This week, we'll begin our panel discussion focused on a pair of teams about to face each other this weekend. Next, we'll examine a variety of players who could be worth monitoring next month. And to end our roundtable, we'll share which fantasy developments shocked us during this opening month.
Potential Fantasy party crashers
- LIst one player at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end that you're buying and selling.
- Name a player at any of the positions above that dynasty players should exercise at least 1-2 years of patience because the dividends will be worth it.
Wood: Chad Kelly (Buying) and Deshaun Watson (Selling). It's hard to talk about quarterbacks in dynasty because the position is at an all-time low given the prodigious output thus far. I'm buying Kelly because Case Keenum is turning back into a pumpkin and the Broncos offense can be high-octane with the right quarterback under center. I'm selling Watson because he's strung together a few good games statistically but the film hasn't been as impressive. I'd rather part ways with him now before he gets hurt again; which I think will happen given his style and the Texans offensive line.
Quite frankly, I’d be entertaining offers for Deshaun Watson – not with an eye to give him away, but to gauge league-wide interest and look for a steal. Watson has been spectacular thus far, but a lot of it has been stat-stuffing production late in games. I didn’t love his profile coming out of Clemson, with ho-hum athleticism and one of the worst-measured arms in combine history. Watson’s ball isn’t particularly sharp or accurate, and he relies a lot on his fantastic wideouts to make plays. Should DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller V fade from the picture, Watson’s outlook will sag markedly. So, if I can swap him for a Ronald Jones type right now, I’m thinking about it.
Daniel is spot-on in that Hines is a sell right now. This PPR production is nice, but Hines is a diminutive fumbler with no real experience as a lead back. Your fellow fantasy players likely have his value a bit inflated right now as he’s putting up unexpected numbers, but it’s hard to like his long-term prognosis as an RB2. There are not many paths to a reliable, long-term role, and I wouldn’t pass up on offers so I can cling to the hopes he becomes Darren Sproles.
Without question, I wouldn’t merely sell my Robby Anderson shares – I’d burn them to save space in my garage. Anderson is a one-trick guy who’s yet to draw much attention from Sam Darnold. The rookie signal-caller is mired in a sanitized, low-to-no-impact zone that won’t be looking downfield much at all this season. By the time 2019 rolls around, this receiving corps should be retooled to fit Darnold’s skill set, and Anderson will likely be just another guy there.
It took an injury to get Mike Gesicki beyond A.J. Derby as the team’s pass-catching tight end, and in his debut, he drew just two targets. Of course, it’s early to sell a rookie, but I hated Gesicki’s high profile as a prospect – his measurements were great, but he moved so slowly in and out of breaks at Penn State that I likened him far more to Jesse James than Travis Kelce. The only way I’d have held any interest was if he burst out of the gates as one of Ryan Tannehill’s guys, but he clearly hasn’t.
"I Wish" (Fantasy Drafts in Hindsight)
I didn’t see a thing wrong with targeting Jamison Crowder in Round 7 or 8 of PPR drafts. With Alex Smith in town, it was easy to project the sanitized, small-ball offense we’re seeing in Washington. I’d just assumed slot machine Crowder would be leading the charge. Crowder is small and somewhat limited, but he plays big and is underrated in traffic. Instead, though, Smith has locked onto his backs and tight ends, a trend I should’ve seen carrying over from his time in Kansas City. Jordan Reed is no Travis Kelce, but he’s a great security blanket with open-field ability, and Chris Thompson has been the team’s most explosive weapon thus far. I feel like I got lost trying to balance narratives with Crowder and missed out on guys like Corey Davis in the process.
If I could turn back time...I would have never drafted Demaryius Thomas in the early fourth round. His stats aren't as disappointing as his play, but they are still rather depressing. This is especially true when you watch the Broncos play and see Emannuel Sanders popping off the screen every time he touches the ball, instead of Thomas looking like he's playing in three inches of mud when he is running. This is mostly a case of draft capital, as Thomas hasn't torpedoed my teams (yet), but looking back, there were plenty of options at wide receiver that could have made a big difference on my team, but instead, I am stuck with the mediocrity that Thomas has become.
Patrick Mahomes II and Kareem Hunt put the Chiefs offense on their backs and pulled off a come from behind victory against a tough Broncos defense in Denver (A quick side note: In five starts, Mahomes has more wins against Denver than legendary Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson.).
