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Around the NFL Pop Quiz: AFC South


There are some sleepers that I personally won't recommend. I refer to it as the "friends at work" rule.

If you're reading this, you play fantasy football. If you play fantasy football, you're likely to talk about it with someone else. If you talk about it with someone else, it's very likely that at the beginning of the conversation, you'll get some sense of which one of you is out of their element. No matter how experienced you are, sometimes it is you, but more than likely if you've been playing the game for over five years in various league types and difficulties, it's the other guy (or girl, but in some strange coincidence only the guys can spend 40 minutes at work loudly telling everyone how a player did them wrong. Maybe it's a sort of rejection thing that's tied to us as guys, who knows.)

Let's also be clear here, very rarely does the other guy want to get helpful information. Instead, he wants to show you that he has also read a fantasy column, and you can throw a rock and hit about ten of them (case in point, I mentioned to a friend who I do lunch with I had to write this evening. His exact response was "Oh yeah, I remember when I used to do that." Killed me a little inside.) And he wants to let you know who is his guy, his sleeper, his numero uno. He's definitely taking this guy this year.

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A Word About David Montgomery

Now, I have no issue with David Montgomery as a player, or even a fantasy commodity. But this is where the "guy at work" rule has it's power. If I've heard of a good recommendation, I do my best to research it and figure out how valid the suggestion is. If I've heard a good recommendation multiple times, from players of multiple skill types, I'll likely throw it out.

When you enter a draft, your goal is a simple one; find the sweet spot of value and get as many guys as possible to fill it at a better rate than what others will pay. Draft a sophomore with a slightly disappointing rookie campaign instead of the hot rookie of the time (I can proudly say last year paying $135 for Christian McCaffrey in a $500 cap dynasty auction, instead of $195 for Saquon Barkley, was the reason I could afford the rest of my roster.) Draft an old player getting more reps in a new system than a new player getting more reps in a new system. Understand when a team is playing a guy in a position less familiar to him, a la Christian Kirk not playing in the slot while Larry Fitzgerald is still there, and have it affect your value.

David Montgomery is probably gonna be electric for the Bears this season, and I'll still take that when someone grabs him at the end of the third instead of a RB I prefer that I have listed in this column. Cost, value, age, opportunity. These are the most important factors for fantasy.

As a quick technical note, all mentions of ADP come from FantasyFootballCalculator and is for PPR leagues. Now let's talk about a running back I prefer.

 

Indianapolis Colts

It feels like everyone is forgetting about __________

  1. Mo Allie-Cox
  2. Marlon Mack
  3. TY Hilton
  4. Eric Ebron

Last year, after recommending Ryan Grant, I spent the 2018 realizing that the Indianapolis Colts is a top heavy fantasy offense, no matter how many people are drafting Parris Campbell. I don't hate it, but the Colts offense may spend the first few weeks of the season trying to find itself in light of Andrew Luck's injury, and it's massively tanking the value of Marlon Mack. He's certainly not a sleeper, but another week of unimpressive preseason work and rumors surrounding the team's RB use have made Mack a borderline fifth round pick, down from the beginning of the third.

There are real reasons to be fearful of Mack, but no more so than going into 2018. Mack was somewhere in between "injury risk" and "the better guy in a running back by committee," reported by the team's own website. He ended up missing three games, but still averaged 16+ attempts per game.

Let me be clear here: there is absolutely no reason for a player like Mack to be taken later than a Derrick Henry or a Melvin Gordon who is expressly holding out. If he is available at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth, you simply cannot wait.

Where To Take Him: End of the 4th/Beginning of the 5th in Redraft
Confidence: High
Timeline: All season

 

Houston Texans

Choose _______, not ______

This is another one of the pieces of advice I have that seems obvious, but isn't exactly that up-and-down. On July 21st, the distance between these two players was 6.07 and 14.04. Of course, they weren't on the same team then. On August 8th, we saw the value skyrocket. From dropping to the end of the 14th, to climbing as of today to an average of the 8th round, the fantasy community has a bit of Duke-itis.

Lamar Millernot Duke Johnson, is going to end up costing only a round pick more than Duke Johnson if this trend continues. He's now lingering into the 7th round, because training camp stirs up this strange feeling in fantasy fans that this will be the year that Duke Johnson breaks 100 total receptions and finally returns the fantasy value we've hoped for. Maybe this year, he won't be RB 37 in PPR.

Except Duke Johnson isn't going into a new offense that more acutely utilizes running backs, especially the pass catching variety. Lamar Miller, as very un-sexy of the fantasy name that he is, has only had less than 200 rushing attempts once since 2014, and none of those were with the Texans.

Now, the counterargument here is obvious. Duke Johnson is going to be a much bigger part of the passing game than any shot of being in the running game, likely to see somewhere between 40-80 attempts throughout the season (good for 5 attempts a game) and about the same number of receptions (his season high is 4.6 a game). That still doesn't mean, even in PPR, that Duke Johnson is only about a round or so better than Lamar Miller. Make sure not to draft him as such.

Where To Take Him: Mid-7th in Redraft
Confidence: Medium
Timeline: You should have your answer quickly

 

Tennessee Titans 

The only thing worth drafting in Tennessee is _________

A: Derrick Henry
B: Marcus Mariota
C: Adam Humphries
D: Defense/Special Teams

I swore I would only do this once, but if you're waiting on defense, the Titans Defense is an astounding pickup. Yes, that's not exactly what you're looking for out of these articles, but if you're dead set on waiting for your defense, the Tennessee Titans were the 11th ranked fantasy defense that was a underrated playoff winner for the teams who grabbed them, accounting for double digit performances from Week 14-17.

If you're playing in a league that dings you for points against, possibly resulting in negatives, the Titans are a hell of a way to minimize risk. The Titans were ranked 3rd in allowed points in 2018. They did their best to keep the band together in 2019, realizing that the best way to do well in their division was to simply play lockdown defense and run the ball. This, of course, may end up cratering the fantasy value of the Tennessee offense, unless we finally get the magical Mariota season we've been waiting seasons for.

Tennessee basically isn't coming off the board, so unless you happen to be drafting in Nashville, these guys will just be waiting for you. No reason not to grab them when you can.

Where To Take Him: Literally the end of the draft
Confidence: High
Timeline: I mean, it's a defense...

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 

My "last round pick" guy for the Jaguars is ____________

A: Ryquell Armstead
B: Geoff Swaim
C: Nick Foles
D: Chris Conley

Apart from Leonard Fournette, no one on the Jacksonville Jaguars is exactly full of fantasy potential, so if you're going to grab water from this well, make sure you're either grabbing plummeted value or a $1 running back that can help you in future years. Enter Ryquell Armstead.

The Jaguars backfield isn't exactly clear in 2019. Fournette is clearly the most talented offensive player, but a combination of injury and not wanting to play every down for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Alfred Blue is likely to take some work from Fournette in the best case scenario. This leaves Armstead, whose hasn't seen a ton of preseason work due to his concussion protocol. The Jaguars are running him as a pass catching back who also can knock off Quincy Williams' helmet when he lowers his shoulder.

This is a case similar to my argument for Devin Singletary, only deeper. His floor is almost no participation in the game whatsoever, but his ceiling is a combo running back who could end up playing with significant time if he can fill the role of a pass catcher. He's going undrafted as of this writing, and he's absolutely worth a buck in non-redraft leagues.

Where To Take Him: Last Pick in Keeper, End of 2nd round/Beginning of 3rd in Dynasty
Confidence: Low
Timeline: He's likely to be last one in, first one out if things go bad. You can cut bait on him in anywhere apart from dynasty after October if he's got no participation

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