This segment of fantasy insights is a joint endeavor between the Dynasty Football Factory and Utter Fantasy Football (www.utter-fantasy.com). This weekly segment is designed to canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy implications. If you aren’t already, be sure to follow Mr. Utter Fantasy Football himself, Doug Bowles @UtterFantasy.
DFF Asks – The NFL is full of narratives. The Manning retirement after the Super Bowl is as storybook of a finish as you’ll get. Which narrative or story line would you want to see culminate at season’s end in 2016? For me, it would be to see another one of the veteran quarterbacks (Brees, Brady, etc.) win the Super Bowl and ride off into the sunset. What about you?
Utter-Fantasy Response – I’d like to see some of the less successful teams in the NFL dominate for once, ending in a Cleveland Browns/ Detroit Lions Super Bowl. Last year was fun because Carolina hadn’t been to the big show since 2004, but Detroit and Cleveland have never been to a Super Bowl, nor has the Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars. (Wouldn’t it had been nice if Megatron had made it to one?)
DFF Asks – Which team or teams that made the playoffs last season will suffer the biggest drop off and miss the tournament this year? Subsequently, which team could you see make the jump into relevance in 2016?
Utter-Fantasy Response – Drop offs….New England may be in trouble with the QB Brady suspension. I know Denver has that great defense, but it will be difficult, if not impossible, to repeat with a rookie quarterback. Not missing the playoffs by much in 2015, I like Jacksonville to jump into relevance in 2016.
DFF Asks – Play devil’s advocate here and make the argument that a premier wide receiver should not be taken 1.01 across all formats. Convince me that going running back heavy in the first round is still the right strategy.
Utter-Fantasy Response – You won’t have to twist my arm to take a running back in Round One of any 2016 fantasy football draft. With fewer teams than ever before featuring a one-back offense, I think RBs Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell and Adrian Peterson can easily be argued as selections #1, #2 and #3 in drafts (most specifically in re-drafts). We still have to score 2 running backs in most fantasy football leagues. By doing so, fantasy owners will miss out on WRs Antonio Brown and OBJ, but I’d rather start out in a draft with Todd Gurley and Mike Evans, than one with OBJ and Eddie Lacy.
DFF Asks – Who plays a game first, whether it’s 2016 or 2017 – Martavis Bryant or Josh Gordon? Neither, ever again, is also an option.
Utter-Fantasy Response – Since Josh Gordon has kept his nose clean the longest (we hope), I’ll assume it’s JG. Agent Drew Rosenhaus recently stated he is confident Gordon will be reinstated from suspension and play the 2016 season. Bryant was suspended after failing six drug tests, perhaps more, so the man may be in a lot of trouble and unfortunately rehabbing hasn’t always been successful for NFL players with major addictions.
DFF Asks – The “old guard” of running backs is entering their late 20s and early 30s. Jonathan Stewart, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte are all getting discounted and falling in most drafts into the late second or lower. Will we see another golden age with this many talented multi-purposed running backs, or has the position been devalued to situational, cheaper backs that can be easily replaced? Yes, Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and now Ezekiel Elliott are the shiny new toys, but will the position ever be as deep as it once was?
Utter-Fantasy Response – My answer is……I hope so. As exciting as high scoring games are and as exciting as a deep pass going for a touchdown is, I still love the electrifying runs in the NFL the most. I never tire of seeing Beast Mode’s Beast Run vs. New Orleans in the 2010 Wild Card Game and the running backs you first mentioned have a few of their own. (Marshawn Lynch’s 5 greatest run…http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-total-access/0ap2000000358362/Top-five-Marshawn-Lynch-runs). It’s a “quarterback driven league right now, but I’d like to see running backs “valued again” not “devalued.” Perhaps Gurley, Bell, Johnson and Elliott are the beginning of “the deepest at the running back position as the NFL has ever seen.”
DFF Asks – Regardless of age and years in the league, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger stay fantasy relevant because of their star position players Rob Gronkowski, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown as their main targets. Meanwhile, guys like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers seem to put up video game numbers regardless of who they are throwing to. Which quarterback needs to have that all-world talent to throw to more than anyone else? Who would suffer from losing their primary target the most?
Utter-Fantasy Response – I think Roethlisberger would miss Antonio Brown the most and take the biggest hit with his stats if he didn’t have the star receiver. It’s easy to say Big Ben would miss the best receiver in the league, but it’s the lack of production by everyone else that has me selecting Roethlisberger. On any given Sunday Brady, Rivers, Brees and to a far lesser extent Eli, can target and hit 5-8 different receivers in a game, but that isn’t Roethlisberger’s game. He likes to throw to those he is comfortable with and throw to them a lot.
DFF Asks – News came out Monday that Melvin Gordon underwent micro-fracture surgery on his knee during the off-season. Does this worry you at all and make you drop him in your rankings?
Utter-Fantasy Response – What worries me the most about Melvin Gordon is Melvin Gordon. All the pieces were in place for a monster season from the rookie and he failed miserably (only 641 rushing yards and 0 TDs, while playing in 14 games). To his credit, he is not blaming a nagging injury for his terrible 2015 season and this “surgery” does not seem like it’s much to be concerned about. In a 10 team mock draft I viewed recently, he was the 25th RB off the board (which is late 6th Round- early 7th Round) and that sounds about right. I’d love to see him turn 2016 around and be a candidate for the come-back player in the league.
DFF Asks – What is your opinion on team defense and special teams versus IDP leagues or versus no defense at all? Is there room for all three in fantasy football?
Utter-Fantasy Response – Variety is the spice of life. Few people I know that are in multiple fantasy football leagues, are in the same type of league in all of them. As a matter of fact, few people I know that are in multiple fantasy football leagues are in the same type of league in 3 of them. One friend of mine boasted about being in 8 leagues last season, none of which had the same scoring format. There’s room for all three in fantasy football.
DFF Asks – Jordy Nelson, Kelvin Benjamin, Kevin White, Breshad Perriman all missed the entire 2015 season with various injuries. Who has the best 2016?
Utter Fantasy Response – Jordy Nelson is an NFL star player and one who has great chemistry with his quarterback, who happens to be Aaron Rodgers. Next I like Benjamin, followed by White, then Perriman.
DFF Asks – It wasn’t long ago that a point per reception was considered going against the grain, now PPR is more popular than ever, even though standard leagues still exist. With the amount of research and emphasis put on targets, will fantasy points based on targets ever become a “thing?” Or are we jumping the shark there?
Utter-Fantasy Response – I hope that we don’t go there. Fantasy Football ain’t broken. Neither is the NFL, for that matter. I recruit new members into our fantasy football community all the time, and the second most common thing that makes novices hesitate to join a league (for the first time) is believing that there is a complex scoring system. (Tied for the number one concern is…”I won’t know how to do it” and “how much time a league would require to participate in”.) Variety is the spice of life, but let’s not make it so spicy that some people don’t like what we are serving up.