Fantasy Football Stock Watch








Who's Rising, Falling, and Why


 Below, find all the news and moves that truly impact the fantasy value needle, with no stone left unturned. We ground each breakdown in our Fantasy Stock Formula, analyzing which factor(s) have seen a change (Talent, Opportunity, Surrounding Talent, Coaching Scheme, Risk, and Upside) to identify Risers, Fallers, Penny Stocks, and Value Holes.


Is Bears Rookie WR Anthony Miller 2018’s Cooper Kupp?

Even with the added weaponry for Mitch Trubisky, the Bears couldn't pass up on Memphis WR Anthony Miller with the 51st pick of the draft. Unsurprisingly, Matt Nagy has only spoken glowingly about his rookie toy. Slated for a potential starting role in the slot, Miller has a chance to make an immediate impact in Nagy's offense.

“You want to be able to see throughout their pro days, the combine, what they put on tape — any time you can see a route that relates to what you do as an offense, you kind of tag that and say, ‘OK. Hey, there it is. I found one," Nagy said, "And so with Anthony, you see a guy that at the top of his route, he likes to stick the top of the route and it’s sharp, so what that does is it sets the angle for the quarterback."

"And you don’t see that from every wide receiver. There’s a violent move for him to be able to set angles, whether it’s a slant route, a post route, an out route, et cetera, he’s aggressive with it and I think that fits his style of play.”

Nagy may just make Miller the 2018 Cooper Kupp. The new HC has a clear vision for the role and route tree he'll ask of Miller, and early predictions have Miller "earmarked for the slot." Taylor Gabriel may blow up more often, but Miller could be the more consistent and reliable PPR product, and both are worthy late round Penny Stocks.

Chris Hogan and Jordan Matthews Rise With Julian Edelman Facing Suspension
After missing the entire 2017 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots will be without Julian Edelman for the first four games of the 2018 season after Edelman got popped with a four-game PED suspension. With our WR21 in timeout, it will not only be 'next man up' for the Patriots, but it also opens up larger roles for the other Patriots pass-catchers -- primarily Chris Hogan and free agent signee Jordan Matthews.  The Patriots just can't stay out of the news and that continued on Thursday afternoon when Field Yates dropped yet another bomb on Foxboro when he tweeted out that Edelman had a four game suspension looming (it's under appeal) for PED use. Looking at the Patriots wide receiver corps, there are a household names who will make an impact, a few who could make an impact and a few who will be cut during camp. Chris Hogan (our WR35) is a guy who we were higher on last season than most and was actually a solid fantasy option before injuring his shoulder mid-season. Once Brandin Cooks exited the Super Bowl, Hogan returned to his natural position and scorched the Eagles secondary to the tune of 128 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Outside of Rob Gronkowski and James White, Brady has the most chemistry with Hogan and will look his way early and often through the first four games. He's the clear winner here. With Danny Amendola taking his talents to South Beach, the rest of the receiving depth chart is pretty questionable. Malcolm Mitchell is someone who flourished as a rookie and quickly gained Brady's trust, but he missed all of last season and has yet to get out of the trainer's room during OTAs or mini camp. If Mitchell can regain form, he'll be one with fantasy appeal across from Hogan. In the slot, the Patriots signed the talented, yet inconsistent Jordan Matthews -- who now drips in Penny Stock appeal. Matthews is a bigger slot guy, standing at 6-foot-3, 212 lbs and would give Brady a different look from that position. Matthews had back-to-back eight touchdown seasons in 2014 and 2015, and has caught 67-plus balls in three of his four seasons. If he can get on the same page as Brady during training camp, then he'll be the guy to handcuff to Edelman. Other young slot guys to keep an eye on during camp would be rookie stud Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron -- a player who the Patriots stashed on their practice squad last season and has garnered some positive attention lately. As for Kenny BrittPhillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson... it's tough to expect much fantasy-wise from either three, as they're all boom-or-bust players who won't get targeted much from Brady. Rex BurkheadJames White and Sony Michel will also get target increases, but per usual it will be tough to guess which one will get that week's share. The Wolf hasn't updated his rankings yet to reflect the suspension, but bookmark our Stock Watch to see who Brady has developed a connection with at camp.
Vikings OC John DeFilippo Wants Dalvin Cook to ‘Line up Anywhere’
New Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has started to move Dalvin Cook around the line of scrimmage and especially out wide as a receiver in order to make things easier for the Vikings offense. Cook will look to build on his three-and-a-half game rookie campaign where he showed legitimate RB1 potential. If DeFilippo can turn Cook into an all-around back, his ceiling is limitless. With Cook participating in full team drills on Tuesday, his hype train started to rev up. But after the internet caught wind of DeFilippo's comments, one could say the train is well on its way. DeFilippo came from a similar scheme in Philadelphia, so there won't be much of a change from last year's offense which was led by Pat Shurmur. DeFilippo stated, "we're calling the run game pretty much the same." Which will make for an easy transition for his sophomore stud running back. He will add a few new wrinkles that should get Cook into a more favorable position to make plays. "The thing we've tried to work with Dalvin coming in here is getting him outside the numbers a little bit, and getting him out wide, and getting him comfortable out there. Because we want our skill guys, our best players, and all of our players, to be able to lineup anywhere." In his four games played last season, Cook recorded 11 receptions on 16 targets. If he stayed on that pace for a full 16 game slate, he would have totaled 44 receptions on 64 targets. It seems as though DeFilippo wants his talented running back to be targeted more in the pass game, which will then make life easier for Kirk Cousins. When a running back is split out wide, it exposes the defensive calls and shows the quarterback whether the defense is in man or zone. Another wrinkle that DeFilippo wants to carry over from his time with Doug Pederson is the Eagles' no-huddle scheme. If they can keep Cook on the field against a tired defense that can't get the proper sub-packages in, it will make life even easier for the running back. As of now, Cook is ranked as our RB9, right behind Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette -- two players who he could easily leap over during the summer.
Titans WR Corey Davis Flashing Dominant WR1 Form in OTAs
Corey Davis has been an early star of Titans OTAs, reportedly "catching the ball with ease," "long-striding all over the practice field," and "turning up the field" with fiery acceleration. He's also putting in extra time with Marcus Mariota and at the JUGs machine, clearly committing to his WR1 path. While dominating in shorts shouldn't be overvalued, Davis is healthy and flashing the "Talent" that made him the No.5 overall pick and potential passing-game centerpiece. Injuries, inconsistency, and a weak scheme all led to a disappointing debut for Davis in 2017. And while only early June, many of these ailments seem headed for a massive healing in his sophomore season. Flashing full health, Davis has been the receiving focal point early on, flying around the field and especially dominant in the intermediate game and after the catch. Of course, we've seen plenty of "shorts and helmets" all stars that never pan out, and Davis' track record on the actual NFL field is spotty, at best. Yet, his only flash of brilliance was his most recent -- a flat out dominant 98 yard, 2 TD Wildcard performance in which Davis made leaping grabs, one-handed snares, and looked all the parts of a No.1 threat. Now unshackled from "Exotic Smashmouth," we could see many repeat performances in 2018. Davis profiles as a near perfect fit for new OC Matt Lafleur's expected scheme. Lafleur has been groomed under two of the brightest young minds in Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, who's respective '16 Falcons and '17 Rams both led the league in points. Both play callers feature a bevy of intermediate, YAC creating concepts that churn a defense down, before attacking deep for the explosion plays. Davis is a 6'3" route-running technician in his break points and releases in college, was dominant after the catch, and has a fast game-speed at every level -- his NCAA record 5,285 receiving yards didn't happen by accident.  If Robert Woods can be the top-scoring fantasy WR for lengthy stretches, Davis should be licking his chops. He's Woods on steroids, and faces far less competition for looks. Actually maintaining his health once the pads come on will be the greatest obstacle for Davis to overcome. If he can do so, Davis has the Individual Talent, Usage, Scheme, and Surrounding Talent all now on his side -- a recipe for dominant WR1 stats. He truly is capable of an 85 catch, 1,000 yard, 8 TD season, which makes his 85th Overall ADP an insane value.
Colts RB Nyheim Hines Continues to be ‘All Over the Field’ at OTAs
With Marlon Mack still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Colts backfield is muddy and up for grabs. Enter Nyheim Hines, who has the ability to not only lineup in the backfield, but also in the slot and outwide. If Hines continues to ascend, he has a chance to stand out against mediocre competition, which then puts him on the Penny Stock map. A few weeks ago on The Fantasy Fullback Dive, we dissected the incoming rookie class with Mike 'The Hitman' Wright of The Fantasy Footballers. When asked about who would be the "next Alvin Kamara" he quickly shot down the notion that any rookie would make a Kamara-like impact. However, he did mention Hines as a relative unknown rookie running back who could make a fantasy difference in 2018. Fast forward to OTAs and it looks like Hines is already turning heads, as Colts.com described Day 4 of OTAs: "With Mack out, the running back position is certainly fluid. It was veteran Robert Turbin getting early snaps with the top unit on Wednesday, but Nyheim Hines (who was all over the field again, like last week), Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson were also getting plenty of reps with the ones, too. Jordan Wilkins got a few snaps here and there, as well." One would have to assume that with that quote, the Colts are lining Hines up everywhere and are testing out his plus-receiving talents. Hines fits the mold of a player who would excel in Frank Reich's system, which is a "multiple attack, up-tempo offense." Could the rookie snag 50 balls in this offense? Most definitely. Keep an eye on how Hines is being used throughout training camp, as he might be the unknown rookie who explodes.
Hunter Henry, Our TE4, Suffers Season-Ending Torn ACL
The gates have been shut on Hunter Henry's breakout season, as he tore his ACL in his right knee when he was running untouched at OTAs on Tuesday afternoon. When the Chargers shut down the thought of bringing back Antonio Gates, we sky-rocketed Henry to our TE4 -- this is a devastating loss to the 2018 fantasy season. Will the door now be open for an Antonio Gates reunion? We were all-in on the thought of Henry as a top-five tight end in fantasy this season. The Wolf, a long-time Henry truther, even said he was in for an "Ertz-ian leap" in 2018. Unfortunately, that will be no more. Henry's absence may open the door for an Antonio Gates return in 2018. The 37-year old tight end still showed a pulse at the end of the 2017 season when he racked up 10 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown during the final two games. If he were to be re-signed, he would have to compete with the nobodies that are Virgil GreenSean CulkinBen Johnson and Cole Hunt. Even if Gates returns, it's tough to expect much from a 37-year old corpse. One would believe that the targets that would have gone to Henry will now go to the likes of Keenan AllenTyrell WilliamsMelvin GordonMike Williams  and Travis Benjamin. It's also a possibility that the Chargers could venture into the trade market for a tight end. Either way, this is a massive blow to an already thin fantasy positional group. Keep The Wolf in your prayers this week.
David Johnson Looks Fully Healthy and Like Old Self in OTAs; Sets Lofty 2018 Goals

David Johnson put on a show in the first day of OTAs, confirming his health and talent remain fully in tact following last year’s season-ending wrist dislocation. Despite Bruce Arians’ departure, Johnson was reportedly still lining up at WR and frequently motioning out of the backfield in practice, suggesting he’ll maintain his target-hog receiving “Usage” in addition to his bell cow back status.

