FA Expectancy – Jerick McKinnon

Updated: April 4th 2018

Our Free Agent (FA) Expectancy series is back! Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Jerick McKinnon – RB – San Francisco 49ers

Holy catfish Batman! We all knew that Jerick McKinnon was likely going to earn a bigger payday than his entire rookie deal ($2.73MM) but to become the 4th highest earning RB, $7.5MM annually and 2nd highest in 2018 ($10.5MM) is as big a shocker. It is as much an eye-opener as Kirk Cousins’ fully guaranteed contract. Clearly, Kyle Shanahan has a plan for him to be used frequently in his offense which has McKinnon truthers screaming in triumphant victory. Just two years ago, however, we had a similar situation with Giovani Bernard in which he was given a larger than average contract only to continue the same role he previously had as a pass catching/change of pace RB. Are we potentially being hoodwinked by the 49ers into giving a huge long-term deal to McKinnon? Let’s delve deeper into what McKinnon’s role will likely be based on Shanahan’s recent backfield usage.

McKinnon the Legend

McKinnon has been trying to hone his skills as a full time running back the last 4 seasons in Minnesota after splitting time as a quarterback and tailback at Georgia Southern. His metrics are off the charts which is why those who believe in him think he would exceed expectations given a backfield to call his own. On PlayerProfiler his best comparable is the best RB of the 21st Century, LaDainian Tomlinson which only elevates those expectations. So far, however, he has been fairly average playing behind another Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and then last year getting his chance to split time with Latavius Murray only after Dalvin Cook was lost for the season. Now, this may be more of a coach’s lack of usage rather than a lack of talent however, it is something to note. It seems that Kyle Shanahan believes that he can be a starting back, even being quoted as saying that he has “3-down potential”. He better be for that price tag.

Dual-Threat Backfields

So what can we expect from McKinnon or any other RB in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in year 2? Shanahan-led offenses recently have evolved from the traditional, downhill running style of Steve Slaton and Alfred Morris to a full utilization of RBs that possess dual-threat ability in both the running and passing game. The most notable is Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman who received 108 and 105 targets between the two for his two seasons in Atlanta. In his first year with the 49ers, Carlos Hyde received 88 targets himself which suggests that Shanahan will feature his backfield as the big part of his offense if the talent is available. As I showed last year in my article on Kyle Shanahan he will also feature his running game regardless of game script. If the 49ers don’t make a huge leap forward this season their rushing stats from last season will act a pretty safe floor for the team again in 2018. As a team, the 49ers should have their backfield statistics in the area of 310 carries, 100 targets, 1,300 – 1,500 yards on the ground, and 500 – 600 yards through the air. This will likely bode well for McKinnon if he can truly be the primary back in San Francisco.

For a solid RB2 with potential RB1 upside McKinnon should be a player that most will target in their auctions during the summer. A two year, $35-40MM is probably where his value will be in most leagues. I would hesitate to offer more than two years because, like all other RBs, a lot can change in a backfield in 3+ years and until we see some production his going rate will be a major risk to a team’s cap situation. Remember that you can always resign him for more seasons if he becomes a top RB if your league has implemented the resign feature. As for trade value, if you are picking at the end of the 1st round McKinnon’s value should be comparable to the 1.08-1.12 selection. That is where I would start the conversation at but likely his owner will be more demanding.

Home Cook-in’

The Vikings were in a position that McKinnon was worth more as a compensatory pick rather than paying him with Dalvin Cook hopefully returning healthy next season. It will be important to watch the remaining days of free agency and the end of the draft to gauge how Cook’s rehab is going. Currently, only Cook and Latavius Murray are relevant runners on the depth chart with Mack Brown and Bishop Sankey left to compete for a roster spot in training camp. If the Vikings don’t invest more than a day 3 pick into an RB it should show confidence in Cook being back to full health for the season and likely being their bell-cow back.