Jacksonville controlled the New York Jets with a mix of its ground game and a steady dose of crossing routes to Dede Westbrook. Two weeks ago, it bombed the Patriots with Keelan Cole.
Answer the following questions about this exciting game:
- How do you think this game will play out for each offense and defense? Predict a score.
- Which players will have the best fantasy production for each side?
- Which players will struggle the most for each side?
Let the breakdowns commence.
VanderWoude: This is the perfect game for Patrick Mahomes II to show off his versatility and rack up rushing yards when the Jaguars get too aggressive with blitzing. Mahomes will have a big game, and so will Kelce, although I see it more as a high volume of catches than yards.
On the Jaguars side of the ball, I see Dede Westbrook having a big game, as his speed will give the Chiefs secondary fits. With Blake Bortles, it all comes down to how aggressive the Jaguars are at the beginning of the game. If he comes out throwing, I see him having a big game (300+ passing yards, multiple touchdowns), however, if the Jaguars open up with a conservative attack, and Bortles doesn't start throwing until they are down two touchdowns, I think the Chiefs will bait him into several big mistakes. Bortles can be really good when the threat of play-action is there, but if you take that away, he becomes overly aggressive and is prone to mistakes.
I think this is the first real chance we've seen this season of an elite offense having its way with an elite defense. As good as the Jaguars are on defense, I don't see how many they can match up with the Chiefs speed on the outside, Kelce in the middle of the field, and Hunt breaking off big plays when the Jaguars focus too much attention in the secondary.
I have the Chiefs winning 28-20.
Hindery: On a short week after a physical rivalry game in Denver, this is a tough spot for Kansas City. The Chiefs are very tough to beat at home and are three-point favorites but I see Jacksonville pulling the upset 24-20. Denver gave up 187 total yards and 3 touchdowns to Denver's backs and T.J. Yeldon should have a big game for the Jaguars in relief of Leonard Fournette. Jacksonville has the athletes to match up in coverage against both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Howe: When it comes to top producers in this game, honestly, pick a Jaguar. This Kansas City defense is atrocious across the board, particularly against the run, where running backs are averaging a silly 6.46 yards per rush in the matchup. But with Leonard Fournette out, I’m most interested in the Jaguars wideouts, who are diverse in skill and looking at favorable matchups. The Chiefs; shaky-at-best cover men are routinely worked over on the outside, and the Eric Berry-less safeties don’t provide much help in the deep zones.
Thus far, they’ve allowed long receptions to the likes of Mike Williams, Jesse James, George Kittle, Kendrick Bourne, and Courtland Sutton. The lesson is that oversized, physical receivers with ball skills have a nice route to success, especially against left cornerback Steven Nelson. That’s especially good news for 6’2” and 220-pound Donte Moncrief, who broke out last week with 109 yards and an impressive deep-ball touchdown.
The Jacksonville secondary remains packed to the gills with talent, but it’s mostly the scheme that squashes so many opponents’ deep balls. As a result, it’s hard to project much success for Tyreek Hill. The deep threat faces a truly imposing task, and he’ll spend the day trying to escape Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye down the field. Dating back to last season, no NFL team has allowed fewer completions of 20 yards or more, even though they face some of the league’s premier deep threats in the AFC South.
It’s early in the week, but I’m comfortable anticipating a 27-19 Jacksonville win. This Jaguars defense isn’t merely talented or hard-nosed; it’s dominant. Patrick Mahomes II did a fantastic job last Monday night of navigating the Broncos’ pass rush, but this is a different animal.
Calais Campbell leads an attack that’s both athletic and powerful, and the Jaguars are adept at closing a quarterback’s movement lanes and turning step-ups into sacks. With a shortened week to prepare for the league’s best defense, Mahomes may be behind the game here. I love his and his receivers’ abilities to create splash plays, but the Jaguars generally don’t stand for that foolishness. This week, the Chiefs’ big plays should be scaled down to a handful of toughly contested 11-yard gains that ultimately don’t produce many touchdowns.
Grant: From Kansas City, the ‘usual suspects’ are the guys to have. Patrick Mahomes II II and Travis Kelce should both have decent games. Kareem Hunt should also see a ton of action as they try to control the clock and keep Jacksonville off the field. I mentioned Blake Bortles as a nice sleeper this week in DFS facing a Kansas City team that’s giving up over 325 yards a game through the air. That should also bode well for Keelan Cole and DeDe Westbrook. With Fournette on the bench again due to injury. T.J. Yeldon should also have some decent stats.
