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This is not the complete list (as of 11/7 kickoff), just 15 names on our way to 50+ with commentary and another 25+ of ‘honorable mentions’. This is just the first 15 names out of the gates…players I see as ‘on waivers’ or are completely undervalued/easier available in trade/bottom of the roster kind of players (for others).
The names we’ll add over the next 1-2-3-4 weeks…some will jump into the top 10. This early list in Week 10 is not the ‘holy’ 15. They are guys more available now, as I pen this. Example D’Onta Foreman is on too many rosters as a ‘handcuff’ to call as ‘stash’ right away. However, I will add him into this as a guy easier to acquire in trade…and adding guys like him (like a Marlon Mack, let’s say) to show where we value young prospects among the stash names.
Give this list another week or so to fill-in more names before you ask ‘What about ____.”
Here are 15+ names to consider, in order of preference and the player data on free agency and a numerical ‘grade’ of our interest (0-10 scale) will be displayed shortly.
One thing I can tell you about this list, and it was noted last year…there is a glut of WRs. The WR position in fantasy is becoming massively oversupplied with ‘good’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘in the right spot…’ options. You’ll see the other positions elevated/valued higher because of it.
OK, on to the list…
*Ratings on a 0-10 scale basis to give an idea of excitement level and valuations on the supply & demand pressures…
9.55 = QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2022)
You could argue Jimmy Garoppolo over Trubisky, given where Garoppolo just landed…and who Trubisky has for a coach. I’m going to assume Trubisky will have a new coach next season, and the hope is it’s an offensive-minded coach. There is a real risk it isn’t.
In the end, I think Trubisky is the modern-day Aaron Rodgers and is three-years-younger than Garoppolo. It’s splitting hairs. Trubisky is a little more athletic and might add another 1.0-1.5 PPG with his feet over Garoppolo.
I’m not trying to twist your arm because I love them both but Trubisky gets an ever so slight nod. When the coaching situation plays out, we could see Trubisky tumble down this list a little…sadly.
(+) 9.55 = QB Jimmy Garoppolo (2018: Age 27, Free Agent 2018)
My commentary here changed radically upon the news of his trade to the 49ers.
You have to dive right into this one – Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the best QB talents I’ve ever scouted and he now goes to a team who wants him and is coached by one of the best offensive minds (and they’re not many of them) in the NFL. If Kyle Shanahan can make miracles with Matt Ryan – he’s going to go to a Super Bowl with Garoppolo eventually.
People are excited now (Week 9) because of the trade an ex-Patriots guy, but they really don’t ‘believe’ like we do. His trade value, if needed to get, will lessen each week as this story dies down. You dive in now and you’re paying up…which is still a bargain. But next week cheaper. Once he plays doesn’t throw for 700 yards in a game, his value will dip further/normalize. Don’t panic into him, but definitely get him for 2018.
9.49 = RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati (2018: Age 22, Free Agent 2021)
Mixon is not sitting on the free agent list, I know that. I just wanted to put him on here for two reasons…
1: To show you where I would place him among this group, because while not freely available, he’s not had an ‘amazing’ season and is becoming available. Questions are arising.
2: In my conversations in the past week or so…people are starting to buckle on Mixon. The mood is shifting from ‘Mixon could be great’ to ‘That guy sucks/is overrated’. I’m seeing some deals for this guy I can’t believe. Current holders are tapping out if you give them perceived young promise in exchange…or something working for their playoff run now…because Mixon really isn’t working for them right now.
I still believe we’ll wake up in a world someday where Mixon is a top 3-5 PPR RB…up there with the fantasy elites. Cincy has a terrible O-Line and not a great offensive plan overall in 2017. Eventually, Mixon will become their Le’Veon Bell…15+ carries and 7-10+ targets per game. He’s quality in the passing game and Cincy has totally missed the boat using him in innovative ways in their pass game. They’ll figure it out. When they do – this guy is going to be a fantasy monster.
I was not a huge fan pre-NFL Draft. I thought he was good but flawed and overhyped. When I saw him in the NFL preseason, I ate those words. He moves like rare running backs I’ve ever seen. No one that big and powerful should have feet/shiftiness like that. He’s going to be a star. The only downside is – he is a knucklehead, so brace yourself, someday. He’s only 21 today, so he has time to grow/mature.
7.92 = RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago (2018: Age 22, Free Agent 2021)
On this first pass of Stash ‘names’, something struck me as odd – the lack of RB names of interest. Subsequently, there are a million WRs. Finding a hidden RB gem is getting to be much more difficult than locating an upside WR.
Cohen is one of the best pure players I’ve seen this season. Like, he could have been a Rookie of the Year, 10+ TD guy this season in the hands of a better offensive mind. Instead, he ran into John Fox…the death of the forward pass.
Cohen has it all – hands/receiving ability like a WR, but the pop and toughness of a great RB. Like a small Barry Sanders with Larry Fitzgerald’s hands. There aren’t many players in the NFL that come close to the skillset Cohen has. However, someone has to want to utilize it.
We’re highly assuming the Bears will make a head coaching change. That change will matter greatly for Cohen. Example…if Cohen were traded for Chris Thompson today, for real in the NFL, Cohen would be a top 5 RB for the ROS. He just needs targets and touches. Cohen is better than Thompson because Cohen is good enough to be a literal WR, running medium and deep routes.
QB aside, there is likely to be no talent more unique, nor greater on this list than Tarik Cohen. He’s a poor man’s Tyreek Hill at running back.
I impatiently wait to see who his new coach will be.
7.89 = RB D’Onta Foreman, Houston (2018: Age 22, Free Agent 2021)
*Achilles injury ended his 2017.
