This week, our panel of staffers begins by picking options from a list of returning RBs and WRs to roll with down the stretch and an injured player worth holding onto. They deliver their fantasy takes on the slate of Thanksgiving games and they finish with a dynasty version of Either-Or/Neither.
- They're Back
- Thanksgiving Game Previews
- Either-Or/Neither:Dynasty Style
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
Let's get to work.
Which one of these backs would you prefer to roll with down the stretch and why?
Matt Waldman: I would have said Doug Martin by a landslide two weeks ago, but after C.J. Prosise got hurt and the way Thomas Rawls looked, it's a lot closer now. Martin and the Buccaneers get the Chargers, Saints (twice), and Cowboys. All are vulnerable to the run and I like how Dirk Koetter used Martin in the screen game against the Chiefs.
At the same time, Rawls gets the Buccaneers; Carolina possibly without Luke Kuechley, and a struggling Packers unit before its Week 15-16 divisional matchups with LA-Arizona.
From a schedule standpoint and the caliber of the player, I still prefer Martin, but it's close.
Jeff Haseley: I'll take Rawls here. Seattle cut ties with Christine Michael and now that C.J. Prosise will be out for an extended time, the weight of the running game will be on the shoulders of Rawls and he proved that he can carry the load from last year's success.
Chris Kuczynski: I want no part of Starks or Lewis because I don't see them having enough of a share in their team's respective backfields. It's a bit of a toss up between Martin and Rawls—both are coming back from an extended absence and both are their teams only options at RB.
I will go with Doug Martin—he is a much more proven commodity and I'm still skeptical about Rawls' potential since he's only had a few huge performances last year that made his season total a bit skewed.
Daniel Simpkins: It’s close for me, but I will take Martin by a hair over Rawls. I love the Buccaneers fantasy playoff schedule and started making a trade push weeks ago for Martin, Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans in every league where I knew I would be in contention. If he can just stay healthy, Martin is going to end up being the reason a lot of folks hoist their championship trophy.
Chris Feery: I’m taking Rawls out of this bunch. As Jeff mentioned, the backfield belongs to him in Seattle at the moment, and the club appears to be hitting its stride for good measure
Which one of these wide receivers would you prefer to roll with down the stretch and why?
Chris Kuczynski: Desean Jackson and Steve Smith are both good choices here, but I think Smith is a bigger part of the Ravens offense than Jackson is to his. Washington has a lot of weapons on offense so it is difficult to guess which week Jackson will have a good stat line. Smith is playing his last season on a much-improved team and you know he will want to go out with a bang so he's extra motivated after his season was cut short in 2015.
Daniel Simpkins: Tyler Lockett, simply because he has the highest upside and the best quarterback of the four. It’s harder to tell a story where Corey Coleman and Desean Jackson sustain production. Steve Smith himself is capable of delivering the goods, but Joe Flacco isn’t going to give him the quarterback consistency from week to week that he needs to maintain a spot in my lineup.
Chris Feery: I think I can tell that story with Desean Jackson due to the strength of the guy that’s slinging him the rock. Kirk Cousins has been playing at a very high level, and that bodes well for Jackson’s output if the hot streak continues.
Matt Waldman: Lockett being on this list beckons me to take him. He's looking as quick as ever now that the PCL injury is a thing of the past and Russell Wilson's return to his All-Pro physical form makes Lockett appear evermore enticing as a hot play.
But I don't I'd have to take Steve Smith ahead of Lockett. His skill after the catch and his route acumen are stronger and he beat anyone in the game even at age 37.
Even so, I'm going with Desean Jackson. The balance of Washington's offense makes Jackson incredibly difficult to cover one-on-one and he's a better deep threat at this stage than Smith. I also like the schedule of Philadelphia, Carolina, and Chicago in Weeks 14-16.
Jeff Hasley: Give me Smith and his swan-song ending to a Hall of Fame career. Knowing Smith, he'll want to go out in his terms, which is nothing short of being a key contributor on offense. The others are not as polished, nor are they the most reliable options. I'll take Smith looking to leave his legacy on a positive end.
These guys aren't back, but if you had the luxury of a strong team and one spot to reserve for one of these injured players to return within the next 4-5 weeks and impact a playoff game (or run), who are you picking?
