Cleat Geeks

Broncos Drop Fourth Straight

 

There was a moment near the end of the first half, with the Broncos trailing 13-3 and just a few seconds left, when the crowd let out a roar. Chad Kelly, backup quarterback, stepped on the field. All he did was kneel down to take the game to the locker room, and it was only because starter Case Keenum was being evaluated for a concussion. But on a cold, snowy Sunday in Denver, it was a sign of hope to fans desperate to see a spark.

The Broncos showed some spark in the second half. Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Courtland Sutton all had 40-plus yard receptions. Bradley Chubb, the No. 5 overall pick in April, had three sacks, and Von Miller added 1.5 sacks. And the Broncos hung tough, closing the lead to 23-20 with just under 1:30 left in the game. But in the end it wasn’t enough. The Rams moved to 6-0, and the Broncos dropped to 2-4, losers of four straight games.

And for a team that was once 2-0, and had entered the team with playoff hopes, there are more questions than answers. And not much time to get things fixed before their next contest, a Thursday night game in Arizona.

It was a game of highs and lows, as has been the case for much of the season for Denver. The offense kept it close, and Keenum tossed two touchdowns and threw for more than 300 yards. But he also threw an interception for the sixth straight game, and neither rookie Royce Freeman nor rookie Phillip Lindsay was able to do much on the ground.

On defense, the Broncos held the high-scoring Rams to 23 points, and recorded five sacks. Jared Goff was held without a touchdown pass, and to barely 200 yards. But the Broncos allowed a 200 yard rusher for the second week in a row, as Todd Gurley went for a career high 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Now the Broncos have a short week to lick their wounds, both physically and metaphorically, before trying to halt their skid in Arizona.

News and Notes:

  • Emmanuel Sanders needed three receptions to record his 500th career catch heading into Sunday, and he got it. He finished with seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Broncos played the hottest home game in team history on September 16, and less than a month later Sunday’s game was the coldest home game in October since 1969. It’s been a wild weather season for the Broncos and the season is only six weeks old.
  • The Broncos’ rushing attack cooled Sunday, as Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for just 40 rushing yards on 13 carries. Lindsay did add 48 yards on six receptions to salvage his fantasy day.

Broncos Embarrassed In The Meadowlands

 

The Broncos slumped to 2-3 on the season, losing their third straight game 34-16 in the Meadowlands on Sunday. It was the team’s worst performance of the season, and one that seriously calls into question what to expect from this team the rest of the regular season.

Case Keenum, who put up some numbers in garbage time, does not appear to be the answer. The calls from fans to consider giving second year man Chad Kelly a shot are getting louder, as are calls from fans to change coaches. Last season Vance Joseph led the Broncos to an eight-game losing streak in the middle of a 5-11 season. This three game losing streak has had many feeling the Broncos are in similar peril in 2018.

Prior to the season I predicted this team could have an improved offense, a re-ignited defense and a chance to finish around 9-7 and make the playoffs. That seems like an ill-conceived pipe dream at this point.

The Broncos gave up a 77 yard rushing TD to Isaiah Crowell then a 75 yard passing TD to Robby Anderson on the next play. They surrendered more than 500 yards to the Jets’ offense, including 219 yards to Crowell, a Jets franchise record.

The Broncos host the red-hot, and undefeated, Los Angeles Rams on Sunday and then travel to play the Chiefs again on October 28. So it could be a very long month for a Broncos team that leaves New York with more questions than answers.

News and Notes:

  • It was a big day for Broncos receivers. Demaryius Thomas grabbed five passes for 105 yards and a TD, while Emmanuel Sanders grabbed nine for 72 yards. Rookie Courtland Sutton grabbed two passes for 18 yards and his first TD as a pro, while fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton caught all three of his targets for 44 yards. All that was a promising sign on a dim day.
  • It was a frustrating day for running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, who simply didn’t get enough touches. Lindsay had 61 yards on 12 carries, adding 20 more on three catches. Freeman had just 31 yards, but got just five carries. In a promising sign he did catch three passes for 16 yards.
  • Punter Marquette King could be done as a Bronco. He was placed on IR Saturday with an injury, and reports are the Broncos may release him in the next few weeks. If true, it’s a disappointing end to the tenure of one of the Broncos’ biggest off-season signings.

A New Way To Draft Fantasy Football

I proudly want to introduce every experienced and new fantasy football player to a completely new, easy and fun way to conquer your draft each and every season! DOMINATION is an understatement.

This new drafting system as I the creator refer to it as, simply looks at each and every NFL offense. Every coaching staff. Every player.

I have used this system while developing the little tweaks and gears along the way. I have been HIGHLY successful. In my three seasons of official fantasy football play. I have amassed a record of 100-41 70.9 win % (Yes I keep count, who doesn’t?) 5 championship games with 3 wins. Also I average about 3 leagues a year.

Using my system I win 71% of the time. On any format. Any scoring system. PPR or Standard. League size and scoring bonuses don’t even matter. They don’t affect this system. It’s proven to work 100% of the time. With that being said you also have to actually draft your team (no auto drafts fellas) and you have to be a good manager. Meaning it’s a must that you use the waivers and adjust during the season accordingly.

So with all of that being said here is my 3 year proven to work system in all of its glory….

