3/2/18: We tried to warn folks back on January 2 that the Saquon Barkley hype was gonna get crazy come Combine/draft time... and it has. To the max! This kid might be a top 1-3RB this year, and I think it's super likely he is ranked in the top 1-3 overall in all 2019 drafts. For anyone that missed trading for the 1.01/aka Barkley before his value doubled, and that's how crazy things are now getting, try this tip on for size... it's the next big idea that can be just as big for your franchise!
1/2/2018: Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and Nick Chubb all have top 10 overall fantasy football value heading into the future. That's how good this 2018 NFL Rookie Running Back Class is, folks. Plain and simple. Barkley, though, has Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott skill/upside... I firmly believe that Barkley will be a top 5RB as a rookie in 2018, then I project im to enter 2019 as a top 1-2 overall pick in all 2019 fantasy football drafts. He is every bit NFL ready as any rusher to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Am I being too optimistic? Some might suggest this, but I see elite in this running back, and I think he eventually has 12+ TD upside in the NFL... Barkley, who is 5-11 and 230 pounds, has LeVeon Bell's receiving ability and shiftiness, and he can leap over defenders and power through rushing lanes like Todd Gurley... and, he also has a lot of Zeke Elliott to his game. In 2017, Barkley rushed for 1271 yards and 18TDs, while adding 54 receptions for 632 yards and 3TDs. In the year prior, he rushed for 1496 yards and 18TDs, while adding 28 receptions for 402 yards and 4TDs. He had over 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 51 offensive touchdowns during his three college seasons. Those are some incredible college numbers. Now, should he be drafted and valued at top 5 overall fantasy football start-up value? No. Absolutely do not spend more than you have to via trade or draft... that defeats the entire purpose here. The reason this prediction is bold is because he can be had at much lower value than top 5 overall value, yet he can soon be the best fantasy football player in the game. That's value. That is upside. If you draft him as a top 5 overall fantasy football player, or trade for him like one, you leave yourself no room for upside and value growth. I'm extremely excited about this kid's rise, and I think his combine/workouts could increase his ADP a ton, which will be unfortunate, but he still might not be ranked close to the levels in my prediction. So, upside should still be present even after good combine workouts. Let's hope! If you don't feel the same way about Barkley yet, or just haven't looked into this 2018 NFL Rookie Running Back class, I urge you to watch this attached video in its entirety.
Updated: 4/1/2018 - This kid is the real deal. He has the size, speed and quickness, and most importantly, he is the kind of receiver that can dominate the space around him right out of the gate. I said this same thing about DeAndre Hopkins as a rookie, a player many struggled to rank atop his position for all incoming rookies. Sutton, like Hopkins, has incredible (innate) spacial awareness that you can't teach... natural domination of his surroundings. Even without looking at any numbers or stats, I see that 'it' factor with this rookie, and to me that's the one thing I have let guide me more than anything over the last 13 years... He's a playmaker and a total match-up nightmare for opposing defenses... He has a lot of Calvin Johnson to his game, but with a little Julio Jones mixed in... then mix in more speed and quickness. Yeah, that's how much I like this guy for the future (and I still see him flirting with low-end WR1 numbers as a rookie, at least by mid-season). At 6-4, 216-220 pounds, Sutton will likely step into the NFL as one of those receivers that needs almost no time at all to adapt, think Odell Beckham vs Dez Bryant (who needed his first two seasons to develop). In 2017, Sutton pulled in 68 balls for 1085 yards and 12TDs. Those aren’t the biggest numbers, sure, but he is consistent and produced 76/1246/10TDs the year prior. If you asked me, "Hey, Smitty... can you name three players that could be three of those 'once in a decade' types, who would you call out?" My answer without hesitation would be: Saquon Barkley and Courtland Sutton and Josh Allen. This may sound far outside the norm right now, but as we inch closer and closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, I'm starting to lean toward Courtland Sutton as my No. 2 overall 2018 rookie.
Updated: 2/2018: Leonard Fournette is a huge name in fantasy football already, rushing for 9TDs and 1040 yards (with 302/1TD receiving) during his rookie season. All in all, that’s a great rookie season. He clearly has double-digit TD capability any time he plays 16 games. Easily. But, while he is a big name in fantasy, he also has a big frame (6-0, 230-240), which means he is a bit more susceptible to injury, and he proved that throughout the year with a nagging ankle injury. It wasn't just a single ankle injury this season, folks, he was tagged as having chronic ankle issues in college (missing six games of his final college season), and he nearly escaped having a torn ACL in October of his rookie season this past NFL year. Call it gut instinct, reckless speculation, call it whatever you want, but I'm not feeling longevity here at all. Not at all.
