Fantasy 5: Could Jacksonville draft a Bortles replacement?
Jeff Ratcliffe looks at the day's big fantasy football topics, including Jacksonville's QB, Jimmy Garoppolo's trade chances, and Mike Gillislee's contract.
Fantasy 5: Could Jacksonville draft a Bortles replacement?
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
The NFL draft is almost here. By this time next week, the NFL landscape will be completely altered, and we’ll start to put together the giant puzzle that ultimately will be the 2017 season. There are also a number of non-draft storylines playing out across the league. Here are five stories to know from this past weekend.
1. Jacksonville could draft a quarterback
This year’s draft doesn’t feature one of the better crops of signal-callers, but the scarcity at the position means we’ll likely see three or four quarterbacks taken on Day 1 of the draft. In Cris Collinsworth’s recent mock draft, he has the Jags taking DeShaun Watson with the No. 4 pick. While the Jags have been widely linked to Leonard Fournette in that spot by draft pundits, a quarterback is certainly a possibility there.
Just three years ago, Jacksonville spent the third overall pick on Blake Bortles. While Bortles did throw for 4,428 yards and 35 scores in 2015, he also led the league in interceptions. His play regressed last season, and there are rumblings that the Jags won’t be picking up his fifth-year option. A quarterback selection on Thursday night would all but verify that take.
At this point, we’re in wait-and-see mode with Allen Robinson. The young receiver was widely regarded in fantasy circles as a bust last year, but Bortles’ play also certainly held him back. Robinson ranked seventh among wideouts with 144 targets. Despite the shaky quarterback situation, the volume suggests a rebound year for Robinson. He’s a strong value at his current ADP of 3.05.
2. Will Jimmy G. stay put?
It sure seems that way. The Browns have been rumored to have interest in trading for Garappolo, but according to Adam Schefter, “he isn’t going anywhere.” From New England’s side, it make a lot of sense to hang on to Garappolo. Quarterbacks are at an ultra-premium in the NFL. While the Pats currently have the best ever at the position, Tom Brady will also be on the wrong side of 40 when the season opens. He’s still more than capable of playing at a high level, but if Garappolo was traded, New England would be left with Jacoby Brissett if something happened to Brady.
Cleveland is on the complete opposite end of the quarterback spectrum with Texans castoff Brock Osweiler currently atop the depth chart. There are certainly things to like about the Browns heading into 2017. An upgraded offensive line has the potential to give Cleveland a potent run game. But the quarterback situation continues to haunt this franchise. For fantasy purposes, Corey Coleman is an exciting young player. But it’s tough to get too enthusiastic about his 2017 stock with Osweiler/Cody Kessler/one of the rookie quarterbacks under center.
3. Mike Gillislee’s fate to be decided Monday
New England offered the restricted free agent a two-year deal worth $6.4 million. Buffalo has until Monday to match that offer. Gillislee is coming off a strong season where he graded out 14th among running backs after averaging 5.7 yards per carry (3.3 yards after contact) and scored eight times on just 101 attempts.
For fantasy purposes, it’s better for Gillislee to go to the Patriots. New England does have a crowded backfield, but it’s currently full of backs better suited to passing-down roles in James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead. Gillislee would figure to play on early downs, which the role in which we saw LeGarrette Blount rack up 18 rushing scores and finished seventh among fantasy running backs last season.
Should he remain in Buffalo, Gillislee’s fantasy value would be closely tied to LeSean McCoy’s health. As the second fiddle in the Bills’ backfield, Gillislee will only have starter-worthy fantasy value if McCoy misses time.
4. Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders still negotiating
Beast Mode isn’t a Raider just yet, as the sides remain roughly $2 million apart for Lynch’s services this season. The expectation is that a deal is reached before the kickoff of the draft Thursday night. If one isn’t, the Raiders very likely could address the running back position on one of the three days of the draft. Oakland is currently thin at the positon with Latavius Murray now in Minnesota and incumbents Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington atop the depth chart.
Lynch would immediately slot ahead of Richard and Washington, but it isn’t wise to expect a 25-touch-per-game workload. Lynch is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a year out of football, so a scaled-down workload in the 15- to 20-touch range makes more sense. While that won’t put him in the RB1 conversation, Lynch is more than capable of returning RB2 value behind the Raiders’ offensive line. That is, if a deal get done.
5. C.J. Spiller is back! #Sarcasm
In fantasy football, there are always those players who people tend to fall for on an annual basis no matter how many times they’ve been a letdown. Spiller is arguably the quintessential example of these fantasy mirages. He had a nice stretch in 2012 and 2013, but has been a perennial disappointment since.
But a glimmer of hope exists, as Kansas City general manager John Dorsey said he saw Spiller’s speed and twitch back. Should we believe him? No. Don’t do it. It’s the season of lies, and this is one of the tropiest tropes of them all: “Player A has (insert skill set) back.” Spiller was fun while he lasted, but he’s well off the fantasy radar at this point in his career.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.