Foreman is likely, the Texans 2018 starting RB. The Texans can either pay underwhelming Lamar Miller $6.8M to be their RB next season or cut him for $2M. It’s a no-brainer.
Foreman, at this point, stands to reason as their guy for 2018. He’s got nice athleticism for his size. He has a power runner’s body. He has way better hands than anyone, including me, realized. He’s built to be a three-down workhorse.
There’s a problem – Foreman may be a handful off the field. His effort to stay in shape and his work in practices has been an issue back to college. He’s not so special, and the RB position is not so lacking, that a team has to put up with nonsense. I could see a clash between he and O’Brien coming. However, if Foreman can get it together – he could be an RB1 contender in 2019. With Miller gone and no real effort to sign or draft a name RB…Foreman will be a fantasy top 12 RB, possible top 20 overall name next season…especially with the thought of working with Deshaun Watson.
7.77 = TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2022)
We have a lot of things converging right now that allows Howard to stay under the radar/not producing in fantasy, but then also a few things that are moving to help him get to TE1 status faster than we thought previously…
Howard is under the radar because Tampa Bay stinks. Jameis Winston prefers Cameron Brate. The head coach hasn’t really pushed Howard as a weapon. 3-4-5 weeks ago, when Tampa was EVERYONE’S (not ours) favorite sleeper team…this list of sad realities for OJH seemed like they would be realities for the next 2-3 years.
However, now things are changing. People are starting to realize that Dirk Koetter is a bad NFL head coach (shocker). People are actually waking up to the reality that Jameis Winston is not very good and is a terrible face of the franchise. Winston has effectively been benched and may miss the rest of the season, and now the possibility that the team doesn’t sign him long-term and maybe trades him in another year or two…depending upon the new coach, etc., it is now at least ‘on the table’ for early discussions.
Howard should be a tight end the team builds some of the passing game around but instead, he’s a blocker and occasional misdirection target. Howard is an excellent TE prospect and a potential top 5 TE1 kinda weapon in a better offense…but not so with this current Tampa regime.
I believe the Bucs will move on from Koetter this year or next, but likely to move into a head coach to coddle Winston…and then we’re right back where we started. There’s a chance ‘good change’ happens ahead but not likely. The NFL isn’t that smart in most cases. Hope is here, but odds are against. Howard is enough of a talent and a critical FF position to sit and take a cheap look if you can.
7.20 = WR Corey Coleman, Cleveland (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
Coleman has three things strongly in his favor, and he’s the only WR in ‘stash’ consideration I could claim ALL of these three things on…
1: Most impressively, to me, is that Coleman is a tough, professional WR. I thought he might be more of a speedster-threat only, but he’s more Brandin Cooks than I realized. It’s hard to see because he has functionally incompetent QBs throwing to him.
2: He has high-end athleticism. Like, real high-end…supposedly. I have yet to see the ‘wow’ moments but there have been very small glimpses…hard to consider since he always breaks a bone and disappears for most of his two seasons so far. He could be a 4.3+ runner with a 40”+ vertical. He didn’t participate in much pre-draft, official measuring so we can only speculate.
3: He has ‘draft status’. He won’t be easily ignored or dismissed like a Tyrell Williams is with LAC.
Coleman is a more multifaceted WR than I believed coming out of Baylor. I thought he’d be a killer speedster WR but now we see he also makes tough catches in coverage. He’s been more ‘professional WR’ than just ‘speed demon’. He just hasn’t had the QB play to show it off much.
The downside risks…
1: The QB play in Cleveland has been a disaster and who knows if they will ever fix it. First, Hue Jackson has to be removed…that will be a step in the right direction on Coleman. Second, they need to land a real QB. Third, they need a decent new head coach…not some hack defensive coordinator or someone from the Rex Ryan coaching tree of running the ball every play.
2: Coleman shows tendencies of not being dedicated to his craft, and potentially hanging out with the wrong crowd. He has all the things you want in becoming a top NFL WR…but I’m not sure he wants it bad enough, and Cleveland is a perfect place to go sleepwalk through a career. I’m not 100% on this, but there is some percentage factor here. The new coach’s impact (or not) on Coleman is a big factor.
3: Always hurt. Every time you turn around Coleman breaks something else. He hasn’t had the ACL or labrum or Lisfranc type problem, but more broken bones…twice. Hurt players tend to keep getting hurt.
Why Coleman at/near the top? If everything were to land right – a fresh, offensive-minded head coach who connects with Coleman, a legit/decent QB, and stays healthy – Coleman has some OBJ and Brandin Cooks DNA running through his veins. The upside potential is massive. He has draft status not to get buried. His upside is not just ‘good’ or ‘great’, there is potential for ‘elite’ here.
7.11 = QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2022)
The first thing I thought of here – if Mahomes hits/makes it as a star…then the supply & demand of young QBs will start to cause ‘inflation’ at the QB position. We’ll have to start devaluing any one particular QB, per se, because there are so many great young ones to choose from.
After Weeks 5-6, this season, with Alex Smith as an MVP candidate…it looked like Mahomes might not see the field until 2019, maybe. As of this writing, the Chiefs have lost three in a row and four of their last 5 games. The murmurs for Mahomes are getting louder.
From sources, I think the plan is to see how the Chiefs finish this year, and unless it’s an amazing finish– they are going to trade Alex Smith in 2018 and turn everything over to Mahomes. He’s in-play Week 1 of 2018.
