Patriots versus Dolphins

@ New England -7.5 over Miami

The Patriots are like that bad guy in the horror movie. They lie motionless and seemingly dead in the background, while the relieved heroic survivors share a sobbing embrace, all the while the movie theatre audience screams “Cut his fucking head off! He’s not fucking dead!! He’s right behind you! He’s getting up!!! The head! Cut off his fucking head!!!” And that’s how I feel about the New England Patriots. They just won’t die, but for the first time in a long time they are looking wounded.

Yes they’ve had slow starts before, and yes people have been making this call for an awfully long time. But something seems a little different this go round. This season they have eked out a win versus a Texans team that might be truly awful, lost to a very good and inspired Jags team and then lost to a Lions team that isn’t scaring anyone. Not a strong start. This is probably the week the Pats pull themselves up off the ground and get their hands back on the axe. The 3-0 Dolphins are probably in for a rough time, but the Patriots effort and execution will be telling. If this is not a resounding win/statement game for New England, 2018 may be an actual turning point. But until the head is officially off, I’m not betting against the Pats ability to rise to the occasion, and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

The Patriots, as they are wont to do, defied convention by rostering the bare minimum of wide receivers. Gronk plus a smorgasbord or wideouts and quasi-receiver running backs were to be enough for New England. Injury and mediocrity have reared their heads though, and now the Patriots seem to be groping for their go to personnel. Julian Edelman will return, and Gronk will certainly improve, but that might not be enough. The absence of underrated 2017 stalwarts Dion Lewis and Brandin Cooks are now being felt.

The frugal Patriots opted not to pay those monster contributors, and decided instead to draft Sony Michel and have since had Josh Gordon gifted to them. If the aforementioned monster is to awaken from his seemingly premature death, Gordon and Michel will have to play significant roles.

Gordon is a strange situation. He’s a long absent, once super talented wideout going to a team that has a long history of failed wide receiver acquisitions (Ocho Cinco, Kenny Britt, every draft pick at the position ever) along with several amazing pick-ups: Moss, Welker, Amendola. There are understandably mixed feelings about Gordon along with some real questions about whether New England is a spot he can succeed.

I suspect Gordon will be slow to pick up the Pats offense, having arrived late to the party and not being familiar with the nuances of the Pats offense or having any chemistry with Brady. Recall how Sammy Watkins late arrival to the Rams played out last season. If Gordon doesn’t impress early I’d imagine that many impatient owners will be quick to part ways with him. The “I told you so” crowd will not be shy and they will certainly shake the confidence of some Gordon holders. And this will be the opportunity.

The Patriots, as noted above, get stronger as the season goes on. They adjust and re-adjust and save their best players for when it matters most. Down the stretch last season one of the key components to New England’s success was Dion Lewis, a player who was used sparingly in the early going to preserve the oft injured back’s health. While not saving Gordon from injury, Belichick and McDaniels will take their time with Gordon, readying him for the late season kill shot. It’s hardly a certainty, but given how ill-equipped this team currently appears, Gordon could be a late season necessity for a team with win-now intentions. With this in mind, if and when this next period of 3 – 5-week period brings a likely Gordon dip, we should all be aggressive buyers.

Also, buy Sony Michel, because he will have to matter as well.

For the record – week 3

Weekly picks and dynasty transactions

@ Jags 6.5 over Titans

Hard to believe that the Titans, missing so many starters, were able to beat the Texans last week. It’s harder still to imagine a scenario where they are able to keep it close versus a very impressive Jags team. Of course, this could be viewed as a trap game as the Jags may be a little overconfident coming off their win versus New England, but I’m going to bet the momentum, and Titans injuries/inferiority carry them through. Jags to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

The window to buy Keelan Cole is closing rapidly. Fast, capable receivers who make hay off of play action on a team that wants to run the ball, is a very good recipe. The fact that the likes of highly regarded Matt Waldman and Matt Harmon are pounding the table here, suggests the price should climb considerably as more evidence is provided to support Cole’s case. Get him if you still can.

@ Chiefs 6.5 over 49ers

An early season battle of small-sample-sized, offseason darling QBs. At the moment Mahomes owners are likely dividing their time between giddiness and skepticism. It has been an incredible start, one that is set for certain regression. This week marks Mahomes’ Arrowhead debut, a stadium that has been historically unfavourable to visiting teams, and I’m guessing the fans will be jacked up for this one. Satiating the hometown fans will be a new test for Mahomes. In the face of such expectations we’ll see how the young QB reacts. Will he press a little looking for the big play and create some long-overdue turnovers, or will the honeymoon continue? Let’s bet he doesn’t disappoint. Chiefs to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Buy Spencer Ware. Andy Reid has a history of supporting multiple backs. Ware was the starter before getting hurt last year, and should Hunt get falter or get Hurt, Ware is an immediate RB1/2. This is fertile soil for all offensive weapons and Ware should grow too.

@ Panthers 2.5 over Bengals

Home favourites are certainly a thing this week. I’ve been reluctant to join the Bengals early season bandwagon and see no reason to do so this week on the road. This isn’t an easy call though, but when in doubt, on a tight spread like this it is wise to bet on the home team. Take the Panthers to win and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Wonderful as he’s been, I think now is the time to see what the market has to offer on Cam Newton. While he’s only 29 years old, as Indiana Jones once said “It’s not the years it’s the mileage” and there are plenty of those on this run first quarterback. Recent QB entries into the league are changing the QB landscape, as new names emerge Cam’s star could very well fade. Why not see if there isn’t a buyer out there.

@ Falcons 3.5 over Saints

These are two teams that are struggling to find their bearings. Both are 1-1 and have given little in the way of confidence-inspiring play. The Saints barely escaped week two against the Browns after getting embarrassed by the Buccaneers. Sean Payton won’t allow them to flounder for long and it seems more likely that he resolves what ails the Saints (defense it would seem) versus Atlanta’s spotty passing game and red zone issues, which, as far as colors go, would more aptly be called a black hole. Saints to cover and win.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

If and when the Falcons do fix their red zone issues, Julio Jones will be a certain beneficiary, but so to will Austin Hooper. The very talented Hooper has produced very little to date, but this season he has been targeted multiple times in the red zone and managed to score last week. Many seem to have given up on the 23-year old, third year receiver, but the tight end position takes time to develop, particularly those tight ends who are not quasi receivers. Hooper is being developed into an all-around tight end, making major strides in his run blocking last season. He has more than enough talent to figure out the receiving game. Balanced tight end, those who can block and be a threat are becoming a rarer commodity in today’s NFL. If Hooper puts it all together he should be around for a very long time. Go get him, he’s cheap.

