RVA Mag’s own John Reinhold has been a fantasy football master for quite a while now, so this year he’s going to be breaking down exactly what goes into dominating your fantasy league so you can lord it over your cousin at Thanksgiving. This is where it starts.
Yeah, I did it. I infiltrated the RVA Mag site to write an actual fantasy football article. I have been doing this fantasy thing long enough that I figured there might be some people who’d want another fantasy football article — because it’s not like they are everywhere online or anything.
Seriously, what could I possibly add to the abundance of information already out? If nothing else I can at least make fun of it all. My initial thought was to create “The Fantasy Freakout,” a weekly breakdown for fantasy team lineups and rants about it all. This will be my first installment: an introduction and draft preparation guide of sorts. I know for a fact I can at least guide you to places where you can get the best breakdowns, lineups, and ADP (average draft position) values for your draft and fantasy weekly lineups. So for all of you that are interested in this sort of thing: let’s get into it.
We should all know by now that there is no such thing as a sleeper pick. The Internet destroyed the sleeper pick. If you think you’ve got someone that no one knows about, think again, because I can assure you there are exactly one million articles on that guy. Years ago (I’m showing my age here), you could research lineups, targets, and camp information, resulting in those gems. Not anymore.
However, it’s still true for many of us that when draft day comes, we will be in our 12th round of the draft, tired of this whole thing, looking at who’s left and going, “Who are these scrubs anyway?” The right choices in these rounds can make all the difference in the long run. We all have favorite players, ones we think will bust out. Injuries often create opportunity, so we are always looking for depth, just like every team. Information that can help you find what you’re looking for is out there, and I want to start by sharing my absolute favorite places to check daily for that good fantasy football intel. Then we can get into some value spots, and overall what I am feeling this year.
My Favorite Sites:
Fantasy Sharks is definitely one of my favorite all-time sites to visit for weekly lineup information and fantasy tiers. They have projections that are more in-depth than most sites, and they provide it for free. Once we are close to the season, they will give weekly projections with analysis. You can also sign up and base the projections you get on your league’s settings. The site has plenty of content weekly, with various articles from respected industry writers. This is one of my go-to spots.
FF Today has been a standard for many years for me. When I first found them they had such a good system, with tiers, it made my draft preparation so much easier. They also have some great in-depth articles and big boards with outlooks for every player. Between this site and Fantasy Sharks, I feel pretty well covered on a weekly basis.
Fantasy Pros is considered by many to be one of the best in the industry. It collects articles from all over the fantasy spectrum. Fantasy Pros also has some of the best in the business creating content. They rank the experts, so you know where everyone stands on the advice. They have a draft analyzer and cheat sheet creator, both of which are quite useful. This site does charge a fee if you want the top content and analysis, and I personally don’t pay for fantasy website information, so mostly I go here to get some opinion pieces and see statistics. I will warn you, it can be a bit overwhelming with all the information. However, I do highly recommend following their YouTube channel for quality fantasy content and podcasts daily. Also, check out their Strength of Schedule listing for each position.
The Fantasy Footballers. This podcast has won numerous awards, it provides a lot of content, and is humorous and fun. It’s a fantasy podcast by fantasy freaks like me that look at things in different ways, and provide a lot more creative analysis than most you find on social media.
Finally, there’s Youtube.com. Youtube rules everything around me, $dollar$dollar$bills$, for reals. That’s right, you can just type whatever you want to research, and a vast amount of fantasy information comes your way. Its super easy and just takes the time to listen. While its not fast information directly in front of you it does have a ton of analysis. You’ve just got to wade through all the trash. Because after all, it is YouTube.
Other notable sources of info:
Yahoo, NFL.com, and ESPN all have good articles on fantasy football by top-notch writers. They are also often behind paywalls now. I can’t stand a paywall. Matthew Berry has one of my favorite yearly roundups of all time in his Love/Hate series. 15 years going strong with this one. I love how it is deeply personal and often self deprecating (my favorite kind of humor). He admits to bad calls and complete misses. In fantasy, we all have had that happen. We think something’s gonna turn out, and then it ends up a complete wash. Unfortunately this is now behind a paywall [The link I added earlier in the paragraph worked for me without paying; your mileage may vary-ed]. I have considered paying just for this article alone but I still stand strong on my free-fantasy-advice hill.
