Welcome to the first ever installment of Draft/Stash/Dump! Here we highlight players to target an avoid in your upcoming fantasy draft. “Draft” is a player currently being taken as a backup at his position who could anchor your fantasy team later in the season. “Stash” is the traditional sleeper, a guy to target late who can be a force on your fantasy team in future weeks. Finally, “Dump” is a player who will only disappoint and never live up to his draft position, so don’t reach. With out further ado, I give you Draft/Stash/Dump Vol. 1!
Draft: Philip Rivers
The Chargers like to throw the ball, A LOT. Last season, Philip Rivers threw the ball, on average, 36 times per game. That gaudy number translated into 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns, good for 5th and 4th in the NFL respectively. To put that in perspective, both numbers were better than Derek Carr, who was an MVP candidate last season. With a healthy and rejuvenated Keenan Allen this year, expect those numbers to improve.
Stash: DeShone Kizer
At long last, it appears the Browns have a future franchise quarterback in rookie DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame. His best asset is his big arm, which can certainly be utilized with Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt running plenty of deep routes this season. Along with his arm, the Browns give Kizer one of the best offensive lines to throw behind, so the rookie should have ample time to make decisions. With a long leash and an offense primed to break out, Kizer could end up sneaking his way into the top 15 QBs by year’s end.
Dump: Dak Prescott
Don’t get me wrong, Dak Prescott is a good quarterback, he just isn’t going to be a good fantasy quarterback. The Cowboys, behind the best line in football, are going to rely on the ground game. Even with Ezekiel Elliott out for 6 (maybe less) weeks, Darren McFadden will still provide a significant portion of the offense. Once Zeke comes back, Prescott’s role will likely decrease as a passer, and increase as a signal caller. Lastly, he doesn’t have a stellar receiving core; Dez Bryant is a head-case and Jason Witten is aging. Behind those two is question marks, with the only somewhat reliable target being Cole Beasley. Expect Prescott to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs, but not your fantasy team.
Draft: Kareem Hunt
Disclaimer: Kareem Hunt headlined this list BEFORE Spencer Ware injured his knee.
Kareem Hunt is officially the guy in Kansas City. With Ware out of the picture, Hunt will get the bulk of the carries, only taking the occasional play off so Charcandrick West can get some work in. Andy Reid leans heavily on his running backs, as he did with Jamaal Charles in his heyday, in the passing game as well, so Hunt could end up being a top 5 RB in PPR formats. Hunt is in the sweet spot for backs: the passing game is just enough of a threat, with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, that opposing defenses cannot stack the box and limit the running game (this phenomenon will be highlighted in the “dump” section). Hunt is the main option in the backfield in a running back intensive offensive scheme. Bet on a big year.
Stash: Theo Riddick
I was tempted to put Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon here, but at this point they seem to be regarded highly enough to not be labeled “sleeper.” So instead, I give you Theo Riddick. In his current role, Riddick is a viable option as a Flex or potentially an RB2 in PPR formats. In standard, however, Riddick seems to be somewhat limited. However, we all know about Ameer Abdullah’s rich injury history. Should Abdullah go down with an injury again, Riddick’s fantasy value will go through the roof. For now, draft him late as a low-end flex option and hope his role in the passing game expands on what it was last year.
Dump: Jordan Howard, Lamar Miller
This season, both players are liable to suffer from, what I’m calling, “Todd Gurley Syndrome”: an above-average back unable to break the line because defenses stack the box as a result of a lackluster passing attack. First, the bears. Problem 1: no receivers, problem 2: Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky? Considering who the Bears have at quarterback and receiver, it should be a no-brainer to mitigate the only true offensive threat. For Miller, he would be on this list even with a starting quarterback not named Tom Savage. Having a sub-par passer puts even more defensive pressure on the non-explosive back, resulting in a poor fantasy year like last season.
