Fantasy Watch List

Studs & Duds

Even with plenty of drafts left to be completed this weekend (still have several myself), I’m going to start turning my attention away from who to draft, but rather toward what to expect from some of your draftees or draft prospects.

By now we’ve heard a lot of the conversations and we are familiar with the many fantasy player names, so here’s my take on a few of this year’s Studs and Duds. And when I say dud, just be clear not a bust. A dud is player that does not live up to the draft position or hype. So let’s get to it.

Studs (target these players)

leveon_bell

No surprise here with the Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Everyone knows his name and they’ve seen his work. The only question folks are asking, is the first pick Bell or Cardinals running back David Johnson. In my book the choice is Bell, everyday and twice on Sunday. No disrespect to DJ, he’s going to have a big season, but the pick is Bell. Last season, Le’Veon played in just 12 games and finished as the No.3 fantasy running back (PPR format) last season and averaged 26.5 fantasy points per game (Johnson averaged 25.5). Bell is a gifted runner with smooth moves, and he’s an elite pass catcher (75 receptions last season). Entering the 2017 season, Bell is healthy and a major compliment to an offense that looks poised to make a lot of noise this season.

Jordan Howard

In the NFC North, the Bears have a grinder in their backfield by the name of Jordan Howard; this kid is a stud. He’s going to be available at the turn of the 1st and 2nd round and should go ahead of running backs like Jay Ajayi, Todd Gurley, and DeMarco Murray. Last season after missing the first game, Howard didn’t start for the Bears until week 4 and finished as the No. 10 fantasy running back (PPR format), he was 9th in standard leagues. Howard rushed for over 1,300 yards in 2016, including 7 100-yard games. He’s the bell-cow in Chicago and should put up even better numbers in 2017.

Duds (drafting too high)

deandre_hopkins

There’s no question Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a top talent in the NFL, but last season with insufficient quarterback play he finished 2016 as the No. 26 wide receiver. His line for 2016 was 78-954-4 on 151 targets. This season he’s going to be playing with a rookie quarterback, so even if he sees the same volume this season it’s hard for me to see his quarterback being dramatically more efficient. As good a player as Hopkins is, if he takes a step up finishing closer to 80-1,000-5 (which would have put him as a borderline top 20 fantasy receiver last season), a borderline top 20 receiver is where I see Hopkins ceiling this season. He’s being drafted as the No. 16 fantasy receiver in PPR format (according to FFC), but there are other player options I like ahead of him like;  Kelvin Benjamin, Michael Crabtree, Davante Adams, and even Martavis Bryant.

christian mccaffrey

Although I am on high on this kid and a big fan of running back Christian McCaffrey, even in PPR format I don’t expect a near top 10 finish. McCaffrey could conceivably catch 60-65 balls this season, but I believe 125 carries is probably near his ceiling for his first season with a projected finish around 190.5 fantasy points this season; this would be in line for just outside the top 20 last year. McCaffrey looks like he could be a special player, but his current ADP of 2.12 (No. 12 fantasy running back according FFC in PPR) is a bit too rich and a tall order for the rookie (if you ask me). If you want to get the Panther’s rookie running back for this season, you will have to reach for him early in your draft, but that’s what it is a reach in the 2nd round.

That’s My Take. ~David Ortega

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5 Fantasy Late Round Sleepers

Every year a couple of late round or undrafted guys explode for big years. Some examples of sleepers in last year’s draft are Terrelle Pryor, who went undrafted in most 10 player leagues. Michael Thomas was picked anywhere from the 10th-12th round last year. Jordan Howard was drafted anywhere from 14th to undrafted. All these guys are potential top three round picks this season. In this article, I will list five players who I think can be sneaky late round productive players in PPR leagues.

 

1. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
“A New York Jet receiver, that is nuts!” In fact, it is not. Although, the QB situation is abysmal in NY, Anderson has all the tools to have a solid year. With the departures of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and the injury to Quincy Enunwa, that leaves Anderson as the number one receiver for the Jets. Anderson runs sharp routes and is a very strong deep threat. In only two preseason drives Anderson has recorded 71 yards and three receptions. Looking like McCown’s favorite target, Anderson will have a large roll.

Projected round: Undrafted

2. Devante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
After being drafted 14th overall in 2015 by the Dolphins, Parker has been a bit of a bust so far. Coming into this season 100% healthy, the Dolphins have high hopes in him. With Tannehill gone, Jay Cutler will now be the starter in Miami. In Cutler’s first preseason game, his favorite target was clearly Devante Parker. Parker was targeted four times in two drives. Cutler referred to Parker as a “faster Alshon”, who was Cutler’s favorite target in Chicago. The Dolphins have hyped up Parker a lot this offseason, and I expect him to have a stellar season.

Projected rounds: 10th-12th

3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Being a rookie on a team with two veteran backs, it can be hard to make noise. Kamara has done just that, in his preseason debut he rushed four times for 35 yards. In his second game he continued his success, rushing for five carries and 61 yards with a touchdown, as well as 20 receiving yards. Kamara is clearly the best pass catching back on the Saints roster, and has also showed he can run the ball very well. After his two strong performances, he has solidified himself playing time. The question remains how much? Although, I do not expect him to get a ton of playing time early, he will get his opportunities. If an injury occurs to Ingram or Peterson he is poised to make some noise.

Projected rounds: 13th and later

4. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
Golladay was drafted in the third round this year by the Lions, and expected to have a small role this season. After erupting for two touchdowns in his preseason debut, he was quickly given reps with the Lions first team. In the Lions second preseason game, Golladay was on the first team. Matt Stafford loves to spread the ball around and Golladay is simply another talented target. Golladay is a strong red zone target and will have a huge role in the Lions red zone offense. I expect Golladay to vastly improve throughout the season and be a strong receiving option for your team.

Projected round: 15th

5. Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills
Second round pick Zay Jones is my favorite player on this list. Everything has worked out perfectly for him this offseason. Sammy Watkins was traded, and Anquan Boldin retired. This leaves Jones as the number one option in Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor will look for Jones both short and deep on the field. In his last preseason game Jones made three catches for 42 yards, while playing with Boldin on the field. Jones is extremely talented and should do very well with this opportunity. Expect a big season out of rookie Zay Jones.

Projected rounds: 7th-9th

That concludes my five sleepers! I hope these guys help your team win! Best of luck to everyone this season!