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QB: Matt Ryan
RB: LeVeon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, LeGarrette Blount, Charles Sims
WR: Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Eric Decker, Willie Snead, Donte Moncrief, Taylor Gabriel
TE: Rob Gronkowski
PK: Adam Vinatieri
TD: Houston Texans

Overview:

Old school!

We like your overall strength at the traditionally less important positions, but make no mistake about it: this team is about strength at the running back position. And we think it will be among the top teams in the league. Somewhere Emmitt Smith is smiling.

Nonetheless, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention the relative lack of strength at quarterback and receiver. These are usually survivable weaknesses, but we'd feel better if we knew you were committed to zealously scouring the waiver wire for this year's emergent players at QB and WR. Getting a breakout player at one or both of those positions would take your already-good team to the next level.

Bottom line:
  • With great inseason management, we think you have about a 85 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With good inseason management, we think you have about a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With average inseason management, we think you have a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs.

In any event, we wish you the best of luck. Here's hoping all your weeks are like week 2 of 2011:

Eric Decker vs. CIN: 113 receiving yards, 2 TD
Rob Gronkowski vs. SD: 86 receiving yards, 2 TD
LeGarrette Blount vs. MIN: 71 combined yards, 2 TD
Matt Ryan vs. PHI: 195 passing yards, 4 TD
Matt Forte vs. NO: 166 combined yards

QB Summary:

We expect Matt Ryan to be a solid starter. According to our projections, he's the #3 QB, so you should be better off than most teams in the starting quarterback slot.

Despite your strong starting quarterback, we recommend taking a backup. See the end of this report for some specific suggestions.

RB Summary:

Nice work here. We like both your starting running backs, as our projections indicate that they give you a combined 2.7 point-per-game advantage over an average opponent in this league. Our projections have LeVeon Bell ranked at #2 and Marshawn Lynch ranked 16th.

Not only do we like Matt Forte as a third running back, we love that you stole him from the DeMarco Murray owner; he's a likely flex starter. LeGarrette Blount is an excellent RB4.

We're not sure that Charles Sims adds much, as you're already strong at the position and we aren't convinced he's roster-worthy in this league anyway.

A quick note about the same-team Forte/Eric Decker duo you've got here. Though the effect is probably negligible, this kind of pairing is likely to make your team more (not less) consistent than a comparable-scoring different-team pair. See this article (which was written before the 2008 season) for more discussion.

WR Summary:

We see all your starters at receiver as below average. Sammy Watkins is our #18 ranked receiver, Jordan Matthews is #35, and we have Eric Decker 36th.

Your bench looks good and should help offset the unexciting starting unit. Willie Snead should be a good fourth receiver.

Though some teams will probably be content to roster as few as four players here, it was not a bad idea to take a few extras because you're not particularly strong overall at the position. Of your remaining guys, we like Donte Moncrief the best, but you should keep the one you think has the best chance of putting up starter numbers. The rest might be considered expendable if you find you need roster space elsewhere.

Again, the same-team aspect of the Matthews/Rob Gronkowski duo does not concern us.

TE Summary:

As you are well aware, Rob Gronkowski is an elite tight end. We have him ranked first overall at the position. He's about 2.7 points per game better than an average starting TE in this league. Given your league rules and the presence of Gronkowski, your decision to roll with just one tight end is a reasonable one.

Kicker Summary:

Adam Vinatieri, our ninth ranked kicker, won't win the league for you, but he'll do.

Defense Summary:

The Texans are our #3 ranked defense, so you're in good shape here.


Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2018 season.


Schedule Analysis

Green means GO (good matchup), red means STOP (bad matchup). Main starters highlighted

At the bottom of the table, the Relative Strength row shows you how strong we project your team to be, relative to your usual strength, in that week. This accounts for byes and matchups.

12345678910111213141516
Matt RyanCHIGBDETBUFMIANENYJCARDALSEATBMINNOTBNO
 
LeVeon BellCLEMINCHIBALJAXKCCINDETINDTENGBCINBALNEHOU
LeGarrette BlountARINYGATLMINCARNOPITGBCLECHIMINBALTBCHICIN
Marshawn LynchTENNYJWASDENBALLACKCBUFMIANEDENNYGKCDALPHI
Charles SimsMIACHIMINNYGNEARIBUFCARNONYJATLGBDETATLCAR
 
