Ah Pro-Ready. Possibly my least favourite draft term. Vague enough to not really mean anything, but pervasive enough to completely change how we rank draft prospect.
Theoretically it gives us a good insight into who can be early contributors in the NFL, but really it limits imaginative thinking on draft day. Why do I think it’s so awful? It’s partly because of my beliefs over what a good drafting philosophy is, but also because it’s just a silly way of labelling players and it needs to stop. There will be a lot of people who will gawk at this theory, so let’s go through why the pro-ready label is so ridiculous.
Firstly, I really don’t believe there is any such thing as a safe, pro-ready prospect in the NFL Draft. Jeff Okudah was supposedly one of the cleanest corner prospects of the last decade. How did his rookie season go? Andrew Thomas was the most pro-ready of those top four tackle prospects in 2020 by most accounts, but was by far the worst of the lot this past season. The draft is a complete crapshoot the majority of the time, as much as us twitter scouts would like to say otherwise, so the word is completely pointless the majority of the time.
Secondly, let’s call it what it is for just a moment. There are some racial undertones to draft coverage, especially with Quarterbacks, and it makes itself clear with terms like pro-ready. White linebackers are described as instinctive and having excellent football IQ. Black linebackers are described as athletic and toolsy. It’s clearly problematic. Just look at the whole Justin Fields palava right now. Fields is athletically gifted but can’t process well enough and doesn’t have a good enough work ethic. Our full of smiles white Quarterback Mac Jones however is hyped as the perfect teammate and a brilliant scheme fit for everybody despite his lack of arm, athleticism and any evidence he can perform without the best offence in college football around him.
Explain to me how Mac Jones is more pro-ready than a two year starter in Justin Fields.
Yes I think Fields has issues with holding on to the ball too long, and yes he does need to get through his reads faster, but the evidence is clear that he can do it. It’s all over his tape. Even with that though he has the athletic tools to make up for any early issues he has as a passer, which Jones does not, and I’d love to hear how the guy who was at the forefront of the campaign to get this season played, and fought through broken ribs to out-duel the number one pick in this draft in the Sugar Bowl, doesn’t want it enough. There’s a theme here, and it’s staring us in the face.
Away from the undertones of the term pro-ready and the debates it causes, this whole Fields vs. Jones debate is indicative of the main issue we have when viewing the concept as a desirable trait. Because, beyond any other argument, pro-ready is just an inherently stupid term to use when talking about Quarterbacks. It’s the reason the Chicago Bears took Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. It’s the reason Lamar Jackson was selected 22 picks after Josh Rosen. It’s the reason people genuinely believe that Mac Jones is a better fit to the 49ers at 3 over the clearly more talented pair of Fields and Lance. It just makes no sense. I don’t understand why people look for a plug and play starter at the Quarterback position from Year 1, instead of a player who has genuine superstar potential for the next decade plus. Mac Jones may have a theoretically higher floor than Justin Fields or Trey Lance, but who actually cares? NFL GM’s don’t want to bust on a Quarterback because it probably means they’ll be out of a job, but I’d rather go down in a blaze of glory with Trey Lance than watch Mac Jones be out-manoeuvred by a more talented Quarterback in key moments, a la 2019 Jimmy G. The best Quarterbacks in the league are these physically gifted freaks right now, so why would you ever settle for a cheaper and less talented Matt Ryan over a Josh Allen type who is raw but could be genuinely special.
It’s the same reasoning behind why I have Kellen Mond ranked higher on my big board than Kyle Trask in the developmental sphere of this Quarterback class. I don’t care about getting a potentially limited starter in Trask. Instead I’m going to throw my chips towards the guy with all the traits to be great. Now there is a much higher chance that Trask hits his ceiling in the NFL, for him I’d say that would be the career of Nick Foles, but he’s never going to be good enough for me to want him as my Quarterback long term. Kellen Mond has a more boom or bust profile, but whilst the chances of him hitting his ceiling is lower, his ceiling is Dak Prescott. I know which one of those guys I want to gamble on.
For me this translates to other positions as well. As I said earlier, I don’t think there is such a thing as a truly safe prospect. Especially with the 2021 Draft being packed with opt-outs that we haven’t seen play in a year. Therefore why should we chase these ‘pro-ready’ guys, when they are more than likely just not, rather than taking shots on guys with huge ceilings who may need a little work. I think the only position where I’m truly considering how pro-ready a player is running back, but that’s a positional value thing mainly. Given the lower value, I’d prefer to get a guy who will execute what you ask him to on Day 3 than a high end talent in Round 2. Give me Rhamondre Stevenson over any of the top tier guys every day of the week and let me invest in valuable positions on Day 2. Other than that though, it’s a silly thought. Especially given teams should never enter the draft needing to fill a massive need. That should be sorted in free agency.
So let’s stop using the term pro-ready. Knowing that some players project to be early contributors is useful, especially in the mid rounds where I’m looking at more limited prospects, but when I’m making a long term decision for my franchise it shouldn’t factor into the equation. Let’s chase elite talent at elite positions, especially when it’s about choosing the face of your franchise moving forward. Because you don’t want to be stuck paying a Mac Jones $30 million a year when Lamar or Mahomes come to town. We’ve already seen how that plays out.
Following on from the landscape series we’re taking a look at which players have the most to lose in terms of opportunities and thus fantasy value during the 2021 NFL Draft. Free Agency could still deal out a few more hammer blows to players fantasy value, but for now we are going to review each position and see who has the most to lose.
Many are expecting Sam Darnold to be the biggest loser from the 2021 draft. From being a starting QB he may well end up as a backup or seen as “a potential successor” for a team with an aging QB with the Steelers or Falcons. He could also go to whichever team fails to get their guy in the draft and be a sort of “runners-up prize” but with the weight of whatever trade occurs also hanging over him like Mono after a freshers week…
It’s likely that the Jets grab a QB at #2 and it will leave Darnold in the cold. If they trade out of that spot and stick with Darnold then this turns on its head and he becomes the biggest winner from that trade. I still see him being traded to whichever of Denver and Carolina miss out on a QB which could end up as a small win, but still, his career so far has been a big L and his fantasy value is 0 until proven otherwise.
Another current starting QB who could be under threat after the draft. The Panthers have made no secret of wanting to grab their QB of the future and Bridgewater was only really a stop gap solution. This looks set to be a scenario similar to the Dolphins last year where the QB switch happens mid-season, with the new guy stepping in and Teddy B being kicked to the sidelines. He’s never truly recovered after his left leg injury in a 2016 practice and it would appear a career as a backup awaits.
To many, Drew Lock is already a big loser as he’s de-values the Denver offence (more on that later) and prevents them from being more competitive. Multiple analysts and commentators are calling for a QB change in Denver despite Lock being the 42nd overall pick in 2019. He just hasn’t developed and has cost his team games. Should the Broncos opt to try again with another QB then his time there is up and with the data available, would any team take him on and be able to build him back up? I don’t think so. Lock would become a backup and any key, barrel or other lock based puns would be thrown away.
Perhaps the most obvious Running Back conundrum is in Miami as they haven’t yet added to their stable which will be music to the ears of Myles Gaskin. He was a 7th round draft pick in 2019 and after multiple injuries for the Dolphins left him as the next man up, he excelled and staked a claim for a permanent role. With the Howard/Breida experiment thankfully out of the way, he could find himself as the teams RB1. However, Free agency isn’t over and there are names out there, none that would usurp him, only that would create a committee where he would be the younger and fitter of the two. The draft looks like the only way he gets truly usurped and has his value torpedoed. Should the Dolphins use their draft capital on a Harris, Etienne or Williams then Gaskin will be the backup and the Dolphins offence will take another step forwards. I expect this to happen at #18.
