Last Minute Fantasy Football Draft Advice

As I scan the final version of my Fantasy Football Draft Matrix, a variety of questions, comments, and concerns present themselves…

  • Like most, I have Aaron Rodgers at the top of my QB list.  Most experts have Tom Brady as their number two QB, but I’ve put Drew Brees there.  Truth is, there really is no significant difference between the two, so you could go either way.  But I can see Drew Brees being more consistent since the Patriots gameplan varies so much from week-to-week.  Some games they are pass-happy, other times they grind it out on the ground.  Brees airs it out every week.
  • If you are in a Yahoo league, be aware they have Matt Ryan projected to be the 10th best QB.  That’s way too low.  I’ve got him at number five, and most experts have him in close proximity.
  • While there are concerns about Cam Newton’s health and limited practice, he’s still a top 10 QB in my book.  I could probably make a case that he’s a top 5 QB in that he’ll always be a threat to run the ball and his offense now has a few new weapons that could enhance his production.  I currently have him ranked 6th among QBs.
  • There’s a healthy supply of young quarterbacks who are poised to join the upper tier of that position.  Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Dak Prescott all have the potential to become a top 5 QB someday.  Someday.. but not today.  With the exception of Dak Prescott, I have them all ranked right around the 10 spot.  Yahoo, ESPN, and NFL all have Prescott in their top 10.  I have him at 13.  When I think about the three possibilities for Prescott this year (he could improve, he could regress, or he could stay the same), I think the most likely scenario is he comes back to earth a little bit.  It’s easy to see how the Cowboys offense will be affected by the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott.  I wouldn’t reach for Prescott, especially when there are so many QB’s that are of equal value who could be drafted a few rounds after Prescott’s average draft position.
  • The injury update on Andrew Luck has been very vague.  So again, while Luck has top 5 talent, the unknown ramifications of his injury forced me to drop him out of my top five, all the way down to 14.  Yahoo has him ranked 4th.  NFL has him at 7.  It appears only ESPN shares my opinion of drafting Luck; he’s ranked 11.  Trust me your season is not going to be won or lost on whether or not you successfully take a chance on Luck.  A healthy Luck would offer similar production to several other established QB (Cousins, Newton, Ryan, Stafford.)
  • The average ranking of Tyrod Taylor by Yahoo, NFL, and ESPN would place him at the 9 spot for quarterback.  NFL.com has him as high as 4!  I believe he he is ranked far too high, as he is currently 20th on my list.  While he cracked the top ten in NFL leagues last year, that’s probably as high as he will ever go, and there are more consistent options at QB.  He really might be the most overrated prospect in all of fantasy football this year.
  • The running back rankings this year are going to be very shaky.  Just look at the RB’s that are in the top 10.  Most of these backs do not have a large body of work in order for me to confidently project their output.  Ajayi, Gordon, and Howard are ranked at 6th or 7th on the average of the other sites.  I have them ranked the same, but I do so with some reservations.  I’m a big fan of seeing players produce more than just one season before I can prospect them with confidence.  I call it my “Do It Twice” rule.  I’d be more confident in taking a WR with a longer track record in the first round, over these less-experienced RBs.
  • Which brings me to Ezekiel Elliott.  After a historic rookie season, Elliott established himself as an elite RB.  Well, he is suspended for six games, and is also a casualty of my “Do It Twice” rule.  Even if he wasn’t suspended, I would still hesitate to put him in my top 5 where there are a handful of backs who have produced at that level for multiple seasons.  His yards from scrimmage fell just short of 2,000, and he accumulated 16 touchdowns.  Again, law of averages says he takes step back this year; less yardage, fewer touchdowns.  I’m surprised when I’m asked if you should draft him in the first round.  First, I’ll say that I didn’t draft him once in any of my 22 leagues last year, yet I qualified for the playoffs in 21 leagues.  That aside, you just can’t take him in the first round.  I know the thought is that if you draft Elliott, then you have to handcuff him by drafting his backup who will start while Elliott serves his suspension.  Well, that part is obvious.  However, there are two problems with this line of thinking.  First, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to draft his backup, as other fantasy owners in your league no doubt see the value of any running back carrying the ball behind Dallas’ great offensive line.  The other problem with handcuffing Elliott is the uncertainty of just who would replace him.  It very well could be an RBBC approach.  Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris could share the duty, and although McFadden is number two on the Cowboys depth chart, Alfred Morris looked outstanding this preseason.  So, would I draft Elliott in the first round?  Absolutely not.  I would, however consider taking him in the second round.  A friend of mine had the first overall pick of his ten team draft, and I encouraged him to draft Elliott in the second round (where he would have the 20th pick).  I absolutely would draft Elliott at 20, knowing I also have the 21 first pick.  To have three players in the top 21 picks and one of them is Elliott?  You can’t go wrong with that.  
