8 at the moment, which means I'm more than comfortable with him as my WR1. He is an easy pick for me in the back half of the second round.
3. Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
This is kind of a low hanging fruit, if you ask me. Yet, others are not so convinced. Here's my reasoning:
Julio Jones is gone. The same player who hasn't seen less than 148 targets or 83 receptions in each of the last three seasons he played at least 14 games for the Falcons. (Hint: that work has to go somewhere)
Matt Ryan has proved capable of supporting multiple fantasy-relevant pass catchers in the past. Ex: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper, Mohammed Sanu... All of which have had success with one or the other present at the same time.
It wasn't too long ago that Austin Hooper finished back-to-back seasons as TE6 (TE3 in PPG in 2019) as Atlanta's TE. I'm not saying Pitts is a better player than Hooper (I'm also not saying the opposite), but on paper, he puts him to shame as an athlete.
"But rookie tight ends never have success right away," you say.
I’m not saying Pitts has 1,000 yards right out of the gate, but in order to finish as a top-tier fantasy TE he doesn't need to.
Mind you, Calvin Ridley had 800 yards and 10 TD's his rookie year. My point being: if you can play, Matty Ice is going to get you the ball. Granted, Pitts is not a receiver, but that should only work in his favor.
He’s simply too fast/athletic to be covered by a linebacker and too large to be covered by a DB in the red zone.
His nearly seven foot wingspan puts him in a class of his own. (83 3/8” is the longest of any wide receiver or tight end in the last 20 years). Not to mention a 6’6 frame and a 41-inch vertical jump (higher than Julio Jones) to utilize every bit of that reach.
Forget his basketball-type athleticism and 4.44 speed... Simply put, there are going to be some balls that he, and only he, can catch. The man is going to be a matchup nightmare and that’s just inevitable.
If he’s still there in the sixth-round, don't hesitate to hit that big green DRAFT button.
4. Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Two falcons in a row? I must be expecting them to be good this year, right?
Sorry Falcons fans, but no. I am not.
HOWEVER... I do think there will be plenty of fantasy value for an offense that should be playing a lot of catch up.
There is no starting RB being slept on as heavily as Mike Davis is this year. He currently has an ADP of 63rd overall (via FantasyPros). You can look all you want, but you wont find another bell-cow RB, basically guaranteed a full workload like Davis, in that range (sixth round).
We're talking about a player that caught five or more passes in SEVEN of his 12 games as a starter in Carolina last season (Alvin Kamara is the only other RB that had more in 2020) The same player whose FLOOR was 8.1 PPR points in 2020. The same player who scored a TD in every game he received at least 20 touches. He also happened to average 20.5 PPG in said games.
Now he joins Atlanta, filling the same role that saw Todd Gurley rush for nine TD's in his first nine games last season, and score less than 9.7 PPR points just once in that span.
Do me a favor... Just for this exercise, without Googling it, name Atlanta's backup RB. Kudos to you if you can, but I think it's safe to say most of us can't. Even if you could, so what? None are a threat to steal the job as far as I'm concerned.
New Falcons HC Arthur Smith was the Titans OC last season. If you didn't know, they finished 2020 with the third-highest run percentage in the league. I'm not saying Mike Davis is even close to the RB Derrick Henry is, but Smith certainly has some tendencies when it comes to play-calling.
Some more elite RB comparisons? I thought you'd never ask. Only Nick Chubb forced more missed tackles per carry than Davis. No RB forced more missed tackles than Davis in the receiving game.
I can do this all day. The list of reasons why Mike Davis should be a lock for fantasy production continues. The only part I'm having trouble with is finding concrete reasons why he wouldn't.
If anyone can make a compelling argument as to why he's currently a sixth round pick, I'd love to hear it. Until then, I'll be targeting him heavily thank you very much.
Now, do I think he holds this job all season/receives 20+ touches every single game? Not necessarily. But at his current price, you won't find any RB with the opportunity he will begin the season with.
High floor + high ceiling + opportunity + current ADP = (and I don't use this term lightly) bust-proof.
5. Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers
For this next exercise, choose your receiving core:
- Christian McCaffery, Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, AND first-round WR Terrance Marshall
- Jamison Crowder
Which one do you think gives you the best chance of success?
Of course, it's not that simple. But then again, maybe it is. Darnold goes from having nothing to work with in New York, an actual dumpster-fire of a coaching situation, to an up-and-coming Carolina offense with a, dare I say, elite receiving core. Arguably the best in the league...
Anderson, Moore and McCaffery have all finished with 1,000+ receiving yards within the last two seasons.
Darnold is going to be like a kid in a candy shop.
It's easy to point to his career numbers without looking beneath the surface and write him off as a bust. But keep in mind, he has just 38 career starts under his belt. That's less than three seasons worth of games. He's 24 YEARS OLD for crying out loud!
In my opinion, Darnold hasn't even scratched the surface of what he's capable of yet.
As of now, he's free. His FantasyPros ADP is 279th overall. In layman's terms: undrafted. You could take him with your last pick in the draft. Hell, you could just grab him off the waiver wire after the draft. And why not?
FantasyPros strength of schedule metric gives the Panthers the 11th easiest schedule among QB's this season.
Last season, Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater was QB10 in fantasy weeks 1-10 with the aforementioned receiving core (minus McCaffery... RIP my fantasy team). Teddy Two Gloves... A player who is now on his fifth NFL team, and was once Darnold's backup. And if Bridgewater can do it...
I'm not exactly suggesting you take Darnold as your QB1 in most redraft leagues, but I am planting my flag here saying I think he'll have a good year, better than most expect.
He's a fine QB2 target especially in superflex leagues. He is essentially risk-free at his current price. As of now, I can't justify putting him any higher than QB20 in my rankings, but I have a feeling he will certainly make a case to rise up the ranks in 2021.
LATE ROUND STEALS: Myles Gaskin (MIA), Tyler Boyd (CIN), Jerry Jeudy (DEN), Corey Davis (NYJ), Gerald Everett (SEA), Tua Tagovailoa (MIA), Marquez Callaway (NO)
1. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
This is tough because I like Jacobs as a player. I had a few shares of him last season and for the most part he was good to me. So it is with a heavy heart that I must make him the face of the AVOID section.
Unfortunately for Jacobs's fantasy prospects, the Raiders signed Kenyan Drake in the offseason. Say what you will about Drake (and I’ve definitely said some bad things about him in the past… he was on this list last year) but he’s a decent goal-line back.
Last season, Drake scored nine TD's on his 21 carries inside the five (42 percent) Among players with at least 15 carries inside the five, only Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry and Cam Newton were better. I’m not saying Jacobs can’t rush in the red zone, but there’s a reason they brought Drake in.
Part of that reason is Jacobs inefficiency on the goal-line. Last season, he scored on just five of his 18 carries inside the five yard-line (27 percent).
Enter Kenyan Drake, a player with no such problem. They pay him starting RB money ($11mil guaranteed). They use him a lot. He steals Josh Jacobs TDs and therefore fantasy points, decreasing Jacobs fantasy value. It's simple math.
Jacobs has shown he is a good RB, but the truth is he needs the volume if he's going to produce in fantasy.
In 2020, as the unquestioned lead-back, he had less than 20 touches in 10 of 15 games. He scored over 20 PPR Points just four times. Three of those games? You guessed it. He needed 20+ touches to get there.
I can't imagine his touches go up with Drake around. Especially in the redzone (where Jacobs scored nine of his 12 TDs in 2020).
After finishing with an inneficient 3.9 YPC and now undoubtedly facing more competition for reps than he was all of last year, I don't exactly trust Jacobs as anything more than a flex.
His current third-round ADP (27th overall via FantasyPros) is far too rich for me. I wouldn't even think about drafting him until the fifth round. Even then, I might pass.
2. Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants
Golladay makes his second annual appearance on the pre-season players to avoid list. Congrats Kenny.
Granted, last year I may have only been right because of his injury, but hey, a win is a win. Golladay goes from being the unquestioned WR1 in Detroit (22.1 percent target share), to WR1-A in a questionable Giants offense with significantly more mouths to feed.
In New York, he'll have to compete for touches with former-stud Evan Engram, target-hog Sterling Shepard, the very underrated Darius Slayton, off-season addition Kyle Rudolph, new first-round receiver Kadarius Toney... Oh, and Saquon Barkley who happens to enjoy catching the ball as well.
Competing for high-quality touches from Matthew Stafford, basically unimpeded, is one thing. Being forced to play with Daniel "Dimes" Jones and the over-crowded Giants offense is something else entirely.
Last season, Stafford was ninth in fantasy points per attempt and 11th in TD rate. Jones was bottom-six in both categories. It's safe to say that Golladay's quality of looks will decrease by a significant margin.
We've already addressed volume is a concern.
"But Golladay has made due with low volume in the past!" you scream.
Yes, his claim to fame has traditionally been his prowess as a deep threat. He's been able to make up for his lack of volume by racking up points on big plays. The issue with that is, only four teams threw less deep passes than the Giants last season. And it isn't as if they didn't have weapons to do so.
