When it comes to succeeding in fantasy football over the course of a season, it's important to know which players are on the rise and which ones are about to see a dropoff in production. In this article, we give you a few players that could help or hurt your fantasy team as the season goes along.
Jordan Howard, Running Back for the Chicago Bears
The end of the short Jeremy Langford era is upon us. Langford suffered an ankle injury in the loss to the Cowboys and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Even before suffering the injury, Jordan Howard had more carries than Langford. There is already speculation that Howard will remain the starting running back for the Bears even after the return of Langford. In the limited time Howard has had on the field, he has made the most of it, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. This is 2 more YPC than Langford. Ka’Deem Carey is also not expected to play his week. I expect Howard to prove himself as the best running back on the Bears and keep the starting role the rest of the season. You may still be able to get him for a relatively low price, but that won’t last for long.
Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver for the Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys pass offense has looked a little different this year. It has featured much less Dez Bryant and much more Cole Beasley. I don’t think this is going to change while Dak Prescott is at quarterback. Prescott is still new to the NFL, and while he’s played well for the most part, he’s still a rookie. He’s not going to make the same plays that Tony Romo would. Jerry Jones has expressed that as soon as Romo is healthy, he will be the starting quarterback, which is huge for Bryant’s value. Romo is expected to miss 6-10 weeks, which puts him right back in the lineup before the playoffs. You don’t necessarily need to make a trade tomorrow for Dez, but keep your eye on him. If he still is putting up very inconsistent games you can probably get a good deal for him.
Matt Ryan, Quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons
I never would have thought Matt Ryan would be the #1 fantasy quarterback three weeks into the season. His top ranking isn’t going to last forever. Through the first three games of the season, the Falcons played Tampa Bay, Oakland, and New Orleans. They rank 20th, 32nd, and 25th respectively in passing yardage allowed per game. The next three weeks the Falcons play Carolina, Denver, and Seattle. They rank 5th, 4th, and 2nd respectively in passing yards allowed per game. They each have allowed on average the following number of fantasy points per game to the opposing quarterback: Carolina 13.5, Denver 13.8, and Seattle 10.1. He does have some more favorable matchups later in the season, but his value is not going to be higher than it is now.
LeGarrette Blount, Running Back for the New England Patriots
Blount has had a great start to the season. He currently leads to league in rushing attempts (75), yards (298), and is tied for first in touchdowns (4). I believe this is mostly due to Tom Brady’s suspension. Last season the Patriots were tied for 25th in team rushing attempts. Once Brady is back I expect to Patriots to resume “business as usual” with their future hall of fame quarterback. Just like last season Blount will have his big games, but he is not going to be the workhorse that he is now. I expect James White to get into the game more with Brady back too. Blount has yet to catch a pass this season, and we all know how well Dion Lewis and James White were last year. You may get one more great game from Blount but don’t expect that to keep up.
Keep for now:
Coby Fleener, Tight End for the New Orleans Saints
Fleener finally rewarded fantasy owners this past week with a big game, and that will continue to happen. The Saints are going to have to air the ball out every week to try and win. It has taken a little bit more time than expected for Fleener to get a feel of the offense, but he looks to have a grasp on it now. I am still as high on Fleener as I was when I wrote about him this season. Fleener is second in targets to Brandin Cooks with 23, and his targets have increased each game: Week 1 (4), Week 2 (8), and Week (11). Fleener will continue to get more comfortable with the offense, and will be productive. The Saints show no signs of being able to stop a team on offense (I’m calling the Giants game a fluke). Fleener is also a great buy-low candidate, but his stock is on the rise.
It’s been a long time since the Packers had a tight end even remotely fantasy relevant. Richard Rodgers finished as the No. 9 TE last season, but he’s not getting the title of ‘fantasy relevant’ yet. Rodgers caught one hail mary against the Lions which accounted for 61 yards and a touchdown. If you get rid of that play his stat line goes drops to 58/449/7, which makes him TE 12.
Even though TE 12 doesn’t seem terrible, Rodgers was so inconsistent he would’ve been a big gamble to start. He only posted 4 games with double-digit points (3 discounting the hail mary catch) while also posting 8 games under four points.
The last time the Packers had a startable tight end was in 2011 when Jermichael Finley was the fifth best TE. Finley’s career was riddled with injuries and after a serious neck injury, Finley had to retire. Like Rodgers, he posted 4 games with double digit fantasy points but had only 5 games under four points. Still not the production of a great fantasy option.
