Where Do They Go From Here? Bears

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Chicago Bears.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC North podcast where we talked to Martin from BearDownUK and get their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

It couldn’t have gone any better really, even with all the hype surrounding the team and the bandwagon getting overbooked. If you’d have offered a Bears fan a playoff spot, they’d have bitten your hand off like a bear would if you offered it a salmon…

Top of the North with a 12-4 record and if it wasn’t for Cody Parkey’s exceptional accuracy for connecting pigskin with metal, they would have seen the divisional round of the playoffs and maybe more.

A week 17 win vs the Vikings and knocking them out of the playoffs would’ve tasted sweet for those at Soldier Field, though. The Bears won 9 of their last 10 with the only loss coming in OT vs the Giants in a strange one.

The defence gave up the fewest points I the NFL over the regular season and were top 10 on offence in points scored, which may surprise some.

Housekeeping

The Bears are not rich in the Salary Cap or Draft Pick stakes after their trades last year.

Around $18m in cap at the time of writing and their 1st and 2nd round picks have been traded away for Mack and Miller respectively. So it’s pretty much as you were in terms of personnel for the Bears.

Outgoings

Rumours of Jordan Howard going out the exit door are interesting. The tandem of Howard and Cohen seem to do the trick, its just a question of perhaps having them both in the backfield to help with trying to not be too predictable for playcalling when one of them are in on the snap. Apart from that, don’t expect too much change for a team that feel like they are almost there.

UPDATE: Amos has signed with the Packers

Incomings

After all of the outlay last season, I’d be surprised if we see much movement from the Bears this offseason. They have most of their pieces in place on both sides of the ball. Maybe a sprinkle here or there for depth. Baked in to that is their lack of options with their salary cap position and draft picks for 2019. Expect a replacement for Howard if he leaves and also maybe an addition or two on the O Line.

UPDATE: Mike Davis has signed from the Seahawks

Outlook for Next Year

Things look great for the Bears and now look to maintain rather than be a part of the chasing pack, which may come as a weird feeling to Bears fans. The microscope will be on Trubisky to see if he can take another (needed) step forward.

The Bears will face a division winners schedule and the collective W% of their opponents last season stands at .520 with matches against the Chiefs, Saints, Rams, Chargers, Cowboys to add on top of 2 matches vs Green Bay and the Vikings. If they retain their division title, they’d have earned it.

Prediction

You’d expect the Packers and Vikings to be much more competitive so things could be a lot tighter this season.

The defence will probably be leaned on once more and grinding out results, which was the winning formula last season. In Nagy’s 2nd season, maybe expect a bit more effectiveness on offence with a few more tricks up his sleeve to come out on the field. I’m not sure Trubisky progresses as much as most will hope and this may just come back to bite them in 2019.

That said, a playoff berth should await them again, but as a 5 or 6 seed.

Fantasy Football

Mitch Trubisky – No thanks. (likely undrafted in redraft, mid/low QB2 range. Maybe one for a late round bestball)

Jordan Howard – 5th Round, low RB 2 range

Tarik Cohen – 4th Round, High RB 2 range (higher in PPR)

Allen Robinson – 3rd Round, low WR2 range

Anthony Miller – 8th/9th Round, low WR3 range

Taylor Gabriel – Late rounds, low WR4

Trey Burton – 9th Round, low TE1

See you on the Upside…

Upside….Potential….Ceiling….

All words synonymous with fantasy football players we all get excited about each off-season.

We all keep a keen eye on minicamp battles, coaches speak from interviews to try and get that extra edge about players that we want on our teams every year.

Average Draft Position, or ADP, is the average position in drafts that players are taken and the beauty of it is, everyone has an opinion on players that are too high, players that are considered steals.

One thing that we always overpay for is where players have anything which is considered close to those first 3 words at the start of this article.

Fantasy Football GMs love a player with upside or potential. Whether it has come from another player leaving and potentially giving a player a bigger role in their offence. Or a player that has been traded for or drafted in to a team where lots of targets are available or come in to a high scoring offence.

Hype starts to build and in most cases, where we hear nothing from the players or the coaches on these players and their roles, we all board the hype train.

This skyrockets player’s average draft position in mock drafts and in some cases, actualy drafts. We usually find ourselves kicking the wall when these players don’t repay the faith we show in them as Fantasy Football managers.

