ESPN Fantasy Football Opens Pandora’s Box- Adds Dual Eligibility to Ty Montgomery

     On Monday ESPN Fantasy Football made the quick and controversial decision to add rb eligibility to Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery.  In essence, they did more than that.  They opened Pandora’s Box.

     It all started when Packers running back Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle a few weeks ago. Fellow running back, James Starks would normally spell Lacy during games to keep him fresh throughout the lengthy NFL season and, if Lacy got injured, would handle the full workload.  However, Starks hurt his knee, so despite not being 100% Lacy, like many NFL players, tried to play hurt.  It wasn’t a good idea.  His ankle worsened, so bad in fact that the Packers were forced to place him on injured reserve.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Packers had to play on a short week.  Their next game was on Thursday against their arch rivals, the Chicago Bears.  They traded for Chiefs running back Knile Davis, but with little time to learn the playbook, they turned to wide receiver Ty Montgomery to help out at running back.

     On Monday, several days after the Packers-Bears game, ESPN decided to change Ty Montgomery’s positional eligibility from a wr, which is what he is, to instead rb/wr after one game- one!  Montgomery had 9 carries for 60 yards. Last year qb Cam Newton had 132 rushing attempts.  He doesn’t have rb eligibility.  Should his position change? Hall of fame running back Marshall Faulk had more receptions than many wide receivers playing for the St. Louis Rams Greatest Show on Turf. He split out in the wide receiver position plenty of times and he didn’t have dual eligibility at wr. My points (and I have several of them) there’s a double standard and once you start making changes where does it end?  The problem with ESPN doing this is once you open Pandora’s Box you can’t go back.  We all know Ty Montgomery is a receiver-not a running back. The NFL has rules on which numbers players wear based upon the position they play.  Wide receivers wear numbers between 80-89. In fact for those who disagree with me, name me a few running backs, preferably good ones, who wore number 88, check that I'll give you from numbers 80 through 89. I can't think of any.  Looking back at the all time rushing leaders- Emmitt Smith wore #22, Walter Payton #34, Barry Sanders #20, etc. Guess what, that wasn't by accident, it was because it's an NFL rule stating that running backs must wear jersey numbers between numbers 20-49.  And for the record, just in case you were curious, Ty wears number 88.  Note that it's not my rule- it's the NFL's.  Also, on the Green Bay Packers website they classify him as a wide receiver.  Once again- it's not my website- it's the Green Bay Packers website.

     Here's another reason and it was taken directly from ESPN's Fantasy Football website on Tuesday October 24, 2016 stating their rules on position eligibility. 

http://games.espn.com/ffl/resources/help/faq?name=how-is-a-players-position-eligibility-determined

How is a player's position eligibility determined?

POSITION ELIGIBILITY
The NFL sends us an updated list of every player's position eligibility, including rookies, prior to the start of each season. We simply cannot change those positions as they must remain fixed throughout the course of the season despite whatever our personal feelings are as to who should be designated as a TE vs. WR and such.

Being the savvy fantasy football veteran that you are you might also be wondering if your commish has the ability to modify a player's position eligibility to suit the desires of your league. Unfortunately they don't and we're sorry - we know how frustrating it can be when a "running back" who often lines up in the slot and gets 50+ receptions a year can't get WR eligibility. But look on the bright side - at least you probably have a flex spot to work with.

 

    It appears they have since amended their site to now allow for additional eligibility changes.   I bet they did this just to make me rewrite my article yet again.  They're probably sitting there in their offices in Bristol, CT. just laughing it up. Hey- let's screw with Mark. Yeah that sounds like a plan and a half haha! I'm joking- I like writing so it's all good.  Here is the updated version I noticed on October 26th, 2016

http://games.espn.com/ffl/resources/help/faq?name=how-is-a-players-position-eligibility-determined

How is a player's position eligibility determined?

PRIMARY POSITION ELIGIBILITY
The NFL supplies a list of every player's position eligibility, including rookies, prior to the start of each season. Generally speaking, these will be each player's primary position within the game, although we reserve the right to designate a player differently. Once the season begins, we simply cannot change these primary positions, as they must remain fixed throughout the course of the season.

ADDITIONAL POSITION ELIGIBILITY
While a player cannot lose eligibility during the season, he can gain it, whenever circumstances warrant. Commissioners/league managers (LM) do not have the ability to modify a player's position eligibility.

It's important to note that the roster minimums and maximums within your league's settings relate to the primary position only (the first position listed next to a player), not any additional positions granted.

 

How convenient.  This is extremely disconcerting and unfortunate. And while I appreciate them addressing it a little on the fantasy focus podcast and on twitter- even if it was not the hosts' decision- in my opinion it is still wrong.  Basically ESPN changed their rules twice, and regardless of what the rule is, changing it in the middle of the season is wrong. I never did that when I ran my league.  Now, I could rest my case right there and win, but let's continue.  And even if they didn't change the rules, which let the record show they did, I still think it’s wrong to add this dual eligibility - at least after one game. Why you ask? Because it provides an unfair advantage and it shifts the balance of power for many fantasy football teams. Many people will use this loophole to take advantage of the system.  A change which was implemented mid-season, not before, catching many owners like myself off guard and now at a severe disadvantage.

     Another factor to consider is using the fantasy baseball model.  In fantasy baseball it takes several games for a player to gain dual eligibility (like around 20).  The argument was made by some, including people that I respect like ESPN fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry, that since the football season is shorter- the wait period should be shorter as well.  Okay, I’m a reasonable guy, I can understand that, but after one game?  9 carries??? I know I'm not exactly Vince Lombardi, but the main criteria of a running back is, well, to run.... right??  9 carries qualifies for dual eligibility for the rest of the season???  I respectfully disagree.  Here’s the problem- ESPN made Ty Montgomery eligible at one of the weakest positions- running back.  So you ask, ”Hey Mark, what’s the big deal?  Just be like whateves dude.”  Here’s my issue with it.  Ty got 12 points in a non ppr standard league, it's even more in ppr, at arguably the weakest position in most starting lineups- running back.  The top tier running backs, the elite bell cows, like David Johnson and Zeke got 17 points the last time they played.  There is no way Ty Montgomery should be valued that close to elite running backs on a pure technicality.  And that’s what it is folks- a technicality.  Those guys are undisputed 1st rounders.  They’re guys you build your team around.  Johnson in my opinion is the #1 overall player at any position and one of the reasons for that is the point differential between him and most of the other running backs.  It’s off a cliff.  This is the type of ruling that changes the balance of power in leagues because people can put Ty in the rb slot when they should really be putting in lesser players such as Gio Bernard instead.  The people that drafted David Johnson or Zeke in the first round should be rewarded, yet this move devalues that investment.  You can’t look me in the eye with a straight face and tell me that Ty Montgomery is a running back or at the minimum of making my point is an all pro running back that should be scoring almost as much as the elite players at that position.  I’m sorry, but that’s a tough sell and I’m not buying it.  Ty Montgomery is NOT an elite running back in the NFL.  David Johnson is.  Ezekiel Elliott is.  LeVeon Bell is- end of story.  Which running back should be leading their fantasy teams to championships- Ty Montgomery or David Johnson? The fact that I even have to ask that question speaks volumes.  Yet, one of the messages ESPN is sending, whether it's directly or indirectly, is that yeah David Johnson your good, but it doesn't matter, Ty Montgomery is almost as good as you. My response to that... umm no he's not. 

      When looking at fantasy baseball it’s important to remember that baseball doesn’t have bye weeks like football does. By changing position eligibility it has an even greater impact because the choices on the waiver wire are that much slimmer.  Ty Montgomery was a waiver wire pickup whose eligibility changed after he was picked up. I am sure if many owners, myself included, had known ESPN was going to pull an end around on them (see what i did there... end around and he's a wr- that's just pure natural writing talent there folks haha) anyway...most would have bid very differently and set him much higher in their waiver priority. This will have a huge impact on leagues.  Also, fantasy baseball has larger starting lineups- at least 9 or 10 hitters plus pitchers. Fantasy football, on the other hand, has smaller starting lineups – for example my league starts 1 qb, 2 rb, 3 wr/te so that’s a total of 6 players not counting a defense and kicker.  That’s a bigger percentage of a team’s total score that’s affected by this move.  Another thing to consider, what if when James Starks returns the Packers decide to use Ty mostly at wide receiver?  The current rules at ESPN would allow Ty to retain his eligibility for the rest of the season regardless of where he is lining up. The more I think about it, I believe the positional eligibility of a player should stay the same during the season.  Let players prove it for one season and then make whatever necessary changes the following season so everyone can rank them accordingly and draft them fairly.  However, there might be exceptions.  A fellow fantasy football fan brought up a good point on twitter.  He asked me, "Mark would you feel the same way if Terrelle Pryor played 5 games at qb?"  Hmnn... in that case I'd suggest changing his position from wr to qb- instead of adding to it.  The goal as I see it is to make it right, to make it as fair as possible, not to create loopholes for owners to take advantage of. 

     I’ve played fantasy football for 26 years.  During that time I was a commissioner and ran my own league for several of those years.  I always prided myself on being fair and objective, and tried to see another person’s point of view.  I’m proud to say that we never had any major issues and we had a lot of fun.  Hey, it’s great to compete and win, but at the end of the day fantasy football is about having fun and hopefully making a few friends along the way.  I think a move like this is very weasel like.  Hmnn....I wonder if my no good friends Chad and Kelly are behind this?   Those miserable slugs who have cost me so much fantasy football grief and heartache over the years by sniping the players I coveted in drafts right before I picked, beating my teams in the playoffs, denying me multiple titles. I bet they are, but I digress. Hmnn… where was I?  Oh yeah, this is the kind of change that will create a bunch of arguments and in my opinion is bush league.  I don’t mind losing. I don’t like it, but I don’t mind it as long as it’s fair.  Put your best against my best and let’s see who wins.  However, that’s not what this is.  This is a loophole, a technicality, it's the small print at the bottom of the page, it’s changing the rules in the middle of the season and that’s not cool.  And I guess that’s what rubs me the wrong way.  I mean I'm not saying Ty Montgomery shouldn't have any eligibility- I'm just saying he shouldn't have any at running back. Overall I think ESPN does a great job. I enjoy their website and their fantasy football analysts (especially Matthew Berry who, despite my disagreeing with him on this issue, is still one of my favorite analysts).  I think all of the folks at ESPN are very insightful, entertaining, and generally seem like good people.  However, whoever made the call on this one dropped the ball in my opinion.  I should add that I firmly believe it's okay to disagree with people as long as you do so in a respectful manner.  Heck, we do it all the time with our rankings and preseason sleeper and bust picks. Sometimes we see things differently and that's all this is- a respectful disagreement.  As much as the folks at ESPN believe Ty should have running back eligibility I am equally as adamant that he should not.  We both love fantasy football and want to make it the best it can be, but I think ESPN is opening up Pandora’s Box by doing this.  And once you start changing a player's position eligibility, changing the rules, etc. mid-season here’s the real problem...where does it end?

 

Mark Bonadonna

Senior Fantasy Analyst / Writer/ Editor In Chief

www.SleepersandBusts.com

Mark is a veteran fantasy football player. He has been playing fantasy football since 1991. He started playing in college with his friends at Northern Illinois University.

2016 Wide Receiver Busts

Allen Robinson- This is more about where he’s going and less about him as a talented player.  Robinson is currently going #13 overall.  While I like his talent, that is way too pricey for me.  I’m expecting his touchdowns and yards to regress a little.  The touchdowns were very high last year and having Julius Thomas and Marqise Lee back might cut into that amount.  In addition, an improved defense makes it less likely the Jaguars throw it as often as last year.  If one or more of those things play out, Robinson’s numbers would suffer.  I think he’s more of a 3rd or 4th round grade than an early 2nd rounder.  For that reason he’s a bust.