The Vikings offense as a whole should be stronger with Kirk Cousins replacing Case Keenum. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the Vikings passing game as I will save that for a future article but I will speak to what his presence means for the running game. The Vikings had 100 targets available to RBs last season, 68 of which have been vacated by McKinnon. Having a great QB always helps the running game and with Cousins being a stronger armed passer when compared to Keenum this would suggest that defenses will be more spread out and playing further away from the line of scrimmage. This leaves fewer men in the box and more space underneath for check down and release routes. Being tied to Cousins for the remainder of his rookie contract and having one of the best offensive lines to operate behind suggests that Dalvin Cook should be a floor RB2 most weeks for the next 3 years. If he is healthy upon return Cook may be the RB that becomes the most consistent producer from the 2017 class when we reflect back at the end of their rookie contracts.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @RSO_NickAndrews.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Week 12 Street FA Report

Updated: November 22nd 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Add of the Week

Ryan Grant, WR – WAS (Owned 10%)

Week 11: 3 Rec/59 yards, 1 TD

Terrell Pryor was just placed on IR Monday with an ankle surgery on the way. Chris Thompson also left the game with a broken fibula. Josh Doctson is already owned in every league, same with Jamison Crowder so who is the next man available? It’s Ryan Grant, who has had success this season and should benefit greatly from these injuries. He already has 30 receptions and 3 touchdowns this season being the number 3 or 4 option most of this season in Washington. With serious injuries at the running back position, I expect Washington to pass more to receivers over the final six games and Grant’s targets will increase because of it.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000

RB Adds

Corey Clement, RB – PHI (Owned 35%)

Week 11: 6 Car/50 yards, 1 TD

Despite Jay Ajayi coming over and stealing the show the last two games, Corey Clement has had a sneaky good couple of games (101 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards, 3 TDs). The game plan for what the Eagles want to do this season with their running back usage hasn’t changed just the personnel. Corey Clement is playing as an excellent complement to Ajayi and Blount’s between the tackles running style and is filling in for Darren Sproles perfectly. Actually, he may be even better than what Sproles could bring to this offense as he has seen several carries inside the red zone. By having Clement in the backfield it keeps defenses honest to the pass more so than with Ajayi or Blount. This also allows for him to have a better chance of scoring when he does get draws and delays around the goal line. While he might not have the same cred as Ajayi in the community right now Clement is a player you would be comfortable having on your bench and starting in a flex spot if needed. The Eagles are an offense that can support two fantasy RBs.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000

J.D. McKissic, RB – SEA (Owned 31%)

Week 11: 7 Car/30 yards, 5 Rec/23 yards

I said it last week but since his ownership hasn’t reached 50-50 yet I’m going back for Thanksgiving seconds to say if you need RB help and free agency is looking dry go get J.D. McKissic. There was a lot of Twitter chatter about Mike Davis on Monday Night but he only averaged 3 yards on 6 carries and may be lost to an injury already. McKissic and Fat Eddie [Lacy] are the only two healthy RBs left so McKissic should see a majority of the snaps for the remainder of the season. He’s not a safe play each week but for PPR leagues he does have the potential to break a long play with his speed.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

WR Add

T.J. Jones, WR – DET (Owned 8%)

Week 11: 4 Rec/55 yards

I watched the games this week with a couple of friends and one of them kept asking where Golden Tate was every time the Lions came on RedZone. Looking at the stats afterward Tate finished third in targets behind both Marvin and T.J. Jones. This isn’t much of a surprise to me as I predicted in week 9 that T.J. could see more targets and play time based on his recent successes and with Tate and Kenny Golladay nursing injuries. The Lions are a passing offense that relies on their 3WR sets. T.J. Jones will continue to see a steady amount of targets and is necessary depth to have this late in the season.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Tavarres King, WR – NYG (Owned 4%)

Week 11: 3 Rec/48 yards

The Giants are a mess this year but they did beat the Chiefs in a shocking upset so let’s talk about them. After both Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall were lost for the season all eyes were on Roger Lewis to be the beneficiary of their absence. Surprisingly though, it has been Tavarres King who has received the most targets since their week 8 bye. The offense would need to produce more scoring opportunities before any receiver becomes fantasy relevant but it looks like King may be the primary receiver until Shepard returns from his migraines.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Week 10 Street FA Report

Updated: November 8th 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Byes: RAVENS, CHIEFS, RAIDERS, EAGLES

Add of the Week

Damien Williams, RB – MIA (Owned 50%)