OK, I hear you: “That’s fine and all, but can we get on to some actual advice?” What, you want advice? Yeah — about that. Predicting anything is impossible. In fantasy football, anything can and will go wrong. So let’s not use the word “advice.” Let’s get used to this word: “value.” Maybe we can offer something of value to you when you’re late in the draft and don’t know which way to go. Most of these are from research or even just what I’m feeling this year. “Have a take and stick to it,” is what I believe Jim Rome says. Well, here’s what I’m feeling for this year in the land of Fantasy Football. This is the big breakdown before we get into the weekly lineups. I assume you know the big stars, so most everything here is to help with late round picks when you’re scrambling to make choices between players.
Fantasy Football Value Picks & “Who I like”
I like to have the option to stream quarterbacks (picking players based on their current week’s matchup) if I don’t land a top-performing quarterback in the draft. Even if I do get a top QB, I like to have a great backup to fill in, like when their team plays the Texans or Lions Defense.
I am a Bears fan, so let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan of Mr Drama… I mean Aaron Rodgers. But I have to mention just how much the former MVP has fallen in ADP (53 or later). If he’s sitting there at round six or after, you might just have to take a look. He’s going to have some 3-TD games with his star receiver, Davante Adams, helping make that happen. His floor is very safe, but he will most likely regress from last year’s stat line. If he was your QB 2m for example you would have tremendous streaming potential and great trade value through the year. I also feel like he might have that usual chip on his shoulder pushing him. Could another MVP year be possible? (God, I hope not.)
Not a flashy pick at all, but certainly a consistent QB in a good offense that has added weapons. The offensive line is one of the best, and the defense allowed the four most points to other teams last season. This all sets Tannehill up to at least repeat last year’s numbers, if not improve. He is also available at current ADP of 99. At that point in the draft he could be a great QB for your team while you capitalize on other positions and value picks in earlier rounds.
The 9th QB off the board, with an ADP of 125. He has everyone returning healthy, and with more time to get in sync. The ageless wonder has a great chance to outperform that draft position. It might not be top scoring weeks every game, as their defense can win games. But as a late rounder with great streaming value, Brady has a ton to offer.
This recommendation is only for streaming now, with possible upside in dynasty leagues with a “wait and see” approach. His ADP is 159 or so, making him a cheap cost for your team. Miami added new offensive coordinators to co-manage the plan this year, and I don’t really know if that’s a good thing, but they are looking to throw the ball more downfield. They added some great speedy weapons in Will Fuller and top draft pick Jaylen Waddle. They return their big tight end target, Mike Gesicki, who had a great year last year and looks to be better this year, along with DeVante Parker, who is now healthy and ready to go. All in all, things seem lined up for him to excel. He just has to put it together.
You didn’t think this Bears fan wouldn’t mention the second coming, did you? Fields brings hope for us all in Da Bears Land. Through years of subpar QB play, years of shrugs from smokin’ Jay Cutler, years of sexy Rexy, years of wondering if anyone actually cared, we finally got someone who at least acts like he wants it. So for fantasy purposes, this is another “wait and see” type of later-round pick. There is, however, much to like once it finally happens. The rushing points alone make a Fields pick a good value. Is this a possible Russell Wilson-type player? If so, lots of fantasy owners will be happy. The city of Chicago will have the first sports athlete since Jordan to have the true keys to the city. I really like what I’m seeing so far, but it’s still all up in the air. At an ADP of 127 (10-11th round), he’s worth a fantasy stash on the bench, at least.
This is for the Washington Team fans out here. I gotta give the bearded one some love. He did win a few weeks for me last year in my lineup. However, when deploying the Fitz Magic, remember that it’s quite streaky. I do suspect this team’s offense to be much better than last year, however, which should provide some solid outings. Fitz’s ADP is around 190, so this is a late-round backup or fill-in pick for some weeks. Nonetheless, you do always like having Fitz on your team. If you need a fill-in, depending on the team he’s playing that week, he can do decent, if not have a big game. The receiving crew on Washington’s team is so much better than Miami last year, so we have that to look forward to. Look, I’m pulling for Fitz and the Washington Team as a fan of the sport. Just temper your expectations, and know that the Washington Defense should be holding teams down.
Other QBs worth a look: Kirk Cousins, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Trey Lance (who similar to Fields), Zack Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts. Mostly, young QBs with growth potential.