@ Vikings 16.5 over Bills

16.5 is a big number but if anyone can’t cover that big a spread, it’s the Bills. Take the Vikes to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

I have long been a Laquon Treadwell apologist, urging patience on a talented player who would eventually figure it out. And while you don’t need to be told this: cut him. He’s not rosterable. And if like me you had some ridiculous loyalty to him, if he ever pops at some point down the road you’ll be the only person putting a waiver claim on him.

And yes, this isn’t added value advice, but for me it’s a cathartic admission of failure, a mea culpa. My name is Jason and I am a Laquon Treadwell addict.

No more damnit. No more.

@ Eagles 6.5 over Colts

Carson Wentz is back but several of his weapons are gone. Ships passing in the night it seems. While everyone remembers how great Wentz was last year and how much they loved him, everyone seems to be forgetting Andrew Luck. It wasn’t so long ago that he was the second coming of Peyton Manning, and I think those dismissing him and his repaired shoulder are going to be reminded of that several times this season. One of those times will be this weekend. Colts to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The window to buy Andrew Luck is still open. People suspect his shoulder is a time bomb, they forget his first years in the league, they are distracted by the shiny new toys with names like Wentz and Watson and Mahomes, but what if Luck continues to progress, continues to throw deeper? What if Colts management has learned they need to protect their QB? What if that defense is horrible and the Colts have to throw for the new 5-10 years? Luck is a good buy low candidate as a player who could be top 5 again before long.

@ Dolphins 3.5 over Raiders

The Raiders have been dreadful and Jon Gruden has become a punching bag in the football community. The Dolphins are off to an unexpected 2-0 start. Those wins came against a Titans team that suffered a string of injuries in the week 1 contest and then the Jets in Sam Darnold’s second ever start. Both of those teams might actually be horrible. This smells like a let down game for Miami. The Raiders meanwhile, have lost to a dominant Rams team and just barely lost to the Broncos, in Denver. Take the Raiders to cover and win.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

As long-term investments go, I can’t see any I’d willingly make to any player on either of these teams and that includes the hot and cold Amari Cooper. Cooper receives a tremendous amount of coverage in the fantasy community thanks to his skill set and early career success. He may very well prove to be a serviceable starting WR for years to come, but at this point the conversation about him being an elite receiver should be over.

@ Ravens 5.5 over Broncos

The Ravens at home, coming off a loss versus a Denver team travelling across the country for the early game with a banged up (and possibly lousy) quarterback. Both of these teams still seem unsettled to me. The Broncos are 2-0 on two tight wins at home against two teams that appear to be in disarray. A new coaching staff next year and a new Quarterback mid-year would not surprise me in Denver. The Ravens offense is loaded with new names. Each week they should get a little more familiar with one and other. I think Mornhinweg starts to get this offense working this week. Take the Ravens to win and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The buying window is closing on John Brown. After looking good in the pre-season, he put up 90+ yards last week when he had to, and 40 plus versus Buffalo when he didn’t. Flacco’s deep ball makes him an interesting play this year, but if he is able to manage his health issue long-term, a future as Lamar Jackson’s target offers real value.

In buy extremely low terms, I am holding out hope that the possible week 11 return of Kenneth Dixon may finally reward us Dixon-truthers. The wait has been long and painful and this is likely one of his last chances to shine in Baltimore. He’s a bottom of the roster waiver wire pickup between now and late October.

Possibly cheaper, probably somewhere between Brown and Dixon is Broncos QB2 Chad Kelly. Kelly is a favourite of the aforementioned Matt Waldman and it would appear Keenum will afford him a chance to audition at some point this season, possibly as early as this week. He’s a big upside stash if you can make some roster space.

@ Texans 6.5 over Giants

After watching the first two weeks it’s hard to imagine how anyone can comfortably bet the Giants here. The Texans are still trying to find their footing and playing the Giants at home is a great place to do it. Watson production has reverting to the mean as predicted, but given this week’s matchup and the outside motivation from a local school superintendent, this feels like a week he could pop. The bench Eli drumbeat also seems eager to intensify. Texans to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The early season swoon for the Giants makes it an opportunity for patient buyers to go fishing for the likes of Beckham and Barkley. And while it’s unlikely a big discount is available on either, kicking the tires on Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram might be worth your time. And if you have the roster space, Kyle Lauletta is eventually getting to audition with all four of those guys, isn’t he?

Packers 2.5 over @ Washington

This all hinges on how well Rodgers can play on his leg and a half. Washington beat the lowly Cardinals and then looked dreadful last week against the Colts. Now they host a Green Bay team that is adding Aaron Jones to its backfield. Alex Smith is still getting acquainted with an offense that has several new pieces. It might take a few more weeks, and a weaker opponent before they can figure it all out. Packers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

In rebuild mode I’d be trying to acquire any of the Green Bay assets that may be slightly diminished by Rodgers limitations. I doubt there is much discount there but is worth pricing now and in the coming weeks if the offense falters.

Impatient or win-now owners may be willing to part ways with Derrius Guice at a reasonable price.

@ Rams 7.5 over Chargers

The Rams have been dominant against the Raiders and dreadful Cardinals. This week they play against a Chargers team that won’t be so easily pushed around. The Rams are no doubt among the elite, but their pre-season ends this Sunday and Philip Rivers and the Chargers may catch them off guard. Chargers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

I’m a broken record here, but this is just a monthly reminder that Brandin Cooks is slightly younger than Woods and Kupp and vastly more talented than both. Cooks is a receiver-in-full: speed, route running and adaptability. It doesn’t hurt either that he plays against defenses that are terrified of Todd Gurley. Stacked boxes and play action will be his friends for years to come. He’s signed, Gurley is signed and Goff is signed. This is a long-term situation that should only improve with time. Time for you to sign up to the Cooks truther camp. This is a top 10 receiver for the next 5 to 7 years.

@ Seahawks 1.5 over Cowboys

A reminder: both of these coaching staffs will be replaced this offseason. Second reminder, Russell Wilson is greater than anything Dallas has to offer. Seahawks to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Sign me up for anyone selling Russell Wilson shares. At 29 Wilson has produced a handful of MVP candidate seasons. He has done so all while being poorly protected by his offensive line, provided modest weaponry in the passing game and been hamstrung by a coaching staff who thinks their best course is to “pound the rock”. At some point a rational decision will be made and Wilson will be able to play without one hand tied behind his back.

