Fantasy Football: Rules, Studs, Duds, and Sleepers Part Two

Photo credit goes to Jae C. Hong/ Associated Press

In my 2nd part of Fantasy Football: Rules, Studs, Duds, and Sleepers you get less rules but more players to think about drafting. I can’t give out all my rules but I have no problem letting you know which players I’m high and low on. You’ll notice I’ve omitted the obvious players like Mahomes, Kittle, Kelce, etc but hopefully this can help give you some sense of a guide.

Rules:

  1. Always put a running back as your flex: This a rule I stand by season after season and one that some may differ from. Running backs are usually rushing and passing options, therefore I view them as more valuable than stud WR’s. I’ve been burned in the past by good running backs in the flex and won’t let it happen again.
  2. Steal your bench quarterback early: A lot of people don’t put much value in the bench QB but I’ve always valued the position. Stud QB’s can sometimes be very injury prone and it doesn’t hurt to have a good backup option in the most important position. Don’t get burned by not following this rule.
  3. Don’t wait to draft a kicker: This rule is the one a lot of people don’t follow and it burns them often. A good kicker is always a valuable commodity and gives the drafter a sense of relief when one is to be had.

Studs:

  1. QB- Tom Brady- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The GOAT is an obvious stud and has the most weapons in the NFL to throw to. Coming off of a Super Bowl victory last season, he seems even hungrier this year to repeat. It is a virtual guarantee Brady will throw for 300+ yards and 2+ TD’s a game. Take this one to the bank.
  2. QB- Matthew Stafford- Los Angeles Rams: This one may be surprising but I see Stafford poised to have a great season with the Rams. He has an ungraded room of playmakers and was never a bad option in Fantasy Football even with the Lions. Stafford should cut down on INT’s with the Rams and his numbers should go through the roof.
  3. QB- Joe Burrow- Cincinnati Bengals: Burrow got injured last season but could be a stud if you draft him as your backup QB. By your point in the draft, you should absolutely have a better QB than Burrow but if not, he’s still gonna put up good numbers. Of the 2nd year quarterbacks, Burrow is primed to have the best season.
  4. RB- Jonathan Taylor- Indianapolis Colts: With Carson Wentz under center for the Colts, I don’t see that passing offense doing too well. The Colts should rely on Taylor due to this fact. Regardless of the QB, Taylor is a good fantasy RB option year after year.
  5. RB- Aaron Jones- Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones emerged as a stud last season and I think he’ll be even better this year. The Packers like to play game control football and with a RB like Jones- that allows them to do so. A versatile runner, look for Jones to hit the “home run” rush on occasion as well.
  6. RB- Josh Jacobs- Las Vegas Raiders: Jacobs was dynamite last year and look for another great season to follow. An every down running back, Jacobs will get a lot of touches for the Raiders. This may be a running back that can be “stolen” in a later round if possible.
  7. WR- Justin Jefferson- Minnesota Vikings: Jefferson is can’t miss in drafts this year. Although, I’m not a big fan of Kirk Cousins, Jefferson will be the best WR on the Vikings by a landslide. In a PPR or non-PPR league Jefferson should be someone you look to grab early.
  8. WR- Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With 70 receptions, 1,006 yards, and 13 touchdowns many fantasy football owners of this player were happy in 2020. Even though the Bucs are loaded with offensive weapons, do not shy away from drafting Evans. Evans is sure handed and can get yards after the catch so he is always a big threat to any defense.
  9. TE- Kyle Pitts- Atlanta Falcons: I told everyone to draft Pitts this season for many reasons. First off, even coming out of college, Pitts is NFL ready physically and mentally. Also take into consideration that after losing Julio Jones this offseason that Pitts will be more relied upon. Matt Ryan doesn’t have much to throw to anymore but Pitts will be a guaranteed stud.
  10. TE- Noah Fant- Denver Broncos: I drafted Noah Fant in a few of my leagues because I feel he is a great option to throw to whomever the Broncos QB may end up being. Tallying 62 receptions for 673 yards and 3 TD’s last season, Fant will be even more productive this year. Not only is Fant a redzone target- he’ll be a good option on every down.
  11. D/ST’s: Bucs: This defense should be tops in the league this season. With studs in the secondary and front seven, you can’t go wrong with drafting this team. Scoop them up as soon as you can.
  12. D/ST’s: Washington Football Team: This side of the ball might see a lot of time but that only allows them more opportunities. With easily the best front seven in the NFL, look for this team to be top 5 in overall defense. Similar to the Bucs, this team is loaded on defense and will not disappoint.
  13. K- Jason Myers- Seattle Seahawks: Myers is a steady kicker plus Seattle may have to settle for field goals early on in this season. Teams are gonna lock down on Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf so drives may stall. After Tucker and Butker- I’d take Myers.
  14. K- Tyler Bass- Buffalo Bills: This season Bass will not only have field goal opportunities but many extra point tries. With a steady leg from 50 yards or beyond, Bass could shock a lot of fantasy owners this year. If any other stud kicker I mentioned is gone- take this guy.
  15. K- Rodrigo Blackenship- Indianapolis Colts: I typically don’t like going with Colts players but this guy should have MANY opportunities. Not from extra point but from long distance- Blackenship should bring you home in your kicker position.
Surprisingly Juju is a Dud for me this season.

