The mission of this article is to make our in-house experts sizzle and bristle over the hot button issues that face dynasty owners. Our experts make the entire route tree HOT as they address topics from the world of IDP, Devy, Start/sit, Non-PPR, PPR and everything in between. Try not to get burned by all the fiery YAC below! This is Dynasty Hot Routes!
Breakdown the Arizona WR depth chart and how you think it will be slated at season’s end?
Joshua Johnson – The Cards will have 13 WRs in camp. Larry Legend is still the WR1, and he will be until he retires. After that, it’s the John Brown/J.J. Nelson showdown. Both have valuable experience, and they can be spark plugs with down the field plays. I am grabbing both late in startups, and I can’t wait to sell them when Larry retires for a healthy return. They may be smaller players, but they have stuck in this league for a reason. The lesser veterans are Brittan Golden and Jaron Brown. They should only be considered in deeper leagues that reward points for return yards. I like Jaron over Golden as the WR4 for this season. I am not aboard the Chad Williams train, at least not this season. I am okay with him as a lottery ticket, but you really can’t expect anything from him this year (unless Larry gets hurt). Small school rally criers love Marian rookie WR Krishawn Hogan. I view him as a project who will need some fine tuning (likely on the practice squad) before he sees the field of play. His athletic profile mirrors Alshon Jeffery, but he did not play versus SEC competition. The rest of the 13 are Marquis Bundy, Jeremy Ross (might also return kicks), Aaron Dobson, Chris Hubert, Larry Clark and Carlton Agudosi. They can be left on the wire, and they will eventually sack your groceries.
Shaun Laibe – Larry Fitzgerald is a superhuman. His body has held up remarkably well, missing just six games throughout his entire 13-year career. As the clear number one target, another 100 reception season for Fitz is well within reach. John Brown is in a contract year and should be the team’s number two. Brown’s biggest competition is likely his hamstring problems. JJ Nelson is an intriguing player entering his 3rd season but has been rather inconsistent so far, catching just 44.6% of his career targets. Brittan Golden is a speedster but has done very little in limited opportunities. Jaron Brown has the size and speed to be a big time contributor, but his status is questionable after a torn ACL in 2016. The most intriguing receiver not named Fitzgerald is Chad Williams, the Cardinals’ 3rd round pick in 2017. Williams is 6’2” and runs a 4.43 40-yard dash, though still raw as a route runner. Williams probably won’t be a major contributor in 2017 but could be the eventual replacement if the ageless Fitz ever actually retires.
Eric Iannaccone – I don’t think there’s any question that Larry Fitzgerald is the 1st option amongst the Cardinals’ wide receivers. He’s in line for another season with well over 100 targets. He has had three consecutive seasons of underwhelming performances between games 10 and 16 though. I don’t have any good supporting arguments as to why this has happened or if it will continue – so just keep it as something to remember. After Larry, John Brown is in line to be the 2nd most targeted wide receiver. When healthy, he has shown that he can be consistently electric – stretching defenses and making big plays for the offense. If his body is right, I don’t think there is any question about his position on the depth chart come season’s end. To me, these two players are the only guys I’m willing to put any sort of stock in for 2017. J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown are fine players but have been largely inconsistent. They seem destined to continue their careers are role players. Chad Williams is my pick to end the season as the 3rd wide receiver on the depth chart. With a 99th percentile SPARQ-x score (per playerprofiler.com) he has the size and speed to match up at the NFL level. He’s dynamic and can be an every-down player. If anyone on this depth chart will secure a consistent role as the next option, it’s him.
Pick one team Defense/Special Teams unit that will surprise people in 2017.
Joshua Johnson – I want to say the Falcons, but a Super Bowl runner-up can’t really surprise people. Although the additions of Dontari Poe and Takk McKinley should eject a certain savage-tude. My real answer is those pesky LA Rams. Newly knighted DE Aaron Donald will still get his (don’t fret) and look how new DC Wade Phillips turned the Broncos D into an instant contender. Phillips just has a way of getting his players on successful plains. Mo Alexander is going to blow up this year into a pro bowl strong safety. Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron in the middle are going to eat! Also don’t be surprised to see “old guys” Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn to be sack hounds. Phillips has also already moved utility cornerback Lamarcus Joyner to starting free safety, and so it begins!