Taylor GabrielATLTBPITGBMINBALCARNOGBDETPHISFCINDETCLE
Jordan MatthewsKCNOHOUCARTBNYJATLLACDENOAKMIABUFMIAPITBUF
Donte MoncriefHOUTENBALNYJPITLARINDCINLACCLEARIINDSEAHOUSF
Willie SneadMINNECARMIADETGBCHITBBUFWASLARCARATLNYJATL
Sammy WatkinsNEPHILACWASHOUPITOAKDENDALNYGBUFNYJOAKLACMIA
 
Rob GronkowskiKCNOHOUCARTBNYJATLLACDENOAKMIABUFMIAPITBUF
 
Adam VinatieriLARARICLESEASFTENJAXCINHOUPITTENJAXBUFDENBAL
 
Houston TexansJAXCINNETENKCCLESEAINDLARARIBALTENSFJAXPIT
 
Relative Strength99101991009110710110796991011019910199100

Schedule and Matchup Notes:

  • Please note that the Relative strength numbers above account for both byes and matchups.
  • Remember that you might have starters on bye in a given week, but still have a high relative strength. This could occur because of favorable matchups, or it might be because you are projected to be missing less production than an average opponent will (your opponents have to deal with byes too).
  • Week 5 presents serious bye week issues for you: Matt Ryan and Willie Snead are off.
  • Week 9 presents moderate bye week issues: LeVeon Bell, Taylor Gabriel, Jordan Matthews, and Rob Gronkowski are not playing.
  • LeGarrette Blount and Houston Texans are out in week 7, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • In weeks 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, and 12 you'll probably be better off than your opponent, as far as byes are concerned.


Potential Free Agents

Listed in order of preference. We don't know exactly who is available in your league, but here is a list of players who might be available and could be upgrades over some of your depth players, listed in order of preference. Your players are listed in red for comparison. Players who might not mesh well with the bye weeks of your key players are grayed out.


QB: Andrew Luck (11), Joe Flacco (10), Blake Bortles (8), Carson Palmer (8), Jay Cutler (), DeShone Kizer (8), Sam Bradford (8), Jared Goff (8), Trevor Siemian (9), Brian Hoyer (9), Josh McCown (11), Deshaun Watson (7), Mike Glennon (8), Mitchell Trubisky (9), Tom Savage (5), C.J. Beathard (11), Chad Henne (10), Colin Kaepernick (), Paxton Lynch (5).

RB: Jamaal Charles (5), Darren Sproles (10), Thomas Rawls (11), Chris Thompson (5), Wendell Smallwood (10), Shane Vereen (8), C.J. Prosise (6), DeAndre Washington (10), Jacquizz Rodgers (1), Jamaal Williams (8), Jalen Richard (10), Rex Burkhead (9), Robert Turbin (11), Dion Lewis (8), Samaje Perine (5), T.J. Yeldon (8), Tarik Cohen (9), Damien Williams (10), Matt Breida (11). We have all these players rated ahead of Charles Sims.

WR: Willie Snead (5), Kenny Britt (9), Zay Jones (6), Marvin Jones (7), Robby Anderson (11), Sterling Shepard (8), Chris Hogan (9), Breshad Perriman (10), Donte Moncrief (8), Ted Ginn (5), Devin Funchess (11), Kevin White (9), Kenny Stills (1), Marqise Lee (8), Cole Beasley (6), Kendall Wright (9), John Brown (10), Tyler Lockett (6), Marquise Goodwin (11). We have all these players rated ahead of Taylor Gabriel.

TE: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

PK: Cairo Santos (11), Adam Vinatieri (11), Caleb Sturgis (9), Sebastian Janikowski (6), Phil Dawson (8), Matt Prater (7), Blair Walsh (6), Chris Boswell (9), Brandon McManus (5), Graham Gano (11).

TD: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.


Projections and Player Summaries

PlayerCmpAttYDY/ATDINTRshYDTDFPTRank
Matt Ryan36454045098.4321133961411.13

Matt Ryan - With Kyle Shanahan gone to San Francisco, Matt Ryan regressed back to his historical averages following a standout 2016 season. The biggest difference was a 5% drop in completion rate and a touchdown rate nearly cut in half. The overt catch-and-run opportunities were reduced across the board for his targets. Another concern was Atlanta turning into an empty yardage offense, ranking 15th in points but 8th in yards. Without strong mobility or an elite arm, Ryan is at his best with a clean pocket or delivering with anticipation through a big hit. Ryan's touchdown rate in 2017 was third-lowest of his 10-year career and QBR his lowest since 2009. Outside of Julio Jones, Ryan's weapons are middling with a later-career Mohamed Sanu, baseline-level starter at tight end in Austin Hooper, and Justin Hardy as the only other notable receiver on the roster.