A high volume may be on Kareem Hunt’s side, but Jacksonville is giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground and has only allowed 1 rushing touchdown. If you have him, you have to start him – but I wouldn’t expect him to post the same numbers as he did against Denver.
Donte Moncrief had a nice game last week, but the three weeks before that he was a fantasy non-factor. Everyone can’t do well on Jacksonville this week and if I have to pick a guy who will be ‘odd man out’ – I would put my money on Moncrief returning to the non-factor.
Kansas City has got to be tired. They’ve played three road games in four weeks and finished with a tough Monday night game in Denver. The trip home is certainly welcome, but they get Jacksonville as their present. I think they have a decent chance to come out flat this week. Jacksonville unloaded on a Jets team that has been struggling all season, but the week before they lost a baseball game to the Titans 9-6. I do think their offensive hot-streak continues against the weak Chiefs and this game has the potential to be a shoot-out. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Jacksonville pulls off the upset 27 – 24.
Simpkins: The Chiefs offense will face what is probably its biggest test to date. As the Titans proved, the Jacksonville defense is mortal, but they probably will limit Mahomes quite a bit. Potentially not having Sammy Watkins after a hamstring injury also handicaps what the Chiefs can do to stretch this defense.
The Jaguars offense should have its way with this defensive unit that struggled to tackle on Monday night. Even missing Fournette, T.J. Yeldon is more than capable of gashing this defense both on the ground and in the passing game. Cole and Westbrook should also have pretty good days for fantasy purposes.
I predict we’ll see Mahomes throw his first interception of the year. My final score prediction for this game is 23-17 in favor of the Jaguars.
Waldman: I agree Mahomes will throw his first interception this week — I'll even say two (one that will bounce off a receiver's mitts in the middle of the field). Mahomes has bit slightly behind receivers in the middle of the field, and Telvin Smith Sr and Myles Jack are excellent coverage linebackers with the hands to capitalize in even the smallest deviation from pinpoint accuracy that the Jaguars' disruptive front can generate.
Still, I like Tyreek Hill this week because he's more than a deep threat and I expect to see Mahomes finding Hill on crossing routes slants and corner routes where timing and touch can beat the Jaguars' linebackers and safeties. I see this has a high-volume reception week for Hill slightly lower potential for field-flipping plays. Receivers that are skilled after the catch do well against Jacksonville, including Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. and Quincy Enunwa. Hill fits here.
These linebackers make tight end production practically non-existent. Jacob Hollister's 3-35-0 performance in Week 2 was nearly double the yardage production of the seven tight ends who've seen targets against this defense. I love Travis Kelce but I respect Smith and Jack.
Kareem Hunt will have at least a respectable fantasy output thanks to his use in the receiving game and the likelihood that the Chiefs will throw more screen passes to him, Hunt, and Sammy Watkins to slow the Jaguars pass rush. It's a creative screen game so as long as Watkins is healthy enough to play, he'll earn some of that "space running back" output he had against the Steelers and 49ers. I would not bench Mahomes unless you have a hot quarterback like Jared Goff.
The Chiefs struggle against slot receivers and that's the strength of this Jaguars passing game. Dede Westbrook riddled the Jets with crossing routes from the slot last week and it should continue against Kansas City. Keelan Cole often earns deep looks from the slot. Expect these two to have good weekends while Donte Moncrief returns to earth — his opponent was asleep on the go route he caught for the long touchdown last week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Niles Paul, or James O'Shaughnessy all have the potential for a big play against this defense that has given up 138 yards and a score to Jesse James, 79 yards to George Kittle and 57 yards to Jeff Heuerman. The problem is figuring out which tight end earns the big play. Jenkins hasn't exceeded three catches in any game and last week each tight end earned two catches. Paul has been targeted on some intermediate and deep routes near the end zone that could have resulted in a nice afternoon.
If you're absolutely desperate for a tight end, consider Paul based on the target types he's earned and not the result. If Yeldon starts, ride him. If Forunette tries to gut it out, he's a huge gamble I'm not taking.
Overall, I expect an exciting game with the Chiefs pulling it out 28-27 in a nailbiter where Mahomes overcomes the early mistakes and drops the Patomic Bomb on the North Florida Kitty Cats.