Updated: Mar 28, 2020
The first week of free agency is in the books and with it, the fantasy landscape is starting to take some form. Player rankings on different websites are changing based on new signings or who their team let walk.
Wide receiver’s stocks are going up with new quarterback signings. Running back’s stocks are going down with every lineman that leaves or with the addition of other running backs to their team causing the ever-frustrating “running back by committee” all of us owners dread. No matter how murky the water is currently, it’s time to start formulating our plan and analyze each situation.
Derrick Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher, might seem crazy to put on here. For people who know me, this might seem like some sort of vendetta. I was never high on Derrick Henry, but last year I softened my stance. So, no, he’s not on here for any personal reasons. The reason he made this list is because I don’t trust Ryan Tannehill.
Ryan Tannehill was phenomenal last year, but was it a fluke? We’ve seen cases like him before. Case Keenum comes to mind. The difference between those two is that Tannehill is staying put in the same system that made him look good. That’s a plus.
With Jack Conklin leaving in free agency and questions surrounding Tannehill’s ability to repeat last year’s success makes me weary. If their passing game isn’t somewhat respectable, will the Titans be able to run all over opposing defenses, again? Keep in mind, Henry isn’t a pass-catcher. If teams shut down the run game, I wouldn’t expect any PPR points coming in the form of dump-off passes.
Austin Hooper had a tremendous season last year. The problem is he recently signed with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland, alone, is enough to make me steer clear of Hooper. Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and no matter what, Cleveland is going to Cleveland. Yes, I made Cleveland an adjective.
I’m not sure if Hooper is a product of a pass-happy offense led by Dirk Koetter or if he’s that good. Another cause for concern is I’m not sure if Hooper was a product of a Dirk Koetter pass-happy offense or if he’s that good. Keep in mind, in the last five seasons Koetter’s offenses have finished in the bottom 10 of rushing five times. What’s even more eye jarring is that in that span they also finished in the bottom 10 in rushing attempts on three of those occasions. So is Hooper a product of true skill or high volume?
Next up we have Austin Ekeler. What a feel-good story he was in 2019. That is until you start looking at the numbers more closely. All numbers are not created equal.
Ekeler is the polar opposite of Derrick Henry. If you look at the first few weeks of the season, you might say to yourself, “Hmm, Ekeler wasn’t a bad runner”, and I would beg to differ. If you take away his longest runs (none of which were huge), you would see that he only averaged a whopping 3.25 YPC. During that time without Melvin Gordon, he never ran the ball 20 times. Ekeler does his damage catching the ball out of the backfield. That’s not to say he can’t run the ball, but we just don’t know how efficient he can be.
With Melvin Gordon officially gone and Fantasy Football, the load falls solely on Ekeler’s shoulders. There is a saving grace. Tyrod Taylor is an extremely safe quarterback, so Ekeler could very well thrive off receptions out of the backfield. Taylor isn’t a gunslinger like Philip Rivers, so the volume might not be there though.
Where did Aaron Jones come from? He finished second amongst all running backs and I imagine he helped a lot of people last season. You ask most people and they’d tell you how he averaged over 20 points per game.
I don’t subscribe to the old adage, “numbers don’t lie”, because while they don’t lie they don’t tell the whole truth either. If you add up all of Jones’ points, he averaged over 20 a game, but if you take a closer look you’d see that he scored less than 10 points in 31.25% of his games.
To be fair, he did finish with 25 points or more in 37.5% of his games. His bust potential comes solely off the inconsistency. Having big games is awesome. We love them. But at what cost? If someone can cost you just as many games as they can win, there’s always a huge risk involved. Just like Ekeler, we’re not sure what we’ll get from him.
Okay. Okay. Don’t kill me. I don’t think Christian McCaffrey has bust potential. I just think he’ll come back down to reality. He’s still a top-three back and he isn’t two or three. Well, barring injury of course.
We have to be fair and question what kind of drop off, if any, we might see. Most people would disagree with me when I say this, but I think Teddy “2 Gloves” Bridgewater can be better a quarterback than Cam Newton. Cam isn’t the most prolific passer. The hiring of Matt Rhule and the implementation of a real and concise offense could make the Panthers scary. Without that constant impromptu “streetball” feel, McCaffrey might not see his number called as often.
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Article Written by Andrew Thompson
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