My quick scouting on Mahomes – has all the tools to be a star and has the media adoring him. However, he can be very sloppy ‘trying to make plays’ and can be a turnover machine. I fear that the NFL is no place for his kind of QB. I’m curious how Andy Reid is going to bleed the life out of him…or not. Mahomes is another Brett Favre/Big Ben…but Favre-like with a coach who will try to ‘correct him’ and take away what’s special about him.
Mahomes + Tyreek Hill could be magical. Mahomes is not a puss like Alex Smith in throwing the deep ball.
*NEW* 6.98 = WR Robert Woods, L.A. Rams (2018: Age 26, Free Agent 2022)
I’m sure Woods is on all rosters in various formats as I write this, BUT he may be getting dropped in another week or two (if still out with injury) and I wanted to put him in context…
People see Woods as a WR of the moment…they don’t believe in the Rams, or Goff…and they think if a WR is going to emerge it’s Cooper Kupp and/or Sammy Watkins.
Robert Woods is a lot better than given credit and he’s obviously built a great rapport with Goff. Right now, Woods is his #1 guy.
Kupp will probably take the ‘#1 guy’ spot…but maybe down the line, and if he does there is still room for Woods to do what he does and Kupp to thrive in his role. In the future, this high-powered offense will be supporting Woods-Kupp-Reynolds. Woods may be the DeAndre Hopkins-lite of the group. My biggest fear is too many options for Goff and Woods can never sustain PPR WR1 status.
(+) 6.77 = WR Cooper Kupp, LA Rams (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2021)
With so much ‘supply’ at the WR position in general, the fantasy future is built for athletic freaks and extreme ‘professional’ WRs/guys who are BFFs with their great QB. Kupp falls in the ‘professional’ category. He’s going to grow up with Jared Goff and they will be an inseparable duo for many years…a kinda Brees-M. Thomas or Stafford-Tate type of combo, where because the WR is not ‘wow’ athletically the duo gets underrated somewhat – but for fantasy, it’s solid money every week/season.
Kupp was drafted with purpose. He started right away in 2017. He has all the ‘status’ and coach’s attention you want. Kupp is more important to Goff than media love child Sammy Watkins. Tyrell Williams, for example, is a far superior athletic weapon…but his own team doesn’t know he exists. Kupp is beloved by comparison.
Kupp is going to be a 100+ catch per season and 7-9 TD guy who just frustrates defenses with his precise route running and amazing cutting ability.
(--) 6.76 = QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2020)
If he’s stuck with Mike Mularkey again next season, then Mariota has hit his ceiling as a fantasy QB that hits around #6-12 among QBs in scoring and never takes that next step to become a top 3 fantasy QB option. The reason you can dream about Mariota as a top 3 fantasy QB is he’s an elite runner…maybe the best running QB, potentially. However, he’s also a quality passer and has been for most his NFL career. With a bunch of headwinds (coaching philosophy and game plan), Mariota has been a fantasy producer.
The upside here is if a coach is brought in and the team changes over to a pure ‘spread’ offense. Mariota is a better Deshaun Watson if you let him run the spread…all the time. Mike Mularkey will never do this, but Chip Kelly or someone else might in 2018.
Mariota’s upside for the future is tied to a coaching change. If you sit on him now…pray for more losses this season and the Titans clearing out the coaching staff for a new/better one (and pray they don’t replace the current staff with another old-school guy or ex-D-Coordinator).
6.72 = TE George Kittle, San Francisco (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2021)
You could argue that George Kittle is more stash valuable than O.J. Howard…and I could see doing just that. We don’t know who will be coaching the Bucs in the future, but we know they are tied to Jameis Winston…who seems to prefer Cameron Brate. Why enter that drama with two good TE options on a bad team/franchise?
With Kittle, you get a shockingly similar to OJH athlete at tight end, just not as lauded a prospect, but one who impressed the coaches enough to dump the TE they just signed to a huge deal (Vance McDonald) and push Kittle right away. You now get athletic TE, loved by coaches + Jimmy Garoppolo as his QB + pro-passing game Kyle Shanahan leading the mindset.
We want all things Rams and 49ers in the future, where they make sense.
Kittle makes sense. A lot more than I realized when I started putting together this list.
6.61 = WR Josh Doctson, Washington (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
The arrow is slowly starting to point up for Josh Doctson. He’s moved past Terrelle Pryor into the starting lineup…but that has meant little for any type of ‘wow’ output – but at least he’s starting, confidence shown by the head coach.
It seems like a million years ago, but Doctson was the #22 overall pick in the draft in 2016. He’s a really talented player. He has ‘draft status’. He’s getting some love from the coaches, finally.
In 2018, Pryor will be gone. Jordan Reed is never healthy. There is room for Doctson to be the Redskins #1 WR in 2018…three years in the organization. I would discount ‘experience’ if I thought Kirk Cousins was going in free agency 2018…but I’m not so sure he is now. Cousins may actually stay there since Jimmy Garoppolo wound up in San Fran.
Doctson is a talented WR we had good grades on at College Football Metrics in 2016. The situation seems to be moving in his favor. A lot to like for 2018 with Doctson.
5.92 = WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2021)
Golladay rates well as a stash for us, in part because there are not many like him in the NFL. There are a million 5’11” speedsters. There are not many 6’4” with above-average speed (4.50 40-time) and agility (7.00 three-cone) at that size.
Not only does Golladay have a unique physical profile, he’s been spectacular in spurts when given the chance this season. He had a two TD game in the preseason, and then in Week 1 -- he debuted with 2 TD catches.
Golladay offers that ‘go get it’ size and athleticism that tends to produce big plays and TDs. He hasn’t been working like an 8+ target a game workhorse, he’s been more a limited targets WR but his plays are usually long catch and run plays or a high-point grab. I was a doubter pre-NFL Draft but now I’m sold that there’s much more upside there than I first believed.