The Cardinals have been saying that they have faith in Chase Edmonds should they require him to be a 3 down back, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. They’d like to add another running back in there for sure but will it be a high capital draft pick which bumps Edmonds back down to a pass catching specialist, or will it be low enough such that Edmonds is the lead back of a committee? The veteran FA options are still there lingering and having a bruiser to replace Kenyan Drake is possible. But if James Conner, Todd Gurley or Lev Bell arrive in the desert Edmonds is probably still the better fantasy option, just not a bell cow. I expect the Cardinals will use the draft and create a committee. There’s no way Edmonds goes in without some kind of running mate beyond Eno Benjamin, although I could be doing Benjamin a disservice there. Still, if they draft nobody, Edmonds becomes a very interesting fantasy discussion point.
So the Jets running back depth chart currently stands at Lamical Perine, Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. Perine was useful at the end of last season and if the Jets still feel they need another rebuild year they might just roll with him and rely more on air miles to get the ball downfield. That committee would be low cost but effective enough and frankly a free shot. However, if they want to compete fully they will need to find a true starter and with the Free Agent pool rather dry as mentioned earlier, the draft is the only real way to do it. I’m sort of expecting a veteran to end up there on a prove it deal which pleases nobody and then the whole committee ends up having next to no fantasy value. That being said, some dynasty owners of Perine will be watching avidly as there’s a chance he ends up a huge winner.
The Steelers running back room consists of recently signed Kalen Ballage, Anthony McFarland and Benny Snell and that’s it. James Conner could return on some low cost, weird structured deal but that will only happen if the Steelers don’t get anyone better in the draft. The Harris/Etienne/Williams three would have instant value in Pittsburgh and would render the current backs valueless, but even if they wait a few rounds, that committee will start the season as a dart throw for deep leagues only. James Conner has a lot to lose as a Steelers pick could leave him waiting for injuries to get a call (which would be rather ironic really).
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Reagor was drafted 21st overall in 2020 and even in a team that was void of fit and capable wide receivers, he was outshone by Travis Fulgham… That’s not strictly fair or true. Fulgham was a short term wonder and Reagor spent a lot of time injured, but still, it wasn’t the best start. Now the Eagles have let go of a number of receivers and Reagor may find he has competition for the WR1 spot. Indeed his target share is likely to take a hit, it’s just a question of how much, which will be dependent on how high the Eagles draft a WR or even a TE (Kyle Pitts isn’t impossible). The Eagles have no cap space to grab a free agent (oh and there are none left as I pointed out in my WR Landscape article) so Jalen Hurts will be hoping they land a Chase/Waddle/Smith/Bateman so work with Reagor. Some would see it as a win as he will see less double teams with adequate support. That’s not as good as being the only highly regarded target though.
Will Fuller/DeVante Parker
The Dolphins appear here again which is partly due to the amount of draft capital they have. Talk all off season has been about them drafting JaMarr Chase at 3. After the recent trades with the 49ers and Eagles they find themselves at 6 and still potentially drafting the same player. Great business, but what does it mean for Parker and new signing Fuller? Fuller has a 1yr deal and his “run long” style of play doesn’t really match with Tua, but one or the other may be able to adapt. Should a new guy arrive with a 1st round pick then that time investment is less likely and he could just be a $10m distraction tactic. Parker has played with Tua and has some chemistry, but it’s not been the greatest experience so far and from being seen as finally breaking through, he may be regressing quickly back into a WR2 for his team and less than that for fantasy.
Michael Pittman/Parris Campbell
The Colts are another team who might draft a receiver. Signing TY Hilton suggests they are willing to develop Pittman for another year and keep Parris Campbell in reserve. Pittman was the 34th pick in 2020 and Campbell pick #59 in 2019. Neither excelled last season but it wasn’t an offence built for WR success as they were very run heavy. With the arrival of Carson Wentz both have a chance of stepping forwards and also learning some more from TY Hilton. That could all be thrown in the air if they bring in another head with a high pick. Hilton is only on a 1yr deal and if the team draft another WR then it would suggest they don’t have faith in one or both of the recent 2nd round picks. This is another situation where we will find out whether a guy has an opportunity to be the WR1 for their team, or whether it’ll always be a less favourable scenario for fantasy. If you want my advice, Pittman may never be as cheap to buy as he is now, post-draft, his hype train could pick up speed very quickly.
Courtland Sutton/Jerry Jeudy/Noah Fant
And finally, back to something I mentioned earlier. Drew Lock has somewhat dented all of these fantasy options and after maybe Myles Gaskin, these three have the most to lose in the draft is the Broncos do not get a QB. It’s harsh but if Lock is throwing to them then they will not be able to unlock their true potential. It’s key for their development that the Broncos make the right pick. If they go with Lock in 2021 then it’ll be another year of disappointment and we will be having this discussion again next year. It’ll very much be a case of locking the stable door after the Bronco has bolted. I think I’ve o-pun-ed enough Lock jokes there to avoid missing out, but the point stands, if Denver do get a new QB then Sutton, Jeudy and Fant will get an uptick in their value for sure!
Happy new league year everyone. The Hype Train has come out of the shed and right now we are in the shunting yard trying to figure out who has a complete train and who is a few carriages short of an express. This series will take a look at each skill position and try to figure out where we stand after a few days of Free Agency and with the draft coming up fast on the horizon.
As you can see in the table above there are still a few teams who have work to do before determining their QB starter for week 1.
Clearly the Jags and Jets are going to draft their QB of the future at picks 1 and 2. It’s arguable that the Jets could trade down and stick with Sam Darnold but I just don’t see it happening. It does leave the intriguing question of what they do with Darnold. Teams will be calling about Darnold but Denver is his only shot at a 2021 start and even then he’d have to battle Lock.
You don’t need me to tell you that Trevor Lawrence will be the Jags QB and the Jets will have Fields or Wilson. Whichever of those two is available could well be picked at #3 if Miami feel they can trade down and still get a top tier WR. The Broncos and Panthers are most likely to trade up and then it’d be a matter of time before Lock/Bridgewater are moved on.
The other QBs in the draft will need time to learn and so will sit out most if not all of their first year but you’d expect at least 3 to end up starting at some point in 2022.
As for free agency, all the business seems to have been done. With Dalton getting a shot to start and then a number of backups being signed the only player of note left is Alex Smith who will at best be a backup and are more likely to be signed as an “injury substitute”. He proved he still has life left in him after his stint in Washington last season, but nobody really felt he would be able to cope with a whole 17 game season with a re-constructed leg.
We also have the longer term soap operas in Houston and Seattle to consider. Russel Wilson is growing tired of how he’s being misused at the while Deshaun Watson is annoyed that the Texans promised him he’d be a part of the new head coach discussions and then ignorred him. He asked for a trade but the Texans have not even entertained the thought which has only further fuelled the resentment. He’s also got multiple lawsuits on his head for sexual assaults (which he has denied) and with that process to go through he find himself in a very difficult situation. The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to start in case Watson is not available and traded for Ryan Finley who would presumably be the backup. The Broncos and Jets were among the teams said to be tempted by a trade for Watson should Houston listen to trade offers, and with their receiving corps, it’d be very interesting for fantasy, but right now as a Watson owner in places, I’m scared.