Week 9: 7 Car/14 yards, 6 Rec/47 yards, 1 TD

If you didn’t pick up Kenyan Drake last week you’re likely too late to get him now after his double-digit performance on Sunday Night against the Raiders. Lucky for some, the Dolphins did show that they were willing to use both of their backs so Damien Williams needs to be added this week, especially in PPR leagues. While his production on the ground wasn’t much (14 yards, 2 YPC) he caught all six of his targets and had a nice touchdown to boost his numbers. This was easily the best offensive game for the Dolphins all season and it’s unlikely that they will be able to support two steady fantasy RBs like they did in week 9. Still, unless Drake becomes a workhorse three-down back in this offense it’s likely Williams will see his share of carries and targets.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,500,000

RB Adds

Peyton Barber, RB – TB (Owned 2%)

Week 9: 11 Car/34 yards, 2 Rec/20 yards

A lot of blowouts in week 9 allowed for a clearer picture of who the immediate backups are for certain teams. One of those teams, the Buccaneers, surprisingly used Peyton Barber over other options Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims to spell Doug Martin as the second back. Most of Barber’s production came after the game was decided but it is an interesting development to watch because of how low his ownership is. Martin only had 8 carries for 7 yards and hasn’t been the pillar of health during his tenure. If anything should happen to Martin or the Buc’s coaches lose some faith in his ability to produce in this offense Barber could slowly start eating away at his shares. With news that Jameis Winston could be sidelined for a couple of weeks it also conceivable that the running game is used more frequently to aid with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. A team in a downward spiral the Bucs could be another team looking to see what they have to build with moving into 2018.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Charcandrick West, RB – KC (Owned 34%)

Week 9: 1 Car/3 yards, 5 Rec/30 yards

I wanted to put Charcandrick West on this list after his week 5, two touchdown performance but considered it a fluke game script that allowed him to be on the field near the goal line for two successful passing plays. After the Chiefs game against Dallas however, there may be some holes in the Kareem Hunt armor that makes West an interesting option. Hunt only played 54% of the snaps last week and has scored fewer points in every week since his 40 burger in week 1. We’ve seen this before with Andy Reid when he had Jamaal Charles who was a beast but would at times disappear to due personnel choice. West is used primarily as a satellite back as evident by having only 6 carries through 9 games but with the Chiefs being in more and more competitive games and opponents focusing on stopping Hunt, West may have more opportunities as a pass catcher. We will see how the Chiefs adjust after their bye week but West may see more targets going forward.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

WR Add

Terrance Williams, WR – DAL (Owned 49%)

Week 9: 9 Rec/141 yards

Way back in week 2 I recommended Terrance Williams and he has pretty much stunk it up since then, failing to eclipse more than 4 catches or 50 yards in any game until last week. In the never-ending saga of Ezekiel Elliot’s will he/won’t he play we have seen that Dak Prescott can and will need to pass the ball more if the Cowboys are going to be a playoff team this season. Williams had a tremendous game last week and although Dez Bryant says his ankle injury is nothing to be worried about he has a history of nagging low body injuries. If Dez is hobbled even a little Williams will be the primary beneficiary as he was in the past when Bryant missed games.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Keelan Cole, WR – JAX (Owned 1%)

Week 9: 3 Rec/47 yards

Since Allen Robinson’s week 1 injury the Jaguars have focused more on running the ball with Leonard Fournette and tried to avoid having the game on Blake Bortles’ shoulders. With all that focus on the running game, the development of Keelan Cole has become something of a lost story at receiver. An undrafted rookie out of Kentucky Wesleyan, Cole made the team mostly for his special team’s skills but is now pushing Allen Hurns to be the WR2 behind Marqise Lee. If he continues to make one-handed catches like he did last week he may be able to earn more targets in the second half of the season.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

 

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Week 8 Street FA Report

Updated: October 23rd 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Byes: CARDINALS, PACKERS, JAGUARS, RAMS, GIANTS, TITANS

Add of the Week

Austin Ekeler, RB – LAC (Owned 19%)

Week 7: 7 Car/38 yards, 4 Rec/6 yards, 1 TD

If a player doesn’t solidify themselves as the pass-catching back in their offense it’s only a matter of time before they start to lose snaps to another RB who can. We may be seeing that in Los Angeles with Melvin Gordon slowly losing snaps to rookie Austin Ekeler. Ekeler, 5’9” and under 200lbs, looks like he could fit the Danny Woodhead satellite back role that completed Gordon in his rookie season. He had 4 receptions against the Broncos last week (13 on the season) and also managed 7 carries which shows that he’s gaining a role in this offense. With tough matchups over the next month (Patriots, Jaguars, Bills, Cowboys) there’s a real chance that the Chargers need Ekeler to be available for the check down option more so than Gordon running up the middle.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,000,000