Jared Cook signed with the Packers during free agency. He has never played with an elite quarterback during his career. From 2009-2012 when Cook played for the Titans, his quarterbacks included Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, and Jake Locker. From 2013 - 2015, Cook played with Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Nick Foles, and Case Keenum. During that time, Cook’s best fantasy year was in 2013 when he finished as the 11th best TE.
Aaron Rodgers is by far the best quarterback the Jared Cook has even played with, and I expect a top 12 finish from Cook provided he is the starter. I believe that part of the reason that Jared Cook has never lived up to expectations is because he’s never had a reliable guy getting him the football. Cook has all the attributes to be a top tight end in the league. He has elite speed, posting a 4.49 forty yard dash in the combine in 2009. Even if his speed has dropped off a bit, he’s still one of the fastest tight ends in the game.
Vernon Davis and Jared Cook boast very similar skill sets. In the combine Davis posted a 4.38 forty yard dash, a 42 inch vertical leap while measuring in at 6’3”, 254 pounds. Cook had a vertical leap of 41 inches, and measured in at 6’5”, 254. The big difference between the two is Davis has played with a reliable quarterback for part of his career.
Cook does have some injury concerns. Currently Cook is recovering from foot surgery that he had in June. He should be ready to go for the start of the regular season, and maybe even some of the preseason. It’s important for Cook to get some work in with Aaron Rodgers. Missing practices could result in a slower start to the season for Cook.
The only way Cook could be a tight end worthy of starting is if he’s the unquestioned starter. If Richard Rodgers is the starter or if they split time, Cook will not put up great numbers. Neither player will have much value if they split time on the field.
Keep watching reports on which Packers’ tight end is practicing with the first team. Once Cook begins practicing it will be interesting to see how he and Richard Rodgers split first team reps. I would expect to see Jared Cook become the starting tight end, even if it isn’t right away. Cook is currently ranked by FantasyPros at TE 21, and 177th overall. He’s a great option for a late-round flier who has TE1 potential.
I promise that this article does discuss Donte Moncrief, but bear with me while I discuss the offensive situation of the Colts first.
Andrew Luck is back, and he has a lot to prove after signing his $140 million contract extension. I know he didn’t play well last year, but a lot has changed since then. Rob “Chud” Chudzinski is the offensive coordinator, the Colts bolstered their offensive line in the draft, and Luck is finally healthy.
With Pep Hamilton out and Chud in we can expect the Colts to start attacking the field vertically, like a Bruce Arians type of Colts offense from 2012. With Arians in charge Luck finished his rookie season as the #11 fantasy QB and set the NFL record for most passing yards by a rookie QB. The Colts were 9-3 in the 12 games with Arians under the helm.
In the one game that Luck and Chud played together Luck put up 252 yards, 2 TDs, 0 turnovers, and was only sacked one time. Don’t forget that this game was also against the Super Bowl Champions themselves, the Denver Broncos. The game against the Colts was the only game in the 2016 season when Von Miller and company failed to sack the quarterback more than once.
Now insert Ryan Kelly. He is a strong and athletic center who the Colts took with their first round draft pick. His physical abilities plus his high football IQ will solidify the offensive line. I predict a good showing from the Colts O-line this year, which created the majority of the offensive problems for the Colts.
We can get to Donte Moncrief now. Keeping all of the aforementioned information in mind let me give you a few stats about Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, and Luck. In the 7 games that Andrew Luck played in last season these are the stats for those two receivers: Hilton 31 catches, 548 yards, and 3 TDs for a total of 70 fantasy points in a standard league (101 PPR). Moncrief: 32 catches, 351 yards, and 5 TDs for a total of 62 fantasy points (94 PPR). Very close production for the No. 1 and No. 3 wide receivers on the depth chart.
Now I’m a guy that’s all about player consistency. I’d rather have the running back who puts up his 10 points each week than the one who switches off between 15 and 5 point weeks. Hell, I’d rather have one that puts up 9 points each week. I think that constant production is the key to winning.
I also want to note that Hilton had one game with 150 yards and 2 TDs, a total of 27 fantasy points. That’s over 38% of his seven week production in 1 game. Each of the receivers had a down week of two, but Moncrief scored at least 9 points in 5 of those 7 games. Hilton only managed to do it in 3 games. Now Hilton was the 24th best WR last year while Moncrief only came in at 38th, but bad offensive line play and a banged up Matt Hasselbeck made the Colts offense very inconsistent for the other 9 games.
