1st and 10 with DFF Week 9 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
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 fantasy football questions for Michael, really let us know.
Week 9- May 16th, 2016
Special Guest Writer-Dynasty Football Factory’s Michael Hughes. Be sure to follow Michael on Twitter
Utter-Fantasy #1) Because WR DeSean Jackson hasn’t played a 16 game season since joining Washington, and WR Pierre Garcon is 30 years old this year, can first-round WR Josh Doctson become the #1 receiver for QB Kirk Cousins this season?
DFF Response) DeSean Jackson was a perennial WR1 once he gained his footing in Philadelphia, despite the criticism that he was only a “home-run hitter,” a receiver that excels on deep passing routes and has little to no other relevance in the offense. Since joining Washington, he has been much more of the traditional deep-ball threat. As noted, he has also been plagued by the injury bug. Pierre Garcon’s yearly statistics have declined since his breakout year in 2013 in the Nation’s Capital. The perception on Garcon is that his abilities are dwindling due to age, fatigue, etc. The reality is that Garcon has occupied the same space on the teams he’s played for: he is a reliable WR with veteran prowess, which makes him the ideal target for his quarterback during crunch time, while running the two-minute offense, or trying to convert a 3rd and short. DJax and Garcon will in all likelihood continue to garner a decent number of targets in 2016. QB Kirk Cousins is looking for another prolific offensive year in order to cash in with a lucrative, long-term contract. That last note bodes well for Doctson, who will be thrust into the offense as a wiry WR with skills, above average hands and footwork, and lots of size. As we’ve seen in the traditional Jay Gruden offense, the WR1 is typically drowning in targets, receptions, and opportunities to make big plays (see: AJ Green, 2012-2013). Doctson has draft pedigree, having been selected 22nd overall by Washington in this year’s draft. Gruden obviously likes what he’s seen from the 6’2”, 202-pound product from TCU. The stars are aligned for Josh Doctson to come into camp, solidify his position within the offense as a large bodied wideout with good hands, and make a real name for himself early in the ‘Skins offense. I like Doctson’s chances to finish 2016 as the #1 receiver in Washington.
Utter-Fantasy #2) As an owner of at least one Dynasty League team, did you have any of your players’ fantasy stock get clobbered by an NFL team’s draft selection in 2016? ( If not, you must know someone who did?)
DFF Response) The three-headed monster of Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar all took a collective hit with the Cowboys’ selection of Ezekiel Elliott from Ohio State at number four overall. Many dynasty owners were holding on to McFadden by a thread, recognizing that he has an injury-riddled past and that he is getting up there in age. Last year’s performance warranted keeping McFadden on your bench and many owners did just that, hoping to eke out one more year of fantasy production. Unfortunately for McFadden owners, Easy E is now in the Big D and will spell certain doom for McFadden’s fantasy output. Similarly, Alfred Morris owners were invigorated by the fact that a now older, veteran back with questionable catching ability had landed on a team with a great run-blocking offensive line. The shine on Morris was buffed out almost immediately, as the team drafted college’s top running back. Lance Dunbar – had you forgotten about him? – was also in position to be Dallas’ top pass-catching back. He had demonstrated a penchant for catching passes out of the backfield in previous years and it seemed logical that he would slide right back into that role. At present, it seems that Dallas is committed to Elliott and will give the Buckeye product the lion’s share of the carries and, likely, the majority of passes, too. If you own any of the other Dallas RBs, you’re likely going to have some dead roster weight this upcoming season.
Utter-Fantasy #3) Who is going to win the NFC East Division and why?