Surprisingly. for a team that was trailing a lot last season, the Giants finished 26th in total pass attempts.
If all this wasn't bad enough, Golladay's durability is also a huge concern as well. He has played a full 16 games just once in his four-year NFL career. He's already dealing with a leg injury and we haven't even started the season!
Currently, Golladay is being ranked somewhere in the WR24-28 range. That means he falls into the WR2 discussion. While I won't argue he has the talent to live up to those expectations, I personally view him as more of a risky WR3. You could take a flier, but a sixth-round pick (ADP: 66th overall via FantasyPros) feels like a steep price to me.
3. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
This is in no way a knock on Swift's talent. I actually think he's capable of being a three-down back. Apparently so do many others, as his ADP of 33rd overall (via FantasyPros) would indicate. But brother (or sister) that's just a price I'm not willing to pay.
Currently, he is being drafted/valued as a high-end RB2 with potential to enter the RB1 discussion. I believe he has RB1 potential as well (In fact, between you and me, he is the one player on the 'avoid' list I'm most concerned I'll be wrong about) but, as far as his usage goes, he's more likely to fall short of RB1 numbers than not.
I have him ranked as my RB18 for this season, so I'm slightly less bullish on Swift than most. I believe I have a few good reasons.
Reason number one: his efficiency (per touch) left a bit to be desired. His 4.57 YPC, 2.41 yards after contact per attempt, his 17 avoided tackles and his .15 avoided tackles per attempt all rank outside the top-20 for qualified RBs... In each category.
Reason number two: new Lions OC Anthony Lynn is notorious for maddening committee approaches when it comes to RBs. Just ask anyone who owned Melvin Gordon 2018-2019. Or Austin Ekeler last season... I mean, Joshua Kelley? Really?
If he's willing to feed Kelley as often as he did, imagine how he'll use Jamaal Williams. Williams strength as an RB has always been catching the ball, seemingly foreshadowing whats on the horizon for Swift. You guessed it: less third downs.
Williams is going to be involved more than any Swift owner is going to appreciate. Make no mistake, he's a capable back that's going to command a healthy share of the backfield touches, and no doubt vulture some of Swift's points.
Over the past two seasons, Williams averages 13.5 PPG when he receives 10 or more touches. That kind of productivity only makes his case for staying on the field stronger.
Reason number three: he has tough sledding ahead of him. FantasyPros strength of schedule metric pins the Lions with the second-hardest schedule for an RB in 2021.
Reason number four: he's hurt! There are concerns Swift may not even play week one! His apparent groin injury has sidelined him for most of training camp, and every preseason game so far.
Just the other day, Lions HC Dan Campbell said, "We don’t know if he’s gonna be there. We don’t know, even if he is, how much we’re going to get out of him.”
Campbell also went on to state his concern about Swift's conditioning after missing so much time.
That doesn't sound very encouraging to me. You'll have to forgive me if I'm not the most optimistic about his usage out of the gate.
Keep in mind, I'm not saying avoid Swift altogether. I do love his talent. He'll be playing for a team that's projected to be one of the worst in the league this season, so there will be garbage-time points. But at his current range (third round) I do believe there are safer bets for guaranteed production, and safer bets to actually start the season healthy.
I'm personally more comfortable with Swift as a late fourth-round/early fifth-round pick.
4. Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers
I like Tonyan a lot. I love that he gets to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. He's fun to root for. I'd let him date my sister if I had one. However, I wouldn't draft him on my fantasy football team this season.
At least, not while expecting him to duplicate his TD totals from a year ago that is.
Long story short: I don’t think he’s going to meet the lofty expectations many have for him after last season. But, allow me to elaborate.
In 2020, the man scored 11 touchdowns on 59 catches (roughly 19 percent). In essence that means he caught a TD about once every five catches. While impressive, that is almost certainly unsustainable.
Regression is imminent, to put it lightly.
Without the TDs, you may not like what you get. Tonyan had less than 50 yards in 12/16 games last season, and less than 40 in 10/16. In the seven games where he didn’t score, he averaged just 4.8 PPG.
Now, there’s no reason why Tonyan can’t make up for that TD regression with an increase in volume. Maybe he gets more catches/yards. Maybe. While it's certainly not out of the question for Rodgers to throw another 45+ TDs, it's also not exactly likely.
Without those extra TDs to go Tonyan's way, the PPG averages are going to dry up. And if/when they do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’m fine with Tonyan as a late round pick, when there’s eight or nine other TEs off the board. But please, and I mean PLEASE (I’m lookin at you guys who draft their entire starting roster, kicker and all, before drafting bench players) do yourself a favor, and don’t pass on league-winning upside/depth in the sixth round for the sake of securing a TE.
(Note: Tonyan's ADP is actually 100th overall via FantasyPros, making him a projected tenth-round pick. I am on board with him in this range. However I've already seen him go much higher in too many mock/actual drafts for me to condone, which is why I felt his inclusion was necessary.)
5. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
I understand there’s gonna be that one guy in your league who bought all the draft day hype and thinks because he's been touted as the greatest franchise QB prospect since Andrew Luck, Trevor Lawrence is going to be the second-coming of Jesus. And While he may look like Jesus, I’d stay away from him in fantasy year one.
Just because we were spoiled with Justin Herbert, half a season of Joe Burrow, and a little bit of Jalen Hurts in 2020, it doesn’t mean rookie QBs are guaranteed to produce. Most often they’re far from it.
Lawrence is joining an offense that was bottom-five in total yards per game, and bottom-three in total points scored. T-Law is primed to elevate said offense, but it's unlikely he remedies all their problems entirely.
Sure, he has decent weapons around him. DJ Chark is a former thousand-yard receiver, Marvin Jones is always handy. Laviska Shenault can be exciting.
If you ask me, the most trustworthy player on that offense is James Robinson. He's a good receiver, but he isn't going to do Lawrence's fantasy value any favors. At least not like Travis Etienne would have.
Although he hadn't played a down in the NFL yet, the loss of Etienne shouldn't be understated.
Etienne's 588 receiving yards accounted for roughly 19 percent of Lawrence's passing yards last season. The Jags didn't spend a first round pick on a receiving weapon that already had an established connection with their franchise QB for nothing.
Etienne's average of 13.5 yards after the catch in 2020 was the most among all college RB's with at least 35 receptions. I'm pretty certain they had a role in mind for him.
Now, he is set to miss the 2021 season after requiring surgery for a mid-foot sprain, and that plan has gone out the window.
It's a new coaching staff, learning a new scheme. It's more likely than not it'll take a while for Lawrence to iron out the kinks. I expect there to be rookie mistakes and turnovers.
That being said, his ESPN ranking of QB14 seems a little aggressive to me.
Now, I’m not saying he can’t be a thing this year, in fact I’m sure I’ll like him as a streamer when the matchup is right. All I’m saying is, he's more likely to be a streamer than an actual viable fantasy starter right out of the gate. Personally, I'd avoid spending a draft pick on him.
OTHERS GOING TOO EARLY: Darrell Henderson (LAR), Jamaar Chase (CIN), Michael Thomas (NO), Courtland Sutton (DEN), Damien Harris (NE), Michael Carter (NYJ), Matt Ryan (ATL)
Photos courtesy of NFL.com
Steelers rookie Najee Harris and D'andre Swift are both popular RB2 targets this season. But one is being drafted too high, while the other may even be undervalued. Read the enclosed article to find out which is which.
First of all, I'd like to thank the guys over at FantasyFootballDome for setting up this awesome league. I'm excited to be a part of it and can't wait to get started.
Before the analysis, I just want to disclose this is a SUPERFLEX league, which means you have a flex spot where you're allowed to slot in a second QB. Needless to say this makes QB's much more valuable and therefore drastically alters the draft strategy.
Just to be clear, in a standard draft I officially DO NOT recommend taking a QB in the first round. That may be my suggestion, but you are a beautiful king/queen who is allowed to do whatever they want. So, that's on you. Now, let's get started.
First round (fourth overall): Josh Allen
TimsFantasyTips selects: Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills. Normally I go RB1 in round one no matter what. My logic this time: It’ll be another 16 picks before I pick again. Mahomes is already off the board, so if I don’t grab an elite QB now there will be none left by the time I pick again. And if that’s the case, there should be at least one RB with top-five potential.
2nd round: Austin Ekeler
Thankfully, the idea worked and I landed Austin Ekeler, who is the last of the PPR RB1s (in my opinion). He is my bottom cutoff for RB1. After him, it is a handful of RB2s with RB1 potential, but nothing I'd bet the bank on.
3rd round: JK Dobbins
It's round three of a 12-team draft, it’s going to be another 16 picks before I go again. I was hoping to land Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, or Stefon Diggs here, but unfortunately they were selected just before. So, now 13 RBs have been drafted, and only three WRs. I could go with D-Hop or Calvin Ridley here, but (applying the same strategy as the first round) I have to go RB otherwise there won’t be any reliable ones left. The way I see it, I should still be able to land a decent WR1 next round.
So J.K. Dobbins it is for me. I gotta say, I love him this year. If he is awarded a 3-down role on the best rushing team in football, the dude could be a monster to say the least.
