2017 Fantasy Football: Notes

By Chet Gresham - @Chet_G
Updated June 20, 2017.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

There truly is no offseason in the NFL, and that applies to fantasy as well. Below, I gather some of the more interesting tidbits from the news and look at them with a fantasy perspective.

June 20 Updates

Eric Decker, WR, Titans.
Eric Decker has signed with the Titans to help complete an offseason passing-offense upgrade that should help them tremendously as a team. As for fantasy, it helps Marcus Mariota the most, as he has added No. 5 pick Corey Davis and now Decker to his weapons. In total, Mariota now has Decker, Davis, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker to throw to, who are all good red-zone targets. Mariota was already extremely efficient in the red zone, but now, he should up his touchdown numbers with a better overall offense and more big targets in the end zone.

Of course, the extra targets aren't great for any one receiver. The Titans ranked 28th in pass attempts last season, and even though they should pass a bit more with these additions, they aren't going to stop being a run-first team with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry pounding the rock. Decker is the likely No. 1 receiver in Tennessee this season, and I expect his touchdown numbers to be strong, but he's not going to be winning any target contests. We could easily see this trade shoot his ADP up too high based on buzz alone.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings.
Rookie Dalvin Cook has impressed Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, and Zimmer isn't one to give out a ton of praise to players through the media. With Latavius Murray still not ready to practice and Jerrick McKinnon viewed more as a third-down back, Cook is setting up nicely to get a decent amount of work early in the season.

Ryan Switzer, WR, Cowboys.
Cole Beasley has been dealing with hamstring tendinitis since Week 10 of last season. He was able to play through it and would likely do the same if the season started tomorrow, but he has been held out of the offseason programs, which should help rookie Ryan Switzer see more work with Dak Prescott and the first team. Switzer would really need to step up to take over the job, but it is in the realm of possibility, and I like his upside more than Beasley for fantasy.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers.
The early rumors that Joe Williams could unseat Carlos Hyde as the starting back this season aren't really on track at the moment, as Carlos Hyde has handled all the first-team work this offseason. Hyde will likely need to suffer an injury to be passed by the rookie on the depth chart this season.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Colts.
Phillip Dorsett has a hamstring injury and is currently sitting out during mini-camp. He's now in his third season and will have to fight off Kamar Aiken for playing time. The injury isn't serious, but Aiken is a solid receiver, and Dorsett is not guaranteed anything at this point in his career.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys.
Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown says that Ezekiel Elliott will see more work in the passing game this season. Last season, he only caught 32 passes, but made big plays from them often. With Dez Bryant as the only go-to receiver on the team, expect Brown to be correct. If Elliott can get his receptions into the 50s, he would be right up there with David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell as the best fantasy players in the game, with a shot at surpassing them.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears.
The Bears beat reporter Jeff Dickerson likes what he's seen from rookie speedster Tarik Cohen, saying he "has been one of the most impressive performers" so far this offseason. He's too slight to be anything more than a receiving back, but with news that Jordan Howard has corrected his eyesight and is looking for more receiving work, we could see some conflict here. Keeping Howard on the field would be better for Chicago's offense as long as he's excelling as a receiver, but he'll have to up his game to hold off Cohen and Benny Cunningham.

Terrance West, RB, Ravens.
With Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games, Terrance West is slated to be the starting running back while Danny Woodhead will take over passing work out of the backfield. This was known, but now Greg Roman and beat writer Jamison Hensley both seem to think it will be West's job to lose once Dixon returns. Of course, Dixon is a better talent than West, but if the duo of West and Woodhead is clicking, then Dixon may have trouble pushing his way back.

Frank Gore, RB, Colts.
Beat reporter Mike Chappell expects Frank Gore to be the workhorse for the team this season. Of course, th Colts just have Robert Turbin and Marlon Mack as backups, so as long as Gore is healthy, he'll be the lead back. Both Turbin and Mack could cut into his time, with Turbin showing well in the red zone last season, he'll likely get the first shot to serve as the back up, but Mack is a big play-maker and could fit into the Colts' offense like a Tevin Coleman for Atlanta.

Kevin White, WR, Bears.
Bears receiver Kevin White is "back to full speed" according to the Chicago Tribune. This is of course good news, but it will be nice to see him getting full practices in and continue to show he is healthy enough to be reliable. Right now, Cameron Meredith is Chicago's No. 1 receiver, but White has the potential to overtake him if he can finally stay healthy.

Jets WRs.
The Jets will need receivers to step up behind Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, and that player could be rookie ArDarius Stewart, who they selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. So far, however, Stewart can't get on the field due to thumb and groin issues. For fantasy, you likely won't need to worry about who the Jets No. 3 receiver is, but it appears Charone Peake is now in the lead for the job, and in deeper leagues these kinds of decisions will need to be made.

