Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Never Too Early 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings

I've never liked the way a lot of fantasy football writers release their "way too early" rankings for next season.  It's never too early to start thinking about next year!  FantasyPros has their 2021 draft rankings tool available, and they've even added rookies to the list.  So I have it all here in my initial rankings for 2021, and I've added notes next to a few guys as well.  So let's get right into it and let me know what you think on Twitter!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Fantasy Football 2020 End of Year Review

Every year before I get into my first edition of next year's rankings, I take a look back at my preseason articles and see what I got right and what I got wrong.  This is always a long article, but it's fun to go back and check in on those preseason takes.  In fact, I looked at a bunch of these picks midway through the season and wrote about it here.

I won't recap every pick from every article, but each section will have a hyperlink to each piece I wrote in case you want to take a look at all of it.  I'll also show how these picks were looking midseason versus end of season (after Week 16 and not Week 17).  

Let's get to it, shall we?

Back in August, I looked at all 32 teams and tried to find one "value" guy on each squad who I liked the most based on his ADP at that time (Average Draft Position - using FantasyPros as my reference for half PPR leagues).

Here are a few guys I highlighted in that article who were outperforming their preseason ADP at the midway point.  Some of them kept it going but many actually had rough finishes (mostly due to injuries/COVID):

James Conner - ADP 44, midseason RB11, end of season RB25
Tyler Boyd - ADP 76, midseason WR8, end of season WR33
Will Fuller V - ADP 85, midseason WR16, end of season WR25 (missed last 4 games - susp.)
Ronald Jones - ADP 95, midseason RB13, end of season RB17
Darrell Henderson - ADP 111, midseason RB17, end of season RB33
Hayden Hurst - ADP 114, midseason TE8, end of season TE14
Jonnu Smith - ADP 138, midseason TE7, end of season TE9
Chase Edmonds - ADP 193, midseason RB28, end of season RB26
Justin Jefferson - ADP 133, midseason WR18, end of season WR7!

And excluding injuries, these were my really bad takes from that article who I said could be values:
Jordan Howard - ADP 88, midseason RB76, end of season RB86
Golden Tate - ADP 147, midseason WR68, end of season WR87
Ian Thomas - ADP 193, midseason TE48, end of season TE55

My big takeaways here:
Justin Jefferson is awesome.
Will Fuller needs PEDs to stay healthy.
Tyler Boyd could be an amazing value in 2021 because his stock plummeted when Burrow got hurt.

This is by far my favorite preseason article to write every year.  It's a Q&A format that includes my picks for "sleeper", "bust", "long shot", etc. based on historical trends.  I've highlighted a few below that I talked about at the midway point, and I'm following up now to show which one I actually got right!

Q: Who is this year's Alfred Morris (2012), Zac Stacy (2013), Tre Mason (2014), David Johnson (2015), Jordan Howard (2016), Alvin Kamara (2017), Phillip Lindsay (2018), or Devin Singletary (2019)?
[Description: A rookie NOT taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft who is virtually UNDRAFTED in fantasy leagues.  He's not expected to be the Week 1 starter, but he could really help your fantasy squad by mid-year.]

My preseason Answer: Zack Moss
Midseason ACTUAL Answer: James Robinson 
End of season ACTUAL Answer: James Robinson 
Robinson was a top-5 RB, and he missed the last two games of the season.  With the Jags likely revamping their entire coaching staff, I'm not confident he'll get this same workload in 2021, but he'll still be in the RB2 conversation for me.

Q: Who is this year's Danny Woodhead (2013), Darren Sproles (2014), Danny Woodhead (2015), Theo Riddick (2016), Chris Thompson (2017), James White (2018), or Raheem Mostert (2019)?
[Description: Shifty veteran who sneakily finishes in the top-20 overall fantasy RBs.]

My preseason Answer: Tarik Cohen
Midseason ACTUAL Answer: Chase Edmonds 
End of season ACTUAL Answer: Nyheim Hines & J.D. McKissic 
Both of these guys ended up just outside the top-20 in half PPR and inside the top-20 in full PPR.  Tarik Cohen unfortunately had a season-ending injury, but we'll see if he can make a run at this category in 2021.

Q: Who is this year's Keenan Allen (2013), Odell Beckham, Jr. (2014), Tyreek Hill (2016), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017), Calvin Ridley (2018), or A.J. Brown (2019)?
[Description: Rookie WR with playmaking ability and a solid QB, who is a late-round fantasy pick or even undrafted in most leagues but ends up being a top-20ish fantasy WR.]

