Cleat Geeks

The IDP Geek Huddle: Buffalo’s Milano vs. Edmunds

Who you taken’?

Anyone that knows of me has known that I’ve pegged Buffalo’s second-year linebacker Matt Milano as my breakout player for 2018. And now that the Bills drafted Tremaine Edmunds I’ve received a few notifications asking if them doing so will effect Milano and his chances of that breakout this coming season. To answer this properly we will use this article to do some comparing and evaluation of each player versus the situation. Hopefully, in the end, clarifying who may have the upper hand when it comes the time that a choice may need to be made. Please keep in mind this is not full proof rocket science. At this time I’m writing this article all we got going for us is the “hype” of what should happen. It’ll be clearer around preseason before we have a better idea of what should unfold. And even when dealing with a Rookie and a second-year player who only played a portion as a starter last season, nothing is written in stone as we all know. Let’s see what we can come up with now.

Image result for matt milano bills

While Edmunds combine numbers are nice and fresh, Milano’s is only a year old and still pretty viable to match-up. If anything we need to keep in mind that if Milano has gone “all in” on Buffalo’s training methods he could have improved. Don’t get me wrong on “pulling” for Milano when I mention a few things as we go thru this. I’d do the same for Edmunds if he wasn’t a rookie and had a bit more to mention about concerning him if he had a year under his belt in the NFL. Just something to keep in mind, now to the combine and from what I see, neither attended a full Pro Day workout. And shockingly to actually get the full grid of each player’s results I had to refer to Draftscout.com, and they don’t share well so you’ll have to google them. Draftscout breaks things down a little different including the 10-20 yard dash splits. And mentioning that neither player has recorded results for the 20-60 yard shuttles or 3 cone drill at the combine. I’m also not able to find out why Edmunds didn’t record a vertical jump. I do like to compare things to “known” solid players when comparing. So we are going to include two similar in size players with Atlanta Falcons MLB Deion Jones and Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly.

Edmunds: 6’4” – 253 lbs              Luke Kuechly: 6’3” – 238 lbs

Milano: 6’0” – 223 lb                     Deion Jones: 6’1”

So in general what are we looking at? Well, the whole point was to compare Edmunds and Milano to a point. And the two “known” players are our high base as both of them are considered to be current top five linebackers by most football fans and experts. So as a whole I believe that by the numbers Milano and Edmunds do stand out. So now we will take on the two we are discussing these combine results. Keep in mind without extending this article really long I have the NFL combine results for 2017 and 2018 in front of me. You can locate them HERE (Milano Bench) or HERE (Edmunds 40 YD) if you’d like.

Edmunds Take: His size compared to his speed in the top end and the short burst has him at the Beast level. His power or strength needs a bit of work. The bench press especially is glaring considering his size. And the broad jump doesn’t inspire much either to make up the difference. Looking at it now, is there a seeded reason he did not participate in the vertical jump? But in general over the last two rookie classes of linebackers, he is fast, man is he fast and larger than 90% of the NFL inside linebackers. His power will come as the Bills work with him these next couple of years. But as of now, we will just say it again, not impressed compared to his size and the past two rookie classes. I do want to ask, I wonder how often he’ll need that top end speed a season to run down guys. Just a thought.

Milano’s Take: His speed in the top end is just about average or comparable to most per combine, but his short area burst is a lot better and just above average. Likely due to his leg strength with such strong results in the jumping categories. The bench press is another story. He pushed his body weight 24 times. That’s no small feat. Comparable to the last two classes he is tied in seventh. The most was 27 reps and out of those players here are the body weights of those players, including who he tied with: 266,248,244,244,240,236,230. So I believe we may go out on a limb here as we did saying Edmunds was really fast for a big man, pound for pound Milano seems to have the power to burn. I wonder how often that top end speed matters each season for him versus his strength. Just a thought.

Are you addicted to IDP? This is a relatively new space for @cleatgeeks but it is catching on quick with our fans! One of the main reasons for the outpouring of support from our fans is that we not only give you great articles on the subject, but the fact that we have partnered with a great podcast as well. That podcast is the IDP Guys Show. Check out their latest podcast right here!

So we have split the hairs on the (physical) combine numbers, that was the easy part. Now to address tendencies on the field.

Here is where I’ll ask you that know me to trust me, and those that don’t know me feel free to follow up on what I’m about to state about each player. I’ve spent my time watching tape on both players and have researched many resources to get all this information together. Of course, depending on the same resources that never lead me to wrong very often at all. As I sat here I was trying to figure out the best way to write out this information. In the end, I’m cheating a bit. I’ll first use what the NFL draft profiles have listed by NFL.com. Because overall, I believe they are 100% correct anyhow and mirror 90% of what I’ve seen with all the other resources. And again, I watched some tape myself to see what exactly is being pointed out.

Edmunds NFL.com: Weaknesses

  • Instincts are average and relies on athletic gifts
  • Can be a step slow to diagnose
  • Lured by misdirection
  • Will take random downhill paths that trap him in the quagmire
  • Patience is lacking
  • Races ahead of plays and voids his leverage and run fits at times
  • Needs to add more upper and lower body strength
  • Average base strength and high center of gravity create issues holding up at the point of attack
  • Needs to be quicker to punch in order to maintain clearance
  • Mental busts in man coverage hurt his team
  • Takes time to process moving pieces

I 100% agree, and also happen across a YouTube video that shows and explains in depth exactly what’s listed. High five to this gentleman doing the video.

 

Milano NFL.com: Weaknesses

  • Needs to add a little more size to his frame
  • Can be outmuscled by size
  • Hand usage is inconsistent
  • Needs to improve in the art of discarding blockers
  • Just average at punching and shedding to keep himself clean in take-on situations
  • Bad habit of ducking head into crunching tackles rather than seeing what he hits
  • Tightly wound with average change-of-direction talent
  • Can improve his path to the perimeter to avoid traffic around him

Again, I 100% agree. And want to point out that most of this is more “size” related. I’d have another video added here like the “Boom or Bust” on Edmunds, but unfortunately, I can not find one that anyone took the time to make. In light of this, I did find this one if you’re interested. Hopefully, the volume works better for you than it did me. To hear it I had to boost the old laptop with added speakers. Please, if anyone out there can locate anything on Milano other than highlights and more of scouting material please let me know. Who knows one of these days I may venture into making my own.

Now on to an overall comparing of the flaws. When it comes to Edmunds it seems he has a mental lapse at times and some technique habits that the Bills will need to work on for him to reach his potential. He is just 20 years old so all this will be either worked out of him or he’ll struggle and depend on his freakish size and athleticism for the length of his career. But, he isn’t quite as polished as one may think at the moment. And some don’t “get it” for a few years. I’m betting he’ll be fine sooner than later.

As for Milano, I think we can say that he has already had the luxury to prove his potential in his rookie season and overcame the “too small” tag to play at the pro level. He has a full year to learn and acclimate to the NFL and grow. Advantages yes, but perfect, no. He did grade out well as the highest graded Bills linebacker in 2017 and also as one of the top rookies in his limited snaps as well. Again, with Milano already “showing” last season there is an unfair advantage to this part of the assessment. But I can not simply ignore his rookie season and follow this up as if he was a rookie right now. You’ll need to decide what you think about that in the end.

Position Battle: So we know by the current reports that Edmunds is penciled in as the middle linebacker and possibly calling the plays while Milano is penciled in as the likely weakside linebacker. I do agree this is the more plausible outcome. But what should be pointed out is if things go as they should both of these players will be in prime spots no matter which position they play, as long as it isn’t the strongside linebacker. Traditionally that position in the 4-3 is the least productive among the 3 linebackers. And yes I understand how Preston Brown cleaned up at the middle linebacker spot last season. And whoever, odds are Edmund, mans the middle will have an advantage. But as I’ve stated in this article HERE, the weakside linebacker can be just as viable. As someone that has followed the Bills LBs over the last few years let me just say they have not managed to have a “set” group to stay in their positions, this is why we are seeing a changing of the guard.

In Conclusion: Time to add it up.

  1. Is there a clear favorite in a clear path to the most production between these two in 2018?
  2. Does either player have a real advantage at this point and time?
  3. As you read this was there any one thing that made you waiver one way or the other?
  4. Is either of them a “sure thing” to be better than the other long-term in Dynasty?

