[Washington, DC-based Ezra Troy delivers again with a fantastic tour of the fantasy football landscape. If you are busy with the start of school, Troy gives you the “cheat sheet” for Draft Day success. NFL Films calls it the golden game and we are just a 20-yard out away from Week One play. “It starts with a whistle and ends with a gun.” Game on.]
It is almost football season again; that means it’s also time for fantasy football!
As everyone knows, the most important thing in fantasy is drafting guys in later rounds that will play better than their ADP (average draft position). These players are known as sleepers. Some examples last year were Devonta Freeman and Allen Robinson. The question is who will it be this year?
Tom Brady – Brady’s ADP this year is 62nd, behind other quarterbacks Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. He is going that low only because he is missing the first four games of the season (suspension). He was the number two scoring quarterback last year with 335 points in all 16 games. That was behind only Cam Newton and his superhuman season. He has shown no signs of slowing down in his old age. Even though he is missing the first quarter of the season, you will have a top 3 fantasy quarterback for most of the season and in the time it really matters, the playoffs.
Teddy Bridgewater – Bridgewater is the number 26th QB going, at 170 overall. He is a young player with a lot of potential. He had over 3200 passing yards last season and some solid rushing numbers, but only had 187 points because he threw only 14 touchdowns. His real problem was his lack of a steady number one receiver, but rookie Laquan Treadwell, who some consider the top rookie wide receiver, is sure to fix that problem. Bridgewater will not only pass for more touchdowns, but his rushing numbers (3 tds, 200 yds.) should go up with defenses having to play the pass as well as the run and the new Vikings offensive line, led by top offseason offensive line free agent, Andre Smith.
Matt Jones – With the departure of Alfred Morris, second year running back Matt Jones is thrust into the role of the Redskins’ starting running back. With his ADP at 76.5, he is one of the latest starting running backs being drafted. Last year he had 84 fantasy points on only 144 carries. One of the main reasons for his high production was his great pass catching skills, averaging 16 yards a reception! While he may not be able to repeat this insane performance, he will get more receptions and carries with the departure of Alfred Morris. The one thing he needs is to get the fumbles under control (he had 4 on 144 carries). He is being drafted at a flex/RB2 slot, but if he plays a full season with similar play than he did last year, he could end up being a high end RB2.
Jarvis Landry – “Juice” has an ADP of 43.8 and is the 19th receiver being taken – a low end WR2. He was the 14th best receiver last year with 154 points. By contrast, last year Doug Baldwin, the seventh best receiver and the best not named Brown, Beckham, Hopkins, Jones, Marshall or Robinson, had only 30 points more, but only because he had 14 TD’s as compared to Landry’s four. With 5 more touchdowns, Jarvis would have been the eight best receiver last year, easily a WR1; now he is being drafted as a WR2/FLEX. He should be able to repeat or come close to his previous yardage, especially with the Dolphins having to pass more now that they don’t have a clear number one running back and Jarvis continuing to grow and strengthen his bond with Ryan Tanehill. Landry should also have more than 4 touchdowns, especially with a lack of much of a running game. Even if Landry only has a couple of touchdowns, he should finish the year a top 12 receiver a high end WR2/low end WR1, not the low end WR2/FLEX he is being drafted as.
Kevin White is like a rookie. Injured in training camp last year, he hasn’t played a snap in the NFL, but there was a reason he was picked 7 overall: He was a great college receiver. Granted, no one knows how he will do in the pros, but he should get a lot of targets, considering teams will probably double Alshon Jeffery and the Bears do not have much of a running game. If White is as good as he was made out to be, he should be a top 25 receiver, much higher than the number 38th receiver he is being drafted as.
Jimmy Graham – Graham was a top tight end just two years ago, but with a trade to Seattle and a terrible year that ended in injury last year, Graham is now being drafted at and ADP of 116. While he is still injured and may not be ready for week one, he was still a premiere tight end just two years ago. He will show how he is really a great player and should turn it around this year.
Ladarius Green – At 6-6, 240, Green is one of the biggest and most athletic tight ends in the NFL. He is finally out of Antonio Gates’ shadow in San Diego and is the starting TE for the Steelers and their high powered offense. While he may be the third or fourth option in Pittsburgh, he should get plenty of red zone targets — and consequently touchdowns — resulting in an uptick in scoring. He should finish the year as a top ten tight end and is a great sleeper pick at the TE position.