You have COGS such as Zeke, Gurley, ODB, Brown. PLAYMAKERS such as Freeman, Diggs, Mixon, and Baldwin. TOSS UPS are basically players such as Sanu, Hyde, Blount, Tyrell Williams

Basically I’ve created my own tiers based upon this system. I use it when drafting. I scout offenses, look at schemes, coaches and styles of play, so on and so forth.

COGS- A player that has supplanted himself as the main weapon on his team without any competition or doubt of said player losing his starting role.
PLAYMAKERS- A player that can produce like a COG. But has some competition for his job and or a talented handcuff who takes touches or looks away from said player. Or an aging veteran coming out of his COG role.
TOSS UPS- Players that are usually drafted mid-late rounds. Simply have no idea what said players will produce. ADPs will be too high or too low or similar ADPs with other such like players we always gamble on.
I’m Dylan “D1” Broady you can follow me on Twitter @BroadyDylan
My Facebook page will be up soon. D1 Fantasy! I’ll keep all of you updated. Much love and appreciation.

Dynasty Fantasy Football – “Deception is Reality” Part II

In part 2 of our series, we will be taking a further look at a couple 2nd year running backs that offer a high floor with a consistent weekly output, as well as one who once again might deceive with his end of season ranking. Much like the wide receiver portion in this series, we will be looking at which high end running backs present the opportunity to minimize weekly point swings in your starting lineup and are accompanied by a high floor. If we are investing draft capital in a player, particularly in dynasty formats, we need to ensure that this player will be contributing each and every week. This level of predictability is what owners are looking for and I can think of nothing worse than sitting there just minutes before kickoff, tinkering with my lineup simply because I cannot count on a certain player in a given week.

One metric that is going to be discussed throughout this article is coefficient of variation (CV) in terms of weekly touches. In a nutshell, coefficient of variation is the ratio of the standard deviation compared to the average. Ideally, we want the ratio to be as low as possible, as this would indicate that a running back is getting the exact same number of touches each week, which in the end, minimizes the weekly variance and risk associated with starting a running back on a weekly basis. While we cannot predict a player’s output week in and week out, we can have a better understanding of which players will receive consistent usage throughout the season.

 

 

*Please note, these numbers are based on production after an impactful change occurred on a team’s roster, ie. trade or injury.

 

 

While not even playing 4 full games in 2017, much of Dalvin Cook’s 2018 projection is based on the output and production we saw from the tandem of Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon in 2017. When looking specifically at the 12 games after Dalvin Cook’s season ending injury, Latavius Murray ranked 1st among the top 36 PPR running backs with a touch per week coefficient of variation of 17.42. For reference, the average weekly touch coefficient of variation among the top 36 PPR RBs in 2017 was 37.9. Murray averaged 17.92 touches per game with a standard deviation of only 3.12. With this information, we can feel confident that in any given week, Murray received anywhere from approximately 15 to 21 touches. This level of consistency was even achieved with Jerrick McKinnon being a vital part of the Vikings’ offense. Going back to the weekly touch coefficient of variation, in the same 12 game sample, Jerrick McKinnon ranked 10th out of the top 36 running backs. With that type of consistency dedicated to the run game, we can feel comfortable with Dalvin Cook’s anticipated usage any given week heading into 2018. In 2017, Minnesota’s backfield combined for 10 weeks of at least one RB1 performance, as well as 3 weeks of at least one RB2 production. One telling statistic that had helped Murray and McKinnon have such consistency in 2017 is the team’s defensive performance. The Vikings’ defense finished the season ranked 1st with only 252 points against. A strong defense will not only generate more offensive possessions for the Vikings (66.3 offensive plays/game, ranked 6th), but it will also create more positive game scripts, which is beneficial for any running game. Provided he can stay healthy, Dalvin Cook is in line for a strong and consistent 2018.

Similarly to Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette rolls into the 2018 season on a Jaguars team that displays a strong defense and consistently shows a commitment to the run. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense ranked 2nd with only 268 points against, just behind the Minnesota Vikings. Again, a strong defense allows for a more positive game script, as well as more consistency in rushing attempts on a weekly basis (66.8 offensive plays/game, ranked 4th). Fournette finished the 2017 season with a weekly touch coefficient of variation of 20.92, which ranked 3rd among the top 36 PPR RBs. The only 2 running backs with a stronger CV in 2017 were Latavius Murray, as previously mentioned, and Ezekiel Elliott. With this weekly consistency, despite a mediocre 3.8 yards per carry, Fournette is poised to be a RB1 on a weekly basis once again. We can also expect an increased weekly usage in 2018 with Fournette dropping some weight, which will allow him to be on the field for extended drives. Leonard Fournette produced 11 RB1/2 performances in only 13 games played in 2017, which comes out to 84.62% and ranked 4th among the top 36 running backs. This number seems like it will only improve in 2018 with the addition of highly touted guard Andrew Norwell, who received the 3rd highest grade among guards in 2017, according to PFF. With a strong defense leading to more running back friendly game scripts, a team committed to the run, and an improved offensive line, Leonard Fournette has the recipe for yet another successful and consistent season in 2018.