Whether it was due to injury, or just bad play, only three times last year did Fournette average over 3.8 yards-per-carry (YPC).. only twice did he averag over 4.2 YPC (in weeks 5 and 6), and he had five games of 2.9 YPC or worse. He has looked banged up all the way through the playoffs thus far, and despite having a big second 3TD outing in the Divisional Playoff contest against the Steelers, he averaged 2.7 YPC in the Wild Card win, and in today's Conference match-up against the Patriots, he averaged 3.16 YPC.
Look, there is no denying he is a wrecking ball, and he can absolutely score 2-3TDs during any given contest. That does not make him reliable, and given his HUGE injury history, mixed with his huge frame, which will surely breakdown at a faster rate than a player at 200-210, I can envision him having huge games here and there and ultimately leaving fantasy owners hanging when push comes to shove each and every season. Could he have a big season in even 2018? Sure, it's possible, and again I am not denying his ability, if healthy and on the field... but, my gut screams caution with this top 5-7 overall value that is now tagged to him heading into 2018. That leaves no room for error or nagging injuries each year. It just doesn't..
A grip of things are stacking against him heading into a sophomore season, often the year players fall victim to the sophomore slump:
1. history of ankle injuries dating back to college
2. nagging ankle injury all year during his rookie season
3. extremely aggressive rushing style that can lead to injury
4. proven 3.9 yards-per-carry during his first season
Again, it is totally possible Fournette plays beast-like during games, even a string of them, but will he be there in Week 14 healthy and playing? Will he get above his 3.9 yards per carry average? Will he fend off injury over his career when he was labeled chronically injured with the ankle all the way back in college? Time will tell, but the red flags suggest that selling is a smart move in existing leagues (as his value is through the roof)... sell for an equal player that has less risk. That isn't a knee jerk reaction, it's just playing it safe with a lateral move. Folks, if I am wrong, if we are wrong (assuming you end up selling high on him and you also believe this), what's the worst that can happen if he goes nuts? You're selling high, right? His value is through the roof.
I took a lot of heat for years predicting this same thing out of Eddie Lacey, who faced similar size issues heading into the NFL... I'm predicting 'eventual' bust for Leonard Fournette.
I love this kid. Honestly, the more I watch, the more I'm absolutely convinced that this kid will walk into the NFL with more ceiling than any other passer in this 2018 rookie class. And, I think he is a future top 1-4 fantasy football QB in all formats. Now, his landing spot could determine a lot, at least for his first year or two, so it would be foolish to expect the guy to be a top 5 fantasy QB right out of the gate if let's say a bad situation. However, this is the kind of player that can turn a franchise around fast. Plus, if in Cleveland, a situation many would consider bad (like many considered the Rams a year ago), he will have weapons, especially if Saquon Barkley fell to the Brown's other first-round pick. But, regardless of landing spot, I think this is just one of those players where talent will rise, but where he lands could determine how fast that talent rises. Ok, so landing spots aside, this kid has a HUGE arm. I mean huge. He could arguably walk into the NFL and on day one have THE STRONGEST arm in the entire league. Aaron Rodgers might give him a run for his money, but honestly, that's about it. Here is footage of him reportedly tossing 80-yard bombs at his pro day, and here is another clip of him tossing a 77-yard bomb. Arm strength is just one aspect of his elite skill set... he has the tools to excel fast at the next level and he has great ball placement and pocket presence. I know I have a grip of rookies in this year's bold predictions, folks, but that's for good reason... this class is amazing. Last year's rookie class was amazing... college football is sending the NFL more prepared players and they are really taking the NFL by storm in year one vs needing 1-2 years like in the past. I made a statement in Courtland Sutton's Bold Prediction and I will repeat it here. If there were only 3 players you had to call out as most likely to become the elite of the elite in fantasy football, which three players would you name. That answer is easy for me... Saquon Barkley could be the No. 1 overall fantasy rusher by 2019's beginning, Courtland Sutton could be 1-5 at his position in just one year's time, and Josh Allen might look like a top 4 fantasy QB by August of 2019. For more evidence on Josh Allen, watch his game footage below, it will show you a passer that is day-one-ready for the pros. He is truly a gifted passer. Get some!
Watch Video Footage
(4/1/18) - Note so bold now, eh?