Here we will look at the candidates where the hype train is full or where we are potentially way over the top on for next season.

Quarterbacks:

DeShaun Watson

There will be a common theme here at the Quarterback position. Small sample size but lots of ability.

After being drafted no.12 overall in the 2017 draft, Watson lit up the NFL in his 6 career starts, despite taking a game or two to get in to the groove.

His 1st season start was a TNF game against Cincinnatti and despite not the greatest of games (although coming away with the W), Watson never looked back.

Watson went in to New England in Week 3 and were seconds away from a massive upset of the Patriots. Week 4, Watson scored a rookie record equalling 5 TDs, battering the Titans with a 50 burger, earning Watson the AFC offensive player of the week. He followed that up with a 5TD performance on MNF vs the Chiefs. Week 6, Watson rolled into Seattle and passed for over 400 yards and 4 Touchdowns.

The rookie was named the AFC player of the month and broke the record for number of touchdown by a rookie in a calendar month.

His season was ended prematurely when tearing his ACL in practice on a non contact drill and still managed to put up 1699 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions (including 2 more rushing TDs). He finished 50th on the NFL’s top 100 (polled by their peers).

So this season, Watson is going QB1 in some leagues (yes, over Aaron Rodgers) and even if Watson rediscovers his 2017 form for all 16 games in 2018, this is wayyyy too high. Granted his last 4 starts in 2017, he ended up QB1 and QB2 twice. People are drafting him at his ceiling and it’s no sure thing that we get that Watson back. AN ACL tear could lead to less mobility from Watson and the coaching staff dialling up less plays for Watson to run the ball and scrambling may also be on the downward trend. They are more likely to lean on their run game and their star studded defence in a division that has become a lot tougher.

It is far too risky to take Watson at his current ADP but I can certainly see why people are. I would bet my bottom dollar that Watson will go a few rounds later in 2019 than where he goes next season.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy G finished the season as one of the hottest QBs, and it seems the lasting impression has not been forgotten. After being traded from the Patriots for a measly price, Garoppolo wasted no time in the driving seat of the 49ers and the Kyle Shanahan offence. Winning all 5 games to end the season and throwing for over 1500 yards.

However, he did only throw 7TDs and was intercepted 5 times, a lot of people are buying in to what the 49ers offence could be next season and a lot of that probably has to do with Kyle Shanahan. Jimmy G is the 9th Quarterback off the boards, ahead of Stafford, ahead of Matt Ryan, Phil Rivers and Big Ben. That to me sounds crazy for a guy that has only started a handful of games, like DeSahun Watson. I know he was a backup QB in new England for multiple years and let’s face it, one handsome as hell guy! But to be this high in drafts is only going to lead to disappointment.

Kyle Shanhan loves of finding ways to get everyone the ball and is great at getting the most out of his backfields. Jimmy G wont actually need to do too much in this offence. Their defence has improved and the NFC west has probably got a bit weaker with Seattle going backwards. They also have 3 of their first 4 games away from Levi’s stadium against some decent teams, so you may find yourself ruing that 7th round pick of Jimmy Garoppolo if things don’t quite go to plan at the start of the season for the 49ers.

Running Backs:

Jerick McKinnon

I promise I am not a 49ers hater!

Similar to the comments above regarding schedule and the Kyle Shanahan sharing the love type of offence, Jerick McKinnon is seemingly the workhorse over in the bay area this season. I just worry about him being able to handle the workload. He was never given that in Minnesota and Latavius Murray ended up taking over that backfield in the absence of the injured Dalvin Cook. McKinnon has had plenty of chances to be what he is in San Francisco and never really convinced me he is anything mroe than a 3rd Down/Passing down back, which he is actually very efficient and explosive at.

McKinnon was RB33 in standard scoring last year and only finished inside the top 12RBs 4 out of the 16 weeks (0.5pt PPR). He signed a 4 year, $30m deal to join the 49ers and he has very little in the way of competition. Carlos Hyde has gone to Cleveland, leaving only Matt Breida and Joe Williams in the depth chart. Whilst Matt Breida could have a bit of joy in this offence, I am sure not taking a 3rd round pick chance on McKinnon, especially in standard scoring). McKinnon has never topped 160 carries and barely received 200 touches in a whole season. Whilst he has the ideal place to be utilized best with Kyle Shanahan, the same applies to all the players in the offence and I cant see McKinnon justifying a pick that early in what could be a lower than expected scoring team. Let him be someone else’s problem.

