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Running Back Committees Worth Investing In

Running back committees are the worst. We can all agree on that, right? You go into the season drafting a guy that you’re expecting to get 300+ touches in a year, and it becomes evident early on that he will in fact be splitting touches with that fourth-round rookie. Rather than getting 25 touches in a game, he’s getting between 12-18. That’s an ok number, but it could be a whole lot better.

Now, if you draft a guy out of a committee, you can still get value from him as long as you have your expectations set appropriately. That’s what we’re going to try and target today. These are the guys who are in committees that you can still put in your starting lineups with confidence and expect they'll put up a safe amount of points every week. They aren’t likely to get you RB1 numbers, but they can get you RB2 numbers without much trouble. 

A committee that still presents value isn’t the most common, but you can still find them if you go looking for them. I wouldn’t advocate for you to make any of these guys your top running backs because there will be weeks where they get scripted out of the game because of score or the other back getting hot. However, having them as your second or third guy is a great option.

 

San Francisco 49ers

I think we all knew this one was coming. Last year, the 49ers were the second-best running offense in the NFL, and they had three running backs who could have been the lead guy on any given week. That doesn’t factor in running back Jerick McKinnon, who has seen his first two seasons in San Francisco cut short before they ever got started. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert each shouldered workloads as the lead backs last season.

Breida is gone, but McKinnon is expected to be healthy. The value that is presented in this backfield is immense. Mostert will likely be the lead guy from the outset, especially after he was given a restructured contract this offseason. He still makes less than the other two guys, but he’s coming off a postseason that saw him put up some healthy totals. I’ve got him ranked in my top-24 running backs as a result.

When the 49ers chose to give one of their running backs at least 10 carries, those guys were producing. This scheme hasn’t changed, and they added Trent Williams this offseason to man the left tackle spot that was vacated by longtime starter Joe Staley. Because they’re in a committee, you can get each of Mostert, Coleman, and McKinnon at severely discounted ADPs. This is a backfield with a lot of value to be had.

 

Indianapolis Colts

This backfield is one that I expect to evolve throughout the season. Incumbents Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines figure to have well-defined roles early on, but rookie Jonathan Taylor appears poised to be the late-season guy that you’ll be wanting to own. Mack was at his best when the team let him get rolling early in the game. Now, with an improved defense, he should have more late-game opportunities to put up points.

With quarterback Philip Rivers under center, this offense will have a much different feel from last year. With that, you can expect a much better season from running back Nyheim Hines. Hines has registered 107 receptions through two years, which is just 30 fewer catches than he has carries. He’s not going to be Austin Ekeler 2.0, but he does have the ability to put in an RB3 season through the volume of his receptions. 

The final piece of this puzzle is Taylor. Right now, Taylor is coming off the board as RB20 compared to RB38 for Mack. I love Taylor as much as the next guy, but I can’t be really be drafting the guy that’s going to be the backup to start the year that early. If you are ok with him failing to return on investment for the first month or so of the season, grab him because he will bring that value later in the year and could help you possibly win your league.

 

Baltimore Ravens

The NFL’s best rushing offense from last season should be the top unit again in 2020. Quarterback Lamar Jackson makes it impossible to defend him in traditional ways, and that’s why they’re so successful. Behind Jackson, Mark Ingram had a great year en route to an RB11 finish. They added rookie running back J.K. Dobbins in the draft and this stable is absolutely terrifying for opponents.

With Ingram, you’re getting a guy that has seen a career resurgence in the last four years. Excluding the 2018 season where he dealt with some injuries and a suspension, he’s gone over 1000 yards in each season, and he’s scored 44 touchdowns in that time span. The threat of Lamar’s running ability forces teams to dedicate fewer resources to him, and that’s going to remain this year. However, if you’re drafting Ingram to be an RB1 again, you’re a little high on him. I will say that one thing I love about Ingram is his efficiency. From the first half of the season to the second half, his scoring line was nearly identical. You just can’t argue with that. His ceiling isn’t the highest, but his floor is damn good.

Who should you be rostering after Ingram? It’s Dobbins. The second-round pick was arguably the best running back in the draft this year, and he’s already been hyped up this offseason by coaches and players. Dobbins brings the aspect of receiving to this team, but he’s also a great runner, which is how he’s able to take over the Justice Hill role. Dobbins averaged 6.2 yards per carry during his time at Ohio State, and he can show that efficiency again. 

If you’re looking for a third running back to roster in this backfield, I would go with Gus Edwards. Edwards doesn’t bring much in the running game, but he’s extremely efficient at running the ball. He’s averaging 5.3 yards per carry, which is an extremely impressive mark. If either Dobbins or Ingram goes down with an injury, he would instantly move up the depth chart. 

Committees can reap havoc on your fantasy team if you’re expecting to draft an elite talent that sees his value diminished due to an insurance back. However, if you plan for it, you can build your roster with this committee member as your third running back with upside if he’s able to emerge. Don’t be afraid of committees. Just know how to manage them appropriately.



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ADP Showdown: Austin Ekeler vs. Miles Sanders

With drafts right around the corner, it's time to dig in and start the final preparations. One way to do so is by having a good understanding of current ADP data to give you an idea of where players will be coming off the board. This is vital knowledge as you queue players up or having certain individuals in mind as drafts move along because it's always better to get your guy earlier than ADP indicates as opposed to waiting and being sniped at the last second. This strategy will be more important than ever in 2020 as it relates to the running back position. With more teams employing the shared workload backfields, finding the right RB with high upside to fill your roster is a must. While other skill positions seem to be getting deeper, bell-cow running backs continue to be fewer and far between.

Two backs that we are talking about here both have an extreme upside for the 2020 season, Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders. We have seen Ekeler become a viable fantasy commodity over the last two seasons with what he brings to the table in PPR formats. With Melvin Gordon III now gone to Denver, the talk amongst the community is that he will be able to make that next step to an elite level at the position. Meanwhile, Sanders' rookie season started with inconsistent usage as he played snaps behind Jordan Howard. But as he took hold of the job, Sanders was one of the top backs in all of fantasy during the playoff stretch. That momentum at the end of the season has drawn the praise of many owners as the hype for his potential has reached an all-time high.

Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders both bring separate skillsets to the table from a fantasy perspective. We are currently seeing both considered at the end of the first round in fantasy drafts and some instances slipping into the second. But the question is in this showdown, who should you prefer when the time comes to make a pick? Let's dive into the numbers to give you a better perspective on who should be the player that joins your roster for 2020.

 

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

ADP: RB13 (Overall 18) *FFPC ADP

We have seen Ekeler become a name to be reckoned with in fantasy as he has steadily improved his numbers throughout his career, even while splitting time with Melvin Gordon. But with Melvin Gordon off the field to begin the 2019 season, we saw him produce as an RB1 in five of the team's first seven games. His production allowed owners that drafted him, later on, to dominate the standings early on in the season with his flexibility between starting running back or the flex position. What helped his cause was what he was able to get done on the ground while the Chargers relied on him as the lead back. With Ekeler, the reception totals are going to be there (92 in 2019), but his rushing abilities vaulted him of the running back board a year ago.

That is the crossroads we find ourselves at with Ekeler in 2020. Yes, Melvin Gordon is now a Bronco. But the team believes that they have some value in backup Justin Jackson and invested a fourth-round pick in Joshua Kelley. The Chargers have said publicly that they view this backfield as a committee approach with Kelley assuming the departed Gordon role as the rusher. That would indeed put a damper on the expected jump in production for Ekeler in 2020. With a new quarterback starting for the Chargers (either Tyrod Taylor of rookie Justin Herbert), the 92 receptions from 2019 could be hard to match again. If that is the case, Ekeler must offset that dip in production with a rise in value as a runner. But if he does not exceed 200 touches (224 in 2019), Ekeler may find himself mired as an RB2 in 2020 from a fantasy perspective.

 

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: RB8 (Overall 10)

As previously mentioned, Sanders' rookie campaign got off to a very murky start as he struggled to take advantage of the touches he got while splitting with Jordan Howard. He had two RB1 weekly finishes (weeks 6 and 8) over the team's first 11 games and in the other weeks he struggled to be worthy of a starting spot in fantasy lineups. But after the team's Week 10 bye, Howard was gone for the season and Sanders would then blossom. From week 13 through the end of the season, Sanders was the RB6 in fantasy and one of the more consistent players at the position (three games over 20 FP). With the Eagles issues at the receiver position due to injuries, the offense went through Sanders and they flourished, coming from behind to earn a playoff berth in the NFC.

As we head into the 2020 season, Sanders continues to see a climb in draft position as the hype swells based on his strong finish last year. The detractors like to point out HC Doug Pederson's propensity to utilize an RBBC approach to his offense. But Pederson has yet to have a back as talented as Sanders and to his credit, the team opted not to bring in a veteran during the offseason. With only Boston Scott to compete with for touches, it's obvious that Sanders will be the main option in this backfield and should be looked at as a potential bell-cow. If he plays the full-time role, his receptions (50) and yardage (509) should see a big spike in 2020 and locking him in as a bonafide RB1 for the season.

 

The Verdict

Earlier in the offseason, these two were much closer in ADP, making the choice a little tougher. But with more information coming out with practices underway and more fantasy draft information being released, we are seeing a separation in ADP between them. In my opinion, rightfully so as I have Sanders (RB10) higher than Ekeler (RB14) in my rankings. I have Sanders as an obvious first-round selection in fantasy drafts, while Ekeler finds himself in the first half of the second round for me. When it comes to this showdown, pull the trigger on Sanders and don't look back!



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ADP Showdown: Marquise Brown vs. Julian Edelman

It is mid-August and that means NFL teams are reporting for camp and fantasy football drafts are just around the corner. Normally, we could be discussing preseason performances in these articles, but alas, 2020 has brought us into a different world.  Leading up to drafts, it is very important to gather the most current ADP data in order to draft the best team possible. You will want to examine where particular guys are being taken to determine if you can wait for better value in a later round or if a particular player fits your style more than another player in the same round. This strategy is crucial for having the best possible draft and for winning a championship down the road. In this article, we will examine two wide receivers that are being drafted at similar points to determine which is the best option.

The two wide receivers we are talking about bring solid qualities to the table and should have great seasons in 2020. They are Marquise Brown of the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriot Julian Edelman. Marquise Brown is entering his second season in the league and is looking to improve upon a solid rookie season where he was second on the team in targets and receiving yards. Edelman has been a mainstay in New England, but will be entering his first season without Tom Brady at the helm. In 2019, Edelman led the team in targets, receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. Whether or not he can do this again in 2020 and at the same rate is up for debate, but we will certainly dive into his metrics to determine how likely it is.

Both of these receivers have very similar ADPs as you will see below, but does one offer more upside than the other, or is one a more reliable source for production than the other? We will take a look at both players and determine which might be the best fit for your fantasy team in 2020.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

ADP: WR30 (Overall 77) 

Marquise Brown performed admirably in 2019, especially considering it was his rookie season. He hauled in 46 of 71 targets for 584 yards and seven scores in 14 games. This performance was good enough to rank him eighth in yards and third in touchdowns among rookie wide receivers. He established himself as a ridiculous deep threat as noted by his eight catches of 20-plus yards and four catches of 40-plus yards.

In the same breath, he ranked in the top 36% of the league in terms of air yards per game (53.8) and top 27% in terms of percentage of team air yards (20.9%). Another positive note is the confidence Lamar Jackson had in him as expressed via his 71 targets, which ranked second on the Ravens behind only Mark Andrews and also ranked him in the top 23% of the league in terms of team target percentage.

In 2020, Brown should only improve upon these numbers as he gains another year of experience in the Ravens' system. He is listed atop the Ravens' depth chart at wide receiver and has little in the way of competition for targets aside from Andrews. He currently has an ADP of 77 in PPR leagues and is being taken as the 30th wide receiver off the board. His ADP should be monitored also as it has actually been falling in recent days as noted by the below chart. With another year of development and a step forward in 2020, he could easily find himself in the top 25 or higher at the position.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

ADP: WR 33 (Overall 83)

Julian Edelman has been a staple of the New England offense since 2013. In 2019, he led the team in targets (153), receptions (100), receiving yards (1,117), and receiving touchdowns (6). He averaged over 88 air yards per game and accounted for over 32% of the team's total air yards, which ranked him in the top 14% and eight percent of the league's receivers, respectively.

He is by far the best receiving option incoming quarterback Cam Newton will have in 2020. Newton and Edelman could be a match made in heaven. Over the previous two seasons (2018 included since Newton missed most of 2019), Newton had an average depth of target right around the eight-yard mark. This matches up great with Julian Edelman, who has posted an aDOT of 7.8 and 9.2 in the previous two seasons, respectively.

Edelman should be able to acquire the ball in the same areas as he has grown accustomed to, assuming Newton is the starter in 2020. The Patriots also have little in the way as far as threats to Edelman's targets are concerned. N'Keal Harry is listed second on the depth chart, but he only posted a 52% catch rate, which ranked in the bottom 17% of the league, and he was also not a focal point in the offense throughout the season due to his unreliability.

Before getting released, Mohamed Sanu was listed third on the depth chart and was also used somewhat sparingly in 2019 as he caught just 26 of 47 targets for 207 yards and one score while with the Patriots for eight games. Whoever replaces Sanu will surely absorb some targets, but it shouldn't be any significant threat to Edelman's value in 2020. Edelman will still be the man moving forward and his draft price of ADP 83 and wide receiver 33 reflect this concept.

 

The Verdict

The verdict on these two talented receivers is not so clear-cut. Honestly, this is going to come down to what type of league you play in as well as what type of variance you are willing to accept. Each week, Edelman is going to have a nice built-in floor that many fantasy players have come to expect and enjoy. Brown will likely have a higher ceiling most weeks and can simply blow the doors off a defense.

If you are playing in a PPR league, the recommendation would be to take Edelman here as he will catch plenty of passes most weeks and help stabilize your fantasy team. Marquise Brown makes for a great best ball target as he will have some massive games in 2020, which will certainly help propel your team to victory during those weeks. If he fails to have a big week, it will not be as devastating as someone will have hopefully picked up his slack.



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ADP Showdown: Cam Akers vs Raheem Mostert

It's early September and around this time we are normally evaluating preseason performances and adjusting our rankings accordingly. Leading up to drafts, it is very important to gather the most current ADP data in order to draft the best team possible. Part of your preparation should involve examining where particular guys are being taken to determine if you can wait for better value in a later round or if a particular player fits your style more than another player in the same round.

According to current ADP data ranging back to August 18th, Cam Akers and Raheem Mostert have been getting drafted as fringe RB2's around 50 picks into drafts. Mostert is a career journeyman who was finally given an opportunity to carry the ball last year and produced in a big way down the stretch. Akers was a stud running back at Florida State and has the pedigree to be a star in this league, standing 5'10", weighing in at 216 pounds and he runs a 4.47 40-yard dash.

Both of these running backs have very similar ADPs as you will see below, but does one offer more upside than the other, or is one a more reliable source for production than the other? Should you take Akers even though he's a rookie and we couldn't see him in preseason action? We will take a look at both players and determine which might be the best fit for your fantasy team in 2020.

 

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

ADP: RB 24 (Overall 52) 

In 2019 if you had issues at the running back position and decided to take a shot on Raheem Mostert, he likely helped propel you into the fantasy football playoffs. In Week 13, the last week of the fantasy football regular season, Mostert had a season-high 19 carries, running for 146 yards, while adding a score on the ground on his way to a 23.4-point performance. If your playoffs started in Week 14, then Mostert came through with two scores and 24.9 points in a PPR. In Weeks 15 and 16 Mostert came through because he scored, registering just over 12-PPR points in each of those contests.

While we have fond memories of Raheem Mostert from the 2019 season, it's worth evaluating whether he can sustain that level of performance based on his usage. In nine of the games that Mostert played in 2019, he logged less than 10 carries, eclipsing 12 carries just three times the entire season, and he only played in more than 50% of the 49ers offensive snaps five times. Mostert also wasn't used much in the passing game, targeted just 22 times on the year.

The nature of the 49ers offense is to get their play-makers into open space and let them make plays. Predicting which 49ers running back, or even which 49ers wide receiver for that matter will have a big game on a week-to-week basis is very difficult to predict, making Mostert extremely boom-or-bust.

 

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

ADP: RB 23 (Overall 48)

Cam Akers is by far the most talented running back on the Rams' roster, and he is slated to take over Todd Gurley's role in the offense, if not by Week 1, it will happen quickly. Akers was a high school quarterback and switched positions once he got to Florida State because of his height, and his experience as a quarterback is helping him pick up the Rams playbook.

Todd Gurley scored at least 12 touchdowns a year since 2017, and in that same time-frame, he had at least 223 carries each year, registering just 223 carries in 2019 when the Rams were limiting him due to his arthritic knee. Even while struggling in 2019, Gurley still managed to finish as RB-14 on the season. If given similar volume, Akers should produce statistics similar to Gurley.

The Rams offensive line does give you some pause when thinking about drafting Rams players, but they are bringing back their entire starting unit from 2019 which was devastated by injuries. Brian Allen was the Rams starting center in 2019 until he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, Joe Notebloom tore his ACL and MCL in week 6 and Austin Corbett was acquired in a mid-October trade which made it tough to acclimate to the offense.

While the offensive line's overall performance in 2019 was generally poor, they will have continuity in 2020 which includes Andrew Whitworth who has been an anchor at left tackle for the Rams since 2017. Even if the Rams' offensive line suffers injuries similar to 2019 and struggles as a unit, it shouldn't impair Akers too much as 2,186 of his 2,875 rushing yards during his career at Florida State came after contact and he was credited with 144 broken tackles.

 

The Verdict

The verdict on these two talented running backs is not so clear-cut. Honestly, this is going to come down to what type of risk you are willing to accept. Each week, Cam Akers should give you consistent volume with a large role in the Rams offense. Raheem Mostert is capable of blowing up any given week, but he will be boom-or-bust as the 49ers play several running backs.

If you are playing in a PPR league, Cam Akers will offer more in the pass-catching department than Raheem Mostert. Mostert seemingly came out of nowhere in 2019 and that gives me some pause, because Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are still on that roster. Mostert is due just $2.575 million in base salary this year with another $2.75 million available in incentives, so they aren't locked into him financially as the starter. Don't forget, he was ready to holdout in order to get more money before he realized the market wasn't there for him this offseason.

Personally, I will opt to take the guy with the higher football pedigree who will see volume on a consistent basis, and for that reason, I will take Akers over Mostert.



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ADP Showdown: Courtland Sutton vs. D.K. Metcalf

The draft season brings out a lot of controversial dichotomies between players who are being selected within a few picks of each other. Sometimes these are really easy decisions to make and other times it’s almost too close to call.

There are a lot of tough choices at the wide receiver position this year since it’s stacked from top to bottom with fantasy-relevant talent. A player’s skill set, injury history, and the offense he plays in affect how the player should be valued. However, when two players share many similar characteristics, it’s hard to decide which player to select when you are on the clock.

The fifth round is a pivotal point in most fantasy drafts. There’s still a lot of quality talent on the board, but there are some land mines that could blow up in your face if you are not careful. WRs Courtland Sutton and D.K. Metcalf are being drafted in this range within a few picks of each other. These are two young, gifted players who have flashed talent during the early stages of their careers. Now, the market is valuing them in a similar fashion, making it hard to distinguish which player is the most optimal option in fantasy.

 

Courtland Sutton - Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos selected Sutton in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft after he finished his career at SMU with back to back 1,000-yard seasons. During his college career, he showcased excellent ball skills and the ability to win downfield in tough contested-catch situations.

Last year was his breakout season in the NFL where he posted 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. He was a key contributor to the passing offense, owning a 25 percent share of the passing targets while also a 41 percent share of the air yards. His receiving volume held a scalable floor.

Sutton was also very efficient by averaging 2.08 yards per route ran while also achieving a 104.7 quarterback rating when targeted. He’s not just a deep threat who makes splash plays, he’s actually reliable on a play-by-play basis.

Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is building a rapport with Sutton, who was his favorite target last season. The tandem has generated multiple highlight-reel plays during training camp. From the looks of things, it seems like Sutton is primed to take a step forward in 2020.

 

DK Metcalf - Seattle Seahawks

In the other corner, we have Seattle Seahawk D.K. Metcalf, the size-speed phenom who has WR1 upside tattooed across his chest. As a rookie last year, he caught 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. He saw 50-yards or more in ten games while finishing the season as the WR30 in PPR.

Although he had a good rookie season, it was hard to rely on him in fantasy with just one WR1 week and two WR2 weeks. He did have six weeks where he hovered around the WR26-30 range in PPR scoring.

With over 100 air yards in six games, Metcalf saw enough workload to make him fantasy relevant. He owned a 19 percent share of the targets and a 26 percent share of the team’s air yards. Per PFF, 25.77 percent of his targets went for 20 yards or more and he was able to reel in 40 percent of those deep targets.

Last year, Seattle ranked 23rd in the league with 517 pass attempts while ranking third in the NFL with 481 rushing attempts. If the team sees game scripts that allow them to lean more on the passing game, then we could see a boost in Metcalf's workload, and with how he’s used in the offense and what he can do with the ball after the catch, he could possibly finish as one of the top wide receivers in the league.

Metcalf has been blazing the field at camp. Like Sutton, he also has been putting together a laundry list of incredible plays. It looks like he’s primed to have a big season. Another camp with Russell Wilson is only a positive.

Courtesy of PlayerProfiler

When we look at his combine metrics, Metcalf’s size-adjusted speed stands out like a red popsicle on white gloves. He’s a 228-pound wide receiver who can run a 4.33 40-yard dash. His speed allows him to easily separate from defensive backs off the line of scrimmage and downfield. Then, his size makes it easy to post-up on defenders at the catch-point to make the necessary separation to make the play.

Both of these players are tremendous prospects. We could easily see them be highly productive fantasy assets this season and possibly many years into the future. They have the size, speed, and athleticism to be alpha wide receivers for their teams.

The one thing that separates Metcalf from Sutton is quarterback play. Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Lock has some talent, but he’s still a questionable quarterback prospect who has a lot of developing to do before he can even touch Wilson’s level.

Metcalf’s ability to stretch the defense and make plays downfield works to Wilson’s strong arm, which allows him to sling deep passes. This is a match made in heaven. Metcalf is the weapon in the passing game that Wilson needed.

 

Verdict

We need Lock to take a massive stride forward for him to be a more consistent player. He had a lot of up-and-down performances throughout the season last year. Sutton could fall off if Lock experiences a massive sophomore slump which is in the arrange of outcomes. If this happens, the whole offense will struggle, making it a lost year for many of the skilled players in the Denver offense, including Sutton.

Again, both of these players are very talented. It’s a much safer bet to place some chips on Metcalf because he’s backed by one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the league. Sutton has the potential of being a multi-year pro bowler, but his quarterback carries all the risk.

Metcalf doesn’t have as much competition for targets. The Broncos spent a first-round pick on TE Noah Fant in last year's draft and they turned around and drafted WR Jerry Jeudy, a pro-ready route runner, in this year’s draft. On top of that, they drafted WR K.J. Hamler this year as well. He is a speedy slot receiver with the potential of developing into a dynamic playmaker.

Sutton is pegged as the main passing target in the Broncos' offense, but the competition for targets has gotten steeper over the last couple of months. Metcalf doesn’t have to deal with this situation. WR Tyler Lockett is his main competition within the offense. On the contrary, Metcalf is entering his second season in the league and should siphon more of the target share as he develops. If anything, these two can be thought of as a one-two punch, not threats to one another’s workload.

We're splitting hairs trying to figure out which player is the better option in fantasy. These are two fantastic young wide receivers. Nevertheless, Metcalf is a safer option. Only injuries can prevent him from being a productive fantasy asset. We have to worry about external forces derailing Sutton’s production. Bad quarterback play can interrupt Sutton’s chances of posting another top-shelf season. If the quarterback situation runs bad for the Broncos, Sutton is still talented enough to make himself fantasy viable. On the other hand, Metcalf's QB-situation will only fuel him and elevate his game.



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Stop That Hype Train! David Montgomery

David Montgomery finished his rookie season with 889 rushing yards and six touchdowns while also catching 25 passes and 185 yards and one touchdown. This production allowed him to achieve RB24 along with two RB1 weeks and three RB2 weeks. He was able to reach this level of production as a rookie on a team that ranked 29th in the league in total offense. Judging from the surface, it appears Montgomery is destined to break out and become one of the top running backs in the league. Usually, when a rookie can put together some production and flash some of their talents, they are on a trajectory to jump to the next level of their career.

Even with Montgomery out of action over the last couple of weeks with a groin injury that could possibly prevent him from suiting up for week one against the Detroit Lions, he’s still holding significant value in redraft. If anything, he’s being considered a mid-round steal due to the injury-discount that is now being bestowed to many fantasy general managers.

The hype train isn’t out of control, but the train is still rolling down the tracks to fast. There are some things drafters need to be aware of before they go all-in and make the investment in Montgomery.

 

Non-Elite Athleticism

Athleticism isn’t everything, but it matters. The fact that he ran a 4.63 40-yard dash which added to a 50th percentile size-adjusted speed score proves that he doesn’t have the homerun hitting speed to consistently bust out long gains. Combine that with a 10th percentile burst score and a 55th percentile agility score and you have a suboptimal athlete playing in one the toughest sports in the world.

The lack of athleticism really matters when a running back has to run behind a below-average offensive line. According to PFF, the Bears line ranked 20th in the league with a 58.5 run-block rating last season. It’s not like he’s running through gaping holes where he can hit full speed when a reaches the second level of the defense. His compromised athleticism prevents him from being able to create something out of nothing when the play breaks down.

Bad offensive line play creates vision and trust issues for a young running back, making the player skittish during their approach to the line of scrimmage. Scheme fit can also derail a running back’s ability to hit his true potential. Both factors are at play with Montgomery. He was unable to maximize his opportunities by not having the feel or the ability to appropriately read his blocks when approaching the line of scrimmage.

Now, let’s pivot back to his less than desirable athleticism. When the hole breaks down or when Montgomery makes a wrong read, he doesn’t have the extra gear to bail him out, leaving him a sitting duck in the hole or behind the line of scrimmage. Unless he improves this part of his game, he won’t be around for long in the NFL.

 

Courtesy of Rotoviz

Even with him seeing a large portion of the touches, Montgomery provided volatile week to week production last season. There are no indicators suggesting that he will become more dependable in 2020. Jordan Howard was siphoning snaps from Montgomery last season, but we have a sample of him being the lead back from week ten to the end of the season. During that time, he only produced two RB2 weeks.

Courtesy of 4for4.com

 

Negative Team Context

Montgomery is playing behind a bad offensive line with less than optimal athleticism and has issues finding the running lane. What will magnify all those issues is the Bears’ strength of schedule which is brutal against the run this year. It appears we are going to see him run against some of the toughest defensive fronts during the early stages of the season with his scheduling starting to ease up when we approach the fantasy playoffs. If fantasy general managers are expecting to use him as their RB2 or even flex, then they might be in trouble because it appears that game scripts will not be in his favor during a large portion of the season.

According to Pro Football Outsiders, the Bears ranked 22nd in the league in plays ran while in a neutral game script. The slow-paced offense affects Montgomery and other players' ability to maximize their fantasy impact because fewer plays ran means there are fewer opportunities for the offensive player to put up numbers in the box score. This becomes a major issue when playing against a tough schedule because playing against tougher defenses naturally impacts the pace of the game.

