Tag Archives: player rankings

Rankings Second Opinion, AFC South: Trent Richardson Rebounds, Hopkins and Wright Shine

Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) in action during the AFC Wild Card football game between the Indianapolis Colts vs Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. January 4, 2014; Photographer: MSA/Icon Sportswire

Are fantasy experts too pessimistic about Trent Richardson after a dismal performance last season following an in-season trade that sent him to the Indianapolis Colts? Tony expects a big rebound will land him inside the Top 15 at RB. Photo: Icon Sportswire

There is only one division to go in the DraftBuddy.com fantasy football team reports, showcasing team-by-team player projections and rankings from Dave Stringer and Mike MacGregor, plus player commentary by Dave. Accompanying those reports, this is the sixth in a series of “Second Opinion” articles where I review the forecasts and identify one player from each team the guys are too high or too low on. The last article covered the NFC South, and here is my review for the AFC South.

Between the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, there isn’t a strong Super Bowl contender amongst them. The Colts are favored to repeat as Division Champs but they could have their work cut out for them. The Texans stumbled through 2013 but are just a year removed from being considered one of the best teams in the AFC. The Titans and Jaguars are young and have the potential to surprise.

Houston Texans
Team Report – July 14

Last year, former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games and then was rightfully benched for Case Keenum, who did okay for a backup quarterback. The reigns have now been handed over to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Arian Foster was sensational 2010-2012, however nagging injuries held Foster to only 8 games. He is expected to have a bounce back year in 2014, and I am on board with that idea. Andre Johnson continued his trend of consistently posting solid receiving stats as he has throughout his career, but threatens a possible holdout.

The above named Texans players are all forecast about where I would expect, but one player who is projected and ranked somewhat higher on my cheatsheets is sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

In 2013 Hopkins posted a decent stat line considering it was his rookie season and the turmoil at quarterback. His two touchdowns should definitely increase this year, along with his receptions and receiving yards. Fitzpatrick exceeded expectations last year quarterbacking the Titans. Whether Hopkins is the number one wide receiver due to a Johnson holdout, or the number two wide receiver opposite AJ, I expect Hopkins to top 1,000 yards and post a better touchdown number than last year.

Currently, Hopkins is ranked 37th at wide receiver behind T.Y. Hilton (regresses due to more weapons on the Colts), Sammy Watkins (rookie plus still raw E.J. Manuel at quarterback), Kenny Stills and Marques Colston (more spreading the ball around in New Orleans). I expect Hopkins to finish the year better than all of these receivers.

Indianapolis Colts
Team Report – July 15

Last year the Indianapolis Colts made huge waves through the NFL and fantasy football community with an in-season trade acquiring Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns. The move to the Colts was supposed to be a dream come true for Richardson, playing with a quarterback that teams can’t stack the box against. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare for T-Rich and his fantasy owners. Richardson failed to get acclimated with the offense all season, and he ended up behind Donald Brown on the depth chart.

With 2013 in the rearview mirror, Richardson is determined to get back to being a top running back in the league. After an entire offseason to study the playbook and develop some chemistry with his teammates, Richardson should be much more in sync with the offense.

In addition to better chemistry, Richardson should benefit from the return of Reggie Wayne and addition of former New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks. Between the trio of Wayne, Nicks and T.Y. Hilton plus QB Andrew Luck, defenses need to make stopping the passing game their number one priority.

Most fantasy experts are extremely pessimistic ranking Richardson after last season, including this website which ranks him 27th at RB. I consider last season a blip for the talented runner, and expect him to finish in the Top 15 in 2014.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Team Report – July 16

Jacksonville Jaguars are struggling to compete, but are undergoing a major rebuilding to turn their fortunes around. Blake Bortles was the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Chad Henne is their starter while Bortles watches and learns, but it would be surprising if Bortles doesn’t get some game experience under center this season. Recently signed free agent Toby Gerhart has the opportunity to show his skills, and could provide a spark this offense needs. With Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, the receiving corps is relying on Cecil Shorts and rookie wide receivers Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson. All the youth is there, except at tight end.

At 30 years of age and coming off a career low season in receptions and yards, excluding his rookie year, it is time for the Jaguars to replace TE Marcedes Lewis. Admittedly, health was an issue for Lewis in 2013 as he missed six games, but it is optimistic to forecast Lewis with 50 receptions, 550 yards, and 5 touchdowns at this stage of his career. I do not think Lewis will contribute that much. Gerhart and the young receivers are the future and will be doing all the work for this offense. Lewis has no fantasy appeal to me.