Derrick Henry

From Jerick, to Derrick.

Probably a cop out with Henry here, but if people are going to continue to draft him as high as the 3rd Round, he will continue to be labelled as such.

We all know how much of a physical freak Henry is. The bruising, towering powerful former Alabama back is as physically brutal as they come, but Tennessee made the moves to acquire Dion Lewis from New England. Everyone thought Henry would have been unleashed this season after the departure of DeMarco Murray, but the move for Lewis says to me that Tennessee are not entirely convinced with what Henry can over over a season. He isn’t a pass catching back, nor is he great at picking up pass protection. If it’s one thing that kills running backs in the NFL, it’s the lack of pass protecting skills (just ask Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay staff).

Henry did reel off a few long TD runs last season in garbage time and like I’ve said, the potential is there, but people are chasing their losses after last year and you will once again get your fingers burned. 4 top 12 finishes in fantasy last year does not inspire confidence for me with a 3rd round pick. Yuk. Players going in the vicinity of Henry at the moment are Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffrey and Jay Ajayi along with the rookie Guice. 100 times out of 100 I would take all of those over Henry. Always.

 

Wide Receivers

Josh Gordon

May be a bit of a controversial one here. No-one is doubting his talent or his credentials of justifying his 3rd round investment required to acquire him in drafts currently, there are just too many potential things getting in the way for me, his off field issues being top of that list.

Josh Gordon or “Flash” has missed so much time with his off field troubles with substance abuse and hopefully, all that is now behind him. Photos going round showing what kind of shape he is in at the moment look impressive and maybe finally we can see a return of the WR that finished with over 1600 yards (!) and 9TDs in 2013. If you can guarantee me 16 games for Gordon next season and that he has returned to optimum peak conditioning, I could perhaps buy in to his 3rd round investment, but there are also other factors now affecting this too much for me to be comfortable with doing so;

Firstly,  Hue Jackson. Hue Jackson is an awful coach. The Browns have won just won 1 game in 2 seasons and have not won on a Sunday since Dec 13, 2015. Yikes.

The team are perennial low scorers every season and this season looks to be no different.

Change in Quarterback, an influx of players on offence and a QB waiting in the wings in Baker Mayfield mean that there are so many variables surrounding this team that I cannot be confident that Gordon will return any value with his current draft position (or even expected returns for a potential WR1 or 2 for that matter).

Yes, he could quite easily have a season of 10TDs and 1000 yards, but Jarvis Landry being there really could cut into his piece of the pie, helping the team sustain drives and be a go to target for Taylor. Tyrod Taylor is an average, steady Eddie type of QB and although he throws a good long ball, it’s a messy offence and it’s hard to know how well this offence will gel. Added in to that a fairly difficult schedule and the fact he has to prove that he still has it too because he didn’t exactly set the world on fire on his return last year (18 rec , 335 yards and 1 TD in 5 games), I’ll pass.

Tyreek Hill

Hill was very much utilised all over the field last year: Rushing (14 targets behind the line of scrimmage too!), passing (threw an interception) and receiving.

This year, it could all come crashing down.

New quarterback in Patrick Mahomes (some say that will help Hill’s skill set on the nine route) and a new shiny Wide Receiver in Sammy Watkins. We all know what a healthy Sammy Watkins can do and obviously didn’t flash his best but had little time to learn the playbook in LA with the Rams. Watkins could shine brighter than HIll here, and he is going at least 4 rounds later in drafts. Oh, and there’s top tier TE Travis Kelce still there too.

Whilst Hill will be in contention for the most targets and touches in the offence, he could turn out to be very boom or bust next year. End of season stats may return dividends for Hill owners once it’s all said and done, but you may find yourself not playing in the fantasy playoffs because of Hill. Look at last seasons weekly finishes in fantasy (0.5ppr):

3, 47,17 ,59, 32, 3, 58, 5, 20, 36, 1, 37,10, 10 – That’s more ups and downs that a Thorpe Park Roller coaster. You want to commit to this as potentially your WR1? Oh, you do…well good luck to you. Word of Warning: Schedule. Kansas City and Andy Reid are well known for their Regular Season form. They smashed the Patriots on opening night last year so they are not afraid to play the big teams. They travel to the Chargers, Steelers and Broncos in the first 4 weeks and Mahomes will be tested on his mental strength as well as his abilities. One thing in Tyreek’s favour is that the KC defence is a shadow of it’s former self and could lead to a lot of shootouts.

