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The Fire Sale – Week 17

The fantasy season has come to an end and it’s time to own up. When I first started writing The Fire Sale, it always bothered me that people made predictions and then never revisited what they said after the season. For years, I’ve done a look back at my summer predictions in my final column.

This summer I did a “Studs,” “Sleepers” and “Busts” column for each position. I went back through and picked my five favorite hits and five worst misses from those columns.

I hope you all enjoyed the season. I’m not sure if I’ll be back in 2016. I do appreciate all the support, especially on Twitter. One follower wrote thanking me for helping him win his league this year. He called me the Brett Favre of fantasy football. I’ve always considered Favre an overrated choker. I have to say that’s a perfect analogy. It’s been a great run.

Now on with The Fire Sale

Hits

Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville – This is what I said about Hurns this summer:

Last summer I gave out Hurns as a sleeper. I compared Hurns’ style of play to Antonio Brown. Hurns is a little bigger but they’re both strong for their size in the open field. Remember, Brown was a sixth-round draft pick. He surprised a lot of people too.

All I know is Hurns can ball. The kid caught 51 passes for 677 yards and six scores last year with a rookie quarterback running for his life. Yes, I know four of Hurns’ touchdowns came in two games. I get it. I also know he was a rookie receiver playing with a rookie quarterback on a terrible team. I took for talent and Hurns has it. He has a lot of it.

I have Hurns ranked as a Top 50 receiver this year ahead of guys like Breshad Perriman, Percy Harvin, Terrance Williams and Pierre Garcon. I own Hurns in all of my leagues and if Blake Bortles improves, I believe he’ll be one of the big steals of the 2015 fantasy season.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do; I’m going to put my money where my mouth is with Hurns.

Last week I announced I’m going to give away $200 to the person who ranks as my most engaged Twitter follower at the end of the season. If Hurns is a Top 50 receiver in points per reception formats this year, I’ll double it. My most engaged Twitter follower wins $400 instead of $200.

So follow me on Twitter, engage with me and root for Allen Hurns. Seems like an easy way to grab $200, and possible $400. Hey, if this is the final year of “The Fire Sale,” let’s go out with a bang.

WR_Allen_Hurns_JAC_1
Jacksonville WR Allen Hurns.

Analysis: Hurns was my top player this summer and he ended up being arguably my best call ever. Hurns wasn’t even being drafted in most leagues. When the season started he was only owned in roughly 5 percent of fantasy leagues. He ended up scoring a touchdown in seven straight games, recorded 100-plus yards receiving five times, and finished as a Top 20 fantasy receiver in most scoring systems.

I’ve received plenty of tweets and private messages from owners thanking me for helping them win their fantasy titles because they drafted Hurns. That’s why I started this column back in 1999. I know everyone around here wants to take credit for Hurns now. The people know the truth. That’s all that matters.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona – This is what I said about Palmer this summer:

In his last 22 games, Palmer has thrown for 240-plus yards 15 times and recorded 13 multiple touchdown games. If you just go back to the six games Palmer played in 2014, he averaged 271 yards and just fewer than two touchdowns. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a quarterback going late in Round 11.

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of weapons. Larry Fitzgerald can still play with a real quarterback and John Brown is about to explode on defenses. Michael Floyd suffered what sounds like just an awful hand injury but he won’t miss too much time. Throw in Andre Ellington and you have a deadly group of pass catchers in Arizona.

The Cardinals aren’t going to dominate teams on the ground. It’s just not going to happen. Arizona might improve as a running team but the Cardinals are going to throw it a majority of the time as long as Palmer is healthy.

That means a lot of games of 250-plus passing yards and a couple of scores for your QB2. That’s not a bad deal.

Analysis: Palmer ended up being one of the steals of the 2015 draft. He put up more than 20 fantasy points almost every week. Palmer is yet another example of why you don’t reach for a quarterback in Round 1. Of course, I didn’t get him in any of my leagues.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta – This is what I said about Ryan this summer:

When you look at all the quarterbacks who are being drafted in the seventh-round area, Ryan is the most overrated in terms of fantasy football.

