F3’s Mock Draft: Zero RB vs Zero WR

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By Frank Scandurro (@Frank_Scandurro)


First off let me say it is an honor that Tyler, Nick and Jonathan have brought me on to F3 as a writer. I want to thank them for the opportunity to bring some knowledge and my own personal insight to all the F3 community.

Now with that being said, welcome to the first edition of F3’s Mock draft series, where we will be taking different mock strategies and seeing how the teams turn out, grading each team and finally determining which strategy works best from each position. Today we have the every so popular ZERO RB vs the forgotten about ZERO WR strategy.

I decided that I would go with a 12 team, PPR scoring settings with a 1QB/2RB/2WR/1TE/1FLEX roster for this strategy. I conducted 2 mocks from the 1-6-12 draft positions and went ZERO RB in one and ZERO WR in the other. In either scenario I did not pick the position until after round 5. I also stopped drafting after round 12, I’m not worried about later rounds or D/ST or K in these mocks.

 1st Pick

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Zero WR

QB– Watson RB– L. Bell, CMC, J. Mixon, T. Cohen WR– P. Garcon, J. Crowder, S. Shepard, J. Doctson, M. Sanu, M. Gallup TE– E. Engram.

Well, Well, Well this team strength is clearly at RB, which it should be. I do not know how I feel about the WR corps, if I had to I would say that Garcon and Shepard would probably be my two starters with maybe a strong consideration on Crowder, but without knowing how Smith is going to play without Mahomes behind him, I can’t tell yet. I also am realizing now that I took both Crowder and Doctson.  That may have been a mistake on my part, but you could also maybe move Mixon and Doctson for a very high upside WR2. I started this with obviously Bell, CMC, Mixon and then went Watson and Engram.

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Zero RB

QB– A. Rodgers RB – R. Penny, D. Guice, T. Coleman, K. Johnson, C. Coleman WR – A. Brown, A. Thielen, R. Woods, A. Miller, C. Ridley TE– T. Kelce.

The 1st positions ZERO RB team isn’t as bad as it first looks; you have studs at 3 of the positions for starters in Rodgers, Brown and Kelce. All 3 of those guys could easily carry your team. I just can’t seem to trust the RBs in this squad. The ceiling is sky high, but the floor is just as low. Will Seattle’s offensive line be able to block anyone this season, how much work will Guice truly get, does T. Coleman repeat the last two seasons. The RB position with this team just scares me overall.  I honestly think I would be scrambling week to week to start the right two.

Position Zero WR Grade Zero RB Grade
QB B A+
RB A C-
WR C A-
TE B B+
AVG B B

 

With all that being said and the teams laid out, I would have to say that if I drew the 1st overall pick and I wanted to go with either ZERO RB or ZERO WR, my easy choice would be to load up on the RBs and take my chances with the WR core. I think the Zero WR team is more well-rounded and that the WRs beat out the RBs of the ZERO RB mock.

 6TH Pick

Zero WR

QB– T. Brady RB– A. Kamara, J. Mckinnon, R. Jones II, D. Foreman, P. Barber  WR– J. Landry, W. Fuller, R. Anderson, S. Shepard, K. Golladay, D. Westbrook TE-R.Gronkowski

This team looks like an immediate championship contender, Brady-Gronk combo, Solid RB depth with tremendous upside and a nice combo of WR2s with upside. The 6th pick ZERO WR team looks even better than the ZERO WR 1st pick team does in my opinion. I would be ecstatic if this was my team after the draft in my home league. Yes, you’re banking on Kamara repeating his success, Mckinnon showing consistently what he flashed in Minn. And R. Jones performing and doing the job he was brought into TB to do. That said this teams potential is sky high.

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Zero RB

QB– D. Watson RB– R. Freeman, M. Lynch, J. Williams(GB), R. Burkhead, C. Clement, L. Blount WR– D. Hopkins, D. Adams, S. Diggs, T. Lockett, A. Miller      TE– G. Olsen

Oh man! The more and more I conduct the ZERO RB mocks, the more and more I hate the teams that come from them. Does this team have upside? YES. Does the team have studs? YES. But, does the production you get from the QB, WR and TE positions give this team enough each and every week to make up for the RB position? If you want to bank on Freeman getting the bulk of the carries and John Gruden to run Lynch into the ground for one last season, then yes, I could defiantly see this team compete for a title. That’s a big IF though.

Position Zero WR Grade Zero RB Grade
QB A+ B
RB A D
WR B-/C+ A
TE A B
AVG A B-

There is a clear-cut answer for me; if I have the 6th pick and want to go with either of these strategies, ZERO WR is the one I’m choosing.  The ZERO WR team blows the ZERO RB team out the water. Solid upside all around with high ceilings at each position.

12th pick

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Zero WR

QB– A. Rodgers RB– L. Fournette, K. Hunt, A. Collins, M. Ingram WR– M. Jones, E. Sanders, D. Parker, K. Benjamin, M. Bryant, C. Kirk, G. Allison TE– K. Rudolph

This ZERO WR strategy is turning into something worthwhile, I would say from all 3 mocks each team has turned out pretty well, all have solid options and are loaded in the QB and RB positions. Yes, I know Ingram is suspended, but that doesn’t mean that when he comes back he doesn’t get carries. However, you may not need him and can use him as trade bait for a WR2 after he comes back…Fournette, Hunt, and Collins are a top notch RB squad. Wideouts have nice upside and could turn out well, especially if we get the D. Parker that we all have been waiting for 3 years to show.

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Zero RB

QB– D. Brees RB– D. Lewis, J. Ajayi, K. Johnson, L. Miller, D. Foreman, P. Barber WR– M. Thomas, A.J. Green, A. Robinson, C. Ridley, M. Sanu TE-J. Graham

I’m going to be straight up honest with each and every single one of you, I’m from New Orleans, born and raised a Saints fan, have a fleur de lis tattoo, and cried when Marcus Williams blew the playoff game.

Ok, now that is out the way, this ZERO RB team lacks in RB just as strong as it is in the WR department, and in fantasy that does not end well. This team just isn’t consistent enough to keep you alive long into the season, I feel like you would have to do some major waiver wire work and trading to get this RB core up to par.

