I'm not exactly sure how "sound" this advice projects to be as my recent track record in accumulating top notch talent is umbrageous at best. Last year at around this time I compiled a list of five players I'd recommend taking a hard look at heading into your respective upcoming draft and also highlight five players who are on a watch list for all the wrong reasons. Proceed with caution pertaining to these sorry five.
"Take to the Bank"
Derrick Henry RB:Tennessee Titans
Derrick has joined the influx of running backs the Tennessee Titans currently possess. At forty fifth overall, the selection could be inferred a strange one because the depth chart already included Antonio Andrews who fared decently when given increased responsibility late in the 2015 campaign and the off-season acquisition of DeMarco Murray formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles not to mention what was believed to be promising Minnesota Golden Gopher alumni David Cobb who seemingly has fallen out of favor with Mike Mularkey and staff. The logic for Henry's inclusion on this list is that the Titans are a team who are in the midst of a identity transition and while Murray was brought in to provide Marcus Mariota and company an immediate impact, safe money would suggest that Henry will get more then his fair share of reps this 2016 calendar year. This is a Heisman winner from 2015, someone who received unquantifiable tutelage from a coach who if he wanted, could practically have any job he desires in the National Football League based off his track record in Nick Saban. I look(watch) at Henry play collegiately keeping in mind that my only sample size viewing him is against a conference where 80% of the players playing amount to your next cashier at Burger King but ultimately I witness a physically mature back who will have no problem adapting to the next level. In a non-keeper, I'd strongly advocate taking a waiver in the late rounds on him because if I'm correct in thinking that the Titans will be basement dwelling, it would serve very little purpose entrusting Murray with the majority of it's touches.
DeSean Jackson WR:Washington Redskins
A player that throughout the course of the last few years I've held onto at certain points, I pose if there's a more exciting playmaker that currently plays the position? The answer is a resounding no and the fact is, the style of play that Jay Gruden implements fits the second best athlete with the initials D.J on the planet today perfectly. DeSean Jackson from a non fantasy perspective is a hit or miss individual and due to his propensity of running errant routes or getting into it with fellow teammates makes him a headache organizationally but because the premise of this article is to pinpoint advantages for selecting him in Fantasy Football, let's analyze what makes him just that. The hit and miss off the field is one thing but the home run "hitting" ability he flourishes with on the field makes him dangerous. Kirk Cousins, a Michigan St Grad is a gunslinger and Jackson knows this so more times than not a play will be drawn up to let him streak and for those uninitiated with football terminology, streaking in football isn't as frowned upon as it is in every day society. The home run shots are instant fantasy polarizing boosts and can win you a week with a no problemo 16-17 point play in a matter of seconds. When developing my draft board, I took two things into account. For starters, I have the Redskins right in the heart of the NFC East Division which ensures meaningful, competitive football down the stretch and secondly because he's on the final year of his contract, I anticipate a motivated DeSean for the entire season.
Alshon Jeffery WR:Chicago Bears
I'm never beneath spouting out bold proclamations, and this may come a surprise to my over 30,000 readers of this enterprise but when creating the aforementioned draft board, Alshon sits at number three in the receiver department. Truth be told, this will come as no surprise because as just mentioned it's become an expected occurrence to spew off a hot take. Getting back to the topic at hand, is Jeffery actual the third best receiver in the game of football, heck no BUT when you're receiving passes from the cannon of an arm in Jay Cutler, it's a tremendous fantasy option because he'll air it out more than forty times a game. The reservation I had with Jeffrey's mention on this list was just that, Jay Cutler. Bears fans(there's such a thing?) should be counting their blessings that Alshon stands at 6'3 because Kristin Cavallari's husband constantly overthrows his receivers and thank god for the reach that's in his arsenal. I haven't seen such an overthrower since the days of notorious former Arizona Cardinal Jake "The Snake" Plummer and this is why the Bears are an abundance of comedy team wise but why Jeffery is a valued fantasy commodity, he can handle the high ball. First round material due to the increased aerial attack.