And yes, I realize Newton and Wilson are the same age and that they have both paid a price physically. The difference is, I believe Wilson has all the passing game tools to adjust his game over time, while I’m skeptical Newton can.

I’m also a cautious buyer of Tyler Lockett. I’ve been waiting 2+ years, what’s one more.

Bears 6.5 over @ Cardinals

The Bears defense was very impressive last week versus Seattle. They have announced their arrival as a unit to be taken seriously. The offense in Chicago, meanwhile, remains a bit of a work in progress. In Arizona nothing has worked. I’d wager there is enough veteran pride and leadership in the Cardinals room to turn things around this week, and at the very least keep this home game a close one. Cards to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

In horrible calls for 2018, my worst has been that David Johnson would be the fantasy MVP. In the early going that appears to be a total disaster and I’m not holding my breath for a turnaround/. The logic was simple: volume and garbage time should equal big passing yardage as the Cards make late game efforts against prevent type defenses. That obviously has not materialized. That being said, for those able to sit and wait on Johnson, it’s worth seeing how a motivated seller might have him valued.

Patriots 6.5 over @ Lions

Bill Belichick coming off a loss, playing against a struggling team headed by one of his former assistant coaches, and a vastly overrated one in my estimation. I suspect this could be a high scoring affair, and I anticipate Gronk bounces back from a frustrating week 2 versus Jacksonville. Pats win this track meet and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Broken record suggestions here: Buy Gronk, he’s not retiring, buy Sony Michel, buy Kenny Golladay, take a shot on Josh Gordon, sell Tom Brady, sell Julian Edelman, sell Chris Hogan.

Steelers 1.5 over @ BUCCANEERS

I love Ryan Fitzpatrick and hope there is plenty of magic yet to come, but this week I think the Steelers will be desperate to get their season headed in the right direction. Expect a monster game from drama queen Antonio Brown and mix in a little Juju. The Buccs will likely keep this a track meet, but the Steelers will prevail. Take the Steelers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Juju Smith-Schuster is still only 21 years old. Antonio Brown, like many Steelers star receivers before him, may find himself, regrettably retiring in another team’s colors. Whether he finishes his career in Pittsburgh or not won’t matter to Juju. Like Brandin Cooks, he is both highly regarded and underrated.

Dynasty Tight End Rankings

Tight End Rankings
Tight End    Reason
Rob Gronkowski Still head and shoulders above the rest of the league
Travis Kelce Steady at #2
Zach Ertz Still holding the typical #3 spot, but most likely to fall of the top three due to Goedert
David Njoku Has all the physical and mental tools needed to succeed. If Cleveland emerges, he could lead.
Hunter Henry A lost year but still only 23.
Evan Engram Volume questions persist after rookie year bolstered by being only healthy body in town.
Kyle Rudolph Red Zone TD hog.
Jordan Reed If not for the injury concerns, he would be #3 on this list
Tyler Eifert Same story as Reed, if healthy he is much more valuable.
OJ Howard Targets is a near-term concern, coaching turn-over a long term question.
George Kittle Small sample size, but could very well be a red zone star.
Trey Burton An offseason darling who has run up based on a handful of games and optimistic speculation. Show me.
Jimmy Graham Injuries have made him a shadow of his former self. Rodgers could propel him higher.
Ricky Seals-Jones Hot finish on a team in desperate need on offensive targets. Could make a serious leap.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins New team, new role. Wait and see approach.
Austin Hooper A now or never year for Hooper. All the talent needed, none of the production.

Dynasty WR ranks

I’m skeptical of rookies until proven otherwise. And given the track record of rookie WRs its reasonable to think they will be available at more reasonable prices in years two and three.

Here’s how I’m valuing them now, or how I think they’ll be valued come year end.

Dynasty WR Ranks
Wide Receiver Reason
DeAndre Hopkins He doesn’t catch the ball. He attacks it. He owns it. A beast with a QB on the rise
Keenan Allen PPR beast, technician, not going anywhere for a very long time.
Odell Beckham Big market noisy and likely to face a QB transition give me pause.
Antonio Brown He’s Antonio Brown
Julio Jones A beast off a bad year. He’s got production and trade value to spare.
AJ Green Forever tied to Julio, though anchored by a QB, coach and organization.
Stefon Diggs He might be Antonio Brown 2.0
Doug Baldwin Just like the next guy except his Drew Brees is considerably younger.
Michael Thomas Brees sunset coming. Questions about what he is in aftermath.
Brandin Cooks New teams, new playbooks: no problem. 24 years old with three 1,000 yards seasons. Yes please.
Corey Davis QB and rookie season questions loom, but I remain a believer this staff makes it work.
Sammy Watkins Home at last. Great potential fit. It’s now or never for this once highly regarded talent.
Davante Adams Prove it year. If he does he jumps 5+ spots. Otherwise a rookie is making big leaps.
Tyreek Hill Strange player with hug opportunity to modernize the no helmet tackle era.
Josh Gordon One time stud with a giant hiatus. All the tools and now possibly the brain to match.
Mike Evans Yes, way down here. Big body era gone by? Question marks at QB and coach? I prefer certainty.
T.Y. Hilton If Luck is right, he climbs but Tommy John is no joke.
Juju Smith Schuster Surprisingly mature, surprisingly young, excellent teal with a track record at WR development.
Amari Cooper Yes, way down here. If he cares he’ll be good to great. He hasn’t cared yet.
Jarvis Landry A boring track record that can’t be argued with. Cleveland is as good or better than Miami, no?
Kenny Golloday Potential beast with an under-loved QB who will have Rivers/Roethlisberger love in a year.
Golden Tate A new era WR that arrived too early. Still more yards to come.
Kenny Stills Under the radar #1 in Miami and not going away any time soon. Also 26.
Chris Godwin He’s 22, Evans is likely overrated and TB is in transition. I think his contract sees the other side.
Tyler Lockett Now or never season for this one time high upside 25 year old.
Cameron Meredith Nice recipe for fantasy jolt playing with Brees. 25 years old.
Sterling Shepard Meredith without the Brees bump. ODB counterweight.
Allen Robinson Once loved, loved again but many questions to be answered.
Keelan Cole Most of his yards in 17 came from play action. Fournette should provide more opportunity.
Nelson Agholor Wentz still needs another #1. Maybe Jeffrey?

 

Dynasty Running Back Rankings

As the title suggests, these are my Dynasty RB rankings, and by that I mean how I would trade for them now, or how I would anticipate them being ranked at year end.

These will tick many of you off, and make others question my sanity.

