1st and 10 Week 23 by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy football insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which ones might carry major fantasy football implications.
Every Monday, at approximately 12:00 Noon Central, I will post the latest segment of “1st & 10.” If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.
1st and 10 Week 23- August 22th, 2016
“1st and 10″ Week 23 – Special Guest Writer- Mike Randle/ Fantasy Football Writer for LWOS
Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter @FtsyWarriorMike
and for a great read, check out Mike’s “50 Shades of Fantasy Football” column on FanSided.com
Utter-Fantasy #1) Should it be a concern for any NFL team to go 0-4 in the preseason?
LWOS Mike Randle: Not at all. However, there is also a big misnomer that the preseason simply doesn’t matter. It does matter, just not in wins and losses. Look at the Colts. They refused to play Luck because of how serious Rex Ryan takes the preseason. The decisions are not based solely on football success. Of course all teams want to get at least one win in the preseason, but there are many cases of teams that had double digit wins in the regular season, after going winless in the preseason. Just to use the Colts as an example, they did it twice (2005 and 2010). The preseason is a great time to identify fantasy sleepers, like Arian Foster in 2010, but I don’t downgrade a team because of a winless preseason.
Utter-Fantasy #2) Who were some of the players that stood out to you in Preseason Week 1? Any unexpected sleepers? ( for example, Tampa Bay’s WR Russell Shepard looked very interesting…3/62 yards and 1 TD. The Bucs may have finally found a #3 WR.)
LWOS Mike Randle: Rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas of the Saints looked tremendous. He looks ready to step right into that Marques Colston slot role. I was particularly encouraged by Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. He’s currently going in Round 6 of drafts, and has top 10 running back upside. The Jaelen Strong-Will Fuller battle is fun to watch, and I’m leaning towards Strong after his 4 catches for 42 yard performance against San Francisco. My big unexpected sleeper is Giants running back Andre Williams. I was a huge fan of Williams coming out of Boston College, he has the size and quickness to be a successful NFL player. All the noise coming out of New York is about rookie Paul Perkins and last year’s starter Rashad Jennings. If Williams continues to hit the holes like he did against Miami, he could very well be the goal line running back in a high powered offense. Fantasy owners assume that Perkins will be the handcuff to Jennings, I wouldn’t be so sure.
Utter-Fantasy #3) TB Doug Martin was in a contract year in 2015, and ended as the #3 RB last year. He got his new contract, so would a down year for Martin be totally unexpected?
LWOS Mike Randle: Doug Martin is a tough one to figure out. Second in the NFL in rushing last year, but I just can’t buy into a repeat performance. My first concern is his 57.1% Snap Share. That means he was only on the field for 57.1% of the plays that he could have been. Part of my concern with Martin is my belief in Charles Sims, whose Snap Share of 38.8% is going to rise. Sims’ 51 receptions ranked 7th among running backs last year, and if Martin slips even a little bit, Sims will be there to jump right in. I still think Martin will have over 1000 rushing yards, but a down year wouldn’t be totally unexpected.
Utter-Fantasy #4) Along those same lines…..HOU QB Brock Osweiler had questionable and inaccurate play in Preseason Week one, and with WRs J Strong, W Fuller and Braxton Miller all vulturing targets, could WR DeAndre Hopkins be a bust in 2016, at least in regards to where he is currently being selected in Round One of most drafts?
LWOS Mike Randle: I saw enough positive things out of Brock Osweiler last year to not be concerned. It was a bad game for sure, but he can’t be worse than what Hopkins had last year at the quarterback position. The vulturing targets argument has a flip side: they take away coverage from Hopkins as well. He has such athletic ability and is a massive red zone target (second in NFL in wide receiver red zone targets with 15). His floor is a top ten wide receiver. May underproduce to the tune of an early first round pick, but if you can get him late first/early second round, he will match value.
Utter-Fantasy #5) Would it say more about former Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly or more about new Philadelphia head coach Doug Peterson…if the Eagles went far in the playoffs in 2016?
LWOS Mike Randle: It would say a ton more about HC Doug Peterson. This Eagles team does not look good at all. The defense was terrible last year (30th in the NFL in yards allowed) and Sam Bradford was a huge disappointment after a good preseason. The book is still very much out on Chip Kelly. Is he really just Steve Spurrier in disguise? High powered offense that isn’t sustainable in the NFL? With mediocre quarterback play, an injury-plagued Ryan Mathews and a lack of explosive receiving targets, Peterson has a tough task. If the Eagles even made the playoffs, I’d be shocked. But if they go far in the playoffs…Peterson should get an immediate long-term deal.
Utter-Fantasy #6) Three new rule changes in the NFL for 2016. 1) 2 personal fouls and player is immediately ejected from game 2) Ball placed on 25 with kickoff touchback 3) Horse collar rule include player’s name plate when pulled to the ground. Any objections/concerns/opinions for you personally, with any of these three new rule changes?
