April 22, 2019

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Which mid to late round draft choices in fantasy football could become total dominators and lead your team to a championship this season

League Winners for 2017

Posted by d-Rx on 08/09/17

by   The Archer


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Hartbeat’s League Winners:


Kareem Hunt - RB - Chiefs

In fantasy football, the Running Back position is king. Due to the massive point totals that the top end Running Backs put up along with the natural scarcity of the position has fantasy owners desiring Running Backs now more than ever. However, the word on the street is that workhorse running backs are going extinct. This just isn’t true, I compared the past ten years of data at the position to see if there was a drastic change, and the numbers were kind of shocking. Over the past 5 years the number of Running Backs that saw 250+ rushes was 49, basically 5 per year. From 2007 to 2011 there were only 8 more running backs to surpass the 250 rush mark. Overall, the 2007 – 2011 running backs also averaged only 11 more attempts per season, and those attempts yielded a yardage difference of only 15 points. That’s less than one fantasy point per game. Running Back is still king, so there is nothing more valuable than getting a late round steal that ends up producing as a top back. This year, I believe your best shot at that is in the Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt out of Toledo.


Pro Football Focus rated Hunt as the number one overall running back in this year’s draft class. Hunt generated 986 rushing yards after contact over his career and received the third highest FBS elusive rating in this class of 112.1. The Rocket’s Running Back was awarded the Most Outstanding Player in the Senior Bowl, and never looked back. Hunt also landed on a team with Andy Reid who has consistently shown an affinity to utilize one back as a workhorse. The only obstacle in Hunt’s way is Spencer Ware who was originally a 6th round pick for the Seattle Seahawks, who released him just a year later. Then he landed in Kansas City in December of 2014, and sat on their practice squad until Week 8 of 2015, which he was only activated due to Jamaal Charles’ ACL tear.  Ware won the starting gig the following season, but this is also accented by the hope throughout Kansas City that Charles would rehab successfully and return to form. Since that never happened, this was the first offseason where the Chiefs could address this need at Running Back. After trading their first and second round picks to move up to number 10 and selecting who the Chiefs hope to be their franchise QB, the Chiefs bundled their third, fourth and seventh round picks to trade up to get their guy earlier in the third round. I believe that Hunt will win the starting job outright by the end of the season, and he will follow in the footsteps of Andy Reid’s other multidimensional stars like Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. Currently in the 8th round you can choose between players like a 34 year old Frank Gore, or a top end prospect in Hunt, who has the potential to be a top 5 back in the league for many years to come.


Cole Beasley - WR - Cowboys

Now that you are locked in on Hunt in the 8th round, let’s now pivot to a steal at WR, Cole Beasley of the Dalllas Cowboys. Beasley looks like he belongs in the Shire rather than in an 80,000 seat entertainment mecca that we know as ‘Jerry’s World’. Beasley’s 2016 had us craving for the Beasles like they were the precious. In this story however, doesn’t come crashing down in Orodruin. Okay, now that I got that nerdgasm out of my system; Beasley was one of the most efficient weapons in the NFL last year. His Defense-adjusted Yards above Replacement and Defense-adjusted Value over Average ranked as 5th best among WRs. Yes, higher than the likes of the Mike Evans and Antonio Brown’s, and he yielded a 122.8 passer rating when targeted, another metric in the top 5. Beasley saw 92 targets last season. A career high. Only 77 of those targets were deemed as catchable and Beasley hauled in an extraordinary 97.4% of them, only 4 WRs saw more targets and caught them at a higher rate. With Dez Bryant expected to go through a gauntlet of top 25 CBs this season, Beasley could be in line for a monster year. Please refer to Scott Barrett’s WR’s most impacted by top 25 CBs data, which conveys no WR has been as sensitive to tough CB competition as Dez. So we expect Dez to have a little bt of a down year, but more importantly we expect Dez to be taken out of a higher number of plays this season due to stingy matchups than ever before. Dallas’s other pass catchers are Terrance Willams, Brice Butler and Jason Witten. Terrance Williams has been quite underwhelming, with his only season over 800 yards came in 2015 when Dez, dealing with a lisfranc injury and multiple surgeries failed to average 4 catches per game. Brice Butler has shown some flashes, like those two deep passes he hauled in during the Hall Of Fame preseason game Thursday. Butler, on the other hand hasn’t put together a season with over 400 receiving yards since High School. Yep, High School, that is not a typo. Witten has been the model of a true professional throughout his career, and is a surefire Hall Of Famer when he hangs up the cleats. Witten is 35 years old though and has seen his production decrease each year since 2012. Though I like Witten, it’s hard to see him going over 700 yards this year. Oh yeah, and Dak has never thrown an interception when targeting Beasley, take that for data and take Cole as his highest ADP is WR65.


