Fantasy Football Stock Watch








Who's Rising, Falling, and Why


 Below, find all the news and moves that truly impact the fantasy football 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. All caught up? Return to the homepage.


A Healthy John Brown Standing Out With Ravens, Perfect Fit With Joe Flacco
John Brown has been showing out at camp so far and Baltimore is buzzing.  Quarterback Joe Flacco credits Brown with the improved downfield success.  Brown has been largely ineffective the last two seasons while dealing with complications from his sickle cell trait.  Head coach John Harbaugh has said that Brown has "been better than expected." Harbaugh went on to say that Brown "has been a complete receiver for us."  This is obviously high praise and worth monitoring going forward. While this may be coach speak attempting to hype up morale surrounding the Ravens offense, Brown is a perfect fit with Flacco's talents.  Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league and one of the prettiest deep balls in recent memory.  When healthy, Brown has been nothing short of an electrifying playmaker, the very thing the Ravens were missing last season.  Brown has a career average of 14.5 yards per reception and runs an eye blurring, 4.34 40. Brown is dangerous in the open field, along the sidelines, and in the slot with his mix of speed, burst, and agility.  While there is still much to prove about whether or not he can stay on the field, all signs point to a big bounce back for Brown in 2018. His stock is on the rise and is worth buying as a Penny Stock. "Smokey" Brown is currently our WR54 (+11 vs ECR).
Taywan Taylor A Perfect Fit in Matt LaFleur’s Screen-Heavy Attack, Fantasy Penny Stock Perfection
In our Matt LaFleur breakdown, we raved about Taywan Taylor's limitless ceiling in the new OC's screen-heavy, vertical-based attack. This was fully on display in a 4-catch, 95 yard, 2 TD monster against the Bucs. As a rookie, Taylor's mammoth upside rotted in a "Exotic Smashmouth"-plagued rookie year. Following massive "Usage" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades, Taylor comes with far more fantasy upside in his sophomore campaign. Back in our early-June Coaching Carousel, The Wolf was already sniffing out Taylor's massive upside. He wrote Taylor "was extremely explosive in college, with a game very similar to Robert Woods who thrived with LaFleur last season. Taylor has stuttering quicks and is dangerous on the short routes out of the slot, yet can plant-and-go vertically as well. LaFleur will undoubtedly capitalize on this versatility, as Taylor thrived on bubble screens, jet sweeps, and designed short YAC plays -- all staples in this creative attack. Even if he's currently going undrafted, Taylor should absolutely be on your radar." Taylor's prime fit and dangerous screen ability were glaringly evident on his 47-yard catch and run score. The Titans' uber-talented and athletic line got out front in a hurry, and Taylor read his blocks to perfection. He knifed through the congestion before busting into the open-field where no one will catch him and his blazing speed. On his final drive of the night, Taylor logged 16 and 29 yard receptions, before capping his night off with a 3-yard slant score. Largely undrafted entering Saturday's contest, Taylor will unfortunately now be a far more popular "Penny Stock," but for good reason. He's an explosive "Individual Talent" who'll be utilized far more often and properly in LaFleur's creative, aggressive scheme. Expect a handful of week-winning swings, with season-changing upside if he can carve out a meaningful weekly target share.
49ers WR Marquise Goodwin Continues Flashing Target Hog Upside, Ideal Fantasy WR3
On the same week he was labeled "clearly Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target," Marquise Goodwin flashed why. In a lone quarter of action, Goodwin racked up a team-high three targets, catching them all for a game-high 61 yards. Goodwin was originally labeled a "Must Buy Bargain" in our Preseason Kickoff Guide, and he continues flashing why. Him and Garoppolo are clearly in sync, which was especially evident on a 40 yard hook-up deep down the sideline. Their rapport has been evident ever since Jimmy G took over as starter. During these weeks (13-17), Goodwin was the PPR WR8 in fantasy. This stretch included an 8 catch, 99 yard game versus Chicago and a 10 catch, 114 yard game against Tennessee, and Goodwin ultimately racked up 29 catches for 384 yards -- a 93 catch, 1,229 yard pace. Most impressive, however, was that none of these 29 catches went for more than 20 yards…. So much for just a “deep ball artist.”  Instead, Goodwin was destroying people underneath given all the space he was afforded at the line thanks to his speed, while proving highly capable of a full route tree. Don't forget to consider HC Kyle Shanahan. He has a lengthy track record of peppering No.1 “Alpha X Receivers," is well-aware of just how dangerous Goodwin is, and plans to capitalize: “When you can beat man coverage like that on almost any route we give you, and he’s catching it consistently, we’re excited about his year,” Shanahan said. “And (we) expect him to get a lot of opportunities."  Though his ADP has steadily been climbing as the Hype Train builds (up to 78 from 100 just 2 weeks ago), Goodwin's still seems likely to exceed his price tag. He's refined his Olympic Speed into a dangerous all-around ability. He'll be heavily utilized. And he has a dangerous rapport with a talented QB. These ingredients could combine for high-end WR2 production.
Bears TE Trey Burton Filling Nagy’s Kelce Role to Perfection, Rising Fantasy Floor
Earlier this offseason, fantasy owners salivated when Trey Burton was pegged for the Travis Kelce "U" role. Saturday's contest versus the Broncos illustrated just how valuable this could be. Burton was used all over the field and on a variety of route combinations, ultimately hauling n 4-of-5 targets for 45 yards and a TD.  Burton's "Usage" this preseason has been extremely encouraging. He's been on the field for  92% of Chicago's first-team pass plays, while accounting for a team-leading 6 of Trubisksy's 18 throws (33%). Moreover, Burton's been split out in the slot on 47% of his routes, nearly-mirroring Kelce's 50% slot usage from 2017.

Keep in mind, Nagy’s very first personnel conversation with GM Ryan Pace revolved around finding his next Kelce. This is a crucial cog of this attack, in which Kelce racked up a TE-leading 122 targets.“It’s an important role,” Nagy said. “It’s easy to create some plays for."

Burton was far and away Nagy's top choice for this job, which makes perfect sense considering the former Eagles' insane athleticism. At 6'3", 235 lbs, Burton is a physical freak, logging 2014 Combine bests in the 40 (4.62), the 3-cone (7.14) and the 20-yd shuttle (4.32). Nagy's well aware of this athletic upside, stating:

"And when you have a guy that has the size that Trey has and the speed that he has, it’s about mismatches. That’s one of the things that I learned through coach Reid is getting mismatches throughout, and that’s what Trey does."

The early results suggest a perfect fit. Carrying a 99 ADP and 93 ECR, Burton seems likely to bring a high-yardage floor to an otherwise uncertain position in this price range. This makes him a steal, and a Must-Target if you miss out on a more established Top-6 option. He's risen into the 70s on my Big Board.

For more on Matt Nagy's impact on the entire Bears' offense, click here.