My Conclusion: I have been toting Milano as a “breakout” player in 2018. That does not change for me. At no time did I state he would be the next top 5 linebacker in the league. I simply thought and think he’ll be relevant for our IDP purposes in our starting lineups, possibly as a third or fourth option with upside. Do I think after they have drafted Edmunds that Milano’s ceiling is as high as it would have been if they hadn’t drafted such a prospect, no I do not! Here’s how I look at it currently altogether. In 2018 I think if both players stay healthy we will see them both produce within 15% of each other per your league’s fantasy points scoring by the end of the season in 2018. Simply based on the advantages I’ve mentioned for Milano versus Edmunds being an unpolished rookie and the odds that Edmunds is the middle linebacker and Milano is the weakside linebacker. As for Dynasty, until I see Edmunds do his thing, I feel safer with Milano at this moment and will accept it in a couple years if I’m wrong and coming up on the short in of the stick in dynasty. I’m pretty confident in any drafts going forward this year that Milano’s ADP to draft him should be a bargain compared to Edmunds also. If I’m in a rookie only draft, Edmunds is the guy, the number one target overall off the board. If I’m in any sort of all player draft, I’m gambling on Milano who I can likely get at least a round or two later. That’s my thoughts.

ADP: So by this recent poll, who’ll be the better value by round?

I can’t leave Edmunds with no video love. My pride is not that strong to not give him his dues.

And of course, there’s my breakout player pick, with some college highlights. Was the 2017 class that deep he slipped thru the holes? And a special shout-out to Brian Serrano @Ano_611 For turning me loose and bringing Milano to my attention shortly after the 2017 draft. Thanks, Brian! He has some great stuff and should be followed on Twitter. When he talks, I listen.

Additional Thought: Micah Hyde should see an uptick in production in 2018 as the young linebackers adjust to the pro level. And as long as all goes well 34 years old Lorenzo Alexander will man the strongside linebacker position where he’ll be solid, but unlikely to top his 73 combined tackles from last season.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to catch me on Twitter @HBogart27, I love talking IDP. And catch my other articles HERE if you would like to see more.

NFL Dynasty Surefire Sleeper 2

I know it’s been a while, but I’m back to give you another Dynasty Surefire Sleeper! If you missed the first one make sure to go check it out, it was on Kenny Golladay. That being said, I thought it was only right to feature a player I see him compared to countless times for my second sleeper, and that’s Tampa Bay WR Chris Godwin. I’ve argued Golladay vs Godwin countless times with leaguemates, but they both deserve the same consideration in dynasty. They’re both young, extremely talented receivers who have a huge break out coming. Don’t be the guy who misses out.

 

Chris Godwin is another guy taken in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He of course went to the Bucs, who selected him with the 84th overall pick. Godwin had previously played for 3 years at Penn State, with his sophomore and junior years being when he really made a name for himself. During those two seasons he caught 128 passes, for 2,083 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also posted an impressive 15.7 yards per catch in his collegiate career, all while playing against the elite defenses in the Big Ten. He performed just as well outside of the Big Ten. He posted a career best 187 yards, on 9 catches for 2 touchdowns against USC in his final NCAA appearance, the 2017 Rose Bowl. At the NFL Combine, Godwin measured at 6 foot 1 inch, and weighed in at 209 pounds. He also ran a blazing 4.42 40 yard dash, which was 5th best among the receiver class. His best in class 4.00s time in the 20 yard shuttle further proved he had elite speed not only downfield, but also in and out of breaks. His impressive ability didn’t end there, not only does he have speed, but he did 19 reps on the bench press, showcasing his top level strength to beat press coverage at the line. When you put together all of this; the big play ability he showcased in college, as well as the elite speed and strength he showcased at the combine, it’s easy to see why Tampa was more than happy to grab Godwin in the 3rd round.

 

In his rookie season with the Bucs, Godwin put up 525 yards on 55 catches, and a touchdown. While those numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, it’s the games where he was actually given a larger role that he truly shined. In every game that Godwin was targeted at least 6 times, he put up 68 yards or better.  As the season progressed, Godwin was constantly targeted more and was earning these targets. Examples of these performances include week 14 against Detroit, where he was targeted 6 times, catching 5 of them for 68 yards, 3 catches on 6 targets against Carolina in week 16 for 98 yards, and his true breakout game in week 17 against a formidable New Orleans defense. Against the Saints, Godwin was targeted 12 times. He caught 7 of those targets and recorded 111 yards, and his first career touchdown. In 2018 I expect Desean Jackson to begin to take a backseat to Godwin more and more as the Bucs transition to the young stud that Godwin is. Being a player who was insanely productive in a limited role, it’ll be hard to imagine him not being one of the more utilized offensive weapons next year, behind Mike Evans of course. Evans however, should draw the top corner from opposing defenses, leaving Godwin to attack the lesser defenders with his elite speed and quick release ability. You’re not going to want to miss out on Godwin’s 2018 breakout season. He’s going to be a fantasy monster for years to come.

The IDP Geek Huddle: Tremaine Edmunds

Buffalo Bills Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

 

Drafted: 16th overall

Team Defense: 4-3 Base

State of Team’s Offence: Rebuild

Rookie Tier: #1

Rookie IDP Draft: Wave #1

All IDP Position Draft: Wave #2

Potential 2018 Position Tier: High #2

Position Competition Level: Moderate

Potential 2018 Combined Tackle Range: 80-110

Play Making Ability Potential: High

Dynasty Value: High

 

Why he has the potential to succeed at the pro level in 2018:

  1. Physical Beast.
  2. Lack of real competition at his position.
  3. The state of the Buffalo Bills offense as it rebuilds.
  4. Draft status
  5. Defensive Scheme in favor of his skill set.

Are you addicted to IDP? This is a relatively new space for @cleatgeeks but it is catching on quick with our fans! One of the main reasons for the outpouring of support from our fans is that we not only give you great articles on the subject, but the fact that we have partnered with a great podcast as well. That podcast is the IDP Guys Show. Check out their latest podcast right here!

Why he may not reach his potential at the pro level in 2018:

  1. Youth (20)
  2. Instincts.
  3. Mental mistakes.
  4. Matt Milano presents.
  5. Acclimatizing to pro level.

 

The “Brain” Take:

The perfect example of the perfect situation in landing with the Bills. At only 20 years old and a physical beast with above average size and speed combo he will rely on those traits until he mentally can process the pro level of play. He’ll likely be “coached” up and given priority by the coaching staff to help him along and be as ready as possible for week one. With the Bills having a lack of youthful talent, other than Matt Milano, with some proven aspects of their game he’ll dominate as an opposing figure in camp. The 4-3 scheme is well suited to his style of play as either the middle linebacker or the weakside linebacker. If there is any struggling he still could play the strongside with his size at 6’5” and 253 lbs, which in turn would still likely leave him on the field every snap available increasing his odds of producing stats. Unless he just completely flops and cannot get his head into what the coaches are saying the Bills have no real other choices but to make him a part of the plans in 2018. With the Bills in a rebuilding mode on the offensive side of the ball, he could be a leader in the league in snap counts among linebackers if he can stay healthy.

The “Gut” Take:

I see no reason that Edmunds won’t reach his potential as a rookie. In this case, the “brain” take above coincides well with the “gut” take. As I have toted Matt Milano as a breakout player for 2018 with the situation in Buffalo it is not surprising to me that I was likely now going to tote whoever the Bills selected at linebacker as long as it was one of the upper prospects. There are two questions in my gut on this take, but neither seem enough to worry about at this moment. If I had a rookie pick in a draft and I needed a linebacker, he would be my safest pick every time. Off the top and after doing my research and watching his college tape I do agree with many “gurus” that his mental approach to his game needs to catch up to his physical traits. His youth is likely the collaborate there and will be overcome by simply being thrown into the fire because the Bills just don’t have any other viable choice. The other thing of no real concern will be that he’ll have to outplay Matt Milano for the prime opportunities to stack the stat box. All I can say for now is don’t let Milano’s draft status versus Edmunds fool you into thinking there is a large gap between the two. There were 15 defensive players selected in this year’s class in the first round. I 100% believe that was due to the lack of talent in this years class versus last years class overall versus the league’s needs. But no matter this situation between picking Milano versus Edmunds, which I plan on writing an article soon about, know that Edmunds will be viewed as the top linebacker prospect to succeed his first year in the league because of his situation. Opportunity is where a rookie lands are just as important to his chances to succeed as anything. Hence, see Preston Brown, who Edmunds will be replacing him somewhere in the lineup. With the difference being that Edmunds looks like a better talent on paper at this time.

 

My suggested order for rookie IDPs off the board.

  1. Tremaine Edmunds
  2. (Soon)
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. ?
  7. ?
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. ?

 

Missed any of the ten? Check it all out and more HERE.

