FF-Winners.com’s Three Quarterbacks to Avoid in 2016-7

e

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders — Through the first eight games of last season, Derek Carr looked like a superstar-in-the-making, throwing for 2,094 yards, 19 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Then, in the second half of the season, his stats dropped to  1893 yards, 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. So, the simple question is: if you draft Derek Carr next season, which version of him are you getting? With all the free agent moves the Raiders made in the offseason, there’s going to be a lot pressure on them. Teams definitely won’t overlook them, the way they might’ve in 2015. Plus, given the fact that the Raiders don’t exactly have a dynamic running game, there’s going to be even more pressure on Carr to put the offense on his shoulders. How will he respond to that pressure, considering he’s only in his third NFL season? We’re not necessarily saying you should outright “avoid” Derek Carr,  because there is a lot of upside (especially in leagues with any keeper options). But we’d be a little reluctant to bank on him as a sure-fire QB1, as he was for stretches of last season, and as many envision him being this season.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons — A few years ago, Matt Ryan seemed almost destined to break into the echelon of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. But over the last three years, he’s only gone 18-30 as a starter, and his TD-to-INT ratio has dropped from 2.1 to 1.6. In 2015, he only threw for 21 touchdown passes, which was the 2nd lowest total of his career. Conversely, he also threw 16 interceptions (the second highest interception total of his career), four of which came in the red zone (the 2nd highest number in the NFL of such stat, only behind Eli Manning). Oh, and should we also mention his career-high 12 fumbles? At points last season, there were whispers of a near-mutiny by the Falcons offensive player, against Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes. Shanahan’s offense very much predicated on play-action passes, which isn’t something that Matt Ryan has shown a great proficiency with. Another season with bumps and hiccups in this offensive scheme won’t be good for business. At the point in the draft where you’d think about taking Matt Ryan, w’d be much more comfortable with guys like Matt Stafford (who could have a really nice season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter), Ryan Tannehill (who could have a big bounce-back season working under Adam Gase), or even Jameis Winston (who’s come into training camp in fantastic shape, and looking to improve on a very promising rookie season).

Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos — Brock Osweiler is currently ranked anywhere between the #20 and #25 quarterback in fantasy next season, so it’s not like people aren’t already avoiding him. But, for those of you who think that Osweiler might be “Matt Schaub 2.0” for the Texans, we wouldn’t hold your breath. In an offense in Denver that had more depth than the one he’ll be playing with in Houston, he threw for 1,967 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, and six interceptions; extrapolate that over a full season, and you’re looking at less than 4,000 yards passing and about 20 touchdowns. Neither of those are titillating numbers. Again, we realize that he’s only in the backup/QB2 discussion for nearly everyone, but even as a backup, we think you’re better off letting someone like Jay Cutler or even Ryan Fitzpatrick fall into your lap.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

FF-Winners.com’s Three NFL Receivers to Avoid in 2016-7

we

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers — We’re not necessarily advocating “avoiding” Cobb altogether, because we still think he’s going to have a (relatively) productive season. But,we do think he’s being a bit overdrafted in most leagues. Given the circumstances around him, we think Cobb is closer to a top end WR3, versus a WR2 that he’s often being picked as. With the return of Jordy Nelson — Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receiver — there’s just no way Cobb is going to lead the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards next season.  On top of that, Davante Adams is going to be better (he had nagging injuries for all of 2015 which really hampered his performance), Jeff Janis has had a great camp, and so has tight end Richard Rodgers . All of those guys could siphon off production from Cobb, who was basically Rodgers’ only reliable target last season (Rodgers and James Jones did a lot of their damage based off improvisation, and James knowing exactly where to go in those circumstances). Even in PPR leagues, we would take a chance on a couple of younger receivers with high breakout potential — like DeVante Parker from Miami or Donte Moncrief from Indianapolis, both of whom are being taken after Cobb in most leagues — instead of putting a lot of eggs in the Randall Cobb basket.

Michael Crabtree, Oakland — For the first half of the 2015 season, Michael Crabtree was a total stud. In the Raiders first eight games, he had 47 receptions, 591 yards, and five touchdowns. But over the next eight games, those numbers dropped to 38 receptions, 331 yards, and four touchdowns. Going into 2016, it’s not like Crabtree is a highly coveted fantasy commodity; he’s somewhere towards the bottom end of the top 40 receivers, putting him firmly as a WR3. The problem is, wewouldn’t even take him that high. Amari Cooper — a superstar in the making — is going to take the mantle of Derek Carr’s most targeted receiver, away from Crabtree. The team is also really high on second year tight end Clive Walford (who could be a breakout star in his own right in 2016), and young-but-raw receiver Seth Roberts. For my money, we’d much rather take a chance on guys like Marvin Jones, Tyler Lockett, Torrey Smith, or Dorial Green-Beckham (all of whom are being drafted after Crabtree in most leagues). They all present much higher upside potential than Crabtree.

Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins — It happens far too often in fantasy football leagues: someone overdrafts one of the big name rookies. But, even as a Redskins fan myself, we think we should pause on chasing rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson. Don’t get me wrong: he, by many people’s accounts, might’ve been the best wide receiver prospect in this year’s draft. The problem is, he’s stuck in a situation where there are just too many other talented veteran receivers. How many targets can we really expect Doctson to see, when he has DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, tight end Jordan Reed, and even second year receiver Jamison Crowder (who the team envisions as their full-time slot receiver in three receiver sets) ahead of him? At least in year one, we think Doctoson may get some looks in the red zone, for fade pass/jump ball opportunities at most. But, consider 2015 to be his “NFL redshirt year.” In dynasty leagues, Doctson is worth an early investment, if you’re perfectly ok with the idea that there will be minimal returns early on. But in redraft leagues, we don’t think he’s worth taking very high, because we don’t think he’s even going to match the stats that some of the top 2015 rookie receivers — Amari Cooper and DeVante Parker — put up last year.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

FF-Winners.com’s Two Running Backs To Avoid in 2016

It happens every year.  It was Eddie Lacy in 2015, Doug Martin in 2014, and CJ Spiller in 2013. Every year, someone ends up taking the high profile player that ends up absolutely tanking their fantasy team’s chances all season.

To prevent that, let’s take a look at a couple of guys to  avoid for 2016:

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans — He’s nowhere near as high up on draft boards this year as he’s been in years past, but in a standard scoring (non-PPR) league, we still have DeMarco Murray outside of my top 25 running backs. Consider the fact that the Eagles signed Murray to a highly lucrative $42 million contract for five years just one season ago, and were compelled enough to trade away Murray just one season later. Frankly, you can’t blame the Eagles, either. After handing Murray all that money, he responded with the lowest yards per carry of his career (3.6). He played in 15 games last season, but only had one game with over 100 yards rushing; outside of that one game, he ran for less than 85 yards in every other game. Over the last eight games of the Eagles season, Murray ran for less than 70 yards in each of them. It’s no wonder that he spent time in Chip Kelly’s proverbial doghouse, just weeks after supposedly being the centerpiece of a vaunted rushing attack that Kelly was supposed to unleash. So, again, why is it going to get any better under Mike Mularkey? The last time Mularkey was a head coach (in 2012 with the Jacksonville Jaguars), his top three running backs combined couldn’t crack 1,000 yards. In his entire NFL career Murray has only played in all 16 games for one of them (in 2014), and if (or when?) he goes down, he’s got a stable of young running backs — David Cobb (the Titans 5th round pick in 2015), Antonio Andrews (the team’s leading rusher from last year), and Derrick Henry (the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the Titans 2nd round pick in 2016) — waiting to take his job. Stay away from Murray.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons — scoff as you might, just take a look at the facts. Between Weeks 3 through 7 last year, Freeman was the most productive running back in fantasy football, putting up 578 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in only five games.  But don’t let that sample size influence you too much. In the other 26 games of Freeman’s career, he’s ran for a total of 726 yards and four rushing touchdowns. His yards per carry in Week 3 through Week 7 last year was 5.3; over those other 26 games, his yards per carry drops to 3.29. Over the last eight games of the 2015 season, Freeman ran for 440 yards. In other words: he ran for 130 more yards over five weeks than he did over the last eight weeks of the season. The Falcons may have beefed up the interior of the offensive line (having signed Pro Bowl center Alex Mack), but that could just as well help running back Tevin Coleman: the guy who many thought would win the starting job last year. There’s plenty of reason to believe that Coleman could still develop into the running back that gets more carries for the Falcons, with Freeman being the change-of-pace and third down specialist running back.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]