1st & 10 DFF April 11

1st and 10 with DFF Week 5

1st and 10 with DFF Week 5 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10 with DFF” is a weekly segment of fantasy insights and a joint endeavor between the Dynasty Football Factory and Utter-Fantasy Football. We will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy implications.

Michael Goins is the owner of Dynasty Football Factory, which is a website that you must visit daily, or you are missing out on great fantasy football, especially dynasty formatted fantasy football. Follow him on twitter @DynastyFFactory

 

On Monday afternoon, approximately 2:00 PM Central, I will post the latest segment in “1st & 10 with DFF.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any questions for Michael, really let us know.

 

Week 5-  April 11th, 2016

Special Guest Writer-Dynasty Football Factory’s Michael Vincent. Be sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MVtweetshere

 

Utter-Fantasy #1)  Does CHI WR White’s 2015 injury make you drop him in early rankings, or are you confident that he will fulfill the same expectations in 2016 that were there for him after the 2015 NFL Draft?

DFF Response) Coach John Fox says that White is fully recovered from his shin injury that kept him out the entire 2015 season. If he refined his route running and didn’t lose any of his speed or combine measurable numbers, there is no reason why he cannot be an immediate contributor for the Bears in 2016. He was drafted to be the “X” receiver in the offense, and that’s what he’ll be if healthy. The expectation last season was that he was drafted to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and to replace Brandon Marshall and his three-year average of 154 targets between 2012 and 2014. While that did not come into fruition, White will get another opportunity not only to fill that role, but also to share the target load left behind by the departing Martellus Bennett, who averaged 100 targets per season in his three years as a Bear.

 

Utter-Fantasy #2)  We all know that the NFL has been devaluing the running back position. In 2013, there were 18 running backs with 7 or more rushing TDs. In 2014, there were 15 running backs with 7 or more rushing TDs and in 2015, only 10 running back with 7 or more rushing TDs. Will 2016 continue with this downward scoring trend by RBs?

DFF Response)  Yes. Overpriced RBBC situations creating cloudy backfield breakdowns, down-and-distance metrics, and the always mind-numbingly painful vultured touchdowns, the value of a running back in the red zone has changed. The position is more saturated than ever. Only 16 running backs played 50 percent of their teams snaps, and only one, DeAngelo Williams, played two-thirds of the snaps. The biggest reason the numbers keep going down, however, is the simple fact that the league has become a pass first, pass second, pass third league. Over the last two seasons, there have been more passing touchdowns (717) than rushing touchdowns (553) inside the 10-yard line.

2015 may also have been an outlier with the amount of injuries and attrition that took place in backfields across the NFL as Jamaal Charles, Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Matt Forte all missed significant time. DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Eddie Lacy and Mark Ingram also missed games with injuries. It may bounce back in 2016, but it hasn’t trended that way for a while.

 

Utter-Fantasy #3)   Why do you think GB WR Randall Cobb had such a drop off in production in 2015?

DFF Response) Cobb is getting a lot of the heat for this drop off and for this reason he will definitely be undervalued going into 2016 in both dynasty and redraft leagues. Let’s not forget a few factors that played into the “drop off”. The Packers lost Jordy Nelson for the season during an exhibition game and the Packers spent most of the season with Cobb lining up next to either old (James Jones), bad (Davonte Adams), or unproven players (Jeff Janis and Jeff Abbrederis.) None of that equated to the value of what Jordy Nelson did to the defense, forcing Cobb to be the only legitimate threat out of that receiving corps. With no one there to stretch the field, no real consistent production out of Richard Rodgers at tight end, absolutely zero out of the running game, AND a very weak offensive line, Cobb’s production became collateral damage. It wasn’t for a lack of targets, as he set a career high with 129 of them in 2015. Four of his six touchdowns came in the first three games of the season, so recency bias is eating away at Cobb’s 2016 ADP and I think that’s fine. He will get under-drafted, Nelson will be back, Lacy needs to bounce back and the offensive line will be upgraded through the draft. Cobb owners who are buying low will look like geniuses.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4)  Is there a player(s) who is getting a lot of hype in this year’s NFL Draft, who you think will be selected too early by an NFL team?