My preseason Answer: Tee Higgins
Midseason ACTUAL Answer: Tee Higgins (WR24) & Brandon Aiyuk (WR26)
End of season ACTUAL Answer: Tee Higgins (WR26)
A lot of rookie WRs were being taken in the top-150 or so in August drafts, including guys like CeeDee Lamb & Justin Jefferson, so they were excluded from this question/answer.  Also Brandon Aiyuk finished as the WR31, and he was my honorable mention in my preseason article.  Chase Claypool was actually the WR23, so he could fit this category but if you take away his huge 4 TD game, he was hardly useable.  Tee Higgins is the closest fit for me, and I'll be trying to draft either him or Tyler Boyd next year to get a piece of that Bengal passing attack with Burrow healthy.  
***The big takeaway here is this year's rookie WR class was absolutely stacked.

Q: Who is this year's Andrew Luck (2013), Russell Wilson (2014), Derek Carr (2015), Kirk Cousins (2016), Carson Wentz (2017), Patrick Mahomes (2018), or Lamar Jackson (2019)?
[Description: A young starting QB ready to jump from one fantasy QB tier to the next.]

My preseason Answer: Daniel Jones
Midseason ACTUAL Answer: I said if Kyler finished as the overall QB1 then it's him.  
End of season ACTUAL Answer: Kyler Murray & Josh Allen
Justin Herbert is a rookie, so he doesn't quite fit this category.  Depending on your format, Kyler Murray might've finished as the QB1, and even in 6 points per passing TD leagues he was top-5.  Either way, it was decidedly NOT Daniel Jones (I'm sorry!).  I guess the answer can be Kyler here, but Josh Allen is right there with him.

This was the very last preseason article I wrote before the season started, and it was a new one this year for me.  I felt like I heard a lot of the same narratives over the summer from people like me who write, tweet, podcast about fantasy football.  I wanted to play devil's advocate and give a take on each team that wasn't being considered much.  These weren't takes I was "all in" on, but it's important not to get too focused on the groupthink mentality and make sure you step back and consider other possibilities.  There were obviously 32 of these, so it was a long article. I'll just highlight a few.

Buffalo Bills
Preseason take:
[If Josh Allen] is better, I think a big part of that could be because he now has Stefon Diggs to throw to...No one is talking up Diggs like he can be a WR1 this year, but he has that potential if Allen can get him the ball.

Midseason Verdict:
Josh Allen was the QB4 around midseason and a big part of that was Diggs (who was the WR6 after 8 weeks and led the NFL in targets).  

End of Season Verdict:
After 16 weeks, Diggs led all WRs in targets, receptions, and yards.  He finished as the WR3 both overall and in fantasy points per game.  Just writing this take in the preseason gave me the perspective to land Diggs in the 6th round in my main league, and he was a big reason why I did so well there.

Indianapolis Colts
Preseason take:
What if Jonathan Taylor gets 75-80% of the carries from Day 1?...In that "Day 1" scenario, I could see Jonathan Taylor finishing as a top-5 fantasy RB.

Midseason Verdict:
The crazy thing is, this was gifted to the fantasy community with the unfortunate injury to Marlon Mack.  Taylor had the opportunity since Day 1 to be the guy.  He just didn't do a ton with that opportunity by midseason.  Still, he was the RB21 at that point and he was past his bye week.  There was still time for him to explode in the second half and finish in the top-5.

End of Season Verdict:
He definitely produced way more in the second half of the season and finished all the way up at RB7.  If the Colts have a competent QB next season and mostly keep that offensive line intact, Taylor should end up in the first round pick conversation in 2021 drafts, and he has the upside to finish as the #1 overall player...seriously.

Tennessee Titans
Preseason take:
What if Ryan Tannehill just keeps doing what he did as a starter in 2019?...Tannehill is getting no love this year, and everyone expects him to regress.  What if he just doesn't...?

Midseason Verdict:
Was anyone outside of Tennessee expecting Tannehill to continue to be a viable fantasy starter this year?  In short, no.  He was the QB10 at the midway point and a consistent fantasy QB week in and week out.

End of Season Verdict: 
Tannehill finished as the QB7, so you were happy if you drafted him in the last round or picked him up off the waiver wire this season.

Detroit Lions
Preseason take:
What if T.J. Hockenson is healthy for all 16 games and is the next George Kittle? 

Midseason Verdict:
While the Kittle-like breakout hadn't quite happened yet, Hockenson was the TE4 at the midway point.

End of Season Verdict: 
Hockenson finished as the TE4 behind just Kelce, Waller, and surprise top-3 tight end this year Robert Tonyan.  I feel like the breakout mostly happened, and there's plenty of meat left on the bone here.  T.J. can be a top-5 fantasy TE again next year if he has a decent QB throwing to him in the event that Stafford ends up leaving Detroit.  

I didn't review these lists in my midseason review article, but let's take a look back and see how many of these I got right at each position.  

As a reminder: These were NOT my preseason position rankings.  

My preseason/draft rankings always have things like injury risk, coaching changes, RB committees, and a ton of other things built into them.  These were my preseason predictions for who could finish the season in the top-12 at each position in a best case scenario with fully healthy seasons.  I highlighted in BOLD the guys who actually finished in the top-12 at their position this year.

