Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 4

Bears safety Chris Prosinski was just minding his own business, serving as a backup on defense and contributing on special teams. Next thing you know, he’s forced into the game because of injuries and is immortalized on posters for years to come…because Ezekiel Elliott did this to him.

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Aside from the shame that Prosinski has to harbor, in film sessions and highlight shows for years to come, the Cowboys have something special on their hands. Elliott had his coming out party against Chicago on Sunday Night Football last week, rushing for 140 yards and adding 20 more receiving. He was a workhorse down the stretch. Gashing a beat up Bears defense, but running harder on every down. He is currently the league’s 3rd leading rusher, with 2 touchdowns, and should only impress more behind the NFL’s best offensive line.

The Cowboys are also led by another rookie at quarterback, who is making a lot of us wonder how he fell to the 4th round in this year’s draft. Dak Prescott doesn’t have gaudy numbers, yet, but he appears to be looking better by the week. He threw his first career touchdown pass in Week 3, averages 33 attempts per game, and goes up against the 28th ranked pass defense on Sunday (San Francisco). He won’t necessarily carry your team, but a spot start by Prescott doesn’t appear shabby in Week 4 if you need one.

Quick Hits

  • Terrelle Pryor¬†became the first player in NFL history to record over 140 receiving yards, 20 rushing yards, and 30 passing yards all in the same game. He is the Browns’ best source for offense and even played safety, at one point, against the Dolphins in Week 3. You can also tell that Cleveland coach Hue Jackson is scheming specifically to put the ball in Pryor’s hands AND in open space…because why wouldn’t you, when the guy is 6’6, 240 pounds and can run a 4.4 40-second drill.

 

  • Christine Michael¬†looked like he was in a video game in the first quarter against San Francisco in week 3. 9 carries, 71 yards and 2 touchdowns (the first on his first touch for 41 yards). He came back to Earth though, only rushing for 35 on 3.1 yards per carry after that. Michael is the guy many people have waited on, with all the physical tools to be a star in the league. The injuries Thomas Rawls has dealt with have given Michael his 3rd or 4th chance to prove it, as it seems. He has a tough matchup this week against the Jets, a Top-3 rush defense.

 

  • In tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup, your first thought for best fantasy option may be AJ Green, but I lean toward¬†Jarvis Landry.¬†He is commanding 30% of his team’s targets, is lethal in the return game, and is LITERALLY putting up Antonio Brown numbers (even though he went 4 rounds later in your draft). Landry is¬†tied with Brown for the league lead in receptions (24) and has recorded more yards in 3 games (314). He’s even stealing Brown’s touchdown celebrations…

 

Mail Time!

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If Dez Bryant plays, he’ll be doing so with a fractured knee…So, I’ll let you decide on that one.

 

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For PPR’s sake, you’ll for sure want to start Mark Ingram. The Chargers are allowing NINE CATCHES PER GAME to running backs, so far this season. Being without Manti Teo (who is still without his imaginary girlfriend. Sorry too easy), makes the Chargers way more susceptible to the run.

Carlos Hyde may have gone off on the Seahawks, but they didn’t allow Arian Foster or Todd Gurley to go over 51 yards the weeks prior. Travis Benjamin¬†will continue to get is targets and shoot EAT against the Saints secondary.

 

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The Giants have done some impressive things rushing the passer and against the run, but they are THE WORST against the pass through 3 weeks this season. Stefon Diggs should be in for a solid day of receiving yards on Sunday.

Despite facing his toughest matchup of the season, I have to recommend¬†Mike Evans¬†over Emmanuel Sanders because he is 2nd in targets this season to Antonio Brown. Jameis Winston may not play particularly well, but you can count on him at least throwing it Evans’ way.

 

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This one will be quick:

League leader in receiving yards Marvin Jones against the depleted Bears secondary. Then Brandin Cooks, for the real potential of a shootout with San Diego.

 

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You have to play Julio Jones if you have him. Last week was a bit of an enigma with him. Look for Julio to take advantage of a young Panthers secondary that has only faced Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert, and Sam Bradford so far this season and Matt Ryan has all of a sudden shown up as a top quarterback again. I get the temptation for Marvin Jones, but Julio is far more proven and that deal needs to be sweetened much more for me to trade him.

 

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Hey man, I just give advice. I don’t lock your lineup for you.

Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter. 

NFL Week 8 Fantasy Mailbag

What happens when you fire Joe Philbin, play the Titans and Texans in back-to-back weeks, and hand Lamar Miller the ball?

(The “Hard Knocks” Texans seem so long ago don’t they?)

In just two weeks, the Miami Dolphins look like the team their roster suggested they would be before the season even started. Miller had just 37 carries over the first 4 weeks of the season for 131 yards and no touchdowns. He has more than doubled that production in his last 2 games with 288 rush yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries (plus 61 yards and another touchdown receiving). The Dolphins also became the first team since at least 1940 to score 4 touchdowns of 50+ yards in the first half against Texans. Not a shabby start to the head coaching career for Dan Campbell.

The Dolphins head to New England tonight for what could be a shootout with Tom Brady and the Patriots. Don’t slow your roll yet on Miller as the Patriots are allowing 110 yards per game rushing. Now proceed to point and laugh at whoever dropped him in your fantasy league.