We will have to wait until Draft day before we have answers to a lot of these questions but where do we stand for fantasy?
The Watson saga is huge as he’s a top 5 QB if he plays and I think were he to get a trade he’d be rated higher than if he stayed with the Texans and their current tyre fire. Matt Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick will have massive upticks in their value with their new teams while Jared Goff is potentially going to be a bench option in SuperFlex only.
The Hill/Watson battle in New Orleans is going to be infuriating as it stunts both players value until we know and there’s no guarantee whoever wins the job will start all 17 games. The uncertainty around Carolina and Denver makes Lock and Bridgewater more undraftable than they already were and even if we knew for sure Dalton would be the starter for the Bears, he’s also on that list.
Lawrence and Fields/Wilson are going to inherit decent offences on the surface and might well be able to come out flying but they’re probably middle of the pack overall and so unless it’s a dynasty league or a superflex, they will start off on the waiver wire. You have to keep tabs on them though as any of the rookie starters could ascend as quick as Justin Herbert did.
Tua will be a polarising figure in fantasy drafts this season as a lot of people have already written him off, but with new weapons and more time to develop (and no Fitzmagic clouding people’s eyes) he could become a value. Admittedly I’m skeptical still and have him at QB18 but his range of outcomes is the widest (if you ignore the zero or hero for Deshaun Watson or a hero run for a rookie).
If you want to know my “way too early” QB rankings for fantasy you’ll have to wait until after the draft as the market is still volatile. However, I will say that when draft season is in full swing, I think there will be 24 solid QBs I’d be happy to draft (which is handy with so many Superflex leagues around nowadays).
There’s certainly going to be something big happen before we get to week 1 which could completely throw the dynamic for a few teams, but with teams likely to trade up in the draft to grab their QB, other QB’s likely to get traded or demoted and some battles to be resolved; this off season is just getting started!
Tim and the guys that make Full10Yards happen really need to stop giving me a soapbox for me to spread my pro-Arizona Cardinals agenda, but since I couldn’t make the NFL review podcast this week, I have decided that the deep dive will be the place for this weeks Kyler Murray fan club post.
It seems pertinent to include at this stage, that the Cardinals 20:20 express train from worst to first was helped on Sunday, by poor tackling and lack of coverage from numerous members of the Washington defensive backs, but don’t let it distract you from the fact that Kyler Murray was once again electric. The jump that the 2019 first overall pick has made since last year is terrific and dare I say he looks even quicker now he seems to be able to trust his eyes more in the passing game.
Cardinals head-coach Kliff Kingsbury highlighted the same thing in his post-match zoom interview yesterday:
“I’ve watched that since he was 15 years old, and that was a part of his game last year that he was feeling out,” he said. “He’s running more aggressively; he’s getting vertical more. That was a point of emphasis for us because he is one of the most dangerous people, probably, in the league when he’s in the open field like that.”
We shouldn’t be surprised; our last two NFL MVP’s have both been Quarterbacks who provided an emphatic sophomore season as they marched their franchises to the playoffs and broke some records along the way. There is no reason why Murray can’t provide a very similar result as both Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes who came before him, especially if last week’s opening day victory over the 49ers is anything to go by.
For context, in comparison to his largely successful rookie season, in which he started every single game, Murray notched a total of 544 rushing yards and four touchdowns with his feet, but after just two weeks of 2020, he’s already rushed for 150+ yards and three touchdowns. The former-Oklahoma Sooner has also been aided by the genius trade that saw head coach Kingsbury bring in wide-receiving master, DeAndre Hopkins.
“Nuke” Hopkins broke most of the Cardinals debut records last week with a 150-yard receiving performance, before another strong outing against Washington that saw him grab eight balls for 68 yards and a wide-open touchdown. The trade was not just ideal for Murray because Hopkins is such a consistently great player, but Nuke also packs arguably the single largest catch radius of any receiver, which makes him a fantastic option for Murray while he scrambles around looking for an open player.
The perhaps overlooked aspect to Kyler Murray’s game that we’ve seen in the first two weeks is his versatility as a passer. See below for the passing grids for Kyler in Week 1 vs San Francisco and in Week 2 vs Washington. The gameplan is clearly different between these two games but as you’ll see from Next Gen stats that the completions are at a high %.
Having that in the locker for an offence like the one they deploy is crucial to making this offence click (having Nuke also helps). Murray is currently 52/78 (66% completion) for 516 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Add to that 158 yards on the ground with 3 rushing TDs is why Kyler has the X factor and why he is so hard to defend, especially the more he grows as a Quarterback.
The defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals is something I have spoken about several times on the podcast already this year, and they once again lived up to expectations against Washington with four sacks as they held Dwayne Haskins and co. to just 15 points. This upturn under Vance Joseph only strengthens an argument for Kyler Murray as a potential MVP in my mind, look no further than Chandler Jones fumble recovery to keep Washington off the scoreboard despite starting the drive in the red-zone following an interception by K1.
Still in doubt as to whether Kyler Murray has MVP potential? You shouldn’t be.
Jerry, it’s time to pay Dak & not for the reason you might think
As a self-confessed Dallas Cowboys fan, I understand that this particular conversation may be considered a little close to home, especially given the manner of Week 2’s enthralling victory over the Atlanta Falcons and the Dak Prescott-hype that is bound to rightly follow. The stats sheets were lit up by Prescott while his team recovered from a first-quarter collapse to beat the NFL’s premiere choke-artist team, as they made use of their offensive prowess and an onside kick to get themselves a game-winning field-goal from Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein.
Everything that people questioned about Dak before the season was shown to a top standard on their perilous route to recovery, having stared 0-2 in the face when the Falcons opened the gap up to 20 points in the first half alone. The accuracy outside the numbers, the poise, the pocket presence, and the decision making. Prescott had it all on show at the best level he could manage, and what we saw as a result was a performance that not many could argue wasn’t that of a $40 million-a-year signal-caller.
Dak currently lies 3rd in passing yards (716), completing 68% of his passes, 108.5 QBR and has account for 5 TDs (3 rushing, 2 passing) and 1 INT. Top 5 in 20+ yd plays. This is without Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and the recently retired Travis Frederick.
But let’s give Daks play over recent years some context. To document Dak’s continued improvement as a Quarterback, here are Dak Prescott’s passer rating charts from the last 2 years. 2019 (left) shows a marked improvement from 2018 (right) where he was below league average on 6 out of the 12 grids. Compare that to just 3 below average grids in 2019 and a lot more way above average, just shows you what Dak achieved last year.
But sometimes, Dak Prescott, even with enough stats to make a lottery number, still manages to impress you more with his helmet off than on. A number of the Cowboys players including Zeke Elliot, have described since the game, how positive and resilient Prescott had ensured players remained from start to finish, the very belief that the players feasted off to stop the Falcons on defence and make the clutch plays at the end. His level of leadership, something that Dak has excelled in from college and into the pros, has been prominent from the very moment that he stepped into the team for Tony Romo as a fourth-round rookie out of Mississippi State.