My preseason top-12 QBs
Deshaun Watson  
Patrick Mahomes
Kyler Murray 
Lamar Jackson  
Russell Wilson 
Matt Ryan
Dak Prescott  
Joe Burrow
Josh Allen  
Daniel Jones
Cam Newton
Jared Goff

Seeing the top-5 highlighted just goes to show that the QB position can often be somewhat predictable at the top.  But then again, if you spent a first round pick on Lamar or Mahomes, that might not have worked out for drafting a good overall team.  But maybe it did.  One thing that sticks out to me is having Joe Burrow on this list felt bold in the preseason.  But this really could've worked out if not for the season-ending injury, so who knows?  If he fully recovers and is ready for Week 1 of the 2021 season, he'll be a prime late-round QB target who can finish in the top-12.

My preseason top-12 RBs
Ezekiel Elliott 
Saquon Barkley 
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Christian McCaffrey
Derrick Henry 
James Conner 
Miles Sanders
Kenyan Drake  
Ronald Jones 
Dalvin Cook 
Jonathan Taylor
Austin Ekeler

It feels like a lifetime ago at this point, but I actually left Alvin Kamara off this list because he was looking like a potential holdout in August.  It's also crazy to look at this list and realize I only got 4 of the top-12 right.  Wow.  Lots of injuries.

My preseason top-12 WRs
Davante Adams 
Michael Thomas  
Adam Thielen 
Tyreek Hill
Will Fuller 
Julio Jones
Robert Woods
Odell Beckham, Jr.
D.J. Moore
DeAndre Hopkins 
Marquise Brown
Kenny Golladay

You'll notice a theme because I didn't project guys to repeat as the #1 at their position.  I said in the preseason that if anyone was going to overtake the single season reception record holder, it was Adams.  And while he didn't come close to that record, he also missed 2.5 games and dominated 2019@cantguardmike in the touchdown department.  I'd also like to point out that I nailed Robert Woods, who I had ranked higher than Kupp.  This was not a common preseason take, and I said I would have no problem drafting Woods as my first WR if I went RB-heavy early in a draft.  That would've worked out well with the consistency from Mr. Bobby Trees, and he'll continue to be a boring/safe pick next year.

My preseason top-12 TEs
George Kittle
Mark Andrews
Travis Kelce 
Hayden Hurst
Zach Ertz
Jonnu Smith
Darren Waller 
Blake Jarwin
Hunter Henry
Chris Herndon
Ian Thomas
Jack Doyle

I really liked Jonnu Smith if you were doing the late-round tight end strategy, but I also had guys like Chris Herndon & Ian Thomas at the bottom of this preseason list.  It's the tight end position, so you have to throw a couple of darts.  I mean, who saw someone like Logan Thomas in the top-12 this year?  Pretty much no one.  Honestly my biggest miss here is not locking Darren Waller into my top-5, but I won't make that mistake next season.  He'll be locked into my top-3, and he could be a Round 3 type of player.  He's clearly a difference maker at a frustrating fantasy position.

That's it for my end of year review.  If you made it this far, that's pretty amazing.  Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to hit me up on Twitter so we can keep the conversation going this offseason.  I'll have my first edition of 2021 rankings out likely next week!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings

I suppose there might be some people out there playing in Week 17, so I'll post my rankings below with three disclaimers:

1. These are very difficult to do this week, especially with so many teams resting players and trying some different things.  FantasyPros doesn't include Week 17 in the accuracy competition because there's just too much variance and most fantasy leagues don't play this week.

2. These rankings will change a TON from now until Sunday as we find out which players will be rested, inactive, etc.  So if you're using these for anything, check back around noon on Sunday for a final update.

3. There's a reason the vast majority of leagues don't include Week 17 in their fantasy playoffs.  I can't imagine having someone like Travis Kelce for an entire season only for him to sit in the most important week for fantasy because his real life team has nothing to play for.  If your league still includes Week 17, talk to your commish and get that changed ASAP.

So with that out of the way, let me just say that if you faced Alvin Kamara in Week 16 like I did in the championship in the main league I care about, I get it.  It stinks.  I put up the second most fantasy points this week of anyone in my league and lost to the guy who almost put up 200 fantasy points (with Kamara having over 1/4 of those points).  Hey, it happens.  I'm sure there are people out there who faced Kamara and still won.  That could happen too.  It's fantasy football and crazy stuff will happen.  I hope you can have some perspective when it comes to fantasy football and just take it as it comes.  You put your best lineup out there and you see what happens.  Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't.  Hopefully you have fun doing it.  I always do.

