49ers Fantasy and Season Preview

As a lifelong 49ers fan, I love the direction this organization is heading in. They are finally contenders and have a stacked roster of talented players. Below is a fantasy breakdown of the team, where I might not sound as optimistic in the team, but just goes to show that being the best in fantasy doesn’t mean wins on the field.

BANG BANG NINER GANG!

Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy G is already one of the more polarizing players in the league despite only being a starter for one full season. It seems like half of the league thinks he has the chance to be an elite quarterback and the other half thinks he’s as useful as a screen door on a submarine. As bad as people thought he played last year, particularly in a run-first offense, he finished with the 14th most fantasy points for quarterbacks. Garoppolo has a strong offensive line and big-play receivers in George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, which helps make his life easier. He was the only quarterback to finish in the top ten in yards per attempt, touchdowns, and completion percentage in 2019 which shows to me he’s a solid all-around option and has a high floor. While he does make some terrible decisions that result in turnovers, 4 of his 13 interceptions from a season ago were a result of drops by his receivers. Some will be turned off after watching the 49ers turn into a heavy run team, but Garropolo finished seventh last year in red-zone passing attempts. Shanahan’s outside zone run game is successful but historically becomes less effective when the field gets smaller inside of the twenty yard line. Assuming this trend continues, Garoppolo will continue to throw for more than 25 touchdowns per season, making him a viable fantasy option. 

Others

In a perfect world, none of the other quarterbacks have to play much, if at all. Nick Mullens is firmly entrenched as the #2 and proven to be a decent quarterback who had some potential in fantasy due to his accuracy and being in Shanahan’s offense. The clock may strike twelve on Beathard’s tenure as a 49er and UDFA Broc Rutter gets to hang around Jimmy Garoppolo during training camp. Maybe he can ask what conditioner he uses.

Raheem Mostert

I know he has requested a trade, but let’s be honest with the fact that he’s not leaving. The 49ers hold all of the leverage here and have no reason to give in to any demands. If anything, Mostert should be upset at his agent for negotiating a terrible deal for him last offseason. On the field, he led all running backs with a 5.7 ypc and has gained muscle this offseason to prepare for what he says is “a 200 carry season”. It finally seems that he’s going to emerge as the lead back in San Francisco and he’s earned that right. Shanahan will implement a running back by committee so that does handcuff Mostert a little bit, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t get most of the carries as long as he is healthy. As a receiver, he doesn’t offer much upside aside from catching the occasional screen pass. He might be the last option of anyone in the backfield when it comes to being the receiving option, but overall Mostert is still the 49ers running back you’ll want to target. He will be more desired in non-PPR leagues, but I like him as a solid RB2/Flex option on your roster.

Tevin Coleman

Shanahan’s dedication to Coleman is actually very admirable. It was clear that he wasn’t the best running back on the roster, but he stuck with him all the way to the Super Bowl. In his first season, he finished tied for first in carries, despite both Mostert and Matt Breida averaging more than a yard per carry more than him. It’s not that Coleman is a bad running back, it’s just that nothing he does stands out. Despite that, you can count on him to be consistent. He didn’t fumble the ball in 2019 and also led the 49ers running backs in catches with 21. He did suffer a high ankle sprain in week 1 which may have contributed to his lack of explosiveness, which would be understandable. However, there’s one role that Coleman has seemingly locked down and that’s the role of short-yardage back, most importantly the goal line back. Coleman saw double the carries in the red zone than Mostert did and was 19th overall in the league in carries inside of the 5-yard line, despite the fact he was sharing snaps pretty evenly and missed a few games with an injury. Many 49ers fans might want Jeff Wilson Jr. to have this role in 2020, but as long as Jerick McKinnon is healthy (big IF), Wilson is unlikely to be active on game days. Don’t count on him to be one of your starters, but utilize him as a safe bench option since you know he’s going to provide you with average production week in and week out. 


