If you love drafting fantasy football teams as much as I do then you have to check out My Fantasy League (MFL) leagues (if you already haven’t). For those that don’t know, MFL leagues are draft only leagues that are done in a slow, snake style draft. They are best ball leagues meaning you draft a team of 20 players and your lineup is “set” each week based on your best performers at each position. Once your team is drafted it can never be changed. Scoring is PPR format. Below are my top 10 rankings for MFL best ball leagues. Continue reading
Last week I went over 3 players I thought would go overlooked in fantasy drafts next year. This week I am looking at 3 players I think will be drafted too high next year.
Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta
Ryan had an outstanding year by any measure. He finished 1st in yards per attempt and quarterback rating. He was 2nd in yards and touchdowns. He also finished 3rd in completion percentage and had only 7 interceptions. He was 2nd in fantasy scoring behind only Aaron Rodgers. As if all that isn’t enough he will likely take home the MVP award too. He’s played outstanding in the Falcons 2 playoffs games thus far and will likely be drafted as a top 5 quarterback next year. Still, anyone who spends an early pick on him should do so with some trepidation.
First, this year looks like a complete outlier for Ryan. Prior to 2016 his highest touchdown percentage (touchdowns per attempt) was 5.2. He blew that away with a 7.1 percentage this year. His 9.3 yards per attempt also blew away his previous career high of 7.9 which he accomplished his rookie year. If that’s not enough he also had the highest completion percentage of his career. If those numbers drop down closer to his career averages he will be in line for major regression.
Second, he is likely going to lose his offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after the season. Most reports have Shanahan taking the head coaching job for San Francisco though he won’t make a decision until after the Super Bowl. Not only is Shanahan a great coordinator, but this was the second year he and Ryan had together and it showed as Ryan and this offense clicked in a major way. Likely having to learn an entirely new playbook next year will be a major hurdle for this entire offense.
If Ryan regresses to his career averages, or worse, he will go down as one of 2017’s biggest busts. Don’t think it can happen? See Newton, Cam.
Tyreek Hill, Wide Receiver, Kansas City
Hill was one of 2016’s breakout stars and some are already asking if he should be a first or second round pick. He finished 61st overall in standard scoring leagues and 72nd in PPR. Most of that was on the back of 12 touchdowns as he only totaled 860 yards from scrimmage. Still as a multi-dimensional player (receiving, rushing and special teams) the hype is real and people can’t wait to draft him next year. I would caution you not to use an early round pick on him.
As a receiver he saw just 84 targets which ranked him 77th. He had less targets then players like Adam Humphries (89), Ted Ginn (94) and Anquan Boldin (99). Typically targets equal opportunities and opportunities equal fantasy points. If you just take his receiving numbers he finished as WR49 in PPR (tied with Brandon Marshall). There is no reason to think he will see a large bump in targets next year either as the Chiefs are not a pass heavy team and Jeremy Maclin still has 3 years left on his current deal.
But what about his rushing and kick return abilities you ask? He saw just 24 carries and turned that into a ridiculous 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. That is 11.1 YPC and a touchdown every 8 carries. That would make him the greatest running back humanity has ever seen by a wide, wide margin. Unless he is suddenly going to get 100+ carries next year we can expect major regression in the run department. As for kick and punt returns he finished with 3 touchdowns. While that isn’t an impossible feat only 9 players have had 4 in a season and only 1, Devin Hester, has had more than 4. Don’t expect Hill to add to his touchdown total on special teams.
If Hill regresses in the touchdown department, which seems probable, owners who drafted him early will be regretting their decision in 2017.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Tennessee
Murray was a draft day steal in 2016 paying off his 4th round ADP with a top 5 finish at his position in both standard and PPR leagues. Murray will likely be drafted as a top 10 running back in 2017 but he comes with some concerns.
First there is the issue of Derrick Henry. He looked good in limited work in his rookie year rushing for 495 yards, 4.5 YPC and 5 touchdowns while adding 137 yards receiving. As the season went on he carved a bigger role in the offense as well. It seems likely Henry’s role will only increase in 2017 which will hurt Murray’s value.
Murray will be entering his age 29 season in 2017. Running backs begin to decline around age 27 and often fall off a cliff. According to a study done in 2014 running backs peak at age 27, decline 15% the next year, 25% in 2 years and almost 40% by age 30. Murray had a bit of a comeback year last year (age 28) but declined as the season wore on while dealing with a toe injury. He had only 2 games with over 4 yards per carry the last 6 weeks of the season. If he continues to decline next year or battles injuries Henry could really have a big role in this offense. Regardless, Murray’s age alone is cause for concern.
After a bounce back year Murray will likely be a second or high third round pick in 2017 but has serious concerns entering the season.
Disagree with my picks? A player you feel I missed? Let me know in the comments below.
