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In this article, we take a look at a player's potential to outperform their current ADP (average draft position) and assess the risks and potential rewards of drafting them. We look at opportunity stats including target share, average depth of target, receptions, receiving yards and touchdown rate. This is not an article that will tell you to draft a player or not. Rather, it's taking a look at predictive stats that can serve as a good indicator of what kind of numbers a player will give you if you draft him. This article dissects Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews. 2016 season recap Matthews entered 2016 playing for a team coming off a tumultuous offseason. The Eagles ousted coach Chip Kelly after missing the playoffs for a second straight season, and replaced him with Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson. With a new staff, it looked like Matthews role as a slot receiver might've changed to more of an outside receiver. Pederson entertained the idea of moving Matthews from the slot to the outside, but he eventually moved him back, dubbing him the perfect 'slot receiver.' So it's safe to assume Matthews won't be used in any other way going forward.…
Samaje Perine proved his worth at the University of Oklahoma. In 2014 he had a stellar year. In 2015 and 2016 the stat line would suggest a decline in his performance, but that is due in part to sharing snaps with Joe Mixon. Perine set the single game rushing record for all of the NCAA by tallying 427 yards. He averaged 6 yards per carry over the course of his 3 years in a Sooners jersey. Rob Kelley is Samaje’s only competition for snaps since Chris Thompson will get most of the receiving snaps from the backfield. Kelley only averaged 4.2 yards per carry last season. After losing Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson, the Redskins are going to need all the yards they can get on each play. This makes Perine the more desirable back. One of the qualities that Perine possesses that I admire is his ability to gain ground when he is tackled. TV announcers often say, "he did a nice job of falling forward to get the first down". I would not say that Kelley is bad at this, but Perine is great at it. Another thing I like is that unlike most big running backs, Samaje…
When we look to draft a player to our fantasy team, we often seek the most talented players we can find. However, looking at the coaches offensive philosophy and which players best fit their system can be very telling in terms of which players could see the greatest opportunity to see valuable snaps during the season. Sometimes, the player who's the best fit isn't the guy you'd expect, which often leads to them being great value picks in the later rounds of your fantasy draft. Take Justin Forsett, who back in 2014 finished as a Top 8 fantasy running back with the Baltimore Ravens, for example. A castaway from the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, Forsett wound up flourishing in Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking rushing attack, an offense that was tailor-made for Forsett's agility and quick decision making. Forsett finished that year with 1,267 yards and eight rushing touchdowns for a total of 201 fantasy points. Certain coaches often produce great fantasy options at specific positions. For example, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid employs a west coast offense which emphasizes short, quick throws in addition to screen passes. The perfect match for this offense is a running back that's explosive…
Monday, 24 April 2017 00:00

Fantasy Film Projector: Alvin Kamara

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When it comes to identifying traits in running backs that produce immediate fantasy value, proficiency in pass blocking, ball security, route running and receiving ability are often most important. These traits are valuable because they're important when avoiding turnovers, which is often the difference in a rookie running back playing vs. standing on the sideline. Opportunity is paramount when it comes to fantasy value, and if a player has to leave the game because he can't identify blitz pickups on third downs, he'll likely miss out on plays when his number is called on either a run or pass play. When that happens, potential fantasy points go out the window. Tennessee running back prospect Alvin Kamara is proficient in a few of these categories, but not enough to make him a running back you should immediately target in your redraft leagues unless he finds himself surrounded by a ton of talented teammates. He has good hands and turned plenty of screen passes into long runs while at Tennessee. You'll see in the clip above how he's able to use his balance to turn a short pass into a touchdown against ranked opponent Georgia. Kamara has good balance when he runs…
Thursday, 13 April 2017 00:00

Fantasy Film Projector: James Conner

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Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability, route running, (points per reception leagues), play strength (goal line touchdown ability) and explosiveness (long distance touchdown ability). You can read past editions of the Fantasy Film Projector by clicking the links below. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma RB James Conner models his game after Marshawn Lynch, and it's evident when you watch Conner run. He drags defenders like Lynch did and his 6'1, 233lb could give teams seeking an every-down power back plenty to be excited about. But despite his size and aggressive run style, there are causes for concern when it comes to his immediate fantasy value, specifically in the measurables department. Per Mockdraftable, the Pittsburgh running back posted a 4.6 40-yard dash time, which ranks in the bottom 24 percent among RBs. While his size is imposing, his strength indicates he still has room to grow as he only turned in 20 bench press reps, ranking him only slightly above the top 50 percent of running backs. For a running back of his stature, you'd like to…
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00

