Greener Grass for These Players in 2018?

fantasy football
Tyler Masone

Don’t you just hate when a player signs with a new team? It happens every year and puts our minds in a state of limbo. Sometimes it works out well and other times it takes a turn for the worse (cough, cough, Demarco Murray in 2015). The truth of the matter is that we just don’t know what’s going to happen because of a variety of factors including a new system, head coach, offensive coordinator, and role on the team. Here I highlight players that have moved on to new teams and discuss whether or not they will over or underperform their ADP (ADP for this article collected from Fantasy Football Calculator from July 30 – August 2, 2018).


Alex Smith – WAS
(ADP 12.07 QB 17)

Smith was one of the pleasant surprises of 2017. He went undrafted in nearly every league and ended up finishing as a Top-5 quarterback. Thought of as a game manager for most of his career, his 4,042 yards, and 26 touchdowns were both career highs as Andy Reid finally let him air the ball out. But that was 2017 and now, fresh off of a 4-year, 94-million-dollar contract, the Redskins are going to expect the same. Smith had some of the best weapons in the league around him last year with Hunt, Hill, and Kelce and now inherits a core that consists of an unproven rookie Guice, an injury-riddled Doctson, Crowder, and Richardson, who they signed from Seattle. At an ADP of 12.07, Smith is most likely going to be drafted as a backup with potential to start a few games here and there. No one expected him to perform like an MVP last season and I certainly don’t see him coming anywhere close to that level of play this year. Even though 12.07 isn’t a bad spot for him, I’d still rather draft guys like Mariota (12.02 ADP QB 17) and Prescott (13.07 ADP QB 20) over of him.

Running Back

Jerick McKinnon – SF
(ADP 2.09 RB 13)

McKinnon is one of the players that everyone is talking about this offseason. Moving on from the Vikings, he is expected to bear the brunt of the load for a 49ers offense that is expected to be high flying under head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan has made a name for having explosive offenses, recently helping the Falcons get to the Super Bowl in 2016 which plays out well for McKinnon. With the Falcons, Devonta Freeman was considered one of the best RBs in the league due to Shanahan’s ability to get him the ball in the running and passing game (227 att 1,079 yds 11 TDs and 54 rec 462 yds 2 TDs). Many are expecting a similar role for McKinnon this year but let’s pump the breaks for a minute. After Cook went down with a torn ACL, we saw Murray handling most of the early-down work to the tune of 216 carries compared to McKinnon’s 150 carries, as he would come in primarily on third down to act as the pass-catching back. We could see something similar play out in San Francisco as Matt Breida began to establish himself towards the end of the season earning 11 or more carries in four of the last five games.

Projected as a high-end RB 2, McKinnon is a risk that may win you games one week and burns you the next. His inconsistency in the running game along with the fact that he has never been the primary running back in a system are red flags for how high he is being drafted. I’d much rather take the safer option in Jordan Howard (ADP 2.10 RB 14) or Joe Mixon who has potential to be a legitimate three-down back (AD 3.01 RB 15).

Dion Lewis – TEN
(ADP 5.10 RB 28)

At the start of the 2017 season, no one thought that Lewis would end up being the primary back in New England. He played 16 games for the first time in his career and between weeks 6 and 16 he only got less than 11 carries once. He managed 180 carries for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 5.0 yards/carry. He proved to everyone that he can be a workhorse back but now goes to a team that loses Demarco Murray but has a primed Derrick Henry ready to pound the rock inside. I see this starting out as a 50/50 timeshare with Henry getting early-down work and Lewis coming in on third down. The biggest advantage Lewis has going for him is that he is being drafted two rounds later than Henry (5.10 ADP vs. 3.10 ADP). Barring an injury, which is something Lewis has been known for, he has a real shot to be a steal in this year’s draft. New Titans offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur made it a point of emphasis to get Todd Gurley the ball in open space in 2017 (64 rec 788 yds 6 TDs) and if he can do the same for Lewis, we could see his value skyrocket and potentially finish as a solid to high-end RB 2.

Wide Receiver

Allen Robinson – CHI
(ADP 4.09 WR 21)

Robinson has been gone and forgotten about for the past 18 months due to a week 1 ACL injury that kept him out for virtually the entire season. He now returns as a member of the Bears who are looking for him to regain his former WR 1 form in 2015 where he exploded for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Now you’re probably thinking, “What about 2016?” Although he only managed 883 yards and 6 touchdowns, his performance was directly related to quarterback play. In fact, he was actually targeted 151 times in both seasons and managed 80 receptions and 73 receptions in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The difference was the play of Blake Bortles who threw for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 88.2 in 2015. In 2016 his stats declined to a mere 3,905 yards, 23 touchdowns and a passer rating of 78.8.

With all that in the past, it now comes down to how effectively Trubisky can get Robinson the ball. As a rookie, he only threw for 2,193 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions over 12 starts but all reports out of Bears camp are that he has picked up new head coach Maty Nagy’s vertical passing game offense quickly.  Projected as a low-end WR 2, Robinson offers a high ceiling and a low floor. We saw him perform with Blake Bortles so there is no denying his talent and with the improvements, the Bears have made, I see him as a good option for where he is going in comparison to some of the other guys being drafted (Josh Gordan ADP 4.06 WR 18, Smith-Schuster ADP 4.07 WR 19). As the clear cut #1 wide receiver for the Bears, I expect another 1,000-yard season and for him to return as a dependable WR 2.

