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Best of luck and happy drafting!
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These players have a great chance to outperform their DRAFT projection.
Aaron Rodgers – QB – Green Bay (DRAFT Projection: 18.6)
Aaron Rodgers checks in as the 14th ranked quarterback on DRAFT. That is absurd! There’s no way Rodgers should slip outside the top five at the QB position. Sure, he’s not fully healthy, but he has played an efficient six quarters since sustaining that knee injury. In other words, I don’t expect the current ailment to have a drastic impact on his fantasy production. The matchup isn’t bad either, facing a Washington defense that let Andrew Luck enjoy a solid fantasy outing despite his lack of downfield passing … Rodgers should be just fine this week, and he checks in as my fourth ranked QB (see below for full list).
James Conner – RB – Pittsburgh (DRAFT Projection: 13.5)
James Conner is still drastically underrated on DRAFT and underpriced on many salary cap formats relative to his workload for one of the best offenses in football. He should see plenty of opportunities to top 100 total yards while hitting pay dirt in Monday night’s matchup at Tampa. Conner easily cracks the top ten running backs of the week in my book, potentially even making a run (no pun intended) at top five status. I would definitely take RBs like Gurley, Kamara, McCaffrey, Elliott, and Barkley ahead of him, then the decision becomes more difficult with the next tier of Conner, Gordon, Hunt, and Cook. Either way, Conner deserves a boost from this 13.5 DRAFT projection to somewhere closer in the neighborhood of 15-16 FP at least.
Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – New York Giants (DRAFT Projection: 10.8)
It seems that Odell Beckham will have chronically low projections on DRAFT; at least that has been the case through these first three weeks. Sure, a subpar offensive line and quarterback creates a lower-than-usual fantasy floor for the superstar wide receiver. However, let’s not forget about ODB’s big play ability and real potential for 10-15 routine targets. Sunday’s draw at Houston is probably his best matchup of the season so far, as the Texans rank 27th in opponent passer rating (29th last year) with the 25th best secondary according to Pro Football Focus player grades. If the offensive line can allow Eli Manning enough time to find Beckham, we could be in for a rewarding stat-line.
Jordan Howard – RB – Chicago (DRAFT Projection: 10.8)
I love Jordan Howard as a high-upside RB2 who will likely slip through the cracks in most drafts. The default DRAFT rankings have him buried as the 23rd ranked player of his position. For reference, he should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 in my opinion. That creates a fantastic opportunity for savvy drafters who are fully aware of the flaws and quirks in DRAFT’s predetermined rankings. That’s why you read this column, right? Howard finds himself in a juicy matchup at Arizona, where game flow and scoring opportunities should be on his side against an Arizona defense that ranks 23rd vs the run according to Pro Football Focus comprehensive player grades.
These players may not live up to their DRAFT projection.
Ben Roethlisberger – QB – Pittsburgh (DRAFT Projection: 21.1)
Yes, Ben Roethlisberger paid huge dividends with 38.98 fantasy points last week. However, we need to keep in mind the crazy wave of home vs road production from the veteran QB. The Steelers will head back on the road for a tricky Monday night draw at Tampa. For that reason, I’m giving Roethlisberger a slight downgrade from this 21.1 FP projection. After all, this draw has him ranked as the second-best QB of the week, and I’d easily take Mahomes, Brady, Rodgers, Newton, Watson, Brees, or maybe even Cousins ahead of him.
David Johnson – RB – Arizona (DRAFT Projection: 16.5)
Johnson makes the list of overrated players for the third straight week. Sure, he’s extremely talented, but it’s hard to trust a guy who plays for an anemic offense that that can’t move the chains with consistency. As a result, defenses have an easy time keying on Johnson while stuffing the Cards’ rushing attack. Game flow will probably work against him yet again while facing a quality Bears’ defense.
Alex Smith – QB – Washington (DRAFT Projection: 20.3)
Alex Smith is just a “meh” option, even when he has solid matchups like his draw vs Green Bay on Sunday. He doesn’t have much upside, especially considering his lack of vertical pass attempts and an overall underwhelming receiving corps. No matter how you slice it, Smith doesn’t deserve to be ranked as the fifth best QB of the week – which is the case with this 20.3 FP projection on DRAFT. I’ve pushed him outside the top ten at this position, safely avoiding him through all league sizes.
Giovani Bernard – RB – Cincinnati (DRAFT Projection: 15.3)
Yes, we are all excited to see what Gio Bernard can do with Joe Mixon out. However, I believe DRAFT may be too eager with this 15.3 FP projection. Keep in mind that DRAFT is a 0.5 PPR site, so Gio will only receive somewhat of a boost while seeing targets out of the backfield. There are safe RB options ranked below him, looking towards James Conner, Jordan Howard, Kareem Hunt, and Tevin Coleman primarily.
Top 10 Overall. This is list pretty straightforward when it comes to comparing the default pre-draft rankings. The main takeaways come from Michael Thomas being overrated as the top receiver. I believe you can look towards Brown, Julio, Hopkins, and maybe even Ty Hill over him … Sticking with WR commentary, I’m still high on Antonio Brown despite the letdown last week and circus revolving with trade rumors. I will apply the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” theory here, thinking AB gets a ton of opportunities to show out in this primetime game.
- Todd Gurley – RB
- Alvin Kamara – RB
- Christian McCaffrey – RB
- Antonio Brown – WR
- Julio Jones – WR
- Saquon Barkley – RB
- Ezekiel Elliott – RB
- DeAndre Hopkins – WR
- Melvin Gordon – RB
- Michael Thomas – WR
Quarterback Rankings. I’m looking at Mahomes and Brady as the top two options of this slate. From here, Newton/Watson/Rodgers are pretty much interchangeable. I ranked Newton and Watson ahead of Rodgers due to the rushing potential boosting their subsequent floor/ceiling.
- Patrick Mahomes – KC
- Tom Brady – NE
- Cam Newton – CAR
- Deshaun Watson – HOU
- Aaron Rodgers – GB
- Drew Brees – NO
- Kirk Cousins – MIN
- Ben Roethlisberger – PIT
- Jimmy Garoppolo – SF
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – TB
Updated for injuries, weather, etc will be posted here throughout the week – highlighting the DRAFT consequences of each situation.
Leonard Fournette is back at practice. We still aren't sure if he'll be available on Sunday. Fournette is a borderline top five running back when healthy, but hamstring issues can be tricky when trying to recover. It's probably best to keep avoiding him until we get clear-cut confirmation either way. Note posted Thu 9-20 at 11:30am ET.