RB Add

Backup RBs

Speaking of backups, as we have seen throughout the first 7 weeks backup RBs are just players waiting to be fantasy relevant. If you have a locked in RB and his backup is sitting on the street you should add him at this point in the season. You have “roster cloggers” that you won’t be starting the next 6-8 week. Drop them and protecting yourself. If you want to be sneaky you could also pick up the backups of those that are sleeping on their claims. Nothing feels worse than going into the playoffs and losing an RB and having to fight with your league mates for his replacement.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

WR Add

D’eonte Thompson, WR – BUF (Owned 4%)

Week 7: 4 Rec/107 yards

I felt bad after recommending D’eonte Thompson as a sleeper in week 3 especially after he had a 0 catch game in week 5 and then was subsequently released by a Bears team that is starving for WR talent. But now that Thompson has been picked up by the Bills it didn’t take him long to be involved going over 100 yards in his first game. That stat is probably an anomaly but it shows me that what I thought he could be in Chicago wasn’t a farce. The Bills don’t have many pass catchers that are trustworthy which is likely the reason Thompson was added and clearly, they felt comfortable using him right away. Even when Jordan Matthews returns healthy it would be in the best interest of the Bills to use Matthews in the slot where he belongs and allow the big-bodied Thompson to work outside. I’m willing to double down and say that he should be a usable flex option if you need WR help.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

TE Add

Vance McDonald, TE – PIT (Owned 16%)

Week 7: 2 Rec/37 yards

It seems like forever ago that Vance McDonald was traded from San Francisco to Pittsburgh and everyone wanted a piece of him. Fast forward to before last week and he’d had 1 catch for 26 yards in 6 weeks of football, not even rosterable stats for the deepest of leagues. He only had 2 catches last week but this might be the sign that he is finally getting comfortable with the Todd Haley’s offense. Another couple of weeks under his belt and McDonald might become what fantasy enthusiasts wanted LaDarius Green to be. Unless you have Gronk, Ertz, or Kelce you’ve probably been streaming/substituting your TE position all season so why not take a shot.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Demarcus Robinson, WR – KC (Owned 6.5%)

Week 7: 5 Rec/69 yards

Not every Chiefs game is going to be a shootout like last Thursday but Demarcus Robinson’s usage is something that should be mentioned. He had 5 catches on 8 targets last week which was second to Tyreek Hill and well ahead of Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas (1 each). He’s still behind Kelce, Hunt, and Tyreek in terms of touches but he has firmly taken hold of the WR2 on this team now with Conley out. With the Chiefs being more involved in the passing game this season the prospect of a second Chiefs receiver might not be as fantasy irrelevant as it once was. Robinson could be valuable depth to have moving forward.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

FA Expectancy: Brandin Cooks

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Brandin Cooks – WR, New England Patriots

The talk so far of free agency didn’t come from a free agent but rather a trade that sent Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints to the New England Patriots. Many people have been touting this as the greatest move the Pats have made since acquiring Randy Moss in 2007. Fantasy fanatics need little reminder of the 23 touchdowns Moss put up in his first year with the team. But should owners expect the same level of production from Cooks in 2017 and beyond?

Those who speak against Cooks have quickly pointed out that he played eight of his games in the dome with New Orleans along with three more games in Tampa, Charlotte, and Atlanta each of the last three seasons. The AFC East, save for sunny Miami, is not a forgiving environment to play in weather wise and people question how Cooks’ blazing speed will translate into the cold and snowy region of Foxborough. Even Michael Fabiano posted a tweet showcasing the split between Cooks’ games indoors and out over the last two seasons.

Fabs Tweet

This is a classic case of throwing out a fact without much context. Yes, the points per game are lower but there’s no understanding as to who the opponents were or who Cooks was matched up against. Cooks actually average more catches outdoors based on this infographic. Needless to say, people are asking the wrong questions about what Cooks means to the Patriots.

So what does Cooks mean to Patriot players?