Brandon Marshall- Same song different dance- Marshall reminds me a little of Terrell Owens.  He’s a big physical receiver in great shape and is such a beast to tackle.  Ryan Fitzpatrick, a journeyman quarterback,  had a career year last year. Question#1- Can he repeat it?  If so he’ll have to do it against some tough opponents.  The Jets schedule is brutal.  In addition, as good of shape as Marshall is in, he’s still in his 30’s and Father Time is undefeated.  He’s going #18 overall, I’d take him in the 3rd- which is not a huge bust- but his age and the Jets schedule do not bode well for a stellar season.

Alshon Jeffery- Jeffery is best described as the best house in a bad neighborhood.  He’s one of the few playmakers on the Bears.  Chicago is terrible on offense and their line is a train wreck.  Jay Cutler will be under constant pressure this season.  In addition, Jeffery has had his own troubles staying healthy with a variety of soft tissue injuries.  Spending the #27 overall pick for an injury prone player on a bad team is asking for trouble. 

Sammy Watkins- Well I was scared of his foot prior to week one as I noted in my other article “2016 ADP analysis”.  A recent report after week 1 confirms Watkins’s foot still isn’t right.  This might be something that plagues him all year or causes him to miss time.  The same injury forced Dez Bryant and Kevin Durant to miss a lot of time.  He’s simply too much of an injury risk- the talent is clearly there.  Still though at #30 overall I’m not risking a pick that early on a player who could miss significant time. 

Demaryius Thomas- The Broncos quarterback situation is shaky at best.  They’re going to run the ball and play defense which spells bad news for Denver receivers.  How Thomas is being drafted this high is beyond me.  Maybe it’s because pot is legal out there.  Are you drafters high when you’re making this pick?  Don’t get me wrong Thomas is very talented, but the situation out in the Rocky Mountains is awful, well unless you’re into smoking pot- then it’s probably ideal haha!  This one has bust written all over it.   

2016 Running Back Busts

 

Devonta Freeman- His adp is 14th overall and he’s in a time share with Tevin Coleman.  Freeman had a great year last year, but remember the favorite to win the job last year was Coleman not Freeman.  Tevin Coleman has more speed than Freeman and also has the ability to take any carry for a touchdown- he’s that explosive.  The reason Freeman won the job last year was because Coleman injured his ribs early last year.  It hampered him all year, but now he’s healthy.  A post hype sleeper- drafters are overvaluing Freeman and undervaluing Coleman to the point that Freeman is one of my busts.

CJ Anderson- At the time of this writing CJ Anderson had a huge game already against a stout Carolina defense.  That said, I’m sticking to my convictions that he could be a bust.  I like Anderson’s talent as a player, but don’t like his situation.   The Denver quarterback situation is shaky at best.  It’s only a matter of time until rookie Paxton Lynch gets the call.  Most rookie quarterbacks struggle their first season.  I don’t expect it to be any different with Lynch.  The Broncos offense should struggle as well- my thinking less potent Broncos offense equals less points for their running backs.  The #31 overall pick is too high for a running back on a lousy offensive team.

Thomas Rawls-  Rawls was one of the darlings of 2015, helping many fantasy owners to titles.  Unfortunately, the clock might have struck midnight on this Cinderella.  He’ll cost a pretty penny to get him at #35 overall.  The ankle wasn’t right all preseason.  Will it hold up?  If it holds up, will he be the same back?   The strong preseason by Christine Michael and a subpar Seahawks offensive line are additional red flags that make Rawls another bust candidate at his price point.

Carlos Hyde- Also at the time of this writing Hyde went berserk against a very stout Rams defense.  The Rams might have the best defensive front seven in football.  That said, I think Hyde’s success was more a part of the Rams lousy offensive performance and less a part of the 49’ers excellence.  San Francisco didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard.  Many of their best plays were quarterback scrambles by Blaine Gabbert.  In addition, they play the Cardinals and Seahawks twice which will be challenging games to say the least.  Hyde is going right after Rawls at #36 overall and this guy has yet to do much to warrant this high of a pick on a lousy team.

DeMarco Murray- It’s hard to believe it’s been only two years since Murray led the NFL in rushing.  Leaving Dallas and going to Philly was a huge mistake.  He’s hoping a move to Tennessee might be better.  No one has an offensive line as good as the Cowboys though so put notions of that magical season out of your head right now.  The Titans defense is not the best either, which should force the Titans to abandon the run game.  In addition, they drafted Heisman trophy winner, Derrick Henry, in the 2nd round.  Henry could vulture some goal line scores and force a rbbc.  Murray’s also not the most durable guy, if he gets hurt Henry’s strong preseason could relegate him to the bench. At #47 overall he’s not a huge bust at that price range, but I’d rather invest in someone else than take a chance on this rbbc situation. 

2016 Wide Receiver Sleepers

I feel compelled to write an articles on sleepers, probably because this site is called sleepers and busts. Here are some undervalued guys as well as some wide outs you can grab later in your drafts or off the waiver wire.

Donte Moncrief (Indy) - He's more undervalued than a prototypical sleeper.  He’s going later than guys like Demaryius Thomas and Alshon Jeffery despite the fact that he’s on a more explosive offense with a better quarterback.  When the Colts get in the red zone, and they will, he’s the tallest of the Colt receivers so he’ll be the guy Luck looks for.  The Colts defense is terrible so they’ll have to keep passing to keep up with opponents.  Indy is a run and shoot type of team like the Houston Oilers were under Warren Moon years ago.  I could see Moncrief being a top ten wide receiver, possibly surpassing AJ Green if things break right. 

Michael Floyd (Ariz)-  Floyd is another guy who is probably more of a breakout candidate than a traditional sleeper, but semantics aside I think he’s undervalued.  He’s quietly being overlooked by many drafters, but Floyd could have a monster season.  The Cardinals like to pass and he’s their top dog.  Once he healed up from a finger injury last year, around mid-season, he came on strong.  He plays on one of the most explosive offenses in the league and has ideal size near the goal line.

Josh Gordon (Clev)- He’s suspended for the first four games- maybe him and Brady can do lunch?  He looked awesome in the preseason against Tampa.  This guy is a big play machine.  He led the NFL in yardage only a few years ago and you can get him cheap. There will be plenty of garbage points to be had in the 4th quarter of Cleveland games.  He's worth the risk.

Sterling Shepard (NY Giants)- He’s drawn rave reviews in camp and the Giants love to pass the ball.  With Odell Beckham drawing double teams he could quickly put up solid numbers. And if Victor Cruz gets hurt again- he could become a ppr monster.

Markus Wheaton (Pitt)- Martavis Bryant’s year long suspension creates an opening on a powerful Steelers squad.  Wheaton can fly and asked to move from the slot to the outside.  It could translate into some big plays. Antonio Brown can’t catch all of the passes in Pittsburgh can he? 

Tyrell Williams (SD)- Well I liked him before the season because he was having a good camp.  The reason I was high on him- he has the size and speed to make big plays.  He also plays on a Chargers team with a lousy defense and poor running attack- so there should be plenty of chances.  I figured Travis Benjamin might get hurt because he’s a smaller receiver. At the time of this writing it was Keenan Allen who got hurt today.  He tore his acl- so unfortunately for Allen it’s next man up.  That might awaken Tyrell Williams into a more prominent role and it doesn’t hurt when Phillip Rivers is throwing him the rock.

Marqise Lee (Jack)- Few people remember that Lee was taken ahead of fellow teammate Allen Robinson in one of the best NFL drafts for wide receivers in recent times.  At one point in college Lee was ranked as a top 10 overall pick right near Sammy Watkins.  Lee’s health has hampered his NFL career so far, but he’s healthy now.  He has solid hands and runs well after the catch.  Allen Hurns is moving into the slot with Lee moving outside so he could get loose for some big plays.  The Jaguars offense is emerging into one of the better ones and you can get Lee for a song in most drafts. It never hurts playing the Titans and Colts twice a year either.

Mike Wallace (Balt)- Wallace takes his talents to Baltimore where he finally works with a quarterback capable of getting him the rock again.  The last time was when he was with the Steelers and had Big Ben throwing to him.  Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the NFL- it seems like a perfect match with Wallace's best asset- his blazing speed.  The Ravens like to pass it under offensive coordinator Mark Trestman. They play a good schedule which should ensure plenty of shootouts, including facing off against the Steelers twice where, no doubt, he'll be motivated.  He's more valuable in non-ppr leagues, but when he makes catches they usually go for big gains.  The best part- Wallace can be had dirt cheap in most drafts.  I'm buying.

2016 Running Back Sleepers

Christine Michael (Seattle)- I know I know you've heard this song before, but I sense something different about him this year.  Michael came on strong late last year.  He had a strong preseason.  The word out of camp was that he's had an awakening.  Little things like he’s listening to coaches about switching the ball to the correct side now indicate that he knows this is his final shot.  His attitude has changed for the better.  He ran with power and determination versus the Cowboys and if Rawls breaks down the gig is his.  At worst he's in a rbbc and with Marshawn Lynch’s retirement someone has to run the ball in Seattle.  The Seahawks offensive line is bad, but their defense should keep games close enough to provide plenty of rushing attempts.

Tevin Coleman  (Atlanta)- Few people remember that Coleman was the favorite to win the running back job last season in Atlanta, not Freeman.  He suffered a rib injury early last year which hampered him much of the season.  Coleman is faster and possibly better at catching the ball than Freeman.  With his speed he is a big play machine and he has the size to hold up.  He was 2nd in the nation in rushing yards in college at Indiana and the last time I checked the Hoosiers aren’t exactly a football powerhouse.  The addition of free agent center Alex Mack helps the line and with Julio Jones the Falcons have plenty of firepower to score points.  Even if he splits the carries with Freeman he could turn some of those carries into big plays.  He reminds me of a young Chris Johnson.  And they didn’t call him CJ2K for nothing.

Arian Foster (Miami)- I think he’s the bell cow back in Miami not Ajayi.  When he plays he’s one of the best in the league.  He’s one of the few backs you can get late who can be an every down back.  Ajayi’s knee has no cartilage so I doubt he can handle a full work load.  The question with Foster is can he hold up after recovering from an Achilles injury?  He looked great in camp.   A lot of people have written him off.  They wrote him off a few years ago and he surprised folks.  I believed in him then and I believe in him now.  He’s worth a shot and he won’t cost you that much.

DeAngelo Williams (Pitt)- Not exactly a sleeper in the traditional sense, but I’m worried about LeVeon Bell’s knee holding up.  He injured two ligaments last year- naturally that’s when I owned Bell.  Torn knees aren’t easy to come back from.  Bell’s looked good in his limited preseason appearance, but he’s broken down two years in a row now.  If Bell doesn’t hold up or fails another drug test you’ve won the lottery.  The Steelers are one of the most powerful offenses in the league.  Owning their starting running back is gold Jerry gold! And even if Bell doesn’t get hurt he’s suspended the first three weeks so you’ve got a top running back to help get your team off to a good start.

Duke Johnson (Clev)- I love Duke’s talent.  His receiving skills are top notch and he has the ability to be an every down back.  In ppr’s he’s a star.  He reminds scouts of LeSean McCoy.  There are plenty of garbage yards to be had in the 4th quarter when Cleveland is trailing.  And if anything happens to Isaiah Crowell Duke's the man. 

Keith Marshall (Wash)- He was put on the pup list so this is more of a guy to keep a close eye on.  The Redskins could have cut him, but didn’t which speaks volumes.  It tells me they still believe in him.  If Matt Jones breaks down or continues to fumble the ball, a distinct possibility, Marshall could get the call midseason.  In college he was more highly touted than teammate Todd Gurley at Georgia.  Yes the same Todd Gurley who plays for the Rams and went in the first round of most fantasy drafts.  A knee injury launched Gurley ahead of him.  Marshall’s finally recovered from it.  He has the size and speed to be a difference maker if he can regain the old form. Longshot Pick

ADP (Average Draft Position)- Player Analysis- Top 192

Source- adp’s taken from Fantasy Pros (Sept 9, 2016)

 

1.    Antonio Brown Wr- Hard to argue with Brown.  He’s on one of the most explosive offenses in the league and is a monster in ppr (point per reception) leagues. The problem if you go wide receiver is it’s a long wait until you get to pick a running back. As consistent as they come.  Solid and safe.

