For this piece, I take a look at the current average draft position (ADP) of players in fantasy football drafts at the time of the writing and with precise, nuclear technologically graded rocket fucking idk how to end this. I choose one player in each round that I absolutely love, more than my wife and my kids. Don’t tell them I said that though. Because you’d be talking to no one, and that’s weird bruh.,
**Sidenote, we’re going to be using ADP data from the FFPC, which is the premiere high-stakes fantasy football league home. The ADPs are from high-stakes redraft, season-long leagues, not bestball so stfu.
Back to the criteria, which we don’t have, because I rarely have anything organized when it comes to my brand, but I’ll only choose players going in the second half of the round in question. Who does it help for me to tell you that you must draft Saquon Barkley in the first round? Ironically, Saquon was my must-draft player in Round 1 in last year’s draft guide, but he was going around 1.08 at the time so he fit the bill. So, I try to hit you with a player who is likely draftable at 90% of the picks in the given round. If you’re drafting in the 12th spot, I’m sorry but literally, no one cares about you. Your parents and god included.
Oh, and I only do this for the first 9 rounds, because there’s no one getting picked in the triple digits that you must draft ya bish.
Davante Adams – WR, Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: WR2, 9th Overall (As of 8/6/19)
Previous ADP: WR2, 10th Overall
There are deadass people on Twitter telling me that in 2019 Davante Adams regression is imminent. I’ve never been kicked off Twitter but if there was ever a time I was going to be, this was it. Adams ran a train on every opponent that came his way in 2018, finishing with 111 receptions (5th) on 162 targets (3rd), for 1,386 yards (7th) and 13 touchdowns (2nd). This was in 15 games… during his age 25 season. The connection that the 3rd year wideout has built with the best QB in the world is unbothered entering 2019. Adams consistency was on another level, hitting 12 half PPR fantasy points in every single game last year, an absurd feat. So, about this regression? Adams ranked 3rd in the NFL with a 28.7% market share, you think of him as a dominant possession receiver, but he’s also great downfield: he caught 5 passes of 40+ yards (t-7th most in the NFL), but:
- Adams only accounted for 33% of Green Bay’s 40+ yard receptions, the 31st highest rate in the NFL among WRs. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was right behind him at 27%.
- Despite tying for the 7th most catches of 40+ yards in the NFL, the Packers number one weapon had 0 receiving touchdowns of 25+ yards. Here are a few names of guys that had receiving touchdowns of 40+ yards: Chris Manhertz, Robert Tonyan (GB – there were five GB Packers that had one, none him), Russell Shepard, Leonte Carroo, I could do this all day.
- Adams gets the volume, Adams gets the volume downfield, unluckily, none of them turned into TDs, but that will change in 2019. If two or even one of those long completions turns into a tug, we’re looking at the cut and dry WR1 in fantasy football.
New HC Matt LaFleur is coming over from Tennessee to steer the ship that Mike McCarthy ran into an iceberg. We’re hearing multiple reports that Adams will likely be lining up from the slot in 2019. I’d say it’s likely given that’s exactly what LaFleur did with Corey Davis, the Titans WR1 during his short stint in Cashville, Hennessy.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Current ADP: WR7, 17th Overall (As of 8/6/19)
Previous ADP: WR6, 18th Overall
The Public: “bUt hE GeTs #1 c0veRaGe nOw, hE CaNt hAnDlE iT.”
ME: *Shows them splits of games without AB on the field*
The Public: YeAh WeLl oBviOuSlY hE’s gONnA do bEtTer aNd gET MoRe VoLuMe wItH Ab oFF tHe FiElD!!!
111 times last year, to be exact.
The other thing that seems to keep flying over people’s heads is that JuJu, yes, is actually #REALLYGoodAtFootball. The Steelers top dog wins all over the field: He was top-10 in air yards, air yard market share, 20+ and 40+ yard receptions. So, he gets the deep looks. ✅
He had the second most Redzone targets in the entire NFL last year behind only Davante Adams. This makes sense given that JuJu had the 11th best-contested catch rate (50%) among NFL WRs in 2018, after having the 3rd highest (73.7%) in 2017. The Redzone is where the defense gets tight and you need really strong hands as a receiver. JuJu only scored 7 times in 2019, on 166 targets (4.2%). In 2017, he scored 7 times on less than half (79) of the target volume.
Why? Because he was tackled on the 2-yard line FIVE separate times in 2018.
Aaron Jones – RB, Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: RB18, 32nd Overall
So, Jones is a guy I admittedly didn’t love going into the summer. When I initially started looking at this Green Bay backfield, I thought RBBC, stay away. And then I started to think – wait, maybe this is a good thing. I’m stating to think of Aaron Jones as Alvin Kamara. He will benefit over the long-run by being used less frequently, given his size and injury history. He already dealt with a hamstring tweak this summer, but returned to practice this week (8/12). The next couple of weeks will be HUGE to determine his health for the season. He was immediately back working with the ones at practice and If he can make it through the rest of August/early September without a setback, I’d be feeling good about Jones.
Matt LaFleur comes over from Tennessee to Head Coach this Green Bay team. We know the background of LaFleur – under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta then under McVay in LAR. Last year was not good at all for LaFleur in TEN. Say what you want about the QB situation – but the offense was bottom of the league in most offensive categories that would suggest a forward-thinking philosophy – pace, snaps/game, etc. What I do find extremely encouraging is the running back usage in the passing game, which we’ve heard time and again this summer from Green Bay camp and from LaFleur.
Last year, Dion Lewis caught 59 passes. That’s a huge number. I think we can all agree that at worst – Aaron Jones is the best pass-catcher in this backfield – it’s not close. What we also know is that he’s far and away the best runner, too. He led the entire NFL in yards per carry last year (5.47), while ranking 8th in tackles evaded/attempt. Unlike Dion Lewis, Jones is not competing with Derrick Henry. I don’t think he’s particularly good, but as runners Jamaal Williams and Dexter Williams are shite to Derrick Henry’s shit.
