Fantasy Football Old Faces, New Places Projections

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As most fantasy drafts are held in the month of August, veteran players at key positions are exploring new destinations for the 2018 campaign. From Kirk Cousins to Allen Hurns, here are a few notable fantasy assets that are representing new jerseys this upcoming season:

Quarterback

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Star Tribune Photos 

Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)

After the Washington Redskins failed to lock up Kirk Cousins long-term, the Minnesota Vikings took advantage and signed the quarterback to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal.

Finishing the last three seasons in the top eight among fantasy quarterbacks, the question is whether Minnesota will benefit or diminish the play of Cousins as a fantasy asset. Outside of Case Keenum in 2017, which Minnesota quarterbacks have stood out as QB1’s? At best, Teddy Bridgewater was serviceable as a QB2 back in 2015, but that’s just about it.

With a defense as strong as the Vikings, I don’t think Kirk Cousins will be stuck in comeback situations as often in 2018. That being said, Minnesota will rely heavily on their run game in Dalvin Cook to run out the clock, slightly regressing Cousins’ numbers.

Projection: Low-End Top 12, QB1

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AP Photos

Alex Smith (Washington Redskins)

After spending each of the last five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, the front office traded Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in exchange for CB Kendall Fuller and a 2018 third-round pick. Oddly enough, the 2017 campaign was Smith’s best career season in terms of fantasy stats.

Listed as the fourth-best quarterback in terms of fantasy, the important note is that Smith is now joining a depth chart that no longer includes Jamison Crowder. Sure, Tom Brady can make the most of any weapons given to him, but can Alex Smith?

I have Smith finishing with around 265 fantasy points this season, which will be around #7-9 among quarterbacks. The Redskins have the second-friendliest schedule for quarterbacks, and the only barrier will involve the health of Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson.

Projection: Low-End Top 10, QB1

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ESPN Photos

Case Keenum (Denver Broncos)

After signing with the Denver Broncos through free agency, Case Keenum is coming off an impressive 2017 campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. During his tenure, Keenum turned both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs into fantasy studs, and may even do the same for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Keenum finishing 14th among quarterbacks in 2017 is somewhat flawed, considering he played two fewer games than his colleagues. Based on that respective season, Keenum could have been on track for roughly 272 fantasy points, which would be 8th among quarterbacks.

In the new system, I actually view Case Keenum as a QB2. His past inconsistencies force most fantasy owners to bet on a safer selection, while his 2017 flashes make him draftable. I would stash Keenum on the bench with the intention of playing him in select bye weeks that compliment other quarterbacks.

Projection: Top 20, QB2

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ESPN Photos

Tyrod Taylor (Cleveland Browns)

After the Buffalo Bills traded away Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, he now joins a roster that is full of offensive weapons. For most, the fact that Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde can all be on the same field is enough for fantasy owners to bite the bait on Taylor.

Within the numbers, Taylor averaged 254.7 fantasy points per season over the last three years, which was less than 12 other quarterbacks in 2017. Taylor is already on a short leash with Baker Mayfield on the active roster, and with his top season (2016) capped off at 270.9 fantasy points, I just don’t see the buzz.

There is always the argument that Cleveland will be the first time in Tyrod Taylor’s career that he is surrounded by weapons, but let’s not act like Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy at full health were a disadvantage to his game. I have Taylor regressing in 2018, finishing undrafted in some leagues.

Projection: Top 25, Waiver Pickup 

Running Back

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Plainview Daily Herald Photos

Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco 49ers)

After filling in for Dalvin Cook in Minnesota in 2017, Jerick McKinnon now finds himself in a rebuilding franchise with the San Francisco 49ers. While Latavius Murray was technically the “lead back” in most weeks, McKinnon provided a boost in the passing game, reeling in 51 receptions last season.

In 2017, Matt Breida provided 82.5 fantasy points as a backup to Carlos Hyde in San Francisco and should continue to play a role with the offense this upcoming season. McKinnon is a wild card bet, but will likely turn as an RB2 at best. He will carry the ball roughly 155-165 times in 2018, and fantasy owners should only consider him in either bargain rounds or if the running back position is a desperate need.

Projection: Top 15-20, RB2

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247 Sports Photos 

Dion Lewis (Tennessee Titans)

After a breakout 2017 in which Dion Lewis managed a career-high 165 fantasy points with the Patriots, the aspect to remember is that New England’s committee allowed for running backs outside of Lewis to rush for 211 attempts.