Not only does Montgomery has to deal with bad offensive line play but he also has to deal with bad quarterback play. Mitchell Trubisky is projected to open the season as the team’s starting quarterback with Nick Foles waiting in the wings. This is not a luxurious situation. Trubisky ranked 33rd among quarterback 141 drop backs or more with a 71.1 adjusted completion percentage and ranked 33rd among quarterbacks with a 93.0 quarterback rating while dealing with a clean pocket.

Trubisky’s inability to move the chains and maintain drives will also squander a lot of opportunities for Montgomery. It will also limit his touchdown ceiling because the Bears will have less chances in the red zone. The Bears are not expected to ahead in a lot of games where they are using Montgomery to run out the clock.

The fact that Montgomery will be starting the season coming back from a groin injury is a major red flag. This is an injury that is highly likely to reoccur during the season and could limit his touch-count during his first few games. What makes Montgomery valuable in fantasy football is the volume of touches he will likely see throughout the year. The injury jeopardizes his ability to consistently see a scalable workload through the season.

 

2020 Outlook

Montgomery is projected to be the alpha in the Bears’ backfield. He should see a large enough volume of work to at least make him flex worthy. However, his ceiling rather low and the groin injury makes his floor bottomless. Why invest in a player that doesn’t have the gusto to put your fantasy team over the top, but also carries enough risk to bottom out on your team anytime during the season.

To avoid busting in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts, fantasy gamers can always pivot to the wide receiver position. Instead of drafting Montgomery at a 65.7 ADP, fantasy managers can always turn to drafting Jarvis Landry, Tyler Boyd, Marquise Brown and even Evan Engram to avoid the risk of drafting Montgomery in fantasy drafts.

We all want to have a plethora of running backs on our roster since it’s the most malleable position in fantasy. We must keep in mind that not all running backs are worth the risk. Montgomery is a player that could be an anvil at the end of many fantasy rosters, weighing them down while preventing them from maximizing their week to week scoring outputs.

If you are playing to win, then don’t draft Montgomery.



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Endgame Primer: Drafting For Late-Season Strength Of Schedule

It's never too early for fantasy managers to start thinking about the playoffs.

Really. I know you might think you need to take the season one week at a time and all of that, which is true, but if you're reasonably confident that you're going to make the postseason, you need to be thinking about the postseason as early as you can, including on draft night.

So, with the fantasy playoffs scheduled for Weeks 13 through 16 in most leagues, I thought we could take a position-by-position look at some players to keep in mind -- and some to worry about -- based on their fantasy playoff schedule.

 

Quarterback

Good Matchups

So, let's start off with the most interesting team for the purposes of the fantasy playoffs: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady's playoff schedule features games against Atlanta, who allowed the sixth-most points to quarterbacks last year, and Detroit, who allowed the seventh-most points to quarterbacks. It also involves a meeting with Minnesota, who allowed the 23rd-most, and, uhh, a Week 13 bye.

That bye week is scary, but Brady getting Atlanta and Detroit -- and Atlanta again if you play in Week 17 for some reason -- is really enticing, especially since he's playing in a Buccaneers offense with a lot of weapons.

Of course, if you'd rather not play someone with a Week 13 bye, maybe look to Jared Goff in Week 13, as he faces the Arizona Cardinals, who allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.

In fact, targeting the Cardinals later in the year could be interesting. Goff in Week 13 and then they'll face Daniel Jones in Week 14. And then, if you have Goff and Jones both on your roster, you get Goff against the Jets in Week 15. Week 16 gets scary though, with the Rams against Seattle and the Giants against Baltimore, but then there's an opportunity to go back to the Cardinals well that week in shallower leagues, where you might be able to grab Jimmy Garoppolo off waivers.

Not-So-Good Matchups

Josh Allen's playoff schedule: at San Francisco, vs Pittsburgh, at Denver, and at New England.

That's three road games against teams that ranked in the top seven last season in fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Allen has a chance to really struggle over the final few weeks of the 2020 fantasy season.

Patrick Mahomes has a fairly tough schedule as well, but he's Patrick Mahomes, so I'm not going to overthink things there.

 

Running Back

Good Matchups

Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs and the Detroit Lions allowed the third-most.

So, it might be good to target matchups against those teams. And between Week 13 and Week 16, two teams face off against both Jacksonville and Detroit: the Titans and the Bears.

For Tennessee, there's not much to discuss: Derrick Henry has strong playoff matchups, but he's already a first-rounder, so there's not much room to move him around your draft board. Maybe you look at the schedule and you take him a spot higher than you might have otherwise? Maybe this is the straw that gets you to take him over Michael Thomas?

As for Chicago, this is where I'm really interested. David Montgomery currently has a groin injury that's going to keep him out two to four weeks. His draft stock is going to dip because of concerns that he's going to miss Week 1 and/or Week 2.

But with an enticing late-season schedule that also includes Houston, who allowed the 10th-most points to running backs, maybe it's time to take advantage of how everyone else is going to get scared off of Montgomery. This could be a great chance for you to make a move that can pay off down the stretch.

The Dolphins have a terrifying matchup against the Patriots in the playoffs, but other than that face Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Las Vegas, three teams that ranked in the top 11 in most points allowed to running backs. Who knows who'll be the running back at that point in the year for them, but could be worth taking a late pick on Jordan Howard.

Not-So-Good Matchups

Just like in the quarterback section, I hate the Bills playoff schedule. Devin Singletary will likely already be facing a push for snaps from Zack Moss by that point, and then he has road games against the 49ers AND the Patriots? Nope, nope, nope.

 

Wide Receiver

Good Matchups

The Raiders' playoff schedule includes the Jets in Week 13 (seventh-most points allowed to wide receivers in 2019) and the Dolphins in Week 16 (second-most points). They also face the Colts (10th-most points) and Chargers. The Los Angeles matchup is a bad one for Vegas, but they get three plus games in that span.

Of course, the issue here is that you have to figure out what Raiders' wide receivers to draft. Thankfully, none of them are going high in drafts, so picking the wrong one won't kill you. I'd put my money on Hunter Renfrow, who can get some solid slot work with quarterback Derek Carr. Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards are both intriguing targets, but with rookie wide receivers having questionable success in the NFL lately, I'd feel best about Renfrow.

If you have a Week 17 playoff game, then give a bump to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, as they'd get two playoff matchups against Tampa Bay.

Not-So-Good Matchups

I won't pick on the Bills more. Instead, I think we should go the other way. The Bills allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers last season. San Francisco and New England both face them in the playoffs, and neither team has a wide receiver who -- at this current moment at least -- that I trust to overcome an incredibly tough matchup. Pittsburgh and Denver also face them, and I'd probably be down on Jerry Jeudy in Week 15.

 

Tight End

Good Matchups

Only one NFL team allowed an average of more than 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends last year: Arizona.

As mentioned above, the Rams get them in Week 13, then the Giants in Week 14. A Goff/Tyler Higbee and Jones/Evan Engram stack could come in very handy that week.

Washington allowed the second-most points to tight ends last year. The 49ers get to face both Arizona and Washington in the playoffs, which is a boost to George Kittle, even though Kittle doesn't really need a boost. It might be a boost to Jordan Reed. If he's healthy at that point, he's an intriguing play twice in the fantasy playoffs and his draft stock remains pretty low.

Not-So-Good Matchups

I love Austin Hooper this year, but not necessarily at the end of the year. His playoff schedule features the Ravens, who allowed the fewest points to tight ends last year, and the Jets, who allowed the third-fewest.

Hooper gets a good matchup against the Titans for one of those playoff weeks, but the other is against a Giants team that finished around mid-pack in points allowed to the position. If you're looking to prepare for the playoffs early, be a little wary of Hooper.



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This is the Season to Maximize #AllBenchRB!

Fantasy Bretheren, listen up.  There has never been a year that is more fitting for #AllBenchRB. Just ask @Raphstradamus and El Camello! These suckas each drafted six bench RBs in their league of record to shoot for fantasy gold.

Actually I can’t support that last statement, but if you talk to them, tell them they should! Let’s recap what #AllBenchRB is, why you should strongly consider it as a strategy and then discuss my key targets for the 2020 season.

Before your draft, check out RotoBaller's constantly updated preseason rankings.

 

What is #AllBenchRB?

#AllBenchRB refers to a strategy, coined by yours truly, that has you draft and maintain a bench full of RBs (or close to it).  Does BrettMitchell hate WRs? No I actually prefer WRs, but I want to win my leagues and use the money to purchase sushi and movies on Amazon Prime once the season ends. And having a bench full of RBs will help you and me accomplish this. Here are the reasons why, in no particular order:

  • RB is the most volatile position due to injuries and depth chart changes
  • RB replacements provide the largest upside due to position scarcity and opportunity
  • RB is the most opportunity-based position. Talent is important but QB, Offensive Line and Game Scripts can allow a mediocre RB to boom
  • RBs yield the largest FAAB Bids

For these reasons, having RBs on your bench is like having a handful of lotto tickets. Hit on just one or two in a season and you could have a league winner. Think of guys from the past few years like Damien Williams, Dion Lewis, C.J. Anderson and Kenyan Drake. It’s not always sexy and often times an aggregate of boring and unknown players as well as handcuffs. This makes the #AllBenchRB strategy one that requires a tremendous amount of discipline.

It is very difficult to pass up on promising WRs and TEs who flashed in a game in favor of guys who are buried behind a stud.  But, it only works if you stick with it, because deviating could mean missing out the one week a starter goes down and having to bid a fortune on the replacement RB or miss out on a guy that could have been on your bench.

I push this strategy every year, but this year in particular is the golden year for #AllBenchRB. We have a unique combination of COVID-19 and no preseason.  This means that there will be more volatility than ever this season due to COVID and injuries and more players than ever will get an opportunity. And when those opportunities open, I want the replacement RB on my bench.

 

Who Do I Target?

This should be very straightforward, but we want to target players that will have a huge opportunity if the lead back on a team should get Covid, get injured or maybe even get traded. And by opportunity I mean # of carries, high scoring team, great Offensive Line, running QBs. The two types of players that fit this category are guys that are already in a committee and straightforward handcuffs. And most importantly guys that have already shown they can crush if given the chance like Chase Edmonds. here are my top teams and #AllBenchRB targets (top targets*):

Caveat: Save all your comments about bye weeks and player injuries because I am well aware that you have to manage your own team based on your own circumstances. Of course you need to drop an RB if you have a bye week and your TE is sitting or one of your WRs gets hurt. The point is that you should strive to have as many RBs on your bench as possible because they can be your ticket to the promised land.

Thanks as always for listening to me talk seriously about a fantasy sport.  You can find me on Twitter @BrettMitchellFB.  I love comments and questions so hit me up suckas.



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Who To Draft Tool - Compare Players, Get Quick Advice

 

Who Should You Draft?

Select Any Two NFL Players - Our Experts Will Give You Their Opinions
 
 


 
 

 

Who Should I Draft?

This is a common question we all ask ourselves during fantasy football draft season. That's why we put together this simple but very useful tool to compare players and assist in making your draft picks.

Tough draft decisions to make? Can't decide between a few players? Not sure who to draft? Compare any two NFL players and see which player is recommended for your fantasy football drafts based on ADPs and staff rankings.

RotoBaller provides this great free player comparison tool which can help you make your tough fantasy football draft day decisions on who to draft. Whether you're comparing quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends vs. wide receivers, or any other combination - our tool gives you advice on who to draft.

 

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Our fantasy football draft kit provides you with premium tiered rankings (both PPR and non-PPR leagues), player & team analysis, ADP sleepers, rookies, draft strategy and much much more. Get it now and win your drafts!


 
 
 
 
 
 


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Injury News You Need to Know Before Drafting!

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the top injury headlines and underreported news that fantasy football GMs need to know before the final draft weekend of 2020.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, and every weekend morning from 6-8 am ET as well. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Injuries Suck

Pierre and Chris break down the most notable players suffering preseason injuries before the final week of fantasy football draft season.

Players discussed include:


Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

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The King's RotoBaller Challenge Draft Review

Fantasy Football is unique and often wonderful in how it can connect people and bring them together. The community aspect of the game has always made it so appealing, and it creates and sustains friendships and unique bonds. This is very evident when you consider how many people have office leagues, family leagues, and of course leagues that help people stay connected to current and old friends. Plus, you can even play fantasy football for charity with Major League Baseball players at Big League Impact this season. Our national interactive pastime is so influential that you can engage with your favorite athletes and help change people’s lives in the process.

So when Fleaflicker.com hosted a RotoBaller Challenge Draft that I shared on social media, it was amazing and heartwarming to see who joined the league. RotoBaller readers, SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio Subscribers and personal friends I have made over the years came out to form a field of 12 from all my years and endeavors in the industry.

You can compete in a RotoBaller Challenge league at any time right here. It is totally free to play and you can compete for cash prizes. You will play against other RotoBaller readers, listeners and other new possible friends. These are 17-round drafts with starting lineups of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 2 FLEX, 1 TE, 1 K and a DST. These are PPR leagues with six points for a TD pass. Join the RotoBaller Challenge now!

 

The King’s RotoBaller Challenge Review - No. 2 Spot

Round One: Saquon Barkley – If you are in the territory to get one of the top-four running backs, consider yourself fortunate. No running back in fantasy football has more upside than Barkley. He could outscore Christian McCaffery this season if he stays healthy over the full campaign. Barkley had three long runs of 59 or more yards in 2019 games, and two long receptions of 50-plus yards. McCaffery had three total long plays of 50-plus yards, none as a receiver. CMC is a volume monster, but Barkley is more explosive.


Round Two: DeAndre Hopkins -
The stock has fallen on Hopkins, but he is still firmly rated as a mid-range fantasy WR1. He reportedly is going to play with additional motivation after being traded, and will still be the clear No. 1 pass-catcher for his new team. The Cardinals organization will embrace him and he will be much happier than he was in Houston. The positive intangible factors will ensure that Hopkins still remains one of the better players at his position.

Round Three: Lamar Jackson The consensus top dozen-plus RBs were off the board, so I selected the guy who gives you running back numbers at quarterback. Even if Jackson regresses, he can still supply 900-plus rushing yards with respectable passing production. No other QB in fantasy football history has ever been capable of such production. With the very prime RBs gone, I decided to go best WR available in Round Two and I took the chance that Jackson would be available three picks later. If he was gone I would have opted for Adam Thielen. You don’t have to fully focus on RBs early if the flow of the draft dictates otherwise.

Round Four: Cam Akers If you want to lurk for a RB2 in the fourth round, especially at the later spot I was at, the Rams rookie is the ideal target. In many drafts, you will see him go later, but I wanted him for sure by this point. He is ranked inside my top-20 RBs and if you want to assure yourself of getting a player you favor, do not hesitate to make an aggressive move to get him. In my estimation, there was a drop-off at RB after Akers. I risked waiting on him as my RB2 and landed him. Akers will quickly establish himself as the Rams’ featured back.

Round Five: Amari Cooper I did strongly consider DK Metcalf at this spot. It was not an easy decision. But I am already rostering Metcalf in many other leagues and have Cooper ranked higher. I am not as pessimistic on him as some others are. The addition of CeeDee Lamb should draw some defensive attention away from Cooper, and Mike McCarthy loves to gun the ball. You could say McCarthy is a “Love Gun” kind of coach. My favorite album of all time, by the way. I expect 75 catches and 1,100-plus yards from Cooper.

Round Six: Marquise Brown I unintentionally ended up with the Baltimore QB/WR hookup here. Brown was the top WR on my board and has a lot of promise as my third starter at the position. I expect him to boost his 12.7 yards per catch number up a few notches, Brown is healthy after a foot injury curtailed some of his upside as a rookie, and Jackson will improve as a passer in 2020.

Round Seven: Will Fuller I often pass on him because Fuller seems to get injured when he sneezes. But he may be the most explosive WR in the game when he is available to play, and he should be the WR1 for the Texans. I will take my chances with Fuller as a flex option who could help me win a few weeks. Especially in leagues with IR spots, as he is bound to occupy one of them at some point.

Round Eight: Damien Harris He is the most talented pure runner on the Patriots roster. New England will run an RPO offense that will benefit their lead ball carrier. Harris is going to contend for the starting job this season.

Round Nine: Zack Moss There is obvious buzz regarding his goal-line prowess and potential versatility. He has some flex promise for the value in this round.

Round 10: Chris Herndon In leagues where I miss out on my key targets at TE, I will wait and take Herndon as my projected starter. He will be one of Sam Darnold’s preferred targets this season. I saw their connection start to take shape in person when they were both rookies.

Round 11: Breshad Perriman: Consecutive Jets? Do I really want to win games? In fantasy, though, Darnold may have to throw often as he plays from behind often and the defense forces shootouts. Perriman will be his No. 1 downfield target.

Round 12: Allen Lazard There are some gems available deeper in the draft at WR when you go for the potential RB values a few picks earlier.

Rounds 13 through 17: Joshua Kelley is undervalued and his ceiling is becoming a flex player. … Hunter Renfrow is my favorite late-round WR. … The Bills Defense is a Top 6 unit and gets a good Week 1 draw against the Jets. They will get sacks and turnovers even if the opponent scores 20 to 24 points. …. Zane Gonzalez is an underrated Top 5 Fantasy kicker. … Dan Arnold s my SUPER sleeper that no one else seems to be talking about. He is the best alternative/backup to Herndon when you wait on the TE position.

 

Draft Board

Round 1

Pick Player Team
1.1 #1

Strutters

1.2 #2
RB NYG
1.3 #3
RB DAL
1.4 #4
RB TEN

purple city byrds

1.5 #5
1.6 #6
RB NO
1.7 #7
RB MIN

BobbieLee

1.8 #8
RB CLE
1.9 #9
RB CIN
1.10 #10
1.11 #11
WR GB
1.12 #12
RB PHI

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 2

2.1 #13
TE KC

I Would Walk 500 Miles

2.2 #14
RB LAC
2.3 #15
RB LV
2.4 #16
RB GB
2.5 #17
WR KC
2.6 #18
RB ARI

BobbieLee

2.7 #19
WR ATL
2.8 #20
WR TB
2.9 #21
TE SF

purple city byrds

2.10 #22
WR DET
2.11 #23
WR ARI
2.12 #24

Strutters

Round 3

3.1 #25
RB SEA

Strutters

3.2 #26
QB BAL
3.3 #27
RB HOU
3.4 #28
RB IND

purple city byrds

3.5 #29
RB DEN
3.6 #30
RB PIT
3.7 #31

BobbieLee

3.8 #32
RB ATL
3.9 #33
WR TB
3.10 #34
WR MIN
3.11 #35
WR CHI
3.12 #36
WR CAR

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 4

4.1 #37
TE BAL

I Would Walk 500 Miles

4.2 #38
RB NYJ
4.3 #39
WR ATL
4.4 #40
4.5 #41
WR TEN
4.6 #42
WR JAC

BobbieLee

4.7 #43
4.8 #44
WR CLE
4.9 #45
WR WAS

purple city byrds

4.10 #46
WR SEA
4.11 #47
RB LAR
4.12 #48
WR LAR

Strutters

Round 5

5.1 #49
WR LAR

Strutters

5.2 #50
WR DAL
5.3 #51
RB BAL
5.4 #52
WR SEA

purple city byrds

5.5 #53
TE PHI
5.6 #54
QB DAL
5.7 #55

BobbieLee

5.8 #56
5.9 #57
RB DET
5.10 #58 Team 10
5.11 #59
WR MIA
5.12 #60
WR CIN

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 6

6.1 #61
RB CLE

I Would Walk 500 Miles

6.2 #62
WR IND
6.3 #63
WR BUF
6.4 #64
WR LAC
6.5 #65
QB SEA
6.6 #66
WR DAL

BobbieLee

6.7 #67
WR CIN
6.8 #68
RB CHI
6.9 #69
QB ARI

purple city byrds

6.10 #70
QB HOU
6.11 #71
WR BAL
6.12 #72
TE LV

Strutters

Round 7

7.1 #73
TE NYG

Strutters

7.2 #74
WR HOU
7.3 #75
WR HOU
7.4 #76
WR DET

purple city byrds

7.5 #77
RB NE
7.6 #78
TE LAR
7.7 #79
TE ATL

BobbieLee

7.8 #80
7.9 #81
WR ARI
7.10 #82
WR CLE
7.11 #83
RB MIA
7.12 #84

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 8

8.1 #85
QB ATL

I Would Walk 500 Miles

8.2 #86
RB BAL
8.3 #87
QB PHI
8.4 #88
TE LAC
8.5 #89
WR PIT
8.6 #90
WR NYG

BobbieLee

8.7 #91
WR SF
8.8 #92
RB MIA
8.9 #93
RB SF

purple city byrds

8.10 #94
RB DEN
8.11 #95
RB NE
8.12 #96
WR DAL

Strutters

Round 9

9.1 #97
WR BUF

Strutters

9.2 #98
RB BUF
9.3 #99
TE NO
9.4 #100
RB IND

purple city byrds

9.5 #101
QB NO
9.6 #102
9.7 #103
QB NYG

BobbieLee

9.8 #104
9.9 #105
QB GB
9.10 #106
TE MIA
9.11 #107
WR NYJ
9.12 #108

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 10

10.1 #109

I Would Walk 500 Miles

10.2 #110
QB BUF
10.3 #111
WR CHI
10.4 #112
10.5 #113
RB DET
10.6 #114
WR PHI

BobbieLee

10.7 #115
WR LV
10.8 #116
WR DEN
10.9 #117
RB NE

purple city byrds

10.10 #118
WR LAC
10.11 #119
10.12 #120
RB PHI

Strutters

Round 11

11.1 #121
RB SEA

Strutters

11.2 #122
11.3 #123
RB WAS
11.4 #124

purple city byrds

11.5 #125
TE CLE
11.6 #126
11.7 #127
RB WAS

BobbieLee

11.8 #128
TE DEN
11.9 #129
QB TB
11.10 #130
RB LAC
11.11 #131
11.12 #132
RB HOU

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 12

12.1 #133
TE DET

I Would Walk 500 Miles

12.2 #134
RB ARI
12.3 #135
QB NE
12.4 #136
TE TEN
12.5 #137
RB DAL
12.6 #138
QB CIN

BobbieLee

12.7 #139
TE DAL
12.8 #140
12.9 #141

purple city byrds

12.10 #142
RB IND
12.11 #143
WR GB
12.12 #144

Strutters

Round 13

13.1 #145
WR NE

Strutters

13.2 #146
RB LAC
13.3 #147
WR CAR
13.4 #148
TE PHI

purple city byrds

13.5 #149
13.6 #150
RB PIT
13.7 #151
D/ST BAL

BobbieLee

13.8 #152
WR NYG
13.9 #153
RB GB
13.10 #154
TE IND
13.11 #155
TE PIT
13.12 #156

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 14

14.1 #157
RB JAC

I Would Walk 500 Miles

14.2 #158
WR PHI
14.3 #159
14.4 #160
RB CIN
14.5 #161
14.6 #162

BobbieLee

14.7 #163
WR CAR
14.8 #164
QB LAR
14.9 #165
QB CLE

purple city byrds

14.10 #166
QB TEN
14.11 #167
14.12 #168

Strutters

Round 15

15.1 #169
WR SF

Strutters

15.2 #170
D/ST BUF
15.3 #171
15.4 #172
D/ST CHI

purple city byrds

15.5 #173
15.6 #174
15.7 #175
RB NYJ

BobbieLee

15.8 #176
15.9 #177
WR IND
15.10 #178
WR KC
15.11 #179
QB JAC
15.12 #180
RB WAS

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Round 16

16.1 #181
K BAL

I Would Walk 500 Miles

16.2 #182
K NO
16.3 #183
WR IND
16.4 #184
16.5 #185
TE CAR
16.6 #186
WR WAS

BobbieLee

16.7 #187
RB TEN
16.8 #188
16.9 #189

purple city byrds

16.10 #190
16.11 #191
K ARI
16.12 #192
WR HOU

Strutters

Round 17

17.1 #193
K SF

Strutters

17.2 #194
TE ARI
17.3 #195
K DAL
17.4 #196
K TB

purple city byrds

17.5 #197
K SEA
17.6 #198
K DET
17.7 #199
TE JAC

BobbieLee

17.8 #200
K PHI
17.9 #201
17.10 #202
D/ST MIN
17.11 #203
D/ST LAR
17.12 #204
D/ST IND

I Would Walk 500 Miles



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Unique Ways To Determine Your Fantasy League's Draft Order

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived! No, not Christmas. It's fantasy football draft season! The time to hang out with loved ones as you draft the team that is going to decimate each and every other one in your league. The time to trash talk your opponents and make them feel worthless. The time to build the army that will take you to the promised land. Draft season is exciting enough on its own, but how can we make it even more exciting? By adding more competition of course!

Most fantasy football leagues decide their draft order by the reverse order of last year's standings, or by letting the computer randomly generate the order approximately one hour before the draft begins. However, these outdated methods are boring and leave much to be desired. There have to be better options out there, right?

Before we get into it, the first change that should be made is to allow the members of the league to choose their draft position in the order selected by the methods below. This incentivizes each member to fully participate instead of planning for specific ways to avoid the middle picks. What I mean is that the person who wins the first spot in the draft should not automatically receive pick one, rather he/she should be given the first selection of where they want to draft. This puts even more control in the hands of the league members and promotes full participation because last place does not get pick 12, he/she gets the pick that no one else wanted. Here are some ways to determine the draft order in a fun way:

 

Include Other Sports

The first method to select your league's draft order is by competing in other sports. This is simple and allows each member to control their own fate.

Foul Shots: The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings to take a foul shot on a basketball court. The first person to make a basket gets to choose their draft spot first. Repeat until all draft spots are filled.

Pitching Competition: The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings to try and knock over a can with a baseball. The catch is that the member must "pitch" the baseball, meaning that they must throw it nearly as hard as they can. The first person to knock over the can gets to choose their draft spot. Repeat until all draft spots are filled.

Miniature Golf: The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings and begin a 12-man round of mini-golf. The lowest score gets to choose their draft spot first. A fun twist on this game is to add the hole-in-one skip option, meaning if a player gets a hole-in-one, they do not have to complete the course and get to choose their draft spot immediately.

Bullseye Bonanza: The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings and begin throwing one dart at a dartboard. The first person to hit the bullseye gets to choose their draft spot first. Repeat until all draft spots are filled.

Cornhole: The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings and begin tossing one beanbag at a Cornhole board from the same distance away. The first person to get the beanbag into the hole on the board gets to choose their draft spot first. Repeat until all draft spots are filled.

 

Other Competitions

Dave and Buster's: The entire league takes a trip to Dave and Buster's and purchases a $20 game card. The member with the most tickets after the $20 is spent gets to choose their draft spot first.

Potato Sack 40-Yard Dash: Some league members may be faster than others, so a straight-up foot race might not be fair to all parties. In order to even the stakes, add a potato sack! The league members line up in the reverse order of last year's standings and "run" the 40-yard dash in a potato sack. The member with the fastest time gets to choose their draft spot first. If more than one member cannot finish the full 40 yards, then the person who made it the furthest gets to choose their draft spot first out of the non-finishers.

Pizza For Everyone: This is one of my favorite ways to determine the draft order. Each league member is assigned to a local pizza place. At the same time, every member calls their pizza place and orders a medium pizza. The member whose pizza is delivered first gets to choose their draft spot. Bonus: Not only is the league's draft order decided in a completely unbiased manner, but the league now has 12 pizzas to eat!