In tough times under the previous head-coach Jason Garrett, the leadership was placed almost entirely on Prescott’s shoulders, trying to keep a young but exciting team in line and protected from the media when things went wrong or the players messed up (which Ezekiel Elliot was often the subject of). When the news began to break in the summer that conversations had begun between Prescott and Jerry Jones once more about getting a contract done, you assumed that the announcement was always round the corner, but it never seemed to come. And then it got worse, there wouldn’t be a big, long-term deal for Prescott to play under, and instead, he was placed under the franchise tag like nothing more than a Cowboy Kirk Cousins.
The regular questions pursued the decision, and the social media and TV commentators began their usual spiel about how Dak was a trailer rather than a truck, and how he needed a good team around him and how the offense needed him far less than it required Zeke. But what wasn’t considered, was how much all the other stuff away from the pitch made a difference to the results, how Dak’s personality and actions could carry this team well further than someone with all the skills and no communication (we can call him um, Joy Catler).
They should have paid Dak what he was asking for, simple as that. The accuracy and the touch will come, as he works at it and trains hard, but what you can’t learn is the very art that Prescott performs so articulately, with his perfectly worded answers in interviews, and his up-front, emotional style, Prescott becomes so easily likeable.
Really and truly Jerry Jones probably knows that he should have paid Dak when he had the chance rather than letting a bunch of other top quarterbacks to get paid first, but he probably wouldn’t admit it. So, instead its finally time for Jerry to eat some humble pie and get the deal done because this team can only go as far as Dak goes, and we all want to be aboard the rollercoaster in the post-season.
Want more takeaways from the NFL action? Be sure to check out our weekly Full10Takeaways article which posts every Tuesday
FOOTBALL IS BACK, and you know what that means… FANTASY FOOTBALL IS BACK!
It also means that the weekly issue of “what do I do on the waiver wire” is back. The Hype Train is here as your tour guide so you have the right tickets at the right price.
A lot of the time this list highlights big performances or key injuries. So far in week 1: Lev Bell, Marlon Mack, Devante Parker, Michael Thomas and #AlwaysJarwin were among those who left games through injury. A few surprise players went ham and some we’re surprising leaders on their teams but the more data we get, the easier it will come to pick out the best value tickets.
Don’t forget to keep your #EyesPeeled for tomorrow’s podcast where we’ll be discussing our favourite waiver wire targets in a bit more detail.
1st Class Ticket
The 1st class ticket section covers players who will be the top targets on the wire and the hot ticket.
Nyheim Hines -RB – Indianapolis Colts – Ownership Percentage: 34%
Recommended FAAB Budget: 30%
Hines had a monster game against the Jaguars and looked like he was the lead back. Then Marlon Mack went down and suddenly, he was the lead. The rookie Jonathan Taylor is still acclimatising but he’s going to see a large role and while he develops, Hines is going to see a lot of the ball. The Mack injury has clarified that backfield and Hines is available on waivers in probably 2/3 of leagues. Based on game 1 he is worth a flex play in a lot of leagues and you don’t get many of those on the waiver wire.
Dallas Goedert -TE – Philadelphia Eagles – Ownership Percentage: 27%
Recommended FAAB Budget: 25%
I mentioned him last week and I don’t mind banging this drum again because he’s still only 27% owned but after Wednesday he will never get that low again unless he gets injured. DJax was ineffective, Reagor is still finding his feet and with Sanders missing the 2TE set was a thing and with both finding paydirt in week one the reality backed up the logic. This trend should continue and if you want a weekly TE option, here’s one on waivers now.
2nd Class Ticket
This section covers player who may not be the top option but could be good replacements for bye weeks or just have strong matchups. A Flex ticket if you must.
Malcolm Brown – RB – Los Angeles Rams – Ownership Percentage: 8%
Recommended FAAB Budget: 10%
Brown was a fantastic late round option in Bestball but not many took the gamble in redraft leagues. The Rams backfield was a bit of a minefield but now it seems clear that Brown and Akers are going to be the main 2 options and Darrel Henderson is now a droppable player. Brown had a monster game against Dallas, which appears to have been their game plan, so don’t expect those kind of numbers every week. However, he is going to see work each week on this evidence and again, he may be better than most options on some benches.
Allen Lazard – WR – Green Bay Packers – Ownership Percentage: 25%
M. V-Scantling – WR – Green Bay Packers – Ownership Percentage: 2%
Recommended FAAB Budget: 2% (for either)
Lazard and MVS were both valuable for the Packers as Aaron Rodgers tried to prove there is life in him yet. I still see Lazard as the #2 WR but the gap to Adams will be huge. Week 1 didn’t really have a standout WR pickup option but lots of servicable ones and I think Lazard has the most secured role in the medium to long term. If Lazard isn’t on your wire I can still see Valdes-Scantling being worth a pickup.
TE: Logan Thomas, OJ Howard, Jimmy Graham, Jordan Akins.
Day Return Ticket
This section will highlight the QBs and DST options who you may be able to pickup as a streaming option this week. We often advise people not to draft an early QB and certainly not an early DST so this section backs up that advice.
I can’t believe that I’m already advocating a second Jaguars player considering what I wrote last week. I similarly can’t believe how bad Fitzpatrick did. Minshew might be a plausible start every week and some teams may pick him up and opt to keep him. Whether the Jags are competitive or playing catchup they are relying on Minshew and his arm as well as his occasional scramble so you’re guaranteeing above average points most weeks.
Other low owned options at QB to consider are Kirk Cousins @IND (21%) and Mitchell Trubisky vsNYG (3%)
Washington Football Team – DST – Ownership Percentage: 2%
Recommended FAAB Budget: 0
It’s not the best matchup away at the Cardinals but the defensive lineup and the performance against the Eagles suggest they are a defence to look out for. We did mention them on the podcast as a dark horse and I’m glad we at least mentioned it here too. This defence has a lot of quality pieces (mostly from Alabama) and is a team that looks determined to draw attention away from its owner and the negative press they’ve had of late.
Other low owned options at DST to consider are: Rams @PHI (13%), Cardinals vsWAS (1%).
After week one it’s hard to predict who will come good in a few weeks’ time so I’m going to pick out some players where you should keep tracking their progress and if you have the room to gamble, then go for it, otherwise, see if some positive patterns emerge and try jump in ahead of the competition before their breakout.
Gaskin ended up with 9 rushes for 40yards and 4 catches for 26yards which meant he had more production than both Jordan Howard and Matt Breida (although Howard did get the TD). Gaskin will get picked up in a lot of leagues with people looking for a lead back. He’s not guaranteed to be that, but if he doesn’t cost much and you have bench space, take a punt, otherwise, keep an eye on his workload as a trend like this makes him have value.
And finally for teams needing WR help soon, keep an eye on Cephus. Another rookie but one who played over 70% of snaps and was targeted 10 times including a few key throws. He’s still developing and may have benefited from the lack of Kenny Golladay but if that kind of target share continues, he is worth a stash in deep leagues. I can’t go for him yet as his catch % need to improve which should happen when he loses the rookie jitters.
For the latest on pick-ups and drops, make sure you checkout @F10YFantasy on Twitter. Remember, keep those #EyesPeeled.
Over the next few months on the Full 10 Yards, the British home of all things fantasy, I’m going to channel my inner 2011 Tom Brady and give all the spotlight pieces and semi-irrational opinions I can.
My first foray on the fantasy scene this summer begins now with my ‘On the Fence’ series.
For this series of articles, the focus will be on those players who divide opinion, those who offer good and bad (I know names are already firing up in your head). In other words, that player who makes you (metaphorically, I hope) sit on the fence.
First up? Teddy Two Gloves.