David Johnson RB:Arizona Cardinals
The casual reader can advise me whether or not using Rotoworld as a secondary source for fantasy information, which I do is a recipe for success tactic but nonetheless I found their latest scouting report on Johnson laughable. "That'll go game to game" says Head Coach Bruce Arians. Bruce, give your head a shake, Andre Ellington is football's equivalent to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in hockey, all hype no tangible results. Chris Johnson? Chris Johnson who once broke Marshal Faulk's rushing record accumulating over 2,500 yards will only ever come anywhere close to replicating that again if he's playing Madden on the Xbox. Arians only has one reliable option, and that's David. The Cardinals came into last season as arguably the divisional favourites but after Carson Palmer was getting no help in the run game and injuries were starting to build up, they turned to third best D.J on this planet(reference the Jackson analysis to understand this line of thought) and he ran with the responsibility. 4.6 yard a carry in 2015, and that's earned him "game by game" responsibility. I tend at times to talk myself out of things while writing pieces like this and even though I own D.J in the keeper league I participate in, I'm questioning now whether he merits a keeper position on my squad. I'll say this, if you maintain Arians will eventually come to his senses and structure this offence around David then undoubtedly he's worth a high draft selection.
Ben Watson TE:Baltimore Ravens
The most underrated signing in the off-season. End of story.Okay....maybe there's more to Watson's story but the possibilities are endless when imagining the production of a Flacco-Watson battery. A quick Wikipedia search informed me that he hails from Norfolk, Virginia and while the signing between himself and the Ravens should be commended, Ben certainly is a rarity when it comes to past athletes from Norfolk as it's overrated central headlined by David"they say I provide off the field leadership but can't hit worth crap" Wright and Melvin" I thought I'd change my name from B.J so people could forget my atrocious hitting from past markets" Upton. Watson's contributions may have been inappreciable in his previous three stops(NE,CLEV,NO) but his leadership on a young team in Baltimore will be needed as they're slowly but surely transitioning as they look to work towards respectability once again. I used the word inappreciable purposefully because that's exactly what he's been his entire career, particularly as a member of the New England Patriots. Thirteen touchdowns through three seasons as a Patriot was overlooked because those very Patriot clubs boasted the likes of Tom Brady and Deion Branch but the factualness(if that's a word) of the situation is that at times Watson was Brady's most reliable target and at times the same can be said through for Drew Brees during his time as a Saint. The Ravens were fortunate to have Steve Smith announce his return but aside from the veteran who in my opinion is too long in a tooth, see below to understand why, Flacco needed a more consistent short yardage target and he found it in spades with Ben
"I'd rather select Johnny Manziel"
.Gary Barnidge TE:Cleveland Browns
There are a few concerns I have with Barnidge heading into this season. First and foremost, he plays for the Browns and while the city of Cleveland's fortune is turning around of late, the Browns I wouldn't comfortably wager on anytime soon. Gary Barnidge's 2015 was an aberration and statistics will back this claim up. From his rookie season debuting for the Carolina Panthers back in 2008, the now thirty year old has tallied twelve career touchdowns, nine of which came a season ago. Ex offensive coordinator John DeFilippo utilized Barnidge exclusively in redzone situations but I can assure after a new coaching regime was unveiled in Cleveland, Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton will endorse more offensive diversity which sadly will limit if not expunge all together the role that Gary had in an earlier iteration. Hamilton from my vantage point who was hired by Jackson in January to oversee the offence is someone from his time at Stanford that likes to shove the deep ball down opposing defences throats and this gameplanning is not where Barnidge succeeds. Someone like the currently suspended Josh Gordon could thrive if the commitment is put in but Barnidge, not so much. Not seeing the upside.
Andy Dalton QB: Cincinnati Bengals
This inclusion has NOTHING to do with his playoff choking escapades as like all fantasy football aficionados are aware, playoff productivity doesn't equate to winning Fantasy Football Championships. Here's the contention I and most reading this have with Dalton It's the hot and cold effect. One minute he's in sunny Hawaii however the next minute his mental fortitude is vacationing in Anchorage, Alaska. Statistically he had his worst season in 2015 only throwing for 3,250 yards and that alone should leave the mere thought of drafting Dalton with a great deal of trepidation. When brainstorming my lists for the do's and don'ts for your 2016 draft, part of the reason why I chose to add the TCU grad Dalton was because I can't get over the fact that General Manager Mike Brown has begun to run this team into the ground. A.J Green is a top quality receiver but you can be the next coming of Jerry Rice and without the proper supporting cast the team will be no better off. The decision to let Mohamed Sanu walk was unconscionable. Sanu who now is a member of the Atlanta Falcons was a serviceable Robin to Green's Batman, the ying to his yang if you will. Without Sanu and lest we not forget the subtraction of Marvin Jones, the passing attack is too one dimensional.Sure, I've read glowing reports pertaining to rookie Tyler Boyd but he's not ready to contribute forcefully just yet meaning I can guarantee you'll see a plethora of double and triple team coverage against Green all year. For these reasons, I ask is it even possible for Dalton's fantasy potential to not diminish? This blogger says no.
