2019 FFHR Fantasy Football Draft Supplement

Dominick Petrillo @Envisionff, Adam Inman @AdamfantasyFB, Tyler Orginski @FFTylerO, Henry John @HankTimeSports, Paul Kury @DrPaulFF, Conlin Postma @ConlinFF


Tier 1 – Elite – Every week starts regardless of matchup

QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight EndsDST'SKickers
Patrick MahomesEzekiel ElliottDavante AdamsTravis KelceChicago BearsGreg Zuerlein
Andrew LuckSaquan BarkleyDeAndre HopkinsBaltimore RavensJustin Tucker
Deshaun WatsonChristian McCaffreyJulio Jones
Aaron RodgersAlvin KamaraMichael Thomas
David JohnsonOdell Beckham Jr.
Melvin GordonJuJu Smith-Schuster
James ConnerMike Evans
Joe MixonAntonio Brown
Le'Veon BellKeenan Allen
Dalvin CookT.Y. Hilton
Tyreek Hill
Amari Cooper

Tier 2 – Great Players – Weekly starts

QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight EndsDST'SKickers
Matt RyanTodd GurleyA.J. GreenGeorge KittleLos Angeles RamsHarrison Butker
Baker MayfieldDevonta FreemanZach ErtzJacksoville JaguarsWill Lutz
Russell WilsonNick ChubbMinnesota Vikings
Drew BreesAaron JonesJacksoville Jaguars
Damien WilliamsMinnesota Vikings
Leonard Fournette
Kerryon Johnson
Marlon Mack
Derrick Henry

Tier 3 – Very Good Players – Probable weekly starts

QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight EndsDST'SKickers
Jameis WinstonJosh JacobsAdam ThielenHunter HenryLos Angeles ChargersStephen Gostowski
Jared GoffDavid MontgomeryStefon DiggsEvan EngramHouston TexansRobbie Gould
Carson WentzChris CarsonJulian EdelmanO.J. HowardCleveland BrownsKa'imi Fairbairn
Dak PrescottKenyan DrakeBrandin CooksVance McDonaldAdam Vinatieri
Mark IngramCooper KuppJared Cook
Sony MichelTyler Lockett
Lamar MillerKenny Golladay
Phillip LindseyRobert Woods
James WhiteChris Godwin
Tevin ColemanD.J. Moore

Tier Four – Good Players – Weak starters or high-end depth

QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight EndsDST'SKickers
Kyler MurrayLatavius MurrayAlshon JefferyDavid NjokuDenver BroncosMichael Badgley
Philip RiversTarik CohenDante PettisDelanie WalkerNew Orleans SaintsMason Crosby
Ben RoethlisbergerJordan HowardAllen RobinsonEric EbronDallas Cowboys
Cam NewtonRashaad PennyCalvin RidleyTrey Burton
Kirk CousinsMiles SandersSammy WatkinsAustin Hooper
Lamar JacksonRoyce FreemanJarvis LandryMark Andrews
Josh AllenDerrius GuiceMike WilliamsKyle Rudolph
Austin EkelerTyler Boyd
LeSean McCoyRobby Anderson
Adrian PetersonLarry Fitzgerald
Darrell Henderson
Dion Lewis
Ronald Jones
Jerick McKinnon
Nyheim Hines
Peyton Barber
Jaylen Samuels
Justice Hill
Kareem Hunt

Tier Five – Good Players with significant questions

QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight EndsDST'SKickers
Jimmy GaroppoloCarlos HydeMarvin JonesNoah FantNew England PatriotsJake Elliot
Mitch TrubiskyIto SmithWill FullerJack DoylePhiladelphia EaglesJason Myers
Matthew StaffordDevin SingletaryCorey DavisJimmy GrahamSeattle SeahawksMatt Prater
Tom BradyDamien HarrisSterling ShepardJordan ReedBuffalo BillsGiorgio Tavechio
Sam DarnoldChris ThompsonChristian KirkAldrick Rosas
Derek CarrDuke JohnsonGolden Tate
Andy DaltonJalen RichardMarquez Valdes-Scantling
D'Onta ForemanDede Westbrook
Kalen BallageCurtis Samel
Alexander MattisonKeke Coutee
Matt BreidaCourland Sutton
Elijah McGuireGeronimo Allison
Theo RiddickDonte Moncrief
Giovani BernardD.K. Metcalf
Ryquell ArmsteadAnthony Miller
Chase EdmondsEmmanuel Sanders
Frank GoreDeSean Jackson
CJ AndersonN'Keal Harry
Mike DavisDaeSean Hamilton
Bruce AndersonJames Washington
Kenny Stills
Devin Funchess
Michael Gallup
Mecole Hardman
John Brown
Zay Jones
Tyrell Williams
David Moore
Marquise Goodwin
Jamison Crowder
Albert Wilson
Parris Campbell
Quincy Enunwa
Josh Gordon
Marquise Brown
Trey Quinn
Robert Foster
Devante Parker
Ted Ginn
Tre'Quan Smith
Keelan Cole
Adam Humphries
Deebo Samuel
Mohamed Sanu
Marqise Lee

Tier-Based Drafting: The SMART way to approach your drafts:

Everyone, from individuals to the smallest sites and all the way up to the biggest fantasy sites does rankings. Rankings are a useful tool when deciding on how to approach your draft. But it’s crucial that you take them for what they are, and what they are is one person’s, or a group of people’s opinions. Sure, these are helpful for you to get a baseline of what to expect in drafts (as is studying ADP), but they should not be used in making your draft picks. This is where using tiers can give you a sizable advantage over your league mates.