But these are my guns, and I’m sticking with them (until further notice).

Dynasty RB Rankings
Running back Reasons why
Todd Gurley Complete package RB, coaching staff with a long leash and a great D is a perfect storm for success.
David Johnson Talent on par with Gurley, with slightly less coaching security.
Leveon Bell Uber talent who deserves to be paid uber dollars. Unfair league makes investing a challenge.
Alvin Kamara Coaching and offense bullettproof. Brees departure and evolution are volume question marks.
Saquon Barkley A better buy post hype. Still risks being a larger Reggie Bush. Let’s wait on this, sell him if you’ve got’em.
Ezekiel Elliott Egomaniac owner, incompetent coach, eroding talent pool = nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Christian McCaffrey New age running back under horrible coaching and RB circumstances. He may see better tomorrow.
Dalvin Cook All the tools, save health and offensive line. Buy low candidate under what could be a disappointing 2018.
Melvin Gordon Win now asset with a sunset in sight.
Leonard Fournette A TD hammer who can catch passes on an up and coming dominant D. Sign me up.
Jordan Howard A discount version of Fournette who offers alpha if he figures out the screen pass.
Devonta Freeman As Indiana Jones once said “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage”.
Kareem Hunt Guess what. Spencer Ware is probably better.
Nick Chubb In Matt Waldman I trust.
Joe Mixon A horrible human being and a horrible organization intersect, peppered in hype. I’ll take Gio as a value.
Jamaal Williams A complete back playing with the best QB in the game for 3+ years. Yes please.
Jay Ajayi Who the hell knows. Bad knees + bad press + split backfield.
Mark Ingram He’s not so old and will find a new home, or maybe even the same one given the RB market.
Royce Freeman In two years Sanders and Thomas are gone. Who’s left other than the great D? #poundtherock
Lamar Miller Great situation for the easy to replace Miller.
Kenyan Drake Very easy to committee away or turn the page on. Not a long-term investment.
Alex Collins May hang on for a stubbornly long time, but just a place holder.
Tarik Cohen Maybe 3 years early before we adopt full touch football mode. But maybe not…
Kerryon Johnson No startable RBs since #20 retired prematurely. I’m not holding my breath here.
Peyton Barber For all the reasons I can’t cheer for Mixon, I can cheer for Barber.
Kenneth Dixon Fantasy community has quit him, het he’s a Collins hammy away from being RB1 behind a stud O-line.
Spencer Ware Andy Reid is Shanahan RB success without the hysteria. Huge year pre-Hunt who was up and down.
TJ Yeldon All around talent in a great situation with oft-injured Fournette as his only hurdle. Free agent darling to be.
Alex Jones If the other guy doesn’t work out, this is a nice hedge. Also pretty affordable.
Jerick McKinnon Shanahan mythology aside, they failed as much as they hit and always found another guy.
Ronald Jones Drafted by a GM and coach who will be gone next year. A mistake that may be swept under the rug.
Rashaad Penny Same situation, same rug. I’d draft Carson and Prosise before him.

 

 

Dynasty QB Ranks

First of all, everyone’s dynasty roster is in a different state. If you’re going for it you’ll happily trade an unproven rookie for a stable senior citizen QB.

The list below is how I would view these players’ trade values for the season ahead.

Rank Player Age Comment
1 Russell Wilson 29 MVP/HOF calibre despite coaching
2 Aaron Rodgers 34 MVP/HOF calibre despite coaching
3 Matt Stafford 30 Steady as she goes. Crazy weapons
4 Cam Newton 29 Feels like a time bomb
5 Andrew Luck 28 Higher if he’s right
6 Carson Wentz 25 1 more season cements value
7 Marcus Mariota 24 Lofty position that needs to be earned
8 Deshaun Watson 22 Nice start, show me more
9 Matt Ryan 33 A strong career finish coming
10 Jared Goff 23 Progress, but mighty D/Run game is a ceiling
11 Lamar Jackson 21 Runs and throws well
12 Pat Mahomes 22 Throws well and runs
13 Jameis Winston 24 Maturity misteps proving to be an anchor
14 Jimmy Garoppolo 26 Overhyped, overpriced
15 Philip Rivers 36 Shot put gold medalist
16 Ben Roethlisberger 36 Armed with star-studded cast
17 Drew Brees 39 Last gasp: return of the air game
18 Mitch Turbisky 23 Mariota, with a coaching headstart
19 Josh Rosen 21 He can take this job early
20 Eli Manning 37 Roethlisberger-like cast
21 Sam Darnold 21 Ideally he is afforded a learning year
22 Tom Brady 41 Old man vs AFC east
23 Baker Mayfield 23 Has to overcome a curse od Cleveland
24 Kirk Cousins 29 New team/system. Not as young as you think
25 Blake Bortles 26 Underhyped, underpriced
26 Derek Carr 27 Possibly horrible
27 Chad Kelly 24 Probably best Broncos QB now
28 Dak Prescott 25 Must overcome lack of coaching and weapons
29 Alex Smith 34 You’re not in Kansas (City) anymore
30 Andy Dalton 30 Boring us into submission. Possible surprise
31 Teddy Bridgewater 25 Deserves a chance to be a #1
32 Josh Allen 22 Poison narrative makes him a value play
33 Ryan Tannehill 30 Reclamation project. Perhaps Gase turns it around
34 Mason Rudolph 23 Long wait behind stubborn jerk
35 Kyle Lauletta 22 Probably not the heir apparent but a lifetime backup
36 Case Keenum 30 Journeyman killing time looking for QB1
37 Joe Flacco 33 The big yawn. Lamar push may provide minor lift
38 Tyrod Taylor 29 Denied a real shot, Cleveland will rush Mayfield

 

QB Ranks: best ball & re-draft

I will be adjusting my ranks on a regular basis. As it stands now, this is my guess as to how they finish in value for the 2018 season (hate mail welcome).

