What’s Next For Fournette?

Updated: September 3rd 2020

With the sudden release of Leonard Fournette, fantasy players are left scrambling to find out what it means for the Jaguars and what it means for Fournette. Here are a couple teams (in no particular order) that are possible landing spots for Fournette based on their financial commitment to the running back position in 2020 and the positional need. Because of his unique contract situation, some teams could be looking to claim Fournette and use this season as an audition before committing to him long term if they choose.

Keep in mind that no matter where Fournette lands it will likely take him a few weeks to become acquainted with his new offense and will likely be at least in a rotation with current backs on the team. There are very few options where he would return to exactly the same value and volume that he held while in Jacksonville.

Chicago Bears

The injury this preseason to David Montgomery only compounded to his disappointing 2019 season. His backup (Cordarrelle Patterson) is a converted WR and Tarik Cohen is more of a passing down/spread formation option. The Bears need to find a way to help either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky and Fournette is an already accomplished runner who can take some of pressure off. It would definitely help to not have their formations as easily to read as they were when either Montgomery or Cohen were on the field since Fournette has proven to be both a strong runner and pass catcher.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Pederson rarely gives a full workload to just one back. He is always looking to have a spell option for his main guy. Sanders would definitely be the 1A if the Eagles picked up Fournette but the usage would likely mimic what the Saints were doing with Kamara and Ingram a couple seasons ago. It would be a huge blow to both their fantasy value unless the offense was to take another step forward in terms of scoring opportunities.

 

New England Patriots

The Patriots are likely going to be more of a run-heavy team in 2020 regardless of whether it is Cam Newton or Jared Stittham under center. Having Fournette would amplify that and provide another rotational back for Josh McDaniels to roll out on tired defenses. Fournette would also be the best running back that Belichick has had since Corey Dillon and we know how that worked out.

 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins traded for Matt Breida and still have Jordan Howard. Still, Fournette would be a better option than either and for a team that wants to be trending upward this would become a sneaky good offense with him in their lineup. For the reasons I like New England, Brian Flores is a Belichick disciple and expect he would recognize value when he sees the opportunity.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

A dark horse, the Bolts don’t really have a true thumper at the position. Ekeler was just paid but the team could use a 1B to keep him fresh. With Fournette’s contract only for 2020 it would be an easy catch and release scenario for a team that has trouble keeping players healthy for a full season.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Penny has struggled to stay healthy, same with Carson, and the team has been looking to find their next Marshawn Lynch ever since he left (then returned briefly). Fournette could learn the system over the first month or so behind Carson and be ready to take the reigns by mid-season and into the playoffs (when Seattle really needs him).

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Post NFL Draft Winners and Losers

Updated: May 2nd 2020

The NFL draft is finally over and the undrafted rookies are looking at each team’s depth chart to see where they have the best chance of making the final 53-man roster. Fantasy owners can also be analyzing each team’s depth charts to see where some of the biggest winners (or losers) can be found. Hopefully, you moved off of some key veterans before they bubble burst on their value.

Winners

Quarterback

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

Rumors about the Jaguars taking one of the top 3 QBs at 9th if one was to fall to them was likely just a pipe dream to feed the fan base but there were serious questions about them maybe taking either Jordan Love at the start of the 2nd round or one of the other two QBs Jacob Eason or Jake Fromm in 3rd or 4th round. Love never made it there and the Jaguars passed on the other two, instead grabbing another sixth-round rookie, Jake Luton. There is a real chance that the Jaguars are drafting in the top 10 again next year and will take a quarterback in 2021 but for now, Minshew weathered the first storm and is QB1 on their depth chart.

Jarrett Stidham – New England Patriots

Similar to Minshew, the question seemed to not be if but when Jarrett Stidham would be supplanted by one of the rookie QBs. Like the Jags, however, New England passed on all of them and showed that they weren’t lying when they said they believed in Stidham as their starter. Much like with Minshew, it would be difficult to give more than a 2-year contract with the risk of another rookie coming in 2021 but these two (Stidham and Minshew) may be the two most underrated quarterbacks available in Superflex leagues next year.

Drew Lock – Denver Broncos

We knew that John Elway was high on Drew Lock’s potential and wasn’t going to give much in the way of competition for his job so his value as a starter next year was solid. Still, the Broncos went and drafted receivers in the first two rounds (Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler) and also grabbed combine speed freak Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round. Along with signing Melvin Gordon in free agency, John Elway has stocked the cupboard for Drew Lock moving forward. If the 2nd year QB doesn’t leap forward, both in the statistical and wins department it will be a huge letdown to the organization.

Running Back

Jordan Howard – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were a top candidate to draft one of the first running backs of the board but instead focused on protecting their new franchise QB. Jordan Howard’s stock kept rising with each passing round that the Dolphins didn’t select a runner. Finally, on day 3 they acquired another RB albeit by trading their 5th round selection to the 49ers in exchange for Matt Brieda. Brieda has been a solid role player the last two seasons with San Francisco but he doesn’t pose as big of a threat to Howard’s value as any of the top rookies would have projected. Howard may become the new Frank Gore in RSO, gobbling up 1-year, $3M deals and being a surprisingly good depth player for savvy fantasy owners year after year.

Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars

It is ironic that being good at your job as a running back actually can make you a liability instead of an asset in the NFL. The Jaguars selected Fournette 4th overall in 2017 and while he has been overshadowed by fellow classman Christian McCaffrey, Fournette has over 3,700 total yards in his first three seasons. The team likely expects him to demand a lucrative paid day soon and were rumored to be shopping him before the draft. This decreased his fantasy value as the idea of him being traded to a team in more of a timeshare role would be likely. However, no team bought on the opportunity and the Jaguars never addressed the position in the draft. Now heading into 2020 the Jaguars once again do not seem to have a real threat to Fournette’s touches and targets. He should see a nice rebound in value and will be an RB2 with weekly RB1 upside again this season.

Wide Receiver

DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins

Similar to Jordan Howard, the risk of a first-round replacement was looming over DeVante Parker. Paker finally showed last year some of his talents as a former 1st round selection and earned himself a big payday because of it. Now with no rookie threat, Parker is the clear WR1 with only Allen Hurns and surprising talent Preston Williams coming back from his season-ending injury. We still have to wait and see whether Tua Tagovailoa starts game one or if Ryan Fitzpatrick will hold the reins till the rookie is fully acclimated but Parker should be the main target for either and will hopefully continue where he finished off last season.

Curtis Samuel & Robbie Anderson – Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers went all defense in Matt Rhule’s first season as head coach which bodes well for his starting receivers. D.J. Moore was already the alpha and his value was set regardless of if/where another receiver was brought in. For Curtis Samuel and Robbie Anderson however, any receiver drafted in the first 3 rounds probably would have crushed their fantasy prospects but it never happened. Expectations need to be tempered since new starting quarterback Teddy Bridgwater isn’t necessarily Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers in terms of elevating multiple fantasy-relevant receivers at the same time. However, for two players that had their value free falling the last two months, it could have been a whole lot worse.

N’Keal Harry – New England Patriots

Justin Jefferson was a sneaky interest rumored to be on the Patriots radar at pick 23 however, Minnesota snagged him one pick earlier so they reversed course and traded out of the first round entirely. Jefferson would have been a great compliment to Harry as a big slot receiver that could transition the team from the fan-favourite Julian Edelman. Regardless, with no competition being drafted and a second-year learning Josh McDaniel’s system if Harry can stay healthy he should see a solid rebound in his production. Grab last year’s WR1 while rookie fever is in full force.

Losers

Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett – Indianapolis Colts

People will point to Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz as big losers due to their team’s drafting high at the quarterback position. Both Rodgers and Wentz though still have massive dead money in 2020 and in Wentz’s case also 2021. The fan-based would also revolt if either were to be jettisoned for unproven rookies. The biggest quarterback value hit is instead Jacoby Brissett. Brissett was replaced for one year by Philip Rivers but now may be in jeopardy of losing the job in the long run too by the Colts drafting Jacob Eason in the fourth round. Maybe if he is traded to a team like the Patriots his value will return but for now, his 2020 value is that of a backup in the NFL and a waiver add in fantasy until further notice.

Running Back

Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions

Both of Kerryon Johnson’s first two seasons had been shorted due to injury but in his time on the field, he showed the ability to be the primary carrier in the Lions’ backfield. Unfortunately, that was not enough to prevent Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia from drafting who draft experts had as their RB1 De’Andre Swift out of Georgia. Swift is an every-down back who should immediately step in as the RB1 for Detroit. The best-case scenario for Johnson now is to have a role similar to Giovanni Bernard in Cincinnati or to what Tevin Coleman was to the Falcons as a change of pace RB2 that can be called upon in case of injury.

Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams

Those who drafted Henderson last year were expecting him to carve out a role opposite to Todd Gurley and one day take over the starting job. Well, he didn’t provide much in the way value last year but with Gurley getting cut it seemed like his time was finally about to come. Then the Rams drafted Cam Akers in the second round and the bubble burst. Maybe the Rams learned this time around that it is better to use two running backs in complement with one another rather than riding one into the ground. That is what Henderson owners have to be hoping for otherwise, fantasy owner’s hefty investment will likely be a large blunder.

Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs

We knew that running back was a point of interest for the Chiefs but like the Patriots’ QB situation we weren’t sure exactly whether they felt it was as big a priority as the fantasy community thought it was. They showed everyone how important it was when they selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the final pick in the first round. Fantasy owners were praying that a team like Tampa Bay or Kansas City would take CEH as his skillset fit perfectly with what both teams do on offense. CEH’s selection all but likely puts him top 2 in rookie drafts, meanwhile, Damien Williams’ owners will be left holding bag to see if he can provide a few retro fantasy weeks before he falls back to fantasy obscurity.