*These stats are from his 5 starts hence the smaller sample size. I doubt you care about the 1 pass attempt he made in Week 17.
Teddy Bridgewater has found a new home since we last saw him. He stayed in the division (the NFC South for those suffering with amnesia), but Carolina is now where he suits up on Sundays. Going into his 6th year in the league, the 27-year-old is about to get the keys to his own offense. But is he ready?
First, lets give credit where credit is due. The table above, albeit a small sample size, makes for decent reading. What’s even better is the fact that those 5 starts resulted in 5 wins; victories over the Cowboys (cheap dig) and the Seahawks are in there, too. Most of the stories and press at the time were mostly in agreement that Teddy was a more than capable QB and a worthy replacement for the injured Drew Brees. Fair assessment, I’d say.
Now for the caveat.
Were those numbers put up because the shackles were off? Was it because he knew this was only a short-term thing, and the pressure on him wasn’t the same? It’s hard to say. Since his injury plagued Viking years, one could argue if we’ve even seen the best of Bridgwater. A 2015 Pro Bowl vote seems like a long time ago.
Fast forward to 2020 and here we are. Our boy Bridgwater is now following Matt Rhule’s orders, the new head coach of the Panthers who limped to 5-11 last season.
Joining Rhule is Joe Brady, the new Offensive Coordinator from LSU. Brady won the CFB last season when he was calling plays to a guy named Joe Burrow…the indication is that Teddy is in good hands. But are the new moving parts too much to handle? After all, these are 3 men effectively starting from scratch together. The preparation and practice will also be hindered this off season thanks to Covid-19, so it’s fair to say there’s a few hurdles to navigate.
However, if a QB ever needed a weapon to help with the settling in process, then you won’t get much better than Christian McCaffrey. The stalwart running back leads a cast of an offense with plenty of ability, which includes DJ Moore and newly signed Robby Anderson.
The biggest point to make here, and it’s vitally important in terms of fantasy production, is game script. I’m no mind reader but I don’t expect the woeful 2019 Panthers defence to make a giant leap forward. The strength of schedule is at .500, which is kind of fitting considering the name of this article, and no it wasn’t deliberate. But there’ll be opportunities here for Teddy to put some nice numbers up. Other times like going on the road to Kansas, Minnesota and Green Bay in the middle of winter, I don’t feel as good about.
What I’m trying to say is this defence, and that schedule, is going to put Teddy in certain spots where he’ll be throwing a lot. I can’t take the credit for this point, but I read an article online which called Teddy the perfect QB2 because the reality is some weeks, he’ll put up QB1 numbers. You just must be lucky enough to start him when he does.
Let’s finish on some real fantasy figures.
Barring injury, Teddy will no doubt smash the 90.5 points (PPR) he recorded last year. According to FantasyFootballers.com, they have a projection of 228.7 points (PPR) this time round. For the number’s guys in the house, that’s an average of 14.2 a game. ESPN, FantasyPros.com and any blogger with their own rankings system I’ve found has Teddy at around 25-27, which to me sounds just about right.
With all these articles, I will shoot from the hip and give my honest take on the player from a fantasy standpoint.
In this instance, I think Teddy is just fine. I doubt he’ll be pulling up any trees (fence joke) and leading the charge to the fantasy playoffs. But you can do a lot worse at the QB position, especially for those of you in 2 QB leagues. Heck, I selected Sam Darnold as my first QB last year.
If he can somehow lift Carolina off the bottom of the division which now gets Tom Brady and his travelling circus twice a year, that’s got to be seen as heading in the right direction.
Every season there is one position valued above all others, a position that’s scrutinized and picked apart more than any other…the quarterback.
With the position being so varied between teams, players styles and schemes I think it would be interesting to take a look at the top 10 signal callers in the league, break them down and see who is going to be exciting to watch going into the 2020 season.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
I know off the bat I’m going to get flack for this. I know it. Not only was the former number 8 overall pick a complete bust in Miami, he was also injury prone. Every season he played the full 16 games he threw double digit interceptions and struggled to help the Dolphins get anywhere.
So what changed in Tennessee?
Better coaching? More motivation? Better culture? Regardless of what changed at the Titans, it worked. In the 12 games he took the field (only started 10) he put up 2,742 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He had 4 less touchdowns than Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes while only starting 10 games!
Behind a dynamic hardnosed offence that includes man mountain Derrick Henry and dynamic Wide Receivers like AJ Brown, Cory Davis and Adam Humphries this offence has all the power it needs to take them deep into the playoffs again. Possibly even a Superbowl appearance.
This isn’t just me jumping onto a player who had a hot season, this is me telling you that the Titans are dangerous and can beat any team they face off against this year. Good luck stopping them.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
You might be asking why I have a future all of famer this far down this list. Well it’s not only his lack of weapons but actually his recent productivity.
Last year Rodgers posted a respectable 4,002 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Couple that with the fact that not only is he missing weapons he’s not getting any younger. The Packers realized this and that’s why they brought in Jordan Love.
Now my personal opinions on Rodgers aside he is in fact a future first ballot Hall of Famer and an all time great. But I think we see him start to wind his career down now. With little to no offensive weapons to help him move the ball I don’t see Rodgers living up to any of the hype we see around him and the Packers every year.
Sure he’s one of the best…but he can’t win games alone anymore.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49er’s
Now many people might call Patriots bias due to who drafted Jimmy Garoppolo and his history with the Patriots but if you’re familiar with my work then you know that I know what I’m talking about (I’m pretty good at this whole football lark).
The 49er’s are 19-5 with Jimmy G under center since he suited up in red and gold and 3-10 without him…now you tell me he’s not a difference maker. People love to hate on Jimmy G but watching him play is sensational, his release is one of the fastest in the league, he can make throws downfield, he makes fast reads and isn’t afraid to take a hit.
Last year Jimmy racked up 3,978 passing yards for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Oh no he’s terrible despite having a stat line almost identical to Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers. With just a few more interceptions. Yeah tell me he’s bad again.
Despite coming up short in the Superbowl I think it would be foolish to not expect this even stronger 49er’s team to not tear it up next year and make another run at the Superbowl behind this super-powered offense.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
After Deandre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the off-season there was rumors that Deshaun Watson was looking from a way to escape Bill O’Brian too and the Patriots got mentioned…to say I was excited was an understatement.
Watson is unquestionably one of the most exciting signal callers in the league he’s a great athlete with a really accurate arm and despite his O-Line failing to keep him upright most of the time he still manages to make plays and as long as he’s on the field the Texans are still in the game. Watson has taken the Texans to playoffs for 2 of his 3 seasons, the exception being his rookie year.
Last year he had a great season but unfortunately fell to the eventual Superbowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs. He went into the playoffs with 3,852 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also tallied 413 ground yards taking 7 touchdowns in with his feet.
Despite losing Hopkins, Watson still has a strong defense and competent offensive pieces to aid him going into the 2020 season which will be crucial in helping the Texans to their 3 playoffs berth in as many years.
Hopefully Watson wears a visor this year so he doesn’t nearly lose an eye while escaping the pocket.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
When it was reported that Drew Brees has already signed a TV deal ahead of the 2020 season I think that was almost a confirmation that this was his last 2 years as a player.
Despite playing at a high level his whole career an MVP award has always alluded this man, not that he hasn’t deserved it. The future hall of famer has one last shot at the MVP and he’s in a great position to do it with the team around him.