What are tiers and why are they better? Simply put tiers are a group of players who should have relatively the same production as each other. This is important because you can look at players B’s value as compared to player C. The value difference may be a lot different than the ranking suggests. There may be a big difference in value between a running back 15 and 16 compared to wide receiver 15 and 16. This is important to know heading into drafts to make sure you set your team up for the most success. It is also extremely important to know the scoring rules for your individual league. In a PPR league, for instance, Alvin Kamara may be a tier-one running back due to his work in the pass game. In standard leagues though, he is probably a tier two running back as he will not get the massive rush load to offset his lack of catches in the format.  It is also important to know where the tier break is. This will allow you to see how many picks you have until your next turn and based on how many players are left in a particular tier, know who might make it back to you. Make sure you are comfortable with the player. Otherwise, you might need to get another player here instead of waiting.

Tiers also need to be made for all positions. Whether it be a quarterback or a running back, each player has an appropriate draft position. Taking one too high can hurt you in the long run. Sure, I may like Mike Williams more than Kenny Golladay. But you don’t need to take Godwin as high as you would Golladay. There may be someone in the same tier who is being drafted closer whom you may also like. You can draft him and still get Godwin in the next round. Looking strictly at rankings, you may see the players back to back and think I have to take him now. But you don’t. Look for the best value at each pick to win your draft.

More important than rankings are using ADP in conjunction with your tiers. Look at the tiers you have set up and also where each player in those tiers are being drafted. If you have a receiver in tier two, but his ADP is the eighth round, don’t take him in the third. Take a player at another position who may be the last in their tier for you. Wait until the seventh round and take the other player. Yes, this may be a round to high, but he is still in the high tier so reaching one round is much better than reaching five rounds.

You cannot win your league at the draft, but you can lose it. This is the saying and it is very true. To win at the draft you should be relying on those tiers and not on arbitrary rankings. I know what you’re thinking right now. Hey, you blind fool, tiers are arbitrary also. You are correct but they are also bigger groups of players. This makes them much safer of a play then rankings. And don’t call me a fool. Tiers are much safer and show value better than rankings ever can.

The key to being a good drafter is preparation. Mock drafts, creating your own tiers and educating yourself are the most important things you can do.

The last and probably most important thing to realize about your tiers is this. Be objective. Just because you are an Eagles fan, don’t put Ezekiel Elliott in your third or fourth tier because you hate the Cowboys. He is a top-three back whether you like it or not. If you are someone who refuses to have anyone on their team from a particular team or group of teams you should do one of two things. One, stop playing fantasy football because you will never win. And two. Lighten up it is a game. You are almost as bad as people who root for or cheer when an injury happens to someone on a rival team.

Let’s recap:

Tiers are a way to group players together who have similar projected output. Viewing players based upon tiers is one of the smartest drafting tips we can offer in fantasy football. Generally, a tier consists of players whose expected production is similar. This is where we put the elite guys, the great, the very good, the good, and players with questions into groups. Watching tiers allows you to see which skill positions have an abundance of players and which are scarce. Tiers are a great way to easily scan the draft list and see what value is left.

 

Tipping Points

Breaking ties between players in fantasy football drafts

One of the toughest decisions in fantasy football is staring down the barrel of the draft timer and struggling to decide between two players. Everyone has their own strategy about how to navigate this gauntlet, I am going to share with you a few of mine. But before I do, I am going to elaborate on WHY using a process is important.

In 2008 I was drafting for a keeper league where QB value was elevated, the only caveat was that players could only be kept if they were drafted after the 10th round. At the time we didn’t call it super-flex, but you were able to play a quarterback in the flex spot making it highly advantageous to have a second signal-caller that could rack up points. I found myself looking dead in the eyes of a second-year quarterback who was receiving a lot of hype in Jamarcus Russell, or a rookie running back from Rutgers named Ray Rice.

My team construction dictated that I sprint to the running back. I’d been crushing at the Quarterback spot recently and sported a roster that had Drew Brees, Tony Romo, and had already landed Matt Ryan earlier in the draft. At that moment my eyes glazed over and I didn’t even consider:

–          The abundance of quarterback talent that my roster already had

–          The lack of any talent on that Oakland team (leading WR had 22 catches, and Justin Fargas was their RB1

–          The lack of running back depth that I had (Chris Johnson, the Ghost of Larry Johnson, and Pierre Thomas / Duece McAllister Combo (who basically did just enough to render each other useless

It should also be known that I had a trade on the table to send Eddie Royal for Le’Ron Mclain (who currently headed the Baltimore backfield.

The point is the table was set for me to grab Ray Rice and had incorporated an ounce of logic or critical thinking into my process I would not have been known as the guy who committed the biggest fantasy draft bust with the biggest NFL bust in our league. Thanks, Jamarcus…

More to the point, what can you do to make sure that you don’t don the fantasy football draft dipshit hat as I did? Here are a few of the tried and true go-to’s that I use when drafting to break ties or make positional decisions

1)     GET YOUR STARTERS

How does this player affect my starting lineup? One of the most basic, and often overlooked, tenets of fantasy football is that your starting lineup is what wins you games. Depth is also incredibly important, but every league has that “one” team that could almost start two full squads of wildly mediocre players. The team that finishes 5-7 but manages to win or lose by less than 15 points each week. Give me a roster teeming with studs and upside over a steaming pile of unexceptional every single day. If one of the players you’re looking it improves your starting lineup they should always be in top consideration, especially if it is a position that has multiple starting spots.