4th round: Terry McLaurin
I had imagined landing Keenan Allen here, but I will absolutely take Terry McLaurin as WR1. I love Terry because he can do it all. Not only is he a deep threat with wheels to spare, he's shown he is capable of being an every down possession receiver as well. The only thing he was missing during the first two years of his career was an established QB.
I would not be surprised in the slightest if Terry catches 100 passes this season with Fitzpatrick under center.
5th round: Mike Evans
I managed to secure Mike Evans as my WR2. Nothing to see here just a man who has finished with 1,000 yards every season he’s been in the league. Only the current number one target of the best QB all the time, coming off a career-high 13 receiving TDs. Fifth round? I’ll take it.
6th round: Julio Jones
I had planned on grabbing Myles Gaskin, Kareem Hunt, or Etienne with this pick but all were selected by the time it got back to me. With no RB’s I liked at this price, and Julio somehow still available, I couldn’t hesitate. Hopefully I don’t have to explain why I like Julio Jones. I just so happen to think he's pretty good at football.
Derrick Henry being his teammate means opponents will have no choice but to stack the box, which means teams will have no choice but to leave Julio (or AJB) one-on-one. For as long as he's been around, that has never been a good idea.
7th round: Tua Tagovailoa
My superflex pick. QB’s were wearing thin, there were only two options left I was excited about. Tua and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I chose to take a chance on Tua because not only is he very underrated as a mobile QB, he also has an absolute STABLE of weapons; maybe the best arsenal in the league.
EX: Will Fuller, Devante Parker, Myles Gaskin, Mike Gesicki, first-round pick (and former Alabama teammate) Jaylen Waddle.. If he takes even one step forward this season, I like my chances for some big numbers out of Tuaman.
8th round: Michael Thomas
I was aiming for Melvin Gordon and almost had him too, but those meddling kids snagged him the exact pick before mine *sheds tear*. At this point, it’s pick 93. If I can survive to week eight, why not grab Michael Thomas for a playoff push? As my WR4 no less. I really can't go wrong with a former WR1 overall at this price.
9th round: Ronald Jones
On the turn around, knew I needed a capable RB3 with RB2 potential before it was too late. Ronald Jones was the closest thing to that I could manage. There's no doubt in my mind Jones is good for a few big games handling the majority of the touches this season. The same could be said for Uncle Lenny, I just think Jones eats first.
10th Round: Will Fuller
This far in the draft, WR isn't exactly a position of need for me, but in my opinion Will Fuller is by far the best player still available. I mean, I get why he’s here. He's never finished a full season. He’s on a new team with an unproven QB. He's going to miss week one due to a lingering suspension. But at this point, as my WR 4-5 I’m not really risking anything, for a potential huge return. Let’s not forget, the man puts up numbers.
Last season, he was averaging 17.09 PPG, and was on a six-game TD streak at one point. That is WR1 behavior ladies and gentlemen. Had he played a full 16 games at that pace, he would have finished last season as WR6, just above DK Metcalf.
11th round: Nyheim Hines
I feel like the fact Hines finished as RB15 in PPR last season went over a lot of peoples heads. I know Marlon Mack is back, and it’s supposed to be the Jonathan Taylor show this season. However, Hines is the most reliable pass catcher in that backfield and that's just a fact. I can't imagine he isn't involved on a handful of screens and check downs each week.
Sure, he might be due for a a little regression here. I don't expect he finishes as RB15 again, but you can't say he doesn't have the potential. Grabbing him as my RB4 this late was an easy decision.
12th round: Tyrod Taylor
There is obviously a lot of uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson. I personally don’t expect him to play this season, certainly not as a Houston Texan. So technically, Tyrod is the Texans starting QB. It’s not the most promising gig but it’s something.
Taylor might not jump off the page but he hardly ever turns the ball over and provides a decent rushing floor. This provides me with good QB depth, and if you ever played in a Superflex league you’d know how fast them starting QBs dry up.
13th round: Gerald Everett
My philosophy with TE is either I’m one of the first to pick one, or I’m last. In this case I was dead last. FULL DISCLAIMER: Gerald Everett wasn’t really on my radar before this draft begun. Luckily it lasted four days (slow draft, 12 hours per pick) so I had time to do some research. Turns out there’s a few reasons to like Everett.
To be clear, I'm not fully expecting Everett to be a weekly starter for me, and I'm certainly not endorising him as a top-ten pick at his position. If he cracks the top-ten for TEs, great. (It wouldn't take much honestly) If not, no harm done. Every year I tend to try and stack important positions and worry about TE later. It's an effective strategy more often than not.
14th round: 49ers D/ST
I don’t know about you, but I personally can’t name one team that was devastated by injuries last season more than the 49ers. Their defense took most of the hit, and it showed in the stat sheets. (16th most total points allowed)
Now fully healthy, just one season removed from being a SuperBowl caliber unit and the third-highest scoring fantasy defense, I’ll absolutely take a shot on them. If it doesn’t pay off, what did I lose? A 14th round pick? I think I’ll be okay.
1. Is it time to panic on Tom Brady ?
Nobody can change the fact that Tom Brady has more Super Bowl rings than he can fit on one hand. He is, and always will be, the greatest quarterback of all time. But in two games as a Buccaneer, things have not been pretty.
It's tempting to sound the panic alarm, heck I've seen some do it already. Before you do, just keep in mind nobody had a full preseason to prepare, and we're only two weeks in.
I understand that judging based off this small sample size, it's looking like the guy we all viewed as a top-ten fantasy QB this season, is going to fall short of those expectations. But is it really his fault?
In week two, with Chris Godwin out of the lineup, it became apparent that Mike Evans (seven catches, 104 yards, one TD) was the only receiving weapon Brady could count on.
TE 'Sit of the Week' Rob Gronkowski (widely drafted as a TE1 in fantasy land) has been an absolute non-factor through two games. So far this season, he’s drawn just three targets. In week two, he finished with zero catches on one target.
Scotty Miller seemed like he would step into an expanded role after catching five balls for 72 yards in Tampa's season opener, but he finished with just two catches on three targets for 11 yard in week two. His only other target was a would-be TD pass that Brady gave him an opportunity to make a play on. Needless to say, he failed to make the grab.
Shady McCoy was second on the team with five receptions for 26 yards on seven targets, but also dropped a (very well placed) would-be TD.
The Bucs pulled off the victory in week two because they were bailed out by an exceptional 2-TD performance from Leonard Fournette who, by the way, is exactly what this offense needs to open things up. (More on that later)
Brady could’ve had a much bigger fantasy day if not for those two dropped TD's. But the fact is, things played out how they did, Brady turned the ball over twice and only finished with 8.6 fantasy points in week two.
Here is a list of notable QBs that outscored Brady in week two:
Brady had a cake matchup against a brutal Carolina defense, and he failed to deliver. But does that mean we should hit the panic button?
I say no.
Those looking at week two, strictly from a fantasy perspective, probably think Brady's final stats mean he played poorly. But the truth is, ProFootballFocus has Brady graded as the third-best QB in the league (87.8) through two weeks.
What you have to understand is that PFF player grades add in layers of context that cannot be captured by conventional stats.
They take into account a lot of external factors such as: whether or not passes are perfectly thrown or put in a spot where the receiver has to do all the work, defensive pass interference yards (which he had a surprising amount of in week two), plays called back by offensive penalties, etc.
Only Aaron Rodgers (95.6) and Russell Wilson (92.7) rank higher than Brady so far.
After two weeks of NFL football, there are a lot of wild conclusions being jumped to. People jumping ship on Tom Brady seems to be popular one.
I'd just like to say, there are 16 games in an NFL season. If two weeks was a reliable sample size, we'd be making a bigger deal about the fact Mitchell Trubisky is on pace to throw for 40 TD's. Or the fact the Raiders are undefeated. Or the fact Russell Gage is on pace for 308 fantasy points. "Who?" you ask. Exactly.
There's still plenty of time for Brady and the Bucs to recover and figure things out. Now, if he continues to turn the ball over and be hampered by the play of his teammates, then I'd say there is definitely cause for concern. But as of now, I firmly believe Tom Brady will have a few massive games this season.
So, to recap, I'm not necessarily panicking on Brady, I do think he figures it out at some point this season. BUT... It could take a while to iron out the kinks.
I personally am going to ride it out. I may not start him until I see it consistently, but I definitely would not drop him. If he starts to click with the weapons around him, it's going to be scary.
If there's one thing I've learned consistently, for as long as I've been watching football, it's that the absolute last player you want to bet against is Tom Brady.
Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
Tom Brady cheers in excitment after throwing his first TD pass as a Buccaneer.
2. Leonard Fournette is the guy in Tampa
Bruce Arians and friends can act like Ronald Jones is their guy all they want but at the end of the day, it’s clear to see Leonard Fournette is the superior player. Plain and simple, he gives them the best chance to win.
Uncle Lenny finished with 100+ yards and two TD's on just 12 carries in week two. His second touchdown came at a critical moment for the Bucs late in the fourth quarter. His 46-yard scoring dash effectively iced the game for the Bucs who were only up by one score at the time.
