George Banko

George Banko

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Friday, 05 August 2016 00:00

Episode 134: Auction draft strategies

On today's podcast, we go over some strategies for auction drafts. Some involve clever ways of baiting your opponent into making a bad decision that can end up working in your favor.

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00

Episode 133: How do use defenses effectively

On this episode of the podcast, we go over how to use defenses effectively in fantasy football to maximize point potential.

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On this episode of the Fantasy Hot Read, George gently tears apart some of Adam Inman's rankings. Some of the rankings he disagrees with most include Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Frank Gore, C.J. Spiller and Doug Baldwin.

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Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00

Are we sleeping on Phillip Dorsett?

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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, coaching staffs and GMs do everything within their power to help a player succeed, even if it means keeping him on the field when his production doesn't exactly warrant playing time. This certainly helps increase Dorsett's upside in 2016 and makes him a deep sleeper receiver in larger leagues.

Embarrassment of riches

Dorsett's destination in the 2015 NFL Draft didn't exactly lend itself to instant fantasy value. Drafted 29th overall by the Indianapolis Colts, Indy's roster was already loaded with wide receiver talent including T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief slotted as the team's best playmakers and veteran Andre Johnson coming over from free agency, which made the addition of another wide receiver all the more head scratching. While the 'too many mouths to feed' argument isn't always the best defense for a player's poor performance since sometimes a player is just not very good, but Dorsett's poor luck really put him at odds of producing in his first season, at least.

There's reason to believe that will change in 2016. For one, Andre Johnson is no longer in the picture which could lead to more time on the field for Dorsett. Johnson took 711 snaps last season, which ranked third-highest behind Donte Moncrief (837) and T.Y. Hilton (927). With Johnson gone, it leaves the door open for Dorsett to see more time on the field as the team's No. 3 receiver in an offense that could be scoring quite a bit through the air after Luck received a giant contract this past offseason. The Colts also plan to run more three-wide sets under new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.

Colts will throw — a lot

Nothing is a better indicator of what a franchise plans to do with its talent than the allocation of its money. The Colts went out and locked up Andrew Luck for six years, $140 million in the offseason and expect them to use his arm as much as possible. There's already talks of scaling back veteran running back Frank Gore's carries and the Colts were already an air-oriented team, as they ranked among the Top 10 in passing percentage (62.36) last season. Luck also threw for 40 touchdowns two seasons ago and with a better quality offensive line and clean bill of health, expect the former No. 1 overall pick to find Dorsett on plenty of deep passes down the field.

What Dorsett brings to the table

Much has been made about Dorsett's straight-line speed, which was among the best of his draft class. Per Mockdraftable.com, not only did Dorsett blaze a 4.33 40-yard dash, he also displayed impressive agility with a 6.70 3-cone time. At 5'10, 179 lbs, he drew some comparisons to Desean Jackson (also 5'10, 175 lbs) and was expected to create separation from defenses with his speed.

While not as explosive as his fellow teammate Moncrief (who you can read about more here), Dorsett brings the ability to score from anywhere on the field with his speed and could be used in some creative ways such as reverses and quick screen passes. If used in the slot, he could be a tough matchup for safeties over the middle of the field as well.

Red zone usage

Dorsett was targeted just once inside the 20 during his rookie season. Due to his limited snap count, it's hard to fault Dorsett for not having a ton of red zone targets in 2015. However, he did see 52 snaps in Week 17 which were far and away his most. Johnson saw 11 red zone targets in 2015. While Johnson's targets aren't necessarily an indication of Dorsett's projected usage in 2016, it's worth considering Dorsett will see his red zone targets increase in 2016.

Conclusion

While it's unreasonable to expect a 1,000-yard season from Dorsett given his position on the depth chart behind Hilton and Moncrief, there's plenty of reason to believe his increased role will make him in an interesting boom/bust flex play in quality matchups. It wouldn't surprise me to see him approach 700 receiving yards and anywhere between 5-8 touchdowns in 2016, making him a nice bench player to plug and play if needed.

 

Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00

Episode 131: Taking apart the ranks

On last Sunday's episode of the Fantasy Hot Read, Adam and George talk about Taylor's rankings and determine which players he's way too high or too low on. That, plus some news. Click the play button below.

On this episode, we mention how the Green Bay Packers run plenty of three wide receiver sets and tell you which wide receivers you should target in your upcoming fantasy draft.

 

Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson has long been placed into the boom/bust category when it comes to fantasy fantasy football, but that is a misleading title. Some get hung up on his lack of high reception totals, others worry about his lack of double digit touchdown seasons or his failure to produce is postseason games. But despite some minor flaws in his overall production, he's actually been one of the more effective and consistent options for fantasy owners in recent memory.

Through his first eight seasons, Jackson recorded at least 900 receiving yards six times and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark four times. In just his second year (2009) he finished as a top 4 fantasy wideout. He ranked in the top 15 in 2010, the top 30 in 2011, was top 10 in 2013 and landed in the top 16 in 2014. You'd be hard pressed to find too many other receivers that good or that long of a period.

The 5'10 speed demon has made a living stretching defenses down the field, with an impressive 17.7 yards per catch for his career. This is why looking at Jackson's current 2016 ADP (average draft position) at WR34 is kind of silly when you look at how productive he's been throughout his career. He should be getting drafted higher but he simply isn't.

To put his ADP into context, Jackson is getting drafted after players like Eric Decker (WR25), Jordan Matthews (WR29) and Devante Parker (WR32). Recency bias certainly plays a role in Jackson's undervalued ADP since he's coming off his worst season as a pro after finishing with 528 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2015. Injuries played a role, as Jackson was bothered by hamstring issues that sidelined him for six games.