But now it's on to next year, right?  FantasyPros already has their 2021 rankings tool up on the site, and I started on those today.  I should have some early rankings out in the next couple of weeks, but for now, here are my Week 17 rankings with none of the usual commentary below it.  I'll just post my betting picks below the rankings.  As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings.  And as we get into the offseason, feel free to shoot me questions about the NFL Draft, free agency, etc.  I'll be getting an article out with a preview on some of that stuff in a month or so.  

And here are my Week 17 betting picks:

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings

I hope if you're reading this, that means you're in your championship this week.  Of course I realize that's not the case for everyone, so if you're playing for third or nothing or whatever...hey, thanks for at least clicking the link and checking my rankings!

Way back in Week 6, I had a great week and finished as the #2 most accurate ranker, and I gained a lot of new Twitter followers because of it.  If you just started following me this year and are using my rankings, welcome!  I've had some ups and downs since then, but I've mostly been pretty consistent.  Right now I'm sitting at the #37 spot among over 150 rankers in the accuracy competition, and I'm pretty sure this is the last week included in that contest.  In case you're curious, here's my accuracy rank by week through Week 15:

120 (slow start...)
2 (!!!)
12 (got in a little mid-season groove)
138 (yikes)

I'm hoping to finish strong both with my rankings accuracy and with my betting picks at the bottom.  As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings and discussion below.

Obvious Start: Last week I said if you were debating between Jalen Hurts versus Kyler Murray, don't.  Kyler was my obvious start, but both guys were awesome in that game.  This week I think both guys are obvious starts, but let me mention Josh Allen here in case you were considering benching him for someone else.  He's been a top-5 fantasy QB in 4 of his last 6 games, and he's been the #2 fantasy QB in two of those contests.  The Monday night matchup at New England shouldn't scare you, especially now that Stephon Gilmore is out for the season.  If Diggs is out, I might lower Allen a spot or two.  But I think Diggs plays, and I'd have Allen as a top-5 play regardless.

Not-So-Obvious Start: The funny thing is, the guy I'm facing in the championship in my main/home/money league has both Josh Allen AND Tom Brady.  I think both guys are great starts this week, and he probably can't go wrong with either.  But I wanted to mention Brady here because he's not as obvious as Allen.  He's been a little up and down this season, but this week against the Lions he has the potential to go OFF.  With Ronald Jones likely still out, Brady just might throw the ball 40+ times again.  And Detroit's defense is just awful right now.  To add insult to injury, the Lions are dealing with COVID issues and might not have a good portion of their coaching staff in this game.  I think the Bucs will put up a ton of points in this game, and Brady should be involved in at least three of those TDs.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I've talked about guys like Matt Ryan and Cam Newton here in recent weeks, and I've been spot on.  You don't want to start someone like Cam this week (duh), but don't consider Big Ben either.  The Steelers are an absolute mess right now, and I have a feeling Ben is dealing with an injury that is impacting his throws.  I don't want to make an excuse for the guy, but I think he's too good to be looking this bad otherwise.  The Colts are coming to town this week, and if Ben struggled against the Bengals, I don't see how he can put up a good game against Indy.

Obvious Start: You might think Miles Sanders might not have a huge game with Jalen Hurts running a bit more and that changing up the gameplan a bit, but I actually think Sanders will have a huge game against Dallas.  This backfield is all his right now, and Dallas could be without Vander Esch in the middle of that defense.  You're starting Sanders if you have him regardless, but that's why he's in the obvious start category now isn't it?

Not-So-Obvious Start: Don't look now, but David Johnson has been an RB2 in each of his last two games.  Against a not-so-good Cincy defense this week, he might break into RB1 territory.  He's not an exciting play and I can't imagine he's on a ton of championship squads, but he's a start for me this week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Latavius Murray saved his Week 15 stat line with a touchdown, but he hasn't been very involved in this offense lately.  I have him ranked outside of my top-40 RBs this week, so I'd much rather take a chance on someone like Malcolm Brown or Gus Edwards who are just more involved in their team's gameplan right now.

Obvious Start: I doubt many people are benching Allen Robinson against his old team, but you never know after a down Week 15.  Don't bench ARob against the Jags.  He'll get double digit targets and could easily finish as a top-10 fantasy WR in this cake matchup.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I actually think Marquise Brown is quietly back into start territory.  He gets the Giants this week, and their secondary is banged up.  Brown has been a WR2 in 3 of his last 4 games, and he was a WR3 in the 4th game (in which he scored!).  The Ravens should be able to move the ball in this game, and it just takes one big play for Hollywood to finish as a top-20 WR.  I'd plug him into my FLEX this week if I had the space for him.

The Ceiling is the Roof: If you somehow have Tyler Lockett on your squad and made it all the way to the championship, congratulations.  I'm guessing in that scenario, you probably haven't been playing him lately.  He hasn't finished better than WR45 since November 19th.  He finished as the WR32 when the Seahawks played the Rams in Week 10.  I don't have a ton of faith in Russell Wilson this week, and that extends to Lockett.

