Alshon’s being drafted at the end of the 3rd round. His talent certainly deserves that ADP, but will he perform as well as he did in Chicago when Jay Cutler was peppering him with targets? Jeffery played a full 16 games in 2013 and 2014, but couldn’t hold up in 2015. In 2016, he missed 4 games due to suspension. There is an injury prone label on him, and that’s also because he had lingering soft tissue injuries, but he has played on them and performed for the most part. At the end of 2016, Bears GM Ryan Pace said that he thought Jeffery finally took care of his body to avoid injuries, and this year his WR coach Mike Groh said Jeffery had one of his best off-seasons of his career; Groh was Jeffery’s WR coach in Chicago.
Towards the end of last year, it seemed like the team looked towards Cameron Meredith with targets to see what he can do as far as their future goes. Either way, if Jeffery played those five games he missed, based on the rest of his year, his pace would have been a respectable 69 receptions for 1094 yards, and that includes that 3 target, 1 reception for 10 yards game in Week 17 where the Bears didn’t care about getting him the ball. Not bad for the hot mess of a passing offense the Bears had last year. In 2015, not including Week 9 when Jeffery got hurt, he was straight balling; his pace would have been 106 receptions for 1594 yards. We have to keep in mind that Jay Cutler was his QB, and loved throwing it to him, but we should expect Carson Wentz to rely on his now #1 receiver.
With a rookie QB last year, the Eagles threw the sixth most passes in the league. We can safely say that this is a high volume passing offense, and the #1 receiver on that team should produce. Last year, the Eagles didn’t have that true #1 receiver, and Wentz had to rely on guys like Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor. Matthews and Zach Ertz led the team in targets with 117 and 106, respectively. Jeffery and Torrey Smith should be manning the outside, while Matthews goes back to the slot. With Smith keeping the safeties back, I see Jeffery getting 8+ targets a game and doing a lot of work. He’s obviously a great touchdown target as well once they get into the red zone. The Eagles were so desperate for someone to take that red zone target role that they traded for Green-Beckham in the pre-season last year. That didn’t work out so well. At the end of the day, Jeffery has the talent to be a #1 receiver on a team and can handle a serious target workload, and I would definitely aim to grab Jeffery at his ADP.
Eddie Lacy was signed to a 1 year, $5.5 million contract. His ADP is in the middle of the 5th round in non-PPR leagues, and at the end of the 6th in PPR leagues. We know that CJ Prosise will at least play on third down and in passing situations. We also know that Thomas Rawls has shown effectiveness in this offense in 2015. However, this offensive line remains very suspect, and we don’t know how effective these guys will be on early downs. Lacy currently weighs in under 250 pounds, and has five more weigh-ins to go. This seems more like a weight challenge project for Lacy than a challenge of him being the starter on early downs. He also got hurt last year and is still recovering. While he’s recovering, Rawls is apparently impressing at OTAs and in early workouts. Lacy was effective last year before he got hurt, but this looks like a situation to avoid. The upside might be there for Lacy, but if Rawls is sharing early down work with him, there won’t be much opportunity, and it will be hard to have confidence and start Lacy on a week-to-week basis. His ADP already assumes that he will be the starter, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case with two other backs sharing the load.
Is Brandon Marshall done? I don’t think so. He is one year removed from a 1500 yard, 14 TD season, but couldn’t get much done last year because of the hot mess that was the Jets QB situation. Marshall is an elite-type wide receiver who, with opportunity, can provide real fantasy value. But that’s the question, how much opportunity is he going to get? He’s being drafted at the end of the 5th round, and I believe that the possible upside in this offense makes Marshall well worth being picked at that spot. We all have recency bias, and it’s hard to shake off, but Marshall was being drafted right around the same ADP before the 2015 season, and he led the league in touchdowns, had the fourth most receiving yards, and fifth most catches. The draft is all about finding those upside players who can return well beyond where you draft them, and Marshall is one of those talents you have to bet on.