Aaron Jones & Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ drafting was perplexing but at least the RB selection was expected by this writer. I had a conversation with a league mate discussing Aaron Jones and his value and suggested the team was unlikely to see him as valuable as he sees himself and would likely draft a running back this year to compliment him and then move off Jones in 2021. Drafting AJ Dillion in the second round has that kind of vibe and with Dillion’s skillset being that of a power back Jones’ touchdown upside should dramatically fall back from his stellar 17 TDs in 2019. Jamaal Williams had minimal fantasy value before Dillon’s selection but now he should be a redundancy and likely a waiver-wire option to all but the deepest of leagues.

Wide Receiver

Michael Gallup – Dallas Cowboys

The first big surprise of the first round was the fall of CeeDee Lamb and the Dallas Cowboys selecting him with the 17th pick. Nobody should fault Jerry Jones for taking what was likely his best player available and keeping Lamb out of division rival Philadelphia’s hands. What it does do however is put a damper on what was maybe a rising sleeper in Michael Gallup. Gallup made great strides in his second season behind Amari Cooper and with the possibility of Cooper leaving via free agency his stock was slowly increasing. Cooper did eventually resign but this was seen as a good thing as Gallup was likely more valuable as a WR2 than a true WR1 in the Cowboy’s offense. Fast forward to today and it is hard to see Gallup being anything more than the fourth option behind Cooper, Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliot. He will still have his games but other than best ball formats it will be difficult to predict when his days will be.

Tyrell Williams – Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders were taking a receiver in the draft and likely it was going to be one in the first round. It was also probable that they took a second receiver later in the draft just due to the lack of depth at the position. However, taking three receivers in the first three rounds shows that Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden prioritized the position and felt that a total rebuild was in order. The only relevant carry over from the 2019 wide receiver room, Tyrell Williams will likely hang around the team for the 2020 season due to the uncertainty of training camps and the need for a veteran option. His surprisingly strong 2019 season, however, is likely to be the end of the road for his fantasy production.

DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles

After drafting Jalen Reagor out of TCU 21st overall it was believed that this should be the end for Alshon Jeffery and his time in Philadelphia. While I do think this will be Jeffery’s final season with the Eagles I think he can still be fantasy relevant in 2020. The receiver who is more immediately affected by drafting Reagor is DeSean Jackson. The 33-year old speed receiver has been banged up the past couple of years and played just one meaningful game last year. Reagor fits as his direct replacement with his blazing speed capabilities, therefore, making Jackson’s services redundant. The Eagles may hold onto Jackson through the 2020 season because of his dead money and cap space savings but it is unlikely his role is much more than for veteran leadership.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham – Chicago Bears

Rather than the quick death that Rob Gronkowski brought to his fantasy value by retiring last year, Jimmy Graham owners have been left holding the bag on a slow, painful decline to one of the best tight ends in fantasy over the last decade. His move to Chicago brought a sliver of hope that a guy like Nick Foles might be an upgrade at the position for the Bears and their offense could be at least moderate to fantasy value outside Allen Robinson. However, the Bears traded up in the second round to make their first selection of the 2020 draft tight end Cole Kmet. With the team prioritizing a rookie in their draft and having 8 other options on the depth chart it will be difficult to see Jimmy Graham being anything more than an extra tight end used for your primary tight end’s bye week.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Into the Regular Season

Updated: September 7th 2017

The preseason brings lots of excitement for those of us deprived of the NFL for so long.  It also leads to some of the worst analysis from fantasy “experts”.  Reviewing stat lines from preseason games is mostly meaningless.  Touch sample sizes are typically incredibly small with starters playing very limited snaps.  Teams usually incorporate very “vanilla” play calls which may not be similar to what happens during the regular season.  Backups compete against second and third string players or worse.  While much of what we see in preseason play is essentially worthless in predicting fantasy value for the upcoming season, examining player situations and delving deeper into game tape can provide some useful observations for the coming season.

Moving Up

The most significant mover of the preseason is Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt.  The devastating torn PCL and LCL injury to Kansas City starting running back Spencer Ware opens the door for the third round rookie.  Hunt finished as one of Pro Football Focus’ highest ranked backs in college at Toledo and flashed nice plays throughout the preseason (along with some not-so-nice “rookie” moments).  The Chiefs are left only with Hunt, Chancandrick West, and re-signed C.J. Spiller as the only running backs on the roster.  Hunt should see plenty of work for Kansas City this season.

Perhaps no player benefits more from a quarterback change than Miami wide receiver Devante Parker.  Gone are the days of Ryan Tannehill force-feeding short passes to Jarvis Landry with Tannehill out for the season.   In comes Jay Cutler at quarterback with the arm talent to aggressively attack defenses down field.  The former Bear also has the mindset to throw into tight coverage and allow his physically gifted receivers to make plays on their own.  Parker is set up for a big third season in the NFL.  Cutler also solidifies deep threat Kenny Stills’ value while at the same time likely limiting the volume Landry has seen over the course of his career.

