For many years, David Dodds' article, "From the Gut," was an annual pre-draft tradition at Footballguys.
If you've been around the fantasy industry long enough, you're keenly aware of David's contributions to the site, our community, and our industry.
And I'm calling first dibs on taking over this piece. After all, who better to take over an article with this title than the guy who has written a column called "the Gut Check" for nearly 20 years?
If you're reading this, David, you know we all miss you here and are grateful. Might as well begin this in your words:
As I comb through mounds and mounds of data to help me produce [projections to develop] rankings and articles for the website, I still think back to some of my best fantasy rosters when I went in with a short list of guys I wanted to nab and others I wanted to avoid.
Sometimes you just have to follow your gut.
Strategy: Unless your home league has a run on most viable quarterbacks before the eighth round, the most logical reasons you're considering a quarterback this early has to do with a specific scoring system that reveals a clear advantage for a handful of passers, or you legitimately believe 1-2 players have a real shot at a record-breaking season. Otherwise, it's wise to wait until at least the eighth round, if not 2-3 rounds longer based on the historically narrow gap in points between starters in most formats.
These passers are listed in order of their consensus ADP at FBG.
Tom Brady (Target): I recommended Brady as an excellent value at the position last year and the same is true in '22. It may not appear as such with Rob Gronkowski retired, Antonio Brown imploding, and Chris Godwin easing his way back from an ACL tear 100 percent, but I believe in the combination of Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage as the early-season headliners until Godwin is confident in his knee.
Mike Vrabel is a Bill Belichick-inspired coach and it means doing everything by the book. Bill Parcells had to tell Belichick—also known as the Giants' Assistant to the Regional Manager, Dwight Schrute—to ease up on Lawrence Taylor whenever Belichick whined to Parcells about Taylor not going with Schru--err, Belichick's program.
Julio Jones hasn't been operating by the standards task-oriented coaches expect of rookies and young veterans for years. Atlanta tired of it, and A.J. Brown probably didn't realize Jones wouldn't be a good fit with Vrabel when he publicly recruited Jones last year.
The Buccaneers are closer ot the Raiders of the '70s-80's with how they've welcomed aging veterans with a range of personalities and off-field needs. Look no further than Brady getting 10 days off during the middle of training camp.
Jones still looks elite, according to beat reporters. Throw in an improved Scotty Miller and ascending talents in Cade Otton and Jaelon Darden, and Brady will have no problem finding open receivers at a rate that once again significantly outshines his draft-day value.
Dak Prescott (Avoid): I admire Prescott's grit and resourcefulness as a passer. It's not always textbook but has been good enough that he's proven many wrong for underestimating him at various points of his career. This year, the Cowboys have the defense, the line, the running back, and enough question marks in the passing game to expect a downturn in aerial production. I love CeeDee Lamb, but that's really all they have in terms of a proven match-up option.
Jalen Tolbert, Dalton Schultz, Tony Pollard, and every other receiver that's currently healthy is not an every-down threat to win one-on-one. Defenses won't need to play as much zone, allowing opponents to have a lot more freedom to game plan against this offense's passing game.
The Cowboys offense will want to run more than it has in years. Prescott won't be awful, but he's going 3-4 rounds higher than he should, and picking him at his current range of value will cost you two more valuable players — the option you could have had at that early spot and the more valuable quarterback you should have waited to take.
Derek Carr (Target): He's never had this caliber of weaponry, and Josh McDaniels' system is the ideal match for what Carr does best. But he's Derek Carr…he's going to make boneheaded mistakes at key moments. Let's say this happens.
We could say the same about Kirk Cousins, whose receivers have been excellent, but the receiving corps as a whole hasn't stacked up to what we're about to witness in Vegas. Even so, Cousins has delivered six top-12 fantasy seasons at his position during the past seven years, including two top-five campaigns.
The Raiders will be throwing a ton, thanks to the caliber of opposition on their schedule from the AFC and NFC West. Smoke 'em if you got 'em . . .
Aaron Rodgers (Avoid): It's always scary to recommend avoiding a great player, but there are too many ifs for this offense when attempting to project its ceiling:
"If Sammy Watkins can stay healthy..."
"If Romeo Doubs' camp bromance can flourish into a full-on regular season love affair despite the fact that no one is talking about his penchant to fight the ball and fail to earn strong position on contested vertical routes that has plagued him--even in his first preseason game...."
"If Amari Rodgers [and Doubs] can run the right routes that match Rodgers' expectations for the defense..."
"If Robert Tonyan Jr can return to his 2020 form..."
It's enough for me to believe Rodgers' current draft-day value is at his ceiling where as several quarterbacks available later have equal floors and higher ceilings.
Jameis Winston (Target): If you think a recommendation to avoid Rodgers is scary, hold my beer...
Still, if it's a no-brainer to target Derek Carr given his weapons, the same holds true for Winston relative to his value. Unless you're league levies strong penalties for turnovers, the Michael Thomas Vengeance Tour is just one of four reasons (Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, and Alvin Kamara) Winston is worth your while.
Zach Wilson (Avoid): I said this for weeks, and my colleague J. Moyer reiterated it yesterday: What does it say about Zach Wilson when the offense comes to life under Joe Flacco? You know. You just may not want to admit it.
Daniel Jones (Avoid): He's a pocket-deaf quarterback. He might support fantasy production, but he's not who you want.
Skylar Thompson (Waiver Wire): He's the best rookie quarterback in this class, and he would have been up there with the top options in last year's class based on this film. He's making a strong first impression in Miami. If injuries strike, I just have a feeling he could be the next great draft capital anomaly at the position. Even as a callow rookie, I'd take a chance on him with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle as his targets.
Strategy: I like targeting close to a 50-50 mix of running backs and receivers in my drafts, taking only the minimum required options at defense, kicker, and tight end. Everyone wants to say they picked the next elite running back outside of the first 2-3 rounds, which often leads to going hard to the hole on less-proven runners with athletic upside.
Fantasy GMs may win their leagues in the late rounds with upside picks, but they often lose their leagues in the early rounds with upside picks. The players with the fewest trap doors to their games, scheme, and surrounding talent make the best picks during the first 8-10 rounds. After that, increase the weight you give to a player's ceiling ahead of his floor.
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