Quick Hits

  • The Cardinals running back situation seems pretty clear now with Zombie Chris Johnson ranked second in the league in rushing. Okay he’s more of a “Dawn of the Dead” zombie that runs. Fast…If you took my advice last week, you played Todd Gurley in DFS against the worst run defense in the league. The Browns have allowed more than 1,000 yards rushing on the season (132 more than the Chargers), and Zombie Chris Johnson should eat.

Chris Johnson

  • While the Chargers seem to have nearly given up on running the ball, the biggest benefactor of that trend has been Keenan Allen. Allen now leads the league in receptions with 62. Allen owners know that his point production is a little inconsistent, but he gets 12 targets per game. When Philip Rivers locks in on Allen, oh does he lock in…3 times this season, Allen has recorded 130+ yards and averages 13 catches in those games. His matchup against the Ravens smells like one of those games as Baltimore allows 214 yards and 1.6 to wide receivers each week.

Keenan Allen

  • While the sexiest tight end name in the game is Gronk, Greg Olsen is no slouch either. Olsen has 65+ yards and/or a touchdown in 5 of his 6 games this season. He’s gone for 130+ yards twice this season, and was targeted by Cam Newton 11 times in both of those games. I expect Newton to bounce back from a 3 interception game and to make Olsen a priority in order to do so. Olsen has already accounted for 21% of the targets each week and only trails Gronk for the most plays of 20+ yards this year.

Olsen

Mail Time!

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WR – I really like Jeremy Maclin this week against the Lions in London. Detroit is allowing 206 yards and 1 touchdown per game to wide receivers and Maclin is the only reliable receiver in Kansas City. In 3 of his last 4 games, Maclin averaged 7.5 catches and 106 yards.

RB – The guy I’m not picking of your group is James Starks. Ronnie Hillman¬†is finally getting a majority of the first team reps in practice and THE DUKE¬†is the back to have out of Cleveland. Johnson Jr. is the pass catching back and you have to expect the Browns to be playing from behind against Arizona…which means they’ll be passing. Starks is also banged up, a backup, and going against the best defense in football.

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A very close call. As much as I like Martavis Bryant with Ben Roethlisberger coming back, I like Stefon Diggs more against the Bears secondary. In 3 games played, Diggs has more targets, caches and twice as many yards as Mike Wallace. Go with the clear #1 WR the Vikings has as the Bears will be doing whatever they can to keep Adrian Peterson in check.

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I’m going to let this slide this week, but this^ is too many questions. Try to limit it to 2 going forward. Love ya, Emmet.¬†

Trade: Hard to pick a winner without knowing the needs of each team involved, but I am going with whoever received Tannehill in the deal. Tannehill is trending way up with Philbin off his back, and Eddie Lacy is losing more and more touches to Starks. This weekend will be the most telling on what Lacy is this season with Starks hurting. If Starks gets more work than Lacy again, I feel bad for anyone who picked the former Bama back way too high this year.

Flex 1: The Duke for for the reasons I gave Bucy. Tavon is boom or bust regardless of the matchup as Gurley is now the entire offense and Nick Foles sucks.

Flex 2: Not a great week for Jeremy Hill going against the Steelers. Pacing will probably make Gio Bernard the better option for the Bengals, but at least you know Hill will get touches. He also has the most touchdowns from within the 5 yard line. Moncrief has a bad matchup against the Carolina secondary.

(See, I’ve already answered 3 questions for you and there are 2 left. I’ve got shit to do, homie)

QB: Roethlisberger. Ed Werder of ESPN has him going and so should you with ALL of his scoring options available.

Flex 3: Woodhead

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You’ve got a solid matchup for¬†Delanie Walker¬†this week against the Texans defense. Whether it’s Mariota or Mettenberger under center, he’s their favorite target regardless. Watson has had a nice couple weeks, but Drew Brees has way more options to keep up with a tough Giants receiving corps.

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Larry Donnell isn’t a great option, but at least he’s done something in the last 6 weeks. Jordan Cameron hasn’t recorded more than 30 yards since Week 2. I won’t trust him until I see him do better than that again.

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I think you answered your own question, Donald.¬†Tyler Eifert¬†is a big reason for Andy Dalton’s success this season and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. Eifert has as many red zone targets as AJ Green. Also, look at what Pittsburgh gave up to Gronk and Travis Kelce combined: 19 catches, 259 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 4 Fantasy Mailbag

After 3 weeks into the season, it’s fun to see the rising Fantasy Football stars (and who you should be benching to send a message to your team).

Buffalo Bills backup RB Karlos Williams has scored a rushing touchdown every week so far, 3 total on the season. Starting running backs Jonathan Stewart, Justin Forsett and C.J. Anderson have all combined for 0.0…LeGarrette Blount matched Williams’ TD total in just the 2nd half against the Jaguars last week.

Do I seriously suggest you bench J-Stew, Forsett and Anderson?  If you have better options at running back, what have any of those 3 done to stop you? 

HEY LOOK! 

THE CHIEFS THREW A TOUCHDOWN PASS TO A WIDE RECEIVER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 2013 SEASON!

Maclin Touchdown

Can they make it two weeks in a row? Tune in to find out!

