Welcome to the 2015 Footballguys Discussion series, where we get a few staff members and toss them an open-ended question. Check out their answers.
Name a player you have totally changed your mind on this off season from your first rankings/projections to now. What caused this change?
Jason Wood: As you know I am one of four staff members who do our site's preseason projections. My first set of projections is completely by the end of April. Needless to say, a LOT changes between April and the late August, early September draft rush. I'll give you a few players that I've done a 180 about in the last few months:
- Tevin Coleman -- I expected Coleman to take control of the Falcons job and, thanks to Kyle Shanahan's preference for a bellcow, would be a stud as a rookie. But his injury-riddled preseason has me doubting whether Coleman will be much of a factor, at least to start the year
- David Johnson -- My initial rankings had David Johnson solidly ahead of Andre Ellington. To my eyes, Johnson was a larger, faster version of the same player. Johnson, like Coleman, has missed a big chunk of the preseason while Ellington has looked explosive. Johnson is now relegated to RB4 consideration.
- Joseph Randle -- Randle wasn't in my initial Top 30 at the position because I assumed the Cowboys would bring in another veteran and use a committee. But the Cowboys haven't even hinted at anything other than Randle being THE guy. And if they're convinced he can handle the job, I'm not sure why I should doubt his opportunity. He's now solidly in my high upside RB2 tier.
Chad Parsons: Two players who had 'bearish' labels on my board back in January were C.J. Anderson and Randall Cobb. Since, both have risen in value for different reasons. With Anderson, I was skeptical of him being the clear lead back and for the Broncos offense to maintain their top-shelf status. While I do think the Denver offense will cascade downward overall in 2015-2016, Anderson is one of the few running backs with 10+ rushing touchdown and 40+ reception upside. The running back landscape is dicey beyond about 10 backs and the position mandates more of a redraft mindset looking for consistent touches even in the dynasty format. Add in his high floor and neither Montee Ball or Juwan Thompson being serious threats and Anderson is an easy target in the mid-1st round. Randall Cobb's value was completely tied to his free agent status. Green Bay locked him up and as a 25-year-old with Aaron Rodgers targeting him for the foreseeable future, I am back on board as a top dynasty asset.
Daniel Simpkins: Few were waving the David Johnson flag as hard a I was when he was drafted by Arizona. From the comments above, it looks like Jason Wood might have been right there with me. To me, it looked like a pretty good landing spot with an incumbent who was oft injured. I still believe he can be a bigger, better version of Andre Ellington in the future. He's one of the best pass catchers at running back that I've ever seen. Sadly, Johnson has missed a lot of playing time this offseason due to a grade two hamstring injury. Unless you are superhuman like Odell Beckham Jr., that kind of delay in your development will keep you off the field. To Ellington’s credit, he’s stayed healthy and looked very good in his preseason touches. That being said, I’ve had to temper my 2015 redraft expectations for Johnson significantly.
Jeff Pasquino: I've been drinking the Ameer Abdullah all preseason long, and I have been moving up my lists accordingly. I still see plenty of changes to come over the rest of August as injuries and depth charts unfold. I agree with Jason's outlook on Joseph Randle, and I'm far from 100% sold on him, but you have to take it at face value that he is going to be the guy for Dallas.
While we all want rookies to emerge and be there to say "I got that guy right," we have to see how camps and depth charts develop. The talent may be there, but injuries or slower learning curves may keep them from being good values until mid-season or even next year.
Phil Alexander: Jeremy Maclin was on my do-not-draft list when rankings season began, but I'm now convinced he's a lock to post WR2 numbers in his first year with Kansas City. Considering Maclin is usually drafted near the seventh round (early WR3 territory), that makes him a solid draft day value.
I have to credit my change in opinion to Jason Wood’s eye-opening player spotlight on Maclin. If you’re of the opinion Alex Smith’s noodle arm will doom Maclin as a Chief, go read Jason’s piece now. Maclin’s YAC ability jives with Andy Reid’s quick hitting West Coast scheme. He’s capable of turning Smith’s short passes into big gains. In two seasons as Reid’s WR1 in Philadelphia, Maclin finished as the WR13 and WR27. His target volume in those seasons was consistent with what we’ve seen from Reid’s number one wide receivers in the past.
Of course Maclin won’t repeat his numbers from last season, but that’s not what you’re paying for at his current ADP. Hat tip to Jason for pointing out Maclin is being drafted at his baseline. The odds he performs worse than WR28 (his current ADP) are low. Maclin offers nothing but upside as your WR3.
Andy Hicks: Like Chad I was all in with the David Johnson bandwagon, but his hamstring injury came at the worst time possible. The signing of Chris Johnson is further evidence that Johnson will have to wait his turn instead of being the possible starter in Week 1. I still believe Johnson will play a part this season, but due to circumstance that won't be in the early part of the season. Coach Arians will not put players in he doesn't trust and Johnson has much to learn.
A player trending in the opposite direction is the player Jeff mentioned in Ameer Abdullah. I thought that Joique Bell and Theo Riddick would hold him off for most of the season, but the offseason surgeries to Bell's knee and Achilles have held him back significantly allowing Abdullah the reps he needs to contribute early. If a rookie running back can get on the field early his chances of fantasy success go up exponentially. I've dropped Bell back significantly and moved Abdullah up from where I had these situations at the start of the offseason.
James Brimacombe: Charles Johnson has been on my list the past month as a must have type of player. I have been skeptical of Johnson last season and early this offseason but after reading, studying, and researching everything I could about the Vikings offense I am liking what Johnson brings to the table as far as possible upside. Right now he is being drafted as the 40th WR as far as ADP goes and has much more upside with those names surrounding around him. The Vikings have Teddy Bridgewater coming off a successful rookie season, Adrian Peterson coming off suspension and Kyle Rudolph coming back from injury. In 11 games last season Johnson was targeted 59 times for a 31/475/2 statline. With Peterson back in the offense, opposing defenses are going to be looking to focus on stopping the run and that will open up things for Johnson down the field.
Stephen Holloway: Like others, I have also cooled on David Johnson, more because of the hamstring issues than the signing of Chris Johnson. I will still consider drafting him late, but several rounds below where I was planning to take him only a couple of weeks ago.
I was originally higher with my ranking for Joique Bell than most, but with his continued missed practices, combined with the exciting play by Abdullah, I have slid Bell behind Abdullah, back to the pack somewhat. It remains a situation to watch closely as Bell could still return and be named the starter, which at this late point might not move his ADP back upward giving him value as a late pick.
Clayton Gray: Mine is Justin Forsett. All offseason, I considered him nothing more than an average talent who happen to catch lightning in a bottle last season. Well, that may be completely true, but it doesn't matter. There is still plenty left in the bottle, and the Ravens are going let Forsett drink a ton in 2015. He will get plenty of carries and could have an immense amount of catches with Breshard Perriman ailing. If Forsett fails, it will only be due to injury.