Veteran Values: Julian Edelman

Mike Wallace, Staff Writer

Every year going into fantasy football drafts people are excited about the incoming rookies or other young players getting a chance in a larger role. Fantasy football buffs are excited by upside and seek the thrill of chasing the unknown that could help win a fantasy league…if they beat the odds and pan out. Yet every year proven veteran performers drop a few rounds lower than they should. This series will highlight the veterans I expect to outperform their draft position and provide great value.

Edelman is the Perfect Mid-Round Target

The New England passing offense is going to run through Gronk and Julian Edelman in 2018. Edelman just turned 32 and that scares people, those fears currently have Edelman going in the 5th round as the 24th WR off the board in PPR leagues. If you are telling me I can fill my starting RB and WR spots and then add Edelman as flex, sign me up every time. Since 2013 Edelman has averaged 9.7 targets per game played and has a target share of 25.5% in the games he played. In that time his worst numbers for a season were 9.4 targets a game and a 23.4% target share.  Jordan Matthews is not going to be a target monster in 2018, making him little threat to take Edelman’s role in the slot, there is no reason to doubt his role in the offense.

The Volume is Finally There for Edelman

It is also easy to see where the targets will come from. In 2018 Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola were targets 114 and 86 times respectively. That is 200 WR targets that need to be replaced and Edelman is the most obvious candidate for the majority of these. Cooks had a catch rate of 57% on those targets, for his career Edelman is at 66.3%. Cooks is a player that will make big plays and have a higher yards per catch, but the numbers show that Tom Brady trusts Edelman. Having the trust of one of greatest QBs of all time and a superior catch rate adds to Edelman’s value in PPR leagues. If the fantasy community does not wake up and his ADP stays where it is I will happily draft him on plenty on any of my teams.

There are some that will be concerned about Edelman returning from tearing his ACL. However a player recovering from this injury and getting back to what they were before has become much more certain over the years. The tear happened before the season so by the time the first game starts it will have been a full season since the injury. The Patriots not retaining Amendola and trading away Cooks shows the confidence they have in Edelman for 2018. If Bill Belichick believes relying on Edelman is the right choice, who are we to doubt him?

2018 Dynasty Quarterback Rankings

Matt Hicks, Staff Writer

This season, I will be heading up dynasty rankings for Top2; I will update these again as major events occur, as we get to the preseason, and weekly during the season. For now, you can interpret tiers as benchmarks for differentiating a player’s value; and assume that anyone within a single tier can move to any rank within that tier; based on preference. I have included a chart with my full rankings, along with the thoughts of experts at Fantasy Pros (to show the opinion of fellow industry writers/podcasters) and with current ADP (to show the thoughts of players and readers on a much more broad level. I then breakdown each of my top 32 quarterbacks for this season with full explanations of their upsides/risks.

You can see all my dynasty rankings HERE

I’m always up to discuss rankings-whether you agree or not; message me on Twitter and let’s talk!

Quarterback Team Dynasty Rank Tier Fantasy Pros Rank FFC ADP (As of 5.21)
Cam Newton CAR 1 1 5 7
Aaron Rodgers GB 2 1 1 2
Kirk Cousins MIN 3 2 8 10
Russell Wilson SEA 4 2 2 4
Deshaun Watson HOU 5 2 4 1
Carson Wentz PHI 6 2 6 3
Matthew Stafford DET 7 3 9 12
Dak Prescott DAL 8 3 17 15
Tom Brady NE 9 3 3 9
Andrew Luck IND 10 3 14 8
Matt Ryan ATL 11 3 16 19
Drew Brees NO 12 3 7 14
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 13 4 22 17
Case Keenum DEN 14 4 24 28
Pat Mahommes KC 15 4 14 13
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 16 4 11 6
Blake Bortles JAX 17 4 23 25
Jared Goff LAR 18 4 9 5
Derek Carr OAK 19 5 21 23
Jameis Winston TB 20 5 15 20
Marcus Mariota TEN 21 5 19 11
Philip Rivers LAC 22 6 12 16
Eli Manning NYG 23 6 26 25
Alex Smith WAS 24 6 20 26
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 25 6 10 25
Josh Rosen ARI 26 7 37 25
Tyrod Taylor CLE 27 7 27 22
Lamar Jackson BAL 28 7 33 21
Andy Dalton CIN 29 7 25 25
Ryan Tannenhill MIA 30 7 28 25
Josh Allen BUF 31 7 34 18
Baker Mayfield CLE 32 7 36 24

*ADP gathered from Draft Calculator

Tier 1 Quarterbacks

  1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

I’m a huge proponent of the rushing quarterback, and that’s what makes Cam my top dynasty quarterback. Newton is an explosive rushing quarterback; rushing for 4,323 yards and 54 touchdowns in his career on top of his 25,074 passing yards and 158 touchdowns. Newton finished as the QB2 in fantasy last season, and that was after he tanked the first three weeks (about 33 fantasy points, depending on format) coming back from injury. Since that QB2 finish his roster has improved greatly; Newton now has a legitimate WR1 option in D.J. Moore, he has a healthy Greg Olsen back, and C.J. Anderson will help round out the run game. Compared to his ranking and ADP, I’m clearly hot on Cam Newton but I’m taking him off the board first each and every time this off season.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

From 2014-2016 Rodgers finished as QB1 twice (he finished as QB7 in 2015. Rodgers was set to hit that mark again in 2017, starting off the season 1,675 passing yards and 16 touchdowns through 5 games. At that pace, he was set to challenge his career records of 45 passing touchdowns and 4,637 passing yards. Rodgers comes back from his injury completely healed and with a slew of receiving options. He’s coming back to an improved Davante Adams, the best tight end he’s had since Jermichael Finley (Jimmy Graham), and 3 rookies with high upside. At 34 years old, Rodgers is still young enough to avoid losing value in dynasty formats; he’s your safest bet at quarterback.

