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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wide Receiver Rankings - Top 10

My full rankings are always available on Fantasy Pros, but I thought I'd break down the top ten at each position to give you some ideas.  In my overall rankings I've got RB's from 1 to 9 but then it's all receivers for the next six.  I don't mind picking late in the round and going WR-WR because the RB's available  in rounds 3 through 5 all have legit upside.

As always, and this year in particular, I'm waiting on quarterback and then taking two in a row rapid fire.  The "Back-to-Back Quarterback" strategy from my book is basically to grab the QB's ranked something like #9 and #10 and then to play the matchups.  It insulates you from injuries and down years and gives you an automatic and high quality bye week option.  Also, QB is probably the most matchup dependent position other than DST.

Okay, okay... On to the rankings.  Let's start with the wide receiver position because it is chock full of goodness.

#1)  ODB.  He's special and has the younger, healthier Manning throwing him the ball.
#2)  Demaryius. He's special and has the Peytonier Manning throwing him the ball.
#3)  Jordy Nelson.  I've doubted him as much as anyone, but go check the stats.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  ...  Back?  Pretty amazing, right?
#4)  Antonio Brown.  He's great, but I'm not convinced he's best in the NFL great... maybe he is. Gimme a break, he plummeted all the way to #4 in my rankings.
#5)  Dez.  This is less about Dez than it is about the quality in front of him.  And maybe I'm worried about Romo's gimpy back.
#6)  Mega.  Love the guy, but he's lost a couple of MPH off his fastball.  Again, he's still #6. 
#7)  Julio Jones.  Okay, the top six can get jumbled up but I really feel like the first significant gap is before #7.  I'm not in love with Julio this year.  He's in a new offense and I just don't love Kyle Shanahan's system.  He's got all of the talent in the world, but I feel like he's the clear #7.
#8)  AJ Green.  Another gap here before #8.  Green is uber-talented but Andy Dalton is mediocre and Marvin Jones is back to take targets away...  Plus, I think they want to run the ball.  However, all of that said, I like Green for value at his ADP this year.  When healthy he is a game changer.
#9)  Jordan Matthews.  I was on this train last year when Jeremy Maclin was the top guy and the QB situation was a mess.  Okay, I don't know that the QB sitch is better now but Maclin is gone, Matthews is the man, Chip will get him the rock, and he's no longer a rookie.  Matthews has been screaming up draft boards, but that's okay with me.  If you go old school RB-RB in the first two rounds this is the kind of guy I love to see in the 3rd or even early 4th.
#10)  Randall Cobb.  Two Packers in the top 10?  Where's Mike Evans?  Hold your horses... Yes, two, let me explain.  And Evans is #11.  Bonus info there, no extra charge.  Look, Aaron Rodgers is out of this world great at quarterbacking and he's got these two exceptional weapons.  He's gonna feed them.  When Cobb is healthy all he does is break defenses.

Good luck in your drafts, Brainiacs.  I like the early WR's quite a bit but then it gets really murky before the later round options... draft carefully.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Team Talk: Chicago Bears

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Looking at the NFC North, the Chicago Bears were yet again a disappointment in the NFL but when it comes to fantasy football, Da Bears have a whole lot to offer. With a new head coach in town and a lot of familiar faces, fantasy owners can expect the Bears to produce some fantasy relevant players heading into the new season. It's time to take a look and see what the Bears can offer.

Jay Cutler- Quarterback- At this point in time, fantasy owners should expect the same result out of Jay Cutler. If you draft him to be your every week quarterback, get ready for some tough times. What you see is that you get with Cutler. In 15 games played last season, Cutler averaged 22.3 fantasy points per game and threw 28 touchdowns to go along with 18 interceptions. He also passed for just over 3,800 yards which is a disappointment considering the weapons he had at his disposal. He did post ten games of 20 or more fantasy points but overall, his numbers were a let down for fantasy owners who thought he may turn the corner in 2014.