Running backs are the key to having a stable team. The value of a running back is also highly subjective. Personally, I would not want to pick first and have to take Christian McCaffrey. The injury makes me question his value. I would try and trade down a few spots, so the snake comes back sooner for another top pick. I generally pick RBs in rounds 1 and 2, depending on who drops. However If you could get Travis Kelce in second, or one of the top three WRs, I might change my mind. I love running backs; they’re the workhorses of your team, and have won me championships in the past. They go fast, so get them while you can.
I know this is not a true “sleeper” pick, but he sure is falling into the late second round in most drafts, and that presents a ton of upside. We know that the Cowboys will want to feed him. Hopefully with Dak back, it makes it all click. Last year before Dak was hurt, Elliott was Rb #3. I am also big on Dak this year, as he was headed to having a huge year before the injury. Reports have been coming in from training camp that Elliott is looking quicker and slimmer. Even at floor level, you get a lot with him in the second round. This feels like a rebound year, so it was worth a mention here, in case he falls in your league.
Opportunity is here for Carter to lead the charge on this new-look Jets team. It’s going to be a split backfield to start the season. Carter’s explosiveness should get him even more chances to get the lead back spot locked down. With an ADP of 90, he could end up the steal of the draft. Just temper your expectations at the beginning of the season. Carter is actually a great trade target after a hard matchup; an owner might get restless and give up on him.
Update – released and replaced with Wayne Gallman. But hey he still has a cool name, right? Seems like a running back’s name. He is the backup to Mike Davis, who I also like as a pick later in the draft. At a large size of 232 lbs, goal-line hunting is probably going to happen. If Mike is slow or gets hurt, Ollison could be a big addition to your team. This is a very late pick here, and really a name to pull if you’re searching for someone or want a Davis backup. ADP of 180 makes this a late-round addition. I think Gallman can take this place on Falcons roster and is worth a stash on the bench.
Patriot running back alert! Who knows with that team, week to week. He’s another big fella at 230 and has good hands. Belichick loves these kinds of running backs, so there’s a good chance of TDs going his way. Just… you know, be careful with those Patriot RBs, because anything could happen. One good sign was Sony’s trade to the Rams — it opens things up a bit for Stevenson now. Damien Harris is also there as a good pick, and could get most of the work. The ADP is 255 here, so just don’t jump too soon.
Well, as is usually the case in preseason, we have a big injury that changes the landscape of the running back position. With JK Dobbins down with a major injury, Gus Edwards gets his spot on a Ravens team that runs more than any team in the league. We don’t know for sure if the Ravens will bring in someone, or even how the backfield will be split. The Gus bus was already a popular value pick, with him getting around 10 carries a game. His stats indicate that in a lot of situations, he is a more dynamic power runner. Gus will see his ADP rise as a result of the Dobbins injury, but to what extent is it worth its value? His ADP was around 93, and JK was around 25. I would expect Gus to bump up into the 6-8 round, depending on teams’ needs at RB. I would probably take a leap around 7 or 8 if I was on a swing position in the draft. I do think there is some real value having Gus on your team. We need to monitor the situation and see what Baltimore’s plans could be. They do run a lot.
Other RBs worth a look: Mike Davis, Sony Michel, Trey Sermon, Latavius Murray, Giovani Bernard. Deep Sleepers include Jaret Patterson & Larry Rountree III.
I think the wideout position has the deepest draft possible, with the most late-round picks to help your team.
There is a lot I like here for Gage. 72 rec / 786 yards / 4 TDs in 2020. Julio is gone, and Ridley will be possibly covered a lot. We have Matt Ryan throwing a ton, and most games the Falcons are down in the score. I don’t see that changing. Their running game is suspect at best. TE Kyle Pitts could be a new possible star, but is still an unknown factor as far as how defenses will react to him. But let’s say they are worried and cover that big TE — who do you think benefits? For the low ADP alone it’s worth a flyer; we’re talking WR 4 or 5 with ADP of 160 here, after all.
AMON-RA ST. BROWN
His name alone is worth the pick. Who else is gonna catch the ball on the Lions? Someone has to be on this team. In a dynasty league, this is a no-brainer. In a regular league it is worth the stash. The Lions are going to be throwing the ball a lot. ADP plus 200, but with upside, I think.
I believe there is a good floor here for Shepard. 90 rec / 656 / 3 TDs. With his ADP value of 180 or so, it’s hard to find someone with his stat line, and a possible 190+ points. You’re really looking at a top 100 pick value possible. Could Jones make the steps to get him even better? That is the question we are all looking to see. But even at the current ADP with no real boost, it’s worth a late 180+ pickup.