The downside to Golladay is that Golden Tate is more established and Marvin Jones is having an impact again. I don’t know that Detroit can support three WRs for fantasy, but given his skillset, in another season or two, it might be Golladay as the main guy or a great #2.
5.55 = Dallas DST
This is a bet that personnel guru, the man who really is to ‘blame’ for Dallas’s rise to the best-run team in the NFL, Will McClay…a bet that he continues to outfox the entire NFL and builds a true dynasty in Dallas.
The defensive line is getting loaded…Taco Charlton hasn’t even emerged yet – and he will. The linebackers are fine with Sean Lee, but will add talent to back him up this offseason…Dallas has been in trouble when Lee has been out hurt. The young secondary is getting better and better, and Byron Jones is one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
Dallas is loaded with young talent. They are excellent at personnel evaluation, so they’ll keep adding to it. The offense is amazing, so they’ll be able to control time of possession and always play from ahead. The Cleveland Browns have excellent young defensive talent, but they have nowhere near the organization that Dallas does.
The added bonus for Dallas DST 2018…the schedule rotation gives them the AFC South and NFC South. The Saints and Colts would be the top offenses for them to face next season, but Drew Brees is getting close to 40-years-old and who knows whether Andrew Luck will ever be healthy again. Because Green Bay won’t likely win the NFC North…no Packers on the rotation if Dallas wins the NFC East, and they’ll face offensively-stiff Minnesota instead. Dallas will likely get the Rams in the rotation, however, assuming the Rams win the NFC West.
Within the NFC East…Kirk Cousins will likely be gone. Eli is dying off. Carson Wentz/Philly is the only threat…and I’m not afraid of Wentz. I would also bet matchup #2 with Philly will be Week 17 for Dallas next year…another pearl for the Dallas DST.
5.47 = TE Trey Burton, Philadelphia (2018: Age 27, Free Agent 2018)
Trey Burton may have broken out in the NFL by now if it wasn’t for the fact that he stuck behind Zach Ertz. Trey Burton is a potential Jordan Reed TE if any NFL team is looking. The question is… Is there any NFL team looking?
I’d love Burton joining the Rams and Sean McVay to reprise the Jordan Reed role, but McVay may default that to 2017 rookie Gerald Everett. I think Burton is far superior in that role over Everett… but Everett is already there.
Burton is definitely leaving Philadelphia because it makes no sense for him to stay and be a backup. He can be a starter/star in the right offense somewhere else. I’m good with betting on the talent here, the real gamble is his landing spot. Where he lands, the progressiveness of the offense of his new place – that means everything to his fantasy value.
You have to rank him higher on this list because there are not many stash TEs as proven as Burton. Nor as many on this list certain to be a starter for their NFL team next season.
5.33 = WR Trent Taylor, San Francisco (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
I wouldn’t have had Trent Taylor in the top 10 before the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, but Jimmy G. adds a special secret sauce to this to consider.
Before the Jimmy G. stuff, we start with the fact that Taylor might be the best ‘Wes Welker’ type WR since Wes Welker and is probably a much better Wes Welker. Taylor is far more athletic.
5’7.5”/181, 4.63 40-time, 1.58 10-yard, 6.74 three-cone, 4.01 shuttle = Taylor (2017)
5’8.6”/195, 4.65 40-time, n/a 10-yard, 7.09 three cone, 4.01 shuttle = Welker (2004)
Taylor is a little smaller but just as tough, and much more nimble…much more able to stick his foot in the ground and separate away in an instant. I watched him frustrate and mostly destroy Tyrann Mathieu in Week 4 (5 catches, 47 yards, 10 targets). Mathieu, who is a first-class jerk, was trying to intimidate Taylor with cheap shots, late hits, grabbing during the routes, and Taylor had his breakout moment just running routes that carved up Mathieu. Only, Brian Hoyer is a terrible delivery system…and inexplicably the 49ers did not build on that ace game by Taylor the week(s) after.
Now, we have Jimmy Garoppolo. Now we have the guy who comes from a system tutored by the master that used Welker/Edelman as extreme weapons…and great for PPR purposes.
In his two starts in 2016, Garoppolo…
Week 1 v. ARI – Edelman 7 catches, 7 targets, 66 yards
Week 2 v. MIA – Edelman 7 catches, 10 targets, 76 yards
In the 2017 preseason, Garoppolo gravitated towards UDFA WR Austin Carr, who played a little like that style – OK athlete, great routes/hands.
Because it’s possible that Brady-to-Welker has been reincarnated in Garoppolo-to-Taylor, Trent Taylor is one of our top dynasty stashes for 2017.
2016 at La. Tech: (14 games) 136 catches, 1,803 yards, 12 TDs
5.26 = WR Tyrell Williams, LA Chargers (2018: Age 26, Free Agent 2018-Restricted)
Tyrell shouldn’t even be gracing this list. He shouldn’t have even been a name I wrote down as I gathered names for the list…not after his 2016 breakout performance. However, NFL teams/QBs tend to stick with a pattern of familiarity when established…and they tend to dismiss UDFA players no matter how successful they might appear to be. All that…and then add in that the Chargers are very poorly run and Anthony Lynn is a passing game nightmare…and here we are.
Tyrell 2018 faces all the same issues – Rivers only has eyes for Keenan Allen. Anthony Lynn only wants to run the ball and never pass, if he could have his way. Mike Williams was drafted, highly, and when he was Mike Mayock (because he was who I was watching when it happened) said it was a great pick because all the Chargers had was Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Dontrelle Inman…Tyrell never mentioned. He might as well have been speaking for the Chargers’ front office.