Tennessee Titans
Team Report – July 17

Tennessee Titans haven’t given us much to talk about from a fantasy perspective outside of Chris Johnson and his six consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards rushing. Ask any former CJ?K owner and they will tell you even those recent seasons were more disappointing than the stats indicate on the surface. Now that the Chris Johnson era is behind the Titans, a new era is in order. This season could hail the beginning of the Kendall Wright era.

After watching Kendall Wright last season, he looks very similar to a young Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, who were considered PPR gold in their prime. If the Titans can avoid a quarterback carousel and get a full season out of Jake Locker, the chemistry that can and will develop between the two will put Wright among the short list of elite PPR wide receivers. Wright finished 20th in 1-PPR leagues last season on just two touchdowns, recording perhaps one of the quietest 1,000 yard seasons in recent memory.

Last year we saw Ken Whisenhunt ignite a fire under Phillip Rivers, who had a very nice season through the air. The Titans are hoping he can do the same with Locker, which translates into more success for Wright. If all goes according to plan, Wright can finish amongst the Top 15 wide receivers after the season is complete.

Pre-Training Camp Projections and Rankings Update, Supporting Team Notes

NFL training camps are set to get going this week. The first preseason game is not far off now, New York Giants versus Buffalo Bills, on Sunday August 3rd. Things are definitely ramping up on the fantasy football landscape!

I emailed our Draft Buddy customers last Thursday promising a projection update out soon. It didn’t happen Friday, as hoped, but lets start this week off on the right foot. Just published, updated rankings and updated projections based on news, notes, rumours and simply more contemplation of talent, situations and opportunity since our previous update, July 11.

Included below are notes by team that lead to many of the projections and rankings changes. You can see exactly who changed on the web pages, marked by a small up or down arrow. I will make a copy of Projection Pal with our projections included available to Draft Buddy customers, so they can easily import them into their copy of Buddy.

Arizona Cardinals

  • John Brown has upper hand on WR4 spot on the depth chart behind Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn Jr.. Brown continues to be a player to monitor but it will be tough for him to make an immediate fantasy impact from WR4 spot.

  • In early June Robert Housler was having, “a fantastic offseason”, but as of late mid-July he is not projected as a top two TE on the Cardinals. Apparently he doesn’t fit what head coach Bruce Arians wants to do. A talented, athletic TE, but we’re reducing his projections and adjusting John Carlson and Jake Ballard.

Baltimore Ravens

  • Ravens are expected to use WR Marlon Brown in the red zone. He scored 7 TD in 14 games last season as an undrafted rookie. His projections are worth another look.

Carolina Panthers

  • Due to recovery from his ankle surgery, Cam Newton didn’t get much time to work with his new wide receivers in minicamp, but they will reportedly get together prior to training camp to practice. The more time the better.

  • Jason Avant is expected to be the number three WR for the Panthers. We’re projecting Jerricho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin to start, Avant three, and not much left over for the likes of Tiquan Underwood or Marvin McNutt.

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis will compete for a roster spot with Rex Burkhead. Given LawFirm’s contract, he could be in tough to hold the spot. Cedric Peerman appears to be set thanks to his special teams play. One Bengals reporter is anticipating 200 carries for rookie Jeremy Hill. We have him less than half that currently. Adjusting Hill up, LawFirm down, and will adjust further if necessary once we see how splits and LawFirm’s status shake out.

Cleveland Browns

  • Brian Hoyer is fully cleared for training camp from his knee injury suffered last year. We still have Johnny Manziel projected at about half of the Browns’ pass attempts as it will be tough to keep him off the field unless the team wins consistently with Hoyer.

Detroit Lions

  • Second-year Theo Riddick is generating buzz through minicamp from various sources. He was a 6th round draft pick in 2013.

Green Bay Packers

  • RB Eddie Lacy is expected to be a three-down back for the Packers.

  • Jarrett Boykin seems to be locked into the WR3 spot for this year ahead of rookies Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis. No surprise given how Boykin played last season and his experience in a complex offense. If you keep receiving trade offers with Boykin from owners in your dynasty leagues, it is because the rookies are seen as the future in the Green Bay while Boykin doesn’t have the pedigree to hold them off forever.
  • TE job is wide open, but rookie Richard Rodgers seems to have the most positive news out of minicamp relative to Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Colt Lyerla. We’re not going to change the current modest projections for veterans Quarless and Bostick, but adding Rodgers to our On The Radar section of the rankings.

Houston Texans

  • Reviewing our projections after publishing the Texans team report, Case Keenum seems high at 180 pass attempts. Adjusting him way down and giving majority to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Also thinking about how Kendall Wright benefited last year catching passes from Fitzpatrick, and if that might similarly impact Andre Johnson or DeAndre Hopkins this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

  • QB Tyler Bray expected to compete for backup job.

