This week, we'll begin our panel discussion with your contrarian takes. Next, our staff selects one of three topics from the grab bag that's focused on patience plays in re-draft, dynasty, and developmental leagues. And to end our roundtable, we'll our thoughts on big names to build around or sell to the highest bidder.
A good example was the early-career conclusion that Cooper Kupp was solely a short-range threat whose red-zone volume would disappear in 2018.
Kupp has elite short-area acceleration and stop-start quickness and gets on top of defenders early. He also earned enough targets in the red zone last year and at Eastern Washington that, if not for some drops of multiple targets, he would have been the top rookie fantasy receiver in 2017. Brandin Cooks is not even the red zone threat that Sammy Watkins was for the Rams, which also made it even more likely that Kupp would remain a significant option.
Share your analysis of a player, unit, or team that runs counter to the popular analysis that you've seen during the past two weeks. Include fantasy implications for your take.
- 2015: five consecutive losses.
- 2014: four losses in five weeks.
- 2013: six losses in eight weeks.
- 2012: 11 losses in 12 weeks.
I'd even be open to swapping Luck, provided I got back someone of value. If a league-mate offered me a redraft package like Matthew Stafford and Royce Freeman, I'd be all over it. Luck's volume is nuts but in my eyes, he doesn't project beyond the second tier of fantasy passers. And that tier is awfully crowded, with probably 8-12 different names on it. I'd happily take a lateral move at quarterback if I could add a position player of value in the process.
Let me set the record straight. When Parker is active, he's the clear snap hog at one of the outside wide receivers, with Wilson and Grant rarely seeing the field and typically for the purposes of plays specifically designed for them. When Parker is inactive, however, Wilson assumes Parker's usage almost exactly. In other words, there is no universe in which Grant and Wilson split 50/50 or have equal opportunity for targets when Parker's out.
- Wait Til Next Year: Name a player you're high on who isn't in a position to do much this year, but you can't wait to see him earn a shot in 2018 and /or beyond.
- Wait Til Next Month: Which one of these players is most worth the long-term stash despite his injury/missed time is clogging up your roster space? Larry Fitzgerald, Dante Pettis, Leonard Fournette, Le'Veon Bell.
- 2019 Rookie Class: Name a player who has caught your eye who is eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft? Why is he a future fantasy starter?
Tuccitto: D.J. Moore has settled into the shared No. 3/No. 4 wide receiver role with Jarius Wright on the Panthers. This is, shall we say, less than ideal as Carolina employs three-receiver sets incredibly infrequently — let alone four wide receivers. This lack of playing time is also reflected in his opportunity stats, which show that he ranks seventh on this offense in market share of air yards, as well as eighth in market share of targets.
This sad situation will almost certainly change for the better next season. Devin Funchess is in the last year of his contract and Torrey Smith is essentially playing on a contract that can be torn up at any time. (I'm assuming Wright, a 28-year old journeyman, will not be a threat to Moore's usage in 2019).
What's more (pun intended), in the limited opportunities that Moore has gotten this season, he's proven to be a dynamic receiver who can play either of the roles soon-to-be vacated by Funchess and Smith. So if either isn't resigned rather than both, Moore will still be a sure-fire starter in two-receiver sets next season.
I've seen nothing to damper my prior determination that he'll ultimately end up as one of the top three wide receivers from the 2018 draft when it's all said and done.
Waldman: I agree, Danny. I was watching Moore today and his after-contact skills remain as impressive as they did at Maryland. He was one of my top-three receiver talents of the 2018 class and he's doing well with the opportunities that he's earning thus far. He's a definite patience play.
Where I want to disagree with you is waiting until next year. I think his recent playmaking poses a compelling argument for more playing time. However, that's just a feeling that I cannot justify.
Hindery: Can I choose two? I really want to choose two.
Waldman: If you "must" give readers more, I think they'll oblige you...
Hindery: Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is a potential fantasy star. As the NFL has continued to borrow elements of the college game and spread the field, speed and quickness have become more valuable. Brown has elite sub-4.4 speed and excellent quickness. The big knock on him is size. Brown is listed at just 5’10, 170 pounds. His lack of bulk is worrisome.
Howe: From a dynasty perspective, I'm absolutely tantalized by the Broncos' young wideouts. Rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton aren't close to edging the Broncos' two dominant wideouts out of the picture. But in 2019, that'll all turn on its head, with both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders looking likely to be elsewhere. Here are their contract situations for next season:
- D. Thomas (age 31) - 1 year left, $14M base salary, $17.5M against the cap (DEN saves $14M by letting him walk)
- E. Sanders (age 32) - 1 year left, $10.3M base salary, $12.9 against the cap (DEN saves $8.2M by letting him walk)
The Broncos will probably be thrilled to shake loose $22.2 million as they (presumably) rebuild in 2019, with a new quarterback almost certain to be added. That's almost certainly why they spent two premium picks on Sutton and Hamilton, who have impressed thus far in limited rookie time and look poised to start next season.