 

2.    Odell Beckham Wr- As good as Brown is I like Beckham more- at least in non ppr leagues.  He seems more explosive to me when I watch the highlights..  Doesn’t get as many chances as Brown which is puzzling.  Note he’s off to one of the best starts ever in the NFL as a young receiver.

 

3.    Todd Gurley Rb- Looks like another version of AP.  A work horse back.  Runs with unparalleled speed and power.  The risk is a previous knee injury in college.  Can he hold up over the course of a 16 game season?  Unfortunately the Rams offense doesn’t give him much help.  Their line is awful and young rookie quarterback Goff needs time.  Plays a tough schedule.  A little high for me here at 3rd overall.

 

4.    Julio Jones Wr- Jones is a prototypical number 1.  Has elite speed and size to outjump defenders.  Not as many touchdowns as you’d think- perhaps due to Matt Ryan adjusting to a new offense. 

 

5.    David Johnson Rb- My #1 running back and overall #1 player on the board.  The reason- has the chance to score big points at a premium position.  The drop off at running back is off a cliff.  An electric game changing back who can score anytime he touches it.  Possess elite receiving skills which he developed in college when he played wide receiver.  Plays on an explosive offense in the Cardinals.  The risk- if Bruce Arians splits his carries with Chris Johnson that would make him not worth the price tag.. The reward outweighs the risk for me.  I’m all in.  I’ll wait until the 2ndround to address wide receiver. 

 

6.    Adrian Peterson Rb- One of greatest running backs of all time.  His speed and power are legendary.  Unfortunately, like Gurley, AP plays on a below average offense.  Bradford might help, but the Vikings line needs to improve their run blocking to help spring him for big gains.  He was stopped too often near the goal line.  Not as valuable in ppr leagues-  doesn’t get as many catches as other running backs.  Still a force to be reckoned with every Sunday.

 

7.    Ezekiel Elliott Rb-  Some scouts called him the best player in the draft.  Rarely goes down on the first tackle.  Can catch the ball well out of the backfield.  Looks legit to me after seeing him play against Seattle.  Running behind the all pro Cowboys line looks like a perfect match. Romo’s loss hurts the offense.  It comes down to whether Dak Prescott can hold his own at quarterback.  If he can look out!  With Romo gone Dallas could run the read option like Seattle does with Russell Wilson.  It could be problematic for opposing defenses.  Worth the first round price tag. I’m buying.

 

8.    DeAndre Hopkins Wr- How he put up the numbers he did last year I’ll never know.  The Texans had nothing at quarterback last year and no one opposite of Hopkins to worry about.  Should do well again with more weapons added to the offense.  The risk- Houston lost rookie center Nick Martin to an injury.  Can the line protect Osweiler long enough to get it to Hopkins? 

 

9.    Rob Gronkowski TE- One of the greatest tight ends ever to play, but 9th overall is too rich for me.  A hamstring injury in August plus losing Brady for the first four games kills his value at this price point.

 

10.  AJ Green Wr- One of the games top wide receivers.  Can score anytime he catches it.  Played on a run centered offense when previous offensive coordinator Hue Jackson ran the show.  Will new offensive coordinator,  Ken Zampese, who was promoted from within, keep things the same or open up the passing game?  Andy Dalton struggles with the deep pass.  AJ might be a little overvalued here.

 

11. Lamar Miller Rb-  Not sure about Miller.  If he was so good why did Miami not utilize him more?  Why did they let him go?  Can he hold up with a full workload?  He’s not a big back so I fear an injury risk is higher here.  Can the questionable Texans line block for him?  Too risky for me in the 1st. but in the 2nd I’ll roll the dice

 

12.  LeVeon Bell Rb- The ultimate risk/reward player.  If his knee holds up he’s a monster- especially in ppr leagues where he catches a ton of passes.  He’ll miss the first 3 games due to a suspension.  If you get him then grabbing DeAngelo Williams is a must.  The knee concerns me.  He has broken down two years in a row.  Possible bust due to injury. I’d probably look elsewhere.

 

13.  Allen Robinson Wr- Up and comer who has made vast improvements to his game in a short amount of time.  Touchdowns and yards could regress though.  Fully priced here- too rich for me.  Pass.

 

14.  Devonta Freeman Rb-  Looks like a solid player, but beware of Tevin Coleman who I like better.  Coleman is an electric back drafted by the current front office.  Coleman broke his ribs early last year which hampered his season. He’s healthy now.  Looks like a rbbc (running back by committee) here.  Because of that Freeman looks like a huge bust because of his high price tag. Not for me.

 

15.  Dez Bryant Wr- One of the top five talents at wide receiver.  Dez is a game breaker.  The risk- he plays in a run heavy offense and losing Romo hurts.  Can Dak get him the rock and move the chains?  Can Dez hold off the injuries?  I say he’s still worth the risk in the 2nd.

 

16. Cam Newton Qb- A quarterback built like a linebacker who can fly.  Often gets the call at the goal line.  Reminds me of former quarterback Daunte Culpepper.  Cam racks up points in standard leagues where touchdown passes are only worth 4 points.  That said this seems too high for any quarterback.  His running attempts make him susceptible to more hits and injuries.  I’ll pass here.

 

17.  Jordy Nelson Wr- If the knee holds up he’s a value here.  Probably will take a few weeks until he’s playing all of the snaps.  If your patient he could pay major dividends for your team down the road.  Has one of the best in the business throwing him the rock.  I’m buying.

 

18. Brandon Marshall Wr-    Reminds me of Terrell Owens.  A physical force who’s a beast to tackle.  Jets play a brutal schedule and this guy is no spring chicken who is now in his 30’s.  Because of that I’d take him in the 3rd but not the 2nd.

 

19.   Jamaal Charles Rb- He’s coming off another major knee injury.  Too rich for me here.  In the 3rd I’d consider him.  In the 4th he’s a great value.  Pass here.

 

20.  Eddie Lacy Rb- He seems more focused this year.  It’s a contract year.  Vowed to get in better shape after the Coach McCarthy called him out.  He’s in a time share with Starks as the Packers like to save the wear and tear on their backs.  Still a good pick in the 2nd because of that powerful offense.

 

21.   Mike Evans Wr- An elite young talent who’s developing a rapport with Jameis Winston.  Should take a giant step up this season as Winston improves.  Like him here.

 

22.   Mark Ingram Rb- When he plays he puts up points.  The problem is he gets injured a lot.  Apparently it’s been more fluke injuries than ones that linger.  The Saints lousy line and terrible defense, along with his injuries, are enough to make me pass on him here.

 

23.  Doug Martin Rb- Did well last year, but way too rich for my blood here. He’s an injury risk as well. Pass. 

 

24.  Keenan Allen Wr- A monster in ppr leagues who was doing great until an injury ended his season.  He’s good but the Chargers line scares me a little.  I like others better here.  Give me Amari Cooper instead. 

 

25.  Aaron Rodgers Qb- One of the best in the league.  I prefer Luck because he gets more passing yards, but it’s dealer’s choice.  I think the Pack will run more this year, but I’m confident Rodgers bounces back- mainly because I had him last year when he was terrible and didn’t get him this year. The famous Mark jinx is in full effect here.  Plays a good schedule as well.

 

26.  LeSean McCoy Rb- Could get more goal line looks now that Karlos Williams is gone. He should thank him and buy him dinner haha! That said, he’s had a ton of work over the years.  McCoy’s not the biggest back- he might start wearing down soon.  He’s a bigger risk to slow down than AP in my opinion.  I’m passing.

 

27. Alshon Jeffery Wr- The Bears offense is horrible.  They don’t have a line and Jeffery has a history of soft tissue injuries.  Bust

 

28.  Amari Cooper Wr- Played hurt last year. Not as big or fast as Julio Jones, but man can he run routes.  Scouts compare him to former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.  He’s healthy now and is likely to improve.  Love him here.

 

29.  Brandin Cooks Wr- Started off slow last year, but came on midseason.  The Saints spread the ball around too much for me with those multiple receiver sets.  Size hinders his red zone chances.  Brees is another year older.  I’ll pass.

 

30. Sammy Watkins Wr- Has the same foot injury that sidelined Dez and Kevin Durant.  If he’s healthy all year- he’d be a 1st rounder.  He’s that good.  The foot scares me which is why I’ll pass on him here. In the 4th I’d roll the dice, but he’ll be long gone by then.

 

31. CJ Anderson Rb- A dynamic back, but he’s in a committee now with the rookie Devontae Booker.  Trevor Siemian at quarterback doesn’t help his touchdown totals.  I’ll pass

 

32.  Demaryius Thomas Wr- Denver will run the ball.  That spells bad news for their wide receivers.  This has bust written all over it.

 

33.  Russell Wilson Qb- The most elusive quarterback in football, however, the Seahawks line is shaky at best.  He could get beat up.  I’ll pass.

 

34.  TY Hilton Wr- A speed demon whose stats were hurt when Luck went down.  I like him, but I like Moncrief more.

 

35. Thomas Rawls Rb- A bad ankle and an emerging Christine Michael make this a risky pick.  No way am I spending a 3rd rounder on Rawls when I can get Michael eight rounds later. Looks like a rbbc timeshare to me. Pass.

 

36.  Carlos Hyde Rb- This guy did nothing last year.  He was hurt so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  He might be a good back, but the 49’ers are terrible on both sides of the ball.  They’ll be trailing and forced to pass.  And he gets to face Seattle and Arizona twice.  How is he going this early?  Bust

 

37. Jordan Reed TE- Way too early for any tight end.  He has a history of injury issues. No chance.

 

38.  Latavius Murray Rb- An improved Raiders line saves this pick.  He wore down last year so they’ll conserve his touches.  I’m worried he breaks down.  He’s not the most durable guy.  I’d look elsewhere if possible.

 

39.  Matt Forte Rb- A once elite back is nearing the end of the line.  The loss of Khiry Robinson to injury helps him with more touchdown chances.  That said, he’s still in a time share with Bilal Powell.  Way too early for a running back in his 30’s. Bust

 

40.  Randall Cobb Wr- Could not beat the double teams once Jordy got hurt.  Moves back into the slot now where he flourishes.  A lot of owners were burned last year which makes him a good value.  I’m buying.

 

41. Jarvis Landry Wr- The Dolphins look lost in the preseason as they’re learning a new offense.  If DeVante Parker ever gets on the field Landry could play 2nd fiddle to him.  Much too high here- no upside. Bust

 

42. Greg Olsen TE- Too early for tight ends.  Pass

 

43.  Andrew Luck Qb- The #1 quarterback on my board.  If the Colts protect him he’ll put up monster numbers.  He’s a game changer.  The risk is worth the reward for me.  Steal here.

 

44.  Julian Edelman Wr- A monster in ppr leagues, but the additions of Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan could reduce his opportunities.  Losing Brady for the first four games doesn’t help.  Bust.

 

45.  Jonathan Stewart Rb- He usually breaks down over the course of a season and has Cam stealing his touchdowns.  Seriously I don’t get the Stewart love.  No thanks.  Bust.

 

46. Doug Baldwin Wr- Took over in the 2nd half last year. Plays with a chip on his shoulder which is always a good thing. Looks like the go to man after Jimmy Graham was hurt.  Doesn’t get a ton of yards, but the touchdown totals are interesting.  I’m going to wait and see this year. I like others better here, but will keep an eye on him this season.

 

47.  Demarco Murray Rb- Hard to believe two years ago he set the NFL on fire in Dallas.  He should have stayed there.  If I was a running back I would never voluntarily leave a team with that line in front of me.  And I didn’t even mention those Dallas cheerleaders.  Do the Titans even have cheerleaders?  Beware of rookie Derrick Henry who had a tremendous preseason.  He could vulture touchdowns and take carries away from Murray.  This situation has committee written all over it.  No thanks I’ll pass on Murray. Can I draft the Dallas cheerleaders instead?