 

Thanks as always for reading and please find me on Twitter for everything IDP @HBogart27.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ManCrush Monday Series: Keenan Allen

This is the sixth in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

The key to a successful dynasty team is to continue to have youth at all positions and hope that they can be studs for you for many years. In particular, receivers that are featured early in their careers and continue to grow into their prime and sustain a large role into their later years are ideal. For our startup dynasty draft, I was looking for players at the early stage I believed had the potential to be productive through all three phases. In a 0.5 PPR league, players targeted frequently are even more special. In the third round, I drafted Keenan Allen, who I believed to be a steal as I had considered him with my second round pick.

In the 2013 NFL draft, Allen was in fact a third round pick by the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles) and he had only just turned 21 years old a few days prior. He played at the University of California in college so he was a local guy, despite being from North Carolina originally. As a rookie, Allen surpassed 1,000 yards and 100 targets and finished the season with 71 receptions, 1,046 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 15 games.

In 2016, when I drafted Allen to my team, he was coming off a season that had been cut in half by a fluky lacerated kidney injury he sustained on a touchdown catch in week 8 against the Ravens. At that point in the 2015 season, Allen already had a season line of 67-725-4, which had him on pace for 134 catches (would have ranked 3rd most in one season in NFL history), 1,450 yards, and 8 touchdowns. I was hoping Allen could bounce back from this injury and get right back on track in 2016. While he was ready to go week 1 for the Chargers and started the game off with 6 catches for 63 yards, Allen left the game just before half with a knee injury that ultimately turned out to be a torn ACL that cost him the rest of the season. Allen started drawing the “Injury prone” tag, and although losing him hurt, I still won our fantasy championship and I still believed in him. I just had to wait a bit longer until the 2017 season.

2017 was a career year for Allen. In his first season playing in all 16 games for the Chargers, Allen went for 102 catches (4th in NFL) on 159 targets (5th), 1,393 yards (3rd), and 6 touchdowns. Allen had seven games with 100+ yards, including four in a row from weeks 11-14, racking up 10+ catches and at least one touchdown in three of the four. Coincidentally, the Chargers won all four of those games. This type of production coming off a major knee injury and the lacerated kidney the year prior earned Allen the 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and his first Pro-Bowl selection.

Allen has been credited as an elite route runner with excellent hands. Much like I’ve talked about previously with Adam Thielen and Cooper Kupp, Allen has the ability to play both as an outside receiver as well as the slot. His size (6’2″, 205), quickness, and toughness allow him to separate quickly and make him a nightmare to cover 1-on-1. Allen ranked 4th in the NFL in yards after the catch (YAC) among wide receivers in 2017. Allen’s chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers makes them one of the best QB-WR duos in the league. Rivers always knows where Allen is, and looks his way frequently in crucial situations. Allen had an NFL-best 30 first down catches on third down. With the emergence of other weapons for the Chargers like running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry, Allen isn’t a high touchdown player, but certainly makes up for it elsewhere.

Now that we are post-draft and looking ahead to 2018, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Allen and the Chargers offense. With Rivers still at the helm and surrounded by playmakers, the Chargers will use a high powered offense to try to come out on top of the tough AFC West division. In the backfield, Gordon leads the charge, with Austin Ekeler providing an excellent change of pace. The Chargers added Justin Jackson out of Northwestern with their final pick of last weekend’s draft. Alongside Allen, the rest of the receiving corps includes Tyrell Williams, 2017 first round pick Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin, among others. Due to my obsession with Patrick Mahomes, my favorite sleeper wide receiver is his former teammate Dylan Cantrell, who the Chargers selected in round six. The Chargers are moving on from future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, but still have the young and talented Hunter Henry to create mismatches and serve as a red zone threat. Having all of these weapons means defenses won’t be able to key on Allen, but it also means there are many mouths to feed. While Allen may regress from his 2017 numbers, he is still a prime candidate to reach the 100 receptions mark and easily surpass 1,000 yards. If he can find his way into the end zone a few more times, he will remain a top receiver in 2018 and for the foreseeable future, as he only just turned 26 years old.

 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read all my other #ManCrush articles if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for next #ManCrush Monday! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

Fantasy Football Fan Focus

After receiving yet another interesting in-depth email inquiring about my thoughts on an IDP roster recently. And talking with the gentleman about sharing with the fantasy football community, we’ll see what assessment we can “take” to address anything IDP to possibly assist.

Please keep in mind, there will be little to no editing to keep the personal touch of the email and replies. But some formatting may occur for the sake of publishing. My assessments are in RED.

Before we go to his email let’s look at some additional info I asked for to help in the assessment.

First, the leagues scoring set up, minus kicker(s). I personally love this scoring format. When using IDPs in a league it clearly is a set up to bring up the defensive players to balance the league. I was told it is a 12 team league, so this approach in the standard size league shows very well for IDP formats coming up in the Fantasy Football realm.

Good Afternoon,

I recently went from doing nothing more than your basic PPR league to joining a 12 team, full IDP Dynasty that keeps a salary cap. As one article I recently read put it, I chose to take the cannonball approach vice testing the waters with a toe dip. I have been in the league about 1 month now and have already made about a dozen trades with over half the league. At this point in time I am finally getting where I feel the team is mine. I have definitely turned it into a rebuild but feel with the right rookie picks it could be competitive this year even. If you would be so kind maybe you could look over my IDP list and give me some insight as to who you think would be worth something now, in the future, or isn’t worth keeping? Also, would you maybe give your input for what defensive rookies are looking good to grab? Listed below are is my IDP list followed by what picks I have this year.

Roster usage is: DT-1, DE-2, LB-3, CB-2, S-2

Flex -1 that can come from any of the positions.

** – Starter as I view it now      * – Back up

 

DT:

1.
I gave up: Ryan Tannehill, Melving Gordon, Joe Mixon, Amari Cooper, Donte Moncrief
Received: Tarik Cohen, Lesean McCoy, AJ Green, Jalen Mills, Picks 2019 Rd 5, 2019 Rd 6, 2019 Rd 7
2. **I admit I gave up more than I should have, but was wanting to get rid of picks and those were for JG mostly**
I gave up: Preston Smith, Wesley Woodyard, Picks 1.04, 5.04, 5.08, 7.04, 7.09, 2019 Rd 1
Received: Jimmy Garoppolo, Chris Thompson, Adoree Jackson, Marshon Lattimore, Pick 4.08
3.
I gave up: Jameis Winston, Giovanni Bernard, Chris Hogan, Anthony Barr
Received: Marcus Mariotta, Jonathan Stewart, Julius Peppers, Pick 5.11
4. ***When I gave up D. Jones, but I wanted Neal as I needed Safeties and had tons of LBs***
I gave up: Corey Coleman, Zay Jones, Deion Jones
Received: Kendell Beckwith, AJ Klein, Keanu Neal, Pick 3.01
5.
I gave up: Brandon Cooks, Jeff Janis, Pick 2019 Rd 4
Received: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jadeveon Clowney, Picks 3.06, 5.12, 2019 Rd 3
6.
I gave up: Tyrell Williams
Received: Pick 4.02
7.
I gave up: Philip Rivers, Tarik Cohen
Received: Kiko Alonso, Pick 3.10
8.**Maybe could have gotten more if I had put it to the whole league for a bidding war in hindsight**
I gave up: LeSean McCoy, Chris Thompson, Picks 2020 Rd 1, 2020 Rd 2
Received: Picks 1.02, 3.12, 6.09, 7.12, 2019 Rd 6, 2020 Rd 4
9.
I gave up: Keenan Allen
Received: Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree, Carlos Henderson, Picks 1.10, 2019 Rd 2, 2020 Rd 3
10.
I gave up: 2.04, 4.08, 2019 Rd 2, 2020 Rd 3
Received: 1.07
Following Trades have been accepted but not pushed through yet:
1.
I gave up: Michael Crabtree
Received: Eli Apple, 1.08, 5.04
2.
I gave up: Soloman Thomas
Received: Pick 2019 Rd 3
Current Trades are pending or waiting for the previously mentioned trades to be pushed to happen:
1. **Proposed to another**
I give up: KJ Wright, Pick 3.12
Receive: 1.12
2. **Proposed to another…needing to reduce my LB numbers also**
I give up: AJ Green, Kiko Alonso, Kendell Beckwith, Preston Brown, Vincent Rey
Receive: Marquise Goodwin, Emmanuel Sanders, Luke Kuechly, David Lavonte, Malcolm Butler, Ty Montgomery
3. **Waiting for trades to be pushed to send but already agreed on**
I give up: Peyton Barber, Picks 1.08, 1.10
Receive: Deion Jones, Tre Flowers, Pick 5.01
Hope that was easy to actually process and understand. Those are all of the trades I have made, or am currently processing.
R/S,
Daniel

 

#ManCrush Monday Series: Allen Robinson

This is the fifth in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

 

This past season, I acquired Allen Robinson via trade in my dynasty league AFTER his injury in a high risk, high reward kind of way. Let’s just say that what has transpired since that trade has not been in my favor, and I need Robinson to come through for me going forward. The situation will become more clear as we go. But first, I need to tell you my love story.