Over the last two years, Ryan has thrown 54 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He’s only thrown 30-plus touchdowns once in his career and has tossed at least 14 interceptions in each of the last three seasons. Ryan has also fumbled 10 times over that span.

Julio Jones is a stud but Roddy White is starting to slow down and I’m not buying into the Leonard Hankerson hype just yet. The Atlanta Falcons haven’t had a tight end since Tony Gonzalez retired. For my money, Ryan is overvalued every year.

If Ryan was getting drafted a little later I would say go for it but when you look at his average draft position I can’t buy into him. I would rather go Tony Romo or Tom Brady and then grab a Sa, Bradford (If I took Brady) or Bridgewater as my QB2.

Analysis: Ryan was my top quarterback bust this year. I didn’t have him ranked in my Top 10. It turns out that by mid-season Ryan had fallen off the fantasy map. Guys like Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick had replaced Ryan as starting fantasy options. The Falcons need to surround Ryan with more weapons but he needs to take some of the blame, too.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta – This is what I said about Freeman this summer:

The Casale Gut Metric loves this guy. That buffoon coach Mike Smith and the ridiculous sandals he wore on Hard Knocks really screwed Freeman last year.

I know Tevin Coleman is going to get his touches too but the Casale Gut Metric is really high on Freeman for 2015. I love his running style in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme and his receiving skills are going to be huge in points per reception formats.

I would also recommend Freeman early in DraftKings and other daily leagues. He’s undervalued heading into the season but the Casale Gut Metric says he’s the Falcons’ running back to own by a wide margin.

Analysis: At the time I wrote this both Freeman and Coleman were injured. On Twitter I was promoting Freeman as the guy to draft over Coleman all summer though. I just felt his style was perfect for Shanahan’s system based on what I saw from Freeman at Florida State. Freeman emerged as one of the top scoring fantasy backs once he took over as the Falcons’ starter.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami – This is what I said about Landry this summer:

Landry is one of the players I’ve been high on since I began writing my 2015 fantasy articles.

In today’s NFL, a receiver like Landry is gold. I hear all the criticisms of him but he’ll eat up defenses across the middle all day long.

Landry finished his rookie year with 84 receptions, 758 yards and five touchdowns. Miami did trade for wide receiver Kenny Stills, signed tight end Jordan Cameron and drafted wide receiver DeVante Parker, so Ryan Tannehill now has more weapons at his disposal. Landry is still a flat-out stud. That hasn’t changed.

One thing that hurts fantasy owners is when they get scared off a stud because of other players around him. Landry is going to catch a ton of balls, regardless of who else is on the field. He’s a great route-runner and Tannehill now has a comfort level throwing to Landry on underneath routes.

People can run all the numbers they want and look into analytics but there’s a reason why certain receivers who play with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning catch a ton of passes. It’s because those quarterbacks trust particular receivers to always be in the right spot and are constantly looking their way. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula to uncover. It’s basic football.

Landry will be that kind of dependable receiver for Tannehill. You’ll hear a lot of talk about Landry’s numbers going down this year because of the other weapons Miami brought in. You’ll hear all the hype surrounding Parker in training camp driving up his average draft position.

Don’t buy it. Landry will catch 90 balls for fun and improve his numbers across the board in 2015. He’s highway robbery in the fifth round.

Parker has obviously been hurt but Landry’s average draft position has held pretty steady, moving up to mid-Round 4. That’s still a steal. I won’t be surprised if Landry catches 100 balls this year. He’s that good.

Analysis: I never wavered on Landry. I loved him last year and I loved him this season. Landry responded by catching more than 100 balls on a miserable football team with a blockhead quarterback. Landry is an absolute stud. If Miami ever gets a real coach and quarterback, he’ll be even better.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.