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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Divisional Key Questions/Predictions: NFC South

We are officially less than a week away from seeing some football (If it doesn’t get canceled again like last year’s HOF game) as the Cardinals will face off against the Defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday. It’s time for a divisional preview. 

Today’s preview will not be over either division that will be playing in the HoF game on Thursday night. We’re discussing one of the strongest divisions in football, a division that that has represented the NFC in the last 2 Super Bowls (Carolina in 2015, Atlanta in 2016). Let’s start this up with the team that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year…

 

Atlanta Falcons (Last Season 11-5, 2016 NFC CHAMPIONS): 


The Falcons are coming off one of the biggest upsets in NFL Super Bowl history after blowing a 28-3 lead. Returning the same offense that turned out to be one of the greatest in the history of the league without OC Kyle Shanahan.

KEY QUESTIONS:
Can they rebound from a crushing defeat in the Super Bowl?

Will OC Steve Sarkisian keep the same offensive system Kyle Shanahan left?

If the answer is yes to both of those questions their winning the division again.

MY PREDICTION:  11-5, 2017 Division Champions.

 

Carolina Panthers: Last Season 6-10, Missed Playoffs):  

The Panthers are coming off a under average season that included Cam Newton completing only 53% of his passes. Rushing for only half the yards he did in the Super Bowl season. An offseason that included a stunning GM firing in Dave Gettleman. Cam newton is coming back into Training camp 20 LBS less than he ended the season with. And it has been reported that he want’s to have more rush attempts this season.

KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Cam Newton play like the 2015 version of himself or this new version of himself?

Will there be a defense in Carolina this year?

If these questions can be answered with yes,  their going to compete for the top of the division.

MY PREDICTION: 8-8 3rd in NFC South

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Season 9-7, 2nd in NFC South): 

The Buccaneers are coming off their first winning season since 2010.  Big improvements shown in Jameis Winston’s second year in the offense. Buccaneers DC Mike Smith brought the Buccaneers defense to life at the halfway point of the season.

KEY QUESTIONS: 

Will the Buccaneers start up slowly again this year?

Can the defense continue to build off of last years success?

MY PREDICTION: 10-6, 2nd in NFC South, Wild-Card Birth

 

New Orleans Saints (Last Season 7-9, 3rd in NFC South): 

 This can summarize the Saints over the last 3 seasons, Drew Brees continues to break records as the saints continue to be good and great on offense but i could bring myself and a group of people off the streets and score 30 on that defense in a game. Until the saints improve on defense their going to have .500 or worse seasons.

KEY QUESTIONS: 

Is the defense going to show the smallest of improvements?

Will we notice the age of Drew Brees at any point during the season?

Will Sean Peyton’s tenure in New Orleans come into question if the Saints start to fail this season?

MY PREDICTION:  7-9. 4th in NFC South