With the preseason starting, it's time to start digging into players for the 2015 season.
1. Le'Veon Bell - He's the focal point of Steelers' offense, even with a 2 game suspension is arguably the only safe and high ceiling running back.
2. Eddie Lacy - In a pass first offense, but will get a ton of red-zone looks. Doesn't provide the highest ceiling, but arguably safest running back.
3. Marshawn Lynch - Mr. reliable with 4 straight seasons of 1200+ yards and 11+ TDs.
4. Adrian Peterson - Obviously a huge disappointment last season, but his talent is undeniable. Huge ceiling player in a much-improved offense.
5. Jamaal Charles - Injuries in 2014 prevented Charles from having as big a season as owners hoped, but when healthy, he's as big a playmaker as it gets.
6. Rob Gronkowski - Gives you the biggest positional advantage in the game.
7. Dez Bryant - With the loss of Murray, expect Dez's numbers to climb even more.
8. Antonio Brown - Averaged 100 yards and 7.5 receptions over the past two seasons, arguably the safest pick in the draft.
9. Julio Jones - 1,593 yards on 104 receptions last season and gets an upgrade at offensive coordinator with Kyle Shanahan in town.
10. Odell Beckham Jr. - Posted a ridiculous 91/1305/12 stat line in only 12 games last season.
11. C.J. Anderson - I know it's hard to trust Denver RBs, but Anderson seems like the sure bet to be the Broncos' bell cow.
12. Calvin Johnson - Certainly low for 'Megatron'; but after two down seasons in receptions and yards, missing 3 games with an ankle injury last year, and approaching his 30th birthday, it's cause for concern. If Johnson can be 'Megatron', the sky's the limit, though.
13. DeMarco Murray - Ryan Mathews will eat into his totals, but in such a high volume offense, he should put up numbers.
14. Matt Forte - Seems low considering he had a great year in 2014, however, points were bloated from an insane amount of receptions. Yards per carry went down 0.7 to 3.9.
15. Demaryius Thomas - Most have Thomas higher, but I think Denver will rely on the run much more this season with an aging Peyton Manning. Should still put up double digits TDs though.
16. LeSean McCoy - Rex Ryan's teams are known to have a 'ground and pound' philosophy and Shady's talent is evident, however, the Bills have perhaps the NFL's worst QB situation. McCoy will get a lot of attention from defenses.
17. Jeremy Hill - Not worried about Gio Bernard eating into Hill's totals too much, should mostly play a Shane Vereen role for the Bengals. Hill is a 3 down bruiser running behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines.
18. A.J Green - After a down 2014 Green should be a nice value WR1.
19. Randall Cobb - Good bet for a 100 receptions, entering his prime as Nelson exits his.
20. Alshon Jeffery - Will be Jay Cutler's go-to guy with Brandon Marshall out of town.
21. Jordy Nelson - Should still be Aaron Rodgers' favorite target, but at age 30 and coming off hip surgery, I like the guys above him more.
22. Mark Ingram - The Saints moves this offseason show they want to run the ball much more in 2015. Trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, trading for Pro Bowl center Max Unger, and drafting a big tackle with their first pick. Ingram is a back that can handle a load and should see a lot of carries.
23. Melvin Gordon - Pretty high for a rookie, but last season we saw multiple RBs have success for San Diego, Gordon is a workhorse that should put up big numbers.
24. Jimmy Graham - It's uncertain how Graham will fit in Seattle's run-first offense, but he should be Russell Wilson's best friend with their lack of talent at WR. If I miss out on Gronk I'm targeting Jimmy, as there's a definite drop at TE after.
25. Andrew Luck - Should post huge numbers with added vets Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, along with dynamic #1 draft selection WR Phillip Dorsett, to an already impressive offense.
26. Aaron Rodgers - Only 2 QBs in the first tier this season, not a fan of going QB early, but with their superior talent and weapons, Luck and Rodgers are a great value anywhere in the 3rd round.
27. Mike Evans - Posted 68/1,051/12 as a rookie despite bad QB play. With #1 overall pick Jameis Winston at QB, that provides a huge ceiling if the two can click.
28. Frank Gore - Forget last year's Frank Gore. As the Colts lead back, he should get a big jump in receptions and red-zone looks.
29. Justin Forsett - Unexpectedly, Forsett had a great year in 2014 with 1,266 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry. Now with new OC Marc Trestman, he should see a huge spike in receptions. Trestman's RB last season, Matt Forte, broke the record for receptions by an RB with 102, so look for Forsett to get similar work.
