In part one, the crew took a look at Saquon Barkley, Josh Gordon, Patrick Mahomes, Trey Burton and Jerick McKinnon.
This time around we have five more fantasy stars that are at the center of debates across fantasy football’s entire landscape. It is time to have it out amongst ourselves and find out whether these players will hit their expectations or not.
The following DFF analysts contributed:
Aaron Larson – @aalarson
Stephen Halupka – @TheRealHalupka
Mitch Lawson – @DFF_MitchLawson
Anthony Zaragoza – @zaragozaanthony
John DiBari – @dibari22
Michael Stephenson – @DFF_MSte
Johnny Slokes – @JohnnySlokes
Jay Ajayi: OVER/UNDER End of Season RB17.5
After a midseason trade to the Eagles, Ajayi was sparsely utilized while the Eagles let Blount and Clement play decent sized roles. Can Ajayi bust into the high-end RB2 range?
Aaron Larson – OVER – Remember a year ago when Jay Ajayi was drafted as the seventh overall running back? It’s tough to come into a new system mid-year as Ajayi did in 2017, but with a full offseason to acclimate to Philadelphia and their top-ranked offensive line I believe Ajayi easily beats RB17.
Stephen Halupka – UNDER – I think most of us like the talent of Jay Ajayi. He can play in both the run and pass game, but the Eagles will use multiple backs over the course of a season. I think he has pockets of production throughout the season and is a great pick for best ball leagues. Those pockets of production, however, will not be enough to crack the top seventeen for running backs.
Mitch Lawson – OVER – I think that the Ajayi acquisition was all about getting him for the 2018 season and beyond. They eased him into the new offense while allowing Blount and Clement to get touches. Clement is still a potential threat to his ceiling, but Ajayi could very well be a top 10 RB.
Anthony Zaragoza – OVER – I’m a Jay Ajayi believer. The Eagles want to run the ball a lot. Last season, they had the sixth most carries in the NFL and should continue that trend with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz returning from injury this season. Ajayi will get his carries and will have no problem increasing his touchdown total from a year ago (one).
John DiBari – OVER – Last year’s RB17 scored 178 fantasy points. I think Ajayi can eclipse the 1,000 all-purpose yards with roughly thirty receptions and six touchdowns. That would give him 168 fantasy points. I think there is even room for a little bit more, especially if he solidifies his role as the lead early-down and goal-line back.
Michael Stephenson – OVER – I looked very closely at Ajayi this offseason and discovered an odd trait of him increasing efficiency when he passes 20 touches per game. I think the Eagles will use him, and behind the best O-line in football, he should thrive.
Johnny Slokes – OVER – Ajayi is in a prime situation to score 9+ touchdowns this year, and for the most part, has a reasonably priced ADP (4.02 on Fantasy Football Calculator). I know a lot of people want to slot Corey Clement as the pass-catching back but he only posted 15 targets last year, that’s just one more than Ajayi saw, despite only playing seven games for the Eagles.
TOTAL VOTES: OVER – 6 / UNDER – 1
Jimmy Garoppolo: OVER/UNDER End of Season QB 10.5
Jimmy G has never lost a start in the NFL. He gets a full offseason to shape the offense for the 49ers. But his fantasy production was shaky in 2017. Will he be a QB1 in 2018?
Aaron Larson – UNDER – I think Garoppolo could end up being a really good NFL quarterback in 2018, but just a middle of the pack fantasy quarterback. I won’t list all of the quarterbacks that I think could easily finish ahead of him in fantasy points this season, but let’s just say there are at least twelve of them.
Stephen Halupka – OVER – I’m optimistic on the 49ers passing game. Even though he was not throwing touchdowns at a high rate, Garoppolo dominated even against the Jaguars last season. Now with a healthy Pierre Garçon, as well as more talent out of the backfield, I think Jimmy GQ has the chance to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
Mitch Lawson – UNDER – Garoppolo is a great addition for the 49ers, but a dicey addition to any fantasy team. He still has limited weapons and a tough schedule, and he’ll finish as a QB2.