Others

I mean this is the year McKinnon is healthy, right? Right? Might be asking a lot, but this organization clearly has some sort of faith in him and he could have a role in the offense. It might be almost strictly as a third-down back or gadget player, but Shanahan will find something for him. Still not worth drafting. Jeff Wilson Jr. is a fan favorite due to the fact every time he touches the ball it seems to be for a touchdown. But, as I said earlier I don’t think he’ll be suited up on game days. If he is, keep an eye out for him in fantasy as what we call a “touchdown vulture”. He runs tough and has shown the ability to catch the ball. One of Jamycal Hasty or Slavon Ahmed has a chance to make the team if the organization decides to move on from one of the aforementioned running backs. Both seem to be Shanahan’s type of runner, but with little to no preseason, it’s impossible to count on them for anything. Finally, there’s Kyle Jusczczyk, the best fullback in the league. Hell of a player, but not a fantasy option. All love though Juice. 

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel

I’ll just come out and say that his foot injury scares the crap out of me. He’s very confident that he will be on field week 1, but that will be tough to accomplish. However, since it’s so far out for the sake of this preview I will assume he’s good to go against the Cardinals on September 13th. 71% of his yards came after week 7, where he began to have a more prominent role in the offense across from Emmanuel Sanders. Now that Sanders is gone, Deebo is WR1 and also good for a few carries a game as well. Of his 159 rushing yards last year, 122 yards came in the last five games (13.5 yards per carry), as did two of his three rushing touchdowns.  He’s the perfect dynamic playmaker that Shanahan loves to work with and wants to feature in his offense every week. If he gets off to a slow start this season, do not get rid of him! We don’t know how he will look after the foot injury and it shouldn’t shock anyone if he is a bit slow out of the gate. Also, despite him taking the role as the top receiver on the team, that doesn’t mean he’s the team’s first option. That is and will likely continue to be Kittle for the foreseeable future. The 49ers do only face three of the top ten passing defenses from a season ago and do have six games against teams that were in the bottom ten of passing defenses. As I stated earlier, I think Jimmy G will get better and that helps Deebo. I don’t think you should rely on him as your top receiver or even your second receiver, but he’s a very strong flex option. 

Kendrick Bourne

Now I actually believe that Kendrick Bourne could be a decent sleeper option. He knows the offense, he’s healthy, and he gets red zone targets. With seemingly half of the receiving corps coming off of injuries and the other half being unproven, Bourne is a steady and safe option for Shanahan to trust. He did have four drops last year, which as a fan was incredibly frustrating at times, but he has yet to lose his spot on the lineup. Over the past two seasons, he has 9 touchdowns on 72 catches (12.5%) and this is where his true value lies. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a high volume guy, but he’s a machine on the slant route from about the six or seven-yard line where he and Jimmy have that timing down to a T. No chance I drafting him, but I think come week one he’s starting and if can perform well early, no chance he will lose playing time. He doesn’t have the skill of Dante Pettis or the quickness of Trent Taylor, but he works his ass off and stays healthy.  

Brandon Aiyuk 

By the midway point of the season (if not sooner) Aiyuk will be starting across from Deebo Samuel as the 49ers starting receiver. Put that in sharpie, it’s happening folks. He plays very similarly to Deebo in the sense they have tons of YAC potential, but Aiyuk was a much better deep play receiver in college. He will be used a lot in motion so that will grant him a free release at the line and since the team lacks a true deep-threat, I anticipate Aiyuk becoming that. He might not light it up for the first few games, but it took half the season for Samuel to get consistent playing time. Shanahan says the Aiyuk was his favorite receiver in the entire draft and an innovative player-caller like Shanahan wouldn’t say that if he didn’t have big plans for the youngster from Arizona State. He will get I suspect most of the targets that went to Emmanuel Sanders, who saw about six targets a game. I wouldn’t draft him, but he’s a guy you’ll want to keep an eye on once bye weeks start. 