Tier 2 Quarterbacks

3. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

In his three seasons as a starter, Cousins has finished as QB6, QB5, and QB8 in fantasy. He’s thrown for 81 touchdowns and just 36 interceptions, maintaining a  QB Rating of at least 93.85 in each of those seasons. Yet, he’s disrespected in both rankings and ADP even after transitioning to Minnesota where his offense weapons and scheme get markedly better. Cousins best target is Washington was an injury riddled Jordan Reed (who saw no playing time in 2017) and Jamison Crowder, who finished as WR33 in fantasy last season. Now Cousins will have Thielen (WR8 in 2017), Diggs (WR 19 in 2017), and Rudolph (TE8 in 2017) at his disposal. Cousins will also have the explosive Dalvin Cook as both a passing target and a viable means of taking pressure off the pass game. Don’t sleep on Kirk Cousins; he’s one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL leading one of the most stacked offenses in the NFL.

4.Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

I have to start this by mentioning that it hurts me to put Wilson in Tier 2, because he’s a fantastic player; but he’s fallen into a terrible situation for fantasy. Wilson is coming off a season where he threw for 3,981 yards and 34 touchdowns while rushing for 586 yards and 3 touchdowns; he finished as the fantasy QB1. Wilson has a reputation for making a lot out of nothing, but Seattle has given him even more nothing than they usually do. The Seahawks lost both Richardson and Graham to free agency, leaving Baldwin, Lockett, and Darboh and the only targets for Wilson. They burned their first round pick on Rashaad Penny, who posses neither the ability to draw defenders into the box or the ability to pass protect. Seattle did nothing to improve their deplorable offensive line through free agency or the draft. I want to like Russel Wilson but Seattle is making it too hard.

5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Watson shocked the fantasy world in 2017, throwing for 19 touchdowns, 1,699 yards and posting a 102.96 quarterback rating through Week 7. He also ran for 269 yards and 7 touchdowns; displaying the type of dual threat capability that gets you to the top of my ranking board. He showed the potential to be a perennial top 3 fantasy quarterback before tearing his ACL. Watson now comes with serious red flags: will he still be the mobile, flashy quarterback that he was last year post ACL surgery and did we see the real Watson, or just a flash in the pan? I’m willing to bet on Watson’s upside, but I don’t blame you if you don’t.

6. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz is one of the tougher quarterbacks to rank. His 2017 season was both phenomenal and in complete contrast with his rookie season. In 2017, Wentz threw for 3,296 yards and threw for 33 touchdowns, with just 11 interceptions. That was good enough for him to finish as QB5 in fantasy, despite not playing the last 3 weeks of the season due to his ACL injury. In 2016, however, Wentz struggled; posting a 79.25 QB rating which is perhaps best reflected in his TD:INT ration of 16:14. Wentz is likely to miss at least a couple weeks of the 2018 regular season (although reports suggest he could be ready, I’m skeptical) and I think he gets molded into a pure pocket passer following the injury, limiting his fantasy upside. Still, once he returns, he will be leading a dangerous offense with Ertz, Godert, Jeffery, and Agholor as his top weapons.

Tier 3 Quarterbacks

7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Stafford is the most underrated fantasy player every single year; and according to early ADP numbers, 2018 will be no different. Since becoming the starting quarterback of the Lions, Stafford has finished as a top 9 fantasy quarterback 6 out of 7 seasons. He’s thrown for at least 4,262 yards in all 7 of those seasons, and eclipsed 5,000 yards once. He’s averaged 28 touchdowns a season since becoming a starter and has posted a QB Rating of at least 93.32 in each of the past three seasons. Now Stafford has a legitimate running game that can open up passing lanes and allow him to lead an offense into the red zone consistently. With the addition of Blount and Kerryon Johnson, it is officially time to stop doubting Stafford.

8. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

In his two seasons in the NFL, Dak has finished as QB11 and QB6 in fantasy; with very little difference separating those seasons beyond and additional 9 interceptions in 2017. The relative drop in production for Dak came primarily from offensive line injuries in Dallas and the inability to carry the team during Zeke’s suspension. With both of those needs addressed, Dak is poised to return to the form of the quarterback who has thrown for 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns in each of his two NFL seasons and has 12 career rushing touchdowns, along with 639 rushing yards.

9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady may be ageing but if you look at the stats you’d never know. In 2017, he posted his third season in a row with a quarterback rating of over 102, and threw for 4,577 yards (the 6th time he’s thrown for at least 4,109 yards in the last 7 seasons). Brady threw more touchdowns in 2017 (32) than he’s thrown interceptions in the last 4 seasons combined (25). He’s not slowing down, but he’s also not playing forever; I give him at least two more seasons; with the possibility of a third but he’s not suiting up in 2021.

10. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

In his 4 full seasons, Luck has posted at least 276 fantasy points; and in 2016 he was QB 4 after throwing for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns. Still, we are left in a cloud of mystery as to why Luck hasn’t thrown a ball after a 2016 surgery which was supposed to be minor, and have him ready to play well ahead of the 2017 season. If Luck picked up a ball today and threw just one pass, he’s my QB7; but the longer it takes him to do that the further he slides down my rankings, and the further he crushes the hearts of Colts fans everywhere.