Draft: Stefon Diggs
Diggs very quietly racked up 903 receiving yards last season. He was then, and still is, the number one option at wide out in Minnesota and is healthy again, so expect his reception total to increase from 84, which was good for 16th in the NFL and 14th among wide outs. With a year under his belt in the Vikings’ system, Sam Bradford will certainly be better and more comfortable with his weapons. Not to mention impact rookie Dalvin Cook and breakout candidate Adam Thielen taking some of the attention off Diggs should open him up for bigger plays and more touchdowns than a paltry 3 last year.
Stash: Any Rookie Receiver, Take Your Pick
The 2017 draft class was an embarrassment of riches when it came to receivers. Many of them will be impact rookies, but I will highlight four that have a legitimate shot to anchor a fantasy receiving core (or at least be a high end WR2).
Corey Davis: This past year’s number five overall pick will be the top option for Marcus Mariota. Mariota is poised to take a huge leap forward this year, and much of that production will go to Davis. With Eric Decker, Taywan Taylor, and DeMarco Murray to worry about, he should see plenty of 1-on-1s, and he will capitalize on those opportunities with his size and strength. An elite quarterback hungry for victory and a poor division bode well for Davis to have a monster rookie season.
Zay Jones: I know Buffalo looks abysmal, but Jones is the number 1 option for a good NFL quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. If anybody on this offense has a chance to break out, it’s the second round pick out of East Carolina. If Buffalo starts to figure out how to move the ball, expect Jones to play a major role in the offense.
Cooper Kupp: I said it when he was at Eastern Washington and I’ll say it again: Cooper Kupp is the second coming of Wes Welker. Both are slot receivers with impeccable hands and alliterative names. Kupp even has a leg up on Welker having good size at 6’2”. The only knock on Kupp is that Jared Goff is throwing to him, but I think Goff will greatly improve this year, primarily by throwing to the steady slot receiver.
Kenny Golladay: The Northern Illinois product is the unknown on this list. However, he has an opportunity to be the best of the bunch. Golladay is starting the year as the number three option behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, but should quickly rise on the depth chart. With elite size and speed, Golladay is soon to become a favorite target of the throw-happy newly richest man in the NFL Matthew Stafford. That rise is already showing in his preseason appearances, and expect the trend to continue into the regular season.
Other rookies to target for flex to mid WR2 performances: Chris Godwin (TB), Taywan Taylor (TEN)
Dump: Tyreek Hill
I’m not touching Hill with a 10 foot pole and neither should you. We’ve seen this before: the guy with blazing speed is supposed to burn corners and be a difference maker on offense. The players that fit this mold are: Mike Wallace, Tavon Austin, Percy Harvin, stop me when you’ve heard enough. Each of these players had lofty fantasy goals that were never reached. Speed is not enough in today’s NFL, and pairing that with a weak-armed and cautious quarterback in Alex Smith translates into sub-par fantasy production. Stay away.
Draft: Hunter Henry
New city, new tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers. Hunter Henry is fast, big, and sure handed, just as Antonio Gates was in the late 2000s. If history is of any indication, then Rivers loves to target his big tight ends, especially in the red zone. With Allen and Tyrell Williams running vertical routes along the boundary, expect Henry to exploit the seam and beat linebackers with his speed.
Stash: Evan Engram
The Giants shocked the football world by selecting Evan Engram over David Njoku with the 23rd overall pick back in April. However, of the three tight ends taken in the first round (OJ Howard (TB), Engram (NYG), Njoku (CLE)), Engram should see the most targets. Howard will mostly be used as a blocker as a rookie, with Cameron Brate running routes. Njoku will also be blocking and has to work with a rookie quarterback as well. Engram has Rhett Ellison, a blocking specialist, as his tight end partner, so he should be running routes up the seam on the majority of plays for Big Blue.
Dump: Coby Fleener
Big things were expected last year when Fleener moved from Indianapolis to the Big Easy. On those expectations though, he did not deliver. This is predominantly due to Drew Brees’s infatuation with receivers over tight ends. Newly anointed fantasy darling Michael Thomas should see the majority of the targets, and, upon returning from suspension, Willie Snead should play a major role as well. That, coupled with an improved backfield with Hall of Fame bound Adrian Peterson, expect Fleener’s production to be equal to or even worse than 2016.