 

1 Aaron Rodgers
2 Russell Wilson
3 Drew Brees
4 Matt Stafford
5 Cam Newton
6 Andrew Luck
7 Matt Ryan
8 Philip Rivers
9 Ben Roethlisberger
10 Tom Brady
11 Marcus Mariota
12 Pat Mahomes
13 Deshaun Watson
14 Alex Smith
15 Eli Manning
16 Carson Wentz
17 Jimmy Garoppolo
18 Mitch Trubisky
19 Kirk Cousins
20 Jared Goff
21 Jameis Winston
22 Joe Flacco
23 Blake Bortles
24 Ryan Tannehill
25 Case Keenum
26 Andy Dalton
27 Derek Carr
28 Dak Prescott
29 Josh Rosen
30 Tyrod Taylor
31 Sam Darnold
32 Josh Allen

Quarterbacks – best ball

Any fantasy football junkie worth his salt will know the name JJ Zachariason. Zachariason and Denny Carter cohost the in-season podcast Living the Stream, in which they recommend waiver wire caliber quarterbacks as weekly plug and play starts. The theory in a nutshell is that the quarterback position is extremely deep and that there is no need to spend early picks on the position, as you can often replicate or at least get yourself in the ball park, of top line QB production from the waiver wire. This theory was first introduced with 1 QB leagues in mind, but the basis of the theory works well for best ball.

While best ball may not have a waiver wire to lean on, it offers equivalent streaming-like value through its roster structure. The advantage being that you are able to draft multiple players at a position while only needing to rely on one of their scores. So, taking a cue from Zachariason and company you could just load up on quarterbacks in the mid to late rounds.

While others are reaching for Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton or Deshaun Watson, players are provided a chance to zig while others are zag, passing on those big-name passers in favour greater depth at all other positions. After all, your weekly score can be based on as many as three running backs or four wide receivers, or two tight ends but only one quarterback will ever count.

With this in mind, this is how I think we can best approach the position. Here’s a look at each QB, ranked by Play Draft’s ADP, along with which players I’d suggest targeting.

The current top five quarterbacks by ADP are:

Aaron Rodgers (QB1, ADP 39): there’s no anti-Rodgers argument here aside from his price.

Deshaun Watson (QB2, ADP 58.2): Five complete games under his belt and he is being drafted as QB2. This seems outrageous. He has nowhere to go but down in value based on this ADP. I proudly own zero shares.

Russell Wilson (QB3, ADP 67.2): Rodgers’ like greatness, Deshaun Watson, except with a long track record, and like both of them: too expensive. Along the lofty price tag come a few questions, namely: Doug Baldwin’s health, receiver depth in general, how much he might miss the departed Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, what sort of offensive line the Seahawks might patch together, and what new, uninspired direction offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer might take them in. You also have to ask how long Wilson can play at an elite level while running for his life.

Tom Brady (QB4 ADP 70.9): he is without Julian Edelman, Brandon Cooks and possibly Sony Michel. Did we mention he is 41? Gronkowski, Hogan and Burkhead can likely keep the ship afloat, but it would not be surprising if this is the year the wheels start to fall off. He could produce at the Rivers/Ryan/Roethlisberger ADP level and we’d all be impressed. Drafting him as QB4 is riskier than I like, let someone else pay the GOAT folklore premium.

Cam Newton (QB5, ADP 77.6): Okay, now we’re getting warm. There is plenty to like: rushing touchdowns and yards, a host of young intriguing targets, and a returning Greg Olsen. The passing trends haven’t been encouraging though, as Cam has been no more than mediocre through the air. His ground game makes him a cheaper, lighter passing version of Russell Wilson, at a better price. But that price is still expensive enough to have me asking if Mariota or Mahomes can’t manage comparable numbers much later.

Drew Brees (QB6, ADP 85.8): Now we’re getting warmer. Brees has fallen as the Saints run game has become such a force. The market seems to be assuming Brees is fading into the sunset and the Saints are forced to rely on Kamara and Ingram. The Saints offseason seems to suggest otherwise. Brees has been re-armed with the criminally underrated Ben Watson, the addition of Cameron Meredith, who they stole from the Bears and the drafting of TreQuan Smith. And yes, Ingram is gone so this transition may happen early.

Carson Wentz (QB7, ADP 92.9): Wentz has exploded out of the gate and was an MVP candidate late into 2017. That campaign was cut short by a torn ACL. This price level seems fair, but given the small sample size and questions about any lingering effects from the injury have me avoiding Wentz. A big part of his passing game success has been his use of his pocket mobility. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he missed some 2018 starts, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if he was less than 100%. Let’s wait until 2019 to pay a QB7 price tag for him. He’ll likely be cheaper then.

Andrew Luck (QB8, ADP 95.9): Earlier in the season Luck offered solid value but as encouraging camp stories mounted his ADP has climbed. If he is healthy he offers great upside as the Colts should lean heavy on the pass. Like Wentz though, I’d rather give him an extra season to remove some of the risk.

Kirk Cousins (QB9, ADP 101.4): New coach, new team, new teammates, chemistry with receivers and lineman starting at zero, all of this makes me think it would be wise to let him find a home on a competitor’s squad.

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB10, ADP 107.9): The Jimmy G hype, like the aforementioned Deshaun Watson and the soon to be discussed Mahomes hype, has me skeptical. I prefer drafting the known versus the unknown, particularly at certain price points That being said, I own zero shares of Watson but own a considerably more of the cheaper Garoppolo and lots more of the cheaper still Mahomes. Buying a few shares of Jimmy G to gain exposure seems reasonable, but the investment should be light.

HOT – guys to buy aggressively:

Matt Stafford (QB11, ADP 109.6): And now we are in the buy zone. Stafford is a known quantity who puts up consistent numbers and while he may have a new head coach he has the same offensive coordinator. Add to the equation a deeper backfield and the possibly emergence of Kenny Golladay and this looks like the makings of an exciting offense. Tate + Jones + Golladay could be the most exciting receiving trio in the NFL in 2018.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB12, 111.9 ADP): Again, more proven production on a roster featuring Leveon Bell, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith Schuster. While the 9th round is a little earlier than I like, Ben and Stafford are nice QB1s for your best ball squad. As are the next two guys…

Philip Rivers (QB13, ADP 115.4): More tried, tested and true production available in the ninth round. He may not offer shiny new toy appeal like a Watson or Jimmy G, but he will likely be throwing for as many yards and TDs. Keenan Allen, the Williamses and Melvin Gordon will given defenses plenty to contend with.

Matt Ryan (QB14, ADP 120.8): A reversion to the mean play available in the 10th round. Recall Julio managed only 3 touchdowns last year under the new coaching staff. That’s a number that is likely to go up considerably. Add Calvin Ridley to the equation and recall Sanu, Freeman and Coleman will all contribute and you have a recipe for team set to return to elite offense status. We have not heard the last of Matt Ryan.