 

While Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette were both seen as starting running backs from the start, Kareem Hunt’s NFL career was off to a slightly different journey. However, Hunt quickly found himself in a great situation as the Chiefs’ lead back once Spencer Ware was lost for the season as a result of a preseason injury in 2017. With this opportunity, Kareem Hunt finished 2017 as RB4 and by most measures was a seen as a huge success. Despite an end of the season ranking of RB4, when we dive into the numbers a bit more, we can see that this number is slightly misleading. I am sure that most of you have heard at nauseum about the lack of production from Kareem Hunt throughout the middle of 2017. What I find much more alarming is the inconsistency of touches on a weekly basis. Out of the top 36 running backs, Kareem Hunt had a weekly touch coefficient of variation of 32.77, which ranked 15th out of the top 36 running backs, which can be seen in the chart above. While this ranking is not scraping the bottom of the barrel, it does show Hunt’s RB4 status to be  slightly skewed. These inconsistencies resulted in a RB1/2 performance in only 67% of the games he played in 2017 (excluding week 17 when he was pulled from the game after just 1 carry). With Spencer Ware returning from injury and Andy Reid taking back play calling duties, this percentage is in danger of decreasing in 2018, resulting in even greater weekly inconsistencies than we saw in 2017.

With all three running backs in line for a heavy workload in 2018, are we satisfied with a only a strong end of season ranking or are we looking for more week to week consistency? While a boom or bust player might win you a few games, he is also just as likely to cost you a few games as well. In any situation, I personally would prefer to have the running back that is going to have a more predictable workload on a weekly basis, thus more likely to produce a more consistent output and fewer bust weeks. Which would you prefer?

 

Find me on Twitter: @TheBauerClub

Data Sources:
www.ffstatistics.com
www.profootballfocus.com
www.teamrankings.com
www.pro-football-reference.com

Dynasty Fantasy Football – “Deception is Reality”

Dynasty Fantasy Football – “Deception is Reality”

 

Through countless conversations, I have encountered this situation more times than I can recall, as I am sure most of you have. “Where do you rank or how do you value Player X?” “Oh, well he was a WR1 last year. So as a WR1.” How are we actually valuing players and what defines a player as a WR1? Some might view weekly consistency as the determining factor, while others simply look at the end of year rankings and see the WR1 designation. In most cases, the latter of the two seems to be more widely accepted. Even though we look at the end of the season and see that WR1 status, how many games did that actually help us win? With consistent production, that number is bound to be high and fantasy football being the weekly game that it is, we should be focusing our efforts on finding players that minimize that gap between their highs and lows…and that consistency is exactly what is going to help us win as owners.

These highly volatile players put an extra strain on owners each and every week due to their unpredictable nature making it impossible to know when they are going to go off on your bench or when they are going to put up a goose egg in your starting lineup. While said player might in fact be a WR1 when the season comes to a close, most weeks they are more than likely a liability in your starting lineup and this is when you start accumulating losses.

In the first of a four-part series, I will be identifying trends within each position (QB/RB/WR/TE) and the players that deceive when it comes to end of year rankings.

I am going to lead off this series with the most volatile of positions on a weekly basis, wide receiver. Dating back to the 2010 season, the position of wide receiver has had the largest standard deviation (8.89 for WR1/7.54 for WR2) of any position, which essentially is how spread out the data is.

Between 2010 and 2015, the average yearly points (PPR format) consistently rose among WR1 and have since taken a massive hit in 2016 and 2017. I bring this up simply because, and this ties back to the “conversation” above, while a WR did end as a WR1 in either 2016 or 2017, this would not have been consistent with years past. While this article will not spend time on the reasons for this decline, I can say that it directly coincides with the decrease in average yearly points for QB1 over the past 2 years. For reference, throughout this series, I am referring to a top 12 player at a certain position when mentioning QB1, WR1, etc.

 

Season Average Yearly Points Among WR1 (PPR)
2010 267.99
2011 277.72
2012 289.97
2013 294.55
2014 299.88
2015 304.27
2016 267.25
2017 256.37

 

I am going to be looking into two different buckets of players: Boom or bust WR1, as well as slightly less boom or bust WR2 that are more consistent but have a lower ceiling than the first category.

 

The first group I would like to discuss are the players that fell into the end of season WR2 tier while producing some weekly WR1 output, but still maintained a low variance from week to week. While neither AJ Green nor Mike Evans finished 2017 in the WR1 range, both offered plenty of upside despite their slight boom or bust tendencies. Both Green and Evans finished 2017 with 8 weekly performances in which they were a WR1 or WR2 and had posted standard deviations of 8.2 and 5.95 (again, how spread out the data is), respectively. These are the types of players, while even though not end of season WR1, many would consider WR1 due to their consistent weekly output. These are also the types of players that help you accumulate wins and make weekly start/sit decisions an easy one.

 

 

I wanted to discuss this category of WR second, as it certainly is the one that is the most polarizing in the fantasy football community and when it comes to boom or bust players, I don’t think people will ever agree on their true value. While there are many receivers that fit this mold, only one divides the fantasy football community the way Julio Jones does. Julio Jones is the driving force behind this entire article, as almost anybody you talk to will say “Absolutely. Julio Jones is a WR1.”, but is he really? As I tend to focus on a dynasty perspective, this article is no different. Julio has undoubtedly been a WR1 in the past, but can we really say a player is an upper echelon type dynasty asset if he is not a top 24 producer at his position in 11 out of 16 games he played in last season and is quickly approaching 30 years old? With the previous standard deviations I have discussed, 5.95 and 8.2, Julio tipped the scales at a whopping 10.4, showing extremely volatility on a weekly basis. While putting up a respectable 251 points (again, PPR format), 39% of those points came in 3 games, with the remaining 61% coming in 13 games. In those 13 games, Julio Jones averaged an eye opening 11.87 PPG while falling outside of the WR2 range in 11 of those 13 weeks. An average of 11.87 PPG extrapolated out over the course of the 2017 season would have resulted in a WR28 finish.

