Fantasy Football Flag Planters and Discards
July 11, 2016 | adam cook
It is a fun time when you first start compiling your rankings and seeing where you compare to the consensus. Rankings and feelings towards certain players will naturally change as training camp has not even started yet. My first PPR rankings have been compiled and I compared my rankings to ADP data from myfantasyleague.com in June 2016. MFL 10’s that are run by myfantasyleague.com are the best preparation tools for true draft value at the current time compared to Yahoo and ESPN mock drafts where players often leave the draft after the first couple of rounds.
Let’s dive in and see who I like better and who I am off on early in the 2016 season preparation…
QB Flag Planter: Matthew Stafford- Detroit Lions- (My ranking: 9, MFL: 15)
I fully understand that the Lions lost Calvin Johnson to retirement and that no doubt hurts Stafford’s prospects. My high view of Matthew Stafford is half Stafford based and half Jim Bob Cooter based (Lions Offensive Coordinator). Once Cooter took over responsibilities as the play caller Matthew thrived. Over the last 6 games he topped 2 plus touchdowns and had a quarterback rating over 100 in each game. He finished those contests with a 17:1 TD/INT ratio and that was without a healthy Calvin Johnson after he badly sprained his ankle against the Chiefs in London.
Now Cooter has a full offseason to implement his style of offense. Improvement from Ameer Abdullah and Eric Ebron should help Stafford along with a field stretcher in Marvin Jones to complement Golden Tate.
QB Discard: Phillip Rivers- San Diego Chargers (My ranking: 16, MFL: 11)
What drives me away from Rivers the most is that he is a chronic 2nd half fader when you need him the most. Last year he posted 254.9 YPG with a 11:6 TD/INT ratio in the 2nd half of the year compared to 344.1 YPG and a 18:7 TD/INT ratio in the 1st half. In 2014 he started off throwing for 276.6 YPG and a 20:5 TD/INT ratio and then fell to 259.1 YPG and 11:13 TD/INT ratio in the 2nd half of the year.
A healthy Keenan Allen will help this year, but I expect the Chargers to focus more on the run with Ken Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator. His best friend Antonio Gates is aging and there were no major offensive line improvements made. Not to mention the defenses he has to face in his division are the Broncos, Chiefs, and the improving Raiders.
RB Flag Planter: C.J. Anderson- Denver Broncos (My ranking: 10, MFL: 16)
I cannot believe I am driving the C.J. Anderson bandwagon again after he burned me last year, but here I am! I like Anderson’s chances of a feature role with his hefty contract, Ronnie Hillman being a change of pace back, and Devontae Booker being an older 4th round rookie. The Broncos won the Super Bowl last year partially on the back of Anderson, so I see no reason why the Broncos should change that philosophy.
Over the 2nd half of last year Anderson averaged 6.3 YPC and scored 4 TD’s compared to 3.6 YPC and 1 TD in the 1st half. During the playoffs he toted the rock 15 plus times each game averaging a solid 4.33 YPC and total 70 plus total YPG in each contest. One of these years a Broncos running back will emerge fruitful again.
RB Flag Planter: Rashad Jennings- New York Giants (My ranking: 26, MFL: 40)
Looking at the Giants depth chart, the only competition for Jennings for touches are passing down specialist Shane Vereen, cut nominee Andre Williams, and 5th round rookie Paul Perkins. Being able to grab a running back with 15-20 touches per game as your 3rd or 4th RB is fantasy gold. Jennings finished 2016 strong with 16 plus touches in each of the last 4 games and totaling 100 total yards in each game as well. 2 of those 4 games came against playoff teams in Carolina and Minnesota as well!
He is no spring chicken, but 1 more year of RB2 production is a possibility after averaging 4.4 YPC in 2015. Defenses are unlikely to focus on the stopping the running game with Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning keeping defenses honest. I like Jennings chances to outperform similar ranked running backs like Derrick Henry, Isaiah Crowell, and Chris Ivory.
RB Discard: Dion Lewis- New England Patriots (My ranking: 22, MFL: 15)
I am sure I will take some scrutiny for my Lewis taek, but we can’t all be in agreement all the time. Based off of open field juice and YouTube highlights Lewis is a top 10 fantasy running back, but overall production is what I am looking for. Lewis is essentially a shiftier, less built Shane Vereen at only 5-8 195 lbs. I think some forget that prior to last year, Lewis had not played an NFL regular season snap since 2012!
Lewis only topped 10 rushing attempts in 1 out of 7 games last year completely relying on passing game flow. Touchdowns are hard to find with Blount and Brady gobbling up goal line plunges. He got injured prior to the cold weather games starting, but the New England passing game typically slows down the colder the weather gets. Last year the Patriots averaged 338.6 PYPG compared to 257.6 PYPG in the 2nd half of the year. I will let others gamble on Lewis.
RB Discard: Danny Woodhead- San Diego Chargers (My ranking: 30, MFL: 20)
Let me start out by saying Woodhead is a heck of a football player and a personal favorite of mine for his gritty style. Woodhead is a near perfect fit for Phillip Rivers dink and dunk style of passing offense. Then why am I low on Danny?
I see Melvin Gordon taking a step forward in his 2nd NFL season and the Chargers being a more run based offense compared to throwing it around the yard. I see Woodhead’s 106 targets being hard to repeat. Woodhead scored 9 touchdowns and Gordon had 0 scores. There almost has to be some equity regression in 2016 for the 2 backs. I will be selecting Melvin Gordon before Woodhead in drafts meaning it is unlikely I will own him anywhere.
