Less than 48 hours to go. At the Full 10 Yards we’ve been waiting way too long for this draft, and we imagine you have been as well!
With all the smokescreens and rumours flying around, we thought it’d be fun to throw out some bold predictions for the draft.
Rob Gronkowski to the Bu… Oh
Whilst writing this article, we got a reminder of why the NFL off-season is nearly as entertaining as the real thing – Rob Gronkowski came out of out of retirement and was traded to the Buccs.
Not only does this add another weapon in Tampa for Tom Brady and Bruce Ariens, but it also seemingly adds another interesting veteran to the trade block just before the draft starts in OJ Howard.
But back to the bold predictions, here’s a few from the @Full10Yards crew:
Andy Moore (@Ajmoore21): Only two QBs go in the top 10
It feels almost inevitable after months of speculation that a QB goes 1st overall, then at 3 or 5, then again at 6. But, in recent weeks there has been doubts about the Chargers taking a QB at 6, and now as we enter the week itself, there’s rumours of the Dolphins taking a tackle with their first pick.
It could all be a smokescreen, in fact it most likely is, but how fascinating would it be to see Tua drop down the board a bit, and the scramble amongst unexpectant teams to get a QB they didn’t think they’d have a shot at getting.
On the flip side, if Justin Herbert starts to fall, it’ll be interesting to see where he eventually lands, could the Saints get their future QB without trading any capital to do so? Could Colts come up into the bottom of the first and take him?
Sean Tyler (@seantyleruk): Atlanta Falcons move up to #3 and take the top corner
Most of the mock drafts I’ve seen go Joe Burrow #1 to the Bengals, Chase Young to Washington at #2 and then Jeff Okudah to the Lions. With that in mind, I’m going to mess with that scenario and say the Ohio State corner goes to the Falcons at #3.
Atlanta’s GM, “Trader Thomas” Dimitroff, is no stranger to wheelin’ and dealin’, not least when he handed over a few picks to the Browns to nab Julio Jones at #6 in 2011. With the rumour mills in full grind, there’s growing chatter that Atlanta are considering another big move up from #16 for a defensive star.
They have needs at linebacker and defensive tackle but I’m going corner, to replace recently released Desmond Trufant. CJ Henderson from Florida is getting some traction and maybe a deal with the Cardinals or Jaguars inside the top 10 might be enough. But we’re talking bold predictions here so how about a trade with Detroit, who are apparently listening to offers, for the top CB available?
On the flip side, the price might be too rich and the Falcons aren’t blessed with draft capital (only six selections). But with many teams ahead of them also looking to trade down for more picks, it can’t be ruled out. The Falcons also have ambitions to bounce back after going 7-9 last year so they’ll want players who can contribute right away while the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones – and now Todd Gurley – are still around.
James Fotheringham (@NFLHypeTrain): San Francisco do not get any of the top 3 receivers
Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III have been projected to go to the Jets, Raiders and 49ers at 11, 12 and 13. The 49ers are in a bit of a quandary. They could sort out their need at WR but as it stands, they don’t pick again until the 4th round after their second pick in the 1st round (31).
Surely then, one of the two picks will be traded? And with teams looking to target players I can see the 49ers taking the capital and trading down from either spot.
However, trading down from 13 will almost certainly leave them with no chance of getting one of the previously mentioned receivers. That leaves them with the likes of Justin Jefferson or Donovan Peoples Jones. It won’t be a disaster but it will leave 49ers and fantasy fans somewhat underwhelmed.
There is a possibility that, if the Jets take a tackle, Jeudy gets picked by Raiders and one of the Broncos, Dolphins, Jaguars and Eagles are suddenly in a position to trade up and get Lamb or Ruggs at 13, thus providing the 49ers with good trading partners.
The other option is that they keep pick 13 but replace Buckner with a new DT like Javon Kinlaw, as we saw in the Full10Yards mock draft, but I sense the draft capital they get offered by teams in the QB or tackle hunt may be too much to turn down.
Dave Moore (@davieremixed): The Broncos take the best player left at 15
The agreed play is that the Broncos take one of CeeDee Lamb/Jerry Jeudy/Henry Ruggs III or a defensive lineman and that makes sense given the need for playmakers opposite Sutton and Fant as well as the Derek Wolfe-sized hole on the line.
But are you telling me that if John Elway has a chance to pick Tua or Herbert if they fall that far that he won’t? Or if Jedrick Wills somehow falls that far in the ensuing chaos he won’t seek to replace the disaster that is Garrett Bolles?
There we go then, four predictions that would cause a stir come Thursday night. Tell us what you think will happen at @full10yards.
As the Hype Train Driver, I’m used to changing scenery. Looking out of the window, everything can look different from season to season. The NFL, and certainly fantasy football, are no different.
The Tight end position has been a bone of contention for many fantasy players over the years. The low number of fantasy relevant tight ends and the premium to get good ones has led to a variety of suggestions and solutions. Some leagues turned the TE position into a Flex spot including Tight end, others make it 1.5x points and some have scrapped the position altogether.
Going into last season, most people seemed to suggest that beyond Kelce, Ertz and Kittle, there’s very little out there. Through the season the likes of Austin Hooper, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews took flight and added their names to the “Relevant” list. Even the tandem at the Rams of Higbee and Everett became fantasy pickups. It leaves the fantasy world in an interesting position.
The free agency period has been hectic despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
As I currently see it, this is the situation at Tight End for each team:
The headlines this off-season have been made by Austin Hooper (going to the Browns), Hayden Hurst (filling the void in Atlanta), Greg Olsen (adding to the long list in Seattle), Jimmy Graham (being given yet another overpaid contract, this time from the Bears) and Eric Ebron (joining Vance McDonald in Pittsburgh).
With very few good quality tight ends left on the market, it appear a lot of teams are going to be relying on 2nd year tight ends stepping up or maybe even rookies. I’ll leave it to the podcast and twitter feeds to talk about those impacts on the NFL, but in terms of fantasy, Hurst has value, Hooper has some value but it’s more stunted than if he had stayed in Atlanta. Ebron will be a red-zone target so he has to score a TD to be relevant week to week. Jimmy Graham won’t see any kind of uptick while Greg Olsen may be a dark horse option if he can stay healthy. As the off-season rumbles on I’m sure it will be touched on more, but that’s my initial thoughts.
