Monday, August 24, 2015

Fantasy Football Fallers and Risers: QBs and RBs

Up Down Up Down B A Start
Because, well, there are no sleepers any more, really. There are just guys that you will over-reach on in terms of Average Draft Position, because there are too many analysts digging into too many of the same sources to create true sleepers. Besides, this isn't baseball, where a fifth starter or back-up catcher can sneak in some chances and work his way up to prominence. There are only so many carries to go around to come out of nowhere as an RB, only so many chances to take snaps at QB, and so on.

Instead, what you have in fantasy football is top guys who will under-perform, and lower-ranked guys who will rise. Here's who I think will generate that kind of action.

Falling QBs

Drew Brees. Third ranked in Yahoo, but with turnover at wideout, and might be getting to that magical mid-30s reign where the INTs start to creep up from arm strength that isn't quite what it used to be. He's still a QB1, especially at home in a relatively easy division, but he's not an every-week starter anymore, which is what #3 QB should be.

Peyton Manning. At #5, he's not through the floorboards low, but Denver's going to get run-happy this year, and going from Julius Thomas to Owen Daniels at TE is not going to do him any favors in the red zone. He's also a million years old, and it has to end sometime.

Cam Newton. Moving him down with the injury to Kelvin Benjamin is the easy moment, but the bigger point was that he got more than a beat up last year, and the running that has made him special has to end sometime.

Rising QBs

Ben Roethlisberger. Am I missing something here? How is the guy who is under center for one of the most explosive offenses in the league in 2014 going 10th off the board? I get that historically, he's been hamstrung by some conservative play-calling, and RB LeVeon Bell will be fed, but this is a 3-WR circus with quality everywhere, and the loss of C Maurice Pouncey means they won't be so good at running the ball that he won't get 40 throws a game. I could easily see him leading the league in passing TDs this year.

Eli Manning. The defense stinks, he's in Year Two under offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo, and he's got a full year of Odell Beckham Jr., not to mention Shane Vereen. He's also in a pretty easy division for defense. It's not as if he turned into a consistent player, or will avoid a festival of INTs from time to time, but at the end of the day, he's going to be top 6. Just be sure to pick and choose the right weeks.

Matthew Stafford. Ready for the last great year of Calvin Johnson's career? Stafford certainly is, and he's also got emerging threats at TE and RB, and quality WR2 in Golden Tate. You still get a home dome to take some of the elements out of the mix, and they've never been so good at running the ball as to seriously hurt his numbers. It's time for the bounceback.

Falling RBs

Adrian Peterson. Set up as RB1 off the board, I'm just not feeling it. Rust will play a factor, as well as quality young'un Jerrick McKinnon, and a Vikings team that now answers to QB Teddy Bridgewater first. If he's your RB1, you are fine, but I'm not sure I'm thrilled about taking him where you'll need to go.

Joseph Randle. By the eye test, he's a *lot* better than committee-mate Darren McFadden, but unlike McFadden, he (a) doesn't come from Arkansas, (b) isn't tied to Jerry Jones' ego, and (c) might not be smart or stable enough to keep the gig, what with the petty larceny and idiot comments. Let someone else pay the premium; there are a lot better bets out there.

Andre Ellington. Yes, the NFC West isn't as terrifying as it used to be, and yeah, Chris Johnson is a pile of sad laundry. But the club just seems to constantly be on the make for new legs (rookie David Johnson?), and he just doesn't have the heft or the ability to shy away from contact. I don't think you'll be happy with him by the end of the year.

Rising RBs

Justin Forsett. I get why some folks are not in love with him; he's small and older. But in terms of career carries, he's a young'un, the Baltimore back-ups aren't near his level, and he just does everything well. I think he stays healthy and does what he did last year, which means that when it's all said and done, he's a sneaky-good RB1.

Frank Gore. Yes, he's a thousand years old, and yes, the Colts don't run block very well. But he'll stay on the field because he's a great pass blocker, will get it in from in close, and will play a lot of snaps for an offense that's going to be pinball-riffic this year. The only thing I don't like about him is that the Colts are going to win this division by too much, meaning they'll rest him down the stretch.

Jonathan Stewart. Saw what I said about how Newton won't be the running machine he used to be? Stewart benefits the most from that, and while I don't love the prospects of the Panther offense this year, there will be enough to keep Stewart fed. As for the injury concerns, it's the NFL. Everyone gets hurt, and I think Stew might luck out this year.

Tomorrow: WRs and TEs. (You don't really care about kickers and defenses, do you? Good.)

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