It’s August which means fantasy football season is just around the corner! Seriously – I can’t wait; my 6-8 drafts (yes, I’m in too many leagues) won’t come soon enough!
In the spirit of draft season, here are 30 players / situations I’m thinking about this season…to draft or stay far, far away from. Those I like will be in ALL CAPS and the ones I don’t will be in Italics.
(1) TY MONTGOMERY (RB, Green Bay): He’s added weight and is preparing to get even more touches as a full-time RB. Could be a potential league-winner in PPR (point-per-reception) leagues as a 4th or 5th round choice.
(2) SAMAJE PERINE (RB, Washington): Quick, name the player who holds the NCAA single game record for rushing yards. Perine it is with 427 (!!) yards against Kansas in 2014. The Redskins’ RB situation is a mess; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are plodders. Perine wins this job by midseason and runs (no pun intended) with it. Great value in the late first half of your drafts.
(3) MARTAVIS BRYANT (WR, Pittsburgh): He’s back off a one year suspension and should top his 50-765-6 line from 2015. I’d almost consider him a solid WR2 in all leagues.
(4) MIKE EVANS (WR, Tampa Bay): I predict that Evans will lead the league in receiving yards. He should go no lower than #7 overall in ALL drafts.
(5) JAMEIS WINSTON (QB, Tampa Bay): As mentioned above, I think the Bucs will be throwing a ton this year especially with their RB situation a bit muddled by the four game suspension of Doug Martin to start the year.
(6) JEREMY McNICHOLS (RB, Tampa Bay): He’s only 5’9″ but this 5th round pick could get a lot of action while Martin is suspended. The former Boise State runner should be available in Round 10 or lower and has solid upside.
(7) Julio Jones (WR, Atlanta): He’s so, so good when healthy. But durability concerns and his lack of TDs (only 14 combined the last two seasons) would drop him to the back half of the 1st round for me in all leagues.
(8) DAVID JOHNSON (RB, Arizona): Obviously, right? The 1,000 rushing / 1,000 receiving goal is real and I’ll predict it comes true if DJ stays healthy. With Le’Veon Bell currently holding out in Pittsburgh, fantasy owners shouldn’t have to think twice about the top overall pick in fantasy drafts.
(9) Marshawn Lynch (RB, Oakland): He’s coming back after a season off and offers no PPR upside. The Raiders also like to exploit the explosive Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington out of the backfield. Lynch is touchdown dependent and will likely be over-drafted by someone looking at his 2011-14 stats.
(10) Carlos Hyde (RB, San Francisco): The 49ers new leadership for some reason doesn’t like Hyde and therefore he’s likely to either get way less touches than he deserves…or he ends up on another team. I’m not willing to gamble on a trade. No thanks.
(11) JOE WILLIAMS (RB, San Francisco): Just think, Williams RETIRED from football early in his senior season at Utah. After a rash of injuries to the Utes backfield, he came back and posted absurd numbers. Don’t be surprised if this rookie gets a major opportunity late this season for a rebuilding 49ers team. Like McNichols above, he’ll be there late.
(12) CHRISTIAN McCAFFERY (RB, Carolina): We’re 12 players in and this is my 4th rookie RB. Notice a trend? This speedster should be a major asset for PPR players as I expect him to exceed 60 catches this season. Worthy of a 3rd round pick.
(13) Eddie Lacy (RB, Seattle): If he could’ve only kept his weight in check while in Green Bay. Sorry Seattle, this isn’t the next Marshawn Lynch. Consider me surprised if he surpasses 500 yards rushing in a platoon situation with C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls.
(14) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS: As mentioned in several previous columns, I’m buying into the notion that they may be a top-10 defense this season. Don’t be afraid to draft them as your starting D in the final three rounds.
(15) DALVIN COOK (RB, Minnesota): Another rookie RB I like. Can you imagine what my teams will look like at the position? Cook might have more upside than most with only the underachieving Latavius Murray as his competition. A definite Offensive Rookie of the Year threat. Should be gone in the 4th-5th round of most drafts if not higher.
(16) Any player on the New York Jets: They’re going to be horrific this season and you’d best avoid everyone, including RBs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell.
(17) JAMISON CROWDER (WR, Washington): This little speedster might come close to 100 catches this season. A borderline WR2 / solid WR3 in PPR leagues.
(18) Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Dallas): As mentioned in Monday’s Four Downs column, I expect a major regression from the Cowboys this season. I would also plan for Elliott to be suspended for several games due to past indiscretions. I would be hesitant to spend a high 1st round pick on him at this juncture.
(19) MARCUS MARIOTA (QB, Tennessee): If you miss out on Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, don’t pass on Mariota as your team’s starting QB in Round 6 or below. Nice upside there.
(20) Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas): Had a great 2016 rookie season but I expect plenty of regression this season. Worthy of maybe a bye week fill-in as your backup QB but if he’s your starter, your team is toast.
(21) Jordan Reed (TE, Washington): Very good player when healthy but there are a ton of injury / durability concerns here. Let him be someone else’s injury problem in the 4th round.
(22) DWAYNE ALLEN (TE, New England): Speaking of injury concerns, Rob Gronkowski seemingly is always banged up. Therefore being the Patriots’ back up tight end is a good thing. Allen was acquired from Indianapolis in the offseason and would immediately become a TE1 catching touchdowns from Tom Brady if Gronk misses time.
(23) Any player on the Chicago Bears outside of RB Jordan Howard: The Bears offense should be Howard to the left, Howard up the middle, and Howard to the right. When they have to throw, the receiving weapons are about as bad as the Jets’. Avoid until proven otherwise in the first few weeks of the regular season.
(24) Demaryius Thomas (WR, Denver): Unless Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch turns into the 2013-14 version of Peyton Manning, I’d avoid DT. At best he’s a WR2 and not worthy of being drafted in the top 5 rounds as I see it.
(25) Spencer Ware (RB, Kansas City): The Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt in the 3rd round for a reason. Don’t expect the veteran Ware to come anywhere close to his 921 rushing yards from last season. I would avoid in all drafts.
(26) DANNY WOODHEAD (RB, Baltimore): He’s 32 and coming off a torn-ACL…but Baltimore gave him a three year deal for a reason. The Ravens’ running back situation isn’t good and though the touchdown upside isn’t there, I expect Woodhead to far out gain Terrance West in total yardage this season. Could come off the board as early as the 4th round in PPR leagues.
(27) ARIZONA CARDINALS DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS: They’ve finished 3rd in fantasy points in each of the last two seasons. So why are they ranked 5th-8th in initial preseason rankings? I’d gladly select them as my top defense in Round 12.
(28) HUNTER HENRY (TE, Los Angeles Chargers): Antonio Gates is almost at the finish line in his career and last year Henry scored 8 TDs on only 53 targets! A double-digit touchdown reception year in 2017 is a distinct possibility. I’d be happy to take HH as my TE1 in the 8th or 9th round.
(29) Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis): The injury concerns this preseason are too much for me. Now comes rumors that he might miss the first six weeks of the season. When healthy, he’s a must start fantasy QB. I won’t be drafting him this season, however. Let him be someone else’s problem in your league(s).
(30) MICHAEL THOMAS (WR, New Orleans): I’m a big, big fan of the Saints 2nd year WR especially with Brandin Cooks now in New England. He had 92 catches in 15 games played last season and should easily surpass 100 this season. I wouldn’t argue with Thomas going just inside the top-10 in PPR fantasy drafts.