Fantasy Football Roundtable Debate – QB, RB & WR

Fantasy Football Fantasy Football Strategy

By Fanspeak Writers John Belaska, John Manuel & Jack Concannon:

 

Quarterback:      

Brees is set for another big season. For some reason everyone takes Rodgers and Manning before him, but Brees has a strong history behind to make a case that he should be the first QB taken in fantasy drafts.

 

1. Each year there seems to be at least one surprise quarterback who ends up putting up good fantasy numbers throughout the year. Who will be that quarterback this season and why?

JOHN BELASKA:

I really like Ryan Tannehill this season. Last season, the Dolphins’ quarterback threw for 3,913 yards. He did this with an absolutely terrible offensive line. Looking at the tapes, when he had time in the pocket to go through his progressions, he was actually very good. He step up and fired accurate passes through some pretty tight windows. The problem last season was that he rarely received good protection. He was sack a league high 58 times. The Dolphins have definitely improved the offensive line this offseason. The upgrades to the line will allow Tannehill to have more time and he should be able to improve his stats drastically because of it.

JOHN MANUEL:

After last season would Robert Griffin count?  Because I think he does what he did in 2012 and I think that the same quarterbacks will do the same at the top and then there is a huge drop off.  The most obvious wildcard is Johnny Manziel if he can get on the field but I am going go with his competition in Brian Hoyer.  I think he starts and does well even without Josh Gordon.  This is a guy I would grab as a 3rd QB with a late round pick and see if he has the magic he did before the ACL.

JACK CONCANNON

New Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is installing a whole new offense in Miami and veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace is already raving about the offense’s focus on making big plays through the air. This could be great for Ryan Tannehill‘s fantasy value. Tannehill isn’t going to outperform Drew Brees or anything but there’s a chance he ends up as a top ten fantasy quarterback. Definitely a sleeper to keep an eye on draft day.

 

2. What is the most important factor in deciding between similar ranked quarterbacks? Scheme, surrounding weapons, quality of offensive line, or previous success?

JOHN BELASKA:

When deciding between similarly ranked quarterbacks it all depends on the ranking. For the top tier it is all about the weapons surrounding him. I would take Peyton Manning and Drew Brees over Aaron Rodgers simply because of who they are throwing too. It is a bit more complicated after this. Following this top group, you get to a bunch of younger guys who have less experience. It is still important to look at the guys surrounding them, but it becomes more important to look at the team’s offensive scheme. If they are going to throw the ball a lot those are the guys you want. You also want a guy with experience. Past performance is a great indicator of future success.

JOHN MANUEL:

Tough to say but the best way is to go by previous success.  For my own experience I tend to get too cute and look at surrounding weapons or scheme and jump on that. Brady losses weapons and still is a top QB every year.  Guys like Manning, Brees, Rodgers and Brady will not do you wrong and almost guarantee you will be in the mix.

JACK CONCANNON

Quarterbacks are usually the most consistent year to year performers in fantasy. When two quarterbacks are similarly ranked the quarterback with the more successful recent history is generally the one with more value. This doesn’t always hold true but as a general rule of thumb it works well.

 

3. What highly rated quarterback are you looking to stay away from this season?

JOHN BELASKA:

Without a doubt, I am staying away from Cam Newton. The Panthers are going into the season with a completely new set of wide receivers. Newton has been limited in training camp so he will not have the time to build a solid relationship with any of them.

JOHN MANUEL:

My true answer is none of the top 10.  I think all those guys will do you fine this season.  If you consider Cam Newton a top guy then maybe him because he is throwing to a bunch of randoms.  But I still think he will do fine because he hasn’t had much his whole career around him other than an aging Steve Smith.  I am interested to see what Nick Foles does this year after last season’s breakout and without DeSean.  I wouldn’t take him but that is because I despise the Eagles not because I think he will be a bust.

JACK CONCANNON

I’m not a fan of drafting quarterbacks early and Peyton Manning is being drafted too early. I know that he had perhaps the greatest statistical season of all time last year and really helped some people win their leagues but he’s still a quarterback and he’s going to cost you a first round pick. Using a first round pick on a quarterback is silly when there will still be quality options available in the ninth round or even later.