June 19 Updates

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens.
Jeremy Maclin signed with the Ravens on a 2-year deal worth $11 million. That's not much for a receiver of his talent, but he will quickly become the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore, even as he'll likely spend much of his time in the slot, as Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman will line up on the outside to use their superior speed. The loss of Dennis Pitta should open Maclin up for a lot of targets over the middle, and the Ravens led the league in pass attempts last year.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals.
At this time of the offseason, we're always getting speculation on how soon a player who underwent surgery will be ready to go the following season. That's where we are with Giovani Bernard right now, as beat reporter Geoff Hobson speculates that Bernard could be held out the first couple games of the season. That is good news for Joe Mixon, who should be able to beat Jeremy Hill out for the early down job, and with Bernard out, Mixon should be able to get a leg up on passing game work. I'll be moving Mixon up in my ranks with this news.

Doug Martin, RB, Bucs.
The puff pieces on Doug Martin continue to boost him up, and it appears the praise is coming from multiple reporters who have watched him practice this offseason. The one thing that I do know is that Martin is no longer on the cut block and will be inserted back into the starting rotation when he comes off suspension. Draft Martin and then Jacquizz Rodgers, and you have a pretty good starting running back for cheap.

Ben Watson, TE, Ravens.
Ben Watson returned to individual drills and took a pay cut, so things are looking up/down for him, but the good news is that he has the inside track for the starting tight end job with Dennis Pitta going down for a third time with a hip injury. So, Watson just needs to get - and stay - healthy, but the addition of Jeremy Maclin to the fold will likely hurt Watson's target upside. He should still be useful in a 2TE league, however.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills.
Sammy Watkins returned to individual drills, which is a good sign, as it looked like he was a little further away from that point according to reports. Health will be his only real obstacle to good fantasy numbers. If he can stay healthy through camp, he should be high on your fantasy list due to his ability and status as the only receiver in Buffalo.

Corey Davis, WR, Titans.
Titans first-round pick Corey Davis says he is 100 percent after a minor offseason surgery. Let's hope he stays healthy, as he could beat out Rishard Matthews as the No. 1 receiver this season if he steps up in training camp.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets.
New York Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell says the team plans to use both Bilal Powell and Matt Forte, but also mentioned that Powell would be a Pro Bowler if he had lead-back duties. Powell looked great as Forte slowed down last season and is easily the best back on the team now that Forte is past his prime. The only thing keeping Forte in the mix at the moment is that the $4 million he is owed this season is fully guaranteed. The Jets wouldn't save any money releasing him.

Ryan Mathews, RB, FA.
Ryan Mathews still hasn't been cleared to practice after his neck injury. The Eagles will likely let him go once he is cleared. He's off the fantasy radar at the moment and would need to show that he is healthy and in a position to see work before looking to take a flier on him.

Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons.
Matt Ryan had good things to say about second-year tight end Austin Hooper, saying he has "improved exponentially" this offseason. Hooper is set up as the no-doubt No. 1 tight end, and if he can step up and become a top target, especially in the red zone, his upside is very high in a strong offense. For Hooper's ADP so far, I'm happy grabbing him in my leagues this season.

June 12 Updates

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets.
I wrote a while back about Austin Seferian-Jenkins turning his life around, quitting drinking and shedding 25 pounds, but I wasn't on board with any kind of fantasy value this season, but that may have been premature. The Jets got rid of their two best red-zone threats in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, and now slot receiver Quincy Enunwa is the best receiver on the team. Seferian-Jenkins should benefit from those moves as long as he can get on the field. And so far, the reports out of OTAs have been glowing for Seferian-Jenkins, with NJ Advance Media's Connor Hughes reporting he was "the most impressive player on the field." That's not the hardest thing to accomplish with the Jets' roster, but it also shows that if Seferian-Jenkins keeps it up, he'll be the starting tight end after his two-game suspension is up.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Saints.
New Orleans Saints players can't say enough good things about Adrian Peterson so far in OTAs. There's no doubt Peterson is a physical marvel, and if he can stay healthy, there's no doubt he can be productive on a Saints team with a great offensive line and passing game. Health is my only concern, as I think Peterson is still in good enough shape to be a force between the tackles. Of course, Mark Ingram is also there, and he's been a fantasy asset of late. It truly is a tough situation for fantasy players, and I see their respective ADPs as being a deciding factor, as I think both are useful at the right price, but you just can't pay up for either of them at the moment.

Seattle Seahawks
Thomas Rawls is getting praise for how good he's looked in OTAs, which of course muddies the projection for that backfield, which is full. The Seahawks signed Eddie Lacy in the offseason, and C.J. Prosise, knock on wood, should be healthy. Lacy is the better three-down back, but Prosise is the better receiver out of all of them. I still think Lacy wins the lead job, but it isn't carved in stone, and this competition will need to be closely followed this preseason.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots.
The Patriots OTAs have shown Brandin Cooks to be, well, Brandin Cooks. He's lining up all over the line and seems to be on the same page as Tom Brady so far. That's always a good thing when you're new to New England's ways. The Patriots also just extended Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski appears to a full-go already. Add in James White, and you have four players who will demand targets when on the field. The good news for Cooks is that he's New England's best wide receiver now, and as long as he has the offense down, he's going to prove that he will be able to do more with those targets than others. I'm still worried about grabbing him at his ADP, but you cannot downplay his upside.

