Fantasy 5: Green-Beckham moves, but draft stock doesn't
The Fantasy 5 is a regular feature that takes a look at the five most important NFL news stories for fantasy football players, giving you the advice you need to improve your team.
It’s here. No, not the NFL preseason. My 2016 fantasy football draft board is officially out. In this article you get insight into how I’m going to approach my drafts this year with insights on which players you should target at various points in the draft. It’s the only fantasy draft board you need this year.
Okay, with the shameless plug out of the way, let’s get into today’s Fantasy 5:
1. Dorial Green-Beckham’s stock doesn’t change despite trade.
News broke Tuesday morning that the Eagles traded offensive lineman Dennis Kelly in exchange for Green-Beckham. The second-year receiver fell behind rookie Tajae Sharpe on the Titans depth chart this offseason and has been called “inconsistent” by Titans head coach Mike Mularkey. The move now locks Sharpe in as Tennessee’s third receiver with Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews penciled in as the starters in 2-wide sets.
It’s easy to overreact to this news, but it’s important to look at the actual deal. The Eagles traded away offensive line depth for Green-Beckham. It could be a stroke of brilliance, but is more likely a good indication of where Green-Beckham is at this point in his career.
Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor still project as the starters in Philly, but the third receiver job is up in the air. Chris Givens, Rueben Randle and Josh Huff are in the mix for those duties. While Randle appeared to be the initial frontrunner, he’s having an uninspired camp and Givens has pulled ahead. Green-Beckham isn’t a strong bet to take the No. 3 job, but he still offers some upside as a late-round pick.
2. Ladarius Green continues to trend down.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Green’s status, with reports suggesting that the former Chargers tight end has been dealing with recurring headaches. The rumor mill has even gone as far as suggesting that these headaches may force Green to retire. The Steelers have maintained that Green is on the active/PUP due to an ankle injury, but there’s yet to be any clarity on Green.
Green appeared to be on track for a breakout season after signing with the Steelers in the offseason. His field-stretching ability up the seam is something the team hasn’t had at the tight end position. However, his inability to get off of PUP is concerning. At this point, it’s very difficult to endorse drafting Green as an upside TE1. Unless he’s able to get on the practice field soon, it’s a good idea to pass on Green on draft day.
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3. Rob Gronkowski scare.
The Twitterverse was briefly in panic mode yesterday when it was reported that Gronkowski left practice after pulling up while attempting to catch a pass. The injury turned out to be minor and showed yet again why we shouldn’t overreact to beat writer tweets in the preseason.
Gronkowski remains the top tight end in fantasy drafts. Fantasy drafters should anticipate having to expend a late first- or early second-round pick on him. While owning Gronkowski is never a bad thing, that’s an early pick to spend on a tight end.
In past seasons, the value gap between Gronkowski and the rest of the field was large enough to justify selecting him this early. However, Jordan Reed has closed the gap this year and presents a much better value as a fourth-round pick. There’s also intriguing value in the middle and later rounds at the position. As such, it doesn’t make as much sense from a roster construction standpoint to expend early round draft capital on Gronkowski. That being said, he becomes a nice value if he falls to the tail end of the second or beginning of the third round.
4. Latavius Murray to get more carries than last year?
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said on Monday that the team aims to get Murray more carries this season. This quote flies in the face of offseason talk that Oakland would decrease Murray’s workload this season. The fifth-round selection of DeAndre Washington further fueled this narrative.
The Raiders run game looked very potent in their first preseason game with Washington racking up 43 yards on eight carries, and backup George Atkinson III going for 97 yards and two scores on five carries. In comparison, Murray’s four carries for 21 yards doesn’t pop, but it isn’t wise to be overly concerned with his stat line.
Murray was third in the league with 266 carries last season. If the Raiders in fact give him even more work, he’s all but guaranteed to produce RB1 numbers on volume alone. Of course, coachspeak happens a lot at this time of year, but the good thing is that Oakland isn’t saying anything negative about Murray. The drafting public is generally down on Murray right now, with his ADP holding steady as the 17th running back being selected in drafts. That’s solid value, especially for those who go wide receiver heavy early in drafts.
5. Don’t overvalue Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin is returning for a torn ACL that sidelined him for all of 2015. Expectations for the third-year man are high among fantasy drafters, with Benjamin currently going 18th among wide receivers with an ADP in the middle of the third round. The general expectation is that Benjamin will pick right up where he left off in his rookie season when he went over 1,000 yards and racked up 142 targets.
However, that was a different Panthers team, and we’re already projected Benjamin for fewer targets this year. Additionally, Carolina beat reporter David Newton thinks there’s a chance Devin Funchess outperforms Benjamin in 2016. Newton also pointed out that Benjamin has been struggling with conditioning in training camp. While Funchess is still a bit of a longshot to out-produce Benjamin, Newton’s comments are yet another reason to not overvalue Benjamin on draft day. He’s best viewed as a fringe WR2.