Our Draft Buddy software, for fantasy football, is oh so very close to being released. In fact, while we already started off strong for the 2015 season with Dave’s early rankings series, and Tony’s top rookies series, this is the week we turn the page for our official kickoff of the new season.
Yes, Draft Buddy is on tap. However, lets get things rolling with our initial 2015 fantasy football player projections. The rankings and projections at DraftBuddy.com will be a joint effort by Dave Stringer and myself again this season. To get rolling, projections are uploaded, rankings are based purely on fantasy points generated from those projections, and our player pages are updated.
Over the next 2-3 weeks, we will continue to review, research and adjust the initial projections, plus alter the rankings to account for risk and upside, plus add all-important tiers to the cheatsheets. Then we will continue with regular updates all the way through the summer to the start of the NFL season. Team reports with fantasy outlook player commentary starts rolling out soon, too.
Draft Buddy, as in the past, will include default projections from FF Today (as it is also sold at that website), but all customers will be able to access and include the DraftBuddy.com projections as an extra set of projections in Draft Buddy. Any dynasty players in the house? I know there are. I can also show you how to import dynasty rankings into Draft Buddy.
Okay, with that introduction out of the way, lets get to some commentary on the initial projections. As part of my review of the projections, I thought a good way to go about it is to write some points about key players and why their projections are up or down from their historical averages. Plus, you’ll see some early insight into our thought process, and be able to identify some players that have some upside, or represent some risk, even at their current projected statistics.
I organized my notes by division, so lets get started with the NFC West.
- Carson Palmer possible comeback player of the year? Projections are very much in line with 3-year average, but should he be trending down due to age and recovery from ACL tear (Week 10, 2014)? A shoulder injury caused Palmer to miss Weeks 2-5 last season.
- Andre Ellington with a decrease in his prorated numbers across the board, but limiting his touches should make him more effective. Bruce Arians likes a big running back, and will utilize rookie David Johnson in this role that Rashard Mendenhall held last season for 217-687-8.
- This offense spreads the ball around. Larry Fitzgerald says its, “not possible” for him to put up big numbers given his role. Much as we hate to admit it, seems his skill is also eroding. We have similar targets for each of Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. Expected Floyd to be a breakout candidate last year, and he disappointed. Brown was a surprise. Both represent some upside if we were a year too early on Floyd, and Brown progresses.
San Francisco 49ers
- Can Colin Kaepernick be a more effective quarterback after some offseason mentoring from Kurt Warner? It at least appears to be some commitment to staying the course – trying to develop into more of a pocket-passer – while utilizing his legs when necessary. Some improvement in his receiving options +Torrey Smith +Reggie Bush –Michael Crabtree –Frank Gore. Expecting a downturn in the defense which could result in more pass attempts, wide open play benefitting Kaep for fantasy.
- Carlos Hyde’s time to step up. Should garner large bulk of the team carries. Bush is angling to return punts, Kendall Hunter is recovering from a torn ACL, and rookies Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne round out the depth chart. Wouldn’t take much in terms of more carries, targets or rushing touchdowns (perhaps limited by Kaep) to bump up Hyde from where we conservatively have him out of the gate.
- A career high yards in 2013, following by career high in touchdowns in 2014 for Torrey Smith. Able to put them together with a new team? Nah. Projecting a 50% catch rate on just over 100 targets, modest TDs. Boldin a slight reduction off his 3-year average. Vernon Davis should start the season where he finished last season in many leagues, on the waiver wire.
- Projecting an uptick in Russell Wilson’s passing stats while a decline in rushing from last season back to 2012 and 2013 norms. Still a sub-500 attempt, sub-4,000 yard passer.
- Marshawn Lynch is 29 years old, and has a lot of mileage including eight playoff games the last three seasons. Projecting modest declines in his 3-year average numbers. Still great numbers but better to be conservative.
- A decline from his days with the Saints, sure, but Jimmy Graham should still dominate targets on this team over the likes of Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, et al. Why else pay a hefty price and bring him here? Projected for 9 TD.
- Not expecting much from the wide receivers, each between 30-60 receptions.
St. Louis Rams
- Nick Foles projected as the full season starter but clearly, not confident he will start 16 games. More the de facto starter, an indictment of the options behind him. A game manager role, 20 TD without too many costly turnovers are what the Rams will hope for; 60-65% probability they get that.
- Todd Gurley is a great talent, but if the competitive window isn’t there for the Rams this year, why rush him into a heavy workload? Gurley tore his ACL in November, 2014. We are projecting a split in carries with Tre Mason. Gurley is an endgame pick. Assuming rehab goes well, he could be super the second half of the season. Jeff Fisher will commit to the run, and the strong defense supports this, but don’t overpay for Gurley on draft day. Mason might be an early season value.
- Oi! These receivers are none too good. With a conservative passing game, none will get an opportunity to breakout if that is even still in them. Prefer Kenny Britt (entering 8th season) to Brian Quick (4th) if I had to choose one to take a shot on as my WR4 or WR5.