2)     Don’t EVER draft to trade (outside of 2 QB leagues)

QB’s are much more of a commodity in super-flex leagues, it’s basic supply and demand so those league types stand independent of this. But, outside of super-flex leagues drafting a player in the hopes of trading them is an awful draft strategy. Think about fantasy owners when they draft, and then realize that you’re the exact same way. We all tend to overvalue the pieces we assemble, and it is damn near impossible to get even an equivalent ROI (return on investment) when you’re trying to deal a piece to someone that they didn’t invest the draft capital in. The exceptions are possible handcuffs when injury occurs. But even then, nobody is likely to pay a premium for an unproven player that is likely on a short leash. When you’re drafting this year make sure that they the player is someone that has a chance to help your team right now, and outside of the super-flex league paying for a second quarterback directly goes against that.

3)     Shoot for the moon (draft for ceiling, not floor)

Drafting for floor is one of the craziest strategies out there. The entrenched fantasy studs all have relatively high ceilings. Take a player Like Keenan Allen: his touchdown ceiling is lower than many of the other receivers in his range, but because he is still an elite player you simply cannot rule out a top 5-8 finish if he finds the endzone more than we’re projecting. If Melvin Gordon sits out some games, and Hunter Henry starts slow (both possible) then Allen will only have the red zone monster Mike Williams to contend with and could certainly see a spike in his touchdown equity. But outside of the entrenched starters so many of these players are volume and situation dependent. Take big hacks and look for the players who are either athletic freaks or one move away from being the lead players in an explosive offense. You can always find WR4’s and RB3’s on the waiver wire, don’t waste your time investing draft capital in them. I’d much rather have a dynamic handcuff in a high-volume offense than a part-time passing-down running back that is rarely going to eclipse 10 touches a game.

4)     Check out the 2nd half of last season

It’s a tiny sample size, and it plays directly into the hands of the recency bias alumni, but if we noticed a player ended last year on a tear we can be damn sure their team noticed too. This is often a great way to spot those breakout wide receivers and running backs. Find a guy that saw it “click” as the season was in the 2nd half and target him.

5)     Get the guys you like

This flies in the face of almost every fantasy strategy, especially those dealing with analytics, analysis, or trends. But, fantasy is supposed to be fun and it is far better to “shoot your shot” and be proven wrong than to waffle and watch the player you actually like blow up. It is one of the main reasons I overpay for Larry Fitzgerald every season. I like the dude and regardless of his fantasy output this season I’m not going to regret having him on my squads.

6)      Pay attention to surrounding talent

Did the team address holes around the player? Did he get a new quarterback that has a live arm? Did they overhaul their terrible offensive line? Did they spend a 1st round pick on the position they play? Did the wide receiver get a new coach/coordinator that loves to throw the ball? These have nothing to do with the player as an individual but can lead to remarkably different performance results. One small puzzle piece can lead to dramatically different results, do your due diligence beforehand and try to identify those players whose road to fantasy greatness has just been made much easier.

7)     The schedule can be critical

I could CARE LESS about bye weeks. Newsflash, they all have one and they never come at a good time. However, specific playoff schedule is important. If a running back is queued up to face teams in the playoffs that have awful defensive lines, or that they’re going to smash leading towards favorable game scripts then these are important factors. Nothing is more irritating that crushing during the regular season just to get bounced by a tomato can because your quarterback threw the ball 22 times and your RB1 just couldn’t get on the field as they were down by 25 and he doesn’t catch passes.

8)     Pull the ripcord

Almost every season I run into a point in the draft where I cannot find a player I really want. One of the easiest ways to handle this is to make it public knowledge. Find a couple picks later in the draft that corresponds to ranges you’re more comfortable in or trade the pick(s) for a player that is already on a team. On that note, I would almost always rather have players than picks and owners get caught up in the hype and tend to overvalue draft picks. Use that to your advantage and target those un-sexy veterans that provide critical depth or a handcuff that you’re wanting on your squad.

 

Tyler’s Top 10 Draft Tips

As we begin to hit the peak fantasy football draft season, I wanted to provide my top ten tips for drafting this year. Some of these tips are consistent year to year; some are more specific to 2019. Either way, employ these ten tips, and I can promise you a successful draft.

1. Know your league rules

I cannot stress this enough. Is your league Full PPR or Half PPR? Point per carry? Bonuses? Even the slightest rule changes or adjustments can have quite an impact on the end of year scoring. Knowing the nuances of your league can give you a leg up on your competition.

2. Wait on QB

It’s hard to remember a year when the QB position was this deep. The quarterback’s going in the QB15-20 range have a legitimate chance to be your season-long starter. It’s no secret the NFL is becoming more pass-heavy, so it’s not surprising that finding a startable QB is becoming easier. To dive deeper, do not touch a QB until the 10th round. I know players like Mahomes, Watson, Luck are going to be appealing, but there is no need to drop that kind of draft capital on such a replaceable position. This tip is assuming a 1 QB league, Superflex is a different animal entirely.

3. Wait on TE

This one is going to be a bit more controversial than the above tip. There will undoubtedly be situations where guys like Kelce, Kittle, Howard, Engram, and Henry are viable and present excellent value (yes, I purposely omitted Ertz). However, I feel like this is a great year to draft a TE late and stream the position. Again, assuming you only have to start 1 TE and there is not TE premium.

4. Draft for ceiling, not safety

This tip is more so focused on the mid to later rounds but can still be employed during your entire draft. Of course, there is the classic line “You can’t win your draft in the first few rounds, but you certainly can lose it.” However, after the first few rounds, you need to look at a player’s ceiling. Is there an easy path to targets or carries? How good will this offense be? Safety is excellent if you want to finish in the middle of the pack but if you are playing to win, draft for ceiling.