Josh Gordon Returns, Drips in Fantasy Football Upside Despite Needing to Clear More Hurdles
Browns, Fantasy, and General Football Fans rejoice – Josh Gordon is back! On Saturday, the uber-talented, but oft-troubled Gordon returned to the Browns after missing the opening two weeks of camp. In a candid note, Gordon says he “took the time needed to ensure my overall mental and physical health.” Now in peak-shape, with a clear head (for the first time), and as much ability as any WR in the game, Gordon’s path back to WR1 Dominance can officially begin. This is especially true considering the “Surrounding Talent” and “Coaching Scheme” upgrades he and all Browns’ WRs received this offseason. Gordon is an imposing 6’3″ and 225 lbs glider who can dominate at every level of the field. He now will gain immense value from playing under Todd Haley, a known WR-whisperer who's made monsters out of both elites like Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown, as well as slugs like Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. This is a coach who'll preach the intricacies and squeeze the absolute upmost potential out of Gordon. More importantly, Gordon will be catching balls from the best QB of his career, by a mile — whether Tyrod Taylor or eventually Baker Mayfield (who, after practicing with “Flash” in OTAs, noted: “I’ve never seen anybody like him, bar none…He’s definitely gifted.”) Yes, he's only played in 10 games in the four seasons since his dominant 2013. But how can you forget the dominance of that 2013 season? Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards, in only 14 GP, with the 7th-lowest QB rating passer delivering the mail. While playing drunk. His 22.4 fantasy points per game, at only the age of 22, ranks top-20 among wide receivers all-time. Now, Gordon will have his clearest mind to complement his ridiculous ability. He'll have the ultimate play-caller and WR developer in Haley. And he'll be hauling in balls from his most talented pass-catcher yet. Simply put, the ceiling is limitless. To reach it, Gordon still has some hurdles to clear. After this last disappearing act, Gordon’s availability cannot be taken for granted. If his mental demons return, Gordon could need to leave the team at any point or, even worse, regress to his old habits. He also still reportedly needs to meet “certain conditions” of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Program. Indeed, Gordon hasn’t hit the finish line, but Gordon’s made tremendous progress on the right path. For more on Gordon's return and how it impacts this whole offense, click here.
Falcons Rookie WR Calvin Ridley Involved Early and Often as Emerging Penny Stock
With Julio Jones sitting, Calvin Ridley flashed his potential while operating as the clear top WR for the Falcons. The Alabama wideout hauled in 3-of-5 looks for a team-high 49 yards and a score, including a 36-yard bomb from Matt Ryan. In general, the Falcons moved the ball with ease, and seem ready for a rebound in Year 2 under Steve Sarkisian. Ridley was quiet in his Falcons debut, but was heavily involved against the Chiefs. At 6'1" with a 4.43 Forty, Ridley can be a mismatch terror -- especially while facing second coverage opposite of Julio Jones. Teammates can't stop raving about Ridley, both in his approach and ability: “C-Rid always looks good,” receiver Marvin Hall said. “He has a motor. I’m so excited for him and it’s just the beginning of something special. He’s very humble, he acts like he’s been here before.” “It’s hard to say he’s a rookie,” linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said of Ridley. “He came in really polished, he looked like a vet from the beginning. He has a ridiculous stride, he covers a lot of ground really quick. He’s a mismatch problem. We have a really good receiving corps. On almost any other receiving corps in the league, he’d definitely be a No. 1 receiver. He’s going to be able create mismatches and dominate.” With immense ability and a juicy opportunity, Ridley drips in upside at his 114 price tag. This is especially true if Ryan and the entire Falcons bounceback in their second season under Sarkisian. On that note, expect Ryan to be an incredibly high-floor, sneakily high-ceiling QB2 option that's a perfect late-round complement to a Patrick Mahomes start.
Browns’ Carlos Hyde Steam Rolls Bills as Clear-Cut No.1 Running Back
Carlos Hyde was the clear-cut early down rusher for the Browns, and looked damn strong in the role. He turned 9 carries into 64 yards (7.1 YPC) and 1 TD, and is firmly above Nick Chubb on the Browns depth chart. Though Duke Johnson rotated in on passing situations, Hyde will clearly be involved behind a top-half line and in an offense that should generate plenty of scoring chances. He's shaping up to be a steal at his 80th overall Price Point.  In other news, the Bills look like they'll again be a goldmine for opposing running backs -- all of Cleveland's backs churned tonight. But none were more impressive than Hyde, who stiff-armed and churned his way to beastly gains all night. This was especially true on the opening drive, with Hyde serving as the offensive engine and ripping 5 carries for 41 yards and a drive-capping TD. The Browns offensive line was bullying the Bills' front seven, and Hyde displayed his usual strong vision and powerful balance throughout his four series with the first team offense. Moreover, Chubb didn't touch the field with the ones. If a negative is to be found, it's Duke Johnson's heavy involvement -- though this was always expected. As long as Hyde can maintain the early-down and goalline role here, he's bound to exceed his 7-8th round price tag. This offense is set to explode, and the bulldozing Hyde has always been a beast at the stripe, creating real 10+ TD upside.
Deep Love: Patrick Mahomes Ropes a 69-yard Bomb to Tyreek Hill, Rapport Growing
If Roto Street had to pick a poster-boy QB, Patrick Mahomes would be the no-brainer. On Friday versus the Falcons, he flashed why: an effortless 69 yard bomb that led a streaking Tyreek Hill right into the end zone -- the longest . Meanwhile, Hill was easily Mahomes' top target, validating the week's earlier reports of their brewing chemistry, and reaffirming his WR1 Value. The only QB listed on my "Must Buy" Bargain List (part of the Preseason Kickoff Guide), my love for Mahomes is no secret. This game flashed exactly why: Mahomes consistently sought the big play (even to a fault), benefited from excellent YAC from his receivers, and flashed his mobility in and outside the pocket. Meanwhile, Hill blew past the defense with ease, and flashing the instant 20+ point swing a Hill-Mahomes "Pig Roast" could bring. Hills's tied with Travis Kelce for a team-leading 6 targets on Mahomes' 18 throws, as compared to a whopping 0 for Sammy Watkins, and seems to easily be the preferred WR option here in KC. Even with the mistakes (1 horrendous pick), Mahomes is due to explode as the engine of this juggernaut. Between speedy deep threats outside, seam busters inside, and excellent YAC backs, this offense is truly indefensible, especially when the man under center has perhaps the top arm in the NFL. There will be growing pains, but Andy Reid is a QB-whisperer and will mold Mahomes' unlimited potential. Plus, the defense looks like a sieve, which should keep games in shoot-out mode. Simply put, I was already all-in on Mahomes and the Chiefs, and feel nothing but validated after this performance.
Christian McCaffrey to be True Workhorse, Limitless Fantasy Ceiling
No one has seen their fantasy value rise more over two weeks of Preseason Action than Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey. A week after (surprisingly) receiving and executing a 2-yard TD plunge, McCaffrey turned a 2nd-and-1 blast up the gut into a 70 yard TD burst. This flashed a gear we rarely saw in 2017, with McCaffrey's longest regular season run (40 yards) and reception (37) far below. Between the added volume, power, and burst, McCaffrey enters 2018 as a potential "Fantasy Cheatcode."  Not a bad turnaround for someone I was calling "Overpriced" in our Preseason Kickoff Guide just two weeks ago. While I try to stick to my guns, ignoring glaring evidence that I was wrong would be foolish. This is even easier to do when I've always loved McCaffrey's "Individual Talent." I simply didn't believe the "Volume" would be there to return his value. If these 2 weeks are any indication, I'm dead wrong. Though the flashy run will catch headlines, the "Workhorse Usage" is even more important: McCaffrey was the only RB to touch the field over the Panthers' first five drives, which spanned 16 plays. Of these, three plays didn't get off (2 Sacks + 1 Cam Newton fumble). On these 13 executed plays, McCaffrey touched or was targeted 10 times (77% of plays). By comparison sake, he averaged only 12.3 touches per game in his rookie season. Moreover, OC Norv Turner fed a similarly built 5'10, 220 lb LaDainian Tomlinson enormous workloads; McCaffrey reportedly added 8-10 lbs of muscle this offseason in anticipation of more volume. Turner has a long history of riding a bell-cow, and called it "realistic" for McCaffrey to receive 25-30 touches a game -- something HC Ron Rivera called "ideal." Though this once seemed hyperbolic, Turner's past history and McCaffrey's early preseason workloads both suggest this heavy "Usage" isn't just coachspeak. McCaffrey could threaten for Top-5 RB status if he receives this volume, and, more importantly, holds up. Even still, CJ Anderson (who didn't touch the field until midway through the 2nd Quarter) presents a solid 12th Round Insurance Policy -- he'd likely operate in a true three-down fashion. McCaffrey's now a fringe first-rounder in my eyes.
Jerick McKinnon Set to Miss Entire Preseason, Fantasy Risk Rising
Though his upside remains limitless, Jerick McKinnon's "Risk" increases, as the 49ers new tailback will be out of action until Week 1, per GM John Lynch. He's been sidelined with a calf strain, but is tentatively expected to be full-go come September.  Ugh. Once up as high as No.12 overall on my Big Board, McKinnon's stock continues falling as his injury concerns continue growing. On the positive front, the team clearly knows what they have and value it, as McKinnon will be on bubble-wrap to allow a return to full health instead of risking further injury. Still, in his absence, both the newly-signed Alfred Morris and the versatile and talented Jeremy McNichols will have a shot at securing a larger workload. Keep in mind, dating back to Steve Slaton's days, as well as with Morris in Washington, Kyle Shanahan is not opposed to a complete overhaul of his backfield if a better option presents itself, which creates obvious risk for the remainder of the preseason. Still, considering McKinnon netted the league's fourth largest RB contract (and will only trail Le'Veon Bell in 2018 annual salary), my original expectation was, and shakily still is, that he'll  be the unquestioned workhorse in Kyle Shanahan's gold-mine zone blocking scheme. McKinnon parallels very favorably to Devontae Freeman, who amassed 265 carries and 97 targets in 2015 (362 opportunities), and 227 carries and 65 targets in 2016 (292 opportunities) — 64 more chances than McKinnon’s career high of 218. Freeman was a bonafide RB1 with this work, amassing over 1,500 yards from scrimmage in both seasons (1,634 and 1,541 total yards), along with 14 + 13 TDs, and 73 + 54 receptions respectively. With freakish athleticism and dangerous receiving ability, McKinnon seemed destined for these totals -- and still could reach them. In fact, Shanahan's lead backs have finished Top-10 for three straight years, and Top-15 in 5 of the last 6, so the upside is still real. But McKinnon's lack of extensive workloads in the past, plus the missed time to full acclimate himself and also allow others to shine, is worrisome. Let's see how the others fare in McKinnon's absence before reacting too aggressively. Still, he cannot be selected over higher-floor second round products any longer, and takes a decent fall down the Big Board. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Chris Hogan Flashes Target-Hog Upside Inside Explosive Patriots Scheme
In Tom Brady's 2018 debut, Chris Hogan was far-and-away his top WR target. Hogan hauled in 5-of-7 looks for 25 yards and a score, which came on a nice double move out of the slot. Keep in mind -- Julian Edelman DID play, though Rob Gronkowski sat out. According to The Atlantic's Jeff Howe, Hogan has been on the receiving end of 21 of Brady's team drill completions, the highest on the team. Should this carry over into 2018, particularly during Edelman's four-game absence, and Hogan will be a major fantasy steal around his 60ish ADP. With over 251 targets available from last season, New England's aerial pie is extremely open. This is especially true with Edelman absent for the first quarter of the season. As such, Hogan has reportedly stepped up and seems to be emerging as a true Target Hog for Brady. Keep in mind: Hogan already ranked second in the team behind Gronkowski in Red Zone targets over the past two years since joining the Pats, and now over 20 RZ looks have been vacated. He seems likely to continue dominating in close, but could also see an expanded role all over the field. Hogan averaged 13.6 FPPG when healthy last year, and was the WR7 through the season's first 8 weeks before getting injured. He has WR1 upside, at minimum for the season's first four weeks, and can be had at a WR3 price -- a steal for a potential target monster in a juggernaut attack. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
JuJu Smith Schuster Scores in Back-to-Back Weeks, Monster Season Brewing?
JuJu Smith-Schuster scored for the second week in a row, this time on a four-yard slant versus the Packers. The week prior, he highpointed a ball over the coverage before outrunning the defense for a 71-yard score. Indeed, Smith-Schuster is benefiting from Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown's absences, as he'll undoubtedly rank below them on the Steelers' Target Totem Pole. Still, he's picking up right where he left off: making incredible plays at every level of the field. By any metric, JuJu's 58-917-7 TD rookie debut was a smashing success. He finished as the 11th overall WR in Fantasy Points Per Game (14.8), despite seeing only 79 targets. He posted Pro Football Focus' highest QB-pass catcher passer rating (134.8). And, perhaps most importantly after Martavis Bryant's trade, JuJu's target share was an insane 32.3% whenever Bryant was out of the lineup -- as compared to 13.3% target share with both active. Encouragingly, with scores in back-to-back preseason games, JuJu's picking up right where he left off -- a 9 - 143 - TD effort against Cleveland. Though others worry about his volume behind two studs, JuJu's efficiency is off the charts, especially when he's lined up against weaker, single-coverage -- especially since he spends much of his time destroying the slot (led all NFL receivers with 2.15 yards per route out of the slot, according to Pro Football Focus). Yes, rookie James Washington has been highly impressive (5-114-2TDs last night), yet, if anything, he helps left the lid for JuJu and the rest of this offense. Reporters suggested JuJu was hungrier than ever in practices, and that's reflecting in game-action. Expect him to continue surging in Year 2, and be a major bargain at his 41 overall ADP. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Rex Burkhead Dealing with “Slight Knee Tear,” Fantasy Risk is Growing
According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Patriots RB Rex Burkhead is dealing with a "slight tear" in his knee. Granted, Howe also added "there's a good chance he could have played through his minor injury," but the team, "Knowing his value to the offense... have opted to take an extremely cautious path this week." Nonetheless, Burkhead, who missed six games last season, including Weeks 15-17 due to a knee strain, is growing into a riskier fantasy pick, despite his monumental upside. Just over a week ago, Burkhead made my "Top Fantasy Football Bargains" list in our Preseason Kickoff Guide. Indeed, everything from his enormous TD upside (8 TDs in only 10 games last season), to his high-end versatility and receiving ability, still make him a potential fantasy monster inside New England's juggernaut attack. However, considering his injury-ridden 2017, a lingering knee ailment now creates an equal amount of risk to match the reward. While on the field, Burkhead seems likely to match his RB12 PPG output from last season. The question now becomes: how long will he last? Moreover, will the team want to keep using him in goalline situations, where contact is highest? Or will they try to preserve him and utilize him more in a pass-catching role, particularly with an effective hammer like Jeremy Hill behind him? Thus, Burkhead falls a hefty 21 spots in my rankings to 71 overall. He's now more in-line with his ADP (73) and ECR (64) than far ahead. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Jimmy Graham and Aaron Rodgers Brewing Chemistry and Creating Monumental TD Upside