Being a Michigan State fan my whole life, I got the opportunity to watch Robinson destroy Big Ten opponents during his junior season at Penn State in 2013. I’m honestly glad my Spartans never had to deal with him, but sad that we couldn’t bring the Detroit native to East Lansing a few years earlier. That season, Robinson had 97 receptions for 1,432 yards and 6 touchdowns, including 8 games over 100 yards.

Robinson entered the draft a year early and was a part of the now high-profile 2014 WR class that featured Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, and others. Robinson was drafted 61st overall by the Jaguars, who had grabbed QB Blake Bortles in round 1 with the 3rd overall pick. On paper, it was an ideal situation for Robinson, being able to start his career with the quarterback the Jaguars were hoping would be their franchise guy. In addition, the Jags’ receiving corps was at the time led by Cecil Shorts and 2012 first round pick Justin Blackmon, who has not played a game in the NFL since October 2013 due to repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

As it turned out, Bortles didn’t make the transition to the NFL as well as some may have liked, struggling with interceptions and sacks in his 13 starts in 2014. This didn’t bode well for Robinson and the Jags’ receivers; none of them even surpassed 700 yards. The Jacksonville offense ranked last in the league, which translated to a 3-13 record. No quite what we had in mind.

Flash forward to the 2015 season. Some call this season an anomaly for Bortles on his four year resume, and while that argument may carry some weight if you watch his play over the course of that season, Bortles through for close to 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. That’s what can happen when you target Allen Robinson 150 times. Even when Bortles made reckless throws into coverage that no quarterback should have made, Robinson did his job and came down with the catch more often than not. Robinson was a downfield threat and a red zone nightmare. All in all, Robinson’s breakout sophomore season resulted in 80 catches, 1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns, and his first Pro-Bowl selection.

The constant deep ball didn’t work out as well for Bortles and Robinson in 2016, and the Jaguars offense regressed. Robinson’s 73-883-6 season line wasn’t terrible by any means, but a huge drop from a year prior. To start the 2017 season, on the third play from scrimmage, Robinson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, costing him his entire season in a contract year. [Later that season is when I made the move for Robinson. I traded away my 1st and 2nd round picks, Larry Fitzgerald, and Orleans Darkwa and received Robinson, Cameron Meredith, Doug Martin, and Terrelle Pryor. This was based on the assumption that my picks would be in the middle of the rounds, Fitz would retire, and the players I was getting would bounce back in 2018.]

As free agency came upon us in March, the Jaguars had a decision to make with Robinson. He was an unrestricted free agent and would be one of the most coveted receivers on the market. Teams knew what Robinson was capable of, but two years removed from that 2015 season and now coming off an ACL injury, there was some risk for the Jags in paying to keep him. They considered placing the franchise tag on Robinson, which would have cost them nearly $16 million in 2018. In the end, the Jaguars let Robinson walk in a controversial move, especially considering the players they elected to keep and sign, along with picking up Bortles’ fifth year option. Robinson signed a 3-year, $42 million dollar contract with the Chicago Bears.

Now Robinson finds himself in a similar situation to the one he was in in 2014. The Bears drafted their quarterback of the future in Mitchell Trubisky last April, and he already has his rookie season under his belt. The Bears’ receiving corps has no veteran presence, 2015 first round pick Kevin White has probably only one more season to prove he’s not a complete bust, and the Bears lost restricted free agent Meredith to the Saints after declining to match their offer sheet. The Bears signed Marlon Brown last Thursday, but apart from the 7 touchdowns he posted in 2013, he was never a big factor in his time with the Ravens. Robinson enters as the de facto #1 receiver in former Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense heading into 2018.

Without a quality running mate opposite him to draw defenders away, Robinson will most likely not be the most efficient receiver, but he should earn close to the 150 targets he had in consecutive seasons with the Jaguars, and he is going to be a huge weapon in the red zone. Someone will have to emerge for the Bears for them and Robinson to reach their true potential. Nagy and new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich (former head coach of Oregon) will surely be creative and use speed mismatches to create space and make an NFL offense have more of that “spread” feel. Nagy and the Bears brought Taylor Gabriel over from the Falcons, who is essentially a poor man’s Tyreek Hill, and still have the skill set of Tarik Cohen at their disposal. They also acquired an athletic tight end in Trey Burton. If you include the threat of Jordan Howard on the ground, Trubisky and Bears have a young team with potential, and if all goes well, I see no reason why Robinson can’t be successful as he was in 2015.

I put Robinson’s floor at 75-1,000-7. Despite the injury, from which he will have had a full recovery period, he is driven. In fact, he’s held onto the hospital wristband from that surgery as extra motivation. He is undoubtedly talented, and has been compared to Dez Bryant in his prime for his size and ability to win heavily contested jump balls consistently. He’s excited, and you should be too.

[Note: To finish the rest of the story involving my trade….

Fitzgerald has decided to return for 2018, and my season went south after the trade and the picks that ended up being the ones I traded away were the 1.01 and 2.01. As for my newly acquired players, all four of them have moved to new teams. Martin joined a crowded backfield with new Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden, Pryor decided to go back to poor quarterback play and signed with the Jets, Meredith is going to New Orleans, and Robinson is with the Bears. Meredith could pan out if he can claim the slot role, but with the running back duo the Saints have along with already having a top receiver in Michael Thomas, it’s not ideal. So this is why I desperately need Robinson to ball out in 2018 and save this from being the worst trade I’ve made. Either that or the certain 1.01 Saquon Barkley needs to be a bust, which is extremely unlikely.]

 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read all my other #ManCrush articles if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for my next #ManCrush piece on Cardinals’ safety Budda Baker! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

 

The IDP Geek Huddle: New York Giants

Scheme Overview

Because it is likely we see a major overhaul with the Giants defensive scheme, I’d like to start this article on the team IDPs with a recent Q&A from early April. The question was directed to the new defensive coordinator James Bettcher in a press conference.

Reporter Q: “It seems like that from the personnel moves that you guys have made that at least the base of your defense is going to look like a 3-4. Is that something that has to be declared or decided?”

Bettcher A: “I think each and every down we might look different on defense. But again, I’ll tell you what — I can’t tell you today who we’re going to be on defense and really what we’re going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don’t just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program. Until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we’re striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we’re really going to look like. But yeah, there are certainly some 3-4 principles if that’s a term we want to use. There are certainly some 4-3 principles if that’s a term you want to use. At the end of the day, it’s about playing hard with a relentless mindset, playing fast, playing physical and being a smart football team.”

In the process of doing this series I’ve received a lot of interest in this Giants article to the point I’ve decided to make my statement on what scheme we should see, and then do the “takes” as such. But at the end of each, I will mention the other case scenario for whoever we cover just to try and get it right.

We have found a great partner in the IDP space with The IDP Guys Podcast! In this weeks episode the guys look at Free Agent Linebackers with our own Gary VanDyke, Defensive Back Invesments with another Cleatgeeks writer George Murphy as well as New & Notes, Gut Check, and the continuation of the Top 100 IDP list. It is great audio to have in the background while you read our articles on cleatgeeks!

With that being said and knowing the recent moves the Giants have made on the defensive side of the ball with Jason Pierre-Paul traded away to Tampa Bay along with Alec Ogletree being acquired from the L.A. Rams, we will expect a 3-4 scheme in base packages. The new DC James Bettcher came from Arizona where he ran the 3-4 with a lot of success and there is no reason to think the intentions are not to run “his” defense in New York. We need to keep in mind this article and my “take” here is pre-draft. So barring any major draft picks this is along the lines of what we should count on per our IDP purposes.

There will be one change how I approach this article over most of the articles I have recently done on the different team’s IDPs. I will not go by position category as DB, LB, and DL. We are going to address this by the player and his likely role in the defensive schemes, again mainly from the 3-4 to start with. And also from who we should consider in order the most relevant to probably produce for our lineups. With this approach, we won’t cover every single defensive starter, but simply the ones we should target for some form of significant impact in IDP.