Position Zero WR Grade Zero RB Grade
QB A A-
RB A D
WR B A
TE B- B
AVG A- B-

 


I appreciate you taking time out of your day to read something i love doing and put countless hours into, hoping to bring insight and knowledge to you. From everyone at thefffranchise.com thank you for visiting the site and being a part of our community. Until next time, Peace, Love, and Fantasy BABY!

Ins and Outs: Managing Bankroll for Dynasty Slow Startup Auctions

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By Rob Schwarz, Jr. (@ChiRuxinDFS)


This is the second of my Ins and Outs articles. You can find the first one that explains what to expect during a dynasty slow startup auction by clicking here. Now that you know what to expect, you should start to prepare for the auction itself. A key factor in doing this is managing your bankroll. 

In my opinion, there are two ways to go when building a dynasty team in a slow startup auction. Most leagues I have been in do not require you to draft a starting lineup let alone a complete roster. This allows you to attack the auction a little differently and leads into the first way to attack the draft.

Big Spender

If we look at this as a league with 20 roster spots and 10 starters, big spending would be using more than 50 percent of your auction budget on five players. That is 50 percent of your budget on only one quarter of your team. If you are familiar with DFS strategies, this would be closer to a “studs and scrubs” approach.

Some of you may be thinking, why would you do this? Well, let us think of it another way. If you are in a snake draft and are the first through third pick in the draft, your team will likely come out similar to this strategy. You get the big stud with your first pick. Let us say it is Todd Gurley. You don’t get to pick again for awhile. When you do, you are likely to get at least two more solid players. However, by the time your fourth and fifth picks come around, your options are no longer what many would call “studs”.

In my first slow startup auction, I spent 70 percent of my budget on four players. I went a little crazy and that is why I think if you keep it between 50 and 60 percent you are better off. Those players though were Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Jordan Howard and Brandin Cooks. Those players at the time had a combined age of 23 years old. That to me was a solid foundation to build a team. I was also lucky enough to add Jared Goff for relatively cheap. (I was a Goff believer despite his horrible stats in his rookie season) My goal was to spend big on quality players who were young and should be playing for multiple years at a high level.

Note: I actually traded Winston and Goff during the offseason in this league

As I became more educated on the process, my drafts became even better. Remember, you do not have to build a championship team the first year. My goal is to build a contending championship team for multiple years. One way to do that is to spend big on important positions and add quality depth via trades or waivers.

A Balanced Diet

The other, more conservative approach to slow startup auctions is to go with a more balanced approach. If your startup auction has a $1000 blind bidding budget, and we use the 20 player roster with 10 starters, you would have $50 to spend on each roster spot. I am not recommending you do this. Although I say balanced, you still need to hit on some quality players. Those players will cost you more. However, this could be done by not blowing your budget on the Gurleys of the world, but rather targeting guys like Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, etc. If you can land two or three RB2s with RB1 upside, that is not a bad way to go either.

Within this approach, I like to target slightly older, but reliable quarterbacks. I’ll look at landing guys like Philip Rivers or Matthew Stafford opposed to Carson Wentz. Typically Wentz will go for around three times the cost of both the other two. In fact, in one of my super-flex startups this offseason, Wentz went for $210 and Rivers and Stafford combined for $215. You will need to get younger at quarterback at some point, but future rookie drafts and trades work wonders!

The key to this approach, and probably the biggest hurdle in any of these slow auction drafts is to have patience! You cannot get caught up by bidding up a player you do not want just because you think that player should go for more or a price enforcer (will touch on this in a different article) convinces you to do so. I suggest setting a budget and creating a spreadsheet to help you stay on task. I do this for EVERY slow auction draft I am a part of. It does not matter if the auction is a startup or rookie only. You should have a basic budget to follow to keep yourself from falling into the traps set forth by your opponents.

No matter what approach you go with, I recommend not worrying about filling all 20 roster spots. If I end up with 15-17 players who I believe are better than what I would have ended up with if I tried filling all my spots in the auction, I am happy. I will attempt to round out my team with $1 or $2 bids, but after the auction, you can always try to add players via waivers. Typically you can get those guys for $1 or $2 too.

Next up, I will breakdown how I plan my budget spreadsheets


Hopefully you enjoyed my article. If you did, please make sure to follow me on Twitter @ChiRuxinDFS. If already following, hit the like and RT button! Check out the rest of my articles and the other great writers of the Fantasy Football Franchise @F3pod on Twitter.

Sony Michel And Analyzing Bill Belichick’s First Round Selections


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By Brian D’Erario (@BrianDFF)


Throughout the fantasy football industry, I seem to sense a dive of Sony Michel stock following the draft. Depending on who you asked prior to the draft, Sony Michel was hovering at around the 1.03 in single QB rookie ADP. That seamed respectable and I myself had him at 2A/2B with Nick Chubb depending on where they landed.

Then something shocking happened. The Patriots drafted Sony Michel.

I didn’t know what to do. I battled with being extremely excited and confused. I didn’t understand how they were filling a need with a position that they have four players currently rostered.

Then it dawned on me, Michel is superior to all of them.

After analyzing the Patriots draft and all their moves back it is not hard to deduce that Bill Belichick did not appreciate the talent in this draft. The pick to take Michel meant that Belichick plans on cutting a few pieces (I’m looking at you Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill). It also means a significant chunk of Rex Burkhead’s (who effectively becomes a pass-catching back/slot receiver) stock takes a dive.

When I first began writing this article, I was going to analyze the Patriots running backs of the past. Michel is a different case because the Bill Belichick-era Patriots have only once invested this much stock in a running back, especially with the money they have currently tied to the position. With that being said, let’s take a brief look at the careers of these prior first rounders:

Richard Seymour:

Five-time All Pro and captain of the Patriots defense. Outstanding career, potential Hall of Famer. The anchor to the Patriots defense for seven years.

Daniel Graham:

Little known tight end to people outside of New England. Had trouble dropping passes early in his career, but notably had seven touchdowns in the Super Bowl season of 2004.