 

48.  Jeremy Hill Rb- Hill burned a lot of owners last year because they overvalued him.  Cincinnati runs a committee between him and Bernard.  You don’t take running backs in a committee in the late 1st or early 2nd round.  If Bernard gets hurt Hill could put up impressive numbers again.  Cincy’s offense is solid.  That said, this still seems a bit early. I’d rather go after a wide receiver.

 

49.  Eric Decker Wr- A touchdown machine last year.  Fitzpatrick had a career year last season.  The Jets schedule is tough though.  I like other wide receivers better.  I’ll pass.

 

50.  Drew Brees Qb- Another year older and a tougher schedule are worrisome. I’d rather be early to the party than late.  Pass

 

51.  Kelvin Benjamin Wr- Not the worst pick because of his talent, but he plays on a run oriented team which limits his upside.  If I’m picking receivers I want them to be on teams that like to pass it. I know I’m picky like that.  He’s coming off a torn acl which is another concern.  I’ll go after others like Moncrief or Floyd instead.

 

52. Jeremy Maclin Wr- Moves inside with the emergence of Chris Conley.  Limited upside because of Alex Smith, who refuses to throw the ball into a crowd.  I’d pass here.

 

53. Ben Roethlisberger Qb- One of the games’ best.  He can literally win you a week some Sundays because of the Steelers hurry up passing offense.  Needs another wide receiver to emerge next to Brown to help his totals.  Plays a great schedule.  I’m buying.

 

54.  Ryan Mathews Rb- The Eagles offense is terrible.  No way a rookie quarterback from North Dakota State comes into the NFL and does well right away. They’re not exactly playing SEC opponents over there ya’ know.  It will take some time. I predict 2016 is a long year for the Philly offense which includes Mathews.  I’m avoiding all Eagles.  Bust

 

55. Golden Tate Wr- Did well when Calvin Johnson was injured.  Can he be the go to guy now that he’s gone?  Can he stay healthy? He’s not the biggest wide receiver out there.  This seems risky for me here. I think the yards will be spread out evenly between him and Marvin Jones.  Not a Stafford fan and Jones is cheaper.  Pass

 

56. Donte Moncrief Wr- My sleeper/breakout special.  He’ll get a lot of looks in the red zone too since he’s the biggest wide receiver on the Colts. He has some wheels as well.  If the Colts can protect Luck, Moncrief could put up top 10 numbers.  I’m all in. Steal

 

57. Travis Kelce TE- Wait on all tight ends until late.  This is crazy early. Pass

 

58. Jeremy Langford Rb- The Bears have no offense and no line.  They lost their starting center for the year. In addition, their best lineman, Kyle Long, is playing hurt,  and Langford is still getting picked here? Are you guys nuts? Are you hitting the bottle? What the heck? I get the I need a running back rationale, but I’d have more respect for someone picking a tight end over Langford, and I hate tight end selections this early. Bust

 

59.  Michael Floyd Wr- He hurt his hand last preseason which contributed to his slow start.  Once it healed up, he turned it on midseason.  Flying under the radar-(see what I did there- flying and he’s a Cardinal, that’s just pure, natural writing talent there folks).  Anyway where was I? Oh yeah Floyd– he’s the go to guy in Arizona. I love him here.  Breakout candidate.  Steal

 

60. Delanie Walker TE- Yet another tight end selection.  No one reads my tight end articles.  Well I guess it could be worse- at least it’s not Jeremy Langford.  Although that’s because he went earlier- ugh!

 

61.  Carson Palmer Qb-  My only concern with Palmer is can he stay healthy?  If he does this is a solid pick. He plays on a team that loves to pass and has plenty of weapons to work with- like Floyd. 

 

62. Larry Fitzgerald Wr- He’s lost a step.  Yardage totals are lacking because he works underneath routes.  Okay for ppr leagues because he gets a lot of catches, but Floyd is younger, has much more upside and is a better value only a few picks earlier.  Pass

 

63.  Melvin Gordon Rb- Terrible rookie year.  He played all year and didn’t score a touchdown?  Seriously the odds of that happening had to be astronomical. He had offseason microfracture surgery in his knee which scares the heck out of me.  The Chargers line is not the best.  Let someone else risk it.  No chance I will.

 

64.  Tom Brady Qb- I can’t believe he’s 39.  He still has zip on his passes.  No signs of slowing down.  Tough schedule is my concern along with the 4 game suspension.  New England plays Denver in week 15- which is a playoff week for many fantasy leagues.  Because of that I’d pass here even though he’s one of my favorite players.

 

65.  Emmanuel Sanders Wr- Trevor who at quarterback?? And eventually they’ll give rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch a shot.  The Broncos are going to run not pass this year. Bust

 

66.  Matt Jones Rb- Jones looked like a star last preseason and then burned me when I picked him up off waivers. He wore down last year, has an injury history, and his fumbling issue didn’t endear him to coaches.  He hurt his shoulder in the preseason.  I think it affects him all year.  Too much risk. Bust

 

67.  Arian Foster Rb- Coming off a torn Achilles is tough.  Miami has struggled on offense in the preseason, but one of the few bright spots has been Foster.  I think he wins the job and is the workhorse back down there.  Not sure if he can hold up over the season, but I’m buying.  Much better value than Matt Jones in my opinion. One of the best in the game when he plays.

 

68.  Coby Fleener TE- Still too early for tight ends.  Wait until the last few rounds. 

 

69. Eli Manning Qb- Eli is at a discount because people still associate him with former coach Tom Coughlin who loved to run the ball.  His current coach likes to pass.  If rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard lives up to the hype Eli could have his best year ever.  Plays a good schedule too.  Love him here.  Steal

 

70. Jordan Mathews Wr- Seriously why do people take players on lousy teams so early?  Will the Eagles ever score?  Bust

 

71. Frank Gore Rb- Liked him a lot more until I saw that Colts line.  They can’t run block at all.  He might score some touchdowns, but the yardage totals won’t be great. That said, he can only improve on his numbers from last year where he had to do it without Luck.  Worth a shot.

 

72.  Giovanni Bernard Rb- More valuable in ppr leagues.  In non ppr leagues this is way too early since he’s in a rbbc.  I like guys who score touchdowns from the one, Jeremy Hill usually scores them not Bernard and since my league isn’t ppr, I’d pass here.

 

73. John Brown Wr- Suffered a concussion injury which lingered with him several weeks.  Only recently has he returned to practice.  Once a player sustains a concussion they’re more susceptible to them in the future.  Major injury risk.  Bust

 

74. Gary Barnidge TE- I give up no one ever listens to me- ugh!  Too early for tight ends especially ones on the Browns.

 

75. Allen Hurns Wr- Tough receiver who fought through injuries last year to have a solid year as one of my former sleepers.  Moves into the slot with Marqise Lee taking over on deeper routes.  My concern is if the Jaguars will throw it as much now that they have a better defense?  Also will Lee steal some targets now that he’s healthy.  I like other wide receiver’s a little better here, but Hurns seems legit to me.  Marqise Lee is a lot cheaper and might be even better than Hurns so if I want a Jaguar wide receiver I’d target him instead.

 

76. Blake Bortles Qb- Not the most glitzy pick and throws his shares of clunkers but man, this guy has some real weapons to throw to now.  Robinson, Hurns , Lee and Julius Thomas are quietly one of the best crews in the league that no one is talking about, well except me that is, although technically I’m writing about them. My only concern with the Jaguars, which I mentioned earlier, are the limited opportunities if their defense improves, but they still play Tennessee and Indy twice which could turn into shootouts.  I’m in.

 

77. Danny Woodhead Rb-  Only worth it if it’s a ppr league.  Anything else it’s a reach.  No upside here.  Pass.

 

78. DeSean Jackson Wr-  Still a dangerous deep threat, but Cousins isn’t known for a strong arm.  Jackson is limited in the red zone because of his size.  Rookie wide receiver Doctson could steal some opportunities as well.  Pass

 

79. Duke Johnson Rb- Love his talent.  Duke has exceptional receiving skills and the potential to be a three down back which is rare.  Reminds scouts of LeSean McCoy.  The risk- the Browns line is bad and RGIII takes too many sacks. If McCown takes over I’d bump him up.  In ppr I’d consider, but I’d wait in non ppr leagues.

 

80. Philip Rivers Qb- It’s too bad they refuse to invest in a line for this guy.  He’s a competitor who wants to win at all costs.  Love his fire.  Rivers is a statue back there though- he needs a clean pocket.  If he has time he’ll pick a defense apart.  Plays a tough schedule being in the AFC West so Von Miller might have something to say about his touchdowns.  Limited upside.  I’ll pass.

 

81. Chris Ivory Rb- Runs hard, but can’t seem to stay healthy. Should have a lot of scoring chances on an emerging Jaguars offense.  Their line is still weak, so yardage totals might be on the lower side.  He’s in a rbbc with TJ Yeldon.  Like others better.

 

82. Rashad Jennings Rb- In the past as a workhorse back he put up good numbers, but would break down.  The release of Andre Williams helps.  He should get the call at the goal line now.  He’s good as long as he holds up- that’s the issue and he’s no spring chicken. I like others better.

 

83. Tyler Lockett Wr- A small, fast receiver and dangerous return man who can score at will.  Seems too small to last over a 16 game season.  This is way too high for me.  Bust.

 

84. DeAngelo Williams Rb- Proved what he could do when given a chance in that offense.  He’s a top running back the first 3 weeks this season while Bell is suspended and if Bell gets hurt you’ve won the lottery. Steal

 

85. Marvin Jones Wr- Worth a shot.  Put up good numbers in Cincy, but lacks elite speed to scare defenses.  Costs a lot less than Golden Tate so if I’m looking for a Lions receiver I’d gamble on Jones over Tate for that reason.  Not a Stafford fan so I like others a little better.  Boldin could steal some touchdowns as well.

 

86. Ameer Abdullah Rb- Not a fan of him or his situation.  Fumbles too much and now that Calvin Johnson is gone Detroit has no one to scare defenses deep.  That should push the safeties up and make it harder to run.  I’m avoiding.

 

87. Josh Gordon Wr- Suspended the first 4 games because of drugs.  Maybe him and Brady can hang out and do lunch.   If it happens again he could be out a year so there are risks.  That said, this guy has serious talent. Looked impressive vs Tampa in the preseason which awoke a lot of people to his sleeper status- including the guys in my league dang it. Why can’t they watch Seinfeld instead? In 2013 he led the NFL in receiving yards.  He’s a big play machine.  It’s rare to find this kind of talent this late.  Despite the risks- I love him here.  Steal.

 

88.  Michael Crabtree Wr- One of the league’s comeback players last year.  Injuries have derailed a once promising career. Still, he joined a team with a good passing game and held up health wise.  He’s a possession receiver more than a big play one, but his size helps his red zone looks.  Has limited upside though.  I think what he did last year is his ceiling.  I’ll pass. 

 

89. Denver Defense – They’re solid, but this is too early for a defense.  Here’s what worries me.  I expect their offense to struggle with moving the ball and will commit a lot of turnovers.  That ultimately hurts a defense.  Losing Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan doesn’t help.  Pass.

 

90. Antonio Gates TE- One of the greatest tight ends of all time, but he’s an old man in a young man’s game.  Still a force near the red zone, but plays limited snaps these days.  No upside here.  Pass

 

91. Derrick Henry Rb- The Heisman trophy winner had an impressive preseason.  He’s in a rbbc and could get the goal line looks because of his size and power.  The risks- the Titan’s defense is awful so they might have to abandon the running game and this guy is not known for his receiving skills.  Other pundits love him.  As for myself he’s okay, but I like others better so I won’t get him.

 

92. Julius Thomas TE- Disappointed last year, but this is an emerging offense.  Might be okay, but still too early for tight ends.  I’ll wait and grab whoever is left.  Not much difference to me.  Pass

 

93. Zach Ertz TE- Too early for tight ends and he plays on a lousy team with a rookie quarterback to boot- are you kidding?  There must be a lot of Eagles fans drafting.  No chance.  Bust. 