Others

Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd are two very intriguing options here that I’ll keep a close eye on as training camp starts. Taylor and Jimmy were a great connection down the stretch in 2017 and Taylor was the guy getting a lot of looks on third down. Then a back injury in 2018 slowed him down, with the foot injury in 2019 costing him the whole season. In training camp last year, reporters were calling him the team’s best receiver and seemed destined to have a breakout campaign. I have no doubt if he can stay healthy that he will be the team’s main slot receiver, but you just can’t trust him to play a full season. Hurd became a fan favorite during the 2019 preseason and had all of us salivating at the fact the 49ers finally had a physical receiver that could go up and get the football. But, just like Taylor, an injury cost him his whole season. If he’s healthy, he’ll be used in a variety of ways and line up at multiple positions. Might not be worthy of a fantasy roster spot, but will have an impact on this team. Then you have Dante Pettis, Richie James Jr, Travis Benjamin, and JaJuan Jennings all fighting for probably two rosters spots. I personally think James Jr and Jennings will be the ones who make the roster, but neither would get consideration for legitimate playing time. 


Tight Ends
George Kittle

We all know that the People’s Tight End is one of the baddest MOFO’s in the league. He’s the best tight end in the league and will become a very rich man in the near future. In 2019, despite missing two games, Kittle finished second in fantasy points for a tight end and first in points per game with 15.9 (according to ESPN). He accounted for 22% of the team’s targets, which should increase if he can play a full season and due to the loss of Emmanuel Sanders. One area of slight concern is the lack of touchdowns, logging five in each of the last two seasons. Despite this, he is the fourth most targeted tight end in the red zone meaning that the opportunities are there, he just needs to find a way into the end zone. The 49ers are a run-first team and ran the ball the second-most in the league in 2019, but it honestly helps Kittle. He’s very dangerous in play-action where teams have to respect his value as a blocker. Countless times the team will call play-action and Jimmy will look for Kittle in the flat where he will have room to run. He has the most YAC yards in the league since 2018, so it’s tough to imagine any handcuff that would stunt Kittle’s fantasy years besides an injury. And oh yea if it’s not clear already, #PayGeorgeKittle

Others

Ross Dwelley did have a two touchdown game and has some fans on Twitter, but he’s not a fantasy option. Charlie Woerner will be used as a blocker and has close to zero fantasy value. The train starts and stops with Kittle. 

49ers defense/special teams

The team returns every starter but one from the third-ranked fantasy defense in 2019. Losing Deforest Buckner is a massive loss, but this defensive line should still be able to get pressure at will. Nick Bosa figures to be a contender for DPOY and if Arik Armstead can replicate his ten sack total from last year, it’ll be tough for any quarterback to throw on them. The key to the defensive line I believe is Dee Ford. If he can stay somewhat healthy, they will once again be the number one pass defense in the league. They do have five games against top ten scoring offenses from a year ago, but it balances out nicely with the four games against bottom ten scoring defenses from last year. The only two teams in my opinion that this team struggled against in 2019 were the Saints and Cardinals, who they’ll play this upcoming season as well. The Saints game was a shootout that saw 94 points scored between the two teams, but I am a little more worried about the Cardinals. They had trouble trying to slow down Kyler Murray and his running ability and they only got better with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Still not enough to be overly concerned as this defense is loaded with young talent, but just something to keep in mind if you draft them. In terms of the special teams portion, you’re probably not going to get too much value. That’s just how the game is nowadays with kickoff returns happening less frequently and punters keeping the ball away from elite returners. 

Robbie Gould

The opportunities will be there for Gould, but will he capitalize. After missing three attempts in his first two years with the 49ers, Gould missed eight in 2019. Despite this, Shanahan still trusted him enough to have 31 attempts in 13 games. With 41 and 34 attempts the previous 

Years, you can almost guarantee that he’ll have more than 30 attempts, where he is only one of four kickers to have that many attempts in every season since 2017. That’s value right there. I optimistically hope he can connect with 90% of his kicks as he did in 2017 and 2018, but even if he hovers around the 80% range, based on his attempts alone he’ll be towards the top in most made in 2020. Here’s one interesting stat I noticed just recently: when long snapper Kyle Nelson returned from his suspension week 8 against the Panthers, Gould went 18-19 the rest of the season including the playoffs. I’m not going to lie and say I’m some sort of kicking expert but that’s an encouraging sign I feel like for Gould’s 2020 campaign.

And just for fun, I did my first prediction for the 53 man roster. I actually feel relatively confident in this list, which means that the final roster will look nothing like this list.