He also drew a lot of attention from TB12 in the pass game, catching four passes on five targets.
Personally, I believe what Fournette provides as an explosive runner, is exactly what this offense is missing. Ronald Jones has flashed talent, but overall his efficiency has left something to be desired (3.7 YPC). The fact is, RoJo just isn't a player that strikes fear into the heart of an opposing defense.
During his time in Jacksonville, Fournette faced stacked boxes at a higher rate than any other running back in the league. That should tell you all you need to know about how defenses feel about him.
Unlike the Jaguars for the past couple years, the Bucs actually have a passing game that needs to be respected.
Leonard Fournette + Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and two very talented TE's = a defenses worst nightmare.
If they get defenses into a position to commit to stopping the run, Brady will eat them alive with his arm. If they commit to playing the pass, Fournette will eat them alive with his legs.
In week three, the Bucs play the Broncos who are well-aware of what Fournette is capable of. Last season, in his one game against the Broncos, Lenny rushed for a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries (7.8 YPC). If you don't think they're terrified of him, you're wrong.
Forget what he offers as a rusher, the intimidation factor he provides is what is going to keep defenses honest.
Don't even get me started on how he has developed into a reliable pass-catcher. (Career-high 76 receptions in 2019)
I suspect the Bucs come to their senses as early as next week and commit to Fournette as an every down back. And if not next week, well... It's only a matter of time.
3. The age of the mobile QB is upon us
It seems like this season more than any other has made it increasingly clear that mobile quarterbacks are the key to success in fantasy football.
Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Josh Allen all went off for over 30 fantasy points this past week. They each had an excellent game as a passer, but none (except Allen) would have scored over 30 without the production they provide as rushers.
The thing about non-mobile QB's like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Matt Ryan is, if the passing production isn't there, the fantasy points aren't either. You are then left with a low floor.
For example: it wasn’t a good fantasy week for Lamar Jackson (by his standards) he threw for less yards than, and as many touchdowns as, Brady in week two. BUT thanks to rushing for 50 yards (and not turning the ball over twice) he outscored him by nine points.
Two QB's could finish with the same amount of passing yards and passing TD's but it is the guy who picks up yards and TD's with his legs that can afford to slack as a passer.
4. Jonathan Taylor does not disappoint
In his first game as a starter, Jonathan Taylor proved to the world he could be a true workhorse at the NFL level.
In week two, Taylor took his 26 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, making guys miss and passing the eye test on his way to a 19.0 (PPR) point performance.
After seeing the way things played out (backfield touches-wise) it's probably safe for us to pump the brakes on Nyheim Hines, myself included. After an impressive week one where he was an integral part of the running and receiving game, he received just one touch in week two, taking a backseat to Taylor.
I suspect that Hines will be an up-and-down producer all season having seven catches when you decide to sit him and only touching the ball five times when you decide to use him.
Taylor, on the other hand, remains a must-start for the rest of the season. He is currently a top 10-15 back for me at the moment with the opportunity to firmly establish himself in the top-10. I personally am excited to watch it play out.
5. Josh Allen = elite
The athleticism was never in question, it was always his capability as a passer. He went from never throwing for 300+ yards in a game, to beginning the season by doing it twice in a row, stacking back-to-back 30-point fantasy performances in the process.
He already provided you with a high-floor as a rusher, but this leap forward as a passer makes him un-sittable. I know he played two brutal defenses in the Jets and Dolphins, but in my opinion, Allen has shown more than enough as a passer to trust him as a top-five QB moving forward.
New addition Stefon Diggs and trusted weapon John Brown are providing Allen with all the production he could possibly ask for.
Diggs currently has the fifth-most receptions in the league and is WR4 in fantasy through two games. From what we've seen, he is easily one of the best draft-day bargains this season.
Brown has at least 70 yards, a TD, and 18.0 fantasy points in both games this season. He is currently WR9 in fantasy. He was a PPR machine last season, and it looks like that is going to carry over into 2020.
There was concern (on my end) about whether or not there would be enough volume to go around for these two, considering Allen's history as a lackluster passer. But those concerns have been laid to rest.
As a Jets fan, it pains me to say this, but if what we've seen is an indication of things to come, I'm all-in on the Bills-mafia's passing attack this season.
After a week where so many players went down (some for the season) with significant injuries, fantasy owners everywhere are left feeling distraught. Although things may seem grim at the moment, its important to know: there’s still time to recover.
Even if you lost your best player, or more than one of them, it’s imperative (now more than ever) to keep your head up.
After seeing the Cowboys pull off the most miraculously electrifying improbable win in modern football history in week two, you have to realize: even the most impossible-seeming comeback can be completed. All you have to do is show up and believe.
I've said it before but I'll say it again: now is no time to be feeling sorry for yourself soldier! The season is still young. The last thing you should be doing is throwin' in the towel. You've got a league to win.
Without further ado, I will break down (by position) players that should be available in your league that could help you fill the potential holes left in your roster after week two.
DISCLAIMER: This list will only feature players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues. I have them listed in order of my own personal preference, but I will provide you with enough info for you to make an informed decision for yourself.
1. Joshua Kelley (LAC)
Kelley has been receiving a surprisingly generous amount of volume these past two weeks. He's finished with at least 60 yards rushing and 12.0 (PPR) points in both games this season. In week two, Kelley was given a staggering 25 touches and finished with 113 total yards.
Although Austin Ekeler was clearly more efficient with his touches, and is still a low-end RB1 in my opinion, he received seven carries less than Kelley in week two. If things continue this way, Kelley could work his way into the RB2 discussion if it turns out he's filling the Melvin Gordon role for the Chargers. Which appears to be the case.
He's owned in just 27.9 percent of ESPN leagues. Based on volume alone, he is an ideal plug-and-play for an RB-needy team.
2. Jerrick McKinnon (SF)
McKinnon has already been solid this season, scoring a TD and at least 13.0 PPR points in back-to-back games. He has just six carries for 106 yards so far. With Raheem Mostert expected to miss at least two weeks with an MCL sprain, McKinnon will be even more involved than he has been already.
As I write this, it has come to my attention that Tevin Coleman is also dealing with a knee injury. I just received the notification that he’s expected to miss “multiple weeks,” which makes McKinnon that much more valuable.
Think about it... He will be the RB1 in a Kyle Shanahan offense for the next two weeks.
He is rostered in just 19.3 percent of ESPN leagues. Go scoop him now.
3. Mike Davis (CAR)
With Christian McCaffery expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks thanks to a high-ankle sprain, Mike Davis becomes the panthers RB1.
He only had one rush in week two, but that could be attributed to negative game script and the fact that McCaffery plays 97 percent of the Panthers snaps. After McCaffery exited however, Davis was heavily involved, catching all eight of his targets for 74 yards. He finished with 15.5 (PPR) points on receptions alone.
To recap, Davis is a good receiving back, currently atop the depth chart on a team that is top-six in RB targets per game, with a QB who likes to throw it short. At this moment, he is available in 99.2 percent of ESPN leagues.
4. Myles Gaskin (MIA)
The fact he’s on the Dolphins is the only reason he isn’t higher on this list. I was skeptical after week one, but Gaskin has now put together back-to-back games of at least 10.0 (PPR) points, 40 rush yards AND four receptions.
Gaskin has displayed promise as a rusher and a pass-catcher so far. He’s averaging 5.3 YPC and 6.2 YPR on the season... behind the Dolphins offensive line...
Granted, it is a small sample size, but an encouraging one nonetheless. He is currently owned in just 13 percent of ESPN leagues.
5. Jamaal Williams (GB)
Williams has proved in the past he is a more-than-capable receiver out of the backfield. Last year, there were times when both Aaron Jones AND Williams were start-able.
In 2019, Williams had seven games with three or more catches, and five games with four or more. At one point, he had a four-game receiving-TD streak. During those four weeks, he logged fantasy finishes of 23.6, 13.1, 18.6, and 16.9 (PPR) points.
Davante Adams could potentially miss some time with an apparent hamstring injury, and since the Packers other pass-catchers have proved to be less than stellar, Williams could be in line for an increase in touches. Last week, he rushed for an impressive 63 yards on just eight carries.
Williams is a talented player on a very good offense. If he resumes his role from a season ago, he would be a solid PPR flex/RB3. He is currently owned in just 12.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
6. Dion Lewis (NYG) / Devonta Freeman(NYG?)
Lewis is the first in line to see an expanded role now that Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL. He found the end-zone last week and finished with 15.6 PPR points.
The only reason I don’t have him higher, is because the Giants are reportedly bringing in Devonta Freeman for a workout. I find it hard to believe they don’t sign him. Even without having played in a while, he’d be a vast improvement over the G-men's current RB2 Wayne Gallman.
Both Lewis and Freeman have been VERY fantasy relevant in the past, but while splitting reps, I’m not exactly confident in either as anything more than a TD-dependent flex for now.
