As most of you know I've spent most of the last year writing Fantasy Football from a re-draft perspective. Well, now I'm going to start dipping my toe into the dynasty world as well with my first ever attempt to rank the 2017 rookie class for dynasty fantasy football.
I'm a firm go with my gut guy when it comes to making decisions on players. Sure, I look at the production, the situation, and the history of the team, but in the end, if all things are equal, I let my instincts lead me.
1. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon certainly comes with a lot of baggage. Had he not been stupid three years ago, he would have likely been the first running back taken in the draft. But he was stupid and so he was taken in the second round.
He brings to the table an elite blend of the size, speed, agility, vision, power, pass catching, and pure athleticism that will make him a feature back before long.
With only the pass-catching and oft-injured Giovanni Bernard, and the plodding and ineffective Jeremy Hill standing in his way, Mixon will take the lead role for the Bengals. Mixon does everything that you want out of a three-down back.
In my own opinion, and the opinion of many others, Mixon was the best back in the draft.
2. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
I have such mixed feelings on Leonard Fournette. On the one hand the speed + power combination that he has is nasty and impressive. Those two traits are elite. He has also performed well as a pass blocker. The issue I have is wondering if he'll be able to make people miss.
You can't run over everyone in the NFL and while he will be effective, I wonder how many big plays we will see out of him. TJ Yeldon appears to be in the pass catching role for the Jaguars, securing 50 catches, which was third on the team.
Fournette projects to be an excellent back in the NFL, but his situation and my reservations (and yes, I'm in the minority on that one) have him second for me.
3. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
The top wide receiver in the draft, Corey Davis, went to a team that was in need of a front line pass catcher. It seems that they have him.
While Davis is making the jump from smaller school competition to the NFL, he shows an ability to get open using vision and awareness that is unmatched. Not solely relying on his athleticism, though he has it, he uses solid route running and zone awareness to find weak spots in the secondary to make plays.
4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook was an interesting name to follow during the college football season and during the draft process.
To most observers last season, Cook was considered the top running back in the 2017 rookie class. During the pre-draft process, a lot of concerns began to come out about his checkered past and his shoulder that began to move him down several draft boards. On top of all that, he had about as poor a showing at the NFL combine as you can have for an elite back.
I know many have moved Christian McCaffrey above Cook, and that's a reasonable decision. My problem though is that McCaffrey saw his draft stock sky-rocket during the draft process while Cook saw his plummet. I think it's okay to be a bit wary of guys who were considered second rounders in the beginning end up as top-10 draftee.
And vice versa, I think that we can question Cook's fall from grace as a potential top-10 talent to a second round draft pick.
Despite Cook's poor performance in the athletic testing, his game film and production indicates that he is an elite talent at running back who is able to be productive in every facet of an offense.
Cook doesn't have anything standing in his way to becoming RB1 for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that needs more consistency from their running game.
5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
This was by far the best landing spot possible for Christian McCaffrey.
While he showed he has the ability to run in a pro-style power running offense -- like he did at Stanford -- his athleticism fits much better in an offense that tries to use spacing, speed, and misdirection (run-pass option) like Carolina does.
Their use of Cam Newton's running ability in the run-pass option game will be a big benefit to McCaffrey, who will be able to run against one less defender who has to account for Newton's running ability.
McCaffrey is probably the best pass catching back in this rookie class, and he'll likely get opportunities that way. The problem is that Carolina only targeted running backs on 12% of its pass plays. Compare that to New England who targeted running backs 23% of the time and the Detroit Lions did so 19% of the time. Six running backs were targeted more than Carolina's entire backfield.
The point is that if McCaffrey is going to get targets, Cam Newton and the Carolina offense are going to have to make it a priority.
6. Mike Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers
An elite talent with elite production at the highest level, Mike Williams may turn out to be the best wide receiver in the class. He certainly has the athleticism and play making ability to work with.
The thing that has me down on him would be his landing spot. There are pretty solid to really good pass catchers with the Chargers already. Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Henry can be pretty dynamic at times.
That doesn't mean that there isn't room for Williams, in fact he may actually start from day one, but there are several mouths to feed in the Chargers offense.
If you draft Williams, do so based on the long-term expectations and not the short-term. In the short-term, he may be hindered by his teammates.
7. David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
OJ Howard may be a better tight end right now than David Njoku, but he doesn't have the pure athletic ability that Njoku has and he doesn't have the same path to offensive production that Njoku does.
Howard is going to have Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate (2016's TE touchdown leader), Charles Sims (a highly targeted running back) and fellow draftee Chris Godwin to compete with for targets.
Njoku has Corey Coleman, Kenny Britt, Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. While yes, it is Cleveland, I like this situation much better in 2017 and long-term.
8. OJ Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OJ Howard, to me, was the best tight end in the draft by far. He already has NFL-ready blocking ability, athleticism, and pass catching ability. Like I mentioned above, I just don't like his situation as much.
Howard has a lot of players to compete with in Tampa Bay for targets.
While it's likely that he will get a lot of playing time, his fantasy football potential is going to be limited by the great players he has around him.
9. Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins
If someone has a chance to be the 2017 version of Jordan Howard, to me it's Samaje Perine.
Like Howard in 2016, Perine was drafted after the top name running backs and drafted into a situation where the coaching staff is talking up the incumbent starter.
Perine is a better version of Rob Kelley. He runs with the same power that Kelley runs with, but in my opinion has better quickness and elusiveness. Perine is also great at catching the ball out of the backfield, giving him three down potential.
Aside from a poor showing in the 40 yard dash at the combine, I see Perine as every bit the running back that the top-tier guys are.
10. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Receiving Jamaal Charles like comparisons pre-draft, Alvin Kamara couldn't have gone to a better place, unless he was drafted by Kansas City.
Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have the creativity and the willingness to use a dual threat running back like Kamara. I expect him to be deployed sporadically in his first year, but by year two should be used in a similar fashion to Reggie Bush and will likely take over as the primary running back in the Big Easy.
11. John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Elite speed and athleticism are going to make him an amazing weapon on the other side of the field from AJ Green. Defenses are going to have a really tough time stopping this offense and Andy Dalton immediately gets a bump in re-draft leagues.
12. Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
One of my favorite wide receivers in this year's draft, Juju Smith-Schuster has all of the tools to be an alpha male wide receiver in the NFL. He displays size, speed, hands, jumping ability, athleticism, and is only 20 years old.
The reason he has dropped so far in my rookie ranks is the massive hill he has to climb up the Steelers depth chart to have an impact in 2017 and in the future.
Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, and Eli Rogers will likely be ahead of him on the depth chart to start. That doesn't mean he can't pass those guys, but again it's a massive hill to climb.
13. Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills - Amazing production at East Carolina, but will it translate to the NFL? Tyrod Taylor hopes so.
14. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants - Great player with great athleticism, but where are the targets going to come from?
15. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts - Frank Gore could play forever, but it isn't likely. Marlon Mack is the next man up.
16. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs - Hunt will be thrust into a running back competition with incumbent starter Spencer Ware. He has an opportunity to earn some snaps this offseason.
17. Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Carolina Panthers - A Percy Harvin/Tyreek Hill type will need the Carolina offense to get creative to utilize him and McCaffrey on the field at the same time.
18. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans - May not have much of a path to touches in year one, but if Lamar Miller has another below average year and injuries, Foreman is the lead back in 2018.
19. Carlos Henderson, WR, Denver Broncos - One of the more underrated players, likely because he played at Louisiana Tech, the Broncos found a guy that can grow with their young quarterbacks while taking snaps in the slot immediately.
20. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - A late round pick with promise. The Bucs running back depth chart doesn't have much standing in the way of McNichols.
21. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
22. Taywan Taylor, WR, Tennessee Titans
23. ArDarius Stewart, WR, New York Jets
24. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
25. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
26. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
27. Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants
28. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
29. Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
30. Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
- In this group I think that Jamaal Williams and ArDarius Stewart are going to have the biggest impact aside from the quarterbacks.
- While Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky will get a chance to play year one, Patrick Mahomes is my favorite quarterback from this class.
- Cooper Kupp was a pre-draft darling for a lot of people and he goes to a situation that is devoid of wide receivers.
- Godwin, Taylor, and Westbrook are all going to be good NFL wide receivers, but their situations make their 2017 and future outlook a bit dicey. Taylor has the best shot for year one impact.
31. KD Cannon, WR, San Francisco 49ers
32. Chad Hansen, WR, New York Jets
33. Joe Williams, RB, San Francisco 49ers
34. Amara Darboh, WR, Seattle Seahawks
35. Chad Williams, WR, Arizona Cardinals
36. Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams
37. Isaiah Ford, WR, Miami Dolphins
38. DeShone Kizer, QB, Cleveland Browns
39. Jake Butt, TE, Denver Broncos
40. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
- From this group of players, I like Jake Butt the best. If not for the injury to Butt, he would have likely been a top-50 draft pick. Will have a chance to play when healthy.
- San Francisco's Head Coach admitted that the 49ers went off the board for running back Joe Williams, which leads me to believe that Carlos Hyde's days are numbered.
- Isaiah Ford has a chance to push DeVante Parker for a starting wide receiver spot in Miami.
- Chad Hansen has a chance to play early if he can beat out Quincy Enunwa or Robby Anderson while Eric Decker is on the shelf.
41. Adam Shaheen, TE, Chicago Bears
42. Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets
43. Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams
44. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
45. Malachi Dupre, WR, Green Bay Packers
46. Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
47. Bucky Hodges, TE, Minnesota Vikings
48. Davis Webb, QB, New York Giants
49. Josh Malone, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
50. Jordan Leggett, TE, New York Jets
- Shaheen is one of the more intriguing prospects, a player who brings three-technique defensive tackle size in an athletic tight end. If he can adapt to NFL competition, there won't be anyone that can cover him.
- McGuire will have a chance for a few snaps this season, but look for 2018 to be his breakout.
- Everett and Leggett will have a chance to play early and often as neither has imposing tight ends on their respective depth charts.
Feel free to let me have it in the comment section or on Twitter @john9williams.
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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