Johnson entered 2018 with some mild concerns over both his health and his role outside of Bruce Arians’ workhorse-obsessed scheme. If the first day of OTAs was any indication, both worries should be assuaged, as Johnson looked as explosive as ever while moving all over the formation:

“I don’t want to get too excited,” new HC Steve Wilks gushed, “but David Johnson, he looked outstanding today. It’s good to have him back there, just flying around. The things that he’s doing right now, it’s pretty exciting.”

Players also took notice, too. “Penny Stock” candidate Ricky Seals-Jones noted, “He’s a different cat, man…the moves David can do are different.”

With his health and usage now firmer, Johnson will continue climbing up 2018 rankings. Last year’s Consensus No.1 is just one season removed from over 2,100 total yards and 20 TDs, and his lofty goals remain 1,000+ yards rushing AND 1,000 yards receiving for 2018. Sam Bradford is a dump off aficionado, and this enormous ambitions aren’t impossible.

Moreover, Johnson's expressed excitement over some subtle offensive tweaks, like running behind a fullback -- which suggests a high-volume run-game is coming under defensive-minded Wilks. In fact, Wilks already said as much at the 2018 Combine, stating: "We want to be productive, number one, in running the football," Wilks told reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "This is a pass-happy league," Wilks emphasized several times. "It's my philosophy as a head coach -- I believe in establishing the run. And that's what we're going to do... As a defensive coordinator, there’s nothing more demoralizing to a team than being able to run the ball... When you look at some of the premier running backs in the National Football League, we have one right here in (David) Johnson.” He'll also benefit from new RB Coach Kirby Wilson, who has coached some of the best out of Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith, and Adrian Peterson. According to DJ, Wilson is already "always in my ear" and preaching the little intracicies to take his game to the next level. All great news for Johnson.  Despite falling to 5-6 in drafts, he's in position to score the most FPs in 2018, making the 6th pick an amazing place to draft.
Vance McDonald Oozes Penny Stock Potential in the Steelers’ Offense
On paper, Vance McDonald has all the attributes to be one of the top tight ends in the league. However, he showed absolutely nothing on the field during his first season with the Steelers -- until the AFC Divisional Round. If he can build off his final game of the season, McDonald may fulfill his potential and become a viable fantasy option in the Steelers explosive offense. During his 10 regular season games, McDonald registered a useless 14 receptions, 188 yards and one touchdown. He was unable to click with Ben Roethlisberger and was nothing more than an afterthought in one of the league's most explosive offenses. Then, the playoffs happened. McDonald lit up the nasty Jaguars defense to the tune of 112 yards and 10 receptions on 16(!) TARGETS. That is not a typo. For him to have gained Big Ben's trust during a playoff game against the top defense in the NFL shows his potential for the 2018 season. We all know Roethlisberger loved to pepper Heath Miller, so if McDonald becomes more than just a benefit of a certain scheme, it would not hurt to use a late-round flier on the 6-foot-4, 267 lb tight end. Add McDonald to the list of Penny Stock tight ends with Rico Gathers and Ricky Seals-Jones.
Peyton Barber Little More than Late Round Flier After Ronald Jones’ Arrival
With the blink of an eye, Peyton Barber’s stay atop the Buccaneers depth chart may have just disappeared, as the team selected the Ronald Jones in the early second round. Though Bucs GM Jason Licht maintains Barber will remain involved, Jones’ far superior talent should eventually win out and render Barber useless by midseason. 

Despite finishing strong over 2017’s final five weeks (and even leading the team in rushing), Barber’s grip on the Buccaneers starting role never felt real. This was fully realized after Tampa Bay sank the 38th overall pick into explosive rookie Ronald Jones; while Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman expects the two backs to “share the load initially,” with Jones gaining usage as he also gains trust by proving himself in key intricacies like pass-protection. In a best case, Jones develops slowly while Barber continues to thrive… but even then, he’ll be behind an ineffective line. More likely, he provides unusable, plodding early season volume and fades into nothingness by midseason. There’s higher upside stabs that can be made. 

Chris Carson’s Fantasy Value Tanks After Seahawks Select “3-Down” RB Rashaad Penny
Chris Carson’s expected Volume and overall fantasy football value have vanished after the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny and immediately labeled him their three-down back.

Though I was never a huge Carson enthusiast, he entered the draft as the clear king atop the mountain-of-shit that was the Seahawks RB depth chart.   After all, the Seahawks backfield completely floundered after Carson suffered a broken leg in Week 4, with the team's leading rusher posted a monstrous 240 yards and the team notching exactly 1 RB rushing TD in 2017. Given this abysmal output, Carson — who posted two double digit outputs in only three featured games — appeared the clear frontrunner for volume in a Russell Wilson offense.

Now, that chance is completely erased. The Seahawks reportedly LOVE Penny, to the point they were willing to reach up at 18 for him before a trade partner emerged. Moreover, Pete Carroll has said the team will treat Penny as a true “three down back,” leaving nothing but scraps and handcuff-only upside for Carson — we’ve set Penny’s over / under touch total at 300, and I’m banging the over. Consequently, Carson goes from an intriguing mid round prospect to a draft day afterthought, save the deepest leagues.

