To accompany the initial projections, as we continue to review, research, analyze the projections, and create cheatsheet rankings, we provide the following commentary by division to give some insight into why we have players projected the way we do at this time.
- “Quarterback Whisperer” Marc Trestman is the Ravens new OC, which one would assume means an uptick for QB Joe Flacco and RB Justin Forsett in the passing game. The problem with boosting Flacco is he’s already thrown pass attempts in excess of former Trestman protégé Jay Cutler in recent years, and his supporting cast consists of two rookies and a very late bloomer or journeyman RB amongst his top four pass catchers. You can be bullish about Flacco, but he’s still considered just a fringe starter or reliable backup.
- We’ve currently got Forsett in line with his catches last season, which should arguably go up. Matt Forte caught 74 and 102 receptions in his two seasons under Trestman. However, Forsett is not Forte. Forsett bounced around playing for four different teams through six seasons before finally breaking out last year. That’s a red flag, or at least a caution. Lorenzo Taliaferro wasn’t particularly impressive as a rookie, so the team added Javorius Allen via the NFL Draft. How effective these guys are is the main threat to Forsett’s workload.
- Steve Smith started off hot last season with four touchdowns, four 100-yard games in the first six weeks. Then there was a noticeable fade. Does he have another 1,000-yard season in him? Possible given the opportunity, but not great odds.
- The Ravens need at least one of rookies Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams (preferably both) to make an immediate impact. The team is optimistic Dennis Pitta will play this season but it looks 50-50 at best right now.
- Fantasy players don’t like Andy Dalton. He failed to crack 3,400 yards or 20 TD passing last season, but I still had to double check why (at the time) his 12-team ADP was n/a on our initial online cheatsheets. It’s a running team. The Bengals would be quite content to keep him under 500 pass attempts.
- Giovani Bernard looked like he might be the next Jamaal Charles-esque all-purpose back after his rookie season in 2013. Then Jeremy Hill came to town and all bets are off. Hill overtook Bernard producing over 1,300 yards on 222 carries and 27 receptions. Bernard missed a few games, still chipped in over 1,000 yards on over 200 touches, but the coaching staff showed a lot more confidence in Hill. Hills’ yards-per-carry is half a yard better. He’s the guy to own. Bernard only if he drops too far to present good value.
- One of the best receivers in the game is A.J. Green, but the run heavy philosophy begets a slight downgrade from Green’s 3-year weighted average. Mohamed Sanu filled in pretty well when Green was out and Marvin Jones was lost for the season. Now Sanu and Jones will challenge each other for snaps. Jones wins, if healthy.
- Veteran Jermaine Gresham is a free agent still on the market, leaving Tyler Eifert who has done little in his NFL career, and rookie Tyler Kroft. Eifert is an end-game flier if you need a second TE, but more than likely this position on the Bengals is a fantasy wasteland. Surprising, since the knock on Dalton is his deep ball.
- Our projections need some adjustment here. Since initially prepping these, media reports Josh McCown is the clear cut starter and Johnny Manziel is not really in the discussion. Makes sense. Neither are worth drafting.
- The running back position was tough to figure out last season. It isn’t any clearer this season, and potentially worse, since last year we could write-off Ben Tate pretty early on. This year, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson are all in the picture for carries. We’ve got it Crow-West-Johnson, but none with enough carries to get to 1,000 yards. Losing OC Kyle Shanahan does not help matters.
- Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline arrive to take over the top two receiver spots. Bowe’s 1,000 yard seasons are a distant memory. Can you believe he caught 15 TD in 2010? This is a dismal depth chart. Robert Housler is interesting to the extent if he does perform for fantasy, we get to see how many pundits put their hand up and say, “see, called it” [three years ago].
- Ben Roethlisberger was better than you probably thought two seasons ago, and last year way better than you probably thought. He finished 5th in scoring, within 10 points of 3rd. No significant losses and his receivers are more than likely better. Note he’s getting drafted 8th to 9th QB off the board.
- Le’Veon Bell is currently suspended the first three games of the season, and that is a bummer. He blew past 350 touches last season. The forced time off scales him back to around 300. Discount accordingly but not too much because it is his points-per-game that matter. Hopefully rust is short lived once he’s back in late September. DeAngelo Williams backs up Bell and has some value knowing he will start three games.
- Big Ben and Antonio Brown are in a zone. I’ve seen Brown go first WR off the board in some early drafts, and I can’t knock it. Best bet to top 100 receptions this season. Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton are a young, exciting pair, particularly Bryant, but not ready to cut into Brown’s production. Bryant might be a tough decision to start each week on your fantasy team, but he didn’t play the first six weeks last season and then proceeded to score in 7 of 11 games played. Impressive.
- Some pegged the Steelers to draft a TE replacement for Heath Miller. Not yet. A blah pick but provides an acceptable return if you are last to draft the position.