When everyone was clamoring and putting Cam Newton in the Hall of Fame after his great 2015 MVP season, I was skeptical. To me (and the numbers back me up), 2015 was more of an anomaly than any sign that Newton was the new face of the league. Aside from a couple outlier seasons, where Carolina went 12-4 and 15-1, Cam is, for the most part, a .500 quarterback.
Now, Cam is without Ted Ginn, Jr., has an overweight Kelvin Benjamin coming off of major knee surgery, and is coming off shoulder surgery himself. While he has some added weapons in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, I’m reluctant to take Cam this season. Maybe he’s a solid QB2 to pop in on bye weeks or stream him in during favorable week matchups.
I know people will disagree with Big Ben being included on this list — heck, I’m not sure I’m totally behind this one. But let’s look — Ben had a down year by all accounts in 2016, he’s 35, he’s a big target who gets hit hard by defenders, and he’s coming off an offseason where he seemed to seriously contemplate retiring.
All his backers will argue (rightfully so) that he’s got protection and weapons around him. But his reaction speed will get slower and he doesn’t have a proven #2 option at WR. If all things work out, Ben will be a good starting QB; but if they get rocky, he’s not a player you’ll want to start automatically, week-to-week.
Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard
There aren’t enough footballs to go around to please all the running backs in Cincinnati. Both Hill and Bernard have warts, themselves. And that’s before adding rookie Joe Mixon to the backfield. Expect Hill and Bernard to get used even less — and unpredictably, which is not what fantasy owners like hearing.
I’ve been big on Coleman in his first two years coming out of Indiana, and I still like him — but you have to watch for a big drop off in 2017 for three reasons:
(1) What he did in 2016 is not sustainable. He scored 11 TDs — one every 14 carries (the NFL average is a touch for every 30-plus carries). In addition, Coleman carried the ball 3 times all season inside the 5 yard line and never was a target in the end zone.
(2) Devonta Freeman is the workhorse back in Atlanta and will continue to get the bulk of the looks and will be the option in the redzone and down on the goal line.
(3) The Falcons ridiculous, record-setting efficient offense will undoubtedly regress in 2017 — meaning drop offs in statistics for guys like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Freeman, and, yes, Coleman.
The “Old Guys” — Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore
Age will catch up to everyone. And these three are no different from anyone else. For AP and Lynch, they’re on new teams, getting comfortable with the schemes and the plays, while at the same time trying to prove they can still tote the rock, productively. Honestly, both would be tremendous value in mid- to late rounds Lynch in 5th and Peterson in 10th), but ADPs suggest both will be gone much sooner than they should be — and that’s just not wise for old RBs with so many question marks surrounding them.
Frank Gore is still with Indy, but he probably would prefer not to be. I expect Marlon Mack to slowly start taking carries away early on, and by November, Mack may be the Colts top running back.
How DeAndre Hopkins’s name keeps getting placed near the top of all these fantasy lists and projections is beyond me. He’s projected as a WR1 with an ADP placing him in the 3rd round. Hopkins’s ADP is really the result of a 10-week stretch in 2015 where he was on pace to becoming the highest-targeted receiver in NFL history. The Texans were not very good, they were slinging the ball down the field, and Hopkins was the major beneficiary. Now, the team in more balanced and Hopkins isn’t putting up numbers that match where fantasy owners draft him.
Since Week 11 of the 2015 season, he’s now had just two top-12, WR1 performances in PPR formats!! Did you hear me??? TWO, 2, dos, 1+1=2!!!! For the ADP, you better be getting more out of your WR1 than just 2 weeks worth of ranking inside the top 12 of WRs. C’mon, Brandon LaFell got in the top-12 three times last year alone.
The Green Bay wideout was undraftable at this time a year ago. Now he’s projected to be a 4th round selection. Make no mistake — his 2016 season was magnificent with 12 touchdowns and 120 targets from Aaron Rodgers. But if you’re going to take this guy in the 4th round after ONE great year, I’d advise against it. Also, factor in (a) head coach Mike McCarthy’s promise to involve Randall Cobb more in the gameplanning after the WR suffered a down year in 2016 and (b) the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett.
The Colts WR had an unreal season in 2016. Moncrief had only 10 red zone targets, yet produced 7 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, no wide receiver since 2009 has managed so many touchdowns with so few looks in the red zone. To be able to put another season up like that in 2017 would be asking a ton.
After back-to-back 800-yard receiving seasons in Philly, Ertz has all the skill in the world to do it for a third straight season. His inclusion in this category is more a statement on the increase in weaponry that now exists for quarterback Carson Wentz — the team added WRs Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. I expect to see a decrease in Ertz’s production, which causes me to proceed with caution and not reach too early on the tight end.
For some of the same reasons why I’m not high on Tevin Coleman, I’m very sketchy about Atlanta’s tight end. The Falcons 2016 offensive efficiency will be difficult (if not impossible) to match this year, and it doesn’t help that Atlanta has struggled for years to properly utilize the tight end position. OC Kyle Shanahan is in SF so that probably doesn’t help Hooper.
The rookie out of Alabama is going off the board as a top-12 tight end in mocks. In NFL history, only 7 tight ends have hit the 50-reception mark as rookies. Even in a down year for the position in 2016, each of the top 15 fantasy tight ends hit the 50-reception mark. In other words, Howard is going to have to have one of the best seasons for any rookie tight end just to crack the top 15 in 2017.
Tampa Bay has too many options for Howard to be a main go-to target for James Winston. Mike Evans is the WR1 and the team also signed DeSean Jackson this past offseason. Tight end Cameron Brate is no slouch either.
Don’t reach for Howard — other (many reliable) options will be there late in your draft.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.