Quick Hits

  • Michael Vick starts tonight for the Pittsburgh, which I am *slow clapping* for because Steelers fans were so against him being on the team in the first place. Vick has a 2-1 record against the Ravens in his career, with 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and averaging 211 pass yards per game. He’s not the scrambler and Madden video game dream that he used to be, but he doesn’t have to be with Antonio Brown capable of catching anything you throw up and Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Both skill players help make Ben Roethlisberger a better quarterback. Vick becomes a decent option if you’re hard pressed at QB…especially with Le’Veon Skywalker doing his thing out there.¬†

(Insert “getting high” joke here)

  • Julio Jones was awarded the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for September, and rightfully so. He leads the league in receiving yards and has recorded the most receptions through 3 games (34) in NFL history. Jones is currently on pace for 181 catches, 2,346 yards and 21 touchdowns…It’s highly unlikely he’s actually record those numbers, but dammit, he’ll try.

Jones has missed some practice this week, but still a must start. He’s earned the rest.

  • Rant Time: If you have used the term “fire sale” regarding the Chicago Bears, STOP IT. If you continue to do so, I’ll be forced to reach through your laptop or mobile screen and slap you. Contrary to recent popular belief, the NFL is not Major League Baseball. Teams can’t eat money to trade away whoever they want to. The team taking a trade must absorb the contract of a player and it must fit within their cap space, unlike baseball where there is no cap. The Bears moved Jared Allen because he was owed bonus money to start the season. Nobody would have taken him if his $11.5 million bonus was actually base salary for the season…Regarding Matt Forte, a team would need $15 million in cap space to take on what’s remaining in his contract. Only the Jaguars, Titans, Raiders and Browns fit that bill and NONE of them are looking to make a playoff push by adding Forte. None of those teams would be willing to trade back resources to match his value either, especially when he is a free agent at year’s end. Stop worrying about that if you have him on your roster. End rant.¬†

Mail Time!

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I love…none of your options. If Derek Carr is out there, go get him. Especially for this week.

If I’m choosing among your options though,¬†Ryan Fitzpatrick¬†is oddly the most trustworthy. Brandon Weeden behind his offensive line and with his weapons has the higher upside against a bad New Orleans pass defense, but I feel better about The Beard in London against a reeling Miami secondary.

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If Davante Adams is out this weekend, Ty Montgomery becomes an excellent play this weekend…and would be by far the best of your options. If he’s still available, I would recommend getting Leonard Hankerson as Roddy White’s usage is quickly becoming non-existent.

For your flex, Ameer Abdullah¬†is your guy…even against the Seattle defense. He’s the Lions best option out of the backfield and will get plenty of work, at least in dump off passes. Ravens new OC Marc Trestman apparently has no idea how to use Forsett, and Melvin Gordon has taken over as the true #1 back in San Diego over Woodhead.

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TY Hilton is healthy enough, and now an even better play against Jacksonville while Donte Moncrief helps stretch defenses more. Then I go with Jarvis Landry over Brandin Cooks, especially if you get return points. Darrelle Revis is dealing with a groin injury and becomes even less of a fear as he’s left slot receivers alone in recent weeks.

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If Arian Foster can go, he’s going going to get plenty of work doing so. Pay attention for the active/inactive list I put out on the Facebook page Sunday for his status. I’ll be making that a weekly tradition going forward…otherwise, go with Ryan Matthews.

Among your wide receivers, I can’t ignore James Jones any longer. He has 4 touchdowns in 3 games, and the Adams injury makes him all the more a priority play.

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Marshawn Lynch drove the country crazy on Sunday with his late entrance into the game against the Bears, and even more so when he left early. If he can go though, you have to start him. That’s why you drafted him. Otherwise, Abdullah is a nice play in the flex.

Among your WRs, Pierre Garcon sticks out going against a Philly defense, that he recorded 11 catches, 138 yards and a touchdown on in one game last year.

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I am going to echo my advice that I gave to Bucy…Start Foster if he’s active. Bill O’Brien is dying to use him. Just keep an eye out for the Facebook Page for the IN/OUT list prior to kickoff. Just have your backup ready to go.

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Gotta go with Derek Carr against the Bears. He’s been slinging it like a younger Rodgers as of late and the matchup is too good not to.

If Andre Ellington can go, start him. If not, then go with his backup….yes, that’s Chris Johnson.

Then Pierre Garcon, for the reasons I listed to Kirk earlier.

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For your long-term question (which I’m sure interests my readers), Yes, Derek Carr is the best option and I have been trying to drive that home since the question asked for this week’s mailbag. He’s the most talented of those options and the combo of Latavius Murray/Amari Cooper makes him even more dangerous.

With your Dolphins WR predicament, in a standard league you can’t put Rishard Matthews in the corner. He’s catching the most passes, despite Landry getting double digit targets each week. While I believe Landry is the better receiver. Matthews is scoring touchdowns, and you should play him until he stops…As noted earlier, Revis is nursing a groin injury. I anticipate Ryan Tannehill testing that plenty in London this weekend.