The problem is, we don’t know what the coaches in Green Bay prefer. Maybe they’re a bunch of drunk college kids and they want Dominos at 2am. We can all objectively agree that L&B is better than Dominos, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re fading Dominos. Unfortunately, they’ve enjoyed greasy ass Jamaal Williams for too long.
What’s going on in GB though. Jamaal Williams has been dealing with a hamstring injury and has been out. Aaron Jones has been soaking up the majority of the first team reps, mixing in with rookie Dexter Williams. This is great, new coach will have the chance to see exactly what Aaron Jones is up close.
I’m completely fine letting one of the fat boy Williams bro’s take the grinder carries, so that leads to less injury risk for Aaron Jones – if he has a large % of his touches in this high-powered offense come by way or receptions, I’d love that. 12-14 carries a game + 5 targets? Fuck yeah give me 17-18 touches/game Aaron Jones with less injury risk than 5 games of 23+ touch Aaron Jones. Jones reportedly came into camp in great shape, I’m not going to go on a rant about his 5.3% body fat, no one needs me yelling on a Monday morning – but it’s better he comes in, in good shape than out of shape, the last preseason it was the suspension and him getting injured in the preseason i believe it was a hamstring he was dealing with last August – so he’s getting a nice fresh start in 2019.
This is also quietly a very good offensive line in Green Bay. They were Football Outsider’s 7th ranked run-blocking line and PFF’s 5th best run-blocking line. They drafted a kid named Elgton Jenkins from Miss St. 4th overall to sure up that interior – love that. They signed Billy Turner from Denver in FA to a 4-year $28M contract, hired former 49ers O-Line coach Adam Stenavich so LaFleur + Stenavich wil be on the same Kyle Shanahan esq page.
This is going to be a great offensive unit in Green Bay, on all cylinders. The scoring opportunities should be plentiful. Jones is a terrific GL/RZ rusher, even dating back to his days in college – a guy who ran for 33 rushing scores in 35 games. Last year, he handled 67% of the Packers GL carries and was absolutely dominant inside-the-10 yard line.
He led the NFL in TD rate in carries in the 10zone – he turned 8 10zone carries into 6 touchdowns. Small sample, but super-efficient.
The number I just can’t get off my mind is that 59 reception mark by Dion Lewis. If Jones even flirts with that number, given the rushing work upside that he has compared to Dion Lewis, plus being in this offense that’s going to score and score and score, I’m starting to love the idea of Jones, even in a committee – which honestly might not even be the case.
Marlon Mack – RB, Indianapolis Colts
Current ADP: RB18, 35th Overall (As of 8/14/19)
[UPDATED on 8./14] G*sh damn this hurts like a motha fucker, but it’s time this became official. With the uncertainty surrounding Andrew Luck’s calf/achilles/foot/leg/brain, there’s no telling when this guy is going to be healthy. And by “this guy” I mean the elite quarterback that makes this entire offense go. I don’t have to go in-depth here – if Luck misses time – which at this point – I’m expecting him to do so – every skill player on Indy’s value takes a MASSIVE hit for fantasy football. If Luck miraculously cures himself in the next 20 days, it’s wheels byke up for the Mack Attack, but I guess we’ll never know what magic could’ve been made.
In games that Marlon Mack played 40%+ of Indy’s offensive snaps, the Colts were 9-0.
There’s no more enviable position for a fantasy running back then the one Marlon Mack finds himself in entering 2019. The Colts offensive line, which was an absolute liability just two years ago, has transformed itself like Caitlyn Jenner in just one year. Indy now boasts a truly elite offensive line from both a passing (went from most sacks allowed in 2017 to least allowed in 2018) and rushing vantage point. Even if you don’t think Mack is a phenomenal running back, the line will take him the rest of the way. Let’s not forget to mention he’s playing behind a top-5 quarterback in the NFL, who, while not 100% healthy for a quarter of the season, led this Colts offense to a top-5 scoring finish (27.1 PPG). The number of goal-line opportunities Mack is in store for in 2019 is going criminally underrated. He’s the Davante Adams of running backs, with a floor of double-digit rushing scores.
So, it’s all gravy – why the hesitation on Mack from fantasy football drafters? His name is Nyheim Hines and it’s the least intimidating thing I’ve heard since Nam. Hines was the “pass-catcher” out of Indy’s backfield in 2018, I won’t argue that, but the far majority of his work came in those games in which Mack was sidelined (hamstring).
Hines was only averaging 3.9 targets/game when Mack played. If Mack was healthy, are we looking at Hines as 55-60 target back? Mack also isn’t a scrub in the passing game, his college target share was in the 76th percentile…. And at that point, we’re not as concerned with Hines as being real competition. And as I mentioned, in their two playoff games, Hines didn’t’ receive a single target…
The question of Mack being game-scripted out is the only legitimate argument I’ve heard against Mack, and to that I say… how many games do you expect the Colts to lose in 2019? 6, maybe? And of those 6, do you think there will be any games that they’re getting blown out? It’s highly unlikely, which makes me feel very, very good about Mack.
At the end of the day, what is the worst case scenario for Mack, outside of an injury? Jordan Wilkins or Spencer Ware (who might not even make the team) taking work from Mack? Not a chance. Worst case is that Mack is still uninvolved in the passing game while handling 90% of the early-down and goal-line work. In an offense that I project to be as good as Indy will be in 2019, that floor is looking like a whole meal.
ALL HE HAS TO DO IS LIVE.
Brandin Cooks – WR, Los Angeles Rams
Current ADP: WR16, 41st Overall (As of 8/6/19)
Previous ADP: WR16, 41st Overall
WR13. WR12. WR8. WR14. Those are Brandin Cooks’ fantasy finishes over the last four seasons. He’s currently the 16th WR being taken off the board.
Cooks was AWESOME with Kupp on the field.
Kupp avoided the PUP to start training camp for the Rams, but that does not mean that he’s 100% and will be ready to start the year at full strength. The reason Dr. Morse warns us about players in their first year back from ACL tears isn’t just physical, but mental too. It could take Kupp a while to get mentally acclimated to playing at NFL speed after this devastating injury.
