Sometimes it's difficult to organize all of the emotion and information we have swirling in our heads leading up to fantasy drafts. One way I have come to understand how to make my fantasy football research and intuition actionable is simply by level of commitment. There are players I'm willing to select in most cases at or around their ADP. Some players I am considering when I am on the clock, but often passing on at the moment of truth, and of course others that I'm not even willing to consider. There are players that I know could potentially draw my interest at a future date, but aren't going to spend any resources on right now. In other words, there are players I am marrying, flirting with, and dumping in my draft strategy, and a few names I am keeping in my phone for a possible future engagement.
There’s the Brock Osweiler dead cat bounce, but ADP of the pieces of the this offense still anticipates a sizable rebound from last year that is not a given.
Flirt: DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins could come back to life with Savage or Watson, but this offense isn’t getting back to Brian Hoyer volume levels. The good thing is that at a third-round ADP, it doesn’t have to for Hopkins to provide profit on a pick at market value.
Dump: Lamar Miller, CJ Fiedorowicz
Miller was a massive disappointment last year and he is only going about one round later than he did in 2016, when solid RB1 numbers were within his range of possibilities. Adding weight robbed him of the dynamism that made him so exciting in Miami. The Texans should have let him remain the middle class Jamaal Charles he was at a lighter weight, but they wanted a workhorse. An underwhelming workhorse who could add a few scores with better quarterback play, but will likely top out as a mid-RB2. Fiedorowicz is splitting the tight end role with Ryan Griffin, and Stephen Anderson could do more in his second year. There are better tight ends ot target later in drafts. There's no reason to draft Fuller while he's recovering from a broken collarbone.
Watson has the running ability to be fantasy relevant in this offense, but he will have to either decisively overtake Tom Savage in camp, or Savage will have to nosedive in season. Be patient. Ervin was drafted as a “weapon” and in year two there are signs that he is ready to be unleashed. He might be the primary receiving back and a surprise value in PPR leagues.
Maybe Andrew Luck if the uncertainty around his back surgery makes him fall too far in fantasy drafts. It doesn’t seem to be priced into any of the Colts major offensive pieces yet, and that makes it difficult to use the Colts offense as part of your draft plan.
Gore is still going at an ADP below the value he provided in 2016, but that wasn’t team-changing, and the Colts like Robert Turbin (in addition to drafting Marlon Mack). Gore makes sense when you neglect running back and need a high floor option to start as an RB2 early in the season, but that’s about it. Hilton could be enticing if he starts to fall to the late second. I think Luck starts Week 1 and is at worst the quarterback we saw in 2016, if he falls outside of the top 5-6 quarterbacks, I would pounce, but I’m not sure that is happening. Moncrief has the skills and tools to outperform ADP by 2-3 rounds, but only if he stays healthy and Luck is okay. There are other wide receivers I prefer in the same range, but won’t talk you out of Moncrief. Doyle is hard to ignore because you can get Luck’s TE1 outside of the top ten tight ends off of the board, but I still see him as a limited player and like Erik Swoope as much or more.
This is still a potentially elite fantasy offense if Luck improves from last year because he had an injury he played with for two years repaired this offseason. I’m not writing off anyone from this offense, but I’m not ready to commit either.
Swoope only started playing football three years ago. He looked swift for a big man and has those basketball ball skills. He could be a much bigger part of the offense with Dwayne Allen and I suspect Allen was traded in part because of the team’s excitement about Swoope’s development. Turbin had eight touchdowns last year and his role could inch closer to a committee back this year. If age catches up with Gore, I think it will be him and not Tevin Coleman-esque talent Marlon Mack that will be the starter. Rogers is running as the #3 receiver and might provide what the team wanted out of Phillip Dorsett when they took him in the first round in 2015. If injuries strike either starting wide receiver, Rogers will startable in fantasy leagues, assuming Luck is the quarterback.
The Jaguars coach said they want to run the ball on every play. Their quarterback is an offensive player of last resort. They just lost their left tackle to retirement. This is not an offense I want to hinge my fantasy hopes on this year.
The harsh reality of owning Allen Robinson last year (or watching the debacle unfold) is sometimes causing him to fall to the fourth round of drafts. I would pause to consider a talent like Robinson, but probably still stop short of taking him there. What is really going to get better about this passing game, especially if the team becomes more balanced on offense and more competitive because of an elite defense?
Fournette has the allure of an unknown ceiling and team that wants to feature him (with underrated receiving ability - nod to Matt Waldman), but do we really want to bank on the Jaguars being successful in any way on offense? Fournette could make all of that irrelevant, but I’m not ready to make him one of my big bets this year.
Dump: Blake Bortles
Yes he defied the measure of how he played to your or my eye to put up decent stats last year and great numbers in 2015, but that is not going to happen again under Coughlin and company. If there is a lot of garbage time in games, I would expect Bortles to find the bench.
Keep Number In Phone: None
Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon will just be back where they were last year if Fournette goes down. Did we enjoy having them on our fantasy teams? Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns will battle for a larger share of the smaller passing pie (that has Bortles as the chef may I remind you again). Even if Allen Robinson gets hurt, I’m not going to blow a big share of FAAB dollars to get a Jaguars receiver. I want no part of the Jaguars at tight end this year.
Mariota got a big upgrade in weapons, has one of the best lines in the league, and ripped off a long run as a strong QB1 before running into Denver and a season-ending leg injury. He has a chance to resume that Top 5 quarterback stature at a price around QB10 in most leagues. Henry can be a league-winner if Demarco Murray goes down. He might have Tevin Coleman value even if Murray stays healthy. He’s an ascendant talent in a great running game and ascendant offense. Let’s not overthink this. Few other players at or after Henry’s 6th/7th round ADP offer first-round upside. Davis has come out of the gate hot and has that unknown upside allure of a rookie drafted in the Top 5 at a low cost (for now).
If Murray repeats 2016, he’ll provide first-round production at a second-round price. In the late second, I might bite. Decker is hypercompetent and can flourish by just doing his job in this offense. Matthews is a proven near WR1 level producer when Mariota was on last year, the only problem is fewer targets to go around as he might be the third-best receiver on his team. His ADP has him going third among the wide receivers on the team, so he might be a value. There’s a “not enough balls to go around” upside problem, but he’s a proven performer and this looks like fertile fantasy soil. I prefer Kyle Rudolph, but if I miss on all my earlier tight end targets (and there’s a lot) then Walker is just fine around the ninth.
I expect this offense to take a big step forward this year and believe most, if not all of their key pieces represent values to various degrees.
Have I mentioned that I believe this offense is fertile fantasy soil? If both established running backs go down, I’m happy to flex any running back with pulse that starts for this team. Taylor has deep speed and game to transcend his small stature downfield. If injuries open up an opportunity for him, he will be a strong mid-season add.