- A.J. Green (expected return 4 weeks, the earliest)
- Sammy Watkins (week-to-week, according to Bramel)
- Adrian Peterson (week-to-week, maybe by regular season's end)
- Ameer Abdullah (week-to-week, a good examination could have him back at practice this week or next)
Daniel Simpkins: I want Sammy Watkins. His playoff schedule isn’t scary and he has the most believable track to making it back to the field in time to matter for owners. I don’t believe the Bengals will risk Green’s health, especially if they are out of contention. Peterson and Abdullah both would likely struggle to make an impact on two squads who have not been able to run the ball effectively this year.
Matt Waldman: Abdullah could be super appealing because he could take over for Dwayne Washington and give this Lions offense an instant upgrade while sharing time with Theo Riddick. The Bills truly need Watkins, but Green is the one I'd probably hang onto because one week of him healthy could make all the difference in December.
Chris Feery: I would find a spot for Green. He’s the biggest game-changer of this quartet at the moment, and the target-hogging wideout can explode at a moment’s notice.
Jeff Haseley: Sammy Watkins is my choice. He's going to be a special receiver in time with Tyrod Taylor, plus the Bills could really use him for their stretch run, which includes three home games in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 - which is perfect for the fantasy playoffs.
Chris Kuczynski: If AJ Green was truly week-to-week, he would be the runaway choice here, but if the injury really is a torn hamstring, I can't see him being back in a month. Additionally, with the Bengals falling out of playoff contention, it makes no sense to rush their best player back to risk his long term health.
Watkins, on the other hand, has had a longer time to heal, there are rumors he may be back soon, and there is no one noteworthy in that WR group so he will definitely be force fed the ball when he comes back. And as mentioned, he has a favorable schedule for the fantasy playoffs.
Peterson and Abdullah are in similar situations—not quite healed enough to return and neither played particularly well before they got hurt. I wouldn't put much stock in either to contribute this season.
Thanksgiving Game previews
It's time for the Turkey Day Triple Header Minnesota-Detroit, Washington-Dallas, and Pittsburgh-Indianapolis. Answer the following questions for each time, provide supporting explanations, and (if you want) projected stats.
- Leading fantasy scorer.
- Most likely to disappoint.
- Most likely to surprise.
- (No stats needed) Match-up you're most interested watching. For example Tyrone Smith versus Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Shazier versus Frank Gore, Theo Riddick versus Eric Kendricks, etc.
Let's begin with Minnesota-Detroit and the leading fantasy scorer.
Chris Feery: Matthew Stafford. He’s been quiet from a fantasy perspective for the past few weeks, but I’ll look for him to be one of the pleasant surprises on Thanksgiving. The Lions are surprisingly battling for the NFC North crown, and I fully expect the home faithful to be jumping for the early kickoff. I’m expecting an inspired performance from the Lions as a whole, and for Stafford to deliver one of those sneaky upside games that not many saw coming.
Chris Kuczynski: I can see this being a big game for Riddick. In 2 of his last 3 games, he's had 8 catches for over 70 yards, and averaged almost 100 yards from scrimmage over these games. This could be one where short passes are the way to move the ball if the Vikings D focuses on Jones and Tate.
Matt Waldman: I'm with Chris on Riddick, the Vikings held him to a single reception for six yards three weeks ago. At the same time, the Lions' runner earned 70 yards on 14 carries and the Vikings have given up at least 45 yards receiving to opposing running backs in 7 of the 10 weeks Minnesota has played—and those totals include solid receiving outputs (at least 6 PPR points) from DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Fozzy Whittaker, Paul Perkins, Bobby Rainey, Jordan Howard, and David Johnson.
Who is most likely to disappoint in this Minnesota-Detroit matchup?
Daniel Simpkins: Those relying on Stefon Diggs may end up disappointed. Not only is he battling a knee issue, but he could draw shadow treatment from Lions’ corner Darius Slay. Yes, Slay allowed Allen Robinson to score last week, but he also held Robinson to three catches for eighteen yards. If Slay spends a lot of time on Diggs, four catches for thirty-seven yards feels about right to me.
Matt Waldman: With Stefon Diggs declared unlikely to play after Daniel gave his answer, I'll choose Eric Ebron. He's producing lately, but last week's 61 of his 70 yards came on a broken coverage and that's not something that happens much with Minnesota.
Although Ebron went 7-93 in Week 9 against the Vikings, much of his production came on crossing routes and slants and I wouldn't be surprised if Minnesota recognizes that something is physically wrong with Marvin Jones Jr (and he's playing through it) and devote more resources to stopping Ebron.
Chris Kuczynski: The low-hanging fruit here is the Vikings run game, but I think most have moved on from having any kind of high expectations.
