Fantasy Football "Goldilocks" Picks: July
In one iteration of the classic children's fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a young Goldilocks eats the breakfast of three unsuspecting bears, one of which was too hot, one too cold, and one just right.
We're taking this situation and applying it to fantasy football and letting you know who is overhyped (too hot), overlooked (too cold), and just right (as advertised) based on their current ADP (average draft position) heading into the fantasy football draft season. (ADP is being taken from fantasydata.com)
Let's start with the players that I believe to be TOO HOT and who you may want to pass on at their current draft position:
Prescott fresh off signing his franchise tag and his career best seasonPhoto Credit: KA Sports Photos
Dak Prescott QB Dallas Cowboys (ADP - 60.3)
Prescott had a career-year last season, finishing as the QB2 in standard scoring fantasy leagues. Amassing just over 4,900 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns in the 2019 campaign, Dak broke his personal best in yards by nearly 1,000 and touchdowns by 7.
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, running back Ezekiel Elliott held out most of training camp and got a late start, which slowed his production early in the season, allowing Dak to set an early precedent of Jason Garrett's team relying on the pass game more than they had traditionally with Elliott in the backfield.
In the first 11 weeks of the season, Prescott had only one performance of less than 18 fantasy points, but in weeks 12 through 17 he had four such performances. Although Dallas chose to retain Amari Cooper and draft rookie CeeDee Lamb to bolster the receiving corps, new head coach Mike McCarthy will certainly lean on Elliott and backup Tony Pollard, who showed the ability to produce limited work last season, to open up the passing game early in games.
Dallas is also hoping to be playing with the lead more than they did last year in the second half of games this season, which would limit Prescott as they're attempting to run out the clock in wins versus chasing teams as they did much of last season. I expect Prescott to have numbers closer to his first 3 seasons in the league with an average of 3,625 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns, which doesn't warrant a selection in rounds 5-7 at your draft
Josh Jacobs RB Las Vegas Raiders (ADP - 7.5) and Joe Mixon RB Cincinnati Bengals (ADP - 12.9)
When looking at the top 12 running backs based on their current ADP, both Jacobs and Mixon jumped out as candidates that will not produce enough to validate selecting them in the first or second rounds of fantasy drafts by the end of this season. While both possess the ability to be elite performers at their position, they also play for teams that don't project to be protecting leads late into many games.
If that prediction becomes reality, neither will be in position to get the amount of carries that they would require to finish the season as a top 10 fantasy back, which based on current ADP they would need to do in order for you to get your money's worth from where you have to get them. The main factor for me putting Jacobs and Mixon on this list is that neither see enough passing targets to make up for the lost opportunities for carries, based on the quality of their respective teams.
The Raiders invested heavily at wide receiver in this year's NFL Draft, including using a first round pick on Henry Ruggs III, and the Bengals had an already crowded group that is set to add veteran AJ Green back into the mix. Jacobs' 20 receptions for 166 yards and no touchdowns last season doesn't figure to improve much this year, leaving his owners to largely rely on his rushing production. Mixon fared better, totaling 35 receptions for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2019, but with Green healthy again and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow likely to push the ball downfield, I would expect to see some regression in Mixon's receiving numbers.
Considering that running backs like Aaron Jones (ADP - 11.4) and Miles Sanders (ADP - 21.8) are being taken around the same time or later than Jacobs and Mixon, I would put my faith in players that are in more established offenses that should be playing with leads deep into games–and that have a presence in the passing game (Jones - 49 recs, 474 rec yards, 3 rec tds in 2019; Sanders - 50 recs, 509 rec yards, 3 rec tds in 2019).
Now let's turn our attention to a few players that I believe to be JUST RIGHT in where they're being taken in pre season drafts.
Feel free to fire away on these guys right around their ADP.
NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
A.J. Brown WR Tennessee Titans (ADP - 40.4)
A.J. Brown had a fantastic rookie season in 2019, finishing with over 1,000 receiving yards and 8 touchdown catches on just 52 receptions and adding a rushing touchdown to show his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Tennessee will continue to be a run-first offense spearheaded by the monstrous Derrick Henry, but the reason I'm so high on Brown's potential in this offense is because the team committed to Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback, signing him to a four year contract this offseason.