So, if everything is so bleak -- why have Williams on here?
Two potential upsides…
1: Keenan Allen gets hurt every other year. If Allen goes down again…Tyrell becomes a very important piece of the puzzle. He’d get more of a fair shake with Allen gone a la 2016.
2: It’s not out of the question the Chargers trade Williams for a bag of beads/something for Anthony Lynn’s precious running game. Maybe, a fullback. The Chargers look right past Tyrell as it is…why not deal him? I don’t think they have that foresight but I could see a savvier team making an offer and the Chargers being stupid enough to just give Tyrell away. If was made GM of a team today, one of my first phone calls would be to the Chargers inquiring about Tyrell…especially after another loss/it becomes apparent the Chargers season is over.
The real reason I write any of this is – because Tyrell has star potential. He has already flashed it. He may be the best WR on this list if given the chance and developed more…not ignored/chucked into the fire because no one is healthy. Not just star potential – superstar potential. He has measurables like Julio Jones. He’s got world-class potential…being locked in a garage for reasons I don’t understand, but am starting to very much understand their new head coach and the issues he brings.
Tyrell shouldn’t be on here because he’s a star that should be closing in on a Pro Bowl…instead, he’s closer to being benched/splitting with Mike Williams.
Tyrell is on here because there is huge risk 2018 is a re-do of 2017…Anthony Lynn will still be head coach and Rivers isn’t getting any better/younger.
4.90 = WR Quincy Enunwa, NY Jets (2018 Age: 26, Restricted Free Agent 2018)
Enunwa has some similarities to Cameron Meredith’s situation/outlook…they missed their window in 2017 to capture the #1 WR status for their team. Enunwa is in a better position for recovery of his status than Meredith.
-- Enunwa’s injury is not one that hurts his speed, etc. You worry about a neck injury, but it doesn’t diminish his athleticism. Easier to come back from, per se.
-- No new coach likely for the Jets, same guys who liked him before still making decisions.
-- The Jets are terrible at the NFL Draft, so if they try to draft WRs…it probably won’t work well.
Enunwa had a chance to be a Pierre Garcon-like WR weapon, he may get back to that in 2018…and with a potential upgrade at QB – and the Jets will probably butcher that too.
4.89 = WR Keelan Cole, Jacksonville (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2021-restricted)
I keep teasing Keelan Cole but not making very many definitive statements about him. There’s a reason I do that – because I still don’t know what we have here.
There are times I think I see a young Antonio Brown trying to emerge. Other times, I worry he’s an easily overlooked-by-the-team, small school UDFA WR. Look at what Tyrell Williams and Cameron Meredith had to overcome to climb to starters in the NFL…and people still don’t believe in them, not even their own teams.
At least, with Cole – the team endorsed him right away. The no-name guy in for a tryout was suddenly starting/running with the starters in the preseason. Before you knew it, because of injury, Cole was starting early in the 2017 regular-season. Whereas Tyrell Williams and Cameron Meredith got ignored by their teams early on, Cole was pushed forward and they stuck by him even as he got off to a shaky start his first few regular-season targets. He’s looking better and better each week.
I like how the Jaguars respect him, but I’m not as excited about my fantasy asset working with the Jaguars. Doug Marrone has no use for the passing game and the Jaguars have other talented WRs as well. It’s not as fertile an offensive situation in Jacksonville for a WR…as it was when I promoted Tyrell Williams and Cameron Meredith before there breakouts.
I’m not in love with this situation, but I push Cole higher on the list because there are flashes of talent here that make me wonder if he might be one of the three best WR talents from the 2017 NFL Draft…and he wasn’t drafted.
4.43 = TE Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati (2018: Age 26, Free Agent 2019)
Tyler Eifert is a free agent in 2018 and is ALWAYS hurt. Someone not-named Tyler Eifert is going to be the Bengals tight end in 2018 and it is going to be Tyler Kroft.
It’s easy to overlook Kroft. I did, at first, when Eifert got hurt. I didn’t pay him much mind in 2015 when he was drafted. However, it’s easy to forget that Kroft was a #85 overall pick in 2015 when the Bengals already had Eifert on the roster. He was ‘wanted’ by the Bengals.
Once, Kroft joined the team, Eifert had his breakout season in 2015…and no one cared about Kroft for years. All the focus was on when Eifert could return from his various injuries. Of course, Eifert got hurt again this season and Kroft stepped in and is making people forget about Eifert.
Take a look at Eifert’s best two NFL seasons (2015-2016) and compare the per game numbers to Kroft in his last 4 games, his four true, established as the starter, games this season (as of Week 8)…
10.7 FF PPG (14.7 PPR) on 4.0 rec., 5.7 targets, 47.3 yards, 1.0 TDs per game = Eifert 2015
8.7 FF PPG (12.3 PPR) on 3.6 rec., 5.9 targets, 49.3 yards, 0.63 TDs per game = Eifert 2016
8.9 FF PPG (13.7 PPR) on 4.8 rec., 5.5 targets, 43.8 yards, 0.75 TDs per game = Kroft Weeks 4-8
Kroft has come in and looked a little more fluid/athletic than Eifert and it’s showing in the numbers, as Kroft is pacing for more catches per game than Eifert used to produce (early on in Kroft’s 2017 run as a starter). Eifert was lethal in the red zone, but Kroft is showing to be worthy in that area as well. There is intent with Kroft…not just ‘Oh, by the way he’s an option that got used a few times.’ He is getting steady targets and producing output every week (through Week 9).
A solid talent in a great situation, suddenly. Andy Dalton has shown to use the tight end nicely, especially in the red zone.