The Rams superstar is also just 25 years old… and we know his floor, which is quite high. But are we sure we’ve seen his ceiling? The age apex for wide receivers usually starts around 24-25 and lasts through 29. Cooks could very well be on his way up statistically, in an offense that’s poised to continue its McVay-led domination. With Gurley’s knee unlikely to hold up or at least push him to the type of carry volume he’s seen in recent years, I’m betting the Rams aerial assault is in full force come 2019, led by alpha Brandin Cooks.
The best part about Cooks’ price is that he’ll be your WR2 in Round 4, quite possibly your WR3 if you only take one RB early on.
Evan Engram – TE, New York Giants
Current ADP: TE5, 58th Overall
Imagine willingly drafting a player on the New York Giants offense outside of Saquon Barkley. We’re going to go ahead and make this a reality. Engram is officially the tight end to own in the middle tier thanks to the deaths of every WR on the New York Giants depth chart.
Don’t answer the door Evan, please.
Engram finds himself as the defacto TE/WR/Weapon1 in this offense. Sterling Shepard broke his thumb, but is expected to be ready for opening day – though he might be hampered a bit considering wide receivers need their hands at full strength. Golden Tate is facing a 4-game suspension to being the season. That nonsensical attempt at trying to appeal his suspension and getting it knocked down should honestly make the suspension longer. Just hold the L and move on. He’s getting 4 games, end of story. Corey Coleman who was about to breakout for 80-1400-10 only to tear his ACL in July. Shit gets ugly REAL QUICK behind those guys – Cody Latimer, 5th round rookie Darius Slayton, Bennie Fowler. My god they don’t have a single, reasonable passing option outside of Evan Engram, and a likely less than 100% Sterling Shepard.
Engram has been in this situation before, as the defacto-1. During his rookie season when OBJ and Shepard were sidelined for the majority of the year. Here are Engram’s career splits with Odell on the field, versus without him:
The grass is certainly greener on the other side. Nearly 5 PPR fantasy points/game more without OBJ, 1.25 more receptions, 2.25 more targets, 22 more receiving yards. Engram goes from a middling fantasy TE to an upper-tier, not elite, but upper-tier option. Those 10.94 half PPR points/game would’ve slotted him in as TE5 in 2019 behind the big 3 and Ebron. In full PPR leagues, Engram is even more valuable. The Giants offense isn’t projected to have a ton of scoring opportunities, so I would still prefer O.J. Howard or Hunter Henry in standard scoring leagues, but Engram’s target floor alone makes him a ridiculous value in half or full PPR leagues. He should flirt with 115 targets in 2019.
Engram was banged up for the majority of 2018, appearing in just 11 games, but managed to finish as the TE7 in points per game. He was a drastically improved player last year. His abysmal 55.7% catch rate from his rookie season shot up to 70.3% last year. It’s not elite, but it’s a huge jump up from who he was as a rookie. He ranked 2nd amongst all tight ends last year in target separation and 5th in QB Rating when targeted. The increased efficiency as a receiver, combined with a healthy target total gives you a beautiful mix of ceiling and floor for the third year, field stretcher.
Just look at how he ended 2018 once finally healthy:
– Week 14: 5-3-77
– Week 15: 12-8-75
– Week 16: 6-6-87
– Week 17: 8-5-81-1
Four games with ridiculous consistency, a trait almost no fantasy tight ends come equipped with. That’s 7.8 targets, 5.5 receptions and 80 receiving yards/game. Paced out to a full season you’re looking at a 124-88-1280-4 statline. Given the current state of the Giants receiving group, that type of volume it’s absolutely within Engram’s 2019 range of outcomes.
Because Engram is such a standout athlete at the position, as you can see above, low touchdown totals aren’t a kill shot. Engram was 3rd in the NFL amongst tight ends last year in yards after the catch after finishing 5th during his rookie season. Among the 45 tight ends with at least 25 targets in 2019, George Kittle was the only one with more yards after catch/target than Engram. We see the trend, and with more volume, we’ll get more YAC from the Giants hybrid TE.
Volume + Talent = Fantasy Gold
O.J. Howard – TE, Tampa Bay Bucs
Current ADP: TE4, 52nd Overall – Out of Round 5 Range (As of 8/6/19)
Previous ADP: TE4, 57th Overall
Not sure I’ve seen a player as ready to burst into the upper echelon of fantasy stardom at their respective as the Juice.
The enormous elephant in the room outside of Howard is his injury history.
- Number of NFL Seasons: 2
- Number of NFL Seasons Ending on the I.R: 2
Again, though, the hashtag of 2019 is #context. I’m not a doctor. You’re not a doctor. If only we had a doctor’s opinion. Oh wait we fucking do. Dr. Jesse Morse covered O.J. Howard in his injury write up report, labeling him as a 4/10 risk factor in 2019. “Howard has a pretty clean injury history prior to his NFL career, only missing a game with an ankle injury in 2013 (as a freshman), but managed to play all 27 of Alabama’s games over his final 2 years there. Over the past 2 years, Howard has a history of right ankle injuries. He suffered a grade 3 high-ankle sprain in mid-December 2017, landing him on the IR for the final 2 games of 2017. Then last year he suffered a significant right foot and ankle (unknown specifics) in Week 11, causing him to miss the final 8 weeks of the 2019 season.” I asked Dr. Morse in a private Twitter DM to further his thoughts:
But let’s talk about Howard as a player, because if you’re going to spin the roulette wheel, the juice no pun intended better be worth the squeeze. Howard, when on the field in 2018 was really, really good. The Bucs stud finished the year hauling in 34 passes on 47 targets for 565 yards and 5 tugs. He led all tight ends in Yards/Reception, had the 3rd highest PFF receiving grade among TEs behind only Kittle and Kelce, and was 4th in YAC.