5. Draft D/ST and Kicker with your final two picks

Don’t get cute and think drafting an “elite.” D/ST or kicker will give you a leg up (pun intended) on your competition. Wait until the final two rounds to fill these positions.

6. Don’t draft Rookie WRs.

More times than not, they will disappoint. I will spare you the lecture but generally speaking, rookie WRs do not produce. There are always a few names that will receive some hype but are likely not worth the draft equity to acquire them. Furthermore, there wasn’t a single “can’t miss” or elite prospect in the NFL 2019 draft. Do yourself a favor and pass on rookie WRs in 2019.

7. Don’t overthink Bye weeks

Too often, team managers will take a look at a player and not draft him because their bye week lands on the same week as other players on their team. Ignore bye weeks; it should not factor into your draft strategy. It is one less thing to think about on the clock.

8. Don’t overthink Strength of Schedule (SoS)

While not a useless tool, too often fantasy player’s over-emphasis strength of schedule. I should say, perceived strength of schedule. Part of what makes the NFL so great is parity. We genuinely do not know how teams will finish. There are always team that surprise and some that disappoint. Much like bye weeks, I tend to throw out SoS when drafting. If you must, look at the first four weeks, nothing more. The NFL landscape is always changing.

9. Draft QBs with rushing upside

To build upon my second point, not only should you wait for a QB, draft a QB late with rushing upside. The floor/ceiling combo a rushing QB can offer you week to week is a game-changer. More specifically, draft Lamar Jackson in round 10. Trust me.

10. Do not complicate your Draft Day

For most, a decent amount of preparation and research has gone into fantasy football. We all get it; you want to win your league. However, a common mistake, which I have made myself, is to bring all that research with you on draft day. You do not need three excel spreadsheets, your custom ranks, your fantasy analysts ranks, team’s strength of schedule, etc. Bring one sheet of paper or have one spreadsheet open and cross names off as you go. Having to click between tabs and reference multiple sheets can cause some confusion and panic. Trust your research and keep it simple on draft day.

 

Is It Worth Reaching For a QB?

Year after year, people are plagued by the question, “Is it worth reaching for a QB?” During a draft, everyone knows that one or two people that reach for last season’s top-scoring QB. When drafting arguably the best QB in those early rounds, leaves a roster with a hole at either the RB, WR, or TE position. Sometimes it is better to wait to address the QB position and fill out your roster first.

That is what this article will be discussing. Should you reach for a QB early and leave a solid RB2, WR2, WR3, or TE1 on the board?

In 2019, the must owned QB was Kansas City’s, Patrick Mahomes. After eclipsing 5,000 passing yards and 50 TD’s, people are getting swept away and seduced by his production from a year ago. At his current ADP (average draft position) of the second to third round, that is just too rich. If someone drafts Mahomes, they’ll miss out on stud players like Keenan Allen, Mike Evans, or Zach Ertz. On the contrary, you can take one of those three listed players and draft Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson 30 picks later.

Here is an example of what the article is trying to accomplish. Would you rather Mike Evans in the third and Dak Prescott in the 12th or Mahomes in the third and Keke Coutee in the 12th? If you take Evans and Prescott, you get two players who will each finish top 12 at their position. Then if the decision is made to take Mahomes and Coutee, you’ll get a top three or five QB, but at best, a top 35 WR.

Let’s breakdown whether or not if it’s worth reaching for a QB?

  1. Deshaun Watson and David Montgomery

Being drafted within a few picks of each other, Deshaun Watson has tremendous upside but comes with a price. Taking him over a potential Rookie of the Year, David Montgomery could be risky.

Finishing as the fourth-best QB behind, Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger was quite an accomplishment. What makes that accomplishment more impressive is having injury-prone receivers and being sacked a league-leading 62 times. Not only was DeAndre Hopkins battling injuries, but Will Fuller V missed nine games and Keke Coutee missed 10 games due to injuries. There’s uncertainty surrounding his offensive line and health of teammates, but Watson is still a lock to be a top QB due to Hopkins and his running capability.

Due to the Jordan Howard being traded to the Eagles, his absence leaves 270 available touches. Montgomery could see a majority of those touches even with Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis there. There have been talks of reducing Cohen’s 99 carries from a season ago. If that is the case, that’ll give Montgomery more touches. Davis doesn’t pose much of a threat, but he could still see 10-plus touches per game. The former Iowa State Cyclone is a better pass catcher than Howard and he could be in line for about 50 targets.

It wouldn’t be a shock to many if Montgomery earns the starting role and finishes with a minimum of 250 touches. He is a high upside back who has the potential to finish inside the top 12 RB’s.

  1. Dak Prescott and Curtis Samuel

Dak is a fantastic option to be a team’s starting QB and Samuel is an underrated sleeper WR. When constructing a team, someone can stack their team with RB’s, WR’s, and TE’s then draft the Cowboys’ QB to be their starter. For Samuel, he won’t be a starter due to his late round ADP, so people will draft him to fill out their benches.

Dak has consistently finished as a top 10 Fantasy QB since he entered the league in 2016. One of the reasons for his success has been his rushing ability. Rushing for an average of six TD’s per year gives him the edge over some other QB’s. Last season, was the first time he finished with over 4,100 total yards.

His passing yards aren’t impressive, but if last season was any indication Dak will be utilized more. He had 36 more passing attempts and 18 more rushing attempts than his previous career high attempts. There is also a chance that Zeke’s holdout for a new contract could lead into the regular season. If that is the case, Prescott could be relied on even more this season.

Going just a few picks around Prescott, Carolina WR, Curtis Samuel would be a late round candidate. Sitting behind teammate, D.J. Moore, on the depth chart limits his potential. Even as the second option at receiver, Curtis could eat into the 124 targets that Christian McCaffrey saw. Curtis has the chance to see an increase from his 65 in 2018.