From a dynasty perspective, in a typical PPR scoring format, I am always going to value the more consistent weekly option over the highly volatile boom or bust player. Now I am not saying go out and trade Julio Jones for ANY player that consistently produces the same output on a weekly basis, but I will gladly take a more consistent player in the same tier over a boom or bust player any chance I get. Consistency is what allows an owner to sleep at night, knowing he or she does not have to worry about a big fat zero in the points column from their top tier players. A team filled with consistent options is a team that will not only carry you to the playoffs, but will give you your best chance to win a championship. So the next time you begin a negotiation and your counterpart responds with “Yes. Julio Jones is a WR1.” you can point out the WR3 production for 80%+ of the 2017 season…unless you’re attempting to sell him. In that case, we can keep that between us.

 

Check out next week’s article when I cover running backs!

 

Connect on Twitter: @TheBauerClub

Data Source: www.ffstatistics.com

Dynasty Look Ahead: I Have a Bad Thielen About This…

I am sure you are all absolutely shocked that this article is about…you got it…Adam Thielen. Coming off of an incredible season where Adam Thielen came in as WR9 in PPR format with a target share of 27%, it would make sense that owners are more than happy having him as the anchor of their wide receiver corp going into the 2018 season. I am here to remove that feeling of comfort and to tell you “Now is the time to sell!” Why though? Adam Thielen is coming off of possibly one of the greatest seasons ever for an undrafted free agent wide receiver and he finally has a franchise quarterback that will be throwing him the ball next season. Throughout the beginning of this off-season, I had been acquiring him anywhere I could, whether via trade, startup draft, by any means necessary. However, like any crazy dynasty fantasy footballer, I decided to dive in and really look into the numbers.

In the information age that we live in, we are literally clicks away from finding just about any stat imaginable on any individual player. Lucky for me, as a result of spending way too much time on twitter discussing fantasy football (at least that’s what my fiancé tells me), I was fortunate enough to stumble upon www.ffstatistics.com. If you haven’t taken a quick peak at the information they are able to provide, do yourself a favor and go check it out. With their database, I was able to quickly access all the statistics and data I needed to do enough Adam Thielen research for a lifetime. Anyway, I digress. We often talk about breakout age when it comes to college players as being a key indicator as to whether or not a player will find success in the NFL. However, I haven’t seen much about breakout age (for the purpose of this article we will refer to breakout age as to when a receiver hits a target share of 20%) when it comes to the NFL. Looking at countless stats available, the first thing that popped out to me was that Adam Thielen did not hit a target share above 20% until the age of 27.

Not only did he hit 20%, he left that number in the rear view mirror and was able to reach a target share of 27%. There have only been 3 other receivers (minimum 10 games played in the year preceding breakout season) that began their career after the start of the 2005 season that had a higher percent increase from the previous year to put them over a 20% market share for the first time (Calvin Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and…Brian Hartline). So is Adam Thielen the next Calvin Johnson? Well this is where the breakout age of 27 comes into play. There have been 66 other wide receivers that began their career after 2005 that have taken at least one season to hit a target share of 20% in a season, meaning they did not hit 20% during their rookie season. Of those 66, only 11 receivers had a breakout age of 27 or older. Below is a quick breakdown of the positional wide receiver rankings of the year immediately following their breakout season (again, breakout season being their first season in which they hit at least a 20% target share).

WR1 1
WR2 2
WR3 0
<WR3 8

Once again, I decided to dig a little deeper. I broke these numbers down even further (New Team vs. Same Team/Same OC vs. Same Team/New OC). With Pat Shurmur packing up and heading to the Meadowlands, I was interested in seeing if there is any data historically to support the fact that this could negatively impact Thielen in 2018. Below are the positional WR rankings one year after WRs had a breakout age of 27 or older. With this being such a small sample size, you guessed it, I got my shovel out and dug a little deeper again.

New Team Same OC Same Team/New OC
100 3 19
105 17 107
110 37
52
64
72

Image result for adam thielen minnesota vikings

 

Performance aside, other factors come into play when looking at a player’s ability to produce similar results as the previous season. Out of the sample size of 66 receivers previously mentioned, 25 of those players missed at least 2 games the following season (37.9%). When we look strictly at the 11 other receivers that had an NFL breakout age of 27 or older, 7 of them missed at least 2 games the following season (63.6%). While the sample size is fairly small, it’s certainly starting to look like there might be some correlation here and some telling signs that Adam Thielen might not be a player to hang on to from a dynasty aspect.

To increase the sample size a bit, I also looked at wide receivers that had a breakout year in their 4th NFL season or later (some information overlaps with the breakout age of 27 or older sample). That information is available in two quick snapshots below.

WR1 3
WR2 5
WR3 1
<WR3 12

 

New Team Same Team/Same OC Same Team/New OC
11 3 19
55 9 26
58 10 107
100 13 116
105 13
110 17
23
37
52
64
72

The first table shows that 12 of the 21 other receivers that had a breakout year in their 4th NFL season or later had a WR4 or worse season the year immediately following their breakout season. In the second table, we see that the positional wide receiver rankings significantly differ between these players that had the same offensive coordinator in the year immediately following their breakout season compared to players with a different offensive coordinator, a la Adam Thielen in 2018. Of these 21 receivers, 10 went on to miss at least 2 games during the season immediately following their breakout season (47.6%).