The Tier 1 Targets

Alec Ogletree has to be by far our top potential upper-tier 1 player at linebacker. It was big news when the Giants made a trade with the Rams to get him in New York, and for good reason. He is a “known” top linebacker in the NFL by skill set and talent. If not for a down year in 2017 when the Rams switched from the 3-4 scheme to the 4-3 scheme and one injury year in 2015 holding us back, he would likely be a top-five option in IDP linebacker rankings by every “guru” doing the ranking. The Giants have not had a great track record with linebackers over the last few seasons and it’s apparent to someone something had to be done. As a result not only was it probably our best option as IDP owners who may have Ogletree but after how the Rams used him as the MLB in the 4-3 scheme it’ll likely be the best thing on a personal note for Ogletree and his career. 2017 was the first year other than the year he was hurt that he did not total more than 100 combined tackles at a still solid 95 combined. The way that the Rams DC Wade Phillips runs his 4-3 scheme doesn’t favor the MLB in tackle opportunities as most 4-3 schemes in the league. Hence the Rams willing to trade Ogletree as he was “overkill” at the position and in the cap hit on the team for the role he played.

Now onto his likely role in 2018. Ogletree will be inserted as the defensive captain and calling the plays for the defense on the field. In the 3-4 he’ll assume the “money backer” role that Deone Bucannon benefited from in Arizona. The huge difference is that Ogletree is a true linebacker with speed and strength to make the most out of the position. Something that Bucannon has struggled with in recent years due to his size as a safety converted into the “money backer” role. Ogletree will be better at this position by being able to cover when he needs to and having the size to shed thru blocks to stop the run. And on those occasions, they might field the 4-3 scheme his role will not likely change. The only obvious situation is that the “money backer” could simply be looked at as a roaming weakside linebacker allowing him to cover and support the run. The overall purpose of his role will be to have him as the main one of two players on defense in position to make the play every defensive snap. In our waves we should draft him in redraft leagues it is pretty cut and dry. He should never fall out of the top upper half of the first wave. As for rookie picks value versus acquiring him in standard size leagues, here is one of the few that a rookie first rounder is setting the bar. Personally, if I own him, he simply isn’t on the block for trade unless someone manages to flat out overpay, and I mean a huge overpay. He just isn’t a replaceable talent in my starting lineup unless it is another top of the top tier linebackers such as Jones, Wagner, Kuechly, etc.

 

There is no surprise to many that Landon Collins will be inserted here as the “other” one of the two main IDP players to be targeted at the highest level. He has managed to surpass 100 combined tackles in each of his first three seasons while being the backbone of the defense overall. Granted he may have benefited over this time from the lack of quality linebackers in front of him to a point, but the addition of Ogletree isn’t going to affect his outlook for our IDP purposes in 2018 or beyond. Collins has managed to be an upper-tier prospect thru hard work by default and lucky for us this new scheme won’t hamper that output. There is only one current concern with Collins, it was recently announced he needs a second surgery on his forearm that he broke in Week 16 of last season. This is a set back in terms of us wondering if he can make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2018 season. At the moment the timetable for him to recover is at six to eight weeks. As long as this holds true and there are no setbacks his IDP owners can breathe a sigh of relief when training camp begins. If he is not ready his owners will want to put him on the shelf until he is ready. We just don’t bail on a talent like his when we can simply find other adequate, but temporary, replacements.

Collins role is likely to be massive in the new scheme. It’ll be big enough that we should see either him or Ogletree leading the defense in IDP points in any given contest. He’ll be in the stud producing strong safety spot that has made household names out of a few players for the Cardinals over the last few seasons. It is a key position in the scheme and how Bettcher runs it. Here is exactly what that role has done for the players who held the role in recent seasons.

Tony Jefferson in 2014 & 2015 reached solid upper-tier 2 level while verging on low-end tier 1. Then in 2016, he reached his peak of an upper-top tier 1 before heading to Baltimore in 2017.

Tyvon Branch was well on his way to upper-tier 1 status until he was hurt in Week 9 and missed the rest of the 2017 season. In 8 games he was already in tier 1 with 69 combined tackles.

After Branch went down rookie Budda Baker took over full time at the position all the way into Week 17. And according to my math in that span, he recorded 62 combined tackles. Now, this can be a bit or take on his numbers as he did play some special teams, but not enough to note. These numbers would have him well into the upper-top tier 1 if he also had a full season at the position.

So what does this mean for Collins who clearly is already a top-tier safety before the change to this scheme? I’ll simply copy and paste from Ogletree’s “take” from here. He should never fall out of the top upper half of the first wave. As for rookie picks value versus acquiring him in standard size leagues, here is one of the few that a rookie first rounder is a bar. Personally, if I own him, he simply isn’t on the block for trade unless someone manages to flat out overpay, and I mean huge overpay. He just isn’t a replaceable talent in my starting lineup unless it is another top of the top tier safeties. As the main safety in this scheme, his role will not change in the 4-3 base, so fingers crossed that he recovers in full from the broken forearm and second surgery.

 

Damon Harrison may end up falling just a bit in tier 1 to the lower half but just based on his dominating play we can’t take him out of our tier 1 targets among the defensive lineman. The only reason we mention this is that DLs in the 3-4 are not known to get the numbers the same player could in the 4-3 scheme. A perfect example is Harrison himself. Before joining the Giants he was with the Jets and their 3-4 base defense. Let’s have a look at his career stats.

 

As we can see with the Jets he dipped more into the tier 2 level for two of his three seasons he was a full-time starter of production in the 3-4. But it is a positive he managed the one tier 1 indicating it is safe enough to still think he can pull the tier one off when the Giants roll out the 3-4.

As for his likely role on the D-Line we have to assume the three-technique DT or even the DE of the three-man set. As long as he isn’t wasted away as the nose tackle over the center he’ll produce very well. If they run a 4-3 then all is still great and his role stays the same. He should safely take him in the first wave of DLs off the board and worth a generous rookie pick. We will go with “generous” based more off what the leagues score setting is set for the league in question. He doesn’t rake up the sacks as much as he does the run stopping tackles so that range can vary.

 

The Tier 2 Targets

 

B.J. Goodson took a bit of a hit when the Giants brought in Ogletree or we would have had him firmly inserted in the Tier 1 portion of this “take”. At times in 2017, he looked like a solid contributor and the unquestionable leader among the linebackers. But when he could only manage to play in seven total contests is the likely reason they made the trade for Ogletree as much as anything. In 2016, which was Goodson’s rookie season, he didn’t receive any significant time with the starting unit at all. This should be taken with a bit of caution also, the 2016 linebacker corp was a mess and had a huge lack of overall talent. So why couldn’t he make an impact other than nine combined tackles? At this point, I need to add, be sure to check out the player I’ve added as a “flier” at the end of this “take”.

As for Goodson’s role with the starting unit in 2018 we have to assume it will be as the “other” inside linebacker next to Ogletree. But to what extent his snap count will be in question at this point. The odds are he’ll be a full-time player so we should approach it as that. In the case, they run the 4-3 he may actually find himself as the MLB as they would likely shift Ogletree to the weak side for coverage purposes. The obvious “safe” part of the second wave to select Goodson in would have to be no earlier than the midsection. It shouldn’t be surprising to see him slip a bit in some redrafts. As for a rookie pick, it would have to be in the second round range if we own him, but if offering a trade for him the base offer should start with a nice third rounder. We need to keep this in mind, it is unlikely we see Goodson hit tier 1 numbers. Between Collins, Harrison, and Ogletree, there just won’t be a huge amount of opportunities left for the rest of the front seven. His ceiling should be around the mid to upper Tier 2 if he can stay on the field.

 

Free Safety Darian Thompson didn’t actually have a stellar season in 2017 as a full-time starter, but in his defense, the defensive unit as a whole didn’t. We also need to note here that this is a pre-draft “take” and that some caution should be applied until after we see who the Giants select. Some may wonder why I’d be willing to insert Thompson into the tier 2 range here. It really is a “gut call” that if he enters 2018 as the free safety that the improved talent added to the squad this year could force some more opportunities his way. The odds are that he’ll likely receive some production by default as teams work to find ways to avoid Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and Ogletree. If Eli Apple enters 2018 as the starter across from Jenkins at the cornerback position we may see Thompson cleaning up what Apple misses as he has struggled since being in the league.

Thompson’s role will not change much from the 3-4 to 4-3 base. With the history of how defensive coordinator Bettcher used his safeties in Arizona Thompson should receive a firm tier 2 tag and be considered in the late second wave of safeties coming off the board. When acquiring him versus a rookie pick we would have to believe that after a lackluster season in 2017 he could be had for as little as a 4th round pick.

 

Olivier Vernon’s tier of production may be a little tricky to make a call on at this point. And can hinge greatly on his position classification in any given fantasy league. We should still consider him as a possible low tier 2 type at the moment simply because there just isn’t any other option for the Giants at the outside linebacker position that will likely outplay him. We have to think that outside linebacker could be a position that the Giants address early in the draft but shouldn’t affect Vernon’s role. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay he is simply the best option as a pass rusher on the squad.

