TFG Fantasy Club: Drafting Domination
TFG Fantasy Club is a weekly email exchange between TFG editor Melissa Jacobs and TFG Fantasy contributor Pat Fitzmaurice covering all the hot button fantasy issues, with a few added surprises. Look for special guests to pop in occasionally, and feel free to chime in below.
August 26 12:35 PM
Happy draft week, Pat. Despite Yahoo’s “National Draft Day” last Saturday, I imagine the next eight days being by far the highest concentration of drafts. While I’d love to bandy about good team names (still in need of an absolute killer) or share my thoughts on Fox’s new celebrity fantasy show (yawn), I assume at this point readers just want to know our thoughts on sleepers and busts and anything else related to specific players or draft strategies.
Here are some of my random thoughts:
It’s very en vogue to pick on Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offensive given their preseason struggles. Those who continue to bump down Kap are right – he has shown no progression in his decision-making or pocket awareness. Obviously the loss (for now) of guard Alex Boone hurts but even if/when he returns I don’t see Kap being the fantasy star in waiting people make him out to be. I know you don’t disagree. In my opinion, the guy most affected by Kap’s stagnation will be Vernon Davis who is still hanging out at TE4. Davis will likely have a few monster games because Kap is so streaky but I envision many Sundays with minimal to no productivity. Love Davis’s talent but will be avoiding him in all formats. I’d rather have Jason Witten or the better value of a Dennis Pitta.
Cam Newton still has an overall ADP of QB10 and is as high as QB6 on ESPN. I want no part of a rib injury. And quick…name a Panthers receiver.
Mike Wallace has looked terrible this preseason – he apparently had four drops in practice yesterday. Avoid.
Also somewhat scared of Alfred Morris at RB12. On the surface he seems like a good value who may be leaned on more than we thought given some of RGIII’s preseason travails, but it seems like Jay Gruden will be not be utilizing the read option as much as the Shanahans did. And I’m not sure Morris will completely thrive from a fantasy perspective with a decrease in those added open lanes.
What are you thinking Pat? Disagree on any of the above? And who are you making sure to nab in all of you drafts?
Morris believes he should be bumped up to RB6
August 26, 4:13 PM
Well, I’m with you on the Kaepernick pessimism and share your skittishness about Vernon Davis. (I do rank Davis ahead of Witten and Pitta, but I’m committed to a late-round TE approach this year and won’t be taking any of them.) And Ditto on Cam Newton, though rookie Kelvin Benjamin could be the big playmaker Cam has needed.
On the other hand, I’m not too worried about Alfred Morris falling off in a new offense. Alf is a terrific runner who should be able to thrive in any system as long as it doesn’t require him to catch passes. And I’m cautiously optimistic about Mike Wallace. Mike Sherman didn’t have a clue about how to use him, and even though Wallace and Ryan Tannehill haven’t synced up their biorhythms yet, I think they’ll start to click this season.
There aren’t too many must-haves on my list right now, since the primary goal is to squeeze value out of the draft like juice from an orange, no matter which players fill the bill. But I suspect that in the half-dozen or so drafts I have lined up over the next week, I’m going to have multiple shares of Torrey Smith, Eric Decker, Ben Roethlisberger, Ladarius Green, Kenbrell Thompkins and the Tate brothers, Ben and Golden. (Disclaimer: They aren’t really siblings.)
Oh, and Mike Evans. I love me some Mike Evans. It’s tricky to peg the value of rookie in redraft leagues, but fantasy owners can safely fall back on the simple truth about this year’s crop: The rookie RB class is one of the weakest in years, and the rookie WR class could be one of the all-time best. I’m fading all of the rookie RBs except for maybe Andre Williams, whose ADP is mildly intriguing. But I’m going to eat greedily from the trough of rookie WRs, starting with big Mike Evans, who for some reason hasn’t drawn a ton of interest. Sammy Watkins, Brandon Cooks and the aforementioned Kelvin Benjamin have been priced out of bargain range, but many of the better rookie WRs wound up in good offenses — Jordan Matthews (Eagles) Cody Latimer (Broncos), Davante Adams (Packers), Donte Moncrief (Colts). All of these young bucks can be had at flea-market prices, and I’m going to be buying.
Not sure how you feel about this, Melissa, but it seems as if the old guys are often bargains in fantasy drafts. I know you’re a Frank Gore fan. Are there any other oldsters you like? And which of the geezers are you avoiding?
August 27 12:06 AM
It’s funny, Pat, because I just finished a draft and feel like my team is mired in geriatrics. But in reality they’re more of a comeback crew, highlighted by Tony Romo and Percy Harvin.
Before I answer your question, I just want to say how high I am on Harvin. I get that his bones are made of feathers and he’s never played a full season. But if he does, man, his chemistry with Wilson has been so on point this preseason. If he can avoid injury, there’s no reason he can’t be a 1200-yard, 8-9 TD receiver – in another words, a very solid WR2-3. Though of course he’ll likely be injured again before I hit send on this email.
OK, cue your Hair soundtrack, Mr. Age of Ladarius, and don’t hate me but I’m not over Antonio Gates. It’s funny how Gates seems almost extinct but actually had more receiving yards last year than any since 2008. Of course the TDs were down, the fumbles were up and Gates lacks the speed and physical dominance of his earlier self. But I still think he’s serviceable and a solid selection in leagues that flex the TD.
You mentioned Frank Gore and as much as I’d like to make an argument for his obvious pending success, that’s getting tough. Carlos Hyde has looked terrific, really the only bright spot for the Niners offense this preseason. Until the team resolves the holdout with LG Alex Boone (as mentioned above) I think Gore gets marginalized since his ability as an inside runner will be greatly hampered. Not to say that Gore will be terrible or will be handing Hyde the keys to the starting job next week, but there aren’t many signs pointing towards a huge year.
