Week Two Fantasy Football: Start or Sit

 Matchups are the most important factor when it comes to choosing who to start this week in fantasy football.  The only exceptions are the s...

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Undrafted Players to Target After Your Drafts

Your fantasy football roster only has so many spots on it, meaning a lot of talent ends up going undrafted.  Every season it seems like one or two deep sleepers have an incredible season and some of the games take place while this player is on the waiver wire.  Last season, players like Michael Gallup, Matthew Stafford, and Deebo Samuel went undrafted in some leagues and performed near the top of their respective positions.  Rookies are often much more unpredictable, but some veterans go undrafted and have an unexpected break out season.  There will be tons of talented players left after your draft is over, but which ones are worth signing?

Quarterback:

In a single quarterback league, most people only draft one QB then stream someone on their starter's bye week.  This means about 18-20 quarterbacks are taken in the draft, leaving anywhere from 12-14 starting quarterbacks are left undrafted.  Last season, over 40 quarterbacks had a QB1 (top 12) week which shows that some of these later round guys can perform just as well as guys being drafted in the early and mid rounds.  My favorite quarterback that's going undrafted in most leagues is by far Gardner Minshew. 

Gardner Minshew performed so well that the Jaguars traded Nick Foles, who they just signed to a four year contract.  They clearly believe in the talent of Minshew, but he has to prove himself this season or his time in Jacksonville may be up.  In 2019, he threw for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns against six interceptions in just 14 games!  Minshew also had a passer rating of 91.2 and a 60.6% completion percentage.  Although the Jaguars struggled in 2019, the offense looked solid under this rookie signal caller.  Minshew helped D.J. Chark break out, although Chark also helped Minshew out as he was one of the best deep separators in 2019.  

Coming into the 2020 season, the defense has barely improved if at all.  This means the offense will be passing to catch up most of the time.  The Jaguars signed Chris Thompson, a great receiving back, and drafted Laviska Shenault to give Minshew another weapon alongside Chark, Westbrook, Conley, and Cole.  Not to mention Leonard Fournette who is coming off a career season in both statistics, receptions, and health.  Garnder Minshew has a lot to prove this season and the Jaguars look to be building a solid offense around him.  The game script should be in his favor so don't be surprised if he has a few weeks where he could be started.


Honorable Mentions: Joe Burrow (CIN), Teddy Bridgewater (CAR)


Running back:

This player is a huge risk for the 2020 season, but Antonio Gibson is one of the most athletic players in the NFL right now.  He has great size, speed, and hands, but is in a weird offensive position.  Gibson was drafted to the Washington Football Team as a running back, but has also been taking reps at wide receiver.  The Washington offense will be one to avoid for the most part, but Gibson could be one of the few bright sides on this team.

Antonio Gibson has the talent to be a Christian McCaffrey-like running back, but will not see that volume in the 2020 season.  He is currently behind Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love on the depth chart, but could very easily see some snaps in the slot as the Football Team lacks some depth at the position.  Gibson would be a dangerous draft pick, but might not cost anything if he goes undrafted in your league.  Casual fans will not know about this guy and he could very easily take the starting role if this offense struggles.  Gibson will not get many snaps, if any at all in the first couple weeks, but pay attention to the Washington Football team's backfield.  If there are injuries or lack of production from the starters, pick Antonio Gibson up immediately.  


Honorable Mentions: Chase Edmonds (ARZ), Damien Harris (NE)


Wide Receiver:

The Pittsburg Steelers have been great at drafting wide receivers for years.  They'e had success with guys like Santonio Holmes, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders, and they may have found their next great receiver.  It's not Juju Smith-Schuster, it's not Diontae Johnson, or even James Washington.  It's the rookie receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame.  Claypool is a tight end with the athleticism and speed of a receiver.  He will be a problem on the outside for any cornerback strictly due to his size, but his hands are just as important.  With Big Ben coming back in 2020, Claypool gives him a huge target to pass to if he needs a week or two to shake off some rust.  

There has also been a lot of rave about Chase Claypool in training camp this offseason.  He has exceeded expectations and is making catches rookies shouldn't be able to make.  Any receiver with this size and talent, as well as the hype in camp to back it up, should have tons of success in the NFL.  This offseason is a little strange due to the current pandemic, but that doesn't mean Claypool won't see the field at all.  It may even take him a few weeks to get on the field consistently, but he will soon prove himself as a top tier wideout in a matter of a few games.  He will go undrafted in your league and may be worth picking up, especially if Juju Smith-Schuster or James Washington go down with an injury.   

 


Honorable Mentions: Parris Campbell (IND), Denzel Mims (NYJ)

Tight End:

The tight end position is impossible to predict for fantasy football.  Even at the end of the season, the back half of the TE1s are undesirable so streaming is almost always necessary.  Ian Thomas may be worth streaming a few weeks throughout the season.  There are no right answers for this position, but nobody is looking at the Carolina offense outside of Christian McCaffrey.  The Panthers' offensive line is well below average so Teddy Bridgewater will need a big body and nearby target to throw to.  D.J. Moore is becoming a great receiver in the slot, but isn't nearly as big of a target as a tight end.  Ian Thomas will be close to the line of scrimmage most of the time or will at least be a great option to get rid of the ball quickly. 

In a new offense led by a college coach and offensive coordinator with a quarterback who likes to play the short passing game, the tight end will see some targets.  In 2019 when Bridgewater took over for Drew Brees, he was able to support Michael Thomas very well, but also gave some value to Jared Cook.  The Saints also had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL so Bridgewater wasn't forced to get the ball out quick.  Ian Thomas will get more targets in this offense and could even be the third option for Bridgewater behind McCaffrey and Moore.  Thomas will definitely go undrafted and probably won't be touched on the waiver wire most of the season.


Honorable Mentions: Jace Sternberger (GB), Tyler Eifert (JAX)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Breakout Tight Ends

Tight ends are the most difficult players to predict in fantasy football.  There's obviously the top few tight ends like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zack Ertz, and Mark Andrews.  These are players everyone knows will produce week in and week out barring injuries.  The next tier of tight ends is usually solid, but have some question marks heading into the 2020 season.  Whether it's touchdown regression, injury concern, or new teammates that could take targets from them, this tier of tight end isn't normally the best every week.  Darren Waller, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, and Jared Cook are the biggest names in this tier and they each have their own problems, but that doesn't mean they can't be started most weeks.  Every few seasons however, some tight end breaks out and becomes a weekly starter seemingly out of nowhere.  The most recent tight end to do so was George Kittle back in 2018, and now he's a top two tight end in the league.  Tight ends normally take a season or two to really start to produce, so which young tight ends have the best chance to break out in 2020?

One of the most likely candidates is the Dallas Cowboys new TE1, Blake Jarwin.  In 2019, he was the second string tight end behind veteran Jason Witten.  Jarwin finished as the 28th overall tight end averaging 4.4 points per game.  Now with Witten (and Randall Cobb) gone, over 150 targets are vacated in this offense.  The Cowboys did spend a first round pick on wideout Ceedee Lamb, but there is a 0% chance Lamb gets all of those targets.  Jarwin is almost guaranteed to receive all of Witten's workload, if not a little more.  

Dallas also fired head coach Jason Garrett who loved to utilize the running back.  The Cowboys then went on to hire Mike McCarthy who likes to pass the ball, and even helped Aaron Rodgers win an MVP award.  With a pass happy coach and a quarterback looking to prove himself once again, Blake Jarwin should see a lot of high quality targets and a decent amount of red zone targets as well.  As the third or fourth option on this team, Blake Jarwin could see anywhere from 70 to 90 targets and (let's say he keeps the same catch percentage) should catch about 60 of those passes.  At his average of over 11 yards per catch, this should put him just under 700 yards on the season.  While Blake Jarwin only had three touchdowns last season, Cobb and Witten had a combined seven scores, so at least a couple of those will fall into Jarwin's hands.  700 yards and five touchdowns would put Jarwin in the top ten tight ends last season.  This may not make him a weekly starter, but he could definitely be streamed in a good match up!