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Despite my appreciation for his wide receivers, Tannehill has taken a step back in his progress this year and I think it’s going to finally get Joe Philbin fired. If you’re looking for a spot start, roll with Carr against the Bears. If you are looking longterm, I trust Tyrod Taylor to sustain his production as a dual-threat quarterback. He’s proven himself through 3 games and against tough competition.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 2 Fantasy Mailbag

Week 1 is in the books, and we’re off and running!¬†

Tyler Lockett return TD

The return of the NFL to your Sundays, and big return touchdowns from Tyler Lockett (SEA), Jarvis Landry (MIA) and Tavon Austin (STL), had everyone buzzing after the weekend. Top receivers like T.Y. Hilton (IND) and DeSean Jackson (WSH) had Fantasy managers all over the waiver wire for suitable replacements. If you had Peyton Manning, have you already tried handcuffing him in a trade for someone who you feel confident about throwing further than 10 yards?…I did.¬†

Quick Hits 

  • If you haven’t traded Peyton yet, because you couldn’t or you want to hold out hope, picking up Marcus Mariota certainly seemed like the sexy move after his NFL debut with the Titans. Mariota became the first rookie to post a perfect passer rating (158.3) and the second to throw 4 touchdowns in his debut. Fran Tarkenton was the first in 1961, but Mariota accomplished the feat in just the first half…I wouldn’t expect the the same dominance against the likes of Joe Haden and the Browns defense this week, but Super Mariota is worth having on your bench.¬†

  • Hard not to feel good about the offense that takes on that Buccaneers defense after you saw what a rookie quarterback and Bishop Sankey did to them. At home, Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, and maybe even Brandon Coleman will eat the Tampa secondary alive. Mark Ingram owners should also be excited for the matchup after seeing his usage in the passing game last week. CJ Spiller is set to return, but Ingram shouldn’t lose too many snaps after leading all running backs in receiving yards with 98 on 8 catches.¬†
  • It’s scary to think Julio Jones is getting better, right? The Falcons WR, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash on a broken foot in his draft combine, proved Monday Night how essential he is to the new Atlanta offense with 9 catches on 11 targets for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones would have been closer to 200 yards had two of his big plays not been called back on holding calls. Expect another big week out of him against the Giants after they allowed the 2nd most pass yards in their season opener.¬†

Mail Time

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I know Donte Moncrief became a favorite pickup for many after Hilton went down in Week 1, and I get it. Moncrief has all the measurables, the speed, and the quarterback that make him viable as Hilton’s replacement. However, I don’t love him against the Jets and Darrelle Revis. In two games against Revis, Hilton recorded just 4 catches for 60 yards. That doesn’t spark much excitement from me for Moncrief…While the Rams defensive line is indeed terrifying, their secondary allowed the 3rd most catches to wide receivers last week and that bodes well for Washington’s new #1 WR Pierre Garcon. During his string of starts in 2013, Kirk Cousins targeted Garcon an averaged of 12.2 times over 5 games. Moncrief still has to share balls with Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Rashad Jennings made things murkier after throwing his quarterback under the bus, while also losing touches to Andrew Williams and Shane Vereen. I like Tevin Coleman most longterm, as he separated himself as the more reliable back from Devonta Freeman. For¬†Week 2,¬†Garcon¬†is your best option.

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To answer your first question, go¬†Matt Ryan¬†for sure. I know the Bears secondary looks very tempting, but the Giants look even worse with their unit. If the Tony Romo was able to shred them without Dez Bryant, imagine what Ryan will do with both Jones and Roddy White healthy….

Your first option at running back should be Latavius Murray.¬†The Ravens defense got worse against the run losing Terrell Suggs, and Murray was used like an every-down back and useful in PPR catching 7 passes against a better Bengals D….Sankey looked great last week, but when has he proven that he can be consistent on the pro level? CJ Anderson is banged up and Ronnie Hillman certainly emerged as a threat to take touches away. Joique Bell also didn’t do anything to quiet the Ameer Abdullah fan club…Only because the matchup isn’t great for Anderson do I recommend Sankey over him, but it’s very begrudgingly. The Browns may be harshing his mellow very quickly.

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See my previous answer about the latter 2 and just go with TJ Yeldon. The Jaguars offensive line graded out in the Top 3 for run blocking last week and Alfred Morris burned the Dolphins defense for 125 yards.

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One can assume LeGarrette Blount is going to get feature back duties this weekend returning from suspension, but when could you ever assume anything with Bill Belichick running backs? Blount also comes back against a scary Buffalo front 7…Danny Woodhead,¬†on the other hand, took more than half of the Chargers snaps last weekend, scored 2 touchdowns, and was the second most targeted player for Philip Rivers. Rookie Melvin Gordon may get more work in his second start, but I trust Woodhead’s opportunities over Blount’s…especially in the red zone.

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The most reliable player in this scenario is CJ Anderson,¬†and that’s scary. With talks that both Todd Gurley and Tre Mason being ready to go this weekend makes Benny Cunningham a lot less valuable. I would recommend¬†Lockett if you got return points for him, but he still needs to grow in the Seattle passing attack with Doug Baldwin and Jermain Kearse well ahead of him.

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After taking more snaps than Joique Bell and proving he’s a much better home run threat, Ameer Abdullah¬†made a lot of people right about him. He also has a better matchup going against the Vikings than Woodhead does against the Bengals. I would like to see Abdullah pickup where Carlos Hyde left off last Monday Night.

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The one person benefiting from Peyton Manning’s short pass strategy is Emmanuelle Sanders.¬†Especially in PPR, he’s a must play. Second, I trust¬†John Brown¬†against the Bears secondary. Larry Fitzgerald will get most of the attention leaving not much to take on Brown’s speed downfield.

