1st and 10 Week 24 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 24- August 29th, 2016
“1st and 10″ Week 24 -Special Guest Writer: Jonathan Bray…Co-Owner of Fantasyipa.com.
Special thanks to Jonathan – Be sure to follow him on Twitter @FIPA_Bray
Utter-Fantasy #1) The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs 5 years in a row, but like last year (lost to Pittsburgh 18-16 in 1st round), they never go far. If the Bengals were in a different division, (let’s say they swap places with Buffalo in the AFC East), would they have gone to the playoffs 5 years in a row?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I believe they would. I have always viewed the AFC Central as one of, if not THE toughest division in the NFL (excluding the Browns of course). The Bengals record against non-divisional foes each of the last 3 years? 7-3, 7-2-1, 8-2, 7-3, 7-3. That is a team that consistently wins, regardless of the competition. As far as why they perpetually lose in the playoffs so quickly…. perhaps the season simply wears them down, or Andy Dalton truly has head games going on. I’m not sure, but the odds are bound to turn in their favor eventually. Right??
Utter-Fantasy #2) After watching the Houston Texans the past two preseason games, QB Brock Osweiler is developing real chemistry, not just with DeAndre Hopkins, but with rookie Will Fuller (4-of-8 targets for 73 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s preseason game) and with rookie WR Braxton Miller as well. Based on this, could DeAndre Hopkins WR ADP (4) be too high now?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I do feel that Hopkins is being drafted a touch too high in 2016. I of course like the big three along with everyone else (Antonio Brown, Julio and ODBJ) but I also have AJ Green and Dez above Hopkins for the upcoming season. Therefore, still think of Hopkins as a first rounder, but more towards the end of the round based on a few factors: (1) the aforementioned better WR talent around him which should reduce DeAndre’s ridiculous 192 target total from 2015, (2) Lamar Miller being a much better running option than the Alfred Blue/Jonathan Grimes combo for most of 2015 which could further reduce target volume, and finally (3) I believe Osweiler still has some growing pains to work through and the bell will eventually toll for Hopkins consistently receiving subpar QB play in Houston.
Utter-Fantasy #3) Does it concern you, and effect how you draft, when certain players have not played in the preseason, such as IND F Gore, QB Aaron Rodgers, MINN RB Adrian Peterson or PITT QB Roethlisberger to name a few?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Truthfully, I think it depends on the experience level of the individual and the nature of their situation, such as, are they coming back from injury like Jamal Charles or Thomas Rawls or Julian Edelman. In those cases, I prefer to see them take a couple hits and show some burst in game action to ease my fears about drafting them at ADP. By and large for the list of guys you mention here, I think these veterans know how to prepare their bodies and minds for the rigors of an NFL season, and timing is really the main thing being sacrificed by not participating in the preseason.
Utter-Fantasy #4) Based on their team’s roster of talent, which NFL team “should” have been more successful in the regular season over the past couple years, and how will they fare in 2016?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: That is a really great question, and the team that resounds in my mind is the Miami Dolphins. Whether it is the underwhelming development of Ryan Tannehill, the porous and disappointing defensive line, or simply the bad coaching of Joe Philbin and staff, a lot has been left on the table it feels in terms of wins and losses the past two seasons. How a team goes a collective 14-18 in 2014/2015 while featuring such top 10-15 positional talents as RB Lamar Miller, WR Jarvis Landry, OL Mike Pouncy, DT Ndamukong Su, S Reshad Jones, DE Olivier Vernon, and LB Jelani Jenkins…. I’ll never know. Let’s see if the Adam Gase era can help this franchise achieve it’s potential!
Utter-Fantasy #5) Does QB Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons have enough weapons to really compete in the NFC South, especially when you compare how many weapons QB Drew Brees has in New Orleans?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I think so, but I should probably disclaim that I am a Falcons fan (second only to the Cowboys). That being said, I would take the combination of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman over Brandin Cooks and Mark Ingram in terms of each QB’s primary weapons, and really the same could be said when compared to the Buccaneer and Panther talent as well. Of course the depth of Brees’ teammates is pretty extensive with Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, Colby Fleener and CJ Spiller (if healthy and knowledgeable of the playbook in 2016 that is). I believe for Atlanta to compete in the NFC South this season, they need to (1) have guys like Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper come in and contribute early in the season to take attention away from Julio, (2) see some development from Tevin Coleman in terms of his vision and ability to read blocks and (3) see the defense take another step forward in 2016 like they did in 2015 moving to the middle of the pack in most metrics. I think the biggest thing hurting Atlanta right now is Matt Ryan himself, as he seems to have regressed in the past two seasons and I would now rate him #4 easily among the NFC QB group.
Utter-Fantasy #6) Can you name a few players that you have “flip-flopped” on in the past month (players who you thought would have a big season, and now you have reservations about, and vice versa)?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Certainly, I will give you two of each real quickly. In terms of positive flips, I would point to Dez Bryant first. Coming off a very subpar season that saw him struggle with both injury and lack of focus, it concerned me immensely at the opening of camp when he was fighting teammates and dropping passes again. However, he has shown up in full during his preseason action and all of this without Romo so I do not feel that the injury to Romo will much affect his fantasy outlook… Rookie Dak Prescott certainly looks the part 3 games in and has a nice rapport going with Dez. A second positive flip flop would have to be RB Devonta Freeman. He slowed down at the end of the 2015 season after an amazing first 9 weeks, and the assumption was that Tevin Coleman would likely gain more of the market share of the Falcon RB snaps in 2016. However, after watching the two RBs thus far in the preseason, it is clear who the “much more developed runner/receiver is” in this offense and I no longer think Freeman comes off the field more than say 20% of the snaps this season. After outpacing all other NFL backs in PPR format by more than 50 points in 2015, I now have Freeman ranked as RB #3 going into the season.