Ty Warren:

First team All Pro, part of the Patriots All-2000’s team, defensive starter for eight of his twelve seasons.

Vince Wilfork:

Need I say more? A dominant presence at nose tackle. Four-time All-Pro. Is this list getting repetitive? Yes, there have been a lot of All-Pros (kind of my point).

Ben Watson:

A tight end who recently found himself a home with New Orleans. A seasoned veteran who was never dominant but surely had himself a successful, long career.

Logan Makins:

A six-time All Pro who never found himself on a Super Bowl winning Patriots team, but played in both losses to the Giants. An integral part to the dominance of the mid-2000 Patriots.

Laurence Maroney:

The only other running back the Patriots have taken in the first round. 4.1 YPC in his career but never signed a second contract with any team after his rookie contract expired.

Brandon Meriweather:

Two time Pro Bowler with the Patriots who was mysteriously cut prior to the 2011 season and was never the same player.

Jerod Mayo:

One of the smartest linebackers the Patriots have ever had. He was a team captain, earned All Pro and Pro Bowl Honors, and was my favorite defensive player on the Patriots for the last ten years. Started every game he was healthy for his career.

Devin McCourty:

A current member and leader of the Patriots today. Three-time All Pro and an integral part of the last two Super Bowls the Patriots have won.

Nate Solder:

Just got a mega-contract with the New York Giants and was dominant in protecting Tom Brady’s blind side for the last six seasons.

Chandler Jones:

All-Pro and current member of the Arizona Cardinals and was traded away after an incident off the field. Known as one of the best pass-rushers in the league.

Dont’a Hightower:

Currently my favorite Patriots defensive leader. Similar to Mayo, he is one of the smartest linebackers I have ever seen, and two key plays that he impacted (Matt Ryan strip sack and stopping Marshawn Lynch at the goal line) directly led to Super Bowl victories. All Pro.

Dominique Easley:

A break from the All Pros as we have a “bust” in terms of draft position, as Easley is no longer on the team and was cut after two seasons with the team.

Malcolm Brown:

A versatile defensive tackle who is currently with the team. Still an important part of the team today.

This article was not meant to shove in your face the success of the Patriots during their historic run in the last eighteen years. It is remind everyone that Bill Belichick historically does not miss with first round picks and is probably one of the greatest talent scout in NFL history. You can look at all of the factors including current roster, his injury concerns, and the Patriots schemes that typically shuffle running backs depending on game plan for why Michel will not be successful.

However, if I told you that with the 1.02 you would be getting an extremely talented athlete on most likely the #1 offense in the NFL, would you be happy? (Hint: this is Sony Michel)

Why Patrick Mahomes Will Be a Top 5 QB in 2018 and Beyond

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By Sam Lane (@FFStompy)


“With the tenth pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech.”

The Chiefs traded the 2017 first rounder (27th overall), 2017 third rounder (91st overall), and their 2018 first round pick to the Buffalo Bills to be able to pick Mahomes. That is a lot of draft capital to spend on a quarterback when the Chiefs already had a successful quarterback in Alex Smith. Smith was coming off of a Pro Bowl season in 2016, had made the Pro Bowl in two of the four years he was with the Chiefs and had led the Chiefs to their first playoff victory in 12 years. This should tell you exactly how they felt about Mahomes as a prospect.

In 2017, Smith had the best year of his career, posting career highs in yards, touchdowns, passer rating, yards per attempt, touchdown to interception ratio, etc. Smith also made his second straight Pro Bowl and third as a Chief. He was named PFF’s most accurate deep ball passer for 2017. You read that right. The quarterback known as “Captain Checkdown” for a large portion of his career was given an award for deep ball accuracy. On the fantasy front, Smith finished as the QB4. So naturally, the Chiefs proceeded to trade Smith to the Washington Redskins for a  3rd round pick and a cornerback. This is even further evidence of what the Chiefs feel they have in Mahomes.

 

 

 

The Chiefs’ Other Additions and Subtractions

 

Along with trading Smith, the Chiefs also signed free agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins has the build of a “prototypical” X receiver at 6’1”, 211 lbs, which the Chiefs haven’t had since Dwayne Bowe’s departure in 2015. He will replace Albert Wilson, who signed with the Miami Dolphins, and his 544 reception yards and 3 touchdowns. Watkins also has productive seasons under his belt, producing over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL in 2014 and 2015 before a foot injury derailed his 2016 season and he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in the middle of  2017 training camp.

The addition of Watkins also brings more speed. Watkins ran a 4.43 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, achieving a speed score in the 90th percentile. He will be lining up across from Tyreek Hill, who ran a 4.34 40 yard dash in his combine.

On top of the Watkins addition, the Chiefs will have running back Spencer Ware back this season after he tore his MCL and PCL in the 2017 preseason. Ware posted 921 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns along with 33 receptions for 447 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2016 in only 14 games. He will form a two-headed monster with Kareem Hunt who finished second to Alvin Kamara in rookie of the year voting despite leading the league in rushing with 1327 yards along with 53 receptions for 455 yards and 11 total touchdowns. Even after finishing as the sixth highest scoring offense and fifth highest total yards gained in 2017, the Chiefs seemed to have upgraded their offensive weapons going into 2018.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs were a mediocre defense in 2017, finishing 18th in defensive scoring. Their biggest weakness was pass defense, finishing fourth to last in pass yards allowed per game. In the 2018 offseason, the Chiefs traded arguably their best cornerback in Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams. However, they also gained an underrated slot corner in Kendall Fuller from the Washington Redskins in the Alex Smith trade. One can argue that the Chiefs, at the most, moved laterally in terms of pass defense not taking their draft into account. What this means is that Mahomes and the Chiefs could be playing from behind more often or involved in more shootouts, allowing for more passing opportunities.