Hilton’s inconsistency dates back to 2014. He had 6 games with 6 points or less and 6 games with 12 points or more. I’ll give him credit though, some of those 12+ point games were incredible performances. A 223 yard, 1 TD performance against the Texans and a 150 yard, 2 TD performance against the Browns. In his 3 best games last year Hilton put up 528 yards and 4 TDs. T.Y. put up almost 40% of his yardage total and over 57% of his touchdown total in just a quarter of his games. I don’t think it’s a fair to compare the 2014 seasons of Hilton and Moncrief as it was Donte rookie year.
Moncrief should see significantly more playing time in 2016 with the departure of Andre Johnson. Johnson played 710 offense snaps in 2015 as the team’s second string WR.
FantasyPros currently has Hilton as the 28th best player this year and the 15th best WR. Moncrief is ranked as the 58th best player and the 27th best WR. We know Andrew Luck is going to get the ball down the field as both WRs are deep threats, but Moncrief is going to be the better bargain. Hilton may end up with more fantasy points at the end of the year, but Moncrief is going to be the consistent scorer. He could even finish with nearly as many points as T.Y., and he’s going 3 rounds later. Bypass Hilton in the early rounds and snag a mid-round gem. #FeedMoncrief
Coby Fleener is coming off of his worst season since his rookie year of 2012. He is leaving his college teammate Andrew Luck after four seasons to play with another elite quarterback in Drew Brees. The situation is great for both the Saints and Fleener. The Saints need a TE who can replace Jimmy Graham and no offense to Benjamin Watson, but I don’t think you’re that guy. Fleener can be that TE. I’m not saying he’s going to put up the 1,200 yards and 16 TDs that Graham did in 2014. But with Sean Payton’s offense, Fleener will have his best fantasy season yet.
The Saints have been blessed with Drew Brees and Sean Payton since 2006. The Saints worst finish in net passing yards in the Brees-Payton era was 4th.
Brees is a huge reason why the Saints offense has had so much success. I would argue that he is the epitome of consistent and great quarterback production. Since moving to New Orleans Brees has averaged over 4,800 yards and almost 38 touchdowns per season. He also only missed two games during that span. From 2011-2014, Brees averaged almost 5,200 yards and over 40 touchdowns per season.
In the same four year period, Jimmy Graham averaged 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. That accounted for 21% of Drew Brees’ passing yardage and 28% of his touchdowns. That is incredible production from the TE spot. While it’s easy to think that Jimmy Graham is much better than Coby Fleener, they are comparable players.
Graham stands at 6’7” and weighs 265 lbs. Fleener is 6’6” and weighs 251 lbs. Graham’s 40 yard dash time is 4.56 while Fleener’s is 4.51. Both players are reliable catching the ball. Over the past three seasons, each player has dropped 12 passes, accounting for 3.3% of Graham’s targets and 4.3% of Fleener’s targets. Each player is thought of as a receiving TE, as both have received criticism for their poor blocking skills.
The following is the end of the season ranking in terms of total fantasy points for the starting TE in New Orleans since 2009: 18 (2009), 23 (2010), 2 (2011), 1 (2012), 1 (2013), 3 (2014), 7 (2015). It’s also important to keep in mind that 2010 was Jimmy Graham’s rookie year, and that 2009 was the only year he played football in college.
Last year the starting TE for the Saints was an aging Benjamin Watson. Even at the age of 36, he managed to haul in 74 receptions for 825 yards and 6 TDs. That stat line was good enough for 118 fantasy points, tied for 7th best with Travis Kelce. Even without an elite tight end, the Saints are getting production from that position. Now insert Coby Fleener, who’s an upgrade from Watson. Fleener is easily going to out produce a player past his prime, after a terrible 2015 campaign he is going to be eager to produce.
Sean Payton’s TE friendly offense is going to continue with Coby Fleener. Drew Brees is going to continue to air the ball out and Fleener will reap the rewards. I predict that he will finish in the top 5 this year. There might be a little bit of growing pains with Fleener learning a new offense, but Brees and Fleener will develop great chemistry. Fleener is currently ranked as the 7th best tight end by FantasyPros, and his ADP is 79th. I’m drafting him a bit earlier than that. The risk is well worth the reward taking Fleener in the 6th round.
Running back is the one position that’s usually a safe bet. But so far, many first-round fantasy running backs have been complete busts. From Adrian Peterson’s off-field trouble to the presence of Darren Sproles hurting LeSean McCoy to Jamaal Charles’ inability to stay healthy, the top three running backs have all been disappointments compared to their pre-draft hype.