The 2020 Draft
There are a few interesting landing spots. The Patriots, Cardinals, Redskins, Panthers, Packers and Jaguars could be in the hunt for a new Tight End after some other possible spots were filled in free agency. There’s time yet for some trades, but many teams are going to be looking to develop the talent they have or target one in the draft. With 6 strong landing spots we could well see 1 or 2 rookie tight ends make it into starting line-ups.
There’s not as many standout options as in previous years but Cole Kmet (Notre Dame), Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) and Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt) are the 3 gathering the most interest. There’s not likely to be a 1st season breakout this season. Rookie Tight ends usually require a full season before becoming fantasy relevant and a feature of the offence but there have been times where this has been overruled.
The 2020 Season
After years of Gronk… Kelce… Then the rest; there’s now more than just 2 or 3 tiers of Tight End and no real dominant Tight End causing early round headaches in fantasy drafts. The lack of an outright #1 reduces the value and with so many options, 2020 might see tight ends fall down the order and, in some leagues, they may become a streaming position similar to QB’s and Defence/Special Teams.
Kelce, Waller, Andrews and Kittle are the guys who are going to give you a solid score every week and are a key piece of their offences. These will be most likely be the first 4 Tight Ends off the board and the value will probably be in drafting the 4th one so that you have the best RB and WR options possible, whilst still being able to trust your TE.
The next level contains tight ends where you’ll want to play them in plus matchups, and they will probably provide a good return more often then they will fail. The issue is consistency and knowing that any week there is a reasonable chance they won’t be much help. Tandems like Ertz and Goedert may find themselves here. Injury risks like Engram and Olsen may also feature here. Similarly, second season breakout candidates like Fant and Gesicki should be in this wide tier. (I’ll dive a bit more into this shortly).
The third tier includes those who are a gamble and the risk of them not performing is built into their ADP, and those who will be consistent but not in a very effective way. Rudolph and Smith in Minnesota are a duo that may stunt each other’s fantasy relevance, but Kirk Cousins doesn’t help either. Jimmy Graham may end up here depending on the TE and QB battles in Chicago. The rookie tight ends may also end up in this tier.
The final tier is for the players who will remain on the waiver wire unless their matchup is particular tempting (e.g. Playing Arizona last season). The likes of Eifert, I.Thomas and Burton come to mind. The Tennessee situation is difficult to determine as Walker is injury prone and Jonnu Smith doesn’t seem quite ready to be the #1 so the tandem with him and Firkser may make them. The off season could change some of these scenarios, but it will take a few weeks of the season before it becomes a bit clearer.
Examining Tier 2
The success of schemes where Tight Ends are RedZone threats, check down options or planned in as pass catcher have led to an increase in targets. The fact George Kittle, and Travis Kelce ended up as the highest scoring Non-QB fantasy players (from the season) in the Superbowl shows the importance of the position in the modern NFL. The days of it being a baron landscape have been overblown in my opinion. This all bodes well for the new generation with the likes of Waller, Andrews and Goedert coming through.
The increase in the “Tier 2” Tight ends and the chances that one will crack tier 1 make the fantasy draft much more interesting. I’ve listed 20 players who could be in Tier 2. These wont all be tier 2 as fantasy season rolls around but there’s arguments for each of them. I’ve split them into categories.
Established Options: Doyle, Cook, Engram, Olsen, Henry, Fells.
Two TE Sets: Olsen/Dissly, Ertz/Goedert, Higbee/Everett, Howard/Brate, McDonald/Ebron, Njoku/Hooper.
Be it because of injury, QB play or competition these guys won’t be able to crack the upper echelons but are usually going to be playable.
Cook had a decent year with Drew Brees last season while Greg Olsen has moved to the TE haven in Seattle. Both he and Evan Engram are injury risks and if they are missing more often then you can play them, you’re better looking elsewhere.
Jack Doyle is perhaps the least spectacular on the list but is the most consistent and may actually be a sleeper pick now with Eric Ebron out of the way and Philip Rivers slinging the ball for one year in Indy. The recently franchise tagged Hunter Henry will be reliant on what the Chargers do at QB, while Darren Fells will need to prove that his form last season can be made consistent, though did sign a new deal this offseason. Jordan Thomas behind him may also steal some targets so buyer beware.
Two TE Sets
A big threat to the relevance of the TE position in fantasy is the two tight end systems. When one goes down the remaining player isn’t guaranteed to take off (but sometimes they do). It’s often a case that when both options are playing, one will take off each week, but it never stays consistent who it is.
Take Higbee and Everett for the LA Rams. After both toiled early on in the season, Everett broke out, only to then go down injured and leave Higbee to pick up the slack. It’s a combo where one or the other can work but together they ruin each-others value. Everett started getting the targets over Higbee and that got the ball rolling. They ended up with similar stat-lines, but I’d be wary of drafting either of them in 2020 as you’re going to have to hope you pick the one that takes off first.
I’ve mentioned Olsen already but when you look at Seattle, they could play 4TE and only 2WR looking at their depth charts. Olsen, Dissly, Hollister and Dickson could all be playable if they are in that weeks set. Will Dissly (when he’s fit) has been superb but you’re just waiting for something to break. He’s probably worth a roster spot while he’s active unless Olsen hogs all the targets.
Howard and Brate are going to have Tom Brady this year which leaves them as total wildcards so it’s obvious that some people will take the gamble in drafts. McDonald and Ebron at the Steelers are probably going to flip-flop in terms of being relevant but across a season they should be usable. I nearly put Njoku and Hooper into tier 3 but Baker can’t be that bad again can he? If Njoku gets trades he gets a boost and Hooper likewise become more trustworthy. Again, both will be a gamble but if anything gives them an uptick in opportunities, their draft stock will rise with it.
The big one currently is in Philly as the Ertz/Goedert combination is proving to be great news for the Eagles but bad news for fantasy. Ertz is still tabbed as a top 4 TE and with good reason. He is still a beast, a great catcher and can dominate a game. The problem is, Goedert is very much going to same way but has a few less years wear on the tyres. Using both is allowing them to stay healthier and give Wentz options. With their lack of true WR options I think you’ll find both can be top 12 options this season but calling which games will be Ertz dominated and which Goedert dominated may be the difference between a win and a loss.
