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.
- Despite attempting 100 fewer passes in 2014 compared to 2013, Tony Romo increased his completion percentage by 6%, nearly matched his yardage, tossed three more touchdowns and one less interception. Less is more! Problem is they lost that nearly 450-touch guy, DeMarco something. We’re looking at projections much more in line with 2013.
- Darren McFadden? Joseph Randle? A player to be named later? Pick your poison, but we do think it is McFadden to the extent he stays healthy. Yep, a pretty big IF there, but a higher profile veteran with the Arkansas connection is likely to be given the primo opportunity. The offensive line will provide a solid level of fantasy success if one does emerge as earning the bulk of the carries, either for the season or for a span of weeks in-season.
- Romo’s pass attempts are up but numbers are similar for the receivers. In fact, the rush-pass mix is not that different from last season, with more plays overall. Think we need to ratchet down the runners a little, perhaps bump of Terrance Williams. Dez Bryant makes us slightly nervous with the contract talk impasse and talk of a holdout, but for now, have to project him as the stud he is.
New York Giants
- A lot of talk about Eli Manning being more comfortable in the second year of Ben McAdoo’s offense and how he is going to light it up. I’m buying it. Odell Beckham Jr. from Week 1 and adding Shane Vereen helps quite a bit, too, even with Victor Cruz sidelined.
- When he played, Rashad Jennings was decent for fantasy last season in his first season with the Giants. A sub-4.0 yards per carry and an injury history doesn’t put fantasy owners at ease he is long for the job though. Good thing he doesn’t have much competition for carries, but the Giants should use Vereen a fair bit, who likely feels he was underused in New England.
- Beckham a sell high or setting up to be a perennial Top 5 WR? His hamstrings appear they will dictate the best answer. Our initial projections have him 7th at WR, 3-4 spots below his current ADP.
- More was expected of Rueben Randle to this point of his career, and last year was a prime opportunity for him with Beckham out until Week 5, and Cruz out after Week 6. He disappointed. Continuing good opportunity for him starting this season. I’d draft him as a late pick with upside, but not holding out a ton of hope.
- Who is going to quarterback this crew? Its Sam Bradford until we are certain he can’t. And if Bradford can stay in for 16 games, he’s in line for the best season of his career. Mark Sanchez awaits in the wings.
- 449 touches for DeMarco Murray last season, excluding the playoffs, he can still get a heavy workload in this offense, but not that crazy. Not with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles needing to get their touches. But that is okay, as last season was Murray’s first playing 16 games. We have him at 300 carries, 25 receptions, still worthy of a high pick.
- We have Mathews at half the carries of Murray, and Sproles less than half of that, but Sproles dominates the pass targets. All three get drafted but Mathews and Sproles only become reliable fantasy starters if Murray misses time, or the Eagles have a game where they run roughshod over their opponent.
- By all accounts Jordan Matthews lived up to his rookie draft hype last year with a solid season, but whether he can improve on those numbers will be challenged by the new rookie addition, Nelson Agholor. While I may pass on drafting Matthews, I have a hard time projecting him behind Agholor until we see what positions Chip Kelly settles on for each come training camp.
- We have modest improvements for Zach Ertz in this third season. There is still upside available there if he can become a red zone threat.
- In a surprising bit of news, head coach Jay Gruden had numerous good things to say about Robert Griffin III. It is still somewhat baffling how fast RG3 fell from rookie sensation to subpar fantasy asset. Injury and work ethic were the problems. Injury must be over by now. Work ethic? Maybe he’s getting it, keeping a lower profile, and maybe it is time to consider buying low.
- Alfred Morris keeps on chugging along. A classic underrated RB in fantasy circles because of his lack of catches, so short of a monster 1,600-12 line (which he surpassed in 2012), he won’t earn a 1st round grade, but don’t turn your nose up at 1,100-8 in the thick of the RBBC era. Rookie Matt Jones backs him up, but not expecting Jones to unseat Morris.
- Griffin has good receivers. Makes you think more about RG3 being a value pick, doesn’t it? I’ve traditionally considered DeSean Jackon an every other year player, but he has now strung together two consecutive good seasons. Pierre Garcon needs more targets, especially with the 11.1 yards per catch he had last season.
- A better third receiver and/or a healthy Jordan Reed would go a long way to helping this offense. Now I’ve come full circle. RG3 has good starting receivers, but not enough pass catching skill around him to be better than a bye week filler, unless he really ramps up the rushing yards again. Not sure the Redskins will push for that.