4.41 = RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis (2018: Age 22, Free Agent 2021)
I think you have to plan for Mack to be a 3rd-down type of back in the NFL. The reason we would have him below a D’Onta Foreman is that Mack is not a three-down workhorse. Now, in PPR, Mack may end up a better producer…but that’s dependent on volume, etc. But you have to play Mack as not-a-workhorse and go from there.
Mack is a poor man’s Alvin Kamara, a similar Chris Thompson – get him out to him in the passing game and dump him the ball and let him try to make something happen. I think Mack is below/not near Kamara or Thompson for fantasy…but the potential to climb up there is possible…all depends on the game plan.
I like Mack OK, but I fear he’s mostly an RB3-type of guy that bounces on and off 12-team league/16-man rosters all season every season. More Charles Sims than Kamara. BUT with the right offensive-minded head coach and a slick passing game attack – he’ll matter.
4.29 = WR Cameron Meredith, Chicago (2018 Age: 26, Restricted Free Agent 2018)
Meredith’s dynasty value potentially went up in smoke with his terrible knee injury this preseason. Here are all the issues he now faces…
-- Rehab for the injury…will he be ‘right’ in 2018 or ever again?
-- UDFA…so no one cares about him. He wasn’t supposed to be this good.
-- New coach probably coming…so no established relationship with the new guy, who will want his own guys.
-- No real established relationship with Mitchell Trubisky.
-- The Bears are going to draft and sign multiple WRs in 2018…to grow with Trubisky.
The great window of opportunity, the 2017 season as the team’s #1 WR…it’s gone.
Now, Meredith is a talent and we have to respect that but there are so many things working against him it’s hard to count on or get excited about him for the future. WR 2-3 is a cheap glut of supply, and Meredith may be headed there ‘with baggage’.
I hate it but it’s true.
3.95 = TE Adam Shaheen, Chicago (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2021)
I’m not the biggest Shaheen fan, after scouting him for the 2017 NFL Draft, but I see the potential. I could be making a mistake that what I feel looks like ‘clunky’…is actually athletic at 6’6”/278. He’s pretty nimble for his size, but I feel like he is a little too something…too stiff, too tentative. Something looks different when he puts the pads on versus watching him practice in shorts and a t-shirt.
There are not many 6’6”+ TE prospects out there, and the Bears took him highly in the draft to pair him with Mitchell Trubisky…and they’ve become BFF’s. There’s fantasy value in being the BFF of the next great NFL QB.
(--) 3.79 = WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2021)
I was researching and considering John Ross for the stash report at the same time as I was working on Taywan. Ross is a 1st-rounder and Taylor went 3rd…but there’s nothing that I’ve seen from scouting them this winter to their NFL journey’s that leads me to believe Taylor isn’t miles ahead of Ross.
Taylor is a quality receiver and has a nice pop of athleticism…enough so they team uses him to run ball about once a game. He makes tough catches. He gets open. He’s being used on purpose. It’s a nice start to his career. Unfortunately, he has Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis on the team – so targets will be spread thin, especially if Mike Mularkey is coach and wants to run the ball all the time.
I thought Taylor was one of the best, if not the best pure WR talent from this draft. I hate his NFL landing spot right now. There is talent to love and a situation to hate here. Hard judging that for this stash list/the future. Taywan Taylor could be Doug Baldwin someday.
3.54 = TE Gerald Everett, LA Rams (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
This is all about Everett being groomed to be a ‘Jordan Reed’ weapon for Sean McVay.
I have not seen much of a sign of this happening on the field in 2017. I don’t see a lot of Reed in my scouting of Everett. However, McVay kinda believes Everett can be that Reed option…and that’s where the potential value comes in – if McVay is right; because McVay has been pretty good at football things so far in 2017.
If the high-flying Rams offense has Everett turn into a Jordan Reed…then, man, is this offense stacked. I’m just very suspect that Everett is that guy. He’s on this list in case I’m wrong and McVay is right.
3.41 = RB Chris Carson, Seattle (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
On one hand, I don’t know why there is such a buzz over Carson…he’s good, but his football aura at one point this season was like he was the greatest RB prospect to ever grace the planet earth. Mike Davis looked better to me in the preseason. The Seahawks have a lot of solid RB options (when they are healthy). I don’t see the clear path to Chris Carson as three-down starter/workhorse.
On the other hand, I know the ‘buzz’ pushes NFL teams…so, Carson has wind beneath his wings from the media. He is going to get to push ahead of the line upon his return. So, we have to take that seriously.
In the end, I see Carson as a solid NFL RB on a team with several solid RBs, a poor O-Line for the last few years, and Carson coming off a serious injury. If I did the Ben Franklin ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ on a piece of paper…there are more things on the ‘con’ list not having to do with Carson’s talent, per se.
I like Carson…a bit before the media did, but now I’m leery as they’ve all piled in with too much vigor.
3.33 = WR Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco (2018: Age 27, Free Agent 2019)
I don’t know if Goodwin is ever going to be a consistent, starting WR, much less go on to matter big-time for fantasy. Here’s what I do know…there are physical attributes that would allow Goodwin to be a superstar if everything could get unlocked.
He gets knocked as a ‘track guy’ trying to play WR, but he’s really worked at his craft and has improved as a more legit WR versus just a deep-ball guy. Add to that A+ athleticism and a team that paid shockingly good money to bring him over in free agency – there are a lot of things to like here.
5’8.7/183 and ran a 4.27 40-time, a 6.66 three-cone, posted a 42” vertical – he’s an incredible physical specimen…the closest thing to Tyreek Hill in the league (on paper).