Most rookie Tight Ends don’t hit in their first year but start really coming on in their second. There’s going to be some differing levels of improvement thanks to their respective teams’ philosophies and personnel but if it’s late in your fantasy draft and you fancy a gamble, hopefully one of these will be kicking around.
Noah Fant is one of my major hopes for this season. Drew Lock has improved the QB situation in Denver and with Sutton breaking out, Fant found himself becoming relevant late in the season. He was well hyped last season after the draft, and this is probably the year he really gets going. Mike Gesicki falls into the same boat here. His main issue is being in Miami and not being certain what he’s working with. The advantage he has is that the offence is sort of being built around him as he’s one of the few decent, young offensive pieces they have.
TJ Hockensen may need a few things to go his way to truly break out. The Lions have never historically been a good place for Tight Ends but considering the capital they spent on him, they are going to have to find ways of getting him the ball. Matt Stafford isn’t a bad QB, he just needs to be 100% healthy mentally and physically (which he hasn’t been for a few years now). Dawson Knox is also a rookie who may need some team improvement to see relevance, however the Bills keep progressing and is Josh Allen can start finding Knox like he did towards the end of last season, then who knows what they may create.
Jordan Thomas is a long shot who could be a serious sleeper. If Darren Fells doesn’t come back and the Texans rest their hopes on Thomas, he will get the targets from Deshaun Watson and when you consider how good fells was for fantasy last season, that could be a decent position to have.
The final name to throw in here is Chris Herndon. He’s threatened to break out before but suspensions, injuries and QB changes have stopped that from happening. With a new season can come new hope, however he is last on my list at this level.
The Tight End landscape is now probably as wide spread as it has been for a long time. The calls for the position to be scrapped were a little pre-mature and now that younger guys are breaking through, and taking less time to become relevant, the turnover is only going to get better. The success of the Chiefs and 49ers this season with Kelce and Kittle as prime targets does bode well for teams trying to find their TE equivalent so it’s possible more teams may look this way.
The good news for fantasy is that it’s not as much of a headache as it used to be. The need to weight up when to take a relevant tight end was tough. You could guarantee a good one but which RB/WR would you miss out on? But if you waited too long and had to settle for what was left, was your RB/WR worth it? Now there’s enough late options to know it’s fine to delay. Where the likes of Waller and Andrews fall may be critical to how the fantasy draft season goes. It’s just nice to be able to say that fantasy Tight ends are becoming an interesting thing once more.
The NFL players may feel caught in a landslide with no escape from reality, but if the current proposals in the CBA come to pass it has an effect on more than just those in the NFL. The players aren’t exactly in step with the NFL or the owners, however the prospect of a 17 game regular season with 2 bye week leaves a lot of questions for Fantasy Football.
If you’ve not been following the CBA talks then you’re probably best taking a listen to the podcast or looking it up on Twitter. However, the main talking point has been the prospect of a 17th game and an extra bye week to accommodate it. There’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge yet and I can see this one running and running, but if the NFL and the owners get their way, the fantasy world may be scrambling to figure out how to best use the extra time given to them.
For those who haven’t yet dipped into fantasy or who play in customised leagues, it’s probably worth me breaking down how the season runs under the current NFL system. (Note: All games mentioned are regular season NFL games).
Of course, many leagues will customise this depending on how many teams there are in the league. Some just do the Semi-Finals and add a week onto the regular season while others go for a full 8 team playoff schedule. There’s even an option (which I’ll explain more later) where you can have a 2 week playoff game (usually makes SF in weeks 13+14 and Final in weeks 15+16).
The Proposed Setup for the NFL
So, if the CBA in its current draft were to stand then we would have 19 regular season weeks (+1 game week + 1 bye week). Immediately discount week 19 as it’s the same scenario as the current week 17 (qualified teams will rest starters and eliminated teams will experiment or tank). It leaves 18 usable weeks.
Some may argue that teams may qualify earlier, and this rest their starters earlier, but the new play-off setup with only the #1 seed guaranteed a bye week means there should be more games with something on the line.
So how best to use these 18 weeks?
A Few Ideas
Based on 8/10/12/14 team leagues (which are the most common) there are some options you can think about. Some of these are more complex than others. My advice would be unless you’ve got your thinking head on, I’d stop after #3.
Status Quo – The setup that has been rocking all over the world for some time now could stay put. Just extend the regular season by those 2 weeks and have a Week 18 final, 17 for the semis, 16 for the wildcard round and 1-15 for the regular season.
Fortnight Fight – In the final 4 each matchup can be over 2 weeks (15-16 and the final in 17-18). It’s a system I like as it needs you to think over a longer period and gives you a chance at redemption if one of your studs has a dud week. Could also do this with the wildcard round but that makes a week 13 playoff start and with bye weeks still likely to be happening it’s a risky option.
Bring it all forwards – Pick the 3 weeks after the last bye week (predicting 14, 15, 16) and have the title decided while every team has something to play for. As I mentioned earlier, I actually don’t think it should be a worry if the playoffs also change but this would keep the timeframe exactly in step with the previous version.
Two Seasons – A bit more radical this. Have a Week 1-9 Season and then restart with a 10-18 season. The first 7 weeks as the regular season and then a SF in the 8th week and a final in the 9th. Mid-season draft so you can reset with what you know, and you get to do the fun bit twice. You’ll have to have some strong tie breakers as with 7 games it could be tough to get only a final 4 but something like Points difference would work. In an 8 team league this could really work. Any more and you hit schedule issues and not every team plays every team. Of course, bye weeks may this potentially chaotic but with only 8 teams, if you make the roster size large enough it shouldn’t be too bad.
League average (Nominated bye week) – Takes a bit of thinking to get your head around this one. Rather than playing head to head against one team, all the teams combine to make an average score. If you beat the average you get a win, otherwise it’s a loss. It means if you were in one of these matchups where you are the 2nd top scorer and play the top scorer you don’t get stung by it. With so many bye weeks to consider but no matchups you can choose a week (probably when your top pick is on bye) to nominate as a bye week where your score does not contribute to the average and you get neither a win or a loss. You could make 1 or 2 of these compulsory and they must be declared either pre-season or before the MNF game of the week before (depending on if you want it all setup in the pre-season or you want to manage things as they go on. Might be useful for injuries too…).