But you can't say any of those three receivers mentioned above have strung together the same number of successful fantasy seasons as Jackson has. The closest of the group was Eric Decker, who finished as the No. 7 overall fantasy receiver in 2012 and ranked No. 9 in 2013. Even so, Decker benefited from an exceptional situation with Peyton Manning obliterating passing records under center during those two seasons.

But situation isn't always going to play into your favor in fantasy football, so you want a guy who's effective regardless of the quarterback throwing to him and Jackson is that guy. Sure, he's had a few less-than-eye-popping seasons, but all you need to do is take a look at his overall body of work and you'll realize he's actually never really had a down year when he's on the field.

If you look back at when Jackson's situation might've impacted his numbers negatively, he still produced quality numbers. For example, he failed to generate as much success playing with Michael Vick in 2011 and 2012 after it became clear Vick's mechanics were flawed and he stood little chance of becoming a consistently effective pocket passer. Still, Jackson finished the 2011 season with 961 receiving yards and also managed 700 receiving yards in 2012 despite playing in four less games.

Jackson saw his best season in 2013 when he played the majority of snaps with Nick Foles, a quarterback who could throw the ball deep and take advantage of Jackson's speed. A year later in 2014, Jackson signed with Washington and produced another 1,000-yard season playing with a below-average tandem of post-ACL-injury Robert Griffin III and a still-in-development Kirk Cousins.

So assume Jackson enters 2016 healthy which he currently is, this is a great season to snatch him up in later rounds. He's now a part of one of the best receiving cores in the NFC as Washington now has a matchup nightmare in Jordan Reed, a jump ball receiver in Josh Doctson and two quality possession receivers in Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder. Quarterback Kirk Cousins gained a slew of confidence after leading Washington to the playoffs and winning the NFC East. Jay Gruden's offense has also lead to increased passing touchdowns for quarterbacks, just look at Andy Dalton's 2013 season when the Red Rifle threw 33 touchdowns.

Draft Jackson as a solid WR2/3 this season and don't look back.

On this episode of the Fantasy Hot Read, Adam and George continue their discussion from last week and talk about more rookie running backs and wide receivers who could become fantasy relevant based on their situation with their respective teams. Click the play button below to listen.

When former San Diego Chargers running back signed with the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2015, he was actually considered the second-tier back to DeMarco Murray, a back who had also been signed away from his former team that same offseason.

But despite starting as the backup, Mathews shined brightest for Philadelphia last season as the six-year veteran rushed for 539 yards and 6 touchdowns on 106 attempts, averaging 8 fantasy points per game.

Perhaps one of the keys to Mathews flourishing was former Eagles coach Chip Kelly's system, which valued inside runners that could make quick lateral cuts in traffic. Mathews never possessed jaw-dropping agility or elusiveness, but does have good agility and his size at 6'0, 220 lbs allows him to maintain pretty good balance through contact. Overall, he's a good but not great back that can consistently churn out 4-yard gains up the middle.

When it comes to his fantasy situation in 2016, Mathews is the clear front runner in the Philadelphia backfield with the departure of Murray to the Tennessee Titans. 33-year-old Darren Sproles is expected to remain the team's change-of-pace back and rookie Wendall Smallwood has drawn some intrigue as a darkhorse that could push for touches if Sproles and Mathews come out sluggish early on.

One thing working in Mathews' favor is the Eagles situation at offensive line. Overall, the unit ranked 12th according to Pro Football Focus in 2015. While they've dropped off since leading LeSean McCoy to a rushing title in 2013, they'll still return Pro Bowler Jason Peters at left tackle and Jason Kelce at center. They added former Houston Texan Brandon Brooks at left guard, signing him to a $40 million deal this past March. Brooks brings some much needed youth in the trenches at just 26 years old and only missed four games in three seasons with Houston. Overall, this offensive line likely won't be incredible, but it won't be dismal either and should carve out some run lanes for Mathews.

Despite the offensive line being a bright spot, the Eagles could really struggle to score in 2016 due to their lackluster skill players. No. 1 wide receiver Jordan Matthews is still struggling as an outside wide receiver and may be relegated to the slot once again. Second-year wideout Nelson Agholor is coming off a disappointing rookie season where he dealt with injuries and is now battling issues off the field. So the Eagles will likely need to place Reuben Randle, Chris Givens or Josh Huff on the outside with Agholor. Teams won't be scared to single cover those wideouts which makes it easier to stop the run.

When it comes to his own talent, Mathews showed he can be a valuable feature back in the past but his most prolific seasons were sporadic and didn't instill much trust in him on a year-to-year basis. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark twice in five years with San Diego and never came close to scoring double-digit touchdowns. Never considered a goal-line running back, Mathews instead did most of his damage between the 20s which limits his upside in fantasy.

Injuries have also been a problem throughout Mathews' career. He suffered a concussion and missed three games in 2015. He missed 10 games in 2014 with an MCL injury and three games with a fractured collarbone in 2012. He played in all 16 games just once in his career, making him a liability for a full season if you end up drafting him.

Knowing Mathews struggles to stay healthy in a feature back role, there's a good chance first-year coach Doug Pederson opts to go with a committee-style attack, which could hurt Mathews chances as even a steady RB2. Right now Mathews is being drafted near players like Jay Ajayi, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, and Matt Jones. He's actually a good bargain there given his situation as a possible lead back.

You know what you're getting from Mathews at this point. He's a solid 60-70 yard per game guy with the occasional 100-yard game thrown in. Injuries will likely keep him out of your lineup at times but he will be a good flex/RB2 against weaker run defenses in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 00:00

Episode 128: Good situations > talent

On this episode of the Fantasy Hot Read, Adam and George discuss several rookie running backs and wide receivers who could become fantasy relevant based on their situation with their respective teams.

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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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