Roster

QB (2)

Jimmy Garroppolo 

Nick Mullens


RB (5)

Raheem Mostert

Tevin Coleman

Jerrick McKinnon

Jeff Wilson Jr

Kyle Juszczyk

WR (7)

Deebo Samuel

Kendrick Bourne

Brandon Aiyuk

Trent Taylor

Jalen Hurd

Richie James

JaJuan Jennings

Dante Pettis

TE (3)

George Kittle

Ross Dwelley

Charlie Woerner

OL (9)

Trent Williams

Mike McGlinchey

Daniel Brunskill

Laken Tomlinson

Weston Richburg

Colton McKivitz

Ben Garland

Justin Skule

Shon Coleman

DL (9)

Nick Bosa

Arik Armstead

Dee Ford

D.J. Jones

Javon Kinlaw

Solomon Thomas 

Kerry Hyder, Jr. 

Julian Taylor 

Ronald Blair

Kevin Givens


LB (5)

Fred Warner

Dre Greenlaw

Kwon Alexander

Azeez Al-Shaair

Joe Walker

DB (10)

Richard Sherman

Jimmie Ward

Jaquiski Tartt

Ahkello Witherspoon

Emmanuel Moseley

Marcell Harris

Tarvarious Moore

K’Waun Williams

Tim Harris

Jamar Taylor

Specialists (3)

Robbie Gould 

Mitch Wishnowsky

Kyle Nelson

PUP

D.J. Reed

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Old Faces In New Places

David Johnson, HOU

David Johnson has channeled his inner Shawn Michaels and become the heartbreak kid for the past three years for fantasy owners. In 2017, he was the number one overall player on most pre-draft boards then got injured in the first game and that was all she wrote. Back to back disappointing seasons in 2018 and 2019, he now sees himself in Houston as their presumed lead back. Is this the year Johnson finally gets back on track or will he just disappoint again? I’m willing to bet he has a solid year in a Houston offense that, despite having marginal talent the past few years, has seen some decent seasons from running backs. Duke Johnson, RB2 on the Texans, has only had over a hundred carries once in his career and is mostly used as a pass catcher. Therefore Johnson is going to see a large number of the team’s carries. He also has had some nice moments as a receiver and with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins and his 150 targets, Deshaun Watson is going to have to spread the ball around. During his one great season, 2016, Johnson led all running backs in receptions and receiving yards. I doubt Johnson will ever reach elite status as he did before the 2017 season, but if Carlos Hyde can rush for over 1000 yards with the Texans, I’m ready to assume Johnson can get there as well.

Teddy Bridgewater, CAR

Teddy Bridgewater is a good quarterback, but not an ideal fantasy target. In Minnesota, he finished in the 20’s every season in fantasy points, and even in the five-game stretch a season ago with the Saints he finished 19th during that period in scoring for quarterbacks. He’s an accurate thrower and relies on quick throws to be effective. In fact, outside of the two Steelers backup quarterbacks from last year, no one threw fewer air yards on completions than Bridgewater. He is surrounded by studs like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson, but as we all know the team is dependent on McCaffrey. They’re going to feed him the ball any chance they get and most likely will put a big dent in Bridgewater’s fantasy total, particularly touchdowns. Bridgewater’s floor is high, but he’s not going to be your QB1 unless something crazy happens. A concerning part of the Panthers offense is that they allowed 43 sacks in 2019 and that was with mobile quarterbacks in Kyle Allen and Cam Newton. Bridgewater can help alleviate those issues with his short passing game but in the meantime, I’m passing on him until I see how this offense operates under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. 

Phillip Rivers, IND

I like Rivers in Indianapolis and think he’s going to do wonders for this team. That doesn’t mean I’m too high on him in fantasy. The Colts have a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back in Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor and will rely on Rivers to be a game manager. Rivers offers no running ability and is coming off of a season where he threw almost as many interceptions as touchdowns. He was seventh in the league in pass attempts in 2019 and there’s a tiny chance that happens again as he’s most likely going to finish outside of the top half in that category. Besides T.Y. Hilton, the Colts don’t have much experience at receiver and with an unconventional offseason, it could take a few weeks into the season for the passing offense to get in a rhythm. His offensive line is going to be much better in Indianapolis, but the Chargers are a much deeper unit in terms of skill position targets. He’ll be at his best in the short area of the field, getting the ball out quickly. Hilton and Parris Campbell are deep threats, but Rivers finished well below average in throws over 20 yards. I think ultimately Rivers will improve substantially in completion percentage, but see a dip in just about every other statistical category as he becomes a complementary piece rather than the star as he enters his 17th season in the league. 