 

94. Seattle Defense- Too early for a defense, but man these guys are good.  Probably the best defense in the NFL.  If the offense struggles that hurts their potential since the defensive ends can’t pin their ears back and rush the passer, causing sacks and turnovers. So we’ll see. 

 

95. Stephen Gostkowski K- The first 4 weeks when Brady is gone no way is he a top kicker.  After that maybe.  Add to that this crazy price tag and no chance I’m getting him.  Terrible pick here.  Kickers should always be your last pick. Avoid.

 

96. Sterling Shepard Wr- Now this is more like it.  He’s drawn rave reviews and joins a high powered offense.  I think Victor Cruz is done so he’s becomes the #2 guy in my opinion.  Should see a lot of single coverage with defenses focused on Odell Beckham.  Sleeper. Love him here.

 

97. TJ Yeldon Rb-  Seemed to wear down last year.  The signing of Chris Ivory hurts his value since he’ll get the call at the goal line over TJ. The Jaguars run blocking is terrible.  Needs Ivory to get hurt which is entirely possible.  Still I’ll pass.

 

98. Tyler Eifert TE- When healthy I like him, but he’s hurt to start the year so he’ll miss a few weeks. Will he be the same player when he comes back?  Too risky for me. Pass

 

99. Derek Carr Qb-  This guy is the real deal.  The Raiders signed a tackle Kelemechi Osemele from Baltimore in free agency to help with pass protection and Amari Cooper is healthy now.  Should take another step forward.  Love him here.  Steal.

 

100.   Carolina Defense- They’re solid, but this is too early for a defense is most formats. Pass

 

101.    Kevin White Wr- He’s talented, but raw at least that’s the word on the street.  Still needs to learn how to run routes.  The Bears line is terrible which means Cutler will be under constant duress.  Down the road maybe, but not this year.  Pass.

 

102.   Arizona Defense- Love them.  My top rated defense along with Seattle- it’s a tie 1a and 1b. Their offense is explosive so when the Cardinals get to a lead they cause turnovers and pile up sacks.  Still early for a defense, but if your dead set on getting one this is the one I’d get.

 

103.   Devante Parker Wr- Loved him this year until I saw the Dolphins offense.  Now he’s struggling with another hamstring injury and in the coach’s doghouse.  I still love his talent- he’s fast and big.  Scouts say his ceiling is a prototypical #1 wide receiver, and he compares to DeAndre Hopkins.  Might come on midseason if he can get healthy.  Worth a shot.

 

104.   LeGarrette Blount Rb- He’s a goal line vulture on a strong team.  He can score multiple touchdowns a week or give you next to nothing. Can’t catch passes so he’s more of a non ppr pick.  Worthless until Brady comes back week 5.  Limited upside.  I like others better.

 

105.   Jay Ajayi Rb-  He has no cartilage in his knee.  No way he holds up if he gets a lot of carries.  The Miami job is Foster’s in my opinion.  I want no part of Ajayi.  Bust.

 

106.   Stefon Diggs Wr- Talented receiver on a lousy offense- it breaks my heart- well almost.  Bridgewater was terrible last year- unfortunately he suffered a horrific injury eight days before the start of the season so now Sam Bradford will be the guy.  Diggs might improve on his numbers if Sam is still standing midseason.  The Vikings line is not the best.  Pass

 

107.   Tavon Austin Wr- Another wide receiver who plays on a lousy offense.  Austin gets some points on run plays,  but not enough to get me interested.  The Rams are a running team.  No thanks.  Pass

 

108.   Kirk Cousins Qb- Captain Kirk is now the guy in Washington.  Plays an easy schedule, but I’m not 100% sold on him.  Not the strongest arm in the world either. Can he get the ball to DeSean Jackson for some big plays?  The run game has struggled which doesn’t help.  I like others better.  Time to move on.  Sulu warp 5- Engage!  Oh yeah I’ll pass.

 

109.   Justin Forsett Rb- The situation in Baltimore is mass confusion.  It’s not a rbbc- it’s a party there are so many people in the mix.  Terrance West had a strong preseason.  Dixon might be a factor later in the season.  I’m staying away from this mess.  Avoid

 

110.   Stephen Hauschka K-  Way too early for a kicker.  Pass

 

111.   Willie Snead Wr- Saints spread the ball around too much for me.  Pass

 

112.   Tyrod Taylor Qb- I’m not 100% sold on him, but he’s a sneaky play.  He gets those rushing yards which really add up.  They don’t call him T-Mobile for nothing. If Sammy Watkins can stay healthy- a big if- he has a premier wide receiver to throw to as well.  Playing in Buffalo in December is not ideal, but the price is so cheap he’s worth it.  If you get him get a good backup just in case he doesn’t pan out.

 

113.   Houston Defense- Still too early for a defense.  I’d grab one in the 13th or 14th  in a 15 round draft in most standard formats. This unit is good if JJ Watt is 100% healthy.  He’s recovering from back surgery.  If JaDeveon Clowney does anything they can be a force.

 

114.   Jameis Winston Qb- Had a solid rookie season.  Expect Tampa to open it up now.  Has an emerging star in Mike Evans.  Needs better yardage totals to get me interested, but I think his touchdowns will improve.  I’d want him more as a backup than as a starter- at least for now.

 

115.   Charles Sims Rb- He runs high which leads to a lot of hits.  Sims has outstanding receiving skills which makes him a strong play in ppr leagues.  In addition, if anything happens to Doug Martin- he becomes the guy.  I like others better, but he’s a lottery ticket.  Worth a shot.

 

116.   Jimmy Graham TE- A former elite tight end who was right up there with Gronk now trying to come back from one of the most grueling injuries a player can have- a torn patella tendon.  I don’t see this working out well.  Let someone else take the gamble. The odds are against him.  Avoid

 

117.   Kansas City Defense- Still good, but they’re getting up there in age.  Losing Justin Houston to suspension the first few games doesn’t help.  Pass

 

118.   Torrey Smith Wr- Some of the pundits think he’ll be the guy in Chip’s offense.  I’m not sure.  He’s a burner more than a route runner.  The 49’ers offense is a mess and they play a brutal schedule.  Pass

 

119.   Isiah Crowell Rb- A talented running back in a Hue Jackson offense has potential.  The problem- he’s on the Browns.  Cleveland lost all pro center Alex Mack to free agency and they have no defense- so they’ll be trailing and forced to pass.  That means Duke Johnson is more valuable than Crowell.  Pass

 

120.   Dion Lewis Rb- Lewis came on last year before getting hurt.  Was a ppr monster and scoring like crazy on a prolific offense.  He’s on the pup list- not worth a pick until he’s healthy.  Will he get back to 100% this year?  Maybe.  I’ll pass

 

121.   Graham Gano K- Too early for any kicker. Pass

 

122.   Corey Coleman Wr-  Coleman had a terrific preseason.  Might be okay, but once Gordon comes back I think he’s the guy, not Coleman.  If I’m getting anyone on Cleveland it will be Gordon and then Duke over Coleman.  Since I don’t want too many Browns I’d pass.

 

123.   Andy Dalton Qb- Never been a big fan, but he was having a career year until he got hurt.  Losing Eifert to injury and Marvin Jones to free agency hurts.  They really added some pop to Cincy’s offense.  Will the new coordinator open things up or keep it run focused?  Eh maybe Dalton is okay as a backup because of their cakelike schedule, but I’d be leery of him as my starter.

 

124.   Matthew Stafford Qb- Okay not to be mean, but I hate this guy.  Had him a few years ago and every time I started him he did lousy and when I benched him he was awesome.  Obviously he took a payoff from my no good friends to stick it to my team.  His mechanics are awful.  Losing Calvin Johnson hurts big time.  Calvin covered up a lot of bad throws and won those jump balls.  The price is right, but I don’t want him. 

 

125.   Martellus Bennett TE- This is still a touch early for drafting tight ends, but he might be the exception if things break right.  If your patient I think he pays dividends.  He’ll be worthless the first 4 weeks while Brady is out, but when Tom returns things get interesting.  The Patriots will try to use him the way they used Aaron Hernandez with Gronk a few years ago- a lot of 2 tight end sets.  And if anything happens to Gronk- you’re sitting on a lottery ticket to boot. 

 

126.   Markus Wheaton Wr- Martavis Bryant’s suspension for the year creates an opening on one of the most powerful offenses in football.  Sammie Coates seems to have squandered a golden opportunity so it looks like Wheaton is the play.  He asked to move outside from the slot which could open up some big plays for him- especially since he has some wheels.  I like him as a sleeper and the price is right.

 

127.   Travis Benjamin Wr-  He finally has a quarterback who has the ability to get him the rock so Benjamin could have some decent weeks.  The risk- can the Chargers lousy line give Rivers the time he needs to connect with Benjamin?  If they can- he’ll hit some big plays.  He’s more valuable in non ppr leagues.  He’ll struggle in the red zone because he lacks height.  I like others better including his teammate Tyrell Williams.  So with all that said I’ll pass.

 

128.   Vincent Jackson Wr-  VJax as he’s called is nearing the end.  He’s lost a step and he plays second fiddle to Mike Evans down there.  The Bucs added Cecil shorts as well.  I’m not a fan of getting receivers in their 30’s. Limited upside here.  I’ll pass.

 

129.   Jason Witten TE- A determined competitor who refuses to let injuries keep him out of games.  However, he’s older and his touchdowns have slipped.  Losing Romo can’t help and if Dak struggles the Cowboys will struggle.  Even if Dak pans out-mark my words (see my name is Mark so I used mark in the phrase there…um never mind.  I guess you had to be there.) the Cowboys are first and foremost a running team. I’ll pass.

 

130.   Jason Tucker K-  Too early for kickers even though he’s solid.  And if you’re a Die Hard fan he has an awesome fantasy team name- Yippi Ki Yay Mother Tucker!   Man I‘m on a roll. Pass

 

131.   Theo Riddick Rb-  Okay for ppr leagues, but I think the Lions struggle offensively.  Pass.

 

132.   Christine Michael Rb- He looks like the real deal.  I know I know you heard the same story last year.  Well guess what, you’re going to hear it again until it works haha!  Lynch is gone and when he came back to Seattle late in the year he came on strong.  Coaches say he has a new outlook under him- he’s had an awakening. If Rawls breaks down again- he’s the guy.  And even if he doesn’t I still think they split carries because of his strong preseason.  One of my top sleepers.  The price is right (Hey it’s the end of the 11th round) and I’m buying!

 

133.   Marcus Mariota Qb- Came on a little later on in the year.  I don’t think he can hold up behind that lousy Titan line.  Losing Dorial Green-Beckham hurts.  He would have helped in the red zone.  He has a longer learning curve than Jameis Winston due to the offense he played in college.  Pass.

 

134.   Bilal Powell Rb- Wasn’t high on him, but the loss of Khiry Robinson to injury helps his touchdown potential. He’ll split carries with Forte.  If he can stay healthy might have some decent weeks.  The Jets schedule is menacing though.  I like others better.

 

135.   Spencer Ware Rb- The expert hype train is in full force on Ware.  They think he’s the handcuff to Jamaal Charles who is recovering from a torn acl and isn’t ready yet.  I’m not so sure.  I think Charkandrick West and possibly even Knile Davis might split carries with Ware in Charles’s absence.  Pass

 

136.   Devin Funchess Wr- Did alright last year, but remember Kelvin Benjamin missed last year due to injury.  The Panthers are a running team. This guy is not known for his jumping ability either.  Better options out there.  Pass

 

137.   LA Rams Defense- Their front line is beast like, but their secondary can be had.  If quarterback Jared Goff gets the call later this season it kills their value.  He’ll most likely commit a lot of turnovers, like most rookies, and put their defense in tough spots.  Pass

 

138.   New England Defense-Losing Chandler Jones hurts.  Rob Ninkovich is banged up as well.  In addition, they rarely return kicks for touchdowns. Pass

 

139.   Tevin Coleman Rb- This guy is a game changer.  He can run like a gazelle and has decent size.  He reminds scouts of Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson.  A home run threat to take it to pay dirt anytime he touches it.  He has decent hands to pile up some catches.  He’s in a rbbc in Atlanta, but he was drafted ahead of Freeman.  A rib injury early last year hampered him.  One of my top sleepers and the price is absurdly cheap.  I’m all in.