His foot/ankle issue led O.J. to appear in a total of 10 games. One of those being Week 4 against Chicago when he sprained his MCL in the second quarter, only playing on 24% of the TB’s snaps, so we’ll get that out of the analysis. If you look at the other 9 games Howard played his regular allotted snaps, he averaged 3.8 receptions, 63 receiving yards and 0.55 touchdowns… that’s 11.5 (half ppr) FPPG, which would have been right underneath Eric Ebron last year for TE5. But he was farrrrr more consistent than Ebron was. Howard went over 50 receiving yards in 8-of-9 games and scored 9+ FPs in 7-of-9 games, 14+ in 4-of-9.
When I look for TEs who can make the jump to the elite tier, I have my eye on three things:
1. Overall involvement in the offense.
2. Pure athletic ability.
3. Involvement in the redzone.
As previously stated, he ranked 4th in YAC, so not only does he look and test as an upper-tier athlete, he’s actually translated it onto the NFL field, something we seldom see from flashy, young tight ends. Howard has an 83.3% catchable target rate, 9th highest among TEs and his aDOT was 3rd highest in the NFL. He can make plays, he gets targets, and catches them, and they are deep/valuable targets. With DeSean Jackson out of the picture, the volume on those targets has nowhere to go but up.
My only concern is Howard’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the redzone. His 11.9% redzone target share ranked 22nd among tight ends last year and his 6.9% EZ target share was 31st.
All-in-all, touchdowns tend to be volatile year-over-year and extremely difficult to predict leading me to value explosiveness, athleticism and playmaking ability at the tight end position far more than his hypothetical touchdown upside. The former tends to translate into the latter over the long-run. Remember when Travis Kelce’s couldn’t score touchdowns? His first three years in the league saw TD totals of: 5, 5 and 4.
The public will say, “but Bruce Arians never uses his tight ends.” Fortunately, this is nothing like the GB/Aaron Rodgers/TE situation, where the QB, the one who physically chooses who to throw the ball to, doesn’t throw to his tight ends. Last year’s Jimmy Graham flop was easier to see coming than a fuckin tsunami. Let’s talk about #context. When you look back at the tight ends Bruce Arians has dealt with. During his time in Arizona, from 2013-2017, we’re talking about the LETHAL combination of Jermaine Gresham and John tha GAWD Carlson. In Indy, Dwayne Allen, and guess what, in Pittsburgh, when he had Heath Miller, who’s nowhere near as athletic as O.J., Miller had 3 top-12 fantasy seasons. The more important piece of #context here is Jamies Winston being under center. Mr. Krabs loves using his tight ends, like Andrew Luck, especially near the endzone. I would love this fake news storyline to continue to push O.J.’s ADP down in 2019.
Miles Sanders – RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Current ADP: RB31, 70th Overall
At this point it’s nearly every day we’re hearing new reports from Eagles camp about the backfield situation. With Sanders particularly, we’ve gotten a mixed back, but not as of late.
I’ll preface all of this by saying that I have not a single fucking clue what they’re doing with this backfield roster-wise. Their current RB depth chart reads: Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, Boston Scott and newly signed Darren Sproles. When all is said and done, I’d project Scott, Clement, Pumphrey and Adams to be let go. That leaves Sanders and Howard atop the list, Sproles as a veteran presence, who if healthy can contribute in 2-minute drills and Smallwood who is basically a lesser version of the traits that both Sanders and Howard bring to the table – so, he’ll be relegated to unused depth at a relatively fragile position.
Let’s look at Sanders as a player: Sanders was the second RB off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft to Philadelphia: 53rd overall, and the only other back besides Josh Jacobs to go within the draft’s first two rounds. His second-round draft capital is great, but doesn’t guarantee success. We look back over the last five/six years – we have a handful of absolute stud RBs coming out of the second round (especially of recent years) – Le’Veon Bell, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Kerryon Johnson, Nick Chubb. But we also have the Christin Michaels, Montee Ball, Gio Bernard, Bishop Sankey, Ameer Abdullah, Ronald Jones types. Just a reminder that you could probably talk yourself into liking any one of these backs if you wanted too. However, everythign we’re hearing from the Eagles front office is fantastic. Howie Roseman: “Reminds us of other guys we’ve had around here.” Philly’s drafted three running backs inside the first three rounds of an NFL Draft since 2002:
- Miles Sanders (2019)
- LeSean McCoy (2009)
- Brian Westbrook (2002)
We didn’t get to see much of Sanders at Penn State during his freshman or sophomore season (combined 56 carries and 8 receptions) due to Sagawd Barkley being a fixture in the Happy Valley backfield. But, in 2018, during Sanders’ final season at State, the Eagles 2nd rounder took hold of the featured job and put up some serious numbers.
Over 1,400 total yards from scrimmage and 24 receptions. 24 is a good enough number for me to believe he can catch passes at the next level, plus Barkley only caught 20 passes during his inaugural college season followed by a 28-catch campaign in his sophomore year. And it’s not like this is Ohio State or Wisconsin, where you can just project the “next guy up” at running back to pop off for 1,400 yards – this is Penn State, where the offensive line ain’t shit. These are impressive numbers not to be taken lightly. So, we have the college production, let’s look at Sanders from an athletic standpoint – is he fast, big, quick enough relative to NFL athletes?
Survey says……… fuck yeah. He blew away the combine, coming in with enough size to be considered a starting NFL back who can operate on any and all 3 downs, plus 75th+ percentile athleticism in nearly every category. Relative to other NFL backs, he’s a phenomenal athlete.
So, where does this leave us for 2019? It’s a tricky spot. I wish he was a late 7th rounder instead of 6th, to be honest, but the fact that the Chris Carson news is pushing Penny’s ADP down so rapidly gives your roster the option to grab both of these backs in the mid-to-later rounds who both have top-15 fantasy RB upside.
The Eagles rookie missed OTAs and a bit of camp with a hamstring injury, but has since returned to the field with no setbacks so it looks to be in the past thankfully. Early reports out of camp had negatively shined light on Sanders’ pass-blocking ability. But since those surfaced, it’s only been rave reviews from Eagles camp and most importantly the heart and soul of Philly’s beat reporting crew: Jimmy Kempski of The Philly Voice, among basically every person from Eagles practices.