DFF Response) As of May 2016, my money is on Dallas to win the NFC East. Forget what you know about the 2015 Cowboys and think back to the Cowboys teams of 2013 and 2014. Last year was an anomaly; Dez Bryant was injured for most of the year and Tony Romo couldn’t stay on the field, either. Going into next season, Dallas has its top offensive weapons available and healthy – and as mentioned above, they’ve added a top-tier running back to play behind the league’s scariest O-line. If their defense can avoid a total meltdown week in and week out, the team can make some noise. By exclusion, if you look at New York, Philly, and Washington, you see some shortcomings that may derail those teams’ seasons. Philly is going to adapt to a new head coach, a muddied quarterback room, and many new faces. Pragmatically speaking, there is much more than just X’s and O’s to digest in Philadelphia, and I believe that will ultimately keep them from winning the division. Not too dissimilarly, the Giants will be directed by first-time head coach Ben McAdoo this year. Although McAdoo is not a new face to the organization, it will be the first time that the former NYG O-Coordinator will be calling all of the shots. Add to that the uncertainty on defense, and there is just enough fuel to flame the fires of doubt for the G-Men. Finally, Washington, the defending NFC East champions, will seek to win their second straight division title. Unfortunately, I do not see the absolutely eye-popping numbers for QB Kirk Cousins continuing this year. Cousins is a good QB and he will be just fine, but he won’t blow the doors off the arena each week like he did during the tail-end of the 2015 season. Running back Matt Jones will need to step-up and convince the league that he can carry the load for a team that seeks to run the ball a decent amount. All in all, I believe Washington falls just shy of its goal of repeating as champs.
Utter-Fantasy #4) How do you see the saga with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets ultimately playing out?
DFF Response) If you had asked me this question in April 2016, prior to the draft, I would have brushed it off and exclaimed that there is nothing to see: Fitz will be a Jet in 2016. However, with the Jets-Fitzpatrick contract standoff and the team’s recent decision to select Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg in the draft, I am a little less confident that Fitzpatrick starts for GangGreen next year. Recently, long-time Fitz supporter WR Brandon Marshall even said that the team can win without Fitzpatrick. Many draftniks regailed us with tales of the Jets’ in-depth scouting of Hackenberg, which apparently started as early as Christian’s freshman year at PSU. Given the team’s recent failures at drafting a signal caller, one would think that they wouldn’t take a chance on a questionable prospect again (a la Geno Smith out of WVU, and then Bryce Petty out of Baylor). By taking Hackenberg, the Jets are looking to silence the critics who believe the team is habitually unable to scout QB talent. Hackenberg may not be the answer in New York. Whatever happens, though, it seems more and more likely that the Jets are calling Fitzpatrick’s bluff. I don’t believe Fitz-Magic calls plays in New York in 2016.
Utter-Fantasy #5) The newer owners in the NFL are “OK” with a team moving to Las Vegas, while the veteran owners are opposed to a team in “Sin City” because of the distractions and vices that may be prevalent there. Are the veteran owners just being “grumpy old men” about a team in Las Vegas?
DFF Response) There are two types of NFL owners: Old NFL and New NFL. The New NFL ownership groups are looking to capitalize on all possible football-centric revenue streams, including new media, merchandising, etc. These owners are less fixated on the shield/NFL logo, and are more concerned with the entertainment aspect of the sport. Old NFL is looking to capitalize as well, but on its own terms. The history of the NFL shows us that owners have been relatively stingy and tight with the purse strings, often passing up innovation in favor of the comfortable, familiar ways of the past. Old-school owners want to control every part of the NFL’s day to day business and they want to do so on their own terms. A professional team in Las Vegas would be a new occurrence and, as with anything that hasn’t been seen before, there is no way to game plan or prepare for each and every scenario that will follow. Older owners are not keen on being ill-prepared for major events like a new team in a vice-haven like Las Vegas. Thus, I don’t believe the older NFL owners are telling the new owners to get off their lawn; instead, they’re moving cautiously and calculating all of the risks involved.
Utter-Fantasy #6) Can a person be in “too many” fantasy football here leagues?
DFF Response) Yes, an owner can be in too many fantasy football leagues, but what constitutes “too many leagues” is really a personal preference. To each his own. There is no one-size-fits-all portfolio of fantasy teams/leagues. My advice would be to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself: can you handle the number of leagues you’re currently in? If so, would you be able to add another league without it siphoning resources and attention from your other leagues and from your life as a whole. Despite the fact that fantasy football is a hobby, it requires a lot of attention and energy. This is magnified in dynasty leagues, which typically run year-round and allow for trading and scheming in the off-season. I like to devote a good amount of time to each team I manage and I get to know my rosters very well. I am always aware of bye weeks, roster limits, roster construction, positions of weakness, and positions of strength. I also endeavor to identify the tendencies of other owners. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work going in to each team and if you have other responsibilities it can become a chore. My advice to each owner is this: take on as many teams as you are comfortable managing without feeling like setting your lineup, reviewing the waiver wire, and evaluating trades has become work. You want this to be fun, so don’t allow fantasy football to become an inconvenience.