 

140.   Matt Ryan Qb- How the might have fallen.  Experts have finally given up on him.  He still looks lost in the Falcons new offense.  Atlanta plays a tough schedule.too.  Might be okay as a backup, hard to trust week in and week out, which is hard to believe considering who he’s throwing to in Julio Jones.

 

141.   Kamar Aiken Wr- I’m not believer. I think he benefited last year because he was the last guy standing.  Their wide receivers were decimated last year to injuries.  The guy I like in Baltimore, in non ppr league’s is Mike Wallace, not Aiken.  Pass

 

142.   Minnesota Defense- They’re a solid and underrated unit.  They’ll play indoors now which could hurt their weather advantage.  If the Vikings offense can do anything they’ll get some turnovers.  Cordarelle Patterson is one of the games’ most dangerous return men. 

 

143.   Chris Boswell K- Too early for kickers.  That said this guy did well last year.  Even with the Steelers going for a lot of two point conversions which drives me nuts if I own a kicker, he gets a lot of opportunities because of that hurry up offense.  And he makes his opportunities count which is impressive, especially in a tough place to kick like Pittsburgh.

 

144.   Alfred Morris Rb- He’s the backup to Elliott.  A handcuff and a lottery ticket if Elliott gets hurt- nothing more.

 

145.   Dwayne Allen TE- This is why I wait on tight ends.  Besides Moncrief, Allen is a prime red zone target who plays on a high octane offense.  The free agent departure of Coby Fleener and the abysmal Colt defense should ensure a lot of chances.  He’s a top sleeper at tight end for me, especially at this price.

 

146.    James White Rb- A lot of people are anointing him the 3rd down back in New England, but as Lee Corso says not so fast my friends.  The signing of free agent Bishop Sankey is a major threat in my opinion, as is the eventual return of Dion Lewis.  Brady’s 4 game suspension makes him useless those weeks. Bust

 

147.   Michael Thomas Wr- Had a decent preseason, but so did Brandon Coleman last year after Saints beat reporters talked him up. and I never heard from him again after I drafted him.  Thomas will have to prove it to me first.  I’m avoiding.

 

148.   Darren Sproles Rb- Might be useful in ppr leagues, but the Eagles lack of offensive firepower makes this a wasted pick in most formats.  No thanks

 

149.   Mason Crosby K- Crosby is a good kicker on a solid offense, but it’s better towait until the last round to draft a kicker. They’re too unpredictable. Pass

 

150.   Tony Romo Qb- His first series in the preseason and he gets hurt.  I’m sorry, but Tony it’s time to retire.  He looked old and slow against Seattle. Stick a fork in him- I think he’s done.  For better or worse- Dak’s the guy in Dallas. 

 

151.   Dan Bailey K- Solid kicker, but still too early and Dallas’s poor defense worries me. I’d pass.

 

152.   Cincinnati Defense- A solid defense unless they play the Steelers, but they lost Reggie Nelson to free agency and Vontaze Burfict to a 3 game suspension.  In addition, William Houston a promising rookie is out for the year.  They’re good, but they could have been even better.

 

153.   Dak Prescott Qb- I’m not a fan of drafting rookie quarterbacks, but Dak might be decent.  His rushing ability give him sneaky upside.  He reminds me of Donovan McNabb.  Might be okay as a backup- but that’s the highest I’m willing to risk it.  Most rookies struggle their first year.

 

154.   Chandler Catanzaro K-  Decent kicker who should get a lot of opportunities, but I’m still waiting until the last round for a kicker.  Pass

 

155.   Terrance West Rb- West had a solid preseason, but trying to guess the Ravens running back is like picking the lottery.  No idea so I’ll pass.

 

156.   Devontae Booker Rb- They love him in Denver and he looks like the 3rd down back there.  Scouts compare him to Arian Foster.  I’m not a fan of the Denver offense, but this guy is legit.  Worth a shot here.

 

157.   James Starks Rb- An insurance policy for Eddie Lacy, but that’s about it.  I’ll pass.

 

158.   Jared Cook TE- Sleeper alert.  Like many I’ve been burned by Cook in the past, but now he’s got a real quarterback throwing him the rock.  His speed creates matchup problems for defenders.  I think this year he finally pays dividends and if he doesn’t it’s only a 14th round pick.  Possible steal.

 

159.   Steve Smith Wr- As tough as they come, but this is his final year.  I think he’s on a snap count.  He has the name value, but can he hold up?  The guy I want in Baltimore is Mike Wallace not Smith.  Pass

 

160.   Ladarius Green TE- Concussion issues are ending his career. It’s a shame because in Pittsburgh he would have put up some good numbers. Pass

 

161.   Tajae Sharpe Wr- Impressive preseason, but he’s too small for my liking which limits his red zone chances.  The Titans spread the ball around as well.  Pass

 

162.   Blair Walsh K- Still too early for a kicker.  Walsh is a good kicker despite his heartbreak chip shot miss in the playoffs.  He plays indoors now, but that Vikings offense can be painful to watch sometimes.  Pass

 

163.   Will Fuller Wr- This guy can flat out fly.  Anytime he touches it he can make big plays.  Scouts call him a touchdown machine.  Looked impressive in the preseason.  More valuable in non ppr leagues.  I like him and the price is definitely right.  Sleeper

 

164.   Mohamed Sanu Wr- He’s not fast and not that tall, and plays second fiddle to Julio.  If Jones go down he becomes interesting, but other than that-  eh he’s okay- not great.  Pass

 

165.   Zach Miller TE- He plays on the Bears- enough said.  Not interested.  Pass

 

166.   Ted Ginn Wr- Kelvin Benjamin is back and the Panthers don’t pass it much as it is.  No thanks. Pass

 

167.   DeAndre Washington Rb-  The rookie needs to hang on to the rock, but he should get some work.  The Raiders want to lighten Murray’s load and if anything happens to Latavius, DeAndre is the guy.  Murray isn’t the most durable guy in the world either.  Washington seems a little light to be a three down back though.  He might be worth a shot.

 

168.   Ryan Fitzpatrick Qb- Had a career year last year and the Jets play a brutal schedule now.  Can he repeat?  Has some impressive receivers in Marshall and Decker, but the odds are against him.  Pass

 

169.   Brock Osweiler Qb- The Texans have some impressive weapons, but their line is shaky with the loss of the rookie center Martin.  In addition, they might want to run the ball more.  Beware Braxton Miller who might be used near the goal line in wildcat plays.  The receiver was a former quarterback at Ohio State.  Texans might have overpaid for Brock in free agency and the Broncos who needed a quarterback didn’t match the offer which is a red flag.  Let’s wait and see first.  Pass

 

170.   Ryan Tannehill Qb- The Dolphins took this guy early and he hasn’t panned out.  This is a make it or break it year for him.  The team is struggling in the new offense. He’s not accurate and can’t throw a deep ball.  Bust

 

171.   Victor Cruz Wr- Can he be the same player as he once was?  If so, can he hold up over the course of the season?  I don’t think he can.  The salsa dance is over folks.  Pass

 

172.   Pittsburgh Defense- Hurry up offenses are great for offensive players like Brown and Bell, not so much for the team’s defense.  Bust

 

173.   Laquan Treadwell Wr-  The Vikings offense was terrible with Bridgewater.  Can Bradford do any better?  I’m not expecting much- it’s a run heavy offense.  This guy is big, but slow.  This year’s rookie receiver class isn’t as highly regarded as past rookie receiver classes.  Pass

 

174.   Chris Johnson Rb-  CJ2K has lost a step.  Might get some work to spell David Johnson, but make no mistake he’s a backup.  Even if he gets the full time roll due to injury, I’m not sure he can hold up.  Pass

 

175.   Green Bay Defense- Dom Capers has his best secondary since joining the Pack.  Playing a soft NFC North schedule helps their cause.  I like them as a value play.

 

176.   Brandon McManus K-  He kicks in the thin air which helps the ball travel farther, but I think their offense struggles which will limit opportunities.  Pass

 

177.   Adam Vinateri K-  Has made some of the most clutch kicks in NFL history, but his career his nearing the end.  He no longer has the same leg to kick long field goals and the Colt defense or lack of it could force Indy to abandon field goal attempts if they fall behind.  Pass

 

178.   Eric Ebron TE-  I’m not a fan of the Lions offense.  Last time I checked Ebron is still on Detroit.  Pass

 

179.   Cairo Santos K- Not the most accurate kicker, but the Chiefs offense tends to bog down in the red zone.  A little early for me.  Pass

 

180.   Tyler Boyd Wr- He had a good preseason, but he looks like a slot receiver so that limits his yardage totals. Pass

 

181.   Alex Smith Qb- He’s way too careful with the rock as far as fantasy football is concerned.  If he throws a touchdown it’s a miracle.  Hard to believe he was an overall #1 pick originally by the 49’ers who took him over Aaron Rodgers.  Pass.

 

182.   Dorial Green-Beckham Wr-  A top sleeper of mine until he was traded to Philly.  He has speed and size.  The trade of Bradford kills whatever value he might have had this season.  If Wentz develops he could emerge next season.  This year seems unlikely.  Pass

 

183.   Jerrick McKinnionRb- AP’s backup in Minnesota so a lot of pundits love him.  I don’t. The Vikings offense isn’t that good- especially without AP.  Pass

 

184.   Karlos Williams Rb- He had a great rookie season and was one of my sleepers until he ate himself out of the league.  The Bills cut him.  His weight gain is truly unbelievable.  I mean if you’re making millions playing football you’d think you’d invest in a personal trainer, a chef,  something.  Ugh!  Do I even have to say bust?

 

185.   Mike Wallace Wr- Finally it’s a Ravens receiver I like.  He finally has a decent quarterback to get him the ball. The last time was back in Pittsburgh with Big Ben.  Now he gets to play them twice a year. Flacco’s strong arm seems like a perfect match with his speed.  More valuable in non ppr leagues.  Should connect for some big plays- especially against the Steelers.  Sleeper.

 

186.   Robert Griffin III- RGIII is a great team player, but he just doesn’t have the pocket presence or ability to read defenses.  It’s a shame because he was electric at Baylor and during his rookie year.  Playing behind a weak Browns line doesn’t help matters.  Pass

 

187.   Phillip Dorsett Wr- This guy can fly.  He’s faster than T.Y. Hilton which is saying something.  A smaller receiver, but could break some big plays with Luck throwing him the rock.  I like him.  Sleeper.

 

188.   Darren McFadden Rb-  He broke his elbow and now he fears he’ll never regain full use of it.  A shame- this guy was electric in college, but has had an injury plagued NFL career which might be coming to an abrupt end. Pass

 

189.   NY Jets Defense- Their front is very formidable against the run, but Revis has lost a step.  They’re okay- not great.

 

190.   Sebastian Janikowski K- The Raiders defense is improving so they’ll be in most games.  He should get a lot of opportunities with that offense and he has potential for big weeks because of his strong leg.  I like him.

 

191.   Josh Doctson Wr- He looks like a good player, but he’s a factor next year not this one.  Pass

 

192.   Connor Barth K- Recently signed by the Bears.  I think they did it just to tick me off after I bashed their offense in this article.  This is the guy who cost me a title two years ago.  He missed a 48 yarder which would have won it for me.  Do I even have to say pass? I hope you rot you slug haha!

 

 

 

Mark Bonadonna

 

Senior Fantasy Analyst

Zero Rb Draft Strategy Is Overdone

     I’ve played fantasy football for 25 years.  During that time I’ve read about various strategies that owners need to utilize in order to win a title.  First, it was the stud running back theory which meant drafting elite running backs in the first two rounds of the draft.  Then it was the elite quarterback theory which entailed taking a stud quarterback like Brett Favre or Peyton Manning early to anchor your team.  The latest hip trend to hit the fantasy football world is the zero running back strategy.  I feel once again the experts have missed the mark.