11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Speaking of fantastic 2016 seasons, Matt Ryan presents another tough player to rank. Ryan’s 2016 led to him finishing as QB2 in fantasy after passing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. Ryan then plummeted to QB15 in 2017; almost strictly because his touchdowns dropped to 20. Ryan, however, has thrown for at least 28 touchdowns in 6 of his last 8 seasons, and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in his last 7 seasons. The drop in production comes almost certainly from Steve Sarkisian; who appears to be on a John Fox-like mission to waste fantasy value. Sarkisian, however, is already on the hot seat in Atlanta and will either need to feed the passing game, or packs his bags and head back to Tuscaloosa.

12. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Brees is one of the all-time best pure passing quarterbacks, but it seems New Orleans is not longer interested in have a pure passing offense. After throwing for at least 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns in each of the last 6 seasons, Brees threw for just 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2017. It stemmed from an intentional decision from Sean Payton to emphasize Kamara and Ingram and it moved Brees from QB3 in 2016 to QB9 in 2017. As Brees continues to age (39) the Saints may continue to limit his workload and rely on other key play makers. The emphasis on rushing and defense showed up big in the draft too; when the Saints moved up for Marcus Davenport they told the NFL they don’t need Brees to carry the team any longer. Brees will still be at the helm, and make for a great redraft option, but his best seasons and behind him, and his dynasty value will regrees along with his opportunity to contribute in New Orleans.

Tier 4 Quarterbacks

13. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Trubisky had flashes of greatness last season in a putrid Bears offense; including 5 games (out of 12 starts) with a QB Rating above 94. Trubisky has gotten the most help of any quarterback this off season, with the bears adding: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton. Trubisky also benefits from the Bears swapping head coaches from old school, run based John Fox to the dynamic Matt Nagy; who most recently led a revamped and recharged Chiefs offense.

14. Case Keenum, Denver Broncos

I dove in deep on Case Keenum in an article where I make the case for him as a QB 1 in redraft formats, the highlights of which are: his finished as QB14 in Minnesota last season, the way he makes his wide outs better, and the weapons he has in Denver. In dynasty, I think you can expect him to be in Denver at least two years; with young pieces like Royce Freeman and Cortland Sutton to grow with.

15.  Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs 

I’m not a huge fan of Mahomes himself, I think he was drafted too high and I’m not impressed with what we’ve seen from his one regular season game (22-35 284 yards 0 TD 1INT). I also don’t put much stock into preseason performances. Still, Mahomes has a tremendous floor with some of the best weapons of any quarterback in Tyreek Hill (WR 4 in 2017), Travis Kelce (TE 2 in 2017), Sammy Watkins (WR 16 in 2015), and Kareem Hunt (RB 3 in 2017, 8th in receiving yards for RBs).

16. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers 

I’m much lower on Jimmy GQ than most (ranked 11th on FantasyPros and 6th in ADP). I get why people are hype on him though; he’s a talented player that threw for at least 292 yards in 4 of his 5 starts, and completed at least 70% of his attempts in 3 of them last season. His upside is limited, though, with only 7 touchdowns in 5 games (no more than 2 in any) and 5 interceptions. The bigger threat to his fantasy value, though, is the lack of support the 49ers gave him this offseason; with Pettis and McKinnon being the only real offensive weapons added his offense doesn’t get much better. Until San Francisco invests more into him, I’m not investing in him.

17. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Let me be very clear: Blake Bortles is a good NFL quarterback and a very legitimate fantasy football quarterback. He finished as QB 13 in 2017, QB 9 in 2016, and QB4 in 2015. In the last three seasons, he’s  averaging 4,006 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and 330 rushing yards. The only reason he’s not a QB1 in my rankings is because, despite this performance and their rise to championship contending status, the Jaguars seem unwilling to commit long term to Bortles.

18. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Ram

In Sean McVay’s revamped Rams offense, Goff far exceeded his slow rookie start; throwing for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns. Goff, however, is a game manager more than he’s a fantast stud (only 4 games over 20 fantasy points) and the Rams as a whole are due for regression as the NFL adjusts to McVay’s offensive scheme. I believe we’ve seen the ceiling for Goff (QB12 in 2017); and he’s a solid QB2 from this point on.

Tier 5 Quarterbacks

19. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

It should be clear that with this tier, I’m focusing on players that have shown flashes on fantasy stud potential-but haven’t been able to put it together. Carr finished as QB 19 last season, lower than he previous finishes of QB 11 and QB 15; he regressed in touchdowns, passing yards, and QB rating. The season for the Raiders as a whole was disappointing, and swapping out Nelson for Crabtree offers Carr just a slight upgrade. Carr has shown he can be a QB 1, but we need to hope Gruden can inject some fire into the still unproven quarterback out of Fresno State.

20. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’m not a Winston truther, and frankly I’m not a fan of him in general. He’s finished as QB 13 (2015), QB 16 (2016), and QB 22 (2017); showing clear regression. Winston is seemingly wasting great weapons in Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, and DeSean Jackson. The Buccaneers, however, seem intent on sticking with him and with young pieces like Ronald Johnson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humpries ready to chip in; it seems almost inevitable that at some point Winston has to figure it out.

21. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota is a classic example of me wanting to like a player more than I actually should. When I take an honest look at him I see a quarterback who has never thrown for 3,500 yards (42 career starts), a player who has a 1.7 TD: INT ratio (58 TD-36 INT), and isn’t quite the rushing quarterback he’s made out to be. What Mariota does have going for him, though, is backing from his front office-so much so, that they brought in a new coaching staff after the Titans made a playoff run last season. Under a fresh scheme Mariota may finally break out…maybe.

Tier 6 Quarterbacks

22. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

Rivers is coming off one of his best fantasy finishes in 2017 (QB 8). He threw for 4,515 yards, finishing only behind Brady in that category and defying what has normally been his Achilles heel: interceptions; his 10 interceptions in 2017 were his least since 2009. Still Rivers, like his 2004 draft classmates is aging-making him a cheap commodity in dynasty. I do like Rivers best of all his classmates; namely because his play demonstrates a safe floor and his weapons (Allen, Gordon, Mike Williams) give him huge upside potential; even without Hunter Henry.

23. Eli Manning New York Giants

I bought big into Eli last season, and I got burned…big time. Still, Eli is set for a bounce back year; with his star wide out, Beckham Jr., back and healthy and with the star of the 2017 draft, Saquon Barkley, giving the Giants a balanced offense for the first time in years. Eli had the third most passing attempts last season (571) but that only equated to 3,468 yards; so proceed with caution on this aging fantasy asset.

24. Alex Smith Washington

Alex Smith’s QB 4 finish in 2017 made me (a perennial Smith truther) absolutely ecstatic. Smith, however, gets a huge downgrade by moving to Washington. He goes from having Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to Paul Richardson and a broken down Jordan Reed. The offense seems built on deep threats (Crowder, Richardson, Doctson) but that doesn’t match the quarterback Smith has been in 12/13 of his seasons; when he had mediocore weapons. Regression is inevitable, the only question is how far does he fall-and you can see my answer to that one.

25. Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben finished as QB 20 in 2015 and QB 16 in 2016. He was on pace to finish there, or lower through the first 6 weeks of 2017; averaging just 11.6 points per game. After opening contemplating retirement, he put together a run that allowed him to finish QB 10. Roethlisberger, though, has spent his whole career getting beat up by defenders and his popularity has tanked in Pittsburgh after the Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph. I expect him to be the first class of 2004 quarterback to retire; and I won’t be surprised if this is his last season.

Tier 7 Quarterbacks

26. Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

I’m not the biggest Rosen fan, but I do recognize he’s the most pro-ready rookie quarterback; and early comments out of Arizona seem to indicate they feel the same way. I’m willing to go on record to state I believe that Rosen will be the Arizona starting quarterback week 1. Much in the same way Trubisky and Watson replaced the overpaid and underwhelming Mike Glennon and Brock Ostwieler; the injury ridden Sam Bradford is not safe. He offers you the most right now, but over time I think Rosen falls safely into QB2 status-good, but never great.

27. Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns

As a proponent of rushing quarterbacks in fantasy, I desperately wanted Tyrod out of Buffalo; where he was egregiously misused. Well people, be careful what you wish for because he’s now on a one year loan in Cleveland. Still, Tyrod has the ability to perform: racking up 427 rushing yards to compliment his 2,799 passing yards and ridiculously good 14:4 TD:INT ratio. I expect this to be an Alex Smith type situation; Tyrod is auditioning for a starting job elsewhere next season; and I expect to him to get that job after starting at least 12 games in a much improved Cleveland offense this season.

28. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson is everything I love in a quarterback, and that goes double for his potential as a fantasy quarterback. In just 3 seasons at Louisville he tore up ACC defenders: throwing for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns; with just 27 interceptions. What he’s known for, however, is his ability to make plays with his legs: compiling 4,132 rushing yards and 50 rushing touchdowns. That’s an average of 4,391 total yards and 39 touchdowns a season; the 119 career touchdowns he’s responsible for ranks him 23rd all time in NCAA history…and he only played 3 seasons. The Ravens saw his upside, with limited risk (he missed virtually no time to injury with 37 career starts) and built around him; adding Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews to begin building a revamped offense focused on Jackson’s style. The only reason Jackson is below Rosen is because I don’t expect him to see any play time in his first year.

29. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Believe it or not, Andy Dalton still has (some) fantasy relevance. Although his career has been filled with mediocrity, he finished as QB 17 in 2017, and QB 12 in 2016. He’s a very tough player to predict; he’s had multiple seasons with more than 4,200 passing yards and even more with less than 3,400 passing yards. He’s thrown for 25 or more touchdowns 3 times in a season; but in 2 out of the last 4 seasons he’s failed to throw 20. Dalton’s stock is hurt further with little investment in the passing game and an increased focus on building a running game around Mixon, Bernard, and Walton. If you get stuck needing a quarterback late, he’s a decent rental but you’re getting what you pay for with him.

30. Ryan Tannenhill, Miami Dolphins

Tannenhill’s best fantasy season came in 2014; when he finished as QB 8. Since then, he’s finished as QB 17 (2015) and QB 27 in 2016 when he only played 13 games, due to injury. Tannenhill is coming back off an ACL injury (separate from his 2016 injury) that held him out of 2017; and finds little fantasy relevance beyond the fact he’s leading the second best offense in a division which is struggling outside of Foxborough, Massachusetts. Although none of his weapons are fantastic; they are sneaky good: Albert Wilson showed flashes of upside that DFS players loved last season, Danny Amendola is a proven veteran finally hoping to be featured in an offense, and Davante Parker offers the upside that we hope for (and are disappointing by) every off season. Much like Dalton, Tannenhill could help you this season, and then he could be out of a job next season; proceed with caution.

31. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Speaking of proceed with caution…here’s my take on Josh Allen. I love his upside; he has, unarguably, one of the best arms we’ve seen in quite some time. He also has some serious athleticism that only showed up on tape and at the combine; sky rocketing his fantasy upside. My favorite thing about Josh Allen, however, is how conscious he is of his flaws; most namely his accuracy and decision making skills under pressure. I’ve seen him, in multiple interviews, name his flaws openly and give the reasons he believes he can fix them with time to develop on an NFL roster. My least favorite thing about Josh Allen is he is a Bill; and they currently have very little to no weapons to support his development. If Buffalo approaches this re-build the right way (not rushing Allen onto the field and adding pieces over 2-3 years) your investment in Josh Allen could bring you a perennial Top 10 quarterback.

32. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

I recognize that a lot of people like Baker Mayfield, I do not. I think he’s undersized (yes, it’s great Wilson and Brees worked out but they didn’t go #1 overall), and he looked great throwing short slants and screens behind one of the best offensive lines in college football against the worst defensive conference in college football. Still, I love the weapons he has in Jarvis Landry (who fits his short play style), Josh Gordon (who brings all the upside one could ever want), Njoku (who absolutely will break out as a top tight end) and the committee of Hyde, Johnson, and Chubb in the backfield. In much the same way I couldn’t deny Mahommes, I can’t deny Baker’s fantasy value with a roster this good. Mayfield, however, likely won’t see significant playing time year one, unless the Browns go well below .500 early; which I don’t expect them to do. Still, I won’t be suprised in Mayfield isn’t a Brown in 2022 when it’s time to offer him a 5th year contract extension.

Veteran Values: Matthew Stafford

Mike Wallace, Contributor 

Every year going into fantasy football drafts people are excited about the incoming rookies or other young players getting a chance for a larger role. Fantasy football buffs are excited by upside and seek the thrill of the chasing the unknown  that could help them win a fantasy league…if they beat the odds and pan out. Yet every year proven veteran performers drop a few rounds lower than they should. This series will highlight the veterans I expect to outperform their draft position and provide great value.

For the last three years Matthew Stafford has finished as a top 10 fantasy QB and according to early ADP information he is the 15th quarterback coming off fantasy boards. This is why every year I wait on drafting my quarterbacks, in non-superflex leagues. Instead of spending a high pick on one of top-end fantasy quarterback, I’m targeting Matthew Stafford.

Taking Stafford sets you up with a quarterback that will approach 4,500 yards and 30 TDs with limited interceptions. He is consistently in the top 10 in pass attempts so, there is no concern when it comes to volume. Watch people in your league draft younger quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo (going over 3 rounds earlier in early ADP). Jimmy Garoppolo flashed last season in a limited sample size, but it is important not to fall in love with upside and ignore proven producers.

The Lions offense should only continue to improve. They have Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay as potent weapons at wide receiver. After flashing last year and then having some injuries I expect the Lions to utilize Golladay more in 2018. They moved on from Eric Ebron and have brought in Luke Wilson from Seattle to fill in their tight end void. Wilson is not anything spectacula,r but he has the size and a similar catch percentage and yard per catch to Ebron, so the Lions are unlikely to miss him. They still Theo Riddick catching passes out of the backfield and this offseason the team finally realized Ameer Abdullah is not the answer at RB; they brought in LeGarrette Blount and drafted Kerryon Johnson to improve their running game which will only help Stafford if defenses need to respect the run.

Fill your RB, WR, Flex and even a bench spot or 2 with talent to start the draft. The value Stafford offers when a team is constructed correctly is hard to beat. Do the smart thing, and take the solid value that too many people are ignoring.

Mock Draft Series 4

Edited by Matt Hicks, Staff Writer

Welcome back to the Mock Draft Series! This is draft 4 in a series of mock drafts that will happen throughout the 2018 NFL off-season. The drafts will have different rules, that are tailored to different league formats. This draft is Dynasty PPR. Those drafting are all writers in the fantasy football community, each featured writer has one pick explained, and that pick is unedited and in their own words, not mine.

1.1        Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect Todd Gurley

1.2        Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc  Odell Beckham Jr

1.3        Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Ezeikel Elliot

1.4        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Le’veon Bell

1.5        PK Ripper @amaze652 David Johnson

1.6        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF    DeAndre Hopkins

1.7        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme Saquon Barkley

1.8        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94  Antonio Brown

1.9        Eric Adams @Top2Eric     Melvin Gordon

There seems to be some negativity surrounding Gordon at the moment and I’m just not buying it. The only negative thing about him is he has failed to average 4 yards per carry in each of his first 3 seasons, but when you get used as much as Gordon does then the yards per carry might suffer. He’s 25, he’s a true dual threat and option 1A in LA and he is NOT going to get benched for Austin Ekeler.

1.10      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt   Kareem Hunt

1.11      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb   Dalvin Cook

1.12      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Leonard Fournette

2.1        Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Mike Evans

2.2        Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb  Michael Thomas

2.3        Matt Hicks @Top2Matt   Alvin Kamara

2.4        Eric Adams @Top2Eric  Christian McCaffrey

2.5        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94   Keenan Allen

2.6        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme   Derrius Guice

2.7        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF  Joe Mixon

2.8        PK Ripper @amaze652 Devontae Freeman

2.9        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks  Davante Adams

2.10      Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Julio Jones

2.11      Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc  Jordan Howard

2.12      Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect  Amari Cooper

With Green and Gurley I’m able to take a chance on upside with Cooper. He has all of the talent in the world and in a new offense without Michael Crabtree this could be the break out year fantasy owners have yearned for.