Sanders is the most talented, all-around running back the Eagles have had on their roster since LeSean McCoy, no questions about it. The Eagles told us this when they traded a 6th round pick for Jordan Howard, but used a 2nd rounder on Sanders. The big facts don’t lie.
Sure it sounds like Sanders fell behind a bit early on in camp with the hamstring strain, but he’s rapidly making up lost ground – as told by everyone in Philly.
Am I nervous that this will be a committee, given Doug Pederson’s historic use of running backs. Definitely, but not for long. I could care less about Howard eating up early-down work. Let him throw his head into the backs of offensive lineman for 1, 2, 3, 4-yard gains. An RBBC might not be the worst thing for Sanders, because he’ll be seeing the passing-down work, and getting 8-10 carries behind one of the league’s best offensive lines will translate to efficiency at scale.
Admittedly, Sanders may not be startable as anything more than a desperate flex to begin the season, but by Week 6, he should be seeing a 16-18 touch workload. Do you remember that guy Josh Adams? The guy who’s slower, less agile, and worse in the passing game comparetively speaking to Sanders? Over the last six weeks of the Eagles season, Adams averaged nearly 16 touches/game. Adams came off the field constantly in passing situations because of his lack of versatility, which isn’t something that should hamper Sanders. Jordan Howard is a grinder, Miles Sanders is a running back with a 3-down skillset. That will play itself out over the long run and Sanders will explode for you during the 2H of the season & into the fantasy playoffs.
Matt Breida – RB, San Francisco
Current ADP: RB36, 88th Overall (As of 8/28/19)
We LOVE Matt Breida over here at the HQ. We’ve been hyping him all summer, and I don’t care what round he gets picked in – it’s not early enough. Breida, one of, if not the most efficient player in the NFL over the last couple of seasons is in a prime position to demolish his ADP.
He’s my most-owned running back in bestball this year, and the only season-long draft I missed out on him was last weekend because fuckin Snacks decided to take him in the 6th round.
If you’ve watched any 49er preseason games so far, you know that this isn’t Tevin Coleman’s backfield, it’s a clear 1-2 punch and Breida looks like far and away the better back. Now, that might not translate into more touches, but Breida is going to get a ton of receiving work in a Kyle Shanahan offense that routinely features multiple running backs, especially in the passing game. Breida absolutely balled out in their Week 3 game, rushing 7 times for 44 yards (6.3 ypc), adding a beautiful 20-yard touchdown reception, fully extending himself into the endzone on a wheel route from Jimmy G, to pad his 2-31-1 receiving line. These are the type of numbers I’m expecting from Breida on a weekly basis (that was only half of the game). Sure, he’s not a workhorse, and we don’t want him to be, but don’t be surprised when Breida is quietly seeing 14-15 touches/game, 4-5 of them coming by way of passes and posting 75-80 weekly yards from scrimmage, finding paydirt bi-weekly. If Breida stays on the field, and he’s finally fully healthy entering the year in 2019, he’s an easy copy button to post over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 40-50 receptions.
Rashaad Penny – RB, Seattle Seahawks
Current ADP: RB36, 85th Overall (As of 8/28/19)
Previous ADP: RB31, 70th Overall
UPDATE AS OF 8/28
Clearly, this is Chris Carson’s backfield and as long as he doesn’t get injured, it’s all his. Penny has looked ehhh so far this preseason and has been the clear 2nd string back behind Carson. This hasn’t turned out to be the 1a/1b scenario that many envisioned – It’s clearly RB1 and RB2. Grab a share of Penny somewhere this year, but he’s not longer a target priority in drafts.
Since the news of Chris Carson being back at practice and “looking like the best back” broke about a week agoooooo free shmurda, Penny’s ADP has plummeted, which is a truly beautiful thing – making him an even better value of a pick in the 7th round.
Ironically, Penny wasn’t a guy I loved coming out of college last year, at least not anywhere near PFF’s unsettling love for him (and Ronald Jones). PFF basically touted the Seahawks 1st rounder as the greatest running back of all time by May. Okay, enough of that, apologies. Altogether, Penny was pretty solid during his rookie year, when he was on the field, at least. Appearing in 12 games, Penny ran the ball 85 times for 419 yards (4.9 ypc). The 4.9 yards per tote ranked top-12 among all NFL RBs with at least 85 carries in 2018, and his 3.5 YAC was the 5th highest rate among all RBs that also fit the criteria. More importantly for us, the rookie’s fantasy points/snap were among the 20 best running backs last year. So, I think we’ve established, that at worst, Penny is a capable, if not above average NFL-caliber running back.
The big elephant in the room here is obviously Chris Carson. Carson was a fucking monster last year. After an impressive rookie year we saw cut short, Carson bounced back to post over 1,300 YFS and 9 touchdowns in 2018. He won the starting job during camp and never looked back. I love Chris Carson, I really do. Always have, always will. I might let him impregnate my wife tbh and raise the kid as my own. But we’re talking fantasy football. Carson is the prime example of the early-mid round RB that doesn’t catch passes who has a sneaky-high risk rate. I’ve used this ADP chart a few times already this off-season:
These were all of the mid-round RBs from last year. The bust rate was super-high, because none of them operated on 3-downs, or their coach didn’t let them. It’s VERY difficult to succeed as a fantasy running back in consecutive years if you’re not involved through the air. The way to spot running back breakouts and sleepers is by identifying good offenses with ambiguous backfields, no one has full control over it. The second running back, and sometimes even the third end up being the correct path. Their ADPs are starting to converge, but Carson is still the clear number one back off the board in Seattle. But should he be? Why am I so afraid of Carson? I dug deep on this one for y’all:
Carson finished with 20 catches last year, despite playing on 481 offensive snaps. So, I wanted to see, since I’m claiming it’s hard to produce in fantasy YoY while not having a high reception total, I broke down the big facts. I looked at the last ten years, I exported every fantasy running back over the last ten years from RotoViz. I wanted to have a cutoff, because I said I was looking at good fantasy running backs, right, so I wanted to make sure we were only looking at guys that produced, not just any fantasy running back. I put the threshold at 165 half PPR points in a season to cut down the list, because on average, over the last 10 years, the RB20 in fantasy football scored 165 half PPR FPs. So we’re looking at any RB over the last 10 years that scored 165 half PPR FPs, that narrowed it down to 202 RBs. Carson caught 20 passes last year, so I narrowed it down to running backs that had scored 165 half PPR points in a season and had caught 20 passes or fewer that season, so you’re talking about guys that rely on their ground game, not through the air, just like Carson. That narrowed the list down to 26 running backs over the last 10 years. I wanted to see what happened the following year, were they able to replicate their numbers? Of those 26 backs, 6 of them came in 2018 (including Carson), so we have no next year data for them, so we have a sample of 20 backs. Of the 20 backs, 15 of them had fewer FPs in Year 2 then they did in that first year. Only five backs had a better fantasy year, LaDainian Tomlinson and Cedric Benson in 2010, Michael Turner in 2011, and Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore in 2012. None in the last five years. Of the fifteen running backs that didn’t replicate or improve, they fell off by an average of 81.3 fantasy points in the following year, basically half of their entire total. Not a good look for Carson.