Patrick Mahomes (QB15, ADP 122.1): Jimmy G and Watson are small sample size guys with monster hype and ADPs to match. Mahomes has a smaller sample size, similar hype and an ADP I’m willing to roll the dice on. The Chiefs have gone all in on Mahomes and loaded their offense with dynamic playmakers. Kelce, Hill, Hunt, returning Spencer Ware and yes, Sammy Watkins, all are reason to be excited. There will be bumps on the road but he offers big week to week upside. He also provides sneaky rushing yard/TD alpha. I would not be surprised if he or the next guy bested the Cam Newton as dual threat QBs.

Marcus Mariota (QB16, ADP 125.9): Mariota is Matt Ryan lite. He’s coming off a disappointing 13 touchdown year and the market is punishing him for it. He enters the year with a new coaching staff and young stable of weapons. There certainly could be some growing pains as he adjusts to this new reality. While the Titans may be looking at a transition year, there offense could surprise. Mariota should regress to the mean and also offers Cam Newton lite appeal in the running game. He is great value in the 12th round.

Luke warm value plays:

Jared Goff (QB17, ADP 129.1): Goff made leaps last year and could well continue that trajectory. I’ve avoided him for the most part, however for two reasons: the Rams insane defense and Todd Gurley. If there was ever a team that looked able to control a game’s tempo it is the 2018 Rams. Armed with a vicious d-line and arguably the best back in the league and there you have a recipe for mediocre passing attempts. Similar situation and production can be had much cheaper in Jacksonville.

Alex Smith (QB18, ADP 132.7): There is no way Smith is replicating his 2017 performance. The Chiefs played a college offense and Smith, pushed by Mahomes, played more aggressive than he ever before. A watered-down version of 2017 Smith provides stability in your QB best ball stable. Smith can contribute modestly in the running game as well, and in the 11th round, paired with a big upside play, he can smooth the waters of a wavy season.

Dak Prescott (QB19, ADP 143.2): Here’s a QB on what appears to be a dreadful team. He’s currently struggling in camp and has zero proven targets. This is a transition year for the Cowboys and it will likely transition Jason Garrett right out the door. The only reason to be excited about Dak is that he is likely to face plenty of friendly garbage time game scripts. If he’s able to stay healthy he should get the opportunity to produce relevant numbers.

Derek Carr (QB 20, ADO 147.5): Carr enters 2018 with a new coaching staff. On the mend from a broken back, expectations are high. It’s difficult to know what Oakland will look like however as the new staff may opt for a run heavy approach. Amari Cooper may or may not be able to catch, Jordy Nelson may or may not be washed up, Martavis Bryant may or may not be suspended for the year…let’s of questions. I’m just not convinced Carr is really very good. At the very least this will be a transition year with many questions to answer.

Late round, big value:

Eli Manning (QB21, ADP 154): Stop me if you’ve heard this before…everyone thinks Barkley, Beckham, Engram, and Shepard are set for big years, so shouldn’t Eli be great. While I like to run contrarian to many narratives this one is difficult to argue with, particularly when you can get exposure to that collection of stars with a 12th round pick.

Jameis Winston (QB22, ADP 154.1): Yes, he will miss four games, but yes this is best ball and you can lean heavily on your other QB or QBs while you wait for Winston to return. The Buccs may not be great this year but they are likely to put up great offensive totals. Winston finished 2017 on a tear and eclipsed 300 yards six times (and had 299 once). This seems likely pretty great value in best ball where he will still compete in 11 games.

Mitchell Trubisky (QB23, 157.8): For your QB hype needs, after Watson, Garoppolo and Mahomes, there’s Trubisky. There will certainly be challenges as he adapts to year two in the NFL under a new coach, but he has considerable weapons and offers ground game alpha. As a 12th rounder, paired with one of the Ryan, Rivers, Big Ben, Stafford group, you have yourself a duo with stability and upside.

Case Keenum (QB24, 162.4 ADP): Keenum will be welcomed with open arms by the Broncos faithful and target starved Demaryius Thomas and Emanuel Sanders. Keenum will not compete as a top 10 QB for fantasy purposes but he should provide consistent stable numbers. A good pairing for him might be one of the big upside riskier plays.

Blake Bortles (QB25, ADP 163.6): The only thing more consistent than the market’s hatred of Blake Bortles are his numbers. Despite the naysayers Bortles churns out startable, streamable totals. Add Donte Moncrief to an emerging group of young receivers and there is reason to believe that he can continue to rack them up. Like Goff there is some concern about how much havoc his defense and Leonard Fournette might reek, but I much prefer Bortles ADP to Goff’s.

Andy Dalton (QB26, ADP176.6): The red rifle is a complimentary piece to a more expensive and exciting counterpart, or two. He can provide a stable baseline and bye week stop gap in the 14th round. So long as you have a QB1, Dalton is good late value as a supporting best ball cast member.

Ryan Tannehill (QB27, ADP187.7): The market seems to have given up and Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase, but given this ADP, it might be worth picking the QB as your third best ball option. The Dolphins will certainly find themselves in throwing situations and Tannehill can also move the ball on his recently repaired legs.

Tyrod Taylor (QB 28, ADP 187.8): Tyrod has all the makings of a surprisingly good season. If he were to play the entire season he would play behind his best offensive line and throw to his best offensive weapons to date. Despite Hue Jacksons’ repeated proclamations, however, I have zero confidence he will be provided such an opportunity. Instead the Browns will be impatient and rush Baker Mayfield to early starts, potentially damaging another first round asset in the process. Sigh.

Joe Flacco (QB29, ADP 202.1): Unlike the Browns, the Ravens are likely to have discipline and give Lamar Jackson the benefit on a full year on sideline finishing school. This could bolster the beleaguered Flacco as he will benefit from an improved offensive line and weapons, like Tyrod. Flacco’s first year with Marty Mornhinweg showed promise and they may be able to deliver on it this season. The additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown are underrated, s is the possibility of the all but written off Kenneth Dixon. Don’t be surprised if both the Ravens and Flacco are better than expected.

Sam Bradford/Josh Rosen (QB31 and 33): The last round offers you a chance to grab a Cardinal QB. It’s uncertain just who that will be but given his track record at staying healthy, one would have to assume Rosen will get his turn. If you haven’t drafted a 3rd QB by now, the volume here may be enough to make them best ball startable a week or two. You might be better off forgoing this duo though, and instead opt for an extra receiver or back.

In a nutshell, don’t bother paying a big price for a big-name quarterback. Use those rounds instead to add running back, receiver and tight ends. Those positions fall off in a hurry while quarterback remains extremely deep and seems to be getting deeper. Best ball allows you to survive off weeks, so long as your depth shows up at the right times.