Martavis Bryant has Opportunity to Reach Full Potential with Raiders
Hidden amongst the chaos of the draft was a trade between the Steelers and Raiders that sent Martavis Bryant to Oakland in exchange for a third-round pick. Bryant, who now enters his fourth season at the young and ripe age of 26, figures to be a low-cost, high upside proposition. Around these parts we call that Penny Stock. For those unfamiliar, Bryant is virtually a poor man’s Josh Gordon, which is still pretty damn good. Through his first two seasons, the former Clemson Tiger scored at a ridiculous rate, managing 15 touchdowns in just 21 games.  During that time, Bryant averaged 62.5 yards and 3.6 catches per game. That equates to a 17.2 yards per catch average, which would have tied for third in the league last year. If we apply Bryant’s production from his first two seasons to a full 16 game slate, we wind up with 1,000 yards, 11 touchdowns and 57 receptions. Those numbers would have placed Bryant as the fourteenth-highest scoring receiver for PPR formats in 2017, sandwiching him between Doug Baldwin and Davante Adams. With such a robust start to his career, the pass-catcher’s future appeared bright. Unfortunately, the only thing higher than Bryant’s ceiling was Bryant himself. A litany of failed drug tests resulted in a season long suspension which Bryant served in 2016. When he returned in 2017, things never seemed to click. Bryant averaged 40.2 yards and 3.3 catches per game, and accumulated just 12.1 yards per catch. What’s worse is the man who was once a touchdown machine, reached the endzone only three times in fifteen games. Bryant made his frustrations public last season, scrutinizing the coaching staff for how they used him and making it known he wanted out of Pittsburgh. Eventually, his wish was granted. In Oakland, Bryant has the chance for a fresh start. He joins quarterback Derek Carr, who made both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree top 15 fantasy receivers (PPR & Standard) in 2016. Crabtree, who signed with Baltimore this offseason, averaged 8.5 targets per game in his three seasons with the Black & Silver, leaving Bryant with plenty of opportunity to make an impact. It is entirely possible that Bryant will never live up to the potential he illustrated in 2014 and 2015. For all we know his days of being a big-play receiver could be up in smoke. But when you’re searching for that sleeper in the back end of your fantasy drafts, remember what Martavis 'Big-Blunt' Bryant was once, and could still be capable of.
Christian McCaffrey Falls as CJ Anderson Fits in Nicely With Panthers
After we prematurely blew our load when the Panthers passed on a running back in the draft, Carolina signed the always solid CJ Anderson to handle early-down duties. This means Christian McCaffrey took a tumble down our Big Board from RB13, to RB18. When the Panthers decided to part ways with the lifeless corpse that is Jonathan Stewart, we could not have been happier. McCaffrey was set to be the bell-cow in Norv Turner's offense that turned LaDanian Tomlinson into a first ballot Fantasy Hall of Famer. Then, those dreams were dashed when Carolina added the consistent CJ Anderson -- a talent upgrade over Stewart. McCaffrey was looking at the potential of 275-plus touches in his sophomore year, which would have dripped him in serious RB1 upside. Now, Anderson will be the guy who will likely tote the rock on the early downs, while McCaffrey will see his typical passing game volume. Make no mistake about it, the second year back will still get 100-plus touches on the ground and over 100 targets through the air, but his RB1 upside has all but evaporated. As for Anderson, this is a pretty solid fit. He's coming off a 1,000-yard season in Denver where he averaged over four-yards per carry on a bad football team. Although Cam Newton will score on the goal line, Anderson should get six-plus touchdowns. He's not the sexiest of running backs, but he does need to be rostered as a RB3/ Flex option.  As of now, Anderson is our RB34, right in the area of Tarik Cohen and Tevin Coleman.
Lamar Miller Faces Minimal Competition in Juicy Fantasy Spot
Even if we feel Lamar Miller is a pedestrian Talent, he's once again staring at serious Volume in what projects to be a juggernaut offense, assuming Deshaun Watson returns to full health. This is especially true after the team bypassed any rookie RBs from one of the deepest classes in years. Miller's done nothing to suggest he warrants serious usage since joining the Texans. His YPC has been a meager 3.88, he's caught only 34 passes a year, and he's been perhaps the least elusive back in the entire league, forcing a meager 44 missed tackles over 506 carries (a pathetic 8.7%). Amidst these struggles, he's still received the 8th most carries over the past two seasons, and (unfortunately) is again set up to keep heavily adding to this total in 2018. Whether he likes it or not, The Wolf must reevaluate his 83rd overall ranking (-35 from ECR) on sheer opportunity and situation alone. Earlier this offseason, sophomore bulldozer D'Onta Foreman appeared destined to push for a starting role, but the latest reports suggest he's a candidate for the PUP. Meanwhile, the Texans only offseason backfield move was re-signing Alfred Blue -- equally plod-worthy. Thus, Miller sees a healthy rise. On the positive front, he was able to ride the Deshaun Watson explosion to RB1 fantasy value, scoring the 8th most RB points over the rookie QBs six starts. Additionally, Miller's shown well as a receiver, tallying a 120.1 wide receiver rating on non-screen RB passes according to PFF. Even if the Individual Talent is missing, Miller benefits from a tremendous combination of Usage,  Surrounding Talent and a creative, run-heavy Offensive Scheme. Thus, Miller remains a quality RB2... until Foreman can finally return and steal this valuable throne.
Gross Isaiah Crowell Now Leading Candidate for TDs in Jets’ RB Value Hole
After four seasons of ranking between RB14 and RB30 in Cleveland, Isaiah Crowell was signed by the Jets to a three-year deal. It doesn't come without competition from Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Thomas Rawls and Trenton Cannon, but Crowell still finds himself in a great spot for carries on what could be an improved offensive attack. The Wolf isn't particularly excited, listing Crowell as his RB40 heading into 2018 -- 3 spots ahead of Powell and 14 ahead of Rawls.  Isaiah Crowell is always an interesting fantasy piece to keep an eye on. He was considered one of the lone bright spots on a dismal Cleveland offense during his time there, but even with ample opportunity he was never able to step up and really lead the offense. Nobody else in the Jets backfield has ever been able to do so, either, so they gave him 12 million over three years to see if he can change that narrative and top 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. And especially with the Jets' impending QB situation, the running back position is an important one. Following the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets currently have 5 QBs on their roster -- Josh McCownTeddy BridgewaterChristian Hackenberg and 2nd overall pick Sam Darnold. McCown started 13 games for New York last season but turns 39 in July. Bridgewater threw for over 3,200 yards in an 11-5 Vikings season in 2015, but missed virtually two full seasons after a gruesome leg injury. Hackenberg has looked terrible in the preseason and has never thrown a regular season pass. Darnold complicates the situation as a rookie who the team used a very high pick on, but is unlikely to see the field this year, as he is more of a project. Whoever's under center for the Jets in 2018, they'll need some help from the backfield. Powell has started 30 games over seven seasons for the Jets but never topped 200 carries in a season, and Rawls showed glimpses of greatness in Seattle, yet he could never stay on the field due to lack of production and injuries. While Crowell never made the leap in Cleveland, he's coming off a two-season stretch where he rushed for over 1,800 yards and started all 32 games. The Jets had PFF's 30th ranked offensive line last season and did nothing to address it during the draft or free agency, so Crowell will have his work cut out for him -- coming from Cleveland's very solid OL. Provided he proves his worth in the preseason, Crowell should be at least a 175-750-6 kinda guy, likely making a solid FLEX play in strong matchups.
Alvin Kamara and the Saints Passing Game Shoot to the Moon Following Mark Ingram’s 4 Game Suspension
One head of the Saints' two-headed rushing attack will be stuck on the sidelines for the first four games of next season, when Mark Ingram was suspended on Tuesday afternoon for failing a PED test. This suspension will officially give the uber-talented Alvin Kamara the chance to put a stranglehold on the starting job, which bumped up Kamara to No. 6 overall on The Wolf's updated Big Board. Although NFL Network's Ian Rapoport stated that the Saints were going to feature Kamara anyway, the NFL's reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year will face limited competition for carries while Ingram is away from the team for the foreseeable future. During his rookie season, Kamara burst onto the scene with 1,554 total yards and 13 total touchdowns on 201 touches. The rookie put up those ridiculous numbers while competing with Ingram's 288 touches. Not only will Kamara benefit from Ingram's suspension, but Drew BreesMike Thomas, Cam Meredith and the rest of the Saints passing game will also benefit from a fantasy standpoint. Even though Kamara is explosive as a runner, he's arguably more dangerous in the passing game. Look for the Saints to turn back the clock for a vintage Sean Payton-Drew Brees aerial attack with their bruiser out of the lineup. One name to keep an eye on is Saints rookie running back Boston Scott, who our friend of the program, Nick Underhill, tweeted about on Tuesday night. Scott is a 5-foot-7, 195 lb scat-back with elite athleticism and could get a shot on third down during those first four games. As of Tuesday night, Kamara bumped up to No.6 overall (RB5), while Thomas nudged up to No. 15 overall (WR4). Brees took the biggest jump from QB12 to QB5. Even though he's in a contract year, Ingram fell all the way to RB23.
Kenyan Drake to Build Upon Late Season Surge With Minimal RB Competition
Kenyan Drake appears set to build upon his massive 2017 fantasy finish after the Dolphins added minimal threatening competition for 2018 Volume. The ageless Frank Gore + fourth round rookie Kalen Ballage will steal some volume, but Drake should be the main weapon here, a role in which he thrived to close out last season. Drake has rarely received heavy volume in his college or pro career, failing to eclipse 100 carries in a single season until last year. Yet, whenever afforded the opportunities, he's flourished. Drake looked flat out elite for stretches of his late season surge, which included PFF's highest-graded RB game during Week 13 versus the Broncos. The advanced analytics support this, as Drake posted the most yards after contact per attempt (4.29) ever recorded by PFF. Now, he appears primed for the most Volume, by far, in his career. While Adam Gase may have claimed the the team doesn't want a single back getting 25 carries a game at this year's Combine, his history suggests otherwise: from 2013-2016, Gase facilitated four straight RB1 campaigns: Knowshon Moreno finished as the 2013 RB4 with 1586 Yards from Scrimmage (YFS) to pair with 13 total TDs; CJ Anderson racked up nearly 1200 yards and 10 total TDs in only seven 2014 starts; Matt Forte tallied 1287 YFS and 7 TDs in just 13 games in 2015, while Jay Ajayi hit 1423 YFS and 8  TDs in 12 2016 starts. Clearly, Gase has consistently ridden workhorses and has cited an affinity for every-down backs to avoid substitutions and keep defenses imbalanced.  Moreover, in that same Combine quote, Gase noted how impressed he was with Drake's ability to shoulder heavy workloads, stating: "Kenyan has done a better job of taking care of his body...A couple of those games where he had 20-plus carries. He’s walking in and acting like he didn’t play a game the night before. So I think youth plays a part in that a little bit. He’s put together well." Not only has Drake proven himself plenty capable to be Gase's next horse, he'll face minimal competition to secure this invaluable role. The Dolphins' only backfield additions have been a 35-year old Frank Gore and a fourth-round pick in Kalen Ballage.  Admittedly, the ageless Gore and his hard-nosed, workman approach do worry me a bit; Gase could fall in love with his veteran presence and unexpectedly feed him instead. Still, Gore has already embraced a mentoring role for Drake, and might only help the speedy back reach new heights. No one rushed for more yards than Drake over 2017's final five weeks. Gase's workhorse history and the current state of the Dolphins will give him every opportunity to build upon this for a massive 2018.
Jay Ajayi’s RB1 Rebound More Likely With No Rookie Competition
Though the Eagles had been frequently linked to RBs pre-draft, Jay Ajayi exits unscathed. Thus, his Volume as the early-down RB and likely short yardage ace is further cemented, and he continues climbing up the Big Board Ajayi's already been a featured riser on the Stock Watch after LeGarrette Blount left for Detroit. The 2018 NFL Draft sees his fantasy football value ascend even further, with no competition added for his early-down, short yardage role. Ajayi's path to 20+ touches in 2017’s highest scoring offense (29.0 PPG) just became all-but locked up, giving him a humongous ceiling that many sheep will be unwilling to acknowledge following his bust-filled disaster in 2017. Yes, Darren Sproles is now returning, but he's not a realistic threat for short yardage work, and is more likely to eat into Corey Clement's volume. As a reminder, in a far more congested backfield, Ajayi averaged 75.3 total yards from scrimmage in his 10 games with the Eagles — a 1205 yard pace in a 16 game season, which would’ve ranked 15th among RBs last year. He’s set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack that features the traps and misdirections which Ajayi thrives. Fantasy Wolves know when to forgive double down, and a discounted Ajayi screams insane, cheap upside.
Aaron Jones in Prime Position to Lead Packers Backfield Post-Draft

Aaron Jones sees his Opportunity Score stabilized after the Packers avoided any backfield moves this offseason.  Indeed, Jamaal Williams lingers and rode heavy volume to strong fantasy outputs to close 2017, but Jones is a far more talented runner who drips in fantasy upside now. 

Most will call the Packers backfield a Training Camp battle to monitor, but the tape and stats all point to one man: Aaron Jones.

According to PFF, Green Bay backs led the NFL with 2.04 yards before contact on carries in 2017 thanks to superb line play.  Yet somehow, almost miraculously, the team averaged only 3.62 yards per carry. In fact, nearly every RB on the roster was under 4.0 YPC, including Jamaal Williams (3.6) and Ty Montgomery (3.8).

Everyone, that is, except Jones.

In fact, Jones and his 5.5 YPC led the NFL in terms of Individual YPC versus Team YPC Differential. Moreover, Jones ripped a 15+ yard run on every 10.1 carries... while Williams had one 15+ on all 153 of his totes. Jones' six runs of 20+ yards were more than LeVeon Bell, Leonard Fournette, and even Alvin Kamara, on a third (or even quarter, compared to Bell) of the attempts.

Simply put, the guy is incredibly explosive. As soon as Montgomery suffered his destined injury in Week 4, it was Jones, not Williams, was who got called on first. Jones certainly didn't disappoint, racking up 49 total yards + 1 TD (Wk 4), 134 tot. yds + 1 TD (Wk 5), 41 yards (Wk 6 dud), and 138 tot. yds + 1 TD (Wk 7) over his four-game starting stretch, enough to finish as the RB5 in that span.

Unfortunately, the injury imp bit, and a hampered Jones was a non-factor the rest of the season while Williams slugged his way to strong fantasy production thanks to insane volume.

Still, Jones flashed by far the most upside here. Despite a clear path to lead back duties in an Aaron Rodgers attack, Jones is insultingly going as the 86th overall pick and RB36. Let others believe this is a committee and competition, and go with the guy who'll be dominating come midseason.

Kerryon Johnson Might Not See a Lions’ Share of Carries in Committee-Plagued Detroit
Kerryon Johnson put up some serious numbers at Auburn, but there are numerous factors as to why we need to pump the breaks on him as a fantasy football stud with the Lions.  A 1,585 yard and 20 touchdown season in the rugged SEC is nothing to gloss over when it comes to breaking down Kerryon Johnson as a prospect. However, the way in which he got to that total yardage is the real question mark. When you pop the tape in, the first thing you'll notice is his size (6-feet, 230 lbs) and his patience at the line of scrimmage -- it's borderline Le'Veon Bell-like. Then you'll think you're watching an old Big Ten game, where it's three-yards and a cloud of dust. Johnson's lack of explosiveness (only nine rushes of 20-plus yards and three rushes of 30-plus yards on 285 carries) at the collegiate level is borderline frightening for his NFL future. Sure, the SEC has a few good defenses, but they've softened up lately outside of Alabama and Georgia. Even though the Lions' lackluster RB depth chart gives the appearance of a "Value Hole," the situation could be ugly. Matt Patricia now roams the sidelines there and we all know how much his mentor Bill Belichick, a notorious committee lover, cared about your fantasy teams. Patricia signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency to vulture touchdowns from the likes of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.  A backfield of Johnson, Blount, Riddick and possibly Abdullah? Moreover, during the Lions’ Day 2 post-draft press conference, GM Bob Quinn said, " Ameer (Abdullah) is here, he was here this week, we’re gonna let all those guys compete. This isn’t a one-back league. We’re not a one-back team. It’s a running-back-by-committee league. We’ll probably have three of them active every week, and every one of them is going to have a role in our offense.” When asked specifically of usage, he added, “He runs a lot between the guards, but I think we’ll use him more to run outside…” Puke. Let your leaguemates take the oft-injured running back earlier than they should, while you can target one of the other rookie backs.
Tyrod Taylor’s Stock Plummets and Risk Skyrockets with Baker Mayfield Breathing Down His Neck
After entering the NFL Draft as The Wolf's QB11, Tyrod Taylor takes a massive plummet down our rankings after the team selected Baker Mayfield. Yes, the Browns were always expected to take a QB at No.1 Overall. But Mayfield is by far the most "pro-ready" (and, in my opinion, the clear top QB of this class), thus shortening Taylor's leash and increasing his Risk substantially.  Ugh. Tyrod Taylor was shaping up toe be one of my favorite late-round QB targets of 2018... and then the Browns decided to be smart for once and took Baker Mayfield. Now, Taylor still has plenty of ammunition to craft QB1 value for as long as he starts: He's mobile and brings elite athleticism to the position, spins a beautiful deep ball, and is surprisingly careful with the ball. Moreover, any season with marginal weaponry (2015 & 2016), he finished as the QB8 in points per game, and was able to finish above Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr last season with... puke Zay Jones as his top target. All this despite playing in incredibly vanilla schemes. With the change of scenery, Taylor has among the league's most stacked casts, featuring Josh Gordon (potential top-five talent), Jarvis Landry (arguably the top slot weapon in the game), Corey Coleman, (an athletic freak not far removed from receiving awards as the top college wideout), Duke Johnson (among the top receiving backs in the game) and first round TE David Njoku (potential mismatch nightmare). Plus, Todd Haley is as bright an offensive mind this game has seen this decade. But again, none of this matters if he's not on the field (and Mayfield's the one reaping all these benefits). The team remains adamant Taylor will open 2018 as the starter.  But Mayfield's accuracy and leadership intangibles made him the most threatening of the rookie QBs to Taylor's starting gig, and the over/under on his games played has taken a severe hit. While Taylor will be a quality fantasy play for however long he lasts, hisexpiration date now feels a whole lot sooner, making him little more than a few week QB1 rental worth little more than a late round flier.
Ricky Seals-Jones Ready for an “Expanded Role” and Breakout Season
After catching 12 balls for 201 yards and three touchdowns during a five game span last season, Ricky Seals-Jones is ready for an "expanded role" in the Cardinals offense and could be a valuable, early season Penny Stock. Cardinals beat writer Mike Jurecki caught up with the 6-foot-5, 243 lb former wide receiver on Wednesday. Seals-Jones told Jurecki that he likes the new offense and is really impressed with new OC Mike McCoy's knowledge and intelligence. With Jermaine Gresham on the shelf with a torn Achilles and likely to miss at least Week 1, Seals-Jones will go into offseason workouts as the starter and he expects an expanded role this season. McCoy will have a positive impact on RSJ, as he coached both Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry in San Diego. Although Gates was on the back-nine with McCoy calling the shots, he was still peppered in the passing game. We may be a little biased because of his initials (RSJ), but Cardinals GM Steve Keim also had some positive words to say about his tight end at the owners meetings. "Ricky showed last year he could become a mismatch in the passing game athletically. Suddenness, his ability to create mismatches whether it is in motioning out of the slot, motioning out of the backfield. He is a guy to me that is just now scratching the surface. He’s a player we are excited about moving forward." Will RSJ be able to establish himself early and put Gresham out to pasture? We sure hope so.
Alex Collins’ Fantasy Value Rising After Ravens Avoid RBs in 2018 Draft
Despite lukewarm endorsements from John Harbaugh earlier this offseason, Alex Collins (RB - BAL) now remains in the driver's seat for early down duties in Greg Roman's run-obsessed attack, as the Ravens didn't take a single back in the 2018 Draft. This should preserve the high-upside RB2 value Collins delivered to Waiver Wolves during 2017's second half... if he can clear one final hurdle. Perhaps Collins is one of those, "you had to own him to understand him" type of players. Otherwise, I can't understand why he's falling so far under fantasy radars. From Week 8 on, when Collins truly secured the early-down back role, he ranked as the PPR RB8 in Fantasy. Moreover, his Pro Football Focus rushing grade was 89.7, the best mark in the entire league. In fact, according to PFF, "only his relative struggles as a receiver kept him from leading all running backs in overall grades." The tape matched all the stats, with Collins knifing through defenses with equal power and elusiveness, and feet that fired at a mile a minute despite his sturdy, large frame. Moreover, Collins benefits tremendously from receiving this featured work in Greg Roman's run-centric attack that features plenty of creative pulling concepts. Yet, he's ranked as a fringe fourth rounder according to the "experts." Truly, the only roadblock would be Kenneth Dixon's return. The team reportedly remains high on Dixon, who admittedly flashed well in his few healthy contests. Yet, Dixon's durability is a major question mark, and Collins flashed far more as a rusher than anything Dixon put on tape in 2016. All-in-all, Collins' Volume now appears far more cemented in the same role that yielded low-end RB1 outputs. Thus, his ranking as a low-end RB2 is criminal, and true wolves will feast upon this sheepish nonsense.
Rico Gathers Should be on Your Fantasy Football Radar With Jason Witten Retiring
Jason Witten formerly announced his retirement on Thursday to join the Monday Night Football booth. Get to know the name of Rico Gathers, who has the potential to be a Penny Stock in 2018. The 24-year-old former basketball player from Baylor is a freak athlete who did not play a down of football in college -- yet was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Gathers stands at 6-foot-6, 273 lbs and could be the next great basketball-to-football tight end in the NFL. Although he has yet to play a regular season game for the Cowboys, he racked up 106 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions during last year's preseason contests. Unfortunately, he took a brutal helmet-to-helmet collision in training camp that sidelined him for the entire regular season. But instead of the Cowboys cutting the raw, unfinished project, they held onto him for the season. That shows the confidence that they have in the former hoops star. It looked like the Cowboys were lined up to draft Dallas Goedert (our TE1), but the rival Eagles jumped ahead of them at the last second to grab the stud tight end. Dallas didn't select a tight end in the draft until the fourth round, where they selected an all-around tight end from Stanford, Dalton Schultz. Schultz is more of a move tight end who is known for his blocking, meaning Gathers should be the guy that Dak Prescott targets. Keep an eye on Gathers throughout training camp, as he drips in fantasy potential Someone has to step up in the absence of both Dez Bryant and Witten, who combined to have a 45.1-percent target share in 2017.
Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin Lack Appeal, yet Could Succeed Behind Dominant OL
The Oakland Raiders signed Doug Martin this offseason to join Marshawn Lynch in the Bay Area. With the Raiders surprisingly staying away from a runner in the draft, Lynch and Martin will battle it out in training camp to see who gets the majority of carries behind that mauling offensive line. Last year when Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement there was plenty of hype surrounding Beast Mode and his possible explosion behind Oakland's solid offensive line. That didn't happen. Much like the big expectations on Oakland's offense as a whole. Lynch failed to put up over 1,000 yards as his total carries dropped to a near career-low 207 attempts. He began the year on a four-game suspension and struggled to really get anything going upon his return as he was phased out of the offense for the likes of Peyton Barber. A new location in Oakland could very well help him bounce back into relevancy as we had enormous hopes for Martin last preseason. Starting with Derek Carr, the surrounding cast in Oakland is a positive. They have some talent at receiver with Amari CooperJordy Nelson and Seth Roberts, along with a solid tight end in Jared Cook. However, it's the offensive line that is the greatest asset in Oakland, where they ranked 8th in PFF's offensive line rankings. Gruden wants to turn back the clock and he found two elder statesmen to do just that. This committee has a chance to be putrid, but if one of them wins the job outright, there could be some potential here.
The Falcons Offense Will be More Explosive With Calvin Ridley
The Falcons added another dynamic weapon to their offense when they drafted Alabama's Calvin Ridley in the first round. Ridley's elite slot play will raise his teammates' fantasy stock and he will be one of the few rookie receivers to make a fantasy impact this season.  Ridley entered the draft process as the consensus No. 1 wide receiver. Then a bunch of #DraftTwitter nerds decided that his measurables, his final year of production and his age (he's nine months younger than soon-to-be fifth year veteran Brandin Cooks) were detriments to his potential fantasy success. That's incredibly stupid. The 6-foot-1, 189 lb WR is an elite route runner who made things look easy in Alabama's run-first offense. His plus-attributes and his experience will make him an instant impact player with the Falcons. Ridley is going to make Matt Ryan's stock rise a bit, since he will be added to the arsenal of weapons that include Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper. Since he's a polished senior citizen, he's the most NFL-ready receiver in the class, which is why he's going to make an instant impact. Players from Nick Saban's program have recently busted in the NFL since they're worked down to the bone at Alabama, but the receivers (Jones and Amari Cooper) both made early impacts. With Jones taking the heat off Ridley, the rookie should catch a ton of balls this season from Matt Ryan.
Gates Opened: Hunter Henry Now Poised to Jump Into the Elite
An epic, if not game-changing, 15-year run is coming to a close. According to Adam Schefter, the Chargers have informed Antonio Gates they do not intend to re-sign him, despite Gates' open desire to continue playing.  From a fantasy lens, this indicates the team's upmost confidence in perhaps their next stalwart TE: Hunter Henry. The Talent, Scheme, and Surrounding Talent were already firm with the third-year Razorback. Now, a hefty spike in Usage will help buoy Henry's floor and also raise his ceiling, priming him for an Ertz-ian leap in 2018. The Wolf's long been a Hunter-Truther. In fact, the copious amount of steam we poured into the 2017 Henry Hype Train made Henry's 7th most PPG feel... underwhelming. But we're prepared to shove the chips right back in and Double Down on the 6'5" athletic freak, especially with a Volume Surge about to send his fantasy upside to new heights. You see, the Talent has long been clear. Since joining the league, Henry has flashed size, smooth routes, athleticism and soft hands parelelling the position's elite. The efficiency stats over this span support this as, according to PFF, Henry has ranked first in fantasy points per target, second in yards per target, and third in yards per route run. More impressively, as Scott Barrett points out, "Henry finished 2017 with the seventh most fantasy PPPG in 2017, and has hit at least 70 receiving yards or scored a touchdown in 17 of his 25 targeted games (68 percent). For perspective, that’s better than Rob Gronkowski over the same timeframe. He also ranked behind only Gronkowski in PFF grade last season." All of this, despite logging only 44% of the Chargers' tight end targets, as compared to 54% for the rotting corpse of Gates. With the Gates Roadblock removed, Henry's share should swing closer to 70%, if not higher. All the stats suggest he's going to produce, it'll just be far more often in 2018. Especially considering Philip Rivers' notorious love for targeting seam-stretchers, especially in the red zone -- not long ago, Henry led NFL TEs with 8 TDs as a rookie. In summary, Henry's set for a major Usage increase. Given the talent, efficiency, and rapport with a QB who'll pepper him, Henry has a real chance to jump into the “Kelce/Ertz" tier in 2018.
Christian McCaffrey Cemented for Heavy Volume Post-NFL Draft
Set for target hog and now bellcow duties in Norv Turner's scheme, Christian McCaffrey's Usage score and fantasy value increase dramatically with the team foregoing any RBs in the 2018 NFL Draft.  We already knew McCaffrey was going to see heavy passing game volume after leading the NFL in RB Targets as a rookie last year while finishing as the PPR RB10. Moreover, Norv Turner's always funneled passing game looks to his RBs underneath, with backs accounting for 30.8% of Turner's historic target share -- right on par with Sean Payton's usage of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in 2018. Yet, following the departure of Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers' (shocking) avoidance of any RB help in the draft, McCaffrey now feels destined to shoulder an even heavier rushing workload than we would have anticipated, raising his fantasy ceiling to enormous heights. As detailed by The Wolf in his previous Norv Turner breakdown, the veteran coach has historically ridden a workhorse, with six RBs have leading the league in rushing under him. Though not built like a 25+ carry back, McCaffrey seems destined for at least 15+ totes, in addition to 6-8 weekly targets, now contending with only Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne for looks. This increased rushing volume should be enormous, especially if McCaffrey fits as well in this scheme as future NFL Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson, who feasted under Turner for many years in San Diego, expects: "The thing I'm excited about seeing is how Norv is going to use him in the run game. Norv is going to get him on the perimeter. He's going to call the things that Christian does well - getting him on the edge, getting him into space. So you'll see a lot of those toss plays, you will see the misdirection plays...to me, Christian will be the guy, the premier player in that offense." These comments were made prior to the backfield purging. Now, the team has little choice but to make McCaffrey the premier player, and he should thrive. Yes, Artis-Payne will likely inherit some of the "big back" power carries, and offers some legitimate TD and Penny Stock upside in his own right. This is especially true after CMac averaged a meager 3.7 YPC and minimal 2.1 yards after contact. Yet, he may have been misused, and this backfield is clearly McCaffrey's now. His RB1 upside is extremely real.
Mike Gesicki’s Elite Skill-Set Makes him a Legit Fantasy Football Option with the Dolphins
The Dolphins landed the most athletic tight end in recent memory in Penn State's Mike Gesicki. While Gesicki's blocking is a complete zero, he's basically an oversized slot receiver who will be a prime target for Ryan Tannehill. The 6-foot-6, 247 lb freak of nature landed in one of the few value holes at his position in the league. Gesicki is an incredible athlete, as he posted the top vertical (41.5 inches), the top broad jump (129 inches) and tied the fastest 40 (4.54 seconds) at the tight end position. With no competition on the depth chart, Gesicki could come in right away and be one of Ryan Tannehill's top targets. The departure of Jarvis Landry opens up 150-plus targets from the slot, where Gesicki will do most of his damage. The former Nittany Lion is useless as an in-line blocker, which is why he'll draw comparisons to Evan Engram and Aaron Hernandez, but just like Engram and Hernandez, he'll be a weapon in the seams and especially in the red zone. The former basketball star excels in jump-ball situations, which will make Tannehill's life easier without Landry. Until last season, the tight end position has always been maximized by Adam Gase. Gase put Julius Thomas on the map in Denver when he posted back-to-back 12 touchdown seasons. Gesicki's skill-set will instantly put him on the fantasy football map in 2018, and most likely into the top-12 of The Wolf's tight end rankings.
Royce Freeman Set for Bell-Cow Status With Broncos
With the 71st overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected their future workhorse, Royce Freeman. The former Oregon Duck had been an every-down back for his team since the day he stepped foot on campus, which should not change with the Broncos. Amassing an incredible 947 carries during his four years at Oregon, Freeman has the experience and skill-set to make an immediate impact with the Broncos. With the departure of 1,000 CJ Anderson, a value hole was created and the Broncos filled it with Freeman. Standing at a massive 6-feet, 229 lbs, he's built to carry a three-down load. "I want to be out there on first down and second down and third down," Freeman said. "That's part of my asset as the running back." Indeed, Freeman was productive as a receiver in college, but GM John Elway seems to be envisioning an early-down role, saying “He’s the bell-cow type for first and second down… He’s the guy we needed – we needed a thumper – and he’s that kind of runner. He’ll be great in short yardage and can also break a long run or two.” Still, Freeman should have no problem surpassing the far less talented Devontae Booker for this role. Even though he is built like a Mack truck, he's incredible quick and nimble for his size. He registered the third fastest three-cone drill at his position at the combine (6.90 sec), providing that he has the potential to be a three-down back. He also caught 79 balls for 814 yards at Oregon. He was the most productive rusher in this class (5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns on the ground), which should translate to the next level. The Broncos filled their value hole with the most experienced workhorse in this draft class.
Ronald Jones II Lands in a Fantasy Football Value Hole with Buccaneers
Southern California's Ronald Jones II was selected by one of the most running back-needy teams in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with pick No. 38. Jones' insertion into Tampa checks the majority of the boxes of our Fantasy Stock Formula, highlighted by Talent, Opportunity, Surrounding Talent and Upside.  With Doug Martin making us look awfully bad last season, as he was a complete zero in an offense that dripped in potential, the team smartly moved on from the volatile running back, leaving a gaping value hole that was waiting to be filled. Jones was added to a running back room that features a handful of castoffs and meh players, such as Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber, and should have no issue winning that job. I wrote a film breakdown on Jones and called him the "most underrated running back in the nation" and I'm standing my ground on that. Jones' film was only rivaled by Saquon Barkley's and one could argue that it was more consistent than Barkley's. Over his last two seasons at SC, Jones totaled 2,632 yards and a whopping 31 touchdowns. His best attributes are his vision and ability to read his blocks, his elite acceleration and his ball security (two fumbles on 591 carries). Unfortunately, his acceleration and speed was unable to be shown at the combine, as he came up lame with a hamstring injury during his 40-yard dash. With Sam Darnold looking to push the ball downfield, Jones was not utilized as a pass-catcher as much as we hoped, but he's more than capable to catch dump offs and swing passes. Overall, Jones is a dynamic runner who so-called 'experts' were down on for some reason. Fortunately, Jones' landing spot will make him a day-one impact player with upside to make one of the biggest splashes as a rookie at his position.
Derrius Guice Falls into Perfect Fantasy Football Situation with Redskins
Once thought as the lock to be the second running back selected in the NFL Draft, Derrius Guice fell all the way to pick No. 59 to the Washington Redskins. Luckily for fantasy football owners, Guice landed in a very positive situation, as he will have a high usage score in the Redskins backfield. Have you ever bombed a job interview? Have you ever bombed 31 job interviews? That must have been the case with expected first-round running back, Derrius Guice. The latest uber-talented rusher from LSU was widely expected to be chosen within the first 32 picks. Unspecified concerns regarding his character prevented a team from committing to him until Washington pulled the trigger with pick 59. How good is Guice? According to Pro Football Focus, Guice was brought down on first contact only 60% of the time, which is top five in the PFF era amongst backs with 300 or more carries. When healthy in 2016, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry while filling in for Leonard Fournette, including 3.97 yards after contact. The man has been compared to Marshawn Lynch, running violently and bringing loads of attitude. The 20 year-old possess plenty of breakaway speed as well, running a 4.49 40 yard dash while weighing 224 lbs at the combine. So how will he fit in Washington’s offense? Guice figures to be Jay Gruden’s lead back, dominating touches on first and second down while relinquishing third-down duties to electric veteran, Chris Thompson. Samajae Perine (3.4 YPC) and Rob Kelley (3.1 YPC) proved extremely ineffective in 2017, combining  for 237 carries in total. As long as he can stay out of trouble, Guice should easily win the starting job, and will be inline for over 200 carries as a rookie. What’s more exciting is the former Tiger projects as the goal line back in a Washington offense that is expected to be solid at worst. Guice should already be considered a mid-round fantasy pick given his skill-set and situation. By the time August rolls around, you might have to burn a third or second-rounder in order to land the rookie. Fantasy Name: Guice Guice Baby
JuJu Smith-Schuster Set to Explode After Martavis Bryant’s Departure
The Steelers announced during the first round of the NFL Draft that they were sending malcontent wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, to the Raiders in exchange for a third round pick. With Antonio Brown as the clear WR1, the departure of Bryant opens up more targets -- potentially downfield -- for JuJu Smith-Schuster.  Smith-Schuster was a waiver wire hero who finished 11th overall in fantasy points per game with 14.8 and he wasn't really relevant until Bryant cemented his place into Mike Tomlin's dog house. In fact, 59-percent of JuJu's 922 receiving yards came in four of his 15 games played (including his one postseason game). Ben Roethlisberger will look his way even more since him and Smith-Schuster posted the highest QB-pass catcher passer rating as a combo at 134.8. Even better, his target share was at a crazy 32.3-percent without Bryant in the lineup, compared to a measly 13.3-percent with both Bryant and Brown active -- when he was the third receiver. As of right now (before the post-draft rankings update), Wolf has JuJu as his WR19, which is seven spots higher than his ECR (26). But with Bryant no longer in the picture and a rookie in James Washington now taking over the vertical role, Smith-Schuster may get more looks deep and he will now cement himself as the clear WR2 for Roethlisberger. JuJu is about to shoot up The Wolf's rankings and expect an enormous leap from his already impressive rookie season.
Pete Carroll: Rashaad Penny “will be a three-down back for us”
The Seattle Seahawks selected Rashaad Penny with the 27th pick of the 2018 draft, and HC Pete Carroll is already thrusting him into a three-down workhorse role. Despite a lackluster line, Penny's high projected Usage and otherwise Surrounding Talent create enormous fantasy football upside for the explosive back. Many are labeling Penny as a major Day One reach. Yet, despite trading down, the Seahawks were reportedly prepared to draft Penny with the 18th overall pick -- highlighting just how strongly they believe in him. Carroll's post-draft comments further confirm the team's enamored with Penny, and plan to make him a usage monster: “I don’t mind telling you, this pick fired me up,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said , via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “He’ll be a three-down back for us. The guy can do everything.He’s such an exciting player. He’s so versatile and so dynamic. We know that every time he gets his hands on the football he could score a touchdown. That’s in the running game and the passing game. He’s very gifted.” Short, stocky, with blazing fast feet, long speed and a physical, slashing run style, Penny fits the Carroll running back mold to a tee. He faces minimal competition for bellcow duties, with Seattle's lead RB rushing for 240 yards, and the team notching just 1 RB TD in 2017. For comparison's sake, Penny ran for 2,248 yards and 23 TDs last year. The line remains putrid, but new RT DJ Fluker is a mauling addition, and Duane Brown remains one of the higher-level LTs in the game. Meanwhile, any offense with Russell Wilson under center will move the rock and generate scoring opportunities, and Penny has a real chance to be the offensive centerpiece here.   With 25+ weekly touches in a top-15 offense, Penny appears ready to duke it out with Sony Michel for the No.2 Pick in Rookie-Only drafts. Quality RB2 stats feels like the floor on usage alone, while his RB1 upside is very real.
Rex Burkhead’s Fantasy Football Value Nosedives with Sony Michel’s Arrival
Once the heir apparent to the scoring-stacked New England backfield, Rex Burkhead now appears a distant No.2 on the depth chart. This drop in Usage sends his Fantasy Stock Score tumbling.  You won't find a bigger truther on Burkhead than The Wolf, but even he's pumping the brakes following Sony Michel's electric addition to this backfield. The Patriots invested the 31st overall pick in Michel, despite glaring defensive needs, suggesting they view the rookie as a genuine difference maker and critical offensive weapon. Moreover and unlike Dion Lewis, Michel's build and downhill running style make him a highly qualified for goalline work. Thus, now contending with Michel, Jeremy Hill, and Mike Gillislee, Burkhead's chances at remaining the short yardage guy grow even slimmer, despite his nose for the endzone. Despite averaging the fourth most fantasy points per touch in 2017, Burkhead now seems destined for a clear second fiddle and special teams role. Michel comes with some injury red flags, and Burkhead has the goalline chops to still threaten 8-10 scores beyond his obvious handcuff appeal. Still, Sexy Rexy's fantasy appeal drops significantly from a clearcut RB2 to a high-end bench stash.
Sony Michel Drips in Fantasy Football Upside with Patriots
Despite glaring defensive needs, the New England Patriots selected Georgia RB Sony Michel with the 31st pick of the 2018 Draft. This suggests the team views him as a true game changer and critical offensive cog, creating enormous fantasy football upside given Michel's high Talent, Coaching Scheme, and Surrounding Talent scores. The 5'11", 214 lb Michel often draws Alvin Kamara comparisons, and for good reason. Our favorite draft guru Dane Brugler's scouting report on Michel mirrored Kamara's skillset: "Elusive in tight quarters due to his start/stop footwork…shows burst in/out of his cuts…quickly scans and gets north-south…excellent timing and initial acceleration through the hole…deceiving run strength to maintain his balance while tacklers slide off him." Imagine what Belichick and Josh McDaneils can do with their own Kamara-esque dynamo. Though I love Dion Lewis, the Patriots have lacked a back that genuinely threatens a homerun on every touch for quite a while. Michel possesses the skillset to crib a run or catch from any down and distance, and will bring an electric jolt to an already explosive offense. He brings similar versatility as Lewis, and should inherit his 13-16 weekly touches, while adding more size and pop around the goalline to be a genuine TD machine (New England rushed for 16 TDs in 2017 (6th most), and 19 in 2016 (5th most)). Also similar to Kamara, Michel's consistently operated as a committee back and isn't likely to approach "bellcow" status. Still, while the quantity of volume won't wow, the quality of said looks will be sky high. Thanks to a beautiful combination of high Coaching Scheme and Surrounding Talent scores, Michel will constantly be fed favorable looks to maximize his tantalizing skillset. He averaged a scintillating 7.9 YPC last season, and should top 5.0 behind a rebolstered offensive line (now featuring Michel's own LT Isaiah Wynn) and with the looming presence of the GOAT Tom Brady keeping defenses honest and scoring chances plentiful. We can't pretend Michel's without risk, however. As mentioned, the Patriots have often been unpredictable in RB usage given their (correct) approach in scheming based on opponent. More frightening, Michel comes with some ball-security concerns. Indeed, he only fumbled twice as a senior and this is a coachable fix, but Stevan Ridley fumbled away his low-end RB1 Fantasy Role not long ago; Bill Belichick will not hesitate to put Michel into his prison-tight dog house if he can't sure this up. If nothing else, it sends a major message, and no one likes to do that more than The Hooded One. All-in-all, though, the Patriots bypassed some key needs to add the dynamic Michel. They clearly hold him in the highest regard and have a clear vision for his future, and that plan likely involves enormous fantasy upside. With the talent to pull away and establish a 18-20 touch role in a juggernaut offense, Michel carries a very real RB1 ceiling. Admittedly, however, he also carries cavernous floor should he fumble away this prime opportunity and/or become committee-trapped. Still, this is the type of upside worth investing in, especially if you love building a stable of workhorses like myself.
Josh Rosen Falling to Cardinals Bodes Well for his Fantasy Football Future
Once thought as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, Josh Rosen fell all the way to pick No. 10, where the Cardinals jumped ahead of the Dolphins to grab their franchise quarterback. Once he takes the reigns from Sam Bradford, Rosen will be able to lean on David Johnson, creating a potentially deadly one-two punch in the desert.  My No. 1 ranked quarterback before the draft, Rosen is the most NFL-ready of the bunch. He'll start off the season behind Sam Bradford, but we all know that Bradford won't be able to last a full season. Although Rosen was visibly pissed off by free falling, he could not have landed in a better situation. The UCLA product stayed on the west coast and will play in a dome for half the season. Next, he'll get a positive Surrounding Talent score since he'll be able to learn behind Sam Bradford, and is surrounded by elite talents such as the great Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Lastly, Rosen will be injected into Mike McCoy's unstoppable passing attack that has posted top 10 in yardage in six of the last nine seasons. Sure, McCoy did well with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, but he also got Kyle Orton to have his best two seasons under his guidance. We'll see Rosen at some point this year and he has a chance to make some noise as a rookie.
New 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey Boosts Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo
Both Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo receive healthy Surrounding Talent boosts with the addition of athletic-freak T Mike McGlinchey. If one question lingered for a 49ers offense that's burgeoning under Kyle Shanahan, it was a lackluster offensive line.  The unit ranked was graded 20th by PFF in 2017, despite averaging the seventh-highest in yards before contact for runners (1.86). The glaring hole was RT Trent Brown, who struggled mightily, especially in run-blocking, and McGlinchey is going to fill this to perfection. NFL.com's Lance Zierlien described McGlinchey as a "very fluid athlete with background as tight end" with "natural movements and able to make cross-face and cut-off blocks." This fits Shanahan's Zone Blocking Scheme to perfection, as this requires blockers who can move and seal off "zones," both at the point of attack and down the field. Thus, Jerick McKinnon sees a healthy boost, with lanes to be even more open, and a freakish athlete who'll dominate downfield in the screen game. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo now has his protection bookended by two beastly tackles in McGlinchey and Joe Staley. More time is nothing but a positive, for both Garoppolo as well as surrounding weapons like Marquise Goodwin and George Kittle. All-in-all, the rising 49ers are plugging their most gaping holes, and all fantasy ships are rising with less leakage.      
New Giants Workhorse Saquon Barkley Deserves Top-Five Overall Consideration in Fantasy Football Drafts
Saquon Barkley lands in the ideal spot for his fantasy football value with the New York Giants. His Talent is generational. Pat Shurmur is a bellcow breeder. This offense drips in explosive potential. All the fantasy stars have aligned for a Top Five overall season for Barkley.  Running Backs don't get more "complete' than Barkley, who's not unfairly compared to a "Bigger Barry Sanders." He's incredibly versatile, legitimately on par with Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson in terms of butter-smooth route running despite a monstrous 230+ lb frame. Speaking of size, Barkley's powerful enough to get the tough yards, yet shifty and elusive enough to win in space.  He can hit the home run or burst through the pile for a tough TD. Simply put, he does it all. And no one can squeeze more from a versatile back than new HC Pat Shurmur. From Steven Jackson, to LeSean McCoy, to what Dalvin Cook was becoming (and even *gag* Trent Richardson), Shurmur has ridden a three-down workhorse whenever able. According to PFF's Scott Barrett, Shurmur's RB1s have averaged 308.7 carries per season (83.9% of team's share) + 61.3 targets -- insane overall volume, especially in a committee-plagued era. The Bellcow Enthusiast might have his most versatile threat yet. Lastly, the offensive situation may be perfect. Behind an aging Eli Manning, the Giants are ready to hand the offensive reigns over to a 25+ weekly carry bellcow; prior to the draft, Todd McShay noted as much, stating: "I've heard very strongly that there are important people in the building who believe in Saquon Barkley and being a physical, run-first team. Barkley can be the face of the team for the next 10 years." The New York post noted, "the Giants view Saquon Barkley as a near-perfect prospect... a better player than Ezekiel Elliott." Yet, Manning still has enough juice to keep this offense and the explosive Surrounding Talent churning. The Giants have an explosive stable of receiving weapons, obviously highlighted by Odell Beckham Jr., and rounded out by blossoming freaks Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. This unit should move the ball with ease, creating consistently long and sustained drives, in addition to plenty of scoring opportunities. Boxes can't be stuffed, and Barkley should find oodles of space underneath to flourish in the receiving game. The Giants line is mediocre and the only "negative" here; still, Nate Solder's addition should certainly help. Simply put, Barkley couldn't have landed in a juicier situation for his fantasy football value. His insane combination of Talent, Usage, Surrounding Talent, Coaching Scheme and Upside make him well worth a Top-Five overall selection.
The Browns Select Baker Mayfield, Whose Fantasy Football Stock is Now on Hold
The Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, potentially dismantling his 2018 fantasy football stock. With Tyrod Taylor already named the starting quarterback for the 2018 season by Hue Jackson, Mayfield is a strange selection here. Mayfield is NFL-ready, while a guy like Sam Darnold would have benefited from a year behind Taylor to further develop. Barring an injury to Taylor, Mayfield will be fantasy irrelevant in 2018. But for 2019 and beyond, an offensive core of Mayfield, Carlos Hyde/Duke Johnson (if re-signed), Josh Gordon (if re-signed), Jarvis Landry and David Njoku could be very special. The Browns are building an explosive, fantasy-relevant offense and now they have the face of their franchise, along with some elite talent around him. Another reason to love the fit would be the Browns' incredible offensive line, which caters to Mayfield's mobility inside and outside of the pocket. He'll be able to scan the field from a clean pocket, instead of getting murdered behind a bad offensive line, ala Andrew Luck with the Colts. Love the player and love the pick for the future of the franchise, but we'll likely be without Mayfield's magic for his entire rookie season, which is too bad.
Rob Gronkowski Says He’ll Play for Patriots in 2018
After a roller coaster of an offseason, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced via Instagram that he will indeed return to the team for the 2018 season.  The news shouldn't come to a complete shock to fans, but after his childish antics at a recent promotional event at Gillette Stadium on Saturday where he basically disrespected and mocked the team, Gronkowski took to Instagram on Tuesday evening to write, "I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run. #bandsamakeherdance" This all started after the Super Bowl where an emotional Gronkowski hinted at potential retirement, which then led to rumors of him joining the WWE or even acting in Hollywood. But with Tom Brady's agent, Don Yee announcing yesterday that Brady is committed to the team for the near future, it would've be tough to imagine Gronk walking away from his quarterback and his teammates. Even with the losses of Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Nate Solder, the Patriots return the majority of their potent offense. Gronk is currently The Wolf's TE1, while Brady is currently his QB4.
Adam Schefter: Tom Brady Still Has Not Committed to Play in 2018
Adam Schefter dropped a doozy of a tweet Wednesday morning when he stated, "Patriots’ QB Tom Brady still has not committed to playing in 2018, even though people who know him believe he will back coming season, league sources told ESPN." Although Schefter followed up his tweet with this, "My money would be on him playing football for the foreseeable future, but what goes on away from the football field, I don't know." A source told Schefter. "I don't know." It's still sketchy that this is coming out at this point of the offseason -- especially after missing the first few days of OTA's. One would think that Brady would make a decision by next Thursday's draft so the Patriots could find his immediate successor, but who knows at this point. The Patriots have been connected to just about every top quarterback in this draft, including Baker MayfieldJosh RosenLamar Jackson and Kyle Lauletta -- and they have the draft capital to move up into the first half of the first round. Bill Belichick needs to clean up the Alex Guerrero situation and make his quarterback happy for the foreseeable future, especially since he traded Jimmy Garoppolo for pennies on the dollar. Will the Patriots really enter the 2018 season without the greatest quarterback and tight end of all time? It should be an interesting next few weeks.
Bill Belichick to Cordarelle Patterson: “We’ll make you the player you should be”
Though his name will force most fantasy owners to swallow back puke, Cordarelle Patterson has some very real Penny Stock upside now in New England. This is especially true after Brandin Cooks' departure opened up some deep-ball "Opportunity." Moreover, Bill Belichick hinted at an expanded role for Patterson: “I don’t know what you’ve been through in the past, but basically, we get the job done here,” Patterson says Belichick told the wide receiver. “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.” Now, this doesn't guarantee a major offensive role quite yet. The player does not mean wide receiverIn fact, it more likely means "Special Teams Ace" and package specialist -- perhaps even more RB-mismatch -- than WR. But there's certainly a well of explosive athleticism and open field vision to tap into here, and Belichick doesn't acquire someone without a specific role in mind. If anyone can unlock his upside and use him properly, it'd be him and Josh McDaniels (who Patterson told: "Just put me on the field. It will take care of itself...That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, making plays, playmaker.") Of course, carving out any consistent usage and thus fantasy value would require Patterson to fully grasp perhaps the most complex playbook in the league.  Thus, Patterson seems destined for a part timer role... but part time usage is far better than full-time when it's the right designs. 8-10 weekly looks would yield some week-swinging booms to flex spots. Patterson's consistently flashed in the screen and slant game, and a simple package of plays designed to get him in space feels likely. Hell, I would be far from shocked if he lined up in the backfield for at least 4-5 snaps a contest, if not more. Let's not forget the Surrounding Talent upgrade: Tom Brady is far and away the most talented signal caller Patterson has ever played with (and ever will). Penny Stocks are all about shooting for the ceilings, and Patterson shockingly drips in upside for those willing to see it. We have a combination of insane raw talent, improved usage, and enormous surrounding talent score boosts. Will Patterson be a fantasy season changer in 2018? Most likely, no. But he could be an occasional game changer, with the slightest chance to be a true monster, making this a $2 lottery ticket worth scratching. If nothing else, New England D/ST gains some upside.... oh, just sit back and enjoy the highlights.
Dez Bryant Cut by Cowboys; Where Will he Land?
We've heard rumbles for what seemed like months, and finally the Cowboys decided to cut their volatile wide receiver, Dez Bryant.  Since being cut, Bryant has gone off on Twitter, saying "If I didn’t have my edge I got it now... I’m sorry they got to feel me it’s personal... it’s very personal." He also retweeted a writer's tweet saying that Bryant is going to look to play in the NFC East to get revenge against the Cowboys twice a year. The Cowboys wide receiver depth chart is currently headlined by Allen HurnsTerrance Williams and Cole Beasley, while a player such as Noah Brown could be a potential Penny Stock. But with the NFL Draft just under two weeks away, expect the Cowboys to address their putrid receiver group by targeting one in the first round. Some names to keep an eye on are Maryland's DJ Moore and SMU's Courtland Sutton. Check back to read our analysis once Bryant signs with a team.
New Saints WR Cameron Meredith’s Stock Rises Alongside Drew Brees
Now a member of the Saints, Cameron Meredith's "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" Scores receive monster boosts and send his Fantasy Football Stock Score soaring after the Bears blunder his contract.  Though a preseason torn ACL and MCL robbed Meredith of a likely breakout in 2017, the 6'3" monster lands in a prime position to realize his full ceiling with the Saints. For starters, Meredith already flashed blow-up potential when last on the field, despite having to fight through fantasy quicksand. Yes, Meredith still logged double-digit PPR FPs in 7/13 games (including 19 FPs in five of those contests (and 22+ in three (26+ in two)))... while catching passes from Matt Barkley in a John Fox offense (go puke and return). Those outputs aren't achievable in that God awful set-up without some real talent. Now, Meredith exits Fantasy Purgatory for perhaps Fantasy Heaven, landing in the prolific Drew Brees and Sean Payton attack. Yes, the Saints passing offense regressed statistically last year, as Brees was held under 32 TDs for the first time in 10 seasons. Let me repeat: Over the last decade, Brees has thrown 32+ TDs in 9 of 10 seasons. Sure, he's older, and indeed, the dominant rushing attack will remain a staple. But I'll bet on 90% any day of the week, especially when Meredith -- a wiry, athletic, proven red zone threat -- is brought into the mix. Earlier this offseason, Payton had told reports WR was a "must" add position, and he landed the sneaky most talented guy after Allen Robinson. Expect Brees to return to his 30+ TD wizardry, with Meredith on the receiving end of 8+.
The Grass Won’t be Greener for Jordy Nelson with the Raiders
Jordy Nelson's Coaching Scheme, Usage and Surrounding Talent scores to take a hit playing second fiddle in a downgraded passing game. New Oakland Raiders WR Jordy Nelson will see a decrease in three major categories while in his new digs in the Bay Area. No longer acting as his former boy toy's security blanket in Aaron Rodgers, Nelson will thrust into Derek Carr's offense, which struggled mightily compared to 2016. Nelson seems to be a fill in for the departed Michael Crabtree -- which might seem good at first, before diving into the stats. With new Head Coach Jon Gruden at the helm, this means potential great things for Amari Cooper. As The Wolf pointed out in prior articles about Gruden's hire, his West Coast scheme likes to stretch the defense and get the ball in his best player makers' hands. WR1s in Gruden's offenses have flourished in the past as he "funnels looks and production to his top target." He's ALWAYS produced a 1,000 yard receiver and only once had under 122 looks. You think that's going to be the 32 year old Nelson? Nah, me neither. He's surely not the WR1 we all knew and loved in Green Bay, and now he's slowly dwindling away to WR2 status on his team as his career starts to fade.
Chris Hogan Benefits Most from the Brandin Cooks Trade
With Brandin Cooks' 114 targets up for grabs, Chris Hogan's Opportunity Score rises and he should be in for a big 2018. After Tom Brady was able to throw for 500 yards without Brandin Cooks during the Super Bowl, the writing was on the wall for Cooks -- not to mention he was entering a contract year. Chris Hogan's role changed with the arrival of Cooks and then he was able to settle down in Cooks' role once Malcolm Jenkins put Cooks out to pasture. Hogan registered six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown on eight targets as the team's intermediate and deep threat in the Super Bowl, and he should find himself in that position next season. Not only does Brady trust Hogan in clutch situations, but he also trusts him deep. In 2016, Hogan was tied with DeSean Jackson with a 17.9 yards per reception average. We expect a monster season for Hogan in the 65-850-8 range.
Leonard Fournette and Andrew Norwell will Steamroll Opposing Defenses
Leonard Fournette's Surrounding Talent Score will increase with the addition of the road grader that is Andrew Norwell.  Though linemen often are overlooked by fantasy owners, Andrew Norwell‘s (PFF's No. 3 ranked guard) signing may go down as one of 2018’s most crucial. Granted, the only player we truly care about here is Leonard Fournette, but Norwell will stabilize the only glaring weakness on an otherwise punishing run-blocking line, allowing Fournette to run even more freely in his sophomore campaign. Fournette's health is admittedly a huge concern. Yet, Norwell’s presence all but guarantees weekly RB1 production for as long as Fournette lasts. Hopefully, it’s all 16 and a masterpiece. To read more about this beastly combo, click here.
OJ Howard’s Stock Tumbles After Bucs Re-Up Cameron Brate
With the Bucs spending a first rounder on OJ Howard and Cameron Brate set to hit free agency, the future as clear for the former Crimson Tide tight end... or so we thought.    After finishing his rookie season on a high note, it looked like OJ Howard was set to take the reigns as the clear TE 1 in Tampa Bay; that was until the Bucs re-signed the always solid Cameron Brate. Howard dripped in TE1 upside with a high talent score, but it will be tough for Howard to fulfill high fantasy football expectations. Now, Tampa Bay will mostly run two tight end sets, with Brate vulturing Howard’s potential touchdown production. Before the Bucs re-signed Brate, Howard was slated as The Wolf’s TE12 in his “Too Early” Big Board. But with Brate returning, those dreams have been laid to rest, as he is currently slotted at TE19.   To be more depressed about this, click here.
Kirk Cousins lands in ideal spot with Minnesota, set for career bests
Now in Minnesota, Kirk Cousins' "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" scores both receive healthy boosts, setting the stage for a Top Five QB finish. With a strong and accurate arm, magnetic leadership qualities, and strong durability, Cousins has all the makings of a potential franchise QB. He’s now in the perfect spot to prove this in Minnesota. The Vikings drip in offensive firepower: Adam Thielen is among the league’s smoothest route runners, is deceptively fast down the field, and consistently finds the soft spots on a defense. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs has flashed elite traits in all three seasons, at times putting the entire passing attack on his back for 10+ reception games. He’s a gym rat and pure lover of the game, thus working on his craft nonstop. Meanwhile, Kyle Rudolph is enormous yet can fly down the seams, while Dalvin Cook is dangerously explosive in the receiving game out of the backfield. Additionally, new OC John DeFilippo, is appropriately praised for his incredible work with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles in 2017. Not that Cousins’ game leaves a ton to be desired, but if DeFilippo can squeeze historic postseason runs out of Foles, he certainly could take Cousins to another level. The Vikings were already one of the league’s top offenses in 2017, ranking 10th in total yardage and 11th in scoring. Both Kirk Cousins and new OC John DeFilippo are capable of sending this unit towards the top five. To read a more in-depth breaking of all things Vikings, click here.    
Rex Burkhead Set for Dion Lewis Role, Maybe More?
Rex Burkhead is the ultimate Bill Belichick-type player who does everything asked of him -- whether it be on special teams or in a specific role. In this case, Burkhead did everything asked of him during his first season, and could be awarded the lead back role in year two.   With Dion Lewis no longer in New England, Mike Gillislee in the dog house and James White securing his third down duties, Burkhead brings the type of versatility that Belichick adores from his first and second down back. He can run the ball effectively and is a plus-receiver out of the backfield, which keeps the opposing defense off-guard. It's up to debate if Burkhead can carry a 16 game load -- as he's never been asked to do so -- but he'll definitely be given the chance after re-signing in New England to the tune of a 3-year, $9.75 million deal. The Patriots will potentially add a running back in the draft, but it's Burkhead's job to lose right now.   To learn more about Burkhead's potential role, click here.  
Jay Ajayi’s Path to an RB1 Bounce Back has been laid
Jay Ajayi's "Opportunity" score sees a dramatic increase with LeGarrette Blount headed to Detroit. Understandably, many owners who rode The Jay Pain Train in 2017 will steer far clear of Ajayi in 2018. However, True Wolves must have a short-term memory, or otherwise be blinded to the tremendous upside Ajayi (and other rebound candidates) offer in 2018. With Blount's disgusting presence removed, Ajayi's path to 20+ touches in 2017’s highest scoring offense (29.0 PPG) just became a whole lot clearer, especially at the goalline. Even when Blount was around, Ajayi averaged 75.3 total yards from scrimmage in his 10 games with the Eagles — a 1205 yard pace in a 16 game season, which would’ve ranked 15th among RBs last year. At minimum, this pace should be sustained while increasing Ajayi’s TD upside substantially. He’s set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack. This is the ultimate RB1 recipe, and the bitter taste of Ajayi’s bust-filled 2017 is creating one of the best 2018 fantasy football investing opportunities. Despite being brutally burned last season, I’m hammering the “Double Down” bet here and going all-in on Ajayi yet again -- especially at his 44th Experts Consensus Ranking. For a more detailed breakdown of Ajayi's soaring ceiling, click here.
Tyrod Taylor set for QB1 Stats with Cleveland’s Stacked Cast, Explosive Scheme
Traded to Cleveland, Tyrod Taylor receives major "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades following the Browns' wild offseason. With minimal firepower to play with, Taylor has largely delivered the QB1 goods in Buffalo; in both 2015 and 2016, he was the QB8 in points per game with a banged up Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as his top targets. Instead of Zay Jones and a limping Jordan Matthews, TyGod will now  sling to Josh Gordon (potential top-five talent), Jarvis Landry (arguably the top slot weapon in the game) and Corey Coleman, (an athletic freak not far removed from receiving awards as the top collegiate wideout). Meanwhile, Duke Johnson ranks among the top receiving backs in the game, and last year’s first round TE David Njoku still drips in the raw athleticism to develop into a nightmare matchup. Beyond just the skill positions, Taylor also lands behind one of the NFL’s top lines. Moreover, he leaves behind Buffalo's vanilla schemes for the always explosive Todd Haley. Though Haley has never worked with a QB of Tyrod's mobility, the new OC is adamant in crafting offenses around his players’ strengths. Expect plenty of rollouts, bootlegs, and designed runs. Moreover, Haley loves attacking teams vertically, which fits into Tyrod’s abilities to buy time in the pocket, as well as drop dimes deep. We have the perfect marriage of an underrated talent, meshing with a proven play caller, and joining now-loaded weapons cabinet. The only risk is losing the job to an highly-touted rookie -- admittedly a real concern -- but I firmly believe TyGod will do just this... and yield QB1 numbers for his games played regardless.   For more surrounding Tyrod Taylor and all of Cleveland's new toys, click here
Mitch Trubisky’s Weapons Cabinet now stacked; Ideal Late Round QB2 Penny Stock
After enormous "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades, Mitch Trubisky's path to a Jared Goff-esque breakout is very real.   