You couple that with the fact that Carson had some “work” done on his knee this off-season, which is never a good thing. We’re dealing with Pete Carroll, so we’ll never actually know the extent of the issue, but still. [Updated as of July 30 – Carson is back at training camp in full capacity]. Carson is starting to rack up a resume of NFL injuries that start to become concerning. Going all the way back to high school, Carson tore his ACL, and dealt with other injuries in college as well as multiple issues in the NFL so far. It’s a concern no matter how “healthy” he opens training camp at.
More Penny hype: the fact that he came into last summer fat. Conditioning was an issue for him. That’s the case this year. “According to NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz, Rashaad Penny lost 15 pounds this offseason.” I’ll be honest, I don’t believe a fucking word that comes out of beat reporters mouth when it comes to NFL players and their weight loss in the offseason, but if he did indeed lose weight this will be a marvelous thing. We’ve seen many running backs go through this exact same progression – entering the league out-of-shape and slow during their rookie season, leading to an increased focus on conditioning in their first full off-season, followed by a breakout sophomore campaign – Penny’s path fits the narrative.
Penny is the perfect candidate for a second-year breakout, given his workhorse size, elite weigh-adjust speed, and significant college production profile. A 76th percentile college target share lets us know he’s a capable if not above average pass-catcher. so we know he can do well in the passing game. It’s clear that the Seahawks don’t want to use Carson in the passing game and now Mike Davis is gone (112 carries, 42 targets). Between Carson, Penny and Davis, the three Hawks backs combined for a total of 522 opportunities (carries + targets). Even if Carson stays healthy, Penny is a good bet to settle north of the 200-touch mark. If the Seahawks and Wilson go just a bit more pass-heavy in 2019 as I expect them to given their off-season acquisitions and their QBs contract extension, it’ll be wheels up for Penny.
To be honest, fuck, this might come back to bite me in the ass because Chris Carson is just so fucking good.
Latavius Murray – RB, New Orleans Saints
Current ADP: RB35, 79th Overall
Murray is going to sneak under the radar as one of the best picks in fantasy football this year, I truly believe that. He moves from Minnesota to the Saints in free agency, signing a four-year, $14.4 million deal.
With Mark Ingram in Baltimore, we have to ask, does Latavius simply slide right into that role? Most likely, yeah. We look at who they are as players. Both can contribute on all three downs. Both are 215lbs+, thicc backs. Both are great on the GL. Over the L4 seasons, Murray has averaged 0.52 rushing TDs/game. Ingram has averaged 0.54 rushing TDs/game. A wild ass stat I found, Murray is plenty good in the passing game and on 3rd downs, but Ingram has 5 receiving TDs in those four years, Murray, despite having a career 162 targets, 128 receptions, and 882 receiving yards has YET to score a receiving TD in the NFL.
Murray was an easy fade, had he gone to almost any team not named the Saints, but here we are. Murray is not only going to have standalone value and probably score between 7-8 rushing TDs, maybe we see him finally score a receiving TD which has to happen eventually. But if Kamara goes down… where are you drafting him? He’s a top-12 pick most likely. He not only has standalone value, but is the single best handcuff in fantasy football.
Murray is an upright runner, and he’s huge (6’2-223), but he runs a 4.43 40. He rarely got to put his breakaway homerun speed on display in Minnesota, they’ve been one of the worst run-blocking teams in the league the last few years, whereas we know the Saints have been absolutely elite – 1st, 2nd and 2nd in RBing per FO’s L3 years running. So don’t be surprised when Murray not only gets GL and 10z carries – Ingram has 25 GL carries and nearly 40 10zone carries over the L2 years – but if Murray breaks off of a couple of 40+ yard scoring tugs. It’s coming.
Are we really expecting a more-than-nominal, if any, statistical drop off from Ingram to Murray? Not I.
*****IF YOUR LINEUP IS ALREADY SET WITH RUNNING BACKS REPLACE LATAVIUS MURRAY WITH TYLER BOYD.*****
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – WR, Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: WR42, 100th Overall
The Packers WR2 not only found himself on our Top Sleepers list, but since his ADP has (deservedly) crept into the single-digit rounds over the last few weeks, he fits the criteria for the must-draft player list. And here we are.
Geronimo Allison, who is set up to become the Packers full-time slot receiver in 2019 (assuming he can hold off Jake Kumerow) was well on his way to a breakout 2018 campaign before getting hurt, missing time and eventually finishing the year on the I.R. with just 5 games played to his name. Through the first four weeks of the season as GB’s WR2, Allison was on pace 76 receptions, 1,156 yards and 8 touchdowns – monster numbers for a complimentary piece in an offense. But at the same time, numbers we’ve come to historically expect from Aaron Rodgers’ WR2:
You’ll see a few years excluded (’13, ’17 and ’18) because Rodgers missed significant time during those years and last year Allison got hurt so we didn’t have a WR2. However, his 16-game pace fits snug into those averages seen above.