There are a few possible formats but there’s one major question with will need answering before formats can be sorted. When will the latest bye week be? If there’s going to be teams on bye in week 14 it really limits the number of options as the fantasy playoffs cannot coincide with a bye week.
An interesting sub-plot may also be how the bye week gaps are determined. With 2 bye weeks per team are they all going to be equally split (so week 4+9, 5+10, 6+11, 7+12 and 8+13) or will it be a random split. Assuming they won’t be daft and give a team two bye weeks within a 3 week span this should lead to mayhem on the waiver wire but nothing fantasy owners haven’t seen before.
I’ll be watching on with interest as talks progress. If this does go ahead then the platform owners are then commissioners are going to be scrambling to setup leagues and setting with the new formats. It shouldn’t affect draft strategy too much unless they make a mess of the bye weeks, but it could bring fatigue and injuries even further to the front of peoples minds. Best ball won’t be affected, nor will Rotisserie leagues but those aren’t as common.
Whatever it ends up being, I can’t wait for free agency and the chance to talk about fantasy relevance again. It’s been too long since December!
With a bit of free time available for a change, I thought it may be fun to create the most British team I could, without just cheating and saying the Cleveland Browns (since we like an underdog and never succeeding). There’s a lot of artistic licence and some imagination which at least makes me sound like a Russell Wilson scramble.
Anyway, here’s what I came up with:
QB- Matt Ryan
Goalkeeper for premier league side Brighton. We love our soccer and since there is only ever 1 QB on the field for each team at once (playing the position, I’m ignoring the Taysom Hill role) and there is only one goalkeeper on each team, it fits in some way. It’s still the backfield in some way.
RB- Bo Scarborough
Oh I do like the be beside the seaside. A favourite haunt of mine in my childhood was Scarborough Sea front. With attractions such as the Sea Life Centre and the North Bay Railway (a personal favourite) it’s a very British seaside town and to have a namesake in the NFL seem fair.
RB- Jay Ajayi
London’s own… although it could soon be Christian Wade in this spot. Ajayi is at least a Brit with a Superbowl ring, even if he didn’t do an awful lot with the Eagles in that run.
He moved to the US at the age of 7 so had the full school and college experience (Boise State), before being drafted to the NFL by Miami. He had some memorable 200yard games where he still is one of only 4 people to have two back to back. In 2017 he was traded mid-season to the Eagles and despite only playing 7 games, gaining 499 yards on 70 carries and 10 receptions, he did help them to a Superbowl ring.
After missing a long time through injury and being waived, he recently returned to the Eagles, although he is yet to see the ball. He can have the occasional mega day but has many days just tinged with disappointment. Sounds very British to me.
WR- Kenny Britt
Britt by name, and in being disappointing, an underdog that never succeeded and always last in the queue for targets, he’s even a Brit by nature.
There’s never been a British Wide Receiver even close to the NFL so this position was hard to club together. That being said, the old jokes about the England Cricket Team make me wonder if we are a nation that can’t catch more than a cold.
WR- Odell Beckham
Shame he doesn’t wear number 7 really. We definitely love our soccer and David Beckham is a name that the whole world knows. You thought there would only ever be one Beckham, but here we are, a different Football but a Beckham who is a high end celebrity with some skills. Not quite as much Posh when it comes to Odell though.
TE – Alex Grey
The former Rugby Union player is currently on injured reserve and on a futures contract with the Falcons but he’s still looking to forge a career in the NFL, although even making the field once in a regular season game looks like it will be an achievement. Apart from Mark Andrews sounding like he should be a London City banker, he’s all I have for this one.
With our sense of humour, the idea of a Tight End is amusing and with players like Ertz and Eifert providing amusing team names (My Ball Zach Ertz, My Tight End Ertz when Eifert and so on), there’s plenty of wit to be had here.
K- Graham Gano
He’s a Scot Gano, Ya know. He’s by no means the only Scot very good at kicking a ball a long way and high over the bar. He’s not too bad at getting it between the posts which is why he’s in the NFL.
P- Jamie Gillan
The Scottish Hammer even gets his home country into his nickname. #Proud. Like most proud Scots he would never have accepted the British Hammer and while he’s a Pro Bowl Calibre player, barely anyone has ever heard of him. In Scotland, the UK and even in Cleveland, not a lot of people know the absolute rarity which is happening on their doorstep.
Individual defensive players (IDP)
DB- Earl Thomas
No UK link, just sounds like a visitor to Downton Abbey. Other similar links can be found with Duke Johnson and Bishop Sankey (remember him?).
DL- Jack Crawford
One of the longest serving exports to the NFL. Currently in Atlanta, although limited on snaps. He’s not going to be on Fantasy teams where you play IDP but he’s still flying the flag and is one of the modern player who showed (and still show) the way.
He was a 5th round pick in 2012 for the Oakland Raiders and also had a spell at the Cowboys. He did move across to the USA in 2005 at the age of 17 and went through the college system at Penn State, but he was still born in London.
Interestingly, he shared a class in London with Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame.
DE/LB- Efe Obada
From Nigeria to Netherlands to the UK before the age of 10. Homeless in London, eventually fostered, played for the London Warriors in BAFA at DE and TE and now plies his trade in Carolina as a DE.
The Cowboys, Chiefs and Falcons all took a look at him but on when the Panthers swept him up in May 2017 did he finally stick thanks to the International Pathway program.
He became the first International Pathway player to make a 53 man roster and by week 3 in 2018 he was playing in a regular season game. That debut was memorable as he got a sack and an interception, was given the game ball and names defensive player of the week.
He’s been quieter since then but is still on the team and came over to play in London earlier this year.
Next up in our review series is the Tennessee Titans.
Before the season the Tennessee Titans were one of those teams that nobody really thought much about. They were “just a team” who were too good to be bottom of the pile in the AFC South, but behind the Texans and Colts. When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, hopes grew, but the prospect of DeShaun Watson on offence, JJ Watt on defence and strong teams in other divisions, making the playoffs via a wildcard look difficult.
The Coaching team lost OC Matt LaFleur to the Packers which led to Arthur Smith being promoted from the TE coach role. Otherwise, nothing changed. Mike Vrabel was HC, Jon Robinson GM and Dean Pees DC.