Minnesota Vikings

  • Some indications Norv Turner wants Adrian Peterson to catch more passes, getting him in space more. Peterson is no slouch as a receiver. We have him projected at a career high of 50. He’s previously hit 43 (2009) and 40 (2012) in a season.

  • Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson will compete for the starting slot receiver job during training camp.

New Orleans Saints

  • Saints signed Jimmy Graham to a 4-year, $40-million contract, locking him up and avoiding him playing under the arbitrator ruled TE designation franchise tag this season.

New York Giants

  • All signs are RB David Wilson will be cleared for contact in time to start training camp. Great news for those still holding Wilson in dynasty leagues, eager to see what he can do. We won’t change his rankings or projections just yet.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Team expects to use Martavis Bryant in the red zone, which could help Bryant get established quickly for fantasy purposes. Steelers threw a lot to their wide receivers in the red zone last year as departed Jerricho Cotchery caught 10 TD.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Even with the addition of Darren Sproles – who the Eagles insist is a RB, not exclusively a WR – they expect LeSean McCoy‘s workload to be on par with last season.

San Diego Chargers

  • OC Frank Reich indicates Ryan Mathews is the main RB. We aren’t sure why this is even news. Fantasy pundits seem down on Mathews relative to us. We have him ranked 14th, while his ADP hovers around 20th. Talent is not the question here.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Report from Bill Williamson of ESPN that 49ers are expected to reduce Frank Gore‘s carries this year down to around 220. He had 276 carries last season. Looks like we already had Gore projected at 210 carries so we’re in line with this forecast.

  • Marcus Lattimore will be placed on NFL non-football injury list heading into training camp. We already dropped Lattimore out of our main rankings and into the “On The Radar” section. He’ll stay there, or drop out completely, until we see some positive reports on his recovery from his knee injury in college.

Seattle Seahawks

  • Earlier in the offseason a comment by OC Darrell Bevell about a potential RBBC sent fantasy owners into a tizzy downgrading Marshawn Lynch and pumping up Christine Michael. We preached patience, and noted it was so early this wasn’t something to get worked up about. A new report indicates the team plans to reduce Lynch’s average carries per game a little bit, but he is still their workhorse. This seems more realistic at this stage.

Tennesee Titans

  • Positive reports out of Tennessee that rookie RB Bishop Sankey is in great shape and committed to studying with RB coach Sylvester Croom to get up to speed quickly.

Projections and Rankings Updated, Supporting Team Notes

There sure hasn’t been very much news as of late in the NFL. Mini-camps were pretty quiet except for the annual share of, “best shape of his life” fluff pieces. Cleveland Browns fans were wishing things were quite on the Josh Gordon front, but that wasn’t meant to be I suppose.

Regardless, we’ve gone through our cheatsheet rankings and player projections and made a handful of changes based on recent news or additional consideration of our original forecasts. Here are the supporting notes that discuss those changes, and even in cases we didn’t make changes there are some notes here we felt were worth, uh, noting.

Training camps and preseason games start soon! We’ll keep updating as necessary through the busiest time on the fantasy football calendar, the time leading up to our annual fantasy football drafts.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Reading Dave’s player outlooks for the Falcons, it really drove home how consistently good – really good – that Matt Ryan has performed his career, and that his receivers were a mess most of last season. I’m moving him up into Tier 2 at QB with Matthew Stafford and Nick Foles. Would not be disappointed at all with Ryan as my starting QB.
  • The Falcons addressed the offensive line and we like that, and Steven Jackson got injured early last year. If he can hold it together health-wise, he’ll be a value. Not going nuts but moving him up slightly.
  • Tier 7 at RB is our high upside handcuffs group. Devonta Freeman moves into it, and some got shuffled, like Tre Mason (Rams), down, and Marcus Lattimore (49ers), out.
  • I must have really liked Dave’s outlooks for the Falcons. Accounting for playing hurt last year, and buying he isn’t washed up yet, moved Roddy White up.

Baltimore Ravens

  • Ray Rice has reportedly lost 20 lbs. which has allowed him to regain some of his old quickness. Rice looked sluggish last year, unable to run away from defenders. Still, the looming suspension pushes us to move Rice down, Bernard Pierce up, now both middling ranked backs in Tier 5.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • OC Hue Jackson wants a ball control offense. This offense could see one of the biggest year-over-year changes in philosophy. Reviewing pass and rush attempts across the board for these guys.