 

 

Running back:    

 

1. With dual-threat running backs really making their mark the last couple years, how do you weigh their upside potential, versus the consistency of workhorse running backs in Standard Leagues?

JOHN  BELASKA:

Consistency is what you need from running backs. You spend way to high of draft picks to risk not having points on the board each and every week. Workhorse backs are few and far between, but there are still enough to at least get one or two. The dual threat backs are much better for backups or as a flex position. The flex position allows for a boom or bust type player. Even by drafting them for your bench, you can still swap them in when the matchups are ripe for a big game. However, it is always better to have the consistency of a guy who will definitely touch the ball 20 to 30 times a game.

JOHN MANUEL:

I still go workhorse because a lot of the dual threat are complimentary guys.  Just when it looked like the fantasy tide was turning to these types a guy like Eddie Lacy come through and showed the workhorses are still around other than AP and a guy like Alfred Morris.  Running backs are so hard to figure sometimes now.  You have top guys but that don’t always pan out.  It’s almost a game of getting lucky through the waiver wire mid-season when it comes to backs.

JACK CONCANNON

In standard leagues there really isn’t much of a reason to target a running back that catches the ball out of the backfield over a workhorse back because the workhorse is always going to get the football whereas a guy is more of a pass catcher may not. When a guy who is the sole running back in his offense like Alfred Morris or DeMarco Murray is healthy he invariably gets the ball twenty times or more on the ground. That means these guys will get at least twenty chances in every game to earn you fantasy points. A player like Pierre Thomas on the other hand who is more of a pass catcher might only get the ball eight or nine times in a game. Pass catching running backs often have high upside but fewer touches usually means fewer points so in standard leagues look for guys who are the bell cows of their respective offenses.

 

2. What running back situation looks good on paper, but you hope to avoid on draft day?

JOHN BELASKA:

The Steelers backfield is something I generally want to stay away from. Yes, it looks like Le’Veon Bell is going to be the main man there, but he did not play a full sixteen games last season. He is going way to high in drafts for the amount of risk involved. If he misses time, there is no one that team worthy of drafting in fantasy football. Looking at the way the Steelers run the ball, it is hard to imagine Bell lasting a full season. He is simply not built for the constant between the tackles ground and pound football typical of the Steel Curtain. Tomlin will more than likely have to start giving some carries to a bigger back at some point during the season in order to keep Bell fresh. Also, Heath Miller will be back from injury this season. Miller is historically a big time red zone target for Big Ben. That does not bode well for fantasy owners needing some touchdowns from Bell.

JOHN MANUEL:

Minnesota, Philly, Green Bay, and Chicago aka all the teams with studs.  But seriously I do like Denver even though Manning will probably throw another 50 TD passes. They always move the ball and Montee Ball should get plenty of chances to score with Moreno out.  Denver made Moreno a beast last season and now we wonder if we will ever hear from him again.  I would avoid the Baltimore situation.  Ray Rice was bad last season and now we hear how great of shape he is in.  I feel like every time that gets said about a player in his demise it is just a ploy.  And Bernard Pierce has never shown he can handle a heavier load when needed.

JACK CONCANNON

Many people are excited about Doug Martin‘s potential to bounce back from injury and return to the level at which he played his rookie year. His ineffectiveness in the games he was healthy for last year and the potential for a timeshare between Martin, Mike James, and newcomer Charles Sims scares me. He’s definitely not worth a first round pick and is being overrated.

 

3. Which lower rated running back are you keeping an eye on this year and hope to draft for your bench?

JOHN BELASKA:

My sleeper running back this year is Rashad Jennings. Jennings was great last year in Oakland when he was filling in for the injured Darren McFadden. This year he has a chance to be the main guy for the New York Giants. One might argue he has to compete with two other backs, however, Coughlin does not like guys who fumble like Dan Wilson and he typically does not trust rookies. This leaves Jennings as the main running back. Not only did Jennings prove to be good at running between the tackles, something very important to Big Blue’s offensive scheme, but he was also very good catching the ball out of the backfield. Another knock on Jennings is that he is already 29 years old. He may be 29, but he has not even touched the ball 500 times in his career. In reality he is just as fresh as a workhorse back entering their third year.