I find myself not drafting anyone until QB11 (Stafford). From there I generally employ one of two strategies: (1) – take two from the group of: Stafford, Roethlisberger, Ryan, Rivers, Mariota, Mahomes, or (2) take just one from that group along with two later targets, Eli and Trubisky, for example.

Good luck!

Best ball long/shorts rounds 4 through 7

Upon further review: Best ball long short rounds 4 through 7.

Welcome back.

While the first three rounds are thick with no brainer picks, the work gets harder in round four as the group offers potential elite production, with plenty more risk.

Going long

Juju Smith-Schuster (17%)

Juju had a spectacular rookie campaign: amassing 917 yards, 7 TDs, completely destroying Vontaze Burfict (see below) while becoming a fan favourite along the way. This is made all the more impressive when you realize he entered 2017 as the youngest player in the league. At 20 most players lack the physical and emotional maturity to take on the challenges of a new city, new life, increased fame and income, all while trying to learn a faster game against smarter, stronger, fully-grown competition. Yet, Juju staked out a claim on one of the leagues best offenses early, and refused to go away. Assuming he can overcome early pre-season injury concerns, its hard to imagine Juju not being better in year two.

https://youtu.be/fOfIObhGMe0

On a dynasty note, Juju should be bought aggressively. It goes back to the age thing. The early start has given him a head start on the rest of the league. Assuming he reaches his prime at 25-27, he’s likely to be bigger and faster all while accumulating 4-6 years on NFL experience. This could be the start of a very long and successful career.

Josh Gordon (11%)

Owning Gordon is a nervous proposition. He’ll be a great story of redemption, a sad story of defeat or more likely, something in the middle. We all have good memories of him demolishing the league, stringing monster games together and blowing past secondaries. In those games he was a dominating physical force that looked to be an elite talent. Enthusiasm for a return to those heights should be tempered, his small sample size of elite play took place, shockingly, in 2013. That was a football lifetime ago. There is no telling what Gordon, if we see him at all, will appear come September. Currently out of training camp to reinforce his treatment and mental health, concerns that he will play out the year are real.

Stefon Diggs (9%)

If I liked him in round three, I love him in round four. Assuming he can stay healthy, everyone and their mother is calling for Diggs to make the leap this season. Naysayers will point out his shortage of 1,000 yard seasons (none), new quarterback and lengthy list of ailments as concerns. Fair enough, but having watched him play, I have confidence he can duplicate last year while stealing a healthy share of Adam Thielen’s thunder. Should the breakout predictions ring true, a 4th round pick is more than fair.

Shorting

Amari Cooper (6%)

Granted, 6% is nothing to sneeze at, but he is held nervously and the buying has stopped. What haunts me is a game I watched last season where he was thrown to three times in the endzone and came up short each and every time. And while that evidence is anecdotal, I’ve seen enough of these similar blunders to have a negatively biased impression of the player and that’s difficult to shake. Add these factors: year one with a new coach, new system and the same over-rated, sub-par quarterback, and I don’t see a recipe for the certain success many are calling for. I’ll happily let him succeed on another team and readjust my biases for 2019.

Rashaad Penny (0%)

I don’t own a share of Penny at ADP. Despite what their coaching staff promises, I don’t see how the Seahawks are going to be able to control the game script and run the ball at will. There’s also the matter of their horrid offensive line performance over recent seasons. Add to the equation the returning (and currently hyped) Chris Carson, the explosive when healthy CJ Prosise and the under-rated Mike Davis, and I don’t see how Penny wins exclusive rights to this backfield, destined for disappointment.

Kenyan Drake (1%)

Drake had a great finish to 2017 and looks to have the majority share of the Dolphins’ backfield to start the year. Looking back he had impressive stat lines versus the Pats and Chiefs, as well as strong games against lesser lights, albeit with passable defenses, in Buffalo (twice) and Denver. This year’s schedule looks pretty favourable to Drake and the Dolphins. They have tough matchups versus the Jags and Vikings, but those don’t come until weeks 15 and 16. The games up to that point could offer Drake a good chance at big totals and cementing the lion’s share of the backfield touches. With little competition in the backfield, it appears my 1% ownership stake could haunt me.

Upon further review: Best Ball Longs and Shorts

Week 1 can’t get here fast enough.

Aside from the obvious reasons of: I need freaking football, there is also the growing urgency of stopping me from drafting any more best ball teams.

I can’t recall exactly when I started, but late February seems like a fair guess. Since then I’ve been on a steady diet of drafting at Draft. I just hit the 128-team mark with another 8 on the go.

I need help.

And help I’m getting. Mostly what this too-much-fun endeavor has provided me is a better view of myself, and how I weight certain players on the scales of love and hate. It’s also reminded me that despite thinking otherwise, I’m not immune to offseason narrative-itis.

What you’ll find below is a look at what I’ve learned. Some of this will be self-deprecating, some of it will be self-aggrandizing, all of it will hopefully be enlightening. The lessons learned here are useful for the rest of this draft season, and just as importantly, next year.

The details:

The vast majority of my 128 teams are of the slow draft 12 team variety. I like the traditional 12 team league size as it is the measure we often used when discussing season long or dynasty, and so it provides good perspective in those formats.

Here’s a round by round look at a variety of players, and what I think I know about them.

CORNERSTONE ROUNDS: 1 through 3

Round one isn’t rocket surgery. Don’t be a hero, don’t screw it up.

In 128 drafts I’ve picked everywhere on the board. I’ve picked a total of 15 different players in round one. And like most, drafting in the top two spots I’ll almost always opt for Gurley or Bell, with a little David Johnson sprinkled in. Ho um, the guys below make for more interesting debates.

Heaviest ownership:

Alvin Kamara (16%)

Kamara is liquid. He is taken as early as three or as late as eight. Despite an insane finish to 2017, Karama has plenty of doubters and naysayers, but I’m buying. He is in on an exceptionally coached and quarterbacked offense, loaded with weapons. Defenses will certainly be terrified of what Kamara might inflict on him, but they have plenty of other worries then to devote all of their energy to stopping him in this balanced attack. The same cannot be said for Ezekiel Elliot, who I would never take before Bell, Gurley, Johnson or Kamara.

Dalvin Cook (12%)

Gulp. In hindsight, this one makes me nervous. I picked him earlier in the offseason as a late first round running back. I did so because I watched plenty of him last year, and numbers and injuries aside, he looked the part of a superstar back. Prior to the rise of Kamara, he appeared to be the best three-down-back in the class. Upon further review, his injury history is a concern, and spending high draft capital on someone who might miss considerable time will keep me nervous all season.