Obvious Start: I had Logan Thomas as my not-so-obvious start last week, but he's graduating to obvious start territory.  The only wrinkle here is if Taylor Heinicke is the starting QB on Sunday, but if Logan is still getting 10+ targets, he'll be a TE1.  And as of right now, it looks like Haskins will start.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I mentioned Brady as my QB not-so-obvious start, so I'm going to mention Gronk here.  Like I said, I think the Bucs will put up a ton of points in this game, so why not a Gronk spike?

The Ceiling is the Roof: I think there are much better options out there than Jordan Reed.  He's had a couple of touchdowns in the last month, but he hasn't had more than 32 receiving yards in a game since Week 10.  With George Kittle potentially back this week combined with the fact that C.J. Beathard should be under center, I'd go ahead and look for another TE option for Week 16.

And here are my betting picks for Week 16.  I'm trying to finish strong and get in the top-5 in both the O/U and ATS categories by the end of the regular season, so let's see if I can add onto my numbers with these picks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 15 Rankings

If you survived Week 14 whether it was via a bye or a win, congrats.  I'm going to skip the small talk here in Week 15 and get right into the rankings.  Cool?  Cool.

Hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings!

Obvious Start: I doubt I'll get to see any of it live, but my favorite matchup this week just might be the Eagles at Cardinals.  But if you're debating starting Jalen Hurts over Kyler Murray, don't.  Kyler got you here and has a super safe floor to go along with a ceiling of THE #1 fantasy QB.  Hurts had a great debut against a good Saints defense, but it's very possible Arizona watches the film and bottles him up a bit more.  Oh and the Eagles are dealing with some injuries in the secondary. Don't get cute and sit Kyler. You don't want to look at your matchup come Monday morning and see a top-5 fantasy QB on your bench.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Outside of that disappointing Week 12 in Atlanta, Derek Carr has been a top-10 fantasy QB in three of his last four games.  I could see him with 3+ TDs tomorrow night against the Chargers, and this could be a nice start to your semi-final matchup if you're looking for a streamer outside of the top-12 or so QBs.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I was spot on with Matt Ryan here last week, and I could easily talk about him here again.  But let me give you someone else in Cam Newton.  I believed in Cam as recently as Week 12, but that's when he totally fell off a cliff.  He somehow had 3 touchdown passes on 69 passing yards in Week 13, but the volume is so low I just can't do it with him (especially in such a crucial fantasy week).

Obvious Start: I won't talk about David Montgomery here for the fourth week in a row...though I suppose I kind of just did.  Let me instead make sure you realize that Jonathan Taylor has been the #2 fantasy RB over the last two weeks, and he gets the Texans again (who he lit up in Week 13).  There should be no start/sit questions about Taylor at this point.

Not-So-Obvious Start: It's certainly possible Jared Goff has a nice game against the Jets, but there's also a good shot the Rams just run the ball down New York's throat.  In fact, both could be true.  Either way, I would start Cam Akers in a good matchup after we saw him take control of this backfield last week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I was wrong in this spot last week with Miles Sanders, but I wasn't alone in being worried in Jalen's first start against what had been an awesome New Orleans defense over the last month or so.  This week, I'm playing it a little safer and telling you to stay away from Todd Gurley.  You were probably doing that anyway, but in case you were desperate at the RB position and looking at his name and thinking he could do anything against the Bucs...well, I disagree.  He hasn't been better than a top-45 fantasy RB since Week 9, and Tampa is good against the run.  No thanks.

Obvious Start: Remember when I said to start Cam Akers against the Jets this week?  Yeah, start your Rams.  That means Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp too. 

Not-So-Obvious Start: Maybe this actually is obvious by now, but I still feel like people aren't giving Brandon Aiyuk enough respect.  Especially now with Deebo out, Aiyuk should get 9+ targets for the 5th straight game.  Yes, he had some inactive weeks sprinkled in there, but the guy has been awesome when healthy in the second half of the season.  This week he gets Dallas.  He legit could be a top-5 fantasy WR against the Cowboys.

The Ceiling is the Roof: A lot of people continue to rank Antonio Brown as a WR3, but I can't do it.  The matchup in Atlanta is not as good as it was early in the season, and Brown has only been a top-40 fantasy WR once since he joined the Bucs in Week 9.  Not great, Bob.

Obvious Start: If it's not clear by now, Robert Tonyan is an obvious start at the tight end position.  He has a touchdown in each of his last four games, and I don't see why that streak would stop Saturday night against the Panthers.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I hope Alex Smith can play this week, but I feel like even Dwayne Haskins will be able to get the ball to Logan Thomas 5+ times.  And what happens if Haskins gets hurt in this game?  I feel like Logan is probably the emergency QB and could rack up some second half stats in that unlikely scenario.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Trey Burton has barely been involved in the offense the last couple of weeks, and I don't think he has much of a floor or ceiling.  I can't imagine starting him against Houston this week.