Questions about Kelvin Benjamin’s role in the new Carolina offense with two high draft pick offensive weapons and his ballooned weight in training camp depressed his fantasy value to the point that Benjamin moved all the way down to WR38 in early RSO auctions.  Second round draft pick Curtis Samuel was slowed by injury and no other receiver emerged during the preseason.  Benjamin clearly appears like the Panthers’ WR1 right now.  Early Benjamin buyers could have received quite the steal.

Wait and See Mode

Seahawks’ backfield historically holds good fantasy value during the Russell Wilson era in Seattle.  Wilson’s ability as a rusher prevents teams from keying on running backs opening running lanes for the back.  Last season Wilson suffered early injuries limiting his mobility throughout the season.  Wilson’s injuries and some horrendous run blocking by Seattle’s inexperienced offensive line inevitably led to a big decline in the Seahawks’ rushing game effectiveness.  Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise competed for first-team duties this offseason but all suffered from minor injuries during the preseason.  Rawls and Lacy likely split rushing down carries limiting the fantasy appeal of either.  You will want to avoid this backfield early in the season until injuries take hold or someone emerges as the clear top option.  Prosise will hold value as a low end flex play, especially in PPR leagues, as the passing down back and only real receiver out of the backfield.  This is particularly true early in the season with an extremely shallow receiving core behind starters Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson.  Tyler Lockett will be eased back into the receiving rotation after a gruesome leg injury late last year.

The Green Bay backfield was ugly last season.  Converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery filled in admirably in a limited role last year after injuries destroyed the running back core but did not receive enough volume to be a consistent fantasy option.  I was hoping someone would stand out in the preseason to take over the primary back role.  No one did.  Montgomery was limited with injuries throughout the preseason and struggled with pass protection once again.  All three Green Bay running backs drafted this year (Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays) made the 53-man roster.  None consistently showed enough to earn a big role.  Montgomery starts as the “lead” back and his receiving skills should make him a solid flex play but it remains to be seen whether his health and pass protection struggles will allow enough time on the field for enough volume to be a consistent RB2 option.  Williams makes for a nice stash in case Montgomery misses time.

Moving Down

Expectations for Terrelle Pryor and Tyreek Hill were extremely high this offseason with both being typically drafted as high to low-end WR2s. Many thought each had WR1 upside.  The preseason showing from both should dampen those expectations.  Both had massive problems catching the football with drops galore, a huge issue on teams whose passing game relies primarily on short, high percentage throws.  Pryor also continued his very raw route running skills from last season.  The Washington and Kansas City offense will undoubtedly run through superstar tight ends, Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce.  Pryor could easily end up as the third most targeted player in Washington behind Reed and Jamison Crowder.  Hill is due for negative touchdown regression this year and will be fighting for touches behind Kelce on a low volume Kansas City passing attack.  Consider both players boom-or-bust WR3s as of now.

The unknown timetable of Andrew Luck’s return moves all Colts down in the rankings to start the season most notably T.Y. Hilton.  Backup quarterback Scott Tolzein looked horrendous this preseason, so much so that Indianapolis traded for Patriots’ third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to eventually take over backup duties.  This could lead to prime buy-low opportunities for Hilton and Luck.

Blake Bortles remarkably is still the starting quarterback in Jacksonville.   Chad Henne was unable to supplant Bortles in a bizarre one-week open competition for the starting spot.  Bortles might be benched at any time this season and the backup is not much of an improvement.  The dreadful quarterback situation means bad things for any Jaguars player’s fantasy fortunes including Allen Robinson and Leonard Fournette.  The Jacksonville offensive line displayed little improvement this preseason and Fournette is already dealing with a foot injury.  Just stay away from this offense.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

2017 RSO Rookie Mock Draft v3.0

Updated: August 23rd 2017

This August update was the hardest mock I have done so far for RSO (including my first 2018 mock which is yet to be published).  It’s easy to fall into the trap of weighting preseason action too heavily so I tried to fight that urge as much as .  I’m sure you will disagree with a number of these picks and I’d like to hear about it @robertfcowper on Twitter.  Please note, I am writing this before the third week of preseason games which is typically when we see the most “realistic” preseason football and you’ll likely be reading it during or after those games.

1.01 – LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, JAGUARS
1.02 – COREY DAVIS, WR, TITANS
1.03 – CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY, RB, PANTHERS

I’ve had Fournette and Davis as my 1.01 and 1.02, in that order, from the beginning and don’t plan to change them now. Fournette’s value may be negatively impacted by QB Blake Bortles if he continues to struggle like he has so far in the preseason and Davis’s injury hurts his immediate value slightly. Neither falls behind McCaffrey for me, but McCaffrey’s solid preseason work pushes him into a close third in my first tier. If you need a RB over WR, I wouldn’t fault you for getting caught up in the CMC hype at 1.02.