     First off, in all my days I have never seen a weirder, more unpredictable fantasy football season than 2015.  I mean it was quite the shocker.  Fantasy stalwarts from all positions were busts and sent their team’s chances down with the ship.  Stars like Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, and Marshawn Lynch all went down quicker than the titanic.  Despite the pain, I still feel last year was more of an anomaly rather than the new normal. The problem is that many people, experts included, look at last year’s results as the gospel.  They forget that last year is over and that the NFL is a fluid, constantly changing environment because of free agency, the draft, new coaches, new schemes, injuries, and new general managers.  Assuming last year’s results will carry over is a common trap many owners fall into.

     The zero running back theory basically is a play on words.  There is no such thing as zero running backs, you have to draft running backs in fantasy football.  Followers of this strategy wait to pick them in the middle and later rounds.  Instead they believe owners should invest their early picks in wide receivers and possibly a tight end like Gronk since these are “safer” picks.  The birth of the zero running back strategy came about because many of the NFL teams eliminated the bell cow running back who played all three downs and instead started using the infamous rbbc (running back by committee) which essentially split the carries and the fantasy points that came with it. Running backs also go through more wear and tear and tend to have a higher injury risk further adding fuel to the argument.  In ppr (point per reception) leagues this is a wise strategy, but in other formats it is fools’ gold. Let’s take a closer look.

     Last year you could have drafted Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in the first two rounds which obviously would have turned out really well.  Then later on you could have filled out your team with Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Devonta Freeman, and David Johnson which would have built a very powerful squad in any format.  However, last year you very easily could also have picked Dez Bryant and Randall Cobb with your first two picks along with Ryan Tannehill, Tevin Coleman, and CJ Spiller.  Here’s where I’m going with this, just because you employ a strategy doesn’t mean it’s the end all, be all, foolproof system.  Last year, Cobb and Dez were elite ranked wide receivers and they turned into busts.  What matters most is hitting on your picks, not necessarily avoiding certain positions early in the draft like running backs.  Let me repeat that because it’s important.  What matters most is hitting on your picks, not necessarily avoiding certain positions early in the draft like running backs.  Got it?  Good- let’s move on.

     Over the years the best approach that I’ve found is the balanced approach.  I’ve tried various strategies, including the zero running back theory and time after time my best drafts (in standard and .5 ppr) were the ones in which I used the balanced approach.  While there isn’t a perfect strategy that works 100% of the time, this one works the best because of its simplicity.  It helps you pick the best available player because you’re not committed to HAVING to pick a position.  For example, if you pick wide receiver with your first two or three picks and you like a wide receiver or quarterback currently on the board you may pass on him because you have yet to pick a running back.  You may feel the pressure to pick a running back just for the sake of getting one.  Instead if you go with a balanced approach like a running back and wide receiver with your first two picks it usually works out better.  Let’s take a look.  Say you took Ezekiel Elliott in the 1st round and Amari Cooper in the 2nd.  You can go in a variety of ways with your 3rd round pick.  If you have Andrew Luck rated as your top quarterback you’re MORE likely to take him giving you a solid/ elite ranked player at each position.  I know a lot of you insist on waiting on quarterbacks, but stick with me for a moment.  In the 4th round if you like T.Y. Hilton you’re MORE likely to take him because he’ll be your 2nd wide receiver instead of your 3rd or 4th. Essentially you are MORE likely to draft the highest player on your board with each pick, which results in a stronger overall team.

     Okay now let’s say you use the zero running back approach and take Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Obviously you love your wide receivers over most teams in any format. Later on is where things get tougher for the zero running back followers.  You might feel the need to take Matt Forte or DeMarco Murray and pass on players you have rated higher- like Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, or Michael Floyd which is a mistake.  If anyone has Matt Forte ranked higher than Andrew Luck- first do me a favor and smack yourself.  Snap out of it already! You deserve to lose with that line of thinking.  Luck is a future star. He is described by NFL scouts as a once in a decade type of talent at quarterback.  Matt Forte is on the back end of his career in a rbbc on the Jets. That’s the kind of analysis that should be easy yet both are going near each other in recent adp’s. Here’s the point, it’s hard for most people to pick the best available player in the middle of a draft when there’s a glaring hole at running back on their roster, under pressure, when they’re on the clock. I’m going to paraphrase the words from the movie 21 when Professor Rosa gave advice to his student Ben Campbell on how to win at blackjack, “Most people lose control, give into the pressure, and let their emotions get the best of them- you will not.”  Applied to fantasy football, you will use logic and reasoning to draft the best player on the board.  When other owners let the pressure of the moment get to them and consistently pass on picking the best player available just to fill a need they are losing value and their overall draft will suffer.

    Another important factor which is often forgotten, especially during mocks is being unpredictable.  In poker it’s important to not give off tells on what cards you’re holding and what cards you’re looking for.  That’s why professional poker players like Daniel Negreanu clean up on amateurs.  They can figure out what cards their opponents have and which ones they’re looking for rather easily.  Fantasy football drafts are similar.  In mock drafts people often concentrate solely on their team.  You should also be looking at other owners’ teams near you, especially if you’re drafting near one of the turns, to practice this skill.  For example, if other owners drafting near me are using the zero running back approach they’ve most likely drafted wide receivers early.  I know the chances of them picking another wide receiver in the 4th or 5th rounds are lower.  Sooner or later they’re going to have to make their move and fill out the rest of their roster.  If I like two players, a running back and wide receiver equally, who do you think I’m going to pick?  I’m playing the percentages and taking whichever position they haven’t addressed yet and hoping the wide receiver I like comes back to me.  I’m reading their future move and countering it.  This is a lot harder for me to do if someone drafts using the balanced theory.  In that case I’m taking my highest ranked player, but there’s a greater chance whoever I don’t pick doesn’t make it back to me- making my overall draft a little weaker because I can’t predict who might slip.

      Another thing to keep in mind is the ability to find players after the draft. Remember wide receivers are usually easier to find than running backs on the waiver wire.  While there aren’t as many bell cows as the past, there still are a few.  Grabbing a guy like David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliott not only solidifies a starting spot, but it provides a decided advantage over your opponent’s top running back and also gives you the flexibility to have a stronger draft. You won’t have a black hole of lost points in that position unless Elliott becomes another Trent Richardson- which will be difficult running behind that all pro line the Cowboys have.  Wide receivers, while they are less injury prone, are also less consistent on a weekly basis.  When teams get down to the 5 yard line- they usually run it in.  Good running teams also travel better, both on the road and in bad weather. 

     In most leagues (especially standard or .5 ppr) there isn’t a full proof strategy.  Many owners who were burned by using the stud running back theory have revolted and now follow the zero running back strategy.  The stud running back theory was too extreme during its heyday and now the pendulum has swung too far the other way in my opinion.  Good scoring systems should reward owners who pick solid players regardless of which position they play, with the exception of defense and kicker.  However, over the years the balanced approach has worked the best for me. I’m able to make better picks and have stronger drafts because I don’t reach for players.  Instead I let the draft come to me and select either the best player available or the best player available that’s likely to be taken if I pass on him.  This gives me added value and the edge that I need to consistently draft well.  I think for most owners, going with the balanced approach will yield the best results and improve their drafting skills.  So remember the lessons of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid and focus on balance Danielson.  Balance is not just valuable for karate, but also in life, which includes fantasy football drafts.  Now practice balance and no scare fish haha!  Good luck!

 

 

Mark Bonadonna

Senior Fantasy Analyst

"2016 Mark Me Down"- Who I Like/Who I'm Avoiding

Qb’s I Like

Andrew Luck- The former #1 overall pick in the NFL draft didn’t suddenly go from highly touted to a bum.  Luck is a natural leader who is intelligent, athletic, has a rocket arm, and throws with pinpoint accuracy.  He is playing on a team with a lousy defense and an offense who can’t run the ball.  The only thing stopping him is the Colts terrible offensive line.  Despite the risks the reward is huge- I’m buying.  He’s my top ranked quarterback this year. Elite Tier Pick

Eli Manning- A soft schedule, heavy passing attack, and the arguably best weapons he’s ever had to throw to.  If Sterling Shepard lives up to the hype Eli could have a career year. Value Pick

Derek Carr- The youngster looks like a steal for the Raiders who got him in the 2nd round.  If Amari Cooper can stay healthy this tandem will only improve.  Carr is a good guy to target if you’re waiting on quarterbacks or looking for a solid backup to Luck.  Value Pick

Dak Prescott- Dak is the wildcard. I was trying to figure out who he reminded me of and then it finally came to me- Donovan McNabb.  He has a gun for an arm, can run like the wind, has a big frame, and a natural poise in the pocket.  Usually I play the percentages and avoid rookie quarterbacks, but he has gotten all the reps with the starters this summer which helps his chemistry with the wide receivers.  I wouldn’t want to depend on him as my starter, but a backup with major upside is worth a shot.  Quarterbacks who get rushing yards can be sneaky good- worth a shot.  Longshot Pick

Qb’s I’m Avoiding

Drew Brees- Brees isn’t a spring chicken and he’s never had a strong arm.  If the shoulder issues from last season resurface it could hinder his production.  A tough schedule doesn’t help.  I’d rather be early than late to the party.  Remember where Peyton Manning was ranked last year by most pundits?  Exactly.  AVOID

Ryan Tannehill- Tannehill looks like a 1st round reach by the Dolphins according to scouts. He has failed to take the next step and looks like a bust.  Learning a new offense doesn’t help matters even if it is coached by Adam Gase.  Devante Parker and Kenny Stills injury woes add to the challenges Miami faces.  I’m throwing him back- let someone else go fishing for the Dolphins quarterback-  AVOID

 

Rb’s I Like

David Johnson- My #1 overall pick in any fantasy draft.  Yes you heard me correctly. Elite running backs are rare and if you get one it’s a tremendous advantage.   He is electric and can score any time he touches the ball.  An excellent receiver and an explosive offense make Johnson my breakout candidate.  Arizona coaches have compared him to Marshall Faulk.  The hype is real.  2,000 total yards is a possibility because of his excellent receiving skills.  Elite Tier Pick

Ezekiel Elliott- The loss of Tony Romo hurts, but if Dak Prescott comes through at all- the read option could be devastating for opposing defenses to stop.  Elliott is the real McCoy.  A talented running back like Elliott running behind that Cowboys line is gold Jerry- gold!  Zeke is also an excellent receiver.  Bell cow backs are rare- the Cowboys have one here.  Elite Tier Pick

Tevin Coleman- Coleman is an electric back who can take it to pay dirt anytime he gets the rock.  His speed is game changing.  He reminds me of a young Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden.  And CJ didn’t get the nickname CJ2K for nothing.  The addition of all pro center Alex Mack only helps the Falcon offense.  If he breaks a few long ones early he could take over as Atlanta’s feature running back.  At a minimum he’s in a committee with Devonta Freeman.  Longshot Pick

Christine Michael- I know I know- you’ve heard this one before.  After watching the preseason highlights- he looks legit to me.  If Thomas Rawls breaks down- the upside is even more appealing.  The Seahawks line isn’t good, but Russell Wilson keeps defenses’ honest with the read option and that stingy Seahawks defense will keep the score close.  Michael came on like gangbusters late last year.  I think he’s a big time sleeper ready to finally wake up.  Longshot Pick

 

Rb’s I’m Avoiding

Carlos Hyde - The 49’ers are a train wreck and this guy has done nothing so far to warrant a 3rd or 4th round pick. BUST

Matt Forte- In the twilight of his career and is now in a rbbc on the Jets.  No way is he worth a 4th rounder. BUST

Jeremy Langford- The Bears line is horrible.  They lost their starting center for the year and their best lineman, Kyle Long, is currently hurt.  Chicago will struggle all year offensively. AVOID

Jonathan Stewart- Cam steals a lot of touchdowns from him and Stewart has an extensive injury history.  I don’t see how he holds up and even if he does how he’ll score.  AVOID

 