On Defence the team had 5 rookies in the final roster, but mostly the team was led by veterans Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan with developing stars Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Jayon Brown all stepping up. Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler began their 2nd seasons at the Titans while Cameron Wake joined from Miami.
On Offence the team added AJ Brown in the 2nd round of the draft to pair with Corey Davis (taken in the 1st round last year). They also grabbed Adam Humphries from Tampa Bay and retained Delanie Walker for another year. Walker went down very early and so Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser shared to load. Ryan Tannehill joined from Miami so act as backup to Marcus Mariota (who started the season with a rather short leash). The Running back duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis were retained while the offensive line was improved by the addition of Roger Saffold from the Rams to join Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan and co. Henry and Lewis were okay in 2018 but Henry only just scraped over 1000 rushing yards and his utilisation stopped him from reaching his full potential. A lot of experts doubted he’d be able to become elite but as the season unfolded, he exploded.
The Regular Season
Cast your minds back to the conclusion of week 6. The Titans had just been shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4. The Bills, Jags and Colts had each got the better of them and wins away against the Browns and the Falcons were the only high points. Marcus Mariota was struggling and the team as a whole only scored more than 20 points in 2 games (those in which they won) and had 3 games scoring 7 points for fewer.
During and after the loss in Denver the Titans switched QB and put Ryan Tannehill under centre and that decision was key in turning around their season. They went on to in 6 of their next 7 games to move to 8-5 and in a fight with the Texans for the AFC South. In 10 starts and 2 relief games, Tannehill would complete 201 passes for 2,742yds and 22TCs with only 6INTs. A 117.5 passer rating and completion percentage over 70% was a revelation for the Titans while he was also able to rush 43 times for 185 yards and 4TDs. This support and change in playing style caught teams off guard and gave Derrick Henry the room and licence to run.
Tannehill made the team a passing threat and brought relevance to the likes of 2nd round pick AJ Brown, 2018 1st rounder Corey Davis and the Delanie Walker replacements at TE in Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Brown grew throughout his rookie season and became a serious big play threat. Even more so when Henry got into his stride. Brown managed to break the 1000yd reception plateau with 1,052 on 52 receptions, with many of them being more than 20yards. 8 TDs made him an invaluable asset and he was ably backed up by Davis and Humphries.
Dion Lewis was largely ineffective all year. With enough good passing options Lewis was left as more of a backup and a decoy while Derrick Henry ran the show. Henry never had more than 3 targets, so all his work was done on the ground, but after 9 weeks he had only had one game with over 100 rushing yards. Fantasy owners weren’t feeling to need to trade for him and even though the team was improving, nobody could foresee what was coming. In week 10 at home to Kansas City, Henry had 188 rushing yards on 23 attempts and his first multiple TD game of the season. Up to that point he’d had 644 yards and 6TDs in 9 games. This game was the turning point as the 35-32 win (mostly on Henrys back) was the start of a 4 game win streak in which Henry would amass 641 scrimmage yards and 7TDs and each of the 4 games would see him rush for over 100 yards. It was an incredible run which made them the form team going into their crunch divisional game against the Texans.
The week 15 head to head was critical as it effectively decided whether then Texans would win the division or whether the Titans would overhaul them. With the Steelers currently in the wildcard spot, whoever lost would be in a scrap to make the post-season. The Texans were off form, totally the opposite to the Titans but DeShaun Watson and co secured a 24-21 win. the Titans were left scrapping with the Steelers for the final wildcard and a loss to the Saints (with Derrick Henry missing from the line-up) the following week proved not to be critical as the Steelers loss to the Jets gave Tennessee the jump on them based on strength of opponent. The Titans then had a simple “Win and in” game against the already playoff bound Texans. An easy 35-14 win against a below strength Houston sealed the deal. A 9-7 record and with the 2nd wildcard spot they’d go in as the 6th seeds in the AFC.
If seeing the Patriots lose the Dolphins and fall into the Wildcard round (much to the benefit of the Chiefs) wasn’t surprising enough, then what happened at Gillette Stadium certainly was. Very few analysts gave the Titans a chance. They squeaked in on the last day as the final wildcard, have Ryan Tannehill as their QB and weren’t a top 5 defence. Meanwhile the Patriots have Brady and Edelman, a top 3 defence and Belichick in control.
In the regular season Derrick Henry totalled 1,505 rushing yards on 303 attempts and a (tied) league leading 16TDs. In the post season, he looked unstoppable. He had 34 attempts for 182 yards and a TD against the Patriots, while the defence stifled an increasingly annoyed Patriots offence. Ryan Tannehill only completed 8 passed (from 15 attempts) for 72 yards and a TD but that was all he needed. Anthony Firkser caught the 12 yard pass in the first quarter before Henry took in in from the 1 yard line just before half time to see the Titans into a 14-13 lead. A stalemate second half was finally broken when Logan Ryan picked off Brady with 9 seconds left and took it to the house to cue wild celebrations nationwide.
The upset against the Patriots was incredible and many anti-Patriot fans were quick to get behind them, but very few people would have said they had a chance against the top seed Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Once again, the Titans proved the world wrong. Derrick Henry again would star with 30 rushes for 195 yards at 6.5yrds per carry. He did get a TD, but it was neither rushing, nor receiving. A 3 yard loop ball to Corey Davis on a trick play was probably the moment where the game was won. The defence held, what some argue was the most potent offence in the NFL, to just 12 points while on offence Ryan Tannehill got them over the line without really doing much.
Tannehill only completed 7 passes, but 2 of those were touchdowns. First to Jonnu Smith to set the tone early and then followed up by Kalif Raymond as they took a 14-0 lead. 2 Field goals for the Ravens brought them back into it but the trick play from Derrick Henry to Corey Davis took the wind out of the Ravens. Only minutes later Tannehill was rushing the ball in himself and at 28-6 with less than 20 minutes to go, it was over. The Ravens would get one back through Hayden Hurst, but it was too little too late.