Tight Ends

Trey Burton

You cant spell trendy without the word Trey.

Trey Burton, the former backup tight end in Philadelphia to Zach Ertz, the backup QB to Nick Foles (just kidding, but did you see that throw to Foles in the Super Bowl?) now finds himself in Chicago on a pretty nice deal. After getting pretty much a WR deal (4 year, $32m), it seems the man sharing his name with a UK mens clothing retail chain is line for an interesting workload this coming season. He is the 9th TE off the board and whilst that translates to a late 7th/early 8th round pick, it’s actually not bad value. It could just be that this may be a year too early.

Chicago and Trubisky struggled last year under John Fox (who has now gone) and Matt Nagy has joined the ranks so hopefully play calling wont see Burton’s production suffering. However, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Chi-town. Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and of course, marquee signing Allen Robinson have also joined the offence during the free agency and the draft and you also have Tarik Cohen lurking there in the backfield too. Trubisky will need to step forward to sustain a couple of these in fantasy and Trey Burton may not necessarily be top of the list. He should offer you a service at Tight End, which is hit or miss at the best of times but you may be struggling if it is only him you are relying on. I expect Burton’s ADP to rise going into preseason as the hype in this Chicago team gathers pace, at which point I may look to other options at Tight End. Drafting a tight end in round 6 or 7 but not being certain of being able to lock it and load it week to week isn’t something I am a fan of.

 

Mock Draft Monday – Draft 1.0

It’s Monday….*sigh* so what’s a good remedy to brighten up a Monday?

No, not a beer. A mock draft of course!

It’s never too early to mock draft unless its Week 2 of the regular season and seeing as though it isn’t Week 2 right now, it seems like a perfect time to mock draft.

This week we will be doing our draft with the following setup:

12 team, 1pt PPR , 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and 1 DEF with 6 Bench spots (there is not point doing kickers). The rookies coming in from the 2018 draft will be included in this draft.

As it’s the first one in this series, we shall go easy on ourselves and we will be picking from the number 3 spot. We are drafting on FantasyPros mock draft simulator. A very good tool to use to get comfortable in drafting.

There will be a post or podcast in the very near future on draft strategies so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Right, so we are picking from the 3 seed. I know for a fact that we will be going RB in this first round as i am such an advocate for getting the RB1 locked in and with the 3 spot, you can guarantee that you’ll get a volume type elite back. With it being a PPR league, I am hoping for either LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley, Zeke or David Johnson types.

Todd Gurley went #1 off the board followed by Antonio Brown.

This leaves us with a decision to make; and whilst no pick here is necessarily a bad one, don’t overthink it. It’s likely that you’ll have your preferences however it comes to you, and for me it’s a coin toss between Lev Bell and Zeke.

I will go Lev Bell, purely on the passing down work that he gets.

So we start off with Lev Bell and as our pick is not until the 10th pick of the 2nd round, I would hope that someone like a Davantae Adams drops this far, although unlikely. Anyone that is a funnelled target monster would be great.

Now, the important thing when drafting, is remember where you are in the draft order. If you are in the middle of the draft order then this doesn’t apply so much but as we are pretty much at one of the book ends, it is vital that you look at the teams picking next to you in between your 2 quick picks (i.e the teams that selected 1st and 2nd overall. This way you can try and identify their moves and stay one step ahead. You have to consider their roster construction to see what positions they may try and fill or are in need of.

in the round 2-3 change around, it’s likely that the 2 teams will have at least 1 RB and 1 WR so in this change around, you should go with who you want and not worry too much about the other 2 teams as its likely 2 WR and 2 RBs go in those 4 picks between your next one in round 3. Therefore, in my mind, I want to look at tiers of players.

Are there any players here that I can grab before these other guys that represent a higher tier than the next guy. Also, looking at the draft board on the whole, 2 teams went double WR and 1 team went double RB. Full list as below:

2018-04-16

Here is what is currently available to me:

QBs: All

RBs: Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram & Jordan Howard

WR: Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill, Doug Baldwin, TY Hilton, Stefon Diggs & Brandin Cooks

TE: Everyone but Gronkowski (went 2.5)

When picking in the spot we are, you should always try and pick the players you like but also taking in to consideration which ones may not get back to you when the 3rd pick comes back round. I would put my house on Dalvin Cook being selected, and any other 3 from the list above. If is had to take a guess – Cook, Freeman, Thielen, Baldwin & maybe Kelce.

To me, this is an easy choice, but only because our turn comes back around very quickly and we will still be able to get the same tier of player when that happens. I am going to take Dalvin Cook, here. Purely because he could be a tier above the rest of the guys. I don’t feel overly comfortable taking a 2nd round pick on any of the WR but I will still be able to take one in the 3rd round (assuming 4 WR don’t go off the board).

So I have taken Dalvin Cook and that gives me 2 RBs to start (one note: if you would guarantee me that Joe Mixon fell to me in the 4th round, I would have gone WR most likely).

The next 4 picks are as follows: Rodgers (QB), Hill(WR),Kelce(TE), Baldwin(WR).

So we have had a bit of luck here as the 2 teams in between us reached a tad on Rodgers and Kelce (in my opinion). You’ll find picking at either end of the draft, that you feel that you may have to reach in order to get the players you want. Don’t be afraid to do that, especially if you think they are going to have a good year. Fantasy Football is all about opinions and it’s ok to make a wrong decision, as long as you learn from it.

So as we have 2 RBs already, it makes sense to go WR. We have Thielen, Hilton, Diggs, Cooks, Fitzgerald, Landry, Robinson. Like I said earlier with my round 2 pick, I want someone that will have targets funnelled to them as its a 1pt PPR. Whilst Thielen and Diggs will get plenty of receptions in this offence, my eyes are drawn towards Larry Fitzgerald – a PPR monster for god knows how long, and Allen Robinson, the new WR at Chicago who will be the focal point of the attack. whilst i don’t mind which WR anyone would go in this situation, for me it’s all about volume and opportunity so I will go with Larry Fitzgerald. Here’s one reason why: Larry fitz is around 90 or so catches from overtaking Tony Gonzalez and making it to No.2 on the all time list. Larry would not have come back unless the coaching staff said to him that we will get you to 2nd. As long Bradford stays healthy,  this will happen(even Mike Glennon can force feed WR, or the opposing Defence…).So with that in mind that’s 90 pts right off the bat for Larry Fitzgerald. The red flags here are injury or hitting the veteran wall (unlikely) and David Johnson. But in effect, this team has no WR apart from Fitzgerald as John Brown has been shown the exit door in free agency, as has Jaron Brown. Leaving just Fitz , FA Brice Butler and JJ Nelson so I am confident if healthy, Fitz gets the receptions record and then sets off into the Sonoran desert.

I take Fitzgerald and wait for a while before it comes back round to my pick at 4.10. On reflection, Larry Fitz as your no.1 WR seems a bit underwhelming, but you just have to trust on the production he will produce, especially in PPR leagues this year. In standard, I would have gone Thielen or Robinson.

So when the pick comes back to me in the 4th Round, here is the draft board:

2018-04-16-1.png

As you can see, most teams are pretty even in terms of roster construction. Team 1 does not have a running back yet so you can bet your bottom dollar that’s where he goes for at least 1 of his two picks that shortly follow mine and it’s hard to know what team 2 will do, having a RB, WR and QB on the board. Whilst Jordan Howard is VERY tempting here and likely will be picked up by team 1 if not team 2 and does represent a tier above the other RBs, there are some good PPR RBs that will still be there when it comes back to me in round 5 (Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson, etc) and i would rather have those than Howard, whose receiving is not the greatest. The WR available to me are: D.Thomas, M.Crabtree, J Smith-Schuster, Sammy Watkins, Pierre Garcon and Robert Woods. Easy choice for me here and it’s Thomas. Mr dependable in PPR for Denver, he is still their no.1 guy there (despite age getting scary for him but the same can be said for Sanders and they now have Case Keenum, who helped Thielen and Diggs have good years so I am really happy to get Thomas here.

The next 4 picks where Howard (gut wrenching stuff for Team 1 there), Russell Wilson (wayyyy too early) and Alex Collins for team 1, followed by Crabtree for Team 2.