Matt Forte- Running Back- What else can be said about Matt Forte that fantasy owners don't already know? He's the model of consistency every time he's on the field. He not only makes plays with his legs, but also his hands. Forte is PPR gold and fantasy owners shouldn't expect that to change heading into 2015. Last season, Forte averaged over 15 fantasy points per game and rushed for over 1,000 yards while adding another 800 plus yards through the air. He saw 130 targets tossed his way while hauling in 102 of those balls for four more touchdowns bringing his touchdown total to ten for the year. He also posted ten games of double digit fantasy points. The running back position doesn't get much more reliable than Matt Forte.

Alshon Jeffery- Wide Receiver- With the departure of Brandon Marshall, fantasy owners can expect even bigger numbers from the now number one receiver in 2015. Last season, Jeffery averaged 11 fantasy points per game and scored double digit fantasy points in ten games. He saw 145 targets while catching just 85 of them but did manage to rack up over 1,000 yards receiving while scoring ten times. Fantasy owners should look for bigger and better from Jeffery this season.

Marquess Wilson- Wide Receiver- Some fantasy owners were expecting big things from Wilson in 2014 but those lofty expectations were cut short due to an injury sustained in the preseason. The good news is in the seven games Wilson did play last year, he saw 32 targets (4.5 per game) and now projects to be a bigger part of the offense with Brandon Marshall gone. Marquess Wilson could be a late round sleeper heading into fantasy drafts this season.

Kevin White- Wide Receiver- Drafted to replace the departed Brandon Marshall, Kevin White was taken seventh overall by the Bears and should make an immediate impact both with the Bears and fantasy owners. White stands at 6'3 and weighs 215 lbs which should help him versus defensive backs. In the two years he played at West Virginia, White finished with 144 catches for almost 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Even if White doesn't make the kind of impact most fantasy owners think he will this year, he's the perfect keeper or dynasty candidate.

Martellus Bennett- Tight End- At a position that is very slim, Martellus Bennett seems to produce almost every year. Last year, Bennett averaged eight fantasy points per game and scored double digit fantasy points in six games. He also saw 128 targets and caught 90 balls for over 900 yards and six scores. Fantasy owners can once again count on the "Black Unicorn" in 2015.t)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Team Talk: Carolina Panthers

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Sticking with the team previews, let's head over to the NFC South and take a look at the Carolina Panthers who took a step back from their 2013 season. There is quite a bit for fantasy owners to get excited about regarding the Panthers heading into the 2015 fantasy football season. For starters, Cam Newton signed a monster extension and now seems to have two quality receivers to throw to. The ground game doesn't appear to look too intimidating and the defense doesn't look as formidable as it did two years ago but on the offensive side of the ball, fantasy owners may like what they see. It's time to delve into the Carolina Panthers.

Cam Newton- Quarterback- After signing a monster extension this offseason, Cam appears poised to have a big 2015 for both the Panthers and his fantasy owners. Newton's fantasy numbers took a dip last year mainly because the rushing numbers went down. Cam rushed for 555 yards and a touchdown while passing for over 3,500 yards and 22 touchdowns. Since his value comes mostly from his legs, fantasy owners were a bit disappointed in the Panthers signal caller in 2014 but Cam did still manage to score double digit fantasy points in eight games and average over 22 fantasy points per game last season. Fantasy owners should expect a big season from the former Auburn standout in 2015.

Kelvin Benjamin- Wide Receiver- It's safe to say the second year wideout had a pretty productive rookie season last year averaging almost ten fantasy points per game and scoring double digit fantasy points in eight of the 16 games he played. He finished with 73 catches on 145 targets for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Benjamin was also a favorite red zone target for Cam and should continue to improve in his second year.

Devin Funchess- Wide Receiver- The rookie receiver was drafted out of Michigan in the second round of this years draft and is a converted Tight End. While his college numbers are not exactly eye popping, his frame is what will make him a tough cover in the NFL. Standing at 6'4 and weighing 232 pounds, he's another big body for Cam Newton to throw to who should have no problem throwing defensive backs out of his way. With defenses focusing on Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen, there should be a lot of opportunities for Funchess to make a name for himself among fantasy owners.