Next up is a tight end in a run heavy offense, but they don't have a great target outside of their number one receiver.  In 2019, Jonnu Smith had 35 receptions on 44 targets for over 400 yards and three touchdowns.  This offense should look to be passing a little more this season as Ryan Tannehill has proven to be efficient in this offense (117.5 passer rating).  The Titans also extended Tannehill for the next four years, really demonstrating their trust in him to run this offense.  This offense still runs through Derrick Henry (who also got extended), but wear and tear will come eventually and teams will start to figure out how to stop him.  Ryan Tannehill excels in this run heavy, play action offense and will continue to thrive, but they don't have many weapons after second year receiver A.J. Brown.  

This is where Jonnu Smith comes in.  Tight ends fit perfectly in run heavy and play action offenses as they act as a big target to get the ball out quick to if the first read isn't open.  Last season, Smith had the fourth most targets on this team behind Brown, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries.  Corey Davis has proven he is at best a third option and a waste of a first round in pick.  Adam Humphries not only dealt with injuries last season, but also had about 70 less yards on more targets and receptions.  The Titans need a more consistent target who can be used in the short passing game, but can also get YAC.  A.J. Brown is used to stretch the field and will more than likely never see more than 80 receptions in this offense.  With such a poor receiving corps, Jonnu Smith has a great opportunity to step up in this offense and could easily see a greater target share, especially now that Delanie Walker will not be returning either.  The departure of Walker opens up 31 targets and Corey Davis will probably lose some volume as well, vacating another 10 to 15 targets.  These vacated targets will be distributed mainly between A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith as the top two targets on this team.  Assuming Smith maintains his 80% catch rate, he should see about 51 receptions.  Keeping his 12.5 YPC equates to over 630 yards, but his touchdowns could remain around the same as this offense is bound to take a step back as it was unbelievably efficient in the red zone.  If Jonnu Smith can get 630 yards and four touchdowns, he would finish at the back end of the TE1s.  Again, not the most desirable finish, but it's another potential weekly starter.  


In a slightly more crowded offense, this tight end could see a slight drop in volume but has great big play ability that he proved in just his rookie season.  Noah Fant is a very interesting tight end heading into the 2020 season.  The Broncos clearly want to get the most out of Drew Lock as they drafted two more wide receiver and signed running back Melvin Gordon.  There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, but there should be more than enough targets to go around.  Fant was frustrating to own in 2019, even though he did finish as the 16th best tight end.  He finished the year with only three touchdowns and 562 yards on 40 receptions.  The frustrating part of these stats are that nearly 230 of those 562 yards came in just two games.  He also scored two of his three touchdowns in those games.  

Noah Fant will not be someone you will want to start weekly.  He is a tight end with big play ability and will have either amazing weeks or could entirely disappear.  Drew Lock only targeted Fant 2.8 times per game (0.6 red zone targets per game) once he took over.  This is a little worrisome, but could very easily change this season.  With so many new weapons, defenses can't focus on just one or two receivers and Fant will be schemed to get open.  He is a big target with safe hands for Lock to pass to under pressure or down the field for a big play.  Drew Lock was on pace to throw the ball 500 times in 2019, which is about 31 attempts per game.  With so many weapons in this offense, the ball will be spread out a lot but in a good match up, Fant could see upwards of seven to nine of those targets.  The Broncos don't have the most favorable tight end schedule, but they do face the Raiders (twice), the Falcons, and the Panthers.  Fant will not be a weekly starter, but he has a high ceiling for the 2020 season.  If Fant only has those two addition big games, that's another nearly 200 yards and two more touchdowns.  If he finished the season with 750 yards and five touchdowns, that's a top ten tight end on the season.  The consistency is the biggest problem with Noah Fant, but he may be worth taking late for those big weeks.


This last tight end is in an awful offense with very limited weapons.  He has the raw, physical athleticism to be a star tight end in this league, but the coaching and offense may hold him back from reaching his true potential.  Chris Herndon on the New York Jets is a real sleeper for this season.  Plagued by injury and suspension in 2019, Herndon only started one game, had one reception on two targets for seven yards.  He flashed in 2018 however with 502 yards with 39 receptions on 56 targets and four touchdowns.  With constant injuries to this receiving corps and the number one guy being Jamison Crowder or Breshaud Perriman, the Jets really need someone to stand out in this offense.  Last season, Ryan Griffen took over as the TE1 and saw 41 targets, but also had five touchdowns.  The Jets also had Robby Anderson last season take some targets. 

Sam Darnold has another year in the NFL under his belt and will continue to develop, but the offensive line will still be well below average in 2020.  They added some pieces through free agency and the draft, but the impact these linemen will have is still in question.  This means that Darnold will have to get the ball out quickly (again) leaving the primary two targets as a slot receiver or a tight end.  Chris Herndon will take over the starting role and receive most of Ryan Griffen's targets and some of the 96 vacated targets from Robby Anderson.  Herndon is another tight end who probably won't be a weekly start, but has the potential to be started in a good match up.  The Jets face the entire NFC West next season and they all struggled with covering tight ends; the Rams were probably the best.  They also face the Browns with some injuries in the secondary and Mack Wilson, as well as the Raiders and Dolphins who could still be weak on the defensive side of the ball.  Herndon can be started in a pinch, but will probably need a touchdown to finish as a TE1 on the week.  


Dark Horse Picks:

Gerald Everett (LAR)

T.J. Hockenson (DET)

Dan Arnold (ARZ)

Ian Thomas (CAR)

    


 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Most Fantasy Relevant NFL Teams


Every team has at least one player with fantasy relevance.  Even the Cincinnati Bengals who finished with the first overall pick last season had Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd who could be started almost every week.  However, some teams have much more fantasy relevance than others.  These are normally the high powered offenses and the teams that consistently make a push for the playoffs.  Today I will be breaking down the most fantasy relevant teams and the players that make them so productive.

The most obvious team is the Kansas City Chiefs.  A healthy Patrick Mahomes makes this team absolutely electric.  Even before Mahomes took over, Alex Smith made these weapons relevant as well.  Patrick Mahomes has been and will be a threat to finish as the QB1 every week no matter the match up.  A quarterback can't finish that high without having at least one weapon put up good numbers.  Based on their current ADPs, the Chiefs have three weapons being drafted in the first two rounds thanks to this Mahomes led offense.  

Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have been producing for years now and have their fantasy output amplified with Patrick Mahomes.  Both Kelce and Hill could finish at the top spot at their respective positions any given week.  The third player being drafted in the first two rounds is rookie running back Clyde Edwards Helaire.  CEH hasn't played a single NFL snap yet, but he has proven in college to be a prolific pass catching back.  Andy Reid knows how to get production out of running backs as well.  He helped LeSean McCoy back in Philadelphia become a great running back and has utilized Damien Williams in Kansas City.  CEH will produce for fantasy off the volume alone, but the talent is there as well.  The Chiefs also have guys like Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman who have the ability to put up big numbers, it just happens less often than Hill and Kelce.  

Kansas City also has a defense that will be relevant for fantasy in 2020.  They started out rough in 2019, allowing nearly 25 points per game before their bye week.  After that bye week, they allowed just over 10 points per game.  The defense will not be as good as it was at the end of last season, but they should definitely improve from how they started last year.  They have explosive players on the defensive line like Frank Clark and Chris Jones who will inevitably get sacks.  They also have Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Charvarius Ward, and Bashaud Breeland (suspended four games) who can all force turnovers.  With the improvement in yards and points per game allowed on top of the sack and turnover production, this defense could be streamed in a decent match up.  