As an outside linebacker in the 3-4 base, he’ll likely stick his hand in the dirt as a defensive end when the 4-3 is applied. I personally can not suggest taking him earlier than the third wave of linebackers off the board and I have no suggested rookie pick that could be offered. His best value will likely be if a site has him listed as an edge rusher or defensive end in 2018.

 

The “Flier”

Calvin Munson was a player I wrote about back in early March before the Giants acquired Alec Ogletree. Because of Goodson’s situation is currently not a lock I’m still inserting him here as a player to watch as a “flier” with some upside. Of course, a “flier” deserves just a flier acquisition. If you would like more on Munson please refer HERE to why he remains on our radar.

 

Thank you again for reading. Please feel free to catch me on Twitter @HBogart27 for anything IDP.

On The Bump or In The Dump

Welcoming to 2018’s first edition of “On The Bump or In The Dump”! (Cue the dancing bears, cracker jacks and pop up band theme song).

This is the article that discusses the magical art of pitching. Last year’s edition we had Berrios, Severino, Sonny Gray and Brad Hand on. Then we trashed Wade Miley and he fell apart. http://cleatgeeks.com/blog/2017/05/27/fantasy-baseball-on-the-bump-or-in-the-dump/

Hopefully you got on that Severino and Brad Hand train as they both worked some magic!

But on to 2018. 2017 is gone. In the garbage. Severino ain’t cheap and Hand is now a closer so you won’t be seeing either as an inexpensive option. So let’s take a look at what’s now and helpful.

On The Bump

Shohei Ohtani– As Christopher Walken would say “I got a fevor. And the only prescription, is more Ohtani.” Ohtani has lit the baseball world on fire, and I’m buying – for the most part. The stuff is real. There’s no denying it. He tosses 100 mph regularly and his off-speed is just filthy. I set him at #3 on my dynasty watch list last year and it’s looking like the only thing I might have gotten wrong was spelling his name (cringe, sorry Ohtani). I fully expect his talent to be there all year though. Some are skeptical because he wasn’t particularly good in spring training. What we saw in spring training is a number of things. He could have been working on stuff which many pitchers do. That’s why we always say “ignore spring training stats.” But I think another issue, and probably the larger part, was using a different baseball.

Image result for shohei ohtani angels

Photo by; Forbes.com

In Japan, their baseballs are smaller than ours. During spring training a lot of Ohtani’s issues were due to command. In Japan, he didn’t struggle with command which is what made that so odd. It’s also why I assumed he’d eventually adjust and be a solid pitcher. So far, that’s looking to be paying off. The only question mark is health. Being a two-way player is a lot to ask, particularly for a guy who throws so hard, so the reality is that with Ohtani, you’re rolling the dice. He throws a splitter that can be very hard on a young pitcher’s ligaments, particularly since he’s not used to 200 innings (Japan is closer to 160 per season). I’m going to say what I said about J.D. Martinez last year. I believe in the skills but I don’t trust the health. So milk the value early but, particularly if you’re playing in a head to head league where playoffs count, don’t be afraid to sell later in the season closer to July or August. That being said, Ohtani is still only 23 years old, so a full season is not out of the question. The track record for starting pitchers who throw 100 is not good though, so enjoy Ohtani for awhile. If someone is selling him cheap, buy. But after a couple months of what will probably be some very good stats, I’d be looking to sell if I can get some good value for him.

Image result for gerrit cole astros

Photo by; Zimbio

Gerrit Cole– Cole has been quite good thus far. I believe I’d be safe to say the best start to a season he’s ever had. But I’ve been hearing some analysts caution Cole… whispering *sell high*… *He can’t be this good*… *He’s probably made some strides but this is too much*… *squeeze-its are an underrated kids juice drink that were destroyed by the Freemasons*… Well, I’m here to say don’t listen to those voices. He won’t return to Earth – err not enough that I’d sell at least. Cole has been with the Pirates for his entire career and it’s always been assumed that the pirates have a great pitching coach, so he couldn’t possibly be learning anything new with his new club, the Astros. Well, Houston also has a pretty good set of pitchers, and I’d be willing to bet he’s gaining some new insights. One particular subject up for dissection is his fastball. He used to rely on it more as it can blow by many hitters. The problem is it’s a fairly straight pitch. Now, further into his career, he’s developed his off-speed stuff more and it can get outs. When a pitcher has multiple pitches it makes that hitter off balance and guessing which, is important for that heater as they can’t guess fastball as much. Plus, let’s not forget who also had a resurgence last year. Justin Verlander. What kind of pitcher was Verlander when he was younger? A hard throwing fastball tosser who relied on his hard stuff. He’d retooled himself in Detroit, but since going to Houston he’s become… well otherworldly again. I’m sure some of what works for Verlander may just be helping out a hard throwing Cole.

In The Dump

Image result for joey lucchesi padres

Photo by; San Diego Union Tribune

Joey Lucchesi- Lucchesi is an interesting pitcher as he’s got a nice little curve/change thinga-ma-jig (that’s the technical name) that is confusing players all over the place. The only thing is his fastball, which isn’t particularly good. For that reason, hitters are liable to sit fastball and let it fly when they get it rather than chase the off speed stuff. He’s having some success now but if you can sell for a legit pitcher or a decent bat, I’d do it. You might be able to sell the Petco Park aspects, but long term, I wouldn’t bet on him.

#ManCrush Monday Series: Cooper Kupp

This is the fourth in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

In my first rookie draft going into the second season of my dynasty league, I had the 10th pick and was in an interesting position to try to improve on a team that had just won a championship, lost only one game, and outscored the next highest person by a full week’s worth of points. My immediate need was running back depth, and I missed out on a chance to grab Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon or Kareem Hunt, as they all went in the top 8. I chose Samaje Perine, who has yet to claim any significant role with Washington. If he pans out at all in the next year or two, I may write a #ManCrush article on him. If not, he’ll be a bust for me. I had a chance to take Alvin Kamara, and hindsight is 20/20, but at the time the Saints had recently acquired Adrian Peterson and still had Mark Ingram, and it was uncertain how much Kamara would be involved. He actually fell all the way to pick #38.

In the second round, I grabbed Patrick Mahomes as the first QB off the board because I didn’t want to miss out on him.

Coming into the third round, my pick had moved up because two members or our league had elected to keep more players rather than having rookie draft picks. Since I had gotten a running back and a quarterback, my next look was to wide receiver. By this 28th overall spot, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross, and Zay Jones had already been taken. Which brings us to the man this article is really about: Cooper Kupp.

Kupp was a unique prospect out of Eastern Washington, an FCS program who plays in the Big Sky Conference. Much like last week’s #ManCrush Adam Thielen, Kupp was unrecruited by any FBS teams, and wound up choosing EWU. The FBS missed out. Kupp was incredibly productive in college, averaging 107 receptions, 1,616 yards, and 18 touchdowns over four seasons, including an average line of 8-124-1 on a per-game basis. Kupp is the most prolific pass-catcher in FCS history, setting all-time records in total receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464), and receiving touchdowns (73). Now you may be thinking what many people think: his production came against a lower level of competition. You’re right, but you’re also wrong. Over his four years at EWU, Kupp had a chance to play against a Pac-12 opponent to start each season, and he produced just the same. Have a look:

Season Opp Rec Yards TD
2013 Oregon St. 5 119 2
2014 Washington 8 145 3
2015 Oregon 15 246 3
2016 Washington St. 12 206 3

 

The most important thing to take from this table is the the 2014 Washington secondary featured eventual 1st and 2nd round NFL picks in CB Marcus Peters, CB Sidney Jones, CB Kevin King, and S Budda Baker. As you can see, the “level level of competition” argument is not very strong.

Because of his production and rising fame, Kupp earned an invite to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, performing well at both. Kupp does not possess top-end speed, but he is an advanced route-runner with the agility to get in and out of breaks, great hands and ball-tracking ability, decent size, incredible football IQ, and a competitive drive on every snap. He is also willing to block, which is becoming more and more important in today’s NFL. He has an ability to play both outside or in the slot, and at 6’2″, 205lbs., he is similar to Adam Thielen. Kupp was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams, which paired him with the offensive mind of new head coach Sean McVay. Despite all the playmakers on the Rams roster, Kupp quickly became one of QB Jared Goff’s favorite targets, particularly on third down. Kupp had 18 first down catches on third down. Are you starting to sense the Thielen-Kupp trend? All in all, Kupp led the Rams in receiving, and among rookie wide receivers in 2017, Kupp ranked 1st in catches (62), tied for 1st in catches of 20+ yards (12), 2nd in receiving yards (869) behind only JuJu Smith-Schuster, 1st in total first downs (42), and tied for 4th in touchdowns (5). Looking like a solid third round pick for both the Rams and myself.