Matt Breida, MIA

Breida escapes a situation in San Francisco where he was battling two or three guys for touches. Now in Miami, he’s really only battling Jordan Howard. One of the more underrated speedsters in the league, Breida has a 5 yards per carry average for his career and has the potential to increase his catch total with his new situation. While he doesn’t get mention with being one of the fastest players in the league, he had the fastest top speed (22.3 mph) recorded over the past few years and was a home run threat anytime he touched the ball. Jordan Howard has seen his targets and catches decrease every season as he’s been delegated as a pure ball-carrier, opening a big opportunity in Miami. Breida can sneak into that receiving back role due to his quickness and steady hands (only one career drop). There is one big knock against Breida and that is his lack of touchdowns. He only has 10 total touchdowns in his three seasons compared to Howard who has 32 (30 rushing) in his four seasons in the league. Breida will never be mistaken for a bell-cow back, but does well in the opportunities he gets. I do worry slightly about his injury history as it always seems that he’s battling some sort of ailment, particularly in his lower body. Despite this, I think Breida is RB1 in terms of fantasy for Miami and should hover around his career average of 630 yards rushing, but has the upside to double his reception total from last year.


Emmanuel Sanders, NO

Good news for Sanders: He’s not going to be the focal point of opposing teams defenses with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara as his teammates. Bad news for Sanders: He’s not going to be the focal point of the Saints offense with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara as his teammates. Sanders slides in nicely as a solid second receiver with the Saints and proved last year with Denver and San Francisco that he still has some juice in him. I wouldn’t anticipate a huge drop in receiving yards (869 in 2019), but I don’t think he gets more than that either. Luckily, the Saints are a high scoring offense and Sanders will have his chances to score. He won’t set the league on fire, but I think it’s realistic he’ll get between 5 to 8 touchdowns. If TreQuan Smith can score on 27% of his receptions, I want to believe that a savvy vet like Sanders can carve out a nice role in New Orleans. I wouldn’t count on him to be a starter for your team, but his high floor makes him draftable as your WR3/4. 

Rob Gronkowski, TB

Let’s be honest, nobody has any idea how Gronk is going to look this season. The last time we saw him play, he was a shell of his former self, but still a dominant run-blocker and made a huge catch in the Super Bowl. His injury past is so long that the doctor has an entire drawer dedicated to him, but after taking a season off, in theory he should be as healthy as he’s been in years. Ultimately, he’s one of the best tight ends of all time and the duo of him and Brady have connected for 79 touchdowns, which is the fifth most for a quarterback-receiver combination. While Arians has never heavily incorporated tight ends into his offense, Brady has a long history of targeting that position and one has to think that the offense will adjust to Brady’s strengths. I believe he’s firmly entrenched as the Buccaneers third receiving option after Godwin and Evans and will be Brady’s go-to guy in the red zone. All things being said, with as deep as the tight end group is this year in fantasy, I’m going to say Gronk finishes between TE 7-11 this year. He’ll be a valuable piece in this new-look offense, but with two stud receivers getting most of the looks and an older version of the former WWE superstar future hall of famer, I’m not expecting huge stats this season.  

Austin Hooper, CLE

This offseason, Hooper cashed in big time and is now the second-highest paid tight end in the league. As he goes from one high-octane offense in Atlanta, he joins another in Cleveland littered with big names which I think lowers the ceiling on his fantasy value. He’s a skilled receiver and has seen his yardage increase every season of his career. He was the sixth-highest scoring tight end in fantasy in 2019 despite missing three games. While he’s had to contend with Julio Jones for catches in the past, he has to fend off an even deeper group in Cleveland as it includes two good running backs and another solid tight end with David Njoku. Luckily, Hooper has a high catch rate (78%) and had all six of his touchdowns from 2019 taking place in the red zone (five coming within the ten-yard line). He will more than likely see similar production this year as he did in 2019 which makes him a solid fantasy option. However, as I’ve mentioned previously the tight end fantasy group this year is really solid so just make sure not to reach on any of them. It’s possible what was good for sixth overall for tight ends last season might be fringe top ten this season.