It’s never too early to start preparing for fantasy football drafts. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what is going on will help you be more prepared then your league mates and a step ahead. Below I will list strategies that will help you win your draft regardless of the league you play in. Continue reading
Entering the 2016 fantasy season, wide receivers were all the rage. Six wide receivers went in the first round and the top 2 (and sometimes 3) picks were all wide receivers. It made sense too, wide receivers were beginning to dominate fantasy football as the league had become more and more pass heavy. In 2010 7 teams threw the ball over 60% of the time . Fast forward to 2015 and that number doubled to 14. On top of that only one team, Buffalo, ran more than they threw the ball. The league had changed and so had the fantasy landscape.
If you played fantasy football in 2016 you likely feel like running backs had a resurgence, and to a degree you’d be right. Running backs like David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and LeVeon Bell dominated fantasy leagues. Meanwhile the top wide receivers – Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham and Julio Jones fell far short of the top running backs. So is running the ball back in the NFL? Should fantasy players go back to drafting running backs early and often? Let’s delve into the numbers and see if perception is reality.
The NFL Is Still A Passing League
Though running back certainly had a resurgence in 2016 passing still dominates the NFL. In 2016, 14 teams threw the ball at least 60% of the time and not a single team ran the ball more than they threw. Dallas came the closest throwing the ball “just” 50.59% of the time.
Despite the fact that the league was pass heavier than ever running backs dominated fantasy. In standard scoring leagues running backs took the first 8 positions. Things only got a little better for wide receivers in PPR leagues as running backs took the first 3 spots and 7 of the top 12. Compare that to 2015 were wide receivers took 7 out of the top 12 in standard and 10 out of 12 in PPR.
So if teams were throwing more than ever and wide receiver dominated in 2015, what happened in 2016?
Teams Weren’t More Successful Running The Ball Either
In 2010, the leading team in terms of rushing yards per game was Kansas City with 160.9 yards. The worst team was Arizona with 86.8. The median teams (Baltimore and Dallas) each finished with 111.6. In 2016 Buffalo led the league with 164.4. Minnesota was last with 75.4 and the median team, New Orleans, had 108.2. Buffalo was an outlier this year as the second place team, Dallas, had just 149.8. Compare that to 2010 when second place Oakland had 155.9
In 2016 teams threw the ball more, ran the ball less and ran the ball less effectively. Yet we had a year that was dominated by running backs. The reason?…
The Top Running Backs Were Really, Really Good
Running back production in 2016 was skewed heavily towards the top players. David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and LeVeon Bell all AVERAGED 20+ points per game in standard scoring. In PPR leagues LeSean McCoy also averaged over 20 points per game while DeMarco Murray and Melvin Gordon averaged just under 20 per game. No wide receiver averaged over 20 in standard leagues and only Antonio Brown did so in PPR though Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Jordy Nelson went over 19 in PPR.
In standard scoring leagues once you got past the top 6 running backs scoring between the two positions became very even. So unless you had one of the “elite” 6 running backs you really didn’t gain that much over someone with an “elite” wide receiver. In PPR leagues it was really only the elite 4 (Johnson, Bell, Elliott, McCoy) that outscored wide receivers on a per game basis.
Running Backs Scored More Touchdowns
In 2015 the leaders in touchdowns had just 14. Of the 4 players tied with 14 three were wide receivers (Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson and Doug Baldwin). Out of the top 15 10 were pass catchers and only 5 were running backs. Compare that to 2016 were 3 players went over 14 (David Johnson – 20, LeGarrette Blount – 18, Ezekiel Elliott – 16) and of the top 15 only 5 were pass catchers.
Touchdowns in fantasy football are huge and can literally make or break a players week. It’s no surprise then that in a year were running backs had a resurgence they saw more touchdowns. In fact you have to go all the way back to 2012 to find another year that saw 10 running backs finish in the top 15 for touchdowns. You’d have to go back another 3 years to 2009 to see it happen again.
2016 Was An Outlier Year For Running Backs
The data seems to point to 2016 being an outlier year for running backs. You had a handful of running backs that were really, really good and they helped skew the results. You also had teams scoring rushing touchdowns at a rate that has only been seen 3 times in the last 8 years. All signs point to running backs being drafted early and often in 2017 which should allow players who draft wide receivers early a chance at some great value.
After the Steelers lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game Ben Roethlisberger hinted at retiring rather than returning in 2017.
“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh’s “Cook and Poni Show” on Tuesday. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”
While this is not a definitive retirement statement it should make Pittsburgh fans nervous. As fantasy football players this could have a dramatic impact on the fantasy relevant players who play for Pittsburgh. Let’s try to look into our crystal ball and imagine a 2017 fantasy season without Ben Roethlisberger and specifically how it will impact the other players. Continue reading
This is it, the last week for football DFS. With only four teams playing this week differentiating yourself from the crowd will be tough. Let’s see if we can find some under the radar players who have good matchups to help us win some cash during the final week of the DFS season! Continue reading