So back to me in the 5th Round, I have Bell and Cook as my RBs paired with Larry Fitz and Demaryius Thomas at WR. I feel like this is an important pick here as from round 6, it could start to get a bit dicey. So essentially, this pick will go in to my flex spot and there are plenty of options. Could go QB with Tom Brady, could go TE with Engram or Olsen whereas the RB options are Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry, Chris Thompson and Jay Ajayi. My WR options are the same as Round 4 minus Crabtree. As this is a PPR league and RB in PPR are easy to come by, I am going to make a play for WR. As things stand and no big news of 49ers WR signings, I will go for Pierre Garcon here. He is getting on a bit with age, and has not yet played with Jimmy G but he was the focal point of the attack last year and again, I will go for the volume and possession receivers. Did consider Sammy Watkins at the value but he will be too boom or bust for me this year and I don’t want the headache of trying to get him right.

Back round to me in the 6th and we have the following draft board:

2018-04-16-2.png

Bit of a QB run in Round 6 and 4 TEs also went between my picks. So the good news is the WR and RB positions were not as decimated as they could have been. As I have gone 3 straight WR, I want to secure my third RB here. Dion Lewis is still available, but so is his former teammate, Rex Burkhead. Rex has just signed a new 3 year deal with the Patriots and seems to be entrusted with the backfield a bit. Tevin Coleman is also there so I am tempted to take Lewis as he is the fancier name with the Free Agency move and I will hope that one of Burkhead or Coleman come back round to me in 5 picks time.

They do indeed come back round and only Carlos Hyde was selected from an RB perspective. Woods, Shepherd and Edelman also were drafted before my 7.03 selection. There are not a lot of WR shouting out at me, with the best 3 options being Sanders, Kupp and Hogan. As I am an advocate of a late QB and late TE pick, I will go back to an RB. Jay Ajayi could be worth a go here, but I am going with Rex Burkhead.

So to recap, my team is currently Bell, Cook, Lewis and Burkhead at RB. Larry Fitz, D.Thomas and Pierre Garcon at WR. 5QBs and 8RBs went in the next 18 picks which is quite astonishing. I am the only team left needing a first QB, meaning i can probably wait until people start taking their 2nd (if at all), giving me great value filling up the other positions (4 teams still need a TE). I feel like i have to go either TE or WR here. TEs available are Delanie Walker, Jack Doyle, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton. As I am looking at Trey Burton as my TE, I think he wont go for another 2 or 3 rounds so can wait for him. WR available are Kupp, Hogan, Agholor, Benjamin and Lee. I think here is where i can go for a boom or bust player as my team is pretty stable as it is at the moment and I don’t need a QB. Considering how good the Rams were last year, I take the possession receiver Kupp as I want a part of that offence, in a division where defences are poor. He isn’t the boom or bust type, but there will be weeks where he scores big but has a safe floor. 3RBs and Delanie Walker were drafted in between my picks leaving us as follows:

2018-04-16-3.png

You could argue that I should have taken Walker and then a WR as Kupp may have been available which is fair. I’m regretting it already. I would say that now is the time for a TE or QB, but simply not many teams need a TE and none need a QB so i am going to risk the long wait for round 10 to take a TE and then my QB in round 11. I am going to pile in on another receiver. It’s either Agholor or Hogan for me here as they are in the more powerful offences and would rather them than someone like Kelvin Benjamin. I think Hogan was an integral part of the offence prior to injury last year so will take him here.

SPOILER: I wont be taking any rookies here unless its a 15th round flyer. I like to see it first before i draft it.

The Good news is, when it gets to me at 10.10, only 1 TE went. Annoyingly, it was Trey Burton. Seeing as that plan backfired, I feel like I will end up taking 2 TE now and playing them with the matchups. So I immediately take Jordan Reed, who has massive upside if healthy. This will force my hand in taking 2 TE but I am happy with that as my WR and RB are good in depth. Perhaps should take Jack Doyle in a PPR but the signing of Eric Ebron scares me and that Colts offence….yuk.

Jack Doyle is still there in round 11 but I am going to take my QB here. The best QB on the board at the moment is Kirk Cousins. Others available are Big Ben, Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan. I am a bit scared of taking Cousins due to the Vikings not necessarily needing much from him with Dalvin Cook and that Defence. Big Ben is very up and down and that’s the case for all of these QBs at this point. But as there are a lot of weapons for Cousins, I will take him and change from my usual take Phillip Rivers ploy.