DFF Response) I can see Braxton Miller being drafted too early by his hometown Cleveland Browns, attempting to reinvent the wheel by drafting a guy who can be a quarterback or a wide receiver, much like Terrell Pryor. Both out of Ohio State, both QB turned WR, both now on the Browns as they usher in the “Moneyball” era for Cleveland under new head coach Hue Jackson. He has the skill set to succeed as a wide receiver in the NFL but without a structured offense in place and so many question marks around him and the Browns, it’s going to be tough. With the question marks at the quarterback position, Josh Gordon, and the running game, it’s a perfect storm for Miller to be the next failed experiment at quarterback for Cleveland, even though they will draft him as a receiver.

 

Utter-Fantasy #5)  Will RB Jeremy Langford be a respectable replacement for RB Matt Forte in Chicago?

DFF Response)   Whether it was in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, or in Denver with any combination of Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson, John Fox’s offensive approach will more than likely involve more than one running back carrying the ball. In each of his four Denver Broncos seasons, Fox had two players with at least 100 carries (Tim Tebow had 122 for 660 yards in 2011). In his first season with the Bears in 2015, Forte had 218 carries to Langford’s 148. Whether or not it was a product of age or Fox’s approach, it was the least touches per game he has averaged in his career. Can Langford be the bell-cow in Chicago? Probably, but we may not find out because of how Fox utilizes running backs. Ka’Deem Carey may get an extended look in training camp and the fact that they attempted to bring in C.J. Anderson on a long-term deal makes you wonder if they see Langford as “the guy” or “a guy.” On the positive side of the matter, Langford proved last season that he was careful with the ball (no lost fumbles) and was trustworthy enough in pass protection to be a three-down back in Forte’s absence. If he can curb the drops and be more efficient in the passing game (caught only 22 of 42 targets), Langford can make a case to be the lead back in Chicago, or at least have coach Fox think long and hard about a committee approach.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6)  Was last year just a great season that all came together for the 2015 Carolina Panthers or has HC Ron Rivera built this team to get double digit wins for next couple years?

DFF Response) People want to call the Panthers’ success this season a fluke after coming off a 7-8-1 record in 2014, but this is a team that also went 12-4 in 2013 and has now won three straight division titles and have had a first round bye in two of the last three years. This means they’ve played fellow division champions for the last two seasons. Ron Rivera has this team on the right track and has the perfect infusion of youth and veteran leadership in their locker room. However, they will probably not go 15-1 again and steamroll the NFL like they did this season as they played the two worst divisions in the league in the AFC South and NFC East. With Drew Brees’ light fading in New Orleans, Tampa Bay still a few years away from being a contender and Atlanta in what feels like a constant state of transition, Carolina should be the team to beat in the NFC South for years to come. Until the Panthers’ string of three straight division titles, no team had won that division in consecutive seasons since its inception in 2002.

 

Utter-Fantasy #7)  When Detroit Lions’ Martha Firestone Ford signaled a new beginning by cleaning house last November, I would have fired HC Jim Caldwell with the rest of them? Is there an NFL head coach that you feel should be unemployed right now that isn’t?

DFF Response) I may get torched for thinking this, but if Tom Coughlin doesn’t have a job right now, neither should Sean Payton. Payton, like Coughlin, has gotten by with a longer leash because of the success had in the playoffs. Coughlin won two Super Bowls, and Payton won one, after the 2009 season. How Payton and Drew Brees turned around that franchise and what it did for the city of New Orleans will never be forgotten, but in football years, that was a long time ago. Six seasons have passed since they beat the Colts in the Super Bowl. Since then, they only have two playoff wins and have finished 7-9 three times in the last four years, with only one playoff appearance during that span. What Sean Payton means to that franchise may be more than just football related, but eventually that sentimental attachment sets teams back. He signed a five year extension that is going to pay him $8 million annually, so it looks like they have reached the point of no return if they were going to cut ties at any point in the near future. This may be a long term strategic move; a way to save face if he were to continue to miss the playoffs by keeping him on as a “football czar” or a move to the front office.