Chris Feery: Sam Bradford. If I'm expecting an inspired performance from the Lions, that translates to the defensive side of the ball as well. Inspired performances point to sacks and turnovers, and that doesn’t bode too well for Bradford’s fantasy prospects.
Who is most likely to surprise in the Vikings-Lions matchup?
Matt Waldman: I'm tempted to drop Adam Thielen in this spot because he's an accomplished receiver with Bradford's eye, but I'm going with Kyle Rudolph. The Lions linebackers and safeties aren't good at covering tight ends and there should be enough pass protection for Sam Bradford to find Rudolph a couple of times for big plays—be it a big gain up the seam or a pair of red zone touchdowns.
Chris Feery: Anquan Boldin. While Boldin hasn’t lit the world on fire during his time in Detroit, he’s still third on the team in targets and has made five trips to the end zone. He has some sneaky upside if the game breaks as I’m expecting, but we’ll look for some red zone looks to sail in his direction either way.
Chris Kuczynski: Adam Theilen has quietly had some respectable performances, and he could continue to put up WR3 numbers or better.
What's the matchup from the Vikings-Lions game that you expect to be most entertaining to you as a football fan?
Chris Feery: Stafford versus the Vikings secondary. The Vikings have allowed a pair of touchdowns to the last three signal callers they’ve faced, and Stafford is included on that list. We’ll see if he can make it four in a row when he faces off with them again.
Chris Kuczynski: I agree with Chris that Stafford and the Vikings secondary is the most intriguing matchup for the recent allowances with the defense. I think the success or shortcomings of Stafford determines who wins this game.
Matt Waldman: I want to see Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr try to cover Theo Riddick. Will the Vikings do more with coverage drops and blitzes to cover up Riddick and force Stafford elsewhere or will they do a better job of covering Riddick from the backfield?
Riddick's skill as a route runner in the middle of the field is as good as any back in the league and despite how much I like Kendricks and Barr, both terrific players—and Kendricks reads quarterbacks really well—I have doubts that the Vikings stop the Lions running back. I hope they can and I want to see how it's done if they do.
Moving on to Washington-Dallas. Leading scorer?
Chris Kuczynski: Ezekiel Elliot is going to take this game over, play ball control, and keep it away from Washington's offense.
Chris Feery: Dak Prescott. I’ll zag slightly from Chris, and look for the other member of the Cowboys young dynamic duo to lead the way in fantasy scoring. In short, he’s been lighting opponents up of late, and I see no reason he can’t pull the same trick off against Washington.
Matt Waldman: Kirk Cousins. They'll have to throw to stay in this game and Cousins has the weapons to spread out the Cowboys and generate big plays.
Chris Kuczynski: If anyone expects Rob Kelley to come close to repeating his once-in-a-lifetime performance against Green Bay they will be disappointed.
Chris Feery: Chris nailed this one, and I concur wholeheartedly. Kelley was a gem last week, but asking him to pull off the same trick against Dallas is a bit too much to ask for.
Matt Waldman: Ezekiel Elliott. He won't be a major disappointment, but I won't be surprised if the Cowboys are far enough ahead that Elliott becomes unnecessary and the team lets Alfred Morris enjoy the spoils against his former team.
Daniel Simpkins: I could see DeSean Jackson surprising owners by having a decent day against a Cowboys secondary that’s nothing special. Washington will have to go to the air often to keep up in this contest. Five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown is not a reach for Jackson.
Chris Kuczynski: I agree with Daniel that Desean Jackson could have a surprisingly good game. He is a deep threat and has had another week to heal from his injuries. It only takes one deep throw for a score to make his fantasy week.
Chris Feery: Cole Beasley. Prescott, Elliott, and Bryant get plenty of well-deserved attention, but the little engine that is Beasley still makes his presence felt from time to time. This game shapes up as another opportunity for him to do just that, as we could be looking at a little bit of a shootout in the late afternoon window.
Matt Waldman: Vernon Davis. Washington's No.2 TE was quiet against the Packers last week, but I think Dallas' corners are just good enough that the onus will be on the linebackers and safeties to stop the passing game. Davis went 5-51 against the Cowboys earlier this year and caught all 5 of his targets. I don't think Dallas has an answer for him the second time.
Washington-Dallas matchup that intrigues you as a fan?
Chris Kuczynski: Dallas' offensive line versus Washington's defensive front. I think they will provide plenty of room for Elliott to have a big game and plenty of time for Dak in the pocket.