My team is as follows:

QB: Cousins

RB: Bell, Cook, Lewis, Burkhead

WR: Fitzgerald, D.Thomas, Garcon, Kupp, Hogan

TE: Reed

Options available to me now are TY Montgomery who has potential upside in the GB offence, Desean Jackson, Mohammed Sanu and Ted Ginn, boom or bust WR. However I am going to pick my backup TE to Jordan Reed in George Kittle. Probably not advisable to have players from the same passing attack, but I like Kittle a lot this season coming in to his second year. Could have gone Cameron Brate or Austin Seferian-Jenkins here also.

The turn saw Jacksonville defence come off the board (1st defence to be drafted) and as I am picking late in the last round, I do not want to be left with a middle of the road defence. It’s a take your pick from Minnesota, Philadelphia and for me, Los Angeles Rams. I am going to be controversial and take the Rams before the Vikings and Eagles defences. Don’t @ me. It’s a division where they could feast on the Seattle offence twice a year along with Arizona, one of the worst for giving up sacks last year.

My last pick could be absolutely anyone. RBs on the board are not inspiring: Abdullah, Martin , Breida and Robert Kelley. WRs are Desean Jackson, Corey Coleman, Mike Wallace,  Danny Amendola and Mo Sanu. I don’t need a TE and there is not point taking another defence or QB. So I plump for Sanu, who had some good weeks last year and is the No.1 in Atlanta, if Julio goes down.

So that’s my draft! The good thing about fantasyPros is that they grade your draft and here’s how I did:

2018-04-16-4.png

On reflection, there were probably one or two players I could have waited on a bit longer but this is why you practice drafts. to see what players are in which parts of the draft and get comfortable in predicting who you can get where. I love the RBs on this team and if it was real, i would look to trade one to an RB needy team. Not overly enthused about my TE but if Reed plays 16 games, then I perhaps have the steal of the draft.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! We will do another one soon. perhaps over a podcast as this was very painful to do as a blog and has taken almost 2 or 3 hours.

Love to hear your thoughts on my team or which team won in this draft. For reference, here are the final rosters below:

2018-04-16 (5)

Please get in touch on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let us know your thoughts! Don’t forget our #raceto500 giveaway. When we have 500 followers we will give a prize away (likely an NFL jersey!). Please show some support on our website full10yards.com and look at some of the articles and mock drafts that are on there.

Finally, our podcast will be back later in the week where we will be looking at the 2018 NFL draft with our guest mock draft writer, Lee Wakefield.

 

Free Agency – Is my End Tight enough?

te_slant

The tight end position is a dumpster fire of a position in Fantasy. So I shall not keep you long.

You either stream the position until 1 sticks, draft one too high if you want to draft it and forget it (Gronkowski, Kelce being the main ones in recent years after Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen’s ascendancies in New Orleans and Carolina respectively). or you pick up a mid to late round one and maybe grab one off of waivers and “see how it goes”. Either way, GMs ideas of how to play the Tight end is probably one of the most varied on the spectrum of the skills positions (QB being the nearest comparative).

Couple with that, you aren’t able to get much of an edge from rookies as TEs don’t usually perform that great in the NFL (Evan Engram last year aside). Whether this is due to the TE always being scheme dependant, or it just takes a couple of years to get to grips with the TE position in the sport.

All in all, I can see why some leagues make the TE only position a flex, essentially treating the more elite TEs effectively a WR.

That said, the Free Agency has thrown up some interesting storylines heading in to the 2018 season;

Trey Burton was the guy who is probably the biggest winner in the TE Free Agency. He heads over to the Bears for a whopping 4 year, $32m deal. The coaching staff there have already come out and said they intend to use Trey Burton as a pass catcher, working from the slot on occasions (All aboard the hype train!) and with the name exposure he gained from the SuperBowl, expect Mr UK Men’s Clothes Retailer to go overdrafted in your league.

That said, he is only 26 and has his best years ahead and now will get the volume, so who’s to say he cant break into the top 5 this year at the Tight End position? The offence needs to take a step forward under Trubisky but a TE is always a QBs (especially newer QBs) best friend and security blanket. I think he’ll have a big year.