Though Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham only logged one series together, they already flashed a Red Zone rapport worth noting. Graham scored on a beautiful 8 yard route where he faked an out route, before slanting quick to the inside where a Rodgers' dime awaited him. At a massive 6'7" with proven Red Zone chops, Graham has humongous scoring upside in an offense that should visit inside the 20 quite often. Originally, the historic lack of TE usage / production in Green Bay had me shying away from Graham. However, with Jordy Nelson gone and an unproven WR depth chart, this aerial pie is far more open than any in Green Bay's past. And Graham is an entirely different athlete than the team's had, possibly. Rodgers is well-aware of Graham's mismatch potential, noting “He’s a big target; he catches the ball with his hands...You know, we haven’t had a guy like that around here in a while. Jimmy, he’s got a great feel for coverages, getting open, he uses his body really well, runs good routes, and he’s a matchup issue." More importantly, however, is the chemistry brewing between the two. In fact, Rodgers likened it to the departed Jordy Nelson, stating, ““The guy understands the game as well as just about anybody we’ve had around here. The same category as a John Kuhn, Jordy Nelson... Those guys who really understand the game, who see it through the quarterback’s eyes and want to be right all the time...they understand if they see it how I see it, they're probably going to get the ball. "I’m really pleased with him, he’s played great. It was nice to be on the same page,” Rodgers said. Between Rodgers' ability to put the ball wherever he pleases, and Graham's ability to use his massive frame and athleticism in the Red Zone (led the league in RZ targets and scores last season), the TD upside here is mammoth. I'm changing my tune on Graham, and sending him flying up my Big Board and TE rankings. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Forgotten James White Presents Enormous Fantasy Football “Penny Stock” Value
James White has been largely slept on in Fantasy Football (157 ADP, 149 ECR) thus far. Perhaps drafters will wake up after White tallied 91 total yards and 1 TD on 10 touches (6 receptions) against the Eagles.  More importantly, White played on 26 of Tom Brady's 39 snaps (67%), suggesting he'll remain a key cog in this offensive juggernaut.  Yes, Rex Burkhead did not suit up (and is reportedly dealing with a "slight knee tear). Still, White's heavy snap total, usage, and production should serve as a glaring reminder of how crucial he can be to this explosive attack. Amidst a completely depleted receiving corps, White is a rare reliable and familiar target for Brady. Expect him to vacuum targets, at least throughout Julian Edelman's suspension; White's one of the only Patriots pass-catchers with established history dominating in the short-to-intermediate range, and might even inherit some slot snaps. This was abundantly clear from the first drive, where White was the offensive engine, as White logged the game's first five touches, and totaled 6 of the 8 looks for 44 total yards on the drive. Over the past two seasons, White has ranked 10th (56) and 3rd (60) in RB receptions, and is now staring at the most vacant aerial pie of his Patriots career. He was the RB19 in fantasy points per opportunity in ’17, and should see more volume than ever before in a wide open backfield and pass-catching corps. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Adam Shaheen Taking Full Advantage of Preseason Workload, Thriving in Nagy’s Offense
Bears tight end Adam Shaheen has been a clear standout throughout camp and the first week of preseason.  In fact, Shaheen was Pro Football Focus' second highest graded Week 1 tight end.  Shaheen has certainly earned the respect of head coach Matt Nagy.  Nagy recently said that Shaheen will be a "big part of this offense," after his tight end caught three passes for 53 yards.  Nagy continued to say they're trying to "fine tune some of his route-running skills and what he does versus specific coverages."   Reading between the lines of what Nagy is saying, Shaheen clearly has some more polish to put in his game.  However, Nagy clearly has a lot of faith in his young developing tight end and appears willing to put the time in to his development.  Shaheen has clearly earned some more reps as the regular season approaches.  Last season, the 6-foot-6, 270 lb tight end caught 12 balls for 127 yards and three touchdowns.  Unfortunately, Shaheen will be the second-most targeted tight end  on the team, behind Trey Burton. Thus, his fantasy value is heavily capped.  Shaheen will still be a red zone weapon for the Bears and Nagy, but as far as fantasy relevance goes, he can only be viewed as a late-round 'Penny Stock.' The upside exists, as Nagy loves peppering tight ends with targets (full breakdown of Nagy's offense linked here). For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Chris Carson Continues to Rise as Rashaad Penny is Sidelined 3-4 Weeks With Broken Finger
The hits keep comin' for Seahawks first round pick, Rashaad Penny. After a terrible NFL debut against the Colts where he averaged 2 yards per carry and got bullied in pass protection, Penny injured his hand during Monday's practice and broke his finger in the process. The San Diego State product will be out three-to-four weeks and his Week 1 status is now in question. Penny has taken a nose-dive down The Wolf's Big Board, down to RB30 -- and this was before the news of this injury. So, what does this mean? It means Chris Carson, who has risen up to The Wolf's RB36, will continue to rise. Carson's name was buzzy before and throughout camp, and he's backed it up on the field. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry last week against the Colts and has been the man during training camp. Add in this set-back to Penny, and Carson has basically locked up the early-down duties. RotoWorld's Evan Silva brought up a good point: Penny struggled in pass-protection during the preseason game, and now with his hand and finger injury, he won't be able to practice this deficiency while sidelined. Not being able to be trusted in the passing game will keep your ass glued to the bench -- especially as a rookie running back. Carson will now "battle" Mike Davis for early-down duties, while the oft-injured CJ Prosise should handle third down. Bookmark our Big Board to see how high Carson will rise and when you should start to target him in your draft. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Patrick Mahomes Peppering Tyreek Hill, Proving WR1 Alpha-Status Over Sammy Watkins
Back in OTAs it seemed like Sammy Watkins was Patrick Mahomes preferred target. Andy Reid was "moving him all over the place" and he was showing off his elite athleticism and sticky hands -- in shorts. Now with the pads strapped and training camp well underway, it looks like Tyreek Hill has separated himself from Watkins. “The ball at Chiefs training camp has gone more to one starting wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, than the other, Sammy Watkins," said ESPN's Adam Teicher. Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy doesn't seem too worried about Mahomes and Watkins' lack of immediate chemistry. “Camp is all about finding your rhythm, making sure we get in sync together,’’ Bieniemy said. “When it’s all said and done, Sammy is doing a heck of a job. He’s doing a great job. He’s accepted the challenge because we’re not just playing him at one position He’s accepted the challenge of learning all three across the board. We want versatile football players.’’ But not only has Mahomes favored Hill during practice, he also caught two balls to Watkins' zero in one less snap during their first preseason game. Hills' blazing speed and Mahomes' rocket arm is a match-made in fantasy football heaven, and it looks like after a slow start, the two are clicking. Don't follow the sheep into thinking Hill is going to falter -- he's going to be just fine. The Wolf has Hill as his WR11 (+3 vs ECR). For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Texans TE Jordan Akins Sneakily Carries Monstrous TD Upside
Though currently listed third on the Texans TE depth chart, third-round rookie Jordan Akins offers some very real TD upside in this juggernaut offense. The 6'4, 250-lb UCF product set a Houston Preseason Record by scoring twice in his NFL debut, first from 6-yards out and then once more from the 14 yard line.  On his first 6 yard score, Akins displayed impressive body control to drag his feet while securing the ball as he fell to the ground. On his next TD, Akins got upfield in a hurry and used his massive frame to gain separation. As a converted wideout, Akins may not be the best blocker, but he is quick and decisive in his cuts, and gets off the line fast -- all on display in this Preseason Opener. Keep in mind: Akins is an older rookie at 26 years old, having spent time playing minor league baseball before joining Central Florida. As such, he received a mere 7th Round Grade from NFL.com, but clearly Bill O'Brien and the Texans loved him. In fact, the Houston Chronicle suggests, "Akins got Bill O'Brien's attention at the Senior Bowl, where the Texans' staff coached him and got to see him up close and personal... he impressed the coaches in OTAs and training camp before getting off to the fast start at Arrowhead Stadium." Best of all, Akins' impressive and rapid growth has caught QB Deshaun Watson's eye: "It gives us an extra weapon on the field," Watson said. "We can go into a game with two tight ends, one tight end, and we have a lot of guys that can perform and go out there and run routes and make plays. So, he did a good job the other night of doing his job right and capitalized when his opportunity was there." Currently Undrafted, keep Akins in the back of your mind when waiting on TEs. This offense averaged over 40 points per game when all the pieces were fully healthy, and a player with his size and athleticism in the Red Zone will drip in immense TD upside. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Seahawks TE Nick Vannett Could Vacuum up Russell Wilson’s Red Zone Targets
With Jimmy Graham catching passes from Aaron Rodgers and Luke Willson no longer in the picture, second-year tight end Nick Vannett could begin the season as the Seahawks' starting tight end. The former Buckeye started off on the right foot when he caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson and added another catch for 15-yards during his preseason debut vs the Colts, all while drawing 3 of Russel Wilson's 5 targets. Vannett may not be as explosive or as athletic as Graham (who is?), but he has 'Penny Stock' potential as Russell Wilson's TE1.  Some may shake their head when they see Vannett's name as a Penny Stock, but if you look at Graham's 2017 red zone stats, you'll see why there's some potential here. Graham led the NFL in both red zone targets (26), red zone touchdowns (10) and targets inside the 10-yd line (16). He was also second in the NFL behind Jarvis Landry with eight touchdowns inside the 10. After battling a back injury, the 6-foot-6, 261 lb TE is finally at 100 percent and as healthy as he's been since he entered the league. “Nicky’s had a really good camp,” Pete Carroll said. “He’s a really good catcher, he knows the system the best of any of our guys, he’s real versatile, and he’s a good competitive kid for us.” With blocking tight end Ed Dickson on the shelf, Vannett is only separating himself from the pack as the team's every-down tight end -- which should place him firmly on your 'Penny Stock' watch-list. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Tyrod Taylor Impressive in Browns Debut, Strengthening Grip on Starting Role
Tyrod Taylor was incredible in his Browns debut, going 5/5 for 99 yards and 1 TD in two drives of action. Taylor's been consistently praised and labeled the clear-cut starter by HC Hue Jackson, and flashed why on Thursday night. Though Baker Mayfield was also impressive (11/20, 212 yards, 2 TDs), Taylor's grip on this starting job was only strengthened. Unless this is your first visit to the Roto Street Journal, you're well aware we've been incredibly high on Taylor all offseason. He was our Featured QB Penny Stock in our Preseason Kickoff Guideand is thus far validating all the praise with stellar play. Most encouragingly, the normally conservative Taylor was slinging deep early and often under new, aggressive play-caller Todd Haley, completing three gorgeous long balls on the night. The first was an in-stride strike 32 yards down the field and right over the defender to No.1 Target Jarvis Landry. Next, Taylor showed perfect placement on a 21 yard back shoulder dime to Rashard Higgins, David Njoku before capping off his night by hitting a streaking down the seams for a 36-yard TD. Taylor also flashed his trademark ball-security, taking a slide on a 3rd-and-7 that clearly was going nowhere instead of up a prayer as a Deshone Kizer may have last year. With mismatch weapons all over the formation and a mind like Haley who can squeeze out every drop of production, Taylor will offer Top-5 Weekly Upside, yet falls to 203 and QB28 in early drafts (123 and QB17 on my Big Board, and rising). He is the epitome of why you need to wait on a QB, and finally provides a stable QB in Cleveland for the first time in nearly a decade. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Michael Gallup Flashing Ability, Ascending Cowboys’ Wide-Open Target Totem Pole
In a massively vacant Dallas "aerial pie," rookie WR Michael Gallup made the greatest Preseason Week 1 impact. The explosive wideout hauled in his lone target -- a beautiful 30-yard score from Dak Prescott. Gallup also lead the Cowboys in first team time, as he was on the field for 8 of Prescott's 10 snaps, as compared to six for Allen Hurns, five for Terrance Williams, and three for Tavon Austin -- none of who received a single target from Dak. 272 targets (56% of 2017 total), and 2,645 air yards (68.6%) were opened up in Dallas following Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, with no clear favorite to claim the Lion's Share. Though it's early and Cole Beasley sat out this game, Gallup took a major step in the right direction. He's often compared to Stefon Diggs for his savvy route running and ability to go-up for the ball, and Gallup certainly snuck past the defense in this one. In an offense that has reportedly "struggled to move the ball downfield" throughout camp, Gallup has provided the rare bright spots. The talented rookie has reportedly built "a good rapport" with Prescott while "finding ways to generate space," and both were certainly on display Thursday night. Moreover, OC Scott Linehan red zone ability has "talked up Gallup's " and "catch radius" as something that can "replace some of what the team lost in the offseason." Bringing the most diverse pass-catching skillset, and with a clear path to the top of Dallas' Target Totem Pole, Gallup offers excellent value at his 142 overall, WR54 ADP and 166, WR65 ECR. He's risen above Hurns, and to 135 overall, on my latest Big Board. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Royce Freeman Scores TD, Most Impressive Broncos RB in Preseason Opener
Though he didn't start, rookie RB Royce Freeman was Denver's best back by a mile during his NFL debut, notching 38 yards and a TD on just 4 carries (9.5 YPC). He saw some time with the ones, and never went under 4 yards on a single carry, which included a highly-impressive 23 yard score. On the score, Freeman displayed some excellent vision and acceleration. First, he found a clean cut back lane with the play-side congested, before bouncing to the outside and scampering around the entire defense into the end zone. He showed well in pass-protection as well, and brings rare three-down ability for his massive 234 pound frame. Meanwhile, "starter" Devontae Booker was his usual unimpressive self, notching just 7 yards on 2 carries. In fact, over 253 career carries, Booker's tallied just one run over 20 yards. Freeman needed just four carries to tie his accomplishments. Still, Freeman's own talent was never the main question here -- that's his role and usage. HC Vance Joseph has already said the team will “use 2-3 ‘main’ backs” each week. This suggests a definite committee no matter who emerges atop the depth chart -- nevermind that the top spot currently belongs to Booker, with in-tune beat writers projecting him to open as the “Week 1 starter,” and this backfield featuring “a heavy dosage of Booker” regardless of depth chart labels. Should he continue this impressive preseason play, however, Freeman may force them to change their tune. If he does indeed secure the main gig, Freeman would be running behind an "improved offensive line" now featuring the stable Jared Veldheer at RT, and in an offense that should progress with Case Keenum now under center. He gets a slight +11 bump up my Big Board for now, but remains below the ECR and ADP until this RBBC situation clears up. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Marshawn Lynch Looking Faster than Ever, Primed for “Beast Mode” Season
Though negated by a penalty, Marshawn Lynch ripped a 60-yard TD run and flashed his underappreciated fantasy upside during the Raiders' Preseason Opener. On the play, we saw two crucial developments: A) Lynch is in incredible shape. B) The Raiders are returning to a power-gap blocking scheme under Jon Gruden. Combined, both could make Lynch the Fantasy RB1 most envisioned last season, but at a far discounted price (70 ADP). Though 32-years old and coming off a (by his standards) sluggish 2017, Lynch is a sneakily massive rebound candidate under new HC Jon Gruden. For one, Gruden hasn't hid his love for The Beast, nor his intentions to ride him:

“I said to him, ‘I need Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden told Sports Illustrated in February. ‘I don’t need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch... We don’t need another back, we need a feature back... I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”

Meanwhile, Lynch's family and friends reported the back "loves Gruden" and answered the above challenge by working himself into "the best condition I’ve seen him in in a long time." This was full on display during his 60-yard TD run, as Lynch looked faster than he has in years, perhaps even ever.

There's some very real unsexy upside here. For one, Lynch openly admits he wasn't in game-shape until midseason last year. When finally in peak form, following the team's bye and during their final 8 weeks, Lynch rushed for 625 of 891 yards (70%), as well as 5 of 7 TDs (71%). A Pro-Bowl level 1250 yds and 10 TDs pace. Already looking in phenomenal shape, Lynch should avoid the slow start and pick up right where he left off... mauling people.

Beyond his physical form, Lynch also benefited from the team's midseason switch from a zone-based attack to a power-heavy blocking scheme. In this misfitted zone-blocking scheme, PFF had the offensive line allowing the RB’s only 1.42 yards before contact collectively. In 2016 with power-blocking, the Raiders O-line allowed 1.9 yards before contact. This is fantastic news, as Gruden has historically deployed a power-blocking scheme -- ideal for the absolute bruisers along the Raiders line. Moreover, new o-line coach Tom Cable worked with Lynch in Seattle, and, despite a history in zone schemes, Cable fully understands the concepts and assignments in which Lynch thrives. This one play displayed the gap-blocks and multiple blockers that Lynch has run wild with before. He rises  For more on Gruden's new-look offense, click here.

For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.

Rashaad Penny Sinking Deeper into Committee Hole, while Chris Carson’s Value Surges
Entering Preseason action, Chris Carson -- who was singled out by Pete Carroll as the offseason star and has been operating as the Seahawks’ lead guy in early camp -- had been labeled “the favorite to start” Week 1. Though many speculated this was mere motivational coachspeak, Thursday's contest versus Indianapolis suggests otherwise. Carson started and severely outplayed Rashaad Penny, leading the team with 26 rushing yards on just 4 carries (6.5 YPC). Meanwhile, Penny took 8 carries for just 16 yards (2.0 YPC), all while playing deep into the 3rd Quarter (and rotating with *PUKE* Mike Davis *PUKE AGAIN*) Perhaps all this Carson "puff" is really more than just noise. Thus far, he's been the backfield star at camp, labeled the Week 1 starter, and received such treatment in the Seahawks opener -- where Carson was clearly the best back on the field. Moreover, when the pressure was highest on a 4th-and-1, the team went to Carson, who moved the chains. While I acknowledge the team traded up to secure Penny in Round 1, the "Draft Capital" argument is growing weaker by the day. He was labeled one of my Most Overpriced Players in our Preseason Kickoff Guide, and his value seems to only be declining. Even worse, though he didn't play Thursday, CJ Prosise has been operating as the 3rd-down back in camp, and OC Brian Schottenheimer has already announced his committee-preference, noting it takes "more than one [running back], for sure" to run effectively. Thus, Penny's Usage waters appear very murky. This is doubly concerning considering the line is horrendous here -- rankings 30th in PFF’s most recent Line Grades update.  Plus, the Seahawks’ defense has been decimated, meaning the team will rarely be milking the clock and often playing from behind -- not great for Penny, who’s struggled mightily in pass-protection throughout his college career. Penny's ADP currently hovers in the same tier as Jay Ajayi, and Alex Collins, but has far less “Usage” and “Surrounding Talent” clarity to justify this. I’m passing on Penny at this price. Meanwhile, backfield-mate Carson offers far more intrigue at his 117 ADP Price Point. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Stefon Diggs and Kirk Cousins Flash Dangerous Rapport; WR1 Upside is Very Real
Though the starters only played one drive, Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs were deadly in-sync to kick off 2018. Cousins went 4/4 for 42 yards and 1 TD -- with Diggs hauling in 3 of the completions for 35 yards and the score. New OC John DeFilippo's offense looked as explosive as can be, and Diggs appears primed for a Target Hog role in this juggernaut. Barring health, Diggs seems locked-in for a WR1 season. Though overreacting to Preseason Box Scores is sheepish, spotting rapport is necessary-- especially between a new QB-WR duo. The Cousins-Diggs connection was in midseason form, especially on a beautiful 28-yard reception; here, Diggs destroyed the coverage with a pristine double-move, and Cousins tossed a dime down the sideline, over the defender's shoulder and right into Diggs' outstretched arms. Just two failed rushes later, and the pair connected once more for the 1-yard TD after Diggs shielded the defender with his body on a deadly slant.

Post-game, Cousins suggested this chemistry is nothing new, while hinting he'll deliver weekly target baths:

"[Diggs] makes plays," Cousins said. "He makes plays and gives you the motivation to give him the ball more and more. To trust him and throw him open and make the contested catch. Once again tonight, he proved me right." We've long been recommending Diggs over last-year's breakout star Adam Thielen, and this early showing only further validates our case. With some Antonio Brown-lite to his game, Diggs has always been a strong "Individual Talent." Now, this should fully flourish thanks to the "Surrounding Talent" upgrade in Cousins, and a "Coaching Scheme" boost in DeFilippo -- an aggressive play-caller who's a master in the Red Zone (perfect, considering Diggs was PFF's top-graded WR in contested situations). Health is an admitted question mark, as Diggs has missed time each year and played banged up through others. Still, with every other factor on the Fantasy Stock Formula grading out to perfection, Diggs seems ready for the WR1 Elite Leap. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Peyton Barber Reaffirms his Insane Penny Stock Value, While Ronald Jones Tumbles in Debut
With a mind-numbingly disrespectful 183 ADP, Peyton Barber continues to fly completely under fantasy radars. Perhaps the Preseason Opener will awaken this sleeping fantasy community, as Barber played 13/14 first team snaps (including the first 13 in a row) Meanwhile, the only time he was removed was on the last snap of the first offense, a third-and-long that resulted in Ronald Jones dropping a pass. Barber's grip on the starting role has only been strengthened, and a No.1 RB should NEVER fall this late.  Barber was not only the exclusive first team back here, but also easily the most impressive. On only 4 attempts, Barber managed 21 yards (5.1 YPC) and a TD, while also tying for the team target lead with 2 looks, which he ultimately turned into a sad -1 yards. Still, the role and usage highly suggest Barber is firmly entrenched atop this depth chart, and needs to start being treated as such. Meanwhile, Ronald Jones mustered up just 9 yards on 8 carries -- though he did score an impressive run at the stripe. Though there's no reason to panic on Jones quite yet, as coaches often make rookies earn their roles, the alarms should at least be humming. The situation as a whole isn't appealing behind an atrocious offensive line, making Jones even more overpriced at his 54 overall ADP with even less role clarity now. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Nick Chubb Firmly Behind Carlos Hyde, Looks Sluggish in NFL Debut
Nick Chubb's NFL debut was one to forget, with the Georgia product netting a paltry 15 yards on his 11 carries, including a long run of only 4 yards. Contrastingly, Carlos Hyde played exclusively with the ones before getting the "starters-on-ice" treatment after just three snaps. Though only one preseason game, Chubb's unimpressive debut could further the gap between he and Hyde for the early-down role.  Our own CJay has long maintained that Chubb is no-good, and the rookie back did nothing to disprove this on Thursday. Yes, Cleveland's second-string line absolutely blew, with Chubb getting hit behind the LOS on 11-of-15 carries (73%). In fact, he was actually credited with 26 yards after contact by Pro Football Focus despite rushing for only 11 total yards. Still, the firm placement behind Hyde is even more worrisome than the lack of production, particularly in a rushing attack that plans to "ride a hot hand" this year.  Unless Chubb begins flashing in camp and sees some legitimate time with the ones in coming weeks, I'm assuming he is firmly behind Hyde, and have ranked them as such. Hyde has risen 8 spots to No.83 overall, while Chubb plummets nearly 20 whole spots down the Big Board. This situation remains fluid and could flip at any moment, thus remaining a "Must Monitor," but tally an early W for Team Hyde. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Alex Collins Continues Cementing Case for Workhorse Duties
Through both his own impressive play and injuries around him, Alex Collins is putting a stranglehold on a workhorse role for Baltimore. Kenneth Dixon has already suffered his second injury of the preseason, which has Ravens writers placing him on the early roster bubble. Meanwhile, Collins looked as impressive as ever in his Preseason Debut, rumbling for 26 yards on just 2 carries (while also having an 8 yarder negated by penalty). Simply put, Collins has continually thrived when provided the opportunity, and appears set for the most work of his early career. Earlier this offseason, after the Ravens added zero RBs to their stable, we labeled Dixon's return as the "only possible roadblock" between Collins and another high-end RB2 campaign. Consider this obstacle all but removed at this point, which locks Collins into a potentially massive 2018 workload. The Ravens shockingly scored the 9th most points in 2017, largely in-part to Collins' impressive play, and now seem primed to be even more effective with improved WR weaponry and a more-motivated Joe Flacco having "far and away" his best camp yet. Collins already flashed high-end TD upside, scoring 6 times in the team's final 7 weeks, and may find himself at the stripe far more often in 2018. In fact, from Week 8 on after 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. The tape matched all the "Advance Analytics," with Collins knifing through defenses with equal power and elusiveness, and feet that fired at a mile a minute despite his sturdy, large frame. Clearly, a quality "Individual Talent" is locked into serious "Usage" in a team with ascending "Surrounding Talent" and an ideal "Coaching Scheme" with OC Greg Roman's run-obsessed attack. All the Fantasy Value Indicators grade out highly here, suggesting Collins could be a major RB-steal at his 40 overall ADP. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
David Njoku Flashes Enormous TD Upside in Preseason Debut
The freakishly athletic David Njoku flashed his enormous ceiling during the Browns Preseason Opener, terrorizing the seams for 2 catches, 46 yards, and 2 TDs. Though new OC Todd Haley has never historically used TEs, he's also never had an athlete of this caliber at the position. The upgraded "Scheme" and "Usage" scores, as well as a promising overall offensive performance from the Browns, have Njoku's stock steadily rising. He's firmly on the TE1 radar.

At 6'4" and 246 lbs with a 4.64 forty and combine-leading vertical and broad jumps, Njoku drips in raw ability. Still, questions of whether he could be refined and utilized properly have always existed... but may be put to rest soon. In his sophomore debut, Njoku flashed it all. On his first score, Njoku blew past the linebackers in coverage, and then outran the entire defense for a 36-yard TD. Next, he outleaped the defenders draped over him and highpointed a beautiful score. Clearly, Haley and the team recognize the insane athleticism at their disposal, and are thus far using it to perfection. Yes, this was against a Giants team that has been histroically bad at defending tight ends the past two seasons, but it's still an impressive performance nonetheless. Currently sporting a 132 Overall ADP, Njoku needs to skyrocket up Big Boards everywhere. He's risen from 128 to 105 on mine, and could continue climbing further if Josh Gordon's holdout seems likely to linger.

Jeremy Hill Drips in Penny Stock Upside as a Potential TD Monster
Jeremy Hill was highly impressive in his Patriots debut, rumbling for 51 yards and a TD on 11 carries while looking far more slim and spry in the process. Given Sony Michel's knee surgery may open up some highly valuable New England "Ground Pie," Hill needs to immediately enter fantasy radars.  Though the Patriots have indeed earned their reputation for backfield unpredictability, one thing is certain: the team will score plenty of rushing TDs. In fact, over the past 3 seasons, the Patriots are tied atop the league with the Saints with 75 RB carries inside the 5-yard line. The sluggish LeGarrette Blount rode this volume to an absurd 18 TDs just two seasons ago, while Rex Burkhead tallied 8 TDs in only 10 games (including 7 TDs in just six weeks following the team's Week 9 Bye).  Indeed, Burkhead remains on the team, and has been highly productive at the stripe. However, if Sony Michel's surgery requires a lengthy recovery and Burkhead is forced into the early-down "Dion Lewis" style role, this massive GL share may just open up. The Patriots love using backfield roles, and Hill would appear to be the early frontrunner for the No.3 job. He apparently entered the preseason battling Mike Gillislee for a roster spot, and considering the former Bills' sluggish 43 yards on 14 carries, Hill gained a definite leg up last night. Moreover, Hill's always been strong at the stripe -- of his 31 career rushing touchdowns (including two in the playoffs), 25 have come from 9 yards or closer, and 22 have come from 4 yards or closer. And let's not forget, Burkhead was forced off the field for two separate stretches in 2017. Largely undrafted with a 286 ADP, Hill needs to be on your late-round fantasy radar.
Christian McCaffrey Flashes Goal Line Chops, Workhorse Role Suggested
Though we originally listed Christian McCaffrey among our Most Overpriced Players in the 2018 Preseason Kickoff Guide, we may need to reconsider. The sophomore back wasn't pulled from the field during the Panthers two opening drives, which was especially noteworthy at the goal-line. Here, he powered through a congested pile for a 2-yard score, all while suggesting he may indeed get a workhorse treatment.  All offseason we've laughed at reports that it's "realistic" that McCaffrey could receive 25-30 touches a week. Between the return of Greg Olsen and addition of DJ Moore to eat into his receiving work, plus CJ Anderson's arrival to gobble up short yardage and early-down rushing, we've been expecting McCaffrey's weekly workload to hover right around his 12 touches per game from last season. If Thursday's Preseason opener is any indication, however, we may need to reconsider. McCaffrey didn't leave the field with the first team offense, most noteworthy when he was handed a 2-yard carry at the stripe and plowed through with ease. McCaffrey was again heavily involved as a WR, hauling in an 11-yard screen and 18-yard crossing pattern. Contrastingly, CJ Anderson didn't enter the game until most starters were resting, and also played deep into the fourth quarter. Though you should never overreact to one 2-yard carry, this one could mean a whole lot for McCaffrey moving forward. His 18 overall ADP is still too rich for our blood -- espeically with the Panthers losing two starting linemen already this camp -- but he rises 5 spots from 39 to 34 on the newest Big Board. 
AJ Green, Joe Mixon, Andy Dalton Rising as Bengals Clicking Under Bill Lazor in Year 2
Though we entered 2018 down on the Bengals offense as a whole, the unit looked downright explosive in their Preseason Opener. The first-team offense posted two 1st Quarter TDs while moving the ball with ease, ultimately winning a 30-27 contest against the Bears. After taking over the as OC in Week 3 last season, Bill Lazor seems fully settled in and is putting his stamp on the attack -- and the results showed. AJ Green, Joe Mixon, and even Penny Stocks John Ross and Andy Dalton all rise with the "Coaching Scheme" and "Surrounding Talent" boosts, especially along the line. On Thursday, the Bengals flashed creativity, aggressiveness, and pace we haven't seen out of Cincinnati in quite some time. Bill Lazor, who coached alongside Chip Kelly as his QBs coach, seems to finally have found his play-calling groove, as does Dalton within the scheme, as the Red Rifle went 6/8, 103 yds, 2 TDs while tossing an INT on a slip from John Ross (116.7 Passer Rating). With the OC and QB clicking, this offense seems primed for a sturdy leap forward in 2018, as do the two key cogs inside it in AJ Green and Joe Mixon, who both looked flatout dominant. Green racked up 48 yards on 2 catches, including an impressive galloping catch-and-run, as well as another impressive contested grab at his back shoulder. Him and Dalton appeared to be in midseason form. Meanwhile, Mixon scored on an electrifying 24-yard reception. Here, he was split out wide and broke two tackles -- one with a slippery stiff arm, the other with a dazzling spin move. Behind a revamped line and in a better overall scheme, the Bengals players are all on the rise -- Mixon a solid whole tier and 6 spots up to 29 overall, now as an elite RB2. For more on this game, and emerging Penny Stocks, click here.
Kelvin Benjamin Flashes Target Hog Upside, Rising Fast
A target-hog seems to be brewing in Buffalo, as Kelvin Benjamin dominated against his former team to open up the Bills' first preseason drive. He finished the night with 4 receptions, 59 yards, and a TD in under a quarter of play, looking like an "Alpha X" Target ready to be unleashed. His "Usage" and "Surrounding Talent" scores receive a healthy boost, as well as "Coaching Scheme" after the Bills flashed overall aggressiveness on offense. Though Benjamin's final stats were highly impressive, the manner in which he compiled them was equally imposing. On the Bills' opening drive, QB Nathan Peterman went 7/7 for 65 Yds + 1 TD, and Benjamin accounted for the vast majority of his looks and production. After opening with a 10-yard completion, Peterman looked to Benjamin on his next three passes, which the monstrous target hauled in for 31 total yards -- including a 14 yard pick-up on a 3rd-and-7.  After a few dink-and-dunks and a missed deep ball to other targets, Peterman returned to his man, lobbing a beautiful fade ball to hit Benjamin right in the bread-basket and in stride for the score. This gorgeous 28-yard TD capped off a highly impressive opening drive, and suggested the Bills might not be the dumpster fire offense we'd previously expected. Encouragingly, five of Petermans' first eight throws traveled 10+ yards, and the Bills continued attacking vertically all game, especially when cannon-armed Josh Allen entered the game. If this offense can maintain the momentum and remains aggressive, expect Benjamin to flourish, especially if he continues receiving Target Showers like last night. Already, Benjamin rises from 110 to 82 overall (+28 spots) on the Big Board, with room to continue climbing if this dominance continues.
BRUTAL: Derrius Guice Tears ACL, Season Done Before it Begins
In the first brutal blow of the 2018 Preseason, Redskins rookie RB Derrius Guice has torn his ACL, according to Ian Rappoport. Originally thought to be just an MCL Sprain, Guice will now miss the entire season, devastatingly opening up a massive hole in the Redskins Backfield. Unfortunately, this becomes a must-monitor situation. Early in Training Camp, Guice had been, by far, the fastest riser on my Big Board. From excelling both physically and, more importantly, mentally in early Training Camp, to inheriting a more defined 3-down role with Chris Thompson still on the mend, Guice had flown up to No.23 overall, above even Devontae Freeman.  Unfortunately, that has all come crashing down, as Guice's rookie year ends before it could begin. The Redskins return to Square One with this backfield, although Chris Thompson recently said he wouldn't be fully recovered from his broken fibula until November. Thus, the team will likely be forced to again turn to their sluggish plodders Rob Kelley and/or Samaje Perine. Kelley was listed atop the first official Week 1 Depth Chart, and now seems likely to stay there. He has reportedly slimmed down to 221 lbs, as compared to the 249 he weighed when drafted, and has been working on his pass-catching. But we've seen what he can bring, and it's not pretty. Expect the Redskins to remain highly airborne in 2018, with perhaps the biggest sneak beneficiaries here being the pass-catching corps (Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson, and Alex Smith). Thompson's health is also now even more crucial to monitor, as he may once again receive the Lion's Share of work that he rode to the 11th most RB PPG in 2017. Lastly, potentially more "exciting"options like Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall now need to be on radars... but let's just hope the team makes some sort of backfield moves. Regardless, this one is a true heartbreaker, and an unfortunate reminder to never draft before Week 3 of the Preseason has passed.
Cooper Kupp “Unstoppable” Out of Slot; Has “Special” Rapport With Jared Goff
Cooper Kupp has taken a backseat to all the Brandin Cooks hoopla coming out of Rams camp, but it looks like he has further developed his connection with Jared Goff and could lead the Rams in targets and red zone targets again. This is coming off of Jason La Canfora's report where he said Goff and Kupp have shown they have "something special going on" during Rams-Ravens joint practices. La Canfora went on to say that Kupp was Goff's go-to guy and that the chemistry was obvious during 11-on-11s. The Ravens lined up a multitude of corners and even hybrid linebackers on the receiver -- but none were able to man-up on the wideout. As of today, The Wolf is relatively low on Kupp, who is his WR45 and nine spots lower on both the ECR and his current ADP. Although Kupp may not be the flashiest receiver on the Rams' flashy offense, he looks like he might be the one to target. With Cooks taking the top off the defense, it shouldn't surprise anyone if Kupp once again leads the Rams in both targets and red zone targets. Let's see if this report will make The Wolf respect Sean McVay's No. 1 wide receiver a bit more.
Corey Coleman Traded to the Bills to Grab a Slice of Buffalo’s Aerial Pie
With the 'bust' label almost officially placed on Corey Coleman, the former first round pick from 2016 was dealt to the receiver-needy Buffalo Bills, which could give him a chance to shine with new (even more disgusting) scenery. With the head of the 'Tub Club' (Kelvin Benjamin) ahead of him on the depth chart, Coleman has a chance to become a target hog in an offense that is in dire need of perimeter talent.  Talent has never been the issue with the former Baylor Bear. It's been his strange ability to break his hand twice during his first two seasons that's really held him back. Coleman is a freak athlete, as he ran a 4.37 40 at his Pro Day, coupled with a 40.5 inch vertical at the combine. If any of the three stooges on Buffalo's quarterback depth chart can put together a decent season, Coleman could overtake Benjamin as the target hog in this offense. As of right now, The Wolf has Benjamin ranked as his WR44 and Coleman bumped up all the way up to WR59 (149 overall), which is +55(!) on the overall ECR. Clearly the targets will be up for grabs in this putrid offense, now it's time for one of these fragile, under-performing wide outs to take advantage of this juice situation.
Doug Baldwin Could Miss all Preseason With Knee Soreness
Doug Baldwin has been prescribed rest for most of, if not all of the preseason after coming into camp with a sore knee.  Adam Schefter is reporting that doctors are unsure of when or how Baldwin injured his knee, but the injury has lingered for a little while.  It's possible that Baldwin aggravated the injury while trying to push through some offseason workouts.   Before this news broke, we were incredibly high on Baldwin and were expecting him to post big numbers again this season.  In fact, the last three seasons with Russell Wilson, Baldwin is averaging around 115 targets.  Those targets have resulted in an average of 82 catches for 1062 yards and nearly 10 touchdowns.  Given the cleaning house that the Seahawks have been doing on offense Baldwin was going to get peppered with targets. Baldwin and Wilson have been together for so long that the two likely don't need many reps to get back in sync.  Regardless, the hush-hush nature of the normally chatty Pete Carroll is enough to raise some eyebrows.  As such, Baldwin's ADP has fallen from around 20 to 31.  We have him a little lower.  We have Baldwin ranked at a very fluid 40, which will easily rise or fall depending on the knee situation.  Fantasy owners should take caution with Baldwin going forward; as the language surrounding the injury is very concerning. Listen to ESPN's Field Yates breakdown this injury on The Fantasy Fullback Dive.
Derrius Guice Dominating With the First Team, Expected to get “Plenty Of Touches”
Derrius Guice has been turning heads in Redskins training camp.  Guice has always been known as a violent runner, dating back to his days at LSU, but now that he's in the NFL, he's starting to learn that he cannot be violent on every touch. With the recent news that Chris Thompson doesn't believe he will be back to 100% until November, Guice just inherited a lot of opportunity.  It's no secret that head coach Jay Gruden loves him.  Gruden even described Guice as "strong, strong, strong strong."  Yes, four "strongs."   With the likely increase in usage, Guice is going to be given every opportunity to showcase all of his talents.  Guice's running style has been compared to Marshawn Lynch and his former teammate at LSU, Leonard Fournette.  In college, Guice's numbers were eye-popping to say the least -- averaging 6.5 YPC through three seasons.  Only Bo Jackson averaged more YPC in the SEC than Guice. I see no sign that his game won't translate to the NFL after seeing how quickly he's acclimated in camp.  Guice's burst through the line, paired with his silky smooth cutting ability, underrated hands, and increased opportunity have led to his fantasy stock experiencing a major spike.  Guice's ADP is currently around 36 overall, but we have him ranked eight slots higher at 28th overall.  There's no reason Guice's stock won't keep increasing, and now might be the time to buy him before his value spikes even higher.
Dalvin Cook Sheds Knee Brace at Vikings Camp, Says he is “Ahead of Schedule”
Few players lit the fantasy football world on fire last season like Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately, a torn ACL in Week 4 flicked out his flame early.  However, now that Vikings training camp has started, Cook has been going 100% without a brace. When asked how his knee felt, Cook even said he is "ahead of schedule" in his rehab.  Last season, Cook came out swinging! He set the Vikings rookie debut rushing record after racking up 127 yards on 22 attempts. In fact, Cook was on pace for a blistering, patriotic 1,776 yards from scrimmage, putting him in the same tier as fellow rookie Kareem Hunt. The Florida State product was averaging 4.8 YPC and was an active part of the passing game as well. Given the increase in usage Cook was getting -- averaging 20 carries in his final two games before going down -- it is reasonable to expect that rate to hold, if not increase. Cook doesn't seem to be shying away from any workload. "I'm ready to deliver it," he said.  The running back seems to feel very little concern about his health and the team showed faith by letting back-up running back Jerick McKinnon walk in the off-season. Given Cook's clean bill of health and likely increase in opportunity, look for his fantasy stock to take a slight uptick going forward. Cook currently has an ADP around 1.12 to 2.01, which is right where we have him ranked.
Will Fuller Added 15-20 lbs to his Beanpole Stature to Increase Durability
Although we are told during training camp that every player is suddenly in 'the best shape of his life,' Will Fuller's added muscle mass might actually mean something. Fuller is now weighing in at an Incredible Hulk-like 185 lbs, which is an increase of 15-20 lbs from 2017. I'm no math expert, but that means Fuller was playing in the NFL at 165 or 170 lbs -- which is borderline insane. The added muscle should make him more durable, which has been an issue for the speedster, as he's only played in 24 of his first 32 games.  With Deshaun Watson throwing the rock, Fuller was on an insane pace last season. Once he returned in Week 5 from his broken collarbone, the Notre Dame product recorded all seven of his touchdown receptions with Watson under center -- in only four games. With DeAndre Hopkins commanding at least the eyes of two defenders at all times, Fuller is the perfect compliment to take the top off the defense for the rest of the offense. Don't you worry, though. Fuller is just as fast and explosive as he's ever been. In fact, he was recently clocked at 4.28 in the 40-yard dash. "Just another coat, so I can take those hits and I can be more versatile," Fuller said. "That's something you have to keep working on with your speed as you're gaining weight. I'm not fat now, so I'm still fast." As you've noticed, we are all-in on the Texans offense, and especially Fuller. We have him at 63 overall (WR27), which is a crazy 26 spots above his current ECR.
With D’Onta Foreman’s Health in Question, Target Lamar Miller
Texans GM Brian Gaine spoke about D'Onta Foreman's recovery from his Achilles injury on Thursday and said this about his running back: "Work in progress right now, recovering from this injury," Gaine said. "He's improving, but time will tell whether he's available to us when we kick off." With Foreman currently on the PUP list for the foreseeable future, Lamar Miller looks like the locked-in RB1 in Houston.  If Foreman sits through training camp (which is likely) and is placed on the reserved/PUP list, he would be forced to sit out the first six games. As of right now, Miller's ADP is hovering around 53 overall, which seems about right (we have him at 50 overall). If you're able to snag Miller as your RB2, you can pair him with Foreman, whose ADP is at 127 overall (we have him at 113). We fully expect a healthy Foreman to eventually overtake the blah talent that is Lamar Miller, so it would be key to use a late-round pick on the former Longhorn. The Wolf touched on this very situation back in May and found a nugget: With Deshaun Watson as his starting QB, Miller scored the 8th most RB points during those six games. For a very cheap price, you can handcuff these two backs together and receive RB1 numbers in return.
Looking to be More Durable, Leonard Fournette Slimmed Down To a Ripped 223 lbs
Jacksonville workhorse Leonard Fournette reportedly entered training camp at a shredded 223 lbs -- 15 down from last season and reportedly his lightest since high school. Though all "best shape of his life" reports warrant eye rolls, shedding pounds has often helped RBs make major leaps, especially in the pass-game. Just last year Carlos Hyde dropped 15 and saw his receiving spike from 27 rec and 163 yds  to 59 rec and 350 yds, while Le'veon Bell ascended to the elite in his sophomore campaign after losing 20 lbs (45 rec + 399 yds to 83 rec + 854 yds).  Last season Fournette was an absolute beast... most of the time.  Known for his angry running and break away speed, Fournette didn't look in shape for the entire year.  During his first six games, Fournette averaged around 4.4 YPC.  During his last seven, some of the tread seemed to fall off his tires as he only averaged around 3.1 YPC.  This drop off can also be attributed to him spraining his ankle during his sixth game, and carrying less weight can only help his durability and improve his conditioning.  With a little less weight holding him back, look for Fournette to become more explosive and more durable down the stretch. Between the line upgrades with Andrew Norwell, coach Doug Marrone promising more third down work, and Fournette trimming himself down, there's real top-five upside if he can maintain health.
Jets WRs Coach: Robby Anderson set “to explode” with more complete role
After posting 63 catches, 941 yards, and 7 TDs in his sophomore campaign (good for a WR18 PPR finish in fantasy), Robby Anderson is set to "explode and become a more complete player" in Year 3, according to his WRs coach. This piece is largely the type of puff to ignore, as it is purely a coach speak without any substantial action (i.e. running more slot routes, being targeted on nearly every throw) to back up the claim. Still, it provides a convenient chance to remind owners how undervalued Anderson has become, likely in light of his offseason woes. Yes, the man made a moronic decision to tell a cop, "I'm going to fuck your wife and nut in her eye." But fantasy-wise? So long as he plays, I could care less... in fact, I may have acquired some new ammunition for the group chat. In real-life, this awful display of immaturity hasn't yet yielded a suspension of any kind, and thus far Anderson's been back at work grinding to become "more complete." He already was among the top burners in the league, amassing the sixth most receptions of 20+ yards over the past two seasons (27 total), and more short-area finesse can only help his output. Thus, his 102 overall, WR42 ADP is embarrassing. When Josh McCown was healthy (Wk 1-13), Anderson was the WR14 in PPR leagues and WR8 in Standard. The pair caught particular fire from Weeks 7-13, where Anderson averaged over 20 PPR FPs per game and was the WR5 in PPR leagues (and trailed only Antonio Brown in standard formats). Simply put, Anderson has dominated, and can be had in Round 10 and beyond. Whether he misses a game or two early on, this type of steal needs to be capitalized on.  
Saints WR Cameron Meredith Hopes to be Cleared for Training Camp
After leading the 2016 Bears in receptions (66), receiving yards (888 yards) and receiving touchdowns (4), Cameron Meredith's 2017 season was cut-short with brutal ACL and MCL tears in his left knee. After the Bears were idiots and let Meredith walk on a very slim offer sheet, the Saints now have an talented WR2 who's ready to explode behind Mike Thomas. Although Meredith continues to recover from his knee injury, he's hopes to be cleared for training camp. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s almost a 10…I haven’t had a setback along the recovery process,” Meredith said about his recovery. “I’m gaining strength day by day, month by month. I’m excited to see how soon I can get back…But the main objective for me is to do as much as I can with the trainers to get ready for the season. My goal is to try and get back to training camp. As long as there aren’t any setbacks or anything like that, it shouldn’t be a problem.” As of now, we are much higher on Meredith than most experts. We have him as our WR35, which is a crazy 21 spots higher than his current ECR and 14 spots higher than his current ADP. If Meredith is able to participate throughout camp and develop a rapport with Drew Brees, he will not only keep defenders' eyes off Mike Thomas, but he has the talent to be a legitimate fantasy weapon on his own.
Possible Le’Veon Bell Holdout Cements Todd Gurley as No.1 Overall Fantasy Pick
Unable to reach a long-term deal before Monday's 4pm deadline, Le'Veon Bell could be a major holdout risk in 2018. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on SiriusXM NFL Radio  "it's possible Le'Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn't get a long-term deal done" --  a theory that'll now be put to the test. Bell has since hinted he won't hold out in the regular season, stating his "desire always has been to retire a Steeler... trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date." But the "Risk" still exists, unlike with Todd Gurley, who now becomes an even stronger candidate to go No.1 overall in fantasy drafts. I've been advocating Gurley as the No.1 pick all offseason, and Bell's potential holdout only furthers my case. Though Bell seems unlikely to holdout half the year and forfeit $7 million (or $856,000 a week), especially after his comments on the situation, he's still a near-lock to skip Training Camp. Last season, Bell started incredibly slow while gaining his "game legs" and getting in a rhythm with his backs, scoring only 13.9 FPs and ranking as the RB26 through two weeks. Of course, this is Le'Veon Bell, and he went on to notch an absurd 406 touches and finish as the clear RB2... but why sacrifice those early "acclimating" weeks if Gurley is also a "Cheatcode Workhorse" as an incredible and highly used talent in an explosive overall offense? Hell, our lead editor CJay has Ezekiel Elliott as his No.1 overall pick, a case that gained some real legitimacy today. There's rumbling Bell's holdout would be an act of preservation for his 2019 payday, and his touches could easily be a point of contention even if he suits up all 16. All-in-all, this will likely amount to a slower 2018 start followed by more of the same Bell we know and love. But the risk for far worse now exists.
Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin Emerging as a “Regular Red Zone Target” and Viable Fantasy Penny Stock
Little-known sophomore TE Blake Jarwin has been reportedly dominating in Dallas this offseason, quickly emerging as a "regular target" for Dak Prescott "up the middle and particularly in red zone situations." With over 50% of the team's 2017 target total up for grabs (249 looks), Jarwin appears to be in the driver's seat for Jason Witten's pass-catching role, giving him real "Penny Stock" upside. A 2017 UDFA out of Oklahoma State, Jarwin rotted on the Cowboys' practice squad all last year until October, when Dallas promoted him to the regular roster to block the Eagles from stealing him. This move was an early display of some long-term interest, and thus far Jarwin hasn't disappointed. Early this offseason the Dallas' Morning News' Jon Machota reported, "No tight end on the roster has received more praise recently from executive vice president Stephen Jones. Meanwhile, Cowboys reporter Marcus Mosher the clear TE1 tweeted Blake Jarwin operated as throughout OTAs and minicamp, also adding fantasy-darling Rico Gathers "barely gets any snaps in practice" (some reports even have Gathers actually trying tackle). The only Dallas-rostered TE to catch an NFL pass is Geoff Swaim, an unathletic lumberer who's posted nine catches for 94 yards in three seasons... meaning the opportunity is certainly ripe here. Jarwin is currently undrafted, and will likely remain so, but still deserves a spot on your "Monitor List" or bottom of the bench in deeper leagues with a real chance to top Dallas in receiving TDs. 
LeSean McCoy’s Fantasy Football Value Trending Downward Amidst Domestic Violence Allegations
When the brutal picture and allegations against LeSean McCoy were posted on Instagram Tuesday afternoon, us at the Roto Street Journal were horrified. But let's make one thing clear before we dive into meaningless fantasy football analysis: we hope LeSean McCoy's ex-girlfriend recovers from her injuries because we are 100-percent an anti-domestic violence website. We also hope that the several other horrible allegations are not true. But if they are, we would expect McCoy to be banished from the league and for him to get thrown to the wolves -- literally.   Before the allegations, we were already down on McCoy (our RB14). He is 30 years old -- the age where running backs fall off the cliff -- and he happens to play in a very shitty offense. Barring suspension, he's expected to receive a ton of touches, but his health has been clean the past two seasons and his chances of finally breaking down this season are pretty high. His surrounding talent is disastrous and his quarterback could end up being Josh AllenAJ McCarron or Nathan Peterman. Yuck. For the sake of this Stock Watch, let's say he (somehow) avoids any discipline from the NFL. McCoy is a player that needs to be avoided at all cost. Let one of your leaguemates draft Shady, while you take someone like Jerick McKinnon.
Jordan Howard Plans to Improve Pass-Catching as he Begins to Feel the Heat From Tarik Cohen
Jordan Howard is starting to feel the heat from Tarik Cohen, as his current talents as a pass-catcher won't be good enough to be an every-down back in Matt Nagy's offense. Howard, who has dropped 14 passes during his two seasons, claims he's planning on improving his pass-catching for this season. It shouldn't be a surprise that after Cohen had been "lining up everywhere" during OTAs -- utilizing his hands and route-running abilities -- that Howard now plans to improve as a receiver. Although Cohen flashed during his rookie season, Howard never felt a real push from the electric back due to John Fox's inability to utilize Cohen's elite talent. Now with the creative Nagy calling the shots, Cohen's snaps and touches will be on the rise in 2018. Howard has most certainly done the job as a ball carrier, eclipsing 1,000 yards during each of his first two seasons, but his snaps could be in danger due to Cohen's explosive skill-set. Will Howard be able to stay on the field in Nagy's offense? Or will he strictly be a goal-line/ short-yardage back? If he's able to fix his pass-catching issue that he says "started back in high school," that would definitely protect his place as our RB13.
Sammy Watkins Moving “All Over the Place,” Refining Craft Under Andy Reid
Throughout OTAs Sammy Watkins reportedly moved "all over the place," made dazzling plays, and refined his craft under Andy Reid. In sum, he fits in KC seamlessly, especially considering his blazing speed and excellent ball-tracking skills will be married to Patrick Mahomes' cannon arm. The two have reportedly been clicking, meaning Watkins may deserve more fantasy football attention. "He made some catches sometimes that I don't know how they're possible," Mahomes said, describing Watkins' playmaking. Meanwhile, Reid discussed the way he's using formations to free up Watkins: "We were moving him everywhere," Reid said. "He hasn't had to do that in his career." Instead of being left at X (often where the other team's best corner hovers), Watkins has moved to the slot where he's "getting more opportunities on linebackers [and] safeties." The increased and varied usage, and tutelage of Reid, has Watkins more motivated than ever, who said, "I've been my best this year with just getting in shape and learning the offense," Watkins said."He's helped me in this short amount of time with just being a compete receiver, not just being a, 'Oh, he just runs go-routes. I've got to learn the whole route tree." The fantasy questions here don't hinge on "Coaching Scheme," or "Talent." The issue is truly "Usage" in such a crowded offense (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill) that spreads the ball around, plus the obvious "Risk" with Watkins' durability and consistency woes. His late 6th ADP feels right, though I prefer Chris Hogan and Will Fuller in that range.
T.Y. Hilton Fitting Frank Reich’s Scheme Perfectly, Adding Dangerous Verticality
Colts HC Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni have reportedly been thrilled with how well T.Y. Hilton has fit into their "quicker-strike" offense thus far.  The star wideout is doing his part, reportedly "buying all in" and "giving his all," while both coaches add more deep-ball concepts this "West Coast" attack. My earlier worries about Hilton's "scheme fit" seem likely to wind up obsolete. For one, Sirianni and Reich are installing plenty of vertical, "chunk-play" concepts into the offense to fit their top talent, with beat writers noting: "As was evidenced from watching practices in the spring, that deep ball, which Hilton has excelled with, isn’t going to be extinct." In fact, Sirianni believes the quicker-strike attack should help Hilton shake free down the field more easily. "'As you emphasize the quicker throws, the deeper ones come,' Sirianni says. 'If you look at Frank (Reich) and I’s past together, our teams have been high in completion percentage, but they’ve also been high in plus-20 yard gains, plus-16 yard gains. So those plays still come... the defensive back is thinking, ‘Shoot, he can get behind me.’ So it softens him up for those plus-16 yards. It really is no secret, it’s speed.'" Off the field, Hilton has worked out harder than ever before while cutting fast food completely out of his life (making him 1 of 100,000 players currently "in the best shape of (his) life.") He's "immersed" himself in the new offense, and, according to Sirianni, "he is hungry to learn and he’s obsessed with getting better." Hilton faces minimal competition for targets, and has topped 1,300 yards in his past two seasons with Andrew Luck. Expect a return to WR1 status, at a late third round price.
Jay Ajayi “definitely that No.1 guy” entering camp, more volume coming
With a full offseason with the Eagles under his belt, Jay Ajayi is "definitely going into camp as the No. 1 guy," according to HC Doug Pederson. RBs coach Duce Staley has expressed similar sentiment, noting, "Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy." Clearly, Ajayi seems headed for a "Usage" uptick, which could facilitate a RB1 bounceback given the Surrounding Talent and Coaching Scheme here. Even post-camp and entering the 2017 regular season, Pederson declined to name a starting RB. Thus, the HC giving Ajayi the nod so early is the ultimate display of confidence -- and sign Ajayi should expected his usage to rise significantly. This will remain a committee -- Pederson noted as much with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles -- but Ajayi seems headed for a larger, more consistent workload inside 2017's second highest-scoring offense (29.0 PPG), especially at the goal line. Staley was impressed with how hard Ajayi prepared this offseson (contract year motivation, perhaps?), and believes this will translate into a more "workhorse" style role: "Just him being focused, coming in, knowing he's the guy, knowing he's the guy that's going to step up there and just put everything on his back and ride with him." With LeGerratte Blount removed and his coaches' blessings, Ajayi seems set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack. This makes Ajayi a steal in the early 40s.
Allen Hurns the “Clear-Cut” No. 1 WR in Widely-Open Dallas Passing Game
249 targets -- over 50% of Dallas' 2017 total -- are up for grabs after team-leaders Dez Bryant (132), Jason Witten (87), as well as Brice Butler (23) and Ryan Switzer (7) all departed. Based on early OTAs, newcomer and former Jags WR Allen Hurns is reportedly the early favorite to inherit the lion's share of looks after serving as the team's "clear-cut" No.1 WR throughout the spring. Though third-round rookie Michael Gallup was our original pick to inherit the largest slice of Dallas' open aerial pie, Hurns, fresh off a strong OTAs showing, actually appears set for the healthiest portion of targets. Though Hurns has missed 11 games over his past two seasons, failing to top 500 yards in either year, he's not far off from a monster 64 catches, 1031 yards, and 10 TDs (2015) when he was playing second-fiddle to Allen Robinson. In Dallas, he appears to have established early chemistry with Dak Prescott while emerging as the top-guy from the uninspiring cast of other weapons (Gallup, Terrance WilliamsCole Beasley) -- even if the third-year QB doesn't believe the team needs a true "go-to" guy: "I don't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver," Prescott recently told Pro Football Talk. "It's about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes." Though this offense will surely funnel through Ezekiel Elliott and the run game, at least one wideout will see 100+ targets, regardless of Prescott's comments -- and that guy appears to be Hurns. With Hurns' 120 overall price tag the steepest price on their pass-catchers, all Cowboys WRs are in play as value picks, especially the former Jag.
Tyrod Taylor Distancing Self from Baker Mayfield, Regains Late-Round QB1 Appeal
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield "did not look ready to compete" with Tyrod Taylor for the Browns' starting quarterback job at OTAs and minicamp. Taylor is also reportedly meshing well with his new teammates, being labeled by OC Todd Haley as the "clear leader of this team." Taylor ultimately seems to have gained some serious leash on the starting gig -- at least through the Week 11 bye, if not the entire season -- giving him the controls to a potential sneaky juggernaut.  Despite being the most "pro-ready" QB option, Mayfield is reportedly falling fast behind Taylor, who's contrastingly excelling early on in Cleveland. In fact, one AFC Scout predicts Taylor's leash will extend not only through all of 2018, but years beyond. Considering this gig comes with the benefits of Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry on the outside, a strong offensive line for protection, and a powerful stable of RBs, Taylor's QB1 potential feels far more stable with this higher starting floor. Moreover, his new QB coach -- Ken Zampese -- thinks Tyrod's ceiling is only just starting to be realized: "Tyrod's just hitting his stride. This is his fourth year starting in the NFL. He's just coming into his own and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't seen the best from him.'' Taylor has excellent traits with a strong arm, excellent decision-making, and mobility for Todd Haley -- one of the games brightest offensive minds -- to play with. Expect some fireworks, and an insane return on Taylor's QB27, 196 overall price.
Rex Burkhead Favorite for Goal-Line Work in TD-Generating Offense
According to ESPN Beat Writer Mike Reiss, Rex Burkhead is the "early favorite" to emerge as New England's goalline back. With the Patriots scoring 16 Rush TDs in 2017 (6th in league) and 19 in 2016 (5th), while scoring the 2nd most total backfield fantasy points in back-to-back seasons, this job carries enormous weight. Despite playing in only 10 games and beginning 2017 behind Mike Gillislee, Burkhead finished with 8 total TDs (5 rushing, 3 receiving) -- nearly one per contest. He displayed surprising power, and an uncanny ability to get behind his blockers and fall forward through the narrowest of creases. With the Patriots adding Sony Michel at No.31, as well as the bruising Jeremy Hill in free agency, many expected Burkhead's job to be in jeopardy -- not the case, according to insider Reiss. Moreover, Burkhead took "the majority of first-team reps" in OTAs, which is unsurprising given Michel's rookie status, but still noteworthy. Meanwhile, RBs coach Ivan Fears  called Burkhead  "something special," someone "you sort of build on." Even with only prime Red Zone real estate in one of the league's highest-scoring attacks, Burkhead is a bonafide steal at RB37 (95 overall). Yet, with the versatility to truly inherit Dion Lewis' starting role if Michel falters (or has ball-security woes following 12 collegiate fumbles), Burkhead's ceiling is enormous, and only emphasizes this insane value.
A “More Aggressive” Blake Bortles Offers Genuine ‘Unsexy Upside’ in Year 2 of Offense
According to Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett, Blake Bortles progression in his second year of the offense will allow him "to be a lot more aggressive." Bortles, who feels he is playing far more freely and now "owning the offense," still possesses a cannon arm and drips in sneaky upside as the current QB25 (190th overall). Perhaps the name Bortles just sounds ugly, because year-in and year-out the gunslinger goes largely undrafted in fantasy football, despite finishing as the QB4, QB9, and QB13 over his past three seasons. He's always had the deep arm, completing a league-high 72 passes of 20+ yards in that QB4 season. Now more comfortable in Hackett's offense in Year 2, Bortles is reportedly playing without thinking and allowing Hackett to be more aggressive in his play-calling. "We’re in a great situation, because a very good line, and we have very good running backs, which will allow us to run the ball," Hackett said. "Now it’s going to allow us to be a lot more aggressive because you can trust that Blake is going to make the right decision more consistently."  While you gain no "ohhs" and "ahhs," Bortles has a sneaky high floor and a completely ignored ceiling, making him a worthy last-round investment for the QB-needy.
Deshaun Watson looking healthy, to “play the same way as before”
Despite coming off a torn ACL, Deshaun Watson is looking close to 100% healthy and has no plans to change his style of play in 2018 -- and the Texans won't try to reign him in. This is huge news, as Watson should be deployed in the same manner that made him a bonafide "cheatcode" during his seven games in 2017, and justifies our No.1 QB ranking. In only seven games last season, Watson completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,699 yards, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions while rushing for 269 yards and two scores (3883 Pass Yd, 43 TDs, 614 Rush Yd, 5 TD pace). He was easily the top-scorer in fantasy during this span, and seemed to be only trending upwards after a 469 total yard, 4 TD thriller against a still-healthy Seattle secondary. Following an ACL surgery, Watson reportedly looked fully healthy in OTAs, "launching a series of accurate rainbow spirals from a variety of angles ... The only real evidence remaining from a torn anterior cruciate ligament... a brace on his right knee." He also won't hesitate his dual-threat ways in 2018, and the the coaching staff won't try to reign him in, making a repeat of "Cheatcode Status" very possible:  “Injuries are going to happen,” said Watson, “I’ve dealt with this injury before as a freshman. And I played the same way I did the year before. There’s no point in switching up the routine.... I do what I do. I don’t want to change anything that got me here.”
Marlon Mack Set for Clearer Role Amidst Robert Turbin’s Four-Game Suspension, Still RBBC
Robert Turbin has been suspended four-games for PEDs, removing one of many mouths to feed in this Colts' backfield. Marlon Mack's stranglehold on early-down work, and his chance to distance himself from the pack, seems far stronger now; however, the backfield is expected to remain a committee under Frank Reich.  Though Mack is incredibly explosive (led the league in 20+ yard runs as a rookie) and has an even clearer path to touches now, he also struggled heavily in pass-protection and inside running. Considering Frank Reich's lengthy history with RBBCs,  Mack's "Usage" uptick is unlikely to be enormous. In fact, when discussing his backfield, RBs coach Tom Rathman noted, “We’re going to play a lot of running backs. You’re not going to have a bell cow, so to speak, a guy that’s going to carry the load. We’ve got a lot of different styles and I think anytime you have a lot of different styles, you want to try to utilize that." Thus, Mack might now offer more fantasy appeal, especially consider Turbin seemed locked-in for goalline work. Still, rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will be worked in heavily, making Mack an avoid for me, especially with Tarik Cohen and Julian Edelman carrying similar price tags. Follow the links for more on Frank Reich and the entire Colts attack, as well as all of 2018's New Coaches and Offenses.
Tarik Cohen “Lining Up Everywhere… Learning Every Position” in Bears’ OTAs
Tarik Cohen may have gone criminally underutilized under John Fox last season, but the opposite appears to be true for his 2018 fortunes. His "Usage" Score is set to skyrocket under the creative and aggressive Matt Nagy, who reportedly lined Cohen up all over the field during OTAs, while the shifty, explosive tailback has spent time learning every position possible. Despite ranking as PFF's top "Breakaway Threat" after over 50% his  runs went for 15+ yards, Cohen received only 87 carries and 140 total touches. These numbers should skyrocket under Nagy, who's "giddy" about all the ways he can maximize Cohen's explosiveness and versatility, stating, "We’ll have some fun with him.” OTAs provided glimpses of this increased usage, where Cohen was "arguably... busier learning coach Matt Nagy’s offense than anybody except quarterback Mitch Trubisky." The sophomore back was reportedly "all over the field — running inside and outside, coming out of the backfield on pass plays, pass-protecting and lining up as a wide receiver." Cohen perfectly fits the "Reid" mold as an elite receiver (Nagy stating - "You may look like you can run routes, but can you really run routes? He’s able to run routes") -ideal, considering backfield mate Jordan Howard is among the worst receiving backs in the league. Finally free from Fox's shackles, and now under the perfect coach to capitalize on his skillset, Cohen's 77th ADP is going to look foolish come the end of 2018.