Greg Olsen- Tight End- Olsen remains a steady fantasy option at a slim position. He averaged almost nine fantasy points per game last year and scored double digit fantasy points in eight games as well. His 84 receptions for over 1,000 yards were a career high for him while his six touchdowns were second most in his career.

Jonathan Stewart- Running Back- In the 13 games Stewart played in last year, he averaged almost ten fantasy points per game and scored double digit fantasy points in five of those games. He failed to reach the century mark in rushing yards and scored only three rushing touchdowns. He did manage to give fantasy owners 25 catches for almost 200 yards and an additional touchdown but fantasy owners shouldn't expect too much from him heading into 2015. He's difficult to trust due to his health and the Carolina run game hasn't scared defenses outside of Cam Newton.

D/ST- Not quite the stifling defense they were two seasons ago, Carolina ranked middle of the pack in fantasy defenses in 2014 while allowing 25 passing touchdowns. With fantasy defenses being fickle from year to year, the Carolina Panthers D/ST will probably end up middle of the pack again in 2015.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Closer to Reality

I was asked by the fine folks at Fantasy Pros to give them one bold prediction for the rest of the year in MLB.  The last time they asked me this question I said that Joe Panik would be Top 10 in runs this year in the National League.  Pretty bold, right?  Currently #10 has 34 and Panik has 26, with #20 at just 29.  I figured it was very bold because a top 10 finish in their league in one of the primary fantasy stats would be amazing for a guy available in almost every league.  Panik is off the pace a bit, but it's not too shabby of a prediction in my opinion.

So, what was the call today?  I wanted to say something about Javier Baez or one of the other rookies, but nothing bold that I believed came to mind.  I almost pulled the trigger on a positive return for A.J. Griffin, which I do believe.  (Go get him, folks.)

What I decided to go with is a belief that every current closer will keep their job through the end of the season.  The obvious caveat is injury, but even so it's a pretty bold prediction and one with interesting fantasy implications.

If you look at the ESPN Closer Chart you'll quickly see what I'm talking about here...  Most of these jobs are either locked down by a proven guy or there isn't really any good competition for the guy with the gig.  The big exception is Toronto, where they still list Brett Cecil.  Not sure I buy that one.

Elsewhere?  The shakiest ones might be Brad Ziegler, Shawn Tolleson, A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia, and John Axford.  I did some research on Tolleson and Ramos and I really like what I see.  Plus, who's going to take the job from those guys?  Familia doesn't inspire much confidence in me, but I don't see anyone that will really take that job either.  Axford has a track record even though he doesn't blow people away and I just don't think Rafael Bettancourt is usurping the role.

You might see Fernando Rodney or Koji Uehara wear down this year and both have a strong setup guy behind them, so that is possible... but until they break down they own the job.  For the purposes of a bold prediction, I'm saying they hold on.

Okay, so is it likely?  Nah, you're most likely going to see some turnover... but could it happen?  Sure.  And what if it does?  That means you can't find mid-season sources of saves without completing a trade.  So if you have one of those teams that needs saves you might have to make a swap.

If you do need to make a trade my suggested target is Shawn Tolleson.  Dude has a pretty solid track record in the minors, even collecting 49 saves.  Plus, there's no one there to take the job from him.  I believe he will rack up at least 20 saves the rest of the way, maybe as many as 30 more.  Trade for him now before his value solidifies.

Another good target is Ramos, though I think his value is a little higher than Tolleson right now.  Ramos reminds me of Billy Wagner a bit since he's a shorter guy that generates a lot of K's.  You can see in his minor league numbers that he was always envisioned by the team as a closer, which is where he finds himself today.  I don't see him giving it back to (an injured) Steve Cishek.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Team Talk: Buffalo Bills

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

After another season of not making the playoffs in Buffalo, a few changes were made during the offseason. One being the hiring of former Jets head coach Rex Ryan. Most fantasy owners have to figure that Rex will make an already top defense that much better. Another major change in Buffalo is the addition of stud running back LeSean McCoy. Let's take a look at what the Buffalo Bills can give fantasy owners in the coming season.