Utter-Fantasy #7) What are your thoughts on the fantasy sports websites FanDuel and Draft Kings and the legislation trying to shut them down?
DFF Response) Gambling has always been an issue with major sports in America, and that will likely never change. Fantasy football connoisseurs work to differentiate fantasy sports from traditional gambling. The main argument is that fantasy sports requires some amount of skill, whereas placing a wager on which team will win is decidedly different. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, the particular legislature in each state will decide – as it often does – what it believes is safe and beneficial to its residents. For me, the main concern with sites like FanDuel and Draft Kings has to be the role it plays on those with gambling addictions and the inability to exercise self-discipline. It is obvious that you can lose money quicker in daily fantasy sports than yearly sports because of the timeframe of each league or contest. With daily fantasy you enter and win or lose at the conclusion of the games in question, whereas with season long fantasy football you do not find out whether you’ve won until the end of the year. For these reasons, a player needs to know his or her limits. If you can’t afford to play and lose with daily fantasy sports leagues, then the season-long route is the way to go.
Utter-Fantasy #8) Would you rather be…… the new NFL Commissioner or a short-lived, but very successful NFL quarterback?
DFF Response) I would personally prefer to the NFL Commissioner. The rationale here is simple: money aside – and both positions are paid well, verily – I have a passion for football that would be best addressed in the league offices. As commissioner you can leave your stamp on the league and further the efforts of innovations. The longevity of getting to act as commissioner is enticing, too, as opposed to playing in the league for a short time. For me, the opportunity to effect regulation and rule making over a longer period of time is more appealing than having been the successful player.
Utter-Fantasy #9) PITT RB DeAngelo Williams was a fantasy stud in 2015, filling in for RB LeVeon Bell. Make the case that he is more than just a handcuff, if LeVeon Bell is 100% in 2016.
DFF Response) Stud running backs like LeVeon Bell typically do it all: they rush well, they catch passes, and they play all three downs. The reason many backup running backs are only seen as handcuffs, and thus do not possess stand-alone player value, is because they are not expected to play many snaps and by extension will not put up stunning fantasy numbers. It usually takes a unique situation, such as injury to a top player or garbage time offensive snaps, for a role player or backup to gain any exposure. Without that limited window of opportunity, few backups get the chance to shine. When LeVeon Bell missed multiple games in 2015 due to suspension and injury, DeAngelo Williams was given the opportunity to demonstrate his value. He did just that, amassing 907 rushing yards and scoring 11 rushing touchdowns. He also added 40 catches for 367 yards. Those sure look like RB1 numbers to me. We all expect LeVeon to return to the starting role, but is D-Will still going to be relegated to back-up duties? I think that he has shown enough to warrant more playing time. Pittsburgh and offensive coordinator Todd Haley have not been shy in the past and I believe that DeAngelo Williams will benefit from a larger complement of plays where the goal is to get him the ball, be it via pass or run. NFL teams value versatility, ball control, and vision. Williams has all of that and I believe the Steelers will reward him with more playing time than the average back up RB.
Utter-Fantasy #10) It is well-known that WR Wes Welker has had multiple concussion injuries, but the free agent still wants to play in the NFL. After a certain number of these types of injuries, should the league be able to tell a player that they are not allowed to play anymore, even if a competent doctor clears them to play?
DFF Response) The most important aspect of this situation is safety. Competent doctors must evaluate a player and determine if playing football is still an option. Ultimately, it is the league’s responsibility to protect players. As we have seen with other changes to the game, the goal is now to make the NFL safer and that very well may lead to certain instances where teams may keep players out of games for health interests.
Next week Utter-Fantasy will have 10 new questions for the Dynasty Football Factory