Fantasy owners have a lot on their minds this time of year.
Too many people get enamored with a rookie’s potential. Too many people use a high draft pick or spend a lot of their cap space on a quarterback. Too many people panic and reach on players who are just “another guy” before their average draft position (ADP) because of position scarcity. Too many people write-off aging talent and ignore their history of productivity.
As a tip of the cap to The Monday Morning Quarterback’s Peter King, in no order, here are five things I think I think can help your fantasy team on draft day.
1. The hate has gone too far on Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy.
Seattle’s projected lead back on first and second down and inside the goal line. The doubt is understandable considering the Seattle backfield is crowded with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise and the offensive line is questionable at best. Have faith. Entering his fifth season, Lacy seems to be taking his career more seriously. Following consecutive 1,100-yard seasons in 2013 and 2014 when he averaged 10 touchdowns, his weight ballooned and injuries became the norm as he only played in five games last season, 17 combined for the past two years. Often overlooked, however, is that Lacy averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 71 attempts before last season’s ankle injury, meaning he was productive despite his well-documented girth and love of Chinese food. He hit free agency in the offseason and took a one-year “prove-it” deal in the Pacific Northwest. Part of his contract includes meeting $55,000 weigh-ins. Lacy is succeeding with the goal of being around 245 pounds in September. Seattle coach Pete Carroll wants to be a run-first team with a bruising tailback. Lacy is the man for the job. He’s not Marshawn Lynch in his prime, but the humbled 27-year-old is looking to bounce back in a big way.
Under Carroll, Seattle ranked in the Top-5 rushing since 2012 except for last season and it’s not like those offensive lines were great. Dave Wyman, a nine-year linebacker who retired in 1995, works in the media nowadays. He wrote a recent article for 710 ESPN Seattle’s website about why he believed running back is the team’s most important position in 2017. In part, he said holes were opened last year that the running backs missed.
“Here’s what I can tell you about playing against a team that has a punishing running game: It’s demoralizing,” Wyman said. “It’s one thing when an offense completes long pass plays to move down the field. It’s another when a team runs the ball down your throat. You feel like you’re on the wrong end of a bar brawl. It wears you down physically and psychologically.”
Lacy was pursued so that Seattle can get back to their DNA and win a four-quarter fight in the trenches. Allow him to help you win fantasy games.
Projection: Fantasy Sharks has Lacy 23rd (standard and points per reception leagues) in its running back season projections. Fantasy Football Calculator currently has Lacy going at 6.10 in 10-team leagues. FantasyPros, noting Seattle has the sixth-easiest strength of schedule for running backs, has him at 6.01. Don’t be afraid of his past disappointments. If you go wide receivers early, select Lacy as your RB2 with confidence. Fifteen to 20 carries a game is a reasonable expectation. The best-case scenario is that Lacy’s drafted as an RB3 with RB1 upside.
2. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t get the love he deserves.
He is going to turn 34 years old on Aug. 31, Debbie Downers proclaim. Perhaps Father Time says he shouldn’t be playing this well but he is. Fitzgerald has only missed five regular season games in his 13-year career with Arizona, occurring in 2014 (two) and 2006 (three). Often playing in the slot, he had 1,028 receiving yards on 107 receptions (150 targets, 71.3 catch percentage) and six touchdowns in 2016; and 1,215 receiving yards on 109 receptions (145 targets, 75.2 catch percentage) and nine touchdowns in 2015. Skeptics have a point because his yards per reception dropped to a career-low 9.6 yards in 2016, down from 11.1 yards in 2015. He has also started fast the past two seasons and faded in the second half, such as struggling during Weeks 14-16 of the fantasy playoffs. During that three-game stretch last year he had 14 receptions for 100 yards and zero touchdowns; the year before he caught 12 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.
Fitzgerald will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after he retires, but the 6-foot-3 wideout is still productive. Better suited for points per reception leagues, draft him for his high volume of targets and receptions. Touchdowns can be sporadic, including a 10-game drought last season from Weeks 6-16. Receivers like Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant, New York Giants’ Brandon Marshall, and Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin are going before Fitzgerald on average. While those four players have a higher upside, the tortoise proved long again that slow and steady can win the race.
Projection: Fantasy Sharks has Fitzgerald 42nd (standard) and 19th (points per reception) in its WR season projections. Fantasy Football Calculator currently has Fitzgerald at 6.07 (standard) and 5.06 (points per reception). FantasyPros, noting Arizona has the sixth-easiest strength of schedule for wide receivers, has him at 6.09. I will try to acquire Fitzgerald in every league I am in – more so in full or half-point per reception leagues – and so should you. He’s a great flex option who can post WR1 or WR2 numbers on any given week, but beware of the drop-off based on Arizona’s opponent and time of the year.