30. T.Y. Hilton - Although the Colts do a good job of spreading the ball, T.Y. has become Luck's favorite target.
31. Jordan Matthews - Should get a load of receptions working the slot of Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. Early career Marques Colston type production very possible.
32. Joseph Randle - Has as high a ceiling as anyone running behind what could possibly be one of the greatest offensive lines in history. A lot of people are over-hyping his 6.7 yards per carry last year, however, so he could go very early. With only 51 carries last season, 105 in his career, I think there are much safer players to take in the first 2-3 rounds.
33. DeAndre Hopkins - With Andre Johnson gone the only viable WR behind Hopkins is 3rd round rookie Jaelen Strong, "Nuk" should see a ton of targets.
34. Brandin Cooks - Another 2nd year WR that should see a jump in targets with the departure of veterans. It's a good bet he'll become Drew Brees' go-to man.
35. Lamar Miller - Starting RB on a much-improved team.
36. Kelvin Benjamin - Will lose targets to 2nd round rookie Devin Funchess, going a little high at current ADP (average draft position), but good value in this area.
37. Jonathan Stewart - With DeAngelo Williams out of town has RB1 potential. Injuries always a concern, however.
38. Emmanuel Sanders - Sanders should have a nice year, but going too early for me with a 3rd round ADP.
39. C.J. Spiller - I think New Orleans will find a way to use Spiller much more effectively than Buffalo did. When in space, Spiller can be electrifying.
40. Andre Johnson - Playing with the best QB he's ever had and all the motivation in the world, great value WR2 with WR1 upside.
41. Rashad Jennings - Andre Williams showed last year he's nothing more than a short yardage back and we all know Shane Vereen is predominately a pass catcher out of the backfield. Jennings should easily be favorite for the Giants lead back role.
42. Alfred Morris - Not a flashy pick, but you're getting a starting RB with an improved offensive line.
43. DeSean Jackson - Can give you 8 weeks of 20+ points and 8 weeks of 5 or less, ultimate boom or bust player.
44. Brandon Marshall - Bad QB play will hurt him, but talent is still there, should be solid WR2/3.
45. Latavius Murray - We witnessed Murray's potential week 12 last season when he rushed for 112 yards and scored 2 TDs on FOUR carries, before suffering a concussion. The Raiders think he's ready to be a 3 down back, I'd handcuff with Roy Helu though, just in case the kid can't stay healthy.
46. Tevin Coleman - Nursing a hamstring injury, but perfect RB for the Falcon's new system. High ceiling if he can lock down the starting job.
47. Todd Gurley - Absolutely love his talent, but ceiling is capped playing on a poor offense with a bad offensive line. Plus, might have to split carries with Tre Mason.
48. T.J. Yeldon - Unlike most rookies Yeldon can pass protect, potentially making him an instant 3 down back. Jacksonville has a bad offensive line, but you can't get too picky with RBs once you reach this area.
49. Russell Wilson - Averaged 53 rushing yards and 217 passing yards a game last season with 20 passing and 6 rushing TDs. Adds a huge playmaker and red zone threat in Jimmy Graham, good bet to be overall QB3.
50. Travis Kelce - Could have a breakout year if Kansas City makes it a point to get him involved more.
51. Carlos Hyde - 3rd round ADP too high for me, losing OG Mike Iupati and OT Anthony Davis will really hurt San Fran's running game. Not to mention talks about a RBBC (running back by committee) approach, no thanks.
52. LaGarrette Blount - Suspended for a game, but should be the Pats lead back. New England is notorious for the unexpected at RB, however, so draft with caution.
53. Julian Edelman - 6.6 receptions a game over the past two seasons, losing Brady for 4 games will hurt, but should be the 2nd option in the passing game after Gronk.
54. Sammy Watkins - Talent is there but who's throwing him the ball? The Bills don't even know at this point.
55. Keenan Allen - Big sophomore slump after a breakout rookie campaign, still only 23 on an improved offense, though.
56. Peyton Manning - I mentioned earlier how I think the Broncos will focus on the run more this season, but Peyton is still a TD machine and good value in this area.
57. Drew Brees - Copy and paste from above.
58. Vincent Jackson - 4 straight 1,000 yards seasons despite some bad QB play, could be a steal at current ADP if Winston is the real deal.
59. Amari Cooper - Already drawing praise for his route running and NFL readiness, him and 2nd year QB Derek Carr could form something special.