The Wonderlic Test: Each league member takes the same official Wonderlic Test and the member with the highest score gets to choose their draft spot first.

Brain Freeze: Each league member fills up the same size cup with a Slurpee flavor of their choosing. Everyone begins drinking at the same time, and a member is finished the moment they stop chugging the Slurpee. If more than one person is able to chug the entire Slurpee without stopping, then the member who finishes first gets to choose their draft spot. Assuming no one can finish the Slurpee before brain freeze sets in, the member with the least amount of Slurpee left in their cup when they stop chugging gets to choose their draft spot first.

Laser Tag: The entire league goes for a night out to play laser tag! The member with the highest score after the match is over gets to choose their draft spot first.

Video Game Tournaments: This one is pretty self-explanatory. The league chooses a video game to compete in, tournament style, and the winner gets to choose their draft spot first. Popular choices include Madden, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros., WWE Smackdown, and Mortal Kombat.

 

Pray To The Old Gods (and The New)

Here are a bunch of ways to determine the draft order that is completely up to the fates. The members of the league have no control over these outcomes, which can make the events that much more exciting.

Horse Racing: The entire league takes a trip to the local racetrack and selects one horse from the same race. The order that the horses finish is the order in which the league members choose their draft spots. This can also be done at dog races and pig races.

March Madness: Each league member fills out a March Madness college basketball bracket and the highest score gets to choose their draft spot first.

Kentucky Derby: The commissioner of the league places the name of each horse in the Kentucky Derby into a hat. The member whose horse finishes the highest gets to choose their draft spot first.

NASCAR Race: The Commissioner places the names of 12 drivers in the next NASCAR race into a hat. This is more fun when the commissioner chooses drivers that no one has heard of because it evens out the odds, and leads to league members screaming their heads off for guys like Quinn Houff and Chad Finchum. The order in which the drivers finish the race is the order in which the league members get to choose their draft spot.

PGA Tournament: Similar to NASCAR, the league commissioner places the names of 12 golfers in the next PGA tournament into a hat. The order in which the golfers finish in the tournament is the order in which the league members get to choose their draft spot.

Video Game Simulation: In this method, the commissioner chooses a video game and assigns each member a character from that game. Then, the commissioner runs a computer simulation of the game to determine the results. The best examples are WWE Smackdown and Super Smash Bros. Each league member chooses a wrestler and character from a hat, and the commissioner simulates a Royal Rumble/Battle Royal. The order is chosen in the reverse order that a wrestler/character is eliminated from the competition. This means that the league member who is assigned to the wrestler/character that is eliminated first does not get to choose their draft spot, but is instead left with the only spot remaining.

The Bachelor/Bachelorette: Each league member selects a contestant from the TV show The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. The first league member to have their contestant eliminated is the last place finisher and does not get to choose their draft spot.

 

Age 21 and Older (drink responsibly):

Beer Pong: The Commissioner of the league sets up 12 cups on one side of a table, each with a number on the bottom. Each member then takes a turn throwing a ping-pong ball into the cups. When a member makes a cup, the number on the bottom of the cup is the place in which they get to choose their draft spot.

Flip Cup: All league members line up around a table and fill up their cup about halfway with beer. At the same time, all league members drink the beer in their cup and then try to flip their cup on its head. The league member who can not flip their cup over before everyone else is the last place finisher, and does not get to choose their draft spot. The remaining eleven members then repeat the process until there is one member left. The last remaining member gets to choose their draft spot first.

Shot For Shot: All league members line up around a table and pour one shot of the same liquor for themselves. At the same time, the league takes the shot. Repeat this process until members start dropping out of the competition. The first league member to stop taking shots is the last place finisher and does not get to choose their draft spot. It is best if the league hosts its draft a few days after this competition.

NOTE: Beer Pong and Flip Cup can also be played with non-alcoholic beverages.

The hit TV show The League on FX introduced us to some fun ways to select the draft order, but most of us probably won't have the opportunity to try and score a touchdown in the Dallas Cowboys' practice, or the balls to try and race through an airport security line. As we've seen, however, there are a ton of perfectly legal, exciting ways to select your league's draft order. Have fun!



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The King's Updated Fantasy Football One-Man Mock Draft

This is my updated and final one-man mock exercise of the preseason. I put myself in the draft chairs and minds of every participant in an advance look at the 2020 campaign.

The four rounds of this early one-man mock are based on a 12-team, full PPR format. I have considered roster structure for each spot when I make the choices. The format is based on the standard four points for a TD pass and helps you build the corel of your starting lineup.

The results here are based on a blend of my own personal rankings and the flow of the draft itself. This one-man mock drill reflects that where players are ranked and when they may be picked are two different angles you must consider. I incorporate where players are going off the board in the majority of the many drafts I have completed so far. There are several instances where I may have my top-ranked player available at the time, but I may be able to wait another round or so on him. There will also be instances where need and drop-off at a position will dictate the choice.

 

Round One

1. Christian McCaffrey: He may see a slight dip in overall volume as the Carolina offense establishes more balance, but he will still be the best pick for the most possible quality touches in the game.

2. Saquon Barkley: If he stays healthy, Barkley could finish as the best RB in fantasy football, because no one has more upside. Jason Garrett will maximize his tremendous potential.

3. Alvin Kamara: He is going to regain elite status now that he is healthy. The most efficient dual-threat in fantasy football, he should score 14 or more times. I ma not moving him down yet because of the holdout concerns.

4. Ezekiel Elliott: The workload could be trimmed a bit, as Mike McCarthy likes to emphasize the passing game and he has the weaponry to change the scope of the offense. But Elliott will still score a ton to finish off many drives.

5. Michael Thomas: There is a slight drop-off at running back after the Top 4 off the board, so it’s fine to pivot away from the RB position here and address it in the next round.

6. Derrick Henry: He is entering his prime as the most dominant pure runner in the league. The monster rushing and TD totals combined will somewhat compensate for the lack of receiving output. Don’t let the PPR critics steer you away from this choice.

7. Dalvin Cook: If he could somehow avoid injuries, he would challenge Barkley for the No. 2 overall spot. You know the drill, get Alexander Mattison in the double-digit rounds.

8. Miles Sanders: Don’t be concerned about the preseason injury, there is no indication it will be a lingering factor when the season begins. You should never drop the better players on your draft board based on temporary health situations.

9. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The rookie is not a recommended mid first-rounder to me when I prefer more established performers. If you take him as early as sixth, though, I don’t consider it crazy. More on CEH here.

10. Joe Mixon: Has fallen a bit in drafts in recently, yet there are no major indicators Mixon is not a solid pick by this point. The offense will certainly improve this season and he should provide better numbers after earning every yard last year.

11. Kenyan Drake: An injury report has also dropped his stock slightly, but passing on Drake would be regrettable. He is still set to be a true feature back for the first time ever and is on the verge of a significant breakout to RB1 levels.

12. Davante Adams: He is slipping into the second round, even late, in some recent drafts I have been in. If you can land Green Bay’s best offensive player past this point you are getting a great early round value. Outside of Thomas, no other WR will dominate his team’s target share like Adams.

 

Round Two

13. Josh Jacobs: He averaged 4.8 yards per attempt as a rookie and can prove he is a true fantasy RB1 this season. The signing of Theo Riddick has no impact on his outlook. There is still the possibility he improves as a pass-catcher.

14. Nick Chubb: The presence of Kareem Hunt certainly dents his appeal as a possible RB1. If you go RB/RB in the first two rounds, though, Chubb becomes a real luxury as your second starter at the position.

15. Austin Ekeler: He is not a first-rounder, as the QB change and more defensive attention will cut into his overall production and he may share rushing touches with Joshua Kelley. Yet he is still a fine RB2 pick here.

16. Tyreek Hill: Once the prime dozen-plus RBs are gone, you can wait on your second starter for at least one more round while opting for elite WRs. Hill starts to change the positional flow at this point.

17. Julio Jones: He was second in the NFL in receiving yards last season and 31 is not “old” for a WR as FantasyPros outlines here.

18. Travis Kelce: The Chiefs superstar gives you WR1 production at the thinnest position in fantasy football. Last season, only eight WRs scored more fantasy points than Kelce.

19. Aaron Jones: He could be in his final season with the Pack and likely wants to prove last year was no fluke. The drafting of A.J. Dillon may hurt him more in the future than this season, even if a few goal-line carries are stolen. A solid RB2 target.

20. Jonathan Taylor: He is not quite my highest-ranked RB at this point, but Taylor is stirring a lot of buzz and this is where you may have to take him in some drafts.

21. Chris Godwin: The Buccaneers won’t throw as frequently as they did with Jameis Winston, but the offense should be better overall and Godwin will be Tom Brady’s top target. He may not finish as fantasy WR2 again, yet he only should place a few spots lower.

22. George Kittle: He had a quiet postseason, but Kittle clearly remains in a tier of his own as the No. 2 TE in fantasy football. You have to love getting 80 catches and 1,000 yards at his position. Kittle soared past those markers last year while missing two games.

23. Lamar Jackson: Other experts tell you to wait on a QB. Well, I say wait on all the others. No other quarterback gives you RB production with respectable passing production. Others say he will regress. If he "drops" to 900-plus rushing yards there is still no one else as unique as Jackson at QB.

24. DeAndre Hopkins: So many Fantasy players are expecting notable slippage, yet he will still be a top star target for a rising young QB. Hopkins still sits on the fantasy WR1/2 cusp.

 

Round Three

25. James Conner: He has started to suddenly regain respect over the past few weeks. Just two years ago, he had well over 1,450 yards from scrimmage with 13 TDs and 55 receptions. Grab Benny Snell as the insurance pick in the final rounds.

26. Kenny Golladay: The young and exciting Lions WR led the NFL in TD receptions last year and now gets a healthy Matthew Stafford back. He was seventh in Contested Catch Rate last year, according to playerprofiler.com. Golladay had six of his 11 TD catches in the red zone.

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster: He will playing for a payday, as the Steelers have a history of parting with their top wideouts after awhile, and JJSS is in a contract year.

28. Allen Robinson: I have so much admiration for Robinson, as he finished as WR8 last year despite wildly erratic QB play from Mitchell Trubisky. Nick Foles should ensure that the Chicago passing game will at least command basic defensive respect and may even boost A-Rob’s outlook a bit.

29. Chris Carson: I actually have him ranked as RB13, but you can wait until at least this range to take Carson. The team that drafted Jonathan Taylor can use Carson as the RB1 and Taylor as the RB2 even though Taylor had to be picked earlier to ensure landing him. Carson was fifth in the NFL in rushing yards last year despite missing a game and a good chunk of two others. Carlos Hyde is the essential fantasy backup when you draft Carson. More on Carson here.

30. Adam Thielen: He does not seem like much of an upside pick, yet he can show off his best form again with Stefon Diggs done. We also remind you that 30 is not “old” for a WR.

31. Melvin Gordon: Preseason health concerns have revived worries about his durability. Yet he can still play at close to an RB1 level when healthy and you just need to grab Phillip Lindsay later for the backup insurance.

32. D.J. Moore: Nearly reached 1,100 yards and 90 catches last year despite QB issues, and now gets an obvious upgrade at the position. Defense may force the offense to throw frequently.

33. Patrick Mahomes: This team combines Tyreek Hill and Mahomes for the ultimate fantasy scoring connection. It is a proven winning strategy when you don’t fully give into the RB demand early on.

34. Odell Beckham Jr.: A hopeful pick based on a new coaching staff trying to spark Baker Mayfield. Beckham is still a superstar talent.

35. Cooper Kupp: Jared Goff’s favorite target, especially for TDs. That is not going to change.

36. Mike Evans: Should be the lesser WR of the top two in Tampa Bay with Brady, yet still capable of being a quality fantasy WR2.

 

Round Four

37. Cam Akers: Can make the quickest impact of any rookie other than Edwards-Helaire.

38. DK Metcalf: His ceiling is as a higher-end WR2. More on Metcalf here.

39. Tyler Lockett: He is an underrated fantasy WR2.

40. David JohnsonThis is a “need” pick. Get some RB depth behind Johnson, a real risk to fail with the Texans.

41.Todd GurleyAnother RB “need” pick.

42. Amari Cooper: Is he falling too far? You will still get 75 catches and 1,100 yards.

43. D.J. Chark: Could vault into back-end fantasy WR1 territory this year.

44. A.J. Brown: Often goes ahead of Metcalf, but not in this mock.

45. Kareem Hunt: If you find yourself in need of an RB at this point, it's not too early to gun for Hunt.

46. Terry McLaurin: Could rise even more in Year Two.

47. Calvin Ridley: Julio gets the big yardage, and he is the prime Atlanta TD threat in the passing game.

48. DeVante Parker: He is actually my WR15, yet you can wait until this range to get good value on Parker.



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Updated Tight End PPR Draft Rankings and Analysis

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, there are more than five tight ends to get excited about heading into a fantasy football season!

Breakout seasons from Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and more propelled the position to new heights in 2019. Fantasy players will no longer be overcome with a sense of dread if they don't land a tight end before Zach Ertz gets selected. In years past, players would be talking themselves into Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen as passable starters. Those guys still start in the NFL, but we have them ranked in the mid-20s rather than the early teens this year. We've got a new group of promising tight ends to talk ourselves into.

There's a lot to like from the tight end position this year. We'll be breaking down each tier of tight ends from our RotoBaller Rankings. You can find the full list here.

 

Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Travis Kelce 18 3
2 1 George Kittle 21 3
3 2 Mark Andrews 38 4
4 2 Zach Ertz 43 4
5 2 Darren Waller 53 5
6 3 Tyler Higbee 71 5
7 3 Hunter Henry 72 5
8 4 Evan Engram 84 6
9 4 Rob Gronkowski 86 6
10 4 Austin Hooper 94 7
11 4 Jared Cook 95 7
12 4 Hayden Hurst 98 7
13 5 Noah Fant 116 8
14 5 Mike Gesicki 118 8
15 5 Jack Doyle 124 8
16 5 T.J. Hockenson 131 8
17 5 Dallas Goedert 138 9
18 5 Jonnu Smith 140 9
19 5 Blake Jarwin 144 9
20 5 Eric Ebron 148 9
21 6 Irv Smith Jr. 168 10
22 6 Chris Herndon IV 171 11
23 6 Ian Thomas 179 11
24 7 Jace Sternberger 209 12
25 7 Dawson Knox 218 13
26 7 Jimmy Graham 224 13
27 7 Greg Olsen 226 13
28 7 Kyle Rudolph 229 13
29 7 O.J. Howard 239 13
30 7 Will Dissly 240 13
31 7 Jordan Thomas 250 14
32 7 Gerald Everett 253 14
33 7 Virgil Green 254 14
34 7 Darren Fells 256 14
35 8 Tyler Eifert 274 15
36 8 Devin Asiasi 278 15
37 8 Durham Smythe 279 15
38 8 David Njoku 284 15
39 8 Levine Toilolo 286 15
40 8 Vance McDonald 291 15
41 8 Marcedes Lewis 298 15
42 8 James O'Shaughnessy 304 15
43 8 Dan Arnold 305 15
44 8 Chris Manhertz 308 15
45 8 C.J. Uzomah 309 15
46 9 Jeremy Sprinkle 313 16
47 9 Robert Tonyan 316 16
48 9 Cameron Brate 318 16
49 9 Blake Bell 320 16
50 9 Daniel Brown 321 16
51 9 Nick Boyle 322 16
52 9 Trevon Wesco 324 16
53 9 MyCole Pruitt 336 16
54 9 Ryan Griffin 338 16
55 10 Cole Kmet 349 17
56 10 Anthony Firkser 350 17
57 10 Harrison Bryant 363 17
58 10 Trey Burton 364 17
59 10 Foster Moreau 368 17
60 10 Tyler Conklin 369 17
61 10 Kaden Smith 370 17
62 10 Jason Witten 371 17
63 10 Charlie Woerner 378 17
64 10 Delanie Walker 380 17
65 10 Seth DeValve 381 17
66 10 Jordan Akins 382 17
67 10 Josh Oliver 386 18
68 10 Adam Trautman 388 18
69 10 Jacob Hollister 398 18
70 10 Albert Okwuegbunam 404 18
71 11 Maxx Williams 411 18
72 11 Jesse James 416 18
73 11 Jaeden Graham 424 18
74 11 Johnny Mundt 429 18
75 11 Demetrius Harris 430 18
76 11 Drew Sample 431 18
77 11 Colby Parkinson 434 18
78 11 Dalton Keene 435 18
79 11 Deon Yelder 438 18
80 11 Derek Carrier 440 18
81 11 Kahale Warring 442 18
82 11 Joshua Perkins 446 19
83 11 Thaddeus Moss 448 19
84 11 Cethan Carter 452 19
85 11 Brycen Hopkins 454 19
86 11 Richard Rodgers 457 19
87 11 Mo Alie-Cox 458 19
88 11 Dalton Schultz 462 19
89 11 Josh Hill 468 19
90 11 Hunter Bryant 479 19
91 11 Nick Vannett 484 20
92 11 Jordan Reed 489 20
93 11 Matt LaCosse 493 20
94 11 Ricky Seals-Jones 494 20
95 11 Tyler Kroft 495 20
96 11 Ross Dwelley 497 20
97 11 Logan Thomas 509 20

Tier 1

Travis Kelce, George Kittle

Fresh off two massive paydays, Kittle and Kelce find themselves once again a tier above the rest of the pack. RotoBaller has Kelce ranked as the 18th overall player, with Kittle following behind at number 21.

Both guys seem like safe bets to finish as top-five tight ends. Kelce notched 97 receptions for 1,229 yards and six total touchdowns, somehow regressing in each of those numbers from the previous season. He's a top option in a passing game led by a quarterback who's on pace to be one of the all-time greats. He should be the first tight end off the board in 2020, but Kittle is a fine consolation prize for owners looking to grab an elite tight end.

 

Tier 2

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller

Fantasy players who chose to wait on a tight end in 2019 were rewarded if they grabbed Mark Andrews late in their draft. Andrews broke out in a big way last season, leading all TEs in touchdowns with 10. Even if Andrews doesn't reach double-digit touchdowns again, he's a top pass catcher in an elite offense and belongs in this tier. Don't be surprised if he crosses the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Waller broke out in an even bigger way than Andrews last season, finishing as the TE3. His 90 receptions and 1,145 yards were second only to Travis Kelce among tight ends. Many have pegged Waller as a regression candidate, noting the numerous pass-catchers the Raiders added this offseason in addition to his low touchdown total last season. But Waller clearly still has a place in the passing game. He has valuable experience playing with Derek Carr and the Raiders made a big financial commitment to him. Even if he doesn't finish as a top-three tight end again, it would be a shock if he doesn't finish as a TE1 this year.

Zach Ertz has finished as a top-four tight end for the past three years and has been a top-10 tight end for the past five years. There's no reason to expect any serious regression here. He's one of the safest fantasy choices you can make in 2020.

 

Tier 3

Tyler Higbee, Hunter Henry

For the final five games of last season, Tyler Higbee was the best tight end in the NFL. He averaged 21.4 PPR PPG, nearly five points more than the next highest tight end. The problem is that he was 35th among tight ends for the 12 weeks that preceded that. He has an incredibly high ceiling and a dangerously low floor in 2020. He's easily the riskiest option of the tight ends so far, but as we saw last year, his ceiling may be the TE1. 

Will Gerald Everett's return impact Higbee's targets? Will the departure of Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley II impact Higbee's targets? Were the last five games of the season a fluke, or did we witness Higbee's true form? These are all questions fantasy players will have to consider when selecting Higbee.

 

Tier 4

Evan Engram, Rob Gronkowski, Austin Hooper, Jared Cook, Hayden Hurst

Evan Engram might be the top pass catcher on the Giants if he plays all 16 games this year. The problem is that he has missed 13 games over the past two seasons. Unfortunately, Engram may be shaping up to be this generation's Jordan Reed. But he managed to rank seventh among tight ends in PPR PPG last season, and will always be a "set it and forget it" type of player when he's active. The injury risk is going to be baked into his ADP.

The more casual the league you play in, the higher Rob Gronkowski's ADP is going to be. Just don't forget that Gronk had the worst year of his career before retiring in 2018 and that he's playing for a coach who's more likely to get his punter consistently involved in the passing game before he gets his tight ends involved. Having Tom Brady and Gronk might force his hand to use his tight end more, but there's a lot of risk with Gronk this season.

Austin Hooper finished third among tight ends in PPR PPG last season with 14.7. He left Atlanta for Cleveland in the offseason and his replacement, Hayden Hurst, falls just two spots below him in our rankings. Choosing between the two is simple: did Hooper blow up last season because he's talented, or did he blow up because of the situation he was in?

Hooper joins a talented, and crowded, group of pass-catchers in Cleveland. The Browns gave Hooper a nice payday when they signed him, but it doesn't even sniff what they have invested in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, the team's top two receivers. Hurst will also have to compete for targets with a talented group of receivers, but 2019 proved that Atlanta has no problem getting the tight end involved. Both guys have big question marks. But the upside is much more promising than some of the tight ends you'd be drafting in this range in previous years.

 

Tier 5

Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Jack Doyle, T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, Jonnu Smith, Blake Jarwin, Eric Ebron

Tier five is filled with young, talented tight ends who will all be seen as blow-up candidates

College teammates Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson were both drafted in the first round of last year's draft. Neither guy has a chance to be the team's top pass-catcher in 2020, and it's unlikely that either one is even the second option in the passing game. Fant specifically has to compete for targets with Courtland Sutton, two rookie receivers who the team spent high draft capital on, and an incoming Melvin Gordon III out of the backfield. But both guys showed promise in 2019 and tight ends have historically taken to the NFL slower than other skill positions.

Both Fant and Hockenson have a ton of promise. Still, that's all it is, promise. There's a reason they're available this late, but don't be surprised if one of these guys finishes as a TE1 this season. If I had to bet on one of them, I'd bet on Hockenson, simply because he has less competition for targets and a better quarterback.

If you're looking to find this year's Mark Andrews or Darren Waller, Miami tight end Mike Gesicki fits the mold better than anyone. The Dolphins have one proven wide receiver after a few players opted out due to COVID-19. Gesicki finished second among Miami pass-catchers last season in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns, and he somehow has even less competition for targets in 2020. Gesicki is a former second-round pick who has been quietly coming into his own as a solid NFL tight end. Quarterback play is going to be a question mark in Miami this season, but somebody has to catch passes from these guys. If you plan on waiting on tight end, Gesicki might need to be a priority. His ranking as TE14 feels a bit low to me.

Like Gesicki, Tennessee tight end Jonnu Smith finds himself out of Delanie Walker's shadow and in position to be the No. 2 pass-catcher on the Titans, but his ceiling doesn't feel quite as high. The Titans are going to feed Derrick Henry as much as possible and their receiver room is a bit deeper than Miami's. Still, Smith certainly has appeal at his ADP for those waiting on tight end in deeper leagues.

Pittsburgh acquisition Eric Ebron rounds out the top 20. Ebron has some appeal due to his name value and his memorable 13 touchdown season just two years ago, but I'm not buying into any hype here. Maybe there's a chance that Ebron picks up where Vance McDonald left off in 2018. Does reading that sentence really get you excited about anything? I see much more value in Chris Herndon (TE22) and Ian Thomas (TE23) than I do Ebron in 2020.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Who Will Lead the Jaguars Backfield in 2020?

Well, that was unexpected.

There was a point earlier this offseason where we all collectively thought "the Jaguars could definitely move on from Leonard Fournette," but as training camp arrived and the start of the regular season approached, we let our guard down. We drafted Fournette like he was still the main back in Jacksonville and possibly an undervalued fantasy RB. We treated the rest of the players in Jacksonville like they were basically irrelevant for fantasy purposes.

And then, on Monday, Jacksonville released Fournette. So, what do we make of this backfield now? Let's discuss.

 

The "Lead" Back: Ryquell Armstead

Discussion of the state of this backfield has to begin with Ryquell Armstead.

The second-year back is coming off a forgettable rookie campaign, in large part because the Jaguars relied so heavily on Fournette in all areas of the game. But unless the team signs someone -- more on that later -- Armstead is set to enter Week 1 as the lead back here.

He doesn't enter that role with the same high floor as Fournette, though, and he doesn't have the role on lock like Fournette did. You were drafting Fournette as an RB2, but you should not be drafting Armstead like an RB2. There are simply too many questions that have to be answered here for us to feel comfortable with Armstead as a starting option in fantasy.

The first question is workload. Armstead's NFL sample is small. As a rookie, he carried the ball 35 times for 108 yards and added 14 receptions for 144 yards and two scores. But if we take away his production in Week 17, when he got the start for the Jags, we get 25 carries for 75 yards and nine catches for 92 yards and a score. That was a per game average of 1.7 carries for five yards, and 0.6 receptions for 6.1 yards.

So, to project Armstead to be a viable fantasy play in 2020 is to do a LOT of projection, and I think that's where looking at some of his workout metrics come in. Per PlayerProfiler, here's Armstead's workout metrics:

The speed is encouraging, but the lack of burst isn't, especially running behind an offensive line that ranked 27th in adjusted line yards last season per Football Outsiders. If Armstead can get some space in front of him, his speed suggests that he can break off some big plays, but his 3.1 yards per carry last year and 62nd rank among running backs in yards created per touch are not encouraging.

On the other hand, Armstead has one thing going for him, which is that Doug Marrone has really relied heavily on one back during his time in Jacksonville. Sure, you can argue that he did so because the team invested so heavily in that one back, spending a first-round pick on Fournette which basically trapped them into having to give him the ball so much, but still -- this team has relied pretty heavily on one guy.

That's the good news with coaching. The bad: the addition of Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator complicates things. He has a good relationship with Chris Thompson, for instance, and in his time as an NFL head coach and offensive coordinator, a Gruden running back has never finished as a top 10 player at the position in fantasy, and only three seasons produced a top-20 finish. There are some conflicting coaching things going on here.

Ultimately, Armstead has the upside to be a low-end RB2 based on his expected role, but it's safer to say he's a low-end RB3 for fantasy draft purposes. Lots of risk here. Solid upside. His underrated value as a receiver will come in handy if Thompson misses time, but he probably won't get a ton of chances in the receiving game if Thompson is healthy, and a poor game script could really hurt Armstead's value.

 

The PPR Guy: Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson was already expected to see lots of time on passing downs, and after the move to get rid of Fournette, he is...still expected to see lots of time on passing downs.

I don't actually think Thompson's fantasy outlook is super impacted by this move when it comes to his upside, because I was already expecting a healthy Thompson to take most of Fournette's 2019 targets, and I don't think the Jaguars are going to be putting Thompson on the field much on rushing downs. Maybe he gets more carries than before and maybe he gets a few more targets, but I thought he was a playable flex option in full PPR before and I think he's a playable flex option in full PPR now.

But while the upside is about the same, I do think this eliminates a lot of the non-injury downside that came along with Chris Thompson. Let's not forget that Leonard Fournette had 100 targets last year. Some of those were going to Thompson, but having Fournette available on some passing downs was a distinct possibility.

Ryquell Armstead is probably a better receiver than Fournette, but I'm predicting that the coaching staff uses Thompson on passing downs more than they would have with Fournette around.

There's also the game script factor. Look at this Jaguars team. How often will they be playing from behind in the second half? A lot, right? That helps Thompson, who'll be on the field a lot in the second half, when his receiving ability will come in handy.

 

The "Hmm, Maybe Worth a Flier In Deep Leagues" Back: Devine Ozigbo

Here's where things get more speculative.