In regards to James Jones, he caught 4 passes and scored 2 touchdowns last week against Alan F’ing Ball (who wanted know part of covering inside the end zone) and a struggling Kyle Fuller. There’s a reason Jones was available for the Packers to pick him up before the season started, and I don’t think his skills are suddenly back to 2012 quality. Rodgers makes him a better player, but Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery are younger…and possibly more viable.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Wide Receivers

As the NFL trends toward more passing and scoring, the receiver position has become more and more valuable. If you play in a PPR league, receivers are as important and some even more than running backs.

There are a handful of WRs who are worth taking before the big producing quarterbacks (Luck & Rodgers), and one who can be as good¬†as any player in the league. Here’s my Top 40 to help you prepare for your upcoming draft.¬†

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

Antonio

2014: 1,698 receiving yards, 129 catches, 15 TDs, 319 return yards

Brown is probably the best offensive weapon in football. Incredible speed, always has the ball thrown his way, and he scores from everywhere on the field. Has also proven it 2 years in a row

Pick: Middle-Late 1st Round

2. Odell Beckham Jr, NYG

ODB

2014: 1,305 receiving yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 171 return

ODB accumulated those numbers playing less games than most starting NFL receivers. Absolute difference maker for fantasy teams and carried some to the playoffs and championship last year.

Pick: Late 1st Round

3. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Damaryius

2014: 1,619 rec yards, 111 catches, 11 TDs

Manning has a year or two left and he’s going to go out guns blazing. Thomas is his go-to guy with both Julius Thomas and Welker gone. Expect him to get the ball early and often.

Pick: 2nd Round

4. Dez Bryant, DAL

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2014: 1,320 rec yards, 88 catches, 16 TDs

Dez is the best in the red zone. Without a designated feature running back, expect Romo to be throwing more than last year and likely throwing to Dez.

Pick 2nd Round

5. Julio Jones, ATL

Julio Jones, Quentin Jammer

2014: 1,593 rec yards, 104 catches, 7 TDs

Julio used to have an annual injury that holds him out for significant time but he held his own pretty well last year. One of the fastest guys on the field, even when injured, and Matt Ryan’s favorite target.

Pick 2nd Round

6. Calvin Johnson, DET

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

2014: 1,077 rec yards, 71 catches, 8 TDs

It’s weird ranking Megatron behind multiple guys, but he is getting older and coming off of an injury plagued season. Healed up, he still has the ability to win games by himself, and I trust him the most on the Lions roster.

Pick: Late 2nd Round

7. AJ Green, CIN

AJ

2014: 1,041 rec yards, 69 catches, 6 TDs

Big reason for Andy Dalton’s drop-off was AJ Green‚Äôs injury last year. Green is back healthy and will be as solid as ever if Cincinnati sets him up with their running game.

Pick: Late 2nd ‚Äď Early 3rd¬†

8. Randall Cobb, GB

Cobb

2014: 1,287 rec yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 112 return

Ridiculous how Cobb and Nelson were able to have such high numbers last season, but that‚Äôs how it works in the Green Bay system. With Nelson down, Cobb jumps up in value, but by how much? That’ll depend on how the next man up performs?

Pick: 2nd-Early 3rd Round

9. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

2014: 1,133 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Alshon has a chance to be a superstar with Brandon Marshall gone. He‚Äôll be expected to play a Demaryius Thomas role in the new Bears system that will be set up by the run. Eddie Royal in the slot will also help get Jeffery open. He’s missed time in the preseason due to injury but is expected to be good to go for Week 1.

Pick: 3rd Round

10. TY Hilton, IND

T.Y. Hilton

2014: 1,345 rec yards, 82 catches, 7 TDs

Colts still added a few more weapons for Andrew Luck, but T.Y.’s still the #1 guy. He‚Äôs always downfield and, if anything, Andre Johnson will help him get more open.

Pick: 3rd Round

11. Mike Evans, TB

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

2014: 1,051 rec yards, 68 catches, 12 TDs

Jameis Winston looks okay so far this preseason and is a much better quarterback than Josh McCown. All Mike Evans needs is someone who can throw the ball down field and he’ll go get it. 

Pick: 4th Round

12. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

Hopkins

2014: 1,210 rec yards, 76 catches, 6 TDs

This will be the guy that jumps up people’s draft boards because of Hard Knocks. This time, I think it will be justified because DeAndre is the best player on that offense not named Arian Foster (who is out because of injury). Brian Hoyer was just named the starting QB, and Hopkins should feel better about his consistency. 

Pick: 4th Round

13. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

2014: 1,404 rec yards, 101 catches, 9 TDs

Sanders went under the radar as one of the most productive WRs last year, and he’s going under the radar here too because of the low expectations for Peyton Manning. Just like Randall Cobb a year ago, Sanders gets open when Thomas gets more attention. Could be a really good WR2.

Pick 4th Round

14. Brandin Cooks, NO

Cooks

2014: 550 rec yards, 53 catches, 3 TDs

Cooks started last season as one of the best rookie WRs in a great class…and then got hurt. If Breesus is going to bounce back after an up-and-down season, Cooks will be the key to that. Best athlete on their team.