Shaun Laibe – I think the Browns Defense/Special teams unit will surprise people this year. Cleveland made it a necessity to go after defense early and often in the 2017 draft. Myles Garrett is a “JJ Watt” type edge rusher than can disrupt an offense all by himself. Clearly, he will need time to adjust, but that sort of impact cannot be understated for a team that finished with just 26 sacks as a team in 2016. Jamie Collins returns after signing a 4-year, $50 million deal in the offseason. The stud LB is the key to this defense. He never misses a down and should continue to be a steady IDP play this season. The addition of Jabrill Peppers immediately upgrades a woeful special teams unit as well. Cleveland could be a sneaky defense this year, especially with a schedule that includes the Jets, Jags, and Bears.
Eric Iannaccone – This is probably a deeper play, but my pick is the San Diego Chargers. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Jason Verrett and one of the best defensive ends in Joey Bosa. Verrett only played four games last season due to injury and will instantly make this unit a lot better. Casey Hayward was one of the best corners in the league last season without Verrett there. The two of them playing together could mean one of the best (if not THE best) shutdown tandems in the league. The resigning of Melvin Ingram ensures that the linebacking corps will at least be serviceable. The defensive line has improved with the addition of Brandon Mebane (formerly of Seattle). A (hopefully) healthy season from the Chargers will display how good this roster really is.
Make sense of the messy Saints RB depth chart.
Joshua Johnson – I will break this down in touches. Mark Ingram will get 200 touches and remain top dog barring injuries. I do expect Adrian Peterson to be in the 60 to 80 touch range and share goal line duties with John Kuhn. Alvin Kamara will be the third down licorice rope in the flat and on angle routes. Kamara will also be around the 60 to 80 touch range, but that will mostly be receptions. Sorry, Daniel Lasco truthers I got no news for you!
Shaun Laibe – Signing the 32-year-old Adrian Peterson in the offseason seems to point Sean Payton’s squad toward that of a power running offense. As Drew Brees, 38, continues to age, preserving his health through a superb running game makes a lot of sense. As a team, New Orleans ran the ball a total of 404 times in 2016. I expect we’ll see that number rise by at least 10% this year. Mark Ingram is coming off of his first 1,000 yard rushing season and will likely see about 180-200 carries. Peterson will be a change of pace power back and could see upwards of 80-120 carries while stealing goal line touches. He has been quoted recently saying that he wants at least 500 yards receiving this season. Those numbers would be a career high, but he has never played with a QB like Brees either, so I’m not ruling anything out. Alvin Kamara is the guy to keep an eye on here. The rookie out of Tennessee has all the tools to step in and instantly earn playing time on 3rd and long situations. Daniel Lasco was a sleeper of mine before the Peterson signing, but he probably needs an injury to one of the first three to make any sort of an impact.
Eric Iannaccone – I expect the number of touches to shake out largely like last season, but with a couple of notable changes. Ingram’s workload on the ground won’t change much, which puts him in line for 200 carries. I don’t think he’ll be involved in the passing game as much as he was last season, so I predict he’ll go from 46 last season to 25-30 catches in 2017. The new old guy, Adrian Peterson, should have a very similar role to the one that Hightower had last season. I don’t see any reason why (other than injury) he’d end 2017 with less work than Hightower did in 2016. This puts Peterson in line for 125 – 150 carries and a good amount of goal line work. I think he’ll also be in the range of 25-30 catches. Peterson has been very vocal about getting work in the passing game, though I think his ceiling is limited here due to our next guy. The new new guy, Alvin Kamara, is in line to do most of his work in the passing game. I expect him to be used in the same ways Darren Sproles was in the passing attack (not the ceiling Sproles saw in 2011 though). In 2012 and 2013, Sproles had 75 and 71 receptions. Kamara should be right around there in 2017 – based on his skill set and the opportunity/targets provided by Brandin Cooks’ departure. I don’t think Kamara will be used on the ground as much as Sproles was, at least not in 2017. Sproles averaged 50 carries between 2012 and 2013 (I see this in the future for Kamara) – Kamara should see around 25, leaving most of the ground work to Ingram and AP. Oh, and John Kuhn will steal a few goal line carries, because John Kuhn.