Allen RobinsonTaylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton, oh my! Talk about a Surrounding Talent upgrade — Trubisky's weapons cabinet, once headlined by (puke) Kendall Wright, now features a bevy of athletic field stretchers. This is ideal, as the creative, aggressive, and vertically-minded Matt Nagy replaces the infuriatingly conservative John Fox, also landing Trubisky a healthy “Coaching Scheme” score boost. A vertical cast + a vertical coach = perfection for the strong-armed Trubisky, who was graded third by PFF on 20+ yard passes. Jared Goff followed very similar upgrades in Sean McVay and his bolstered weaponry to a QB1 breakout, and Trubisky’s own arm is all that stands between him and a similar explosion.

The “Shanahan” Effect: Jerick McKinnon now a Bonafide RB1 

With his "Opportunity" and "Coaching Scheme" scores skyrocketing as the expected 49ers Featured Back, Jerick McKinnon now drips in RB1 upside.

 Kyle Shanahan’s “Zone Blocking” run game has facilitated monster RB1 seasons whenever the talent fits the scheme... and even when it doesn't (cough, Carlos Hyde, cough). In fact, five of Shanahan's last 6 lead backs have been Top 15 fantasy producers, including monster outputs most recently from Devonta Freeman and Alfred Morris, while "stalwarts" like Steve Slaton have notched over 1,500 total yards and 10 TDs in this offense. McKinnon is set to be the next featured monster, according to Shanahan's mouth (and the 49ers wallet).  McKinnon is now the league’s fourth richest back thanks to a monster 4-year, $30 million deal -- not "complementary" money by any means. Moreover, Shanahan has done nothing but heap praise since signing the versatile back: “I got lost watching his film, there’s so much I liked,”; “He’s an issue for teams,”; “He’s good on third down... and also first and second.” Apparently, Shanahan has found his next horse, which is a fantasy football bet I'll always hammer. All signs point to a monster 1,500+ total yard, 8-10 TD, 50+ reception season. For more on the Shanahan’s Zone Blocking Scheme and McKinnon’s fit in it, click here.

   
Derrick Henry’s Stock Takes a Hit with Dion Lewis Addition
The Titans went out and signed Dion Lewis in free agency who fits new OC Matt LeFleur's offense — which is predicated on merging the running and passing game — like a glove; plummeting Derrick Henry's Opportunity and Usage Score. Derrick Henry went from a legit RB1 who would have warranted a late-first, early-second round pick, to a player who’s currently ranked amongst the likes of Kenyan DrakeCarlos HydeAlex Collins and Rex Burkhead. Sure, things will likely change once training camp rolls around and we get some clarity on how the two backs will be utilized, but it’s extremely difficult to be optimistic about Henry right now. The former Crimson Tide bruiser may be in-line for a double-digit touchdown season, yet the chances of him fulfilling our lofty fantasy dreams are slim. Dion Lewis carries the better fantasy outlook of the two right now and frankly, it might not be debatable. To read more in-depth on this brutal RBBC situation, click here.
Doug Baldwin’s Target Share and WR1 Upside Skyrocketing
Doug Baldwin has far less competition for Russell Wilson’s attention in 2018, and his “Opportunity” score consequently sees a healthy boost. Fellow pass-catchers Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have landed in Green Bay and Washington respectively, which opens up oodles of targets (175, 32% target share), especially in the Red Zone (37/73, over 50% tgts). As currently built, Baldwin is the only weapon with established red zone chemistry with Wilson. Recall: Baldwin finished 2015 (his last without Graham) with 14 total TDs, including an NFL-record 12 over an eight week span to close out the season. He trailed only Antonio Brown among WRs for scoring during this span, and is sneakily set up for a similar explosion in 2018. In his last three campaigns, Baldwin’s finished as the WR11, WR8, and WR10 despite never topping 125 targets. As the clear cut target hog for one of the league’s best signal-caller, Baldwin is now in a prime position to exceed all those finishes with his finest campaign yet. Read more about Baldwin’s insane upside here.
Trey Burton is a Mismatch Nightmare in the Bears Offense
Bears head coach Matt Nagy will utilize Trey Burton in the all-important "U" position in his offense. Even with limited production in Philadelphia, the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year, $32 million contract to fill a very important position in Matt Nagy's offense. Burton will be utilized mostly in the slot in the "U" position, the same position where Nagy helped Travis Kelce lead all tight ends in yards from the slot in 2017. Burton's size will make him a serious mismatch for smaller defensive backs and his speed will make him very difficult for linebackers to handle. With a high score in Coaching Scheme department of our Fantasy Football Stock Formula, Burton drips in TE 1 upside heading into 2018. Learn more about Nagy's offense and Trey Burton.
Patrick Mahomes enormous upside continues growing with Sammy Watkins added
Mahomes' already-elite "Surrounding Talent" score continues climbing with deep-ball extraordinaire Sammy Watkins joining his stacked weapons cabinet. This offense already oozed in enormous fantasy football upside. Now, the combination of Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt creates arguably the most explosive juggernaut in the league, and Mahomes will be at the center of it all. Andy Reid, one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, will have limitless ways of attacking and stretching a defense, especially considering Mahomes' cannon arm. His usually more horizontal-based West Coast offense was already becoming far more vertical under Hill, and the big plays will only grow with Watkins, who tracks the deep ball as well as any in the league. With lesser natural ability and weapons, Alex Smith was able to finish as 2017’s No.2 fantasy QB in this setup. Even more is in place for Mahomes to repeat this feat, with genuine upside for a Deshaun Watson / Carson Wentz type of impact Read more about Sammy Watkins' impact on this entire offense here