I don’t know how long he’ll be a ‘stash’ candidate for because Pierre Garcon has gone on IR and now there is a void with SF…who will be the main WR? Trent Taylor or Marquise Goodwin? Either way, Goodwin should get more looks and then we can see how good he might be. At times, he’s flashed brilliance, athletically, this season.
3.30 = WR Zay Jones, Buffalo (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2021)
Kelvin Benjamin costs $8M to keep in 2018…and $0.0 to cut. Jordan Matthews is a free agent in January. I’m not sure the Bills will retain either. Zay Jones may be the top guy left. On top of the contract situations, it’s possible Zay will be the Bills best WR anyway. He’s a talent along the lines of a DeAndre Hopkins…great hands, professional WR…he’s a little smaller than Hopkins but a more athletic one.
Jones was nearly a 1st-round pick (#37)…and early 2nd-rounder that the Bills traded up for. They wanted Jones. He’s the new regime’s ‘guy’. Benjamin and Matthews were fill-ins for trades. He has the talent and pedigree to be a #1 for the Bills. The problem is ‘it’s the Bills’. A team not likely to be known for its radical passing game under Sean McDermott.
I’m a Zay fan, but the ‘Buffalo’ aspect of this for passing game numbers spooks me.
(+) 3.12 = RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City (2018: Age 26, Free Agent 2019)
A lot of this stash depends upon where you think he’ll play next year. Back in KC as a backup or traded away? The Chiefs have no reason to deal him or cut him. They smartly signed him to a longer-term, cheaper deal before his breakout. They can keep him as insurance for 2018, and it costs about $2M…nothing compared to what he’s worth when healthy.
The only value he’s likely to have in 2018 is if Kareem Hunt gets hurt. Other than that, you wait until his 2019 free agency. He’s a 2019 stash not a 2018 one.
3.09 = RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (2018: Age 31, Free Agent 2018)
Jamaal Charles has been totally disrespected by Vance Joseph in his time with Denver… He has since the preseason. To me, it looks like he’s the most athletic, breakaway runner the Broncos have -- yet Vance Joseph never seems to give him the time of day.
At least, Charles proved he has still ‘got it’ in 2017. He’s 30+ (nearly 31) years old but that’s not ancient in today’s running back era. It looks like he has another good year still in him. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and he will definitely not be back in Denver.
Charles will go to a contender in 2018 to be a backup or complementary back or brought in if a freakish summer injury hits a team’s #1 RB…you know how things change in the RB world. Injuries and let downs abound. If Charles still has a little bit of magic left, he could be a productive, even shocking starting RB somewhere next season. That’s value you can use or trade-off.
3.03 = QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota (2018: Age 27, Free Agent 2018)
I don’t love the potential outcomes for Teddy from here. Remember, he is a free agent at the end of the season. One of two things happen when he takes over this season:
(1) He plays poorly, he’s not ‘back’…and he falls further down a hole. The Vikings let him walk. He goes to a bad team in free agency to fight for a job…or goes as a specific backup in New England, etc.
(2) He plays so well that the Vikings want to keep him. You don’t want Teddy + Zimmer for fantasy. It’s a waste of your time/energy.
I really like Bridgewater as a talent but I have a feeling the ‘status’ ship has sailed and there are too many other QB talents flooding into the league. In a different universe, we love Teddy but in this current one…the fantasy outlook does not appear to have a ton of upside.
The upside being he lands in a place in free agency and takes over, and restarts his career with great play. This is a long shot…and he’s a high injury risk/very thin-framed QB. Not worth a lot of effort on right now.
2.90 = WR Pierre Garcon, San Francisco (2018: Age 32, Free Agent 2022)
I like Pierre Garcon as a WR, but a five-year/$47M deal this past offseason seems a little rich. However, it does mean the 49ers are committed to Garcon. 2020 is about the time when it would be cheaper to cut him…and he’ll be 34 that season.
I’m not sure how much I love a 32+ year old receiver next season…on a team with young, emerging WRs and likely to draft/sign more as needed. He might work for 2018 as that final year before tailing off at age 33+ in 2019, but it’s hard to say.
There’s a chance Garcon is the #1 WR for this team in 2018, a go-to…working with Jimmy Garoppolo. That has value…if his healthy and athleticism holds up…which is in question.
2.88 = WR Julian Edelman, New England (2018: Age 32, Free Agent 2020)
Edelman has a certain role, a certain style as a WR…short, over the middle, in traffic – susceptible to big hits. The injuries have been mounting for Edelman the past three years…and he’s not getting any younger. He will have missed 23 of the Patriots’ last 48 regular-season games starting 2018 season.
I’m thinking he might have one more year in him if he can stay healthy…and that’s an ‘if’ – working with Tom Brady, who keeps adding age and is starting to slip just a little bit. It’s just not a great thing to plunge into. It’s something but not super-amazing, and has about one year left of anything left.
*NEW* 2.67 = WR Ryan Switzer, Dallas (2018: Age 24, Free Agent 2021)
Cole Beasley has about played his way out of Dallas. The guy has had zero impact this season. He’s a nice little option on short routes, but he’s not getting open this season and does little after the catch.
Ryan Switzer is Cole Beasley…if Beasley had after-the-catch skills. You can do more with Switzer than Beasley because he is ridiculous with the ball in his hands – an ace return man. Switzer can play the Beasley role and go deep to make things happen. Switzer has solid hands and has occasional drops but that’s usually because he’s working in traffic.
Dallas needs to overhaul it’s WR group, and they drafted Switzer with a purpose this year. He should be having an impact in 2018. I think he fits what Dak does well. This can be some nice PPR action at some point…Dak’s ‘Welker’.
2.60 = WR John Ross, Cincinnati (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2022)
I’ve never been the biggest fan of John Ross. I mean, one good year in college…and hurt/out too much. Obviously, very fast…but undersized and not a technically great WR. Some speedy WRs offer the deep threat plus working bubble screens, etc. -- they are just an aggressive presence. Some speedy WRs are just fast and want to go deep only, away from the congestion. Ross seems more like a contact avoider/high-injury probability with his slender frame.
In the preseason glimpse, I saw a tentative not-as-fast-as-I-thought WR in Ross. He got hurt easily, quickly. Same thing in his NFL debut. Once back from a midseason injury, the Bengals didn’t rush him into touches or snaps…and that tells me a lot about where he is right now.
There’s hope because of the extreme speed here, but how excited are you about J.J. Nelson or even Ted Ginn, etc.? He could develop his receiving skills and combine it with his high-end speed, and be something -- but we’ve seen no evidence of it so far.
2.55 = WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia (2018: Age 26, Free Agent 2018)
I still believe Jordan Matthews is one of the better, professional WR in the NFL. He was the best WR on the Philadelphia Eagles for a couple of seasons, and now he’s the best WR on the Buffalo Bills. One of the problems being the Eagles top guy was that he had garbage for a passing game his last two years and he then joined the Bills with a pretty muted aerial attack as well. He keeps winding up the best musician playing with a terrible band.
Next season, he’s either retained by the Bills and could be their best WR again…but the Bills could have a totally different QB. Maybe, a good one? There’s the potential for that but with Buffalo, you’d bet more against it then for it – Sean McDermott is a defensive head coach and will play conservative on offense to support his defense, most likely. You don’t want to go there with Fantasy assets related to the conservative passing game. However, McDermott could open up if he had a QB to do it with. It’s not an absolute either way…we have to see how it plays out.
The other opportunity Matthews has is -- he could be a free agent on the move and lands in a better place. Bad organizations will ignore Matthews. But the more savvy ones would realize what a quality WR he is and then he could in a wonderful passing game and be part of their ensemble. I love Jordan Matthews as a #2 WR instead of being the obvious #1 and drawing top coverage.
2.44 = WR Terrelle Pryor, Washington (2018: Age 29, Free Agent 2018)
Terrelle Pryor is being dropped all over fantasy football. A top 50 overall pick in the draft in the preseason, now he’s been rendered worthless. What happened? Is it his talent? Is it the situation?
If you watched him with the Browns in 2016, you know there’s some talent there. At times, he was majestical. Calvin Johnson-esque working all over the field. His break out WR performance in 2016 only landed him a solid one year ‘prove it’ deal in Washington…and he’s done anything but ‘prove it’. He’ll be on the move again in 2018. If he falls into the right landing spot and goes back to his 2016 ways…he’s a top 20 fantasy WR.
I’m guessing he’ll land with a lower-level franchise that cannot attract real free agents – he’ll go somewhere like the Jets or the Browns, etc. and when he lands on one of these bad teams with little to no talent – he could walk in the door as instantly the most gifted WR on the roster. There is still time for him to rehab from his 2017 nightmare…but it’s unlikely.
I have to wonder if there is some issue with Pryor off the field because it’s strange fall from grace…he’s not the swiftest guy I have ever come across. A player expected to be the team’s #1 and now he’s effectively benched. It could be Pryor’s fault totally. It probably is Pryor. However, it could also be Jay Braden is a terrible head coach at developing his players. Any running back he’s brought in as failed. Josh Doctson has been a huge letdown. Samaje Perine has been undeveloped, torn down and ignored for the likes of Rob Kelley – showing concrete proof Jay Gruden is out of his mind. Could be that Jay Gruden is a pretty good manager of a team and playbook but terrible developing and evaluating personnel. Sean McVay may have propped Gruden up and we don’t realize how bad he is at the talent evaluation and development part of the job. We’ll see. The potential for this little theory gives some hope Pryor just got mishandled by Washington.
There’s only a handful of guys on this stash list that have the physical talent that prior does…and almost none that have a proven NFL season under his belt like Pryor does.
*NEW* 1.97 = QB Davis Webb, NY Giants (2018: Age 23, Free Agent 2021)
Davis Webb is getting the ‘who cares’ shoulder shrug from the football media. Most fantasy analysts painting him as a nobody who racked stats in pass-happy offenses in college. I think Webb is a legit starting NFL talent and could have started right away for an NFL team…he has some Dak Prescott/Jared Goff in him.
Webb is from the new breed of quick decision, wide-open offense college passer prospects. He could have been a star with Sean McVay. He’s going to get lost in New York as they try to draft a big-name guy next season…unless Webb goes nuts with his upcoming audition. He might do just that, but the media is already against him…northeast media wants a ‘star’ name and drama, and that’s not Davis Webb.
I’m a fan, but I would not put him as an elite QB prospect, just a solid/good one with upside depending on who he falls in with if the Giants let him go…but more likely he will be a backup for the new high draft pick QB. The Giants feel like the wrong place at the wrong time for Webb.
1.11 = WR Malcolm Mitchell, New England (2018: Age 25, Free Agent 2020)
Mitchell is a talented WR prospect for sure, but he picked the wrong time to get hurt and miss the season (is there a good time?). He’s missed another year working with Tom Brady, and now Jimmy Garoppolo is gone for any thoughts of them growing together into the future.
Mitchell is likely to have a role in the future, but considering all the Pats have added at WR…Hogan, Cooks, etc., it’s hard to see them pushing a virtual rookie in 2018 when Brady is going into his final year or two of playing. Wrong place, wrong time for Mitchell.