Let’s start with the obvious: AP. We all can agree that his domestic abuse allegations against his child are heinous. In many circles, unforgivable. I’ll keep my own opinions out of it and stick strictly to the football side of the equation.
Peterson’s absence—which could very well be for the entire season—is an obvious blow to fantasy owners who banked on All Day with their top pick. It just so happens I took AP with the first overall pick in my ESPN league, so I’m right there with you. Even before the controversial news broke, Peterson wasn’t exactly dominant. Sure, it was only one week, but he managed just 75 yards on 21 carries against the Rams.
Combine his massive $15.4 million cap hit in 2015 and it’s very likely we’ve seen the last of AP in a Vikings uniform. What a sad turn of events for both NFL fans, fantasy owners and the nation. To see the best running back of this generation fall from grace in such a short span simply shows that no one is invincible.
The other common No. 1 overall pick, LeSean McCoy, hasn’t exactly lit things up like he did in 2013, either. McCoy’s 26 points through two games is solid, but by no means a No. 1 overall pick type of performance.
Is this necessarily a reflection of McCoy's talent dissipating? I think not.
The Eagles offensive line has been hit by injuries, and the unit is still playing without 2013 first-round pick Lane Johnson, who is serving a four-game suspension. Philly is starting Dennis Kelly at left guard and Andrew Gardner at right tackle. That’s a massive downgrade from Evan Mathis and Johnson.
Secondly, the presence of Sproles—the No. 1 RB in most fantasy leagues—certainly hasn’t worked in McCoy’s favor. From a real-life standpoint, having a capable back to spell him should keep Shady healthy. But for fantasy owners, Sproles is eating into McCoy’s touches, and his continued success should only provide for more opportunities.
At the end of the day, McCoy is still a phenomenal talent and he should get back on track. But for now, he hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft billing as a No. 1 overall pick.
Finally, we travel to Kansas City, where the Chiefs are off to a rough 0-2 start. We all knew the Chiefs lacked weapons, but K.C. is tied with Jacksonville for the second-fewest points scored in the NFL. Not good at all.
Again, the offensive line is a major issue, as the Chiefs lost Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah from the left side. With Eric Fisher still struggling, Charles simply hasn’t had the same holes in front of him as he did in years prior.
Facing a new-look Titans 3-4 defense, Charles carried the ball just seven times for 19 yards in Week 1 and failed to find the end zone. He received two carries last week before going down with a high ankle sprain.
Projecting a player’s health is always a slippery slope, but even before the injury, Charles wasn’t lighting it up. And with the Chiefs offense lacking firepower, it just doesn’t feel like a special year for a guy with special speed. And as every good fantasy owner knows, sometimes it’s just good to go with your gut.
Luckily, there has been some solid value at the running back position with guys like DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Gio Bernard racking up points early. But for those who spent high picks on the likes of AP, McCoy and Charles, the early results have not been promising.
That said, let’s take a look at a few of the best and worst plays for Week 3.
Players I’m Banking On
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: Did you see what Aaron Rodgers just did to New York a week ago? Even with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at less than 100 percent, that duo dominated against San Francisco. Cutler had 25 points despite throwing for just 176 yards against the 49ers. Expect closer to 300 against a horrible Jets secondary.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Scott Linehan has done a complete 180 and become a run-first playcaller. That’s good news for Murray owners. He’s already carried the ball 51 times in two games, turning that into 285 yards and two touchdowns. Facing a Rams defense that just got shredded for 144 yards by Bobby Rainey, the arrow is only pointing up on Murray.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings: The absence of AP could hurt Patterson in some people’s eyes, but it only increases his importance in mine. The dynamic playmaker hasn’t gotten enough touches. You and I know both know that. At this point, Norv Turner has to know that. I see Patterson getting at least 8-10 targets and a few touches out of the backfield. That’s promising considering he’s going up against a Saints defense that’s allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Players to Be Cautious With
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Annually a very solid fantasy QB, Romo simply hasn’t looked right coming off his back surgeries. Perhaps he needs to shake off some rust. Or maybe he just isn’t that good anymore. Either way, Linehan has taken the ball out of Romo’s hands and is placing the responsibility on his strong running game. Facing a Rams defense without Chris Long, I expect Dallas to continue to run the football and minimize Romo’s chances of making mistakes.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: It’s almost fun for me to make fun of the Jags. Many of my friends are Jags fans. And many of them were excited about the prospect of the great Gerhart in the backfield. Let’s be serious. This guy is nothing more than a plodding No. 2 back. Fantasy owners who spent a mid-round pick on the guy have to be kicking themselves after the goose egg he laid last week. I fully expect Andrew Luck to shred this defense, putting the Jags in the unenviable position of having to abandon the “running game.”