JOHN MANUEL:

Has Trent Richardson reached low rated yet to be included in this?  I would go with Christine Michael first because he should get his chances even with Lynch in Seattle.  I also like Tre Mason with St. Louis but I bet he goes mid rounds after what people saw him do at Auburn.  I think the same with Terrance West so I don’t consider him a “low-rated” guy.

JACK CONCANNON

DeAngelo Williams can still play football at a high level yet he’s currently being ranked 35th out of running backs. He had 1176 yards last year through the air and on the ground despite getting just 201 carries. Williams definitely has enough value to be a bye week fill in and if Jonathan Stewart gets hurt he could have some appeal as a flex or even a RB2. Definitely worth stashing on your bench.

 

Wide Receiver:      

1. Would you rather have a number 1 wide receiver from a team that doesn’t throw as much or a number 2 from a team that throws the ball far more?

JOHN BELASKA:

This all depends on how well the team spread the ball out. For example, the New Orleans Saints throw the ball all the time, but they spread it around so much that none of the wide receivers have much value. Typically, a team like this is just too much of a head ache for me. I prefer number one wide receivers who get a lot of attention. However, most of the run first pass second teams do not have a stand out number one wide receiver. For example, the Seahawks may list Sydney Rice as there number one wide receiver, but he does not put up the stat expected from a number one wide out. It is preferred to stay away from these situations at all cost. Draft player who have the best chance of performing regardless of where they are on the depth chart. After all, all a depth chart tells you is where that player lines up on the field. It has nothing to do with how many targets they will get.

JOHN MANUEL:

Hard to say.  For example would I rather have Mike Wallace or Emmanuel Sanders?  Going Sanders in this case because of the teams.  But then again I would take my chances on a guy like Cordarelle Patterson over a Michael Floyd if you count Arizona as a passing team.  I think you need to just weigh this as the exact two players to decide between.

JACK CONCANNON:

This is a hard question because it really depends on the specific situations but speaking generally I would rather have the second receiver on a team that airs the ball out rather than the first receiver on a team with a stagnant offense. Just because the Packers have Jordy Nelson doesn’t mean that Randall Cobb has less value than Raiders receiver James Jones or Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts.

 

2. What high ranking receiver do you feel is being overhyped and overdrafted right now?

JOHN BELASKA:

Eric Decker is being picked way to high. He may not even be drafted as a number one wide receiver, but he should even be drafted as a number two. Since Geno Smith is still developing it is tough to believe Decker is going to put up the type of stats he did last year when Peyton Manning was throwing him the ball.

JOHN MANUEL:

Going Andre Johnson if you consider him a high ranking receiver like the players did by still have him like the 21st best player in the NFL.  It doesn’t look like he is thrilled to be in the Houston situation with a new QB and coach right now.  I would avoid him in the first couple rounds.  I am also very nervous on Julio Jones now after the foot injury.  I will probably avoid him and go with another option as my #1 receiver.

JACK CONCANNON

Larry Fitzgerald‘s name must be what’s getting him picked in the fifth round in drafts because it definitely isn’t his recent production. Add on top of his low production the emergence of new weapons in Arizona like Andre Ellington and Michael Floyd who could both threaten Fitzgerald’s targets. An aging receiver with relatively low production competing with emerging young stars for targets; I think I’ll pass on that.

 

3. Which questionable quarterback situation will make you give pause for drafting a top wide receiver? 

JOHN BELASKA:

I am staying away from all Rams wide receivers. I have never been a fan of Sam Bradford. He tore his ACL last season and Kellen Clemens finished the season. Last year, we saw RGIII struggle to rebound from his torn ACL, so why would Bradford’s situation be any different. The Rams’ wide receivers are young and developing, but this is not the season to take a flier on them.

JOHN MANUEL:

I guess I have to say Houston after my last answer.  I also am nervous about the San Fran guys.  It seems like there are way too many options for a guy like Colin Kaepernick now.  Which is good for winning games but not for fantasy.  He loves those 106 yard passing games and now with Crabtree back full and Stevie Johnson also will there be enough balls to make those guys and Boldin a big number maker?

JACK CONCANNON

Percy Harvin’s quarterback situation seriously limits his value. The problem isn’t Russell Wilson’s ability but his tendency to distribute the ball out to all of his weapons. Harvin may not get enough targets to be as valuable as he could be and that is Russell Wilson’s fault.

 

 


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