And here are my betting picks for Week 15.  I'm still top-3 on BettingPros with my over/under picks on the year, and I've been making up some ground with my picks ATS in recent weeks.  I hope to finish strong and get in the top-5 in both categories by the end of the regular season, so let's see if I can add onto my numbers with these picks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 14 Rankings

As this season has progressed, I've tried some different things with my rankings and I've updated the format of this weekly post.  This week I considered adding tiers, but ultimately it just felt like more work which I don't need right now.  Maybe I'll do them with my weekly rankings next season, but I wanted to explain the concept of tiers because I've been getting more and more start/sit questions on Twitter.  I do my best to answer all of them, but to be honest, most can be answered by these rankings.  Where it gets really tough is when people ask me a start/sit question about guys who are literally back to back in my rankings.  I realize you want an answer (or at least some validation of a ranking), but I tend to think of guys in tiers.  If you're asking me whether or not to FLEX a guy I have ranked as my RB15 versus WR30, that's an easy one (go with the RB).  

Side note: I do my best to update my FLEX rankings every week too, so check those out.  

But if you're debating between a guy I have ranked as my RB14 vs RB15, it's likely those guys are a total coin flip for me too.  As of this writing, that's CEH & Wayne Gallman.  Sure, I like Clyde slightly more, but I could rationalize Gallman over him given his solid workload.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain that a bit.  Unless you're totally out of the playoffs or have a first round bye, you're likely just scrolling down to the rankings anyway.  And if it's my betting picks you care about, then scroll to the bottom.  I was bad against the spread in Week 12 but really good with my over/under picks.  So of course in Week 13 that trend flipped.  I lost a small amount with my O/U picks, but I'm still in the top-3 among the BettingPros experts in that category.  

Let's get to the Week 14 rankings, shall we?

Obvious Start: I talked about Ryan Tannehill in this spot last week, and he was a top-10 fantasy QB for the third straight week.  That also makes him a top-10 QB for the 6th time in his 12 games this year.  Not too shabby.  He gets the Jags this week, so plug him into your lineup for the playoffs.

Not-So-Obvious Start: It feels kind of icky, but Philip Rivers has actually been a top-15 fantasy QB in each of the last 4 weeks.  He has a nice matchup in Vegas this week, and I could see him ending up with 300 yards and 3 TDs.  

The Ceiling is the Roof: He had been pretty money when Julio was in the lineup this year, but last week Matt Ryan put up a dud against the Saints.  He has a better matchup against the Chargers this week, but I wouldn't be confident enough to start him and I don't see that he has a big ceiling.

Obvious Start: I'm mentioning David Montgomery here for the third week in a row.  He may not have won you any matchups early in the season, but he could be a big part of carrying you into/through the playoffs.  He was the #1 fantasy RB last week, and I feel like he's a lock to finish in the top-10 again (maybe top-5).

Not-So-Obvious Start: If D'Andre Swift continues to sit, you have to like Adrian Peterson against a terrible Packer run defense.  He's been a top-10 RB each of the last two weeks given the workload, and I don't see why he can't do it again in a great matchup.  If Swift suits up, you can disregard this call, so check back later in the week on Swift's status.

The Ceiling is the Roof: You don't want to face the Saints right now, and that especially means their run defense.  Unless you have better options, you might not have much choice but to start Miles Sanders this week, but I feel like he has a very low ceiling in a tough matchup.  Throw in the unknown of Jalen Hurts now at QB, and this is a situation to try to avoid if you can.  Maybe Hurts makes the offense hum, but it's not the best week to roll the dice and find out.

Obvious Start: He can be a frustrating guy to start each week, but I don't see how you could bench Tyler Lockett against the Jets in a bounce back spot for Russell Wilson.  Yes, Lockett has four finishes this season outside of the top-50 WRs, but he also has two #1 finishes.  This week feels more likely to be the latter, so I highly recommend you keep him in your lineup.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I don't see how you can ignore the volume that Keke Coutee got last week on his way to a top-12 WR finish.  While Chicago is expected to be a frigid environment temperature wise, I don't feel like it's the worst matchup from a fantasy perspective.  I still expect Watson to throw the ball 35 times and for Coutee to get roughly 10 of those looks.  I think he's a WR3 and an obvious FLEX this week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: His best games this year have come with Fitzmagic at QB, so with Tua under center I'm a little worried about the ceiling of DeVante Parker.  It's that simple.