Ozigbo's going to be the third back here if nothing changes. The second-year back barely played last year, having nine carries for 27 yards and three catches for 23 yards. All of that happened in Week 17.

Like Armstead, playing behind Leonard Fournette meant we never got to see Ozigbo get the playing time he needed to actually show anything to the Jags and the rest of the NFL. But word out of training camp is that he's been impressive, and he did have a solid preseason last year with the Saints.

Ozigbo had a strong finish to his college career, rushing for seven yards per carry as a senior at Nebraska. He has some good quickness and can be a capable receiving option if needed, though he's going to have to find a way to work his way up the depth chart.

But hey, injuries or ineffectiveness with Armstead and Thompson could mean a boost to Ozigbo's stock at some point. He's an interesting stash in deep leagues, though right now fantasy managers might be better served by putting him on their watchlist and not their roster.

 

They Could Still Sign Someone, Right?

Sure, but who? Devonta Freeman is an option, but the Jaguars are in a rebuild, so why spend money on a veteran running back?

I think the better option if they look outside of this team is to see who gets cut over the next week or so. If a young back that they like more than Ozigbo comes onto the market, for instance, they might jump on him. Think undrafted free agents or recently-released draft picks that didn't make the cut elsewhere.

Right now, though, I wouldn't be too worried about a new face entering and changing things up. Treat Armstead as the starter, Thompson as the PPR guy, and Ozigbo as the long shot, deep league guy. Don't overthink this and convince yourself Devonta Freeman is about to be their starter. Maybe that happens, but it's not worth worrying about at this point.



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Why Zero RB Won't Work In 2020 (and Beyond!)

In the 1970s, you didn't have to go far to find a funky cool cat cutting up the dance floor in a polyester leisure suit while his pet rock named Morton rested comfortably in his pocket. By the 1980s, people had realized things like the pet rock, and leisure suits were lame. Instead, it was cool to wear parachute pants, perm your hair, and brag about how you completed an entire side of your Rubik's Cube. Then the '90s hit, and a wave of grunge draped America's youth in flannel shirts and passive-aggressive attitudes. And on and on fads like this go. Some of them survive long enough to become real thorns in your side (see Facebook), while most fade so fast you can barely remember them five years later (see MySpace).

If you're looking for the biggest fantasy football-specific fad, however, you need to look no further than the strategy known as 'Zero RB.' This strategy is that in which fantasy managers avoid drafting running backs in the first few rounds. Instead, Zero RB truthers use their early draft picks on a heavy dose of wide receivers (WR), with the occasional tight end (TE) or quarterback (QB) thrown in for measure. The idea behind the strategy is that there is allegedly less volatility in elite WRs, QBs, and TEs than there is at the RB position. So, you should build a strong base with these safer positions before taking a bunch of flyers on the already risk RB position later in your draft.

Sounds like a solid strategy, right? I mean, there are plenty of positions in fantasy, so why shouldn't you gobble up the best players at each of them while your friends "waste" their early picks on RBs? The list of reasons you shouldn't do this is long, so why don't we get to them?

 

Elite RBs Typically Score More Points than Elite WRs

Since 2016, fantasy's top-overall WR has been outscored by an average of three RBs in PPR leagues and five RBs in standard leagues each season.

In 2016, David Johnson finished as the top-scoring fantasy running back (RB1) in both PPR and standard scoring. That season, Johnson scored 100.5 more PPR points than the WR1 in fantasy, and 119.7 more standard points than the WR1. Johnson wasn't the only RB to outscore the WR1 in 2016, either. Three total RBs outscored fantasy's best WR that season.

In 2017, the story was much the same. Fantasy's RB1 (Todd Gurley) outscored fantasy's WR1 by 73 PPR points and 105.5 standard points that season. Again, three different RBs ended up scoring more PPR points than the WR1 that year, and six RBs outscored the WR1 in standard scoring.

In 2018, the trend continued. Four different RBs outscored fantasy's WR1 in PPR leagues, and five RBs outscored the WR1 in standard scoring.

Last year, Michael Thomas did his best to end this trend by putting up a historically significant fantasy season, totaling a whopping 374.6 PPR points. He was terrific, and a joy to have on your team… and he was still outscored by fantasy's top overall RB (Christian McCaffrey) by 96.6 PPR points and 129.6 standard points.

That's a convincing fantasy beat down, considering how prolific Thomas was in 2019.

Last year's WR2 (Chris Godwin) didn't fare much better than Michael Thomas did when compared to RB competition. Six different RBs scored more PPR points than Godwin did last year, and an incredible 11 RBs outscored him in standard scoring.

If the past four years are any indication, the top WRs aren't going to outscore the top RBs in 2020, no matter your league's settings.

 

Wide Receiver is So Deep, You Can Wait

Last season, there were 25 WRs who scored at least 200 PPR points. That group did not include any of the following talents on it:

Now consider that each of the following rookies could realistically average 12 or more PPR points per game this season, under the right circumstances…

With this list of impact rookies, a promising group of 2020 sleepers (Preston Williams, Darius Slayton, etc.), and the 25 players who scored 200+ points last season, this year's fantasy WR crop is deep. By our count, at least 45 WRs have the chance to put up at least 180-200 PPR points this season, if all goes well.

That's great depth when you consider only 23 RBs topped 180 PPR points last season.

 

Running Back is Shallow, You Can't Wait

While the WR position has been incredibly deep for the past four years and looks to be even deeper in 2020, the RB pool has been decidedly top-heavy in recent seasons.

To illustrate just how shallow the RB position is when compared to WRs, let us begin by dividing them into smaller groups. For our purposes, we will divide the WR and RB positions into the following tiers:

  • Tier 1- The top-overall scoring WR or RB in PPR scoring in any given season;
  • Tier 2- The second through fifth-highest scoring WRs or RBs;
  • Tier 3- The sixth through tenth highest scoring WRs and RBs
  • Tier 4- The 11th through 20th highest scoring WRs and RBs;
  • Tier 5- The 21st through 30th highest scoring WRs and RBs; and
  • Tier 6- The 31st through 40th highest scoring WRs and RBs.

Now that we have these tiers established, we can compare the RB and WR positions in fantasy more easily. In the following chart, you will see the average PPR production for players in each of these tiers over the past four seasons.…

WR Tiers Avg. PPR Points Scored By Players in Tier RB Tiers Avg. PPR Points Scored By Players in Tier
Tier 1:

WR1

331.4 points Tier 1:

RB1

412 points
Tier 2:

WR2 to WR5

293.2 points Tier 2:

RB2-RB5

321.7 points
Tier 3:

WR6 to WR10

260.8 points Tier 3:

RB6-RB10

254.8 points
Tier 4:

WR11 to WR20

225.5 points Tier 4:

RB10-RB20

203.2 points
Tier 5:

WR21 to WR30

193.5 points Tier 5:

RB21-RB30

163.5 points
Tier 6:

WRs31 through WR40

170 points Tier 6:

RB31 through RB40

137 points

As you can see, Tier 1 RBs have handily outscored Tier 1 WRs over the past four seasons, and Tier 2 RBs have done the same against Tier 2 WRs. As you can also see, after Tier 3, that trend does a 180º. WRs routinely dominate their RB peers in total points and consistency, once we get to Tier 4 and beyond.

More important than how RBs and WRs compare to each other, however, is how they compare to those at their own position.

Over the past four seasons, Tier 2 RBs have scored 26% more fantasy points than Tier 3 RBs have. Meanwhile, Tier 2 WRs have scored only 12% more points than Tier 3 WRs. Overall, a fantasy manager will net an average of 34.5 PPR points per season more if they draft a Tier 2 RB and a Tier 3 WR than they will if they draft a Tier 3 RB and a Tier 2 WR.

Going a bit lower on the chart, we see that Tier 3 RBs score 25% more PPR points than Tier 4 RBs. Meanwhile, Tier 3 WRs tend to score only 15% more points than Tier 4 WRs. In other words, you stand to gain 19.6 PPR points per season if you draft a Tier 3 RB and a Tier 4 WR, instead of a Tier 4 RB and a Tier 3 WR.

This year's fantasy RB group looks to be even more top-heavy than in years past, with serious questions swirling around established fantasy starters such as Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, James Conner, Le' Veon Bell, and Todd Gurley. To make things worse, most of this year's promising rookie RB class and several established stars (Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, Mark Ingram, etc.) are expected to split a significant share of their touches this year. With half of this year's top-20 RBs burdened with questions about their workload, age, health, or ability level, the value of nailing a top-10 talent at the position early in your draft is more important than ever. You really cannot afford to risk waiting on RB in 2020.

 

Elite RBs Aren't As Hard To Identify As You Think

Six of last year's top-10 scoring RBs were selected within the first 20 picks of fantasy drafts, and nine of the top-10 were taken with the first 30 picks. By pick #46, 11 of the 12 top-scoring RBs were taken, and all 12 were gone by pick #63. Meanwhile, only three of the top-10 scoring WRs in PPR were selected in the first two rounds, and half of them were chosen after pick #40.

This success rate has stayed consistent over the past four seasons, too.

Since 2016, 60% of all elite (top-10 scoring) RBs have been selected within the first 20 picks of fantasy drafts. That's true in both standard and PPR scoring. During those same four years, only 37% of elite WRs were drafted within the first 20 picks of PPR drafts, and only 47% of elite fantasy WRs went that high in Non-PPR drafts.

As you can see, fantasy players have more trouble getting elite value out of early-round WRs than they do elite RBs.

 

Quarterbacks Do Not Help the Zero RB Argument

Quarterbacks should never go in the first four rounds of fantasy drafts. There. Done. Happy?

No? Sigh…. Fine, we will dive in a bit further, then.

Only three QBs have topped 400+ fantasy points, and only five have finished with more than 360 fantasy points in a season, since 2012. No QB has topped 400-points more than once during this time, and never has it been done by multiple QBs in a season.

Those facts pour serious cold water on the idea that you should pass on an RB and draft Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes at their current ADP (19th and 23rd overall, respectively). A more reasonable expectation for Mahomes and Jackson in 2020 is probably something closer to 350 or 360 fantasy points.

Consider that the top-overall QB in fantasy has averaged 363.35 fantasy points in the past nine seasons, where the 400-point barrier wasn't broken.  Also, consider that the second-overall QB (QB2) in fantasy has averaged 342.5 points over the past eight seasons. Meanwhile, the QB10 over the past eight years has averaged 273.5 points per season.

Thus, drafting Mahomes at 19th overall instead of taking Deshaun Watson at pick #69 will likely net you a mere 30-points at the very deep QB position. Meanwhile, taking Jackson at pick #23 instead of Josh Allen with the 102nd pick will probably earn you a 70 fantasy point gain. That's not that much, considering the cost.

 

You Don't Have to Go Zero RB to Get the Best TEs

There are two elite TEs worthy of a top-30 selection in 2020 drafts: George Kittle and Travis Kelce. Over the past two seasons, Kelce has averaged 96.8 PPR points per season more than the TE6 in fantasy. At the same time, Kittle has averaged 63.25 PPR points per season over the TE6. That is a significant advantage at a thin position.

While Kelce and Kittle give you a noteworthy edge over a vast majority of fantasy TEs, their PPR edge over guys like Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz (who you can get two rounds later than the Killer-Ks) is less than 50 PPR points. Additionally, what edge they may give you over the overall TE position in 2020 may be less than it has been in the past. Players like Darren Waller, Evan Engram, Mike Gesicki, Tyler Higbee, Hayden Hurst, and Hunter Henry could all come within 80 PPR points of Kelce and Kittle this year if all goes right for them.

That said, if you have to have Kittle or Kelce, they are unlikely to cost you a top-12 draft pick in non-TE premium formats. That means that you can easily draft one, or maybe even two, very good RBs before you need to pull the trigger on one of the two elite TEs in fantasy. Thus, Kittle and Kelce can be had without going all-in on the Zero RB strategy.

 

Closing Argument: Zero RB Put Into Practice

For one final demonstration of just how risky the Zero RB philosophy is in today's fantasy game (especially PPR), let's now recreate a practical Zero RB draft from 2019.

Below you will see two teams drafted using the 2019 ADPs from Fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Using those ADPs, we have crafted a near best-case scenario Zero RB team (Team 1), and a solid but somewhat flawed RB-Heavy team (Team 2). Comparing these two teams is enlightening…

Round Team 1 (Pick #9) Team 2 (Pick #10)
1 Michael Thomas Nick Chubb
2 Odell Beckham Jr. Dalvin Cook
3 George Kittle Aaron Jones
4 Amari Cooper Zach Ertz
5 Melvin Gordon Kenny Golladay
6 Miles Sanders T.Y. Hilton
7 Lamar Jackson Aaron Rodgers
2019 PPR Points Scored 1,666.00 1,734

In this example, Team 1 could not have executed the Zero RB strategy much better. They captured the top WR and the top QB in all of fantasy, both of whom had historically significant fantasy seasons, and drafted the second best TE in 2019. They also selected the RB15 and RB23, despite waiting on the position until the fifth and sixth round. This result is precisely what most Zero RB strategists are hoping for when they use this system, as Team 1 gained a weekly edge over everyone at every position except at RB.

Despite all of that, Team 1 drafted the inferior team in comparison with the RB-Heavy Team 2. Team 1 ended up being outscored by Team 2 by 68 PPR points, despite Team 2 having a distinct disadvantage at QB, WR, and TE. Had Team 1 abandoned Zero RB at any point and selected Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, or Derrick Henry at any point in time, they would have likely won this matchup handily.



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Why Zero RB Will Work In 2020

In a world where Christian McCaffrey is coming off a historic year comprised of 287 carries, 142 targets, 19 touchdowns and over 2,300 yards from scrimmage, the Zero RB strategy might seem like a losing recipe. How can you justify shooting for any non-running back at the top of drafts when we’ve seen just how dominant the top-tier running backs can be?

McCaffrey is joined at the top of the running back rankings this year by fellow workhorses Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. All three of those stars should have fantastic years and a number of the running backs in the next tier, such as Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara, should excel as well, but there’s still a lot of reason to believe that the Zero RB strategy is alive.

Even though the aforementioned studs have distanced themselves in their position, we’ve also seen some widening gaps in the tiers of other positions, suggesting that in 2020, Zero RB can lead you to a prosperous fantasy year as long as you plan things out properly.

 

The Wide Receiver Breakdown

While every other drafter is in a mad rush to attain the workhorse running backs at the top, there’s an equal amount of validity to the approach of targeting the workhorse receivers instead. Just as there’s a scarcity of running backs who have workhorse potential, there’s a similar scarcity of receivers who have the potential for an elite target total.

Drafting two receivers with WR1 potential and a high floor can provide for a phenomenal base for your team.

Last year, only five receivers had 150 or more targets: Michael Thomas, (185), Julio Jones (157), Allen Robinson (154), Julian Edelman (153) and DeAndre Hopkins (150).

Only 12 other receivers earned over 120 targets last year. Here they are, followed by their 2019 target totals and their average, per-game rankings amongst wide receivers in standard leagues last year:

So even with 120-plus targets, seven of the 12 members of this above group were unable to break the top-20 receiver rankings on a per-game average. Excluding Allen, who barely made the top-20 cut and figures to have a production drop off as he begins life without Philip Rivers, we now have a total of nine receivers from the first two groups who figure to earn elite targets and have the potential to turn those elite targets into WR1 seasons.

These are the receivers who rounded out the top 15 in per-game average in standard leagues, followed by their 2019 target amount and their ranking:

Now, in total, we have 17 receivers who seem to realistically have a shot at being a WR1, taking into consideration target share and production. It’s extremely unlikely for anyone not named Tyreek Hill to be able to produce a WR1 season without getting close to or above 120 targets.

If your league starts two receivers, you can give yourself a huge leg up in the position by passing on running backs and acquiring a top-tier guy like Thomas or Adams and pairing him with another potential WR1 in Golladay or Parker or if you want to wait a bit longer, Ridley or Chark.

Fantasy owners who use their top two picks on running backs will have to rely on a low-tier member of the above group as their WR1 and a flyer from the mid-rounds who will likely be a very inconsistent WR2.

 

Quarterback Tiers

While you might see someone like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, or Tom Brady on the outskirts of the top-10 in preseason quarterback rankings and think you’re completely fine to wait on a quarterback, you’d be oversimplifying the situation.

Lamar Jackson was of course the No. 1 overall quarterback last year. He averaged 28.11 points per week in standard, six-point per passing touchdown leagues last year. Behind him were Deshaun Watson (22.13) and Dak Prescott (21.80).

As a comparison, Matt Ryan finished tenth in average points last year with 18.76 and Aaron Rodgers finished 14th with 17.65. The gap between Prescott and Ryan may seem small, but if the numbers start to gravitate in a particular direction, it could quickly become much more alarming. Prescott’s offense added a top rookie receiver in CeeDee Lamb while Ryan’s offense added a potential workhorse running back in Todd Gurley II. A few more points per game for Prescott and a few fewer points per game for Ryan and suddenly the disparity widens significantly.

It’s going to be hard for Jackson to repeat his MVP campaign in 2020, but he still has a potential output that’s just untouchable by all but a select few fantasy quarterbacks. Watson, Prescott, and Patrick Mahomes could all compete for the No. 1 overall quarterback spot if the former two improve upon last year’s production and if Mahomes returns to his 2018 productivity (26.07 points per game).

Other than that, we could maybe see Kyler Murray breaking out in a big way after averaging 18.58 points per game as a rookie or we could see Russell Wilson (20.85 last year) taking a step forward, but the options for elite QB production are clearly limited. Waiting on a dependable, limited upside option like Rodgers or Goff could hold you back in the position.

 

Tight End Depth Illusion

Tight end is in a similar spot to quarterback. Waiting to draft an intriguing sleeper like Tyler Higbee or Hayden Hurst is alluring, but the potential of them even coming close to producing a season like Travis Kelce or George Kittle is extremely minimal.

Kelce had 136 targets last year, while Kittle had 107. The top tight end tier is rounded out by Zach Ertz, who had 135 targets last year, and Mark Andrews, who had 98.

Andrews was a bit of an outlier as he was remarkably efficient last year, the only player in the league to catch 10 touchdown passes with under 100 targets.

Higbee was certainly a revelation last year, but all his production came while the team’s other primary tight end Gerald Everett was sidelined and it’s a big question as to what the target share will look like this year.

Kelce and Kittle are guaranteed targets and guaranteed elite production that will give you a step up in the tight end position over your opponents on a weekly basis. Ertz and Andrews should have you in good standing at the position as well.

While the rest of the pack will have some flashes of success and we could see someone else break into the top tier, it’s going to be hard to determine which tight end that will be. If you want safety at the position, draft one of the top four.

 

Prime Zero RB Targets

While it may sound like cruel irony, the biggest key to the Zero RB strategy is in fact knowing which running backs you’re going to draft.

After you’ve locked down two receivers as well as a quarterback and/or a tight end, it’s time to start taking your flyers on running backs. So your run of running backs should begin with your fourth or fifth pick.

Here are some of the running backs most likely on the board for you, followed by their ADP:

If you look over that list and feel a bit queasy, then Zero RB is not for you.

However, for anyone looking to scope out the diamonds in the rough, there’s a lot to like about this group of players. If you can end up with two from this group, try to target one player who could be a primary back going into Week 1 and then another player who could emerge as an RB1 in a best-case scenario season.

An example: Pairing Mack with Mattison. While Jonathan Taylor is stealing all the headlines in Indianapolis, it’s still likely that Mack is the team’s primary back going into Week 1 and he’s done nothing but supply high-end RB2 numbers ever since he’s been the starter for the Colts. Mattison, meanwhile, is a potential star if Dalvin Cook is off the field. Cook is being held out of team drills as he’s in contract negotiations so that situation could become ideal for Mattison sooner than we think. Plus, Cook has dealt with a number of injuries over the years.

Other players from this group who could be primary ball carriers to start the year include Ronald Jones, Jordan Howard, Kerryon Johnson, Darrell Henderson, and Adrian Peterson.

The players from this group with the most upside in a best-case scenario season are Dobbins, Michel, Lindsay, Breida, Coleman, Vaughn, Pollard, and Gibson.

 

Late-round high-upside players to target

A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 51)

Aaron Jones is an intimidating factor, but the Packers didn’t invest a second-round pick in Dillon this year to keep him on the bench. Jones has had some injury trouble over his first three seasons and his yards-per-carry dropped from 5.5 in 2018 to 4.6 in 2019 as he took on a heavier workload. The Packers might have seen that as an indication that they need to mix things up a bit more, which could mean Dillon gets a significant workload this year.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 52)

For evidence of Edmonds’ fantasy potential, look no further than Week 7 last year when Edmonds carried the ball 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns. He got injured in the following game and Kenyan Drake took things over from there. If Drake goes down this year, Edmonds could be a gem. Even with Drake in a featured role, Edmonds should still see at least five touches per game, primarily in the passing game.

Justin Jackson (ADP: 53); Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 67)

While Austin Ekeler is no doubt an elite pass-catching running back, there’s still a bit of a question as to whether he deserves to be a primary ball-carrier. Jackson saw limited work last year as he dealt with injuries, but while on the field, he excelled, carrying the ball 29 times for 200 yards, good for a whopping 6.9 yards-per-carry. Kelley, meanwhile, was a fourth-round pick of the team this year and is getting great reviews from camp. Whoever appears to have the leg up on the No. 2 running back spot in San Diego will be an intriguing fantasy asset to monitor.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots (ADP: 59)

Sony Michel, the Patriots lead back, had leg surgery in the offseason and is coming off an extremely disappointing year where he averaged just 3.7 yards-per-carry. James White will of course return for his pass-catching specialist role, but Harris could find himself in a position where he’s the team’s lead ball carrier, which could make him a gem in an offense that loves to run.

Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 69)

A third-round pick of the Titans this year, Evans could become the pass-catching specialist to complement Derrick Henry. His upside is limited as long as Henry is healthy, but he appears to be a unique asset amongst the Titans’ current personnel.

Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 71)

If Todd Gurley struggles with injuries or efficiency, then Smith appears most likely to be the beneficiary. Smith quietly had a very productive year while on the field in 2019, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 76)

Dobbins is the more exciting Ravens running back behind Mark Ingram as he’s an extremely talented second-round pick, however, don’t sleep on Edwards. Over 270 carries the past two years, Edwards has averaged 5.3 yards-per-carry. Due to this high degree of success, it’s probably more likely that he’s the next man up in Baltimore rather than his rookie teammate.



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Players to Avoid on Draft Day - 2020 Fantasy Football

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano name their top players to avoid in 2020 fantasy football drafts. These players may not necessarily be busts but they are overvalued and risky selections at their current ADP.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

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Keep More Than 6 Feet Away

Pierre and Chris list their avoids and fade for 2020 fantasy football drafts.



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2020 FFPC Main Event Overview & Draft Strategy Guide

So what exactly is the FFPC Main EventThe game lives up to the name: The Main Event consists of up to 3,000 teams, which can spread into 250 leagues of 12. You’ll face every team in your league through Weeks 1-11 before a 4-team playoff that starts Week 12. Eyes are drawn to the guaranteed $500,000 grand prize, but cash prizes are awarded to the team with the best regular-season record, most points, playoff winners, as well as second and third place in the league playoffs.

Whoever wins the league playoff earns entry to the Championship Round, where the grand prize is up for grabs. You won’t play a specific team there -- it’s strictly total points scored from Week 14-16 with prizes through 125th place.

The FFPC further separates from the field with unique scoring and roster requirements. You’ll adjust to tight ends getting 1.5 points per reception while all other positions get one point per reception. It adds up, and really elevates those top-tier options. The multi-flex option is another difference, providing six RB-WR-TE combinations one can utilize. View the full rules here.

 

Be Prepared

Mistakes will not be tolerated, as folks don’t pony up $1,800 and casually draft off stale ranks. They will have a plan just like you, so you must beat them in pre-draft planning as well as execution. Given the unique rules, most ADP reports and strategy guides won’t apply. That's why we're here.

The dual-flex option does spread your roster contributions more, but the 1.5 PPR for TEs is the biggest shift. Seeing Travis Kelce and George Kittle go in the first round will be both commonplace and justified. And that massive prize pool provides an aggressive, tournament-style attitude for many participants.

The Main Event also sports a 20-man roster -- 18 offensive players with a kicker and a defense. Starting requirements are as follows:

  • 1 QB
  • 2 RBs
  • 2 WRs
  • 1 TE
  • 2 Flex (RB, WR, TE)
  • 1 Kicker
  • 1 Defense

That's right, meaning you've got 10 bench spots to strategize with. Those looking to get their feet wet on the FFPC can enter their mid-stakes event called the Footballguys Players Championship. The drafts run from late April through the NFL season’s start week. Each league is $350, which may sound pricey for experiencing a learning curve, but this is where you’ll find the best trial run against many folks that you’ll be facing in the Main Event. You can also fire up some $35 classic leagues to check out the draft experience itself.

 

Have a Strategy (or Three)

While tools like ADP help assess a market, please remember that each draft is its own economic experiment. While it’s not an auction, you’ll be able to see the room’s perspective regarding aggression towards TEs and QBs, the lean of rookies versus veterans, as well as potential stacking early on.

My macro strategy everywhere is to have a road map, but the early TE potential emphasizes the need for a flow chart. When building your ranks and projections (or using ours!), identify hot and cold spots to attack and avoid. You’ll need to know how TE -> RB -> RB compares to TE -> WR -> WR and everything in between.

And while we laid out the starting lineup earlier, we can’t overlook the larger 10-man bench. That’s quite the stash! But that second flex slot and TEs being true options widen the viable player pool, so be sure to manage upside and don’t over-adjust for bye weeks before the season’s even begun. You’ll have time to analyze risers and fallers, and that hedge player against a Week 5 Bye-fest could be FAAB fodder come Week 2.

There’s also the unsettling, yet very real, threat of COVID-19 and its effect on football players being available. Of course, everyone being healthy and safe is priority number one but this is a fantasy column and we all need to understand the subtext in this conversation. Players could be out for three-week chunks (or more), injuries may be more frequent due to no preseason (akin to baseball’s early spike) and we’ll need more Plan B’s and C’s than ever.

Each team has $1,000 as their FAAB with waivers running on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 pm eastern. Even with deep benches, there will be plenty of priority adds to make throughout the season. Many of you will (rightfully) be streaming both kickers and defenses, so be sure to budget enough for those weekly transactions.

 

Positional Breakdown

Quarterback: You won’t find the insane late-round values of 2019 here in ‘20, as most rushing QBs have been adequately bumped up. Some of you may be used to QBs earning a point per 25 pass yards, but this is 20 yards per point as well as only -1 per interception. With only 12 teams and this not being Superflex, one doesn’t need to roster more than one QB at a time. If you wait on QB and get totally left out in the cold by a room drafting two signal-callers, just snatch Derek Carr against the Panthers and go from there. Stay flexible!

Running Back: I’m allocating seven spots out of 20 to the RB position because the attrition is serious and most early handcuffs will be drafted. We can dig into this in a future piece, but in a setting with such a top-heavy prize structure you don’t want to handcuff your own RBs. You want exposure to multiple backfields and avenues to rostering RB1’s. Hedging Ezekiel Elliott with Tony Pollard keeps you afloat and ties two roster spots to one opportunity, whereas Elliott + Chase Edmonds or Alexander Mattison can yield two.

Wide Receiver: Another lucky-seven slot, but this is more about mining for those sneaky WR2/3 types that emerge early. Here’s where you’re not covering for early loss, but sifting through the draft dirt in search of gold. Loading up early can help fill up the dual flex while you see what your RB volume looks like.