 

Patrick Mahomes and His Talents


Now to Mahomes. Mahomes played in the Texas Tech air raid offense, where he threw for over 11,000 yards and 93 touchdowns in ~2.5 years. If there is one thing that he is known for it is his arm. You will see “arm strength” and “arm talent” and “deep ball” and “velocity” all over his draft profile entering the 2017 draft, and for good reason. Conversely, Smith was known for his intelligence, efficiency, and not making mistakes, not for his arm strength. Mahomes is also very accurate both in the pocket and on the move. These traits were on display against the Titans in the 2017 preseason.

 

Deep ball accuracy in the pocket.

 

Deep ball accuracy on the move. Look at the arm angle.

 

Different angle of the above throw.

 

He also knows how and when to throw with touch.


Granted, the above throws were in the fourth game of the preseason when the starters sitting.  However, an argument can be made that he was also throwing to less talented skill players and was being protected by a less talented offensive line, but that is a fight for another day. The fact remains that he made and completed extremely difficult throws with pinpoint accuracy.

We were able to get a glimpse of what Mahomes can do against NFL starters when he was given the start in week 17 against the Denver Broncos, who had one of the best secondaries and arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. Though his stat line wasn’t impressive (22 of 35, 284 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception), he showed poise in the pocket, good reads, and the arm strength and accuracy he is known for.

 

Poise under pressure.

 

Ability to throw with velocity and accuracy without his feet being set after being hit.

 

Accuracy on the run and falling away.


Matt Waldman, a well-known film guru who writes the Rookie Scouting Portfolio every year, has Mahomes ranked as his top quarterback of the past several draft classes. This includes the likes of Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and many more. Waldman even uses phrases like “moments of genius” to describe Mahomes and has compared him to Brett Favre and Matt Stafford.

 

 

 

Things Working Against Mahomes

 

Waldman and many other film and draft analysts do note that Mahomes has a couple deficiencies that he can correct. The flipside of being compared to Brett Favre is that he can be a gunslinger, making poor decisions and forcing throws. He needs to learn when to take what a defense gives him or throw the ball away. He also has bad footwork at times, but he has the arm strength, accuracy, and ability to change arme angles and velocities that will allow him to overcome sloppy footwork.

The one thing that could help Mahomes overcome his deficiencies is to sit for a year and learn from an intelligent quarterback and offensive guru, which is exactly what happened. Learning Andy Reid’s hybrid offense under the tutelage of an intelligent quarterback like Smith (40 on the Wonderlic) should allow Mahomes to hit the ground running next season. This time sitting should also have allowed him to work on his footwork, though that has yet to be determined.

A major knock on Mahomes is that he played in the Air-Raid offense at Texas Tech. But many quarterbacks coming out of college played in offenses that don’t translate to the NFL. Some NFL coaches have shown the progressiveness to build their offense around the quarterback’s strengths. The Eagles incorporated spread-offense concepts into a West Coast offense, playing to the strengths of Carson Wentz. The Texans are also using spread-offense, allowing Deshaun Watson to impress in his rookie season before tearing his ACL. Andy Reid, Mahomes’ coach, has been merging the spread and West Coast offenses for almost a decade.

There are a few things working against Mahomes. The first is that Smith and the Chiefs had an extremely efficient season in 2017. Smith finished second in playerprofiler.com’s deep ball completion percentage, which is the completion percentage of balls that travel 20 yards or farther in the air, and first in  PFF’s adjusted deep ball completion percentage, which adjusts for drops on catchable balls.

Smith also finished second in supporting cast production premium, which is the sum of the production premiums for Smith’s supporting cast. Production premium compares all outcomes of offensive plays to league average also taking into account game situation, positive values meaning a player is more efficient than average. All of these numbers point to the Chiefs skill players being extremely efficient, which could regress in 2018. That being said,  the additions the Chiefs have made plus Mahomes’ deep ball accuracy helps mitigate this potential regression.

The second thing working against Mahomes finishing in the top five at quarterback: the gunslinger mentality mentioned above can lead to interceptions. This obviously leads to lost fantasy points but also lost possessions.

Finally, Smith is a good running quarterback. In 2017, Smith ran for 355 yards and one touchdown. However, Mahomes is no slouch when it comes to running. In 2016 Mahomes ran for 456 yards and 10 touchdowns and int 2017 he ran for 285 yards and 12 touchdowns. So maybe Smith doesn’t have as much of an advantage in the rushing category as was initially thought.

 

Summary


So why will Patrick Mahomes be a top-five quarterback in 2018 and beyond?

1. Despite being known as a game manager, Alex Smith was named by PFF’s most accurate deep passer in 2017. Patrick Mahomes is known for his arm strength and his accurate deep ball, unlike Smith.

2. The addition of Sammy Watkins and return of Spencer Ware to Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt gives the Chiefs a more potent offense than Smith had in 2017 when he finished as the QB4 in fantasy football. Watkins also adds another fast, deep threat for Mahomes to throw to.

3. Andy Reid’s incorporates concepts seen in a college spread-offense into the West Coast offense, making it easier for Mahomes to learn and able to capitalize on his strengths.

4. Mahomes was allowed to sit for a year and learn the offense under Smith and improve his decision making and footwork.

5. Mahomes has already shown the ability to beat top-end NFL players and lead game-winning drives.

6. The Chiefs defense is not good, which could lead to falling behind early and playing catch-up and shootouts, resulting in more pass attempts.

Finally, this article is coming from a Broncos fan. I harbor a lot of disdain for the Chiefs. As much as it pains me to write, I truly believe that Mahomes has an extremely high ceiling and is going to be a dominant quarterback in this league for years to come.

The Post-Hype Sleeper

By: Chris Martini (Martini269)

The strategy behind targeting players is critical for your fantasy success. A wise owner will not only assess the consensus top guys, but will also evaluate players on the rise, Boom or Bust players, and my personal favorite, the post-hype sleeper. A post-hype sleeper is someone that is presumed to have a breakout year, yet fails to meet those expectations. That let down causes fantasy owners to cast them aside from future consideration. However, post-hype sleepers are important to take advantage of, as the reward can be massive. Let’s take an in-depth look into the post-hype sleeper that you need to target for 2018 drafts.

Jameis Winston, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Heading into the 2017 season, the Bucs signal-caller was getting plenty of hype from experts in the fantasy industry. Many thought Winston was poised to make the leap to an elite fantasy level. 

Winston had the weapons around him in Pro Bowler Mike Evans, red-zone specialist Cameron Brate, and promising rookies O.J Howard and Chris Godwin. Furthermore, the addition of veteran wide receiver Desean Jackson, who is one of the best deep threats in the game, looked to push the Buccaneers offense to a daunting level for opposing defenses.

Winston was averaging at least 4,000 passing yards and 28 total touchdowns since entering the league in 2015. With his impressive fantasy production, combined with the improvement of weapons and offensive scheme continuity with the return of head coach and play caller Dirk Koetter, all signs looked to be pointing up for the talented, young quarterback. These factors drove Winston’s Average Draft Position (ADP) to the seventh overall quarterback heading into the 2017 season.

Fast forward to present day.

Winston unfortunately closed out the year as the 22nd fantasy quarterback. That deceiving finish caused his ADP to drop down to the 19th overall quarterback heading into the 2018 season. With that being said, the time is now to strike!

While everyone is running around, uncontrollably investing high draft picks in 40-year old quarterbacks or guys coming off torn ACL and LCL injuries; I want you to stay calm and do the exact opposite. I want you to build strength elsewhere by waiting on the temptation that is, quarterback. Fill out your rosters with a plethora of running backs, wide receivers and maybe even an established tight end. Solidify and gain the advantage in those positions, knowing you have a top ten fantasy quarterback in your back pocket.

It was unfortunate that Winston hit a speed bump on the way to his presumed fantasy stardom last year. And by speed bump, I mean 260 pound linebacker Chandler Jones, who fell hard on Winston early in the season. This resulted in a shoulder sprain, causing Winston to miss three games and depart early in two others, which ultimately left a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy owners. However, drawing the curtains back on Winston’s injury riddled 2017 season, the numbers surprisingly show solid fantasy production and much promise for 2018.

I mentioned that Winston left early in two games, week six against the Arizona Cardinals, when he exited the game on the first drive after sustaining a sprained AC joint. Also, week nine, Winston left at halftime against the New Orleans Saints after re-aggravating his shoulder. Afterwards, the MRI revealed more damage which inevitably led to him missing Weeks 10 to 12 to recover.

The two early departures tamper with Winston’s fantasy numbers. For example, when looking at fantasy points-per-game, Winston finished as the 18th quarterback. Not so good, right? Well, if you exclude the two games that he left super early, this would then bump him up to the 8th overall quarterback in points-per-game. Furthermore, his average yards-per-game would also increase, from 269.5 YPG to 306.9 YPG. That 306.9 YPG mark would have put him first in the category, leaving 2017 NFL leader Tom Brady’s 286.1 YPG behind in the dust, with a massive 20-plus YPG difference.

A big knock on Winston since entering the league, has been his turnovers and careless play at times. However, in the 2017 season Winston managed to see most of his rate-based statistics improve. He hit career highs in completion percentage, interception percentage; yards gained per attempt and overall quarterback rating.

Additionally, Winston ranked top ten in other key quarterback stats in 2017:

Pass attempts per game9th
Pass completions per game9th
Yards per completion3rd

Note that Winston would have finished first in both pass attempts and completions per game, if the two early departures were excluded from the equation. To top it off, Winston was in fact, the #1 fantasy quarterback from weeks 13-17, with an NFL leading 1,584 passing yards. No slouch in his other contests; he managed a top ten finish in three additional games prior to week 13.

Week 47th
Week 59th
Week 78th

*OUT Weeks 10-12


This can be compared to Drew Brees (ADP 5) and Jared Goff (ADP 9), who only totaled four top 10 performances each in their full slate of games (15 games for Goff).

Now, heading into the 2018 season, the Buccaneers franchise quarterback remains an afterthought for many fantasy owners. However, with his weapons still in place and improvements on the offensive line and accuracy-based statistics; Winston will be more than capable of flying into the top ten at his position.

The offensive line has been abysmal the last couple years, giving up over 74 sacks since 2016. Now, with former Baltimore Ravens center, Ryan Jensen joining the Bucs in a pivotal free agent signing; the Bucs look to solidify the trenches. Jensen, who ranked as the eighth best center in 2017 according to Bleacher Report, now adds toughness, power, and attitude to the blocking unit up front. This signing will push Buccaneers second-best offensive linemen, Ali Marpet back to his original guard position where he thrived since entering the league in 2015.

Also included on this offensive line is Tampa Bay’s Demar Dotson, who has quietly been among the best right tackles in the league. Dotson ranked as the 13th best offensive linemen according to Pro-Football Focus, allowing just 14 total QB pressures, and a pass blocking efficiency of 97.6 (fourth-highest) in 2017. The unit should be able to keep Winston upright and provide him with the time needed to read defenses and utilize his rocket arm.

Despite the offensive lines poor play in the past, Winston has still managed to make his way into the record books. Winston has 69 passing touchdowns, which is the most by any other quarterback in NFL history, before the age of 24. He passed legendary quarterback, Dan Marino’s previous record of 68 passing touchdowns. Moreover, Winston carries an impressive career average of 258.6 yards-per-game since entering the league in 2015, which ranks above the elite Aaron Rodgers, with 254.5 yards-per-game since 2015. Winston will look to maintain his dominance in yards and touchdowns for the coming season, especially with the talented young receiving corps that surrounds him.

The receiving threats surrounding Winston will all be returning, and an overabundance of points should be expected. Having 6’5” Mike Evans extended through the 2023 season, along with Desean Jackson adding another off-season with Winston to improve their rapport; a profound impact on the vertical passing game can safely be forecasted.

Regardless of Winston’s shoulder injury sustained in 2017, I would not fret over him being an “injury prone” player moving forward. The Buccaneers quarterback has played all 16 games in his first two seasons. In that span, he has had at least one touchdown in 96.9% of games played, and has had at least 200 passing yards in 84.4% of those games. Winston makes for the perfect fantasy quarterback, as he is consistent and very productive.

All in all, Winston’s outlook seems bright for this coming season, as he has the talent, upside and right situation to really wow in 2018. I urge you to get back on the Winston bandwagon, as he will have every opportunity to crack the top 10.

Solving the McKinnon Enigma

I am not exactly a fan of players whose values suddenly shoot up without having a solid and consistent history of success. In fact, I would say I am a rather staunch skeptic of valuing players highly who do not have a proven history in general (cough, cough, Saquon Barkley). So naturally, I took great concern with Jerick McKinnon’s soaring value.

Once a late-round flier, McKinnon’s average draft position has risen to incredible heights. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he has jumped almost six whole rounds since March.

His current ADP sits at 4.02 in 12 team start-up drafts, however, that statistic is extremely volatile, with McKinnon’s peak position reaching the mid-second round. The point is, his value has increased tremendously after a fairly nice season. But should it have? Does finishing a season 24th overall in fantasy points scored warrant that?

A large and obvious part of McKinnon’s increased ADP was his signing with the Kyle Shanahan led San Francisco 49ers. “He plays for an offensive genius now!” I hear the McKinnon truthers scream. Well yeah, that is true. Shanahan does seem to have a knack when it comes to getting the most out of his players, a skill we saw come to life in Atlanta. Utilizing Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman’s pass-catching abilities, Shanahan game planned the Falcon’s to two consecutive seasons of being top eight in running back receptions. That is a wonderful stat for fans of McKinnon, and it is one that they can take with them as he joins the 49ers.

Last season, Shanahan’s first with the 49ers, the team was second only to New Orleans in running back targets. The major benefactor of those targets is now gone as well, as Carlos Hyde skipped town to join the Browns, which was a decision that certainly does not have history on its side.

Ok, so the situation for McKinnon is looking up in San Francisco. His coach commands a unique and beneficial scheme, and his quarterback dices up defenses with his good-looks, it is almost tailor-made just for McKinnon fantasy hopefuls! But do not get excited yet, because we need to address if last year’s success was really a success at all.

McKinnon had a hot and cold last season in terms of fantasy production. He averaged just 8.1 fantasy-points-per-game and 3.8 yards-per-carry. McKinnon built his name on a couple big games, rather than consistency. Over 16 games he had five over 10 points and 11 under, however, his usage was also inconsistent.

(Touches = receptions + rushing attempts)

As you can see, he received 20 or more touches just three times last season and was given less than 15 for over half of it. Of those touches, 51 came from receptions, which he achieved on 68 targets. This means McKinnon caught 75% of his targets, which places him in the top 10 for catch percentage for running backs who received 50 or more.

This is certainly a skill Shanahan will make the most, and one that makes up for McKinnon’s subpar between-the-tackles running ability.

McKinnon is a very talented, multi-faceted running back who can make an impact this upcoming season. He is insanely fast, dangerous in the open field, and has the ability to make any play a big one. But he still has not had consistent success and is not a traditional running back.

If you can snag McKinnon in the mid-to-late rounds then it is a gamble worth taking, but he is not worth reaching for. And if you are a team who needs consistency from your running back then he is not for you. Look at him as a home run hitter until we see otherwise during his time with the 49ers.

Attributions:

ADP Data: Fantasy Football Calculator

Statistical Data: FFToday

Catch Percentage Data: Pro Football Reference

 

 

Ins & Outs: Dynasty Slow Startup Auctions

Remember when you heard about PPR leagues? Remember how people were hesitant to change from their boring standard formats? Well now PPR is the new standard format, or at least half-point PPR.

New changes have been sweeping the fantasy football community over the last few years in regards to types of leagues too. Not sure if you heard, but redraft fantasy football leagues are now for the average Joes. You know, those guys or gals at work who bug you for fantasy advice at the watercooler.

Keeper leagues are for those who think they know more than everyone else in their redraft league. These are the same coworkers who have lucked into winning the work league a few times. But if you really want to challenge yourself, join a dynasty league! They are truly becoming the new standard.

Now, I have run into a few “experts” who are in multiple dynasty leagues, but they have never been a part of a slow startup auction. I found this hard to believe. I decided to look at a startup auction draft and break down the ins and the outs of what to expect.

Before we begin, let me start off by saying, I am no “expert” at these things. I have done a handful, and they are a blast, but I know there are many out there who have done plenty more of these types of drafts than I have.

If you have ever heard of the Kitchen Sink or Pigs leagues, you will know guys or gals who are very familiar with this process. If you have not heard of these leagues, look into them! Ryan McDowell (Kitchen Sink) and Scott Fish (Pigs) have created amazing dynasty leagues. I am hoping to formulate the new envy with our 50 Shades of IDP league that Brandon DePouw (@bdepouw09) and I created that incorporates IDP and a Monopoly type game.

Dynasty slow startup auctions are for new dynasty leagues. Better yet, if you get bored after a handful of years and want to start your league over, these auction drafts can be a fun change of pace!

 

The Anticipation

The anticipation leading up to these drafts make the offseason more enjoyable. Do you know how you feel as we approach the first week of free agency? How about when the NFL Draft is only days away? (You should have that feeling right now by the way!) Well, these startup auctions remind me of those times of year. They also remind me of how I felt as a kid as Christmas Day crept closer.

Fast forward and the day has finally come. You are so excited with anticipation, that you forget everything there is about the process. If you had a strategy, it probably goes out the window rather quickly. Do not worry! It happens to all of us!

By the way, I will be working on a series of articles to follow that look at slow auction strategies (yes they exist) and also the different types of draft personalities you may run into. (Think about the guys sitting at the poker table…similar concept here)

 

The Process

Now the slow auction has started, but what does that mean? Everyone has an equal bankroll. Typically, the bankroll starts between $1,000 and $1,500 and any unused funds rollover as FAAB and/or for rookie auction drafts.

First, everyone must nominate a player. Let’s use 14 teams as our example for this article moving forward. Let us also assume the 14-team league is super-flex because that is the other new norm among leagues, especially dynasty leagues. Day one, every team must nominate a player. Most leagues I have been in require the nomination to take place between 8:00AM and 3:00PM EST.