There is one other integral piece that will play a significant role in whether or not Adam Thielen has seen the best days of his career, that being the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins. While Kirk Cousins is widely viewed as a drastic improvement over everybody’s favorite journeyman quarterback, Case Keenum, this might not be the case (had to include one more pun) when it comes to Adam Thielen. I could ramble on for one more paragraph, but I will throw in one final table to drive the point home.

Kirk Cousins Case Keenum
2015 2016 2017 2017
Attempts 543 606 540 481
WR1 TS 18.65% 18.78% 19.07%* 27.44%
WR2 TS 15.28% 16.47%* 14.44% 17.46%*
WR3 TS 7.77%* 16.31% 12.04% 7.07%
TE1 TS 20.99%* 14.69%* 12.78% 16.22%
RB1 TS 8.84%* 10.23% 10%* 13.51%

*Indicates that position missed at least 1 game during season

 

In Adam Thielen’s epic 2017 season, he and Stefon Diggs accounted for ~45% of Case Keenum’s targets. In this situation, improved quarterback play is going to result in a more even pass distribution, as Kirk Cousins has never had a receiver account for a target share of 20% or greater.

While Adam Thielen was one of the feel good stories of 2017, going from an undrafted free agent to a hometown hero, now is the time to sell in all dynasty formats. For reasons including a breakout age of 27 years old, a new offensive coordinator, a perceived higher risk of injury, and throwing a new quarterback into the mix, a nice return on investment can still be had prior to the start of the 2018 season.

ADP Starting Line; Round 5

The 4th of July is now behind us and fantasy draft prep season is underway. Which means that mock drafts are being posted here, there, and everywhere that has anything to do with the NFL. This is the second ADP review of the season and many players are moving up and down based on nothing more than whispers in the wind. However, during the month of July, it’s important to refrain from getting psychologically married to a player based on something a beat writer said. It’s important to remember that there are few negative stories this time of the year and most player related “news” should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, let’s look at some 5th round ADP’s.

 

For the sake of being transparent, the scoring format I’m using is based on basic PPR scoring with 4pt passing TDs in a redraft style league. All ADP information is available on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com. So, without further adieu, the 5th round….

 

The ADP on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com, reflects the 5th round as follows:

Image result for deshaun watson texans

Photo by; AOL.com

5.01 Deshaun Watson-

Watson was on last week’s list too at 4.11. While his ADP is starting to come back down to earth a bit, this is still a little high for me.  However, if he shifts down to a late 5th or early 6th, I’d be all in. Coming off of an ACL injury that ended his 2017 campaign early, Watson is incredibly dynamic and the 5.01 is a better spot for DW4 than some other mocks I’ve seen.  He’s been going as early as the 3rd round which is ludicrous for a guy who hasn’t played a full season.

 

5.02 Mark Ingram-

The 5th round is still a point where you’re drafting starters. Ingram will miss the first 4 games due to suspension and thus he’s dead weight for those weeks. It’s hard to sign off on Ingram here, I’d only do it if one or both of the RBs I’ve drafted may not make it through the season (e.g. LeSean McCoy).  

 

5.03 Ronald Jones Jr-

RoJo is the most talented back on this team and barring an awful pre-season he should be in line for the lion’s share of the carries.

Image result for royce freeman broncos

5.04 Royce Freeman-

Like RoJo, the Rolls Royce should be in line for the bulk of the Broncos carries. They have about 250 of them up for grabs and the combination of both Booker and Henderson have done little to stake a reasonable claim to them. If I need an RB in RD5, I may go with Freeman over the likes of Mark Ingram and Ronald Jones.

 

5.05 Brandin Cooks-

In 2017, the Rams traded for Sammy Watkins and promptly planted him on the backside of passing patterns leaving his owners feeling mostly empty inside. Cooks is a far more versatile WR and will be more productive than Watkins. Unfortunately, the downside is that he still won’t be worth this draft slot.

5.06 Jimmy Graham-

After Gronk, Kelce, and Ertz the TE position is a total wasteland. I wouldn’t waste this pick on a TE at this spot let alone an aging TD dependent one. Also, Aaron Rodgers is not known for targeting his TEs which could be more bad news for Graham.     

 

5.07 Lamar Miller-

I believe Miller is this high by default. Second-year RB D’Onta Foreman is questionable for the start of the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles Tendon. He should see the needed volume to be a fantasy starter for at least the first half of the season. Once Foreman is good to go, all bets are off. I might be willing to go Dion Lewis here instead. Speaking of….

Image result for dion lewis titans

5.08 Dion Lewis-  

This could be a really nice value pick here. We know that the Titans will have a split backfield but Dion is in position to see a share early-down work and most, if not all, of the receiving work. In a PPR I would love him as an RB3/Flex player.

 

5.09 Marvin Jones-

Despite my unhealthy affection for Jarvis Landry, Marvin Jones is the WR to target in the 5th rd. The new look Lions will still throw the ball all over the yard giving Jones and Golden Tate inherent value.   