In the last 6 weeks of the 2019 season, Tannehill and Brown connected for 605 receiving yards, which led the NFL in that stretch while seeing Brown post 5 of his 6 best fantasy weeks in the last 6 weeks of the season. The Titans' pass game is predicated on Henry establishing the run and allowing for play action calls to catch defenses off guard, allowing a receiver with Brown's talents to use his combination of size and speed to get past defenders and look for home runs.
Fellow sophomore receiver, Seattle's D.K. Metcalf, is being taken 6 spots ahead of Brown based on pre season ADP, so if you can land Brown around pick 40 it would allow you to take a pair of running backs and either one of the top quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, or another receiver to pair with Brown within the first 4 rounds of your draft.
Mark Andrews TE Baltimore Ravens (ADP - 44.4)
Andrews went into last season as a presumptive sleeper pick at the position, but that was before Lamar Jackson and the Ravens delivered one of the most explosive offenses the NFL has seen since...well the Kansas City Chiefs just one year prior. But now that we know what the Baltimore offense can deliver, and the role of Andrews is being a red zone target for Lamar Jackson, it's safe to say that Andrews is no longer a sleeper pick.
Projected to be selected in fantasy drafts sometime in the 4th round, Andrews is now among the upper echelon of tight ends to be considered in the rarified air that's only been reserved for Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz in recent years. Don't think that you'll be able to wait and draft Andrews much later than his ADP, as many owners have adopted the strategy of taking elite tight ends over WR2s, RB3s, and QBs in rounds 4-5 based on their valuation of players.
Andrews recorded 10 touchdowns last year, but his value is not touchdown dependent. With the departure of Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons, Andrews figures to see more targets this season as Jackson has thrown to his tight ends far more than the receiver position. While you cannot simply transfer Hayden's production from last season to project what Mark Andrews is capable of, if you did it would've resulted in season ending lines of 94 receptions on 137 targets, 1,201 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Compare that to last year's TE1 Travis Kelce, who ended the season with 97 receptions on 136 targets, 1,229 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns. Kelce's ADP is at 18.9, 25 spots ahead of Andrews currently.
The temperature on the following players is TOO COLD, and you need to be paying attention to where these guys are falling in drafts.
Baker Mayfield looking to rebound from a down 2019 seasonPhoto Credit: Erik Drost
Baker Mayfield QB Cleveland Browns (ADP - 98.9)
The case for Baker Mayfield being undervalued heading into this season is very simple for me. All I have to do is point to the performance of Jameis Winston last year to provide evidence as to why I love Mayfield in 2020. Mayfield wowed in his rookie campaign and fell on his face last season. But he goes into 2020 with one of the most exciting offenses (on paper), and he should, at worst, suffer from what I am coining the Jameis-Effect. That is, if people are anticipating good statistical seasons for Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper (much like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and OJ Howard were expected to have successful seasons last year), then Baker Mayfield should be able to finish the season as a top 10 fantasy quarterback.
For reference, Winston finished as QB5 last year in standard scoring fantasy leagues, albeit throwing 30 interceptions. If you're a believer in the Browns' offense, Baker Mayfield is going to be the guy it all runs through. Mayfield could be a steal, especially if you can take him as one of the first backup quarterbacks selected in your league.
Raheem Mostert RB San Francisco 49ers (ADP - 70.8)
While most fantasy experts will caution you not to let Mostert's strong postseason performance in 2019 fool you into overdrafting him this year, I think Mostert's role in the 49ers offense was established before the playoffs began. San Francisco will continue to be a running back committee in 2020, but Mostert appeared to have carved out the lion's share down the stretch last season, as he had more carries than Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida combined in every game from week 14 through the Super Bowl, only excluding the NFC Divisional Round game against the Vikings in which we saw Coleman get 22 or 47 carries.
In the last 6 weeks of the season when Mostert began to see more touches, he averaged 16.25 fantasy points per week and had at least 1 touchdown in every one of those games. If you extrapolate that average to a full 16 games, Mostert would've been on pace for 260 fantasy points, which would've been just ahead of Ezekiel Elliott in 2019 who finished with 257.7 (RB3).
Obviously, Mostert doesn't project to carry the ball 250 to 300 times like many of the top fantasy backs do, so don't expect him to actually produce like that on a weekly basis. But if he can increase his carries to 200 from 137 last season and continue to be efficient with his touches, then Mostert will perform well above his current ADP and could be a league winner in 2020.
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