Cam Newton, NE

While I won’t consider Newton to be a lock for the starting quarterback job, I do believe it would take an injury or unforeseen circumstance for him not to be the starter. ESPN predicts a rather mediocre 17 touchdowns, 10 interception season with him adding 358 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground. While these numbers may seem low for a player of Newton’s caliber, I actually think this is a good prediction because we don’t know how he’s going to hold up coming off of two major surgeries. He’s never been an accurate thrower of the football and his supporting cast is average but he can still be a scoring machine. Not including last season where he only played in two games, he averaged 7 rushing touchdowns a season. Meaning that while he may not have the speed he once did, he still has the size and the tough running ability to punch it in at the goal line. One advantage that Josh McDaniels’s offense could have for Newton is the short passing game. Newton had his best year in terms of passing percentage in 2018 at 67% yet had an average completed air yards of just 5 yards, tied for tenth shortest. Just two years earlier, he averaged 8.3 air yards on completed passes (second highest in the league), but only completed 52% of his passes. It’s obvious that at this point in his career, he’s not going to be able to successfully push the ball down the field but can get the ball out quickly and to the right receiver. I think the team will use Newton as more of a game manager that will result in more wins, but not necessarily a huge fantasy season. He’s a good buy-low option based on his running ability and an ideal situation in New England.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on YouTube for video breakdowns and Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

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Fantasy 2020: Buyer Beware!

For every sleeper, there’s a player maybe people are overhyping. My list of those players doesn’t mean you should draft them, rather it’s just me making you thinking extra hard about their current projection. It’s not personal fellas, just business.

*ALL rankings are from ESPN

Todd Gurley II 16th PPR/17th Non-PPR

Many are expecting a career renaissance from Gurley now that he’s in Atlanta. Don’t count me as one of those people. Quite frankly, Gurley’s knees are worn down and he’s lost more than just a step, as evident last season. Arthritis is an injury that can’t be fixed with surgery and something that doesn’t go away. Gurley did play in fifteen games a season ago, but played in 80% of the snaps in just three of the fifteen games, whereas in 2018 he reached that milestone eleven times. Some may blame the Rams’ offensive line for his poor play but that was only one part of the pie. Gurley’s going to a Falcons team that isn’t built to run the ball and finished with the fewest attempts in the league in 2019. In fact, Dirk Koetter’s offenses have finished in the bottom ten in team rushing every season since 2016. You might say, well wouldn’t that boost up Gurley’s receptions? Not necessarily. He’s seen his catch percentage (receptions/targets) drop every season and hit a career low of 63% with seven drops in 2019. I still think that Gurley is an option as a low-end RB2/Flex option due to his goal-line ability and possible upside, but I just can’t see him playing a full season. Right now he’s looked at as a high-end RB2 (assuming you’re in a 12 person league) when the risk is just too great for that.

Aaron Jones 8th PPR/ 7th Non-PPR

Jones was a nice breakout fantasy star last year and his 19 touchdowns were the main factor behind that breakout. But, when you take away the touchdowns, you see that he finished 12th in rushing yards and 17th in yards per carry. He reached the 100-yard marker in five games, but when you take away those fives games, he’s only averaging 43 yards a contest. Despite this, he’s ranked as a fringe RB1 in ESPN fantasy. Are they predicting that he’s going to get close to 19 touchdowns again? Not going to happen. The team drafted A.J. Dillon, who weighed in at the combine at 247 pounds, in the second round and I would expect that he gets a lot of short-yardage work. He’s the same weight as Derrick Henry and might become the heaviest running back in the league. The team obviously has a plan for Dillon by drafting him so early and I think that plan includes a lot of work that used to be Jones’s responsibilities. Jones did have 49 receptions, which is an encouraging sign, but only had 15 of those receptions in the final eight games as Jamaal Williams began to take more of the receiving duties out of the backfield. I like Aaron Jones in between RB 12-17 based on him being the top back on a good running team, but buyer beware if you expect him to replicate last season’s results. 