1.04 – DALVIN COOK, RB, VIKINGS
1.05 – JOE MIXON, RB, BENGALS

In addition to moving McCaffrey out of this tier, I decided to flip-flop Cook and Mixon. Mixon may end up with the more productive career over time but on RSO we are drafting for more immediate production as rookie contracts are only three or four years long. Cook has an easier route to RB1 touches with Latavius Murray in front of him rather than Mixon who has Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard to battle.

1.06 – ZAY JONES, WR, BILLS

I was high on Zay previously having him at 1.10 but since July his stock has risen due to personnel moves in Buffalo. Sammy Watkins was traded, Jordan Matthews was acquired and Anquan Boldin signed and promptly retired. Ultimately that’s a net positive for Jones. The Bills won’t be great, but neither was East Carolina.

1.07 – OJ HOWARD, TE, BUCS

Howard stays the course here at 1.07. I haven’t seen or heard anything that encourages me to move him up or down yet.  Don’t forget to grab Cameron Brate too because like most rookie TEs he will need time to develop.

1.08 – KAREEM HUNT, RB, CHIEFS
1.09 – D’ONTA FOREMAN, RB, TEXANS

Foreman has had better success so far during the preseason but I think Hunt has a higher ceiling for the near future. Even if Hunt can’t beat out Spencer Ware for the starting role, he will have value in the passing game. Foreman could see short yardage work so a line of 350 yards but 6-7 TDs wouldn’t be surprising. I originally put players like David Njoku and John Ross ahead these two because of their upside but I’m leaning more towards the sure thing as we get closer to the season.

1.10 – MIKE WILLIAMS, WR, CHARGERS

In true dynasty formats, Williams should not fall this far. However, in our RSO format, there’s a good chance you lose out on 20-30% of Williams’ rookie contract due to his current injuries. His ceiling is higher than that of Jones, Howard, Hunt and Foreman but his floor is lower.

2.01 – ALVIN KAMARA, RB, SAINTS

I’ve hated on Kamara a lot. It’s time to move him up my list though. So far this preseason he has just nine carries but they have been very productive. He has a 50 yard TD carry and 96 total yards; even if you remove the long carry, Kamara still averages 5.75 yards per carry on his other carries. He’ll also be a factor in the passing game, which like with Hunt, will allow him to offer some value as a rookie even with limited carries.

2.02 – DAVID NJOKU, TE, BROWNS

The bloom might be off the rose for Njoku. A report from a few weeks ago showed coach Hue Jackson’s frustration at Njoku’s hands. Plus he suffered an ankle injury in Monday’s game against the Giants (too soon as of this writing to know if it’s serious). He’s still an athletic freak with high upside so he’s worth a speculative pick at the top of the second.

2.03 – JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, WR, STEELERS
2.04 – SAMAJE PERINE, RB, REDSKINS

JJSS has just one catch and one carry so far but battled a minor injury to start camp. Perine has 14 carries so far (plus one 29 yard catch). I have not heard any glowing camp reports about either guy so they are basically holding steady despite being on crowded depth charts.

2.05 – MITCHELL TRUBISKY, QB, BEARS
2.06 – PATRICK MAHOMES, QB, CHIEFS
2.07 – DESHAUN WATSON, QB, TEXANS

I’m hedging my bet by putting all three of these quarterbacks together at this point but I truly believe the value in RSO drafts is too good to pass up. To lock up these rising stars for three or four years on a cheap contract is just a huge advantage. Sure, the guy you take has to “hit” but that’s the case with all of these rookies. I am a huge Mahomes fan and am encouraged by his 73% completion percentage and 3 TDs so far but it’s hard to ignore how good Trubisky has looked too and he has a better chance of starting Week 1. Watson will likely win the starting job but I have not been a fan of his so I’d rather take Mahomes and wait.

2.08 – JOHN ROSS, WR, BENGALS
2.09 – EVAN ENGRAM, TE, GIANTS
2.10 – CURTIS SAMUEL, RB, PANTHERS

These three have fallen significantly in my eyes. Ross, no surprise, has been injured. 2.08 might be harsh for Ross but I won’t own any shares of him this season if I have to take him in the first. I’m still worried about Engram’s lack of size and whether he can earn enough snaps at WR behind OBJ, Marshall and Shepard (although recent injuries to those three could linger and open the door). Samuel is supposed to be a “jack of all trades” type but until I see him in action and that the Panther’s offense can support him and CMC, he’ll be a “master of none” for me.

