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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It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.