Tight End: You’re likely drafting a starting TE within the first 6-8 rounds, and then taking two backups with the hopes that they rise into the flex-worthy conversation. We saw nine TEs surpass 100 targets back in 2015, but that quickly fell to six in 2016 and ‘17, down to five in ‘18, and four in ‘19. We saw 13 with 80+ looks in ‘17, which slipped to 10 in ‘18 and eight last year. You get the point. 

Kicker/Defense: Don’t overcomplicate matters - you aren’t taking more than one of each here, and they should be your last two picks. If you feel confident in your queue otherwise, you can bump them to Rounds 18 and 19. Take it from someone who’s been top-12 in kickers and top-6 in defense accuracy twice out of the past three seasons in FantasyPros’ in-season competition. Streaming defenses is mainstream but the kicker angle remains underrated. Look at over/under totals coming from Vegas and target shootouts where possible, even if it’s a crummy kicker.

 

Early Favorite Values

It’s my article and I know people are always wondering who “your guys” and identified favorites are, so why not massage that into the end here? I’ll even type the word sleeper here for the SEO! ADP for the Main Event is sourced from DraftSharks, with data presented as of Aug. 27.

Favorite QB: Daniel Jones - With an early Main Event ADP of 13.08, making him the No. 13 QB, Jones simply brings that enticing ceiling that I want in this competition. I understand why some may wait for Cam Newton (14.02), as both can rush but Newton is more capable of being the goal-line RB as well. That said, Newton’s floor is lower thanks to durability concerns coming off injury and that the Giants are a better fantasy offense than the Patriots for 2020. You want a passer who can rush, but this means you’re not paying the price tag of the 8th round or higher for the premier rushing QBs. If you want to wait even longer, sit on Joe Burrow (16.09), Gardner Minshew (19.13), or even Tyrod Taylor (undrafted).

Favorite RBs: Let me try to go with some semblance of tiers here.

If you go WR/TE early then grabbing Chris Carson (4.07) in the fourth round leaves me feeling comfortable. I do think Russell Wilson can carry this team on his shoulders, but Carson will be an integral part of the team and the fourth-round cost is acceptable given his reinjury risk. I'd rather him than Melvin Gordon, who has an underrated Phillip Lindsay working next to him.

I’d been preaching Ronald Jones (5.09) earlier in the offseason, but preliminary Main Event ADP has Jones creeping up into the fifth round. I think his pass protection will keep him on the field, though he’ll cede some work to LeSean McCoy. Ke’Shawn Vaughn feels like a second option at best, needing to earn his way up the depth chart past McCoy and perhaps even Dare Ogunbowale. I still like his value there, especially as a first RB choice if the first four picks are QB/TE/WR.

Hopefully, I’ve been able to hammer WRs in the mid-rounds up to the 9th or 10th round, where I can get one of Boston Scott (10.09), Latavius Murray (10.01),or Chase Edmonds (9.10). They each retain some standalone value but would be strong plays should the starter ahead of them go down. Scott has the lowest ceiling, but the highest floor. Murray is a favorite, as he already showed what he’s capable of with Kamara unavailable. Edmonds' stock has risen with Kenyan Drake sporting a walking boot and reminding everyone of the potential should he be the starter.

The late crowd can scoop a Bryce Love (12.04) now that Damien Harris is going in the 10th round, but do note Sony Michel is typically available around the 13th round and has returned to practice. After that, there aren’t many that I’m interested in given the RB curve. 

Favorite WRs: Another tiered approach here.

If I’m scooping a receiver early, it’s most likely Julio Jones (2.05) around the middle of the second round. My faith in Todd Gurley to keep that rushing game above water all season is low, and my faith is even lower in the defense to keep them out of pass-happy, catchup mode in many second halves. Calvin Ridley is excellent, Hayden Hurst is exciting, but Jones is a matchup-proof god in cleats.

Those who go RB/TE or even QB early should probably aim for a Robert Woods (4.11) or Terry McLaurin (4.10) type towards the back of the fourth given the GPP format. Wait another round and fall into Tyler Lockett (5.06) or Will Fuller (6.05). Their propensity to burn DBs and put up 100-plus yard games with multiple TDs thanks to strong QB play is beautiful. I’ll be looking for T.Y. Hilton (6.04) or Will Fuller (6.05) around the sixth round, and then Marvin Jones (8.03), Christian Kirk (8.12) or Brandin Cooks (7.06) near the 7/8 turn.

Philly’s No. 1 WR should be Jalen Reagor (10.02), as Carson Wentz isn’t going to only float Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders. Another youngster who may fall into a serious role is Parris Campbell (14.04), all thanks to Philip Rivers. Hopefully, his health returns quickly after that car accident. Hilton can make a leap, but Campbell as a reliable slot option with the athleticism to break long plays off is great value in the 13th. Move us along later and I’m excited by Laviska Shenault Jr. (15.03) in Jacksonville as they’ll be trailing often with a QB willing to scamper and sling it. I dare an LB or DB to stick with Shenault in open space for more than 4-5 seconds.

Favorite TE: Mark Andrews - Andrews at 3.01 early is a fun, fun value here. I believe Baltimore builds on last season's success and targets him more often, especially if the rushing game's regression hits in the slightest. They'll need him to be a reliable option for Lamar Jackson and while the WR corps offer tantalizing upside, Andrews remains the No. 1 receiver on this high-scoring offense.

If you don't want to pay up then you'll want to hit the tier of Hayden Hurst (6.12 - boy, that's rising quickly!), Mike Gesicki (7.09), Jared Cook (8.09) or Blake Jarwin (11.01). I don’t suggest passing beyond those in the top-16 in this format, with Jarwin representing quite the line in the sand. Then building out depth with a Jack Doyle (11.05) or Eric Ebron (11.09) leaves you some “boring” plug-and-play options. Don't forget about Gerald Everett (15.09) behind Tyler Higbee, as well as Tyler Eifert (17.10) reuniting with Jay Gruden.



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Must-Have Players for 2020 Fantasy Football

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano reveal their must-have players they are targeting across nearly all fantasy football drafts for 2020. Who are the best ADP values and potential league-winners to move up your draft board?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET and Sunday nights from 9-11 PM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Got Any of Them Breakouts?

Pierre and Chris list their must-draft players for 2020. These players are undervalued and have tremendous upside.



Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

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Impact of J.K. Dobbins on the Ravens' Backfield

With the 55th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, the powerhouse Baltimore Ravens selected Ohio State standout J.K. Dobbins to bolster an already-impressive ground attack.

Dobbins joins a backfield that also consists of last season’s starter, fantasy RB8 for the season, Mark Ingram II, as well as reserves Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.

For fantasy enthusiasts, the automatic question becomes just how will the addition of an explosive talent like Dobbins impact the rest of the Ravens’ backfield?

 

Ravens Rushing Attack

The Ravens were an offensive juggernaut in 2019, especially in the ground game. Baltimore led the NFL in rush attempts and yards per carry while finishing second in rushing touchdowns. This was both an efficient and voluminous attack. Due to Lamar Jackson’s presence, however, only 393 of the Ravens’ 596 rushing attempts actually went to the running back position.

Player Rush Att. Rush Yards Rush TD YPC
Mark Ingram II 202 1,018 10 5.04
Gus Edwards 133 711 2 5.35
Justice Hill 58 225 2 3.88

The Ravens outscored opponents by a staggering 15.6 points per game last season. It is safe to predict some level of regression for this offense as teams adjust to the unprecedented style of Lamar Jackson. While closer games may result in fewer rushing attempts, it should also lead to more time on the field for the team’s starters. Mark Ingram only received more than 15 carries twice last year, as the Ravens routinely went to backups late in games due to lopsided scores. With a defense that appears stout after the additions of Calais Campbell and first-rounder Patrick Queen, it is likely that game script will often favor the Ravens again this season. Therefore, although we can expect fewer overall rushing attempts, the dip should not be dramatic.

Ingram scored fifteen times in fifteen games last season. Unfortunately, he did so at an unsustainable rate, with five of those touchdowns coming through the air despite only catching 26 passes. The receiving touchdowns are extremely unlikely to be repeated, but Ingram should still able to chip in with a few scores in the passing game as an outlet option for Jackson when defenses collapse on him.

Ingram’s real value is in his efficiency on the ground, as well as his prowess near the goal line. Fortunately, Ingram’s success in these areas during his first year as a Raven should give the coaching staff little reason to fade him despite the addition of Dobbins. Further, any workload concerns should be offset by Ingram’s usage in valuable situations. Ingram ranked third in carries inside the five-yard line, seventh in carries inside the ten, and tenth in carries inside the twenty-yard line last season. Only Ezekiel Elliott’s and Dalvin Cook’s nine touchdowns from inside the five-yard line outpaced Ingram’s eight scores from inside the five.

Clearly, there is no reason to turn away from Ingram near the goal line. For a team that scored 21 times on the ground last season, those carries are going to prove incredibly valuable.

Rush Attempts Inside the Five-Yard Line

Player Rush Att. Rush Yards TD
Christian McCaffrey 17 15 8
Joe Mixon 16 12 4
Mark Ingram II 15 14 8
Nick Chubb 15 -14 2
Dalvin Cook 15 22 9

 

Workload Concerns

The Ravens afforded 191 carries to Gus Edwards and Justice Hill last season and Ingram still managed an RB8 finish. Those players are still on the roster, and the addition of Dobbins adds another mouth to feed, but this highlights Ingram’s ability to succeed in a shared backfield. In fact, Ingram managed an RB6 finish in 2017 despite splitting reps with Alvin Kamara, with the latter finishing as the RB3 that year. Ingram also finished as the RB9 in 2016 on only 205 carries and the RB12 in 2015 despite missing four games. A significant reason for Ingram’s continued fantasy success on limited workloads is his ability to find the end zone with regularity, as illustrated by the fact that Ingram has scored at least 9 touchdowns in four of the past six seasons despite missing twelve games during that span.

Dobbins is a dynamic and well-rounded back who was a consensus top-four pick amongst runners in this year’s draft. While Dobbins is unlikely to be a significant threat to Ingram’s status as the main option and goal-line back, he is likely to command a large portion of the carries that were formerly provided to Edwards and Hill. Edwards has proven effective when given the opportunity, having averaged 5.29 yards per carry since joining the Ravens. Therefore, Hill is likely to be the odd man out, with Edwards mixing in and stealing work from Ingram and Dobbins. Expect Ingram to be the clear RB1 and Dobbins the clear RB2, with Edwards providing a capable insurance policy.

Ravens’ running backs accounted for 393 rushing attempts a year ago. If the Ravens run at a similar level this season, there should be enough volume for Ingram to function as an RB2 and Dobbins to be in the mix as a flex option with incredible upside should Ingram succumb to injury. There exists the possibility of Lamar Jackson carrying the ball slightly less often this season, considering the reigning MVP set the quarterback rushing record last year. Although any reduction in carries for Jackson should be minimal, this still must be accounted for as it could lead to a few extra reps for the team’s running backs to offset some of the lost opportunity this season.

Dobbins is unlikely to handle as many carries as the Edwards-Hill combo did last year. Expect Dobbins to receive somewhere between the 133 carries given to Edwards and the 191 carries handled by the Ravens’ backup duo. Ingram was on pace for 215 carries last year but missed a game due to injury. That type of workload probably represents Ingram’s ceiling, but that output would have accounted for 54.7% of the team’s running back attempts last season. Even if Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill combine to receive over 200 carries it should still leave Ingram with a floor of roughly 180 attempts. Considering 180 carries would have only equated to 45.8% of the team’s running back attempts last year, it is clear that Ingram should fall somewhere within that range of outcomes.

 

Touchdown Dependent?

There is fear that Ingram could be somewhat touchdown dependent this season. However, this is the team to count on for rushing touchdowns. The Ravens found the end zone 21 times on the ground last season after scoring 19 times on the ground a year prior. The team’s running backs accounted for 14 of those 21 touchdowns in 2019.

Even if Lamar Jackson rushes for another seven scores this year, there should be plenty of touchdown opportunities for this backfield. Ingram scored 71.4% of the team’s running back rushing touchdowns last year and as highlighted earlier, there is no reason to believe the team will shy away from him in scoring situations. It seems unlikely that Ingram scores less than eight times on the ground and his ceiling includes double-digit rushing touchdowns.

Dobbins is unlikely to supplant Ingram as the team’s goal-line back, but he could nonetheless be in line for a handful of rushing scores in his rookie season. Edwards and Hill combined for four rushing touchdowns last year and Dobbins should receive at least that level of opportunity. Unfortunately for last season’s backups, minimal scoring opportunity seemingly exists.

 

Passing Game Usage

The Ravens’ backfield was not heavily utilized in the passing game last season, as the running back contingent of Ingram, Edwards, and Hill combined for only 51 targets. Edwards saw only seven targets and is unlikely to be involved in that aspect of the offense, and Hill is likely to experience a significant reduction in playing time. This leaves Ingram and Dobbins as the two running backs likely to share work in the passing game.

Ingram is an underrated pass catcher, as evident by his 154 receptions from 2015-17. That came with the Saints, however, and this season is likely to mirror last year’s limited output due to the Ravens’ lower volume passing attack and tendency to play from ahead on the scoreboard. Dobbins’ pass-catching ability profiles as a strength, but his pass protection capabilities have been highlighted as a concern. The main takeaway from this point is that Dobbins is unlikely to monopolize third downs, ensuring Ingram still sees the field in all situations. Expect Dobbins and Ingram to finish with similar numbers in the passing game, with a floor of 20 targets and a ceiling of 30, hurting both in PPR leagues but providing enough work to keep either from being zeroes in this department.

 

Range of Outcomes

The scariest part of projecting the Ravens’ backfield is the seemingly wide range of outcomes. Ingram’s outlook includes the risk of losing his job, but he also holds RB1 potential as the lead back in an elite rushing offense. The possibilities for Dobbins range from splitting work with Edwards as the clear backups to working in tandem as the team’s 1A-1B with Ingram.

The safest bet is to target Ingram as a mid-range RB2 who could prove a tremendous value if he reprises his role from last season while viewing Dobbins as an RB4 or low-end flex play with league-winning upside.

 

Draft Cost

Ingram is currently going as the 25th running back and 60th player off the board in drafts and represents a strong value as an RB2 with RB1 upside who is being drafted as an RB3. Ingram’s ADP matches that of Detroit Lions’ rookie running back D’Andre Swift, despite Ingram being much more secure in his role and functioning in a much greater offense.

Dobbins is being drafted as the RB35 and 93rd player overall. While this is not necessarily a tremendous value, he is being drafted behind players who do not hold nearly as much upside as the Ravens’ rookie. Phillip Lindsay, the RB33 according to ADP, faces a similarly murky path to carries, especially near the goal-line, and does not possess league winning upside. With the pandemic increasing the chances of starters missing games, Dobbins could quickly skyrocket up rankings.

For arguably the best rushing offense in the NFL, the Ravens’ running back duo of Ingram and Dobbins are bizarrely priced at an affordable rate in drafts. This appears to be due to concerns about volume, but do not overlook the value of running backs tied to good offenses. League winning upside is rarely available for such a discount and fantasy owners should be scooping up shares of this backfield in their quest for a championship.



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2020 RotoBaller Superflex League Draft Recap

For the majority of the summer, I wasn't sure if I was even going to play fantasy football this year. I was pretty adamant that a season wouldn't happen. As August came and went and the NFL's testing protocols proved effective, my optimism began to grow and the idea of sitting out a season just didn't sit right.

With 2020 sure to be a season unlike any other, it is only fitting that the great minds here at RotoBaller came up with a league format unlike any other. The most common format for fantasy leagues is making a move towards QB-WR-WR-WR-RB-RB-TE-Flex. I generally support adding an extra flex spot or two as I like the idea of fantasy managers having maneuverability in terms of how they construct their team and lineups.

For the 2020 RotoBaller Experts' League, we took that concept and cranked it up to 100. While we only have one or two more starting spots than normal, the way we went about it was putting team construction entirely in the hands of each manager.

 

Extra-Flex League Settings

In this league, all that is required on a team is one QB, one RB, and one WR. That's it. The other seven starting spots are all Flex (with one of them being Superflex). As someone who had never done Superflex before, this presented a unique challenge in not just gauging how to value quarterbacks, but how to determine what players to take when without position scarcity coming into play at all. Other than at QB, it was pretty much just take the highest player on your board.

This also presented a challenge in how to analyze this. After some thought, I decided to go with just a general discussion of roster analysis and what picks surprised me the most (good and bad).

Here is a link to the full draft board for those interested and a video podcast breaking down the first half of the draft along with strategies. I've also included the draft board at the bottom for quick viewing.

 

Quarterbacks

Only three teams left the draft with just two QBs: CMangano33, DennisClausen, and dffornek. They were also the last three teams to get their second QB, taking them back to back-to-back to close out the eighth round. Given that starting more than one QB isn't required, I don't foresee this being a problem as none of their QBs are at risk of losing their jobs. They will have to either find a third QB over the course of the season or start a different position at Superflex during each of their quarterbacks' byes, but it shouldn't pose a serious problem.

Five teams drafted backup quarterbacks. No, not quarterbacks to backup their starter in fantasy - actual real-life backup quarterbacks: Tua Tagovailoa 15.08, Mitch Trubisky 16.02, Justin Herbert 17.04, Andy Dalton 19.10, Jalen Hurts 20.01. I tacked on one more "quarterback" with Taysom Hill at 20.06. While Tua and Herbert are likely to make starts this season, Dalton and Hurts are pure backups with no chance at starting, absent an injury to the starter. Hill is just a hope and a prayer that some nonsense occurs and will likely be dropped after Week 1.

 

Running Backs and Wide Receivers

This is what intrigued me most about this league. I was curious to see the breakdown of running backs vs. wide receivers. In a more standard format, teams will roster five or six running backs and six or seven wide receivers. The ratio will be pretty close to 1. In this format, in theory, a team could draft three of one position and 12 of the other and it would be fine.

Here is the breakdown by roster:

  • CMangano33 (Chris Mangano): 8 RBs, 7 WRs
  • DennisClausen (Dennis Clausen): 3 RBs, 13 WRs
  • dffornek (Dan Fornek): 6 RBs, 8 WRs
  • fammirantetfj (Frank Ammirante): 9 RBs, 7 WRs
  • sgjanik6 (Steve Janik): 7 RBs, 7 WRs
  • steverebeiro (Steve Rebeiro): 3 RBs, 8 WRs
  • Katz13 (Jason Katz): 9 RBs, 6 WRs
  • RichKingFF (Rich King): 7 RBs, 3 WRs
  • FantasyGiant (Frank Dyevoich): 8 RBs, 7 WRs
  • PVCLARK (Phil Clark): 6 RBs, 7 WRs
  • pfunk305 (Pierre Camus): 5 RBs, 10 WRs
  • ThePreSnapRead (Chris Gregory): 5 RBs, 8 WRs

As you can see, team construction varied wildly. In a traditional format, you could never get away with rostering just three running backs or wide receivers, but in this format, you can. It was very interesting to see how managers prioritized players. For me, I had no intention of going so running back heavy, but it just worked out that the players atop my board were consistently running backs. I imagine the reverse is the case for those that went wide receiver heavy.

 

Tight Ends

With this being a tight end premium format without a traditional tight end position, it made valuing tight ends a very uncertain proposition. Travis Kelce and George Kittle went early because they're legitimately WR1s. But for the tight ends that are only valuable because they play tight end, it was difficult to gauge when taking the TE was better than the WR or RB. I struggled with this considerably, which resulted in me taking just one TE.

On the other hand, despite there being no TE requirement, RichKingFF drafted six tight ends, including Blake Jarwin in the 16th round one spot before I was going to take him. It will be interesting to look back on tight end production in this format to see how they match up against the corresponding wide receivers and running backs.

 

Standout Selections

For this section, I just went through the draft board in order and pinpointed a few selections that caught my eye. Given that this is an experts' league, it is no surprise that the draft went quite a while before there were any picks that stood out as great or terrible value.

James Conner 7.06. I would not describe myself as a James Conner fan, but this seems like awfully good value for a running back that has proven he can produce RB1 numbers in a good offense when given the volume. Conner is a replacement-level running back or perhaps slightly above. People often hear that term and get offended. Most running backs are replacement level - give them a good situation and volume and they will produce. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and capable of playing near the level we're accustomed to seeing from him and Conner can stay on the field, he will produce far greater than where Steverebeiro drafted him. The risk was definitely worth it in the seventh round.

Deebo Samuel 9.02. This was the first truly questionable selection, brought to us by DennisClausen. We knew the moment Deebo Samuel got hurt that he was going to miss at least the first few weeks of the season. Given all of our experience studying the game of football, we also know full well that Samuel is at risk to miss half, if not all of the 2020 season. That's how these foot injuries go.

The ninth round is way too high for Samuel under normal conditions. In a superflex league during a season that is certain to result in the most missed games from fantasy-relevant players in NFL history, taking a guy that may miss half a season or more in the ninth round is ill-advised.

Raheem Mostert 9.04. I was not going to be the one to draft Raheem Mostert. That was my thinking going into this (and every) draft. It appears as if everyone else had the same thought. Fammirantetfj finally put an end to Mostert's slide in the ninth round. As much as I wasn't going to take Mostert even if he fell to me, I can admit that the ninth round is well worth it to gamble that Mostert can maintain his role in the 49ers' elite rushing attack.

Even when accounting for the abundance of quarterbacks going early due to the format, Mostert shouldn't really make it out of the seventh round. This was a great pick regardless of whether it works out.

Tyler Higbee 10.12. I've been warming to Tyler Higbee lately and have now concluded this was a fantastic selection by CMangano33. In a tight end premium format, even if Higbee is 60% of the guy we saw down the stretch last season, he is sure to be more valuable than guys like Marlon Mack, Alexander Mattison, and the aforementioned Deebo Samuel. Higbee is the starter for the Rams and will be the tight end out there when they run 11 personnel. He's not going to rattle off 100-yard game after 100-yard game again, but at 1.5 ppr, 5-60 goes a long way.

Sony Michel 11.01. Objectively, this isn't terrible value for Sony Michel, but I'm going to say it: Sony Michel is done. This is a league with 20 man rosters and I do not expect Michel to be on anyone's team by the end of September. Fortunately for Dennis, he followed this disaster up with Damien Harris at his very next pick.

Kerryon Johnson 12.06. I'll pat myself on the back quickly for this one. The 12th round is extremely late for Kerryon Johnson, but this is a sneaky smart pick given that I also drafted D'Andre Swift. With 20-man rosters, burning two picks on one backfield is fine. It's hard to imagine a scenario where I don't get value from the Lions' backfield now.

Duke Johnson 14.09. I've gone on record saying I expect Duke Johnson to be relatively useless this year, but in the 14th round of a league where you're basically starting eight Flex players, this is way too late. CMangano33, having already drafted David Johnson, probably should've locked up Duke in the 13th round rather than going with Jerick McKinnon.

Dwayne Haskins 15.05. There's nothing wrong with taking a presumptive starting quarterback in the 15th round of a Superflex draft, but I've never been more sure that a quarterback will lose his job than Dwayne Haskins. Sgjanik6 may find himself swapping out Haskins for ::gulp:: Kyle Allen around midseason.

Jalen Hurd 19.02. It's damn near impossible to find anything wrong with a 19th-round pick, but Jalen Hurd tore his ACL so DennisClausen literally just threw this pick away. But to be fair, the likelihood that any of us gets value from a 19th-round pick is almost zero. With that being said, if given the choice between rostering an out-for-the-season Hurd or a fully-healthy JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who Dennis took at 18.11, I'd rather have Hurd.

Devin Duvernay 20.07. For a 20th-round pick, this one has some serious upside. The Ravens' wide receiver depth chart is wide open behind Marquise Brown. Devin Duvernay is, by far, the second-most talented wide receiver on the team. Miles Boykin can't play. Willie Snead is merely a placeholder. There's definitely a path for Duvernay to end up with a starting role. In this league, even WR4 value would make him a tremendously useful asset.

 

Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, a league full of experts didn't provide the usual comedy of errors that you'll see a typical home league. It also didn't provide much in the way of screaming values because everyone knows what they're doing. I had a lot of fun drafting this team and am looking forward to a crazy season in a crazy format with all of these wonderful people.



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Top Draft Values and Targets: RotoBaller Staff Picks

We've already dug into the top busts and avoids for 2020 fantasy football drafts according to the RotoBaller NFL staff. Now, we will focus on the top draft targets and ADP values for 2020 fantasy football.

Our analysts have agreed to sum up their thoughts on the top players to target in drafts based on low ADP, increased role, or other variables. For some of our guys, these players are absolute must-haves!

Here are the top players at each position that we recommend drafting.

 

What QB are you targeting most in 2020?

Matthew Stafford. Prior to injury in 2019, he was a top-10 QB having one of the best starts to a season in his career. Going into 2020, he is being severely overlooked. The Lions Defense projects to be bad, putting Stafford and company in a position to throw and get points in the board. If he gets close to the 8.2 YPA from last year, Stafford could see value as a low-end QB1. -Brandon Murchison

Matthew Stafford. Despite not leading his teams to the playoffs, Matt Stafford has quietly been efficient for much of his career. Though he only ended up playing 8 games last season, he continued to deliver for owners. He provides hidden fantasy value on an otherwise weak NFL team. -Rishi Patel

Matthew Stafford. He averaged over 20 ppg before getting hurt and was on pace for a top-five finish. With all his weapons back and good continuity on offense, he's the ideal late-round QB. -Jason Katz

Deshaun Watson is falling just a tad out of favor in the fantasy community with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, but between Fuller, Cooks, Stills, Coutee and Cobb, he'll have plenty to work with and should finish right near the top of the pack in the position with a chance to even be the number one overall QB. -Andrew Ericksen

Deshaun Watson because he finished as QB1 in PPG in 2017, QB4 in 2018, and QB2 in 2019. He loses Hopkins, but has plenty of veteran receiving options and a ton of rushing upside. -Andrew Lalama

Matt Ryan. As much as I'd like to say Daniel Jones because the Giants' offense could be explosive, turnovers could be an issue and I'm not convinced the O-line will improve enough. I'm targeting QBs a little earlier than usual this year but Ryan falls into a range where I'm comfortable taking him, around 80 overall. It's a pass-happy team (they led the league with 666 passing plays in 2019 - ominous but true), he has elite wideouts to target, and has as safe a floor as anyone at the position. -Pierre Camus

Tyrod Taylor. His draft price is dirt cheap. He's got a great rushing floor. If you miss out on the top tier QBs, might as well wait, pickup Tyrod late and ride him til the wheels fall off and Herbert starts. -Eli Grabanski

 

What RB are you targeting most in 2020?