E.J. Manuel- Quarterback- It should be safe to assume that nobody knows whether or not E.J. Manuel will be the starting quarterback for the Bills come September. There's a good chance he may not even make the team. If Manuel is under center for the Bills come week one, there isn't too much for fantasy owners to get excited about. In the four games Manuel played in 2014, he averaged under 20 fantasy points per game and the previous year averaged even less in the ten games he started. Fantasy owners would be safe in assuming Manuel will not be drafted in 2015.

Matt Cassel- Quarterback- There doesn't seem to be much fantasy relevance when it comes to Cassel but seeing how E.J. Manuel isn't the clear cut favorite to start the season as Bills signal caller, Matt Cassel needs to be mentioned. Last season in Minnesota, Cassel averaged a pedestrian 11.7 fantasy points per game in the three games he started. His fantasy points went down with each game he started and he quickly lost his job to rookie Teddy Bridgewater. Don't expect Matt Cassel to provide any fantasy value whatsoever in 2015 unless he's the last quarterback standing for the Bills.

Tyrod Taylor- Quarterback- Not too many fantasy owners gave Tyrod Taylor a second thought when he signed with the Bills but ever since Rex Ryan started talking him up, he's become a dark horse of sorts to be the Bills opening day signal caller. Of course, this could just be Rex Ryan talking again to make headlines but in any event, Taylor needs to be considered for fantasy circles for the time being. Taylor hasn't done much to make fantasy owners take note of him being in the league since 2011 and having done next to nothing with the exception of week 17 in 2012 where he posted 20 fantasy points. Fantasy owners need to consider Tyrod Taylor a long shot to be fantasy relevant this season.

LeSean McCoy- Running Back- Last year in Philadelphia, Shady had career lows in targets, receptions and receiving yards while scoring 0 touchdowns in the passing game as well. He posted nine games of double digit fantasy points with his biggest game coming in week 13 versus the Dallas Cowboys where he scored 21.9 fantasy points. Fantasy owners can expect McCoy to have a bounce back 2015 in his new home in Buffalo.

Bryce Brown- Running Back- Brown was a hot name on the waiver wire late in the season but never amounted to much when he got to play. He averaged just over four fantasy points per game in the seven games he played giving fantasy owners more in the passing game than he did in the running game. With Shady McCoy in town, don't expect too much production from Brown in 2015 barring an injury to McCoy.

Fred Jackson- Running Back- Defying age yet again, Jackson proved he still can start for the Bills and fantasy owners. He averaged almost nine fantasy points per game and played in all but two games last year. Jackson saw 90 targets and had almost as many passing yards as rushing yards with three total touchdowns. Fantasy owners will once again draft Jackson late in drafts as a running back that can provide depth to a fantasy roster seeing how running backs get hurt all the time.

Anthony Dixon- It will take a lot for Dixon to see playing time in 2015 seeing how he'll probably be buried on the depth chart. In 13 games last year, Dixon averaged under five fantasy points per game and provided fantasy owners with only two touchdowns while rushing for 432 yards. Fantasy owners shouldn't count on Dixon for much in 2015.

Percy Harvin- Wide Receiver- Last season, Harvin averaged 6.2 fantasy points per game and started the first two weeks of the season with double digit fantasy points games. He didn't post double digits again until week nine and drove fantasy owners crazy again with his inconsistency. He finished the season with four double digit fantasy points games and at this point, is what he is. An inconsistent fantasy receiver that can't be counted on every week.

Robert Woods- Wide Receiver- Third year receiver alert. Woods averaged over six fantasy points per game in 2014 and saw 104 targets and 65 receptions for almost 700 yards and five touchdowns. He posted four double digit fantasy points games and could be a sleeper pick heading into 2015 fantasy drafts. The only question is who will be throwing Woods the ball?

Sammy Watkins- Wide Receiver- Heading into his second season, Sammy Watkins will look to build on his inconsistent but promising rookie season. Watkins averaged over eight fantasy points per game and saw 128 targets tossed his way. He finished with 65 catches for just under 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. He scored double digit fantasy points in five games but was not consistent in doing so. Week two saw Watkins score double digit fantasy points then not again until weeks seven and eight then not again until week 14. Most fantasy owners expected an inconsistent rookie campaign from Watkins seeing how rookies take time to transition and the quarterback situation was murky at best. One thing is for sure heading into 2015, fantasy owners can expect Watkins to build on his rookie season this year.