Fourteen players are up for auction. Each player is on the clock for a set amount of time. This can range from a couple hours to 24 hours. Two auction types exist: proxy and non-proxy.

I prefer non-proxy. Proxy drafts you set a limit. Say you want a guy for $100. You bid $50, but set your max at $100. As other owners bid, it will automatically bid you up until someone bids higher than your max.

Non-proxy, you must continue to bid and bid. Everytime a bid takes place, the clock resets. None of the players will make it through on day one. At least, I have yet to see that happen. Now we move onto day two. Another 14 players are nominated and now 28 players are on the board. Another day usually without a winning bid.

Day three might be the soonest a winning bid takes place. And now 56 players are on the board. The craziness is the fun of everything!

The draft keeps moving and you have a high bid on a player you really want to own. The clock ticks down and is within an hour. The timer is lit up red. You feel confident this player is yours. Boom! Someone up-bids you by one dollar! Yep, you just got redlined! This is one of the most frustrating feelings in the world, but part of the game. Rivalries can easily develop from within a slow startup auction. I have even seen some owners go off and quit. Do not do that, this is just all for fun and part of the game.

Finally, you win your first player! Another whirlwind of emotions. Happiness and relief set in, but you cannot dwell on it too long. You have more auction dollars to spend and more players to win. Stop playing those boring leagues and find a dynasty startup before the season starts! You will not regret it!

Hopefully you enjoyed my article. If you did, please make sure to follow me on Twitter @ChiRuxinDFS. If already following, hit the like and RT button! Check out the rest of my articles and the other great writers of the Fantasy Football Franchise @F3pod on Twitter.

Remember the Fallen

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 By: Chris Martini (@Martini269)


The number of players that went down with injuries during the 2017 NFL season was out of control! A lot of big-time fantasy players such as David Johnson, Deshaun Watson and Odell Beckham Jr. had their seasons end abruptly, causing fantasy owners much heartache and, understandably, to focus directly onto next season. However, one season later, it’s important for all of us dynasty enthusiasts not to let these players fall off our radars.

The 2017 seasons of Andrew Luck (shoulder) and rookie sensation Dalvin Cook (ACL) did not go according to projections last season. Nevertheless, these studs are certainly on the minds of fantasy owners and arguably cemented in as top ten fantasy players at their respective position.

With that said, we must look beyond the obvious and seek out players your league mates may be overlooking. Therefore, let’s get the upper hand on the competition and find out which 2017 injured players you should NOT forget about heading into the 2018 season.

Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

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New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman suffered a non-contact ACL tear in the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions last season; an injury that would spell the end of his 2017 season. Now seven months removed from his September ACL surgery, the Patriots are relying on him to be fully healthy for Week 1. Edelman looks to be trending in the right direction after a video posted to Twitter shows him running at full speed with a resistance band attached. 

In the upcoming season, Edelman will return to the slot/possession receiver role in a Patriots offense that ranked second in points per game and passing yards last season. The G.O.A.T. Tom Brady will be returning as the quarterback; however, there is speculation that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is contemplating retirement, which would only bump Edelman’s production if true. Edelman saw an impressive 29% target share when Gronkowski missed half of the 2016 season. The table below illustrates Edelman’s target share percentage in the seasons leading up to his lost 2017-18 season:

NFL Season Target Share %
2013-14 25%
2014-15 25%
2015-16 24%
2016-17 29%

 

Stats from  http://airyards.com/

 

Even if Gronkowski ends up staying in New England, the Patriots have already lost two wide receivers in Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. One thing that is certain is the volume will be there. With that said, Edelman is being severely overlooked as his average draft position (ADP) is WR47 in standard leagues and WR41 in PPR leagues, according to Draft Calculator.

When healthy, Edelman can be a solid PPR WR2, as well as an above average flex option in standard leagues. In 2014 and 2016, Edelman averaged over 90 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards which resulted in a WR15 and WR17 finish in PPR leagues, and a WR22 and WR26 finish in standard formats.

Edelman was limited to only nine games in 2015, however, racked up seven touchdowns and still finished as a low-end WR3. Edelman is a tough and gritty player that has been Brady’s most targeted weapon in a high-powered dink and dunk offense. I wouldn’t want to forget about this value come draft day, would you?

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

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Last year, Tyler Eifert opted for season-ending microdisc surgery to repair his back after playing just two games. The amount of time Eifert has missed in his career due to injury has been overwhelming, to say the least.

Now, I’m not saying to go out and use or trade a high draft pick for the guy that has missed 41 regular season games in his five-year career. However, I am saying he is a difference maker at the position when healthy. Eifert has a nose for the end zone, notching 18 touchdowns in his last 23 games, including 13 touchdowns in his third NFL campaign in 2015, where he finished as the TE6.

In that same season, Eifert proved to be more than just a red zone threat, averaging four receptions per game and comparable to Delanie Walker (4.6) and Evan Engram (4.2), the TE4 and TE5 in PPR leagues last season.

Tight ends with Eifert’s offensive potential are not easy to come by and at 27 years old and on a one year “prove it” deal, he appears primed to bounce back. Cleared to take part in offseason workouts by Dr. Robert Watkins, Eifert is looking to improve on his respected career averages of about 40 yards a game with 8.3 yards per target and a 70.6% catch rate.

He will look to flash his huge potential once again with the help of quarterback Andy Dalton whom, since being selected in the first round of the 2013 Draft, has generated a good rapport with Eifert. Mega-talented and carrying top 10 tight end upside, Eifert could be acquired for the low cost of a late-round flier.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens

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Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon underwent season-ending knee surgery after sustaining a meniscus injury at training camp last season. Dixon was drafted in the fourth round at the 2016 NFL Draft and accumulated 382 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 30 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown in his rookie campaign.

As a committee running back that rookie year, Dixon exhibited strong pass-catching dexterity and dazzled with 4.34 yards per carry. After that performance, head coach John Harbaugh gave Dixon a vote of confidence heading into the 2017 season, and it seemed that the opportunity to take over the feature role was there for his taking until the unfortunate injury setback occurred.