With a pro-bowl supporting cast including players like Alvin Kamara, Micheal Thomas and Taysom Hill it’s not hard to picture this Saints team making it back to the playoffs. Last season Brees unfortunately missed 5 games due to a thumb injury he picked up in week 2 against the rams. After back up Teddy Bridgewater came in and went 5-0 in his absence Brees returned and managed to finish with 2,079 passing yards, 27 Touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Despite struggling against the Vikings in the playoffs in the past 3 years Brees has all the tools to finally make it to the big game and despite Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Jimmy G all being in the NFC it’s not smart money to bet against this man.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Now if I had to pick one quarterback to extend a play as long as possible until someone gets open, I’d pick Russell Wilson.
For pretty much his whole career Wilson had played behind one of the worst O-Lines in history, no matter what he’s tried to make plays and subsequently pulled off some of the most jaw dropping plays in NFL history.
A true leader of men Wilson would earn a place on this list for almost every year he’s been in the NFL. Last season the Seahawks signal caller threw for 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns and 5 interceptions taking the Seahawks to the playoffs for the 7th time in Wilson’s 8 year tenure with the Seahawks.
It seems a this point a guarantee that Wilson and the Seahawks will see post season action, with stiff competition now in the NFC how far can Wilson take his men?
Time will tell, but with this man as a signal caller the Seahawks won’t go down without a fight.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady will be 43 years old when the NFL season kicks off this year. 43. Just let that sink in for a moment.
So after one of his worst seasons in 2019 Brady decided to leave for pastures new in Tampa Bay. Whether it was him butting heads with Bill Belichick or him feeling under appreciated by the team he spent the last 20 years of his life leading, Brady left the Patriots. He’s walked into a great situation in Tampa. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howards, JF3 and oh…Rob Gronkowski are just a few reasons why Tampa Bay is looking to be the best team in the NFC this year.
At 43 Brady will 100% slow down, it’s just nature but if that Tampa Bay pocket gives him 2-3 seconds every snap then no doubt they’re dangerous. Now last year on a team plagued with injuries, young players making mistakes and an O-Line made out of paper Brady managed to throw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Pretty good considering.
So now put him on a team with Gronk who’s in the conversation for best tight end ever, Mike Evans a rough and ready wide receiver who can out muscle anyone covering and high points balls like a man twice his size, Chris Godwin who can take the top off a secondary and might be one of the fastest guys in the league and the little mentioned JF3 a Taysom Hill type player with 4.19 speed and agility to match. SCARY.
I think if this Tampa Bay team doesn’t make the playoffs it will be the biggest shock the league has ever seen. They’re almost a lock for the Superbowl and Brady vs Mahomes would be one of the most fun matchups ever. This Tampa Bay team is going to be fun to watch with the GOAT at the helm.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
If it wasn’t for Lamar Jackson winning the MVP then Josh Allen would’ve been number 2 instead of here. Josh Allen is my favorite quarterback in the league and that’s coming from a Patriots fan. He’s got a bazooka for an arm, he’s athletic and he’s tough.
Josh Allen has come into a long snakebitten franchise and completely changed the energy. In his Rookie season he played in 12 games throwing for 2,074 yards for 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also added a further 631 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. Oh and he hurdled over Anthony Barr against the Vikings. That was pretty great.
In his sophomore season he really improved starting in all 16 games putting up 3,089 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while adding 510 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Between his huge frame and cannon arm he really does look like a movie quarterback in every sense of the word. He came into the league with so much potential and only last year did he scratch the surface in terms of what he’s really capable of. The Bills unfortunately dropped out of the playoffs early another one and done situation.
Look for them to make a deep run this year taking on the likes of the Ravens, Titans and Chiefs along the way. If they can beat a team like the Chiefs in the playoffs I’d say they’d be a safe bet to win the big game come February.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Honestly the number 2 on this list was hotly contested for a whole host of reasons but reigning MVP Lamar Jackson just edged it.
Showing massive improvements in his passing game during his sophomore season Jackson was one of the most electric playmakers in the league. With a mix of great throws and ridiculous speed and agility on the ground Jackson was a true duel threat.
The year he was drafted I was on record saying he might be one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen in a long time and 100% the best quarterback in his class. Not only did he stick to his guns when teams wanted him to work out as receiver he showed true improvement in his passing game taking his completion percentage from 58.2% in his rookie season to 66.1% in his sophomore year.
In his first season as a starter (starting all 16 games) he put up 3,127 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 6 interceptions plus his staggering 1,206 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns there’s a reason why he won MVP. While he does look like he struggles in the playoffs it clear that Jackson is a true duel threat and more than a handful for any NFL defense.
Expect the Ravens to appear in the playoffs again this year as they finally try as Lamar finally tries to break the one and done showings of his first 2 years.
He is on the cover of Madden though…but then again Patrick Mahomes may have ended the Madden curse for good
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Former MVP and reigning Superbowl champion, Patrick Mahomes might be the best quarterback in the league right now.
The former 2017 first round pick sat his full rookie season, which is something I actually recommend for most quarterbacks coming into the league.
Fresh from blinding stat lines at Texas Tech one of which was throwing for 734 yards in a game (819 combined yards) against Oklahoma. It was clear Mahomes had talent and the Chiefs coaching staff realized sitting him behind a veteran like Alex Smith was a great idea.
It paid off.
In his first season as a starter Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the road to an MVP award and AFC championship game. In his first year as a starter…that’s crazy. His stats saw a slight drop in 2019 where he threw for 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He did go on to win the Superbowl though so I’m sure he’s not too upset.
Mahomes looks to be the best quarterback in the league for years to come, he’s got a cannon for an arm, great feet and awareness which allow him to extend plays and he understands football. If you could pick the best quarterback in the league at this exact moment, it’s Mahomes.
I can’t wait to see how the rest of his career plays out. Honestly I feel like it’s a given that the Chiefs at least appear in the AFC Championship game behind one of the best offences the NFL has ever seen, appearing to have broke the Madden curse with a Superbowl win and Superbowl MVP award to boot.
Crunch time! This week we are treated to the NFL being spread out over the weekend with 3 games on Saturday with huge implications as the Rams travel to the 49ers and the Bills try to upset the applecart in New England.
On Sunday, the SkySports offering serves up some fantastic matchups where New Orleans continue to chase for a 1st round bye against a Titans team effectively already in the playoffs. Plus, it’s the battle for the NFC East as Dallas travel to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Eagles in a winner takes all matchup.
Winners progress, losers go home. Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to week 16 in the NFL.
BATTLE FOR THE EAST
Fierce rivals Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia get it on to essentially decide the winner of the #4 seed for the NFC playoffs. Both teams have underwhelmed this year for a variety of reasons, but it all comes down to this 60 minute game of football.
A win for the Cowboys, they are confirmed champions. A win for the Eagles and assuming a week 17 win against the Giants, they are in too. The Cowboys are the healthier, more potent team this season as judged by their week 7 hammering at At&T stadium. They will also be buoyed by their dominant performance last week at home to the Rams but form goes out of the window in these types of games.
Do Dallas and Jason Garrett have the cajones when it’s all on the line? Usually not, but can they still get the job done against an Eagles team that have been on the ropes more than the Sunday washing.
The coaching and talent on the Eagles are a testament to even be in with a live shout of still winning the division, but it’s also an indictment on how poor the division has been. Still, someone must win it and become the #4 seed for the playoffs, who’s stepping up?