(Utter-fantasy Response: We agree!)

 

Utter-Fantasy #8)  Tell me at least one fantasy football draft selection that you made last year that you are still regretting.

DFF Response) I stay true to drafting wide receivers early in all my leagues and all my formats. Even in DFS, I look to allocate most of my budget to top tier, high ceiling receivers. I always do this…except when I don’t. I joined two leagues later into the preseason and wanted to try something different. One was a standard league and I went RB first, selecting Eddie Lacy has the second overall pick. Obviously in hindsight, if RB first was my strategy, it would not have mattered who I picked as most of them were either injured or ineffective all season. Any shred of confidence I still had in taking a running back early was shattered after the 2015 season. In another league, again, deciding to go against the grain I chose to select Andrew Luck late in the second round. Huge mistake. I never take quarterbacks or running backs early and when I did, I remembered why I don’t. I look forward to not overthinking things this season.

 

Utter-Fantasy #9)   Ranked your top 5 tight ends for the upcoming 2016 NFL season with a brief explanation why you ranked them as such.

DFF Response)  Number 1 would be Rob Gronkowski. Give me his size, skills, system, scheme, quarterback, and complimentary weapons around him and I will show you the best tight end in football right now. People forget he is a great inline blocker too, which makes him even more valuable than most others. He just needs to stay healthy. I can write a book about why he is TE1, but you already know that.

Number 2 would be Greg Olsen. Olsen may be older but he is still very productive and reliable. He has not missed a game since his rookie season and has played 142 straight regular season games. He has seen his targets increase every year since joining Carolina in 2011 and has four straight 100 target seasons and two straight 1000-yard campaigns. His touchdowns have also increased every year since 2011, which is also the year Cam Newton was drafted. He is Newton’s go-to guy and a red zone threat. In his career, he has 37 touchdowns in the red zone, including 23 inside the 10-yard line. I will take two to three more years of this production over a project-player.
 
Number 3 for me is Travis Kelce. Kelce will be good for many years to come and can be successful split out or as an inline tight end. His target total increased in 2015 but his production was nearly identical from 2014 which is a concern. He has also lost six fumbles over the last two seasons, which can be troubling if it continues. After Jeremy Maclin, Kelce is the Chiefs’ best route runner, but both are still going to be as good and as vertical as Alex Smith’s arm is going to allow them to be. Kelce can be great if his quarterback situation improves. He has produced decent numbers in a low-passing volume offense; it can only get better.
 
Number 4 is Zach Ertz. Like Kelce, Ertz just signed a long term deal with Philadelphia. His new head coach, Doug Pederson, was Kelce’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City. Ertz broke out at the end of last season and one can only hope he builds on that momentum and the new coaching staff utilizes him properly. Also like with Kelce, Ertz has a former number one overall pick in Sam Bradford throwing him the ball. Ertz had career highs in targets, receptions and yards in 2015 and will look to improve on that under a new regime.
 
Number 5 is Jordan Reed. I want to believe in Reed and what the Redskins did at the end of last season. I really do, which is why I have him ranked higher than the likes of Gary Barnidge and Delanie Walker. So many things went right for Reed last season it’s almost unrealistic to think that it’s going to happen again. Kirk Cousins played out of this world in the second half the year and Reed was the main beneficiary. No semblance of a running game and defense led to high scoring shootouts that catered to Reed’s target-dependent production. He was a monster in 2015 but there is still concerns over concussions and his ability to stay on the field.

 

Utter-Fantasy #10)   Two running backs were selected in the 1st round of last years’s NFL draft, and two in the 2nd round. I predict those same numbers this year. What do you predict?

DFF Response) If we’re being honest, I can’t see anyone but Zeke Elliott and Derrick Henry taken in the first two rounds, with only Elliott going in the first. I can see as a longshot Kenneth Dixon out of Louisiana Tech going late in the second round to Green Bay, Carolina or New England, but outside of Elliott and Henry, it’s hard to predict too many teams using a high pick on a running back this year. Too many teams have too many needs.

 

 

Next week Utter-Fantasy will have 10 new questions for the Dynasty Football Factory

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