As we approach Fourth of July, it’s time to start thinking about fantasy football drafts. As we approach draft season, it’s important to devise a strategy and know who you’re drafting when. Since we only get one pick per round, it’s important to know how you feel about various players at their average draft position. So, we start a fifteen-part series (most drafts are fifteen rounds) highlighting some bold predictions on a round-by-round basis. The data comes from FantasyPros.com, who aggregates average draft position (ADP) data from around the web. There’s no better place to start than the top, which we did yesterday. Below are three bold predictions about players going in the second round.
Bold Prediction 1: Marshawn Lynch (2.07) is the most over drafted RB in all of fantasy football
Here’s Lynch’s 2016 line: zero carries, zero targets, zero yards, zero touchdowns. The former Bill and Seahawk spent 2016 on the sidelines but decided to return for his (for now) hometown Raiders for the 2017 season. The Raiders have a plus offensive line, and many in fantasy football circles still have old school Beast Mode running through their heads. What they forget is 2015 Marshawn Lynch, the Marshawn Lynch that played just seven games. The Marshawn Lynch who had fewer than ten carries in two of the seven games he played. The Marshawn Lynch whose balky back had him taking entire series off and being questionable practically every game. The Marshawn Lynch who had 3.76 yards per carry. The last time we saw Marshawn Lynch, he was no longer Beast Mode.
Fast forward to 2017 and Lynch is 31 with a running style that precludes a ton of carries in such old bones. The Raiders likely limit his touches to allow him to be fresh for December and January, where they want him. He’s going in the second round and is unlikely to top fifteen touches more than a couple of times this year. He’s a hard pass for me in all scenarios.
Bold Prediction 2: Leonard Fournette (2.10) finishes the year within the top-seven at running back
Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Let’s assume that Leonard Fournette is no more talented than the running backs the Jaguars have run out over the last two years. That’s assuming the #4 overall pick is no better than T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Denard Robinson, Corey Grant and Toby Gerhart. What happens if you just roll all that production up into a bell cow back? Over the last two years, Jaguars backs have gotten 589 carries for 2262 yards and eight touchdowns. They also chipped in 137 receptions for 1021 yards and three touchdowns on 189 targets.
Let’s say that Fournette gets 85% of the Jaguars’ average offensive production over the last two years. Shake that all up into a bag and this is what you get: 250 carries for 961 yards, 58 receptions (80 targets) for 434 yards and five touchdowns. That comes out to 10.6 fantasy points per game, which was back-end RB2 numbers in 2016 and a middling RB2 in 2015. That’s by merely rolling the production of a bunch of JAGs into one person (pun intended). Fournette is much better than any of the players previously on the Jaguars, so he should be much more productive, and should end up in the end zone more often than his forbearers. With youth and health also on his side, Fournette will also win the running back war of attrition, letting him coast to top-seven RB numbers.
Bold Prediction 3: Rob Gronkowski (2.09) drafters will unequivocally regret the pick
I’m a long-time hater of a high tight end pick, and doubly so in 2017. Players who draft Gronk talk about how he breaks the position and he is far-and-away better than anyone else there when he’s healthy. That first part is wrong, and that second part is a specious argument. In 2016, he was 0.5 points better than the #5 tight end, in 2015 that number was 2.3. With Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert and Jordan Reed nipping at his heels, Gronk’s status as the no-question #1 tight end is in serious jeopardy.
Then there’s the question of health. Since starting 16 games in 2011, Gronk has missed 24 of 80 games, or 30% of all possible games, and that doesn’t include the nine games he left early or acted as a decoy in that time frame. That knocks that uselessness number up over 40% of his games. In short, he isn’t that much better than players going a couple rounds later and misses a lot of time. A lot of time. Don’t make him the #2 pick on your team.