Buffalo-ad of this!
Buffalo travel to Foxboro’ this weekend in another pivotal divisional clashe.
A win for the Bills sees a very interesting week 17 indeed. If Buffalo win out, they will take the #1 seed regardless due to conference record tie breaker and that is one hell of a carrot dangled in front of Josh Allen and Sean McDermott. They will be in bullish (or Billish perhaps?) mood after their win away at Heinz field on SNF and it’s now a question of whether they can step up to the plate once more.
Their week 4 meeting saw the Bills blow their chances a little, Josh Allen left with a head injury and still had a few drives to go and beat them late in the 4th quarter. They’ll certainly have to execute better than they did back in September but I feel this Bills team has come quite far since that game. The Bills match up quite well against New England and we don’t need to go over the offensive struggles that Brady and Co. have experienced this season.
A win for the Patriots will secure the #2 seed too and how many times have we seen before that New England just get the job done? New England have won the last 6 between the sides and you have to go back to 2014 when Buffalo last beat a Tom Brady led Patriots (though he did exit with an injury in that one!).
NFC 1st round bye shuffle
The #1 and #2 seeds have shuffled around between Seattle/San Francisco/New Orleans and Green Bay over the past couple of weeks and the jostling will continue this weekend. The current #1 seeds have a straightforward task against the Cardinals, whilst the 49ers will have to be on their toes against the Rams. New Orleans face a tough trip to Nashville and Green Bay travel to Minnesota in a key NFC North matchup.
If results go their way, the Seahawks could potential have their hands firmly placed on the #1 seed if results go their way which will be huge for Russell Wilson and the members of the 12 to ensure they can create a hostile environment in the playoffs and seal that homefield advantage.
HitchViking a ride into the playoffs
The Vikings with a win in either of their last 2 games secure a playoff berth. Problem is they have to face old foes and divisional rivals in the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. They are at home which will help as they enjoy one of the bigger advantages with homefield.
In the 2 away games against those teams however, they only managed to must 22 points collectively and that is just not going to get the job done. This is what Kirk Cousins was brought in for, paid all that guaranteed money for; games like this.
Without Dalvin Cook who is nursing an injury and resting before helping them in the playoffs or rookie Alexander Mattison who is also struggling to be fit for the game, Kirk Cousins is going to have to step up and lead this team to victory.
A win, an the monkey starts to climb off of his back. A loss, and there is huge pressure on him in week 17 against the Bears.
battle for a top 3 pick
With Cincinnati taking on the Dolphins and the Redskins facing the Giants, the current top 4 picks in the 2020 draft face off on Sunday. It is always interesting to see how the teams down “that end” play and how much they really put in to the game.
Whilst the Bengals can win without affecting their position at #1 overall, the other 3 teams could see themselves cause detrimental ramifications should they win a game. These games will be nothing more than a “look at the result after the game” types of affairs, but for the fans of the respective teams, i guess it’s nice that the fans will still be biting their nails during the game, even if it’s for different reasons.
Three Griers for Will!
Carolina turn to their third QB of the season as 2019 3rd round pick Will Grier enters the fray. Kyle Allen seemingly not the answer for the Panthers front office and David Tepper, Grier has 2 games to show what he can do.
He faces a Colts team that is there for the taking and a New Orleans Saints team which should have something to play for. Quite a contrast in matches will mean ample sample sizes for the team’s scouts and evaluators to see whether he could be the answer and not theoft injured Cam Newton.
Whilst we wont know until late in the offseason who will be the starter, Will Grier has the chance to make a lasting impression and put down a marker for next training camp. At the very least, he can stop the Panthers from drafting a QB or signing one in Free Agency….
the afc #6 a steel?
It seems to be a straight shootout now between Pittsburgh and Tennessee for the #6 seed in the AFC. The Steelers have the easier schedule with the Jets and Ravens to come, the Titans have the better QB but face New Orleans and Houston. Both defences are pretty stout, perhaps the edge going to Pittsburgh but the Titans have the better running game and the healthier team. Pittsburgh have the tie breaker on Tennessee so effectively just need to beat the Jets to punch their ticket to Arrowhead.
Whichever team makes it will be a heavy underdog going in to what is likely to be Kansas City. Considering both teams’ journies this season, I think they will take just the chance to cause an upset in January (the Titans have previous vs the Chiefs!).
you’re quinn denial, dan
Dan Quinn was a hot favourite to be handed his P45 on black monday, but after the handful of decent performances by Matt Ryan and the Falcons including their most recent victory as time expired against the 49ers, it’s now a bit more up in the air.
The Falcons are 5-9, which is still a bitter disappointment comparing it with pre-season expectations, but they’ve won 4 of their last 6 including 3 divisional wins on top of the 49ers victory. divisional wins have slightly more weight put on them due to their importance so if the Falcons are able to beat the 5-9 Jaguars and the depleted 5-9 Buccaneers, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility Dan Quinn comes back next year.
He’ll definitely be getting “Blank” stares until the season and he walks in for his performance review…
is drew a lock for denver qb?
Drew Lock has performed well in his first 3 starts as Denver Broncos QB; A divisional win against the Chargers to go with a road victory against a playoff team. His last start against the Chiefs can be written off due to the weather and uncomfortable surroudings but all in all, the 2nd round pick from this year’s draft has probably outperformed his expectations when coming in, he was quite a raw prospect.
John Elway has never been the most convincing with his selections in the draft so far, especially at QB, but Drew Lock is looking like he fits over in Mile High. Whilst his completion % is low and his interceptions were not pretty, both lending to his gunslinger mentality, there are certainly some tools there for Lock to fine tune over the offseason and potentially be the answer at QB over in Denver.
With the weapons at his disposal sure to be added to during the offseason to compliment the running game, Drew Lock and the Broncos may not be in that bad of a position to challenge for January football come 2020.
A big tell will come against the Detroit Lions, as we will see how he responds to that rough game against Kansas and the criticisms he would have endured this week.
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.
The final bye week but with the Chargers, Chiefs, Vikings
and Cardinals all taking the week off there’s going to be a lot of fantasy
players scrambling for streamers. A lot of benches are reading like an NSYNC
song so you’re going to want to keep your eyes peeled for who other players
drop as you could grab a steal for the fantasy playoffs if you get ahead of the
For this week, here’s a run down of the Sunday games and a
small nudge towards some viable options.
Broncos @ Bills
Two decent defences and two hardly potent offences. Josh Allen still has value due to his legs, Singletary should continue to build on his role and John Brown is usually good for points even in a tough matchup.
The Broncos haven’t been much worse under Allen than they were under Flacco, in many ways they are actually better. The lack of potent receivers hurts them and with Phillip Lindsey questionable, Royce Freeman may not be a bad call in a pinch.
Both defences are very good options.
Giants @ Bears
Bad offence vs mediocre defence compared to a mediocre offence against a decent defence. The Bears DST are the best play here and if Saquon is playing he’s obviously a starter.
I can’t decide if the Giants receivers are worth playing since with Shepard back, Tate in the mix and Slayton there’s a lot of uncertainty. Engram and Ellison are out so they have no real TE which means they would all be playable if it wasn’t the Bears.
The Bears themselves are stuck with Trubisky which means only Allen Robinson has receiving value. David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are startable but not at the top of the pecking order.
The Giants DST is still a legitimate option this week.