Joining the Tennessee Titans, the only concrete competition Lewis will have to face is Derrick Henry, who served six touchdowns as a backup to veteran DeMarco Murray. With that, Lewis will likely serve as an RB2, much like Henry in 2018. The two will split reps as a committee, and I would project that neither running back averages double-digit fantasy points in the 2018 campaign.

Projection: Low-End Top 25, RB3

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LeGarrette Blount (Detroit Lions)

After one season with the Philadelphia Eagles, veteran LeGarrette Blount departed to the Detroit Lions in the recent offseason. With three consecutive seasons of 700+ rushing yards and a combined 28 touchdowns, Blount’s 2017 campaign was his worst fantasy standing since 2014.

Now stuck in a crowded backfield that consists of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and 2nd round draft pick Kerryon Johnson, the expectation is that Blount will prove to be an RB3/Bench Slot heading into this season. Although Abdullah has shown an inconsistency in remaining healthy and putting together efficient attempts, Riddick’s 53 receptions last season will be a hindrance to Blount’s production. Expect Blount to be a touchdown-dependent play each week in a pass-first offense.

Projection: Low-End Top 40, RB3/Bench Slot

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247 Sports Photos

Doug Martin (Oakland Raiders)

After breakout seasons in both 2012 and 2015, Doug Martin is moving on from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Oakland Raiders. Failing to reach 75+ fantasy points in each of the last two seasons, Martin has looked surprisingly well during the training camp period.

Claiming this is the “best offensive line” he has played for, Martin finds himself in a backfield that struggled for the most part last year. At times, we saw promise from Marshawn Lynch in 2017, but based on the occasional falloffs, I believe Martin will find his fair share of reps.

While Martin will only receive about 50-75 reps all season, his stock value will instantly increase if he can provide efficiency in the ground game. He is currently only being drafted in 7% of leagues so he could be a valuable sleeper handcuff.

Projection: Top 50, Waiver Pickup

Wide Receiver

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Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer

Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns)

Labeled as a seventh-round pick in 2018, Cleveland Browns newcomer Jarvis Landry is well worth a selection between rounds #4-6 in most leagues. With 135+ fantasy points in each of his last three seasons under various quarterbacks, Landry should be the centerpiece of this Browns offense.

While many are concerned with the quarterback situation in Cleveland, Jarvis Landry found a way to make light out of Jay Cutler under center in Miami. His upside should tick his fantasy ceiling around 150 fantasy points, which would rank #11 among receivers in 2017.

Projection: Top 20, High-End WR2

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ESPN Photos

Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)

Another former Jaguars receiver, Allen Robinson will now play with sophomore Mitchell Trubisky, who’s top option last season was Kendall Wright, who posted 67.4 fantasy points in 2017. While Robinson is on a different level than anyone in the previous Chicago receiving corps, betting on Robinson will be a gamble.

Currently projected as a sixth-round selection, Robinson is fully healthy coming into this season. In the back of my mind, I worry about how consistent the Bears offense will be, but it’s a young unit that is slowly beginning to progress under Matt Nagy. Robinson should manage to match his 2016 stat line, where he posted 800+ receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.

Projection: Top 25, WR2

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SF Gate Photos

Jordy Nelson (Oakland Raiders)

After playing a season without Aaron Rodgers for the most part, Jordy Nelson put up his worst fantasy total (84.2) since 2010. Now representing the Oakland Raiders, Nelson will be one of the biggest gambles heading into any fantasy draft.

Currently viewed as a tenth-round selection in most fantasy leagues, I think Nelson is well-worth a draft pick in the middle rounds. His 2018 campaign should be similar to 2012, aside from the injury factor. Asking for 750+ yards and 5+ touchdowns is more than reasonable, as Derek Carr has a newfound weapon to utilize.

Projection: Top 40, Low-End WR3/Flex Option

 

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Getty Photos

 

Allen Hurns (Dallas Cowboys)

After an injury-riddled season and a career-low 60.4 fantasy points with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Allen Hurns will now represent the Dallas Cowboys in a season where many are expecting him to be the top wideout option. After missing twelve games over the last three seasons, I can’t say Hurns will be a standout selection this season.

With the departure of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, there are a lot of holes and receptions to be made up for in 2018. While Cole Beasley has shown to be a reliable option, there is no sincere WR1 in Dallas. Another name to keep in the back of your mind is third-round selection Michael Gallup, who has continued to show flashes in training camp.

I would stash Hurns in one of the last rounds, just in case he shows promise as the season progresses. He is only being drafted in 12% of leagues at the moment so I would expect for him to be a waiver pickup in most leagues.

Projection: Top 60, Waiver Pickup 

 

 

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