The New Orleans Saints are another offense with ability to score 30 points any given week.  Drew Brees is always a threat for a 300 yard game and is a lock for at least 25 touchdowns on the season.  Brees has solid weapons who also go pretty high in drafts like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.  Both Thomas and Kamara are first round picks in fantasy football and have definitely lived up to those expectations.  Michael Thomas finished as the WR1 last season and could very easily repeat that with the amount of targets he receives.  Alvin Kamara struggled with an injury most of the 2019 season, but even he had some fantasy relevant weeks.  

Some later round picks from this team include Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, and even Latavius Murray in slightly larger leagues.  Although Sanders is getting old, he could very easily put up big numbers in this offense.  He is a refined route runner and Drew Brees has an incredibly accurate arm; if Sanders is open, Brees will find him.  Jared Cook is also getting up there in age but he continues to produce as well.  Cook is a big play tight end so the receptions may not be there, but the yards and touchdowns will be.  He can be inconsistent at times, but he could finish in the top five at the tight end position in a good match up.  Latavius Murray proved last season that he still has some gas left in the tank.  Kamara struggled to play through his injury at times, Murray stepped in and produced.  He won't see much action between the 20s, but could get some red zone and goal line work.

The Saints defense is also a pretty safe start nearly every week.  They have a solid pass rush led by Cameron Jordan and potential breakout star Marcus Davenport.  They also have Demario Davis and Nigel Bradham at linebacker who can both cause turnovers or get sacks.  The secondary isn't bad, but they are inconsistent at times.  They have a good mix of veteran and young players with Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins at corner, along with Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins at safety.  This defense has the ability to shut teams down, but needs to be more consistent.  The sacks will come nearly every week, but interceptions may be hard to come by at times. 


Dallas also has a lot of fantasy options.  Dak Prescott finished the 2019 season as a top five quarterback and is currently being drafted as such.  He can almost always go off for a big game, but also has the chance to finish outside the top ten.  Prescott will very rarely, if ever, be a total bust as he is always a threat for at least 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns.  Dak's productivity has to come from somewhere and in this offense, it's mainly from his receivers.  Amari Cooper has the tendency to disappear at times, typically after an injury but it still happens for a couple games throughout the season.  Michael Gallup is a young , but promising receiver.  He had over 1100 yards in 2019 and missed two games.  They also drafted Ceedee Lamb who will make up for the loss of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten.  Blake Jarwin could be in for a breakout season with the loss of Witten, but Lamb will receive some of those vacated targets.

As great as this passing offense may be, the running game is what allows it to open up so much.  Ezekiel Elliot is an elite running back in this league and will continue to produce year in and year out.  He is nearly a lock for 100 yards and a score every single game.  Elliot doesn't have the receiving capabilities of guys like Barkley or McCaffrey, but he can definitely catch the ball when needed.  Zeke should be in for another great season and will easily (barring injuries) finish as a top five running back.  He may have the safest floor of any running back in the league.

Now for the Dallas defense.  Their secondary took a hit with the loss of Byron Jones, but Chidobe Awuzie has shown some flashes and they drafted Trevon Diggs in the second round of the draft.  They also signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to improve their safety room.  The real strength of this defense is in the linebacker corps.  They have a great veteran in Sean Lee, a younger vet in Jaylon Smith, and a promising stud in Leighton Vander Esch. The only concern here is the health of these players.  Vander Esch went on IR in 2019, Sean Lee has been in and out of seasons for years now, and Jaylon Smith was of concern in college but seems to have grown out of his injury bug in the NFL.  This defense finished as the ninth best in fantasy last season, allowing 327 yards per game and about 20 points per game.  They don't force a ton of turnovers as they finished the season with just 17, but they can normally get to the quarterback a couple times per game (39 on the season).  They signed Everson Griffen to pair with Damarcus Lawrence to hopefully increase their sack numbers.


Although this team has consistently failed to live up to the hype, the Cleveland Browns could be in for a great fantasy year.  Starting with their quarterback, Baker Mayfield is in a make or break season.  If he can't produce with an improved offensive line, new weapons, and a seemingly capable coach, it may be time to move on from him.  There will obviously be growing pains in a new offense, but Baker knows he has to look good or his time in Cleveland could be coming to an end.  He has all the weapons he could possibly need for success in this offense as well.  Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are arguably a top five receiver duo in the NFL and are both a consistent threat for 100 yards and a touchdown.  They also have a great tight end duo with breakout star Austin Hooper and young stud David Njoku.  

The running back room is where a lot of the value of the Browns come from.  Nick Chubb has proven in just two seasons that he can carry the load of an every down back.  Chubb is not the greatest receiving back, but he has the ability to catch the ball in space and make guys miss.  They also have the 2017 rushing leader in Kareem Hunt who happens to be a great receiving back.  Although Chubb is the clear starter in this offense, Kareem Hunt will get enough work to be a weekly starter.  Kevin Stefanski loves using running backs in his offense and with a great duo like this, both of these guys will have value all year long.  

Cleveland's defense finished as the 22nd ranked defense in 2019, but that's with the loss of Myles Garrett for nearly half the season.  With this added pass rush coming back, the team should not only produce more sacks, but they'll also force more turnovers.  The secondary will improve with more time to develop their great, young corner duo of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams as well as the addition of safety Grant Delpit from LSU.  The linebackers aren't the best on this team, but Mack Wilson had a promising rookie season in 2019. 


The last team is the Arizona Cardinals.  They have one of the most exciting rosters heading into the 2020 season.  Kyler Murray has a great arm and will hopefully be looking to run a little more than he did last season.  Production on the ground is even more valuable for fantasy quarterbacks but with the addition of Deandre Hopkins, the Cardinals are clearly looking to pass the ball.  This offense also has the ageless wonder of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.  Neither of those names are as exciting for fantasy as Deandre Hopkins, but they both have potential to finish as a top 30 receiver with how fast this offense is looking to move.  

Arizona also put the transition tag on breakout running back Kenyan Drake.  Once they stole him from Miami, Drake had an incredible season.  In just eight games in Arizona, he had nearly 650 yards (5.2 YPC) and eight touchdowns.  Drake is a perfect fit for this offense and they will continue to scheme him into this offense.  Kyler Murray will also be a big factor in the run game.  Not only is Kyler fast, he's extremely quick and can beat nearly every defender to the outside of the field.  In his rookie season, he finished with nearly 550 yards on the ground with four touchdowns.  This offense has so many options and at the fast pace Kliff Kingsbury wants to play at, every one of these players will have fantasy relevance.

Unlike some of these other teams, the Cardinals defense may not be a weekly starter.  In 2019, no one on this team was getting sacks other than Chandler Jones who finished the year with 19.  They have added Jordan Philips who is coming off a career year, Devon Kennard, De'Vondre Campbell, and Isaiah Simmons who should all help improve this pass rush.  The Cardinals also couldn't stop any tight end last season which will also be helped by Isaiah Simmons and De'Vondre Campbell.  This Arizona defense will definitely see improvement from last season, but they are no more than a streaming option against a bad offense.  


Next five teams up:

San Francisco 49ers: great defense and tight end, injured and questionable receivers, Jimmy Garoppolo isn't an elite fantasy quarterback

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Great receivers and tight end, good quarterback, big question at running back, defense is good but needs to do it for another season before it's a consistent start.

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar is amazing, defense will get turnovers, and Mark Andrews is great.  Receivers are questionable behind Marquise Brown and running backs may be more of a committee than expected.

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson is great but can be inconsistent for fantasy, injuries at running back but Carson is underrated, great wide receiver duo, injuries at the tight end position, good defense but not great pass rush.