Jonathan Williams, RB, Bills.
Bills backup running back Jonathan Williams has been found not guilty of driving under the influence, which means no suspension coming down the pipe for him. I don't usually draft running back handcuffs, but in deeper leagues, his upside is worth rostering, as LeSean McCoy is all that stands in his way of good fantasy value.

Eric Decker, WR, Jets.
The Jets have talked with the Ravens about an Eric Decker trade, but at this point, most teams will likely wait the Jets out and try to sign him after they let him go. The Ravens are in desperate need of receiver help, and Decker would be the best receiver on the team if he ends up going there. The Ravens are likely the frontrunners for his services, but right now it's anybody's guess.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans.
Marcus Mariota has started taking snaps in OTAs and is on track to be a full participant in training camp. He has had trouble making it through a full season intact, but he's also shown great upside when he's healthy. The addition of Corey Davis should help as well.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he wants to get the ball to Randall Cobb more this season, but that may be difficult with Davante Adams emerging as a top target last season and the addition of Martellus Bennett. I like Cobb, but the numbers will be tough to accumulate with so many good targets. The good news is the Packers will likely need to throw in the red zone and Aaron Rodgers can help any wide receiver score touchdowns.

June 8 Updates

New York Jets
The biggest NFL news right now is the Jets' unrepentant tanking, which was demonstrated yet again when they decided to cut or trade Eric Decker. It will be a bit until we know where he ends up, but we do know the Jets have the worst roster in the league. The absence of Decker and Brandon Marshall will likely put a lot of Jets receivers on the fantasy radar, but I'm going to focus on Quincy Enunwa, who I expect will be the most targets and most dependable Jets receiver this year. But another beneficiary will be Bilal Powell, who should continue to be the main running back target and could see extra work with a weak receiving corps.

Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots.
Mike Gillislee is in the lead for the Patriots starting running back job according to The Boston Globe. Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis are no slouches and will likely see some work, but Gillislee should be slated for the role that led LeGarrette Blount to 18 touchdowns last season. We, of course, can't count on those touchdowns, but this offense should be even better than last year and live in the opponent's red zone.

Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, QBs, Broncos.
Trevor Siemian has had "more good days" than Paxton Lynch so far in OTAs, according to beat writers. This will be a competition that will go into preseason most likely, but for fantasy concerns, neither is a worthwhile fantasy player except in 2QB leagues.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles.
Jordan Matthews has missed a week of OTAs due to knee tendinitis, which is a problem he dealt with last season as well, even though he didn't miss any time with it. The biggest problem facing Matthews are the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Matthews is still a top target for Carson Wentz, but those targets are going to be spread out more this year.

Mike Williams, WR, Chargers.
Rookie Chargers receiver Mike Williams will be out until training camp due to a mild disc herniation. If you are a receiver named Mike Williams and you happen to play for the Chargers, your chances of making it in the league are about .072 percent, but for now, all you need to do is not draft him in redraft leagues, because competition and this early setback are very troublesome.

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts.
Andrew Luck still hasn't started throwing the ball and his status for training camp is unknown following off-season shoulder surgery. At this point I'm not worried about it, but the sooner he can return to practice the better.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins.
Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen sang the praises of Jay Ajayi, calling him the "most improved" player on offense. The Dolphins have given a lot of lip service to this offense, so I'm not going to give it much thought other than to remind us that Ajayi is likely the foundation to the offense when it is working.

Julius Thomas, TE, Dolphins.
Adding to the Dolphins' fin flapping, backup quarterback Matt Moore said that tight end Julius Thomas is going to be a big part of what they do this season. Reunited with Adam Gase, Thomas is probably in the best position he could be, but he will likely miss Peyton Manning for the rest of his career.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs.
Andy Reid says that Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs' No. 1 receiver after they let Jeremy Maclin go. I wouldn't want Hill as my No. 1 receiver if I were a Kansas City fan, but even with the extra defensive attention, his skill set and extra looks should be enough to make him a valuable fantasy player. I do wonder, however, if his ADP is going to skyrocket too far out of "value town."

Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals.
The Andre Ellington move to wide receiver experiment has ended, probably due to the Cardinals having more need at running back than receiver at the moment. As long as David Johnson is healthy and catching passes, Ellington has little fantasy value, but would be a PPR value if Johnson were sidelined.

For earlier fantasy notes from this offseason, check out the Fantasy Notes archive.

Also, check out our Fantasy Football Rankings.


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2015 Fantasy Football Rankings:
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Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
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Chet Gresham's 2015 Fantasy Football Positional Cheat Sheet - 9/4 (Chet)
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Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/8 (Chet)
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