3.01 – TAYWAN TAYLOR, WR, TITANS
3.02 – KENNY GOLLADAY, WR, LIONS
3.03 – COOPER KUPP, WR, RAMS
3.04 – CHRIS GODWIN, WR, BUCS
3.05 – DEDE WESTBROOK, WR, JAGUARS

This group of receivers was tough to sort and I made a number of changes before settling on this. Westbrook and Golladay join the mock based off the success they have had in limited action thus far this preaseason. Westbrook had a single catch for a 42 yard touchdown in his first game and followed that with 6-131. Golladay started strong with a 3-53-2 game against the Colts and fell to just one reception for six yards against the Jets. Westbrook has off-field concerns and is likely a terrible human being but if he can ignite a stagnant Jaguars offense he’ll get some looks. Golladay’s hype train is speeding out of the station with plenty of hangers-on but I’m not ready to push him that high in my rankings after four NFL receptions. The other three receivers were in my original mock: Taylor and Godwin down a few picks and Kupp moved up. I still believe in Taylor who has taken advantage of Corey Davis missing time in camp and in the preseason and has 7 for 97 yards; pushing the QBs higher means Taylor falls to the third through no fault of his own. Kupp has a 8-105-1 line through two games. Sammy Watkins coming to town kills any hope of Kupp being the lead target for Jared Goff but he should beat out Robert Woods, et al by midseason. I’m disappointed so far by Godwin who has caught just three of his six targets. I am still hopeful that all of the attention devoted to Mike Evans, DJax and OJ Howard mean Godwin will have sneaky production.

3.06 – MARLON MACK, RB, COLTS
3.07 – WAYNE GALLMAN, RB, GIANTS

Signing Christine Michael this offseason threw some cold water on my Mack ranking.  Why sign a journeyman like Michael to a crowded backfield after drafting Mack?  Michael ended up getting hurt and is out for the season, but Mack was banged up too and missed the start of the preseason. Frank Gore and Robert Turbin can carry the load to start the season so the Colts might take it slow with Mack. Encouragingly, he did have seven touches for 49 yards in his first game action. I’ve had a man crush on Gallman since I started researching the 2016 Clemson Tigers and I haven’t given it up yet, although I continue to drop Gallman down my mock draft (2.09 to 3.05 to 3.07). I don’t believe in Paul Perkins and I’m not sure the Giants do either since they have more draft capital invested in Gallman than Perkins.

3.08 – JAKE BUTT, TE, BRONCOS
3.09 – DESHONE KIZER, QB, BROWNS

The true value of these two players will come down to when they get on the field. I rank them here with the expectation that they will start a majority of the season for their teams. Butt would have been a first round NFL talent if he wasn’t injured – he’s good value here. This late in your rookie draft, Kizer represents good value too even if he’s just QB28 at the end of the season. I’d rather lock these guys up on cheap long-term contracts now before their value crests in my auction draft (if it’s announced that they will be starting Week 1) or in free agency (if they get on the field a little later).

3.10 – TARIK COHEN, RB, BEARS

Cohen has impressed in this first two weeks of the preseason. His size is worrisome (he’s just 5’6″ and 180lbs) but it hasn’t hindered him yet. Cohen leads rookie RBs in yards (181) and leads the Bears backs in attempts (18). His size will keep him from being a workhorse in the NFL but he will have a role. It’s interesting to note that the Bears invested a higher draft pick in Cohen (4th round) than Jordan Howard (5th), even after Howard’s great rookie season.


Note: When watching film for a player, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, ESPN’s First Draft podcast, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s

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.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Early RSO Contracts: RBs

Updated: August 6th 2017

Knowing the types of contracts given out by other fantasy teams can give the alert reader a big advantage when your own RSO free agency auction arrives.  Your league settings and available players will have a big impact on the size of contracts given out at various positions, but looking at the relative contracts within position groups provides some useful information. This week I move to one of the most volatile positions in fantasy football, running back, where increased injury rate and player turnover make long-term decisions extremely difficult.

Top of the Market

No shock here.  Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, and Le’Veon Bell are the three highest paid running backs in RSO leagues and also atop the overall player salaries.  There is not much of an argument to be made about why they do not belong here.  Each is a proven game changer at the position and potential league winner capable of putting up 2,000 total yards with extraordinary potential touch volume.

The only issue which concerns me is the lengths of contracts where each is averaging nearly four years.  I do not have much of an issue with Zeke given the dominant offensive line mostly locked up with long term deals and a quarterback who was excellent as a rookie, but questions linger about his off-the-field behavior.  I am a little more skeptical of Bell and Johnson though with situations more in flux and extensive workloads which increase injury risk.  Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger could retire any year moving forward with no real alternatives on the rosters leaving a possibly dicey quarterback situation for each.  Bell also has multiple suspensions, major injury issues, and is not signed to a long-term contract with Pittsburg (and will not be until after the season, if at all).

The Rookies

The rookies listed in the table all came from one auction as most rookies will go in rookie drafts instead of auction, so do not put too much stock into the results.  I believe it is a useful reminder, however, of inflated rookie prices which can occur in startup auctions.  Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook all landed maximum term contracts in the auction with average salaries that would place each in the top-14 among running backs without playing a down in the NFL.  This is just a reminder not to go overboard with rookies in your auction.