Anthony Zaragoza – UNDER – Similar to Mahomes, here is another quarterback getting a ton of hype this year. Garoppolo and the 49ers ended 2017 on a five-game winning streak. In those games, Jimmy G completed an impressive 67% of his passes and averaged 308 yards passing. Unfortunately, he threw only six touchdowns and had five interceptions. That’s not going to cut it as a top-10 QB.
John DiBari – UNDER – The Jimmy G hype has gotten a bit out of control. The upside is there, but QB10 is a little too rich for my blood. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
Michael Stephenson – UNDER – He’s great for the 49ers, and could/should lead them to a winning record in real life football, but a fantasy star he is not. His TD/INT ratio leaves a lot to be desired, as he is a game manager who will frustrate all who overpaid for him this year.
Johnny Slokes – UNDER – I liked what he showed us last year, but I don’t think his weapons are that good. What I saw last year was a guy that was making amazing throws into tight windows that could have just as easily have been picked off. We’ll see some big explosion games from him no doubt, but with the other pieces around him, it just feels like it will be peaks and valleys all year long with Jimmy G.
TOTAL VOTES: OVER – 1 / UNDER – 6
Tyreek Hill: OVER/UNDER End of Season WR 12.5
Hill has been a home run hitter who has put up fantastic numbers consistently since breaking out in mid-2016. He’ll have a new QB and deep-threat Sammy Watkins joining the team. So can he be a WR1 in 2018?
Aaron Larson – UNDER – Hill might win your a few weeks this season with his big play ability, but I think his ceiling is capped with the addition of Sammy Watkins and the presence of Travis Kelce. It remains to be seen who Patrick Mahomes builds a rapport with, and I think Hill is too boom-or-bust to trust as a WR1.
Stephen Halupka – OVER – Hill has demonstrated since coming into the league that he can make things happen, even with a low target volume. Even with Sammy Watkins in the fold, Hill can be uber-efficient, which he will probably have to be again in 2018. The big play is just a snap away for Hill, and I expect him to finish as a WR1 just inside the top 12.
Mitch Lawson – OVER – Hill’s 2017 season often gets chalked up to Alex Smith’s career year. But Hill was electric in his rookie season when Smith was not, and rookie QB Mahomes would be wise to get the ball in his hands both on deep balls and screen passes and wheel routes. He’ll be a WR1.
Anthony Zaragoza – UNDER – Hill finished as a top-10 wide receiver last season. However, guys like Golden Tate, Davante Adams and Doug Baldwin that I like this year, finished behind Hill in 2017. The wide receivers I named have quarterbacks I trust. Hill’s quarterback, on the other hand, only has 22 completions in his career. That uncertainty behind center makes me nervous.
John DiBari – UNDER – I love Hill, and he’s a threat to break every single play for a long touchdown each time he touches the ball, but until we see what Kansas City looks like with a new offensive coordinator and quarterback, I can’t trust him yet. The new pieces in K.C. plus the addition of Sammy Watkins all give me a little pause on Hill in 2018.
Michael Stephenson – UNDER – Targets and Fantasy finish show almost perfect correlation, the glaring outlier in 2017 was Tyreek Hill (22nd in targets, 9th in PPR finish) as 6 of his seven touchdowns were from 40+ yards. This efficiency is impossible to repeat, especially with essentially a rookie quarterback, and with Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Kareem Hunt to contend with.
Johnny Slokes – UNDER – This is another one where I think he will get close to this mark, but I’ll take the under. Since 2004, only seven wide receivers finished as a WR1 with less than 110 targets. Desean Jackson in 2009 was WR11 on 110 targets and was WR21 the following year with a similar target share. Marques Colston was WR10 on 107 targets (finished WR12 in 2012 on 130 targets), and Jordy Nelson was WR4 on 96 targets (in 2012, got hurt and only played 12 games). Mike Wallace is the only wide receiver since 2004 to have back to back seasons as a WR1 on less than 110 targets for both seasons. For Tyreek to finish as a WR1 again this year, he will likely need a target increase, and he may not get that with Sammy Watkins there and Mahomes at quarterback.