Wr’s I Like

Donte Moncrief- The Colts can’t run and will need to pass to keep pace with opponents who light up the scoreboard against them.  He’s the biggest of the Colt receivers so he’ll get more looks in the red zone than T.Y. Hilton.  He has a chance to outscore AJ Green if things break right.  My reasoning- the Colts have a better quarterback and will pass more often than Cincinnati.  Value Pick

Michael Floyd- After his hand healed up midseason Floyd was by far the best Cardinals receiver.  He has youth as well as size and speed in an explosive offense.  John Brown’s concussion issues and Larry Fitzgerald age make Floyd the one who can rack up the yardage and the scores.  1400 yards and 11 touchdowns are possible. Value Pick

Josh Gordon- The Browns are terrible, but he is their best weapon.  He still has the talent, the question is if RGIII and McCown will have the time to get him the ball? If they do he’ll make things happen.  He’ll have a lot of chances- Cleveland will be trailing in most games so garbage yards and garbage points are there for the taking.  The other risk- he’s suspended for the first four games and another failed drug test ends his season.  The upside is still worth the risk in the mid rounds in my opinion.  Value Pick

Markus Wheaton- Sammie Coates has struggled with drops and there are points to be had as the 2nd banana wide receiver in the Steeler offense.  He asked to move outside from the slot which could utilize his speed for some big plays.  Longshot Pick

Marqise Lee- Lee is finally healthy and moves outside with Allen Hurns moving to the slot.  Has the pedigree- drafted in the best wide receiver class in years which included: the likes of Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and also his teammate Allen Robinson who Lee was picked ahead of.  Scouts compare him to Victor Cruz.  Prior to his senior year scouts pegged him and Sammy Watkins as the top two wide receivers coming out and a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft.  He can be had for a song in most drafts. He’s worth a flier in a resurgent Jaguars offense.  Longshot Pick

Mike Wallace- Finally works with a quarterback who can maximize his greatest weapon- blinding speed.  Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the NFL- this combo looks like a perfect match.  In addition, the Ravens schedule is soft.  He’s more valuable in non ppr leagues since he won’t get a lot of catches, but the ones he does grab will go for a lot of yards.  Longshot Pick

 

Others I like- Sterling Shepard (NY Giants), Tyrell Williams (San Diego), Will Fuller (Houston), Phillip Dorsett (Indy).   Longshot Picks

 

Wr’s I’m Avoiding

Alshon Jeffery/Kevin White- The Bears offense looks terrible and combined with Jeffery’s history of soft tissue injuries makes his adp way too high for me.  The word out of Bears camp is White is very raw with his route running.  He might be good but probably not this year. Neither is worth the risks.  AVOID

Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders-  Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch throwing to them- no thanks. The Broncos offense looks pedestrian.  They’ll run the ball and play tough defense more than pass it.  AVOID

John Brown- Concussion injuries are no joke.  He just recently returned to practice after three weeks of lingering effects, but that was only in non-contact drills.  I can’t see this getting better once he starts taking hits every Sunday.  AVOID

 

TE’s I Like

Dwayne Allen- plays in a pass heavy offense with only Donte Moncrief as a target threat in the red zone.  Value Pick

Jared Cook- Cook has elite speed and creates matchup problems for defenses.  He is finally working with a decent quarterback and Aaron Rodgers is not just decent, but among the game’s best.  The Packers offense should rebound and they love throwing to their tight ends.  Cook could be another Vernon Davis in the making.  Longshot Pick

Martellus Bennett- Will probably be a non-factor the first four games, but when Tom Brady returns things get interesting.  And if anything happens to Gronk his value goes through the roof. Longshot Pick

Clive Walford-  plays in an up and coming offense and scouts think highly of him.  Worth a flier.  Longshot Pick

 

TE’s I’m Avoiding

Any tight end taken before the last few rounds is a wasted pick in my opinion.  The exception might be Gronk, but with Brady’s four game suspension- his adp is a little rich for me.  It’s better to use you’re earlier draft picks on sleepers with upside at other positions.  Go for home run swings.  Tight ends rarely return that kind of upside.

 

Defenses I like

Arizona- An already stout defense adds Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche to its stable.  When healthy, Tyrann Mathieu is a dangerous corner capable of returning interceptions for touchdowns.  Patrick Peterson makes big plays as a corner and kick returner.  If the Cardinals get ahead- the points roll in.  Playing the 49’ers and Rams twice a year helps. Elite Tier Pick

Seattle- The Seahawks are in a dead heat with Arizona for my top pick.  The offense might struggle to score which negates some of the Legion of Boom’s turnover possibilities.  That said, this unit is arguably the most talented in the NFL.  Tyler Lockett is a dangerous kick returner. And, like the Cardinals, they get to play in the NFC West.  Elite Tier Pick

Green Bay- The Pack gets to play offensive weaklings like the Bears & Lions twice as well as the pass challenged Vikings, who are now without their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  Dom Capers has his best secondary since joining the Pack and they always have home field advantage when the weather turns cold.  They’re flying under the radar.  Value Pick

Jacksonville- If I’m waiting on a defense the Jaguars are one of the ones I’m targeting. They added Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara, and Tashaun Gipson through free agency as well as Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack through the draft.  Also returning is last year’s top pick Dante Fowler who missed last season because of injury.  They can be had for a song in most drafts.  Definitely worth a shot.  Longshot Pick

 

Defenses I’m Avoiding

Denver-  The top ranked defense by most pundits.  Two reasons for my trepidation- number one they’ll go too high in most drafts.  Number two- their quarterback situation is shaky.  If rookie Paxton Lynch gets the call, and he probably will sooner rather than later, he’ll probably do what most rookie quarterback’s do- make mistakes.  Those mistakes will turn into cheap points for the Broncos opponents and against their defense.  AVOID

LA Rams- Same song as the Broncos, but a different dance.  The Rams defense is good, but their quarterback situation is shaky.  Goff might have been a reach at #1 overall in the NFL Draft.  He doesn’t have the same grades from scouts that Andrew Luck or Eli Manning received.  And when Goff gets the call it could mean a lot of turnovers which will translate into cheap points counting against the Rams defense.   AVOID

 

Kickers I like

Well in all honestly- I hate them all, but especially Connor Barth who a few years ago missed a 48 yarder in Cincinnati which would have won me the title in my current league.  He was perfect with the Broncos until that kick.  Thanks Connor- appreciate it!  Let's see where was I? Damn early alzheimer's kicking in, oh yeah with kickers it's pretty much whoever is available with my last pick.  They’re so unpredictable it’s better to use higher picks on other positions.  Some things I usually look for- 1.) Do they have a good defense so the game stays close.  My reasoning- if a team falls too far behind then they are forced to go for touchdowns and two point conversions instead of field goals.  2.) A good offense and a hurry up offense. The more times a team is in the red zone the more chances for kicking points.  See Mr. Gostkowski in New England.  3.)  If I have a choice I'd rather have him kick indoors or somewhere warm or in Denver where the weather elements are less of a factor and the ball travels farther.  Pretty much common stuff and with that said a chimpanzee could have picked a better kicker for my championship than I did with Connor Barth.  Okay so with that said, here a few I'd consider if they were there, but like I said earlier- always wait for kickers.

Mason Crosby- The Packers offense should provide a lot of opportunities and their defense is good enough to limit their opponents scores.  Value Pick

Sebastian Janikowski- An improved Raider offense combined with Seabass’s strong leg could mean some big weeks. The Raiders defense should be a lot better especially in mideseason when Aldon Smith returns keeping games close.  Value Pick

 

Kickers I’m Avoiding

Any kicker taken before my last pick. 

Stephen Gostkowski- won’t be as valuable when Jimmy Garoppolo starts at quarterback for the Patriots.  It’s better to stream kickers or go with someone else- at least in the first four weeks.  Some knucklehead will reach a few rounds early for him.  Don't be that person.  AVOID

Adam Vinatieri- The Colts defense is brutal.  That could make field goal attempts less likely if they fall way behind.  Leg strength is also lacking since he’s older.  AVOID

 

 

Mark Bonadonna

Senior Fantasy Analyst

2016 Tight End Preview

     Well here’s my take on the tight end position and it’s not exactly earth shattering news- it’s Gronk and basically everyone else is a roll of the dice.  The thing that baffles me are the adp’s.  Here are a few:  Jordan Reed is at 38, Travis Kelce is at 61, Coby Fleener is at 73.  Drafting is like buying stock- the goal is to buy low and sell high.  My general strategy is to draft guys with upside- to hit home runs.  The best chance I have of doing that is with running backs, wide receivers, and even quarterbacks- NOT tight ends.

     Let me ask you a question.  Do you think Jordan Reed has even a remote chance of being worth a 1st or 2nd round pick next year?  How about Travis Kelce?  Okay, how about Coby Fleener?  Are any of them in the same ballpark of a healthy LeVeon Bell, Adrian Peterson, Jordy Nelson, and Dez Bryant?  If they aren’t, then you shouldn’t be picking them until the end of the draft.  My argument is this, if I take Andrew Luck,  DeAngelo Williams, Arian Foster, Christine Michael, Tevin Coleman, Devante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, etc.- I at least have a shot at hitting a home run.  Keep in mind I said shot not guarantee.  If I don’t take them, I risk losing those guys to my opponents.  I want as many home run swings with my sleepers as I can get.  Luck is not a sleeper, but he is undervalued in my estimation. If the Colts can just protect him, he’ll put up monster numbers.  Foster has been a feature back before, who was given up for dead by experts, and came back to burn them.  Green-Beckham has physical talent similar to Julio Jones on a team that will get a lot of garbage yards late in games.  Marshall can probably be had much later in my example, but he was ahead of Todd Gurley on the depth chart at Georgia before being injured.

      Now, if I draft a tight end instead of my sleeper- I essentially have no chance of hitting a home run with that pick.  None of those three guys (Reed, Kelce, Fleener) or anyone for that matter outside of Gronk is going to be a game changer for my team.  The best I can hope for is that they’ll have the same season they had last year and that I’ll get my money back so to speak with whenever I drafted them.  However, by waiting on tight ends, I can take a shot at Luck being #1 overall quarterback who could pass for 5,000 yards and get 45-50 tds.  Or I could take a shot with Devante Parker who could turn into a #1 wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins, which is what NFL scouts say Parker’s ceiling is.  What if LeVeon Bell’s knee gives out again? It vaults DeAngelo Williams into a #1 running back.  Also, by waiting, the cost of when I do pick my tight end is so low that anything I get from them is gravy.  To me guys like Dwayne Allen, Clive Walford, Jared Cook, and Martellus Bennett are just as good and could easily vault past some of those guys mentioned earlier.  In addition, if I hit with some of my sleepers, it’s a game changer.  I either have another star in my lineup or valuable trade bait to strengthen my team into a powerhouse.  Still don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look.  For example, would you trade Allen Robinson for Travis Kelce, today on August 12, 2016?  How about Todd Gurley for Travis Kelce?  Why not?  Where was Kelce taken last year in your draft?  Where was Robinson taken?  Where was Gurley taken?  Robinson’s and Gurley’s stock grew over time because they were home runs- Kelce’s stock did not despite the fact that he still had a decent year. Now keep in mind, all sleepers don’t turn into home runs, but my point is by drafting Kelce or any tight end (outside of Gronk) earlier than the 13th round you essentially gave yourself one less chance to hit one.  Kelce actually did okay last year.  I mean he wasn’t even a bust, well, for a tight end that is, but that doesn’t matter if your opponent connects with a home run like Gurley.

     This might sound like blasphemy, but even Gronk seems a little rich for me. Without Tom Brady for four weeks his numbers will take a hit. Add a bye week and now that’s essentially five weeks you’ll be without your 1st or 2nd round pick.  Five weeks is a long time to wait to start getting wins.  By the time Brady and Gronk are back together your playoff chances might be over. My advice is to wait on tight ends until late, like the 13th round in a 15 round draft, and take as many Kris Bryant home runs swings as you can in the meantime.  Sooner or later you’ll connect and when you do- you’re golden.

 

Mark Bonadonna

Senior Fantasy Analyst