With a suspected target increase, he’ll improve on his 39 catches from last season as well. There’s a serious chance for him to get 80-plus targets and 50 or more catches. Samuel is a real sleeper who can sneak inside the top 40 receivers.

Verdict

Deshaun Watson can finish anywhere in the top seven QB’s, but Dak is also a lock to finish in the top 10. The major difference is between Montgomery and Samuel. You can take Samuel who is at best a WR4 due to competition and Cam Newton‘s shoulder problems. Montgomery is a RB2, who has a possibility of taking all of Howard’s 270 vacated touches.

At the end of the day, what combination is more appealing, Prescott and Montgomery or Watson and Samuel?

  1. Andrew Luck and Julian Edelman

Finishing as the fifth best QB in 2018 and is now a top one or five option, Luck is a must have for a lot of people. One player who will be a key loss for a team would be, Julian Edelman, if Luck is selected before him.

When it comes to Andrew Luck, one of the concerns is that he can remain healthy. As of the beginning of August, he is still battling a calf injury that is keeping him out of camp. Even with slight injury concerns, there is a lot of upside for Indianapolis’s franchise QB. The Colts added receivers Devin Funchess, Paris Campbell, and they’ll get back a healthy Jack Doyle.

Another factor that makes Luck a top tier QB is that offensive line. That line allowed a league-best 18 sacks and was a key factor for his success. His arsenal of weapons, offensive line, and underrated backfield makes the former first overall pick a solid candidate to finish as the best fantasy QB.

In both half-PPR and PPR scoring formats, Edelman is a top 18 WR. After returning from his four-game suspension last season, he was the ninth-best receiver in half-PPR. Right now, he is dealing with a broken thumb, but it’s early in the preseason that he has plenty of time to recover. New England will most likely hold him out for the preseason, but he should be ready for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

The only teammate that he has to compete for targets with is James White. No one else imposes a threat. Now that Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski are no longer with the Patriots, Edelman could see 150-plus targets.

  1. Philip Rivers and James Washington

Two players that have the chance to break out in 2019 are right here. Similar to Dak Prescott, Rivers could be without his star RB, Melvin Gordon, and relied on more. Even though there is competition for the second WR spot on the depth chart, James Washington could end up seeing a huge bump in production.

Returning talent and a possible holdout could push Rivers into a potential top-eight finish. If Gordon’s holdout lasts into the regular season, L.A. still has reliable backs. Coming into 2019, he’ll have Hunter Henry returning and replacing Tyrell Williams. Plus, Mike Williams will be stepping into the WR2 role alongside Keenan Allen.

Last season, Rivers threw his lowest passing attempts since 2009. He still managed to throw for 4,300 yards, 32 TD’s, and finish as QB11. There is much to love about him, building a team then taking Rivers in the later rounds isn’t the worst decision.

The chance of playing opposite Juju Smith-Schuster puts Washington in the spot for an enormous breakout year. It was difficult for him to step up in 2018 due to the breakout seasons of Juju and James Conner. On top of that, he had to contend with the presence of Antonio Brown. Now that Brown is in Oakland, Pittsburgh has 168 available targets. It’s a battle between Washington and free agency acquisition, Donte Moncrief for the second WR spot.

Towards the end of last season, the former Oklahoma State WR put together a couple good games. In Week 17 with AB out, he put together a three catch and 64-yard performance. He has the talent, but the real question is when he will get the chance to show off how talented he is.

Verdict

Rivers could finish inside the top eight QB’s with or without Gordon holding out. Edelman, who in PPR is a borderline WR1 and will lead New England in targets and catches. Luck has a real chance to finish as the highest-scoring QB at the end of the season. Washington’s upside is as high as any receiver and could finish inside the top 30 if he is the second WR on the depth chart.

Which pairing is more enticing to have on a team? Is it Philip Rivers and Julian Edelman or Andrew Luck and James Washington?

  1. Russell Wilson and Dante Pettis

Even with a run-first offensive scheme, Wilson continues to be a reliable every week starting QB. There is a possibility of missing out on a key sleeper such as wideout, Dante Pettis if Wilson is reached for.

Russell Wilson is still a reliable starting QB for any team. Since he’s entered the league he’s finished as QB9, QB1, QB11, QB3, QB3, QB8, and QB11. His consistent play and finishes are why Wilson is still a top 10 option. Even though last season was a “down year” for Wilson, his production was top notch. 13 out of 16 games, he threw two or more touchdowns and his 35 passing TD’s were a career-high.

Be aware that in 2018, he had his lowest rushing attempts, yards, and TD’s ever. His lack of rushing limits his upside, but he is still a lock to finish inside the top 11 QB’s.

Getting the chance to take a team’s top receiver who could be first or second in targets on that team, is a steal. It took a little bit for Pettis to get going, but once he did, he didn’t look back. From Week 10 to 16, he averaged six targets. During those weeks, he racked up 24 catches on 37 targets for 371 yards, and four touchdowns. Dante Pettis has a real chance to finish as a top 25 WR at the end of the season.

Pettis will be atop the 49ers’ receiver depth chart as their number one. The only teammate that he has to compete for targets with is TE, George Kittle, too. This San Francisco WR is a steal at his current ADP and is a fantastic WR3 for any team.

  1. Kirk Cousins and Adrian Peterson

Two players that are being slept on at their current ADP’s are Kirk Cousins and Adrian Peterson. The former Washington QB is the biggest sleeper due to his supporting cast. Adrian Peterson could be the starting back for the Redskins come Week One.