Zack Ertz - TE - Eagles

Now let’s shift to Tight End, but I really like what we had going with Hunt, so let’s stay on that wavelength. Andy Reid loves using his RBs in the passing game and he loves using his Tight Ends, Wide Receivers, not so much. Reid’s understudy Doug Pederson took the reins in Philadelphia last season and has started building up his roster even since. In Doug Pederson’s first season as head coach, he stayed tried and true to his offensive philosophy in which non WRs hold 3 of the top 5 spots on the team in total targets, Ertz leading the pack. Due to the intricacies of the position, Tight End’s typically hit their peak performance at age 28. Ertz, will be turning 27 this season and he has shown improvement in each season. Because of this, I am not worried about the additions of Alshon, Torrey Smith and the incapable at best pass catching RB LeGarrette Blount. Despite Jordan Matthew’s being the teams primarily slot WR, Ertz played 29.3% of his snaps in the slot which generated top 5 numbers in targets, catches, receiving yards, air yards and a very impressive 3rd best fantasy points per game figure at 13.1. I expect Ertz to maintain his 18-19% target share in the Eagles’ offense and for him to provide stellar value as many owners will over draft Alshon. As the TE11, you can get Ertz in the 9th round and get similar production to Travis Kelce who is going in the 4th round. Load up on RBs and WRs early and save this amazing value at TE for later, but please feel free to send me a piece of your fantasy championship payout after you work your draft like a wizard with this advice.



Wheeler’s League Winners:


Duke Johnson - RB - Browns

Duke is in his third year in the NFL and was a third round pick by the Cleveland Browns. In college, Duke was the Miami Hurricane career rushing record holder. Pre-draft reports by XNsports said, “Johnson has similar size to Abdullah but is much more powerful. He fights for every yard, can block and will run hard between the tackles, but is better suited when reaching the edge.”


Hue Jackson expects the Miami Hurricane career rushing record holder, Duke Johnson to play a big role in 2017. "He is just doing everything, honestly," Jackson said. "He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us. We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do."


So as we can see with hit college stats, he has the ability to put up big numbers in just about every category. He can truly be used in every way. In OTA’s Duke was going to receiver meetings and practicing out of the slot. It has been reported by several sources that he will be the number one slot receiver on the depth chart.


Last year slot receiver Andrew Hawkins had 54 targets, 33 receptions, 324 yards, and 3TD’s. I expect Duke to be more targeted or used on gadget plays as well, along with similar backfield production as he’s had in the past. Duke has had 74 targets in both of his NFL seasons, with taking over the slot role, and the only two Browns with more targets leaving Duke could easily see 100-110 targets this year. Hue definitely has a plan for Duke and he has experience with this before, Hue coached  Giovanni Bernard in Cincy and that was always a shared backfield. Here are Bernard’s numbers under Hue.


Given the opportunity, Duke has the ability to be a top 12 RB in the NFL. He is absolutely as talented as Tevin Coleman or Demarco Murray, but he’s going 3-4 rounds later. Cleveland has completely overhauled their offensive line, and although they will take time to gel before they will reach the level of the Atlanta or Tennessee lines, they should be a top 8 O-line this year. The problem with all three of these backs is that they have established starters ahead of them, well, if you consider Crowell established.


