George Banko

George Banko

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016 00:00

Episode 141: Week 1 overreactions

On Tuesday's edition of the podcast, you will learn about a special Cleveland Browns player that you should look to add to your team immediately, a QB1 that you might have to bench this week due to an injury and also how to not overreact to certain offenses that underperformed in Week 1.

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Saturday, 10 September 2016 00:00

Episode 140: Away team sleepers

On this podcast, the Helpers discuss Week 1 sleepers including Terrelle Pryor, Jesse James, Davante Adams and a slew of others.

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Monday, 05 September 2016 00:00

Episode 138: I like/love/hate my team

On this episode of the Hot Read, Adam, Taylor and George talk about what to do if you either like, love or hate your fantasy football team.

Don't forget, you can still sign up for our Fantasy Football Helpers Reader Challenge for your chance to win over $2,000 here.

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Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

Episode 139: Week 1 analysis

On the first episode of the 2016 season, the Helpers go over Week 1 matchups, talk about how they drafted their teams and also give you some advice on how to manage your roster in the unpredictable first few weeks of the season.

Gut feelings aren't a term many numbers-based analysts like to hear about in fantasy football, but there is value in simply drafting a player based on his overall talent combined with his ADP (average draft position) value and likely role on his respective team. Here are five players we're interested in adding to our fantasy teams for all of those variables.

1. Jeremy Maclin, wide receiver for Kansas City Chiefs

Average draft position: WR23 (50th overall)

Why we want him: One word. Volume. Maclin was, and still is, the No. 1 wide receiver on an offense that values efficiency over flashiness and the results are just as deadly for your fantasy opponents if you end up going with the 28-year-old receiver. Through 16 games played last season, Maclin saw at least 9 targets in eight games and averaged 8.3 targets for this season. That's the kind of consistency you want from a WR2/3.

Though he didn't blow up all that much (only three 100-plus yard receiving efforts), he had just two true down weeks where he scored 2 points or less. The rest of the time he hovered around the 50-60 yard mark and cashed in eight touchdowns. With Alex Smith and Andy Reid running the exact same offense that made Maclin successful last season, no injuries to halt his progress and still in the prime of his career, Maclin is a near lock to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark again and score on a consistent enough basis to be well worth his fourth or fifth round ADP value.

2. Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for Arizona Cardinals

Average draft position: WR27 (60th overall)

Why we want him: For similar reasons to Maclin, Fitzgerald is a target hog. He averaged nine targets per game last season on a team with several other receiving weapons that could've devalued the future Hall of Fame receiver. Instead, Fitzgerald continued to prove just how valuable he was in the slot by catching 109 passes for over 1,219 yards and 9 touchdowns.

At 32 years of age, Fitzgerald might drop off a tad but his ADP is currently hovering around receivers like Jordan Matthews and Emmanuel Sanders, two players who are a bigger risk due to potential poor quarterback play. Expect Fitzgerald to be the least likely bust of the two due to his velcro hands and big body still providing plenty of matchup nightmares over the middle of the field. 

3. Duke Johnson, running back for Cleveland Browns

Average draft position: RB27 (No. 76 overall).

Why we want him: Receiving running backs are always a great bargain in the later rounds and Johnson is slated to assume the passing-down role in Cleveland. Johnson gets the benefit of playing in a run-friendly system under Hue Jackson and shouldn't fall victim to poor game script in Cleveland's potentially bad offense. Point being — his receiving ability will keep him on the field in blowout losses. Johnson also has the instincts of a quality NFL running back and can see and hit running lanes that most running backs can't.

Some may argue Johnson's Cleveland teammate Isaiah Crowell is the better bargain due to his inside running ability and touchdown potential, but there is some belief that Johnson is capable of seeing more than just screen passes on third down. This article from Joe Holka summed it up best. Overall, there's more potential in Johnson turning into a receiving and rushing back than there is Crowell turning into a receiving and rushing back. 

The one big issue with Duke Johnson though is his injury history and carries a 82% injury risk per Sports Injury Predictor.  You could also argue his ADP is a bit too high given that you can get guys like Giovani Bernard and Frank Gore for around the same price. Still, we think Jackson's presence as an RB-guru is one of his best fantasy weapons since he'll still see some carries and his receiving ability and instincts as a football player are off the charts. Those should outweigh the risks.

4. Martellus Bennett, tight end for New England Patriots

Average draft position: TE14 (147th overall)

Why we want him: Potential Rob Gronkowski value without the Gronk price. Tight ends are a fascinating position for fantasy football this season because there are so many boom/bust options in the later rounds. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find more value for a tight end than in the Patriots offense. To give you an idea, backup tight end Scott Chandler scored four touchdowns last season as a No. 2 tight end to Gronkowski.

