Fantasy 5: Julian Edelman still a solid pick despite scare
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.
Fantasy draft season is here. Queue the balloon drop. If you haven’t already, it’s a great time to get prepping. To get you started, I put some thoughts together on draft strategy and other things you can do to win your leagues this year. Give it a read. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, it’s all my editor’s fault.
Here’s today’s Fantasy 5:
1. Julian Edelman okay after scare, remains a solid value pick.
News broke yesterday afternoon that Edelman exited practice with an injury to his lower left leg, which is the same area that sidelined him all offseason and required two surgeries. While the initial reports sounded bad, Edelman appears to have avoided major injury and may not miss any time at all. It’s great news for the Patriots, as Edelman was just activated off the active/PUP at the beginning of the week. Before he went down, Edelman was reportedly dominating the joint practice against the Saints.
Not having Tom Brady for the first four games of the season hurts the overall fantasy prospects of the Patriots, but Edelman still figures to be heavily involved in the passing game. Through the first nine games of last season, Edelman was seventh among wide receivers in standard scoring and sixth in PPR with an average of 9.4 targets per game. He’s currently going as the 19th wide receiver in ADP. That’s a solid value even with the Garoppolo discount.
2. An Ivory/Yeldon timeshare isn’t ideal for fantasy purposes.
The Jaguars released their first unofficial depth chart, and we got pretty much what we expected at the running back position with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon listed as co-starters. While there was some hope that one back might emerge, this is shaping up to be a true committee situation. Ivory figures to get the majority of the early-down work with Yeldon mixing in and serving as the primary passing-down back.
The Jags used Yeldon as a three-down workhorse last season, giving him 218 touches over the first 12 games of the season before a knee injury sidelined him through the end of the season. Despite the healthy workload, Yeldon ranked just 18th in fantasy scoring thanks in part to just three total touchdowns. To his credit, Yeldon was one of the league’s more elusive backs, forcing a missed tackle on 21.2 percent of his touches.
Ivory is coming off a career year, where he was one of just seven running backs to top 1,000 yards on the ground and finished as fantasy’s No. 7 running back. While he did see 34 targets, that was just over half Bilal Powell’s season total. With the workload shaping up to be fairly evenly split between Ivory and Yeldon, neither player is likely to offer RB2 value this season when both players are healthy. The drafting public is currently endorsing Ivory ahead of Yeldon, with the former going 29th among running backs and the latter at 36th.
[Can you find any value out of the Jacksonville backfield, or are both options going too early every time? Take a spin with PFF’s new Draft Master tool to figure out the best approach, plus get recommendations on the players you should target in every round of your draft.]
3. Tyler Boyd gaining momentum.
The rookie receiver is gaining momentum seemingly every day. Last week, he received praise from Bengals QB Andy Dalton, and this week the Cincinnati Enquirer says Boyd’s stock is rising as he’s continue makes plays that cause the coaches to take notice.
Though his Combine test numbers don’t jump off the page – he ran 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and jumped 34 inches in the vertical – Boyd has an impressive college resume. At Pitt, he racked up 3,361 yards on 254 catches and displayed a rare degree of versatility, catching at least on pass out of 13 different routes last season. While he lacks big play ability, his polish as a route runner bodes well.
There’s opportunity on this Bengals’ depth chart with Mohamad Sanu and Marvin Jones out of the mix. Brandon LaFell figures to be the outside receiver opposite A.J. Green with Boyd manning the slot in 3-wide sets. While Boyd is extremely unlikely to have an Odell Beckham-like breakout rookie season, he’s certainly in the WR5 conversation and could prove to be a solid PPR asset in 2016.
4. Can Blaine Gabbert be fantasy relevant?
With the first weekend of preseason action looming on the horizon, it appears Gabbert has pulled well ahead of Colin Kaepernick in the battle for the 49ers starting quarterback job. Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami called Gabbert the “enormous favorite” to be the Week 1 starter in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense.
Some initially proclaimed Kaepernick to be the perfect quarterback for Kelly’s system, but it’s an offense that prioritizes precision and accuracy. Kaepernick owns a career 59.9 completion percentage. While Gabbert’s isn’t any better, he did flash better accuracy last season, completing 63.1 percent of his passes in eight games played. He was also 18th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring over that span. We’ve seen Chip Kelly work wonders with Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and even Sam Bradford last season. It isn’t crazy to put Gabbert in the back-end of the QB2 conversation.
5. Keith Marshall locked in as Matt Jones’ handcuff?
There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the No. 3 running back duties in Washington, but it appears Marshall has emerged as the clear favorite for the job. According to ESPN’s John Keim, Marshall is entrenched in the top three along with Jones and Chris Thompson. This is an important spot for fantasy purposes, as the No. 3 will serve as Jones’ handcuff. Thompson carried the ball just 35 times last year and doesn’t figure to get much work at all as a runner.
Marshall is an impressive athlete who has sub-4.4 wheels, but a spotty college resume. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but injuries and being stuck behind Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb limited his touches at Georgia. However, Redskins GM Scott McCloughan said Marshall could form a two-headed monster along with Jones. It isn’t wise to overreact to this news just yet, but it’s certainly something to monitor throughout the preseason.