3.1        Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect   Aj Green

3.2        Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   Jarvis Landry

He is younger than Josh Gordon by 2 years. Gordon is due for a suspension. Landry has excelled with some questionable quarterbacks (Tannenhill, Cutler) throwing to him. He will continue to thrive in Cleveland who will either do well OR will have to play from behind. Either way, Landry is PPR gold, again!

3.3        Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Tyreek Hill

3.4        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Travis Kelce

3.5        PK Ripper @amaze652  TY Hilton

3.6        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF Corey Davis

3.7        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme  Stefon Diggs

3.8        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94  Juju Smith Schuster

3.9        Eric Adams @Top2Eric  Allen Robinson

3.10      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt Sony Michel

3.11      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb   Jerrick McKinnon

3.12      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Brandin Cooks

4.1        Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory  Zach Ertz

4.2        Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb  Adam Thielen

4.3        Matt Hicks @Top2Matt    Doug Baldwin

4.4        Eric Adams @Top2Eric   Deshaun Watson

4.5        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94    Josh Gordon

4.6        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme   Hunter Henry

4.7        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF  Nick Chubb

4.8        PK Ripper @amaze652   Alshon Jeffery

4.9        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Mark Ingram

4.10      Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –   Derrick Henry

Henry is a power runner with all of the goaline and short yardage work. Lewis stayed healthy last year, but it was the first time in 5 years that he saw over 200 touches, the previous high being 85 touches in 7 games. Even if Lewis stays healthy this is at least a 50/50 split, more likely that Henry takes over this role and becomes a work-horse by next year.

4.11      Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc LeSean McCoy

4.12      Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect    Ronald Jones

5.1        Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect  Evan Engram

5.2        Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc     Royce Freeman

5.3        Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –     Larry Fitzgerald

5.4        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks    Golden Tate

5.5        PK Ripper @amaze652  Rob Gronkowski

5.6        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF       Sammy Watkins

Watkins is a receiver whose talent I still believe in and lands on a team who seems to have an idea of what to do with him. Think he pairs very well with Tyreek HIll

5.7        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme   Cooper Kupp

5.8        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94  Kenyon Drake

5.9        Eric Adams @Top2Eric    Rashaad Penny

5.10      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt     Marvin Jones Jr

5.11      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb    Aaron Jones

5.12      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Jay Ajayi

6.1        Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory  Kerryon Johnson

6.2        Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb  Jamaal Williams

6.3        Matt Hicks @Top2Matt    Jimmy Graham

6.4        Eric Adams @Top2Eric   Calvin Ridley

6.5        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94    Courtland Sutton

6.6        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme    D.J. Moore

6.7        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF   Russell Wilson

6.8        PK Ripper @amaze652   Aaron Rodgers

6.9        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks       Demaryius Thomas

I like Thomas to bounce back, he’s been a consistent WR2 even with a hodgepodge of bad QBs behind center.  He should be able to put up top 20 or top 15 numbers with Keenum.  Peters getting shipped out helps and the value here was good, I got him after Sutton.  Give me DT all day

6.10      Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –   Tevin Coleman

6.11      Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   CJ Anderson

6.12      Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect Alex Collins

7.1        Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect    Carson Wentz

7.2        Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   Michael Gallup

7.3        Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –   Robert Woods

7.4        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks  Dion Lewis

7.5        PK Ripper @amaze652  Lamar Miller

7.6        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF   David Njoku

7.7        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme  D’onta Foreman

7.8        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94  Carlos Hyde

7.9        Eric Adams @Top2Eric     Will Fuller

7.10      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt       Cam Newton

I’m thrilled to get Newton in the late 7th round as the 5th quarterback off the board. Newton finished as QB2 in 2017 after posting 3,302 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 754 rushing yards, and 6 rushing touchdowns. This was after stumbling out of the gate in Weeks 1-3 where he tried to be the pocket passing quarterback he is not. Newton gets much needed offensive help with the additions of D.J. Moore and C.J. Anderson and he gets a healthy Greg Olsen back. For all these reasons Cam Newton is currently my QB1 for 2018; so to get him this late is a steal.

7.11      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb Christian Kirk

7.12      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Jared Goff

8.1        Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory Devin Funchess

8.2        Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb  Jamison Crowder

8.3        Matt Hicks @Top2Matt  O.J. Howard

8.4        Eric Adams @Top2Eric   Trey Burton

8.5        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94  Marlon Mack

8.6        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme     Jimmy Garoppolo

8.7        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF   Isaiah Crowell

8.8        PK Ripper @amaze652   Kenny Golladay

Babytron looks to be in line for a sophomore breakout season in pass happy Jim Bob Cooter offense. The 6’4 receiver should see plenty more targets especially with the deep ball; he averaged 17 yards per reception Stafford had no problem finding him hooking up with him for eight passes of 20-plus yards and five of 40-plus yards. He is position to take the Number one spot in Motor City for years to come and is a Dynasty roster priority on my teams. #HappyGolladays

8.9        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Kirk Cousins

8.10      Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –   Duke Johnson

8.11      Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   Kyle Rudolph

8.12      Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect   Chris Thompson

9.1        Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect    Tarik Cohen

9.2        Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc    Tom Brady

9.3        Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Matthew Stafford

9.4        Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Sterling Shepard

9.5        PK Ripper @amaze652   Keelan Cole

9.6        Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF Chris Godwin

9.7        THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme    TY Montgomery

9.8        Josh Padgett @jpadgett94    Kalen Ballage

As alluded I’ve alluded to on Top2Pod, I drafted my favorite rookie.  It may look like a little bit of a reach, but Ballage is a home run type of player (and if you can’t tell, that’s my kind of guy).  He could become the 3 down back in Miami and has already been impressing coaches.  I am all aboard this hype train and you can’t get me off of it.

