Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don’t, and you’re painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here’s our view on three intriguing August over/unders.
Last week, numerous videos of Terrelle Pryor (41.1 ADP, WR21) abusing Washington DBs were tweeted and retweeted. OVER/UNDER final fantasy rank among WRs for the uber athletic target 12.5.?
Brad – UNDER. If I was a painter, Pryor would be my muse. The feelings fostered toward him are borderline romantic. And for good reason. His move from fantasy outhouse (Cleveland) to penthouse (Washington) is sure to send his stock through the roof. Cousins struggled terribly in red-zone efficiency a season ago, an area the receiver thrives (69.2 catch% in ’16). Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson will vie for looks, but Pryor could match 2016’s target total (141). Remember, jettisoned DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon accounted for 37.1 percent of Washington’s vertical workload last year. Currently my WR8 (He’s so gosh darn dreamy!), the well-rounded Pryor finishes in range of 90-1,200-9. Believe the hype.
Andy – No matter how much you think you like a player, it’s just not possible to out-hype Brad Evans on one of his guys. As of this writing, Evans is the only member of the Yahoo crew ranking Pryor as a no-doubt WR1 for fantasy purposes. I have to take the OVER here, because I’m close to industry consensus. There’s little question Pryor is a rare athlete, even by NFL standards, and he gets a significant upgrade at QB this season. Let’s just try to remember that the shiny new toy in any offense isn’t necessarily the right fantasy asset to chase. Pryor should be terrific this year, but I think Jamison Crowder is going to lead Washington (and possibly the league itself) in receptions. Crowder will play every snap he can handle, and he’s built rapport with Kirk Cousins over the past two years.
Liz – UNDER. I’ve got Pryor ranked as my WR13. So, maybe, I should say OVER, but given the margin of error I’ll allow the former Brown the benefit of the doubt. Listen, I usually don’t like guys who change teams… because it takes time to absorb a different offense and build rapport with a new QB. But no other player in the league has displayed the sort of resilience and adaptability that Pryor has managed.
Not only did he switch positions, but he dominated at his new gig, successfully converting nearly 82 percent of contested catches (9th best among NFL WRs). Think about this for a minute… Pryor posted a 1,000+ yard and 5 TD season – despite working with a turnstyle of subpar talent under center – last year. Plus, there are over 200 targets up for grabs with Pierre Garcón and DeSean Jackson no longer in the building. It may not be a perfect situation, but I see no reason to trust him any less than the yet-to-break-out Amari Cooper or the oft-injured Alshon Jeffery.
FILL IN THE BLANK. The one player you absolutely refuse to own any shares no matter the price is _________.
Andy – This isn’t really how I operate. There are very few players I’ll simply refuse to own, regardless of price. It’s clear, however, that someone in every draft — usually multiple owners — will be much more bullish on DOUG MARTIN than I will be, considering the player’s history. Not only is Martin suspended for the opening three games of the season, an eternity in our game, but he was terrible last year. He’s a member of the best-shape-of-his-life club these days, so he’s received a curious amount of buzz. Martin isn’t guaranteed a thing in 2017 and he averaged just 2.9 YPC last season, yet drafters are generally treating him as a reliable fantasy commodity.
Liz – SPENCER WARE. Like everyone, I have my price, but I really don’t want to deal with the Ware vs. Hunt headache. Obviously, the rookie’s upside lies in the unknown, which is part of the reason there’s so much hype surrounding him. But with beat writers pondering whether Hunt will start ahead of Ware and reports that the youngster has been a “quick study,” I’m unsure of Ware’s grasp on the gig. Worst case scenario is that this devolves in a dreaded RBBC or hot-hand situation. No thanks.
Brad – SAMMY WATKINS. When the human soapstone recently rolled his ankle in practice and limped off the field, the fantasy community collectively spouted “Predictable.” Though the injury was ultimately harmless, it served as a reminder of Watkins’ fragility. To be fair, he’s an explosive and wonderfully gifted after-catch weapon, but serious questions, health aside, remain. The past two seasons he failed to rank inside the top-40 in catch percentage and contested catch rate. Yes, he wasn’t physically stable, but his foot issues seem to linger. Overpriced (30.4 ADP, WR15) and threatened by hotshot rookie Zay Jones and savvy vet Anquan Boldin, I want nothing to do with the man.
Among this year’s ballyhooed rookie RB class, who of the following has the most to gain/lose this Preseason: LEONARD FOURNETTE, CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY, DALVIN COOK or JOE MIXON?
Liz – MIXON. Despite the passage of time, things seem muddier now than they did April, or even June. Currently, Jeremy Hill is listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart and Gio Bernard is back from his ACL injury. While Mixon’s talent and versatility is undeniable, there’s a jumble of RBs in Ciny’s backfield. AND they’re going to work behind a hot mess of an offensive line. If Mixon separates himself from the pack early then I’m all in on the kid, but monitoring his reps and usage near the goal line is going to be key.
Brad – MCCAFFREY. Indisputably, there isn’t another player I want to watch and dissect more than the CMC Football Factory. Throughout training camp, riveting videos of the Panther juking and slipping past defenders have mesmerized the fantasy masses. Backed by “unstoppable” adjectives mouthed from Jonathan Stewart and others, the youngster’s value has rocketed into Round 3 of 12-team PPR drafts.
Exhibition schematics are always vanilla, but how McCaffrey is deployed could provide hints of his regular season usage and potential workload. If he pops on screen in various capacities, it’s possible even his biggest skeptics hop aboard the bandwagon. If not, and that group will only multiply.
Andy – MIXON seems like the clear answer here, because we have a better sense of the intended roles for the other three backs. Fournette and Cook look like featured runners; McCaffrey will, in the worst case scenario, still function as a key situational rushing and receiving threat. Mixon is competing for touches with a pair of veteran runners who’ve had real success in the league. I don’t think much of Jeremy Hill, necessarily, but the Bengals obviously trust him near the goal line. Giovani Bernard avoided the PUP list at the start of camp, so he’s involved in the competition as well. Mixon will need to earn every snap he gets, all year.
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