Back to his opportunity. Odell Beckham got a ridiculous 169 targets last year, catching 101 of them. The rest of the targets were distributed like so: Sterling Shepard – 105, Victor Cruz – 72, Will Tye – 70, Rashad Jennings – 42, and it goes on. Are there targets available for Marshall? Of course! The Giants were 8th in passing attempts last year, and another viable target on the outside does wonders for an offense. They will move the ball better, all the attention won’t be on either side focusing on Odell or Marshall, and Manning will finally have multiple weapons on the outside capable of making huge plays. Marshall is a true professional, and works very hard on his mental and physical game, and will bring his A game even at his fatherly age. His career is likely coming to an end, but that’s only because there’s a media career waiting for him on the other side, not because his skills have diminished. I expect Marshall to get a big part of the target share behind Beckham, and I do expect him to get a ton of red zone targets – something they’ve truly missed and tried to give to their big tight ends to no avail.
Martellus Bennet is a talented tight end, but only had one season of 65+ catches, and that was his 90-catch season in 2014. Even with those 90 catches, he didn’t surpass 1000 yards… he barely had 900. He was peppered with targets, and made the best of it. I don’t see him being peppered with targets in Green Bay because of Rodgers having to move a little bit of his target share away from Nelson, Adams, Cobb, and Montgomery to feed Bennett. Last year, Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook each had 30 catches, but if Cook played the whole year there would have been more of a disparity between the two tight ends. Cook did have at least 9 targets in each of the Packers’ three playoff games, hauling in 18 catches for 229 yards and 2 TDs.
Bennett is a more talented all-around player than Cooks, with great blocking skills as well. He’ll be on the field in both the run and pass game, which opens him up to possible big play-action and bootleg pass plays. Lance Kendricks is also on the roster, and can definitely steal some targets from Bennett as well. Having any piece of this Green Bay offense seems like a good idea, but if you look at Jared Cook’s numbers last year, they weren’t consistent in the games that he played. There is just a much higher likelihood that the receivers are going to get most of the targets in Green Bay. In the seventh round, I’m going to have to pass on Bennett for guys like Frank Gore, Willie Snead, Stefon Diggs, and Pierre Garcon. If I don’t have a tight end at this point, I’m waiting a few more rounds to get a tight end who will probably put up similar numbers, while not worrying about leaving players I want on the board.
Latavius Murray is currently being drafted in the eighth round; that value isn’t that bad. Dalvin Cook was drafted in the early 2nd round, but Murray was signed to a 3-year, $15 million contract. The Vikings clearly like Murray, and they definitely plan on using him. I think Murray and Cook can actually complement each other well, and the Vikings running game, with their slightly improved offensive line, can do good things. This offense as a whole is one that I expect to take a step forward this year. They showed some good signs last year, but couldn’t get continuity on offense because of their lack of running game, and lack of time behind that horrible offensive line. Back to how these two running backs can complement each other, look for Murray to be more of an inside runner and goal line back, while Cook takes more plays to the outside and in space. Murray is also likely to play on third downs because of him being much better suited as a pass protector. Because of this seemingly even split, and more touches in the favor of Murray in my opinion, I would love to have Murray on my team because I can draft him in the eighth round. There aren’t that many guys in that part of the draft who will get more opportunity than Murray, so sign me up as long as his ADP doesn’t rise.
I know one thing. DeSean Jackson will make this offense better. Without DeSean Jackson, the Redskins didn’t score as many points, and their run game was even better with him on the field. With opposing defenses not having to focus solely on Mike Evans, a lot opens up for Jameis Winston. The thing is, opposing defenses are going to have to focus on Evans, and with such an elite talent on that side of the field, it’s going to open up Jackson for long passing plays, and when Jackson catches a long one, it’s usually for a long touchdown. Winston likes throwing it deep; he was 8th in percentage of passes going deep and 2nd in average depth of pass. However, Winston needs to improve on his accuracy on those throws. He did fine in 2015, but 2016 was pretty bad.. I do think Jackson’s expertise of going deep will help Winston get back to a better deep ball accuracy mark.
Jackson’s current ADP in non-PPR is at the end of the seventh round. Not too bad if you are looking for a home run hitter. If I’m on the clock and Jackson is on the board, I am looking at my roster to see if I have some solid floor players. If I do, Jackson is a great candidate for my team. If I have some boom/bust players or some risky guys that I’m hoping can turn out well for me, than Jackson isn’t a guy I want at this spot. I rather go a bit safer with Latavius Murray, Stefon Diggs, Frank Gore, Jeremy Maclin, or Matt Forte. I do think Jackson is exactly what the Bucs needed as a complement to Mike Evans, and is someone that Winston will look for early and often.
More players on new teams who I already have write-ups on: