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Posting as-is from last season.
We update every week so if you see a name like 'Dak Prescott' and roll your eyes as 'obvious'...it's because he was on the mid-season 1.0 version of the list and took-off from there. We leave them on the list all stash season but we also note when they're obviously no longer available.
Also, keep in mind this is written as 2016 season was unfolding. Free Agents hadn't changed teams yet. Kenneth Dixon wasn't suspended. We didn't know who Jared Goff's new coach would be, etc. The report starts Weeks 9 into 10 and updates weekly until Week 16 into 17.
Here's last year's final report as a primer for the first one for 2017 into 2018 to post tonight or tomorrow morning.
A couple of notes about our annual Dynasty stash reports…
-- There will be 10+ versions of this report updated/re-ranked weekly right up to Week 17 kickoff. Some of these guys, especially those at the top, are bouncing on and off waiver wires in some dynasty leagues, and already way gone in deeper leagues. I'm trying to be as inclusive/logical as I can with the names included.
-- This list will start with 10 player reports, but we'll climb to about 40–50+ players before the next week or two, and really get down into the weeds on some players.
-- We will have a grade next to each player on a 0–10 scale…trying to represent our enthusiasm or opportunity.
I think there is a big reveal, a tactical shift in fantasy by perusing the original top 10 here – it’s mostly WRs. Seven or eight WRs for whom I could argue the lowest-rated one over the highest-rated one…a ton of WR talent. What's becoming obvious – there is a glut of WR talent hitting the NFL. We're going to go from some teams having obvious #1 WRs, and other teams left without any…to every team having a true #1 WR and some with two or three #1 WR type talents…and all of us in fantasy left trying to figure out who will rise up and get the consistent targets needed to be classified a WR1 or WR2 or WR3. That task is getting harder and harder as more options mean QBs do not have to blindly rely on just one guy for everything.
In an economic sense, the glut of WR talent also means the supply and demand models are shifting to favor the scarcer assets – RBs, QBs and TEs. We are starting with an RB and QB at the top not because they are more talented, per se, but because WR talent is plentiful. Look at some of your FFM-studied teams…Tyrell Williams and Terrelle Pryor are your starters in many cases. Cameron Meredith almost became gold. Why pay big value for DeAndre Hopkins when you can pull Tyreek Hills out of your ass with more frequency now. On the other hand, how many of you just struck gold with Jacquizz Rodgers and DuJuan Harris for a week or two? It's more difficult finding the next David Johnson ahead of the world than it is the next Tyrell Williams. It's more difficult finding the next Rob Gronkowski than it is the next David Johnson.
This list/report is not only about talent, but opportunity in their current situation…and positional scarcity, which favors RBs, TEs, and QBs…not WRs. Hopefully, that resonates. All leagues have different scoring systems, owners to deal with, and your teams have various needs, so rearrange this list how you like. Here's my best opportunity to present it in order
(Grade 9.88) QB Dak Prescott, Dallas (age 23, free agent in 2020…but he'll never be a free agent)
*(11/24/16) Now, all gone since we started this report. Gone from waivers or cheap acquisitions.
Likely, Dak Prescott is not available in your league. I'm putting him on here because of his long-term investment value. Some people who have Prescott are buying right into the NFL hype 'the star' on the helmet, the oversaturation of all things Dallas. Others do not really 'believe'; they think this is a cute flash in the pan that is a QB2…but suddenly is putting up QB1 numbers. The mainstream media still sells him as "Can you believe this guy. Do you think he should still start?" Still start? The guy is sensational. I want to value him as a possible future elite. Let's just shove those chips forward.
A moment will come where Prescott has a bad game, the Cowboys lose a game or two, and then the Tony Romo whispers or screams will begin. You can buy Prescott at a discount on his next subpar performance/loss. You want to buy in long-term.
Rookie QBs are walking into the NFL and doing fine, but Prescott has transcended that. As Carson Wentz et al. fade after a few games…Dak only gets better. It's real because he is better than all of them. He's going to get better and he plays on a team with the single best thing a QB could ever have, the MVP of the league…their offensive line.
I see him as a QB1, a top 5–10 guy, but probably not a top three producer. I want to buy him at QB2 pricing when his stock takes a hit.
Dak sits #1 to start because he'll be a 10-year asset, whereas a Dwayne Washington is lucky to last four years.
(Grade 8.92) WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City (age 22, free agent 2020)
*(11/28/16) Gone from waivers or cheap acquisitions, but most of us got him ahead of all this.
We all know he's 'fast', but really drink all of this in – he's not just fast, or 'really fast', he might be one of the fastest in the sport. He's not just super-fast, but he's showing a knack for catching passes – he's a pretty nice receiver. Not just good hands, but can compete for balls under duress. Super-speed + receiving skills. PLUS, the most important part – the coaches see it and are in love with it. Every week Hill becomes more and more of the game plan. They know they have an actual weapon and have started deploying it. Many teams overlook guys like this with one or two touches, and that's all. Not KC.
I could see Hill catching 3–5 passes and taking 2–4 carries per game in 2017 (or maybe the rest of 2016). When he gets those kinds of touch numbers, he's going to put up yards…at least 50+, if not 70+ on a consistent basis. He is a 50+ yard TD strike waiting to happen.
If you play in a league where return TDs count – he's going to give you one to three of those per year. I think Hill is a 10 TD guy per season (considering TDs of all forms). He already has four receiving TDs through Week 9 (more than all the KC WRs combined, as of this writing), and that's considering he had a wide-open TD last week that Nick Foles threw behind him. Hill's also had two return TDs called back.
I’d have Hill higher on this list, but I have been conditioned to believe NFL coaches look gift horses like this in the mouth, and then shoot them and turn them into glue. If someone from the future told me that Hill had 7 targets and 2 carries per game for 16 games in 2017, then I’d push him to #1 on this list without knowing what the fictional output was. Rare are weapons like this. Patterson is a bigger, better, older version of Hill. And Hill is a better version of Tavon Austin.
-2 spots (Grade 8.88) RB Dwayne Washington, Detroit (age 22, free agent in 2020)
I will say it over and over until it comes true…and then I will gloat over and over… Dwayne Washington is the most gifted, dynamic running back from the 2016 NFL Draft. He has markers of 'special'. I know it. Just like with David Johnson's pattern/timing last year…it's a cute call, and people wonder – and then 'BOOM'. There's no turning back. I don’t know if it will happen that way with Washington, but I know he is a mega-talent, and lot more 'raw' than David Johnson was.
Theo Riddick is not the answer, but he's not going away easily. Ameer Abdullah is not the answer, but Detroit wants him to be. It won’t matter once Washington shows what he's got. It’s going to happen like a biblical rapture, and when it does…you'll instantly regret not having him rostered. Washington is a top 20 talent at RB in all the NFL, right now. He just needs the Lions to give him an extended chance…and he started getting that Week 9.
+3 spots (Grade 8.84) WR Cameron Meredith, Chicago (age 24, restricted free agent 2018…so stuck until 2020 likely)
I'm starting this stash list with Meredith below Cordarrelle Patterson and Quincy Enunwa ahead of him. Why? I could argue Meredith is as good as/better than either. I look at it this way…
Meredith is DeAndre Hopkins with no one believing he is. Not his QB. Not his coaches. Only Brian Hoyer. You see what happens to DeAndre Hopkins when paired with a flawed QB/offense? And they see him as 'DeAndre Hopkins'. Meredith is buried on a bad offense with a bad QB who doesn't know he exists. How can you get excited? The excitement is a new QB in 2017, but what if that QB sucks? Hopkins would be a superstar with Aaron Rodgers right now. With Cutler or ___, we just don’t know…
…as they push Kevin White out in a wheelchair to take 10+ targets a game in 2017.
Patterson is getting to choose his new spot. Enunwa is somewhat QB-proof because his superpower is after the catch. Meredith is more of a classic great routes, great hands, precision WR…and the Bears do not have a QB/offense that can take advantage of that yet. That's why I have him a step lower on this list. We think the Bears let Alshon Jeffery walk and they go White-Meredith as a one-two punch. We just have to hope they find a QB.
(Grade 8.82) RB Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore (age 22, free agent 2020)
12/13/16: Definitely, all gone now.
I want to say Dixon is the future at running back for the Ravens, but Terrance West is no slouch. Also, Dixon is not built to be Adrian Peterson or David Johnson. Is he really going to be a 15+ carry a game, Ray Rice 2.0 in this era?
I love Dixon's skillset. He has a natural instinct for running the ball and avoiding tacklers. He also has very good hands for the passing game. He isn’t super-fast, or super-powerful, just really savvy…I'm not sure how highly I want to value that? I really like him, but I fall short of selling my soul for him in a situation where I'm not sure he becomes the main guy all the time. I'm more positive than negative, but a doubt lingers on how high his ceiling is.
(Grade 8.80) WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota (age 25, free agent at the end of the 2016 season)
Patterson has been #1 on our stash list at various stages the past two years. Why not make it three years in a row?
We are talking about the most explosive wide receiver available in free agency, a top kick returner…one of the ten most game-changing weapons in the NFL. All that, and he'll be available for a discounted price this offseason because the Vikings have wasted his career. He's capable of being a #1 WR for a team because he has good hands, is physically tough, and is probably the greatest talent at avoiding tacklers I've ever seen in my career.
In prior years, he was a 'troubled' talent. He seems to have turned that all around to become a great special teams player and quality wide receiver. He just happens to have been stuck in NFL purgatory with Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner. They are finally starting to use him again, but not with a special purpose…more 'just a guy on the field'. The numbers he's producing this season are all him making lemonade out of lemons in the second halves of games.
Because he's an overlooked talent in the NFL, and because the Vikings have screwed him – he's leaving. He's likely not going to warrant a massive bidding war because he is not an established talent. He's going to be cost-effective for any NFL team that wants him. Can you imagine Patterson on the Steelers next year? How about in Dallas? New England is possible as well.
I think Patterson is headed to a real team who knows/wants what he can bring. You want him on your roster going into 2017.
(Grade 8.51) WR Corey Coleman, Cleveland (age 22, free agent 2020)
It may shock you to see Corey Coleman sitting behind Cameron Meredith. Honestly, I just don’t know what to make of Coleman yet. I can tell you this – I've not been impressed. I started with Coleman below Tyreek Hill…and maybe that's where he belongs.
With every WR here, and with Tyrell Williams, and Terrelle Pryor, etc. – I could see 'it'. I could see it as clear as day. Most all of them I could see it the first time they touched a ball in the NFL preseason. I can't say that about Coleman. What I've seen on Coleman has mostly been a mess. I expected to see a better Brandin Cooks, and we're not even close here. The computer models say Coleman is a surefire star. My eyes tell me something isn't right. I also know I haven’t seen enough to say. He missed a ton of preseason work and then broke his hand in season and missed games.
I'm not ready to close the book on Coleman, but if you put a gun to my head on him – I'm saying inconsistent non-star. However, he might need a season like Quincy Enunwa. Our computer numbers are so strong I'm not ready to give up, but my eyes are not happy with this at all.
(Grade 8.44) WR Quincy Enunwa, NY Jets (age 24, free agent in 2018)
I've said it several times, aside from Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa is the most impressive young/emerging WR I've seen this season. He has star qualities and has improved as a receiver dramatically from last season.
It's easy to see the speed burners or the physical (height/weight) freaks, but Enunwa flies below the radar some. He's subtly brilliant because he may be the physically toughest WR in the entire NFL. He's the best blocking WR in the league. He's a monster for DBs to bring down in the backfield, but can also outrun, outmaneuver DBs. I didn’t see the amazing after-the-catch skills until this season.
People don’t believe in Enunwa. He's not 'a name they can trust'. He's not glowingly endorsed by mainstream analysts. Sure, they say 'sleeper' or 'good' but they say that about every WR2-WR3-WR4 in the league. It’s lip service – they don’t really believe. I do. I liked him before, but now I'm in love with him.
In 2017, the Jets will flush Brandon Marshall and all their sad QBs, and start anew – and Enunwa could be seen as the veteran, trusted hand/weapon for the future, and he has guys like Robby Anderson and, perhaps, a returning Eric Decker to help.
(Grade 8.11) RB Tevin Coleman, Atlanta (age 23, unrestricted free agent in 2019)
I think the Falcons should be building their entire backfield around Tevin Coleman, but they are bought and sold on Devonta Freeman. I'm not as radically anti-Freeman as I used to be, but I still complain about it because I know Tevin Coleman is a better NFL weapon. Freeman is average/OK, but Coleman can change games with one touch. Freeman is not that type of weapon – he is just a solid, mediocre, dependable worker. Coleman has far superior skills.
Coleman can work as a power between-the-tackles runner, but one with breakaway speed. One of the best runners in the open field you'll find, Coleman is very hard to catch when he gets out into the open. He just has a knack of separating from defenders. That's why I got all excited about his targets in the passing game earlier this 2016 season because if you get Coleman out in space – it's goodbye, he's gone time. It was working early this season because he was putting up RB1 numbers to start the season, but then got hurt and started tailing off in deference to Freeman. I put Coleman on here because if Freeman goes down, and Atlanta has to go all-in on Coleman, he'll become a star. However, I fear Atlanta will never change its pro-Freeman stance…even if Freeman gets injured.
(Grade 8.05) QB Jimmy Garoppolo, New England (age 25, free agent in 2018)
If Tom Brady were hurt, and gone for the season, we'd probably be talking about a debate on the NFL MVP between Dak Prescott and Jimmy Garoppolo right now. Jimmy G. is that good. He's Brady 2.0 in some senses. The only problem is we're going to have to wait another two years to see it. It might be three years. I would not be shocked if the Patriots let Brady play into 2018 and franchise-tagged Garoppolo, to get him ready/hold him for 2018…when Brady will be 41 years old.
There's always a chance the Patriots trade Garoppolo if Brady is working at a high level, but man you get QBs like this only so often, and the Pats have their guy for the next 10 years after Brady…they eventually have to choose Garoppolo over Brady. For fantasy purposes, this will seem like an eternity to wait…and it probably will be. That’s why he is lower on this list than he should be.
(Grade 7.99) WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle (age 24, free agent 2019)
It wasn't long ago, that you probably would have found Lockett among the top three on this list. I believe Lockett has the skills of a 'next Antonio Brown', and I know that label (in general) is getting cheaper every day, but it’s the only way I can describe him. In all facets of the game, Lockett is probably the most talented WR on the list right now. However, he is not getting anything close to the opportunity needed to become a star…it's almost as if Seattle ignores him now.
Doug Baldwin in the Seattle #1. Jimmy Graham is technically the #1. At best, Lockett is a #3 for Seattle today. As long as Darrell Bevell is the offensive coordinator for Seattle, you can't trust Lockett emerging – too many great weapons (Graham, Baldwin) and not enough volume/commitment to the pass. Michael Thomas would not be in my top 10 on this list as a talent, but his opportunity in New Orleans is beautiful. Lockett is the opposite, and thus he is falling down my list. I don’t love Lockett any less…just his situation.
Lockett is going to become a star WR someday, mark my words, but I don’t know that it will be 2017…or even with Seattle. This may be a 2018-19-20 story…and that's a long time to wait.
(Grade 7.98) WR Malcolm Mitchell, New England (age 23, free agent 2020)
Mitchell caught a TD pass in Week 11, so people are eyeballing him again. It's not his time yet. He'll start to fade into the background the next few weeks, but his future is very bright. One of our highest-rated WRs in the 2016 NFL Draft class. I would argue Mitchell was the better version of Sterling Shepard, and the cheaper version, in the 2016 NFL Draft. Size, athleticism, hands, and impeccable character. His crime was playing on a piss-poor Georgia passing game…whereas Shepard played in a high-octane offense.
Mitchell may have the advantage in the pros as well. Shepard is working with a declining Eli and is second to Odell Beckham. Mitchell is a backup now but could be the main starter in 2017. He'll be 'the future' with Jimmy Garoppolo. Mitchell might be the right WR at the right place at the right time.
If you are getting high praise from Tom Brady, that can't hurt either: (link) Malcolm Mitchell 'Circle of Trust'
(Grade 7.89) WR Josh Doctson, Washington (age 23, free agent in 2021)
We don’t know what we don’t know? He didn't play in the preseason. He barely played in the regular season. I liked the blip of what I saw, but I didn’t see enough. Doctson is a quality receiver, but he's not super-tall, super-fast, or super-anything…he just might be super-quality. Good at everything equaling to 'great' as a compilation. Our scouting model likes him a lot, but I can't go any crazier because I haven’t seen him in enough NFL action.
Kirk Cousins is solid enough, and in 2017 I assume Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson hit the bricks and this becomes a Jordan Reed-Josh Doctson-Jamison Crowder show. I like Doctson, but I can’t love him until I see more NFL tape.
(Grade 7.86) WR DeVante Parker, Miami (age 23, unrestricted free agent 2019)
DeVante Parker is probably not available in most leagues and will be kept in most dynasty leagues, but in some smaller roster leagues, he's bounced in and out of roster spots this season. Mostly, I wanted to put him on this list to give him some context among all the other great young wide receiver options.
I was a fan of DeVante Parker, the prospect, coming out of Louisville. I was not a fan of what I saw in his rookie season in the NFL, nor what he did to begin the 2016 season. It seemed like every time I've watched Parker play, I thought he was soft and he was also constantly injured. I question his heart for the game. Finally, in Week 11 Parker finally showed up as a 'player' making tough catches in a critical moment to win the ballgame against the Rams. His confidence is growing and it shows in recent play (Weeks 11–13 as of this writing), but it's also manifesting itself with Ryan Tannehill trusting Parker more than any of his other wide receivers. I'm buying into Parker now, but probably not as much as some people are willing to. I still believe Parker has injury-bug issues. I still think he has some questions/concerns for the future on heart and durability – was his recent performance just a blip?
In a world where there are about a dozen gifted wide receivers on this stash list, I'm not going to go overboard for Parker when I have my doubts. If you could get him cheaper go for it, but I would not build my fantasy receiving group around him.
(Grade 7.70) WR Breshad Perriman, Baltimore (age 23, free agent in 2019)
Honestly, one of the best WRs…from a pure 'hands' and 'movement' I've seen this year. I'm blown away how skilled he is. Why the Ravens are using him sparingly, and leaning on Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta, I don’t know. It's typical from this current Ravens' regime. If I knew John Harbaugh would be gone in 2017, I'd go even higher here with Perriman. However, I assume this group will be back if they make the playoffs…and they are starting to make a move towards winning the division. There's hope, but there's risk. Injury past (missed all of 2015), and an unsure coaching staff ahead holds him back on the list.
+1 spot (Grade 7.67) QB Tom Savage, Houston (age 26, free agent 2017)
I didn’t think this jump was about to happen in Houston, but here we are – sudden starter with his future in his control Tom Savage!
The pros: Amazing arm. Classic pocket passer. Fearless.
The cons: Older 'young' QB. Not a 'new era' QB of the west coast/spread style.
Bill O'Brien is an old-school, pocket QB coach…so Savage fits. Either Savage saves O'Brien and they go on to flourish together into 2017…or they both get run out of town for missing the playoffs this year. The future is suddenly a lot brighter, and I've always been a fan. I could see him ahead of Goff on this list…depends upon who the new Rams coach is.
+4 spots (Grade 7.65) WR Adam Thielen, Minnesota (age 26, restricted free agent 2017)
I love Adam Thielen. I believe he is the next Jordy Nelson in hiding…being wasted away in Minnesota. He is a restricted free agent so another team can make a play and force the Vikings to match it or walk from him. On the one hand, I think the Vikings will never let him go. On the other hand, the Vikings are the same organization that drafted Laquon Treadwell on purpose. I think he stays in Minnesota because they will lose Cordarrelle Patterson, but given a sliver of hope he leaves, I have him propped up a little on the list. If I knew he was leaving…he'd be in the top 10.
-2 spots (Grade 7.60) QB Jared Goff, LA Rams (age 22, free agent 2021)
12/14/16: New coach coming, and that's a good thing…unless it's Norv Turner, et al. Hope, but not unbridled yet.
Wasn't sure whether to put Goff on here, but in several dynasty leagues out there you have 15–17 man rosters and then Goff is a question mark as whether to keep him going into 2017 or trade for him or what.
I will say the same thing I keep saying about Goff – potentially our generation's Tom Brady type talent, but never finds his Bill Belichick. This new era of passing is not totally made for Goff's classic style. It's going to take the right coach to make Goff hit the heights he's capable of. Jeff Fisher ain't that guy, but Fisher is moving closer and closer to done in L.A., and that can be nothing but good for Goff.
I cannot fully assume Goff will have a new coach because the Rams have been ridiculous with Fisher, so this grade is somewhat hedged/reduced…waiting for a sign that a new coach is on the way. And then who will that new coach be? All that aside – don’t buy the media take; Goff has talent. The problem is the media will be sabotaging him much of his career. We need a great coach to show up here.
(Grade 7.55) WR Kevin White, Chicago (age 24, free agent 2020)
I had just about written Kevin White off as 'nothing special' and then I saw a glimmer of hope, right before he went down with another season-ending injury. Honestly, he looked lost, meek, and generally terrible in his preseason debut and his first several regular season games, and then I saw a flash of the 'it'. He is built to take bubble screens and go off to the races. The problem is many coaches will not feed WRs like this…they’ll give them a bubble or two and that's it. They'll want him to be a medium-to-deep, classic #1 WR…and I don’t think he has that in him. He's a nice #2/#3 WR with great athleticism to be used. I think he will be miscast in the NFL, but if a system is built to play to his strengths he's going to a great fantasy producer.
What Washington does for Jamison Crowder…if Chicago does the same thing, White will be a star. Likely, they’ll try to make him Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery, and we'll all be frustrated. There's hope here, but there is also a mound of injuries to the legs piling up.
(Grade 7.32) TE Vance McDonald, San Francisco (age 26, free agent at the end of season)
*Signed to a contract extension by SF. Not good, until we know who the QB will be.
One of the most unique weapons at tight end in the NFL, there's something about McDonald. He had surprising speed and agility, more than his measurables would tell us. You've seen him amaze with long TDs this season – TDs of 8-75-65-18 yards so far through Week 11. He's taken a couple of short passes and sped off into huge runs and/or TDs. Sadly, he has been playing on a dysfunctional offense all season. Opportunity has been choppy.
McDonald has an upside. He is a terrific blocker. One of the stronger TEs in the league, but also one of the most nimble. He has so-so hands, but he's become more reliable as the 49ers have started using him more often. He has top 10 NFL TE skills. The fantasy upside is where he lands next. He goes to a Green Bay, and hold onto your hats. He goes to Buffalo, and you might as well forget it. Much fantasy hope, and some risk as he hits free agency.
He should be a highly coveted free agent…there are not many tight ends built like him in the world.
(Grade 7.28) RB Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia (age 22, free agent 2020)
He's going to be the #1 RB for the Eagles sooner rather than later. He's a crafty runner between the tackles. One of the best young RBs at avoiding contact I've seen from 2016's draft (Jordan Howard superior). Considering Smallwood will be working on a team with Carson Wentz at QB for the next few years…lots of carries and dump passes. He could be a top 10 PPR RB next year.
The risk is that Doug Pederson is showing a desire to play a 'hot hand' or committee style backfield. I don’t know if that's because of the roster he was dealt, or a master plan. Because of 'what could be' from a copycat West Coast Andy Reid offense for the right RB…Smallwood deserves major attention.
(Grade 7.18) TE A.J. Derby, Denver (age 25, free agent 2019)
Derby is a former QB recruit for Iowa, who transferred to Arkansas to play QB, but eventually switched to tight end his final college season. The Patriots drafted him in the sixth round in 2015, and he started making waves in the 2016 preseason. He was a standout…so much so the Pats were forced to roster him, despite having Gronk-Bennett-Harbor at TE. Other teams noticed too, and that's why the Denver Broncos traded for Derby before the trade deadline.
Derby is a classic Gary Kubiak TE…an Owen Daniel replica, and you know how Kubiak loved Daniel…and throwing to TEs in general. In his first few weeks with the team, Derby is seeing more snaps and more targets every week. He could be very interesting in 2017 with Paxton Lynch and Kubiak pulling the strings.
(Grade 7.02) RB Tra Carson, Cincinnati (age 24, can sign a futures contract elsewhere in January)
I know you think I'm crazy, but you also know by now…I'm not that crazy when it comes to these things. I believe that Tra Carson is an NFL superstar power runner waiting to happen. The new Marshawn Lynch is sitting on the Bengals' practice squad for anyone in the NFL to grab for a free look. It's how you know the scouting in the NFL is horrid. If anyone was doing their jobs, Carson would have been plucked away by now. He hasn't. He's stuck.
Here's how these things go down – the very limited Jeremy Hill goes down with a broken ankle or whatever. Carson is activated. He gets in and starts taking carries and history is rewritten. We are at the mercy of the god of football injuries to change things…or someone in the NFL to wake up and look at a preseason game videotape. Hell, the teams that faced Cincy saw it firsthand. I guess the Colts, who Carson pushed around, are cool with Robert Turbin.
I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but Carson should be an NFL star power runner…if he ever gets a chance. Hopefully, some other team will sign him to a futures contract at 2016 season's end.
(Grade 7.01) QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota (age 25, free agent 2018)
Two issues: (1) The horrible leg injury he suffered – who knows how well/fast he'll return? (2) If Mike Zimmer is the head coach, forget it.
Two positives: (1) He's a free agent at the end of next season. (2) Mike Zimmer is a few more losses in a row away from possibly getting the axe.
The reason I keep tabs on Bridgewater – he's a major talent. He could be doing what Dak Prescott or Derek Carr are doing if he were in an environment to succeed. Bridgewater is a brilliant quarterback held hostage by Norv Turner's offense. Teddy hasn't been playing now that Norv is gone. Could be a big difference. Sam Bradford is not the answer in Minnesota, but if Bridgewater is – it has to be without Zimmer. Bridgewater is built for the heavy volume, shotgun, quick-hitter passing game, and Zimmer wants to run the ball all day.
If Teddy can come back with a structurally sound leg, his story/career may play out much differently in the next two to three years.
(Grade 7.00) WR Pierre Garcon, Washington (age 30, free agent at the end of the season)
Garcon is going to be a great free agent signing for an NFL team last year. I'm guessing Garcon will choose a real contender to work with next season unless some team just showers him with more money than he's worth. I would not be surprised to see him wind up back in Indianapolis and now working with Andrew Luck – and that could be a career revival, an awesome pairing with T.Y. Hilton. Many teams will want a very underrated Garcon.
Garcon has #1 WR skills, but is aging…he'd be a great, experienced #2 WR, an underneath physical WR for a team.
(Grade 6.97) TE Jerell Adams, NY Giants (age 23, free agent 2020)
I have to say, I'm becoming a little smitten with Jerell Adams. I'm also getting encouraged because he's pushed past Larry Donnell on the depth chart, and just scored his first TD in Week 10 on Monday Night Football. He's starting to 'happen'. He has Will Tye in his way, so a split role will happen the rest of 2016, but the future is looking brighter for Adams.
I'm falling for Adams because I've not seen many TE's like him – a 6′5″, big TE that plays and moves like a graceful NBA small forward. He has this bounce in his step I find hard to describe. All of his movements, I don't know how to describe…but I know 'it' when I see it.
He wasn’t a star in college but played for a backwards passing game at South Carolina. There's something here, but I'm not exactly sure what or what the ceiling is…or if he'll get a full chance anytime soon, but he's progressing rapidly after 10 weeks of the NFL season, so there is momentum.
(Grade 6.71) TE Daniel Brown, Bears (age 24, restricted free agent 2017)
I had him lower on my initial list of stash prospects, but raced him up after he pushed ahead as the tight end of note in Week 12/post Zach Miller injury. The Bears have three options post-Miller – veteran Logan Paulsen, rookie Ben Braunecker, and second-year undrafted free agent pickup from the Ravens (cut him this season) Daniel Brown. And it was Brown that made the biggest impact Week 12.
I've been a fan of Brown since the first time I saw work in the pros, in the 2015 preseason. He's a WR converted to TE this season – he's athletic like a WR but big like a WR…and he can catch. I thought he might become a starting WR for the Ravens, and he was, kinda, for a week or two in 2015. He went from UDFA to important WR in his rookie season…and then cut a year later. Makes no sense. I'm totally intrigued. Brown is like a smaller, inexperienced Jimmy Graham at TE.
(Grade 6.70) WR Robby Anderson, NY Jets (age 23, restricted free agent 2019/free agent 2020)
There are so many fantastic receiver prospects, I feel like I'm disrespecting Robby by having him below the wave of WRs above. Anderson has beat all my 2016 expectations – rising from UDFA to now starting for NYJ, and producing decently. Anderson is one of those receivers that just makes things happen. He catches anything thrown his way. He can work deep or catch over the middle. The issue is two-fold:
1) Anderson is so skinny – he's an injury risk, and we have to consider that looking at a list loaded with WRs.
2) Anderson needs a quality, precise QB to work with…and the Jets don’t have that. No guarantee they will next season.
I love Anderson, but the Jets' surroundings scare me.
(Grade 6.63) RB Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati (age 26, free agent at the end of this season)
*(11/22/16) Obviously, will start disappearing from waivers in some leagues with the Gio injury.
In this era of high-end pass-catchers out of the backfield becoming fantasy studs…enter Rex Burkhead. He's better than Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, or anyone else you want to name in this role. Cincy converted him to WR because he is such a talented receiver. He can run the ball with power between the tackles and can catch like a wide receiver. He's way more athletic than anyone gives him credit for. He's an amalgamation of Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Shane Vereen. So you know what team he is going to wind up on, right?
Where Rex winds up is everything. We want him on a team that fully believes that they are getting Danny Woodhead+, and are ready to use him as such. If Rex lands right, he'll be a RB2 or better in PPR next year, you watch. That's the excitement here.
See more detail here from a great writer: (link) Very Deep Sleepers: Rex Burkhead
(Grade 6.61) WR J.D. McKissic, Seattle (age 23, Restricted Free Agent 2018)
*Released by ATL in a number's crunch at WR, and snatched by Seattle. Is the league trying to keep Dallas, Seattle, and New England in business?
On Seattle – Well, this is insurance for moving on from 1-2-3 current WRs in the next year or two. Seattle cannot sign them all. Paul Richardson's days are probably numbers. McKissic will be a Tyler Lockett understudy/insurance chip as a WR and return man. Hard to see McKissic playing soon in Seattle, but this better situation that in Atlanta!
Original comments: Let's play pretend… If I were suddenly named GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the first things I would do is cut Rashad Greene and sign J.D. McKissic off the Falcons' practice squad. I know NFL GMs and their personnel people, and scouts are not doing their jobs – because there is no way teams studying preseason tape could have all missed McKissic. You have to not be looking in the first place.
First off, the guy is an ace return man. He returned kicks for scores in the preseason. Worst case, you have a functional return man. However, it's his receiving skills that made me get excited. His return skills lets me know he has speed and vision with the ball, but in the preseason he was making tough catches all over. He has an 'it' factor that every team should be exploring, but they're not. Just like when I said they were all asleep on Tyrell Williams on the Chargers' practice squad. I don’t believe McKissic is as good/as obvious a prospect as Tyrell was, but I claim the same principle – the NFL personnel departments have little idea what they're doing…they just follow 'typical'. Anyone could have had Tyrell Williams for free.
McKissic reminds me of a smaller Quincy Enunwa and Cordarrelle Patterson hybrid/mashup. I've not seen enough to go fully thrilled, but I like what I see so far. I'm just not sure when he'll ever get a chance in Atlanta. McKissic is buried behind talented Justin Hardy…a highly ranked stash last season, who is getting no opportunity.
-4 spots (Grade 6.57) QB Trevor Siemian, Denver (age 24, free agent 2019)
Maybe this is going to work in the new era. Siemian has all the classic physical tools – rapid release, excellent mechanics, accurate, above-average feet, gritty/overlooked QB. He has Dak Prescott's blood pressure levels…calm and cool. Unlike young QBs who start hot in the NFL, and then get figured out in three to five weeks, and fall down a hole, Siemian is actually getting better as the season goes on – 303.0 yards and 2.3 TD passes in last three games he played (as of this writing – Weeks 9–12).
On the other hand, this makes no sense. How does a guy go from underwhelming, I mean radically underwhelming, in the Big Ten, to a solid NFL QB who forced his way into a starting role over a high-profile draft pick (Lynch) and maybe helped usher Brock Osweiler a $72M ticket to Houston?
NFL quarterbacking is changing fast. Siemian has shown to be talented. He has nice weapons in Denver. I think he's 'the man' for Denver. Once you go there, then you start comparing him to Dak and Derek Carr in style…and there are similarities. For the price today, I’d take a look.
(Grade 6.18) RB D.J. Foster, New England (age 23, restricted free agent in 2019)
*Released by the Patriots 11/28/16, we'll have to see where he lands. Likely, back on the practice squad. *He did land back with the Patriots.
Dion Lewis is good but constantly hurt. James White is good, not great. D.J. Foster plays their 'pass game RB' role better than either of them. It’s not a fair fight because Foster was once a feared PAC 12 wide receiver as well as a top running back. Foster was built to play the role Bill Belichick designed with first Lewis, and then White.
Lewis and White are ahead of Foster, but both enter a contract year in 2017. Free agents in 2018. You think Belichick is going to extend them with Foster being groomed behind them? I don’t think so. It's a waste of money for the Pats to spend on Lewis-White because they have proven they can take any profile like them and spin it into gold.
I like Foster as the more dynamic, well-rounded receiver. I also like that if a sudden trade or retirement of Tom Brady happens, Jimmy Garoppolo has the most reps with Foster.
(Grade 6.09) WR Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta (age 25, restricted free agent at the end of the 2016 season)
I want to like Taylor Gabriel more as a prospect for the future, but I do not fully trust him working in the Atlanta Falcons offense. We may have seen peak Taylor Gabriel in the middle of the 2016 season…a guy who will get 3–5 targets per game and maybe a handoff to go with it. I don't see the upside where Gabriel becomes a go-to #2 or #3 wide receiver. It's possible, but more likely he will get pigeonholed as a deep threat and bubble screen guy. I'm totally fine with him as the bubble screen guy if I knew he was going to get 3–5 of them per game. However, most NFL teams budget for about 1–2 of them per game (sometimes zero) no matter how well they work. As long as Julio Jones is around, there's not much room for anything else in Matt Ryan's eyes. I see more upside with similar wide receivers like Tyreek Hill and Cordarrelle Patterson. Gabriel is definitely a watered-down version of them because of the way he's used. He has more to offer, but I don't believe Atlanta will explore it. If they do then it's game on with Gabriel.
(Grade 6.06) WR Jaron Brown, Arizona (age 26, free agent 2018)
Is Larry Fitzgerald coming back? We know Michael Floyd isn't. John Brown may never be right and wasn't that good, to begin with. J.J. Nelson has a specific role and is a walking injury waiting to happen. Could Jaron Brown be the best WR on the Cardinals in January 2017? The team thought enough of him to extend his contract out a year back in November.
Brown is a very talented technician at WR. He has tremendous hands. He's also surprisingly big/athletic – 6′2″+/205–210 with a 4.4+ 40-time and a 6.8+ three-cone. I've loved him in the preseason, and then in the minor chances he's received in the NFL…but he never really has gotten a full chance. The team wasted time with Floyd and the other Brown.
Jaron could be a shockingly good #2 or #3 WR in the NFL. It looks like his chance may hit in 2017.
(Grade 5.99) DST Pittsburgh Steelers
Probably the best collection of young defensive talent in the league. New England might argue, but I give it to Pittsburgh.
Ryan Shazier is a superstar. Ross Cockrell is becoming a really good corner. Sean Davis was a great second-round pick DB, one of our top 10 players in the entire 2016 NFL Draft. Artie Burns is growing on me. Tyler Matakevich has star written all over him as an anchor ILB. Javon Hargrave is a terrific DT prospect. If Cameron Heyward comes back strong in 2017…this group has a lot of talent to work with. They are a player or two away from being great in 2017.
Their division has Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and the Browns…that's a good thing too. They also have Jacksonville, Minnesota, Houston, Chicago on the schedule next year.
(Grade 5.95) QB Brett Hundley, Green Bay (age 23, free agent in 2019)
Before Dak Prescott captivated the world as a rookie in the preseason throwing 7 TDs/0 INTs, and creating a QB controversy…Brett Hundley punched up 7 TDs/0 INTs in the preseason prior, and no one cared. The NFL is very selective with what interests them. I thought Hundley was the best QB prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft class, and still think that today. It will be years before he gets a chance if he ever gets a chance. Even when he does get a chance it will probably be in an emergency or in a situation that he's barely had a chance to work in. The deck is already stacked against Hundley because football doesn’t care.
However, he's a serious injury to Aaron Rodgers away from becoming a center of attention on a highly publicized team. At a minimum, he's a serious Rodgers handcuff. At most, Hundley can be a star. He's a taller Russell Wilson in style of play and character/leadership.
(Grade 5.90) TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston (age 25, free agent 2018)
*Obviously on rosters now because of all the TE injuries of late.
12/20: Unknown how he'll work with Tom Savage in the future.
The best all-around tight end of the three guys the Texans use, CJF has nice hands and ability for the pass game, but he's also an excellent blocker. On most teams, he would be the main, full-time tight end. On the Texans, they are shuffling CJF in and out with Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson.
If Fiedorowicz stays in Houston after 2017, he's likely to be the main TE. There's an equal chance he'll hit free agency because Houston has other TEs, and will have a ton of money pissed away on Osweiler-Miller-Watt and maybe Bouye. CJF may be expendable and available to a team that covets him.
Fiedorowicz is not a superstar, but he's really good, and if he lands in the right spot he can be that second-tier (#6-10) type of fantasy TE, right after the super-talents.
(Grade 5.86) TE MyCole Pruitt, Chicago (age 24, signed to a 2016 deal by Chicago Week 15)
12/14/16: He may or may not stick with Chicago after the end of the season. We'll have to see. I like the potential of this, but he's got Daniel Brown to contend with – and Zach Miller.
If there's a 'next Jordan Reed' hiding in the weeds – it’s MyCole Pruitt. 6′2″/250, a 4.58 runner, fantastic hands and instincts as a receiver. If you're wondering why he hasn’t done anything in the NFL…ummmm…have you seen how ridiculous the Vikings offense has been from 2015 to 2016 under the Zimmer-Norv-Shurmur regime? They don’t know what to do with Pruitt or any of their other weapons. The just want to hand off to Adrian Peterson every play.
The best thing to ever happen to Pruitt was to get released in a numbers game, and get stuffed on the practice squad. Because all NFL teams are asleep at the wheel, except New England, Pruitt went unclaimed…when about 25+ teams could use him right now. He could start for half the teams in the NFL. Green Bay, wake up!!!
Pruitt can still be claimed this year, and he'll have all his options after the season. I pray he's smart enough to leave Minnesota in a few months.
(Grade 5.80) DST Jacksonville Jaguars
A ton of talent on this defense. They have a shutdown corner with Jalen Ramsey. They have a fantastic linebacker group. They have some talent on the D-Line. Myles Jack could be an X-factor as a OLB/safety hybrid. So much could be done…if they get a new coach. If the new coach is not as empty as the current coach, this could be a top defense real fast.
Houston twice next season, per usual. The Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers and likely the Jets on the schedule next season…a fairly favorable schedule with some rough spots (IND, PIT, SEA). Could be interesting. It's all about the new coach, or if Gus Bradley somehow stays.
(Grade 5.76) QB Cardale Jones, Buffalo (age 24, free agent 2020)
You know what other rookie QB has a knack for just walking in and making magic happen, besides Dak? Cardale Jones. He's another guy people don’t like for whatever reason, but he could just hit the ground running when working in the NFL. He single-handedly smoked Alabama in the college playoffs in his second ever start. The guy has a ton of talent. I'm not sure he'll get the fair shake or proper grooming.
Here's where it could work – if the Bills fall short of the playoffs, or get crushed in the first round, Rex Ryan, and the GM may get bounced. The GM definitely deserves it. A new management team might bring with it more of a desire to have a traditional QB like Cardale, a QB who is mobile but stands taller in the pocket and is a better passer from the pocket.
I'm not saying it will happen. I'm just looking over the NFL landscape and trying to find more hidden Dak Prescotts all the scouts and media missed. Jones has some Dak characteristics.
(Grade 5.75) TE Seth DeValve, Cleveland (age 23, free agent 2020)
Seth DeValve is like the Browns' future Travis Kelce – a couple of inches shorter version of Kelce (6′2″+/245). DeValve is strong (22 bench reps) and athletic (4.68 40-time, 40″ vertical, 6.96 three-cone). He was a weapon in college, a TE/WR for Princeton. His downside is having a couple of college seasons cut short due to foot injuries. Those are all behind him now, supposedly.
He's the heir apparent to Gary Barnidge, and that may be mid-2017. You want to get more excited, but you don’t know if the Browns will ever find a quarterback. DeValve needs a savvy, precise passer to make use of him. He's not a tall 'go get it' TE – he's more of a fast/strong guy that separates away enough over the middle to hit him for critical catches, and he can run after the catch. There's hope here, but 'Browns'.
(Grade 5.75) RB Terrell Watson, Philadelphia (age 23, Restricted Free Agent 2018)
12/22: Signed by the Eagles this week. A slightly worse situation than in Denver. I wonder if Doug Pederson did this to screw Denver's RB depth situation (which is struggling) for his old team/buddy Andy Reid? Didn’t think of that did you?
From Cincy's practice squad in 2015 to Cleveland's practice squad in 2016…following Hue Jackson. Claimed by Denver in November provides hope, but it's fleeting with so much bouncing around. This is the life of many UDFA RBs. The Browns released Taylor Gabriel to start the year, so the Browns not knowing what they're doing is not a shock. I like Denver making the grab – a team outside the Hue Jackson circle.
All I know is Terrell Watson is big, athletic for his size, and a physical runner. He was terrific in flashes in the preseason…I thought he might make the roster, but he did not. He may get his chance with Denver before this season the way they're going with RB injuries. He's a power back who has really worked to make himself viable in the passing game. Someday, Watson may shock the world. Just a guy blowing around available for free, and then 'boom'. All he needs is a chance.
Writing this made me think – Watson is 10x the talent Robert Kelley is. Watson is a better version of Kelley, and maybe a better version of Jay Ajayi. You wait and see…
(Grade 5.73) RB Darius Jackson, Cleveland (age 23, free agent 2020)
Just cut by Dallas, which makes sense because they cannot hold five RBs. They tried to hold him as long as they could. As soon as he hit the market the team with #1 priority broke several teams' hearts and landed Jackson for free. One of the better RB prospects in this entire draft lands in Cleveland.
Jackson didn’t make it onto my original top 50 stashes because of the roadblocks in the Dallas backfield. Now that he's in Cleveland – it's a game-changer.
Jackson was probably the closest thing to David Johnson in the draft, as far as measurables go. He and Dwayne Washington. However, Washington is a much more explosive talent; Jackson a bit of an enigma – a guy who was nothing for three years at Eastern Michigan, and then popped in his senior season. He was good, but not great in output on a very bad EMU team, but then you watch him on tape and marvel. His measurables are 'star' level.
Jackson has an uphill battle with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, but a better shot here than in Dallas. This is a nice move/chance for him. I'm sure he loves the fact that he might have been on a Super Bowl team and now goes to winless, frigid Cleveland.
(Grade 5.72) TE Logan Thomas, Buffalo (age 25, restricted free agent)
Remember the movie 'The Waterboy'? There was a montage mid-movie where once the Waterboy was a tremendous college player then other colleges started trying to use their Waterboy in the games (to no/comical avail)? Terrelle Pryor's 2016 success is going to start a domino effect of failed NFL QBs being recruited for/trying out for other positions. Logan Thomas should have gone into the NFL as a tight end all along.
Thomas is a legit 6′6″/248 and runs with high-end speed for a TE (4.61) and above-average agility. He's a highly intriguing TE prospect. He was a successful mobile QB in college but never should have got a look at QB in the NFL…but he did and was abysmal.
I didn’t know Thomas still existed, and then I saw the Lions sign him to their practice squad. The next thing I know, Thomas was claimed by the Bills off the Lions roster – and that does not happen often, a claim like that. The guy has never played TE, and suddenly the Bills grab him and he sits on their active roster today!
I have no earthly idea whether Thomas can play tight end. I just know the moment the Lions claimed him as such, the Bills did something unusual to steal him away. The physical profile is exciting, and now people are fighting over him…that's worth some interest.
(Grade 5.71) RB Brandon Wilds, NY Jets (age 23, on practice squad, can sign anywhere at season's end)
Wilds is Matt Forte…with an injury bug. Talent-wise, he's Forte. He has the best receiver hands I saw among any RB prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. He's a talent. He just needs a chance, and to stay healthy. I would argue a fully healthy Wilds could be the best RB prospect from the 2016 NFL Draft…he’s a better C.J. Prosise. On the Jets, he's buried…but any team could grab him right now, so there's that hope.
He looked good in the preseason for Atlanta, and they tried to stuff him back on their practice squad, but the Jets stepped in. Why? I don’t know, but it was smart. We have to wait to see what the next chapter is in his career before we can get any more excited.
NEW (Grade 5.67) RB Corey Grant, Jacksonville (age 25, restricted free agent 2018)
If there is a player currently hiding in the weeds in the NFL, who could become a shock Tyreek Hill-type force…it’s Corey Grant. He used to be a legit 4.2+ runner, but he's had several leg injuries the past few years…we don’t know if Grant still has that elite speed. He didn’t get enough touches for us to find out this year. However, he did get 9 carries in Week 16…and looked pretty quick.
Grant could be a 5 carry + 5 (short) targets per game weapon for the Jags (or other) just waiting to be unleashed. He's been hurt or buried in Jacksonville. Doug Marrone went to him heavier in his first game as Jacksonville head coach. He may lead the Jags in carries in Week 17 and put himself on the map. You might have to make the dynasty bet before Week 17 kickoff. There is potential here, but hurdles as well.
(Grade 5.59) WR Paul Turner, Philadelphia (age 23, restricted free agent 2018)
I had Paul Turner on my initial list of stash names but had him lower than this in the initial ranking. I've moved him up suddenly because he got activated from the practice squad in Week 12, and then in Week 13 led the Eagles in receiving.
I've told the story before, but I fully thought Paul Turner had no chance at becoming an NFL wide receiver. He had terrible measurables and a boring/mildly productive college career at Louisiana Tech. He was a lowly graded name on my scouting analytics reports that did not warrant any further study. On paper, I saw no hope whatsoever. Then he became the 'it' wide receiver of the Eagles 2016 preseason. I didn't believe it when the enthusiasm about Turner started in the preseason, but then as I started watching him play and going back and re-watching preseason games I saw that he was actually pretty good. Really good hands. Very muscular. Seems like a better athlete than the measurables foretold. Still, I try to rely more on my data than my eyes.
Eventually, I saw enough of Turner to know he was better 'for real' than the 'on paper' version. In his final preseason game, I watched him blast past defenders on a 71-yard punt return TD – and I was shocked. I didn't think he had that in him. Time after time he kept amazing me, so I finally had to give it up and agree he was a pretty good athlete too. Now, he's jumped right into the NFL and started producing Week 13. He's a nice, quality WR prospect. The kind of guy that's just going to fight his way to success. I'm still a little worried about our computer analysis and the analytics on him, but I'm willing to ignore them more and more as I get to see Turner play. There is hope here.
NEW (Grade 5.50) QB Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay (age 27, free agent 2017)
Glennon will be the QB of note in 2017 free agency. Everyone is looking for a story/a QB…and Glennon is really the only name to talk about of guys hitting the market. There are several issues with seeing Glennon as a fantasy weapon ahead…
As soon as Glennon is mentioned for a team…the fans and analysts are going to rise up and claim 'Osweiler'. No NFL team is making a huge splash signing Glennon. Fans and analysts don’t care about Glennon. I don’t know if there is any team that pays big money to Glennon to be their starter. It's very non-NFL-like for a team to do so. Osweiler was accepted by the media…Glennon not so much.
Only crappy teams will see Glennon as hope. How excited for fantasy are you about Glennon on Buffalo or the NY Jets? I guess better than in Tampa Bay…
The new era is not for Mike Glennon. He needs to be in a Bruce Arians-type offense – downfield bombing. Most of the NFL is a dump pass, quick pass, and mobile QB league. Glennon is none of those things. As soon as Glennon throws a few picks downfield bombing…the fans and coaches will turn on him, as usual. Glennon doesn't have the gravitas like Blake Bortles to be allowed to suck and everyone excuse it.
I'm a Glennon fan, but teams can do better via the draft or otherwise. The path for Glennon stardom from here is narrow. It exists, but it is narrow.
(Grade 5.49) TE Darren Waller, Baltimore (age 24, free agent 2019)
The former Georgia Tech WR prospect turned tight end for this season. The problem is that the Ravens have like 50 TEs already. He's had a few speed bumps to overcome, but he's pushed his way into playing time and has become a bit of a red zone weapon they like to use.
Waller was a freakish 6′6″ WR prospect with a 4.4+ 40-time speed but is not the most polished WR. The Ravens saw the potential to bulk him up and try to make him a Jimmy Graham-like TE. Slowly but surely he's improving. The Ravens have so many TEs, I don’t know how Waller will matter for fantasy there, but I also know this – there aren’t many TEs built like him.
From my Very Deep Sleeper series this summer: (link) VDS: Darren Waller
(Grade 5.21) RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore (age 24, free agent 2018)
Buried in Baltimore. A starting RB level talent, a three-down RB is wasting away. Most of it is Taliaferro's problem – he's always getting hurt and missing time. He enters 2017 playing for his NFL life heading into free agency. I don’t think he can become the man in Baltimore, but he might be able to somewhere else. He could be cut or traded by the Ravens; who knows.
I know this – there are traces of Le'Veon Bell DNA in his metrics in our system, and for that reason, we continue to pay attention. He's had moments in the NFL, when healthy and pushed…he needs to stay healthy and get a push so we can see if he has 'it' or not. Because he might have 'it', I keep a candle burning for him in fantasy.
NEW (Grade 5.19) TE Erik Swoope, Indianapolis (age 24, restricted free agent 2017)
The college basketball power forward turned NFL tight end is starting to make some waves/have some production for the Colts as 2017 wears on. It’s been a long process to get Swoope up to speed, but the Colts stuck by Swoope…and it's starting to payoff.
However, the Colts face a dilemma. Dwayne Allen has a pricey deal just signed last season. Jack Doyle is a free agent in 2017…and he's their main guy. Doyle is going to get a nice contract. Are the Colts going to give decent money to Swoope…a third, costly TE? Will another team come in and try to snag Swoope? In another year or two of development, Swoope could be a legit impact starter for some team…and he might be a shockingly good fantasy TE with his size and athleticism. There are several roadblocks, but also some things of future interest with Swoope.
(Grade 5.11) WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati (age 23, free agent 2020)
Boyd is a quality WR, but how is really going to matter with A.J. Green there? Andy Dalton has never made a #2 WR a great fantasy option his entire career. Marvin Jones would have a game or two, but most times he was a disappointment. Mohamed Sanu went to waste 98% of the time. I like Boyd as a 'hands' talent, a poor man's Stefon Diggs on the very high side, a possible Rishard Matthews type WR…but there is likely nothing but heartache as a not-A.J. Green WR on the Bengals.
(Grade 5.11) RB Benny Cunningham, LA Rams (age 26, free agent 2017)
Benny has always been underrated, and finally he's about to embark on free agency. The Patriots looked at him last offseason as a restricted free agent but passed…rightfully so. No need to spend at all on an RB. It's just nice to know the Patriots were looking, and no one else was smart enough to.
Benny can sign anywhere in 2017, and that's exciting, but where's he going? He's not going to any team to be a starter – he'll be a role player with the hopes that something happens that causes him to see more touches. There's hope here if Benny can fall in the right place, but RBs are such a dime-a-dozen you can't be he'll be brought into any major role right away. I would not be shocked if he didn’t end up with the Patriots…and he could play the White-Lewis role if needed.
(Grade 4.95) WR Robert Woods, Buffalo (age 24, free agent at the end of the season)
It will be interesting to see where Woods chooses to go in free agency. He's a better receiver than what he's been able to showcase in the NFL so far because of a fledgling Buffalo passing game. I could see him heading back to the West Coast to Oakland or San Francisco and being a more important part of a pass game. There's also a million WRs just like Woods coming in from the college ranks.
Woods is a #2 or #3 slot WR, not a #1. On the right team, he could be interesting. The offense he plays with makes him a Davante Adams or a Marqise Lee option for fantasy 2017.
(Grade 3.64) QB Paxton Lynch, Denver (age 22, free agent 2020)
*12/7 – We now project Siemian to be the starter, barring injury, without question for the future. Lynch is stuck/doomed…and is not all that great.
In the era where all college QBs walk into the NFL and are unfazed, consider Lynch for 2017+. Eventually, the Broncos will move to Lynch, you’d think. He has more upside and had draft status.
As far as Lynch's performance, he'll be so-so. He's more Brock Osweiler or Carson Wentz than next Dak Prescott or Jared Goff. He loves the dink-and-dunk game and has the arm to go deep, but not the instinct. He throws blindly downfield versus a precise surgeon. However, the Denver/Kubiak offense is built for dink and dunk, so Lynch will play and produce numbers just for being alive. Not my favorite QB prospect, but not a quick fail-and-disappear guy either. There is a flicker of upside hope here.
Next names on 'the list'…
WR Bruce Ellington, San Francisco
TE Jack Doyle, Indianapolis
WR Michael Campanaro, Baltimore
RB Zach Zenner, Detroit
WR DeAndre Smelter, San Francisco
QB Brandon Allen, Jacksonville
DST Chicago Bears
TE Trey Burton, Philadelphia
WR Leonte Carroo, Miami
RB Josh Ferguson, Indianapolis
TE Rico Gathers, Dallas
PK Greg Zuerlein, LA Rams
WR Walter Powell, Buffalo
TE Demetrius Harris, Kansas City
WR Jordan Taylor, Denver
TE Stephen Anderson, Houston
WR Pharoh Cooper, LA Rams
WR Cody Latimer, Denver
QB Nick Foles, Kansas City
WR Andre Holmes, Oakland
WR DeAndre Carter, New England
WR Justin Hardy, Atlanta
RB Kenjon Barner, Philadelphia
WR Tevaun Smith, Indianapolis
TE Neal Sterling, Jacksonville
WR Jeremy Butler, San Diego
RB Brandon Burks, NY Jets
WR Isaiah Burse, San Diego
WR Damiere Byrd, Carolina
RB Troymaine Pope, Seattle
RB Bishop Sankey, Kansas City