Inconsistent play and an atrocious offensive line from a year ago, are the reasons why Cousins is being overlooked. His supporting cast is one of the best in the league. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook are all top 15 at their positions. In 2018, Kirk Cousins tied a career-high of 606 passing attempts, threw 30 TD passes, and had a 70% completion percentage. His touchdown passes and completion percentage were both career highs as well.

One thing to keep an eye on is Cousins’ turnovers. For the fourth year in a row, he had double-digit interceptions and he did fumble the ball nine times, too. Right now, Cousins is being drafted as the 18th QB or later, but don’t forget he finished as QB13.

One last note, if you take away just four turnovers Cousins finishes inside the top 10. That should just open people’s eyes as to how high his potential is.

As training camp progresses, everyone must keep an eye on Washington’s backfield. The return of Derrius Guice throws a wrench in Peterson’s upside. Guice will be recovering from a hamstring injury and his torn ACL. The two backs could split carries, but Guice still has never taken a regular-season snap. Peterson has the upper hand given his production from a season ago and his proven track record.

The 1,000-yard rushing performance from Peterson was his first since 2015. In seven of his 16 games, he rushed for 95 or more yards and that proves Peterson still can be a workhorse. Everyone has to remember that he had little time to study the playbook, being a late signing. That being said, it makes his 1,000-yard season even more outstanding.

The future Hall of Famer isn’t an every-week starter, but he still has the capabilities of being a reliable Flex option. In order for him to have fantasy relevance, he does need to beat out Guice as the starter.

Verdict

To wrap everything up, we have two QB’s that can finish right next to each other. Russell Wilson is a second-tier QB who can surpass over 4,000 total yards and score over 33 times. Kirk Cousins can throw for over 4,000 yards and 28 TDs. Don’t forget about his rushing ability either, averaging four TD’s from 2015 to 2017.

Now the decision has to be made between either Pettis or Peterson. Dante Pettis is a serious contender to be a WR2 and finish inside the top 25 at his position. On the other hand, Adrian Peterson presents top 20 upside also, but it’s a tough task in a crowded Washington backfield.

When draft day comes, is the duo of Wilson and Peterson or Cousins and Pettis better to fill a team with?

 

Missing the Mark – Top players most likely to underperform their ADP

August is here and that means some version of NFL football (including a fresh season of Hard Knocks) is back. Beat writers put out mostly misleading nonsense, training camp battles unfold, players get unnecessarily injured, and players shine out of nowhere only to become irrelevant again when the season starts.

For fantasy, August is the golden month of the season. Everyone is pouring over their ranks, ideal draft position, and mock drafting until their eyes bleed. Just to add a quick personal note, every season in my main home league of college buddies, we travel to a new city every Labor Day weekend to do our drafts and it’s honestly more fun than every other holiday combined. The Taco in our league is in for a world of hurt and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Now back to the purpose of the article. Every season we do our best to predict how players will finish out the year and the fantasy hivemind is bound to get things wrong. It’s a virtually impossible task given how much changes throughout a given season, but a few right contrarian calls can make all the difference for your team.

In this article, I’m going to discuss 5 top players that I think are comparatively big risks for not living up to their ADP. I’ve already rambled enough so let’s just jump right into it.

Saquon Barkley – Fantasy Pros Rank: RB1, FHR Rank: RB2, My Rank: RB4 – ADP: #1

I’m sure seeing this name on the list is going to tilt quite a few readers, but hear me out. Saquon is a generational talent that was capable of earning Offensive Rookie of the Year on a bad team and behind a bad O-line last season, but the situation he’s in for 2019 is undoubtedly much worse.

Early reports suggest the additions of guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Mike Remmers is going to significantly boost the O-line this season. In fact, the Giants are using 37% of their salary cap on the O-line this season to prevent Eli from getting pummeled 47 times again. That’s all well and good and I hope there are improvements, but the other two components of the offensive are going to be doing no favors for Barkley’s production this season.

As you may have heard, Sterling Shepard recently broke his thumb, rookie Darius Slayton already has a hamstring injury, Golden Tate is going to be suspended the first 4 games, and Corey Coleman tore his ACL and is out for a season. Now, that wasn’t a very impressive WR corps, to begin with, but going into the season, the Giants are going to have to get very creative to be able to find room in the open field for Saquon. Getting Shepard and Tate back will help, but even then, it’s hard to imagine the Giants finishing outside the bottom third in offensive production. On top of that, Eli doesn’t have the duel threat advantage (or passing ability anymore) that we’re seeing in a lot of young QBs to force defenses to stay honest in coverage. I could go into more detail about specific coverages and stacked boxes that’ll likely be abundant against the G-Men this season, but it all boils down to the fact that talent can’t be the only metric we rely on for fantasy production, the situation has to be at least somewhat ideal as well. For that reason, I’m much more comfortable going with Zeke (assuming his contract battle gets settled), McCaffrey, or Kamara at the top of the draft.

Damien Williams – Fantasy Pros Rank: RB13, FHR Rank: RB15, My Rank: 18 – ADP: #24

This take should be a little easier to swallow for readers. There’s a relatively greater degree of risk with RBs versus WRs and QBs due to injuries, and I could easily talk about other RBs going around Williams like Todd Gurley, Dalvin Cook, or Leonard Fournette here given their current injury concerns. Instead, I want to focus more on a player whose role seems safe based on last year’s production and confidence from the coaching staff, but who has a lot of risk of falling in the depth chart by mid-season because it’s possible the situation is great, but they just aren’t that talented.