Pick 4th or 5th Round

15. Jordan Matthews, PHI

Matthews

2014: 872 rec yards, 67 catches, 8 TDs

Philly is trying to sell people on Matthews being a stud, but the truth is that there is nobody better ahead of him. If Jeremy Maclin’s #1 receiver production a year ago is any indication, the Chip Kelly system may pay off big time for owners.¬†

Pick 5th Round

16. Andre Johnson, IND

Andre

2014: 936 rec yards, 86 catches, 3 TDs

Andre dealt with a really bad quarterback situation in Houston the past few years but also wasn’t getting open in the end zone. With so many weapons demanding coverage for Indy, he will have better opportunities to score. Andrew Luck will see to that.

Pick 6th Round

17. Golden Tate, DET

Golden

2014: 1,331 rec yards, 99 catches, 4 TDs

Based on last year’s production, Tate should ranked higher. A lot of that was thanks to Megatron either being hurt or drawing coverage away from him. I wouldn’t expect the same catch and yardage numbers, but he would make a solid low end WR2/Flex guy.

Pick 6th Round

18. Julian Edelman, NE

Edelman

2014: 972 rec yards, 92 catches, 5 TDs, 299 return

Tom Brady’s favorite receiver will have to step it up if #12 misses any time. Not very consistent but gets a lot of catches for PPR and will pick up those random return yards that make you mad if you sat him. (Personal experience)

Pick 6th or 7th Round

19. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

Brandon Marshall

2014: 721 rec yards, 61 catches, 8 TDs

Brandon Marshall’s starting quarterback just got punched in the face and is out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw. The Jets don’t have any quarterbacks and Marshall isn’t getting any younger either. I would also be worried about his injuries from last season being a sign that he may miss time again. Still has potential to have big TD games, but I wouldn’t depend on him for yardage.

Pick 7th Round

20. Amari Cooper, OAK

Amari

Rookie

Definitely the best of the rookies in this year’s class. Could give you great value if he plays to his potential right away. Fast and has knack for getting to the end zone.

Pick 7th Round

21. Keenan Allen, SD

Keenan

2014: 783 rec yards, 77 catches, 4 TDs

Allen was one of the most targeted players in the league last year but wasn’t making the catches. He settled in later on, but the Chargers seem like a run heavy team going into the season. With Eddie Royal gone, he’ll definitely get more attention from Rivers (Batman-Woo!)

Pick 7th Round

22. DeSean Jackson, WAS

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

2014: 1,169 rec yards, 56 catches, 6 TDs

I don’t like the Washington offense at all. RG-III is a broken player and that makes DeSean a hit or miss player. He’ll have great games because of speed, but then he’ll be invisible because nobody can get him the ball.

Pick 8th Round

23. Sammy Watkins, BUF

Sammy

2014: 982 rec yards, 65 catches, 6 TDs

Sammy is clearly the best receiver in Buffalo, but the bad trio of quarterbacks battling for the starting spot make you worried as to how consistent his production will be. They are going to run a lot and that may open things up for Sammy. WR isn’t a very valuable position on Rex Ryan teams.

Pick 8th Round

24. Jarvis Landry, MIA

Landry

2014: 758 rec yards, 84 catches, 5 TDs, 1,158 return

Landry was an under-the-radar productive rookie last year and I expect him to play even better in his second year. With Wallace gone, he’ll be much more depended on by Tannehill.

Pick 8th Round

25. Davante Adams, GB

Davante

2014: 446 rec yards, 38 catches, 3 TD

Davante just became a lot more valuable with Jordy being lost for the season. Week 1 will be an audition for him to see if he can fill the role opposite Cobb. He had flashes last season but also dropped some important passes. The best bet is to draft him later and take the risk than pass up on Rodgers’s next best WR.

Pick 8th Round

26. Victor Cruz, NYG

Cruz

2014: 337 yards, 23 catches, 1 TD

With two knee surgeries in as many years and currently a calf injury that is keeping out of the Giants’ 3rd preseason game, Victor Cruz seems like a liability going into the 2015 season. Cruz is confident he’ll be good to go in Week 1 and could put up his old production with defenses paying more attention to Beckham.¬†

Pick 8th Round

27. Eric Decker, NYJ

Decker

2014: 962 rec yards, 74 catches, 5 TDs

Oddly, I trust Eric Decker more than I do Brandon Marshall in New York. You can see Marshall getting double-teamed and opening things up over the middle and deep for Decker, which is something that works better for Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback…Marshall is going to hate Fitzpatrick.

Pick: 8th Round

28. Jeremy Maclin, KC

Maclin

2014: 1,318 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Maclin was one of the best receivers in the league last year. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is his quarterback now. Kansas City WRs didn’t catch a TD pass until the backend of the season. Maclin may improve those numbers reuniting with Andy Reid, so he could be steal here.

Pick 8th Round

29. Roddy White, ATL

Roddy

2014: 921 rec yards, 80 catches, 7 TDs

Roddy is a pass catching machine and sometimes gets to the end zone. His issue in recent years is staying healthy, but should benefit from Julio getting most of the attention.

Pick 9th Round

30. Mike Wallace, MIN

Wallace

2014: 862 rec yards, 67 catches, 10 TD

Wallace is very good at finding the end zone and is the most proven among the Vikings receivers. As Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as an NFL quarterback, I would trust Wallace the most in the group.

Pick 9th Round

31. Steve Smith Sr., BAL

Smith Sr.