5.10 Jarvis Landry-

Landry, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated players in the league and the Browns are not paying him $14M/Yr to funnel passes his way. Don’t expect his usual volume but he could easily be in the 85-90 catch category which is tremendous value for a 5th round WR.

5.11 Chris Hogan-

Hogan is the 3rd to 4th option in this offense. The 5th/6th round is entirely too early. At the end of the 5th, I would rather have Titans WR Corey Davis. Davis will at least be the #1 option for his team, he’s more athletically gifted and he’s not going into his age 30 season.   

 

5.12 Greg Olsen-

There is no denying that Olsen has been one Cam Newton’s favorite targets during his time in Carolina. Unfortunately, it’s time to let someone else draft Olsen here. I’m not saying avoid him, as I’d sign him up in Rd 7 but the 5th is too soon. You can grab George Kittle and/or Delanie Walker much later and get similar production in 2018.

Image result for football money

Photo by; Men’s Journal

Last week I said  the 4th round is where drafters start to make their money, construct their roster, and consider bye weeks as the starting line up fills out. This is even more true in weeks five, six, and seven. You’re still trying to get players that will be starters for the majority of the season and if the draft breaks your way those guys will all be useful parts of your team in 2018.  

 

Ideally, by round 5 you’re getting a good feel for how the owners are constructing their rosters and you can start to assess what players might be available later in the draft. Your roster likely has some balance which allows you to take the best player on the board in round 5. For my money, I really like Jarvis Landry, Royce Freeman, and Ronald Jones. If those guys are gone then Dion Lewis and Marvin Jones. Remember, if you don’t love a RB or WR here, don’t force it, especially if you have a QB or TE you do love. Don’t be afraid to reach a round or two early for a guy if he gives you a positional advantage.

 

The 5th round is the earliest I would consider a QB and I would need to be looking at an elite or a near elite guy like Aaron Rodgers (likely gone), Carson Wentz, or maybe (big maybe) Deshaun Watson. Some name brands like Brady and Brees may be over drafted here- avoid drafting based on what they’ve done in the past but rather what they’re likely to do moving forward.

 

As always, I hope this helps you build your draft plan and keeps you from being caught off guard when you’re on the clock.  Next week, we’ll cover the 6th round. Until then, happy drafting!

2018 Rookies To Sleep On In Dynasty

Everyone falls in love with the new rookies every year. I can’t lie, I fall victim to this too. However, I’m taking a different approach this year. There’s a few rookies in this years class that I like a lot, but I’m going to like a lot better at their prices as 2018 winds down and as we head into 2019. In this article I’m going to take a look at a few guys who I think should be unloaded now, to be reacquired after disappointing rookie campaigns. All of these guys have the ability, and draft capital invested in them to be successful in the league, but for one reason or another I don’t expect to come anywhere near their potential in their rookie season.


The first guy I want to look at is Kerryon Johnson. It pains me as a Lions fan to sit here and advise people not to buy Detroit players, but it’s the smart move. The Lions invested in Kerryon by trading up to select him with the 43rd overall pick. They also invested picks in Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby in order to beef up a sneaky good offensive line. That being said, I don’t think the opportunity will be there for him to succeed in his rookie season. Detroit is clearly making an effort to step up their run game, but with all of the weapons available to them in the passing game and their unusually high passing tendency, I expect it to be a slow transition into running the ball more often. When you look to the backfield, Detroit brought in a proven power back in LeGarrette Blount, who I expect to get a good amount of carries. Detroit will also still have Ameer Abdullah in the last year of his rookie deal. He’s been given multiple chances to succeed and I don’t see anything that makes me believe he won’t get one last shot. Kerryon will also be shut out of the receiving work more than likely. Theo Riddick has proven himself as one of the higher end receiving backs in the league, and there’s no reason for them to stop using him now, as he’s still under contract through the 2019 season. With all of these things considered, I think Kerryon will be largely disappointing this year. Dynasty owners tend to sour on players quickly, especially when they aren’t a top end, highly touted prospect like Corey Davis, who retains crazy value after letting everyone down in year one. From my experience, Kerryon Johnson has been a late first-early second round rookie draft pick this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could acquire him for a package such as a mid-late 2nd and a 2020 3rd once next years rookie draft comes around. Look for Kerryon to ball out on your team from the 2019 season onwards with Ameer and Blount more than likely leaving the backfield next offseason.


Courtland Sutton is another player who I think will be much cheaper next off-season. Denver has a mediocre offense, with an average QB, rookie RB, and 2 talented veteran WRs to eat up a majority of targets. Sutton could not have gotten much worse of a landing spot for first year production. He’ll be stuck behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, who are both prolific receivers that will command 100+ targets each. Pair that with the fact that, at least for now, Case Keenum is the starting QB. Keenum worked wonders when called upon by the Vikings last season, but I don’t expect him to be quite so magical this year. The situation won’t get much better if Keenum is replaced, as some people think that Chad Kelly will take over at some point this season. Neither Keenum nor Kelly strike me as a QB who can propel three wide receivers into fantasy relevancy. Second year TE Jake Butt is expected to return to the field this year as well, and will be looking to carve out a role for himself, therefore further eating into Suttons potential targets. When you look beyond the passing game, Denver still seems determined to make Devontae Booker a thing. Possibly forcing carries to Booker could hurt Suttons ability to produce as well. The Broncos also drafted RB Royce Freeman in this years draft, which adds yet another offensive weapon for the Broncos to play with. All things considered, I think Sutton will struggle to produce this year. He’s already such a polarizing prospect, so I think he’ll be relatively easy to acquire for dirt cheap next off-season. Denver can get out of both Sanders, and Thomas’ contracts after the 2018 season. Both deals are pretty lucrative, so I fully expect Denver to part ways with at least one, if not both of the aging vets. The departure of even one of those guys will clear the way for Sutton to have his breakout season on your roster in 2019.