60. Ameer Abdullah - Will likely start off in Reggie Bush's old role, but with so much talent, I think he could easily take over as the Lions' 3 down back some time during the season.
61. Andre Ellington - Too fragile to handle a load, explosive back, but should see limited carries.
62. Golden Tate - Safe WR2/3, ceiling limited with a healthy Calvin Johnson.
63. Jarvis Landry - 84 receptions in his rookie year, should catch a bunch of balls from the slot for Miami this season.
64. Jeremy Maclin - Ceiling is capped with Alex "dink and dunk" Smith as his QB.
65. Mike Wallace - Minnesota's system seems to be a much better fit for Wallace than Miami's short passing offense. Norv Turner likes to stretch the field and Wallace is one of the best vertical threats in the game.
66. Martavis Bryant - Limited role, only played in final 10 weeks of his rookie season and only 43% of snaps in those games. Obvious playmaker though, scoring 8 TDs from only 26 receptions, big upside if he can land a starting role.
67. Breshad Perriman - Favorite to start opposite Steve Smith this year in Marc Trestman's pass happy offense, OROY candidate.
68. Shane Vereen - Passing down specialist with great catching and pass blocking ability, could see a lot of work in New York's improved offense.
69. Joique Bell - Liked him as a sleeper last season, but way over valued at his current 4th round ADP. Coming off knee and Achilles surgeries and has to fight off rookie Abdullah.
70. Giovani Bernard - Dynamic back, but will work behind Jeremy Hill. FLEX player at best unless something happens to Hill.
71. Nelson Agholor - According to local reports Agholor hasn't impressed much yet, with the lack of talent behind Jordan Matthews though, it shouldn't be hard locking down a starting spot. Provides big upside in that high tempo offense.
72. Ben Roethlisberger - awesome weapons + bad passing defense always make for good QB numbers.
73. Greg Olsen - In the 3rd tier of TEs, but is being slightly over valued. Like his production, but at current ADP, I'd rather wait and get someone similar later if I strike out on the first 3 guys.
74. Martellus Bennett - Production should increase with B. Marsh gone.
75. Allen Robinson - The Jags #1 WR with little behind him, should soak up targets.
76. Chris Ivory - Favorite to be the Jets starting RB, would be a steal at current ADP if he gets and keeps job.
77. Doug Martin - Disappointing past 2 seasons, but at full health and confirmed lead back for Tampa Bay.
78. Alfred Blue - With Arian Foster possibly missing around half the season, Blue gives you a starting RB for at least that time and possibly more if Foster has any setbacks.
79. Tre Mason - Would be much higher if not for the Rams drafting Todd Gurley. Should start off as the Rams lead back, but highly likely he won't keep it.
80. Julius Thomas - A good TE will provide a big help to 2nd year QB Blake Bortles. Thomas won't see nearly as many TDs as he did in Denver, but in this area is a good value.
81. Steve Smith Sr. - Big potential in Baltimore's new offense, but father time could catch up with him.
82. Larry Fitzgerald - Puts up much higher numbers with Carson Palmer at the helm. Averaged 5.33 receptions and 80.5 yards in the 6 games Palmer started.
83. Tony Romo - Best offensive line and WR in the league, and might have to throw more this season with DeMarco Murray gone.
84. Cam Newton - Rushing totals boost his point total nicely, averaging 41 yards a game and 8 TDs a season through his first 4 years. Adding another big WR this offeason will help his passing production as well.
85. Arian Foster - Could be out until week 10 if he's placed on the short term I.R. after having groin surgery, but if he comes back 100%, gives you an RB1 for the playoffs. Targeting anywhere in round 8 and on.
86. Anquan Boldin - Should be a solid WR3, but the 49ers could be very bad this year after their disaterous offseason.
87. Torrey Smith - Provides San Francisco a deep threat and the 9ers could be playing from behind a lot this season.
88. Eric Decker - Capped by bad QB play, but should see less attention with the additions of Brandon Marshall and rookie Devin Smith.
89. Jason Witten - Romo's go-to man in crucial spots, last of the 3rd tier of TEs.
90. Charles Johnson - Favorite to start opposite Mike Wallace as Norv Turner's X receiver.
91. Roddy White - Turns 34 in November and injuries are catching up with him. Big upside if he stays on the field though.