Leonard Fournette. Through three seasons, Fournette has finished as an RB1 three times. He has absolutely no touch competition and is a lock for 300 touches. Even if his targets get cut in half, positive touchdown regression will propel him to his fourth consecutive RB1 finish. He's currently priced at RB16, which I would say is his floor, but as history has shown, there is literally a 0% chance he doesn't finish higher. The only way Fournette fails is injury and he played in 15 games last season, missing only the meaningless Week 17. -Jason Katz

Nick Chubb. As owners and experts around the industry seem to be scared of the presence of Kareem Hunt, I will gladly take a small discount in value on Chubb. He should be a no-brainer first-round pick that you can get in the second. With an improved offensive line and defense, Chubb could be called on quite a bit and has a chance to lead the NFL in rushing. -Brandon Murchison

Kenyan Drake is so clearly the top running back in a system that he has already proven he can flourish in. If he stays healthy this year, he has as good a chance as anyone outside the big three to finish first at the position. -Andrew Ericksen

Ronald Jones. he's grown on me for mid-round RBs. He's not a bad pass-catcher, catching 31 passes last year (only 1 drop). Coaches have talked about how he looks improved. He has a pretty good offensive line and having Tom Brady as his QB should help with red zone opportunities. -Eli Grabanski

Jonathan Taylor because he was drafted high by the team with the best offensive line in football. He aced the draft process and only has to fend off Marlon Mack, who is basically the definition of a JAG. Involvement in the passing game is the only question mark. -Andrew Lalama

Devin Singletary. Now a sophomore, Devin Singletary will look to build on a decent rookie campaign as the clear RB1 in Buffalo. With the Bills expected to take a step forward in 2020, there is no reason to believe this RB can’t be primed for a huge workload and production. -Rishi Patel

Cam Akers. Give me 110% exposure to Akers this season. He's going to be the RB1 for the Rams and has the explosiveness that Todd Gurley II lacked last season. This offense, particularly the O-line, isn't what it used to be. But any NFL running back who sees the majority of touches for his team has top-20 value by default. It's obvious the team doesn't view Darrell Henderson as more than a change-of-pace back and Malcolm Brown is just veteran depth. This is the type of player that could be a league-winner. -Pierre Camus

 

What WR are you targeting most in 2020?

DK Metcalf. If he saw 100 targets and put up 900 yards as a rookie with limited knowledge of routes and pro coverages, imagine what he'll do this year. Metcalf emerged as Russell Wilson's go-to target late last season and now will see an expanded role with more versatile routes. He is an alpha receiver ready to explode and could surpass guys like Odell Beckham and Keenan Allen for fantasy purposes. -Pierre Camus

JuJu Smith-Schuster was a no-doubt WR1 going into last year and this year, he's definitively going outside the top ten. 2019 was a season of perspective for him and we saw a much lower floor than we anticipated, but JuJu's an elite competitor and his signal caller is back. Be ready for him to go off this year like we thought he would last year. -Andrew Ericksen

A.J. Brown. People will undervalue him due to unsustainable efficiency numbers. He also didn't do much in the playoffs. I will still target him because his situation has changed from last year. He is now the number one receiver for a QB who will be comfortable in his offense. Brown has been ultra-productive throughout his career - at one point he was the number one fantasy receiver in college. I'm betting on talent and see no reason his volume won't be there. They have limited other options in the passing game. -Andrew Lalama

D.J. Chark. It's a joke he's not a third-round pick. Chark is set up for a WR1 finish with a full offseason working with Gardner Minshew and no competition for targets. He profiles as a true alpha on a barren WR depth chart. I love Chark. -Jason Katz

Marquise Brown. Though the Ravens are a run-first team, speedster Marquise Brown has bulked up this offseason and is looking for a bigger role this season as the WR1. Lamar Jackson can’t always throw the ball to Mark Andrews, opening the door for Brown to rack up some targets. -Rishi Patel

Terry McLaurin. I love Terry McLaurin this year. He was one of PFF's highest-graded receivers last year, his new playcaller Scott Turner threw the ball often last year in Carolina, and Dwayne Haskins should develop further after another season in the league. -Eli Grabanski

Anthony Miller. My love for Miller knows no bounds and I do not want to leave a draft in 2020 without him. With Taylor Gabriel gone, Miller should find consistent work from the slot and has the upside of a WR3 that you are able to draft as a WR4/5. -Brandon Murchison

 

What TE are you targeting most in 2020?

Rob Gronkowski. He is arguably the greatest TE of all time and didn't come out of retirement to sit on the bench. The only concern is the lack of TE utilization by Bruce Arians. But Tom Brady will have a say in this offense and his familiarity with Gronk will lead to enough red-zone targets to make him pay off his ADP. I don't believe in the Bucs running game at all. -Andrew Lalama

Hayden Hurst. Much like with Anthony Miller, I have been very high on Hurst since his signing in Atlanta. Matt Ryan loves to throw to the tight end position, and Hurst's athleticism gives the team a weapon over the middle of the field that they have yet to have at the position. If he continues to be drafted outside the top-10, grab him in your draft and laugh all the way to the bank. -Brandon Murchison

Noah Fant. Former first-round pick, Pat Shurmur loves feeding his tight-ends, and for what it's worth former Iowa tight ends have done well in recent times (see George Kittle). -Eli Grabanski

Noah Fant. The Broncos loaded up their offense this offseason after new QB Drew Lock impressed to end last season. Noah Fant is coming off a decent rookie season, and can be a great red-zone presence on this team as he looks to increase his role on this offense. -Rishi Patel
T.J. Hockenson's rookie campaign started with a boom, then quickly turned into a disaster. It's rare to see rookie tight ends contribute right away and Hockenson turned out to be no exception. But his upside is as high as anyone outside the top five or so at the position and he's one of a small handful of tight ends outside the top tier who have the ability to be a difference-maker at the position given his talent and likely opportunity. -Andrew Ericksen

Mike Gesicki is my breakout pick for 2020 at TE. I'm a fan of waiting on the position for guys like Fant or Hockenson but I think Gesicki has the best opportunity for a huge jump in target share. The Dolphins just saw their WR3 and WR4 opt out (Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns), Preston Williams is coming off ACL surgery, and DeVante Parker... well, I can't bring myself to believe in a sustained breakout. Call it homerism, but I think the Miami offense will be much better and Gesicki will see a ton of balls thrown his way by default. -Pierre Camus

Cop out answer here, but any of the later-round guys. Noah Fant, Blake Jarwin, Jonnu Smith, Ian Thomas, Dallas Goedert. I'll take any of them. TE is so deep this year and there are so many talented guys poised to get opportunity for the first time this season. I'm willing to roll the dice on a breakout rather than spend on the earlier round TEs. -Jason Katz



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FFPC Average Draft Position Report: ADP Analysis and Insights

Examining the Average Draft Positions from the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) gives us a great snapshot of what high-stakes fantasy football players are thinking. The ADPs, which are housed in FantasyMojo.com’s deluxe shop of FFPC data, show you what some of the most competitive fantasy players in the world are thinking.

For this exercise, we consulted recent ADP from the Footballguys Championship format in the FFPC, which includes a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 FLEX, 1 K, and 1 Defense.

The FFPC format is PPR with 1.5 points for TE receptions.

 

FFPC ADP Report: Player Values and Reactions

OVERALL PLAYER POS ADP
1 Christian McCaffrey (13) RB1 1 (1.1)
2 Saquon Barkley (11) RB2 2 (1.2)
3 Ezekiel Elliott (10) RB3 3 (1.3)
4 Alvin Kamara (6) RB4 4 (1.4)
5 Michael Thomas (6) WR1 6 (1.6)
6 Dalvin Cook (7) RB5 6 (1.6)
7 Clyde Edwards-Helaire (10) RB6 8 (1.8)
8 Derrick Henry (7) RB7 8 (1.8)
9 Travis Kelce (10) TE1 9 (1.9)
10 Miles Sanders (9) RB8 9 (1.9)
11 Joe Mixon (9) RB9 12 (1.12)
12 Kenyan Drake (8) RB10 13 (2.1)
13 Davante Adams (5) WR2 13 (2.1)
14 George Kittle (11) TE2 14 (2.2)
15 Josh Jacobs (6) RB11 15 (2.3)
16 Tyreek Hill (10) WR3 15 (2.3)
17 Austin Ekeler (10) RB12 17 (2.5)
18 Julio Jones (10) WR4 18 (2.6)
19 Nick Chubb (9) RB13 19 (2.7)
20 DeAndre Hopkins (8) WR5 20 (2.8)
21 Aaron Jones (5) RB14 21 (2.9)
22 Chris Godwin (13) WR6 21 (2.9)
23 James Conner (8) RB15 26 (3.2)
24 Kenny Golladay (5) WR7 26 (3.2)
25 Patrick Mahomes (10) QB1 26 (3.2)
26 Lamar Jackson (8) QB2 27 (3.3)
27 Mark Andrews (8) TE3 29 (3.5)
28 Allen Robinson (11) WR8 31 (3.7)
29 Mike Evans (13) WR9 31 (3.7)
30 D.J. Moore (13) WR10 31 (3.7)

The current FFPC Top 30 in ADPs, via fantasymojo.com

Miles Sanders (Round 1, Pick 10, RB8): It appears high stakes Fantasy players are not dropping Sanders on their draft boards despite reports he is dealing with a lower-body injury. That is a smart approach. From all indications, Sanders’ injury is not a major concern. You should not bump prominent players down your board when their injuries do not affect them in the longer term. You are not drafting in the moment, you are drafting in the preseason. If you pass on Sanders now because of a temporary injury situation, you may regret it when he is possibly performing at a high level as soon as Week 2 or 3.

James Conner (3/2, RB15): The fantasy community seems to be warming up a bit more to Conner recently. Just two seasons ago, he totaled 1,470 yards from scrimmage, had 12 rushing TDs, and caught 55 passes. He is only 25 years old. Conner is a contract year and has the motivation to regain his better form and get paid. Don’t overlook him as a RB2 option, especially with Ben Roethlisberger returning to revive the Pittsburgh offense.

D.J. Moore (3/7, WR10): Savvy Fantasy players realize that Moore nearly reached 90 receptions and 1,200 yards last season despite the QB issues in Carolina. Now the Panthers can stabilize the offense with Teddy Bridgewater and that should translate to improved TD production for Moore. Carolina should throw frequently and more effectively, and Moore clearly is the team’s best WR. Drafting him as a possible back-end WR1 is not crazy at all.

Chris Carson (4/4, RB21): You can read my detailed fantasy scouting report on Carson here. If he can actually manage to stay healthy for a full season, he will play at an RB1 level. For those who wait until the fourth round to take their second running back, Carson is an ideal target. Just make sure you get Carlos Hyde in the later rounds as the essential fantasy insurance play.

Kareem Hunt (5/3, RB23): The fantasy buzz is increasing on Hunt, even though he rushed for 40 yards just one-time last season and topped 50 receiving yards once. If you can grab him as a flex that makes sense because he caught 37 passes in eight games. There is not a great amount of upside with Hunt, yet you can pretty much expect 10 to 14 PPR points from him very often.

Noah Fant (9/6, TE15): He has the potential to bust into TE1 territory in his second pro season. Drew Lock should look his frequently over a full campaign. Fant is a very promising upside play. He has incredible athletic ability and eventually projects to be one of the better TEs in Fantasy Football. He is a big matchup problem for any defense and can score from almost anywhere on the field. The breakout is coming, maybe as soon as this season.

Chris Herndon (10/7, TE18): Here is another possible breakthrough performer at the TE position. If you miss out on a premier player at TE, Fant and Herndon are nifty targets who could outperform expectations and emerge as weekly starters. Herndon showed many flashes of potential as a rookie in 2018 and the Jets are intending to make him an important factor in their passing game this year. He should be one of the top-scoring threats when the team gets closer to the goal line, and he already has a quality rapport with Sam Darnold for usage on important passing downs.

Damien Harris (10/11, RB47): How much longer will he remain a value in this sort of range? He is running with the first-team offense in camp and Sony Michel is dealing with a significant foot injury that is threatening his availability for the start of the season. Harris projects to be a possible lead RB type if given the opportunity, and working in an RPO offense can only help him stand out. He has the most potential upside of any RB on the roster and just needs a chance to show what he can do. Grab this tempting sleeper type any chance you get in this portion of the draft.

DeSean Jackson (11/8, WR51): This may turn out to be a totally wasted pick, even at the end of the 11th round. Jackson has been overrated since 2014. He has not caught more than four TD passes in any of the past five seasons. Jackson is now 33 years old and has even less appeal as a boom-or-bust downfield type. There are better sleeper and value targets remaining even by this point of the draft

Matthew Stafford (12/10, QB12): Experienced and high stakes players will often wait on a QB, and landing Stafford by this point of the draft is a nice payoff for patience. Stafford had 2,499 passing yards and 19 TDs passes in half of a season last year. Even if the Lions can incorporate more of a running game this season, Stafford could still be good for 4,300 passing yards and 30-plus TD tosses.

Bryce Love (13/9, RB57): Antonio Gibson is being drafted nearly four rounds earlier on average, but he is an overrated rookie who needs to learn a lot about the finer points of the game at the NFL level. Love just needs to show he is healthy and he could push for lead RB duties in Washington. Gibson will not get enough overall quality touches to make a significant impact.

Hunter Renfrow (18/10, WR80): Someone will have to step forward as a dependable target in the Las Vegas passing game, and Renfrow may be the best bet. He is being overlooked by fantasy players, but the Raiders regard him very highly internally. He could certainly become more dependable than incoming rookies or the already failed Tyrell Williams. Renfrow has deep sleeper appeal.



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How to Recognize and Avoid Cognitive Bias on Draft Day

Managing a fantasy football team is the equivalent of being a real-life general manager. It allows us hardcore fans to play out our dream of making impactful decisions based on statistical analysis and keen observation. Face it, we're the guys who spend more time playing GM mode and breaking down player ratings in Madden than actually playing the game.

Just like any GM, we are prone to making questionable decisions at times. In the fantasy world, we can't fall back on the rationale of being "fiscally responsible" as an excuse for making poor decisions at the expense of winning. You may have your rankings, research, and all the preparations in world, but on draft day we are all prone to bias at some point. Here's how to avoid it, or at least try.

 

Overconfidence Bias

Let's begin with the obvious and that's thinking that you know better than everyone else or have an insight into something the others don't see. Overconfidence results from someone’s false sense of their skill, talent, or self-belief. In this case, and I apologize to all our readers for saying this, but fantasy football analysis doesn't qualify as a talent and it's not so much a skill as a byproduct of a larger skillset such as data analysis.

Ultimately, overconfidence in the fantasy world stems from a heightened sense of self-belief based on past experiences or straight-up narcissism. Just because you won your league last year doesn't mean you have an edge over everyone else this year. Face it - you got lucky on a late-round pick or two, your squad didn't suffer major injuries, and things just panned out.

The most common way this manifests itself in a draft is when someone reaches for a player far beyond their expected draft position and value. We encourage each other to "get your guy" and not draft based on ADP alone. If you believe in a player, by all means, go after him. But don't reach two rounds or more for a player that you could have selected later because that minimizes return on investment.

And don't buck common sense completely by pushing all your chips into one pile unnecessarily. Those of you who did a Baker Mayfield/Odell Beckham/David Njoku stack last year might know what I mean.

Maybe consider NOT doing the Tom Brady/Mike Evans/Rob Gronkowski stack this year. Or drafting another Lions running back because he looked great in the SEC! Or drafting the fifth WR on the 49ers depth chart because you actually know his name and everyone else is hurt so he's a great sleeper!

Cam Newton is a great player and former MVP moving to the winningest franchise of the 21st century. He has little competition to be the starter and a lot to prove after his release from Carolina and the fact he's on a one-year deal. Sounds great, but am I suddenly going to propel him to a top-10 QB projection? No way. Some have him as a huge sleeper, others as a total bust. I hate to admit, but in most of my rankings I fall in between the consensus. Boring maybe, but overconfidence is usually not a winning recipe for success stew.

 

Herd Mentality

Herd mentality is when investors blindly copy and follow what other famous investors are doing.  When they do this, they are being influenced by emotion, rather than by independent analysis.

We see massive ADP swings for players due to injuries, free-agent signings, training camp news, and other factual reasons. Then we see times when a player simply starts getting buzz for no particular reason and the sheep flock together to assure everyone that yes, David Johnson is definitely going to have a revival with Kliff Kingsbury as the new head coach and he's definitely worth a first-round pick.

Kenyan Drake seems to be that player this year because, after all, how could a Cardinals running back not be a fantasy stud and of course he'll repeat what he did at the end of last year!

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is sort of in the same category although the news of Damien Williams opting out explains his ADP jump.

Less understandable is why James Conner has jumped a full round since the NFL Draft, even though the Steelers selected Anthony McFarland to add competition, and is now entering second-round territory.
Fantasy Football ADP for James Conner
If a couple of fantasy experts agree that Conner is due to rebound, more feel comfortable agreeing and then the masses are suddenly expecting the clock to turn back to 2018. My 2019 shares of James Conner and I will kindly disagree.

 

Framing

Framing is when someone makes a decision because of the way information is presented to them, rather than based just on the facts.

Player X is a guy you have to own everywhere! Avoid Player Z at all costs! Joe Shmoe is the best player you've never heard of!

Sound familiar? I like to think that we at RotoBaller don't sensationalize our material, but it's also a necessary evil to use keywords like sleeper, bust, and must-have. That's what people expect and search for, after all.

There's nothing wrong with declaring someone a sleeper, breakout, or bust as long as there is proper context to the expectations being set and data-driven analysis to support the conjecture. That's not always the case, however, and some people fall prey to exaggerated media reports or sensationalistic fantasy outlets.

For example, did you notice how every single rookie running back was absolutely incredible in the first week of camp? Or how every QB loves every one of his receivers and every coach has "big plans" for every one of his players? Coaches and GMs are supposed to talk up their guys, especially in public, but we know better and should do better.

As I always have and always will claim, a fantasy analyst should simply present an informed opinion based on sound logic and facts in the way he/she finds fitting. It's still up to each and every reader to make his/her own informed opinion.

 

Self-Serving Bias

Self-serving cognitive bias is the propensity to attribute positive outcomes to skill and negative outcomes to luck. In other words, we attribute the cause of something to whatever is in our own best interest. If you picked a player who breaks out, then you totally nailed that pick! If your guy busts, it's all his fault and there's no way you could have known because all signs pointed otherwise. This affects fantasy owners mostly in-season but it can skew your perspective when weighing risks vs rewards. Just try to be objective, if that's possible.

 

Confirmation Bias

My personal favorite: The idea that people seek out information and data that confirms their pre-existing ideas. They tend to ignore contrary information.

My unofficial research into Twitter feeds tells me that this is likely the most prevalent of all biases.


In Reddit circles, it has its own lovely term known as circle-jerking. You cherry-pick stats, quotes, and narratives that fit what you want to believe is true.

If you took a chance selecting Jonathan Taylor in the early rounds of a draft, you will quickly point out that Marlon Mack is absolute trash. He only averaged 57.3 rushing yards per game past Week 10 last year, only catches one pass per game making him a non-factor in PPR, and teams don't draft an RB in the second round unless they plan to give them a big workload right away. This conveniently leaves out the fact Mack finished 11th in total rushing yards, was top-25 in yards per attempt, and was averaging 86.7 rush yards per game before he was injured and missed two contests. The great offensive line play and presumable upgrade at QB with Philip Rivers would benefit Mack just as much as Taylor.

This is just one example, but it rings true for all player debates. Talk yourself into whatever player you like, just make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

 

Dunning-Kruger Effect

This refers to a cognitive bias in which individuals with a low level of knowledge in a particular subject mistakenly assess their knowledge or ability as greater than it is.

Ah yes, the crowd who screams "fancy stats don't mean nothin'!" Why spend time poring over NextGenStats and calculating return on investment for individual players according to projected draft position when you can just go with your gut? This is the classic tape vs. stats debate. Sorry to simplify things, but both have their place and are valuable in their own way.

Ask the Truth Demon

If that subheading conjured up a frightening image in your mind, then you've got the right idea. This is a simple concept: take any belief you have about a player, strategy, projection, anything at all, and then ask yourself this: What Would Truth Demon Do?

In other words, if there were a powerful, all-knowing being wrought with ill intentions that knew the truth on every topic and would punish you if you knowingly made a false statement, would you back down or remain staunch in your assertion?

Is Antonio Gibson really going to be the next Joe Mixon? Are you sure???

Conclusion

There are other biases that begin to plague us after draft day, sometimes as early as one week into the season. These include hindsight bias ("I knew that guy was a bum but I picked him anyway!") and sunk cost fallacy, wherein you refuse to drop a player weeks into the season despite the fact he is absolute albatross on your team simply because of how high he was drafted or how high the cost was on auction day.

We'll address those issues with weekly start/sit advice but for now, make sure you go into your draft fully prepared (with our NFL Draft Kit of course) and be as objective and bias-free as possible. It might help if you save the IPAs for after the draft too.

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Draft Busts and Players to Avoid: RotoBaller Staff Picks

The RotoBaller NFL staff has many thoughts on the biggest potential busts and avoids for 2020 fantasy football.

Some of our analysts have agreed to sum up their thoughts on the top players to fade in drafts based on inflated ADP, playing time concerns, or other variables.

Here are the top players at each position that we recommend staying away from this draft season.

 

What QB are you avoiding in 2020?

Lamar Jackson because he's going to regress from his MVP campaign and at his current ADP there's just too many solid WRs and RBs to pass on given the overall depth of the QB position, especially in one-QB leagues. -Mike Riggall

Kyler Murray. His current ADP seems to be based more about what people are projecting him to do, rather than what he's already done. Think he's realistically a QB1, but many are drafting him in the top 5 among QBs and I don't feel comfortable doing the same. -Eli Grabanski

Aaron Rodgers. He was up-and-down last season and wasn't putting up the consistent numbers fantasy managers had hoped. He will now turn 37 this season, so the QB is no longer an elite option. -Rishi Patel

Aaron Rodgers. He's not good anymore. He hasn't been a difference-maker since 2016. He's 36 years old and has the worst set of pass-catchers in recent memory outside of Davante Adams. Why is he still priced as a QB1? -Jason Katz

Baker Mayfield. I think we all got caught up in his debut performance and keep expecting him to live up to the #1 pick billing but it hasn't happened even with an excellent supporting cast. Freddie Kitchens may be to blame for the team's ineptitude last year but I don't see a big step forward coming as the team may lean on its real strength this year - the ground game. -Pierre Camus

Deshaun Watson. Watson is still being viewed as a potential top-5 QB in 2020 and I just do not see it. The loss of Hopkins was offset by the addition of Brandin Cooks, leaving him with one of the most oft-injured receiving groups in the league. Game scripts may be in his favor, but with question marks at receiver and along the offensive line, turnovers could become a problem for Watson. -Brandon Murchison

Josh Allen is an exciting new leader for a much-improved Bills offense, but this still isn't a team I expect to put up gaudy offensive numbers throughout the year. They have a great defense and they should win a lot of low-scoring games, which doesn't compute to elite fantasy production. Don't count on him as your No. 1. -Andrew Ericksen

 

What RB are you avoiding in 2020?

David Johnson. He looked terrible on film last year (especially the second half of the year) and didn't run very hard. He's only cracked 1,000 rushing yards once in his career, all the way back in 2016, and he's a career 4.0 YPC runner. His receiving upside, which has been his bread and butter in recent years, is limited with Duke Johnson on the Texans. He's older than Le'Veon Bell, so his decline in recent years shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone. The primary arguments to take him are that he was good in 2016, and/or the Houston Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for him. You can't trust Bill O'Brien to give him a heavy workload and that's why DJ is a fade for me at his current ADP. -Eli Grabanski

David Johnson. Staying with the Texans, it is hard for me to imagine seeing Johnson return to his former fantasy glory. He clearly looked as though he had lost a step in 2019 and has been largely invisible in fantasy for three seasons. Yet I am supposed to believe that he will magically turn back the clock with a new team? I'm not buying it. -Brandon Murchison

David Montgomery because he's one of the least talented RBs of the past decade. He is too slow to play in the NFL, could barely muster an RB3 finish on 267 touches with 10.7 PPG. He doesn't contribute in the passing game because of Tarik Cohen. The Bears aren't the greatest offense. If you asked me the first thing I think of when I hear the words "no upside," I'd tell you Sony Michel. If you asked me the second thing I think of, I'd tell you David Montgomery. -Jason Katz

Derrick Henry. I haven't picked him yet this draft season and it doesn't look like I will. I've got Joe Mixon and Josh Jacobs ahead of him in my rankings, so there's no chance he'll fall to me in the second round anywhere. I think he'll be solid but now that he's locked up to a big contract, there's no way the Titans feed him 300 carries again. The offense as a whole was hyper-efficient and should regress, so I don't see how he delivers enough ROI to warrant a first-round pick. Plus, we all know the injury history of RBs coming off of seasons with monster usage. -Pierre Camus

Joe Mixon is a great running back, but he's just so hard to count on as an RB1 in a Bengals offense that's going to struggle to stay in games. His price is just too high and I can't see him returning equal or greater value on it. -Andrew Ericksen

Todd Gurley II. Even though he is the RB1 in Atlanta, his recent injury history should be cause for concern and any setback during the season could be a problem for fantasy owners. -Rishi Patel

Todd Gurley because his burst is gone, he's no longer a stud and there are other ascending players available around his ADP that could bust out in 2020. -Mike Riggall

 

What WR are you avoiding in 2020?

DeAndre Hopkins. At his current ADP, I'm a little worried. He's on a new team in a weird offseason. Think he's better in 2021, but there'll be some rough patches in 2020 as he tries to develop chemistry with Kyler. If he falls a bit I might draft him, but his current ADP is a little high. -Eli Grabanski

DeAndre Hopkins. A lot of this has to do with where he is going - there's just no chance I would ever pass on the running backs in DHop's range to take any WR. There's also history working against Hopkins switching teams and producing in the first year. Combine that with the unconventional offseason and the Cardinals' propensity to run three and four-receiver sets and Hopkins is not setup to be the target vacuum he was in Houston. He's still one of the best receivers in the league, but at cost, I'm not interested. -Jason Katz

Julio Jones is going to have another solid season to add to his fantastic career, but I worry that the team's going to try and keep preserving him by lessening his workload and increasing Ridley's. If Jones falls in your draft's, he's worth jumping on, but as the fourth receiver off the board right now, the price is too high. -Andrew Ericksen

Amari Cooper because at his ADP, you should get a consistent week to week performer, not a guy that will disappear from week to week. I will let somebody else deal with trying to predict when he will go off or get benched. -Mike Riggall

Cooper Kupp. Sure, Kupp was the WR2 in fantasy for the first half of the 2019 season. But in Weeks 9-16 as the Rams turned to the 12 personnel, Kupp was the WR44. He ended the year with a score in five straight games offsetting the lack of usage, but if the scores are not there in 2020, you may be overpaying for what you think is an elite receiver in fantasy. -Brandon Murchison

Marquise Brown. This isn't a strict avoid but I keep pushing him down my rankings and probably won't risk it with him. We've heard how he wasn't fully healthy all last season but in this offense, he won't suddenly become a target hog. This is a run-first and second offense with Mark Andrews occupying most of the interior targets. The fact that a receiver who relies on speed more than size added 20+ pounds over the offseason is the last straw. -Pierre Camus

T.Y. Hilton. Now on the wrong side of 30 and with a new QB, Hilton's fantasy value takes a hit in addition to factoring his recent injuries. The presence of younger receivers on the team like rookie Michael Pittman Jr. could mean Hilton's production may decrease. -Rishi Patel

 

What TE are you avoiding in 2020?