The AFC Championship game against the Chiefs wasn’t the matchup expected on most people’s brackets, but with the Titans on form and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, it was going to be fun to watch. A heavy run offence vs a heavy pass offence and in the end, despite the Titans taking 10-0 and 17-7 leads, the Chiefs did what they have done so often, and scored a succession of TD’s to swing the balance in their favour. A Greg Joseph field goal and a Derrick Henry 4 yard TD run gave the Titans a perfect start to the game. The response from Mahomes to Hill kept it tight but the 10 point lead was restored when lineman Dennis Kelly caught a pass from Tannehill when labelled as an eligible receiver. Another trick that worked a treat.
After that, it became the Patrick Mahomes show. 4 TD’s in 12 game minutes including a short pass to Hill, a dazzling run, a rush from Damien Williams and a 60 yarder to Sammy Watkins finished off the Titans. At 35-17 with 7:33 left on the clock it was a mountain to climb. Tannehill did get another TD to Firkser but with the team behind, he was being forced to throw more. He had 209 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs but with Derrick Henry limited to under 70 rushing yards the Chiefs got the job done and would go on to the Superbowl.
At no point in the season did anyone truly think the Titans would be in the AFC Championship game. They just kept surprising people and after years of not realising his potential, Derrick Henry has finally shown how elite he can be. No shadow from Demarco Murray, no split responsibilities with Dion Lewis and a QB that is capable of running and providing an alternative which keeps the opponents guessing.
It’s hard to say what they need to concentrate on in the off season since the only thing that stopped them was the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. They had a good young secondary who are learning fast, a pass rush which maybe could use a fresher set of legs (but are still playing to a high level) and some good special teams’ players. On offence, if Henry stays healthy and the likes of Davis and Brown keep developing and the Smith/Firkser combo can evolve into the long term replacements for Delanie Walker then it’s hard to suggest what else they can do. The O-Line is great, and Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation. The big decision is whether the Titans see him as their future. Tannehill is a UFA this off season and it will depend on contracts and cap space whether he returns. I’d be very keen to keep him on as low level deal as he is willing to take if I was the GM. The foundations of something great are there. I’d like to see Tannehill to AJ Brown for another year.
After the loss to the Chiefs Dean Pees announced his retirement (again) and so the team will need a new defensive co-ordinator next season. Their defence was a big reason why Derrick henry was able to be so dominant. There is still room for improvement as they gave up 20+ points on 8 occasions in the regular season and they need to figure out a way of stopping Mahomes, but the signs are positive and maybe a the new DC can tip them over than edge.
It will be interesting to see how they cope next season with the new weight of expectation and teams targeting Henry and Brown, but if you are a Titans fan then this has been a season to remember and you have some exciting times ahead. #TitanUp
This is it. Hopefully if you are taking the time to read this, you are in your championship game (if not, good luck in avoiding the toilet bowl or any forfeits your league must have). There are a few things to consider this week. Teams who have qualified and cannot improve their seeding, teams that are trying to qualify and will be going all out to win, and teams looking to grab home advantage for the playoffs.
Houston and Tampa Bay may have a shootout although only the Texans have a chance to make the playoffs. The Bills play New England with a possible chance of usurping them as AFC East leaders and potentially end up with a first round bye. Dallas and Philly playoff in what may be a winner takes all match. The 49ers look to eliminate the Rams, the Titans look to hold onto their playoff hopes against a Saints team looking for the #1 seed in the NFC. Minnesota and Green Bay fight for supremacy in the NFC North, while at the other end the Bengals face the Dolphins in the latest Tankbowl.
Devonta Freeman (ATL vsJAX)
The Falcons and Jags are both out of contention, so this is a dead rubber, however Freeman needs to get into a groove and the Jags run defence are in a rut. There is a chance they use the time to try out rookie Quadree Olinson as the lead back after his performances in previous weeks so if you need a hail Mary play, there’s an option.
Chris Carson (SEA vsARI)
The most one sides matchup where the favourite is playing for something and the other team is out of it. Seattle have a lot to fight for with the 49ers in sight and they will be looking for their workhorse to power them on.
Those needing a plausible deep option the play may be looking for players trying to establish themselves in the lead role or make their HC pay attention. The likes of Patrick Laird (MIA vsCIN), Chris Thompson (WAS vsNYG), Ryquell Armstead (JAX @ATL) and Justin Jackson (LAC vsOAK) all may have points to prove. There are others, but this is not an easy week for matchups.
Deandre Hopkins/Will Fuller (HOU @TB)
Again, this game will be fire and if both of these guys play, one or both are going to come up big. If they don’t then the Titans and steelers may just drag them out of the playoffs. The Pressure is on.
Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf (SEA vsARI)
These two might both have big days as the Seahawks try and firm up a wildcard spot and take aim at the 49ers and a first round bye. Carson won’t be able to do all the work, and with how poorly the Cardinals secondary has played this year, Wilson will be out to exploit it as he does.
Darius Slayton (NYG @WAS)
Going a bit deeper, Slayton has been a great find for the Giants and against the Redskins he can keep that run going. Shepard, Tate and Engram would be the usual top 3 targets, but Slayton is making the most of each of them missing time and has solidified a position on the team going forwards. Slayton is fast becoming owned so those needing to dig deeper have: Chris Conley (JAX @ATL), Dionte Johnson (PIT @NYJ), Miles Boykin (BAL @CLE) and Scott Miller (TB vsHOU).
Jameis Winston/DeSean Watson (TB vsHOU)
This may be a shootout even though only one team really has something to play for. Winston is a low end league winner and Watson, a high end one. Both have back secondary’s and have been leaking points, which makes it very eye catching for the neutral and for fantasy.
Russell Wilson (SEA vsARI)
I’ve put a lot of Seattle players in here and Wilson is an obvious addition. Obviously throughout this article I’ve picked players who are going to be owned so this is aimed at DFS or those teams with line-up decisions in the final, hence why the next option is much more left field…
Drew Lock (DEN vsDET)
Lock has been having a ball since becoming the starter and against a weak Detroit defence, he can continue that trend. In a slightly similar situation (two teams out of contention) I like Gardner Minshew (JAX @ATL) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA vsCIN) if you need deeper options.
Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert (PHI vsDAL)
I’ve been avoiding the huge NFC East game as it’s hard to call, but the one thing I feel comfortable saying, is that the Eagles passing offence will be largely centred around their Tight Ends. Injuries have hurt the Eagles and they should use a lot of two TE sets to allow Goedert and Ertz to receive looks. Jason Witten may also have relevance, but Ertz may be the #1.