Fantasy Film Projector: Joe Mixon

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Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits typically correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability and route running (points per reception leagues), play strength and competitive toughness (goal line, short yardage traits for touchdown-based leagues) and explosiveness (long distance touchdown ability huge ceiling potential). You can read past editions of the Fantasy Film Projector by clicking the links below. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma RB Mixon notes Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon compares a lot to Larry Johnson, the former Kansas City Chief running back. Things that stand out most with Mixon is ability to change direction at difficult angles but not lose speed through the transition which causes defenders to lose their angle. He's a very decisive runner who can tempo his running down to set up blocks, similar to what Le'Veon Bell does in Pittsburgh. He's a good receiver out of the backfield that transitions from the catch smoothly to get upfield and create more positive yardage. Not an overly explosive player in terms of breakaway. You wonder if he's going to have a lot of long runs in the NFL. But…
Sunday, 02 April 2017 00:00

Fantasy Film Projector: Samaje Perine

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Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits typically correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability, route running, (points per reception leagues), play strength (goal line touchdown ability) and explosiveness (long distance touchdown ability). You can read past editions of the Fantasy Film Projector by clicking the links below. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford RB When it comes to goal line backs, we often think of famous touchdown snipers like John Kuhn, Michael Bush, Brandon Jacobs and, most recently, LeGarrette Blount and Latavius Murray. These backs aren't usually the star players on your fantasy teams, but they're every bit as reliable and can make for great RB2's or flex plays depending on how many teams are in your league. For example, Murray scored five touchdowns in his first four games last season. That's the kind of stability a goal line back can bring to your fantasy lineup. Blount and Murray possessed a few traits that made them effective goal line backs last season. With Blount weighing 250 lbs and Murray coming in at 230 lbs, both delivered a serious punch when facing contact from multiple defenders near the end…
Monday, 13 March 2017 00:00

Fantasy Film Projector: Christian McCaffrey

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Editor's note: This is the second installment of the Fantasy Film Projector series for 2017. The goal of the Fantasy Film Projector is to help you identify traits from college players that will translate to points for your fantasy team if you decide to draft them. It's not meant to be a predictor of NFL success since that largely depends on the team that drafts them, what their scheme is and what opportunity that player will have in the offense. When it comes to versatility among fantasy running backs, there might not be a better candidate than Stanford prospect Christian McCaffrey. Blending vision, agility, route running, catching ability and a hint of breakaway speed, McCaffrey brings a skill set ripe with fantasy potential if he lands with the right team. Overall, he's one of the more intriguing running backs in the 2017 class. What we know he can do McCaffrey was one of the most dynamic college players ever at Stanford. He showed competency as a kickoff returner and even broke Barry Sanders NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yardage (3,250) in the Pac-12 Championship game. He also displayed enough speed to break off long touchdown runs in the open field.…
In 2015, the Packers were missing something in their offense. The glaringly obvious fact was that Aaron Rodgers no longer had Jordy Nelson due to a knee injury. In addition, the Packers were missing a tight end that could run down the field. Richard Rodgers was not fast enough to expose holes in the defense. Receivers were unable to get open, resulting in short drives. They needed someone faster who could run routes. The Rams cut tight end Jared Cook before their relocation to Los Angeles. The Green Bay organization had been in consideration to trade for Cook, but now that he was a free agent, they set out to sign him. Cook inked a one-year, 3.6-million-dollar deal, which means the organization was committed, since they usually refrain from signing big name free agents. Green Bay tends to use the draft as a means to build their team. Richard Rodgers did a great job stepping up in 2015. Who could forget that instant-classic catch that was dubbed, “The Miracle in Motown”? The Packers still needed some depth though. Nelson was expected to lose some speed after his return, so it was necessary that they upgraded their speed elsewhere. The tight…
Thursday, 23 February 2017 00:00

Fantasy film projector: Jeremy McNichols

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On this edition of the Fantasy Film Projector, we discuss Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols and where his skill set fits into the NFL fantasy picture as a rookie in 2017. Background McNichols played 3 seasons at Boise State and recorded 55 total touchdowns combined rushing and receiving. His 2,255 all-purpose yards were the second-most in a season in Boise State history. A high volume RB, McNichols carried the ball 314 times in 2016, tied for fourth most among all NCAA FBS running backs. At 5'9, 212 lbs, McNichols is a bit undersized but plays strong, showing the desire to bull over defenders by initiating contact first. A lot of draftniks are worried about McNichols size and lack of elite athletic ability at the pro level, but by getting caught up in that, they miss the overall scope of McNichols' ability. The most intriguing aspect to McNichols game in terms of fantasy value is what he can do as a the receiver out of the backfield. McNichols has the cutting, vision and catching skill set reminiscent of players like Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman. His vision allows him to see lanes the after the catch and decisively move to…
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 00:00

Rookie Profile: Leonard Fournette

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Player: Leonard Fournette Comparison: Adrian Peterson Best Fit: New York Jets Scouting Report Leonard Fournette’s name has circulated Draft circles since he was the No. 1 Recruit coming out of high school. He evolved from returning kickoffs with his elite speed and decisive cuts to an impact lead running back. Over his three seasons, Fournette averaged an absurd 6.2 yards per carry. When you think of LSU running backs, names like Spencer Ware and Kevin Faulk come up, but many LSU Tiger faithfuls who've watched the team for the past 50 years believe he's the best RB in school history. It goes beyond LSU greats because Fournette is a freak athlete at 6’1 and 230 lbs. He shouldn’t be able to run a 4.35 40-yard dash, top 20.5 mph, bench 315 lbs, squat 600 lbs., and this was all recorded during his high school career. Fournette was a track & field star in high school much like Ezekiel Elliott and Adrian Peterson. At that size, Leonard was able to beat sprinters on a regular basis. All of those peripherals form into a huge bruising back with the speed of a Bo Jackson or Herschel Walker. His running style is so…
Sunday, 19 February 2017 00:00