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Even after his dad called out the Cardinals for not feeding Larry the ball, the results weren’t much better in Week 2. Fitzgerald recorded just five points, failing to find the end zone again. With Carson Palmer likely out and the 49ers defense motivated to get back on track, I’m not going to put my money on Fitzgerald suddenly breaking out of his early-season slump.
The great thing about football—and fantasy football to be more specific—is its unpredictability. In any game, at any time, a superstar can be born.
Nothing quite puts a strain on friendships, families and finances like fantasy football. The time has come where you once again open that hidden tab at work to set your lineup, or you take a few extra seconds to get your chores done while you sneak away looking at the waiver wire for the perfect flex option for the week.
Here at Fantasy Football Helpers, I’m here to help put you on the path to championship status. Looking for the extra edge to win your matchup this week? I’ve got the magic. Wondering who to target in trades to shore up a weak spot on your team? I’m your guy.
Every week, this is the place to come to mine for fantasy nuggets of gold. While I’m no Matthew Berry, I still consider myself a football expert first and foremost, and after all, knowledge of the game has to be one of the biggest factors to a successful fantasy season. Well, that and a bit of luck.
Year in and year out, we see guys like Josh Gordon and T.Y. Hilton come out of nowhere and become fantasy superstars. Now, it’s not always clear before the season that these guys need to be picked up, but some keen scouting and knowledge of a team’s depth chart can help put you in the right position to get those hidden gems before the rest of your league scrambles to put in a waiver claim.
Week 1 is always the toughest to figure out. Sure, we’ve seen some preseason action, but how much stock can we really put in those games? Hell, the Giants went 5-0 and look like a team that should have gone 0-5. Is anyone really confident that interception machine/Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is ready to handle Ben McAdoo’s new offense? It doesn’t help that the team’s first-round pick, Odell Beckham Jr., has been invisible the entire offseason with a hamstring injury.
As such, our Week 1 rankings have to be taken with a grain of salt, as we’re sometimes just going with reputation and matchup more than anything. That said, there are still plenty of reasons to start Jay Cutler over Nick Foles this week, or why we have DeMarco Murray as our No. 8 RB even against the 49ers.
Players I’m Banking On
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
My No. 3 QB signed a huge contract this offseason. While the reported numbers aren’t entirely true, it still signifies that San Fran is ready to put more on Kaepernick’s plate. San Francisco’s passing game suddenly features much better depth, including a hopefully healthy Michael Crabtree. Now in his second full season as a starter, the highly gifted dual-threat star is poised to become a consistent fantasy player. All of those factors really take a back seat to the fact he’s playing the Cowboys, who might just have the worst defense in the history of football. Seriously, can you name three starters on that putrid unit?
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You don’t have to stray far to find a running back who I expect to put up great numbers this season. Murray, for all his faults, has been highly productive when on the field. Of course, staying healthy has been his biggest issue dating back to his days at Oklahoma. Dallas fans are intimately familiar with DeMarco’s big-play ability, as he posted four games with at least 20 points in 2013. At first glance, you may be wondering if I’ve gone crazy for ranking him so high against the vaunted 49ers defense. Hold on, folks. This isn’t your same run-stuffing, swarming unit that annually ranked as a top-five fantasy defense. San Fran is already down NaVorro Bowman (ACL recovery) and Aldon Smith (suspension), plus Glenn Dorsey (injury). Oh, they also lost Donte Whitner, Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers in free agency. Suddenly, this looks like a very vulnerable team for Murray to rack up some big numbers against.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
A rookie revelation, Allen enters the year as a rock-solid WR1. Still, it seems he’s undervalued in a league chock-full of superstar pass catchers. Even guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson are still going ahead of him in some drafts, which is a travesty considering both stars are on the wrong side of 30 and aren’t exactly in their primes anymore. Allen, on the other hand, looked like a 10-year vet in his first year in the league. And while this week he’ll probably see plenty of Patrick Peterson, that doesn’t mean he can’t produce. Arizona’s defense has also taken a ton of hits this offseason, particularly right at its core. Daryl Washington is suspended for the season, and Karlos Dansby signed his last big contract and left the desert. Darnell Dockett tore his ACL and is out for the season. Playmaking safety Tyrann Mathieu is still working his way back from a devastating knee injury of his own. Without a reliable pass rush and a questionable middle of the defense, Allen should have more time and room to operate. Even Peterson can’t cover someone for 10 seconds.
