By Josh Williams


One of the great things about the National Football League is that there are always headlines and stories throughout the entire year, including the offseason. With free agency already starting and the NFL Draft approaching, this is a great time to look forward to the start of the season. With that said, here is a look at who you should be targeting for your Fantasy Football team next season.

Must Have Players


Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell


At age 25, Bell will be entering the prime of his career. Bell should be healthy after having groin surgery to repair the injury that bothered him during the playoffs. Bell is known for his patient style of running and rushed for over 1,200 yards last season. Bell also caught 75 passes out of the backfield. He should have another big season. Of course, everything is depending on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning.


Arizona Cardinals Running Back David Johnson


Johnson sprained his MCL in the final game of the season, but should be healthy for the start of training camp. Johnson had a fantastic season and made a lot of fantasy football owners very happy. Johnson scored 20 touchdowns and nearly gained a 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. Stud running backs are hard to come by in fantasy football, so if you have the chance to draft Johnson, do so without blinking. With defenses making him the focal point of their game plan, he may not score 20 touchdowns again, however Johnson will still make fantasy owners rejoice this season.


Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott


The fourth overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Elliott took the league by storm as a rookie, leading the league in rushing by gaining 1,631 yards to go along with 15 rushing touchdowns. Will Elliott suffer a sophomore slump? It is extremely unlikely given the talent that surrounds Elliott in quarterback Dak Prescott, tight end Jason Witten, and wide receiver Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also have arguably the best offensive line in football, so Elliott could potentially surpass his rookie year.


Atlanta Falcons Wide Receiver Julio Jones


Julio Jones has a scary combination of size and speed that makes him a matchup nightmare for defenses. Jones was impacted by a painful foot injury in the playoffs and still dominated. When healthy, Jones is one of the NFL’s most dangerous weapons and should be targeted early in the fantasy league draft.


Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver A.J. Green

Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals

Due to injury, Green failed to gain over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career last season, which is a sign of how great a player Green is. Green makes great use of his 6’4” frame to win jump balls over smaller defensive backs. If healthy, Green should have another outstanding season.


Quarterbacks To Target


Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers


Rodgers remains the most talented quarterback in the NFL. Despite the major injuries on offense, Rodgers almost single handedly lead the Packers to the Super Bowl. Even in a down year, Rodgers still threw for 40 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards passing.


New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady


At this point, you can make a strong argument that Brady is the best player of all-time. Looking for his sixth Super Bowl ring this season, Brady could have one of his best seasons as the team recently acquired speedster wide receiver Brandin Cooks.


Breakout Players


Los Angeles Chargers Running Back Melvin Gordon


Gordon could be primed to cement himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Entering his third year, Gordon should rush for over 1,000 in his career for the first time and record his second straight season of scoring double digit touchdowns.


Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz


Wentz had a solid if not spectacular rookie year. However, The Eagles have given Wentz some weapons this offseason in wide receivers Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery to go along with Jordan Matthews. Wentz could have a big year.


Players To Avoid


New York Giants Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

Saints Giants Football

Shepard enjoyed a nice rookie season, scoring eight touchdowns. His role seemed like it would be increasing following the release of Victor Cruz, then the Giants went out and signed Brandon Marshall.


Cincinnati Bengals Running Back Jeremy Hill

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns

Hill has stagnated since his nice rookie season, and now he’ll try to get back on track behind a Bengals offensive line that just lost its two best linemen in Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth during free agency. You should avoid Hill even as a low round pick.

 | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Football, NFL | Tagged: Fantasy Football, NFL |