Obvious Start: The entire Charger offense stunk against the Patriots last week, so feel free to disregard the output of Hunter Henry in that game.  He was a top-12 TE the previous three weeks and now has a great matchup against the Falcons.  I wouldn't consider benching him for a streaming option.  Keep him locked into your lineups.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Just a reminder to get Gronk back into your lineup after his super late Week 13 bye.  It's tough to come up with a not-so-obvious start at the tight end position to be honest.  After the top 3 or 4, they are all kind of the same.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Dawson Knox has scored in each of his last two games, but he hasn't done much else than that all season.  Maybe he's being utilized more with John Brown on IR, but I can't imagine starting him against Pittsburgh with Minkah Fitzpatrick roaming around in the secondary.

Here are my betting picks for Week 14.  Good luck!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 13 Rankings

Here we are, sports fans.  It's the last week before the fantasy playoffs.  Whether you're fighting for that final playoff spot or not, I have the rankings that you crave.  Last week was a wild one with so many players out due to Covid and injuries, and I hope this week is a little more predictable.  But last week was actually kind of fun to do the rankings, so whatever.  I was terrible against the spread in Week 12, but I kept it rolling with my over/under picks.  So if you're looking at those at the very bottom of this post, maybe just fade my picks ATS and just look at those point totals.  And now that I've said that, I'm sure this week the trend will flip.  This is why I don't actually bet...or at least no big money.

Let's get right into the Week 13 rankings, shall we?

Obvious Start: I was so wrong about Cam Newton last week...and Derek Carr too.  This week my obvious start is Ryan Tannehill.  He's burned me before in this spot, but he's been a top-10 QB the last two weeks and gets the Browns here in Week 13.  He's had multiple touchdowns in all but two games this season, and he just seems to get it done.

Not-So-Obvious Start: While Tannehill has been a top-10 QB the last two weeks, Kirk Cousins has actually been a top-5 fantasy QB in each of those weeks.  He's not an obvious start, but against a terrible Jacksonville defense and with Adam Thielen likely back, he should end up at least in the top-10 here in Week 13.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Maybe it's because I just got done watching the Steelers barely get by Baltimore's B squad, but I feel like Ben Roethlisberger is a boring start this week.  I have him ranked in my top-15, but it feels like that's about his ceiling against the Fightin' Football Team.  This could be a low scoring affair with two good defenses, and I'd look for a better streamer than Big Ben this week.

Obvious Start: Last week I mentioned David Montgomery here, and he finished in the top-10.  I know he doesn't seem like he has a high ceiling, but he's playing the Lions this week!  He'll probably be a top-10 RB again, so don't worry about it.  Start Montgomery even though he's boring.  He'll get you the points you need.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I doubled down on Montgomery, and I'm doubling down on Duke Johnson with my not-so-obvious start.  If David Johnson is still out, you have to like Duke as an RB2 against the Colts.  With Will Fuller now set to miss the rest of the season, you have to think that will mean a bit more volume for the running backs because the rest of the WRs outside of Brandin Cooks are trash.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I told you Melvin Gordon was a fluke in Week 11, and he flopped against the Saints.  Well, the whole offense did because the Broncos didn't exactly have a quarterback.  Still, I wouldn't trust a running back against the Sainst this week either, and that means Brian Hill is a sit.  And if by some chance Gurley is healthy, this logic will extend to him too.  I'll even have a hard time ranking him inside my top-25 RBs.

Obvious Start: Did you see what Deebo Samuel did last week?  You start this man.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Cole Beasley has played in 11 games this year, and he has been a top-40 WR in half PPR scoring in 7 of those games.  With John Brown out, he feels like a lock for a top-30 option.  Get him in your lineup, especially if you have any points for receptions.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I warned you about Travis Fulgham in Week 11 and then again on Christian Kirk in Week 12.  I was right in both cases, and my boom/BUST guy in Week 13 is CeeDee Lamb.  I realize he's made some good plays recently, but his production minus touchdowns is worrisome in his last five games.  I think you can find a better option for your #2 or #3 WR.

Obvious Start: I realize that Zach Ertz could be back this week, but Dallas Goedert has been great with or without Ertz.  You're starting Goedert against the Packers.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I know Kyle Rudolph doesn't have great numbers on the season, but he had 7 targets last week with Irv Smith out.  If he's out again, you have to trust Rudolph in December.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I told you Jared Cook was garbage, and he's still garbage.  Also garbage is Jimmy Graham.  I liked his prospects better with Nick Foles under center, but I don't see Trubiskey making him a centerpiece of the offense.

I continued to underperform with my picks against the spread in Week 12, but I'm now in the top-3 among the BettingPros experts for my over/under picks.  So like I've said for the last few weeks, if you're taking any action on this, maybe focus on those!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings

Last week I changed up the format of my weekly commentary below my rankings, and I'm going to stick with it.  If you missed last week, basically I'm going to give you a guy or two at each position who I think is an obvious start, a not-so-obvious start, and then a guy I don't really like which I'll call "the ceiling is the roof".  For an explanation of what that means, just scroll way down and check last week's post.  But we're getting close to the fantasy playoffs, so I'd rather look forward than backward.  