PlayerRshYDY/RshTDRecYDTDFPTRank
LeVeon Bell27012154.58746072242.22
Marshawn Lynch2108654.19302191168.416
Matt Forte1606273.94292321115.931
LeGarrette Blount1506004.06319097.940
Charles Sims552123.9124204153.666

LeVeon Bell - Fantasy owners know what they're getting when selecting superstar running back Le'Veon Bell. If healthy, there's no better running back in the NFL at crushing an opponents will on a weekly basis -- both in the NFL and your fantasy league. Bell went over 100 all-purpose yards in 10 of the 12 games he played in last year, and he was gold in PPR leagues with 75 catches in 2016. Bell missed four games (three to suspension) in 2016 but still finished as a top-10 player in rushing attempts (261), rushing yards (1,268) and yards per rush (4.86). On a weekly basis, projecting 140 all-purpose yards and five or more catches is not out of the question. With all his ability, Bell's not a sure thing as injuries have plagued him at times during his pro career. Earlier this year, Bell underwent surgery to repair a 'core muscle injury' but all signs about his recovery have been positive to this point. It's these injury concerns that may cause Bell to slide from the top overall pick in your fantasy draft.

LeGarrette Blount - LeGarrette Blount has had a strange NFL career. A strong rookie season in Tampa Bay was followed up by dwindling usage in his 2nd and 3rd seasons. He landed in New England in 2013 and was a part-time contributor, but the team didn't fight to keep him and Blount signed with the Steelers in 2014. He wore out his welcome immediately in Pittsburgh and was released mid-season, being added back into the Patriots fold. He continued in a part-time role for the next few years. Last season, at 30 years old and on a roster full of other talented, arguably more versatile, running backs -- Blount had a career year. The 6'1", 241-lb bruiser rushed for 1,161 yards and scored EIGHTEEN (18) rushing touchdowns for the Super Bowl champions. In spite of his heroics, the Patriots went in a different direction this offseason including the additions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. Blount eventually found a new home in Philadelphia. On paper, it's an excellent fit as the Eagles had the league's smallest running backs exiting the NFL draft. Blount should fit in as a key part of a running back committee and serve as the main option on conventional 1st and 2nd down run plays, short yardage and the goal line. The one concern for fantasy owners is Blount's troubling history outside of his time in New England. Presuming he's matured (he'll turn 31 years old this season), he has an opportunity to be a fantasy-relevant commodity particularly in non-PPR leagues.

Matt Forte - Matt Forte was supposed to be an upgrade over Chris Ivory, but instead he ran for less yards (813 compared to Ivory's 1070), barely topped him in receiving yards (263 compared to 217) and played one less game. In fact, it was his worst year of production for his career in nearly every statistical category. So things, clearly didn't go the way the Jets or Forte had hoped they would. Will that change this year? It's hard to see room for improvement, as Bilal Powell looked good enough to take on a larger share of the lead role. Powell had a higher yards per carry average, ran for more yards, was targeted on more passes and had more receptions than Forte did, which was not expected. All this points to the fact that Forte's best days are clearly in the past, and that makes him unreliable on a week to week basis. He also hasn't played a complete season since 2014, which will only make it harder for him to produce consistently.

Marshawn Lynch - Marshawn Lynch retired after suffering through an injury-plagued 2015 season and sat out the 2016 season. He decided to come out of retirement in the spring and was a perfect match for his hometown team. The big question for Lynch will be how much gas he has left in the tank at age 31. The early reports from offseason activities are promising. Lynch handled a lot of carries over a four-year stretch from 2011-2014. He ran for 1,200+ yard and scored at least 12 touchdowns each of those four seasons. If Lynch has anywhere near the same juice he had in his prime years in Seattle, he could have a great season behind the Raiders big, talented offensive line. His rugged, straight ahead running style is a great match for the Raiders . He should handle all of the goal line work and operate as a two-down back with the talented youngsters Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington getting all of the third-down action. Lynch's contract is incredibly heavy on incentives for rushing yards and touchdowns, so he will be highly motivated and the team is likely to feed him whenever possible to keep him happy and engaged. Lynch has more fantasy value in standard formats, where he has a solid floor and low-end RB1 upside. In PPR leagues, he will be reliant on racking up double-digit touchdowns to be a top-20 back.