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff is good, but struggled in 2019 behind a bad offensive line.  Ball will be spread out a lot between receivers and tight ends but all should be valuable.  Big question at running back until a starter is named.  Defense is good but lacking some pass rush outside of Aaron Donald.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Boom or Bust


Every season there are tons of players that are on the brink of a potential break out year.  All the pieces seem to fall into place for these players and it's up to them to perform.  There's a good number of those players this year, but not every single one of them is going to live up to expectation.  Some will be amazing perform even better than originally thought, others will bust and disappoint whoever drafts them at their ADP.  I will be trying to predict how some of those players will do in this 2020 fantasy football season (based on current ADP).   

Diontae Johnson, 10.03, Boom

The Steelers offense struggled mightily in 2019 after Ben Roethlisberger went down with his elbow injury.  Nothing about this offense looked good, but some things were brighter than others.  The run game struggled with James Conner being in and out of games and quarterback play was well below average with a mix of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph.  Even most of the wideouts struggled to beat their man or get open, but Diontae Johnson looked great.  He finished the season with 680 yards and five touchdowns on 92 targets (59 receptions).  Johnson finished the season with a true catch rate of 88.1% which places him 16th overall in 2019.  

Diontae Johnson is currently the second wideout on this team, but has the potential to take over as the true one.  Juju Smith-Schuster struggled to beat any coverage last season, but especially man coverage on the outside.  He also missed a few games due to injury and played hurt for some others.  The Steelers could move Juju to the slot allowing Johnson to take over as the real number one receiver on the outside.  Diontae Johnson proved himself to be a great separator last season, averaging about 2.4 yards of separation from the closest man to him.  His separation ability, on top of the fact that he only had three drops last season, shows that Johnson could be a great deep threat for Big Ben when he returns.  This not only helps open stuff up beneath for Juju and tight ends, but it also allows for big plays and long touchdowns for Diontae Johnson.  He was also only on the field for about 66% of snaps which will definitely increase in his second season.  

He should have a great season in 2020 mainly due to the fact that Big Ben is back.  Ben will give him way more catchable targets than he had last season (67 of 92 total targets) and with his separation ability, those will be very valuable targets.  Johnson could easily break the 1000 yard mark in just his second season, but the touchdowns probably won't go up that much with the Eric Ebron signing.  


Prediction: 75 receptions, 1050 yards, six touchdowns. Diontae Johnson will finish as a mid tier WR2.

Devin Singletary, 3.09, Bust

The Buffalo Bills rely heavily on their defense to win them games but also utilize the run game.  Between Josh Allen and the running backs, they average 29.1 attempts per game placing them 6th in the league in 2019.  Of those 29.1 carries, Devin Singletary only averaged 12.6 carries per game.  Singletary also had 20 red zone touches with only one of those coming on the goal line.  He finished the 2019 season with only 775 rush yards (5.1 YPC) and 194 receiving yards with four total touchdowns.  Singletary was on the field nearly 70% of the time, but didn't see the work load to match that much time on the field.  

Buffalo drafted Zack Moss in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.  Moss and Josh Allen will get most of, if not all the goal line carries this season.  Singletary already didn't see the volume needed to be a top tier running back, and now his red zone and goal line carries will be even more limited.  He is an elusive back and has the talent to perform, and that's why I believe a lot of people are drafting him so early.  Talent doesn't produce without the opportunity though.  Unless Singletary gets nearly another 100 carries, he won't be that top tier running back people want.

I am not saying to not draft Singletary.  If he falls another round or two somehow, then take him.  His ADP is too early for the volume he will receive and he will be a disappoint taken at the back of the third round.  He gets little to no goal line work, limited red zone carries, and he's not utilized much in the pass game.  Devin Singletary will be a bust at his current ADP.


Matthew Stafford, 9.12, Boom

The Lions have struggled to give Matthew Stafford a half way decent supporting cast and defense since they drafted him.  However, Stafford is a very solid fantasy option and is going to be a steal at his current ADP.  Before he got hurt in 2019, Stafford was playing out of his mind.  Through eight games, he threw for 312.4 yards per game, 19 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.  Stafford was throwing touchdowns at an unbelievably high 6.5% touchdown rate.  The offense was firing on all cylinders and Matthew Stafford looked amazing.  Last season was the first time he missed a game since 2010.  Although coming off an injury, he has proven he will be on the field as much as he possibly can.  He's played through smaller injuries before and had success when it comes to fantasy, like 2018 for example.  

Coming into 2020, Stafford has two solid receivers in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.  Golladay managed to finish as the sixth best wide receiver in fantasy with garbage at the quarterback position between David Blough and Jeff Driskol.  Marvin Jones Jr. didn't have the greatest finish at number 27, but he is always a threat for 10 touchdowns in a season.  The Lions also finally look to be adding to their run game after taking Kerryon Johnson in 2018 and D'Andre Swift in 2020.  These running backs should not only help open up the run game, but give Stafford more targets to pass to.  Injuries in football are inevitable, but this offense can do some real damage as long as the main weapons stay healthy.

Matthew Stafford is one of the most talented and underrated quarterbacks in the entire NFL.  Stafford finally has an above average supporting cast to help him.  The defense is still lack luster so Detroit will be trailing in some games, so Stafford will be forced to throw more.  As the 15th quarterback off the board, he should easily outperform his ADP and could have multiple weeks inside the top five even.  


Deebo Samuel, 4.10, Bust

The 49ers ran the ball the second most in the NFL, only behind the Baltimore Ravens.  They have a solid running back committee and only lean on the passing game when they have to.  When Jimmy Garoppolo is throwing, George Kittle is the number one option for him, Deebo is probably the number two.  In 2019, he finished as the wide receiver 29 which is pretty good for a rookie receiver in a run heavy offense.  Samuel is currently dealing with an injury and may not be ready for the start of the season.  He suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot which means even when he's back and playing, he may not be the same for another few weeks.  As the 22nd receiver off the board, he is being drafted as a low end WR2 which is where he should be if he was healthy.

While being on the field for over 72% of the 49ers offensive snaps, he only saw 81 targets and caught 57 of those passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns.  This was also without Emmanuel Sanders for half the season.  The 49ers don't pass the ball a lot because they don't have to.  Samuel probably won't be ready by week one which makes is ADP way too early.  When he's back and fully healthy he will succeed and be worth a much later pick but as long as he's dealing with that injury, Samuel will be a total bust at that ADP.


Cam Akers, 7.06, Boom

The Los Angeles Rams have a subpar backfield filled with guys like Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson after they let go of Todd Gurley.  The Rams took Cam Akers in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft to potentially take over the hole that Gurley left.  They may use a committee to start the season, but Cam Akers is more than talented enough to take over the three down back role relatively early in the season.  He is currently being drafted as the 33rd running back off the board, but could very easily outperform his ADP when he's named the starter in this offense.

The Rams offense struggled in 2019 as the offensive line was not nearly the same as it has been in the last couple seasons.  With how bad they played, the line can really only get better than where it was just a year ago.  Cam Akers will have to earn the starting role, but that shouldn't be too difficult.  He was a high draft capital pick and only has to outperform two back up tier running backs.  Even if he doesn't start week one, Akers in the seventh round will easily outperform his ADP by the end of the season.


Ryan Tannehill, 12.03, Bust

The Titans, much like the 49ers and Ravens, have a very run heavy offense.  Tannehill absolutely thrives in this run heavy, play action passing offense and will continue to perform well.  The reason he will bust isn't because he won't play well.  The Titans had an unbelievably efficient offense in the red zone, only kicking one field goal inside the 20 since Ryan Tannehill took over.  A lot of that has to do with Derrick Henry having an unstoppable season, but Tannehill played his role insanely well too.  This efficiency is impossible to repeat and Tannehill is guaranteed to take a step back.

In 2019, Tannehill started 10 games for the Titans, throwing for over 2700 yards and 22 touchdowns at an incredibly high 7.7% rate.  He also had 10 interceptable passes, but only six interceptions.  The move from Miami to Tennessee is exactly what Tannehill needed to turn his career around, but this explosiveness and high efficiency has to come down.  He performed at a historic level and it's nearly impossible to repeat that success.    