There’s a debate amongst the fantasy community right now whether Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Geronimo Allison is the better pick. Allison truthers cite his numbers from last year, followed by the belief that it’s a POSITIVE THING THAT HE GOT BEAT OUT FOR THE WR2 ROLE IN THIS OFFENSE. In what world is getting a demotion a good thing? “Give me the slot wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers?” Why the fuck tho? Geronimo Allison’s big numbers (in a FOUR GAME SAMPLE SIZE) last year, they came as an 87% outside receiver:
This is as much of a debate about Allison not being equipped for the job as it is MVS being ready, because whoever it is taking the WR2 role is going to flourish – we have a 10-year sample size with Aaron Rodgers making sure that it happens. For one, Allison hasn’t proven any sort of consistency or durability. Through three NFL seasons, Allison has appeared in 7.6 games/season, on average. Simply put, Allison just isn’t a great athlete either:
Aaron Rodgers being your QB can take you far, no matter how poor of an athlete you are, but you need to get the volume for that to happen. Meaning, if there’s no competition, you’ll ball. Unfortunately, for Allison there is. And it comes in the form of the younger, bigger, faster Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
MVS got a ton of opportunity with both Allison and former Packers slot WR Randall Cobb missing significant time. He did well when initially thrust into a starting role with individual game lines of 7-68-1, 3-103, 2-45-1 and 3-103 in his first four games in a starting role (82% snap share). He eventually hit the rookie wall and his production fell off dramatically, topping 44 receiving yards in just 1 of his final 8 games. There were rumors that there was a rift between Rodgers and MVS over the 2H of the season because the rookie wideout kept running routes that former HC Mike McCarthy was calling while Rodgers dismissed them. I don’t really know the details behind it, but with McCarthy in the rearview, Rodgers has had nothing but glowing reviews about MVS this offseason.
But it’s not just coming from Rodgers, though, when it comes straight form the Hefe’s mouth, usually good things tend to follow. Aaron Rodgers said Marquez Valdes-Scantling “had a fantastic spring.” Rodgers added the sophomore has “really stepped up as a guy who can be an every-down player.” MMQB’s Albert Breer writes Marquez Valdes-Scantling “has quickly picked up [new coach] Matt LaFleur’s system.” Breer adds Valdes-Scantling is “faster than the new staff anticipated he’d be.” To keep the tide rolling, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports Marquez Valdes-Scantling “probably is the No. 2 receiver” in Green Bay, ahead of Geronimo Allison. MVS has reportedly been running ahead of Allison in 2WR sets. This is huge news. That extra 25-30% of snaps MVS will so over Allison is all the difference in fantasy. Fortunately for Allison, he’ll move into the slot on 3WR sets which always boosts the production of a guy with his athletic profile. We’ve seen many “longer” (6’3″) wideouts thrive in the slot easily gaining seperation against backed up coverage, and older wide receivers careers rejuvenated by the move after their athletic traits that worked for so long begin to decline.
Allison’s move to the slot is intriguing from a fantasy perspective because we’ve seen Randall Cobb have success playing that role in GB, but Rodgers is, unsurprisingly, one of the few quarterbacks in the leagues that tends to throw the ball outside of the hashes to move the chains. I say unsurprisingly because those are the hardest throws in the NFL to make, while most lesser-talented passers opt to dink-and-dunk, target their short, over-the-middle type routes, only the most accurate QBs can do what Rodgers does, which is why I’ll take the outside WR2 in GB, who is seemingly MVS, tethered to A-Rod over the slot WR all day and tomorrow.
The Packers opted not to sign a single WR in free agency or through the NFL Draft, further confirming their confidence in what they have at the position, more specifically MVS and those behind Davante Adams. I’m not surprised, given MVS’s elite 4.37 speed, he was a top-3 wideout in the NFL last year in terms of separation from his defenders. Per PFF, he created separation on 70.3% of his routes, 3rd highest rate among WRs. Rodgers is so damn accurate, he’s not afraid to chuck it downfield and his 4.2% TD rate in 2018 was far and away the lowest of his career, after hovering around 6.5% during the years prior in his time as the starter in GB. Rodgers will finish closer to 40 passing touchdowns this year than the 25 he threw for in 2018. I’m all-on Davante Adams and MVS in 2019.
Christian Kirk – WR, Arizona Cardinals
Current ADP: WR30, 74th Overall – Out of Round 9 Range (As of 8/6/19)
Previous ADP: WR35, 89th Overall
We’re hearing more and more about this college dominator, and breakout age to identify wide receiver prospects, right? So, I wanted to dive a bit deeper give the profile of Kirk and how good it is. I went and exported every Wide Receiver that’s played in the NFL over the last, 6 years I think, back to 2013, that’s all the data I found and the results were pretty staggering.
So, like Kirk I wanted to filter down to young breakout ages. I narrowed the WRs down to anyone that broke out at age 19.0 or younger. That had a college dominator in the top 1/3rd percentile, so 67% or better and furthermore to WRs that went to schools in Power 5 conferences. I see a lot of players bust that have high CDs and young B/O ages, the very far majority went to shitty schools. So using this criterion, that narrows it down to about 25 WRs. 4 of those were UDFA’s one went in the 7th round, the rest were in the 5th round or earlier. Here are the names:
- Dez Bryant
- D.J. Moore
- Hakeem Nicks
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Keenan Allen
- Paul Richardson
- Amari Cooper
- Sidney Rice
- Jordan Matthews
- N’Keal Harry
- Tyler Boyd
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Brandin Cooks
- Earl Bennett
- Kenny Britt
- Stefon Diggs
- Allen Robinson
- … and Christian Kirk
Did y’all see this list of names? Of the 15 who were either not a rookie last year or going to be a rookie this year (b/c it’s pretty hard to hit 1,000 receiving yards when you have yet to step on an NFL field), 13-of-15 (87%) have at least one 1,000-yard season in the NFL, some obviously have far, far more. The two that have busted are Paul Richardson and Earl Bennett. This is a near immaculate least people. And not just okay players, the majority of them are/or were absolute studs.