9.9        Eric Adams @Top2Eric  Pierre Garcon

9.10      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt     Julian Edelman

9.11      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb    George Kittle

9.12      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory   Kelvin Benjamin

10.1      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory   Mark Walton

10.2      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb     Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes steps into a plum situation. Andy Reid just coaxed a top five fantasy quarterback season out of none other than dink & dunk champion Alex Smith. Mahomes is surrounded with weapons that can win at all levels of the field and redzone in Kareem Hunt, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, & Tyreek Hill.

10.3      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt   Jordy Nelson

10.4      Eric Adams @Top2Eric    Jack Doyle

10.5      Josh Padgett @jpadgett94 Andrew Luck

10.6      THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme    Michael Crabtree

10.7      Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF    Devante Parker

10.8      PK Ripper @amaze652   Josh Doctson

10.9      Dave H. – @Dynastydorks    Nyhiem Hines

10.10    Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Drew Brees

10.11    Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   Josh Rosen

10.12    Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect   Nelson Agholor

11.1      Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect    Corey Clement

11.2      Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc   DeMarco Murray

11.3      Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –  Robby Anderson

11.4      Dave H. – @Dynastydorks   Marquise Goodwin

11.5      PK Ripper @amaze652  Chris Carson

11.6      Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF Paul Richardson

11.7      THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme  Randall Cobb

Cobb is now the forgotten man in Green Bay. Now that Philbin, is back in control of the offense I fully expect to see more dump offs and screens to Cobb.

11.8      Josh Padgett @jpadgett94   Greg Olsen

11.9      Eric Adams @Top2Eric    Lamar Jackson

11.10    Matt Hicks @Top2Matt    Dak Prescott

11.11    Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb     Emmanuel Sanders

11.12    Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory  Anthony Miller

12.1      Anthony (@ZaragozaAnthony) – Redraft Football Factory James Washington

I’m pretty excited that I was able to snag James Washington with my last pick in this mock draft. Washington made big play after big play during his time at Oklahoma State and should provide that same spark in Pittsburgh. Former #3 WR Martavis Bryant is now in Oakland, so Washington has the chance to come in right away and play that deep threat role Bryant failed to live up to the last few seasons.

12.2      Derek Brown @Dbro_ffb   Dez Bryant

12.3      Matt Hicks @Top2Matt    LaGarette Blount

12.4      Eric Adams @Top2Eric   Cameron Meredith

12.5      Josh Padgett @jpadgett94   Jameis Winston

12.6      THE FANTASY TYPHOON @Jesusprotectme  Ben Roethlisberger

12.7      Nick Spartz @BeerFueledFF   Marqise Lee

12.8      PK Ripper @amaze652    Martavis Bryant

12.9      Dave H. – @Dynastydorks Marshawn Lynch

12.10    Wheeler – @FF_Wheeler –     Delanie Walker

12.11    Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc    Donte Moncrief

12.12    Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect    Donte Pettis

Veteran Values: Dion Lewis

Mike Wallace, Contributor 

Every year going into fantasy football drafts people are excited about the incoming rookies or other young players getting a chance for a larger role. Fantasy football buffs are excited by upside and seek the thrill of the chasing the unknown  that could help them win a fantasy league…if they beat the odds and pan out. Yet every year proven veteran performers drop a few rounds lower than they should. This series will highlight the veterans I expect to outperform their draft position and provide great value.

Lewis Can be a 3 Down Back

Dion Lewis moved this offseason to the Tennessee Titans and people who think he is going there only as a receiving option out of the backfield are not valuing him correctly. The Titans did not sign Lewis to the contract they did to only be a 3rd down back. The Titans backfield will be a committee, but Lewis is going to be very involved and will have value for fantasy owners.

The Titans have utilized both Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray in the offense over the past 2 seasons. When looking at 2017 stats, Dion Lewis actually averaged more yards per carry than either of them. Henry averaged 4.2 yards per carry while Lewis average 5.0 yards. Lewis was 9th in the league in broken tackles while Henry was 19th. Lewis and Henry saw a similar number of carries last season with 180 and 176 respectively. Both teams had offensive lines that rated highly in 2017, which proves Lewis was actually more effective as a ball carrier. Lewis is much more effective as a ball carrier than he is given credit for.

A Target You Can’t Miss

With Murray gone, there are running back targets that will need to go somewhere else. Henry was only targeted 17 times all season, while Murray saw 47 targets. Lewis played in a system with multiple pass catching running backs and he still saw 35 targets. Lewis is the more talented receiver and will see the majority of the targets out of the backfield. It is safe to assume he will be targeted at least 3 times a game, the additional involvement will add to the value of Lewis. It will also allow for Lewis to be on the field more often.

In 2018, I do not think it is crazy for Lewis and Henry to end up with similar fantasy production, there is a non-zero chance that Lewis is actually the more valuable fantasy option. Henry would need a significant edge in carries to outscore Lewis, but if Lewis continues to be the more efficient runner then Tennessee would be crazy not to keep him as involved as possible. The only worry with Lewis is the injury history, but anyone, especially at running back, could go down at anytime. Depending on the format, Henry is currently being drafted anywhere from 2 to 3 ½ rounds earlier than Lewis, according to early ADP information. Based on that, waiting and taking Lewis on draft night seems like the better choice. Do not let yourself be the owner that gets excited about Henry, only to be disappointed at the value Lewis ends up providing.