With recent releases of running backs Terrance West and Danny Woodhead, Dixon rejoins a backfield with a clear path to playing time. Dixon should step right into the passing down role for the Ravens, as they seem eager to replace incumbent running back Javorius “Buck” Allen. Seeing as Ravens starting running back Alex Collins is not used as a pass catcher, Dixon will be on the field on 3rd downs.

Dixon could also seize a larger role as the season goes on because Collins has struggled with fumbles and is not a versatile running back. The Ravens are also not invested in Collins past this year, which puts Dixon in a good situation to prove himself.

Dixon is more than just a pass catcher, he shows good strength and proven ability to break tackles. He ranked third most among running backs in missed tackles last season, forcing 32 over the final eight weeks of the season. At only 24 years old, if Dixon can stay on the field, he will offer great value for your team.

Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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Pierre Garcon landed on the injured reserve after sustaining a neck injury in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Before going down, Garcon managed a team-high 500 yards on 40 receptions and an average of eight targets a game. He was the 26th ranked PPR wide receiver and was on pace for 1,000 yards despite underwhelming quarterback play from both Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard.

Heading into 2018, the 49ers quarterback will be Jimmy Garoppolo. An impressive Garoppolo took over the starting quarterback job in Week 13 and ended up averaging 308 passing yards per game and leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record to close out the season.

With Garoppolo in place, second-year head coach Kyle Shanahan can use his offensive genius to take the 49ers passing game to the next level. Shanahan served as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta prior, and transformed their offense into one of the most high-powered units, averaging a league-high 33.8 points per game and exploding for at least 35 points 10 times in 2016.

Also, after only one year as head coach, the 49ers surprisingly finished the 2017 season 12th in total yards and ninth in passing yards. Garcon should be a weekly fantasy contributor with a full year as the WR1 in a Shanahan and Garoppolo led offense.

Although Garcon suffered a C5 pedicle fracture in his neck last year, he has shown a clean bill of health overall; having played in every game between 2013 and 2016.

In that duration, Garcon surpassed the 1,000-yard mark twice, never once finishing a season below 750 yards. This king of consistency should be in store for a sizable role this season so don’t let Garcon slip your mind.

Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins

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Amid a breakout season, Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula in Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints. Despite the heart-rending news last November, light is visible at the end of the tunnel, as Thompson should be ready for the start of training camp.

With no other adequate running back on the roster, Thompson will look to return to a role that produced RB1 numbers. Before the injury, he led the Redskins in both rushing and receiving and was on pace for 57 receptions, 742 receiving yards, 428 rushing yards, and nine total touchdowns.

Thompson’s projected 57 receptions would have put him 10th among running backs last season, just behind LeSean McCoy’s 59 but ahead of Kareem Hunt’s 53. Also, Thompson would have finished as a top 10 PPR running back with that projected stat line, which would have put him ahead of Devonta Freeman, Jordan Howard, and Lamar Miller.

Thompson is very intriguing for a running back that has an average draft position of RB42 in PPR leagues according to Draft Calculator. Let’s take a look at the multiple weeks when Thompson provided impressive finishes for fantasy owners before succumbing to his injury in Week 11:

 

2017 NFL Weeks RB Rank
Week 1 12th
Week 2 5th
Week 3 3rd
Week 6 13th
Week 7 8th
Week 8 12th

          Stats from  https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/reports/leaders/ppr

 

Locked in as the passing-down back and averaging a career 5.2 yards per carry, Thompson looks to pick up this upcoming season where he left off before the injury, and with new Redskins quarterback Alex Smith under center, Thompson could see a boost in production.

Smith has been more risk-averse over his career, often settling for the shorter and higher-percentage quick throws which should only benefit Thompson as he will prove to be a reliable target with his dangerous backfield pass catching ability.

When healthy, Thompson is a decisive runner with the ability to make defenders miss in the open field with his quickness and explosiveness. He’s also involved in the kick return game which gives him the opportunity to use his speed and elusiveness to break off big plays. Thompson is a very productive player on a per touch basis and is not one that should be forgotten for the 2018 season.

 

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans

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Houston Texans running back D’Onta Foreman suffered a torn Achilles in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals last season. The six-foot 235 pounder showed promise as the Texans RB2 with his size, balance, and explosiveness. Believe it or not, Foreman suffered the injury while bursting for a 34-yard touchdown, his second score of the game.

Foreman was outplaying Lamar Miller and actually started over him in Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams and Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Foreman is now over four months removed from the injury and will be ready for the start of the 2018 regular season; possibly even training camp.

After displaying consistent and productive results on a week-to-week basis at the University of Texas, the former third-round pick showed that he is capable of shouldering heavy workloads.

 

2016 Opponent Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Yards per Attempt Rushing TDs
Notre Dame 24 131 5.5 1
UTEP Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive
@ California 21 157 7.5 2
@ Oklahoma St. 17 148 8.7 2
Oklahoma 25 159 6.4 2
Iowa State 30 136 4.5 1
@ Kansas St 24 124 5.2 0
Baylor 32 250 7.8 2
@ Texas Tech 33 341 10.3 3
West Virginia 35 167 4.8 0
@ Kansas 51 250 4.9 2
TCU 31 165 5.3 0
Total 323 2,028 6.45 15

stats from  https://www.sports-reference.com

 

At 22 years old, Foreman has shown outstanding athleticism and speed for his size which further supports his ability to convert on short yardage situations. With Miller coming off a down year and being a potential cut candidate for the Texans, all arrows are pointing up for Foreman.

He will continue to get more touches after his strong rookie campaign, and if he continues to outplay Miller, the Texans will likely anoint Foreman as their new starting running back; something they appeared to move towards in the midst of their 2017 campaign. Foreman’s potential fantasy production as a starter in a high-powered Texans offense is captivating.

During his six week stint, stellar rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson led the Texans offense to a whopping 34.4 points per game and 394.8 total team yards a game! It’s safe to say this will be a fantasy friendly team this upcoming season, and for low-cost and massive upside, Foreman should not be forgotten.