Sutton's exploits are known: the 6'4" second-rounder dazzled onlookers in camp with one acrobatic catch after another, and he's leveraged them into 252 snaps thus far (73 percent). Sutton has averaged 16.0 yards per catch, and he's drawn plenty of attention from Case Keenum in the red zone. With his huge body and Dez Bryant-like catch radius, Sutton could ultimately be what Thomas never became: a physical, downfield dominator.
When Sutton left Week 5 early, Hamilton stepped in and immediately caught all 3 of his targets for 44 yards. That included a 24-yard catch-and-run over the middle the showed off Hamilton's polished route skills and underrated foot-quickness.
Hamilton impressed at his combine with a 6.84 three-cone drill that hints at big-time agility, and he's always been a long-legged strider capable of creating separation. With his experienced and diverse game, he has the looks of a long-term NFL possession receiver — Keenan McCardell keeps coming to mind — and he seems poised for a big 2019 role.
He's flying way, way under the radar right now, too, so dynasty-leaguers would be shrewd to go ahead and float pay-nothing deals. If I could swap, say Samaje Perine for him, I'd do it with a smile.
Waldman: Love it, Justin, especially the thoughts on Hamilton and the pro comparison. The only thing that I can't shake is your thought that someone would give Hamilton up for Perine. Still, I get your point...
Hicks: This has to be Le’Veon Bell. Larry Fitzgerald and Leonard Fournette are going to struggle to return to 100 percent healthy during the season and in Fournette’s case, T.J. Yeldon has done well enough to eat into Fournette’s time. Dante Pettis is going to struggle without Jimmy Garoppolo and although his long-term future looks good, the 49ers would be best preparing him for 2019 and beyond and getting whatever kind of learning experiences they can throw his way.
That leaves me with Bell. James Conner has been great and can be a very productive running back for Pittsburgh and any other team in the right system. With Daniel and Matt's views duly noted, I don't think Conner is as complete a back as Le’Veon Bell is and will be for the foreseeable future.
Bell does carry the risk of coming up with a mystery ailment and underperforming, but he is trying to get as big a payday as possible next year so will need to show future employers something about his ability and attitude. Maybe a team trades for him and we see that showcase on a different team. Bell is flexible enough to be able to adapt to almost any other unit and if he returns to Pittsburgh, his usage won’t resemble that of previous years, but he can easily do more with less as James Conner is good enough to share the load.
Parsons: Alabama backs rarely string together meaningful production as the depth chart is always packed with elite recruits. Damien Harris is prototypically-sized and a good enough receiver to project as a three-down back in the NFL. While it's true the 2019 running back class is a fraction of the strength of 2017-18, Harris is poised to be a Day 2 pick and future NFL starter.
Waldman: Definitely a smart young running back will skills, Chad.
Simpkins: I really believe that patience-play option could be Richie James of the San Francisco 49ers. Don’t let his diminutive size fool you — he has the versatility to play any receiver position in this offense, something that will endear him in a Shanahan system where they like receivers with the versatility to play at any spot in the formation.
James is both elusive and great in contested situations, two skill sets that will make him a nightmare to defend. Who knows, as the year slips away, the coaching staff may want to see what they have in James and allow him to build some momentum going into next year.
Waldman: Another player whose potential I love, Daniel. I'll share a future rookie that I watched — Jalen Hurd of Baylor. If you don't follow college football, Hurd was a 6'4", 240-pound runner with arguably better footwork and quickness than Derrick Henry around the same time that Henry was the rage of Saturday football.
Hurd was a freshman All-American running back at the University of Tennessee but he wanted to play wide receiver. The staff wanted to keep him at running back and pound him into defenses. According to assistants with the team, Hurd played hurt and was not a malcontent but he was labeled that way after removing himself from a game.
Hurd transferred to Baylor, lost 20 pounds and spent the year working on the craft of the wide receiver position. Based on what I've seen, he has pro-level mobility and quickness in and out of breaks, he attacks his stem with urgency, and he can make difficult catches with good hand-eye coordination.
He's dropping passes at times where I believe he's overthinking less familiar situations because the technique is good but the targets are difficult. Even so, he appears far more refined as a receiver than I would have expected. What's funny is that his body is so re-shaped that on the occasions where Baylor has placed Hurd in the backfield in an I-formation set for short-yardage opportunities, his frame looks out of place between the tackles even if his "game" as a runner is still very much there.
And for the very few feeling nostalgic...#5 still has good feel from the I... pic.twitter.com/f4MlQt8Ks5— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 9, 2018
Foundation or Showroom Window?
- A foundation for specifically re-draft, dynasty, or both formats.
- A showroom piece you happily use but would trade away to get a foundation talent.
QB - Pick 2
Mayfield is also a dynasty foundation piece. Once Hue Jackson and company are finally put out to pasture this offseason, the young talent on Cleveland's offense — including Mayfield — will take a leap forward.
If this were a situation ripe for a coaching change, I'd think differently, but Detroit just made a coaching change.
Lockett is a clear showroom piece for me. Per Pro Football Focus, he's scored 4 touchdowns in 155 routes run, for a rate of 2.6 percent. That's completely unsustainable, as his "true" rate of 0.9 percent based on 1,500 routes run with the Seahawks. And now with Doug Baldwin being as close to full health as he has been in months, opportunities should decrease for Lockett going forward.