The Patriots needed a player who could stretch the defense on the outside away from Edelman in the slot and running backs out of the backfield. Having said that I don’t see him being a DeSean Jackson, lid popping, type receiver in the scheme on a frequent basis. Go routes will always be a part of his route tree but I see Josh McDaniels moving him around more to be the intermediate/crossing route receiver; especially on 2nd and mid or 3rd and short downs to pull the safeties away from the middle of the field opening up the underneath for other receivers and backs. Other than Gronk this definitely deflates the number of targets available for other pass catchers. I don’t see Edelman being forgotten this year and he should still put up low WR2/high WR3 points but he could be let go after this season similar to his predecessor Wes Welker. The big hit goes to Malcolm Mitchell owners who are disappointed that they didn’t get a chance to see what he could produce in his second year. Barring a long injury next season to one of the other receivers it will be hard to have Mitchell be anything more than a bye week/flex play.

So what is Cooks’ value?

As painful as it would sound based on what he produced for fantasy purposes last year I see Cooks being in 2017 a slightly better upgrade at what Hogan was in 2016, but with 4.3 speed. The Patriots and specifically Bill Belichick don’t care about your fantasy teams and will use whatever players they think will help them one game at a time. What that means is that there will be games where Cooks will push double digit catch and have multiple touchdowns and then he will be less than stellar for the next two games. The one difference that will save Cooks owners will be that based on the capital the Patriots invested in him his floor will be higher than Hogan’s was on a week-to-week basis with the hope that he replaces Edelman after 2017. If he’s on a decent contract for multiple seasons and is available for a mid-1st or a package for lower picks and players he would be an interesting buy.

So what does it mean for Saints players?

One person leaves so that means more food at the buffet for the rest right? Not exactly. While Cooks did account for 117 targets last season Michael Thomas was actually targeted more with 121 (even Willie Snead got 104). While it is possible that Thomas pushes into the Mike Evans, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown range of 180 targets it’s more likely that Thomas has a mild increase in 2017 while a new receiver is integrated into the offense with 70-80 targets. Based on this expectation it is probably not worth trying to acquire Thomas who will be at his peak price right now. Instead, scribble in your auction journals to try and acquire Willie Snead on a savvy 2 or 3-year deal. He’s already an early sleeper to push WR2 numbers next season and should have a good couple of years left with Drew Brees. I was lucky to grab Snead in a few of my leagues last year on multi-year deals that would likely cost double this season. As well, keep an eye on any receiver that is brought in either late in free agency or through the draft. Drew Brees loves to spread the ball around and any day two or three drafted receivers that the Saints add could be fed the 70-80 targets previously mentioned. That would be tremendous opportunity value for a player that could be a 3rd round rookie pick this season.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

FA Auction: Lessons Learned

Updated: June 18th 2016

Last time in this space, I took a look at the most frequently cut players from each offensive skill position.  My hope was that an analysis of where we went wrong last year could help steer us in this season’s free agent auction.  After all, nothing could sink a promising franchise faster than dead cap space.

For each position I picked a few players who I think that you should avoid spending big money on in your 2016 free agent auction.  Every player can be valuable with the right contract, this is not to say the below players should not be owned, I am arguing you should avoid splashing the cash on them.  First, let’s start with the obvious caveat: every league is different (size, scoring, roster size, etc.), so your mileage may vary, one league’s trash could be another’s treasure.

QUARTERBACKS:

  1. Tyrod Taylor
  2. Brock Osweiler

The biggest take away after looking at last year’s most frequently released QBs was that you should not overpay for a small sample size.  I am not advocating skipping these two altogether, but I think prudence is the key.  Taylor went 8-6 and only threw 6 INTs (3 of which in one game) but he also had five games with less than 15 completions and five games with less than 200 yards passing.  The x-factor for Taylor, of course, is his rushing ability but that is the part that worries me: it will either lead to injury, it could be game planned away by the defense or be removed from his own game plan as preservation (see: Robert Griffin III).  I’m staying away from Taylor this year, I would rather be the guy who missed on him rather than have to eat his salary later.

For Osweiler, the sample size is much smaller and his rate stats were lower than Taylor’s (completion percentage, rating, yards per attempt, etc).  So, why do I think you should avoid Taylor more so than Osweiler?  Osweiler’s value is not so heavily influenced by his rushing ability, or lack thereof.  Osweiler is a “prototypical” quarterback and has 7″ and about 20lb on Taylor.  Still, though, I am concerned what a change of scenery will mean for Brock and can’t help but see him as the next Matt Flynn.  I wouldn’t avoid him at all costs but I would only offer him a one- or at a maximum, a two-year deal.