In most leagues, you have just two weeks to establish your position in your playoffs.  Once you're in the playoffs, you never know what can happen.  It's not real football...it's fantasy!  The 6 seed can much more easily take down the higher seed with the amount of randomness and luck involved here.  So let's get right to it.  If you have specific questions not answered by my rankings, hit me up on Twitter @bartonwheeler.

Obvious Start: In case you were thinking about benching Cam Newton, just know in all three of his plus matchups this season he's finished as a top-12 QB: Seattle (QB2), Buffalo (QB12), and NY Jets (QB8).  The Cardinals haven't faced a ton of competent QBs this year, but guys like Russell Wilson and Josh Allen have finished as top-5 fantasy QBs against Arizona.  I'm not saying Cam is still in that same conversation as those two, but he's better than a lot of the other QBs the Cardinals have faced.  I'd fire him up and wouldn't look to stream anyone else unless you really trust my next guy over him (I think it's a coin flip).

Not-So-Obvious Start: If you have Patrick Mahomes and streamed Derek Carr in Week 10 against Denver, you were severely disappointed.  But the Broncos have a good defense.  You know who doesn't have a good defense?  The Falcons don't have a good defense.  In fact, they're giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, and that's who Carr and the Raiders are facing this week.  He's easily the best streaming option even in a week with no byes (and thus a ton of options).

The Ceiling is the Roof: I'm going back to the well with Matthew Stafford because he's still dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb on his throwing hand, and both Golladay and Amendola continue to be out with injuries.  Hockenson is banged up but playing through it, which leaves Marvin Jones and not a lot of other reliable options for Stafford.  There are plenty of other guys I'd prefer to stream and just ignore Stafford on Thanksgiving.

Obvious Start: I feel like he should be an obvious start, but it's possible people have forgotten about David Montgomery a bit.  He was out with a concussion and then had his bye in Week 11, but he should be back this week against Green Bay.  The Packers are giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, and Montgomery should get all the work he can handle in this contest.  He probably won't finish as a top-10 RB, but he's nearly a sure thing to finish in the 15-20 range.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Detroit has been terrible against running backs and specifically pass catching running backs.  I know Duke Johnson hasn't done a lot with the opportunity with David Johnson out, but I'd have a hard time not starting him tomorrow against the Lions.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I wouldn't be fooled by Melvin Gordon's big game last week against the Dolphins.  He's facing a Saints defense this week who has been one of the best units against the run for the past month.  I'll still have him ranked as an RB3, but I would look for a higher upside WR to plug into my FLEX this week.

Obvious Start: Last week I told you not to overthink it with Tyler Lockett.  I said if he was healthy enough to play, you're starting him.  He finished as a top-12 WR against the Cardinals.  The same goes for Julio Jones this week.  If he's not healthy enough to play, he won't play.  If he is healthy enough to play, get him in your lineup.  Now is not the time to sit a guy like Julio.

Not-So-Obvious Start: He got off to a slow start to the season, so people might not be realizing just how much D.J. Moore is coming on as of late. And somehow he quietly has the 5th most receiving yards in the league!  I think it goes unnoticed because he's had so many fantasy finishes outside of the top-40, but he's been the WR13 and WR8 the last two weeks.  He gets the Viking inexperienced secondary here in Week 12, and with Bridgewater likely back I think he's a must start.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I warned you about Travis Fulgham last week, and this week I'm backing off Christian Kirk against New England.  This is risky because Kirk is explosive and could break for a touchdown at any time, but I think the Patriot corners will keep him in check.  I just feel like this boom or bust WR is going to bust for a third straight week.

Obvious Start: In case you hadn't noticed, Justin Herbert finally got his tight end into the endzone the last couple of weeks.  Hunter Henry has been a top-5 TE in each of those weeks, and I'd of course fire him up this week against the Bills.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I'm going deep with this one because I have blind faith in my guy Will Dissly.  He was an amazing fantasy tight end last year until he was lost to a season-ending injury.  He's been healthy this year but only has one catch in each of his last 4 games.  But with Greg Olsen now out for the year with an injury, I feel like Dissly will get most of those vacated targets.  I like for him to sneak into the top-12 TEs this week, and he just might be a decent TE you can play down the stretch.  Also if you want someone who the ECR is ranking a bit higher and has a more clear path to targets, the Niners will have to throw to someone and Jordan Reed could be a great streamer against the Rams. 

The Ceiling is the Roof: I didn't see anything out of Jared Cook in Taysom Hill's first start that would lead me to think he will do anything here in Week 12.  Not only would I not play him, but I'd gladly cut him for a number of guys on the waiver wire.

Week 11 wasn't great with my betting picks, but I was still in the positive with my over/under selections.  Those have easily been my best on the season.  Let's see who we have here in Week 12...