  • If you want to tell me that Marshawn Lynch is still a top 10 back, I’d believe you.  If you have him outside the top 10, I’d be okay with that, too  The other sites have Lynch ranked 12th among RB’s, and is being drafted in the 3rd of 4th round.  This seems about right to me.  Obviously there’s a lot of upside here, and I must say Lynch looked impressive in preseason.  I just tend to go for the safer bet, rather than a 31-year old player who hasn’t played in a year.
  • There are a lot of question marks pertaining to the Saint’s RBs.  In any other year, Mark Ingram would be a top 10 back.  Naturally, Adrian Peterson will take opportunities away from Ingram, and Alvin Kamara flashed in preseason.  So, Ingram is in his prime, Peterson is a future Hall of Famer who doesn’t seem to age, and there is a rookie in Kamara who has great promise.  Good luck figuring that one out.
  • Yahoo and ESPN have Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette in their top ten RB’s.  I want to, but I just can’t.  It goes back to my “Do It Twice” rule.  After his rookie season, Gurley was projected to be a top five fantasy back last year but finished at 20.  And Fournette has literally never played a single down in the NFL, though he did look strong this preseason.  Just keep an eye on their ADP, and don’t reach for them.  I have both of them just outside my top 10 for a reason.  For the record, I have Gurley ranked above Fournette only because he has two years of experience under his belt.
  • I’m completely befuddled by the projections for Christian McCaffrey.  Yahoo and ESPN have him ranked 15 and 16, respectively.  That’s a little too high for my taste (again, the “Do It Twice” rule comes into play).  And I don’t know what NFL.com is thinking, having McCaffery projected at 61!  McCaffery is certainly an exciting prospect, but I like where I have him on my board: 19.
  • Someone needs to come up with a three-sided coin, because the top three WR’s are all worthy of the number one spot.  You can’t go wrong with Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, or Odell Beckham Jr.  Beckham was my number one WR initially, but a minor injury caused me to drop him two spots.
  • I think a lot of experts are missing the boat on Amari Cooper.  ESPN and NFL both have him ranked outside the top 10 WR’s, and I ranked him 8.
  • Just keep an eye out for Brandin Cooks and his ADP.  A lot of people are excited about the prospect of Cooks catching Tom Brady’s passes, but I can’t put him in the top 10 because of the Patriots variety of gameplans from one week to the next.  
  • As Marcus Mariota progresses, I like Rishard Matthews prospects more and more. He’s the number one receiver in Tennessee and I look for him to eclipse the 150 fantasy point mark this season.
  • There is a great degree of fluctuation in Martavis Bryant’s ranking.  I’ve seen him as high as 11 and as low as 52.  I have him at 16, and I go back and forth between dropping him or keeping him where he is.  There’s so much depth at WR, that it may be worth a slight risk of taking Bryant a little before his ADP.
  • Someone is going to have to explain to me why Terrelle Pryor is ranked in the teen’s at some sites.  Again, he had a great season last year, surpassing all expectation.  Now I feel he may be little overrated as he has only done it once.  Plus, he’s on a new team now, so it’s impossible to predict how well he will click with Kirk Cousins.
  • A lot of people are down on John Brown, the Cardinals WR.  It’s understandable to downgrade him after the health problems he had last  year.  He’s currently being drafted in the 14th round in NFL.com drafts.  He’s been productive in the preseason, so I’m more confident in him than others.  
  • Chris Hogan is the apparent beneficiary of Julian Edelman’s injury.  I have him just inside the top 50 WR’s.  And don’t forget about Danny Amendola as a late round flier.
  • Rob Gronkowski is still head and shoulders above all the other TE’s.  I still consider him an automatic 2nd round pick if he’s still available because his productivity is like having one extra starter.