I do consider Crowell talented and established, but that is commentary for another day. There is no one in their right mind that would say Crowell is the level of Murray or Freeman though. So why does it seem to be popular opinion that Coleman and Derick Henry will get more opportunity than Duke? If anything Cleveland will be playing with a negative game script and go toward Duke that much more often.



Cameron Meredith - WR - Bears 

Let’s start with what we already know from Hartbeat’s WR Gold Diggers piece: "Cameron Meredith was one of the bright spots on the Bears season. Meredith showed that he a true threat at WR as he posted the second highest catch rate on deep balls last year at 70%. Meredith separated himself from the Bears other pass catchers, including Alshon Jeffrey, by posting the 9th best target premium among WRs. This means that targeting Meredith yielded 17.9% more fantasy points per target than the rest of his Bears counterparts. Meredith had the 15th highest weekly volatility among WRs though as he saw 27 targets over two weeks and followed that up with 3 consecutive weeks of 2 targets, none of which being in the Red Zone. The undrafted 25-year-old will likely continue to see this high variance in play depending on matchup, and therefore, is a better WR3/4 on your team than an every week WR2." -The Hartbeat


When trying to pick players I consider league winners a few of “my guys” are also players that the other Pyro analysts like. I was going to choose Tyrell Williams, but I know Waz was more vocal about him from the beginning, so I had no problem shifting to Meredith because if you look at their player profiles, they are each other’s most comparable player. Something I didn’t realize is that Meredith is also in his third year, so if you subscribe to the “third-year break out” philosophy, this is your guy.


The main aspect we are looking for with these picks is opportunity. Meredith is the WR1 in Chicago, Kevin White will be a gadget player at best. Opposing teams will stack the box from the beginning to stop Howard. Slot receivers Kendall Wright and/or Victor Cruz are underrated as chain movers, but won’t contest for targets like the plethora of targets Williams will have to compete for in LA (Chargers). Chicago lacks the QB upside of a Phillip Rivers, but there should be plenty of negative game script where they will need to go to the air often.



CJ Prosise - RB - Seahawks

Opportunity might be somewhat difficult for Prosise given Lacy and Rawls competing for the lead role, but Prosise should be able to command the third down work. One of the major misconceptions of Prosise is that he’s just a utility back, probably because he was a converted RB from WR at Notre Dame. Prosise is 6 feet, 220 lbs, and can handle between the tackles work when needed. He didn’t break-out until his senior year because of the stiff competition for playing time in college.


Last year Prosise was only active for six games, and only listed as a starter for two of them, and he was injured early in his second start. His injuries last year were the wrist and shoulder, not soft-tissue injuries that make us hesitant to take levels of risk with a player. The player comp on Prosise is Ryan Mathews, we shouldn’t always compare numbers just because players are comparable, but I can guarantee I always started Mathews when he was healthy, but that was few and far between. There is little news about Prosise coming out of Seahawks camp because his missed two days with an illness. Before camp the media chatter was that he should see 60+ targets this year. We should be getting reports regularly next week because Prosise will start making dynamic plays, that’s just what he does.


Seattle was known as a grind it out offense when they had Marshawn Lynch, and there is some speculation that Eddie Lacy will fit that role completely. Lacy is also versatile in the passing game, or at least he was with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Prosise is far more dynamic though, and Lacy has weight issues and ankle problems that have plagued him in the past two seasons. The hype around Rawls revolves around four great games against very sub-par  defenses in 2015. Prosise will not need as many touches to produce big numbers; he can hit the boom plays on 10-12 touches per game. I’m thinking he has the ceiling of a Jamaal Charles in his prime, and a floor of Danny Woodhead.




Pop’s League Winners:


John Brown - WR - Cardinals

So, the task is to come up with a player who will exceed their draft position to become a stud. A league winner as it were. My first instinct was to select a RB who is behind a Bell cow starter, but that is 2 obvious. If Elliot or Bell goes down you know their replacement will be good. What I wanted to do was come up with someone who was still being drafted but who I feel could exceed their station in life. My pick for League winner is John Brown Cardinals.