Jarvis Landry – CLE
(ADP 5.05 WR 24)

Landry defied all of the odds last season. Bad quarterback play and a bad offense in general usually don’t result in players putting up 112 catches, 987 yards, and 9 touchdowns but Landry did. He also had an insane 27% target share for the Dolphins and what did he get in return? A lush 5-year, 75-million-dollar contract and a trade to the Cleveland Browns…

The Browns brought in Tyrod Taylor to bridge the gap until Baker Mayfield is ready to start and although Landry has the talent to overcome bad quarterback play, the style of offense and the way the Browns will utilize Taylor does not bode well for him. Taylor has never averaged more than 18 completions/game as a starter and has never thrown for more than 3,035 yards in a single season. Factor in the weapons the Browns have in Gordon, Coleman, Njoku, Hyde, and Johnson, there is no way possible that Landry gets the opportunity that he did in years past.

All that being said, at ADP 5.05, Landry is being drafted as potential WR 2 which seems about right given the circumstances. The Browns are supposed to take a step in the right direction and the repour between Taylor and Landry during early training camp has been phenomenal. Will Tyrod throw the ball more under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley? Will there be a quarterback change? We may not know the answer to those questions yet but what we do know is that Landry has a lot of talent and at ADP 5.05, you’re drafting a guy who has a relatively high floor and should give you consistent value week in and week out.

Michael Crabtree – BAL
(ADP 6.04 WR 28)

Playing alongside Amari Cooper for the past couple of seasons, Crabtree was always thought of as the 1B option to Cooper, even though he performed like the 1A. Practically any ball thrown his way in traffic was caught, which is why he’s been such a trusted red zone target hauling in over 8 touchdowns each of the last three seasons. The Ravens revamped up their wide receiving core this offseason and are expecting Crabtree to perform like a WR 1, but the problem isn’t Crabtree, its Flacco. Joe Flacco has never once supported WR 1 numbers for his best receiver dating all the way back to 2008. The best fantasy results we’ve seen out of a Flacco wide receiver was in 2009 where Derrick Mason finished as the WR 17.

On average, the best wide receiver in a Flacco led offense finished as the WR 25 which is right in the ballpark for where Crabtree is projected. The one thing Crabtree does have going for him is the position he’s in. A lot of the other guys getting drafted near him are either second or third options and don’t have the potential target share that Crabtree will get (Sammy Watkins ADP 6.08 WR 30, Will Fuller ADP 6.12 WR 31). And for what it’s worth on the surface, you’re getting a guy who is the clear-cut #1 wide receiver for a quarterback who has to perform to keep his job, so Crabtree should see a lot of targets coming his way.

Sammy Watkins – KC
(ADP 6.08 WR 30)

Watkins had quite a disappointing season for his supposed talent that everyone talks about. Hauling in only 39 receptions for 593 yards and 8 touchdowns (the touchdowns were a testament to him being on the highest scoring offense in the league), Watkins was essentially the fourth option behind Gurley, Cupp, and Woods and now goes to a team in Kansas City who has an even better trio in Hunt, Hill, and Kelce. At only 25 years old, Watkins still has room to grow if he can stay healthy but he’s now learning his third offense in as many years and has Mahomes who’s only started one game in his NFL career throwing to him. Look I get it, Mahomes is a gunslinger and people are expecting him to throw the ball a lot this upcoming season.

Consider a porous defense that lost four of its best players, the Chiefs figure to be in shootouts if they want to win games which only helps the argument for drafting Kansas City positional players, just not Watkins. I’m still not sold on Watkins this year even at a respectable ADP of 6.08. Sure, he may have talent, but when you’re the fourth option on a team with proven playmakers, you are more often than not going to get the short end of the stick. There are other guys like Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, and even Julian Edelman that you can get in the sixth to eighth round who will provide a safer floor.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham – GB
(ADP 5.04 TE4)

Tight end has always been a position that people wait on. Other than Gronk, Kelce, and Ertz, you can most likely wait until the fifth or sixth round to find your guy. Graham was a touchdown machine last year pulling in 10 which saved him most weeks from fantasy misery. He only had two games with 60 or more yards and put up less than 3 catches in nine games. A change of scenery was due for Graham and with him moving on to the land of cheeseheads, many are intrigued by the combination of him and Rodgers. The potential problem? Aaron Rodgers… A problem with Aaron Rodgers? Yes, you read correctly. Rodgers has never been a big fan of tight ends throughout his career, only throwing 8 touchdowns to a tight end on two occasions (Jermichael Finley in 2011 and Richard Rodger in 2015). Over the past two seasons, Rodgers has averaged 8.1 attempts per game to Jordy Nelson and 6.7 to tight ends but with Nelson out of the picture, their area a plethora of targets up for grabs.

Graham comes into a dream scenario and has a chance to recapture that glory he claimed early on in his career. Rodgers would be a fool not to look for a guy who has 55 of his 69 career touchdowns in the red zone. If Graham can up his yards to somewhere around 50 yards/game, he will return to tier 1 TE value. At ADP 5.04 he could be a steal.

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