His ADP already isn't super high so it won't hurt to take a late round flyer on him.  Whatever you do though, do not reach for him.  If anything, wait to see if he goes undrafted in your league.  In a good match up, he could be a weekly streamer, but he likely will not be a consistent starter for your fantasy team this season.    



 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Five Backfields to Avoid for Fantasy Football

 

Many teams in the NFL have a star running back who dominates their backfield.  The Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliot, Giants have Saquon Barkley, and the Titans have Derrick Henry.  These players are also all studs for fantasy football.  The teams that don't have a star running back typically use a running back committee.  These teams usually have a first and second down back, a receiving back, and a goal line back, meaning the work load is very spread out.  Without one running back getting the majority of the work, these backfields don't usually have great fantasy production.  So which teams should be avoided for fantasy purposes?

The first team to stay away from is the New England Patriots.  This team has Sony Michel as their number one on the depth chart, but consistently throw Rex Burkhead into the mix.  James White is also on this roster and is used mainly as a receiving back.  The Patriots also added Lamar Miller this offseason who will probably take some of the load away from Michel and Burkhead.  Although he didn't see the field much, only 0.44% of the team's snaps, Damien Harris is also in this backfield.  

As the starter, Michel only rushed for 900 yards and seven touchdowns on nearly 250 attempts.  He also caught 12 passes for 94 yards.  Michel clearly gets the majority of the load on the ground, but Rex Burkhead also had 65 rushing attempts and 27 receptions, and James White had 67 attempts and 72 receptions.  The volume is there to support a lead back, but nobody stands out from this group of guys.  Assuming Lamar Miller is healthy and makes the final roster, he could very easily take 30 to 40 attempts away from the rest of this backfield.  

The Patriots also signed quarterback Cam Newton to a prove it deal.  If he's healthy, Newton will easily beat out Stidham and Hoyer for the starting job.  This means he will also take rushing attempts away from this backfield as a huge part of Cam's game is his ability to run.  This offense will look very different from the past two decades and the running backs may receive even less work than before.  The only running back potentially worth drafting would be James White in a full PPR league as Cam can tend to lean on the backfield for quick, short passes.  There's a lot of mouths to feed in New England and not every running back is going to produce.  And when they do, it'll be impossible to predict when.


The Washington Football Team is another team with a crowded running back room.  Derrius Guice is now off the team after some off the field issues, but Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Antonio Gibson, Peyton Barber, and J.D. McKissic still all remain.  One of these players will probably be cut before the start of the season, but it is possible they all make the final roster.

AD is listed as the starter on their depth chart now that Guice is gone so he will more than likely be the first and second down back.  The third down back could be Gibson, Barber, or McKissic.  Gibson was drafted in the third round (Washington's second pick) and is very athletic.  He is going to both the receivers and the running backs meetings and workouts in camp as of today.  Gibson is very versatile and is currently listed as the second running back on the depth chart so he may be the third down back.  If it isn't Gibson, McKissic makes the most sense as he is a better receiver than Barber.  Bryce Love has not been mentioned once, but he will be the real second string back and take some of the work away from Adrian Peterson.  If age starts to catch up to AD, don't be surprised if Bryce Love takes over early in the season.  

With the way the rest of the team is built, running the ball doesn't seem to be the best option.  Washington has a solid defense that is carried by their defense line.  They won't let up a ton of points, but the offense will struggle to score.  Haskins didn't look great when he was first thrown in, but performed slightly better by the end of the season.  The offensive line is below average which doesn't help Haskins or the run game. And they have very little at the receiver position after Terry McLaurin.  This team will likely be behind in a lot of games which changes the game script to a pass heavy offense.  This backfield is really hard to choose from but if Love or Gibson fall to one of the final rounds, they may be worth taking a shot on.


San Francisco had the second best rushing offense of the season in 2019, but this backfield is impossible to predict.  After Matt Breida went to Miami, the backfield was left with Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Jerrick McKinnon.  If McKinnon is healthy this season, this will make the 49ers backfield even harder to predict.

On the depth chart, Raheem Mostert is the leader, but he doesn't start every game.  Tevin Coleman actually started 11 of 16 games last season while Mostert didn't start any.  Mostert also just got his contract restructured so he will make more money next season after an impressive end of the year in 2019.  Both Coleman and Mostert had 137 carries on the season, but Mostert averaged over 1.5 more YPC than Coleman.  Coleman also had seven more receptions, but they finished with the same amount of receiving yards (180).  If the 49ers continue to ride the hot hand, Mostert will see most of the work next season.  San Fran thrives using a committee though, so Coleman is going to get his work as well.  Mostert could see more than 150 carries and Coleman will probably reach right around 150 as well assuming he stays healthy all season.  

By the end of the regular season, Tevin Coleman only finished with 22 total snaps more than Raheem Mostert.  Following the departure of Matt Breida, there are 259 vacated snaps at running back.  Jeff Wilson Jr. will receive less than 20 of those, leaving nearly 240 snaps to split between Mostert and Coleman.  After week 12, Mostert was on the field an average of 59% of the snaps while Coleman played only 27% of the snaps.  It's likely the 49ers will continue to use Mostert as he was more efficient and they just paid him more money this offseason.  I don't like this backfield because 2019 showed they ride whoever is hot that week and the first guy on the depth chart doesn't mean he's the starter that week.  If I had to draft one back from the team, it'd definitely be Raheem Mostert.  


The Denver Broncos found a gem in UDFA Phillip Lindsay.  He has been a stud for them ever since he signed back in 2018.  In 2019, Lindsay was the lead rusher with just over 1000 yards and seven touchdowns.  He and Royce Freeman actually shared the backfield snaps pretty evenly throughout the season as Lindsay only took two more total snaps than Freeman.  In this offseason, the Broncos went out and signed Melvin Gordon from the Chargers.  Gordon is a starting quality running back and will demand snaps and take them away from both Freeman and Lindsay.  Although he held out at the beginning of the 2019 season, Gordon still finished the year with over 400 snaps and was on the field 54% of the time when he came back.  And that's with the amazing season Austin Ekeler was having too.  

Freeman became more of the receiving back for this Denver offense totaling 43 receptions on 50 targets.  This role will most likely be taken over by Melvin Gordon as he is a very capable receiver and the Broncos went out of their way to sign and pay him.  This will not be an even three way split for this team however.  Freeman will lose 70% to 80% of snap count barring any injuries to Lindsay or Gordon.  This will open up over 400 snaps for Melvin Gordon.  Phillip Lindsay's snap count will more than likely take a hit as well, but not nearly as much as Freeman's did.  Lindsay could lose anywhere from 5% to 10% of his snaps, only giving another 50 or so snaps to Gordon.  This makes this backfield nearly a 50-50 split of Gordon and Lindsay, with a little bit of Freeman thrown in a few times a game.  

Melvin Gordon is currently listed as the starter so he will be on the field early on in most games.  He will also be on the field for most third downs as well as Lindsay isn't much of a receiving back.  Phillip Lindsay is the second string running back, but it's in the same way as Tevin Coleman is the second string in San Francisco.  It'll be impossible to predict who is going to have their week, but it seems like Melvin Gordon will see more valuable snaps than Lindsay (first and third down work).  I really don't like this backfield for fantasy, but Gordon looks like the safer pick right now.


When Kerryon Johnson was healthy last season, he was on the field an average of 66% of the time (before his injury).  Week seven and on, the backfield was pretty split between Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic, Bo Scarborough, and a few weeks of Paul Perkins.  There was no clear back up in 2019 but coming into 2020, there is no clear starter.  The current starter on the depth chart is listed as D'Andre Swift.  Kerryon Johnson has proven to be good when he's healthy though.  The only problem is the fact that Kerryon Johnson has only played in 18 games in his first two seasons.