OJ Howard/Cameron Brate (TB vsHOU)
Evans and Godwin are OUT. The load has to go somewhere and we know Jameis will pass the ball a lot.
Jacob Hollister (SEA vsARI)
Play your TE against Arizona, especially when your QB is Russel Wilson and you have everything on the line as I’ve probably said 4 times already. He may even be on the wire in a few places. If not but you are in need you could look for: Darren Fells (HOU @TB), Jack Doyle (IND vsCAR), Noah Fant (DEN vsDET), Jonnu Smith (TEN vsNO) and Hayden Hurst (BAL @CLE).
Steelers (PIT @NYJ)
Again, I have to back my team in defence. They are doing the work to allow the offence to do just enough. Pittsburgh have a great shot at the last Wildcard which would potentially put them up against the NFC South victor which is gives them a genuine opportunity to rematch against the Patriots once more. The Jets wont offer much, even with Lev Bell playing his former employers.
Ravens (BAL @CLE)
The Ravens should be able to pick off Baker and the Browns and will be using this as a warmup fore tougher tests to come. They are improving and beginning to peak at the right moment.
49ers (SF vsLAR)
This is a difficult one, but Jared Goff still gives the ball away too often and I think the 49ers defence will be the difference. The Patriots have a similar scenario against the Bills and both these games see teams who are a win apart and will be scrapping to make the playoffs. It may be too little too late for the Rams though and the 49ers should show their playoff intentions.
Chiefs (KC @CHI)
Those needing to dig deeper may be able to use the Chiefs against the Bears since it is still Mitchell Trubisky and his inconsistency is his downfall. The Chiefs could still get a first round bye so they will be fighting hard, while the Bears are eliminated.
So, there you go. My last ramblings for this season and big thanks to the Full10Yards guys for their support this season and I look forward to working with them and improving over the coming years. Listen out for the podcasts, keep your eyes peeled on twitter and the fantasy sector will see you next season, but for now:
“We have arrived at week 16, where this Hype Train terminates. Please gather all your belongings, Check for trophies, belts and prize money before leaving the train. We thank you for using the Hype Train this season and we hope to see you again soon.”
For most people we are at the Semi Final stage. You’ve almost reached your final destination but there’s one last set of changes to make before the final journey. Who will lead you down the right track, and who may delay your shot at the title for another year?
David Montgomery (CHI @GB)
The Packers run Defence still gets gashed often and after rediscovering their offensive mojo a little bit, the Bears should look to lean on Montgomery (and to a lesser extent Cohen) to make a game of it against Green Bay. I don’t think it will be an express, more of a freight train, but it’ll get where it needs to.
Josh Jacobs (OAK vsJAX)
If Jacobs does return to the lineup after missing this week, I fear for the Jaguars. Out of the running and unable to stop other teams running on them, Jacobs may have a field day. If he isn’t available to play then the likes of Richard and Washington become valuable waiver wire pickups. Leonard Fournette at the other end might also have a chance of a big day.
Kareem Hunt/Nick Chubb (CLE @ARI)
The Cardinals are getting close to tanking territory with only 4 teams holding worse records. The Browns sees to have found a way to make 2 good running backs relevant and if you can play either of them, you probably should.
Chris Carson (SEA @CAR)
A team who run heavy against a team who struggle against the run. Unless there’s a change in Penny’s health, it’s Carson’s workload.
AJ Brown (TEN vsHOU)
I do remember saying a few weeks ago that AJ Brown might be a fantasy playoff stud and last week was incredible. He’s now the Hypest of Hype trains and yet is still on some waiver wires. The Texans secondary doesn’t have a lot left in order to derail him, so this could well be a fun ride.
Chris Godwin (TB @DET)
This should go without saying, especially now Mike Evans is going to be questionable. This is a hint towards DFS players that all your savings on other players should be used to field Godwin. If you can’t quite afford that luxury to create the team you want, Kenny Golladay is on the other side here and may be another stud to drop in there. It’s a good looking head-to-head.
Julian Edelman (NE @CIN)
Again, a stud to slot in if you can. Edelman always gets work and gets the job done when he plays.
Jarvis Landry (CLE @ARI)
Suddenly it all makes sense. OBJ has been nursing an injury all season and Landry has been getting more targets. With that clarity and the Browns near enough out of contention, OBJ ought to be shut down which opens up Landry for a bigger role.
Emanuel Sanders (49ers vsATL)
When he plays, he is a force to be reckoned with. Sanders is even passing for TD’s now. The 49ers are amping it up and the Falcons are one of those teams they should be able to express themselves against in their pursuit of the #1 seed.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN vsHOU)
I just mentioned AJ Brown, well it would be hard to ignore the role the guy at the other end of those passes was doing. Tannehill has a schedule that makes him more than a streamer. Now that his receivers are stepping up, he is someone worth getting onboard with. The Titans and Steelers are scrapping for the final wildcard spot, but with the Titans playing the Texans twice in three weeks, 2 wins might leave the Texans on the platform.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF vsATL)
Again, a play who may be on a waiver wire and may cost a bit less in DFS but who has the matchup and the weapons to put up a big score.
Baker Mayfield (CLE @ARI)
He’s had a poor year, but this matchup suits him well and the fans will want some slim hopes to cling too before the Browns do the inevitable.
Tom Brady (NE @CIN)
Brady against the last team in the league, after a loss and while still hunting for the #1 seed and having taped why they were up to last week… do you need any further reasons?
Jameis Winston (TB @DET)
He may be a turnover liability, but his passing numbers and TDs keep making him a fantasy stud in many weeks. A rare player who is much better in fantasy than he is in real life.
Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert (PHI @WAS)
This isn’t a great week for Tight Ends. Arizona have the Browns and Njoku is still just getting back into league action. Tampa Bay have the Lions and TJ Hockenson isn’t yet ready to be an option. The Bengals play the Patriots who haven’t exactly had a usable TE since Gronk left. This makes the Eagles against the Redskins look like the best matchup. Both guys have relevance now Ertz has proven his fitness.
Mike Gesicki (MIA @NYG)
Gesicki is on a roll and the Giants defence is a nice one to stream against. Keep an eye on Evan Engram at the other end since he may be a solid DFS options if he finally plays again.