Chris Hogan- Wide Receiver- Not many fantasy owners heard of Chris Hogan before he became an early season waiver wire pickup. In 12 games in 2014, Hogan averaged just under six fantasy points per game and saw 61 targets while hauling in 41 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns. He also posted three games of double digit fantasy points and can expect to be drafted later on in 2015 fantasy football drafts.

Charles Clay- Tight End- Last season with division rivals Dolphins, Clay averaged 5.6 fantasy points per game and caught 58 balls on 84 targets for 605 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored double digit fantasy points four times in 2014 and could provide some value from the tight end position where there isn't much after Gronk and Graham.

D/ST- Being a top fantasy defense last year, fantasy owners should expect the Bills defense  to get a little boost with new head coach and defensive guru Rex Ryan in town. The Bills were a top five unit last year allowing 3,590 passing yards and only 235 yards rushing. The defense as a whole gave up just over 14 fantasy points per game on average and should be one of the first fantasy defenses taken off the board in drafts this season.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Team Talk: Baltimore Ravens

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Continuing on with the Team Preview series, it's time to head over to the hard hitting AFC North and take a look at the Baltimore Ravens. The last time we saw the Ravens, they gave the Patriots all they could handle in the AFC divisional matchup but for fantasy purposes, there was not much to get excited about in Baltimore. The biggest fantasy contributor last season was Justin Forsett and there doesn't seem to be much else in the way of fantasy value heading into 2015. Let's take a look at the Ravens fantasy football outlook for 2015.

Joe Flacco- Quarterback- Once again, Joe Flacco underwhelmed fantasy owners with a dismal 20.4 fantasy points per game. He passed for under 4,000 yards and threw for 27 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. To make matters worse, Flacco gave his fantasy owners only five games all season with 20 or more fantasy points. Heading into 2015, Flacco will continue to be a backup quarterback or will even go undrafted in shallower leagues.

Justin Forsett- Running Back- The only star on the Ravens roster last season, Forsett averaged 12.6 fantasy points per game while rushing for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns. Forsett even gave his fantasy owners receptions with 44 catches on 59 targets for an additional 263 yards. Fantasy owners can expect Forsett to be drafted this season after sitting on most waiver wires last season.

Lorenzo Taliaferro- Running Back- With three double digit fantasy points games in ten appearances, Lorenzo Taliaferro made some fantasy owners take notice. He averaged 6.5 fantasy points per game and rushed for under 300 yards with four touchdowns but could be showcased more in the coming season. Taliaferro should be a name fantasy owners remember whether it's late in drafts or as a waive wire add during the season.

Steve Smith Sr. - Wide Receiver- After being declared all but dead by most fantasy owners after departing Carolina, Steve Smith Sr showed fantasy owners that he had a little more left in his tank and began the season on fire. Smith Sr posted double digit fantasy points in four of his first six games in 2014 but managed to only post double digit fantasy points in two games after that. Smith Sr did finish the season averaging just under nine fantasy points per game and saw 134 targets while hauling in 79 of them for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Another year older, Smith Sr can still provide some fantasy value heading into this season.

Breshad Perriman- Wide Receiver- Figuring in as the replacement to Torrey Smith, the rookie out of Central Florida can easily make a name for himself with fantasy owners as he doesn't figure to see much competition with the current depth of the receiving corp in Baltimore. Perriman's college numbers made him a first round pick in this years draft as he finished his college career with 115 catches for 2,243 yards and 16 touchdowns. Perriman could be a flyer late in fantasy drafts this year if owners want to take a chance on a pass catcher late.

Dennis Pitta- Tight End- Another season cut short for Pitta as he only saw three games in 2014. While Dennis Pitta was playing, he saw 7 targets per game for 16 receptions and 125 yards. Most fantasy owners figured the production would be there but once again, Pitta could not stay healthy. Hopefully a season removed from the injury plagued 2014 will help bring Pitta back to fantasy relevance in a position that doesn't have much to choose from these days.  If he can't make it back healthy to the field look for 2nd round pick Maxx Williams to pick up fantasy value purely on opportunity, if nothing else.