Smokey was limited with the Sickle cell trait last season which only got him 73 targets. It was hard to get a handle on Brown last season. Week 4 he goes out and grabs 10 for 144 yards then doesn’t have more than 5 any other game after that. Fantasy players are sometimes to reactionary. The whole “What have you done for me lately” goes a little too far sometimes. With the departure of Michael Floyd, Brown should be the clear #2 behind Fitz. The Cardinals are going to pace their QB this year, Arians said that Palmer wore his arm out last season. That could be the case. He did finish strong last year, his last 3 games he averaged 285 yards and 2 TDs a game. If Brown is healthy and I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be a 140-target guy and if he matched his 64% catch rate from 2015 then he could be in that 90-catch area. Again using 2015 numbers of 15.4 yards per catch he could eclipse 1,300 yards and 9 TDs. If he could match those numbers we could see him in that top 6 range. Fitzgerald had 150 targets last season, no reason Smokey can’t see 130 to 140. If he did, that ADP of 9.04 could easily win you some gold. Plus, he has the same name as one of the most interesting characters from history. Hopefully his season will turn out better than the originals did.



Waz’s League Winner


Tyrell Williams - WR - Chargers

After his breakout sophomore campaign in 2016, where he reeled in 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns, Tyrell Williams appeared to have done nothing less than lock in a starting wide receiver role on the Chargers for the foreseeable future. Well, leave it to the Chargers GM Tom Telesco to make sure this season is as similar as his last four, underwhelming and mediocre, and waste his top 10 pick on a wide receiver. It was obvious that the Chargers needed positional depth at wide receiver, but it’s difficult to support the notion of making a multimillion-dollar investment on nothing more than a complimentary/WR2 type of receiver. Why not look later in the draft to fill the void left by guys like Stevie Johnson and Jeremy Butler, or even consider available free agents. Either one of these options could have been taken for a much smaller monetary investment. Any way you look at it, you know that the draft capital paid to draft Mike Williams at 7th overall is going to negatively affect the immediate impact of their 2015 undrafted free agent. It shouldn’t, but it will because this is what we’ve expected from NFL teams. Sometimes, a GM feels the need to disregard a wide receiver of theirs that just posted over 1,000 yards in his debut season.


Here’s the thing--sometimes things just work out the way that they need to. For dynasty purposes, I felt damn confident during this offseason that in due time, whether it was after at least half of the season or longer, that Tyrell Williams would have proved to everyone again that he deserves those snaps more than Mike Williams. For redraft leagues though, I wasn’t entirely sure how to value. It’s kind of easy now because there’s a very good chance that Mike Williams misses at least a handful of games. Realistically, he could be shelved for the entire season because that’s what you’re forced to do when you select him at 7th overall in the damn Draft. Assuming Mike Williams goes under the knife for his back and subsequently on injured reserve (hell, even if he doesn’t), Tyrell Williams’ PPR ADP of 9.02 (WR43|OVR100) is a fair price. Granted, his ADP has raised nearly two full rounds over the month because the hype train has been generating steam, but there’s still a reason worth paying a WR4 price for him.


A healthy Keenan Allen pulling additional coverage, and an unhealthy Mike Williams pulling injury designations, could leave Tyrell Williams with a lot of room to harness a boatload of targets. Sure, there’s a chance that he won’t surpass the 119 targets he received last year, but if you consider all possibilities, there actually a good chance that he does. It truly comes down to the health of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. When someone like Tyrell Williams, at a 9th-round price, has a realistic opportunity to not only lead all Chargers WRs in scoring but finish top 12 among all wide receivers in targets this year as well, he will win weeks for those fantasy teams that have him rostered. For some reason, Tyrell Williams is the only wide receiver among the top 24 wide receivers in targets last season to not have a current ADP of at least WR33 (Emmanuel Sanders). What kind of disrespect is that? Do we really think that Keenan Allen is going to have lights out 2017 after a career riddled with injuries that caused him to miss 25 games since 2014, not including his PCL tear during the 2013 offseason that shelved him for an additional 3-4 months? Do we truly expect Keenan Allen to play 16 games for the first time in his career, during his 5th season? Do we really feel comfortable about paying him at his 3rd round, WR16 price? Keenan Allen is not the kind of player that can be considered a league winner, but he is the kind of player that can keep one hidden.