An Important Tier Break

For those owners who like to invest in two heavy volume running backs for your starters, remember the name Lamar Miller.  He is the last player on the list before a major tier drop, coming off the board as the RB15 in average salary.  The main reason for this big tier break is certainty of volume.  Forgetting the rookies, I have every back priced above Isaiah Crowell projected for 270+ touches over the course of a full season.  I do not have any other back projected for over 250 touches.  The primary problem for these other backs centers around 1) uncertainty of role (example: Spencer Ware) or 2) playing on projected bad teams limiting workload (example: Carlos Hyde).

Top Buys

C.J. Anderson heads my list of top running back buys this season.   The Denver back is virtually assured the the lion’s share of carries with last year’s bust Devontae Booker (already injured), late rounder De’Angelo Henderson, and former superstar Jamaal Charles (still returning from injury and on the roster bubble) as the only competition.  Anderson averaged 18 touches per contest through 7 games last season before injury ended his year and was the RB12 during that time.  The Broncos improved their offensive line in the offseason and will want to rely heavily on the run game no matter who ends up starting at quarterback.  Anderson is a steal as the RB26.

Bilal Powell (RB35), Danny Woodhead (RB37), and Theo Riddick (RB42) provide cheap useful starters, particularly in PPR leagues, for those teams taking a wide receiver-heavy approach.  Each has standalone value and a lot of upside should the other committee back on their respective team go down with injury.

Top Avoids

The narrative surrounding Ty Montgomery (RB22) has amused me to no end this offseason.   Montgomery started 12 games, including three in the playoffs, once bruiser Eddie Lacy went down with injury.  The converted wide receiver rushed for more than 11 times once and accumulated more than 60 rushing yards once in his 12 starts.  Those games were with James Starks (likely done in the league) and Christine Michael (who has been cut more times than we can count) as the only real competition for touches.  Green Bay was even giving Aaron Ripkowski touches.  Now the story is that Montgomery will take over a far bigger role after the Packers drafted multiple running backs with far more talent than last year’s backs? Montgomery is the classic perceived “great situation” case boosted by small sample efficiency stats which were propped up on two games against a Chicago defense decimated by injuries.

I am a big fan of C.J. Prosise and the multi-dimensional skill-set he brings.  I am not paying starter money on a short-term contract for a player likely needing multiple items going his way to take over the primary back role.  Grab Prosise on a cheaper longer-term contract if possible in your league as a nice lottery ticket.

 

Average RSO Running Back Contracts


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

Slicing ’17 Rookie Class into 12 Tiers

Updated: July 23rd 2017

According to a recent poll on our RSO Twitter feed, about 50% of RSO leagues have not yet conducted their rookie drafts.  As you’re continuing your preparation, I’m here to provide my tiered rankings of the top 50 rookies.  Navigating three to four rounds of a rookie draft isn’t easy.  My tiers are designed to help you know when to buy or sell so you can accumulate the best possible rookie class, at great value!

So let’s begin…

Tier 1

1. Corey Davis WR TEN

While Corey Davis may not be quite the same level of prospect as recent 1.01/1.02 picks Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Todd Gurley, he’s undoubtedly the best prospect in this class and the only receiver I’m willing to bet will be a true NFL #1.  Putting my money where my mouth is, I already have 3 shares and am aiming for more.

Tier 2

2. Joe Mixon RB CIN
3. Christian McCaffrey RB CAR
4. Leonard Fournette RB JAX

To say you can’t go wrong with picks 2, 3, and 4 would be inaccurate. In a few years, all three will have differing values. But at this point, the margins between each are razor-thin.

Consistent with my general strategy, I’m going to often choose the most talented player regardless of their potential non-talent-related downfalls such as injury history, off-the-field issues, etc. I’ll take Joe Mixon at 2.  He’s the only RB in this class that I believe truly has an elite RB1 ceiling. My rankings 3rd and 4th ranked players differ depending on your scoring system. PPR -> Christian McCaffrey. Standard -> Leonard Fournette.

Tier 3

5. Dalvin Cook RB MIN

While a sub-10th percentile SPARQ score terrifies me, Dalvin Cook‘s college tape tells a different story. I firmly believe that he’s the most talented back on the Minnesota Vikings and it isn’t remotely close. How soon he will earn playing time may be another story. He will need to improve drastically in pass-protection and ball security to earn playing time.

After the 1.05 pick, this draft class falls off a cliff. If you’re slated to pick 6th or later in the first round of a rookie draft this year, I’d advise shopping that pick for help now or 2018/2019 picks.

Tier 4

6. Mike Williams WR LAC

Back injuries are scary. Back injuries are especially scary when learning a NFL playbook for this first time, getting acclimated to a NFL playbook, and completing for playing time among a crowded group of talented receivers. Even if he fully recovers from this injury in time for the season, he’s unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way this season. Still my 1.06, I’d only make that pick if I’ve exhausted every trade possible without coming to an agreement. If Mike Williams struggles for playing time, but appears healthy when on the field, he might be a buy-low target at the trade deadline or during the 2018 off-season

For more info on his injury and the potential need for surgery if the non-surgical route doesn’t work, I’d recommend listening to the AUDIBLE LIVE! Podcast from June 8th as Jene Bramel (@JeneBramel on Twitter) provides great insight.