The third and final player to buy next year is Dante Pettis. Most of us were shocked when the 49ers traded up in the 2nd round to draft him. Around a month before the draft I mentioned Pettis on a podcast as a guy I was watching, and more than one person I was recording with hadn’t even heard of him yet. He quickly gained value once everybody saw him get selected there. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the hype. I’ve been high on Pettis for a couple years now, but I’m more than happy to miss out on owning him in his rookie season at his current price. Pettis is buried in the San Francisco offense. At the receiver position he’s behind veterans Marquise Goodwin, and Pierre Garcon. Not only does he have two serviceable receivers ahead of him, many people are expecting 90-100 targets to go to the extremely overrated Jerick McKinnon. Add in a fourth option in George Kittle, who many are expecting to have a breakout year, and there’s not many targets left for Pettis. That being said, I think Pettis is a good enough player that he will succeed in the NFL. By 2019, most owners who blindly rose on Pettis due to draft pedigree will be ready to give up on him as a dud. As soon as the season ends, you should be targeting Pettis for 3rd & 4th round picks. However, I don’t expect him to be cheap for long. The 49ers have the ability to get out of an expensive contract with Garcon, who at this time next year will be 32 years old. I fully expect the 49ers to move on from Garcon due to the amount of money they’ll owe him next year. This will open the door for Pettis to slide into the WR2 or even WR1 role in 2019.

A Dynasty Slot To Be Grateful For

As dynasty fantasy football players, we are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve and acquire a player (whether in a startup or rookie draft or via trade) at a reasonable, if not at a discounted price prior to their breakout year. We will try to look for trends or changes in a team’s makeup that could possibly lead to a breakout for a player that typically has flown under the radar or has been severely underdrafted.

I went with a different approach for my first dynasty fantasy football article. As opposed to looking at an entire position, I am attempting to break it down even further and will be identifying a potential breakout slot receiver in the upcoming 2018 season based on some historical data.Image result for golden tate

While it is extremely difficult to predict when a player will break out, there are trends and historical data available that could give us a helping hand. What I have done is decided to focus on one slot receiver over the past 3 years that have been severely undervalued in the dynasty startup draft. I have collected data ranging from offensive line rankings, target share, team’s number of rushes in a season, and simply asking myself “Are there any significant changes from one season to the next that resulted in a breakout?”

Of the three slot WRs I have focused on from 2015-2017 (Baldwin, Tate, Thielen), there is some information that could help in predicting a future breakout for another slot receiver. While for Baldwin and Tate, their respective teams have all but neglected the running game in the past 2 years, ranking 20th/21st and 32nd/31st respectively, the narrative is slightly different for Adam Thielen. While the Vikings ranked 2nd in total rush attempts, they also were number 7 in total plays, which still resulted in a significant amount of passing attempts, 520.

There have been increased discussions in “How does the caliber of an offensive line impact fantasy RB production?” As this is a topic for another time, the short answer is…there is no correlation. However, I do not believe the same holds true for “How does the caliber of an offensive line impact fantasy slot receiver production?” As a quarterback is more likely to get pressured/hit, there is a greater chance that he will be looking for a quick pass, whether it is to a RB on a quick screen or a slot receiver on a short route. As noted below, there is not one season during the timeframe being discussed in which the Seahawks, Lions, or Vikings ranked better than 19th in terms of offensive line rankings.

Year of Dynasty Startup Draft 2015 2016 2017
Player Doug Baldwin Golden Tate Adam Thielen
Positional ADP in Dynasty Startup Year Prior to Breakout Outside of top 61 WRs 29th 51st
Team’s Rushing Attempts 2014: 525 (2nd)

2015: 500 (3rd)

2016: 403 (20th)

2017: 409 (21st)

2015: 354 (31st)

2016: 350 (32nd)

2017: 363 (31st)

2016: 380 (26th)

2017: 501 (2nd)

Total Offensive Plays 2014: 1,021 (15th)

2015: 1,035 (16th)

2016: 1,012 (19th)

2017: 1,007 (17th)

2015: 1,030 (17th)

2016: 981 (29th)

2017: 980 (28th)

2016: 1,006 (23rd)

2017: 1,055 (7th)

Offensive Line Rank 2014: 19th

2015: 30th

2016: 32nd

2017: 27th

2015: 24th

2016: 19th

2017: 19th

2016: 29th

2017: 22nd

WR Rank 2014: 43rd

2015: 10th

2016: 8th

2017:11th

2015: 24th

2016: 17th

2017: 13th

2016: 29th

2017: 8th

Target Share 2014: 98/432 (22.7%)

2015: 103/472 (21.8%)

2016: 125/548 (22.8%)

2017: 116/526 (22.1%)

2015: 128/622 (20.6%)

2016: 135/582 (23.2%)

2017: 120/565 (21.2%)

2016: 92/585 (15.7%)

2017: 142/520 (27.3%)

With historical data behind us, here is the one slot receiver I am targeting (hopefully his new QB does the same) during the 2018 off-season, as I believe he can be had at a reasonable price and will ultimately yield a nice return on investment.