Follow the links for more on Cohen, Nagy, and all of 2018's New Coaches and Offenses.

Evan Engram to Ascend Into Elite Tight End Territory Under Pat Shurmur
Similar to his wideouts, Pat Shurmur's track record with tight ends feels pretty consistent: when he's had talent, he's put it in position to succeed. Over his last four campaigns, Shurmur has targeted his tight ends at least 80 times, including an insane 132 targets for Kyle Rudolph just two seasons ago. He loves the play action ball and sending his tight ends streaking down the seams, while also crafting up tight end screens.Rookie tight ends notoriously translate slowly to the NFL, so Evan Engram's 722 yards, 6 TDs and TE5 fantasy campaign emphasizes his immense talent. Again, Shurmur crafts opportunities for his playmakers, and Engram will certainly be towards the top of his priority list. He's a true matchup nightmare with a blazing 4.42 forty at 6'3", 234 lbs and butter smooth route running.

He'll see immense red zone volume and have plenty of space underneath, as Beckham's return should only further shake Engram free. Not to mention the addition of Saquon Barkley. “You look at teams with a solid running game and great running back, it opens the doors for a lot of things in the passing game,” Engram said. “Especially in the middle of the field. And that’s where the tight ends usually get a lot of their production. So it’s exciting. I’m excited to see him come in and make the transition.”

Expect Shurmur to capitalize upon these physical gifts, while Engram takes the usual sophomore leap himself.

He may struggle for the volume to reach Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz territory, as Engram will be below Beckham, Barkley, and likely Shepard most weeks on the target totem pole. Still, the quality of these looks will be sky-high, and Engram should approach or surpass double-digit scores with similar yardage and reception totals.

Stefon Diggs To Explode and Outscore Adam Thielen in 2018

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs could not be more perfect for new OC John DeFilippo's system. DeFilippo wants receivers who can run the entire route tree from every single position. Both wideouts are dangerous on every pattern,  vast experience both outside and in the slot. The creative, mismatch possibilities are truly endless here.

Just look at their history: Stefon Diggs was the primary slot man in 2016, racking up 43 catches and 478 yards inside; a year later, Adam Thielen logged the most slot snaps, and did the most damage here with 592 yards on 46 receptions. Both have the finesse and pristine route-running to dominate inside.

Yet, they also are equally dangerous out-wide. Both have excellent top-end speed, and can blow by defenders who bite on their dangerous double moves. From 2015-17 on throws of 20 yards or more, Thielen posted a 51.4 reception percentage on 35 targets. Diggs notched a 43.5 reception percentage on 46 targets, with five of his touchdowns coming on such deep routes.

Even more, Diggs in particular can dominate in one-on-one situations. In fact, Diggs was PFF's highest graded WR in contested situations last year.

This mirrors DeFilippo's evaluation of Diggs, who was not only "shocked" by his pristine route running, but also added, "More of the tape study of what I had of the Vikings was when I got here, the tape doesn’t do that justice,” he said. “His ball skills are fantastic. The way he tracks the football in the air.”

This is crucial praise from DeFilippo. When you dig into his red zone philosophies and tendencies, he's gushes about giving his players chances to win those one-on-one balls:

"Red zone football is about matchups,” DeFilippo said. “It’s who can beat who, one-on-one. Can a back beat a safety one-on-one in the hole? Can a receiver beat a DB one-on-one, in a two-yard space, where you’re telling him he has two yards to work from the back of the end line to go up and get a football?

"I’ve been on a team where we had a bunch of 5-foot-8 receiver [in Cleveland}, and it made life really, really hard, and our 6-foot-5 tight end [Gary Barnidge] broke Ozzie Newsome’s record for touchdowns in the red zone. So, does having guys that are bigger, like [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen and [Laquon] Treadwell and [Kyle} Rudolph help? Heck yeah."

Expect Diggs' contested skills to be called upon heavily in the Red Zone. According to "all accounts," Diggs "has shown up to OTAs and the offseason program looking quicker and stronger as he works to develop a bond with a new quarterback in Cousins." I like his chances at topping 10+ TDs for the first time in his career.

Health remains an issue -- he's missed time in all three of his professional seasons, and often seems to have something nagging to play through. Yet, if he can get this under control, Diggs is set up for his first 1,000 yard and double-digit TD season of his career. He's never played with a coach who can maximize his skill set, or a signal caller who can deliver the mail, quite like DeFilippo and Cousins. Despite Thielen's massive 2017 breakout, I think Diggs is the highest scorer here.

Though Thielen would be hard-pressed to top his Pro-Bowl level 91 receptions and 1276 yards from last season (especially if Diggs can stay healthy), he could stand for an uptick in his 4 TDs -- especially under Red Zone maestro DeFilippo. Thus, I expect him to remain a low-end WR1, with the upside to even surpass last year's explosion if Diggs' health woes get in the way.

All-in-all, both WRs will be playing with the best QB, and potential best play-caller of their young careers (granted, Shurmur is a beast). Expect a career season from Diggs (health-permitting), and continued success from Thielen, making both prime Round 3 targets -- ideally as high-end WR2s, yet passable WR1s if you've gone RB-RB for a stable of horses.

To learn more about what to expect out of John DeFilippo's offense in 2018, check out our Vikings Team Preview.

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