Tier 5

7. Alvin Kamara RB NO
8. John Ross WR CIN
9. David Njoku TE CLE
10. Evan Engram TE NYG
11. Samaje Perine RB WAS
12. O.J. Howard TE TB
13. Kareem Hunt RB KC

Even if he doesn’t develop as an inside runner, Alvin Kamara will still be a very productive pass-catching back in the NFL. The Saints offense is very RB friendly and neither Adrian Peterson or Mark Ingram are locks for the Saints’ 2018 roster.

Love John Ross‘ talent, but hate the landing spot. Andy Dalton isn’t the ideal QB for him, especially behind a poor offensive line that may force them to focus on getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

My tight end rankings are based on my belief in their long-term upside. Love David Njoku‘s talent and his situation isn’t as bad as many believe, especially with the release of Gary Barnidge. Evan Engram should settle in as a big slot receiver, though classified as a TE, for the Giants once they release he can’t handle the typical blocking duties of an in-line TE.

O.J. Howard likely will end up as the best NFL TE, but I’m worried that his talent as a blocker may limit his fantasy potential.

Samaje Perine doesn’t feel like a 1st rounder to me.  I would do everything possible to trade the 1.11 pick for a random 2018 1st. He was graded by many as a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick dynasty rookie pick, but has catapulted into the 1st round due to his promising landing spot in Washington. Betting on him to the next Jordan Howard is dangerous. Barring that type of breakout, I expect Washington to be in play for signing a free agent or drafting a top RB prospect in 2018.

Rounding out this tier is Kareem Hunt – a running back who dazzled on tape, but disappointed at the NFL combine. Joining a Spencer Ware in the Kansas City backfield, many believe Hunt will overtake Ware for the majority of carries by mid-season. I believe this is far from a lock and would expect Ware to lead KC in carries this year, by a 2:1 ratio.

Tier 6

14. JuJu Smith-Schuster WR PIT
15. Chris Godwin WR TB
16. Carlos Henderson WR DEN
17. James Conner RB PIT
18. Zay Jones WR BUF
19. Curtis Samuel WR CAR

Higher on Carlos Henderson than most, I love his ability after the catch. It’s also worth mentioning that aging receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t long-term barriers to playing time in Denver.

Tier 7

20. Taywan Taylor WR TEN
21. D’Onte Foreman RB HOU
22. Jeremy McNichols RB TB

Loved Taywan Taylor pre-draft and couldn’t have hoped for a much better landing spot.  Great target in the late 2nd or early 3rd round of your draft.

Tier 8

23. Melvin Mack RB IND
24. Kenny Galladay WR DET
25. ArDarius Stewart WR NYJ
26. Gerald Everett TE LAR
27. Joe Williams RB SF
28. Josh Reynolds WR LAR
29. Chad Williams WR ARI

This group includes several recent ADP risers: Kenny Galladay, ArDarius Stewart, Joe Williams, and Chad Williams. In each of my drafts, I want to land several players from this tier.

Tier 10

30. Jamaal Williams RB GB
31. Aaron Jones RB GB
32. Patrick Mahomes QB KC

In both redraft and dynasty, Ty Montgomery is the back I want in Green Bay though it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Packers drafted 3 running backs. If everything breaks right for either rookie back, Williams and Jones could be featured in one of the NFL’s best offenses. That alone makes them solid values in the 3rd round.

If early rookie drafts are any indication, I’m going to be heavily invested in Patrick Mahomes. While he’ll need to be more consistent to succeed at the next level, I can’t help but drool at his raw ability. His landing spot, under Andy Reid’s tutelage, could not be better. Let’s not forget that Andy Reid used to be criticized during his Eagles days for passing too much.  Mahomes will be put into position to not only succeed, but also develop into a QB1 in fantasy.

Tier 11

33. Cooper Kupp WR LAR
34. Wayne Gallman RB NYG
35. Amara Dorboh WR SEA
36. Deshaun Watson QB HOU
37. Adam Shaheen TE CHI
38. DeShone Kizer QB CLE
39. Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI

Tier 12

40. Ishmael Zamora WR OAK
41. Jonnu Smith TE TEN
42. Josh Malone WR CIN
43. Jehu Chessen WR KC
44. Chad Kelly QB DEN
45. Dede Westbrook WR JAX

Tier 13

46. Shelton Gibson WR PHI
47. Jake Butt TE DEN

48. Elijah McGuire RB NYJ
49. Brian Hill RB ATL
50. Donnel Pumphrey RB PHI


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers dynasty and keeper leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

More Analysis by Dave Sanders