Rex Burkhead
The New England Patriots have been one of the most difficult teams to predict the fantasy value of their running backs. Dion Lewis led them in the Divisional Round with three touchdowns and 64 total yards. LeGarrette Blount had 31 yards and James White had just one touch (19-yard TD). In the Conference Championship Round Blount led the way with 55 total yards and a score. Lewis had 19 total yards and White had eight. In the Super Bowl it was White’s turn with 139 total yards and three touchdowns. Blount and Lewis each had 29 yards.
Blount won’t return, but the Patriots will still have a three-headed monster with Lewis, White and newly signed Rex Burkhead. At first glance you wouldn’t expect Burkhead to take on a major role, but his contract suggests otherwise as he became the Patriots’ first $2 million runner since 2010.
Burkhead had just 344 carries for the Bengals, sharing the load with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Burkhead’s 4.6 yards per carry was better than Hill’s 3.8 and Bernard’s 3.7 respectively. He caught 17 passes for 145 yards, which was less than Hill’s 21 for 174 and Bernard’s 39 for 336.
What is Bill Belichick thinking? For starters, he is not conventional. He saw something in Wes Welker, Chris Hogan, James White the list goes on and on. He has a great history of picking little known players and making stars of them. Danny Woodhead, Julian Edleman, again the list goes on and on.
What would draw Belichick’s interest? He had 31 rushing yards and 143 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns prior to last year. Why I wouldn’t call 489 total yards and a pair of touchdowns a break out year, he did show a little something. It couldn’t have been their 2016 meeting as Burkhead had just 16 yards on two carries. My guess is that his payday was in part to a fit that Belichick sees in their system and a 144 total yards effort to close out the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
Should you trust Burkhead as your RB2? I would have to say no. The potential is there, but track record is not. Plus, with Dion Lewis and James White on roster, any hold on a starting job is pretty weak. If Burkhead coughs up the ball or struggles, Belichick will likely turn to the hot hand. I’d pencil him in as a RB3 with Lewis and White serving as RB4s.  It is going to be frustrating owning any of the Patriots backs. It may be worth letting someone else have that headache.

Latavius Murray
The Minnesota Vikings closed the chapter on Adrian Peterson’s tenure with the club with the signing of Latavius Murray. While Peterson is still looking for a home, we’ll take a look at the fantasy football impact of the signing.
Murray ran for 788 yards last year and 12 touchdowns, sharing the load with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Richard finished with 491 yards while Washington had 467 yards. Murray ran for a decent 4.0 yards per carry, but some of that success can be contributed to running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league last year. Richard (5.9 ypc) and Washington (5.4 ypc) were more effective per touch, minus the scoring of course.
Murray did a nice job in the passing game with 33 receptions for 264 yards.
In 2015 Murray ran for 1,066 yards at 4.0 ypc and six touchdowns with 41 receptions for 232 yards. In 2014 he had 424 yards at 5.2 ypc and two touchdowns with 17 receptions for 143 yards.
He should see his fair share of carries as the primary running back, but will likely see his production in the pass game see a dip. Jerick McKinnon, who ran for 539 yards at 3.4 ypc and a pair of touchdowns with 43 receptions for 255 yards and two more scores, should remain the Vikings’ primary pass catching running back.
The Vikings have made some upgrades to their offensive line, but they were dreadful last year, averaging 3.2 yards per carry as a team. Peterson had a 1.9 average, McKinnon was 3.4 and Matt Asiata was 3.3. While they will be better, it’s pretty safe to say Murray will be running behind an inferior line in 2017.
Despite that fact, Murray still figures to be a solid RB2 thanks to his ability to get in the end zone. Asiata had six scores last year and Murray is most certainly a preferred back. McKinnon, meanwhile, falls to RB4-5. He really only has value in PPR leagues.