When Gronkowski suffered an injury (a more common theme than people might think), Chandler saw 18 targets over the next two games. It's safe to say Bennett is a much better athlete than Chandler and is just a few years removed from a Pro Bowl season with the Chicago Bears. His current ADP means you can get him in the later rounds of your draft and Jason Witten, Dwayne Allen and Antonio Gates are all good options, Bennett has the chance to be a Top 5 tight end in the right circumstances.

5. Kirk Cousins, quarterback for Washington Redskins

Average draft position: QB14 (115th overall)

Why we want him: OK, to be fair, there are a couple other quarterbacks in this range that would be just as good to have (Eli Manning, Tony Romo to name a few) but Cousins has some added benefits that these other quarterbacks don't have. For one, the Redskins have one of the deepest groups at wide receiver in the NFL to go along with an elite tight end in Jordan Reed. Cousins also plays in a quarterback friendly offense that has been known to produce 30-touchdown passers.

He's also playing in a contract season (I know, maybe it doesn't mean much) but he has every incentive to pile on the stats this season in hopes of landing a big deal next offseason. Cousins also has the added benefit of playing the Dallas Cowboys defense (a depleted unit) twice and gets another weak defense in the New York Giants twice as well. His current ADP means he'll be available near the end of your draft so it would be wise to take him as your backup quarterback at least, though he'll likely finish with QB1 numbers this season.

 

 

 

On the podcast today, we discuss some tips on how to prepare for the upcoming DFS season, particularly at the quarterback position.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

Episode 136: Planting running back flags

On this episode of the Fantasy Hot Read, George, Adam and Taylor debate several backfields and tell you which running back you should be drafting on various teams including Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

Don't forget, you can still sign up for our Fantasy Football Helpers Reader Challenge for your chance to win over $2,000 here.

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In 2015, you had running back rookie class that was considered among the best in recent memory. It included the likes of Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, David Johnson, and Duke Johnson. Several of those running backs turned in memorable rookie seasons, with Gurley finishing as a top 5 fantasy back after placing third overall in rushing yards (1,106) behind Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson. David Johnson wasn't far behind after a strong second half of the year landed him seventh overall among fantasy running backs and catapulted him to RB1 status seemingly overnight.

Even so, there was another rookie running back who turned in an equally impressive fantasy season without overly gaudy stats, and that back was Jacksonville Jaguars T.J. Yeldon. Drafted late in the first round, Yeldon compiled over 1,000 yards combined rushing and receiving and finished with 120 fantasy points to finish 28th overall among RBs in standard scoring leagues. While his yardage numbers were there, his lack of touchdowns (just 3 combined rushing and receiving) were the main culprit in draining his potential value. Injuries also caused Yeldon to miss four games in 2015.

So to combat Yeldon's goal-line woes, the Jags brought in Chris Ivory from the New York Jets. Ivory turned in best season of his career by far in 2015, rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time and scoring 7 times. The Jags signed Ivory to a five-year, $32 million contract with $10 million guaranteed, which makes him the seventh highest-paid RB in the NFL. The only problem is Ivory did all this as the Jets clear No. 1 running back, with only Bilal Powell seeing 70 rush attempts compared to Ivory's 247. There's no way Yeldon sees just 70 rush attempts in 2016 barring injury.

If you want Yeldon on your fantasy team this season, you're going to have to deal with Ivory stealing touches in some form given the amount Jacksonville invested in him. But despite two potential starting running backs on their roster that the franchise invested a lot of money/draft capital in, there's reason to believe Yeldon will be the more trustworthy back when it comes to consistency.

When it comes to drafting a potential RB2, you want someone who sees at least 10-12 carries a game and has a decent shot at scoring a touchdown any week of the season. Yeldon definitely fits that bill. First, he saw 182 rushes in 12 games which was good for 15 carries per game. He also saw 28 carries inside the red zone in 2015, leading all Jacksonville rushers. Despite all his chances around the goal line though, Yeldon only managed to cram the ball into the end zone two times. Historically, touchdown rate can vary greatly from year to year among running backs, so thinking Yeldon will be as ineffective as he was last season around the goal line might lead to disappointment.

If you're worried about one of the running backs getting hurt, you're not taking any more of less of a chance drafting either one. Ivory has an extensive injury season dating back to his rookie season and he also missed 10 games in 2012 after suffering a fracture in his foot.

Yeldon hasn't been a model of health either dating back to his college days at Alabama. He was consistently bothered by hamstring and ankle injuries in college that kept him from playing at 100 percent. He also missed a game midway through the 2015 NFL season with a pulled groin and missed the last three games of the year with a sprained MCL. It's safe to say you're taking a chance no matter which of these two backs you draft this season.

