Monthly Archives: July 2021

Evaluating Ruggs and Tua In 2021

Henry Ruggs III and Tua Tagovailoa were early first round picks that underperformed in their rookie seasons. Ruggs played in 13 games with 26 catches for 452 yards and 2 TD.  Not exactly what was expected from the first receiver selected in the talented 2020 draft class.  We all know what other receivers in the class did in breaking into the league.  The Raiders receiving corps is centered around Tight End Darren Waller.  Ruggs will compete with John Brown, Bryan Edwards, Willie Snead, and Hunter Renfrow for targets.  Ruggs involvement in the passing game wasn’t as much as many expected.  The learning curve and running the route tree looked to be problems to this uneducated observer.  With a closer to normal offseason, it’s entirely possible Ruggs takes a step forward in Year 2.  

There are so many other proven commodities at the position reaching for Ruggs doesn’t make sense.  Another factor for me is the track record of personnel moves by Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden isn’t that impressive.  Because of that I’m not as high on a Ruggs breakout.  Yes, I do pay attention to the success rate of front offices in factoring my interest in a player. I would draft Ruggs this year with one of my late round lottery ticket selections.  WR5 or WR6 is where I would feel comfortable.

Moving to the other big name rookie that underperformed, Tua looked overmatched and overwhelmed as a rookie.  He was benched twice in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in late game situations.  Tua played in 10 games and started 9, with a 6-3 record.  Justin Herbert, taken after Tua, looked like Dan Marino.  Yes, I went there. Miami’s surrounding talent helped lead Tua to victory more so than Tua leading the team to victory.  With a full offseason to focus on football instead of rehab, Tua could take a step forward in Year 2.  

Miami upgraded the skill positions adding Jaylen Waddle in the draft while Will Fuller and Malcolm Brown signed in free agency.  I believe Chris Grier and Brian Flores are doing a good job building their program from the ground up.  Because of my belief in their work, I would consider taking a gamble on Tua as my QB2 if I had an elite QB1.         

Looking at WR’s late

The late rounds of fantasy football drafts, I’m typically looking to gamble on lottery tickets with upside. If the lottery ticket busts, I have no emotional attachment and will cut bait for the next big thing.  The end of drafts also provide an opportunity to pick up values, players in which should have gotten selected earlier.  In this post I’m going to highlight a few Wide Receivers I will look to draft late or be prepared to pick up off waivers. 

Texans WR Brandin Cooks is a player I have sworn off drafting. The overall production too frequently doesn’t line up with the draft cost.  Lack of TD’s is a major problem for Cooks as 9 in his 2nd season is a career high. Playing for 4 teams in 7 NFL seasons doesn’t help with building continuity in an offense. In 5 of his 7 seasons Cooks has over 1,000 yards.  2021 is a new year and I’m back on the Brandin Cooks train.  The Texans are my pick to be the worst team in the NFL this season.  I foresee a lot of playing from behind for the Texans this year.  Deshaun Watson’s status for the season is TBD.  Tyrod Taylor is a lower level starting QB, but is good enough to force feed Cooks in garbage time.  Cooks also had the 2022 season of his voided so free agency looms.  I’m a big believer in drafting contract year guys.  Cooks is a player I’d like to get as a WR3/4  

Jets WR Corey Davis was given a three-year-deal after posting career-highs in yards and touchdowns in 2020.  The new look Jets have done a better job  supporting their rookie QB Zach Wilson, than what they did with Sam Darnold.  The Jets have a long way to go to being a competitive team.  Wilson looks like a good NFL prospect, but I would anticipate him turning the ball over a lot as a rookie.  Davis is someone I would consider as a WR 5.   

John “Smoky” Brown was lost in the shuffle in Buffalo last season with just 52 targets in 9 games.  At age 31 Brown is looking to rebound in Las Vegas.  Brown has a pair of 1,000 seasons in his 7-year-career with 2019 the peak 72 catches for 1,060 yards and 6 TD.  Darren Waller and Kenyan Drake are anticipated to be the top 2 targets in the passing game.  Brown will have to fight off Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Willie Snead, and Hunter Renfrow for targets.  Ruggs will go earlier in drafts due to name recognition over Brown. Depending on league size it’s entirely possible Brown goes undrafted. I see Brown going undrafted in most 10-team leagues. He could be a popular waiver claim if Ruggs doesn’t take the step forward in 2021.                

The Lions signed Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman to replace Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.  Detroit is beginning a rebuild under a new administration.  Williams and Perriman could lose targets to Amon-Ra St. Brown as the season progresses.  Jared Goff is a good enough QB to make one of these wideouts fantasy relevant.  I see TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift being the Lions top pass catchers this season.  Williams or Perriman could be early season waiver claims for fantasy owners lacking receiver depth.       

At the end of drafts you’re looking for lottery tickets or values.  Cooks and Davis could be garbage time heroes this season.  Brown, Williams, and Perriman possibly could go undrafted this summer, but be early season waiver claims.  

Is OBJ In Your Administration?

Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. is a player I struggle with evaluating for the upcoming fantasy football season.  OBJ is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in Week 7 of last season.  His availability to work with the team in training camp is something I will make a priority to track.  The first 3 seasons were unbelievable (91/1,305/12) (96/1,450/13) (101/1,367/10). The last 4 seasons OBJ has been healthy in just 2 of those.  During that period he has just 16 receiving TD’s.  With OBJ turning 29 in November and having multiple lower body injuries in recent years the question is have we already seen his best? 

I think it’s a tough question to answer as his Giants career began where he was the focal point on a deteriorating team.  Moving to Cleveland now is a different scheme as the offense is more centered around the running game.  There’s too many mouths to feed in Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper for him to receive the target share of Years 1-3.  The reality is OBJ should  have more team success in 2021 than at any point of his career as maybe personal success takes a back seat. 

In Year 2 of Kevin Stefanski’s offense maybe more is put on Baker Mayfield’s plate and in turn OBJ sees more targets.  Part of the struggle with OBJ is at the spot in the draft you have to select him more stable production options could be available.  In my own rankings I have at least 25 WR’s that I would consider taking ahead of OBJ due to the injury concerns.  OBJ falls into the range with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Aiyuk, Courtland Sutton, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Robby Anderson, D.J. Chark, Chase Claypool, and Deebo Samuel.       

I would consider taking JuJu, Claypool, Aiyuk, and Chase ahead of OBJ, but would have to spend some of the draft clock thinking about it.  All the other players listed in that grouping I would lean more toward gambling on OBJ.  In leagues with IR spots, OBJ would be more so worth the gamble.  If healthy I can see him catching over 80 balls, over 1,100 yards and over 7 TD.  I don’t see him repeating the beginning of his career, but I think he has more left in the tank than what has been shown the last 4 years.  If I can sneak him through as a WR 4 maybe 3 I’m comfortable taking the gamble. Anything sooner is too rich for my liking. 

Popular DFS Stack in LA

I have regularly drafted Matthew Stafford as my backup QB because he typically throws for a ton of yards in garbage time.  The lack of an overall supporting cast in Detroit is well documented.  Calvin Johnson was an unbelievable talent that helped Stafford put up huge numbers.  He had 8 seasons over 4,000 yards including a 5,038 back in 2011. The career high for passing TD in a season is 41 also back in 2011.  Calvin Johnson had 1,964 receiving yards that season.  The lack of a defense, running game, adn coaching often held the Lions back from being a competitive team.  Reggie Bush with 1,006 yards in 2013 is the only 1,000 rusher Stafford played with in his time with the Lions.  Stafford in Detroit owns a career record of 74-90-1.  To steal a line from Emmitt Smith, Stafford was a diamond in the poo-poo in Detroit.

Moving to Los Angeles is a dream scenario for Stafford and the Rams.  Being the quarterback in Super Genius Sean McVay’s offense makes Stafford my number 1 QB target this year in drafts.  We have heard so much in recent years about McVay having to use a lot of pre-snap motion to help hide Goff’s deficiencies.  Goff was slow reading defenses, struggled with pressure, and didn’t drive the ball down the field.  All of those areas are strengths for Stafford.  I view the McVay-Stafford as a match made in heaven comparable to a lesser extent of Sean Payton-Drew Brees.  

The supporting cast of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Cam Akers, and Tyler Higbee will help Stafford put up huge fantasy numbers this season.  I believe Stafford’s arrival elevates all these players up the preseason rankings.  The LA defense is set up to play with a lead and rush the passer. With Stafford at the helm the Rams should be playing ahead more in 2021.    

In leagues where points are awarded for completions, Stafford’s value is sky high. For example in that format I would take Stafford over Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill, and Joe Burrow.

My projection for Stafford if he plays a full season would be around 4,500 yards and over 32 Touchdowns. I’m a huge proponent of stacking QB’s and WR1’s.  Cooper Kupp’s value also goes up significantly in 2021.  In 2019 Kupp had 94 catches and followed that up with 92 in 2020.  The Touchdowns dropped significantly from 10 down to 3. With 92 catches you should find the end zone more than 3 times.  Kupp will have 3 TD within the first month of the season.  A market correction is due for Kupp in 2021.  My projection is 100 plus catches and 10 plus TD for Kupp. 

Ollison over Davis In ATL?

The Falcons signed RB Mike Davis to a 2-year deal worth $5.5 million dollars this offseason.  With that kind of money the presumption is Davis should be the main back in the Falcons offense.  New Head Coach Arthur Smith wants to run the ball more than Atlanta has run in recent years.  Davis in 6 NFL seasons has a career 3.7 yards-per-carry.  He’s a good 3rd down back catching passes and pass blocking. Running between the tackles and pushing piles forward I don’t see it.  

Looking at the preseason fantasy football rankings is interesting because Davis is significantly higher than I would have him.  I’ve seen rankings online across various websites with David Montgomery, James Robinson, Chase Edmonds, and J.K. Dobbins behind Davis in PPR formats.  I just don’t see it that way.  

One of the more surprising moves of the 2021 NFL draft was the Falcons trading away the 35th pick along with the 219th pick to the Broncos for the 40th and 114th. RB Javonte Williams out of North Carolina was the selection for Denver.  To say I was surprised Atlanta passed on drafting Williams would be an understatement.  I thought he would have been a perfect fit for what their offense needs.  I guess there’s a reason I run fantasy teams instead of real ones.  

Atlanta didn’t select a RB in their entire draft class. Reading the tea leaves from that move, it tells me the Falcons must be comfortable with what they have in the position group already.  Qadree Ollison is a name to keep track of this summer.  He’s more of a between the tackles runner than Davis.  One of the knocks on Ollison is his struggles in pass protection.  Missing assignments and getting your QB killed is one way you won’t see the field.  If Ollison can show improvement in pass protection this summer, he could force himself into more playing time.  Davis drafters may want to make sure to double back and select Ollison late.  For me, Davis is off limits and Ollison is on my radar as a lottery ticket.

How To Evaluate Wentz In 2021

The meltdown of Carson Wentz was one of the surprising stories of the 2020 season.  How it all went down and why is not really relevant to 2021 as far as I’m concerned.  To my untrained eye, Wentz looked to have gotten his ass handed to him due to a lack of surrounding talent. Add on the fact that his replacement was drafted and Wentz made a bad situation worse by pressing.  Wentz made some awful decisions on the field and was rightfully benched.  The fact that the coaching staff was fired as well shows how toxic things became in Philadelphia.  Wentz is 17-21-1 in his last 3 seasons as a starter.  It was time for both parties to move on.    

Going to the Colts was the best potential landing spot for Wentz.  Indianapolis has everything Philadelphia doesn’t at this point: a great offensive line, good running game, solid defense, and most importantly stable organizational culture.  GM Chris Ballard is in my opinion one of the top executives in the game today.  If Ballard believes reuniting Wentz with Frank Reich can work, why shouldn’t I?       

Last season Philip Rivers threw for 4,169 yards 24 TD and 11 INT with diminished arm strength for the Colts.  I would think Wentz could surpass those numbers due to his increased mobility and arm strength over Rivers. T.Y Hilton, (stop reading and do the T.Y sign) should be more of a threat downfield with Wentz than Rivers.  

I own Wentz in a dynasty keeper league and expect a bounceback season.  In season leagues I will look to add him as my backup.  I’m often one of the last owners to draft a QB, but one of the first to have a pair.  Wentz may fit into that strategy.  Wentz is ranked near the bottom portion of QB’s in many of the preseason rankings.  I disagree with many of the projections. If I had to draft today, I would take Wentz ahead of Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jameis Winston.  Fantasy players often put more weight on what a player did last year instead of what they think the player will do this year.      

I believe Wentz bounces back in 2021 and throws for more TD than Sacks taken.  

Maintaining The Advantage At The Shallowest Position

I’ve played fantasy football for 16 years now.  My strategy for drafting has changed as the NFL has evolved.  The value of Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Quarterbacks has changed with committee backfields and the rules being slanted to favor passing.  Tight End is the one position that largely has remained the same.  The gap between the elite TE and the middle tier remains greater than the gaps at the other positions.  I will spend early draft capital on that position especially in PPR formats looking to maintain the positional advantage over my opponents. The difference between an elite producing TE vs. a streaming player is tremendous.  That advantage helps to mask other potential deficiencies in the roster.  I believe there is a higher probability of being able to replace an RB2, WR3, K, or Def than at TE.    

In drafting my starting TE I’m looking for a player that will produce over 70 catches. With that many catches 7 or more TD’s is a distinct possibility.  As an owner you either draft a TE that catches a lot of passes or hope you can stream someone that falls into the end zone that week.   

In a league that is getting more pass happy with each season, do you know how many TE caught 70 or more passes last season? The answer is 3. Darren Waller 107, Travis Kelce 105, and Logan Thomas 72.  Now if you switch the baseline to 60 catches then T.J. Hockenson 67, Dalton Schultz 63, Evan Engram 63, Noah Fant 62, and Hunter Henry 60 qualify.  

Switching to Touchdowns Robert Tonyan/Travis Kelce each had 11. Darren Waller 9, Jonnu Smith/Jimmy Graham 8, Rob Gronkowski/Jared Cook/Mark Andrews 7.  Now lets see how many catches did these players used to get their 7 plus TD’s.  Tonyan 52, Kelce 105, Waller 107, Smith 40, Graham 48,  Gronkowski 43, Cook 37, Andrews had 48.  Overall there’s some donut scoring weeks with so few catches for some of these players.  

Using the scoring from one of the full point PPR leagues I play in Kelce was worth 310 points while Waller was worth 275 points.  Logan Thomas was the 3rd highest scoring TE at 172. Hockenson 171, Tonyan 168, Andrews 168, Fant 149, Henry 147, Gronkowski 143, Schultz 141, Graham 140, Smith 138, Cook 131, Engram 130.

For example, Kelce was worth more than average of 8.68 points per game over Hockenson.  The funny thing is I believe Hockenson had a great year in 2020.  The disparity of catches between Waller and Tonyan was more than what Tonyan had 107-52=55.  Not surprisingly, Waller was worth more than an average of 6.69 points per game over the season than Tonyan.  Remember Tonyan tied with Kelce for TD’s at the position.  Thomas was worth more than an average of 2.6 points per game than Engram.

Tight End is the one position I will reach for early in drafts and the above shows exactly why. Maintaining the positional advantage to the most scarce position has been a fundamental key to my success.  Maybe after reading this, it will be a key to yours.