Jonnu Smith (TEN vsHOU)
Continuing the love for the Titans offence, Smith is looking to become the #1 and stop Delanie Walker taking his job back next season. Last week was one of his best outings in a Titans jersey and a follow up here in a good matchup may finally tip him over the edge.
Steelers (PIT vsBUF)
If the Steelers want to win this game and give themselves a shot at the playoffs, it all hangs on this defence. The Bills offence isn’t frightening, but they need to step up to give their own offence the best chance they can.
Ravens (BAL vsNYJ)
The Jets can’t get a lot going and the Ravens just keep stamping on teams. This feels like a no-brainer.
Eagles (PHI @WAS)
Another decent enough defence against a poor offence. If Guice is missing, then the Eagles should swoop all over the Redskins.
Saints (NO vsIND)
The Colts look so mediocre on both sides of the ball this season and this is a matchup against a much better team. The Saints defence is very capable of doing work, although the 49ers did expose them majorly last week.
Good Luck to everyone in their playoffs and playing DFS this week. Next week will be the final Hype Train Station visit of the season barring any disruptions so I will see you there hopefully.
Apologies for the lack of a scheduled departures article last week. Those articles have been cancelled until further notice due to a lack of need.
Time for the fantasy play-offs to begin, and with bye weeks gone and most rosters pretty much set, the usual Hype Train Station is basically closed. Rush hour has long gone, and we are left with those late finishers trying to find their way to their final destination (which I hope for you is victory).
Since the landscape has changed, this trip to the Hype Train Station will ignore the waiver wire and ownership levels and concentrate more on which trains to jump on board. A bit of a start/sit, DFS and general information board. Ready to depart?
Devonta Freeman (ATL vsCAR)
Carolina looked like a very good defence at one point, but now it appears to be the Achilles-heel which is preventing a playoff run. Freeman returned from injury last week and it was steady but not spectacular return on Thanksgiving. This week is a much better matchup for Davonta to Run like a Free man.
Derrick Henry (TEN @OAK)
Another high value player but against Oakland he should continue his hot-streak. There’s not as many gems in the cheaper ranks at RB this week.
Derrius Guice (WAS @GB)
The Packers have given up the 4th most yards to RBs and after his breakout last week against Carolina (who are 5th) he has a chance to go back-to-back. The Guice is definitely right now!
Devante Parker (MIA @NYJ)
The Jets returned to being terrible last week and are still struggling against the pass. The Dolphins meanwhile are enjoying their new found abilities and Parker is living up to about 5 years of failed hype. That train has finally arrived and still has some legs.
Kenny Golladay (DET @MIN)
The Vikings defence is seen as strong, but they have the 4th most yards conceded against WRs. After his promising debut on Thnaksgiving, David Blough can keep the receivers in Detroit relevant and Golladay has a chance to have a day.
Dede Westbrook (JAX vsLAC)
Dede has his mojo back having had a few weeks with Foles and even a return to the Minshew didn’t dent his statline. He’s not going to be overpriced in DFS which makes him a very nice middle-level candidate to allow you to pay up at RB.
AJ Brown (TEN @OAK)
If you want to dig a little deeper than AJ Brown may be your man. The Raiders are in the bottom 8 at defending the pass and Tannehill has really moved the Titans forwards. Brown is starting to hit a purple patch and he’s still on some waiver wires. Make sure you remember this Titan.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA @NYJ)
It makes sense that if Parker is a choice, so is Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins have been having some fun over the last few weeks and the freedom and time to gel seems to have made them forget about tanking and take the 3rd or 4th pick in the draft they will probably get. Now that’s what I call FitzMagic.
Kirk Cousins (MIN vsDET)
It’s hard to justify the big numbers of the likes of Mahomes, Rodgers and Jackson when their matchups aren’t fantastic. Kirk Cousins isn’t to their level, but the Lions aren’t up to much defensively and with Adam Thielin potentially returning to the line-up, the yards are there.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN @OAK)
Oakland give up a lot to QB’s and the Tannehill and Titans resurgence make this a nice matchup which you may be able to grab on the cheap. Check your waiver wires as well if your struggling, he will be available on some platforms (pun intended).
Duck Hodges (PIT @ARI)
And finally, if you really want to pay low for a QB to go heavy on RB in DFS then look no further than the QB who is facing the 2nd worst defence against QB’s and who put up a very despicable score against the Browns. It’s Duck season in Pittsburgh and Hodges is hunting for wins to get the Steelers into the playoffs.
Jack Doyle (IND @TB)
No Ebron to take away targets, Brissett at QB able to find him, the 2nd worst team against TE’s and a receiving corps that means the Colts need to use the Tight End… do you need any other reasons? Even with the likes of Kelce and Kittle around, I think Doyle is my number 1 TE this week. The Doyle Express is ready to depart.
Vance McDonald (PIT @ARI)
Tyler Higbee proved last week that no matter how little a TE gets used during the season, when they play Arizona, if they are the pass catching Tight End they will get points. Vance is very much a pass catching TE and if Juju is still out this becomes an even bigger must. Even with the QB change, this McDonalds Farm will benefit from having a Duck in it.
Mike Gesicki (MIA @NYJ)
How has it come to this? 3 Dolphins in my list of players to possible play in DFS and pick up if they are on the wire. How times change. Still, you can’t ignore the hot streak Gesicki is on and the freedom the Dolphins have. I think it may be the Jets that will want to throw a Ge-Sicky.
Vikings (vs DET)
While I am comfortable backing Golladay, the Lions are still going to give up points and it’s also very possible that Blough will come back to earth with a bump.
Colts (@ TB)
For as long as Jameis Winston is throwing the ball to the opposition, defences are going to score against the Bucs. The Colts get that help this week and while they aren’t the best defensive outfit, they may not need to be.
Browns (vs CIN)
At home to a divisional rival (although both are basically out of playoff contention) the Browns will want to make a statement and do something. The Bengals are still looking to lose, although the win last week avoided the goose egg. The Browns aren’t great, but the Bengals are worse.
The Ravens are now making their move for the #1 seed which is going to need their defence to keep up with their offence. The matchup against the Bills works well for them and after grinding out the win against the 49ers, they look like they have what it takes to go all the way.