Another opportunity based on a team that will be throwing a lot to try and stay in games. Last year’s stats – 81 rec / 1,150 / 6 TDs. His ADP sits around the 9th round, but he has slipped a few times into the 10th. He is a great value at that point. I’m wishing I would have got him at this point, because I see some possible big games happening.
The opportunity is there in Miami if he can stay healthy. Tua has everything that is needed to progress. So despite the possible health issues, the floor is good, the later-round pick could go top 15 if things turn out well.
Other WRs worth a look: Most rookies are worth a late flyer. John Brown, Mecole Hardman, Corey Davis, Nelson Agholor, Antonio Callaway, Marquise Brown, Gabriel Davis, Tyrell Williams, Tre’quan Smith, Denzel Mims, Darius Slayton.
If you can get Kelce or Waller in the second round, do it. Kelce is probably the safest pick in the draft. I believe he has the most possibilities to hold onto TE 1. Other than that, wait until later and take two guys to stream.
Can this be the year he excels? Things are lined up for it. Everett is shipped off to Seattle, and a new QB is in town. Stafford likes to throw to the TE; that’s rather proven over the years. But there are a lot of better targets for Stafford now to choose from. Higbee’s current ADP is around 107, which feels about right. If you miss out on a top prospect, you can feel good about getting Higbee later. Just know it’s going to be a slight improvement from last year.
I am high on Gronk this year with Brady. We saw in the playoffs just how much Tom trusts his guy. Now with a full off season and practices, they should be even more comfortable in the offense. Still, there are a lot of mouths to feed, including multiple TEs. Gronk’s ADP sits at 110 on Sleeper and much higher on others, at 160+. I think at that point he is a solid pick with upside. There will be a few big weeks and then a few duds, so pick your spots.
We have to mention the rookie. He is supposedly the best prospect in years at the position. It’s quite possible he could lead the league; also possible he has to adjust to the offense and work with Matt on timing. His ADP is rather high, around 48+. In a dynasty league, I am all in on drafting him. In a yearly league, I would be interested but cautious. Now after saying all this, he will probably go off and dominate. It’s all about whether you’re willing to take the chance.
Later-round tight end fodder here, at ADP of some 248. There is breakout potential for Jarwin with Dak back in full health and Schultz backing him up. Grab a dart and throw it at the board later on, and maybe we will get lucky.
Other TEs worth a look: Adam Trautman, Cole Kmet, Anthony Firkser, Irv Smith (Injured now), Jared Cook, Herndon is worth a look and as a deep pick: Donald Parham Jr.
I tend to stream defenses and watch strength of schedule (see Fantasy Pros link above). The turnover year to year makes it hard to know where exactly to go each year. Baltimore, Tampa Bay, the Rams, and the Patriots are best to look at first overall.
Streaming Options for early-season Defenses:
PATRIOTS (MIA, NYJ, NO)
I will take Bill against those three opening opponents easily. Him against young QBs and Jameis Winston? Get out of here, man.
GREEN BAY (Saints, Lions)
They get the Lions week two. That pretty much sums it up. Winston is week one and is prone to mistakes. Kamara could still have a big day, so its a hard call. The rest of the season is tougher. They do get the Lions again at the end, so it’s possibly worth stashing them aside.
BUFFALO BILLS (PIT, MIA, WSH, HOU)
The ninth-rated defense last year had a good opening stretch and is worth a late-round look as a dependable defense.
DENVER (NYG, JAX, NYJ)
The first three teams they play against are a dream opening. I also think they improve as a team overall. However there are some hard matchups later in season, so be sure to have other options.
Yeah, right. Pick one and make sure he actually is on a team and starting. If you want to be safe, try and get high-scoring teams’ kickers.
Fine, here are a few ideas: Harrison Butker (KC), Justin Tucker (Bal), Younghoe Koo (Atl), Matt Prater (Cards).
Well, that’s a start for you, anyway. There’s a lot of information out there to help you in your draft. Also, I am telling you: doing mock drafts can help a lot. This will get you comfortable with the names, see runs, and learn where people fall. Pick your favorite players to target, and go with your gut. I also highly recommend the Sleeper App for your fantasy league and mock drafting. I have been highly impressed with the way it’s built and how it functions.
I will be back with “The Fantasy Freakout” every week this season for lineup recommendations and general fantasy football rants. Hit me up at email@example.com to chat football or talk smack. Thanks for reading, and good luck!