Others to keep an eye on: Darrell Henderson (LAR), Frank Gore (NYJ), Giovani Bernard (CIN)
1. N'keal Harry (NE)
For the second straight week, Harry tied Julian Edelman for the team-lead in receptions. In a game where the game script called for Cam Newton to pass, Harry had 12 targets, eight receptions and over 15.0 (PPR) points.
I wish I had more evidence to support this theory, but I expect Harry takes the leap forward this year and provides consistent production as one of Cam’s clear favorite targets.
He is owned in just 39.6 percent of ESPN leagues, and if my gut is correct, this will likely be most people’s last week to snag him.
2. Russell Gage (ATL)
Gage is in a very crowded WR room, and yet he has drawn 9+ targets and scored over 16.0 (PPR) points in back-to-back games to begin the 2020 season.
Matt Ryan has been lighting it up lately and he’s been looking Gage’s way quite a bit. There are few WR's on the waiver-wire that have received as much love as Gage this season.
There’s no guarantee this production continues with the amount of exceptional pass catchers on the Falcons offense, but what if it does? So far it’s been working out. Why not ride the train while you can?
Gage is currently available in about 80 percent of ESPN leagues.
3. Corey Davis (TEN)
Davis has stacked back-to-back respectable fantasy performances to begin the 2020 season. In week one, he finished with 101 yards and 17.1 (PPR) points. In week two, he made an impressive TD catch and finished with 12.6 (PPR) points.
For those of you that haven't noticed, Ryan Tannehill has playing like an elite quarterback since week 10 of last season. Davis is a former first-round talent, and if this is the year he finally figures it out, you're going to want him on your team.
I’m not necessarily saying that’s the case, BUT he has played well enough to warrant flex consideration.
Once AJ Brown returns, it’s likely that Davis's production will take a hit. But that might not be for several weeks. For now, he appears to be the Titans WR1. He is owned in just 35.3% of ESPN leagues
4. Keelan Cole/Laviska Shenault (JAX)
Cole has a TD, and at least five catches/15.7 points in back-to-back games to begin 2020. With Gardner Minshew looking like a seasoned pro in his second season (six passing TD's in two games) Cole has been enjoying flex-level productivity.
If he emerges as Minshew's second favorite target, he could become very fantasy relevant. With DJ Chark reportedly dealing with an injury of his own, he just might be Minshew's first favorite target this week.
Cole is currently available in 98 percent of ESPN leagues.
Another one of Minshew's weapons, Shenault now has 9.0 (PPR) points in back-to-back weeks. What’s interesting about him is that the Jags have been using him as a gadget player.
He already has a receiving TD this season and in week two, he carried the ball five times for 37 yards (just over 7.0 YPC). It’s clear to see the Jags are trying to get him the ball, and considering the talent, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few multi-TD games this season.
He is currently owned in just 13.1% of ESPN leagues.
5. Chase Claypool (PIT)
He's currently third in line behind JuJu and Diontae Johnson for Steelers WR targets, but he showed off his big play ability in week two on a 70-yard TD pass from Big Ben. He finished with 17.8 (PPR) points on just three catches. He's currently averaging 25.4 yards per reception, which has me thinking he could end up being the new Martavis Bryant...
Big Ben certainly has the pedigree as a passer to see to it that three of his receivers finish with over 1,000 yards, but as of now I would only feel comfortable playing Claypool in a very deep league.
The talent is definitely there, it’s just a question of volume for him until we see consistent production. But if you wanted to take a shot on someone based on talent alone he’s your guy.
He's currenrtly available in 92.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
6. KJ Hamler (DEN)
With Courtland Sutton out for the season with a torn ACL, and Jerry Jeudy dealing with an apparent concussion, the rookie Hamler is primed to step into an expanded role.
Noah Fant is currently the teams top pass-catcher with Melvin Gordon as a close second. After that, it’s anyone’s game.
Of course Jeff Driskel might be a bit of a downgrade over Drew Lock, which makes this pick less appealing. But there is opportunity for Hamler to step up.
He did finish with the team lead in targets (7) in week two (his rookie debut). He is available in 98.9 percent of ESPN leagues.
Others to keep an eye on: Hunter Renfrow (LV), Scotty Miller (TB), Brandon Aiyuk (SF)
Photo courtesy of NFL.com
Fantasy owners took a big hit in week two as Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffery (among several others) suffered significant lower body injuries.
1. Joe Burrow robbed of game-winning drive
2020 first overall selection Joe Burrow struggled at times during his NFL debut. Being the competitor he is, Burrow graded his own performance with a D after the game. But, aside from a highly questionable shovel pass that went directly to Chargers all-pro linebacker Melvin Ingram, there wasn’t anything egregious about his performance.
In fact, it could be argued that when it mattered most, Burrow played like a vet.
With no timeouts left and the game on the line, Burrow showed the world why he was the first player off the board in 2020.
Joe Cool began his first NFL two-minute drill with a rush for seven yards. He then proceeded to go 8 for 10 for 79 yards, leading the Bengals all the way down to the three-yard line before throwing the would-be game winning TD to AJ Green.
"That guy doesn't flinch. The way he handled himself in that last drive was unbelievable," Green said. "We've got a special one in Joe."
It is impressive to receive that kind of praise from a ten-year veteran, it's even more impressive to play the way Burrow did, in crunch time (of your first pro game), against one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Burrow, the Bengals didn't win that game thanks to (arguably) the softest push-off call of all time. The call was against Green, who was playing in his first game since week nine of 2018. But the call wasn't to blame for the Bengals loss.
Burrow put them well within field goal range to tie the 13-16 game and send it to OT. But ultimately, it was out-of-shape kicker Randy Bullock that biffed a game-tying chip shot and subsequently hurt himself on the same play.
The Bengals walked away devastated. But NFL fans and fantasy owners walked away encouraged.
Green proved to be Burrows favorite receiver, leading the team with nine targets. And Burrow proved to be more than capable of getting him the ball.
On paper, there was nothing spectacular about Green's week one game. But when it counted, Burrow knew where to look. On the aforementioned last drive of the game, Green made a beautiful catch. It was the type of eye-popping catch that would silence anybody claiming he had lost a step. It ended up being just out of bounds. If things went slightly more his way, Green would have finished with about 18 PPR points in week one.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t played in two years. Especially considering it was against (arguably) the best CB tandem in football.
Green is a high-end WR3 at this point, with the potential to shoot all the way up the ranks in a few weeks time. If the Green owner in your league didn't pay close attention on Sunday, chances are he's available for a discount price.
Burrow is more exciting for real-life football purposes than he is for fantasy, at least in the short term. BUT after seeing the way he handled himself in the most crucial moments of the game, I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish with a few top-ten weeks this season.
I'm willing to bet he'll get another shot at a game-winning drive, and when he does, he'll complete it.
Photo courtesy of sports.yahoo.com
Burrow evades defenders on his way to a 23-yard rushing TD in his NFL debut.
2. James Robinson is legit
This guy James Robinson joined the Jaguars team (within the last month) as an un-drafted rookie and locked up the starting running back job. You knew he had to be some type of dog right then and there.
He confirmed that to be quite clear after hurdling a defender and picking up 28 yards on his only catch of the day.
Robinson handled 100 percent of the Jaguars carries on Sunday. He was the only player in the league to do so in week one.
To be fair, he is on the Jaguars where there clearly isn't much competition, and the offensive line is beyond questionable. So, it's not surprising that he didn't garner much fantasy attention (rostered in just 29.1 percent of ESPN leagues at the moment) but he definitely should be on your radar now.
If you find yourself in need of an RB after week one (Le'Veon Bell and James Conner owners) you could do a lot worse than Robinson.
3. Super Cam is back!
Cam Newton began his Patriots career with a bang in week one. But, honestly, was anyone surprised?
Considering the wonders Pats OC Josh McDaniels has worked with QB's like Tim Tebow, Jacoby Brissett and Matt Cassel, what did you think was going to happen when you handed him a former league-MVP? An incredibly mobile former league-MVP at that.
In week one, Newton led his team in carries (15) and rush yards (75), finding the end zone twice with his legs. It could have been three times if he wasn't stuffed on the one-yard line before ultimately ceding the TD to Sony Michel.
Considering the amount of designed runs the Pats had for Newton, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to lead the team in rush TD’s this season.
Cam only threw for 155 yards in week one (15/19) and still scored 25.7 fantasy points. Imagine what happens when the game plan calls for both.
I don't think I saw one picture of Newton this offseason where he didn't have an ear-to-ear smile. This may be a moot point, but the last time I remember him being so smiley was 2015. He scored 45 total TD's and finished as QB1 that season.
With a coaching staff like New England's, and all the talent in the world, Super Cam has a legitimate shot to finish as a top-five QB this season.
I know it's early, but It’s beginning to look like Super Cam may have been THE single most undervalued player on draft day. (Round-13 ADP)
Hopefully you weren’t afraid to reach.
4. Starters outperformed by their depth chart inferiors
Zach Ertz, Nick Chubb, Marlon Mack, Antonio Gibson. One thing these players all had in common in week one? They were outplayed by their depth chart inferiors.