On a totally different subject, someone in tonight’s draft capitalized on the news (Fantasy Tip #14: Get breaking NFL news delivered to your smartphone) and took brand new Patriot tight end Tim Wright in one of the last two rounds. Shrewd move and one I kicked myself for not thinking of. How much value do you think Wright has in New England? A former wideout, Wright certainly seems a solid contender for Aaron Hernandez Part 2 minus the whole serial killer stuff. I don’t think the Pats traded Logan Mankins not to utilize Wright and obviously this is a team desperate for weapons for Brady.
While we’re on the subject of tight ends, anyone else besides Green that you find particularly interesting one way or the other? And why do you not like Jimmy Graham as a Top 10 pick?
August 27 10:45AM
What’s the fun of owning Graham if he isn’t allowed to dunk like Darryl Dawkins after touchdowns? Just kidding (though it is a stupid rule). It’s about resource allocation. I’ve done a gazillion mock drafts this summer and have done ample experimentation with a Graham-in-the-first-round strategy, and I’m never especially happy with how my roster looks when I lead off with Jimmy. It leaves me with insufficient firepower at either RB or WR, to the point where a key injury would leave me wearing a fig leaf at one of those critical positions. (And trust me: No one wants to see that.)
Nor am I willing to pay the freight on Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas. Gronk is a beast, but I’m not comfortable betting on speedy recoveries from major knee injuries. Julius’ value is a bit too TD-dependent. There’s a big drop-off at tight end after the top-3, and it seems like Jordan Cameron, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten go too early in nearly every draft. I’m committed to bargain hunting at TE. You know all about my man-love for Ladarius, though my frugality might trump my ardor. Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert and Travis Kelce are other high-upside guys with appeal, and I like the idea of pairing one of those young bucks with a safe, boring, and ADP-friendly veteran like Charles Clay or Heath Miller. Or maybe my fatal attraction to Colts TEs will kick in and I’ll wind up with Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in a bunch of leagues. (I can’t quit you, Coby.)
That Logan Mankins-Tim Wright trade was interesting, wasn’t it? For a team that uses its TEs to such great effect to aggressively acquire a TE … well, it’s an eyebrow-raiser. I’ve got several drafts this week and will be interested to see where Wright is picked. Thing is, with such a splashy trade going down smack dab in the heart of fantasy draft season, it’s bound to overinflate Wright’s value. I’m interested, but I doubt the price will be right.
By the way, Melissa, the Seahawks’ team doc just called. Percy Harvin sprained an eyelid when he woke up this morning.
Will Miller continue as Big Ben’s security blanket?
August 27 12:05 PM
You are so mean, Pat, yet justified. Ok, let’s play a game. How about we list two or three players with very similar ADPs and let the good readers know who we’d select.
Let’s focus on players at the same position because there are just too many variations in formats and roster compositions to know who would be the best fit otherwsie. Though if anyone reading this would like to explain your league and present your dilemma below, we’re happy to offer advice.
OK Pat, take your pick:
Matt Ryan or Russell Wilson?
Zac Stacy or Andre Ellington?
Vincent Jackson or Keenan Allen?
August 27 12:35 PM
I just moved Wilson ahead of Matty Ice in my rankings this week. Wilson is capable of becoming a top-10 fantasy QB with just a slight uptick in passing attempts — and really, the Seahawks probably can’t be any more conservative on offense than they were last year. When people think of Matt Ryan, they immediately think of Julio Jones and Roddy White, and they think “big plays.” But Ryan is basically a glorified dink-and-dunk passer. Admittedly, he’s very good at executing the short passing game, but Matty’s upside really isn’t what it’s perceived to be by a lot of owners.
Ellington over Stacy for me. It’s not that I dislike Stacy, but he was very volume-dependent last year. Either he remains a high-volume runner, which will keep his production high but will put him at increased risk of injury, or the Rams give a bunch of carries to Bennie Cunningham and Tre Mason, two pretty good backups. Ellington is more explosive, more versatile, and the guys playing behind him are stiffs.
Keenan Allen over V-Jax. I’m not supremely confident on this one, but Allen looks like the real deal, and I’m more willing to bet on the guy with Philip Rivers getting him the ball than the guy with Josh McCown getting him the ball.
OK, Melissa, your turn:
Vernon Davis or Jordan Cameron?
Montee Ball or Marshawn Lynch?
Marques Colston or Brandin Cooks?
August 27 11:57 PM
Davis is the better talent by far but as mentioned above, a perfect example of a fantasy trap. Explosive points one week, the middle of a donut with just one or two targets the next. Davis may net you more overall points over the course of the season but Cameron will likely provide more consistency, especially since he’s Brian Hoyer’s most comfortable (read: only) option at this point.
I know everyone is gung ho about Montee Ball, assuming he’ll have 300 touches and whatnot as Denver’s offense places more emphasis on its running game. Especially with Wes Welker’s iffy situation. But I’m not sold on Denver’s offensive line and I’d rather have the more reliable, proven talent. Ball is attractive but I feel like his best possible output lands him in the RB3-6 range while Lynch could legitimately end up as the top fantasy back. It’s boils down to the makeup of the respective Denver and Seattle offensives.
Wow, Colston (WR29) and Cooks (WR30) are literally back-to-back. Absolutely love Cooks but will opt for Colston. While Cooks should have an explosive rookie campaign, I think he’s being overvalued given how many cooks are already in that Saints kitchen. Colston will still get a healthy number of targets. So yes, opting for the safe bet here vs. the more fun risk/reward player. I like having a benchload of the latter.
Can’t believe we’ll be talking start/sit amid matchups that, ahem, actually count next week.
Happy drafting Pat!
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