Things are starting to take shape in Fantasy Football land as the final week of the preseason is upon us. Which means these next few days – leading up to Opening Night at Lincoln Financial Field – are prime draft days. Battles have been won (for now), and will continue throughout the season. Cuts are being made and some questionable injuries are becoming more clear.
Alshon Jeffery is expected to miss at least the first two weeks of the season and Nick Foles will start Thursday against Atlanta in place of Carson Wentz. The Eagles are expected to be patient with both. Unfortunately, Marqise Lee has joined Hunter Henry on season-ending IR.
Below are a few players I’m higher and lower on, using the consensus Fantasy Football rankings courtesy of FantasyPros. Focusing mostly on PPR, but I’ve sprinkled in some standard hot takes as well. Basically these are players I see as ADP values, when viewed against the perceived values of my industry brethren.
My full PPR and Standard Fantasy Football Rankings and strategies can be found here.
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ADP Values for 2018 Fantasy Football
Higher on: Carlos Hyde (My rank: RB22 / ECR: RB29 / ADP RB26)
Lower on: Nick Chubb (My rank: RB55 / ECR: RB51 / ADP: RB44)
It’s certainly a crowded backfield in Cleveland with newly drafted Nick Chubb and steady pass catcher Duke Johnson Jr., but make no mistake Carlos Hyde is the guy to own in redraft leagues. Hyde finished just shy of 1,000 rushing yards (938) and had a career-high eight rushing touchdowns last season. The former 49er racked up a career-best 87 targets, 59 catches and 350 receiving yards as well. Good enough for an RB7 finish in PPR formats. He’s unlikely to hit as many targets and catches with Duke in the mix, but in case you forgot, Hyde can catch. After all, he only had 23 receptions in his first two seasons and 50 total heading into last year. Maybe the biggest takeaway from last season was that Hyde played a full 16 games for the first time in his career. It’s not often you can get a potential Top 15 RB in the fifth or sixth round. Hyde represents one of the safer ADP values this year.
As for Chubb, it’s just too crowded of a backfield to feel great about drafting the rookie. It’s a bit puzzling Cleveland drafted Chubb after signing Hyde to three-year contract in the offseason, but they can get out of it after year one if they’d like. Hyde is the better back, looks great in preseason and will get first and second looks right out of the gate. He’s also just better and skill should take over in what could be a ‘let’s give Hyde all the touches he can handle in one season‘ situation. Chubb has a chance for goal-line and short-yardage work, but it’s nothing to get excited about. He’s a solid dynasty option.
Higher on: Corey Clement (My rank: RB39 / ECR: RB50 / ADP: RB52)
Lower on: Jay Ajayi (My rank: RB26 / ECR: RB21 / ADP: RB20)
It’s hard to imagine Corey Clement being anything more than a FLEX play in a deep league or a bye-week replacement in PPR formats. That’s OK, because he’s getting drafted in the 11th round as RB52. There’s this notion in the Fantasy community that the Philadelphia Eagles will give the ball 20-plus times a game to Jay Ajayi. While it’s logical to think that given this is the last year on Ajayi’s contract, it’s not something Doug Pederson has done since becoming a head coach with the Eagles two seasons ago. In those two seasons, only Ryan Matthews had 20 carries in a game, and he did it only twice. Ajayi is expected to be the lead back in the offense, but Pederson will continue to take a committee approach.
Ajayi is already dealing with a “lower body” injury according to the Eagles and he’s questionable to play Week 1. Now, it’s very likely Ajayi suits up for the opener, but here we go again, right? Ajayi missed a ton of practice time last season due to a knee injury. The same knee that affected his draft stock coming out of college and it’s certainly slowed him down throughout his NFL career. As much as you’d like to believe Pederson will make Ajayi his workhorse in the final year of his contract, it’s unlikely Ajayi can even handle it.
Clement had an impressive 4.3 yards per carry mark in his rookie season, but he only ran the ball 74 times. He only had three games with double-digit carries and he scored just four rushing touchdowns. Clement caught 10 balls on 14 targets, but his attempts, targets, and catches were the second most in the backfield. He led all Philly RBs with six total touchdowns. I’m aware that Ajayi only played 10 games with the Eagles, which included three playoff games. Even still, that’s impressive stuff for the undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin to hang around with Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount down the stretch. Even more impressive that Clement had more touches and targets in the red zone than Ajayi from Week 9 on when he was acquired.
Perderson showed trust in Clement throughout the postseason as he racked up 10 catches in three games, including four for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He showed a ton of faith and confidence in Clement on the game’s biggest stage. Save yourself the headache Ajayi will bring and shoot for upside in a PPR format with Clement. 120 carries and 35 grabs are doable.