Daniel Jones 13th

When I saw ESPN having Daniel Jones ranked at 13, I had to do a double-take. I actually think Jones is going to end up being a halfway decent quarterback, but I don’t see him being too valuable in fantasy in his second year. He led the league in fumbles at 18 (11 lost) in just 12 starts and had 19 in his college career. If you add the 12 interceptions he had a season ago, that’s 23 turnovers which was tied for third in the league. He has been working on cutting down on the fumbles, but I think it’s optimistic to believe that he cuts that down to just 6 lost fumbles, which still would have been near the top a season ago. Add that in with a 61.9% completion percentage, good for 25th in the league, and you’re banking on a lot of improvement to finish 13th in fantasy scoring. Also to note, every 300+ yard passing game he had a season ago came against a bottom half passing defense. For the crowd that says, “well his skill players were hurt”, I say you can’t expect his skill players that routinely get hurt to stay healthy consistently. He’ll have to get used to playing without those guys and that hurts his value. I’m a big Saquon guy, and as long as he’s in the lineup then he’ll be the focal point of the offense and the team will run through him. We can still see some improvement in Jones’s games this year, but this wouldn’t make him a starter in fantasy in my eyes. 

Lamar Jackson 1

If you listen to our podcast (which is great by the way, give it a listen), you’ll know I’m a Lamar Jackson skeptic. This time there’s substantial evidence that he’s not going to repeat as the top fantasy quarterback, which makes him slightly overvalued. First off, the last quarterback to finish in the top in back to back years was Drew Brees in 2012-2013. Is it likely that he leads the NFL again in passing touchdowns if he’s not even top 20 in passing attempts or yards? That’s tough to do once, let alone in back to back years. He’s still valuable in fantasy based on rushing yards alone, even though I would expect a decrease in yards as teams get adjusted to the Ravens offense and fewer rushing attempts for Jackson to keep him healthy. Quite simply, there’s never been a quarterback like what Jackson did last season but oddly nobody else is skeptical. There are even some mocks having Jackson go in the first round, but you could get more or at least comparable points from Mahomes, Murray, Watson, or Wilson who you can snag a few rounds later. He’ll still be valuable and still have a good season I don’t want to get that part twisted, but he’s not a ‘must-have’ for your team. Call me a hater, I’ll call myself a realist.


Cortland Sutton 16 PPR/ 12 Non-PPR

Courtland Sutton figures to be a key member in the renaissance of the Broncos offense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a top 16 WR. The Broncos offense is now not entirely reliant on Sutton as Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler all figure to cut into Sutton’s targets. He saw 125 targets a season ago, yet with all of the new weapons in this offense, people apparently think that’ll increase. Not likely to happen. Fant will become a fantasy beast and I think Jeudy and Hamler see at least 160 targets split between them. A season ago Sutton finished 17th in non-PPR leagues (19th in PPR) and that’s with him being the only receiver after Emmanuel Sanders got traded. While he saw an increase in targets with Lock, he saw a 20 yards per game decrease. It could be a coincidence or could be that teams are taking away his deep routes. He ranked ahead of Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, who missed time with injury, and also ahead of Odell Beckam Jr. and A.J. Brown who I both believe will excel past last year’s production. I don’t expect him to do better than those guys again. Sutton could still get around the same production as he did a season ago as he’s a very talented receiver, but that wouldn’t get him into the top 16 receivers in fantasy. 

Adam Thielen 11 PPR/ 10 Non-PPR

I like Thielen to be a nice bounce-back candidate, I don’t like him as a top eleven receiver. As he approaches age 30, it’s tough to envision him as a dependable WR1 that you can count on week in and week out. I think people are really taking the trade of Stefon Diggs and automatically assuming that a lion share of his targets will be going to Thielen. However, looking at how Gary Kubiak’s offense operates, he’s going to try to spread the ball around, particularly to tight ends. I suspect that the team will want to pound the rock and that was shown last year as the Kirk Cousins attempted 162 fewer passes than he did in 2018. Even when he was healthy, Thielen only saw 3.7 receptions a game last season. Also with no Diggs, opposing defenses will be focused on Thielen and he’ll be the one seeing double teams. In 2017 and 2018 without Diggs, Thielen averaged 53 yards a game and 1 total touchdown. It’s only three total games so you have to take that stat with a grain of salt, but it’s still something to look at.  