WR Flag Planter: Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos (My ranking: 8, MFL: 15)
I am failing to understand the drastic fall for a WR who was drafted as a top 5-10 guy the last 3 years coming off a 105 reception 1,304 yard season. He struggled with drops compared to his normal self, but don’t forget he missed some of training camp with a contract holdout. Now he has a full offseason to get where he needs to be.
I see Mark Sanchez as a fantasy upgrade over future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. Manning was in clear decline last year and couldn’t get the ball more than 20 yards down the field. Denver still lacks a reliable receiving TE since Julius Thomas left and there is no 3rd WR to threaten targets. I’ll take bets that he repeats past performance in 2016 and gets back to 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR Flag Planter: Kamar Aiken- Baltimore Ravens (My ranking: 37, MFL: 52)
I have already seen Aiken’s ADP rising, so the bargain is close to an end. Aiken is my bet to be the No. 1 WR in Baltimore. Mike Wallace is learning yet another new offense, Breshard Perriman has yet to play a game, and Steve Smith Sr. has no idea when he will be able to return to the field after an Achilles operation.
Aiken was strong in the No. 1 role in 2015 collecting 7 plus targets in 11 out of the last 13 games and 50 plus yards in 8 out of the last 9. Not to mention most of those last games were played with Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub, and Ryan Mallett at the helm instead of Joe Flacco. The No. 1 WR’s in Marc Trestman’s offenses have been production. Trestman’s No. 1 WR’s in 2013 and 2014 with Chicago each topped 80 receptions.
WR Discard: Kelvin Benjamin- Carolina Panthers (My ranking: 30, MFL: 22)
Benjamin is being drafted as if some expect his rookie numbers in 2014 (1,008 yards and 9TD’s) to repeat. I am of the pessimistic view here. For one, I don’t see his 145 targets repeating which is the amount he needed to post those stats. That speaks to his inefficiency.
Greg Olsen developed into Cam Newton’s No. 1 connection last year and Devin Funchess is expected to take a step forward in year 2. I am looking at Benjamin finishing with 900 yards and 7 touchdowns, not 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR Discard: Allen Hurns- Jacksonville Jaguars (My ranking: 40, MFL: 33)
A lot of fantasy analysts are projecting the Jacksonville passing game to take a step backward, but I see the regression directly effecting Hurns. Hurns seemed to be truly reliant on garbage time production, which is hard to predict.
Hurns slowed down in the 2nd half posting 396 yards and 4 touchdowns compared to 635 yards and 6 touchdowns in the 1st half of the season. His 10 touchdowns in 2015 were very fluky for an average talent and 8 of those touchdowns were when the Jaguars were trailing. 1/3 of his total yards and touchdowns came in the 4th quarter alone. I will let someone else over pay for an overvalued WR3.
TE Flag Planter: Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles (My ranking: 4, MFL: 8)
The Eagles finally smartened up and got Celek out of the way for Ertz to be a full time player. Ertz is arguably the top receiving option in the Eagles passing game compared to drop machine Jordan Matthews. The Eagles move to a more traditional offense should help Ertz compared to the no huddle style of play.
Ertz topped 78 yards in each of the last 4 games of 2015 proving he should be the focal point of the passing game. Over the last 7 games of 2015, Ertz posted 539 yards receiving pushing him to a pace over 1,000 yards for the season. His 2 touchdowns in 2015 held his ranking back and I find it hard to believe a guy standing 6-5 won’t cross the goal line at least 6 times in 2016. Beat writers for the Eagles were talking up his red zone prospects last year in training camp.
TE Flag Planter: Jordan Cameron- Miami Dolphins (My ranking: 14, MFL: 21)
Cameron had high expectations coming over from Cleveland last year and he clearly did not meet those expectations. Gone is Lazur who did not really utilize a tight end and in comes Gase who has a strong history with TE’s. Cameron played all 16 games last year (half the battle in fantasy), but did not seem completely healthy the whole year.
Head Coach Adam Gase is apparently already talking up Cameron based off of early reports out of Miami. In 2013 Julius Thomas had 788 yards and 12 TD’s under Gase. In 2014, Thomas has 489 yards and 12 TD’s. Then last year, Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller combined for 87 receptions-878 yards-8 TD’s. My projection for 5-6 targets per game means Cameron could double his 2015 statistics and finish with 700 yards and 6 TD’s.
TE Discard: Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs (My ranking: 8, MFL: 4)
I love Kelce as a talent, but his inconsistency has been a pain in my side the past few years. It is not all his fault, but Andy Reid’s refusal to feature him and the deficiencies of Alex Smith. I would be more willing to reach on Kelce in best ball leagues instead of season long leagues as his stinkers are hard to predict.
I have an empty feeling on Kelce after posting a very respectable 875 yards receiving in 2015. Being held under 40 yards in 5 games is not ideal for a top 5 tight end. I would prefer to draft Zach Ertz, Coby Fleener, or Tyler Eifert (if healthy).
TE Discard: Gary Barnidge- Cleveland Browns (My ranking: 16, MFL: 10)
Gary “Barnkowski” was a true waiver wire darling last year and a fan favorite amongst the fantasy community. I personally don’t see his production continuing as a breakout at age 30 screams fluke. Prior to 2015, he hadn’t topped 250 yards receiving in a season.
I would be higher on Barnidge if you assured me Josh McCown would be Cleveland’s starting quarterback. He would be a top 10 option as McCown and Barnidge really seemed to gel last year. As of now, it looks like the Browns will be starting Robert Griffin III and McCown is no lock to make the team. With Josh McCown as the starting quarterback weeks 3-7, Barnidge averaged 91.8 YPG and secured 5 of his 9 TD’s. I will gladly let others chase his 2015 magic.