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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In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.
After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.
The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.
It should also be stated that Reggie Jackson has been really good for Los Angeles throughout the playoffs and is someone that the team leans on to take and make tough shots in crunch time. His fearlessness attacking the rim provides a lot of space for his teammates.
Reggie Jackson after getting his free agency bag this summer https://t.co/kgR7AUeQZ5— Josiah Johnson (@Josiah Johnson)1624936925.0
The Suns have dropped two of the last three games, and their win came in Game 4 which saw a final tally of 84-80 so it's tough to gauge how much stock to take in that victory. What I'm trying to say is the Clippers have definitely looked the part of a Western Conference Champion the past three games, and the Suns are at risk of flaming out.
Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (MCL sprain) will not play tonight in Game 5 of the WCF against the Phoenix Suns.— Chris Haynes (@Chris Haynes)1624923130.0
The Clippers' starting big man, Ivica Zubac, was out with a knee injury while Los Angeles out scored the Suns by 26 in the paint. So far in every game but one (Game 3 when L.A. beat Phoenix 106-92) the team that has scored the most points in the paint has ended up winning. Both teams are good from the free throw line and it gets the opposition into foul trouble so it is a sound strategy for either side. But Deandre Ayton wasn't able to get much going offensively in Game 5 finishing with only 10 points in 37 minutes.
For the Suns, they were quick to point out their own shortcomings following the loss. Coach Monty Williams noted, "It's just unacceptable the way we started the game," he continued on to compare the Suns and Clippers in Game 5, "We showed up in the first quarter, and they played with desperation."
Monty Williams: “Leadership is tricky - if you can’t get people to follow you, you’re just walking by yourself”— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel Nichols)1624922492.0
Chris Paul who had 22 points and eight assists talked about Phoenix's inability to hold onto advantages, "We've got to close quarters better," Paul goes on to say, "that's been a problem for us all series long."
Paul has been a leader both on and off the court helping this young team to play far above the level anyone expected them to this season, but he's also been a part of many teams that fell short in the playoffs.
A championship run is the one knock on his hall of fame resume, and it seemed destined to happen this year especially after the Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead. But he isn't the only player who has had their reputation affected by playoff performances.
The nickname Playoff P isn't an endearing one. It has become synonymous with Paul George and his failures in the postseason up to this point. Any success that the Clippers were going to have this year was always likely to be attributed to Kawhi Leonard, but now that he is sidelined it's all on PG to carry the load.
George entered rarified air Monday night joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant as players who scored 20 or more points in each of the first 18 games in a postseason. All of their teams reached the Finals. George is hoping to follow suit as the Clippers are headed back home to host Game 6.
Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.
Offense being the key word here.
Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.
For a player that relies so heavily on driving to the basket to get shots off close to the hoop, it's expected for that player to draw plenty of contact resulting in a lot of free throw opportunities. That was certainly indicative of what we saw from Simmons in the first two rounds of the 20-21 playoffs.
He got to the line 45 times against the Hawks in their second round matchup, but only converted 15 freebies which equates to a 33% free throw percentage in the series. Simmons shot just 34.2% from the stripe if you include their first round games against the Wizards, which accounts for the worst free throw percentage by a player with at least 70 attempts in a postseason in NBA playoff history.
With a minimum of 70 attempts, Ben Simmons' 34.2% free throw percentage this postseason is the worst in a postseaso… https://t.co/EvEcQxEe8m— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPN Stats & Info)1624244835.0
In the four games that Atlanta beat Philly in this series, they lost by a combined 17 points. If Ben Simmons shoots just 70% from the line and makes 31-45 during this series, that adds 16 to Philadelphia's series point total. Obviously, the attempts might not directly impact the losses, but from a very broad overview, it would draw the series significantly closer — especially taking into account that three of the four losses the 76ers took in the series were lost by four points or fewer.
Also let's not allow people to say that the free throw stat is overblown and out of context. It's not. Shaquille O'Neal, who is notoriously one of the worst free throw shooters in league history, still managed a career playoff free throw percentage of 50%. That's why we saw the conception of "Hack-a-Shaq" where teams would intentionally foul O'Neal to put him on the line rather than allowing him to hurt them in other ways.
We've begun to see teams adopt this practice now with Simmons, which is just flat out embarrassing for a player of Simmons' pedigree. We have seen what he's able to do with the ball. He flies down the court on fast breaks, is a brilliant creator for teammates, and is one of the better finishers at the rim that we have in the league today.
We've already touched on his defensive prowess that has elevated him to becoming NBA All-Defense multiple times and a three time All-Star. But what do the Sixers do with Simmons before next season?
The 24-year-old point-forward still has plenty of time to work on his game. We've seen other players add a jumper later in their careers to great success; just ask Vince Carter how that works. But, usually, in order to develop a perimeter shot, there is at least a solid foundation to build on — that being the ability to consistently hit free throws.
Simmons is a career 60% free throw shooter, and he shot right around the mean during the regular season. The decline in made shots from the charity stripe in this postseason is cause for concern that this isn't the beginning of a trend.