Coming into 2018, there is nothing but optimism for Kupp and the Rams. After leading the NFL in scoring in 2017, there’s no reason why they couldn’t do it again. Goff will continue to grow in his third year as he continues to learn from McVay. 2017 MVP runner-up Todd Gurley will continue to be a three-down threat with a solid offensive line in front of him. The young duo of tights ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have the potential to become what Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis were for the Redskins with McVay calling the plays there. Moving specifically to Kupp, the departure of Sammy Watkins leaves production to be claimed, particularly in the touchdown department. While Robert Woods had his best statistical season last year with the Rams, he has still never surpassed the 1,000 yard mark in his five year career. The Rams acquired Brandin Cooks from the Patriots in an unexpected move and he will help fill Watkins’ role, but Kupp will get his share along with what he had last season. Cooks ability to stretch the defense will open things up underneath for Kupp. As we see across the league, solid chemistry and trust between a quarterback and a receiver cannot be overlooked. After falling just short of 100 targets in 2017, I expect Kupp to surpass that this year and give the Rams at least 75-1,050-6 in 2018, especially if he can cut down on the drops that hurt him in 2017.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read my first three articles on David JohnsonPatrick Mahomes, and Adam Thielen if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for my next #ManCrush article! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

Fantasy Football Fan Focus

Over some time while writing, I’ve received a lot of emails with IDP questions in general. This particular email was by far the most in-depth I have ever had and has put in motion the idea that maybe I could assist anyone willing to go as far as this gentleman has with an overall team assessment. The email included detailed information that allowed me to sit back and break things down in general. I will point out that this particular gentleman had only sought out possible reassurance in his own assessment and that I merely tried to break down what he supplied.

After approaching trusted fellow writers and asking if there was a benefit to other fantasy football owners by publishing such an email and assessment, the response was that it very well could. With that being said, I’d like to thank Ray @RaymondBrace for sharing and agreeing to share an overall assessment from my point of view of his IDP lineup and situation. Please, if anyone is willing to share this in-depth type information and like to help the IDP committee as it grows, please follow me @HBogart27 and email me with this kind of detailed info to share. 

 

Please keep in mind that I’ve limited the editing of this email to keep from altering the “feel.” After all, emails are a personal touch way of corresponding and there is no real reason to lose that effect. My replies are in Red.

 

The Email and Assessment:

Hi Gary

 

After joining my first IDP league, I feel more overwhelmed now than when I first started doing FF in 2001. Being a fan of the NFL, in general, at least I already knew who many of the league’s best players were. On the other side of the ball, still only marginally paying attention is my leagues with DSTs or occasional match-ups v. my guys. So I’ve been reading some of your articles with great interest and trying to up my game.

I realize this is long-winded, so if you don’t have time, it’s all good. *In-depth, made time.

12 Team League – Roster 50 plus 5 Rookie Only Taxi plus 5 IR *HUGE, but when reading on I see with 20 starters total each week, understandable.

Offense Start 10 – 1QB, 2-5RB, 2-5WR, 2-5TE *Wide open “flex” lineup.

Scoring is Stock PPR except TE Rec = 1.75 *Interesting making TE’s a prime target in the upper tier while helping the value of the lower tiers.

IDP Start 10 – 2-5DT/DE, 3-6LB, 2-5DB/S *Wide open “flex” type lineup.

Scoring is DT/DB premium *Suspect to level the playing field with 10 total starters.

Fum = 2, Int/Sack = 4 *As stated, Scoring is DT/DB premium. Assuming it brings DTs up in-line more with DEs and a bump up for playmaking DBs.

DE/LB/S  Assists/Passes Defensed = 1, Tackles/TFL = 1.5 *A base setting for positions that normally have the edge over its counterparts (DT/DB)

DT/DB  Assists/Passes Defensed = 1.25, Tackles/TFL = 2 *Additional increases to try and level the playing field across the IDP lineup.

Current roster has 54 (Check)

Offense 23 – 2QB, 5RB, 9WR, 7TE (Check)

Defense 31 – (Check)

DT – KClark, FCox

DE – DLawrence, CHeyward, SLawson, DFowler, WGholston, JWillis

LB – VWilliams, NVigil, MSmith, BIrvin, JRyan, ELee, DJohnson, RQuinn, KPierre-Louis, JJenkins

DB – JPoyer, DKing, KFuller, PRobinson, TWilliams, GConley, MClaiborne

S – SDavis, HSmith, JTartt, JAddae, Swearinger, JJohnson

Scoring observations with year one in the books: (Check)

Highest scoring IDP is LB at #41 overall with 15 LBs in top 100 overall *LB still kept the edge in scoring even with scoring settings adjusted, noted.

Highest scoring DB/S was #63 overall with 6 DB/S in top 100 overall *Indications that score settings helped, but didn’t go overboard.

Top 36 DB/S – 13 were S, 23 were DB *CB gained a small edge, likely do to INT premium. Safety is more tackle dependent overall.

Highest scoring DT/DE was #95 overall *Indications that score settings helped, but didn’t go overboard.

Top 24 DT/DE – 14 were DE, 10 were DT *Indications that score settings helped, but didn’t go overboard.

With above roster within position groups (Check)

DT/DE – I think I did okay with Lawrence #4, Heyward #11, and Clark #21 *Agree with “ok”, think some luck with Lawrence breakout helped a lot.

LB – I must have been asleep at the wheel with Williams #18, Irvin #51, Vigil #61, Ryan #63 *Agree, overall LBs need a major overhaul.

DB/S – Again pretty good with King #2, Poyer #6, Fuller #11, Davis #18, Smith #23, Addae #27 *Agree, overall might be best looking as a unit.

My final thoughts on this squad are 1)  I need a serious upgrade at LB, and 2) I’m carrying too may DB/S considering the drop-off from #36 to #85 is only 1.4 points per game and with average weekly team scoring in excess of 200 points. 100% agree.

Finally to my questions…

Upcoming rookie only draft in June is 6 rounds, I have 1.03, 1.08, 1.10, 1.12, 2.01, 2.03, 2.04, 2.07, 2.09, 3.05, 3.11, and 6.03.

-Considering this is my first go with a rookie draft that includes IDP, at what point do I consider jumping in for the top LB prospects?

-Do I have too many 2nd rounders and would be better trading back to acquire more 3rd/4th or later/future picks as a better value?

Answer: Going to address this with one “take.” You’re asking “the” million dollar question that has recently been a very hot topic among people on Twitter in the fantasy football realm. Mainly the question as to when you should jump in on the IDPs in a rookie draft. I would also like to note that in a redraft I’d approach answering this the same way. And I also want to say I wish there was a more clear answer to pass on to you. But realistically there is not. There are simply too many variables from league to league with many different owners involved and how a draft will “flow” as picks are made. Yes, there may be a trend overall, but not one to a point a decisive answer can be given. It only takes one of the owners to reach for an IDP or a group that would decide that overall IDPs should slide over deeper fliers on the offensive side of the ball along with many scenarios in between. The best advice I have is to play the market as the draft unfolds versus your roster needs if wanting to draft help on the defensive side of the ball. By your in-depth email here I will assume your an owner that would take the time to use rookie rankings (suggest after the draft rankings) while paying attention to activities like OTAs. You should consider that if you have an offense your happy with either entering the draft or reach that point during the draft that you start picking when you’re comfortable. I say this because there simply are no sure things at any round. I would think that your second round picks would be where you would want to jump in on the best IDPs. Trading back is an option, but doing so may not actually garner an edge in the quality of rookie IDPs you’ll have to select from. If your dead set to draft and improve you IDPs thru the draft I will add this simple fact. Over the many years I have been playing IDP on average I’d guess I say that only about 15% of rookie IDPs “matter” to a point that they can make your squad better the first year or even beyond. I’m making this statement to prepare you if things don’t quite work out as well as you may want with your rookies in year one of selecting them. My final word would be if you’re going for it, don’t hesitate to jump in with your second round picks starting with linebackers and be the first to take them off the board. Assuming no one else has at that point. If they have then join in asap with your next selection. One would have to think that by the 2nd round all premium rookies are off the board on the offensive side of the ball. There is just no simple way to say when it is too broad of a situation to determine from draft to draft. If anyone could answer this million dollar question correctly and element any variables as they did, they would rise to fame in a matter of no time among the fantasy football realm.