Top2 Throwdown: Breaking Down the Four RB1 Candidates

This is the first installment in a series we’re calling “Top2 Throwdown”, where our writers face off against one another to show the different sides of major fantasy football debates. No debate, this off-season, is bigger than: who will be RB1 in 2018. Four of our writers took on the major candidates. Read each of their breakdowns and let us know who you think will be RB1 in 2018; use the comments or tweet at us @Top2Sports.

Todd Gurley is Due to Repeat as RB1 (Eric Adams)

I will be making the argument for the RB1 of 2017, Todd Gurley. The Los Angeles Rams hit a grand slam with the head coaching hire of former Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay. The youngest head coach in the NFL currently; McVay led the Rams to an 11-5 record while also incorporating an offensive scheme focused around Gurley. The Rams would go from being the lowest scoring team in 2016 to the highest scoring team in 2017. That speaks volumes to the offensive prowess of the young head coach.

The rams lost Sammy Watkins, but replaced him with Brandin Cooks who may very well be a better fit for the Rams offense. Goff is another year older and another year wiser. He will continue to improve along with the bright McVay. While an argument for regression can be made due to the insane output of 2017, I believe the Rams are set up for more success in 2018. Gurley is the main reason why.

The Rams’ offense in 2018 is still going to utilize Gurley as option 1A. He catches passes out of the backfield and that will not change. He had over 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2016 and I expect him to approach that mark again in 2018. The biggest thing working in Gurley’s favor, other than the fact that his head coach is an offensive wizard, is the fact that he should touch the ball more than any offensive player in 2018. Just by opportunity alone, Gurley is a top 5 fantasy back. I believe he will still end up RB1 in 2018.

Zeke is Set for A Career Year (Mike Wallace)

In 25 career games Ezekiel Elliott has averaged just less than 130 yards from scrimmage and a TD a game. Over a full season that would come to 16 TDs and almost 2,100 yards. After the suspension last year and the struggles the team had, I expect there will be a chip on his shoulder and those numbers will improve in 2018. I believe he is headed for a career year in 2018, but even if he is what he has been to date he is worthy of the top spot at running back.

Fantasy players look down on him because the other top RBs are going to catch more passes, but the fact is Zeke is better than them as a runner. In his rookie season he was the top rusher by over 300 yards and he sat in week 17. In 2017 he was 10th in the league in yards in only 10 games, that includes a game where the Cowboys were dominated by the Broncos and he only had 8 yards rushing. On top of likely being the league’s leading rusher, he will add 30-35 receptions on top of that. Like Adrian Peterson in his prime, Zeke does not need to catch the ball 70 times to be the RB1 in fantasy because of his talent along with the volume he will see in the run game.

The Cowboys drafted Connor Williams in the 2nd round to add to the three All-Pro talents they have on the offensive line. Their offense this season will be built around shortening the game and wearing teams down with their unit up front. The offense will look a lot like it did in 2016 where they take the pressure off of Dak by using the running game. Zeke is going to get what he asks for after ever big play he makes, Dallas is going to keep feeding him with the goal of riding him back to the playoffs

Don’t Forget about Dual Threat David Johnson (Matt Hicks)

David Johnson was one of 2 legitimate options for the 1.01 in 2017; and I don’t understand why he’s not being considered in that debate this year too. Johnson absolutely dominated the 2016 season: rushing for 1,239 yards (7th amongst RBs) and 16 touchdowns (2nd) while racking up 80 receptions (1st amongst RBs) and 879 yards; 263 more receiving yards than any other running back). In total, Johnson compiled 2,118 total yards, which is 172 more total yards than Bell in 2017, 124 more total yards than Elliot in 2016, and 25 more total yards than Gurley in 2017.

Johnson’s 2017, of course, was a wash due to his dislocated wrist injury. That injury, however, strikes no long-term fear into fantasy owners and I believe he would’ve been back in 2017 had the Cardinals been competing for a playoff position. Now he finds himself as one of the few stable options among an offense features an injury prone veteran and a fiery rookie quarterback battle, an aging Larry Fitzgerald, and very good slot receiver (Kirk) that seems to have no interest in playing the slot. The one consistency will be Johnson, and he will get significant volume, both in terms of rushing attempts and targets. No other player on this list is as critical to their offense as Johnson is, and no player has combined for more total yards than Johnson. Don’t overthink this, people, Johnson is the dual threat you that your redraft team needs.

It’s Bell What More Needs to be Said? (Josh Padgett)

Le’Veon Bell is your RB1 for redraft and I will tell you why. He is holding out for more money. He won’t sit out the year, no one does. Bell is the most talented running back in the league and he has plenty to play for on a team that should go deep in the playoffs. Another big year could get him the money he is looking for. Bell will play all over the field again and is a lock for 70 plus receptions. Outside of McCaffrey, that should lead all running backs. Bell will be a PPR monster and he will continue to be the catalyst for the offense. He has hit 400 touches before (I predict he will do it again) and that is the kind of volume that makes him the safest of the big 4 running backs. Bell has the highest floor of any player in the league, and if he has a nose for the endzone, he could score 20 touchdowns or more. Now he is giving you ceiling too. With the number 1 pick in your draft, what else are you looking for?