With how restricted and shortened this offseason is, Kerryon Johnson may enter the season as the starter.  He could very easily lose that job to D'Andre Swift if he gets hurt just doesn't perform well.  The Lions spent a second round pick on Swift, which is pretty high draft capital to just sit him for his entire rookie season.  Swift will without a doubt see the field, the only question is how much work he will get.  I believe Swift is the better back and could outperform Johnson early on in the season, even with less carries.  I don't think there's any way Johnson is completely eliminated from this backfield however.  His work may drop down to 10 carries a game, but that's still enough to have an impact on Swift's production.

This backfield isn't very crowded, but it is likely going to be a relatively even split between two backs which is never good for fantasy.  Until a true starter is announced, I would avoid this backfield entirely.  Not to mention the Lions never really have a great rushing attack either due to coaching or poor offensive line play.


There are some other worrisome backfields, but they will probably work themselves out sooner rather than later.  Some of these teams that just missed this list include: Buffalo, Indianapolis, Pittsburg (mainly injury concern), and LAR.  

Buffalo has Singletary as the main starter.  Josh Allen likes to run a lot so he will take some carries. Buffalo also drafted Zack Moss in the third round who could see goal line work and take touchdowns away from Singletary.

Indianapolis drafted Jonathan Taylor in the second round, which is high draft capital to not use him.  They have announced that Marlon Mack is the starter but also said that they'd ride the hot hand.  Nyheim Hines will also get most of the receiving work.  

Pittsburg is rolling with James Conner, who is a great starter.  If he goes down, which is very likely, the back ups aren't very appealing.  Benny Snell Jr., Jaylen Samuels, and rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. all could see volume if Conner goes down.

Los Angeles drafted Cam Akers in the second round and will likely be the starter.  He's a rookie so he's not guaranteed to perform well.  The Rams also have Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown, both of which were on the team last season so they already know the system.    


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Overlooked Fantasy Running Backs

 

Fantasy football season is approaching faster than ever!  With that being said, everyone knows the obvious picks in the early rounds.  Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, you name it.  The top tier running backs are very well known, and can almost all be interchangeable to some extent.  But what about some middle round running backs?  There are a lot of hidden or forgotten about stars that could have great seasons and be great value at these picks. 

(Note: These aren't late round picks.  These are running backs in the mid rounds who I feel are being overlooked or undervalued.)

First up is David Montgomery.  The Bears selected Montgomery in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft after they decided to not sign a back in free agency.  Tarik Cohen was not taking over as a three down back, which automatically gave Montgomery the starting role.  He had a rough rookie season, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.  Montgomery finished his rookie year wit 889 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and 185 yards and one score through the air.  His struggle can be greatly attributed to the lack of a passing game and a below average offensive line performance.  

Coming into the 2020 season, Montgomery remains as the starting running back.  Assuming Montgomery gets the same, if not more volume than he did last season, he should be a steal.  He's currently being drafted as the 22nd running back, meaning he's being valued as a low-end RB2.  Now that the Bears may have competent quarterback play, this should open up the run game a little more than it was last season.  The box won't be stacked on every single play anymore, and David Montgomery should have more yards per carry.  Although he is currently being valued as a bottom tier RB2, with the volume he is projected to receive, David Montgomery's ceiling is definitely closer to an RB1.  He could finish anywhere from 14th to 22nd at his position.  


I already know a lot of people aren't going to like this one.  Le'Veon Bell has had a rough start with his career in New York.  Adam Gase doesn't seem to like him, nor does he want to utilize him much.  Not only that, but the Jets offense had some serious problems, especially when Sam Darnold was sick.  In 2019, Bell rushed for only 789 yard (3.2 YPC) and three touchdowns.  He also had 461 receiving yards and one more touchdown through the air.  New York had a bottom ten offense, mainly due to the fact that their offensive line was well below average.  None of this sounds great, so why is Le'Veon Bell potentially a steal at his current ADP?

In this past offseason, the Jets have reloaded their offensive line with guys like Conner McGovern, George Fant, Alex Lewis, and Mekhi Becton.  McGovern is by far the best of these signings, but Becton has tons of potential as a top three tackle in this past draft class.  With a slightly improved offensive line, Bell should have more holes or at least more time in the backfield to wait for a hole to develop.  The Jets should also have Sam Darnold all season as his back ups struggled even more than he did.  Darnold should look to improve with new weapons in Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims.  Much like Montgomery, a more efficient passing game will limit how often defenses will stack the box against this offense which will allow for an improved rushing attack.  Not to mention, Le'veon Bell had a total of four touchdowns last season.  He is guaranteed to get more than four scores in 2020.  Bell is the best player on this low powered offense, it's nearly impossible for his touchdowns to not go up this season.    

Bell is currently being drafted as the running back 17, a mid tier RB2.  If this offense as a whole improves at all, Le'Veon Bell's ceiling is right around the top ten.  He finished as the 16th running back in fantasy last year and with a much greater chance to improve than regress, Le'Veon Bell in the middle of the third round could be a steal.


Ronald Jones II is going to be an absolute steal in 2020.  Bruce Arians has recently come out and said that Rojo is the guy for this Tampa Bay offense.  McCoy, Vaughn, and Ogunbowale are all competing for roles on this team.  In 2019, Jones only had 724 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go along with 309 yards in the air.  He did this on solid efficiency averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 10.0 yards per catch.  This offense has only gotten better this offseason and, now that Ronald Jones II is confirmed as the starter, he should have a good 2020 season.

His current ADP is at the end of seventh round, which is behind every other starting running back except for the situation in Miami between Howard and Breida.  Nearly every starting running back has decent value in fantasy, and getting that value in almost the eighth round would be the biggest steal of the draft.  Jones probably won't see many third downs this season as he isn't the best receiving back, but Brady may look to him on first or second down as he has always utilized the running back in the passing game.  That may not fit Arians's typical scheme, but he's supported David Johnson as arguably the best running back in 2016.  The Buccaneers already have a solid offensive line as well, and the box can't be stacked too often as the passing game is already a threat.  Without a clear number two on this team, Jones will see the majority of the work load and could hit 1000 yards on the ground with similar receiving numbers to last season.  


The Arizona Cardinals appear to be building a power house of an offense heading into the 2020 season.  Their backfield is led by breakout star Kenyan Drake, who was traded from Miami to Arizona halfway through the 2019 season.  In just eight games on the Cardinals, Drake rushed for 643 yards (5.2 YPC) and eight touchdowns.  He also saw 35 targets (28 receptions) for 171 yards through the air.  Drake seems to fit this air raid offense perfectly as the Cardinals placed the transition tag on him in the offseason to give themselves more time to get a long term deal done.  He is currently being drafted at the end of the second round, but even that seems a little late for a running back with his potential.  

Kenyan Drake led all starting running backs (after he got to Arizona) in yards per attempt, and this offense has only gotten better.  Kyler Murray is entering is second season which, in recent history, tends to be the year that quarterbacks break out.  The Cardinals also traded for superstar wide receiver Deandre Hopkins.  The offensive line struggled in 2019 as they were ranked the fourth worst run blocking unit.  Entering the 2020 season, the same linemen are projected to start. The continuity should allow for improvement in both run and pass blocking and create an even better offense.  Arizona also added many pieces to an atrocious defense.  If they can get the lead and now maintain that lead in some games, Drake will see more action on the ground instead of Kyler having to pass the ball to catch up.  

As the 13th running back off the board so far, Drake has incredible value at nearly the third round.  In a fast pace offense that is on track to improve, he looks like a lock to finish in a better position than his ADP.


Mark Ingram is also dropping down many people's draft boards.  In 2019, Ingram had just his third 1000 yard season (5.0 YPC) and 10 touchdowns on the ground.  He also had another 247 yards through the air and five more trips to the end zone.  The Ravens did draft running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round, but he more than likely won't be the starter yet.  Ingram has proven he can lead this backfield in both production and morale.  In 2019, he finished as the eighth best running back for fantasy, but is currently being drafted as the 19th running back late in the third round.  