Of the lower scoring IDPs I have rostered, which ones are worth hanging onto v. which ones are simply roster-cloggers?

Answer: In my personal assessment of your IDPs I would say that a major overhaul is needed. I believe I may just be agreeing with your own assessment as you’ve emailed me about the situation. I also believe with all the information you’ve sent me that your IDP side of the ball is do for a rebuild or upgrade, depending on your method you choose. I’m choosing to instead of listing who you can drop, to list who should be worth keeping and why along with who is expendable if needing space. I believe you have a large amount of work to do to bring this lineup into a position that it’ll be competitive enough to help you win.

 

Keep: ✔ = one of your best players to hold out of those players your roster offers. ✖ = expendable

DT Clark Should be on the upside course with a better 2018 season.

DT Cox ✔ Worth a hold to see if he reclaims his 2014/15 form.

DE Lawrence  ✔ May have a top 10 DL on your hands for next few years.

DE Heyward ✔ Your second best DL.

DE Lawson ✔ Worth a hold for one more year, needs to get it together, depth.

DE Fowler ✔ Looked like a top-notch breakout player to start 2017, but tailed off. A hold, depth.

DE Gholston ✖  Time has simply run its course and now Bucs have moved on adding Vinny Curry and JPP.

DE Willis ?  A tough call here. Has his “upside” enough to keep as Bengals worked him in and he actually had first-round pedigree taken in third.

Overall DL assessment: Solid and likely not needing a major overhaul off the top. Might think about adding a third DT if a solid option can be added/located.

 

LB Vigil ✔ Might be your best option at the moment at LB. Burfict SSPD/Limbo and only Preston Brown right now as competition to start.

LB Smith Odds are your next best hold to see if he’ll recover from injury and earn a role with 9ers.

LB Williams ✖ Steelers signed Bostic for a reason, Williams can’t cut it as Shazier replacement. Might not even be on a team in 2018 or possible trade bait.

LB Ryan ? Out of this group worth a hold to see what new defensive coordinator works out in Green Bay.

LB Johnson ✖ Old and lost a step a couple years ago. “IF” he finds another team, unlikely to amount to enough to miss him.

LB Pierre-Louis ? Out of this group may be worth a hold to see if he can unseed Lee. A “flier” so still expendable at this time.

LB Lee ✖ Had to actually look him up. Placing odds he ever became relevant for 9ers at 1 in 10,000 chances.

OLBs Irvin & Jenkins ✖✖ Unless Mack, Clowney, Miller or maybe in top 5 of OLBs, can not suggest you’ll ever want to use them more than depth.

OLB/DE Quin ✔ Only reason he is a great option to keep is the fact he is likely moving back to DE after being traded to Miami, an asset for trade or possible becomes a top DL play.

Overall LB assessment: However you decide to do it you were 100% correct, this entire unit needs rebuilt and/or upgraded. Likely only one serviceable LB in 2018 with Vigil. With being able to start up to six Lbs each week this is also another reason to focus on improving to the max. By your own indications of what position scored the best in year-end rankings, you’re best case scenario will be to have six viable starters and all of them inside linebackers from the 3-4 scheme or WLB and MLB from the 4-3 scheme. A major focal point! If at all possible you want to start all six that you can at LB each week. Even at 4-5 would benefit you greatly. Six is the target number, even if you use other positions as depth if needed for bye weeks and such per your league range of flex spots.

 

CB: Before we go on I need to state my thoughts before we look at who you have on the roster to help explain my assessment. I have a saying I live by if forced to use CBs in a lineup. I’m simply not a fan, but your case I see the need as INTs are at a very high premium level. The saying is “CBs are dime a dozen on the waiver wire in most standard size leagues throughout the season”. In this case with a nice sized roster for each team and the circumstances involved, I can see why learning heavily for now on this fact might work in your favor. But I don’t actually suggest it.

CB King 100% hold and number one play at DB from what I see. As long as they use him as they did in 2017.

CB Fuller ? If this is kyle, expendable and replaceable later as you rebuild, not an INT magnet so far in his career with the Bears. If this is Kendall Fuller who just recently became a Chief, he is worth a hold to see what they do with him on a defense being revamped. He holds “upside”.

CB Robinson ✖ Could be picked on across from Latimore with the Saints. But no INT history to a pt that makes him not expendable right now.

CB Williams  ✖ Can not locate any T. Williams highlighting INTs as their “fortia”, so to speak. Replaceable.

CB Conley  ✖  Unknown, high draft pick means likely not going to be “picked” on down the road. Roster spot expendable versus his odds.

CB Claiborne  ✖ In six season had one INT in in five of those seasons a year. Most expedable!

CB Poyer ✔ If you hit Bills FS Poyer at a designated CB for 2017, u hit gold. In 2018, expect a change to S, but the “upside” remains as one of the few FS you should target at a high end DB. Worth seeing if he can do it again in 2018.

SS/FS Davis ✔ A “hold”, played SS in 2017 with some “upside”, might be a FS for Steelers in 2018 holding even more “upside”.

S Smith ? Worth a hold but mainly as trade bait if there is a buyer or tail end of your lineup. Good enough to be avoided by QBs. Hit his peak in 2017 with 5 INTs while averaging as a mid-S2 most of his six year career. Hold and/or shop.

S Tartt ✔ Should be heavy in tackles enough if he can stay healthy in 2018. Worth the hold.

S Addae ✔ A “hold” as long as he stays at SS. Tackle heavy and works into depth/starter. Huge questions on all IDPs for Chargers in 2018. But he should be safe.

FS Swearinger ✔ Depth for your roster with upside, on the Redskins, wide open how he could work out.

SS Johnson ✔ Might be the most “under the radar” player for you roster in 2018 at DB. LB Ogletree trade to Giants might be a major play for his outlook in 2018.

 

After our rookie draft in June, we’re scheduled to make our roster cuts at some point before FABB opens.  We have $200. Some FA players available:

DT/DE – Pierre Olsen, Trevon Coley, Willie Henry

LB – Zach Vigil, John Simon, Martrell Spaight, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Jabaal Sheard, Nicholas Morrow

DB/S – Ken Crawley, Reggie Nelson, Ryan Smith, Justin Simmons

Overall: Nothing to see here, we move on and shoot for higher. I would consider Justin Simmons over the cornerbacks I suggested you could move on from.

Are any of those guys worth adding to my roster as upgrades and, if so, should I spend $$ or add them only if they’re free? One, Justin Simmons.

 

Am I on the right track with my analysis? YES

Thank you in advance 

Ray @RaymondBrace

My overall thoughts here are simple. And in order of what I would try to do if this was my roster and I was wanting to win now or soon, which is the only way I know how to look at things. As I may have mentioned, I do not see a short-term fix thru the draft(s) over the next couple of seasons. The odds are just not that great you’ll replace any players that should be upgraded on by risk thinking that rookies can get the job done. I would use my players of value and the rookie picks to trade for “known” linebackers off the top. My number one goal would start the maximum linebackers as possible. And I’m not suggesting starting any linebackers lower than the second tier. If I cannot work trades between now and your draft and at least upgrade to 4-5 (hopefully) 6 starting linebackers then try to pick the best linebackers you can in the draft if you have any picks left after upgrading. I’ll venture to say if you look at the leagues strongest rosters they will have strong linebackers and a full compliment to insert every week. The remaining part of my lineup would then be the best strong safety, free safety and DLs I can keep or get my hands on. If I want to win, I’ll pay what it costs to do so. If not, I fear you are in a long-term rebuild that could last for years and never may work out even if trying so thru the rookie drafts alone. From my standpoint, it rarely works. And one last thought which I believe was clearly apparent in what you provided in information is that increasing the points in favor a DT/DB premium with sacks and INTs didn’t actually seem to affect their standings to a point that would make them prime targets to use in the lineup overall. I suggest that if such scoring is implicated that it isn’t a distraction from the actual prime positions that are known to be the most tackle dependant. Sacks and INTS are simply bonus stats and can’t be depended on. This is only a suggestion and not assuming that is what happened. The “trick” to IDP lineups are the dependable stats and the positions that consistently reward us each and every week.

Thank you again Ray for sharing and I hope from whatever angle you try to build you IDPs up that the fantasy gods bless you with achieving your goal.

To anyone who may be interested in why I look at things as I do, please feel free to check out my article I consider my “Bible” for building a top-notch IDP lineup HERE. It’s taken years to accumulate and has never let me down.In other words, it’s always got me into the playoffs to have that chance to win the league. And to possibly help anyone in another major question concerning IDP Trade Values please feel free to check out what I suggest HERE.

Always feel free to reach out to me for all IDP.

Gary @HBogart

 

 

 

 

 

 

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