In Mack's case, he suffered a season ending injury that opened the door for his backup Johnathan Taylor to step into a prominent role. But even if that wasn't the case, Nyheim Hines still would have been on this list.
Even before Mack left the game, Hines had already scored a TD on the ground and through the air. I listed Hines as my top waiver claim for this week because not only do the Colts have the best O-line in football, Phillip Rivers also loves his pass catching RB's. (See Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, etc.) 37 percent of Rivers passes in week one went to a RB.
Hines had caught 107 passes in the two seasons prior to Rivers arrival. We probably should have seen this one coming from a mile away.
Speaking of seeing things coming from a mile away, Kareem Hunt yet again outscored Nick Chubb in fantasy.
Chubb is a great real life player, and if he had the backfield to himself, I firmly believe he is a true top-five fantasy RB. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, he shares the backfield with another player I feel the exact same way about.
In week one, Hunt finished with more carries, yards, targets AND receptions than Chubb despite playing a fewer percentage of snaps. It was even more concerning for Chubb owners that this was not the case until AFTER Chubb fumbled the football.
Since week 11 last season, this has been a maddening split for anyone hoping for meaningful production out of Chubb. I mean, don't you just hate when they list a guy as the starter on the depth chart and then feed someone else? Kind of like Antonio Gibson and career-vulture Peyton Barber.
Gibson was a popular play this week as the Washington Football Team's (alleged) starting RB. But who was it that received the bulk of the carries despite playing the least amount of Washington's backfield snaps? That's right. PEYTON F@$#%N BARBER.
It's not that I was even using Gibson on any team this week, because I wasn't. But I have to say, Barber just grinds my gears. It seems like it doesn't matter where he is, or how buried he is on the depth chart. He'll find a way to steal the TD's.
I personally think he is one of the most average running backs I've ever seen (career AVG: 3.5 YPC). I cannot fathom why he got 17 carries on Sunday, but I can certainly fathom the fact he only picked up 29 yards (1.7 YPC) on those carries.
Yet, Barber manages to stay relevant once again because, apparently, he has some sort of hypnotic power that convinces the coaching staff of whatever team he's on to give him infinite carries inside the five. And wouldn't you know it? He scored twice and doubled Gibson's fantasy point totals.
Barbers YPC and catch percentage have declined in each season he's played as a pro, he's never made a significant impact as a receiver, and failed to impress the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 16 games as a starting running back.
I just. Don't. Get it.
Gibson did fine, (nine carries, 36 yards, two receptions, eight yards) but obviously you would have liked to see him get a little more love. Just like you would have liked to see Ronald Jones get more a little more love, all of last year.
I don't even want to think about the Washington/Philly game anymore, but I have to because I need to talk about the Eagles TE situation. So let's get this over with.
On Sunday, Zach Ertz caught Philly's first TD of the day in the first quarter. But that was about all we saw from him for the rest of the game. Ertz finished with just three catches for 18 yards.
Instead, it was Dallas Goedert who led the way against the Football Team with eight catches for 101 yards and a TD of his own, scoring 24.1 (PPR) fantasy points as opposed to Ertz's 10.8.
The TD came on a deep route where Goedert made an impressive speed turn adjustment that could make you say, "He's really a tight end?" Considering the fact Goedert finished as TE10 last season, and injuries to the Eagles receiving corps, it was no surprise to see him in an expanded role.
He impressed enough to leave many fantasy owners wondering, "Is this going to be a thing?"
Unlike Ertz, Goedert actually gets down the field. He showed in week one he's capable of outproducing Ertz, especially with defenses are keying on Ertz as the Eagles top weapon.
I listed Goedert as one of my top waiver claims this week because I believe this is legit. Ertz is still locked in as a TE1, no doubt about it. But so is Goedert, at least as far as I'm concerned.
5. Aaron Rodgers is a bad man... Again.
In week one, Aaron Rodgers reminded us exactly what he's capable of. Despite a lot of criticism surrounding his fantasy value this season (his ADP was QB14 on ESPN) Rodgers proceeded to throw for 364 yards and four TD's against a Vikings team that he had thrown just four TD's against in their last four meetings.
Many fans are wondering, is Rodgers back?
My answer? He never left.
Sure he's been lackluster the past two seasons as a fantasy QB. But as a real life QB, he has never shown signs of being anything but elite.
Despite concerns about declined production, Rodgers has never dipped below 62 percent completion percentage or a 93.8 QBR in a season. He hasn't throw for double-digit INT's in a season since 2010 (six total 2018-2019). He has also thrown for 25+ TD's in back to back seasons now.
In what many viewed as a down year for Rodgers last season, he finished as QB10 in fantasy, went 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship.
After the Packers drafted a QB instead of a skill player in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, anyone who knows anything about Aaron Rodgers had to see this one coming. He's going to use this season to make it clear: he's not going anywhere.
I'm not saying he plays like this every week, because a lot of this huge game has to do with the fact that the Vikings have an inexperienced secondary. BUT I am saying I expect him to once again finish as a top-ten fantasy QB.
The unthinkable happened on Monday morning Aug. 31 as the Jacksonville Jaguars released workhorse RB Leonard Fournette.
Okay, so after seeing the way the Jaguars have handled their best players over the past three seasons, maybe this wasn’t the most unthinkable thing that could have happened.
Since Jacksonville lost the 2017 AFC Championship, they have released, traded or not re-signed seven players that made a pro-bowl appearance for them. The list includes huge names like Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Allen Robinson and Calais Campbell.
They've made it clear they don't like having good players on their team, but this Fournette news is still shocking nonetheless.
We knew the Jags had plans to move on from Fournette after they declined the fifth-year option on his contract, but most would have never guessed it’d happen so soon and so suddenly, just two weeks away from the beginning of the 2020 season.
So, as I’m sure many of you are wondering, what is the Fantasy Fallout? Well, if you already drafted Fournette, obviously you can’t use him right now. The way I see it, your best bet is to wait and see where he lands, and just pray it’s somewhere favorable.
Either way, now is no time to be feeling sorry for yourself solider! The season is still young! You’re just going to have to work with what you’ve got, play the waiver-wire and facilitate some trades damn it!
Those who drafted Antonio Brown last season should be no stranger to this situation.
Fournette’s top landing spots, in my opinion, would be (in order) New England, Tampa Bay, or Washington.
Either way you scratch it, he’ll have competition for touches and likely isn’t going to receive the workload he deserves. Barring an injury to a lead back somewhere, Fournette probably won’t be returning RB1 numbers. But here is why I like the teams mentioned above.
New England Patriots:
If Fournette signed with the Pats right now, he is instantly the best back on the roster. Between James White, Lamar Miller, Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel, it is definitely crowded over there. Yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats cut the newly signed Miller in favor of the younger, more bulky Fournette.
He would likely take over for Michel as the perfect goal-line hammer, and push for double-digit TD’s on the ground. However, with White’s role as the pass catching specialist unlikely to change, Fournette wouldn’t be in line for the receiving workload he proved he is capable of with 76 receptions last season. Best-case scenario, he is an RB2 with TD upside.
The Ronald Jones believers aren’t going to like this one. Yes, RoJo is a talented player, but with Fournette in town, they'd be all but guaranteed to split carries. The signing wouldn’t make the most sense considering the team just drafted Keyshawn Vaughn, and signed Shady McCoy this offseason. But, of all 32 NFL teams, the Bucs are one of a handful that don’t have a clear cut bell-cow RB.
As a Fournette owner, Jones would likely have a larger role than you’d like in this situation. But, if Lenny can pull away with the hot-hand, Arians could let him run wild. It also is worth noting that, since 2018, Tom Brady is third amongst QB’s in passing TD’s to RB’s (14).
Currently, 35-year old Adrian Peterson sits atop Washington’s RB depth chart. While the wiley veteran is still capable of delivering solid performances (seven games with 70+ rush yards in 2019, including three over 95+), he has certainly looked much less explosive in the past few years than we are used to.
If Fournette were to come in, he would be an immediate upgrade and the Football Team (so weird to say) would likely cut the veteran Peterson, and I trust Ron Rivera would make the call to feed Fournette.
Many are high on Antonio Gibson this season (for good reason) but one look at his most recent collegiate season, you will see he’s more of a receiving back than anything else.
Don't get me wrong, the guy has an elite combination of size, speed, receiving ability, vision and elusiveness to be a great NFL back. But for the majority of his career, he didn't play running back. There is a lot to learn, pass protection wise, that Gibson will need to work on as he is less experienced than the average RB in that department. He would no doubt steal a large receiving workload from Fournette, but Lenny could still end up delivering mid-range RB2 numbers.
Photo Courtesy of NJ.com
Former Jacksonville RB, Leonard Fournette, avoids a tackle from a Falcon on his way to 100 total yards.
This news is tough for fantasy football players everywhere, especially considering how shallow the RB position is already, but what can you do to pick up the pieces if Fournette doesn’t land somewhere favorable/anywhere at all?