I think everything is shaping up nicely for Tyrell Williams. Some of you may be kicking yourself for not jumping on his price a few months ago, but some of you may have never had the chance. Now that we’re working our way into peak draft season, you have a fresh slate to draw up your rankings, tiers, and overall draft plan. If you’re seeking out a potential league winner that others are fading because the consensus ADP is advising them to take him a couple of rounds later, then Tyrell Williams is your answer.



Buck’s League Winner:


JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pit-WR)

Entering his senior season, the USC Trojan was touted as the #1 WR in his class. In 2015, he had 89 receptions, 1454 yards and 10 touchdowns. A lot can change in a year. JuJu had a relatively average showing in the Underwear Olympics, all after a lackluster 2016 campaign. In 2016, he finished the year with 70 receptions, 914 yards, and 10 touchdowns.


Smith-Schuster’s biggest advantage is his, “my ball” mentality. He is not afraid to secure the catch over the middle as defenders close in and he welcomes the fight across defensive backs to make big plays on deep balls. JuJu’s biggest weakness is his route running.  He struggles at time to create separation and could be that relief valve Ben is always looking for. 50/50 balls are where he makes his money.


Roethlisburger is not afraid to air it out and J2S2 may get thrust into the lineup if Martavis Bryant is not reinstated, sooner rather than later. Last year Eli Rogers was on the roster bubble of most 12 man leagues but I believe JuJu Smith-Schuster is a bigger, more physical specimen. At his current price, he is going at WR 95 and I am stashing him as my Mr. Irrelevant. In the 16th round, you are considering flex players and the value is there. As we approach kickoff, I expect his ADP to move at least 20 spots, pending Bryant’s status. If you are not sold on his Combine numbers, he may be a decent trade token to others around your league.



Stagg Party’s League Winners


Stefon Diggs - WR - Vikings

Stefon Diggs has shown glimpses of incredible talent in two seasons in the NFL. Whether it has been deep down the field or as a short area target, Diggs has put up impressive numbers when healthy and on the field. Using his per game numbers in his two career seasons, a 16-game pace for Diggs looks like 120 targets with 84 catches for 999 yards and 4 scores, and that is with no real improvement and includes his rookie season which we know is usually a low point for a receiver. Diggs’ 70 yards a game last year extrapolates to 1,120 yards over a full season. Diggs is currently being drafted like he won’t improve, even though he played some games at less than 100% last season. Stefon has even averaged 3 more PPR points a game with Bradford as his quarterback and has been tearing up his own staunch corners in training camp so far this year. Diggs is one of the few receivers not being drafted at his ceiling, which is not yet known.


Kenny Britt - WR - Browns

Kenny Britt is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the entire NFL, and joins a team in the Browns in need of pass catchers after the surprise departure of Terrelle Pryor. Britt is a big receiver who can win contested catches which will be a big point of contention with who he is currently playing with at quarterback. Last season, according to numberfire’s JJ Zachariason, Britt posted a similar yard after the catch profile to Tavon Austin despite being targeted at over double the depth. Britt’s upside is similar to Pryor’s despite being drafted nearly 30 receivers later. Cleveland has a massive target void from last season, and Britt’s quarterback play is almost impossible to be any worse than last season in LA. In 15 games, Britt hauled in 68 passes on 111 targets for 1,002 yards and 5 touchdowns. Look for Britt to smash his ADP and become an impact player, likely to slot into your lineups.



d-Rx’s League Winner:


Corey Davis - WR - Titans

Now that Corey Davis is signed and there is no fear of a rookie hold out, I’m doubling down on this beast of a man from Western Michigan. Maybe I am drinking the kool-aid here, or actually, the Two Hearted Ale in this case, as Western Michigan is located just down the road from one of my favorite Midwest breweries, Bell’s Brewing in Kalamazoo, MI. In this year’s 2017 NFL Draft the Tennessee Titans took Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick, giving their young stud QB Marcus Mariota a weapon to play catch with on Sundays. Davis owns the NCAA Division 1 record for total yards in a college career with 5,278 yards in his 4 season for the Broncos (he’s also second all time with 52 touchdowns). Since 2004, the following wide receivers have been drafted top 5 in NFL drafts: Amari Cooper (4th in 2015), Sammy Watkins (4th in 2014), Justin Blackmon (5th in 2012), A.J. Green (4th in 2011), Calvin Johnson (2nd in 2007), Braylon Edwards (3rd in 2005), and Larry Fitzgerald (3rd in 2004). That is some solid company to be in and has me believing that draft capital spent by a young team that can win now, Corey is going to be on the field more than any other receiver on the team.


Many folks are worried about the Eric Decker signing, but not me, Decker will share time at the Z receiver spot with Richard Matthews, moving around in motion and being utilized in multiple formations to help open things up for Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray dump offs. Corey Davis is the only receiver on the team that can body up at the X receiver spot and manhandle any press coverage. The sheer amount of snaps that CD84 is going to get will be head turning for a rookie. He’s huge, competitive, fast (dare I say even quick for a man his size), has amazing hand eye coordination so he’s able to catch passes away from his body and turn upfield like a Mack truck. He’s a T.O./Fitz hybrid, and honestly, the only competition I see him having at receiver in 2017 is his personal conditioning and making sure he doesn’t hit that ever elusive rookie wall.


So let’s see... a monster body enabled end zone target, plus targets out the wazoo, aligned with a great young QB in Super Mario, on the team with the best offensive line in the league, that has a dual threat tandem in the backfield along with a savvy veteran TE all adds up to a whole lot of GIMME THAT GUY NOW! He’s the top rookie in dynasty, and I think he’ll make a nice WR2 in redraft leagues. If he is your WR3, you should be in line to win your league this season. Some may call my thoughts above "hot takes", but when my teams all have this rookie on them and he's sleighing it, my teams will be "taking hot dumps" all over my competition. Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews are both being drafted ahead of Corey Davis at the moment, which is hilarious to me. Go ahead and pick Kenny Britt, John Brown and Kelvin Benjamin team owners, I’ll pick Corey Davis and whoop your asses. 


My projection is around 70 catches for just over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs in his rookie year, bettering both Julio Jones and A.J. Green's rookie season production by a notch across the board. The way overused on #FF podcasts and Tweets term "hot takes" are in their essence meant to be provocative and get a rouse out of people, but my goal here is just to help you win your league. Godspeed.



PK Ripper's League Winners:

LeGarrette Blount - RB - Eagles

When I think fantasy winners I think guys who are gonna be on your roster come fantasy playoff time and are going to produce above their expectations for me it's LeGarrette Blount I know coming out of New England he had 18 touchdowns last year-and it will be far fetched for him to achieve that goal, I still think double digit touchdowns is very much obtainable as well over 1100 yards. The Eagles have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL and last season. Ryan Mathews was able to get 8 rushing touchdowns and 661 yards on 155 attempts last season. In December in the thtee games where he was healthy (Fantasy Playoff Games) he had 15, 20 & 18 carries.

Which shows me when it gets cold the Eagles like to rely on the run and LeGarrette is a bruiser of a back and can make an impact on your team come championship time and won't break the bank come draft time either he is currently going early in the 5th round according to fantasy football calculator.

Willie Snead - WR - Saints

Another Player I'm high on is a receiver on a high octane offense in New Orleans who is poised to have a breakout season his name is Willie Snead. Coming into his 3rd season which is said to be the standard of which a receiver shows his worth the UDFA out of Ball State has plenty of opportunities coming his way he has the most time on the offense with Mr 5000 Drew Brees than any other of the receivers, he also had over a hundred targets in each of his first two seasons. The departure of Brandin Cooks should see a significant boost and with opposing defenses top corners draped on Michael Thomas, you can count on Snead to showcase his speed and excellent catch radius and lead you to fantasy glory.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, his current ADP is 6.09 so you can get him at an excellent value near the end of the sixth round. I got the need, the need for Snead...






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