Players To Be Cautious With
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Ankle surgery. Fractured ribs. New left tackle. Rookie No. 1 receiver. All of those elements make for a very shaky situation for one of the consistent fantasy stars at the quarterback position. Newton showed strides as a leader in 2013, carrying his team to the playoffs. However, with so much turnover along the offensive line and at receiver (two of the team’s top options are Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant for god’s sake), Newton is a guy I’m wary of. Throw in the fact he’s facing Tampa Bay’s suddenly formidable defense that’ll be coached by Lovie Smith, and I’m worried Newton barely cracks 10 points in the season opener.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders: For one, you shouldn’t start any Raiders player. Ever. Secondly, the Raiders are starting a rookie quarterback, which means teams are going to challenge Oakland to throw the ball. Third, MJD looks like he’s running with a bowling ball tied to each leg. Did I mention he’ll be going up against a Jets defense that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the league in 2013? Keep MJD on the bench.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Great to see the 36-year-old coming back from a torn ACL, but I’m treading lightly in Week 1. It’s one thing to get back to action in training camp and the preseason, but the regular season is a whole other ballgame. Throw in the fact that the Colts are facing a highly motivated Broncos team that got huge upgrades on defense, and it’s not looking pretty for Indy. Somehow Andrew Luck is going to have to figure out a way to slice and dice against Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. Tell me how Luck’s going to do that playing behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines with no running game to speak of. Sorry, Reggie. This isn’t going to be fun.
When the Saints come marching in, defenses shudder.
That’s been the case ever since Drew Brees and Sean Payton formed an alliance that’s brought one Super Bowl championship and countless fantasy titles to owners across the globe. The combination of a Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the shrewdest offensive minds in the game has proven to be a fantasy owner’s delight, often without elite skill players.
This year will be no different for Brees and Co. Both George and Stephen see Brees as the favorite to be the No. 1 QB in fantasy. He’s a few years younger than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, has been extremely durable and plays inside a dome. Combined with a great supporting cast that now features rookie Brandin Cooks, Brees should easily finish as a top-three QB.
New Orleans’ running back situation is solid in real-life, but from a fantasy perspective it’s a mess. Former first-round pick Mark Ingram is the biggest name, but he has yet to establish himself as a full-time player. The former Heisman Trophy winner had one breakout performance in 2013 against the Cowboys—but who didn’t? Take away his 145-yard performance against Dallas and Ingram averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. George and Stephen are steering clear of the first-round disappointment.
On the other hand, Stephen sees value in Pierre Thomas for PPR league owners. Thomas led all running backs with 77 receptions in 2013 and figures to see plenty of passing-down duties with Darren Sproles gone. He’s a solid flex option.
Though Khiry Robinson possesses NFL-caliber skills, his poor preseason production has George questioning his fantasy relevance. Stephen agrees and doesn’t see Robinson as a draftable asset.
Moving to the receivers, George and Stephen differ in their views of Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. While George still sees Colston as a rock-solid WR3, Stephen is skeptical that New Orleans’ No. 1 receiver can rebound from a down year. However, Stephen sees big things ahead for Stills, who led the NFL with a 20-yards-per-catch average as a rookie. George disagrees that Stills will out-produce his veteran counterpart.
Brandin Cooks is the real wild card and should catch between 60-80 passes. He’s tailor-made to play indoors, where his ridiculous speed and quickness will be maximized. Both of our fantasy experts see him as a solid flex option with WR3 upside.
Of course, we couldn’t talk about the Saints’ fantasy prospects without mentioning the king of the tight end/receiver/hybrid position: Jimmy Graham. Unquestionably the best pass-catching tight end in football, Graham is poised for another big season and shouldn’t have any trouble finishing atop his position. Even with Rob Gronkowski coming back, Graham is simply too athletic and too involved to not be the No. 1 fantasy tight end.
It’s clear the Saints know what they’re doing on offense. Don’t be afraid to spend early-rounds picks on Brees or Graham and position yourself for a fantasy championship!
Goal of this podcast: To talk about each skill player on the Denver Broncos and assign fantasy value to them.
Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen have proven to be fantasy assets since entering the league together in 2011, but by this time next year, the Patriots running back you’ll want to own will be James White.