The mid-round TEs. I'm fine with taking George Kittle or Travis Kelce early. If I don't, then I'm waiting for the late round guys. The value just isn't there for the likes of Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Darren Waller, and Tyler Higbee. It wouldn't shock me if any of them finished top five, but I can't be passing on the WRs to take a TE when there are so many useful guys available late. -Jason Katz

Rob Gronkowski. Despite his chemistry with Tom Brady, the new Buccaneer is older, injury-prone, and now needs to fend off other talented pass-catchers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard for targets. -Rishi Patel

Darren Waller was a great story last year and should still be right in the mix for a TE1 finish to end the year, but the Raiders have added more young playmakers and Waller won't be able to surprise defenses as much this year. Take him if he falls in your draft but don't reach. -Andrew Ericksen

Darren Waller because at his current ADP there's still solid WR's left on the board. Waller is currently being drafted based on his 2019 production playing in an offense that lacked any threats. The Raiders added Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Nelson Agholor this offseason and they will get Tyrell Williams back, so things are shaping up as well for Waller. -Mike Riggall

Jared Cook is at the low-end of the TE1 ranks but doesn't have the upside of a player like Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, or TJ Hockenson. The Saints had nary a receiver to throw to outside of Michael Thomas last year and Emmanuel Sanders is excellent at working the middle of the field. Rookie Adam Trautman will be worked in the mix as he's meant to replace Cook after this season. His numbers should be down a bit from last year, which makes him unappealing relative to the competition. -Pierre Camus

Austin Hooper. I have done several drafts up until this point in the summer and have yet to land Hooper in any. He is still being valued as a top-10 player at the position, but I'm afraid he will have a tough time returning that value. The Browns passing attack has just too many mouths to feed for Hooper to get near the target percentage he's used to. With the lack of receptions, he value takes a dip and he will have to rely on the touchdowns that may not come. -Brandon Murchison

Mike Gesicki - Chad O'Shea actually used Gesicki pretty frequently, but historically Chan Gailey hasn't been one to pepper his tight-ends with targets. Think this is a hype train that busts for this year. -Eli Grabanski



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Offensive Line Analysis: Champs and Chumps

A key factor that is often overlooked in terms of fantasy success, especially at the running back position, is the importance of solid offensive line play. Many of the top fantasy football performers have the luxury of playing with some of the top lines in the game. Similarly, when a player is on a team with a poor offensive line, it can greatly inhibit their ability to perform on a consistent basis. For example, in 2019, RB Joe Mixon and QB Andy Dalton played behind a struggling Cincinnati Bengals offensive line. As a result, Mixon was terrible for fantasy purposes and often getting hit in the backfield, while Dalton was under constant duress. Selecting players with the best offensive line situations could be the deciding factor when stuck between several players, as better offensive line play tends to lead to better scoring opportunities in fantasy, something that we are all chasing.

Just looking back at last year, some of the top-scoring and more competitive teams around the league (Packers, Titans, Patriots, and Saints) all had top offensive lines. Adding to that, these teams are also littered with talent that we target in fantasy drafts, such as Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and Derrick Henry.

The biggest beneficiaries of a strong offensive line from a fantasy standpoint are usually the running backs. In a year where the depth at the position might be at an all-time low, targeting the running backs behind great offensive lines will consistently pay off for you. Reading this forthcoming analysis is just another tool that you can utilize to give you a leg up on the competition during draft season.

 

Champs

Some of the top offensive lines heading into 2020, such as the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, have been consistently good for a few years now and will have several viable players for fantasy football. Now, I am going to reference some of the better offensive lines in the league and discuss any changes to the teams heading into 2020 along with the fantasy outlook for their skill position players.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are arguably the best offensive line unit in the league with projected starters: LT – Anthony Castonzo, LG – Quenton Nelson, C – Ryan Kelly, RG – Matt Glowinski, and RT – Braden Smith. In 2019, RB Marlon Mack ran an average of 1.61 yards before he saw initial contact and the entire Colts offensive line from 2019 is returning this season.

Things are setting up very well for the entire Indy offense in 2020, who will have QB Philip Rivers calling the shots. This is an upgrade from Jacoby Brissett. Although Rivers lacks mobility, he will be playing from a clean pocket while slinging the ball to the likes of WRs T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., and Parris Campbell. The Colts also drafted one of the best pure runners the league has seen in years in Jonathan Taylor, who could bust out in a big way. The arrow is pointing up on the entire Colts offense and their offensive line is a major reason why.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the better offensive lines in the league over the last decade, or ever since they drafted Tyron Smith, and that shouldn't change in 2020. The Cowboys projected starters are: LT – Tyron Smith, LG – Connor Williams, C – Joe Looney, RG – Zack Martin, and RT – La’el Collins. The one concern here is that the Cowboys lost their center Travis Frederick to retirement, but everybody is returning otherwise.

In 2018, the Cowboys missed Frederick for the season due to a medical condition and RB Ezekiel Elliott did just fine without him in the lineup, gaining 4.72 yards-per-carry, of which 1.60 came before he saw initial contact from defenders. Elliott actually saw initial contact after just 1.28 yards in 2019, which is down from the 2018 mark. The main takeaway from those statistics is that Frederick’s retirement should not downgrade Elliott or the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys offensive line is a major boost for the RB and will provide QB Dak Prescott with tremendous protection, allowing WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup to get downfield in their routes.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns offensive line struggled in 2019, but heading into 2020, they upgraded their projected starting lineup: LT - Jedrick Wills, LG – Joel Bitonio, C – JC Tretter, RG – Wyatt Teller, and RT – Jack Conklin. In 2019, RB Nick Chubb ran for 5.01 yards-per-carry, of which 3.77 of those came after initial contact. The Browns' offensive line struggled last year attempting to overcome the retirement of Joe Thomas and losing Kevin Zeitler via trade to the Giants, but they still did a good job opening up room for Chubb to operate.

This offseason, Cleveland acquired Jack Conklin in free agency, and he is one of the best run-blocking tackles in the NFL. They also added Jedrick Wills through the draft. Adding these two bookend tackles will only make the already solid Browns rushing attack that much better in 2020, which means big things for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The improved offensive line is also good news for QB Baker Mayfield and WR Odell Beckham Jr., as the improved blocking on the edges should give the Browns' receivers more time to get down the field.

Kansas City Chiefs

Over the last few years, the Kansas City Chiefs have let several of their interior offensive linemen walk via free agency, but they’ve still managed to have adequate line play. Here are the projected starters on the Chiefs' offensive line for 2020: LT – Eric Fisher, LG – Andrew Wylie/Mike Remmers, C – Austin Reiter, RG – Ryan Hunter, and RT – Mitchell Schwartz. In 2019, RB Damien Williams rushed for 4.49 yards-per-carry, but only 0.9 of that was actually blocked for him before he saw initial contact from defenders.

Once again in 2020, the Chiefs have let Cameron Irving and Stefan Wisniewski, two of their interior offensive linemen, walk, and they also lost Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the season due to the pandemic. The Chiefs will look to replace those guys with some combination of Andrew Wylie, Mike Remmers, and Ryan Hunter. While the jury is out as to whether these new interior linemen will come through, the Chiefs still have Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher on the outside, which means QB Patrick Mahomes will have solid protection from the opposing edge rushers. Overall, while the Chiefs offensive line isn’t necessarily a strength, it’s not a cause for concern either, which means you should continue to draft Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce with confidence.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills offensive line was improved heading into 2019 after adding one of the best centers in the league, Mitch Morse, in free agency from the Chiefs. When RB Devin Singletary played in 2019, he ran for 5.1 yards-per-carry, with an average of 3.0 coming after initial contact. The Bills were able to upgrade at guard this offseason by adding veteran Brian Winters after he was released by the Jets, which is a positive for RBs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

Overall, the Bills' offensive line is a decent unit and will support fantasy production from the skill positions. Here are the Bills' projected starting lineup for 2020: LT – Dion Dawkins, LG – Quinton Spain, C – Mitch Morse, RG – Brian Winters, and RT – Cody Ford.

 

Chumps

In 2019, the Miami Dolphins offensive line was absolutely awful and while they drafted several offensive linemen in 2020, they're rookies in a pandemic-offseason, which means things aren't lining up in their favor for a strong 2020 campaign. The Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Rams offensive lines struggled in 2019 and didn't really do anything to improve their units this offseason. At least the Rams are able to scheme up an offensive plan that's somewhat capable of hiding their deficiencies. Now, I am going to discuss some troubling offensive line situations for 2020.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line was terrible to start 2019 and as a result, RB Joe Mixon performed very poorly, and QB Andy Dalton had very little time to throw the football. About halfway through the season, the Bengals switched their blocking scheme from zone concepts and started using more gap concepts in their approach to the running game. After the switch, the results were fantastic as Joe Mixon ended the season on a tear. The Bengals added Xavier Su’a-Filo at guard this offseason and while he’s not a world-beater by any means, he’s an upgrade from 2019’s right guard and has shown flashes of ability, especially with zone concepts. Getting 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams back at left tackle will help tremendously, and if rookie tackle Hakeem Adeniji can pick things up quickly, he may push journeyman Bobby Hart for the time played at right tackle.

The Bengals' projected starting lineup currently looks like this: LT – Jonah Williams, LG – Michael Jordan/Billy Price, C – Trey Hopkins, RG – Xavier Su’a-Filo, and RT – Bobby Hart/Hakeem Adeniji. The Cincy offensive line won’t be a strength in 2020 as there are major questions at left guard and right tackle, but overall, the line shouldn't hurt them. The Bengals' offseason moves indicate they’re looking to get back to more of a zone-blocking scheme this year, but in 2019, the coaching staff demonstrated that they’re capable of adjusting if it’s not working out. The message here is that you should feel good about drafting guys like Joe Mixon, WR Tyler Boyd, and QB Joe Burrow at their ADPs even if their line isn't that great. While I am classifying the Bengals' offensive line as a chump, I consider them a higher-end chump.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears offensive line struggled in 2019 and the outlook isn't looking much better for 2020, as they feature a starting lineup that looks like this: LT – Charles Leno, LG – James Daniels, C – Cody Whitehair, RG – Germain Ifedi/Rashaad Coward, and RT – Bobby Massie. The Bears' offensive line is a group of journeymen offensive linemen who are all regressing in their careers. Kyle Long retired, but he's been in and out of the lineup over the last few years due to injury anyways. The Bears added Germain Ifedi in free agency, who should compete for Long's vacated guard spot, but he struggled early in his career with Seattle, so the jury is out on him.

Similar to the Rams, the Bears need to rely on scheme to somewhat hide their below-average offensive line. While WR Allen Robinson II should be in for a huge season with the Bears likely to throw a lot, RB David Montgomery needs to be somewhat downgraded because of the offensive line, but keep in mind he's the only every-down back on the roster and should see enough volume to have a solid season. The bottom line with Montgomery is you don't want him to be your RB1 and you are fine to take him at his current ADP, which has him being taken as the 23rd running back off the board, around 50 picks into the draft.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have several question marks on their offensive line heading into the 2020 season, especially at the interior positions. The Panthers seemingly downgraded their guards when they traded away Trai Turner this offseason, but maybe the new coaching staff doesn't view the interior offensive line play as a key to success. Carolina will need to rely on a mix of young players and journeymen to get the job done this season, but their starting lineup is anything but solidified, with these guys in the mix to start: LT - Russell Okung, LG Greg Little/Michael Schofield, C - Matt Paradis, RG - Dennis Daley/John Miller, and RT - Taylor Moton.

At least the tackles seem to be locked in, but with questions marks inside, things are shaping up well for RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore to see a lot of targets in the short to intermediate passing game because the jury is out on whether this line will be able to protect QB Teddy Bridgewater long enough to get the ball down the field to WRs like Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel.



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FFPC Terminator Best-Ball League Strategy

Love best-ball but looking for something with a twist? FFPC is already an industry leader in best ball competition for serious fantasy players but they also are the innovators when it comes to offering variety. Aside from the new Best Ball Slim Leagues which I explained earlier in the offseason and even showed how to build a roster via live stream, FFPC offers something no other site does: the Terminator.

This takes all the best ball scoring rules along with the draft-only/no waivers philosophy but adds a small element of weekly management. Intrigued yet? By the time you finish reading, you might be encouraged to try it out.

Let's dive into the details of this unique league type along with some strategies to help you tackle your first attempt at a Terminator league draft. After you're done here, you can join a Terminator best-ball league for just $35 or jump into the Terminator Tourney for true high-stakes action.

 

Rules and Scoring

Key points that distinguish this league from typical best-ball contests:

  • You must terminate one player each week or else your team is disqualified. Don't worry, they send weekly email reminders!
  • League scoring runs through Week 16. Winner has the most total points by that point.
  • Kicker and Defense are required - more on this later.

 

Balance is Key

Like stocking up on RB early? Prefer the Zero RB method? Never draft a QB until after round 10? That's not the best way to approach a Terminator league.

If there's one key phrase to remember during a Terminator League draft, it's "Begin with the end in mind." By the time most head-to-head leagues are in playoff season, a team in a Terminator League will have half of its original players left on the roster. By season's end (after Week 16), there will be a total of 10 players left standing, which is just enough to field a starter at each position. The two flex spots give some, uh, flexibility, but it would do no good to have five great receivers or two stud QBs around while having a deficit at another position. Ideally, your roster is rock solid at each spot.

In best-ball leagues, fantasy managers often shoot for the high-ceiling player that could turn into a league-winner or at least provide some scoring spikes on certain weeks throughout the season. Those players are always helpful when they go boom, but if there aren't enough high-floor players remaining by the time the season is winding down, any lead in the standings will surely slip away. Drafting conservatively to some extent in the first few rounds is recommended, especially since trading and waiver wire adds are not allowed.

 

Play It Safe Early

The late-round QB strategy is popular in redraft leagues. You don't need to pull the trigger early on the position, but waiting too long here could spell trouble. Keep in mind that you will only have one QB by year's end and that second QB probably won't hang around past midseason because those flex spots are more volatile and more valuable to keep backups around. Which passer you hang your hat on is a matter for another article, but bear in mind that even though this is best ball, you can't fall back on the two-QB system all year. A relatively "safe" pick like Dak Prescott early, Jared Goff a little later, or perhaps Kirk Cousins if you truly insist on waiting for a QB are the best choices.

It's been said there are no safe running backs, even in the first round, and it's hard to disagree. That said, we know who is guaranteed a relatively large share of touches in their team's offense barring injury, so the Zero RB strategy would be hard to pull off. If you choose to make someone like Kareem Hunt your RB1 and Tevin Coleman or Mark Ingram your RB2, then you could start with Adams/Kittle/Mahomes/Kupp before addressing RB and then shoot for upside later with rookies. The point remains that whichever position you address in the early rounds, it should consist of a player you feel good about sticking around all year. For that reason, I'm fading James Conner, David Johnson, D'Andre Swift, A.J. Green, and Rob Gronkowski in this format.

 

Take Chances Late - Lots of Chances

Once you pass Round 10, it's time to begin the search for the infamous "upside." It doesn't mean throw caution to the wind and take a bunch of rookies or unproven players. It does mean that playing it safe is no longer necessary because your starting spots have been addressed and many of the players selected from this point on will be cut at some point during the season.

That means taking Bryce Love instead of Adrian Peterson, Brandon Aiyuk over Dede Westbrook, Matt Breida over James White, Joe Burrow over Jimmy Garoppolo, and Dante Pettis over Larry Fitzgerald. OK, I'm not taking Dante Pettis anywhere - that ship has sailed, sunk, and doesn't need to be explored again - but you get the idea. It's best to take a chance here because that player who flames out quickly can be terminated just as quickly.

In fact, the termination process begins before Week 1 so there is guaranteed to be a player on your roster that never even has a chance to contribute. You are almost obligated to take a lotto ticket in the later rounds. The first cut you make should not be one of your defenses because that position has a reasonable chance to give you a weekly advantage up until the time you need to clear up space without sacrificing a high-scoring flex player.

 

Draft 3 Defenses and 3 Kickers

Fantasy football "experts" will preach that you don't draft a team defense early and that the unpredictability of the position doesn't warrant holding onto a backup. In best-ball formats, you obviously need to roster a second DST and kicker to account for bye weeks. Shouldn't this be enough?

Technically, yes. But in a league where you want to assemble an ideal roster that will stand the test of time, grabbing a third selection at each position can help more than an eighth RB or WR. With 26 total roster spots available, you certainly have room for an extra kicker and/or defense. In a non-superflex league where taking three QBs isn't essential, a third DST is far more likely to surpass the point total of your first DST selection than a third QB like Tyrod Taylor or Sam Darnold is to outscore Deshaun Watson at any point. Many of the top winning roster constructions include a third defense and kicker. In fact, teams that draft a fourth or even fifth defense are more likely to win than those that stick with two.

Visual proof via RotoViz's FFPC Roster Construction Explorer that taking extra DST not only doesn't make you a noob, it makes you a crafty best ball player:

It's harder for some to stomach drafting three kickers, but it is even more important than for defense. First, injuries happen. Stephen Gostkowski, Robbie Gould, Michael Badgley, and Adam Vinatieri are some of the most reliable kickers in the league who missed extended time last season, leaving best ball owners with one lesser option at the position all year. It's not possible for an entire team defense to be put on IR, but kickers get hurt, cut, or simply don't perform well. Hedging your bet is a good idea since there is no way to pick up or stream a kicker during the season. One again, teams that owned a third kicker won at a higher rate than those with just three.

Now, extend this philosophy to a Terminator league where an injured or terrible kicker can get the boot off your roster, saving you from having to cut an RB or WR that you want to give more time to evaluate. Trust me, the extra pick will make a positive difference and you should prioritize a third kicker and defense more so than a third QB.

 

Different Approaches

Here are two examples of Terminator drafts I've participated in. One draft kicked off the day after the NFL Draft wrapped up and the other is still in progress, to give you an idea of how ADPs have shifted.

To find the full-size draft board, click here for the May draft and right here for the August draft or you can click the images below.

 

May Terminator Draft

I lucked into the first overall pick, which made my strategy obvious. I'm a proponent of the one-RB approach this year, which means secure your workhorse in the first or second round and then wait until round 5 or 6 to take RB2. With Christian McCaffrey on my roster, that was a no-brainer. I followed up with three target hogs at WR and then Dak Prescott at QB. Evan Engram seems like an early selection but keep in mind this is a TE premium league, so waiting any longer at the turn would have meant fewer risk-free options.

Kareem Hunt is my favorite RB2 target this year as he has top-15 upside and even more if Nick Chubb misses time. If nothing else, his pass-catching floor means he should stick on my roster all year. I regret the Sony Michel pick a little but this was long before news of his surgery and the relative safety of Nyheim Hines and the fact I own both non-Ekeler Charger RBs means a good chance I landed an RB3 option.

Breshad Perriman and Jalen Reagor are pure upside plays but they won't be missed by the time November comes around since they are highly unlikely to supplant my trio of Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, and Kenny Golladay.

The Bears signing Cairo Santos, which makes Eddy Pineiro expendable, just reinforces the fact that a third kicker is essential.

 

August Terminator Draft

This draft is nearly over as we are currently in Round 24. With the fifth pick, I tried a different strategy to see how I liked the roster construction. There is some degree of risk with Dalvin Cook (holdout), Derrick Henry (last year's workload), and Alvin Kamara (injury history), so I grabbed Michael Thomas first. It felt just a bit early to go with a tight end and both Kittle and Kelce were gone before my next pick.

I really wanted either Josh Jacobs or Austin Ekeler in Round 2 but it was not meant to be, so I grudgingly took Nick Chubb which forced me to secure my second RB a little earlier than usual. I am trying to have 110% exposure to Cam Akers this year, so no complaints with the results.

The starting lineup of Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb, Cam Akers, Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson II, Courtland Sutton, and Hunter Henry provides a high floor across the board with the possible exception of Akers. That explains the boring selections of Duke Johnson and Marlon Mack a bit later. The latter half of this draft was filled with more lotto tickets than usual as a result.

I don't expect Dez Bryant to sign before the year starts but that just means he is my preseason termination pick. Same goes for Devonta Freeman, who could be a high-reward pick or an early termination if nothing pans out.

Another player appearing on the most recent draft that wasn't selected a few months ago is Scotty Miller, who I grabbed in Round 24. Following training camp buzz has spoiled many a fantasy roster, but in this league it's exactly the type of player to target late. If he pays off, great! If he doesn't turn out to be the next Wes Welker, he gets the boot in a couple of weeks.

You may or may not agree with all my draft strategies, but if nothing else, this should provide insight as to how you can tackle roster construction for this unique format. Give it a try by following the links listed at the top of this article!



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The King's FFPC Pros vs. Joes Best Ball Superflex Draft Breakdown

I admitted on Twitter this week that I prefer Best Ball drafts over mocks. The results actually count for something and are much more competitive. Best Ball drafts help you get the reps you want while also demanding you make your picks with full authenticity. You get better as a drafter every time you do one, and your picks truly matter. Execute some Best Ball drafts and you’ll be ready to feel comfortable in any draft setting.

I have been reeling off Best Ball reps in the Fantasy Football Players Championship in various formats. Because there are no in-season moves required, you can do as many of these as you want without being overloaded when the seasons starts. My latest Best Ball draft was in a 28-round FFPC Superflex format. Reviewing my results and strategies can help you build your own strong draft plan. FFPC scoring is PPR with an extra half-point for TEs and four points for a TD pass. Starting lineups are 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 FLEX, 1 Superflex, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 Defense.

This was a “slow” draft, which I always enjoy for the regular anticipation of picks to come and the fun of extending the draft over more than a week, etc. I drafted from the third position. Full results follow the analysis.

 

The King’s FFPC Superflex Mock Draft

Rounds 1 Through 3: Lamar Jackson, Julio Jones, Austin Ekeler – I was actually wondering whether Jackson would slip to me at third, and was prepared to take Patrick Mahomes. As I noted in Engel’s Angles this week, always be ready with alternatives if the player you prefer does not fall to you. Sounds simple, but it is an approach not exercised enough. In high stakes formats and Best Ball leagues, you must opt for upside, and Jones still has a lot of that. He had the second-most receiving yards in the league last year, and 31 is not yet “old” for a WR. I have Melvin Gordon ranked over Ekeler, but where you have players ranked and where they may be taken can often differ. I came out of the first three rounds with strong anchor players at every key Superflex position here. That is an approach to consider in these types of drafts in no certain order in the first three rounds.

Rounds 4 Through 6: Ben Roethlisberger, Melvin Gordon III, Darren Waller: I have Roethlisberger ranked 13th at QB and expect a strong rebound season with alluring Best Ball value upside. If you grab two QBs in the first four rounds in a Superflex or two-QB format, odds are you will be very satisfied with your starting duo. I certainly lucked out waiting on Gordon. He is an underrated bounce-back target. Two years ago, he was a first-round pick, and he can be much the same player with a heavy workload in Denver. Waller was a very good pick in a format that awards 1.5 points per reception for a TE. Knowing how deep WR is, you can wait on some starters at the position while you fill up on other key slots first. RB is always in high demand, two QB starters are required here and there was the added emphasis on the TE. The wide receiver position is one where you can be patient and still land quality starters.

Rounds 7 Through 9: DK Metcalf, Tua Tagovailoa, Rob Gronkowski: The Metcalf pick was proof that patience pays off at WR in a Superflex format when many players are loading up at other positions. The Rams WRs, Terry McLaurin, Tyler Lockett and D.J. Chark, all fine WR2 types, also went in the fifth round. Tagovailoa was a “need” pick by this point as a potential backup QB. All Superflex drafts are different. In some, many of the better QBs will be gone in the first four rounds. In others, GM/coaches will wait longer and you can still land a comfortable QB2 in the fifth round and later. Gronkowski actually gets flex consideration in the TE-emphasized scoring here. A year off and a reunion with Tom Brady should make him a Top 10 TE target.

Rounds 10 through 12: Sony Michel, Tyler Boyd, Breshad Perriman: The news this week that Michel is still dealing with a foot injury was frustrating, but one regrettable pick doesn’t ruin a full draft. During a slow draft, good news and bad news will break. The Edwards-Helaire/Damien Williams and Derrius Guice news also broke during this draft. In a slow draft, you can at least make potential adjustments when the headlines emerge. That is usually not possible during a regular live draft. Boyd is an underrated fantasy WR3. Perriman could become the Jets’ No. 1 Fantasy WR. Again, patience paid off at WR as I was very satisfied with my Top 4.

Rounds 13 Through 15: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carlos Hyde, Joshua Kelley: Taking Fitzpatrick to combine with Tagovailoa assures me of locking up the Miami QB situation to back up my two starters. The veteran can certainly be a decent Fantasy backup and the rookie has upside. I had waited on my QB depth and determined this was the ideal backup QB solution. The Miami QB competition can produce one respectable reserve option no matter who wins out. Hyde could end up starting a few games for the Seahawks if Chris Carson continues to deal with injuries. Kelley is being widely overlooked. He should be the Chargers’ preferred inside and goal-line runner. Plus, I already had Ekeler and Kelly could see an even larger role if the veteran were to miss any time.

Rounds 16 through 18: Hunter Renfrow, Steven Sims, Saints Defense: Renfrow is an internal favorite in Las Vegas and has some serious sleeper promise as the possible WR1 for the Raiders. Sims has a good chance to become a nifty speed complement to McLaurin. He is a clever late Best Ball target. The Saints have a Top 5 Fantasy defense. They are solid from the front wall to the back end and Cameron Jordan leads a strong pass rush. Defenses were starting to go off the board by this point and I also grabbed another of my preferred choices, Tampa Bay, with the next selection. It’s fine to go with the flow for non-skill position picks in the late stages. Keep picking at other positions until the run starts on the necessary defenses and kickers.

The Late Rounds: Dan Arnold (Round 21) should be a deep sleeper target, as the Cardinals plan to utilize him on key passing downs and in shorter yardage TD situations. Alshon Jeffery (23) can still have a few good games when healthy. Tee Higgins (24) may push for a starting job as a rookie and could play a significant role if A.J. Green gets hurt again. Qadree Ollison (26) may steal some TD chances from Todd Gurley and could operate in a timeshare as the lead short-yardage runner if the ex-Rams RB misses any time. Peyton Barber was worthy of a 27th round dart after Guice was cut by Washington.