Matt Waldman: I don't think there are a ton of good matchups offense versus defense on either side of the ball, but Tyron Smith and Doug Free versus Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith fits the bill. Both edge defenders have skills rushing the passer and Tyron Smith is one of the best in the game at defending the pass. Since Doug Free is no slouch and Preston is a player on the rise, this could be fun.
It would be a lot more fun if Washington could successfully run A-gap pressure on Dallas because at least two opponents have gotten into Prescott's head with this package only to let him off the hook.
Chris Feery: Elliott versus Washington's run defense. Quite simply, Elliott is a flat-out stud, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with a good portion of the country watching.
Let's wrap up with Pittsburgh-Indianapolis. Your pick at leading scorer...
Chris Kuczynski: I see this game being a one-sided affair. Le'Veon Bell will easily get 30 touches as the Steelers take the lead then proceed to run out the clock.
Matt Waldman: Pittsburgh in a dome, Andrew Luck out, and Vontae Davis and Clayton Geathers questionable after Davis left Sunday's game in a walking boot and neither practiced Tuesday? Give me Antonio Brown all day because the Colts defense isn't horrible against the run and by the time Pittsburgh gets up big, the Steelers can pull Bell.
Chris Feery: I'm with Matt here. The Colts secondary has been picked apart many times this season, and that doesn’t bode too well for their chances to stop one of the top wideouts in the game. Brown could put together a monster stat line if this game goes according to script.
Most likely disappointment in the Pittsburgh-Indy game.
Chris Feery: Sorry Colts fans, but this one is shaping up to get out of hand pretty quickly thanks to the absence of Andrew Luck. A stifled Colts offense will likely have a hard time getting moving, and that doesn’t point to a productive outing for Frank Gore.
ChrisKuczynskik: I also think it's Donte Moncrief because of Luck missing the game. There will not be a lot of upside for the Colts offense. Hilton is a little bit more QB-proof than Moncrief.
Steeler or Colt most likely to surprise.
Chris Kuczynski: The Steelers defense thanks to Luck's absence.
Chris Feery: After delivering a monster performance back in Week 5 against the Jets, Sammie Coates Jr has fallen off the face of the Earth—partially due to an injured hand. Perhaps this is the week he can get back on track.
Matt Waldman: Frank Gore will earn garbage-time yards and receptions in this game to a surprisingly productive tune of a solid, if not strong RB2. Draw plays, screens, and swing passes galore.
Most fascinating Pittsburgh-Indy matchup of the evening:
Chris Feery: Roethlisberger versus Colts secondary. He’s picked the Colts apart in recent years, and there’s absolutely zero reasons to expect him to do anything less this time around.
Matt Waldman: Scott Tolzien versus the Steelers' secondary. Can Tolzien execute the Colts' game plan and limit mistakes against a Steelers defense that could use aggressive tactics against him?
Daniel Simpkins: I’m most interested to see how Vontae Davis versus Antonio Brown will play out. I know Davis is struggling with an ankle ailment, but these two always seem to have a fantastic competition when they square off. Let’s hope for more of this when these two meet up on Thanksgiving!
Chris Kuczynski: As Daniel suggests, Antonio Brown vs Davis. Brown should still have a good day (as we've seen his floor is about 15 points in PPR), but Davis is one of the better corners in the league and should provide a challenge.
Let's play a game of Either-Or/Neither. I list two players, you tell me which you prefer or you give me a third option you like far more within the same "tier" provided that you can justify he's in the same tier. This is for dynasty leagues and please feel free to add any philosophical explanations about building/managing dynasty teams that fit into your choices.
Jeff Haseley: I'll take Mariota here. He was touted higher coming out of college, plus he has found success after adapting to defenses adapting to him. We have not seen that from Prescott yet. How will Prescott fare once defenses learn his ways? Right now Mariota has that advantage.
Chris Kuczynski: As great as Dak has been, I'm going with Mariota here. I think Mariota has done more with fewer weapons around him. When he finally gets a true No.1 WR he is going to be that much better. Dak doesn't have to do as much himself because he has likely offensive rookie of the year in Elliot that demands plenty of the defenses attention. Also, I'm not sure his No.2 offensive line in the NFL will stick together as their rookie contracts expire and Cowboys are forced to pay them big money.
Daniel Simpkins: I’ll take Dak Prescott here. I’m a Titans fan, and as much as I love what Mariota is doing, there’s just too much long-term uncertainty with their coaching staff for me to feel comfortable selecting Mariota. On the other hand, I would argue that Prescott’s skills are already comparable to those of Mariota, he has a better supporting cast, and the Cowboys have a clear vision of how they want to proceed.