On the negative side of the flip flop, I think I would point to Matt Forte and Kelvin Benjamin. I loved the Forte move to the running back friendly Jet offense initially, but the closer we get to the season, the more I see a 50-50 split of the snaps with 5-year Jet vet Bilal Powell. Similar to Forte, Powell is a well-rounded back with equal aplomb at running between the tackles as catching passes from the backfield. Where Powell has advantages that I can no longer look past, are his familiarity with the offense combined with his health. Forte has had trouble staying on the field this preseason and while a veteran that does not need a lot of reps, this is still a notably different offense than what he is familiar with from Chicago. I now have Forte dropped to the #15 RB in my PPR ranks after being just inside the top 10 a few weeks ago. Kelvin Benjamin to me is the most grossly over-ranked WR out there this preseason. Without digging in fully, I initially had Benjamin ranked where most others do, around WR25-WR30. Upon further reflection however, I see the following in Benjamin: (1) still not quite 100% from ACL injury, (2) regressed as his rookie year wore on in 2014, (3) inefficient, volume dependent production as rookie, and (4) at risk to losing volume due to emergence of Teddy Ginn and Devin Funchess. There are significant red flags when looked at collectively, for an early 4th round fantasy selection. I’ll pass.
Utter-Fantasy #7) Please give me one or two bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season, that the fantasy football owners reading this will say “You have got to be kidding!”
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: This is a fun one, just don’t hold me to it if these don’t work out just right though! Bold prediction #1 – Frank Gore ends up in the top 10 fantasy running backs in PPR format. Bold prediction #2 – the Oakland Raiders will defeat both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos on their way to a long awaited Super Bowl appearance… I deleted and retyped this one twice before leaving it here, haha.
Utter-Fantasy #8) A lot has happened since the 2016 NFL Draft, when the top 8 wide receivers selected went 1) Corey Coleman, 2) Will Fuller, 3) Josh Doctson, 4) Laquon Treadwell, 5) Sterling Shepard, 6) Michael Thomas, 7) Tyler Boyd and 8) Braxton Miller. Based on what you’ve seen so far, rank how you now see these 8 WRs ending the 2016 NFL season (barring any huge injuries).
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Agree, a lot has in fact happened. I would rank as follows now: 1) Corey Coleman, 2) Sterling Shepard, 3) Josh Doctson, 4) Michael Thomas, 5) Will Fuller, 6) Laquon Treadwell, 7) Tyler Boyd and 8) Braxton Miller. The Treadwell lack of positive news is alarming in a run first offense at this stage, I believe he is 5th on the depth chart. I love Boyd’s opportunity, but I think his talent is fairly marginal and will depend too much on volume to ever have big games.
Utter-Fantasy #9) In 2014, Blake Bortles was the #21 QB for the season. Unexpectedly, he ended 2015 as the #3 QB. In this pass-friendly NFL league, name a couple of quarterbacks you see that could jump into the top 5, they aren’t expected to, and who would they be pushing out?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: For 2016, I could certainly see a Bortles type repeat for either Ryan Tannehill or Tyrod Taylor, who finished 16th and 17th in 2015 QB fantasy ranks. I believe Tannehill can make that long awaited jump if the Adam Gase offense kicks in timely enough, as he may have one of the deeper sets of receiving talents in the NFL with Jarvis Landry, Devonte Parker, Kenny Stills and rookies Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant. Tyrod Taylor is a wild card coming into his second season as a starter within a run first offense. He will certainly get his own yards on the ground, and with the release of Karlos Williams, it would not surprise me if the Bills are forced to throw more in 2016 with very little on the depth chart behind starting running back LeSean McCoy.
Utter-Fantasy #10) What are your thoughts on PHIL RB Kenjon Barner, CLEV WR WR Terrelle Pryor, DAL QB Dak Prescott and SF TE Vance McDonald, who have all been stand outs in this preseason?
FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I think Barner is not as much of a fit in the new Philly offense under coordinator Frank Reich as he supposedly was in Chip Kelly’s offense. So while he might be having a good preseason, I just don’t think he gets past Ryan Matthews or Darren Sproles on the depth chart this season without an injury taking place.
Pryor has shown great speed and ball tracking ability this preseason with a couple of the biggest plays across the league. With a wide open WR depth chart behind Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon, I believe Pryor has an unmatched size-speed combo amongst the Cleveland receivers that coach Hugh Jackson would be wise to make use of regularly.
Sadly, as I type this, it is announced that Cowboy QB Tony Romo has a break in his back that will force him to miss the first half of the regular season. Dak Prescott has suddenly played himself into a starting QB role just 4 months after being selected as the 8th QB off the board (4th round) in the NFL draft. The fact he is getting a shot even before Jared Goff, Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch is a complete shock to me but Prescott has shown a solid grasp of the offense from day 1, and remains calm under pressure while also showing that he can be a dual threat when the situation calls for it. I do think he is likely to regress once he is hit hard a few times by 1st team rush ends, or he feels the need to press because the Cowboy defense shows little ability to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone regularly. However, the future does look very bright for Dak!
Finally, Vance McDonald is certainly showing that he could win the valuable (fantasy wise) starting tight end job under Chip Kelly in San Francisco. After coming on nicely in the second half of 2015, he demonstrated just how big, fast and elusive he is on his 40-yard touchdown play in the 49er’s first preseason game. I am targeting McDonald as a backup tight end in many of my drafts this year as it would not completely surprise me to see him end up as a top 10 fantasy TE serving as one of few dependable receiving options for the subpar QBs in San Francisco.
Next Week’s Guest….the 5th Down FF’s Johnny Slokes