Add to that Simmons' reluctance to take shots further away from the basket, and defenses have the luxury of ignoring Simmons in the half court set. We have seen teams (like the Jazz and 76ers) that rely heavily on the pick and roll get shut down in these playoffs, and it's teams like Atlanta and Phoenix that are able to spread defenses thin by putting multiple shooters on the court at one time succeed.
In 34 career playoff games, Ben Simmons has made 5 shots outside of 10 feet (from the basket).— Paul Hembekides (@Paul Hembekides)1624277710.0
Joel Embiid was phenomenal in the postseason, so let's not ignore that fact. Also, he was playing on one knee and still almost willed the Sixers to a win. But again, Embiid was not 100% in the playoffs, which limited his abilities.
Doc Rivers answers a question whether Ben Simmons can be the point guard of a championship team https://t.co/8xL35u98RC— Rob Perez (@Rob Perez)1624244460.0
Following their loss, Doc Rivers was asked if he thought Ben Simmons could be the point guard of a championship team, to which he responded, "I don't know that answer to that question right now," which doesn't provide a whole lot of confidence in Simmons' status with the team next year. Trade rumors have already begun to circulate, and it would make sense for this Philly team to hit the reset button now.
If Simmons continues to be exploitable in big moments, as we've seen him be so far in his career, his value is only going to go down. Adding further complications into the situation is the team just agreed to a new contract extension with Simmons and is due to make between $33 and $40 million per season over the next four years.
As the two cornerstone pieces of The Process appear to be two Scotties without a Mike, the early departure for the East's top seed will likely mean a big shakeup in the near future. If Embiid is healthy, he is elite without question. Maybe Philadelphia will go out and add around their two stars, but unless the organization is confident that Simmons can avoid another atrocious offensive performance in future playoff series, all they have is a really good regular season team.
The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.
After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.
LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.
The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.
🗣 DEVIN BOOKER— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622601795.0
The idea of effort is something that was lacking on the purple and gold side last night though. It didn't take long after Booker started hitting everything that the Lakers team started playing sloppy and launching up bad threes in a failed attempt to not let the game get out of hand. Well it did.
The two teams were among the best defensive teams in league this season, the Suns finished seventh in overall team defensive rating and the Lakers first. The Lakers typically like to use their defensive prowess to control pace and work in the half court with their combination of speed on the wings and their combination of big men down low that includes Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis (when healthy), and former Sixth-Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell. Incase you forgot Harrell does in fact still play for the Lakers, but before last night if you blinked for too long you would've missed him on the court.
WHY ISN’T MONTREZL HARRELL GETTING PLAYING TIME?????@MONSTATREZZ #FreeMontrezl https://t.co/j55u9zg9kN— NBALakersReport (@NBALakersReport)1622603465.0
For some unknown reason Trez has been an afterthought in Frank Vogel's rotations, not only in this series, but throughout parts of the regular season. With AD being ruled out for Game 5, it would've been logical to think that we'd see an uptick in minutes for the high energy reserve, and we did. But not until the game was far out of hand in the second half. While the Suns were building a 30 point lead we saw Phoenix's guards cooking the slower big men of the Lakers off pick and rolls.
30 points is the largest lead at half in Suns playoff history. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/UoozhMf6Io— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622604230.0
It's understandable to want some size to limit Deandre Ayton, but when it's Booker, Payne, and Bridges hurting you offensively why not see how a quicker and more agile defender like Harrell might fare slowing down the pick and rolls? We saw Jae Crowder having success doing that on the other side for the Suns all night!
It's not fair to just talk about how bad the Lakers were, in fairness it looked like they were getting open looks and were just collectively having an unlucky shooting night. Maybe they all got it out of their system now? But the Suns would have beat anyone on that home court last night. Let's give all credit to them by playing one of the best games ever seen against a LeBron James-led playoff team. Devin Booker is an absolute star and this team plays with a very focused chip on their shoulder which has been manicured by Chris Paul. His leadership has made ALL the difference for this Phoenix team and it can be seen most on the defensive side of the ball. The Suns players have adopted Paul's attitude and intensity on that end and it all paid off last night.
We've seen LeBron actively frustrated during playoff games on the court, and last night is one of the most cringe-worthy to have seen. James spent way too much time talking to officials about calls, and not just between whistles. It would be interesting to know how many possessions the Lakers played four on five because James never made it back on defense before the Suns put more points on them. LeBron was seen leaving the court with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and sure it could be to start receiving treatment on the injured ankle. But we know the real reason he left. We can only hope he didn't punch anything on the way to the locker room.
While the teams will travel back to L.A. for Game 6, the Lakers know they are in a must-win situation. We saw the rest of the team around LeBron scrambling because they felt the pressure. James was the only Laker in the second half that kept the team functioning. When we've seen a visibly dejected James like we did last night, it's been because he knew his team didn't have it. I don't think that's the case with this Lakers team.
There's plenty of talent on the roster even without Anthony Davis. Maybe Game 6 is when we get to see Harrell getting some meaningful minutes. Maybe Vogel can devise a way to get Andre Drummond more involved offensively. Maybe AD plays and isn't slowed by the groin injury. Or maybe you should've listened to us back in January when we told you the Suns were a pretty good basketball team.