Chris Feery: Prescott. This a pretty tough one, but I’ll lean towards Prescott as I envision a brighter future for the Cowboys as a whole. He looks like the real deal thus far, and it will be super interesting to see how he progresses—or regresses—in his second year in the league.
Matt Waldman: I'll take Mariota over Prescott. I think Prescott has looked great and I love the discipline of his game thus far. But I think a few teams have let him off the hook when they stopped pressuring him with A-gap blitz packages that bothered him. Mariota may not be as creative as Prescott when the play breaks down but I believe in the direction of this offense and Mariota has done more with less in terms of star power.
Matt Waldman: I'll take Cousins. As much as I pick on him in print for the occasional dumb play that's often motivated by hubris, he's actually a smart, tough quarterback with a good chance of sticking in Washington with an offense headed in the right direction. I like the play-action game and the diversity of weapons surrounding Cousins.
Daniel Simpkins: I’m not really a fan of either because of the limitations of their physical tools. I would rather have Paxton Lynch, especially if I’m a rebuilding team. I know that he’s got greater potential when he sees the field, but is in a lower tier at this time because he’s not seen extensive work yet. Ideally, I would try to work a deal in which I got Lynch and a second or third-round pick in exchange for Cousins or Dalton. Always getting a little bit extra in your trades is like compound interest—it snowballs and adds up to a big sum total over time!
Chris Feery: Cousins. I’m not sure that Dalton will be the long-term answer in Cincinnati, but it appears as if Washington is finally sold on Cousins. The Bengals could be looking at a full rebuild in the next year or two, and who knows what that will mean for Dalton’s long-term status as the starter. I’ll take the quarterback that I see staying in the same zip code for awhile.
Jeff Haseley: Give me Cousins. Dalton is only one year older and I like what I have seen from Cousins in the last year or so, plus the needle seems to be pointing up more favorably for the Washington offense than the Cincinnati offense. I also like Cousins' leadership of the team more than I do Dalton's. Washington's players seem to respond more to Cousins and the results are more favorable.
Chris Kuczynski: I'll give the edge to Cousins. Dalton is about as average as you can get. He has great weapons in Green, Eifert, Bernard and Hill, but he just doesn't put up gaudy fantasy numbers. His down year (and a down year for the team in general) could be seen from not having Eifert much of the season but might go even further with the loss of Marvin Jones Jr as #2 WR and Hue Jackson at OC. Cousins, on the other hand, has put up some very high scoring games and has done it with fewer weapons than Dalton. We've already seen what Dalton has to offer, but Cousins' arrow seems to be pointing up.
Chris Feery: Luck. This is another close call, but I’ll take Luck for a long-term solution. While it’s been a challenging season and a half for the Colts, it’s still not too hard to envision rings being in Luck’s future with the right pieces put in place around him. His productivity will get back to where it needs to be once the club places some more importance on protecting him.
Daniel Simpkins: Give me Wilson. A good quarterback on a soundly constructed team versus a quarterback taking shot after shot on a roster that looks like a kindergartener built it is a no-contest. I really believe that unless drastic changes take place in the offseason, Andrew Luck is on the David Carr career track.
Chris Kuczynski: I really like Russell Wilson here. The Seahawks offense is heating up and Wilson is finally looking full health. He is one of the best at extending the play and improvising using his legs and is able to use that skill to its fullest with his ankle back to normal. Luck, on the other hand, takes too many unnecessary hits and this could hinder him going forward. He might be involved in a lot of shootouts and garbage time situations, but Wilson can accomplish more when he has to put the team on his back.
Jeff Haseley: I'll also take Wilson here. When healthy, he has proven to be effective inside and outside of the pocket. From a fantasy sense, I like Wilson's ability to make plays even when other options break down. There may not be a better quarterback with his skills outside of the pocket.
Matt Waldman: I'm going with Wilson all the way and it's not even close for me. Both quarterbacks have taken a lot of hits during their career, only Cam Newton has taken near the same amount. The difference is the context of those hits. Newton and Luck are punching bags, Wilson is better at avoiding punishment despite the high volume of contact. Wilson's improvisational skills are the best in football.
I know the party line for scrambling/creativity on the move is Aaron Rodgers, but give me Wilson. The throws he made this weekend on the move were looked like the football equivalent of Magic Johnson dishing the ball on the fast break. Wilson also does the job without the benefit of a great line, but the Seahawks have figured out that having a great coach and athletic prospects on the line can work out. I also love the Wilson-Graham-Baldwin combo and I think it will be intact for a few more years.
Jeff Haseley: This is close, but I lean towards Johnson due to his ability to be more involved as a receiver. Elliott may have more longevity going forward, but Johnson's value is slightly higher, in my opinion. Arizona needs to find another quarterback, but I don't see Johnson's abilities subsiding either way.
Matt Waldman: So tough. Elliott is the superior runner and near-equal in the passing game on the usual RB-style routes. But Johnson's pass receiving skills beyond the ordinary routes are among the best I've seen at the position. I have to go with Elliott's vision and the Cowboys line as the slight tiebreaker—and I mean slight because it's obviously not making a huge difference in fantasy production between the two.
Elliott is also 21 years old and Johnson is already 25. Off the field, Johnson is a choirboy. Elliott is under suspicion of domestic violence. I'm still not sure I have made a clear decision here.
Chris Kuczynski: This is a very close one, as I see these two as the best RBs in the league with Bell slightly behind. You then have to compare their supporting cast. Even though I mentioned the Cowboys offensive line possibly not saying together, one thing that might have a long-term solution in Dallas is the QB position with Dak Prescott.
The same cannot be said for David Johnson. I can see Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald both hanging it up very soon, then the Cardinals offense would have a lot of unknowns that primarily hurt the value of Johnson. You can't go wrong with either but I'd give the edge to Elliot—he is also younger.
Chris Feery: This is the toughest choice of the bunch, but I’ll take Johnson by a nose. We can safely assume that there will be a signal caller change in Arizona over the next year or so, but Johnson should remain a key cog in the offense. Elliott will do the same in Dallas, but I think Johnson slightly outperforms him.
Daniel Simpkins: This is a tough choice, but I would rather have Elliott. For starters, he’s significantly younger than Johnson. I’ve also seen a marginally better integration of skills from Elliott over the course of this season. Additionally, the supporting pieces in Dallas are better. The Cowboys’ offensive line and quarterback play are far superior to that of Arizona at this point in time
Chris Feery: Ware. He’s clearly established himself as lead back material, while Hill seems to be more suited for a role in an RBBC. Both will have value over the next few seasons, but I’ll always lean towards the potential workhorse.
Daniel Simpkins: Ware’s time to shine has come, and I, like many others in the dynasty community, vastly underestimated his impact, even after last year’s performance. I’ve never been a fan of Hill.
Though I acknowledge Hill has value, I still believe Ware’s long-term value exceeds that of Hill. Giovani Bernard won’t be around to cut into Hill’s workload for the rest of 2016, but he’ll be back to do that in 2017. I question whether or not we’ll see Charles with the Chiefs in 2017, which would allow Ware to remain in his current role.
Jeff Haseley: I'll take Hill here. I see Spencer Ware as a product of the Chiefs system that might not translate with other teams. I see Hill as a blue chip running back whose best years are still ahead of him, especially if he can get out of the carry share with Giovani Bernard.
Chris Kuczynski: Ware is the easy choice here because he has proven to be an every down back on a run-first team. Hill is a great downhill runner, but he is volume and TD dependent and not much of a pass catching threat. His ceiling/potential will always be capped as long as he is splitting work with Bernard. Ware should have the Chefs backfield to himself next season.
Matt Waldman: I'm taking Ware. I thought Ware was better than Hill at LSU and I think he's better than Hill in the NFL. He's a better receiver, he's better at yards after contact, and I think his vision is better. The only reason Ware wasn't a blue chip running back was off-field issues that scared teams away.
He had actually beaten out Christine Michael and Robert Turbin for playing time in Seattle as a rookie and I was told by a scout during that rookie year that the Seahawks were excited about him as a running back. He got bounced from Seattle for off-field issues, which based on what I'm hearing, he has matured enough that we shouldn't anticipate more issues.
Ware will earn the starting job in Kansas City next year and get a shot at remaining the starter for the next 3-4 seasons. The metrics on him breaking tackles, earning yards versus eight-man fronts, and the skill he shows in the passing game as a receiver and blocker aren't system-related. That's long enough for me remain optimistic about him.
Jeff Haseley: James White is more of a fill-in for the Patriots occupying a particular role in the offense. In other words, he's replaceable - and will be replaced once Dion Lewis returns to form. I don't see White thriving elsewhere in near the same capacity. Richard, on the other hand, shows promise and more longevity as a viable rushing option in this league.
Chris Kuczynski: I think White has a very limited role in the Pats offense, with Blount being the power back and Dion Lewis making White redundant. Even if Blount isn't a long term solution, White is rarely used to carry the ball anyway- the times he has big games is when other weapons in the offense are hurt and he has to fill in. Richard has cemented himself as the clear number 2 ahead of Washington, and he gets a fair amount of use in the passing game.
With Murray being a free agent next season and the Raiders needing to pay Carr and Mack all of the money, it's not a guaranteed Murray will be back if another team is willing to break the bank on him. Richard could be a big part of an RBBC next season if it's him and Washington or another draft pick next season.
Matt Waldman: I'm going with Richard. As much as the Patriots love White, they have an odd way of showing it with his play on the field. White seems to me like a screen pass option and draw-play runner. Richard offers more as a receiver and runner in the Raiders offense. Oakland goes to him in the intermediate passing game and it matches him up as a primary read when targeting him over the middle. Richard also runs with greater burst, balance, and power. White is shifty and smart, but I think Richard has more growth potential.
Daniel Simpkins: I’ll take Richard, partly because of my distrust of Latavius Murray and partly because weekly changes in usage from the Patriots make it tougher to predict which of their running backs will benefit from week to week.
Chris Feery: Richard. While White is an interesting interchangeable part in the Patriots offense, he hasn’t done anything to establish himself as a long-term solution. Richard is carving out a niche in Oakland, which is a team that looks like it could be for real and competitive for a few years.
Chris Kuczynski: Very tough call here, as I see these players as very similar being target hogs and not having a true No.2 WR to complement them. I like Greens floor and Julio's ceiling. I would give the slight advantage to Julio seeing Matt Ryan's resurrected career this season.
Matt Waldman: Give me Green over Jones. If Green was paired with a quarterback like Ryan or Stafford, I think the consensus choice would be Green and not even close. The reason is Green's route running. He can run every route whereas Jones has improved in this area, but he's still not the all-around weapon in this respect. Whereas Jones has more power, Green is every bit the jump-ball receiver and he's as skilled after the catch. Despite the hamstring tear, Green's injuries are like Jones. The Atlanta receiver has a foot and ankle issue that I'm concerned will carry over year-to-year.
Daniel Simpkins: I still prefer Green, even after the season-ending injury. I believe he has more to his game than Jones. Don’t forget that Jones has also had his fair share of injury issues throughout his career.
Chris Feery: Jones. This is another tough choice, but I’ll lean towards Jones simply because things look brighter in Atlanta at the moment. Cincinnati could blow things up and start over soon, and green’s production could take a dip if that happens. In the meantime, Jones should remain among the top of the wide receiver leaderboards.
Chris Feery: Benjamin. Close call, but I’ll lean Benjamin and assume his chemistry with Cam Newton continues to blossom. Who knows who will be throwing passes in Robinson’s direction over the next few seasons.
Matt Waldman: I'll take Robinson. Benjamin has the better quarterback, but Robinson is the more versatile route runner and does a better job adjusting to the ball. Benjamin will bully a defender by posting up, but Robinson can contort his body in ways that Benjamin can't. I also prefer Robinson's speed and skill after the catch. I think Bortles either improves or the Jaguars are moving on fast.
Jeff Haseley: The more I examine it, the more I see Kelvin Benjamin occupying a specific role with Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. I don't see Benjamin branching out as an every down, possession receiver and it ultimately will keep him from being a true reliable stud receiver. Benjamin may have the better quarterback overall, but Robinson's well-rounded pedigree outweighs Benjamin's by a large margin in my opinion.
Chris Kuczynski: Another hard one. Benjamin started out hot but has cooled down considerably, and the Panthers overall (particularly Cam Newton) have had a down year. Robinson has been disappointing and Bortles has taken huge steps backward in his 3rd season.
With that said, you have to think that the Jaguars clean house with their coaching staff next season because they have too much talent to be this ineffective on offense. Robinson is only 22 and I have faith the Jaguars will completely change their offensive scheme next year to focus on Bortles getting the ball to his star playmakers in Robinson and Hurns. Benjamin can still be a solid WR2, but Robinson has the ceiling to return back to his WR1 form.
Daniel Simpkins: I still view Robinson as a core asset, despite the poor year. It’s clear to me as I watch Jaguars games that Blake Bortles is the problem. Get Robinson a real quarterback and he’s certain to rebound!
Chris Kuczysnki: Parker is the easy choice. Jaguars offense has struggled a lot this season, but when they work to improve their scheme next season, it will be Robinson and Hurns that see the benefits—not necessarily Lee. As far as Parker, he started off slow this season, but he is improving lately and is going to be the main outside receiver, as Landry is better suited for the slot. Adam Gase should be able to improve the passing attack, now that they seem to have reinvented their running game and defenses need to focus on Ajayi.
Daniel Simpkins: I don’t see Lee as being remotely close to Parker in terms of dynasty value. Parker is the future at the X receiver spot in the Dolphin offense (which I believe will continue to improve under Gase), while Lee is just a role player in his offense.
Chris Feery: I think it's closer than Chris and Daniel do, but I have Parker by a nose and it's mainly because it’s easy to see the Dolphins on an upward trajectory, while it’s awfully challenging to build a similar case for the Jaguars.
Matt Waldman: Lee or Parker is difficult. Neither has been great workers early in their careers. Parker is the better physical specimen at the catch-point, but Lee is better as a ball carrier and runs better routes. I really want to go with Parker, but I'm opting for Lee. I've seen more positives from him against tight coverage and I still wonder how much Parker is leaning on his athletic ability.
I think there's a stronger likelihood for Parker to go the way of Justin Hunter next year if he doesn't improve against tight man coverage. He still isn't facing it this year and I think the test will come when the Dolphins need him to expand his route tree and beat corners playing tight man.
Jeff Haseley: I'm starting to grow on Parker as he continues to develop into a quality receiver. He has made strides in his route-running and separation skills. He still has work to do, but his pedigree is much greater than Marqise Lee's. The potential is there for Parker to reach greater heights. I don't see that from Lee.
Matt Waldman: Greg Olsen is the better all-around tight end, but Jimmy Graham's skill with the ball in the air is just a little better. I also like Graham's skill after the catch a little more. It makes Graham a better upside play. Both are around the same age and if I were choosing for a football team and not a fantasy roster, I'd probably go the other way.
Chris Feery: This is a veritable toss-up, but I’ll take a fully healthy Graham. He can easily assume his post as the best tight end not named Rob Gronkowski if he can hold the injury bug at bay.
Jeff Haseley: This one is difficult. Graham may have more longevity by a year or maybe two, but Olsen is a tried and true tight end in every sense of the position. He has more experience, is more of a fixture in the offense than Graham is in Seattle and ultimately, in my opinion, he's the more reliable option.
Chris Kuczynski: Also another tough call. I think Olsen is a little bit too inconsistent, and if Graham is fully healthy and the Seahawks are now properly utilizing him, I'd probably go with Graham, but with both of them on the older side, it's not a runaway decision.
Daniel Simpkins: I really didn’t believe Graham would come back and be the same player after the patellar tendon injury, but he’s proven me dead wrong. While I love the games of both of these players, I believe Graham has more productive time left in the NFL.
Jeff Haseley: I'll take Hunter Henry here, with the main reason being the more worrisome concussion history for Reed. One more big concussion could end his career. I don't have that same feeling with the younger Henry. Once Antonio Gates is out of the picture, Henry will be a key fixture in the Chargers offense.
Chris Kuczynski: If you could guarantee me that Reed would not get any more concussions, he is the choice hands down, but I worry about his longevity because of that. Both players are in offenses with a lot of mouths to feed. Not only do I think Rivers has as many years left in him as Cousins, I also think when Allen returns, Henry goes pretty far down the pecking order—especially with other players such as Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams along with a strong run game with Melvin Gordon III. When healthy, Reed is a Top-4 TE and I'd bet on him from proven production and his place in the offense has the No.1 target.
Matt Waldman: I'll also take Jordan Reed, but it's close. Henry has a reliability factor that I like, but I also think Cousins will be throwing to Reed longer than Rivers to Henry. Because both quarterback situations long-term are unknown, I'm also opting for the better athlete despite the injury history. It's tough because I think Henry offers more long-term staying power and I like having a TE as a foundation player in dynasty leagues.
Daniel Simpkins: Hunter Henry producing solidly in year one has blown me away, and I don’t think Antonio Gates realistically has much longer to play in the NFL. I’m a well-documented Reed hater—not based on the talent, but based on the concussion history that looms large, threatening to end his career at any moment.
Chris Feery: Henry. I’ll go with the youth and bright future of Henry, but I could easily be persuaded into finding room for Reed on my roster