Cleveland Browns

  • Brian Hoyer seems more locked into starter’s job than originally expected when they drafted Johnny Manziel, and his teammates love him, so small bump up for Hoyer into tier with Matt Schaub, Josh McCown, etc.
  • Is it time to wipe Josh Gordon from the projections / rankings with low expectations he will play at all this season? Getting there, but we’ll continue to wait for official word for now.
  • Andrew Hawkins becomes an unranked but on the radar candidate.
  • Very positive reports on TE Jordan Cameron from mini-camp, plus RB Terrance West is standing out. Maybe these are legitimate, or maybe the Browns are trying to counter-balance the negative Gordon pub. That said, West and Ben Tate appear closer to an even split of carries than their respective ADPs currently indicate.

Dallas Cowboys

  • Romo feeling good –”miles ahead of last year”. This, coupled with Scott Linehan at OC and a great set of receivers, Romo gets a bump up.
  • Caleb Hanie received praise from HC Jason Garrett. Hanie is competing with Brandon Weeden for the backup job. It doesn’t appear Kyle Orton is coming back. Cowboys usually only carry two QB on the roster.

Denver Broncos

  • Broncos are attempting to sign both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas to long-term contracts. Each are in the last year of their current deals.

Detroit Lions

  • Joique Bell says he is back to full strength from a knee injury. There is some thought the dual-split in carries and catches at RB could turn into a trio with Theo Riddick in the mix. This is based on the idea the Lions are trying to emulate the Saints offense.
  • Revisiting Eric Ebron‘s player outlook, indicating he is a lower tier TE1, I’m bowing to some pressure from Dave and Tony to move him up. I don’t normally feel good at all drafting a rookie TE in redraft, but have to admit the upside is there. One media report indicates he’s expected to line up in the slot about 50% of the time, similar to Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas. High(ish) ceiling, low floor, he is now ranked 20th.

Green Bay Packers

  • Packers are attempting to sign Jordy Nelson to a long-term contract.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Dwayne Bowe barely cracked 100 targets last year. His 15 TD season back in 2010 is getting further and further away. Moving him down so he’s just inside the Top 40, and even there pretty disinterested in drafting him.
  • Team plans to use more two-TE sets if Travis Kelce, recovering from knee injury, is healthy.

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Aaron Dobson is still dealing with a foot injury but there is some optimism he’ll be recovered for the start of training camp.

New Orleans Saints

  • Why do I have Marques Colston behind a second year player Kenny Stills? Seems premature, and Colston’s down year last year looks like a possible blip. Now Colston is a tier ahead of Stills, even if only one spot in the rankings.
  • Arbitrator rules Jimmy Graham a TE, not a WR, resulting in a significantly lower franchise tag number. The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal or he will be held to the one-year franchise deal.

New York Giants

  • Reporter speculation that even if all the running backs are healthy, Rashad Jennings will get the most carries and receptions out of the backfield, perhaps significantly more than David Wilson and Andre Williams. No change for now.

Oakland Raiders

  • Plan to run the ball often, according to OT Donald Penn. Makes sense, but still going to be playing from behind a lot.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Great offense, but just not confident Jeremy Maclin is going to embrace the opportunity enough to justify where we had him ranked ahead of some more talented receivers. He’s now down at 26, middle of Tier 5.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Given Ben Roethlisberger‘s good play late last season, and some additional optimism about his receivers since our first set of rankings, Big Ben moves ahead of guys like Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Alex Smith.
  • Reports the Steelers are committed to the run and anticipate Le’Veon Bell should get 300 carries. If he does plus catches 50 passes, then he moves up. He’s now at the bottom of our growing Tier 2 of running backs.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Quinton Patton (with an outside shot) are competing for the WR3 job.
  • Marcus Lattimore still seems behind the other runners on the roster recovering from his college knee injury. One report indicating he isn’t a lock to make the roster paints a grim picture. He’s on the radar but unranked as of this update.

Tennessee Titans

  • Feeling less secure about Jake Locker taking his starter’s job and running with it. Not literally running, as they want him to be more of a pocket passer, but pessimistic about his likelihood of success. Bumping him down a tier.
  • Ah, looking at the projections I see we already had Charlie Whitehurst penciled in for 80 pass attempts, so 2-3 games. Locker should have been ranked a little lower to begin with and jive with our projections.
  • Don’t want to get too bullish on a rookie RB, but close to putting Sankey into the Top 20 which is about where the timeshare backs start getting some play, and it doesn’t look like he will be in much of a timeshare.
  • Kendall Wright had one of the quietest 90 catch, 1,000 yard seasons I can ever remember. Moves up near top of Tier 5.

Washington Redskins

  • Robert Griffin III looks more explosive, similar to his 2012 form. He’s ditched the knee brace. Thought originally we were ahead of the curve putting him in Top 10 but that is where his ADP has him right now.