 

Pros vs. Joes Draft Results

Pick  Round  Team  Last Name  First Name  Position
1 1 35 SF #12 McCaffrey Christian RB
2 1 Superflux 2 Barkley Saquon RB
3 1 RotoBaller: The King Jackson Lamar QB
4 1 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Mahomes Patrick QB
5 1 Dracarys Elliott Ezekiel RB
6 1 LOB Kamara Alvin RB
7 1 50Treez BBSF Kelce Travis TE
8 1 Kobeez Krew Thomas Michael WR
9 1 Vermeer's Vanity Cook Dalvin RB
10 1 Natural Disasters Prescott Dak QB
11 1 SuperDebbieSlow3 Drake Kenyan RB
12 1 Dave Hollins Murray Kyler QB
13 2 Dave Hollins Henry Derrick RB
14 2 SuperDebbieSlow3 Kittle George TE
15 2 Natural Disasters Watson Deshaun QB
16 2 Vermeer's Vanity Sanders Miles RB
17 2 Kobeez Krew Mixon Joe RB
18 2 50Treez BBSF Wilson Russell QB
19 2 LOB Allen Josh QB
20 2 Dracarys Adams Davante WR
21 2 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Hill Tyreek WR
22 2 RotoBaller: The King Jones Julio WR
23 2 Superflux 2 Ryan Matt QB
24 2 35 SF #12 Jacobs Josh RB
25 3 35 SF #12 Chubb Nick RB
26 3 Superflux 2 Jones Aaron RB
27 3 RotoBaller: The King Ekeler Austin RB
28 3 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Wentz Carson QB
29 3 Dracarys Stafford Matthew QB
30 3 LOB Hopkins DeAndre WR
31 3 50Treez BBSF Godwin Chris WR
32 3 Kobeez Krew Brady Tom QB
33 3 Vermeer's Vanity Brees Drew QB
34 3 Natural Disasters Ertz Zach TE
35 3 SuperDebbieSlow3 Edwards-Helaire Clyde RB
36 3 Dave Hollins Gurley Todd RB
37 4 Dave Hollins Rodgers Aaron QB
38 4 SuperDebbieSlow3 Andrews Mark TE
39 4 Natural Disasters Newton Cam QB
40 4 Vermeer's Vanity Jones Daniel QB
41 4 Kobeez Krew Mayfield Baker QB
42 4 50Treez BBSF Moore D.J. WR
43 4 LOB Goff Jared QB
44 4 Dracarys Burrow Joe QB
45 4 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Conner James RB
46 4 RotoBaller: The King Roethlisberger Ben QB
47 4 Superflux 2 Tannehill Ryan QB
48 4 35 SF #12 Garoppolo Jimmy QB
49 5 35 SF #12 Bridgewater Teddy QB
50 5 Superflux 2 Cousins Kirk QB
51 5 RotoBaller: The King Gordon Melvin RB
52 5 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Smith-Schuster JuJu WR
53 5 Dracarys Minshew Gardner QB
54 5 LOB Lock Drew QB
55 5 50Treez BBSF Golladay Kenny WR
56 5 Kobeez Krew Bell Le'Veon RB
57 5 Vermeer's Vanity Robinson Allen WR
58 5 Natural Disasters Cooper Amari WR
59 5 SuperDebbieSlow3 Carr Derek QB
60 5 Dave Hollins Rivers Philip QB
61 6 Dave Hollins Johnson David RB
62 6 SuperDebbieSlow3 Darnold Sam QB
63 6 Natural Disasters Carson Chris RB
64 6 Vermeer's Vanity Ridley Calvin WR
65 6 Kobeez Krew Evans Mike WR
66 6 50Treez BBSF Taylor Jonathan RB
67 6 LOB Fournette Leonard RB
68 6 Dracarys Thielen Adam WR
69 6 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Hunt Kareem RB
70 6 RotoBaller: The King Waller Darren TE
71 6 Superflux 2 Montgomery David RB
72 6 35 SF #12 Beckham Odell WR
73 7 35 SF #12 Brown A.J. WR
74 7 Superflux 2 Ingram Mark RB
75 7 RotoBaller: The King Metcalf D.K. WR
76 7 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Woods Robert WR
77 7 Dracarys McLaurin Terry WR
78 7 LOB Kupp Cooper WR
79 7 50Treez BBSF Lockett Tyler WR
80 7 Kobeez Krew Singletary Devin RB
81 7 Vermeer's Vanity Chark D.J. WR
82 7 Natural Disasters Engram Evan TE
83 7 SuperDebbieSlow3 Haskins Dwayne QB
84 7 Dave Hollins Taylor Tyrod QB
85 8 Dave Hollins Akers Cam RB
86 8 SuperDebbieSlow3 Sutton Courtland WR
87 8 Natural Disasters Allen Keenan WR
88 8 Vermeer's Vanity Hurst Hayden TE
89 8 Kobeez Krew Higbee Tyler TE
90 8 50Treez BBSF Swift D'Andre RB
91 8 LOB Mostert Raheem RB
92 8 Dracarys Gallup Michael WR
93 8 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Dobbins J.K. RB
94 8 RotoBaller: The King Tagovailoa Tua QB
95 8 Superflux 2 Parker DeVante WR
96 8 35 SF #12 Williams Damien RB
97 9 35 SF #12 Guice Derrius RB
98 9 Superflux 2 Green A.J. WR
99 9 RotoBaller: The King Gronkowski Rob TE
100 9 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Cook Jared TE
101 9 Dracarys Howard Jordan RB
102 9 LOB Jones Ronald RB
103 9 50Treez BBSF Brown Marquise WR
104 9 Kobeez Krew Henry Hunter TE
105 9 Vermeer's Vanity Mattison Alexander RB
106 9 Natural Disasters White James RB
107 9 SuperDebbieSlow3 Diggs Stefon WR
108 9 Dave Hollins Gesicki Mike TE
109 10 Dave Hollins Hilton T.Y. WR
110 10 SuperDebbieSlow3 Cohen Tarik RB
111 10 Natural Disasters Vaughn Ke'Shawn RB
112 10 Vermeer's Vanity Pollard Tony RB
113 10 Kobeez Krew Landry Jarvis WR
114 10 50Treez BBSF Mack Marlon RB
115 10 LOB Hockenson T.J. TE
116 10 Dracarys Breida Matt RB
117 10 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Hooper Austin TE
118 10 RotoBaller: The King Michel Sony RB
119 10 Superflux 2 Smith Jonnu TE
120 10 35 SF #12 Goedert Dallas TE
121 11 35 SF #12 Fuller Will WR
122 11 Superflux 2 Fant Noah TE
123 11 RotoBaller: The King Boyd Tyler WR
124 11 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Coleman Tevin RB
125 11 Dracarys Edelman Julian WR
126 11 LOB Cooks Brandin WR
127 11 50Treez BBSF Moss Zack RB
128 11 Kobeez Krew Johnson Kerryon RB
129 11 Vermeer's Vanity Murray Latavius RB
130 11 Natural Disasters Jones Marvin WR
131 11 SuperDebbieSlow3 Johnson Diontae WR
132 11 Dave Hollins Thomas Ian TE
133 12 Dave Hollins Kirk Christian WR
134 12 SuperDebbieSlow3 Scott Boston RB
135 12 Natural Disasters Lindsay Phillip RB
136 12 Vermeer's Vanity Jeudy Jerry WR
137 12 Kobeez Krew Jarwin Blake TE
138 12 50Treez BBSF Foles Nick QB
139 12 LOB Henderson Darrell RB
140 12 Dracarys Lamb CeeDee WR
141 12 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Harris Damien RB
142 12 RotoBaller: The King Perriman Breshad WR
143 12 Superflux 2 Hardman Mecole WR
144 12 35 SF #12 Doyle Jack TE
145 13 35 SF #12 Samuel Deebo WR
146 13 Superflux 2 Reagor Jalen WR
147 13 RotoBaller: The King Fitzpatrick Ryan QB
148 13 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Crowder Jamison WR
149 13 Dracarys Edmonds Chase RB
150 13 LOB Ebron Eric TE
151 13 50Treez BBSF Gibson Antonio RB
152 13 Kobeez Krew Sanders Emmanuel WR
153 13 Vermeer's Vanity Dillon AJ RB
154 13 Natural Disasters Ruggs Henry WR
155 13 SuperDebbieSlow3 Johnson Duke RB
156 13 Dave Hollins Hines Nyheim RB
157 14 Dave Hollins Slayton Darius WR
158 14 SuperDebbieSlow3 Shepard Sterling WR
159 14 Natural Disasters Jackson Justin RB
160 14 Vermeer's Vanity Herndon Chris TE
161 14 Kobeez Krew Williams Mike WR
162 14 50Treez BBSF Trubisky Mitchell QB
163 14 LOB Brown John WR
164 14 Dracarys Smith Irv TE
165 14 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Jefferson Justin WR
166 14 RotoBaller: The King Hyde Carlos RB
167 14 Superflux 2 Miller Anthony WR
168 14 35 SF #12 Sternberger Jace TE
169 15 35 SF #12 Harry N'Keal WR
170 15 Superflux 2 Everett Gerald TE
171 15 RotoBaller: The King Kelley Joshua RB
172 15 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Evans Darrynton RB
173 15 Dracarys Olsen Greg TE
174 15 LOB Howard O.J. TE
175 15 50Treez BBSF Washington DeAndre RB
176 15 Kobeez Krew Tucker Justin PK
177 15 Vermeer's Vanity Jackson DeSean WR
178 15 Natural Disasters Freeman Devonta RB
179 15 SuperDebbieSlow3 Williams Preston WR
180 15 Dave Hollins Watkins Sammy WR
181 16 Dave Hollins Samuel Curtis WR
182 16 SuperDebbieSlow3 Butker Harrison PK
183 16 Natural Disasters Zuerlein Greg PK
184 16 Vermeer's Vanity McFarland Anthony RB
185 16 Kobeez Krew Team Defense PIT DF
186 16 50Treez BBSF Brown Antonio WR
187 16 LOB Tate Golden WR
188 16 Dracarys Lutz Wil PK
189 16 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Herbert Justin QB
190 16 RotoBaller: The King Renfrow Hunter WR
191 16 Superflux 2 Lazard Allen WR
192 16 35 SF #12 Gay Matt PK
193 17 35 SF #12 Team Defense SF DF
194 17 Superflux 2 Thompson Chris RB
195 17 RotoBaller: The King Sims Steven WR
196 17 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Aiyuk Brandon WR
197 17 Dracarys Team Defense BAL DF
198 17 LOB Knox Dawson TE
199 17 50Treez BBSF Rudolph Kyle TE
200 17 Kobeez Krew Smith Ito RB
201 17 Vermeer's Vanity Campbell Parris WR
202 17 Natural Disasters Gould Robbie PK
203 17 SuperDebbieSlow3 Anderson Robby WR
204 17 Dave Hollins Thompson Darwin RB
205 18 Dave Hollins Eifert Tyler TE
206 18 SuperDebbieSlow3 Team Defense BUF DF
207 18 Natural Disasters Team Defense CHI DF
208 18 Vermeer's Vanity Penny Rashaad RB
209 18 Kobeez Krew Cobb Randall WR
210 18 50Treez BBSF Elliott Jake PK
211 18 LOB Team Defense NE DF
212 18 Dracarys Stidham Jarrett QB
213 18 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Gonzalez Zane PK
214 18 RotoBaller: The King Team Defense NO DF
215 18 Superflux 2 Bernard Giovani RB
216 18 35 SF #12 Koo Younghoe PK
217 19 35 SF #12 Fairbairn Ka'imi PK
218 19 Superflux 2 Dissly Will TE
219 19 RotoBaller: The King Team Defense TB DF
220 19 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Njoku David TE
221 19 Dracarys Shenault Laviska WR
222 19 LOB Prater Matt PK
223 19 50Treez BBSF Team Defense LAC DF
224 19 Kobeez Krew Team Defense KC DF
225 19 Vermeer's Vanity Bailey Dan PK
226 19 Natural Disasters Team Defense PHI DF
227 19 SuperDebbieSlow3 Team Defense TEN DF
228 19 Dave Hollins Crosby Mason PK
229 20 Dave Hollins Seibert Austin PK
230 20 SuperDebbieSlow3 Team Defense LAR DF
231 20 Natural Disasters Armstead Ryquell RB
232 20 Vermeer's Vanity McManus Brandon PK
233 20 Kobeez Krew Boswell Chris PK
234 20 50Treez BBSF Team Defense IND DF
235 20 LOB Myers Jason PK
236 20 Dracarys Mims Denzel WR
237 20 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Badgley Michael PK
238 20 RotoBaller: The King Lambo Josh PK
239 20 Superflux 2 Team Defense DEN DF
240 20 35 SF #12 Team Defense MIN DF
241 21 35 SF #12 Team Defense CLE DF
242 21 Superflux 2 Hauschka Stephen PK
243 21 RotoBaller: The King Arnold Dan TE
244 21 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Team Defense GB DF
245 21 Dracarys Peterson Adrian RB
246 21 LOB Team Defense SEA DF
247 21 50Treez BBSF Slye Joey PK
248 21 Kobeez Krew Pittman Michael WR
249 21 Vermeer's Vanity Team Defense NYJ DF
250 21 Natural Disasters Reed Jordan TE
251 21 SuperDebbieSlow3 McKinnon Jerick RB
252 21 Dave Hollins Sanders Jason PK
253 22 Dave Hollins Team Defense ARI DF
254 22 SuperDebbieSlow3 Westbrook Dede WR
255 22 Natural Disasters Sanu Mohamed WR
256 22 Vermeer's Vanity Team Defense DAL DF
257 22 Kobeez Krew Fitzgerald Larry WR
258 22 50Treez BBSF Team Defense WAS DF
259 22 LOB Davis Corey WR
260 22 Dracarys Reynolds Josh WR
261 22 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Team Defense HOU DF
262 22 RotoBaller: The King Carlson Daniel PK
263 22 Superflux 2 Bullock Randy PK
264 22 35 SF #12 Washington James WR
265 23 35 SF #12 Amendola Danny WR
266 23 Superflux 2 McLaughlin Chase PK
267 23 RotoBaller: The King Jeffery Alshon WR
268 23 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Team Defense ATL DF
269 23 Dracarys Akins Jordan TE
270 23 LOB Williams Jamaal RB
271 23 50Treez BBSF Williams Darrel RB
272 23 Kobeez Krew Mariota Marcus QB
273 23 Vermeer's Vanity Winston Jameis QB
274 23 Natural Disasters Brown Malcolm RB
275 23 SuperDebbieSlow3 Rohrwasser Justin PK
276 23 Dave Hollins Team Defense DET DF
277 24 Dave Hollins Bowden Lynn RB
278 24 SuperDebbieSlow3 Joseph Greg PK
279 24 Natural Disasters Uzomah C.J. TE
280 24 Vermeer's Vanity Hopkins Dustin PK
281 24 Kobeez Krew Burkhead Rex RB
282 24 50Treez BBSF Hurd Jalen WR
283 24 LOB Pineiro Eddy PK
284 24 Dracarys Team Defense JAC DF
285 24 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Gage Russell WR
286 24 RotoBaller: The King Higgins Tee WR
287 24 Superflux 2 Ross John WR
288 24 35 SF #12 Ogunbowale Dare RB
289 25 35 SF #12 Griffin Robert QB
290 25 Superflux 2 Team Defense NYG DF
291 25 RotoBaller: The King Asiasi Devin TE
292 25 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Benjamin Eno RB
293 25 Dracarys Team Defense CAR DF
294 25 LOB Team Defense MIA DF
295 25 50Treez BBSF Isabella Andy WR
296 25 Kobeez Krew Fells Darren TE
297 25 Vermeer's Vanity Arcega-Whiteside JJ WR
298 25 Natural Disasters Dalton Andy QB
299 25 SuperDebbieSlow3 Graham Jimmy TE
300 25 Dave Hollins Team Defense LV DF
301 26 Dave Hollins Williams Tyrell WR
302 26 SuperDebbieSlow3 Snell Benny RB
303 26 Natural Disasters Robinson Demarcus WR
304 26 Vermeer's Vanity Dallas DeeJay RB
305 26 Kobeez Krew Richard Jalen RB
306 26 50Treez BBSF Hill Brian RB
307 26 LOB Beasley Cole WR
308 26 Dracarys Team Defense CIN DF
309 26 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 McCoy LeSean RB
310 26 RotoBaller: The King Ollison Qadree RB
311 26 Superflux 2 Brate Cameron TE
312 26 35 SF #12 Burton Trey TE
313 27 35 SF #12 Edwards Bryan WR
314 27 Superflux 2 Valdes-Scantling Marquez WR
315 27 RotoBaller: The King Barber Peyton RB
316 27 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Gandy-Golden Antonio WR
317 27 Dracarys Rosas Aldrick PK
318 27 LOB Hill Taysom QB
319 27 50Treez BBSF Smith Alex QB
320 27 Kobeez Krew Bourne Kendrick WR
321 27 Vermeer's Vanity Gordon Josh WR
322 27 Natural Disasters Stills Kenny WR
323 27 SuperDebbieSlow3 Claypool Chase WR
324 27 Dave Hollins Boyle Nick TE
325 28 Dave Hollins Boykin Miles WR
326 28 SuperDebbieSlow3 Hamler KJ WR
327 28 Natural Disasters Sloman Sam PK
328 28 Vermeer's Vanity Perine Lamical RB
329 28 Kobeez Krew Lewis Dion RB
330 28 50Treez BBSF Samuels Jaylen RB
331 28 LOB Bonnafon Reggie RB
332 28 Dracarys Pascal Zach WR
333 28 ¡LeedsCarajo!BB19 Love Bryce RB
334 28 RotoBaller: The King Blankenship Rodrigo PK
335 28 Superflux 2 Meyers Jakobi WR
336 28 35 SF #12 Allen Kyle QB



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2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Football Sleepers Editor Note Featured Football NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

WR Stat Sleepers: Fantasy Points Per Target

In 2019, Marvin Jones Jr. averaged 2.13 fantasy points per target in ESPN standard PPR scoring. "What is that supposed to mean to me?" you ask. Fair enough. That's an odd stat to throw out there without any context.

Instead, what if I phrased it as follows: In 2019, Marvin Jones Jr. averaged more fantasy points per target than guys like Courtland Sutton (1.78), Tyler Boyd (1.52), Keenan Allen (1.76), and... Michael Thomas (2.02). Now do I have your attention?

Jones finished the season as WR28 with 193.9 points in ESPN standard PPR scoring, well behind the above-mentioned quartet of WR2s or better. The difference, obviously, is that each of the other four wideouts was targeted well over 100 times, while Jones saw just 91 passes thrown his way on the year due to injury. Thomas in particular was targeted more than twice as many times as Jones in 2019.

 

Points Per Target Matter

Why are fantasy points per target important? Well, it is decidedly not because you should consider drafting Marvin Jones over Michael Thomas in 2020 fantasy leagues. They are important because in a realm where "volume is king," it pays to be able to identify players who make the most of their volume despite not seeing as much of it as their more highly regarded peers. Only 30 wide receivers saw 100 or more targets in 2019. Do the math.

How many players out of 30 can you realistically expect to roster in a 12-team league? Even if some of them are late-round grabs like Cole Beasley or Dede Westbrook, or young players making a splash like D.J. Chark and D.K. Metcalf, chances are you're going to have to fill out the bottom half of your lineup with receivers who aren't focal points in their team's offense. And when you're sifting through those tiers of players, you might as well seek out the most bang for your buck.

Below we'll discuss some wide receivers who excelled in fantasy points per target in 2019. For the purpose of simplifying our examination, I'm setting the threshold for "excelled" at 2.0 points per target. Of last year's top 12 wide receivers in ESPN PPR scoring, only six of them averaged at least 2.0 points per target (Thomas, Chris Godwin, Cooper Kupp, Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, Kenny Golladay). The rest were more dependent on volume.

Being that this is a discussion on statistical sleepers, a player should have to come in above average in this metric in order to qualify. We'll take a look at how these hidden FPPT gems racked up their points, whether their production is repeatable in 2020, and what to look for in terms of improvement or regression.

 

Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions

(2.13 FPPT, 91 targets)

We may as well round out our introduction with a look into what allowed Marvin Jones to produce solid returns on fewer than 100 targets. As will often be the case, touchdowns played a crucial role. Jones scored nine receiving touchdowns in 2019, which landed him in a five-way tie for the third-most scores in the entire league. We naturally don't want to bank on a repeat of that, especially for a guy who's the number-two wideout on his own team. But...

What allowed Jones to pad his touchdown total in 2019 was a strong scoring-position role. While Kenny Golladay led the Lions (and the NFL) with 13 targets inside the 10-yard-line, Jones tied for the fifth-most such targets with nine. Five of them were converted into touchdowns, accounting for over half of his trips to the endzone. Since Jones came over to the Lions in 2016, he's seen at least 21.4% of the Lions' targets inside the 10 each year, and that includes a 2018 campaign in which he missed seven games. For what you're drafting Jones to be in 2020, a target share above 20% near the goal-line is nothing to sneeze at.

It's also worth noting Jones saw at least 100 targets in 2016-17, the two seasons he's spent in Detroit in which he played at least 15 games. He was on pace to eclipse the 100-target threshold in 2019 as well, but missed three games. Had he played all 16 at his pace, he'd have set a career-high. Jones is currently being drafted as WR38, at the end of the eighth round in 12-team leagues. While this seems borderline disrespectful given what we know he can do, never argue with a good deal. Jones is the perfect target for fantasy owners who spend the first three rounds loading up on running backs, and are looking to shore up wide receiver with value plays in the middle rounds.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

(2.06 FPPT, 71 targets)

After discussing a player I consider to be one of the great safety valves of the middle rounds, let's now turn our attention to a player I'm worried about in Marquise Brown. Yes, I've seen Brown billed as "the next Tyreek Hill" and I understand why. He has blinding speed and showed us flashes of the potential to become one of the league's most devastating deep-ball threats. But consider this. Brown recorded 584 receiving yards as a rookie in 2019--which, by the way, if he were anyone else, would not exactly be cause for excitement. Of those 584 yards, 220 of them came on just four catches. Of those four catches, three of them occurred in the first two weeks of the season. Brown caught 46 total passes in 2019. This means that 37.7% of Brown's season total in receiving yards came on less than 10% of his receptions, and a large majority of that 37.7% can be accounted for in the first half of September.

Are you starting to see why I'm hesitant to anoint Brown as the heir to Hill's big-play throne? While Hill is indeed a 70-yard touchdown scamper waiting to happen, he's also one of the key focal points of an offense that loves to throw the ball. Hill enjoyed back-to-back seasons of over 100 targets in 2017-18 before coming up just shy with 89 last year as a result of only playing 12 games. Since Patrick Mahomes took over as the Chiefs quarterback in 2018, he has targeted Hill an average of eight times per game. Brown saw fewer than eight targets in every game he played last year except for two (and again, both of those happened in September).

Brown excelled in fantasy points per target largely as a result of those big plays early in the year, as well as the fact that he tacked another five touchdowns onto the two he scored in Week 1. When you're eyeing up Brown at his WR27 ADP in the sixth round, you have to consider the trade-offs. Is he capable of winning you a week all by himself? Sure. But in order for him to be trustworthy, he needs to emerge with a consistent role in Baltimore's offense during the weeks when he's not single-handedly dominating your fantasy matchup. If the Ravens remain among the run-heaviest teams in the NFL and Lamar Jackson endures the touchdown regression we all expect is coming, Brown's fantasy value will continue to hinge on his explosiveness and little else. That makes him a liability in fantasy lineups more often than a week-winner.

 

Darius Slayton, New York Giants

(2.05 FPPT, 84 targets)

It's difficult to escape the truth: a lofty touchdown total will inflate a player's FPPT more than anything else. Such is the case with Darius Slayton, who led the Giants with eight receiving touchdowns in 2019. Maybe he reaches that total again in his second year, and maybe he doesn't. There are enough positives in Slayton's metrics to suggest he may not need to frequent the endzone in order to be a valuable wide receiver in fantasy lineups.

For starters, Slayton really emerged as a go-to option for Daniel Jones in the second half of last season. Here are his splits from Weeks 3-9 compared to Weeks 10-17 of 2019:

  • Weeks 3-9 - 17 receptions, 31 targets, 273 yards, three touchdowns
  • Weeks 10-17 - 31 receptions, 53 targets, 467 yards, five touchdowns

In each sample, Slayton played exactly seven games. From Weeks 10-17, he only saw fewer than seven targets twice, and saw eight or more in four contests. He finished the year with 84 targets; his second-half pace would've gotten him over the 100-mark for the season had the volume ramped up earlier. I'm just one person, but this is a trend I look at as an indication that Slayton has earned the favor of his quarterback and offensive coaching staff. Why shouldn't we believe he's poised for similar work in 2020?

In addition to being heavily targeted in the back half of his rookie season, Slayton also made some noise as a downfield threat. Among receivers with at least 80 targets, Slayton ranked 11th with 11.5 yards-before-catch per reception, and tenth in average depth of target at 14.1 yards. Think about the other pass-catchers in the Giants offense. Golden Tate is a possession receiver. Evan Engram is a strong and imposing tight end, but he's going to do most of his work in the intermediate range. Regardless of how many targets Saquon Barkley sees, he's primarily going to line up in the backfield. This leaves Slayton and Sterling Shepard for the long game, and Slayton was better in that area as a rookie than Shepard has been during his career.

In summary, we have a second-year receiver who produced solid numbers down the stretch as a rookie and emerged as the team's preferred downfield target. Slayton has to share the field with enough serviceable-to-good pass-catchers that I'm at least a little concerned about his overall volume, but he came within striking distance of 100 targets in the same situation last year. Any touchdown regression or workload skepticism is already factored into his ninth-round, WR43 ADP. It's not easy to find players with a chance to be their team's WR1 that late in the draft. Consider me all-in on Slayton at this price.

 

Honorable Mention: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

(2.33 FPPT, 81 targets)

There are a couple of reasons I'm not crazy about Deebo Samuel in 2020. For one thing, he's recovering from foot surgery and it seems safe to say he won't be active to start the season. For another, the 49ers scare the hell out of me as a fantasy offense outside of George Kittle. These things having been said, it would be unfair to leave one of last year's premiere FPPT performers out of this discussion.

The amazing thing about Samuel's high FPPT average is that it was decidedly not the result of touchdowns. He only found the endzone three times through the air as a rookie, and even if we count his three rushing touchdowns, six total scores hardly seems like an inflated or unrepeatable number. Samuel simply found a way to turn semi-heavy aerial volume into chunk yardage on a consistent basis.

Samuel ranked 15th in the league with 8.3 yards-after-catch per target. Eighteen players averaged 8.0 yards or better in that category. Fifteen of them were running backs. One was tight end Noah Fant. Samuel and A.J. Brown were the only wide receivers. Samuel was also one of only four players to achieve the 8.0 YAC threshold on 80 or more targets; the rest did it in variously smaller samples.

Additionally, if you've read anything else I've written this preseason, you know I'm relatively high on Jimmy Garoppolo as a result of the 49ers' tendency to throw the ball in the red zone. Well, no 49ers pass-catcher saw more targets inside the 20 last season than Samuel's 17. In fact, only 13 players league-wide had more than 17 red-zone targets. Kittle did see one more target inside the 10 than Samuel's eight, but no other San Francisco player saw more than five. What we could be looking at in Samuel is the rare instance of a player coming in above average in FPPT without having to score a bunch of touchdowns to do it, and the potential of some very positive touchdown regression on the way.

Of course, as alluded to above, there are drawbacks with Samuel. No one is ever going to supersede Kittle in the volume pecking order, so you're going to have to take what you can get with anyone else in this offense. But if you knew right now that you could pencil Samuel in for more than five targets per game (he averaged 5.4 in 2019) with a similar role in scoring position, isn't that a gamble you'd feel comfortable taking in the eighth round on a guy who is most likely starting the season on your bench anyway? As we draw closer to Week 1 and get a clearer picture of Samuel's health status, his ADP figures to drop even below that if things don't look promising on his early-season availability.

 

Conclusion

Needless to say, there are other players out there who fit the bill of solid FPPT production. I had to narrow down my focus or else we would be here until Labor Day, so I highlighted two players I'm all-in on at their respective ADPs (Jones, Slayton), one player for whom I am cautiously optimistic (Samuel), and one guy with whom I don't think we're exercising enough caution (Brown).

There are others out there, and finding them is rather simple. If you see a wide receiver with a high fantasy point total and a low number of targets relative to the other players in his scoring range, he probably matches the criteria. I encourage all fantasy owners to seek these players out, as doing so will help you get a better understanding of why Player A put up the numbers he did. From there, you can render your own verdict as to whether he will sustain, improve upon, or regress from his production this upcoming season. That's the most fun part anyway.

As always, if you have any questions about FPPT sleepers or anything else remotely pertaining to fantasy football, you can direct them to me on Twitter, @cjoreillyCLE. Best of luck in your upcoming drafts!



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