Devonta Freeman RB:Atlanta Falcons
Fellow fans of sport, remember that time when during the 2014-2015 National Basketball Association offseason the Portland Trail Blazers, an organization I hold a close affinity to having attended a couple of games at the beautiful Moda Center decided to ship out fan favourite Nicholas Batum in order to acquire somebody Coach Terry Stotts thought was a more suitable fit in Gerald Henderson. Welp. Henderson was acquired having posted career numbers the year before with the Charlotte Bobcats but then coming over to Oregon and found himself dropping in every statistical category. Do I expect the same fate to play out for Freeman? Quite bluntly, yes! I seem to vividly recollect, and taking nothing away from the outstanding season he compiled a year ago but what made him a fantasy giant was a cluster of short yardage touchdowns which simply isn't sustainable. It was a tale of two halves for the Florida State product as in the first five weeks that coincided with his Falcons squad bursting out of the gate and arguably beginning the year as the hottest team in football, this is where Devonta racked up the bulk of his points. Case in point, within the first seven weeks of the season he rushed for over one hundred yards four times. In the remaining nine games, his weekly high was eighty eight yards which again coincided with the teams freefall. Apologies in advance for the tangent I'm about to go on but I'm all for loyalty to a certain degree however it's painfully obvious the Falcons are abusing the loyalty card with some of their senior players. Having followed a variety of sports my entire life I've long understood that reputation can carry you a long way and in Matt Ryan's particular case, the "Matty Ice" moniker must be dropped ASAP. How can one be given the penchant of playing well under pressure when in fact he melts quicker then Patrick Lalime used to in a routine first round playoff series. The staunch bond the Falcons and Ryan have created is primarily why I wouldn't trust selecting any Falcon at any point in my upcoming draft. To steal a reality television coined term, spoiler alert, I can assure you picking any Atlanta Falcons, including Freeman at any point in the draft will be why you don't make your leagues playoff. I can assure you all, this fantasy guru(couldn't type that with a straight face) will not subject himself to any Falcon come draft day. Falcons are a mess, free yourself of Freeman.
Thomas Rawls RB:Seattle Seahawks
The daunting pressure one must face replacing the irreplaceable Marshawn Lynch is insurmountable. Let's first discuss the possible advantages there would be for taking a waiver on Rawls. First, he's an incredibly silky cutter in the backfield, a kind of running back who'll make a defensive lineman look silly purely based off of excellent footwork. Okay, so I lied, that's basically the only positive attribute I can toss Thomas' way. Now to the negative ledger. In reading this mass confusion will set in asto why Rawls is on the don't touch list. The same people up in arms have a short sighted approach when breaking down translatable fantasy numbers and just drop their jaw at yardage and don't assess how a player performs in the red zone/optimal scoring areas. Rawls had two superb games last year, one of which was against the CFL-esque calibre San Francisco 49'ers defence so take that game with a grain of salt. The concerning statistic that needs to be stressed is his red zone efficiency. The paramount reason for his lack of scores is how Pete Carroll and co allocate scoring possessions. Russell Wilson is a scrambling quarterback who covets getting out of the pocket and using his legs to stretch the defence. The adverse effect from Rawls' point of view by Russell doing this is it principally forces Rawls to act as an extra offensive lineman and block to spare Russell more time to observe the defensive setup. Even Lynch's numbers weren't great the last two years and what I just mentioned above makes it impossible for any running back in a Carroll offence to be a desirable fantasy pick.
Steve Smith WR:Baltimore Ravens
The second Baltimore Raven in this entry and unfortunately for old man Steve, this will be built around negative connotations. This legitimately does pain me having to insert Smith in this discussion because back when he was a member of the Carolina Panthers, I was a huge fan. Some would say that I have a very large ego and looking back it's safe to assume the rational for falling in love with Smith was due to him exuding a cockiness on the field which I quickly gravitated towards. I was a fan........back in 2012 when his statistics were still comprable. Professional athletes are stubborn, they hold onto this irritable ignorance that there skills will never diminish. The reason for this, or at least one of the reasons is that they truly don't know what their post football career will look like. To reach the pinnacle of your sport, you're spending countless hours in junior high, high school and college attempting to perfect the craft and thus have no idea what to do with yourself when the page is turned. Smith is no exception and not withstanding this is a thirty seven year old recovering from a torn Achilles. It would go against any unwritten Fantasy Football rule picking Steve Smith at this juncture. On the Rich Eisen show a while back, Smith was quoted as saying "I will wound, damage, and puncture a lot of people on my way out". Well Steve in response to that I would like to say that I hope you don't damage the chances of the Baltimore Ravens by experimenting with this Gordie Howe-esque longevity.