Fantasy High 5 is a Gridiron Experts featured article in which our team of writers offer insight into five buzzing fantasy football questions.
Antonio Brown seems to have little to no fantasy value this year, what are your expectations?
I think Antonio Brown has great value for fantasy this year. He comes in as the number one receiver, and still has a good quarterback chucking the ball to him in Big Ben. Brown does have some sort of issue with getting into the end zone, but can make up for that with yards after the catch and volume of receptions. Getting a number one receiver for a team with a good quarterback, in the middle rounds of redraft leagues is a complete steal in my opinion.
Brown’s current ADP has him in the sixth round, as the 25th receiver being selected. That seems like an excellent value for a guy that is slotted to be the number one guy on a fairly good offense with a good fantasy quarterback. Brown hasn’t been much of a touchdown producer, but he has improved in that category in each of his three seasons, including five last year in 13 starts. It’s unknown if he’ll retain his kick return duties now that he’s a number one receiver, but if he does that may add to his value in leagues that award return yardage. It’s not unrealistic to expect him to exceed 1100 yards and 7 scores this year, making him a excellent value.
I had Brown in a few leagues last year and to be honest he was a frustrating fantasy option. I have a hard time seeing fantasy owners who had him last year re-investing in the streaky Steeler. That being said, his fantasy value this season makes for a good late round investment.
Who is one fantasy player that people are going crazy over that you are scratching your head at?
I can understand the hype surrounding Lamar Miller after the departure of Reggie Bush, but I’m not as easily attracted to the situation. The Dolphins have a good young offensive core with Ryan Tannehill, Miller, and Mike Wallace. However, Miller just lost his best offensive lineman in left tackle Jake Long, now on the Rams and Miami spent a fifth round draft pick on former Florida running back Mike Gillislee, who is gaining steam in the rumor mills. I like Miller and think he has the potential to be a low-end RB2, but I’m not as headstrong about him as a lot of other people.
People might not exactly be going “crazy” for him, but I think Eddie Lacy will not put up great numbers in Green Bay. The Packers’ backfield has been inconsistent and unpredictable since the days of Ryan Grant being the clear RB1. This is a passing team and its primary goal line “RB” is John Kuhn, a FB. I just don’t see things changing this year. Keep in mind that DeJuan Harris is still in the mix and the Packers drafted Jonathan Franklin in round four. I love the skills Lacy brings, but Green Bay has been something of a fantasy RB graveyard in recent years. If the price is right, draft him, but don’t expect him to be a starting fantasy RB this season. He’s a good player to stash on your bench, then you can wait and see what happens. He is a good gamble in dynasty leagues.
Rob Gronkowski is my choice here. He is an amazing tight end in an excellent system, but for the pick I have to give up to get him I am going elsewhere. This guy is constantly out drinking while guys like Tony Gonzalez are dieting and hitting the weight room. Gronk is now going in for his fifth arm surgery with a possible 5th and then there is talk off back surgery as well. I know that most people think he is coming back by week 2 at the latest, but look what happened when he came back last year. I just don’t understand the risk for Gronkowski when there are guys like Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham right at the top with him.
There is some premium QB value in the late rounds this year. Who’s your late round trusted gunslinger?
Quarterbacks are as deep I have ever seen them, coming into this season. There are just too many solid options late in drafts for me to single out one. With young guys like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson emerging, it has pushed established, productive veterans like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger down and sometimes to the bottom of drafts. Picking a couple of these veterans in the later rounds and playing the match-ups throughout the season could really pay off. Taking them in later rounds will allow you to load up on other positions early.
Matt Schaub is one of the most underrated fantasy quarterbacks in the game. He’s coming off the third 4,000 yard passing season of his career. What doesn’t attract fantasy owners to Schaub is his touchdown totals. His career high for touchdown passes in a season is 29, not bad, but not elite either. If Schaub, Arian Foster, and Johnson can stay healthy I expect another solid under the radar season from the Texans’ quarterback.
I like two guys here. Tony Romo and Andrew Luck. Romo is consistently in the top 10 for quarterbacks, but he gets poked at because he doesn’t get the wins when his team needs them. You are a fantasy football owner, not an NFL owner. Look at Romo’s numbers. They are well worth a late round pick. Andrew Luck proved that he will be the Colt’s QB for a long time coming. Only 6 QB’s had more passing yards than him in 2012. There will be changes to the offense in 2013 with Hamilton taking over the coordinator duties. Hamilton was with Luck at Stanford in 2011 and even though he like to use a power running technique, Hamilton leaves plenty of room for the passing game. Again, worth a late round pick.