Jamison Crowder

Year of Dynasty Startup Draft 2018
Player Jamison Crowder
Taken in 2018 Startups WR34
Team’s Rushing Attempts 2014: 401 (21st)

2015: 429 (15th)

2016: 379 (27th)

2017: 401 (24th)

Total Offensive Plays 2014: 1,006 (26th)

2015: 1,011 (23rd)

2016: 1,009 (21st)

2017: 982 (27th)

Predicted Offensive Line Ranking 12th

2017 – Ranked 22nd in QB hits allowed (93)

WR Rank 2015 – 51st

2016 – 31st

2017 – 33rd

Target Share 2015 – 78/555 (14.1%)

2016 – 99/593 (16.7%)

2017 – 103/534 (19.3%)

Similarly to Adam Thielen prior to his breakout, Jamison Crowder will be working on building a rapport with a new quarterback for the 2018 season, Alex Smith. While there is certainly a debate as to whether or not the Cousins to Smith change is an overall downgrade for the Washington offense in terms of fantasy production, there is some information available to suggest this might not be the case. Throughout Alex Smith’s 13-year career, he has had 12 different receivers receive a target share of 19%.

Image result for jamison crowder redskins

Photo by; NBC Sports

Smith is also touted as being one of the best deep ball throwers in the league. While Josh Doctson still has room for improvement, he could be the weapon that Washington needs to allow defenses to be stretched, which will open up underneath routes for Crowder to compile a career high target share (current high of 19.3%).

While projected to be a top 12 offensive line, there is a concern of injury history, which resulted in 27 offensive line combinations used in 2017 (2nd only behind the Eagles with 28). With a constant shuffling across the offensive line, the Redskins had allowed 93 QB hits in 2017, which ranked 22nd. Constant pressure applied to Smith in 2018 would result in quick underneath throws allowing Jamison Crowder to have ample opportunity to improve his value, as he is currently being drafted as WR34 in dynasty startup drafts.

Adding Derrius Guice to the backfield and incorporating Chris Thompson back into the mix after a fractured fibula ended his 2017 season early, it would make sense that this could feasibly result in fewer opportunities for Crowder to make a big impact in 2018. Under Jay Gruden, the Redskins have never ranked better than 15th in rushing attempts. I do not see a drastic coaching style change in Gruden’s 5th season as the Redskins’ head coach.

With a current dynasty startup value of WR34, Jamison Crowder is in a similar situation as Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Adam Thielen before him and is poised to make a splash as the next big slot receiver in the NFL.

Dynasty Surefire Sleeper #3

Anyone who plays in a league with me may have realized something a long time ago. I punt the tight end position every. Single. Time. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have a plan of some sort for  a tight end, I’m just not willing to spend the incredible draft capital it takes to get Gronk, Kelce or Engram. I tend to grab a guy like Jared Cook, or Cameron Brate in the 18th or so, then I go after one specific player after the 20th round. His name is Michael Roberts. Michael Roberts is going into his second year in the league for the Detroit Lions. His role was limited to mostly blocking in 2017, but with Eric Ebron and Darren Fells both leaving the team, I think Roberts has an incredible opportunity to excel and become a reliable weekly producer on your fantasy team.

Image result for michael roberts toledo

Michael Roberts was a 4th round draft pick out of Toledo. While his rookie year didn’t go quite as well as his former teammate Kareem Hunt, he did get on the field consistently as a blocker. At Toledo though, Roberts was a vital piece of the offense. During his senior year, Roberts caught 45 passes for 533 yards, and a jaw dropping 16 touchdowns. That means roughly 1 of every 3 catches he made was a touchdown. That ratio wasn’t an anomaly either. His first 3 college seasons he saw limited action. His 25 catches translated to 299 yards and 6 touchdowns. That kept his ratio around 1 in every 4 catches being a touchdown. Those efficiency numbers are similar to what Jimmy Graham did in college. To keep the comparison going, Graham averaged 12.5 yards per catch in college, and Roberts averaged 11.9. When you combine these remarkably productive pass catching numbers, with his polished run blocking ability, it’s a no brainer for the Lions to have spent that 4th round selection on him.

In 2017 the Detroit Lions continued to try and make the most of their 2014 1st round selection, TE Eric Ebron. Due to the Lions commitment to Ebron, and the veteran presence of Darren Fells, Roberts was limited largely to being a blocker. Roberts only saw 7 targets in his rookie year, which he converted into 4 catches for 46 yards. Now that Ebron and Fells have departed, it has created a huge gap in the Lions offense. Detroit brought in Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo to help attempt to fill that hole, but they’re not the same caliber talent as Roberts. Roberts is a solid run blocker, and has to potential to be an elite red zone threat, with enough ability to help move the ball between the 20s as well. Roberts’ skill set is one that Stafford has been missing for years, and along with an improved run game, will help the Lions take that next step into being an elite NFL team. There’s 112 targets open from last season with Fells and Ebron departing, I wouldn’t be surprised if 90 of those are headed Roberts way. With that level of volume, and Roberts incredible ability to find the end zone, don’t be surprised when Michael Roberts is a TE1 next year, and a guy you’re paying up to get in 2019.

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