Can Ivory be just as effective as a receiver?

While not as elusive in the open field as Yeldon, Ivory did post a respectable 30 catches last season, which were a career-high for him. He also bested Yeldon in YAC per catch, gaining 9.5 yards to Yeldon's 8.1. At just 27 years old, Ivory is still in the prime of his career and shouldn't be discounted because Yeldon is only 22 years old.

Who's the better value?

Reports out of camp have Ivory as the back more likely to assume the starting role in Jacksonville, but that could be a blessing in disguise for Yeldon. Coaches can change their offensive philosophy at the drop of a hat if a running back is getting repeatedly stone-walled at the line of scrimmage. We saw Ivory struggle with 26 yards on 23 carries in a game last season. You have to figure Yeldon will likely see a healthy dose of carries if Ivory struggles and vice versa.

As far as their current ADP goes, Ivory is going at RB29 while Yeldon is RB36 so you might be able to get Yeldon one or even two rounds later. Given Ivory's injury history, Yeldon is the better value as of right now. He'll be able to choose his spots more and be a more efficient running back while still seeing valuable snaps and assume a crucial receiving role out of the backfield. You could argue Ivory is more valuable because he'll get the goal line work but you have to wonder if Yeldon is more effective throughout the game, he'll be the one to punch the ball into the end zone. As of now, take Yeldon in the later rounds as an RB2/flex guy and draft a running back who's a bit more upside in the earlier rounds before Ivory.

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Editor's note: This is a contributed piece from the writing staff at FFLockerroom.com.

Anticipating targets for wide receivers and running backs is a very difficult thing to do. But, we can use clues (I.E. patterns from the last few seasons, defensive improvements or declines, the addition of new offensive weapons, coaching changes that have historically either favored or avoided the pass and many others) to put together a mildly educated guess about the volume that a player may see.

Below are a handful of players that could see a nice uptick in targets heading into the 2016 fantasy football season.

T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver, Indianapolis Colts (2015 - 134 Targets - 8.4 TPG)

If you knew nothing else other than he was getting Andrew Luck back for a full season that may almost be enough to but into a sizable increase in targets for the Colts deep threat. Combine that with an improved offensive line and the departure of both Andre Johnson and Coby Fleener and you are looking at a player who could approach the 160 target mark (right in line with both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.). Even with the potential emergence of Donte Moncrief and Philip Dorsett, Hilton is a player that is poised to take that next step and really solidify himself as a target monster among the elite fantasy football WR's.

Coby Fleener, tight end, New Orleans Saint (2015 - 84 Targets - 5.6 TPG)

This move is actually a double bonus for the lovely-locked Coby Fleener. Not only should we anticipate a sizable spike in targets for him, but we should also understand that targets from Drew Brees in that offense are inherently more valuable than targets from Matt Hasselbeck or Josh Freeman. The Saints said goodbye to longtime red zone specialist Marques Colston this offseason and the rookie, Michael Thomas, will have to get his feet seriously wet before I am going to worry about him eating in to Fleener's workload. Don't believe that Fleener can have a monster year? Look at what that role did for Ben Watson last season, The New Orleans offense is incredibly tight end friendly, and Fleener is now the top dog in that area.

Tyler Lockett, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks (2015 - 69 Targets - 4.3 TPG)

This one seems like a no-brainer to me. The loss of Marshawn Lynch and the injury to Thomas Rawls have left serious questions about the continued viability of Seattle's dominant running game. And we're not the only ones to think that as Seattle invested a premium draft pick on pass-catching specialist C.J. Prosise. The Seattle offense looked as prolific as it ever has under Russell Wilson when the coaches decided to employ a much more pass-centric offensive game plan, and their offseason moves show us that Seattle may have noticed that too. Tyler Locket was absolutely electric down the stretch last season, and it became obvious that the report he's developed with Russell Wilson leaves his arrow as a fantasy option skyrocketing upward. With Doug Baldwin, a great receiver in his own right, likely drawing the attention of the defenses number 1 corner Lockett should continue to feast on inferior defensive back competition and is a strong bet to add 20+ additional targets to his ledger by the time the season ends.

To read the rest of this article and other quality fantasy football content, visit FFLockerroom here.  

Sunday, 07 August 2016 00:00

Episode 135: Powell's potential

The Helpers talk about Bilal Powell's potential in the Jets offense due to Matt Forte's age and current health status.

Want high quality stats from some of the Fantasy Football industry's best writers? Visit NumberFire.

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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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