Charles Sims - Charles Sims was brimming with upside following a highly efficient 2015 season of 4.9 yards-per-carry and 51 receptions. However, 2016 was lackluster crash back to earth for the third-year back. Sims missed at least eight games for the second time in three seasons, logged just 2.9 yards-per-carry, and did not impress with chances as the lead back with Doug Martin out of the lineup. With Doug Martin slated to return after three games of suspension to start the season, Jacquizz Rodgers a functional committee back, and drafting Jeremy McNichols, Sims' 2017 role centers around the pass game and little more.

PlayerRshYDTDRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Sammy Watkins00070101514.57143.518
Jordan Matthews1607080511.56117.135
Eric Decker0006280012.96116.036
Willie Snead0005974912.75104.944
Donte Moncrief1305768412.0598.752
Taylor Gabriel32303451715.2478.067

Eric Decker - The Jets released Decker this spring and the Titans signed the veteran with the expectation of using him as a starter who can play outside and in the slot. Decker is doing just that in training camp. He's a good route runner with skill in traffic and enough speed to get deep with the Titans' play-action offense. His range of outcomes is wide, but all of them are likely in the realm of a fantasy starter in three-receiver formats.

Taylor Gabriel - Taylor Gabriel joins the Bears wide receiver depth chart in free agency after two seasons with the Falcons. Gabriel is slight in frame, but still possesses plus acceleration and speed. Gabriel was at his best in the Kyle Shanahan Falcons offense of 2016, posting a career-high seven total touchdowns and averaging more than 16 yards-per-catch. Without Shanahan last season, Gabriel faded back to middling status. The Bears have a pronounced need for more impact from their wide receivers as journeyman Kendall Wright was the clear best target at points of 2017. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel are both upgrades over the incumbents to aid in Mitchell Trubisky's Year 2 progression.

Jordan Matthews - Matthews is who we thought he was. In three seasons, Matthews has emerged as a good-but-not-great receiver. The 6'3", 212-pounder looks like Terrell Owens but plays like Wes Welker. Now he will be one of the primary receivers in Buffalo, a lower tier pass offense. His target load might be higher than it was going to be in Philadelphia, but it is difficult to see Matthews as a consistent fantasy starter getting on the Bills this late in the game.

Donte Moncrief - Donte Moncrief has the physical tools to be a fantasy mainstay, but toe and shoulder injuries have slowed his career development. He is expected to be 100% healthy at the start of training camp, where he will resume his role as the Colts complementary receiver behind T.Y. Hilton. Moncrief has 16 career touchdowns in 41 games, which means his rate of scoring in a game is nearly 40%. This is a contract year for Moncrief so you can bet he'll be focused on improving areas that need fine-tuned, like his yards per catch average. His shoulder injury kept him from being a threat after the catch, which resulted in a career low 10.2 yards per catch average. The 2016 season, which included only nine games, was a disappointment for those who expected more from the young receiver. He did manage to score 7 touchdowns in that time, which is impressive considering his injury restrictions. If Moncrief can finally escape the injury bug, and build on his potential, he could finish the season in the Top 25.

Willie Snead - Willie Snead has been suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season. He is the son of a high school coach and played collegiately at Ball State. In his final two seasons there, he became one of only two Ball State players to have two 1,000 yard receiving seasons. He totaled 223 catches for 2,991 yards, and 26 TDs. Snead originally signed an undrafted free agent contract in 2014 with the Browns, but failed to make the team. He was then signed to the practice squad at Carolina and eventually wound up in New Orleans in December that same year. He impressed in the Saints pre-season practices in 2015 and eventually became their second most productive wide receiver that season with 69 catches for 984 yards and 3 TDs. He continued that success last year with 72 receptions for 895 yards and 4 TDs, even while Michael Thomas passed him by. He may see reduced targets this year due to missing the first three games of the season.

Sammy Watkins - Watkins is now a Ram, and while Tyrod Taylor isn't a huge fantasy value creator for wide receivers, Jared Goff has to be considered even more of a ceiling capper, especially because the Rams have a better supporting cast of targets. His value is down after the trade, and it will take a bit for ADP to adjust. His foot did look sound in the preseason opener and his injury risk should be considered lower than it was before we saw him.

PlayerRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Rob Gronkowski74105814.310165.81

Rob Gronkowski - Rob Gronkowski missed half the 2016 season, and had back surgery in December, so as is often the case, there is concern about his health. He expects to be practicing this summer, and should be completely ready for Week 1. Hopefully he can stay healthy, as the situation he's in is very good. Not only does he have Julian Edelman running inside routes and pulling defenders away from him, but Gronkowski now also has Brandin Cooks to draw coverage outside and away completely. Of course, more weapons also means more targets going to others. Despite that, we don't really think his production will slip from the 1,000-plus yards he saw in 2015 and 2014. Expect Gronkowski to produce at a high level again this year as long as he is healthy. Don't worry if you don't see him much on the practice field this spring and summer as the Patriots will take it easy on him for just that reason.

PlayerFGMFGAXPMXPAFPTRank
Adam Vinatieri28324142125.09

PlayerSackFRINTTDYd/GPt/GFPTRank
Houston Texans401115430520.4132.93


Player News (last 7 days)

"Our view" written by footballguys.com's Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom. Click here for all the news around the NFL, updated constantly.

Patriots | Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski likely back in 2018 - New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski are expected to return to the team in 2018 despite their absences from voluntary workouts this month, per a source with 'knowledge of the situation' according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. Sun Apr 22, 04:16 PM     [Link to story]

Saints | NO unlikely to match Willie Snead offer - The New Orleans Saints do not plan on matching the offer restricted free-agent WR Willie Snead signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Sat Apr 21, 02:55 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: This was expected once the Saints were able to sign Bears RFA wide receiver Cameron Meredith earlier this month. Snead will go to the Ravens where they've got a new-look WR corps. He should compete for snaps/targets in a trio of receivers that include Michael Crabtree and John Brown.

Patriots | Rob Gronkowski likely to skip workouts - New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski indicated that he does not plan to participate in the upcoming voluntary workouts. Sat Apr 21, 01:31 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: It's been reported that Gronkowski is still considering retirement. When asked about making voluntary workouts, Gronkowski stated that he had some serious dirt-biking skills to work on. While he works on being a super-sized Jeremy McGrath, Gronkowski will miss out on a $250,000 workout bonus.

Patriots | Several Patriots WRs close to free agency - New England Patriots WRs Chris Hogan, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt and Cordarrelle Patterson are all entering the final year of their current contracts. Fri Apr 20, 06:20 PM     [Link to story]

Ravens | More on Willie Snead offer sheet - Updating an earlier report, New Orleans Saints restricted free-agent WR Willie Snead's offer sheet from the Baltimore Ravens is a two-year, $7 million deal with $3.4 million in incentives and a $2 million signing bonus, according to a source. Fri Apr 20, 11:28 AM     [Link to story]

Ravens | Willie Snead signs Ravens' offer sheet - New Orleans Saints restricted free-agent WR Willie Snead will sign a two-year offer sheet worth up to $10.4 million with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, April 20. Fri Apr 20, 10:44 AM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: The Saints will now have five days to match the offer or risk losing him. Since he was tendered as an original round RFA, the Saints would receive no compensation if they don't match the Ravens offer. We think the Saints let him walk. After getting Cameron Meredith, the writing was on the wall for Snead's time in New Orleans.

Steelers | Le'Veon Bell a no-show at workouts - Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is working out in Miami as the Steelers begin voluntary workouts. Long-term contract negotiations are currently at an impasse between Bell and Pittsburgh. Wed Apr 18, 04:07 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: These workouts are voluntary, and Bell was not expected to show up. He's still hasn't signed his franchise tag as he wants a long-term agreement from the Steelers. They have until July 16th to get something done with Bell. If they fail to meet the deadline, we may see Bell hold out in training camp.

Saints | Willie Snead reports - New Orleans Saints restricted free-agent WR Willie Snead will report for workouts Monday, April 16, but he hasn't signed his tender yet. Mon Apr 16, 09:14 AM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: As a restricted free agent, Snead has until April 20th to sign his tender. The Saints just plucked RFA Cameron Meredith from the Bears last week, and that has clouded the future of Snead in New Orleans. They placed an original round tender on Snead, so the Saints can match any offer he gets but they would receive no compensation if the veteran receiver left in free agency.

Patriots | Rob Gronkowski still thinking retirement? - New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski still is considering whether to play the upcoming 2018 season, and a team source said Gronkowski and the Patriots are keeping in touch. Sun Apr 15, 07:04 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: Gronkowski was talking retirement last season according to reports and he failed to clarify his future intentions at the Super Bowl back in February. He should be leaning towards playing again, and reports indicate that any tension between Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick will subside when the veteran fully commits to the game again.