Fri Apr 26 10:25am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Jones setup for big year
The NFL schedule was released last week, so we thought it was a good time to see how it impacts the fantasy world. Below is a look at the fantasy strength of schedule for the receiver position.
Using our rules for our money leagues, we came up with a schedule strength ranking for the wide receiver position. We are using our fantasy defenses report to calculate the rankings. This report can be found in all of our leagues under the "reports" heading. We took the schedule of each team and entered the average number of fantasy points allowed to receivers last season from all of their opponents to get our fantasy points allowed number. This is a good indication of the receivers with the most favorable schedules for fantasy scoring for the coming season.
Teams that had some receiver issues last year face a schedule that could be daunting for their options this year. The Broncos, Jets and Titans all have top-five toughest fantasy schedules for receivers. This doesn’t bode well for a big rebound from these teams at the receiver position.
Other teams with challenging schedules for receivers include the Chiefs (toughest overall), Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Oakland. Be a little wary of taking receivers on these teams, especially the secondary options.
Julio Jones and Mike Evans are two elite receivers that look even better this year because of a very favorable fantasy schedule. Both of these top players get top-five favorable schedules for receivers.
Some other teams with easy fantasy schedules for receivers are the Panthers (easiest overall), Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco. Take a look at receivers from these teams, including some No. 2 or 3 receivers on these teams to fill out your roster late in fantasy drafts. Players on these teams could be setup for breakout seasons.
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Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Atlanta Falcons running back Dare Ogunbowale has outperformed veteran Andre Ellington in the battle for the third-down role, although Ellington has familiarity with head coach Bruce Arians' offense from their time in Arizona. Ogunbowale looks powerful between the tackles and is a very strong route runner. "Just being able to finish runs ... [Ogunbowale's] route running is second to none. I feel he has some of the best routes in the NFL," running back Peyton Barber said. The third-string running back spot is unlikely to produce much fantasy value unless an injury strikes Barber or Ronald Jones II, but Ogunbowale is one to watch in deeper leagues.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said that running back Kenjon Barner will "lead the way for us" at the return position. It doesn't mean much unless you're in a deep league that counts return yardage. Barner, 30, played in nine games with the Patriots and Panthers last year and ran the ball just 19 times for 71 yards. He'll be behind Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith and Brian Hill on the running back depth chart and can go ignored in almost all fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (knee) will be active and doing stuff next week, according to head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll also said there has been no swelling in Metcalf's knee since his surgery. There's still a chance that Metcalf makes his NFL debut in Week 1, but it's looking doubtful as of now. The physical specimen should be the team's No. 2 wideout across from Tyler Lockett when he's healthy, but you should temper your expectations with him to begin the season. He's still worthy of drafting in the later rounds for his upside. With both Metcalf and David Moore banged up, Jaron Brown is looking at an increased workload out of the gates.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said that wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot) is dealing with a muscle strain in his foot. It was previously believed that he was suffering from plantar fasciitis, but whatever the diagnosis, Cooper has said that he's not overly concerned and has been productive while playing through the injury before. Fantasy owners should be much more skeptical, as Cooper could be slowed if he plays through it in Week 1 against the Giants and beyond. He's currently RotoBaller's No. 15 fantasy wideout, but he's falling by the day. The Cowboys will play it safe and keep Cooper out for the rest of the preseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hip, legs) may not play in the preseason game on Sunday against the Titans. The third-rounder out of Toledo hasn't practiced since he caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown in the preseason game against the Chiefs last Saturday. The Steelers would like to see more of Johnson after he missed a big chunk of organized team activities, training camp and preseason games with leg issues. It sounds like Johnson will be well behind the rest of the receivers once the regular season starts, so don't expect him to have much of a role behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, Ryan Switzer and James Washington.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown is likely to be the team's No. 2 receiver behind Tyler Lockett to open the season until rookie D.K. Metcalf is back to full strength. David Moore suffered a serious injury in practice on Thursday and could open the year on Injured Reserve. Brown caught two of three targets in last Sunday's preseason game for a team-high 52 yards. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said they won't have to worry about Brown being "underutilized" now. The 29-year-old caught 14 passes for 166 yards and five touchdowns in his first year in Seattle. There's not a ton of upside in this run-first offense, but there's no denying that Brown will have more opportunities to produce now early in the year. Consider him a late-round sleeper target in deeper leagues.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said it's a possibility that rookie quarterback Drew Lock (thumb) begins the season on Injured Reserve. Lock suffered a severely sprained right thumb during a sack early in the third quarter of the preseason game on Monday against the 49ers. He'll be limited to conditioning work the remainder of the preseason. With Lock banged up, Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien will battle for the backup job behind Joe Flacco to start the year. Lock could be forced to miss half of his rookie season, but he's still a solid player to own in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson is reportedly getting goal-line work with the first team offense. It appears that this point that Thompson has passed Carlos Hyde on the depth chart. Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, and Thompson are expected to be the backs for Week 1. Hyde doesn't play special teams or really offer the Chiefs much besides being a veteran. He may end on another team, but he doesn't have much fantasy value on the Chiefs. Thompson is someone to strongly consider at the end of most drafts.
Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (foot) had successful surgery on Thursday to fix a stress reaction of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot and will be placed on Injured Reserve to begin the season. James was an All-Pro and was elected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season after totaling 75 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions in 2018. His absence into November will make the Bolts secondary more vulnerable, but LA's defense/special teams remains an intriguing unit to own in fantasy regardless.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones is confident that the team will strike a deal with running back Ezekiel Elliott before Week 1 against the Giants. The Cowboys have had an offer on the table for nearly three weeks that would make Elliott the second-highest paid back ahead of Le'Veon Bell's $13.125 million average and behind Todd Gurley's $14.375 million average. Elliott's draft stock has slipped slightly because of his holdout, but he remains RotoBaller's No. 6 overall player and should still be taken in the first round of drafts. If he locks up an extension before Week 1, Elliott will immediately become a candidate to go first overall alongside Saquon Barkley.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Raiders and is likely to be out four to six weeks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. X-rays came back negative on his ankle. St. Brown wasn't much of a target to begin with in standard-sized leagues after catching 21 passes for 328 yards and no touchdowns in 12 games in his rookie season. The 22-year-old are running a new offense under a new head coach this year, so St. Brown will be behind when he returns. His injury should allow the likes of Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Trevor Davis to get more opportunities.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown caught three passes for 17 yards in his NFL debut Thursday night. "My expectation was to not make any mistakes and catch every ball that was thrown at me," Brown told BaltimoreRavens.com. Brown caught the first ball of the game, a seven-yard throw from rookie quarterback Trace McSorley. He caught two other targets for five yards apiece and attempted rushing the ball, but was taken down for a loss of four yards. Brown performed without jitters and his explosiveness will be a key asset to the Ravens offense. His current ADP is in the 170s. After watching Hollywood take reps with the starting lineup on Thursday, he might worth stashing on your bench in the late rounds despite the Ravens run-first offense.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Thursday, and head coach Pete Carroll said that Moore is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Moore is getting a second opinion but isn't expected to require surgery, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. With rookie D.K. Metcalf also injured and not a lock to be ready for Week 1, Seattle's pass-catching group is thinning out quickly. It'll mean more looks for No. 1 wideout Tyler Lockett, as well as Jaron Brown, Keenan Reynolds and potentially Amara Darboh. Moore doesn't need to be drafted in standard-sized leagues, especially now that this injury clouds his early-season potential.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett will not play in the preseason game on Saturday against the Bears, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The Colts are sitting the majority of their starters this weekend, and Brissett could be forced to start in Week 1 due to the injury to Andrew Luck (ankle). The Colts are playing it safe here, as they can't afford to lose another signal caller with the regular season fast approaching. It's looking more and more likely that Luck won't be ready for Week 1 against the Chargers, so Brissett would get the nod if that's the case. Because it's possible Luck could be back in Week 2, Brissett's fantasy appeal hasn't grown all that much.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Floyd caught three balls for 54 yards and a touchdown in Thursday night's preseason game against the Eagles. With a little less than seven minutes to go before the half, rookie quarterback Trace McSorley threw a 28-yard dime to Floyd for the Ravens second touchdown of the game. Floyd is entering his eighth year and fifth team in just three seasons. He is toeing the line for a roster spot against the likes of Seth Roberts, Jaleel Scottand Jaylen Smith. Floyd likely shouldn't be in your fantasy sights this season, but performances in preseason may earn him a spot on the depth chart.
Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan will officially be suspended the first four games of the season after losing the appeal of his four-game ban for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Veteran swing tackle Dennis Kelly will take over the blind side to start the year, but it'll be a downgrade for the offensive line as a whole and for whoever is the team's starter in Week 1 between Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis believes hes finally playing explosive and consistent. Entering training camp as a presumed starter, Pettis has been pushed by rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd who have both turned heads. Meanwhile, Pettis has apparently lacked assertiveness. The 2018 second-round pick emerged at the end of last year, compiling 359 yards and four touchdowns in his final five games and becoming the clear second option behind tight end George Kittle. However, with more aerial weapons this season, Pettis needs to execute on his words to retain playing time. Still running with the starters, a reinvigorated Pettis seems like a safe backend WR2.
The competition between San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks CJ Beathard and Nick Mullens to earn backup duties will come down to final cuts. The two signal-callers both made starts in 2018 after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL and present different skillsets to the offense. Beathard is a risk-taker with a longer tenure with the squad while Mullens has been more consistent. With Garoppolo likely playing the entire first half this Saturday, both players will need to share limited opportunities. The Niners apparently have no intention to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, and its likely both Beathard and Mullens would garner interest on the waiver wire if they were cut. While its a difficult decision, the team has until September 8 to make the call.
Speaking Thursday, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch indicated defensive end Nick Bosa (ankle) and cornerback Jason Verrett (ankle, Achilles) are 50-50 for Week 1. Both players suffered injuries two weeks ago and their absence would impair an already-shaky defensive unit. Bosa, the second overall pick in 2019, could emerge as a quality IDP candidate once hes healthy while Verrett likely wont make any fantasy impact this season.
Based on the praised heaped upon San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jordan Matthews recently, his chances of making the team appear bright. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has a lot of confidence in Matthews and believes they can win with [him]. Once an ascending talent with three straight 800-plus yard seasons to start his career, Matthews has tailed off over the past two years, collecting just 582 yards across 24 games. If he makes the squad, hell vie for snaps behind likely frontrunners Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel and Trent Taylor. Matthews positive outlook comes at the expense of Kendrick Bourne, whos suffered drop issues this training camp. Unless he leaps the apparent starters, Matthews isnt a fantasy option if he survives final cuts.