Jimmy Graham not signing back to the Saints was a big surprise once it was confirmed he was leaving Seattle. Instead Green Bay, who aren’t particularly great with TEs in recent memory, came calling and have acquired Jimmy Graham to a $30m, 3 year deal. On the face of it, considering how much Graham has slowed down and become more of a Redzone target (and injury prone), the Packers probably overpaid here. However, With Jordy gone, they needed to replace that Redzone/Endzone body who can just catch the ball and Graham certainly is that. Saints ended up signing former Baltimore Raven veteran Benjamin Watson, who is literally one of the oldest players I know (not personally) and have no idea how he is still getting work.

Ed Dickson, who showed as a competent replacement when Greg Olsen went down last year, has broken free from the shackles of Carolina and has replaced Jimmy Graham at Seattle. But before you get excited, Dickson is primarily a blocking tight end so don’t go rushing to pick him up for your fantasy rosters. Instead keep an eye on Nick Vannett. The 3rd year tight end looks certain to be the pass catcher here in Seattle so there is also a chance that both Dickson and Vannett share targets. In which case, temper expectations for both.

Another surprising move to me saw former New York Jets Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins move to Jacksonville. Surprising in the sense that why didn’t NYJ at least match that offer? They had the cap space for it, he produced effectively last year for the team and is still only 25 years young (if Ben Watson is the barometer for age). He has proved he is over his former demons so maybe there was something else the Jets weren’t liking and decided to cut ties. Either way, seems like a silly move as he was a good fit in that offence. I don’t see him being as good a fit in this offence, though Tom Coughlin knows how to get production out of TEs and often did with lesser names in New York. Jacksonville are going to be a run first heavy offence, but the signing of ASJ gives Bortles a security blanket to make easier, high percentage throws. They got him at a steal, too- $10m over 2 years.

 

Fantasy Impact: Most of the guys above will be drafted by GMs in 2018 (with the exception of maybe 1 in Seattle, but both of those will have streaming value once we have more info on depth and usage type). As stated above, expect Trey Burton to go way earlier than perhaps he should (perhaps 7th or 8th round in 10 team leagues, around the Delanie Walker/Jack Doyle/Jimmy Graham area?) so unless he falls to you in the 9th or 10th round, I’ll probably pass on Ertz in standard leagues. As he is likely to see a fair share of targets, I don’t mind so much in PPR seeing as though TE is a wasteland.

Jimmy Graham could be anything but if you want a QB throwing to you, it’s Aaron Rodgers (though Brock Osweiler to TE is the utopia for receptions lets not forget). However, note of caution on that; everyone thought Martellus Bennett was a good thing last year and he bombed out. I do think Graham will perform better than most recent tight ends in Green Bay due to the Jordy Nelson exit, vacating redzone targets narrative, but i wouldn’t touch him any earlier than the 9th or 10th round, and a lot of people will get him before then.


In other Tight End news:

Tyler Eifert re-signed with the Bengals and has sleeper credentials if he can stay healthy. A lot of people will have given up on him and this also kills Tyler Kroft’s value unless Eifert injures himself again in 2018 (more than likely). Eifert likely to be a double digit round guy because of this so has low risk and potentially high reward and is a perfect draft pick for those that stream the position anyway.

Luke Willson has signed with the Lions from Seattle, with the exiting Eric Ebron signing for the Colts in is what must be the worst Free Agency move in my opinion. Jack Doyle owners will not like the signing of Ebron as there is potentially a 2 TE setup onslaught coming from the colts to try and protect Andrew Luck and Ebron could quite easily eat in to the wealth of targets Jack Doyle saw last year (2nd in targets to Travis Kelce at the TE position with 80). Indianapolis have a history of employing 2 TEs in their lineups going back to the Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen days (doesn’t time go fast). Luke WIllson could see a bit of usage as the lions look to get answers at the TE position so may be a name worth keeping tabs on.

Virgil Green has signed with the Chargers, which was a slightly strange one and it’ll leave more puzzling questions as to what Hunter Henry does next season in terms of usage and receptions.

As previously stated, Ben Watson has signed with New Orleans on a 1 year deal and I fully expect the Saints to draft a TE early in this year’s draft (you can view my mock drafts here).

And finally, Cameron Brate signed a massive deal to re-sign with the Buccaneers so the tandem of he and OJ Howard will continue to leave GMs scratching their heads at which one to utilise in their fantasy teams next season.