Eddie Lacy hurdle
Eddie Lacy has been a major disappointment the past couple of years. He played just five games last year, finishing with 360 yards (28 receiving) while failing to score a touchdown. This is after a down year with 758 yards (188 receiving) and five total touchdowns. Despite those struggles he landed on his feet with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks finished 25th in the league last year in rushing and 24th in yards per carry. Injuries to Russell Wilson, which limited his scrambling, and Thomas Rawls took a toll. In 2015 the Seahawks finished 3rd in rushing and 7th in ypc. During Marshawn Lynch’s run the Seahawks were a premier rushing team, finishing in the top five 2011-2014.
Seattle’s banking on Lacy to provide that physical running style that made Beast Mode a national sensation.
Lacy has the chops if he can keep his weight under control and stay on the field. He finished with 1,178 yards (257 receiving) and 11 touchdowns as a rookie and 1,139 yards (427 receiving) and 13 total touchdowns in his second year. Despite struggling the past couple of seasons, Lacy still maintains a healthy 4.4 yards per carry average and 29 touchdowns in 51 games.
Lacy’s arrival puts a serious hamper on Thomas Rawls’ fantasy prospects. He came in with high expectations, but busted out on fantasy owners with 349 yards (96 receiving) and three touchdowns on a 3.2 ypc average. Christine Michael, with 469 yards (96 receiving) seven total touchdowns and a 4.0 ypc was actually more productive. Rawls will get a chance if Lacy falters, but it’s Lacy’s job to lose.
C.J. Prosise, who finished with 172 yards on 5.7 yards per carry to go with 19 catches for 208 yards will serve as the change of pace back. He won’t be on fantasy radars either.
I’ve been burned by Lacy the past two years. I’m not sure I have the stomach for a third year of him. He’s a risky play, but there definitely is upside.

DeSean Jackson
A look at the recent NFL signings and their fantasy football impact.
Buffalo Bills
The Bills signed both Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco. DiMarco will be a full back and Tolbert will be a running back. LeSean McCoy should get excellent blocking from his fullback, but he could lose some goal line touches with Tolbert’s arrival. McCoy remains a strong RB1. Steven Hauschka’s should remain a quality kicker in Buffalo’s offense.
Chicago Bears
The Bears broke the bank to bring in Mike Glennon. Good for Glennon. I don’t think he’s the answer in Chicago. Probably the next in a long line of overpaid free agent signings at the QB position. Ahem, Brock Osweiler.
Cleveland Browns
Kenny Britt left a bad situation with the Los Angeles Rams for a bad one in Cleveland. He’ll be a WR3-4 at best. Speaking of Brock, he won’t look any better in a Browns uniform.
Philadelphia Eagles
Alshon Jeffery was a nice addition for Carson Wentz. He should be a WR2 with WR1 potential. Torrey Smith was a nice deep threat add as well. He figures to be a WR4. Wentz should move up to the middle of the QB2 landscape.
New England Patriots
The Pats must be out on the Martellus Bennett Sweepstakes after acquiring Dwayne Allen in a trade. He’s a solid low-end TE1 bet if he can stay healthy.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners added Brian Hoyer at QB. It is not all that exciting for fantasy purposes. He’ll be a QB2 at best if he wins the starting gig. Pierre Garcon was brought in as a new weapon. Solid signing. He’ll be in WR3 territory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs made a splash signing deep threat DeSean Jackson to pair with Mike Evans. Great 1-2 punch. Jameis Winston should take another step forward into QB1 territory next year. Jackson should be a solid WR2 as well. Washington’s passing game definitely took a hit losing Jackson and Garcon.

Brandon Marshall
The New York Giants made a splash by signing Brandon Marshall to join forces with Odell Beckham, Jr. to give the G-Men one of the best wide receiver duos in the league.
The clear winner in this signing is Eli Manning. He now has two top 20 receivers at his disposal. The Giants offense is heavily geared towards the passing attack and this will help. If receivers try to take Odell away, Marshall will make them pay. Play Odell without help over the top, you’ll pay. It’s great news for Eli.
Brandon Marshall also gets a boost. He gets an upgrade at quarterback and is in a more favorable offense. He finished with just 59 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns. In 2015 he had 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. Look for Marshall to land somewhere in the middle of those two campaigns. He’s a solid WR2 going into 2017.
You would think that Odell Beckham, Jr. takes a little hit as Marshall will command a lot of targets, but I think there is plenty to go around. Beckham had 101 catches for 1, 367 yards and 10 TDs. He wasn’t as dominant as he was in previous years, but it’s hard to be upset about his production. He should be able to match last year’s production. Marshall will take some of the attention away from Beckham. He should also push him to be at his very best
Sterling Shepard’s value takes a hit. He caught 65 passes for 683 yards and 8 touchdowns as a rookie. I think he can match or beat the receptions and yardage totals, but he likely takes a hit in the touchdown department. One would have predicted he take a major leap in his second year, but that isn’t likely to be the case now that Marshall is in town. He’ll likely remain on the WR4-5 radar.