Steelers @ Bengals
I get the sense that last week may light a fire under Mason Rudolph. If only he had some receivers to benefit from it. Juju is out so the load falls on Washington, Johnson and MacDonald. They may well all be relevant, or one could get peppered so it’s a risk, but against the Bengals, I’d be fine with playing any of them and obviously Jaylon Samuels with James Conner out.
The Bengals will struggle against the Steelers defence and I’m even struggling to advise playing Mixon and Boyd unless you really are hamstrung by bye weeks. Steelers DST are a candidate for the #1 DST this week and while many will be advising Cincinnati are a good option, I’m not so sure.
Dolphins @ Browns
The Browns remembered how to win last week, but with their top defenceman missing, their offence still not fully in sync and competition for touches, I can’t say I have high hopes. There’s talent, but it’s not being realised.
The defence isn’t a sure fire thing against the Dolphins who have resurged a bit under FitzMagic and he should have some relevance once more. There are enough pieces missing for Kalen Ballage to be relevant and Devante Parker should be the main receiving threat.
Those struggling at Tight end might have David Njoku as an option but will definitely have Mike Gesicki as a streaming candidate.
Bucs @ Falcons
If Jameis Winston didn’t turn the ball over so often I’d advise avoiding both defences and playing plenty of offence.
Now that Freeman is doubtful and while Winston is throwing his chance at a future starting spot away, I can’t advise using Brian Hill, but I can give the Atlanta defence some love. They’ve picked it up since beating the Saints and they’re on a little bit of a run. Be aware that Matt Ryan is questionable but if he’s good to go again then Julio and Ridley are musts.
The Bucs may have finally figured out how to use RoJo in the run game and keep Evans and Godwin happy. Outside of those 3 and Jameis, it’s hard to see there being enough production.
Panthers @ Saints
Value to be had on both offences and possible the Saints defence. I like Kyle Allen and his receivers this week as well for the obvious CMC.
The Saints should have Brees, Kamara and Thomas all firing, Jared Cook is starting to get more targets and Ted Ginn is a TD dice throw. This might also be a good game to watch.
Seahawks @ Eagles
Now it gets difficult.
Russell Wilson and Chris Carson are locks for starting places (although the Eagles run defence means if you are stacked at RB, he’s not so critical). After that it depends on how you feel. Metcalf, Hollister, Agholor, Jeffrey and even Ertz aren’t sure fire things. Goedert is eating into Ertz share, Jeffrey still isn’t 100% and Agholor is, well, Agholor. Jordan Howard could be back, but the Seahawks aren’t pushovers and he still has to share with Miles Sanders and potentially Jay Ajayi.
It’s a mess which may have points somewhere but good luck predicting who it will be.
Lions @ Redskins
If Matt Stafford was in at QB I’d be enjoying the idea of Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. As it stands with Jeff Driskel, I like them, but not as much. The RB situation with McKissic and Scarborough will dominate a lot of bye week ruined teams this week and hopefully Scarborough can pull off a similar feat to what Jonathan Williams did for Indy on Thursday night.
The Redskins now have an offensive piece you can consider in Derrius Guice and he and AP are playable against the Lions. McLaurin has got some overhyped projections on some platforms so be careful.
Raiders @ Jets
Oakland are threating a playoff run now. Derek Carr is looking solid, despite the lack of receivers, Darren Waller is a league winner and Josh Jacobs is odds on for ROTY. It’s a mix that will serve them well in Vegas when the move happens, but they may leave Oakland in some style. All of the above are playable, as is Tyrell Williams.
The Jets are a bit of a mess but seem to be on a slight elevation in terms of altitude. The Oakland pass defence is very porous, so the likes of Anderson, Crowder, Griffin and Lev Bell are in the frame. Darnold and Carr are actually good streams this week for those in a pinch.
Jaguars @ Titans
Nick Foles will step up his return this week which could be good news for Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark. Since they have lost 3 starting tight ends the offence has dipped and teams have zeroed in on Fournette and Chark. They are still playable against the Titans but don’t expect a huge haul.
The Titans are better under Tannehill, but Derrick Henry is the only player I’d have confidence in. He does usually dominate the Jags so he could be a very handy DFS option, but beyond that, I quite like both defences here.
Cowboys @ Patriots
Daks back and this time he faces the Patriots defence which has been stellar, although this is the toughest test, they’ve faced not named the Ravens. Dak, Cooper and Gallup are a force, Zeke is Zeke and Jason Witten can pop in when he needs to. It’s potent and it’s effective, the Patriots may struggle to find an answer, much like when they faced Lamar.
The Patriots themselves need Edelman to recover from his shoulder injury otherwise it could be tough sledding.
The Cowboys aren’t the greatest defence, but they are solid enough and the Patriots are not at full strength. They tend to find a way, but Bill doesn’t usually care about your fantasy team anyway.
Packers @ 49ers
The final game sees the Packers and 49ers square off in a matchup between teams who are doing well, but you’re not quite sure how.
Aaron Rodgers is doing enough to win games, despite the lack of receiving talent outside of Davante Adams. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have picked up the slack but face a tough test in the 49ers defence. If Adams is covered and Jones is prevented from running, it’s going to be a long day.
The 49ers defence is stout, but the offence is not so stable. If Kittle is fit to play then he also improves the prospects for Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo and the running backs. As it stands, Tevin Coleman is a strong starting choice, although the Packers defence isn’t one to write off.
QB – Derek Carr (OAK @ NYJ) – I like both QBs in this matchup but again, the Hype Train is advocating using a Carr… scandalous.
RB – Derrick Henry (TEN vs JAX) – Henry tends to hoover up the Jags, I can’t see him sucking this week.
WR – DJ Moore (CAR @ NO) – It’s a tough week for receivers. I tried not to go obvious so I had to think a bit Moore.
TE – Ryan Griffin (NYJ vs OAK) – Again, I like both TE’s in this game, but with Carr at QB in this list I thought I’d put Griffin to the TE slot.
DST – Steelers (PIT @ CIN) – The Bengals are going to caught up against something as hard as Iron and tough as Steel.
QB – Tom Brady (NE vs DAL) – He will probably find a way to win the game, but Tom terrific isn’t going to be so good for fantasy.
RB – Brian Hill (ATL vs TB) – Freeman may be missing but I don’t think Brian will take them over the Hill this week.
WR – Terry McLaurin (WAS vs DET) – Haskins still isn’t ready, and McLaurin may be fast but he’s more and F1 choice than an A1 choice.
TE – Zach Ertz (PHI vs SEA) – Goedert is eating into his share and it Ertz for his owners.
DST – Panthers (CAR vs NO) – They’ve been good this season and the Saints have been inconsistent, but this is not a week to be cute.
QB – Daniel Jones (NYG @ CHI) – The Bears might just smother Jones in this one. Danny Dimes may lack a few cents here.
RB – Jordan Howard (PHI vs SEA) – A crowded backfield, a return from injury and a decent opposition. Howard you like that? Not very much.
WR – Courtland Sutton (DEN @ BUF) – Tough sledding, especially with an inexperienced QB. I’d not fancy having him Sutt-on my starting line-up.
TE – Jimmy Graham (GB @ SF) – The 49ers defence should crunch the packers. Graham won’t be a cracker.
DST – Jets (NYJ vs OAK) – IF I like the offensive pieces then it’s obvious I’ll hate on the defensive ones. The Jets DST will likely remain grounded.
That’s it for another week. Apologies for the pun level at the end, some of those were terrible. More of the same next week!