Fantasy 5: Jamaal Charles to the Broncos, but fantasy stock low
(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.)
Well that was fun. The last three months have been dedicated to the draft, and with that event in the rearview mirror, we can now get down to brass tacks. Rookie drafts are in full swing, so don’t forget to check out our rookie rankings and rookie draft board and strategy. There’s also a lot going on around the league. Here are the five biggest stories from the last 24 hours:
1. Jamaal Charles signs with Denver
Following a rumor-filled last two months since his release from the Chiefs, Charles signed a deal with the Broncos with a reported base salary of $1 million and an addition $2.75 million in incentives. Charles adds depth to a backfield that features veteran C.J. Anderson, second-year man Devontae Booker, and rookie De’Angelo Henderson.
There are certain players who have name-brand recognition in the fantasy community. It’s fair to say that Charles is one of these players. The problem with the name brands is they’re often overvalued well after their prime. Fantasy owners will want to avoid falling prey to Charles’ name brand because while it’s in theory a decent landing spot, Charles is no guarantee to be a fantasy factor this year.
The veteran runner has been one of the best running backs of his generation with an astounding average of 5.5 yards per carry on 1,332 regular season attempts. However, he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and has played in just eight games over the last two seasons. That’s not to say we should completely rule out Charles as a fantasy option, but for now Anderson remains the back to own in Denver.
2. Will Ladarius Green be on the field for the Steelers in 2017?
It’s a great question that really doesn’t have an answer at this point. What we do know is that Green is participating in Steelers’ OTAs, but it isn’t clear if he’s been fully cleared from the concussion issue that has plagued him since last season.
Green only played significant snaps in three games last year, from Week 13 to Week 15. Over that span, only Zach Ertz, Cameron Brate, and Travis Kelce were more productive fantasy tight ends. Green saw 24 targets, catching 13 of them for 207 yards and one score. While it’s a small sample size, that’s significant volume. Green has the potential to be a strong TE1 option if he can manage to stay on the field. Early ADP has him going as the 14th tight end in the late 12th round. There’s a lot of risk that comes with Green, but he’s worth a stab as a late-round flier in early fantasy drafts.
3. Buffalo declines Sammy Watkins’ fifth-year option
There are very real football implications here, but for fantasy purposes this front office move shouldn’t impact how Watkins should be viewed. Yes, injuries have caused Watkins to miss 11 games over the last two season. But his production when he’s on the field is undeniable. In 2015, he racked up the third-most deep-ball receptions with 16. He also ranked in the top 10 in fantasy scoring among wide receivers over the 13 games he played.
What often goes overlooked about Watkins is his age. It feels like he’s been in the league for a long time, but Watkins is still just 23 years old and will turn 24 in June. The recent injury history is concerning, but the book hasn’t been written on Watkins just year. Players with “injury-prone” labels have turned the corner in the past. For 2017, Watkins should be considered an upside WR2 in redraft formats, and he remains a viable buy-low option in dynasty leagues.
4. No rush for DeShone Kizer
The Browns were not one of the three teams to select a quarterback in the first round of the draft, yet they still managed to get one of the top four prospects with the second-round selection of Kizer. Given the present state of the Cleveland depth chart, there certainly a chance the former Notre Dame signal-caller could be under center for the Browns in 2017. But Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown said the team won’t pressure Kizer to start in Year 1.
If they stay true to their word, it’s a good situation for Kizer, who enters the NFL with a massive ceiling but also with a need to develop. He’ll compete for the starting job in camp with Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler, but will not be saddled with the expectation to be an immediate starter. Kizer is one of the most intriguing dynasty prospects of this year’s quarterback class. His dual-threat ability bodes well for future fantasy success, though owners shouldn’t expect an immediate return on investment. Kizer is a nice value at his current ADP in the late third round of rookie drafts.
5. Who’s the lead running back in Philly?
Right now, the answer to that question appears to be Darren Sproles following a draft where the Eagles did not select a marquee running back. Philly spent a fourth-round pick on Donnel Pumphrey, who profiles similarly to Sproles from a skill set standpoint. Ryan Mathews is currently on the roster, but he’s expected to be cut loose before the start of camp. That leaves Sproles along with incumbents Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall. There’s also a dark horse candidate in UDFA Corey Clement.
Sproles has certainly been one of the league’s most dynamic running backs over the last decade, but he’s now entering his age-34 season and has never topped 100 regular-season carries in a season. Provided he stays healthy, Sproles should flirt with 150 touches, but that isn’t enough to give him sustainable fantasy value on a week-to-week basis. The Eagles appear to be on track for a full-blown committee situation, which means there’s very little fantasy value to be had in this backfield.