Ryquell Armstead seems to be the back to own in Jacksonville but, let’s be honest, he’s no Fournette. He’s probably not going to score you the type of points you were hoping for when you picked Leonard, but Armstead is in fact a lead back. Albeit a lead back with the seventh-worst graded O-line (according to ProFootballFocus) but a lead back nonetheless. Armstead is a middle-of-the-pack RB3 for me, but could push for RB2 numbers if he finds the end zone enough.
Devin Ozigbo is also an interesting prospect, but he’s going to begin the season third on the depth chart. He’s not currently worth a roster spot in standard-sized leagues.
For me, Chris Thompson is the guy you’re going to want to scoop. Thompson will be reuniting with Jay Gruden in Jacksonville, and is a favorite to take on the pass catching role out of the backfield. Thompson has shown flashes and has proven to be a good (PPR) fantasy option in the past. If he can stay healthy, he is certainly going to be in the flex/RB3 conversation.
So, my advice? Be patient. There’s still two weeks until the season starts, hang on to Fournette for now. Unless of course you can find a trade you like, in which case, by all means save yourself the stress. Just know this: there’s still time to recover.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to a one-year deal with Leonard Fournette.
This moves Fournette up in my rankings, but not enough to get him back into the top-25. Like I eluded to before the team signed him, he’ll likely split the load with Ronald Jones, at least in some capacity.
After talking RoJo up all off season, it seems unlikely they will simply give his job away, at least right off the bat. If Fournette can impress enough to run away with the feature back role, then it is a different story entirely.
I for one wholeheartedly believe Fournette is the superior back but, unlike in Jacksonville, he'll share the backfield with someone who is an actual legitimate threat to earn at least 30 percent of the touches each week.
We also can't forget that LeSean McCoy is still there... And rookie Keyshawn Vaughn. Fournette is not guarenteed a ton of volume by any means.
At best, Fournette is now a mid-range RB3 with the opportunity to be enter the RB2 conversation if he can make a case for himself to handle the bulk of the backfield work.
Disclaimer: This list is not intended to make you reach on players, or avoid them altogether. It is simply a reflection of their current value and whether or not I believe they have an appropriate price tag. Players to target are either appropriately priced, or steals at their average draft position (ADP). Players to avoid are those I designate as overvalued or being drafted too early.
Now that we've gotten that riveting introduction out of the way, let's get to business. Shall we?
1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
In 2019, Edwards-Helaire became first running back in SEC history with over 1,000 rush yards and 50 receptions in a season. We know the kid can play. Now you're telling me he's in the hands of Andy Reid? ANDY REID of all people?! What more can you ask for?
The Chiefs head coach stated that he thinks Edwards-Helaire might be better than Brian Westbrook...
For those of you who don’t remember how good Westbrook was under Andy Reid, here’s some stats.
Anyone who has watched professional football for the last decade can tell you Andy Reid brings nothing but success/fantasy relevance for any true RB1 he gets his hands on.
If you combined McCoy, Charles and Hunt into one player, since 2011 their average finish (PPR scoring) would be RB6.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, Chiefs RB2 Damien Williams recently opted out of the 2020 season. Which means CEH has no competition for touches in the backfield. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
Reid has already complimented CEH's instincts in pass protection in a recent interview with Steve Marriuci, and we know he isn’t afraid to throw a rookie into a workhorse role if he feels that player is ready. He did it with Hunt in 2017. Remember how that went?
“Shoulda started me idiot,” as Hunt so articulately put it after exploding for three TD's in his NFL debut.
One thing's for certain, we don’t want to make the same mistake twice by passing on CEH when the time comes.
I realize his ADP has sky-rocketed since the Damien Williams news, and he's currently being drafted in the top-10 overall. I'm here to tell you, I'm fine with it.
The way I see it, Edwards-Helaire should be the seventh/eighth player off the board depending on how you feel about Derrick Henry. @ me if you'd like to argue about it.
2. AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Size, speed, hands, first-class RAC ability, 1,000 yards and eight TD's right out of the gate. He's able to play the deep threat role, possession role or slot role.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is, Brown checks all the boxes. If he falls to you in the fourth round, don’t blow it. This kid is special. If you won’t take my word for it, I’ll kindly provide you with a link to his highlight tape below.
He’s got a certain ball carrier vision that just screams ‘elite’ to me. But if you don’t go for the intangible stuff, here some concrete evidence from Brown's 2019 season:
It’s important to note that Brown only had three games with five or more catches. The most he had in any game was eight. He was only targeted more than eight times once. Which are all shockingly low totals for a player who finished with over 1,000 yards. But the way I look at it, that just speaks to how impressive his final stats actually were.
Despite not catching more than four balls in over 75% of his games, Brown paced the 2019 WR class in yards and TD’s.
It’s one thing to outplay a room of guys that includes DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and Hollywood Brown. But it’s another to outplay pretty much everybody else in the league.
Only Michael Thomas had more top-10 outings than Brown’s five in 2019.
It’s unreasonable to expect him to retain his current TD rate, but I’d argue that an increase in volume is not only probable, it is inevitable.
He finished with 1,051 yards and eight TD’s on just 84 targets. Imagine what he could do with 110+ targets...
It’s true the Titans run-heavy approach may limit Brown’s ceiling from a volume standpoint, but given what he could do with just 52 receptions last season, a slight increase in usage should go a long way.
I have him at WR17 (there a lot of very good receivers out there) but I have a feeling that's too low.
His current FantasyPros ADP of 41st overall (round five) feels like a steal to me. His ESPN ADP of 33rd overall, I'm also fine with. Top-10 upside for the price of a WR2? Count me in.
3. TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
In case there was any confusion, Colts Offensive Coordinator Nick Sirianni recently stated "T.Y. Hilton is who this pass offense runs through."
People forget before getting injured in week four last season, Hilton was WR5 (PPR) through three games. And that was playing with Jacoby Brissett who, while not terrible, is far from consistent.
In season's where Hilton plays 14 games or more, he averages 131 targets, 75 catches, 1230 yards and six TD's per season.
If one thing is for certain this season, it's that new Colts QB, Phillip Rivers, going to be looking for someone to fill that trusty Keenan Allen role.
Over the last four years, Rivers has supported AT LEAST one 1,000+ yard/6+ TD receiver each season.
Despite lackluster play in 2019, Rivers actually managed to put forth his highest YPG (288.4) in a season since 2015. Compare that to Brissett's 2019 average of just 196.1 YPG, and there’s some volume to be found there for Hilton.
Besides, who else is Philliam going to throw to? Jack Doyle? C'mon. How many times have we heard that one?
Michael Pittman is a talented player who, no doubt, should steal some attention. He might need more time to develop than other rookies, or he might be an absolute beast out of the gate. Either way, I don’t see a reason why the two can't co-exist.
If we say Rivers is going to throw for 4,200 yards (his career season-average ... hasn't finished with anything less since 2012) and Hilton has 1,200 of those, that still leaves 3,000 yards to go around. As evidenced by last season, Rivers is clearly capable of supporting multiple 1,000-yard receivers.
In 2019, both Mike Williams AND Keenan Allen finished with over 1,000 yards. And Williams did it on only 49 catches. Austin Ekeler was pretty damn close to 1,000 receiving yards himself (92 rec, 993 yds, eight TD's).
If you assume T.Y. plays to his averages, he would finish a 16-game season with 234.0 PPR points.
Last season that would have landed him at WR14 just above Robert Woods (232.9). If you give him just one extra TD, he would have had enough points to be WR12 last season, just behind Devante Parker...
I’m not saying Hilton is getting any younger, I'm just saying when he’s on the field, he’s pretty exceptional. Too exceptional to be falling to the sixth round, if you ask me. His current FantasyPros ADP at the time I'm writing this: 59th overall. That's WR27...
If you can land Hilton in the sixth or seventh round it's robbery.
4. Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
Cooks may be the single most undervalued player in this years rankings. The departure of DeAndre Hopkins means the door is wide open for Cooks to step into the WR1 role.
Currently, Cooks is being drafted after players like: De'Andre Swift (who, as of now, hasn’t played a snap in the NFL), Marvin Jones (who finished with 1,000+ yards just once in his career, and has never registered more than 65 catches in a season), even his own teammate Will Fuller (for as good as he is, has never played a full 16 games, never finished a season with more than 670 yards or 49 catches.)
Cooks is no Hopkins, nobody is saying he is. But while he's not going to be winning those jump balls in the back of the end zone, he does have a pretty consistent track record as a 1,000-yard receiver.
Prior to last season (where he suffered two concussions that limited his availability/productivity) Cooks recorded four consecutive seasons with 1,000+ yards, 100+ targets, and 65 or more receptions.
Do you mean to tell me we’re counting out a player in the prime of his career altogether after one down season? Couldn’t be me chief.
If I find myself in need of a WR3/4 in the eighth round and I see Brandin Cooks staring me in the face, I’m pulling the trigger all day. He could end up garnering you a HUGE return on investment. Worst case scenario he fizzles out and you didn’t really risk all that much with an eighth rounder. So what are you worried about?
With the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans have 167 vacated targets entering 2020. Deshaun Watson has to throw to somebody, doesn’t he?