D/ST- While clearly not the scary defense they once were, the Ravens still provide some value when it comes to fantasy football. Owners could use the Ravens D/ST as a bye week fill in seeing how they were a top 20 defense in 2014. The passing defense left a lot to be desired allowing over 4,300 yards and 21 touchdowns but the run defense was as tough as ever allowing only three rushing scores all season. Again, the Ravens defense is not the defense of old, but can still be helpful to fantasy owners looking to help them when their defense is on a bye or if they waited too long to grab a defense in their drafts.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Team Talk: Atlanta Falcons

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Continuing the Team Preview series, it's time to move over to the NFC South and take a look at the Atlanta Falcons. Coming off of a disappointing 2014, the Falcons will look to get back on track in 2015 and make some fantasy owners happy. There aren't many changes heading into the 2015 season as far as fantasy football is concerned but another year with Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones is always interesting for fantasy owners. Let's see what the dirty birds have in store for fantasy owners in 2015.

Matt Ryan- Quarterback- Coming off of a season where fantasy owners may have been a little disappointed in the former Boston College signal caller, Matty Ice averaged 22.6 fantasy points per game in 2014 and scored 25 fantasy points or more in only six games all season. He did throw for over 4,600 yards and 28 touchdowns but fantasy owners were expecting a little more production and consistency from the Falcons quarterback. Expect Ryan to be in the second tier of quarterbacks take off the board come draft day.

Julio Jones- Wide Receiver- Now entering his fifth season in the NFL, Julio Jones just seems to get better each and every year. In 2014, Jones averaged 13 fantasy points per game while seeing 163 targets. He finished the season with 104 receptions and over 1,500 yards and six touchdowns. He also scored double digit fantasy points in nine games in 2014. There isn't much else to say about the former Alabama stand out except fantasy owners should expect more of the same when it comes to Julio Jones. His only downfall will be if he remains healthy enough to play a full season.

Roddy White- Wide Receiver- The days of Roddy White being the Falcons number one wide out are clearly behind him at this point. Regardless of playing second fiddle behind Julio Jones, White has still been productive for fantasy owners and the Falcons. His 2014 season saw White average just under 10 fantasy points per game while seeing 124 targets for 80 receptions and 924 yards. He also had one more touchdown than Jones did and one less game of double digit fantasy points. While Roddy White clearly isn't the top target in Atlanta anymore, he can still give fantasy owners a boost to their receiving corp. He should not be overlooked on draft day.

Devin Hester- Wide Receiver- With the exception of a couple of games early in the season, Hester wasn't much of a fantasy asset in 2014. Averaging under five fantasy points per game, Hester was nothing more than a week one waiver wire pickup who could be used in the flex spot only and really didn't even warrant that. He scored double digit fantasy points in back to back games  in weeks three and four but not again until week 15. He finished his first season with the Falcons with 38 catches for just over 500 yards and a touchdown. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect anything more than that heading into 2015.

Justin Hardy- Wide Receiver- The rookie out of East Carolina set a record for most catches in college football history with 387 and had 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns to go with it. A fourth round pick in the 2015 draft, fantasy owners should expect Hardy's role to be third receiver replacing the production the Falcons lost in Harry Douglas but could supplant Roddy White as the number two before all is said and done. Justin Hardy has some eye popping numbers coming out of college and if that talent translates to the NFL, fantasy owners will know the name Justin Hardy before his rookie season is over.

Devonta Freeman- Running Back- His rookie season was not what fantasy owners were expecting and Freeman didn't even produce much of anything in the passing game either. Starting the season behind Steven Jackson, even when Freeman got the chance to shine, never really did. He averaged just under four fantasy points per game and produced one game of double digit fantasy points. And that game came in week 16 versus a pathetic Saints defense. Freeman may get the chance to show what he can (or cannot) do in 2015 but fantasy owners don't have much to get excited over at this point until Freeman proves us wrong.