Even with his age, Ingram has proven he still has it at 30 years old.  He is falling in drafts because people believe J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards will take carries away from him.  Two of those three were there last season and Ingram still got it done.  Any normal offseason would have me worried about Dobbins, but this is a shortened and restricted training camp with no preseason.  This means it could take longer for Dobbins to learn the playbook and prepare well enough to really start taking reps from Mark Ingram.  In this extremely run heavy offense, Ingram will get the volume he needs to be productive and put up solid numbers.  The touchdowns will decrease as 15 is a hard number to repeat, especially at his age.  He will by no means be your teams RB1, but he is very serviceable as a mid to low end RB2.  Ingram's ADP is almost insulting after the season he had in 2019, but he carries great value relatively early in the draft.    


Honorable Mentions:

Devin Singletary

Kareem Hunt

David Johnson

       




Saturday, August 8, 2020

Late Round Fantasy Targets: Wide Receivers


Fantasy Football season is here! Most people don't partake in redraft leagues until mid to late August, but it's always a good idea to have a plan entering your drafts!  There are tons of obvious choices in the early rounds of the draft with most starters and second options on teams going very early on.  But which players are being slept on or could have great value in the later rounds of the draft?

Desean Jackson seems to be a forgotten player.  His current ADP (average draft position) is in the middle of the 13th round.  Although he has serious injury concerns, Jackson still appears to be the number one receiver in this offense with Alshon Jeffery starting the season injured.  He more than likely will get injured early on, but in the 13th round, most people are taking shots on players who have boom potential.  Desean Jackson has a very high chance to be a total bust in 2020, but he may be worth the last pick in your draft if he even has one big game.



The Colts have an interesting receiving corps with T.Y. Hilton as the first option.  After him, it gets a little confusing as to who is going to be the second and third options.  Michael Pittman Jr is currently going undrafted in most leagues, meaning he will most likely be there for your last pick in the draft.  His only real competition for the second wide receiver spot is Parris Campbell who has been injured most of his career so far, and Zach Pascal who is more of a third or fourth string guy.  Pittman looks like he already has the two spot locked up, but could even move to the first option if Hilton continues to miss some time due to injury.  Hilton missed six games in 2019 and two games in 2018.  If he can't stay healthy, Pittman will more than likely take over his role.  A WR1 on any team would be an incredible steal in the last round of your draft!



New York doesn't ave many options at the receiver position, but Jamison Crowder gives Sam Darnold a great safety outlet.  Crowder does not have a high ceiling, but he has an incredibly high floor.  With a rebuilding offensive line, Darnold will continue to try to get rid of the ball quickly and other than the running back position, the slot receiver is the first option for a quick pass.  He is currently being drafted as the wide receiver 59, even behind guys like Robby Anderson and Tyrell Williams.  Crowder may not be the WR1 on the Jets but with a bottom ten offensive line, he may be Sam Darnold's easiest target.  



The Falcons threw the ball more than any other team in the NFL last season, averaging 42.8 pass attempts per game.  With the loss of breakout tight end Austin Hooper and receiving back Devonta Freeman, this opens up a lot of targets.  The Falcons signed Todd Gurley and traded for Hayden Hurst this offseason to make up some of those targets.  Hurst isn't anywhere near the same level that Hooper is, and Gurley will more than likely have a relatively limit workload with his arthritic knee.  This means there will be targets left over for the third wide receiver on the depth chart, Russell Gage.  In 2019, Gage had 74 targets in just four starts.  This number should increase with a slight downgrade at the tight end position and potential injuries at running back.  Gage would definitely not be a weekly starter, but any receiver getting nearly 100 targets would be worth drafting with your last pick.  Especially when those targets are coming from a near Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Matt Ryan.   



Last but most certainly not least is a receiver on the Detroit Lions.  Marvin Jones is my personal favorite late round target at the receiver position.  He's currently being drafted as the 38th overall wide receiver, but has mid to high WR2 potential.  Jones is always a threat for 800 yards and eight touchdowns.  Jones is not going to be a WR1 on your team, but could definitely have weeks in the top 12.  The Lions are arguably the most overlooked offense in the NFL.  Although Matt Patricia isn't a good coach, Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback and can very easily support two solid fantasy options at wide receiver.  Kenny Golladay is going as a mid WR1, but Jones is constantly forgotten about.  As long as he is healthy, Marvin Jones will be the best value at this position in nearly every fantasy draft.  





Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Most Exciting Position Battles to Watch in Camp


Every season, teams sign free agents or draft rookies to battle it out with veterans in training camp and preseason for starting roles on the team.  This season, there are no preseason games for the 2020 season, so the starting and back up roles will have to be determined in training camp.  There is competition on every team at some positions, but these are the most exciting battles heading into the 2020 NFL season.

1. Mitch Trubisky vs Nick Foles
In 2017, the Bears traded up to draft Mitch Trubisky, ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.  Trubisky is currently looking like a total bust, with only a few solid games under his belt.  He has shown very few flashes in his three years as a starting quarterback, so Chicago finally decided to bring in some competition.  Following a disappointing 2019 season, the Bears traded for Nick Foles from Jacksonville as they are set with Gardner Minshew.  

Foles has a rather expensive contract for him to sit the bench for the entire season.  It would be very surprising to not see him step on the field at all during the season.  If Trubisky can really step it up in camp and prove to the organization that he has improved significantly, he could retain the starting job.  Foles also won't have preseason to learn the offense at game speed, so it may take him a few weeks into the season to be fully prepared to play.  Quarterback battles are always exciting, even when it's between two bottom ten starters.

Prediction: Nick Foles wins the starting job week one.



2. Marlon Mack vs Jonathan Taylor
The Colts have a solid, young running back in Marlon Mack who's still on his rookie deal.  In 2019, he rushed for over 1000 yards and eight touchdowns.  Coming off his best season yet, Mack is entering a contract year, right after Indianapolis drafted second round running back Jonathan Taylor.  Taylor was a stud in college, but had a slight fumbling issue.  He also ran the fastest forty yard dash of the top running backs in the draft this year.

This battle is exciting because it will tell whether or not the Colts will decide to resign Marlon Mack after this season, or if they'll role with Jonathan Taylor for the next three seasons.  If Mack has another 1000 yard season, the Colts may resign him, but they also spent a high pick on Taylor.  A second round pick is a lot to invest in a player to not use him early and often.  

Prediction: Marlon Mack starts, but is not resigned after the season.  



3. Cam Akers vs Darrell Henderson vs Malcolm Brown
The Rams have a crowded running back room with no obvious starter after they let go of Todd Gurley.  Los Angeles drafted Cam Akers in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft after drafting Darrell Henderson in the third round in the 2019 NFL draft.  Akers was a stud at Florida State and is arguably the best back in this room.  He has yet to play a snap in the NFL, but he has the most potential of the three backs.

Malcolm Brown will more than likely be the goal line back, as he is a heavier back.  This leaves Akers and Henderson to be used most of the game.  Akers has potential to take over the Gurley role as the workhorse back until Henderson really shows flashes.  Akers wasn't the best receiving back in college, but he definitely has the ability to be a three down back.  

Prediction: Cam Akers is a three down back all season with Malcolm Brown being the goal line back. 



4. Parris Campbell vs Michael Pittman Jr 
Another battle for a position on this Indianapolis offense is at the receiver position.  The number one spot obviously belongs to T.Y. Hilton as long as he remains healthy for the season.  The real question is who belongs at the number two spot.  Pittman Jr and Campbell were both second round picks, but in the 2020 and 2019 drafts respectively.  Campbell only started three games his rookie season, mainly due to injuries.