Dalvin Cook 3 PPR/ 4 Non-PPR

I made this list before Cook announcing that he’s not attending any team activities until he has a new contract. Yea, good luck with that one. Don’t get me wrong, Cook was a stud last season and IF he can replicate that, then yes he’s a top-four running back. However, Cook has yet to play a full 16 game season and if this hold out is true, why would the Vikings overpay for him when they have Alexander Mattison, a promising player, waiting in the wings? In the first eight weeks, Cook averaged 102 yards on the ground and 5.1 yards per rush. In the second half of the season, albeit missing two games, he only averaged 52 yards on the ground and 3.1 yards per rush. As you can probably tell by now, he’s way too much of a risk to be taken as early as he’s projected to go. The best ability is availability! Gary Kubiak’s offense will surely be near the top at rushing attempts so the volume should be there for Cook, assuming he can play most of the season. This still makes him an RB1 on your fantasy, but it’s a risk and one that I wouldn’t be willing to take. 

James White 30 PPR/ 37 Non-PPR

I saw White’s value tied with Brady. You take Brady out of the equation and White becomes a total wild card that you can’t rely on, even ranked in the 30’s. No one knows how the Patriots offense will look and for a running back that’s sole value is catching passes (never had a 500 yard rushing season), I like a more traditional back like Sony Michel over White or any other option on that team. With the lack of Patriots offensive weapons the past two seasons, White has seen 123 and 95 targets in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Now with two rookie tight ends and N’keal Harry and Mohammad Sanu presumably healthy, even assuming that he gets the playing time he has in the past, he won’t see the same amount of targets. A crowded backfield for any team is a turnoff, but one that’s role is undefined now with a new quarterback makes it tough for me to trust. Maybe take a chance on him in a PPR league as your 3rd/4th running back but if you’re in a non-PPR league he’s worth a late-round flier at best. 

Henry Ruggs 50 PPR/ 44 Non-PPR

I’ve written in the past about how I don’t think Ruggs is going to be a viable fantasy option for the upcoming season. Sure, he’s so fast that he can get up to turn the lights off and make it back in bed before it’s dark, but I don’t think the Raiders and Derek Carr will maximize his fantasy potential. Yes, Carr was third in completion percentage on deep throws, but a more telling stat is that Carr finished with the fifth-lowest average completion air yards in 2019 at 4.9 yards. Also to show how the Raiders offense operates, Carr finished second lowest in both QB aggressiveness and average intended yards. The offense relies on quick, high percentage throws and Ruggs will be used in a way that will send him deep to clear more room underneath for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Sure, Ruggs will get some deep catches because he has no much speed and talent, but the targets won’t be there for the most part. Definitely keep your eye on him if he starts seeing a good amount of targets, but I wouldn’t advise drafting him as a top-four receiver. 

Ryan Tannehill 17th

Tannehill turned around his career last season and was rewarded with a new contract that makes him the guy in Tennessee, at least in the short term. So one of the major questions fantasy owners will have this season is, do you buy into the hype or do you go based on what you’ve seen in his career and also the run-first offensive approach the Titans have implemented? He ended up finishing 16th in touchdown passes, but 29th in attempts which gave him a 7.7 touchdown percentage, second in the league. With the team dedicated to feeding Tractorcito aka Derrick Henry, Tannehill’s fantasy value relies on a high touchdown total on a low number of pass attempts. Very similar to Lamar Jackson, but without the running ability. Currently, ESPN has him ranked over Jared Goff, who had double the attempts of Tannehill a season ago and figures to once again have a more attempts once again this upcoming season. Also, looking at Tannehill’s career, you’ll see that he’s only averaged 20 points a game once in his career before last season. It’s just tough for me to buy stock in a quarterback who’s turned around his disappointing career at age 31. Has it happened before? Yes, but not often which is why I’d rather go with a safe, high attempt volume quarterback rather than a guy like Tannehill. 

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