Rookie Profile: Deshaun Watson

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Player: Deshaun Watson - QB, Clemson Comparison: Ryan Tannehill Best Fit: Buffalo Bills If the Bills don’t sort out their contract situation with Tyrod Taylor, they would be wise to draft a quarterback early and preferably Watson. Watson’s arm strength paired with his deep ball touch and his rushing ability are reminiscent of Tyrod Taylor’s and would suit this Bills offense perfectly. With a solid offensive line, a stud No.1 wide receiver in Sammy Watkins and one of the best running backs in the league in Lesean McCoy, Buffalo’s offense is tailor-made for a rookie QB. Watson would be protected and have less pressure on his shoulders due to their rushing prowess, allowing the offense to move. This was the formula the Dallas Cowboys used to make Dak Prescott the Offensive Rookie of the Year and one that will be modelled by many teams in the near future. Watson had great success in college with a stud receiver in Mike Williams and this would give both Watson and Sammy Watkins great fantasy value while likely increasing Lesean McCoy’s workload also. Scouting Report Deshaun Watson could not have chosen a better time to turn in some of his greatest collegiate performances.…
Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00

Are we sleeping on Phillip Dorsett?

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Want a chance to win hundreds of dollars weekly? Enter the Fantasy Football Helpers challenge here. The 2015 NFL Draft class was considered full of potential WR1 talent. Guys like Amari Cooper, Breshard Perriman, Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett and Devante Parker were all among the top prospects selected in the first round. Aside from Cooper, every receiver on that list was fantasy irrelevant in their respective rookie seasons. Still, there's some reason to believe one of them could emerge as a greatly improved fantasy asset in 2016. One of the receivers we'll be examining from that list is Indianapolis Colts receiver Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett disappointed from a fantasy standpoint as a rookie and finished with just 18 receptions for 225 yards and one touchdown. Despite his low numbers, it's important to put his performance into context and decide if these are the types of numbers we'll continue to see from Dorsett or if greater things are on the horizon, and there's plenty of reason to believe the latter. Sidenote: It's always worth noting when a player gets drafted in the first round because it shows the team is invested that players success, at least for a few seasons. Often times,…
It’s always exhilarating when you draft a player who flew under the radar then watch him take off during the season—giving you bragging rights over all your friends. Each year, a running back seems to possess that mystical power. Ameer Abdullah looked like one of those players last season, until he struggled with fumbles. The Lions staff didn’t want him involved in the offense for any reason, ultimately leaving those once-excited fantasy owners with sour tastes in their mouths. But there’s always another guy to be intrigued by, and Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon possesses all those potential traits in a slightly different way than Abdullah did last year, which leads him into sleeper territory this season. An exciting player with very good quickness when changing direction, Dixon can elude defenders in ways few running backs in this draft class can. While he’s not an overwhelmingly powerful runner standing at 5′10, 215 lbs, he runs with a sense of toughness and decisiveness that can help him win 1-on-1 battles despite his lack of size. Also a gifted receiver, Dixon will be able to assert himself in the short passing game on screen passes and also has the ability…
Thursday, 23 June 2016 00:00

Can Josh Ferguson have fantasy value in 2016?

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Franco Harris in 1983, John Henry Johnson in 1962 and John Riggins in 1984. Those three running backs all share one thing in common — they were the only RBs to rush for more than 1,000 yards after turning 33 years old. Frank Gore, the current starting running back for the Indianapolis Colts, is also 33 years old. If you're looking to draft Gore to your fantasy team this season at his more than reasonable ADP of RB26, keep in mind that while you're getting good value at that price, you're also wagering Gore will do something only three running backs in NFL history have done. Gore rushed for 967 yards last season and finished with six touchdowns. So while it's safe to say he hasn't completely lost his ability to produce, there's always a chance he drops off or at the very least needs to shoulder less of the workload. This creates a chance for someone else to enter the fray, and that someone in this case is current backup Josh Ferguson. Opportunity is definitely there for the undrafted back out of Illinois even aside from Gore's age. With Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Trey Williams and Tyler Varga rounding…
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We believe Fantasy Football success comes down to two things — opportunity and talent. You will have Fantasy Football mastered once you understand how good a player is and how good of an opportunity he has to gain yards and score touchdowns. The thing is, you'll never master Fantasy Football. But you can get pretty darn good at it when you have even a slightly better understanding of opportunity and talent than the average Joe. That's what Fantasy Football Helpers is dedicated to doing.

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