Evan Engram: OVER/UNDER End of Season TE 6.5
Engram was electric in his rookie season, but with the health of OBJ and the addition of Saquon Barkley, will he carve enough volume to enter that high-end TE1 tier?
Aaron Larson – OVER – The return of OBJ and addition of Barkley are certainly concerning, but I believe his talent wins out on this one. The tight end position is thin at the top this year, and Engram’s ceiling is high. It wouldn’t shock me if he finished as a top three tight end.
Stephen Halupka – UNDER – There isn’t a lot of top-tier talent at the tight end position, but Engram will be hard pressed to replicate the target share he saw from a season ago. With OBJ and Saquon Barkley commanding a ton of touches, I think Engram is an effective player, but not top 5 at the position. He will finish as a TE1 but on the lower side of the spectrum.
Mitch Lawson – OVER – Barely. I think that Greg Olsen will slip back, leaving Gronk, Kelce, Ertz, and possibly Graham or Delanie Walker ahead of Engram, but he’ll manage to put up enough receptions and TDs to get into that top six.
Anthony Zaragoza – UNDER – Evan Engram is as talented as any tight end in the NFL right now. However, with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and addition of Saquon Barkley to the offense this season, it’s going to be tough for Engram to repeat his stats from a year ago (64/722/6).
John DiBari – UNDER – For multiple reasons, I don’t see it happening. The addition of Saquon Barkley as a receiver and the return of Odell Beckham Jr. will eat into Engram’s targets. Outside of the team dynamics, after the big three at tight end (Gronk, Kelce, Ertz) I think Greg Olsen gets into the top 5 along with Kyle Rudolph this year. The are many other options with upside who may breakout or return to form this year that I see engram getting squeezed out.
Michael Stephenson – UNDER – Engram scraped into the top 5 last season with 115 targets. With a full season of OBJ, Sterling Shepard and Saquon he will see nowhere near the same volume.
Johnny Slokes – UNDER – It just feels like Engram did what he did last year because everyone was hurt. While that is still impressive as a rookie, I see less volume his way this year, and the Giants could end up running the ball more with Eli aging and because of Barkley.
TOTAL VOTES: OVER – 2 / UNDER – 5
Mitchell Trubisky: Over/UNDER End of Season QB 20.5?
Trubisky’s weapons have noticeably improved heading into this season. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Anthony Miller just to name a few. Matt Nagy will push him, but can he crack the top 20?
Aaron Larson – UNDER – Jordan Howard should be the focal point of the Bears’ offense this season, and I don’t buy Allen Robinson as an elite receiver coming off of a major knee injury and changing teams. I think Trubisky takes a step forward this year, but there are just too many other quarterbacks ahead of him.
Stephen Halupka – OVER – I’m bullish on the entire Bears offense heading into the season, coupled with Trubisky’s ability to gain some yardage on the ground, lends me to put Trubisky in QB2 range. Matt Nagy will take the offense as a whole out of the 1990s and into something that will benefit Trubisky into an every week starter in 2QB leagues.
Mitch Lawson – UNDER – This isn’t completely a knock on Trubisky. I also think that some of the talent being drafted behind him could leapfrog him on performance alone (Manning, Tannehill, Bortles, Keenum). He’ll finish just outside of the Top 20 this year.
Anthony Zaragoza – UNDER – Even though I like what the Bears did this past offseason for their quarterback, Trubisky looks like he needs another season to get into that QB2 category. It will take him some time to gel with his new weapons this season.
John DiBari – OVER – It’s hard to argue with what the Bears have done this off-season. Trubisky has been given every opportunity to succeed and has been surrounded by weapons. Finishing outside of the top 20 will fall on him if that becomes a reality.
Michael Stephenson – OVER – Similar to Mahomes, he has been given everything he needs to succeed this season with the addition of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton. He is also a sneaky good rusher, averaging over 20 yards on the ground per game in his first year.
Johnny Slokes – UNDER – I swear I don’t hate the Bears. I think Trubisky will take strides forward this year, but maybe we are a year early on this offense. There are so many quarterbacks I like this year that I could see Trubisky outside of the top 20 while still improving from last year.
TOTAL VOTES: OVER – 3 / UNDER – 4