92. Brandon LaFell - 3rd option for the Pats, boom or bust player.
93. Ryan Matthews - A DeMarco Murray injury away from being an RB1.
94. Isaiah Crowell - Will have good weeks, but hard to predict which ones with Cleveland's RBBC approach.
95. John Brown - Moves up to #2 on the depth chart with Michael Floyd nursing a broken hand. Teammates and coaches have been hyping the 2nd year wide out up this offseason, could be a great sleeper.
96. Matt Ryan - With an aging Roddy White, doesn't have the best weapons after Julio Jones.
97. Tom Brady - Missing 4 games, but should be a top QB after that.
98. Ryan Tannehill - Good bet to have a breakout season with a new contract and much improved team.
99. Tyler Eifert - With Jermaine Gresham out of the way, Eifert is poised to be the Bengals #2 option behind only A.J. Green.
100. Brian Quick - Nick Foles big arm should fit nicely with Quick's deep threat ability.
Is Dak Prescott a Player to Avoid in Fantasy Football in 2018?
For the Dallas Cowboys, the plan is to stick with Dak Prescott to hopefully turn him into a successful long-term franchise quarterback. Going into his third year in the league, this could be a season that defines his future on America's Team.
However, after the entire team struggled in 2017 while trying to overcome several key absences (including Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith), Prescott's level of play has been questioned by plenty around the league. Fans, analysts and writers everywhere aren't as sure as they were in 2016 about the quarterback's future.
And now, according to NFL.com, Fantasy Football players should beware of drafting Dak Prescott once their "friendly" (we all know they're anything but friendly) seasons begin.
Earlier this week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Marcas Grant published an article telling us ten players to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season. Perhaps it may come as a surprise to some that Dak Prescott is in there among names like Ty Montgomery and Jack Doyle. You can read his full article here.
To be honest, I see his point here.
It's more than fair to say that it's not going to be an easy year for Dak. He's got to prove a lot in a year that could have a juicy extension at the end of it. After going through a sort of an expected sophomore slump, Prescott's third year in the NFL should be his best one yet.
There's a big but, though. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are long gone, leaving Dak Prescott with a promising yet unproven set of pass catchers.
Will a dominant running game led by five great offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott be enough to help Dak and the rest of the offense? Probably. but how much will Prescott be able to accomplish?
Through a painful 9-7 season in which the Cowboys never seemed to be able to find a steady pace, #4's stats took a hit. Here are his numbers from his two years in the pros:
- 2016: 311 completions, 67.8% completion percentage, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs.
- 2017: 308 completions, 62.9% completion percentage, 3,324 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
- He also ran for six touchdowns in each of his two seasons.
Per FantasyData.com, his fantasy points dropped from 286.88 in 2016 to 260.66 in 2017.
Despite his numbers dropping, Dak certainly took huge strides as a passer. From taking command of the offense as a captain to making throws he wouldn't make as a rookie, Prescott was able to demonstrate improvements during a rough sophomore slump.
Even with Dez gone, the receivers the front office brought in throughout the offseason are expected to be Dak-friendly. If the receiving corps actually make his strengths shine, the Cowboys' offense will take a huge step in 2018.
Maybe, as Jason Witten mentioned on Adam Schefter's Podcast, Dez is as good as anyone going up for the football. But that's not what will make Dak shine. This revamped WR room might be just what he needs, though.
At the end of the day, even though I truly believe he'll have a good career in the NFL and that he's the future of the Dallas Cowboys, I doubt he should be marked as an early target in the Fantasy Football world.
As of right now, from a Fantasy Football perspective, I would barely rank him as a Top 15 quarterback for many reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys' game will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Secondly, it doesn't matter how much faith we put into these pass catchers, they haven't proved anything yet.
Dak is not a bad player at all. But taking Prescott in the middle or even late rounds of a Fantasy Draft might be the safest way to go right now.
Lastly, I leave you with some "Fantasy Nuggets" from fellow Inside The Star writer and Fantasy Football Guru John Williams:
- Dak failed to score 10 standard format fantasy points only four times last season. He scored 15+ points nine times and 20+ six times in 2017.
- In 2017 - even with a down second half - he finished as the 13th best QB in points per game and as the tenth best in total QB scoring.
- In 2016, he was in the top 10 in both categories mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- His ability to run and score touchdowns on the ground easily make him one of the best 12 QB options for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.
At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.
Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.
McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.
Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.
Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.
If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.
As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.
The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.
When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.
How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?
That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.
Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.
Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.
When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.
Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.
While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.
In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.
With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.
Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.
Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed
Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.
Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.
You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.
Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.
The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.
We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.
Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.
Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.
If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.
If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.
The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.
Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.
For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.
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