Higher on: Cooper Kupp (My rank: WR26 / ECR: WR33 / ADP: WR37)
Lower on: Brandin Cooks (My rank: WR28 / ECR: WR22 / ADP: WR19)
As you can see with my ranking of Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks, I basically have these two side by side. This may be the biggest difference in my rankings compared to other experts as most have the more talented Cooks ranked higher. Even still, these two are so close together in my rankings that the big takeaway here is, grab Kupp a round or two later. Here’s my thing: Cooks is new to the offense and won’t see another 114 targets as he joins a crowded wide receiver group which had a running back lead the team in catches last season. Cooks joins Robert Woods as the primary outside wideouts for Sean McVay and they’ll see some tough corner matchups throughout the season. McVay will be able to move everyone around, but Woods likely suffers the most with the Cooks addition. You know who won’t be moving around? That’s Cooper Kupp. Having Cooks should only help Kupp build on his rookie season and be one of the better ADP values in late drafts.
Kupp has his position in the slot on lockdown and he’s had chemistry with Jared Goff from day one of camp last season. The two hooked up for a touchdown in their first preseason game together and they have been doing it ever since. Kupp had a solid 62 grabs, 869 yards and five touchdowns last season, but more importantly he led the Rams with 23 red-zone targets (second most at WR). He also led the Rams with seven targets inside the 10-yard line. Now roommates, Kupp and Goff are back on the fielding improving on that chemistry.
Higer on: Pierre Garcon (My rank: WR25 / ECR: WR35 / ADP: WR38)
Lower on: Marquise Goodwin (My rank: WR33 / ECR: WR29 / ADP: WR29)
I see the potential in Marquise Goodwin, but let’s be serious here… Pierre Garcon is San Francisco’s best wide receiver. At least, he should be Jimmy Garoppolo’s safest and most consistent pass-catcher. If you look back at Garcon’s NFL career, his 2013 season stands out. Garcon caught 113 balls for 1,346 yards. Both marks were career-highs as were the 184 targets he saw that season. Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator in Washington that year, and he gave Garcon a similar usage last season with the 49ers.
Garcon had 40 catches for 500 yards over eight games in his first season with the 49ers. He was on pace for the second-highest catch total (80), target total (134), and third highest yardage total (1,000) of his career if not for a neck injury. Only 13 wide receivers had more than 1,000 yards last season and only 10 caught 80-plus balls. The 134 targets would have been the 13th most at the WR position. Keep in mind, he did all of his damage catching balls from Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard.
Goodwin had a career season in 2017, catching 56 of his 105 targets for 962 yards. His 17.2 yards per catch was the third highest total in the league. Goodwin is a burner! There’s no doubt about it. Jimmy is going to love taking shots downfield to the speedster, but keep in mind, most of his production came when Garcon was sidelined. Goodwin is a fine flier to take and an even better best ball, standard and DFS tournament option, but give me the safer, better wideout a few rounds later. Injuries are tough to predict and we don’t wish it on anyone, but it’s hard to ignore the fact Goodwin has been diagnosed with five concussions since 2016 and six total in his career. Sometimes the best ADP values come in the form of ‘boring’ veterans.
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
I can see you wanting to pass on Jarvis Landry in a standard league, but he’s a top-10 WR for me in PPR formats. His ECR and ADP on Fantasypros has him as WR17. Only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have more catches than Landry’s 400 since he entered the league in 2014. That’s only 11 shy of Julio’s mark in that time frame. It’s the nine touchdowns you don’t believe in? That’s fair. In 2016, he was WR13 in PPR formats with five fewer touchdowns and 18 fewer catches. Dude can play, and there’s no reason to think he can’t lead the league in catches again. The move from Miami to Cleveland isn’t that big of a difference as Landry played with multiple average QB’s. Who knows? Maybe the Browns will use Landry in the red zone just as much as the Dolphins did last year. His 23 red-zone targets were one behind Keenan Allen for the wide receiver lead. You don’t like Tyrod Taylor? Don’t worry, Baker Mayfield is the real deal and will be in before you know it.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Robbie Anderson’s ADP on FantasyPros is WR41 and that’s just plane ignorant. I have him at WR27 which I get is probably a tad too high, but his WR19 finish last season was no fluke. Remember toward the end of the 2016 season when Anderson racked up 14 catches and 240 yards with two touchdowns? Many thought he couldn’t carry a similar kind of production over to his second season, but he did with 63 grabs on 114 targets and 941 yards. Anderson found the end zone seven times and finished with 14 yards per reception just like he did as a rookie. Anderson is the by far the most talented wideout on the Jets and if people want to let him fall into the eighth than so be it.
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson Agholor broke out in a big way in 2017 catching 62 balls for 768 yards. He turned out to be one of the better draft day or waiver wire steals of the year. Agholor excelled in the slot en route to eight touchdowns while leading Philly in red-zone targets. There’s no reason to think he can’t churn out a similar stat line which saw him finish as a Top 25 WR. Especially with Alshon Jeffery sidelined for at least the first two games of the season. Having Jeffery on the field probably helps Agholor in the long run, but in the meantime it’s possible he’s the number one option in the passing game. The Eagles should be one of the highest scoring teams in the league again this season, and they may just pass a bit more in the red zone with LeGarrete Blount out of town.
Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Grant is fresh off a career-high 45 catches, 573 yards, and four touchdowns. Grant also had a career-high 12.7 yards per catch average in 2017. He originally signed a four-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, but failed a physical, later taking a one-year contract with Indianapolis. The 27-year-old leaves Washington where he was the fourth and fifth option at times. He’s the clearcut No. 2 wideout with the Colts and couldn’t have landed in a better spot in terms of opportunity. Grant won’t cost a thing on draft day and Andrew Luck is his quarterback. It’s that simple. Good quarterbacks make decent receivers into ADP bargains.
Alfred Morris, San Francisco 49ers
*Updated – 49ers fear Jerick McKinnon suffered a season-ending knee injury. Matt Breida also cleared for practice and should be ready Week 1. If McKinnon is lot for the season, I prefer Alfred Morris over Matt Breida, but both have value. Breida has more value in PPR leagues.
I’d like to put Matt Breida on this list as well, but he’s reportedly dealing with a separated shoulder and hasn’t practiced for weeks. He’s a much earlier target than Alfred Morris anyway. Jerick McKinnon is also dealing with an injury (calf), so it’s not crazy to think Morris may be the starting running back for Week 1 of the season. It’s not a great matchup for Morris and the 49ers in Minnesota, but it’s hard to ignore volume right out of the gate. Especially cheap volume. Morris isn’t even getting drafted right now and it’s not a stretch to say he’s San Francisco’s best outside-zone and between-the-tackle runner on the roster right now. Even if McKinnon is fully healthy (which he’s not), he wasn’t able to hold of Latavius Murray last season when given the chance to be a workhorse in Minnesota.
Morris put up 84 yards on 17 carries in his first game with the 49ers last week and his former offensive coordinator, now head coach, Kyle Shanahan was impressed. Morris’ 1,613 rushing yards in 2012 was second to only Adrian Peterson that season and he did that in Washington, under Shanahan. With all of that said, don’t let McKinnon and Breida fall down draft boards. They both have a ton of upside in Shanahan’s offense. McKinnon was a second round pick weeks ago and now you can grab him in the fourth. Just think about backing him up with Morris near the end of your draft. Last season McKinnon and Murray were valuable in a split. We’ve also seen multiple backs produce in Shanahan’s offense before (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman).
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
Devin Funchess is one of the few Top-25 wide receivers from last season that I don’t think can back it up with similar numbers. I certainly don’t think he’ll get another 111 targets and 63 catches may be a stretch with the additions in Carolina. First of all, most of his production came with Greg Olsen sidelined. Four of Funchess’ eight touchdowns came in the red zone. Olsen and C.J. Anderson may take a couple of those red-zone opportunities away. Carolina drafted D.J. Moore and he looks like he could lead the WR core in catches as a rookie. Don’t forget about Christian McCaffrey and his 80 grabs from last season. He’s not going anywhere and a big part of the offense will go through him.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
I understand why so many want to take Jordan Reed as the 10th tight end off the board, in round eight or nine. I get the upside, I just don’t think he’ll finish there. I have him at 14, and I’d probably rather O.J. Howard and Eric Ebron over Reed to be honest, and they are ranked lower. Reed has yet to play 16 games through five NFL seasons and was held to only six games in 2017 due to toe, hamstring and chest injuries. He’s suffered six concussions in his NFL career, and more in college. The tight end could be one hit from calling it a career as it’s a pretty long list of unfortunates. David Njoku and George Kittle have breakout written all over them and are going two-to-three rounds later. Grab yourself some depth at RB/WR or a QB. Also, don’t be surprised if Vernon Davis and QB Alex Smith sprinkle a little old time SF magic in Washington this season.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
This is another example of a wideout who is more appealing in keeper and dynasty formats than redraft leagues. Ridley may be the most polished rookie wideout in his class, but there is a lot going on in Atlanta. Julio Jones is obviously the number one option for Matt Ryan, and Mohamed Sanu is likely in line for second looks. Ridley and Sanu are both fades as they’ll battle it out for what I think will be third and fourth options. Ultimately, the Falcons want to run the ball. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are both capable of 25-30 carries and 5-7 catches a game between them. That doesn’t leave much room for Ridley. He doesn’t feel like a WR4 that you’ll want to start on bye-weeks.
Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots
This one actually bums me out a bit, because I’m a big Rex Burkhead fan. The reports of Burkhead having a “slight tear” in his knee is a major red flag for me. Burkhead looked great last season, even in a red-zone role at times, but he missed time with a knee injury. The 28-year old has never had 100 touches in a season and there’s really no reason to think he will this season. NE didn’t spend a first round pick on Sony Michel to feed Burkhead. They also haven’t cut Mike Gillislee or Jeremy Hill yet. Chances are one of the two go when Michel returns to full health, but James White isn’t going anywhere. There are too many backs and question marks surrounding Rex for him to be drafted as an RB2. I’m not saying to draft Michel over him, just telling you to avoid them all.
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