2014: 1,065 rec yards, 79 catches, 6 TD

I expect Steve Smith to go way too early in drafts because he’s a name people know. It’s his last season, so he’s going to try to ball out, but that’s only going to work if Joe Flacco can get him the ball. The WR group in Baltimore is pretty thin so if Flacco is playing well, so will Smith Sr.

Pick 9th round

32. Anquan Boldin, SF

Boldin

2014: 1,062 rec yards, 83 catches, 5 TDs

Boldin is a badass and he has good chemistry with Kaepernick. You can expect, the Niners to play a lot of catchup this season because their defense is so depleted, which means Boldin will be getting a lot of targets.

Pick 9th Round

33. John Brown, AZ

NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

2014: 696 rec yards, 48 catches, 5 TDs

Among the Cardinals receivers, John Brown is the Home Run player for Carson Palmer to throw to downfield. May be boom or bust if Michael Floyd returns and stays healthy. Theoretically can be open a lot if Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd draw most of the coverage. 

Pick 10th Round

34. Vincent Jackson, TB

VJax

2014: 1002 rec yards, 70 catches, 2 TDs

I always feel like VJax would be a better player on a different team, but he makes due with the quarterbacks throwing to him. If Jameis Winston is able to read defenses quickly, VJax will benefit from it. Mike Evans will be the first option, but the floor isn’t very low on VJax either.

Pick 10th Round

35. Allen Robinson, JAX

ARob

2014: 548 rec yards, 48 catches, 2 TDs

It’s easier to trust Jacksonville RBs than their WRs, but Allen Robinson can be a stud. His problem is staying healthy, as he broke his foot last year after heating up. Blake Bortles can sling it though, so keep an eye on A-Rob late.

Pick 10th Round

36. Eddie Royal, CHI

Royal

2014: 778 rec yards, 62 catches, 7 TDs

I think Eddie Royal is going to surprise a lot of people this year with the Bears. He’s reunited with Jay Cutler, and both players had their best statistical seasons playing together. Royal provides something Cutler hasn’t had in years, which is a true slot receiver. So as Alshon Jeffery is getting covered deep and Martellus Bennett is drawing attention, Royal will be open in the middle.

Pick 10th Round

37. Kendall Wright, TEN

Wright

2014: 715 rec yards, 57 catches, 6 TDs

Kendall Wright has been inconsistent for a long time, and part of that is thanks to bad quarterbacks being in Tennessee. Early reviews though, are that he’s playing well in practice with Marcus Mariota and that’s encouraging. If Mariota transitions well, he should be able to extend plays with his feet and that helps Wright downfield a lot.

Pick 11th Round

38. Stevie Johnson, SD

Stevie

2014: 435 rec yards, 35 catches, 3 TD

Stevie was in a bad situation with San Francisco, as that offense turned out to be a mess. In San Diego, he’ll be depended on a lot more especially with Antonio Gates out for the first 4 weeks. Coaches say that he can average 7+ catches, which could make him a steal this far back.

Pick 11th Round or later

39. Nelson Agholor, PHI

Algohor

Rookie

Agholor is expected to do big things for the Eagles as they selected him in the first round. He’s now taking 1st team reps, and should be a starter Week 1. If Chip Kelly’s weird offense works, Agholor could be big if Jordan Matthews is getting the attention most people expect him to.

Pick 11th round or later

40. Michael Floyd, AZ

Floyd

2014: 841 rec yards, 47 catches, 6 TD

Floyd is returning from a dislocated finger injury but is on track to be ready for Week 1. If he can stay on the field, Floyd can do big things as John Brown takes the top off opposing defenses. Potential steal late in your draft. 

Draft 11th Round or later. 

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter! 

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet

Can I Draft My Fantasy Football Team Yet?

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game Week is the MOST boring period in the sports calendar year. If you can think of another one, I’d be happy to hear it (while I mute Chris Berman on my TV)…

Rather than mope and complain further about a silly game that, for some reason, decides home field advantage in the World Series, I’m going to do something healthier…like look ahead to September 10th when the 2015 NFL season starts (coincidentally, my birthday).

Kelce Ric Flair

Going into my 10th year as a Fantasy commissioner, I may be looking forward to this upcoming season more than most. The wide receiver pool is incredibly deep, running backs are as unpredictable as ever, and Peyton Manning isn’t the end-all, be-all anymore (but is Aaron Rodgers?). More importantly, I’m hungry. My team rebounded from an 0-6 start and went all the way to the championship…and I want my 4th Fantasy Title.

If you were following this site during the Fall last year, then you know that EVERY THURSDAY was Fantasy Mailbag Day. Each week, we recapped the highlights from the previous weekend, looked at trends and match-ups, and answered all your questions from Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to everyone’s participation last year, we’re going to do it again starting in August!

As we get closer to kickoff in September, I’ll release my personal rankings for each position (There are spread sheets, dude. SPREAD. SHEETS.). As for now, I have thoughts and question on my mind that need unloading or else the small part of my brain that stores these things will explode. If you also have thoughts and questions, I’d love to hear them.