Williams’ started to see the field in week 13 last season after the debacle with Kareem Hunt and managed to finish the last five games of the regular season with 406 total yards, 23 receptions, and six TDs. He also expanded on that with a productive postseason as well. From what we saw, he was a shoo-in for the Chiefs and they didn’t miss Hunt all that much. However, we have to take into consideration the fact that he has never carried the workload for an entire season and was buried on the depth chart in Miami for four seasons before becoming a Chief. He also wasn’t the Chief’s first choice in 2018, so I’m a bit skeptical that they’re willing to give him a long leash for this season.

Don’t get me wrong, his situation is phenomenal and the Chiefs will likely be one of the best offensive teams in the league again, especially after the news Tyreek Hill is missing no time from what many thoughts would be at least a four-game suspension. However, if he’s missing blocks, not finding holes, or able to fight for first downs early in the season, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see Carlos Hyde, Darwin Thompson, or Darrel Williams get chances to show the coaches what they got as a starter. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that in three out of four previous seasons, the Chief’s lead RB in training camp was gone by the end of the season, so this situation might not be as clear as Williams’ ADP currently indicates.

Zach Ertz – Fantasy Pros Rank: TE3, FHR Rank: TE3, My Rank: TE4 – ADP: #29

TE is perhaps the most controversial position in fantasy football from a drafting standpoint. Should I draft early and lock in a near-certain positional advantage, or should I wait and draft for upside, and then stream if it doesn’t work out early in the season? This season is particularly interesting because even though Gronk has been sent out to pasture, there are still three TEs going in the first three rounds of drafts.

The fantasy hivemind thinks all three will be comparable to the WRs they’re being drafted near and/or will live up to their production from last season. From my personal analysis, Ertz is the least likely of the three to live up to his current ADP. Last season he blew his 2017 numbers out of the water going from 74 receptions to 116, 824 yards to 1163, and maintaining eight TDs. Outside of that TD count, he was putting up very similar catches and yards totals in 2015 and 2016 as he did in 2017.

To me, Ertz screams regression candidate and I think his current situation also supports that. There are a lot of changes coming to the Eagles offense. In 2017 the Eagles ranked sixth in rushing attempts, which fell to 21st in 2018 using a frustrating committee of Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement, who combined for only 275 rushing attempts. That’s the lowest in Doug Peterson’s tenure as a head coach or offensive coordinator and I expect the coaching staff to return to a more balanced offense in 2019. Because of that, the Eagles went out and traded for former Bears running back Jordan Howard and used their second-round draft pick on Miles Sanders. In addition, the WR corps is getting more crowded with the return of Desean Jackson and drafting of JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the second round. In addition, we can’t forget about Dallas Goedert and the likelihood that he will at least maintain the 33 receptions and four TDs he pulled down in his first year as an Eagle. I think Ertz is a fantastic TE, but statistical regression makes him a big risk of missing his current ADP and I’d much rather take a WR or RB there and grab Hunter Henry or O.J. Howard two or three round later.

Brandin Cooks – Fantasy Pros Rank: WR15, FHR Rank: WR17, My Rank: WR25 – ADP: #40

As of right now, three Rams WRs are being drafted between picks 40 and 50 and are ranked 15 (Cooks), 16 (Woods), and 21 (Kupp) at the position. In his first season with the Rams, Cooks was able to maintain his fourth consecutive 1000-yard season with 1204 yards on 80 catches and six total TDs. However, two of those TDs came in week 17 when it didn’t matter for fantasy purposes.

Cooks has always been a reliable receiver for putting up respectable end of season stats, but his game by game stats are much more variable. In 2018 he only pulled in seven or more catches five times and eclipsed 100 yards receiving in five games as well. In 0.5 PPR scoring, he achieved 15 fantasy points or more five times, even with Cooper Kupp missing half of the season. That resulted in him being a WR2 or better in 53% of games. Robert Woods also had similar production to Cooks, which is why they typically go in the same range of drafts. Conversely, in only eight games played, Cooper Kupp was able to also score six TDs and rack up 566 yards on 40 catches.

In 2017, the first year under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams ranked 11th in rush attempts, which then jumped to sixth in 2018. Although they were still able to rank 14th in pass attempts last season based on their high play volume, between Gurley and Henderson, I think the Rams are going to continue to be a rush heavy offense. Assuming all three players stay healthy, it’s unlikely that all of them live up to their ADP, even though the Rams have a powerful offense led by a great coaching staff. Therefore, I still want a piece of this offense, but think it’s much safer to wait on Woods or Kupp if they’re still available a round or two after Cooks has been taken.

Kenny Golladay – Fantasy Pros Rank: WR18, FHR Rank: WR20, My Rank: WR27 – ADP: #42

Golladay pretty much lived up to the expectations set for him last year, exceeding the 1000 yard receiving mark on 70 receptions and scoring five TDs in his second year as a pro. Of all the names in this article, Golladay is the one I’m most worried could blow up in my face given his talent. However, Golladay still isn’t in a great situation and new Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell is likely to try and turn Stafford even more into a game manager and establish the run often.

To quote an article written by Nate Atkins, “In 12 years as an offensive coordinator, Bevell’s offenses have finished an average of 16th in offensive points per drive, 15th in total yards, 21st in passing, 10th in rushing, and 15th in DVOA.” That can lead us to believe the Lions are likely to become pretty run-heavy this season and feed Kerryon Johnson often. In addition, looking at Matt Patricia’s first year as a Head Coach last season, the Lions ranked 11th in plays per game and 13th in pass attempts per game, but only 24th in TDs per game and 22nd in passing TDs per game.