LWOS Mike Randle: The personal foul one should just be called the OBJ/Normal rule. It was necessary and I’m glad it’s in place. Tom Coughlin got way too much criticism for not pulling Odell Beckham out of the game. It was an intense matchup, but nothing we didn’t see in the 1980’s all the time. That should be on the officials, not the coach. The kickoff one is tricky. I know the kickoff return is a dangerous play, but I’m not sure if the 25 yard line is enough to deter teams from trying. Either ban the kickoff entirely or let it go at the 20 yard line. Five yards isn’t going to make a big difference. I’m fine with the horse collar rule. Players need to have more protection above the shoulders and if a player can grab the back of the collar, he can grab the feet just as easily. That is a good rule change.
Utter-Fantasy #7) In 2015, CAR WR Ted Ginn Jr stepped up in a big way for the Panthers and ended the season as the #18 wide out with 958 total yards and 11 TDs. WRs D Funchess and K Benjamin are healthy along with star TE Greg Olsen, but is Ginn necessarily undraftable now? ( He was targeted by QB C Newton in Preseason Week 1, but in a 12 team- 15 round mock draft I recently viewed, he went undrafted while unlikely fantasy candidates Victor Cruz and SF Bruce Ellington were drafted.)
LWOS Mike Randle: Great question. I was thinking about Ginn just yesterday. Is he undervalued? When’s the last time a guy with 11 touchdowns was going undrafted the following year? Ginn had 10 catches of 20 yards or greater, and five catches of 40 yards or greater. I don’t see Benjamin or Funchess cutting into those deep balls plays. My bigger concern is I see a regression coming on QB Cam Newton. He outperformed his previous touchdown high by ten (35 total TDs in rookie season), and the previous year’s total by 22! After a huge overachieving season, Newton comes back to earth a bit in 2016.
No way Ginn has the same amount of touchdowns as last year, and he’ll always be “feast or famine.” But I do think that there’s value in having him on your bench for the right matchup, or if Benjamin or Funchess gets hurt.
( Preseason Week 2- 1 catch for 61 yards- TD )
Utter-Fantasy #8) I predict that the Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West in 2016. Who do you think will win that division, and will they go far in the playoffs?
LWOS Mike Randle: It is such a fun division, and this year the battle will be closer than ever. A record of 10-6 wins this division. In short here are my team thoughts:
Denver Broncos: Will not win the division again. Quarterback play is shaky, and Wade Phillips has a shaky track record in defensive success during year two of his tenure. In Philadelphia, Atlanta and Denver on his previous stint, there has been a serious regression during this second year. I like C.J. Anderson, provided he plays the entire season. These factors add up to the Broncos not winning this division.
Kansas City Chiefs: Highest floor of any AFC West team. Running game is best in the league. Jamaal Charles has the highest yards per carry of any running back in NFL history at 5.5 ypc. Charcandrick West had a nice year in 2015, and Spencer Ware is having a great preseason. Andy Reid is a great coach. When Justin Houston comes back, I agree, this is the team to beat.
San Diego Chargers: Should be much better than 4-12 finish last season. Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back in San Diego. The last time he guided the Chargers offense, quarterback Philip Rivers had his best season. I can’t see the defense improving to the point where they would challenge for the division title, but their offense will be explosive.
Oakland Raiders: The hardest team to figure out in the division. The offensive line and defense is absolutely good enough, and the Raiders have offensive playmakers at all skill positions. They key is quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray. If they have big season, I think the Raiders actually win the AFC West.
Regardless I think the winner of this division can definitely make the AFC title game. The Broncos showed the way last season.
Utter-Fantasy #9) The Detroit Lions had the worst yards average per run attempt in 2015. With Jim Caldwell still the head coach, I as a Lions fan, I do not see this changing…so why do other fantasy football owners? ( RB Ameer Abdullah is being drafted before CLEV Isaiah Crowell, Rashard Jennings and MIA Jay Ajayi. )
LWOS Mike Randle: The Lions running game this year will be improved, but it’s the worst fantasy football backfield in the NFL. I love Ameer Abdullah, his Burst Score and Agility Score are both 98th percentile on PlayerProfiler.com. That puts him in the upper 2% of running backs. But why is their best running back still returning kicks? Abdullah is not the goal line running back, that appears to be Zach Zenner. Then there’s Steven Ridley; who’s impossible to figure out. The most versatile running back on this team is Theo Riddick. His role is the most defined and was second among running backs in receptions (80) and receiving yards (697 yards). The only player you mentioned above that I would draft ahead of Abdullah is Jay Ajayi.
Utter-Fantasy #10) I have a few drafts already in the books, and unless I can get some rescheduled…..I may be in 4 back-to-back drafts coming up on Saturday Sept 3rd. Do you have a lot of drafts coming up as well and have you had any crazy packed draft days in the past?
LWOS Mike Randle: Mine are pretty spaced out. I try to plan that so I have time to write articles. I like to have three spaced out over a weeks time. I find that each time my plan is easier to execute. Its so important to get a feel of where players are going so that you know who you can wait on.
Next Week’s Guest….FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray