My plans for TE this season have completely changed with the ACL injury to Chargers TE Hunter Henry. I planned on drafting him in every league. The situation and draft slot would allow me to select him in the middle rounds and get what I believed to be high-end production. I can’t justify spending a high pick on Gronk due to age and injury concerns. Since I live in Wisconsin, Jimmy Graham will go earlier than usual. Jordan Reed is always hurt and I can’t take him with a mid-round pick anymore. Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, or Delanie Walker will be my starting TE. I also love Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki in a dynasty format. Rookie TE’s often struggle to make an impact due to adjusting route running and blocking schemes. Gesicki in a seasonal league is a TE2 with upside. The players listed below are guys I will track in camps to see where to slot them on my draft board.
Bears TE Trey Burton
There are $32 million reasons Burton should be on your radar this season. Burton is projected to play the Travis Kelce role in Matt Nagy’s offense. Just because Burton is playing the Travis Kelce role in the offense doesn’t mean he’s going to produce like Travis Kelce. I’m a fan of Burton, but will certainly have another solid TE on my roster. Mitchell Trubisky didn’t seem to be able to read the whole field last season. A Jared Goff type jump in Year 2 is possible. I like Burton more as my TE2, than TE 1.
Rams TE Gerald Everett
2nd round pick from South Alabama caught just 16 balls for 2 TD in his rookie season. The Rams have weapons in the receiving crops with Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Everett offers more size and could emerge as a red zone threat in 2018. I’m targeting him in a dynasty league and as a late round flier in seasonal leagues.
49ers TE George Kittle
5th round pick did some damage in Weeks 15 (4-52), 16 (3-42-1), and 17 (4-100). I picked him up late after Hunter Henry was knocked out for the season. The 49ers with Jimmy G at the helm look to have an emerging offense. Pierre Garcon has never scored more than 6 TD in a season. Marquise Goodwin played well late, but at 179 lbs could struggle in the red zone. I plan to target Kittle in PPR leagues as a TE2.
Cardinals TE Ricky Seals-Jones
Popular waiver wire claim after catching 3-54-2 against the Texans in Week 11. The following week RSJ dropped 4-72-1 vs. the Jaguars then poof the production was gone. RSJ is a converted WR from Texas A&M and scored a 27 on the Wonderlic. How much of the workload RSJ, Christian Kirk, and Chad Williams can take is something to track closely in camp.
Lions TE Michael Roberts
Scored 16 TD in his senior season at Toledo. With Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo as the main competition on the depth chart, Roberts has a chance to carve out a role in the Lions passing attack. Improvements in blocking will be the key to more playing time.
I take the Hugh Hefner approach to Running Back in fantasy football. I’m always looking for newer younger models. Running Backs have the shortest career span of any other player. There’s a few impact players out of this draft class and a few late round gems. Training camps are a few months away, but here’s how I view the rookie running backs of 2018.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley
The number 2 overall pick in the draft should be a first round pick in all fantasy formats. Barkley is a 3-down back in an offense with premier complimentary weapons in the receiving corps. Taking Barkley is a no-brainer. Could have a Kamara type impact to Giants offense.
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny
Kind of a surprise with the 27th overall pick in the draft. Fixing the running game has been one of the top priorities in Seattle this offseason. Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari were brought in to replace Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable as OC and O-line coach. Solari has a long history of working as an O-line coach around the NFL. Previously worked as Seahawks O-line coach in 2008 and 2009. Moved on to San Francisco to work under Jim Harbaugh. Is tasked with fixing the squeaky wheel that has been Seattle’s offensive line. San Diego State product slides into a featured role with the Seahawks. C.J. Prosise hasn’t been available. Chris Carson looked like a late round gem last season, then got hurt. Mike Davis didn’t do much with a bell cow workload. J.D. Mikissic is more of a gadget player. Seattle signed D.J. Fluker in March and added C/G Ethan Pocic with the 58th pick. Fluker’s move from Right tackle to Right Guard and Pocic move to Left Guard are developments I will track in training camp. The reality here is Seattle has 3 first round picks and 2 second round picks along the offensive line. “Rushless in Seattle” shouldn’t see a sequel in 2018. I’m bullish on Penny stock in all formats.
Patriots RB Sony Michel
Drafted with the 31st pick overall. There were concerns about his medicals as the draft approached. If the medicals are good enough for the Patriots, they’re good enough for me. I anticipate Michel playing the Dion Lewis role in the backfield. There’s enough production in the Patriots backfield to make Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White fantasy relevant. Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill are short yardage plodders that may have to win a roster spot. I would feel comfortable drafting Michel as a late RB2/RB3. I believe Michel’s skills will carve out a significant role.
Browns RB Nick Chubb
35th overall pick. Didn’t play on passing downs at Georgia, but broke tackles and pushed piles ahead. Chubb will lose work in the passing game to Duke Johnson, while Carlos Hyde was signed early in free agency. Hyde could provide an obstacle for Chubb getting a lion’s share of the workload. Chubb is a draft for me in the dynasty format. Seasonal drafts I may pass due to concerns over usage.
Bucs RB Ronald Jones
38th overall pick goes to a fast track situation for playing time. Jones has speed to burn, but work to do adjusting to the NFL game. Speed backs sometimes try to outrun defenders as in college, instead of putting a foot in ground and pushing upfield. Jones doesn’t seem to set up blocks well and will need to work on pass protection. Peyton Barber, Charles Sims, and Jacquizz Rodgers don’t pose much of a threat. I’ll take Jones as an RB4 in seasonal drafts, and higher in dynasty formats.
Lions RB Kerryon Johnson
43rd overall pick. Detroit gave up the 51st and 115th picks in the draft to go up and get this Auburn product. The Ameer Abdullah era should be over. Legarrette Blount was signed to contribute in short-yardage and goal-line, while Theo Riddick will be involved in the passing attack. Johnson should be able to carve out a significant role right away. Detroit added C Frank Ragnow with the 20th overall pick and FB Nick Bawden with the 237th overall pick. Johnson will be the Lions first 100 yard rusher since Reggie Bush. If drafting today I would take Johnson over Chubb in a seasonal league.
Redskins RB Derrius Guice
Surprisingly selected 59th overall by Washington. I was surprised to see a few of the backs listed above drafted before Guice. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine won’t take away much of a workload from Guice, but Chris Thompson will take most of the passing game work. Was Thompson’s increased role last season due to ineffectiveness from Kelley and Perine? Or is Thompson just that good in the passing game? Guice will start off seeing a 2-down role and eventually more. Based off league format I’d feel comfortable drafting Guice as an RB2 in seasonal leagues.
Broncos RB Royce Freeman
71st overall by the Broncos and my favorite player on this list. Freeman isn’t nearly as talented as other backs on the list. However his skill set meshes with the system Denver runs. Freeman is an RB2 that I will target in each of my drafts this season. If Devontae Booker were that great, Freeman wouldn’t have been drafted. De’Angelo Henderson and David Williams shouldn’t pose much of threat to Freeman’s workload.
Colts RB Nyheim Hines
104th overall pick is known for his abilities in the passing game. Should carve out a role in Colts offense right away. Lottery ticket in 16-man leagues (yes I’ve played in those) for his pass catching ability.
Bengals RB Mark Walton
112th overall pick from the U. Looked much better at Miami than at the combine. Walton is a back fantasy owners should know of in case of injury to Mixon or Bernard.
Falcons RB Ito Smith
126th overall pick should provide depth for Atlanta behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Dynasty players may want to draft Smith if Coleman is allowed to leave in free agency.
Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage
131st overall pick can be viewed as a handcuff for Kenyan Drake. Ballage has a lot of work to do in terms of pass protection and more importantly ball security. I see Frank Gore as a 3rd down back and mentor for the team at this stage of his hall of fame career.
Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds
134th overall pick will likely serve as a change of pace back behind David Johnson. 16-man league players may want to take a flier on Edmonds for his PPR value. Seasonal owners should be familiar with Edmonds in case Johnson gets hurt again.
Colts RB Jordan Wilkins
169th overall pick in the draft will look to carve out a role at the expense of Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin and Nyheim Hines. I kept waiting for Mack to take over the backfield last season and it never happened. Evaluating Mack is tough with how inept the Colts offense was last season. Mack also played with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Wilkins is an interesting name to track this summer and a possible late round lottery ticket.
Trackable players in case of injury.
176th RB John Kelly Rams
201st RB Boston Scott Saints (Ingram out 4 games with suspension)
204th RB Trenton Scott Jets
226th RB David Williams Broncos
236th RB Bo Scarbrough Cowboys
251st RB Justin Jackson Chargers
The end of the fantasy football season shouldn’t mean the end of filling out your roster for keeper league players. Owners should always be looking to improve their situation. Grabbing lottery tickets for next season is one way to do just that.
At the end of the 2010 season I decided to flush deadweight on the roster and picked up Saints TE Jimmy Graham. As a rookie Graham caught 31 balls and had 5 TD. I figured in the Saints high powered offense Graham could do some damage in 2011. I was correct in that estimation to the tune of 99 catches 1310 yards, and 11 TD. All because I grabbed a lottery ticket before the season ended. The end of the 2012, I grabbed a lottery ticket in Browns TE Jordan Cameron. In 2 seasons he had just 22 catches. Following reports on the club, Cameron was projected to be a focal point of their scheme in 2013. I was correct again as Cameron had a career season 80 catches 917 yards and 7 TD. Those are my 2 biggest success stories in grabbing end of the season lottery tickets. I have missed on more than actually got correct. Point being it only increases your chances of improving your roster for the next season. If that lottery ticket busts, so what you didn’t lose anything anyways. Opportunity is the key in rostering these players thru the offseason.
Seahawks RB Chris Carson was the best looking running back in Seattle in preseason and the regular season in 2017. The Seahawks looked to insert Carson as the bell cow, unfortunately it lasted just 4 games due to a season ending ankle injury. Mike Davis, JD McKissic, Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, and C.J. Prosise didn’t pose a threat to take the job away. Davis was added off the practice squad later in the season and hasn’t done much to impress. McKissic is a gadget player. Rawls and Prosise can’t stay healthy. Whatever burst Lacy had looks to have left. If Seattle doesn’t add a big name in the offseason, Carson should have a good shot at being a bell cow in 2018.
49ers RB Carlos Hyde hasn’t relinquished the lead job to Matt Breida as many fantasy analysts predicted this season. Hyde is a free agent this offseason and could leave the Bay Area. Matt Breida and Joe Williams would have a chance at a lead job. Williams was placed on IR with an ankle injury in training camp. The 49ers offense looks pretty good with Garoppolo at the helm. Fantasy points from the 49ers top running back will be commodity in 2018. I’m going to burn roster spots on my dumpster fire of a roster to find out.
Bears General Manager got killed in the media for trading up one spot to draft QB Mitch Trubisky, but drafting TE Adam Shaheen with the 45th pick was also a head scratcher. Shaheen was a walk-on at Division II Ashland University after playing basketball at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 26 Touchdowns later Shaheen decided to forgo his senior season. Shaheen’s learning curve was apparent during his rookie season. The Bears are completely devoid of weapons in the receiving corps. 3 of his 12 catches in 2017 have gone for Touchdowns. I’ll gladly burn a roster spot to see if Shaheen takes a step forward in 2018.
The Cardinals drafted a receiver in the 3rd round that didn’t make much of an impact in 2017. Talent, coaching and opportunity could change things in 2018. Chad Williams has 3 catches for 31 yards in 6 games played at the time of this post. This Grambling State product hasn’t been able to beat out Jaron Brown, John Brown, or JJ Nelson to make much of an impact. Larry Fitzgerald’s status for 2018 is yet to be determined. If Fitzgerald does return, Williams is a higher ceiling player than anyone else in the receiving corps. Downgrades on Williams were off the field issues in college and playing in a smaller conference. Williams has 4.3 speed and was a red zone threat with 21 touchdowns his last 2 seasons. Bruce Arians is one of my favorite coaches in the NFL. I respect his football IQ and the path he had to take to get a head coaching job. 2017 was almost a red-shirt year for Williams getting acclimated to the NFL. Spending a season with Fitzgerald also should have assisted with the learning curve. With another offseason to work on his craft with Arians and possibly Fitzgerald, I believe Williams has a chance to make an impact in 2018.
By the time I have to select keepers and draft in August of 2018, I’ll know if any of these lottery tickets are worth holding onto. My recommendation would be to flush out dead weight on your keeper league rosters and grab some lottery tickets.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles
Played like Trash by throwing 7 TD combined in his last 3 games. Jadaveon Clowney with quote of the year.
Giants RB Wayne Gallman
13 catches combined in the last 2 weeks. Deep league PPR Flex vs. the Cardinals.
Patriots RB Mike Gillislee
Gets dusted off being inactive in the last 6 games. Facing former team wouldn’t surprise me if Hoody and McHoody don’t try to get Gillislee up to speed in case Burkhead can’t return for postseason.
Ravens WR Mike Wallace
Scored in double figures in PPR formats for 3 consecutive weeks. Colts have allowed 61 completions of 20 yards and 11 over 40 yards. Deep speed is Wallace calling card.
Chargers TE Antonio Gates
3rd on team in red zone targets since Week 10. Future Hall of Famer will dazzle us with his play vs. the Jets. Next Stop Canton.
Rams K Sam Ficken
Takes over with Greg Zuerlein going on IR. Titans provided enough of a challenge to stall some drives.
Home vs. the Browns. DeShon Kizer has thrown for 9 TD 19 INT and a 59.3 Passer rating.
Bears LB Lamarr Houston
Best known for tearing his ACL celebrating a sack dance, then getting cut by the Bears. Has returned to the Windy City with 4 sacks in his last 3 games.
Eagles QB Nick Foles
Giants have allowed the 2nd most passing yards in all of football. Foles has weapons around him and a solid scheme. Could help owners that lost Wentz or have been playing QB Roulette all season.
Packers RB Jamaal Williams
Scored in double digit points in the PPR format in 5 of his last 6 games. Also scored a TD in 3 straight games. Panthers give up just 89.5 yards per game on the ground. With Aaron Rodgers returning, Williams should still see a solid workload.
Packers WR Jordy Nelson
Hasn’t scored a TD since Week 5. Hasn’t had a game over 35 receiving yards with Brett Hundley under center. Those that rode the storm out with Nelson will be rewarded this week.
Bonus WR Dede Westbrook
Goes off vs the Texans. Speed kills.
Raiders TE Jared Cook
Cowboys allow on average 5 catches and 53 yards per game to opposing TE.
49ers K Robbie Gould
9 field goals combined in his last 2 games. 49ers have the semblance of an NFL offense and Gould has reaped the benefits.
Rebounds in Cincinnati vs. the Bengals banged up offensive line. Big days for Griffin and Hunter off the edge.
Panthers DE Julius Peppers
9.5 sacks this season on a snap count. This Future Hall Of Famer will be amped up to play his former team and get to A-Rod.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo
On the road vs. the Texans. Garoppolo made quick decisions and displayed accuracy last week. The Texans have been a disaster vs. the pass since Week 8. Deep league play or DFS worthy.
Cowboys RB Alfred Morris
Takes on the G-Men on the road. Big Blue has allowed a league worst 130.7 yards per game on the ground. Ben McAdoo having more time to spend on his Gordon Gekko/ Pat Riley hairdo won’t fix holes in the defense.
Browns WR Josh Gordon
11 targets for 4 catches and 85 yards in his return last week. This week faces a Packers defense that has allowed an opponent’s passer rating of 98.2. Injuries in the secondary won’t help matters for the Packers. I believe Gordon plays a huge role in Cleveland’s first win of the season this week.
49ers WR Marquise Goodwin
Texans have allowed 23 receiving TD this season. Goodwin is a solid flex-play.
Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
The Broncos are 2nd worst in yards allowed to opposing TE. Playing in Denver isn’t what it once was. ASJ will easily outproduce what he has in the last 2 weeks combined. (4 catches 34 yards)
Chargers K Travis Coons
Chargers have dazzled me with their play the last 3 weeks scoring 101 points combined.
Redskins are in free fall mode.
Have intercepted a pass in 8 of 12 games including 5 straight. On the road vs. the Dolphins. Doubtful Jay Cutler ends that streak.
Browns LB Joe Schobert
7 games of 10 or more total tackles. Tied for 2nd in the NFL in total tackles with 113.
Vikings QB Case Keenum
Thrown for over 280 yards in 4 straight contests. Falcons haven’t given up a TD pass in 3 of their last 4 contests. Have to roll with the hot player.
Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt
Hasn’t scored a rushing TD since Week 3 but you have to dance with what brought you. Hunt should remain in lineups.
Bucs WR Mike Evans
Hasn’t scored a TD since Week 7. Should feast on Packers DB’s for first 100 yards game of the season.
Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook
Leads team in Targets, Receptions and Receiving yards in last 2 weeks. Deep league play vs. the Colts.
Chargers TE Hunter Henry
Ran 9 more routes than Antonio Gates last week. Gravy matchup vs. the Browns.
Jaguars K Josh Lambo
Should be busy vs. the Colts
Home matchup with the newly inserted Geno Smith for the Giants. Raiders statistically are near the bottom of the league in team defense. Home vs. Geno helps those stats.
Rams DL Aaron Donald
Sacks in 5 of his last 6 contests. Cardinals offensive line has allowed 83 QB hits and 29 sacks.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith
More turnovers than touchdown passes in his last 3 contests, but rebounds vs. the Bills.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis
Averaging 15 touches in 3 straight contests. Sees the goal-line work and a threat in the passing game. Lewis is an RB2-Flex play.
Titans WR Corey Davis
Numbers are not there yet despite seeing a majority of the pass attempts. Colts have allowed the most passes over 20 yards and the 2nd most passes over 40 yards. Davis breaks out and scores his first NFL TD this week.
Panthers TE Greg Olson
Coming off IR should immediately make an impact vs. the Jets. Olson will feast in this matchup.
Falcons K Matt Bryant
Double digit points in 3 of last 4 contests.
Raiders at home vs. the Paxton Lynch led Broncos will play with some fire after Ken Norton Jr. was dismissed as the DC.
Cardinals LB Deone Bucannon
7 or more total tackles in 6 straight contests. Run heavy attack of Jaguars leads to tackle opportunities.
Dolphins QB Jay Cutler
Looks to stop a 3-game losing streak vs. the Bucs who have allowed a 98.8 opponents passer rating. Cutler has thrown 5 TD in his last 2 games in garbage time.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman
Tough matchup on Monday Night Football in Seattle, but worth a flex play as Falcons lead back this week.
Ravens WR Jeremy Maclin
11 catches for 151 yards and a TD in his last 2 games. Maclin frequently battles soft tissue injuries, but coming off the bye should be in lineups vs. the Packers.
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph
Has 5 or more catches in 5 straight contests. Rudolph should continue to offer steady production.
Redskins K Nick Rose
Should be a high scoring affair with the Saints.
I’m much higher on the Chiefs defense than rankers I’ve looked at this week. The Giants are a dead team walking. Kansas City has had clunkers in 2 of their last 3 games. Coming off the bye I anticipate Kansas City to generate turnovers and do some damage on special teams.
Chargers MLB Denzel Perryman
10 total tackles in his return. The Bills with a rookie QB making his first NFL start will try to run the ball leading to more tackle opportunities for Perryman.