Written in 2017 | (11/15/2017) Patrick Mahomes is a player that was on the rise during the off-season, so much so many news wires were calling for a short leash on Alex Smith, who has since played amazing football. Now, there is no QB controversy right now. Unless Smith gets hurt this year, you probably won't hear anyone talk about Mahomes or his future in Kansas City, not this year anyway... Let's me honest, Smith is likely going to finish the year playing at great QB1 level... he's having that kind of year and is on an obvious wave that won't likely let up all season. This could spill into 2018, so that's the dilemma, as it means that Mahomes may not head into 2018 as the starter... but that's ok, I think his talent rises to the top in time. So why am I high on Mahomes at all from a dynasty perspective?
Well, first off, Smith has been in the league for 11 years now, so he's no spring chicken. On top of that, the thing that should be most shocking about that previous statement, Smith has never been amazing (at least anywhere near the level that he has been playing at so far in 2017) and he has had 11 seasons to do it (and hasn't). To me, this suggests that he isn't likely to have a handful more of these kinds of seasons, if even ever again, especially given he will be 34 by the start of next year. Look, Matt Ryan didn't drop amazing QB1 numbers for eight-straight seasons as a pro, then in year nine (last year), he puts up 4,944 passing yards and 38TDs. He was highly-ranked heading into this season (2017) due to that big year, and what does he do? He reverts back to not just mediocre, he's been borderline bad up until the last few weeks, and even then he's merely been solid, not anything close to his 2016 form. The point is, don't count on Smith (who, like Ryan, has never blown up before after almost a decade of play) to be a stud for multiple years in a row.
So again, what do I like about Patrick Mahomes? Everything. He scrambles, he is accurate, he looks down field like a veteran, which is always a good recipe for big fantasy scoring, and the guy makes plays. We may only have preseason games to go off of, sure, I get that players can look great in the preseason and struggle once plugged into real game situations, but when I watch this kid, I see elite skills and decision-making.
Want something bold? If Mahomes was used this year, I think fantasy worlds would be talking about him much like fantasy worlds are talking up both Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz right now.
In the second week of the preseason, Mahomes commanded the QB position well, completed 10-of-14 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns, adding three rushes for 29 yards. He showed accuracy in his debut, too, going 7-of-9 for 49 yards and a touchdown. In Week 4 of the preseason, he really showed his stuff... watch footage here... he scrambles, he shows his cannon of an arm, he throws amazingly-accurate on the run, the dude is legit and it's all in this footage... and right here is the scrambling ability and cannon in action while he's on the run.
Again, I realize these are preseason games, I get that... however, as I always say, you sometimes only need a small sample of work in order to see elite ability in a player, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. This kid has it and I really think he's going to be a star.
Buy-low now in dynasty, folks, while people are assuming his future won't ever get kick-started.
Updated: 1/2018: Sony Michel (Georgia RB) was one of two amazing running backs running for Georgia. It's tough heading into an NFL Draft when you ran behind Nick Chubb, but Michel still figured out how to shine behind Chubb. Not many runners could look as good as Michel does heading into the 2018 NFL Draft given his situation at Georgia. How good did the guy do in his RBBC situation? Try 1,129 rushing yards (8.0) and 17 rushing/receiving TDs on for size. He only had 9 receptions, but he’s had 22 and 26 reception seasons at Georgia during previous seasons, so he can catch the football, he just wasn’t passed to often, and shared those receiving situations.
So, how good can Sony Michel be? Situation is going to be HUGE, because if a team doesn't draft him to start, or he gets drafted into a crowded situation, he will need to let talent eventually win out, which can take longer, but I'd full expect his talent to win out in most any situation. He is that skilled. My prediction is that he has such a great combine/workout, his value explodes and teams want this kid as their starter. So, he seems like a staple in early rookie-only mocks in that 4-7 overall range. That could change, unfortunately. If in the right spot, this would be my second-ranked rookie rusher from this 2018 NFL Rookie Class, only behind Saquon Barkley. Watch this game film below, folks. You will see a LeVeon Bell type rusher with speed that is unmatched. He has quickness and speed that matches anyone currently starting in the NFL... he had four multi-game touchdown games in 2017 (two 2TD games, one 3TD game and one 4TD game). The 4TD effort came in the Rose Bowl, where Michel was named the Rose Bowl’s offensive player of the game after rushing for a career-high 181 yards and three touchdowns (adding the additional fourth TD through the air). Here's that footage, footage that should change your mind if you're unaware or on the fence about his upside:
Updated: 2/2018: For a guy that had only 57 receptions for 966 yards and 4TDs, it's quite amazing that TY Hilton had four 100-yard games with three of those games being for over 150 yards (two of them both in the 170s). This should scream out a couple things to you... 1) The guy is insanley-explosive, similar to how tremendously-capable Antonio Brown; both are in a league of their own when it comes to games that are off-the-charts yardage-wise... 2) You can't have four 100-yard games (three of which were over 150, and two of which were over 170) all while pulling in under 1,000 yards passing (in a full season) unless you are beast-moding it all by yourself... meaning, Hilton was getting very little help from his passing situation, and it means that he was taking the targets that were catchable and making the most of them. How can we confirm this? Yards-per-catch... and, what do you know, he was 4th in the entire league in yards-per-catch (YPC) when looking at receivers that pulled in at least 30 receptions. Folks, this is the bounce-back gem in all drafts in 2018. Redraft, dynasty, keeper, if you want a cheap, yet WR1-talented, fantasy wide receiver that let everyone down to the extreme in 2017, this is your guy! You don't go and drop 966 yards and 57 receptions (on 16 games) and enter that next year overhyped. He will be a bargain in most all formats come August (and now if you do draft early)... and in dynasty/keeper, trade for him now before hype slowly builds around that Colts offense and the progress of Andrew Luck. Now, could Luck fall victim of more setbacks and never return in 2018? Sure, it's possible, and surely that will hold Hilton back from maybe regaining his elite WR1 value. However, no matter how things shake out with Andrew Luck this coming season, Hilton has already fallen into a safe value zone that he can earn his draft/trade value at, so he's already at his floor in terms of fantasy price tag vs. return... This means it's all upside from here on out, so if Luck regains his form and plays in 2018, Hilton could be back to the elite, thus you will have yourself a 80-90 reception receiver that can pull in 1,200-1,300 yards and 7-10TDs (all at the cost of what looks currently to be a receiver you can grab at 38+ overall value). And, by trade (so existing leagues), I venture to say you can get him well outside of top 40 overall value, as often times people panic with players that have fallen flat on their face (in fear that they will never return and that makes the current owner want to get something for him before things turn worse).
2018 TY Hilton Projections: 88 receptions, 1310 receiving yards and 8TDs
Updated: 2/2018: Christian Kirk is blazing fast. He runs a 4.3 forty, according to reports all around, but his quickness and shifty ability cannot be measured, only witnessed. When I watch this kid play, I see a ton of both Antonio Brown and TY Hilton. I think he has Brown-like power and spacial awareness, and he knifes through receiving lanes like Hilton. Calling him a future top 10 fantasy wide receiver, and the clear #2 rookie WR from this 2018 NFL Draft Class won't seem so bold after the combine and workouts. This could be a bummer, but know it now and stock up on your rookie draft picks so that you can control where this kid lands (on your squad!). The guy is 5-11, 200, but again has both size and speed, so I wouldn't conclude he's a smaller receiver (just watch the footage linked below, you won't see a small guy by any means). His college stats may not scream stud (919/10TDs, 928/9TDs and 1009/7TDs), but the talent is there, and he proved it in the Belk Bowl in his final college outing (13 receptions, 189 yards and 3TDs).
, which is shockingly from one single game, and I'm very confident that you will be more than excited to talk about his upside on our forums. This is about where I say, Get some!
(12/13/2017) Kenyan Drake, a rookie in 2016, didn't land in an ideal spot initially. Drafted by the Dolphins, Drake was set to back-up the rising Jay Ajayi. Well, situations change fast in the NFL, and with Ajayi in Philly, Drake has found himself with a shot to start for the Dolphins moving forward. He is far from a lock to continue his strong play (the play he showed here in Weeks 14 and 15), but after two big games for the Dolphins in Weeks 14 (120/1TD and 3/21/0TDs) and Week 15 (114/0TDs and 5/79/0TDs), he's looking like near a sure bet to at least get starter touches for the remainder of the 2017 season. That means the spotlight is clearly on him. Miami has a history of not using the talent that they have at running back, so it's entirely possible they screw this up, but I can't lie... I'm getting that feeling that this kid is going to continue his fine play into 2018. Watch the footage below. Drake isn't just capitalizing on volume, he is a speedy back that knifes through rushing lanes like few veterans already playing in the NFL. He has great hands, and he is extremely tough to tackle. Speed, hands, shifty abilities, I think we have something special here, folks. In dynasty, buy low, but maybe attack him as an additional piece to a trade. Otherwise, red flags go up when you just inquire about one guy that is clearly on the rise. In redraft, expect his value to go up a ton heading into 2018 drafts, but if it's not value in the RB1 range, I think I'm still going to like his draft value even after it increases throughout all of early next off-season. For those still in your 2017 fantasy football playoffs, make sure you run Drake out onto the field in Weeks 15 and 16. Props to Whos_ur_Doggie and a few others here at SleeperU, as many have been big supporters of his for a bit now.