Depends on how you define “late round.” I can’t say that I trust Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Schaub. Which means my late (5th or 6th) round target would be Russell Wilson. A lot of people are expecting him to have a sophomore slump, but I don’t see how. Seattle went out and added the most versatile offensive weapon in the NFL, in Percy Harvin. Wilson goes from a preseason seeing 1/3 of the snaps in practice to a preseason where he’s the featured quarterback. He’s blessed with one of the league’s top running backs. He’s exceptional on the run and in the pocket. The skies are the limit for this kid. Wilson gets better with every snap. Grabbing this guy in the sixth would be an absolute steal.
There are 14 good to great potential starting quarterbacks this season. In a typical 12 team draft, that should reach well into the middle rounds before that group is exhausted. If the draft falls your way and you have built up superb running backs and wide receivers, I’d have no problem waiting on Tony Romo, Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger until round eight or later.
How early are you drafting a Fantasy rookie, who and when?
I have been hyping DeAndre Hopkins since before the draft and i will continue to do so. I will be looking to take him in the middle rounds as a WR3-4. I see Hopkins immediately stepping into the number two role that the Texans have needed for years. As long as Matt Schaub stays healthy, we should see some respectable numbers from Hopkins.
The first rookie I would take this season as of right now is probably Le’Veon Bell with Montee Ball and Tavon Austin close behind. Bell is a perfect fit for the Steelers’ offense and has as much opportunity as a rookie could ask for. I’d take a chance on Bell in the fourth round, maybe fifth and probably even earlier in PPR scoring leagues.
I would take Montee Ball as an RB3 as early as round 5. It may be a little high, but he is already getting high reviews from the team. John Elway says he even looks like Terrell Davis. It seems like Denver has a new franchise RB and Ball should not have issues taking over the starting role from the injury tandem of Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.
Tavon Austin is tempting to try and pick up as a flex. Who knows if he will be as explosive in the NFL, but with no clear standout RB stud this season I think the speedy and versatile Austin is worth the rookie risk. In bigger leagues he seems to go as a late WR2, so you might need to take a risk and bypass some proven talent to get him.
It’s no secret, I’m all in on Tavon Austin. Depending on the circumstance, I would probably target him in the sixth, possibly seventh round, as my WR3. If St. Louis can showcase his versatility and keep defenses guessing, I expect big things from Austin. If Tavon falls off the board, both Eddie Lacy and DeAndre Hopkins intrigue me as well. I would take Lacy as an RB3 and consider taking DeAndre Hopkins as early as Round 9 for one of my backup WRs.
Currently the top ranked rookie runner is Pittsburgh’s Le’Von Bell, who has the clearest path to a starting role. Steelers running backs have long been desirable fantasy contributors, so when it’s clear that he will be featured and get goal line carries, he should be taken in the fourth round as a top 25 running back.
Which would you rather have a WR1 from a sub par team or a 3rd option on the Packers or Broncos?
It really depends on the team. I personally look to target receivers with two things. The first being a good quarterback and offensive line. The second being the offensive scheme of the team the receivers play for. The Packers, Broncos and Patriots are all pass first teams. Give me the 3rd option on one of those teams over a guys like Cecil Shorts with the Jaguars, or any of the St. Louis Rams receivers.
I definitely agree with Zhan on this one, specifically with the Broncos. I’d take Wes Welker especially over any of the top receivers on the Jets, Jaguars, Rams, Raiders, and Vikings to name a few.
I would certainly take Wes Welker over a lot of WR1s on subpar teams, but I’d be hesitant to do the same with the Packers third option. Aaron Rodgers seems to pick a favorite or two each year. Last year it was Randall Cobb and James Jones. The year before it was Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings. That third guy always seems to get the shaft. I’d rather have Tavon Austin or Cecil Shorts personally. Calvin Johnson (4-12) and Vincent Jackson (7-9) were pretty good options on subpar teams as well.
Generally, an NFL squad’s third wide receivers are too inconsistent to be considered fantasy starters. There are exceptions, like the Packers and Broncos, but for the most part, relying on a number one guy is a slightly safer play than trying to predict which weeks you can gamble on a third option