I know Will Fuller is still there, and don’t get me wrong he’s an incredibly talented player. But unfortunately you can’t rely on him.
When Fuller plays, he’s great (even when he had to play with Brock Osweiler). But the fact is, he doesn’t always play. Over the last three seasons, Fuller has missed a total of 20 games.
Cooks on the other hand, prior to last season, finished four full seasons in a row, racking up 1,000+ yards in each of them.
If you’re worried about the change in scenery, don’t be. Cooks accomplished the aforementioned four consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns with three different teams in the past five years (Saints x2, Patriots, Rams).
He knows the drill. He also knows the drill when it comes to being a teams top receiving threat. At his current ESPN ADP (80th overall) you should know the drill as well. Target the man.
5. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
If there is one thing I’ve learned since I first watched him play at LSU, it's that nothing can stop the machine that is Jarvis Landry.
EVERY YEAR he is slept on, and every year he delivers. Landry's current ADP FantasyPros is 68th overall. That’s WR29.
He finished as WR12 in PPR scoring last season...
I’ll just let that marinate.
From weeks 8-17 last year, the man was the third-highest scoring fantasy WR in the league.
With no less than 81 catches in any season of his career (AVG's 94 per season), Landry is the very definition of a high-floor player.
Since entering the league, Landry has NEVER finished lower than 18th in PPR scoring at his position (highest: 5th).
It’s fair to note Juice has displayed a traditionally low ceiling in the past due to his possession-type role. However, it’s fair to wonder if he has overcome these woes.
Just last season, Landry posted career-highs in:
The man caught a first down on 2/3 of his receptions last season. If that doesn’t scream ‘Go-To Guy’ I don’t know what does.
The way I see it, there is room for both Beckham and Landry to shine but it all depends on which Baker Mayfield shows up this season. At least we know that if Mayfield doesn’t play good, it won’t necessarily be a bad thing for Landry.
LATE ROUND STEALS: Marquise Brown (BAL), Diontae Johnson (PIT), Raheem Mostert (SF), Jordan Howard (MIA), Jamison Crowder (NYJ), Dallas Goedert (PHI), Aaron Rodgers (GB)
1. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Look, I get it. After being traded from Miami, from week seven on, Drake was RB7 in PPR scoring. If you owned him in the fantasy playoffs last season, you’re probably crazy about him. I can’t blame you.
In eight games with the Cardinals, Drake accumulated 643 yards and eight TD's on the ground. He averaged 19.9 FPPG over that span. Therefore, he's a bonafied RB1, right? Not for me.
Yes, I saw what he accomplished. No, I don’t think it continues.
Keep in mind, Kenyan Drake has been around for a while. He’s been in the league since 2016, albeit on the Dolphins, and up until this point, he hadn’t made any sort of significant splash.
That's not to say he didn’t possibly break his own mold last season, but do we all of a sudden see him as a three-down/1,000 yard back?
Is he all of a sudden a more talented player than David Johnson, a man that finished the 2016 season with over 2,000 total yards and 20 TD's?
I personally can’t see it.
Before last season, Drakes career-high for rushing yards in a season was just 644. His career-high for rush TD's in a season was just four.
Sure, the change of scenery seemed to benefit him greatly, but I wonder how long that momentum can last.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Arizona Cardinals have the 21st ranked offensive line, with the ninth-worst run blocking grade. According to FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, the Cardinals have the 12th-toughest schedule for an RB in 2020.
The truth is, 63 percent of Drake's points with the Cardinals came during three games (week 9, week 15, week 16). Granted, he WENT OFF in those games, racking up over 140 total yards and finding the endzone in each.
However, if you remove the three games in question, Drake averaged just 11.6 FPPG and 46 rush YPG with the Cardinals. Plus, volume could end up being a concern. He received 20+ touches in just three of his eight games with Arizona. It's a small sample size, but it's less than 50 percent.
I’m fine with Drake as an RB2/3, but I personally can’t get on board with his current ESPN ADP of RB9.
Now, I have him ranked sort of similarly at RB14, but I’m keeping him on a short leash, and avoiding him at his current value. He's currently ranked as the 10th overall player on ESPN... I mean, have we lost our minds? I'll be damned if I'm taking him above Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, or any of the league's top 5-7 WR's.
Third round? Sure. But a top-20 overall player? Not on my watch.
2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccanneers
We love Gronk, I know. But, it’s been nearly two years since he’s been on a football field. I'm simply saying we all might want to temper our expectations.
The fact is, things will be different for Gronk because he’ll be competing for targets with two of the best WR's in the game. Sure, he has that connection with Brady, but the last time they were on the field together, Gronk produced just 47 catches, 682 yards and three TD’s in 13 games (133.2 PPR points, would have landed him at TE13 last season).
As opposed to a very Gronk-like 69-1084-8 stat line in 14 games the season prior.
The last time Gronk played in the NFL was the first time in his career that he played more than ten games and didn’t finish as a top-ten fantasy TE (PPR scoring).
I’m not saying he doesn’t bounce back and I’m not saying he isn’t still Gronk. I’m just saying the most recent sample we have isn’t very encouraging from a fantasy perspective.
Also, like I briefly touched upon before, he’ll have WAY more competition for targets, arguably more than he ever had in New England.
His current FantasyPros ADP is 74th overall, which is a bit steep for me, especially considering FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics have the Bucs pegged with the third-hardest schedule for a TE in 2020.
Again, I’m fine with Gronk as your TE1, I just wouldn’t reach too far.
ESPN has Gronk at a much more comfortable spot for me at 113 overall. But I already know, based off his name alone, he will be taken earlier than his ADP suggests.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t scoop him up if he’s still there in the ninth/tenth round, but please, do yourself a favor and don’t take him with one of your first six picks. I’m talking to you Patriots fans.
3. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
I personally find the current ADP for Golladay (WR7 on FantasyPros, WR8 on ESPN) much too high. Some will point to his league-high 3.82 fantasy points per touch (second only to AJ Brown) and say he belongs in the top-ten. I say that it's unsustainable.
In 16 games last season, Golladay had:
On tape it’s clear to see why Golladay has so much appeal. He is a very talented guy, and to be fair, he did have to play with a backup quarterback for half the season, making his top-nine PPR finish that much more impressive. But, I’m not comfortable with someone so inconsistent (from a fantasy perspective) as my sole WR1.
Remember how Stafford was on an absolute tear before he got injured (weeks 7-9) last season? It's true Golladay scored 20+ PPR points in two of those games, but he also finished with just one catch for 21 yards in the other. Which is exactly my point.
Inconsistency isn't guaranteed, but I'd like to see it before I believe it.
Now, listen carefully. I'm not saying don't draft Golladay.
He's a great player that I'm sure will have a fine season. But personally I just don’t see him as more valuable than Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen, or DJ Moore... all guys he is currently being drafted above.
4. Phillip Rivers, QB, Indianapolis Colts
You know I love T.Y. this season, but that doesn’t mean I’m big on Phillip. His new team may have the highest graded offensive line in the league according to Pro Football Focus, but they are more of a run-blocking unit than anything else.
Last season, Rivers threw more INT (7) than TDS (6) when under pressure. The Chargers were seventh in preventing QB pressure in 2019. Phil’s new team? 25th. Yeah I stole that stat from Matthew Berry. What are you gonna do about it?
Now let’s be honest, Phil is a fine streamer on most weeks. But riding him as your starting QB is risky. He hasn’t finished in the top-ten at the position since 2013.
Matthew Berry (can you tell I use him for reference a lot?) recently posted a statistic about Rivers that blew my mind:
In 220+ career games, Phillip has NEVER scored more than 30 fantasy points in a game.
Absolutely bonkers, but true. If he couldn’t do it with his high-powered Chargers offense, something tells me it’ll be even more difficult with the Colts.
Chances are you’re only considering Rivers for a Superflex/2QB league, if you are even considering him at all. But even then, someone like Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, or even Joe Burrow likely have a much higher ceiling than the ‘Bolo-tie Bandit’.
5. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
For as good as he was late last season, I’m not sold on him as a WR2.
Last season, Sutton had a 26% target share for the Broncos. He finished with more than five catches just three times... He topped 20.0 PPR points just twice.
I can't imagine that his usage goes up considering Denver recently added stud rookie WR's Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler along with one of the leagues best receiving backs in Melvin Gordon.
That’s a lot of targets that are going to dry up for Sutton. Any logical person would come to the conclusion that his production is going to suffer.
He’s proved me wrong before, but if he outplays his current ESPN ADP of WR14 (barring an unforeseen injury to one of his teammates) I would be shocked.
He is ranked more appropriately at WR24 on FantasyPros. And even then I might go lower.
OTHER PLAYERS GOING TOO EARLY: Johnathan Taylor (IND), De'Andre Swift (DET), Hunter Henry (LAC), Austin Hooper (CLE), Cam Akers (LAR)
Photo Courtesy of NFL.com
AJ Brown and Kenny Golladay led all NFL WR's in fantasy points per touch last season. But one is being drafted too high, while one is being massively undervalued.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
The Playbook by CommishFFP
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for pro football/fantasy sports and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
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