Michael Pittman Jr is a bigger bodied receiver and could very well be a number one on some teams as long as his talent carries over to the NFL.  Parris Campbell is much faster and could be a great slot receiver, a great compliment to Hilton and the perfect receiver for Philip Rivers.  Both have the potential to be great in the NFL and both were drafted near the same position as well.  They have very different skill sets, both could work alongside T.Y. Hilton though. 

Prediction: Michael Pittman Jr is the true number two receiver playing across from Hilton, Parris Campbell plays in the slot, doesn't start every game though.  



5. Brandin Cooks vs Will Fuller 
The Texans dealt superstar wide receiver Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, leaving a hole at the wide receiver position.  They used their second round pick to trade for Brandin Cooks in an attempt to fill that gap.  Outside of Fuller, the Texans also have Kenny Stills, Keke Coutee, and Randall Cobb, but none of those could be the true number one receiver.

Will Fuller has experience in this offense and has amazing deep threat ability.  The only problem with Fuller is his health.  He's only started 41 of 64 potential games and continues to show his inability to stay healthy.  Brandin Cooks has historically been great, even after switching teams, posting four straight thousand yard seasons between three different teams.  He struggled to stay healthy last season with a concussion scare, but still managed to start 14 games.  Cooks is also a great deep threat, but doesn't have the experience Fuller has in this offense.

Prediction: Brandin Cooks wins the starting role while Will Fuller remains in the role he's held for years.

        

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Sleeper Teams for the 2020 NFL Season


Many teams in are in position to have a great season in 2020.  Teams like the Chiefs, Ravens, Packers and Saints are some of the most obvious teams to push for the playoffs and even the Super Bowl.  With big name players on each of those teams, some teams don't have the same level of star power but can still make a push for the playoffs.  Some of these sleeper teams have a realistic chance of making the playoffs, especially with the additional seventh spot.

Chicago Bears
The Bears have no real holes in their roster outside of the quarterback position.  This may be the most important position in all of football, but they've made the playoffs with Mitchell Trubisky before.  Now with a solid competition between Nick Foles and Trubisky, the team has to put the better option on the field, meaning they'll see more success in the passing game.  

Outside of the quarterback controversy, they have two underrated receivers in Allen Robinson II and Anthony Miller.  Robinson has always performed well with subpar quarterbacks like Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky.  Anthony Miller started to look good by the end of 2019 so with consistent quarterback play, he could have a breakout season.  The Bears also have a crowded tight end room with three potential starters in Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, and Demetrius Harris.  Not to mention they also have soon to be work horse back David Montgomery and receiving back Tarik Cohen.  As long as the offense line continues to be at least average, the offense should take a step forward next season.

Chicago also has one of the best defenses in the NFL.  They upgraded their pass rush by adding Robert Quinn after a career year with Cowboys.  As long as Akiem Hicks can stay healthy, the pass rush with Khalil Mack should be even better than it was in 2019.  Their linebacker duo is one of the best in the NFL consisting of Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan.  The depth at that position took a hit with the departure of Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency which will definitely be apparent if one of those two go down with an injury.  The secondary looks solid as well.  Safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson Sr. make one of the better duos in the league.  Kyle Fuller is a very underrated cornerback with ten interceptions in the last two seasons.  The second cornerback position is questionable either with veteran Buster Skrine or rookie Jaylon Johnson.  Both are solid options, but Skrine is average and Johnson hasn't played yet.  The Packers didn't do much to get better in the offseason, and the Vikings lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball so the top two teams in this division may take a step back.  As a whole, the Bears have a very complete roster and should make a push for the playoffs in 2020.



Houston Texans
In a blockbuster trade, Bill O'Brien traded superstar wideout Deandre Hopkins for a second round pick and running back David Johnson.  After this trade, people starting counting the Texans out of the competition for a playoff spot.  Although it hurt to get rid of arguably the best receiver in the league, the Texans offense still has tons of talent.  After that trade, Houston traded a second round pick for Rams receiver Brandin Cooks and signed free agent Randall Cobb from Dallas.  They also have Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee at receiver and Darren Fells and Jordan Akins at tight end.  Both David and Duke Johnson are also solid receivers out of the backfield.  Last but certainly not least, they still have superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Watson is a magician behind a below average offensive line that has nowhere to go but up from last season.  He can make every throw in the book and has a very underrated and forgotten about running ability.

The Texans defense isn't as good as the Bears, but they're still at least average.  JJ Watt anchors the defensive line along with potential breakout candidate Charles Omenihu and Brandon Dunn.  The linebacker group is probably the best part of this defense with Whitney Merciless, Zach Cunningham, Benardrick McKinney, and Brennan Scarlett.  The only real weakness to this defense is the secondary, and even that still has solid pieces.  Safety duo Justin Reid and Jaylen Watkins are solid, but not the stars that Houston would prefer back there.  The corners in Gareon Conley and Bradley Roby are also pretty good, but still not the desired stars teams want.  This is another team with no real holes, but still has room to improve in some positions like the offensive line and secondary.  In a competitive AFC South division, it won't be a cakewalk to get by the Titans or Colts, but it's not out of reach for this talented roster. 



Atlanta Falcons
Dan Quinn is on the hot seat entering the 2020 season, so the Falcons need to perform in order for him to keep his job.  Their offense looks explosive with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Todd Gurley and tons of other former first round picks.  The talent is all there and they have the potential to be a top five offense once again.  The offensive line looked a little weak in 2019, but there are a lot of young players on the line who should all naturally improve from last season.  The only other question on the offensive side of the ball is focused around the running game.  If Todd Gurley's knee can carry a starting running back's work load, then this offense will be dangerous.  If his arthritis effects his physical ability, this offense may struggle to move the ball a lot.  Gurley is also a great pass catching back so without him, Matt Ryan also has one lass target.  

The defense has holes all over the place.  Atlanta has a few good pieces like Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Dante Fowler, and Damontae Kazee.  Outside of those four players, the defense looks pretty weak.  They have two young cornerbacks in Isaiah Oliver and AJ Terrell and unproven guys at linebacker and on the defensive line like Foyesade Oluokun and Tyeler Davison.  The defense has potential if the young corners can step up to play a big role this season.  The Falcons also drafted Marlon Davidson in the 2020 NFL draft who has a high ceiling, but has a bit of an injury concern.  The offense is bound to be explosive and will be the only reason this team is in games in 2020.  It's unlikely Atlanta will make the playoffs as they are in one of the toughest divisions right now, but they should play nearly every game to the last few minutes.  



Pittsburg Steelers
The Ravens are the powerhouse of the AFC North, and the hype is starting to return with the Cleveland Browns making moves in the offseason.  The media seems to have forgotten about the Pittsburg Steelers.  Mike Tomlin is arguably a top five coach in the NFL, especially after the season he had in 2019.  Ben Roethlisberger was out for most of the season and pulled this team to an 8-8 record with a mix of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback.  They also had an injured Juju for the second half the season, though he did play through it with the exception of a couple of games.  The last time Big Ben was healthy and playing a full season, he threw for over 5000 yards and took the Steelers to the playoffs, and nobody seems to remember what a dominant force they were.  

In 2019, Pittsburg was carried by a top tier defense, which only got better after trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins.  TJ Watt has proven to be an elite pass rusher, Bud Dupree finally had a breakout season, the defensive line was always above average, and the cornerback duo of Steven Nelson and Joe Haden look great.  There really wasn't a hole on this entire team except for the atrocious play coming from the quarterbacks.  Entering the 2020 season, the Steelers will get Big Ben back for the whole season assuming he's healthy, they get a rested Juju Smith-Schuster entering a prove it year, and they have breakout candidate Diontae Johnson after an impressive rookie season.  Pittsburg also drafted Chase Claypool to add a big body to this receiving group.  If James Conner can stay healthy this season, along with Big Ben, this Steelers team could be a real threat to not only return to playoffs, but give Baltimore a run for their money at the division title.