Rivers hates his helmet

DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy

The two marquee NFC East rival running backs of yesteryear will be suiting up in new uniforms this coming Fall.¬†DeMarco Murray¬†answered questions that he could actually stay healthy for an entire season, earned Offensive Player of the Year honors by picking up 2,261 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns all on the ground. The Dallas¬†Cowboys¬†awarded him by letting him walk in free agency…to the arch rival¬†Philadelphia Eagles.¬†Murray had nearly 400 attempts rushing last season and with a mess at the Eagles’ quarterback position, he shouldn’t expect the carries to be cutdown too much. Murray is backed up by Darren Sproles and fellow addition Ryan Matthews, but he should still be getting the rock plenty of times…especially in the red zone.

LeSean McCoy¬†was the league’s leading rusher a year before Murray, still ran for over 1,300 yards, but only scored 5 touchdowns. With an opportunity to upgrade the defense adding¬†Kiko Alonso (and maybe some intel on what would would happen with Murray),¬†Chip Kelly¬†traded McCoy to the¬†Buffalo Bills.¬†Weird accusations from McCoy aside, he may be in a more interesting spot than people realize. New Bills coach¬†Rex Ryan¬†added former¬†Niners¬†offensive coordinator¬†Greg Roman¬†to his staff. If you want to project McCoy’s 2015 season, I recommend looking at how Roman used¬†Frank Gore¬†and the other 49er running backs. McCoy averaged 313 carries the past two seasons while Gore averaged 267 over the last four seasons. The cut in workload could keep McCoy fresher, but so should the depth that includes¬†Fred Jackson¬†and rookie¬†Karlos Williams.¬†The ageless Jackson is used to splitting touches and compliments McCoy well. Williams makes a better change-of-pace back than anything in the crowded backfield.

Breakout Running Backs

The running back position saw a lot of action on last season’s fantasy waiver wire and free agency. ¬†If you did your due diligence though, you made plays on Justin Forsett, CJ Anderson, Jeremy Hill and Lamar Miller that paid off well.

  • On his 5th team and at the age of 29, Forsett had his first full-season workload and led all running backs in yards per carry (5.4). He ranked 5th in rush yards (1,266), and scored 8 touchdowns total. Forsett gained 263 yards on 44 receptions, but that could increase significantly with former¬†Bears head coach Marc Trestman¬†calling plays.¬†Matt Forte¬†broke the record for receptions by a running back last season with 102, and former¬†Raiders¬†running back Charlie Garner¬†caught 91 passes in 2002 with Trestman as OC.
  • Anderson came on late in the season but was on the radar as the¬†Broncos dealt with injuries to Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball.¬†Starting the last 7 games of the season while Manning was clearly not 100%, Anderson averaged 167 yards from scrimmage per game and scored 10 touchdowns. Assuming he’s earned the starting running back spot after being named to the Pro Bowl, Anderson should benefit more from new head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone running schemes that made Forsett and Arian Foster into Pro Bowlers as well.
  • Like Anderson, Hill saw his carries increase in the second half of the season as he leap frogged Giovani Bernard for playing time following an injury. Hill scored 3 touchdowns through 5 games with limited carries to start the season but then really racked up the yards from Week 8 on, averaging 103 yards per game.¬†Bengals¬†OC¬†Hue Jackson¬†intends on having Hill be the starter again and anticipates he and Bernard becoming a great 1-2 punch.
  • I was happy to see Miller have the season he did in 2014. He set out to be like LeSean McCoy after training with him and preparing for a Chip Kelly-like offense, took over for¬†Knowshon Moreno¬†after Week 2, and never looked back. Miller was Top 10 in both total rush yards and rushing touchdowns for the season, had the longest run of the season at 97 yards, and capped the season off with 170+ yard rushing performance. There isn’t any real threat to take carries from Miller this year other than 5th round draft pick Jay Ajayi from Boise State.

Lamar Miller TD

Any Sophomore Slumps for Receivers?

In 2014, rookie wide receivers were all the rage. 3 rookies recorded 1,000+ yards, Odell Beckham Jr. (1,305), Mike Evans (1,051), and Kelvin Benjamin (1,008). Sammy Watkins was close with 982 yards on 65 catches. Both Beckham and Evans caught 12 touchdown passes, while Benjamin recorded 9 and Martavis Bryant had 8. Also challenging Beckham for the 93 receptions he had in 11 games was Jarvis Landry with 84 for 758 yards.

All six receivers have potential to be stars in 2015, adding excellent depth to a fantasy draft board full of point producing wide receivers. Beckham’s production down the stretch last season may even warrant a first round pick in leagues with more teams. Evans will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him who is, at the very least, better than¬†Josh McCown.¬†Benjamin is still the best target for the¬†Panthers¬†and newly paid Cam Newton,¬†with tight end Greg Olson drawing some coverage away. Another year playing alongside¬†Antonio Brown¬†will help Bryant improve (Ben Roethlisberger¬†can’t throw EVERY pass to Brown, right?), and Landry will benefit from¬†Ryan Tannehill¬†just getting better every year.

Unfortunately, hopes aren’t so high for Watkins as the starting quarterback position is a battle between¬†Matt Cassel and¬†EJ Manuel (yeesh). If Watkins can stay healthy and the run-oriented system softens opposing secondaries, he may have a chance to improve on his numbers from last year…I just wouldn’t bank on it.

Sammy Watikins tackeld

I could go on all day with Fantasy Football thoughts, but I’d like to hear from you. Feel free to comment or Tweet @Mike_PiFF03. And keep a look out for position previews in the upcoming weeks!¬†