RUNNING BACKS:

  1. Chris Ivory
  2. Matt Forte
  3. Demarco Murray

The theme with last year’s most frequently cut RBs was that you should avoid the hype of the veteran who was changing teams.  Despite some niggling injuries last year, both Ivory and Forte had decent seasons in 2015.  Ivory broke 1,000 yards for the first time in his career (1,070) and had more receptions (30) than he had the rest of his career combined (23).  Forte missed three games but was on pace for another 1,000 yard rushing season if he played the full campaign; he also pitched in with 44 receptions which was down on a per-game basis from 2014 but is still more than most RBs see in a full season.  Ivory has left the Jets for Jacksonville and Forte has taken his place.  Unless I can get them for just $2 or $3 million, I am probably skipping both Ivory and Forte.

Murray is interesting after what could not have been a more disappointing season in Philly last year.  He joins the Titans and could be at a point where his stock is so low you could actually get him for a song.  The ultimate post-hype sleeper.  He’s burned me once though, so I’m going to sit this year out.  I might let another owner take him, and if the contract is small enough, try to swing a trade once training camp starts and we see how the Titans backfield will work out.  Or maybe that’s the Cowboys fan in me talking.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

  1. Jordy Nelson – Jeff Janis
  2. Michael Crabtree – Seth Roberts
  3. Brandin Cooks – Willie Snead

The lesson to be learned last year was to not spend too much money on the up-and-coming WRs who may unseat an established veteran.  So, for this position, I thought it would be useful to look at both the old and the new at the same time because I would actually avoid picking both sides of these pairs.

Jeff Janis had a memorable playoff game for the Packers against the Cardinals (7-145-2) but is it enough to make everybody forget about Jordy Nelson who missed the season due to injury?  Probably not, but I have just enough doubt to avoid Nelson this year.  Nelson is now 31 and has had two serious injuries – an ACL and a hamstring – which forced him to miss significant time.  Dynasty players know Janis well but I don’t think his brief flash is enough to warrant anything more than a minimum contract – many of us have been fooled by his potential already.

Amari Cooper is obviously the top Raiders WR to own, but who should you target second?  After all, Derek Carr does like to air the ball out.  I’m not biting on Crabtree’s 85-922-9 and instead think that Seth Roberts will emerge.  Roberts was an unheralded rookie out of West Alabama whose line was 32-480-5.  Like Janis, his sample size is too small to spend on, but his presence means I will not sign Crabtree this offseason.

Chances are that Willie Snead was snagged off waivers by somebody last year rather than being signed to a long term deal.  I cannot imagine there were too many owners who were holding Snead futures so he’s likely up for free agency.  I’d bite in a PPR league but there weren’t enough TDs there for standard scoring, in my opinion.  Snead’s emergence dented Brandin Cooks’ potential.  Cooks didn’t score his first TD or surpass 100 yards until Week 5; ultimately he had six sub-50 yard games versus just four over-100 yard games.  His strong suit was supposed to be the volume of receptions but even that was lacking – just 84.  The saving grace for Cooks fantasy-wise was his 9 TDs but I would take the under for 2016.  Snead and Cooks are too similar in their playing style and so cannibalize each other’s opportunities to succeed.

TIGHT ENDS:

  1. David Johnson
  2. Alex Smith
  3. Coby Fleener
  4. Ladarius Green

In my last piece, I noted that David Johnson and Alex Smith were two of the most frequently cut tight ends.  Originally I attributed it to their deep, deep sleeper status but after further thought I think it was definitely because they share a name with another position player.  Whether it was an honest mistake or an unscrupulous nomination, I think some owners ended up with the wrong guy and immediately cut bait landing them on the list.  Don’t make that mistake again this year, folks.

Last year, we should have all held off on anointing Josh Hill the Jimmy Graham heir apparent, and I think this year you should similarly avoid Fleener.  Green is likewise joining a new team, the Steelers, and while he has shown flashes, he’s never been the go-to tight end for an extended period of time.  Ultimately, I think both are so close to replacement level that I wouldn’t bother.


Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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