Leveon Bell (9%)

Again, this is when I catch pick 1 or 2. Not much to think about here.

Lightest ownership:

Ezekiel Elliot (2%)

I hate Dallas. I don’t trust their coaching staff, I hate their depth chart and I think every team in the league is going to gameplan for their one and only weapon. I can imagine a season where Zeke is overused and banged up, the Dallas team is exhausted and capitulates by mid-season, and the ineffective Jason Garrett is finally shown the door at season’s end. Elliot may be set for a very disappointing year.

Kareem Hunt (2%)

He exploded on the scene and then seemed to run out of steam. I would not be surprised if Andy Reid gives Hunt the Dion Lewis treatment used by the Patriot’s last year. Keeping the kid rested and dividing more carries than fantasy owners would like, with returning and very capable Spencer Ware.

Melvin Gordon (1%)

This is personal bias speaking here. I’ve never liked Gordon very much and despite last year’s success am skeptical he can maintain the momentum. I’ve never warmed to Gordon’s game and watching tape is a quick reminder of why. Yes, he can “do it all” but he manages to do so with an uninspired plodder’s flare. As a Matt Waldman fan, I am enthusiastic about Justin Jackson demanding a role and digging into Gordon’s touches.

Round 2

Heaviest ownership:

Christian McCaffrey (20%)

Here’s another player who’s starting to make me nervous. I like McCaffrey’s game but many of these shares were drafted prior to the CJ Anderson additional and certainly before the team lost RT Daryl Williams. Note too that many of these picks were made prior to the introduction of the 2018 rookie backs, so the value isn’t horrible. That said 20% is higher than anyone would like given the question marks in the Carolina backfield, paired with Newton’s goal line prowess.

Rob Gronkowski (9%)

Frankly, 9% is too low. I’m always surprised that Gronkowski hangs around as long as he does. I also own 4% of him in the first round, which is a reach but at the tail end of round one at least worth considering. The 2018 Patriots are without: Edelman four games, as well as Cooks and Lewis from last year. Yes, there have been additions to fill those voids but none so consistently dependable as Gronk. In fact ,it’s hard to imagine him not finishing as the leader in yards, scores and possibly catches on a consistently elite offense. What’s not to like.

Keenan Allen (11%)

This just feels safe. A target hog that never fails to deliver when healthy. Add to this the absence of Hunter Henry and the questions marks surrounding Mike Williams, and there’s plenty to like.

Lightest ownership:

When all the guys I typically target are gone, I’ve settled on taking some of this group.:

Mike Evans (2%)

I want Tampa to be good. They just seem to be at the tipping point where hope and hype give way to skepticism, and I’m now in the latter camp until proven wrong.

Odell Beckham Jr. (2%)

This one can easily bite me in the ass. When ODB ADP comes up, I’ve opted for Julio, Gronk or even Michael Thomas when they are there. There’s just something about him that makes me hesitate. It might be the prima-donna thing, or worries about the Giants ability to succeed, and should they succeed, just how they do it. Call it a gut feel, but I’m only taking Beckham if I absolutely have to, I’m not seeking him out and I’m prepared to regret it.

Devonta Freeman (3%)

As Indiana Jones once said, it’s not the years, It’s the mileage. Freeman is a little guy with a lot of touches, many of them unfriendly. He has the very capable Tevin Coleman backing him up and the newly acquired Ito Smith looking to cut his teeth. Aside from that backfield depth, the Falcons are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017, with Julio looking to fend off can’t-score criticism. Steven Ridley also gives Matt Ryan another option. Atlanta’s offense will quite likely look a litte different and Freeman may be spared some volume. Injury rumours are another reason to opt out.

Round three:

The don’t screw it up, but you might have to reach round.

Heavy ownership:

Doug Baldwin (12%)

I’m buying the narrative here. Baldwin is criminally underrated, he is clearly the number one receiving target in an offense led by an MVP caliber talent in Russell Wilson. Heavy volume and favourable game scripts should give Baldwin career year numbers.

TY Hilton (10%)

I bought him early and often. With or without Andrew Luck, Hilton provides a handful of monster best ball weeks. Like Baldwin, he’s the obvious #1 on a team that is likely to need to throw a lot. The bonus, and it seems to be taking shape now, is that Andrew Luck is alive and well. Round three might look very good in a few weeks as Hilton edges to a higher ADP.

Stefon Diggs (9%)

My only regret here is that best ball does not allow for trading. Diggs has been the recipient of plenty of offseason love, recently receiving accolades and being considered the next Antonio Brown for his celebrated route running. His ADP may continue to creep into overvalued territory. My only concerns here are how he and Kirk Cousins get themselves quickly onto the same page. I’m happy to own him, but he seems to be reaching sell-high levels.

Joe Mixon (9%)

This allocation is a result of draft by need paired with RB panic. I actually don’t like Mixon and am dumbfounded by how many analysts and such fervent supporters. Perhaps it will become obvious once the season starts, but I watched him play last season and I think the hype and hyperbole is a little thick. I also remember that he plays behind an average line, with an average QB, for an average coach and should have to fend off the seemingly, just as talented Gio Bernard.

Light ownership:

While I wish I faded Mixon, the guys I actually did avoid are these three:

Jordan Howard (2%)

The early offseason narrative: Howard can’t catch and Nagy wants to throw to the backs.

The last 2-week narrative: Nagy is teaching Howard to catch, lookout.

The truth? Likely somewhere between, meaning round three is a pretty great place to grab a guy who will likely have a big role on a team with a much better offense. Even if his receiving game improvements are modest, they will be an upgrade. Add to that what you have to imagine are more red zone scores and this seems like good value.

Adam Thielen (2%)

He did well last year, in part, because Diggs was not 100%. It probably didn’t hurt that the Dalvin Cook injury changed the game plan dramatically as well. This year Cook is back and the aforementioned Diggs is about to become ANTONIO FREAKING BROWN! And granted, while I don’t believe Diggs is the second coming, I do think there are reasons to believe Thielen, adapting to a new QB and sharing a full season of targets with a completely healthy Diggs, may underperform consensus value.

Alex Collins (2%)

He was a bargain early in the offseason but gradually gained darling-value pick once the Ravens opted to forego taking a running back in the draft. This spoke just as much to their belief in Kenneth Dixon, as it did Collins’ 2017 effort. Round three might seem rich in hindsight soon though, as the oft-injured Dixon is once again limping. We shouldn’t be surprised if the Ravens bring a new back to camp and temper the Collins enthusiasm.

Next time we will look at round four and beyond…

Thanks for reading!