With only really Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola competing for the passing attempt market share, Golladay should get plenty of opportunities and will likely be the WR1 for the team, but I’m skeptical of the overall teams’ offensive production and likely run-heavy system that could prevent Golladay from expanding on the numbers he produced last season. He certainly has the talent to become a top WR in the league, but for the upcoming season, I feel better about the talent/situation combos of some of the other WRs being drafted around him. Examples include Julian Edelman, Robert Woods, Chris Godwin, and Cooper Kupp.

 

Defending the Ranks of the FFHR Staff

One of the great things about Fantasy Football is that there is no singular answer when it comes to rating players. Hundreds of experts and participants put together their own set of positional rankings each year, with no two ever being exactly alike. This sparks frequent debate over whose rankings are best, with the only true determining factor being the Fantasy Football season that is to come. Two of the most widely recognized player rankings are the Expert Consensus Rankings at FantasyPros and the Fantasy Football Calculator’s Average Draft Position (ADP). Here are some arguments, on behalf of the Fantasy Hot Read Staff Consensus Rankings, for players in which we experience a marked difference from these two mainstream lists.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

FFHR Staff: QB 16

FantasyPros ECR: QB 7

Fantasy Football Calculator ADP: QB 11

There was a time early in the offseason where we didn’t know if Cam Newton would be able to play at all in 2019. His recovery from shoulder surgery went much better than expected and he is on track to be the Panthers’ starting quarterback for Week 1. The big question is how offensive coordinator Norv Turner plans to utilize Newton in the offense coming off of the injury. All indications point to the 30-year old being more of a pocket passer and less of a rushing threat than we are used to. This requires a closer look at the Carolina receivers who Newton will be targeting. While Christian McCaffrey will continue to be a major workhorse both rushing and receiving out of the backfield, the Panthers don’t have an overly strong group of pass-catchers. Tight end Greg Olsen is severely injury prone and newly signed free agent Chris Hogan joins Newton at the age of 30. The onus will be on youngsters D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel to take big steps forward. But even if they do, Newton is still coming off of a major surgery. Will he be 100%? Ranking him as the overall QB7 or QB11 just isn’t advisable heading into Fantasy drafts.

Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Houston Texans

FFHR Staff: RB 54

FantasyPros ECR: RB 49

Fantasy Football Calculator ADP: RB 59

An interesting wrinkle was thrown into the ranking process for Duke Johnson Jr. last week when he was traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Houston Texans. While both offenses are expected to be among the better ones in the NFL and for Fantasy purposes, they do have varying specifics. In Cleveland, Johnson would have likely lost a lot of value when the suspended Kareem Hunt were to return after Week 8 and slot in alongside Nick Chubb in the backfield. In Houston, Johnson is the clear change-of-pace back to complement Lamar Miller. However, there is a real chance his pass-catching abilities go under-utilized in a Texans offense that overwhelmingly targets wide receivers compared to both backs and tight ends. Perhaps that could change too, given that Johnson will be the best non-wideout receiving option QB Deshaun Watson has had. Add it all up and the FFHR staff nailed it by splitting right in between the overvalued ECR and undervalued ADP rankings.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

FFHR Staff: WR 33

FantasyPros ECR: WR 41

Fantasy Football Calculator ADP: WR 41

Just when we thought Larry Fitzgerald might finally call it quits, the 35-year-old veteran decided to return for at least one more season in the desert. From a Fantasy standpoint, Fitzgerald was a nonfactor a season ago, ultimately through no fault of his own. The Cardinals offense was brutally awful. But with rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray now on board, you can’t blame Fitz for wanting to stick around. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner embodies what many believe to be the perfect skillset for Kingsbury’s high-octane offense. While David Johnson will see plenty of touches out of the backfield, the only other receiver on the team who can seriously challenge Fitzgerald for touches is Christian Kirk. We here at the Fantasy Hot Read respectfully disagree with the ECR and ADP having Kirk over Fitzgerald. We also disagree somewhat more disrespectfully with ranking Courtland Sutton ahead of the surefire Hall of Famer.

Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

FFHR Staff: TE 16

FantasyPros ECR: TE 23

Fantasy Football Calculator ADP: TE 21

Noah Fant may be a rookie, but by spending a first-round selection on him in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Broncos are right to expect returns from the get-go. Denver has gotten lackluster production from the tight end position in recent years, coupled with several injuries, most notably to the once promising Jake Butt. With he and Jeff Heuerman battling injuries in training camp, Fant could be in line for a major role right away. In an offense void of a dominant pass catcher (no disrespect to the now 32-year-old Emmanuel Sanders), quarterback Joe Flacco will need a safety valve he can rely on. The 6’4”, 250-pound Fant could be just that. Ranking him behind the likes of Greg Olsen (oft-injured), Chris Herndon (4-game suspension) and Jack Doyle (the second tight end in the Colts offense) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Take advantage of the low buy point for Fant in the latter rounds of your draft.

Baltimore Ravens D/ST

FFHR Staff: D/ST 2

FantasyPros ECR: D/ST 6

Fantasy Football Calculator: D/ST 5

Last year, the Chicago Bears were the clear-cut top Fantasy Football scoring defense, and there is no reason to think they won’t achieve that status again in 2019. The Baltimore Ravens may not have registered as many Fantasy points, but they were right there with Chicago in terms of being considered the top defenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers finished tied for 14th in Fantasy points at the position a season ago. Are we really supposed to believe those units are set to experience that great of an improvement? The Raven’s defensive strength has shifted from the front seven to the secondary where the likes of Jimmy Smith and Earl Thomas will lead a very scary unit to throw against. This could, in turn, lead to more coverage sacks and turnovers than before which would positively impact the unit’s Fantasy stat line. The weekly consistency combined with the potential for a major output of points any given week is why the FFHR staff considers them the second-best defense to own this season.




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