Bill Belichick Super Bowl
Given Bill Belichick’s track record of plugging in veteran players, it is no surprise that Adrian Peterson and the New England Patriots have at least been linked in talks. Obviously Peterson would have to take a dramatic paycut, but as Karen Guregian mentioned in the article, he has already been heavily compensated. If a Super Bowl ring is high on Peterson’s wish list, the Pats are a nice landing spot.
If the Patriots are going to take a gamble on Peterson, they need to be sure that it is going to work out for them.
LeGarrette Blount ran for 1,161 yards on 3.9 yards per carry, but scored 18 touchdowns. His usage took a back seat in the Patriots’ Super Bowl run as both Dion Lewis and James White took turns as the star back. Blount finished with just 35 carries for 109 yard (3.1 ypc) with a touchdown in three playoff wins. Blount is a free agent, and could find himself too expensive for the Patriots’ tastes.
Enter Peterson to the equation. While All Day didn’t live up to his name last year thanks to injuries limiting him to three games and ineffectiveness (1.9 yards per carry on 37 touches), let’s not forget that he ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 4.5 ypc the year prior. Peterson has 2,418 career carries for 11,747 yards (4.9 ypc) and 97 rushing touchdowns. The blame doesn’t fall entirely on Peterson. The Vikings’ offensive line was downright offensive last year. Plus Norv Turner’s play calling left plenty to be desired.
He will turn 32 this month, but he has had just 385 carries over the past three years because of injuries/suspension. Not to mention, there aren’t many players with his recovery ability or physique.
Whether or not Peterson has anything left in the tank is not my concern regarding a fit with the Patriots. They would get a good sense of the shape he is in early on. Again, as long as the injuries have healed, expect Peterson to be in great shape. The major roadblock for Peterson joining the Patriots is his fumbling issues. He has fumbled 39 times during his career, losing 23. The Patriots simply do not put the ball on the ground. When they do, an immediate trip to Belichick’s doghouse ensues. The Patrtiots were middle-of-the-pack with nine fumbles last year. They tied for second with seven in 2015 and four in 2014.
Keep an eye on this because of the fantasy football implications, but my money says Peterson will be landing elsewhere.

The Quarterback“ (CC BY 2.0) by afsilva2
The days of drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds of your NFL fantasy draft are now more or less over but should you be considering a signal caller in the third, fourth or even fifth round?
Well, it might prove prudent to load up on running backs and wide receivers in the early stages of the draft. With so much talent out of the backfield and at receiver, the key to winning another fantasy title might just be to refrain from taking Aaron Rodgers and co. in the opening few rounds.
Eight of the top 10 points scorers in 2016 were quarterbacks but running backs were much more valuable. Nine backs scored 200 points or more; a solid total for the position. Only five quarterbacks notched 300 or more – with 25 racking up over 200 points.
Even San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick, who sat out for more than half the campaign, managed to rack up over 200 points. Most quarterbacks who throw a mediocre tally of touchdown passes and yards will eclipse that total.
Running backs like Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott are worth so much more than say Andrew Luck or Matt Ryan. Whilst an elite quarterback gives you the chance to rack up a hefty total and advantage at the position, you won’t benefit in the long term. Simply put, a consistent running back who scores 10 or more points per game is vital to success in fantasy football.

The same goes for wide receivers. Drafting Antonio Brown or Julio Jones in the opening round of your fantasy draft could give you the edge; particularly as both men will prosper in the hunt for Super Bowl glory.
Jones’ Atlanta Falcons, priced at 14/1 in the NFL odds with bet365, averaged 30 points a game in the final six matches of the campaign and Jones will still prosper despite the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco.
The National Football League is still a quarterback league but the number of pass-heavy offenses means that wide receivers are now more important than ever. By the same token, solid running backs are equally as vital to success; especially as more teams are throwing the football.
Take the Indianapolis Colts for example; Andrew Luck is the heart and soul of that offensive unit. Knowing this immediately boosts the stock of Donte Moncrief and T.Y Hilton but Frank Gore may be one to stay away from. By the same token, the Dallas Cowboys will adopt a run heavy offense and Elliott will be key.
It is always important to consider whether a back is a three down back or whether he has competition at the position. Quarterbacks can win a fantasy title but running backs and wide receivers WILL win your fantasy crown this year.
The days of selecting a QB in the opening round are over and we are now in a new era. Take two running backs and two wide receivers in the first couple of rounds and you will be well on your way to winning another fantasy championship.

Brady Spike
Now that the dust is settling on another season, let’s take a look at the QB landscape.
The Elite
Tom Brady – Missed four games because of Roger’s vendetta. 3,554 yards, 29 TDs, 2 INTs which extrapolate to 4,739 yards, 39 TDs and 3 INTs. Set the Super Bowl record for passing yards as he got the last laugh. No signs of slowing and has a great group of weapons that fit his style. If Gronk can stay healthy, he’s even more dangerous.
Drew Brees – 5,208 yards, 37 TDs, 15 INTs. A remarkable fifth 5,000 yard season. He’s 38, but no signs of slowing. Good young receiving options.
Aaron Rodgers – 4,428 yards and an NFL-high 40 TDs to just 7 picks.
Matt Ryan – Matty Ice may have a Super Bowl hangover after that debacle, but he has the best receiver in the game, along with numerous weapons. MVP season with 4,944 yards, 38 TD and 7 INTs.
The Next Wave
Andrew Luck – 4,240 yards, 31 TDs, 13 INTs. Great to see the TD-INT ratio come back. Adding 341 yards and 2 TDs on the ground has him knocking on that elite status.
Philip Rivers – 4,386 yards, 33 TDs. A little heavy on the INTs (21). Key injuries set him back, but still solid year nonetheless. Consistently delivers. Also consistently undervalued.
Ben Roethlisberger – 3,819 yards, 29 TDs, 13 INTs in 14 games. He’s a force but tends to deal with injuries. You’ll want a capable backup.
Strong Options
Derek Carr – It’s a shame he got injured as he was in the MVP discussion with 3,937 yards and 28 TDs to just 6 INTs.
Kirk Cousins – Third in league with 4,917 yards, but a little light on TDs (25) to be considered in the upper echelon.
Cam Newton – 3,509 yards, 19 TDs, 14 INTs with 359 yards and five rushing TDs. Should produce more next year both with his arm and his feet.
Matthew Stafford – Same boat as Cousins with 4,327 yards and 24 TDs. Only 10 INTs though.
Russell Wilson – 4,219 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs with 259 yards and a rushing score. Injury limited his mobility. He should be back to his dual threat tendencies next year.
Up and Coming
Marcus Mariota – 3,426 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs with 349 yards and 2 TDs rushing. Took a huge next step before being injured.
Zak Prescot – 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs with 282 yards and 6 TDs. Impressive rookie year. Future looks bright.
Jameis Winston – 4,090 yards, 28 TDs, 18 INTs. A little heavy on the INTs, but he did progress in year two.
Andy Dalton – 4,206 yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs
Joe Flacco – 4,317 yards, 20 TDs, 15 INTs
Eli Manning – 4,027 yards, 26 TDs, 16 INTs
Carson Palmer – 4,233 yards, 26 TDs, 14 INTs

 | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Football, NFL | Tagged: Fantasy Football, NFL, QBs, Quarterbacks |

It was a tale of two halves. In the end, my pick of the Patriots came true giving me a 9-2 mark in the postseason.
Regular Season Record: 151-103-2 (.594)
Playoff Record:  9-2 (.818)
Overall Record:  160-105-2 (.603)

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