Kirk’s rookie season ended with a broken foot following Week 13. In the 10 games that he played with Rosen:
This is a 16-game pace of nearly 100 targets and 900 receiving yards. Keep in mind how bad this offense was, and how much more accurate downfield Kyler Murray is than Josh Rosen. Kyler Murray and Kirk actually played together at Texas A&M back in 2015 during his freshman year, Kyler wasn’t the full-time starter but they were on the field together for around 650 of Kyler’s passing yards.
We have Kliff coming in, this offense will run a million more plays after ranking dead last in offensive plays last year. Kirk is the perfect fit for this offense, given his speed and versatility. In the air raid offense, he’ll be running on the outside and in the slot plenty, using his 4.47 speed to separate from defenders over the middle, but he played a lot downfield last year too, he ran 71% of his routes on the outside. He had 100% of the Cardinals touchdowns of 40+ yards last year. He had a 20.4% target share in the offense last year, that’s great for a rookie and was super successful against pretty much all coverage types that are thrown his way. Matt Harmon from Yahoo, does the Reception Perception and puts it in the FFBallers UDK each year and Kirk didn’t disappoint – he had an 82% success rate vs. zone and nearly a 70% success rate vs. man coverage.
He can do it all, there’s a reason his closest player comp is Stefon Diggs. This offense is going to open him up – and that’s all we’re hearing out of camp. He’s been the best WR easily of the group, Kliff said he’s caught onto the crazy air raid offense very quickly, no surprise given what they ran at Texas A&M was a bit similar. I don’t listen to a lot of coach speak during this time of the summer, but when there’s smoke there’s fire, when you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, from different sources, coaches, beat reports, teammates.. there’s usually something there.
Carson Wentz – QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Current ADP: QB8, 105th Overall
First things first; Big Dick Nick is gone. Things can return to normal in the brain of Carson Wentz. He’s locked up his massive contract extension with Philly, keeping him in the city of brotherly hate for the next 4 years, to the tune of $128 million. Wentz is a full-go for team activities and OTAs, no setbacks, no limitations, no knee brace, no thing. He’ll be ready to roll at 100% in 2019. And he has just one thing on his mind. To make me look good in my draft guide.
As of June 13, 2019, Carson Wentz is tied for the 2nd highest NFL MVP Odds for the 2019 season behind only Patrick Mahomes.
Predicting a let-down 2018 campaign for Wentz was easy after a supercharged 2017, unrepeatable 2017 campaign in the TD rate department. We say time and again in the HQ, one of the most telling/predictive stats for a QB is that TD rate (the percentage of a quarterbacks throws that are touchdowns). In 2017, Wentz threw a TD pass on 7.5% of his throws. It’s an outlier of a number, Rodgers, Brady and Brees all hover around the 5.5-6.0% mark for their career. The Eagles slinger had nowhere to go but down in the passing efficiency category. Wentz’s TD rate dropped down to 5.2% in 2018. Still a strong rate, but a massive drop nonetheless.
If we take a look at the Eagles’ passing volume since Wentz has entered the league, we find that they’ve attempted 595, 565 and 610 attempts, an average of 590 attempts/season. At Wentz 5.2% TD rate, we’re looking at 31 passing touchdowns in 2019. If he settles between 5.2% and the 7.5%, we’re looking at a massive year from Wentz.
The forgotten aspect of Wentz’s game is his rushing ability and his underrated athleticism both inside and outside of the pocket. It was completely scaled back in 2018 immediately coming off of a torn ACL. His rushing totals of the L5 games of 2018 went: -3, -4, -2, 6, 7. His rushing totals of the L5 games of 2017 went: 16, 30, 29, 18, 8. My intention was not to skew stats or look at weird sample sizes to prop up his upside, it’s just something I noticed when looking at game logs. The trickle of extra points added to a QBs fantasy line each week become the end of year difference between finishing as QB13-15 and QB5-7.
This is all good and fun, until we get to his supporting cast. Then it becomes great and ecstasy.
I have a feeling that the move to land DeSean Jackson in free agency will be looked back at as one of, if not the best transactions made during this NFL off-season. Even at the geriatric age of 32, the Eagles gave him 3 years worth $27-million. It’s not a front-loaded contract either, so they fully believe he’s contributing heavily on this offense through 2021.
DeSean Jackson Contract Details
At worst, D-Jax is a legitimate field stretcher on the outside. At best, he’s the fastest receiver in the league capable of topping 1,100 receiving yards at the age of 32. The Eagles finally realized this isn’t Madden. You can’t just throw Player X in Role X because their speed is a 96 and everything will be fine: I’m looking at you Mike Wallace and Torrey Smith. And you look at the receiving core Wentz had in his big 2017 campaign. There wasn’t a single player on the team that topped 825 receiving yards – not Ertz, not Jeffery, not Agholor. Vegas already pegged D-Jax’s yardage total at an over/under of 900.5. Ertz will get his, Jeffery will flirt with that line, too. Then, they head into the draft and add 3 offensive players within the first 3 rounds, including bolstering their back-to-back-to-back top-10 graded offensive line (per PFF) with the 1st rounder Andre Dillard at tackle, who will eventually take over for the 37-year-old Jason Peters while simultaneously acting as depth for this Eagles o-line. In round two, Philly selected Miles Sanders, an excellent pass-catching back out of Penn State, and an upgrade to anyone they already had receiving Wentz’s passes from the backfield and the monster of a man in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside from Standford, a fantastic redzone weapon and super useful on contested catches, something that plays to the style of Wentz, who uses his big arm to let his receivers make plays down field. Holy shit what a run-on sentence I just mushed together there.
Wentz is in a really good spot to smash his ADP and has a reasonably high likelihood of finishing inside the QB’s top 5 fantasy scorers in 2019.
The final product. A team in which you can’t take any players getting picked in the first half of any round:
- QB – Carson Wentz
- WR1 – Davante Adams
- WR2 – JuJu Smith-Schuster
- RB1 – Aaron Jones
- RB2 – Miles Sanders/Matt Breida
- TE – Evan Engram
- FLEX1 – Brandin Cooks
- FLEX2 – Miles Sanders/Matt Breida/MVS
- BENCH1 – MVS