Fantasy 5: Use caution when drafting Duke Johnson, Corey Coleman
Every weekday, the Fantasy 5 will take a look at the five most important NFL news stories for fantasy football players, giving you the advice you need to improve your team.
There are 72 days until the start of the NFL season. That’s two months and 11 days. That’s 1,728 hours. That’s 103,680 minutes. But hey, who’s counting?
Here’s today’s Fantasy 5:
1. Use caution when drafting Browns Duke Johnson and Corey Coleman
Stop the presses. Robert Griffin III has been underwhelming in offseason practices as the Browns’ starting quarterback. Okay, so it isn’t a huge shocker that the quarterback with the once bright future has struggled. In a Monday appearance on PFT Live, ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi said Griffin is healthy and moving well, but he’s lacked any wow moments and has especially struggled when throwing the ball away.
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These comments are further proof that Griffin is far from inked in as the Browns’ starter. Josh McCown is still in the mix, as is rookie Cody Kessler. While it’s unlikely any of these three are viable fantasy options outside of deep 2-QB leagues, there’s a ripple effect on the rest of the Browns’ skill position players. Second-year running back Duke Johnson and rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman are exciting young players on the verge of potential breakout seasons. However, poor quarterback play will almost certainly limit their fantasy ceilings.
2. Washington RB Matt Jones could have a huge workload in 2016
The Washington Post left rookie RB Keith Marshall off their projected 53-man roster for the Redskins. In a vacuum, it isn’t a huge deal to project a seventh-rounder to not make the team. But that leaves just Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, and Mack Brown on the roster. Translation: Matt Jones is going to touch the ball a ton if this prediction comes to fruition. Entering offseason activities, Marshall was the only real threat to Jones on early downs. While Chris Thompson will have a role in passing situations, Jones also flashed ability as a receiver last season.
The jury is still out on Jones from a talent standpoint, but he’s going to be a viable RB2 is the depth chart shakes out the way the Washington Post predicts. Given his current ADP of RB21, he’s a guy to target as a mid-round option who offers a high fantasy ceiling in what proved to be a potent offense down the stretch last season.
3. What to expect from Titans QB Marcus Mariota this season
There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about the Titans’ run-heavy “exotic smashmouth” offense, but we still don’t exactly know what that means. Marcus Mariota may have given us a glimpse on Monday, telling the Daily Press in Virginia that he’d “hand the ball off 40 times a game” if the Titans win games. Of course, this is the season of tropes and exaggerated numbers. Tennessee is certainly going to run the ball a lot with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield along with Mariota, who can hold his own as a runner. But to suggest 640 rushing attempts from this team is purely hyperbole.
That being said, Mariota is still a bit of a long-shot for 4,000 passing yards. He’s certainly a candidate to break out in fantasy circles, but expect a good chunk of that production to come from his legs.
4. Dynasty leaguers should keep an eye on 49ers WRs Eric Rodgers and DeAndre Smelter
With Chip Kelly bringing his up-tempo offense to San Francisco, there’s the potential for a lot of volume-based fantasy scoring from the 49ers skill position guys. Carlos Hyde is an intriguing player, as is Torrey Smith. However, there are a lot of question marks beyond those two players. At wide receiver, former fourth-rounder DeAndre Smelter returns after missing all of his rookie season with a torn ACL. Smelter has interesting physical tools at 6-2, 226, but CSN Bay Area has former CFL WR Eric Rodgers clearly ahead of Smelter right now.
Deep dynasty league players may remember the hullabaloo Rodgers created on waiver wires when he signed with the 49ers back in January after receiving contract offers from 13 different teams following a 1,400-yard season with the Calgary Stampeders. As of now, both Smelter and Rodgers are buried on the depth chart with Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington projected along with Smith in three-wide sets, but both players are worth monitoring in the preseason. At the very least, both players should be scooped up in dynasty leagues.
5. Browns LB Scooby Wright III is a potential steal in IDP dynasty leagues
Two seasons ago, our college analysts graded Arizona’s Scooby Wright III as the No. 2 inside linebacker in college football after he put up an ultra-productive year with 163 total tackles and 14 sacks. You read that right. However, he played just three games last season due to knee and foot injuries, and then saw his draft stock plummet following a poor combine where he ran a lackluster 4.90 40-yard dash.
Wright ended up going to the Browns in the seventh round of the draft, and they think they the former Arizona Wildcat could be a steal. Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis are projected to start on the inside for Cleveland, so Wright will have to make his bones on special teams, at least initially. But his numbers at the collegiate level are hard to ignore. Wright has the potential to be a very productive long-term option, which is ideal for IDP dynasty purposes. Unlike Myles Jack, Darron Lee or even Jaylon Smith, you don’t need to spend an early rookie draft pick on Wright. He’s currently going as the 12th linebacker off the board in rookie drafts, and yours truly was able to snag him in the sixth round of the PFF Friends and Family Dynasty league.