Duds:

  1. QB- Tyrod Taylor- Houston Texans: Named newest starter of the Texans, I don’t expect Taylor to shine in any facet this season. He’s been a dud for multiple seasons and nothing is changing my mind. Taylor throws a lot of picks and indecisive with the ball- if you draft him you’re a moron.
  2. QB- Jalen Hurts- Philadelphia Eagles: Now you won’t be a moron if you draft Hurts as a bench QB but look for him to have an inconsistent season. Out of the top quarterbacks who were drafted, I expect Hurts to have the worst season. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong but I think I’ll be on the right side of history here.
  3. QB- Kirk Cousins- Minnesota Vikings: Sure, Cousins can hand the ball off to Dalvin Cook and throw it to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen but I’ve never been a fan of his. Always good for an untimely interception- Cousins is not a guy I would hitch my wagon to. His best years are behind him.
  4. RB- Christian McCaffrey- Carolina Panthers: McCaffrey is good when he’s healthy but when is that? Christian missed 13 games in 2020 and is now suffering quad, thigh, and ankle injuries. A small running back, McCaffrey can take a lot of big hits across the open field. I may be dead wrong about him this season but all signs point to that I won’t be.
  5. RB- David Montgomery- Chicago Bears: You’d think the Bears would try to hand it off to Montgomery several times in a game but I don’t think the Bears will be that smart. That Bears defense may put them in good field position at points but any current QB will mess it up. A “stud” in most leagues in Montgomery is an absolute dud for me.
  6. WR- Juju Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers: In past seasons Juju was an absolute stud but he’s on the downside of things this season. Other Steelers WR’s have emerged and most teams will put their best cornerback on Smith-Schuster. Juju will put up decent numbers but don’t expect any break way weeks from him like you would a Tyreek Hill.
  7. WR- Calvin Ridley- Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan is in his later years and Ridley is the Falcons only viable receiver besides Kyle Pitts. Similar to Juju, every single teams top cornerback will be covering Ridley this season. I’d shy very far away from him unless you can steal him as a bench player.
  8. WR- Kenny Golladay- New York Giants: You’ll notice a theme with my dud WR’s. They are all the top options on their teams. With Daniel Jones under center for the Giants I don’t expect many accurate footballs to get Golladay’s way either. Golladay will flash in certain weeks but is not consistent and that is the most important aspect of Fantasy Football.
  9. TE- Blake Jarwin- Dallas Cowboys: I’ve seen Jarwin ranked pretty high in certain articles but I’m not buying it. The Cowboys have so many other weapons to get to other than him that I think he’ll be forgotten. From my recollection, Jarwin has always been more of a blocking tight end. Don’t expect earth shattering numbers from him this year.
  10. TE- Jared Cook- Los Angeles Chargers: Cook is merely only 34 years old but has been in the NFL for a long time. He may be a good red zone option but I think Justin Herbert will look elsewhere on crucial downs. I hope this isn’t Cook’s last season but all signs are pointing towards that. Certainly do not draft Cook in a PPR league- even for your bench.
  11. TE- Evan Engram- New York Giants: A disappointing player for years, Engram never is worth drafting as a starter these days. The Giants have other playmakers they are focused on getting the ball to and similar to Blake Jarwin I feel like he’ll be forgotten in this offense. Expect the Giants defense to be more on the field than a chance for Evan Engram to get the ball.
  12. D/ST’s- Philadelphia Eagles: I couldn’t name you one playmaker on the Eagles defense other than Fletcher Cox. With an unsure QB room that could be interception prone, this side of the ball is going to see a lot of time on the field. Look for this Eagles defense to get gassed early in the season- I wouldn’t draft them at all.
  13. D/ST’s- Indianapolis Colts: The Colts defense only has one playmaker as well and that’s Darius Leonard. With Colts QB’s throwing picks up and down the field, this defense will see a lot of time as well. If you see this team defense as draftable- I don’t know what you are thinking.
  14. K- Matt Prater- Arizona Cardinals: At age 37, Prater’s best years are well behind him. He may be reliable from 45 yards or under but I wouldn’t expect his range to reach beyond that. Also take into consideration that the Cardinals may not be in many field goal situations.
  15. K- Robbie Gould- San Francisco 49ers: I’ve never been a big fan of Robbie Gould even though he’s been around for years. In an easy prediction, this will be Gould’s last team. When I say don’t wait for a kicker- I’m not talking about Mr. Gould.
Photo credit goes to: Adrian Kraus/ Associated Press

Sleepers:

  1. QB- Justin Herbert- Los Angeles Chargers: I feel filthy putting Herbert as a sleeper and not a stud but a lot of folks may have not caught onto his game. Herbert not only has great weapons but he is a gun slinger and lethal in the red zone. I would’ve drafted Herbert on any of my teams but he was scooped up fairly early. Don’t miss your chance on him as a starter or bench QB.
  2. QB- Ryan Tannehill- Tennessee Titans: In the past Tannehill has been an interception machine but he’s got the right machinery to throw to this season. Recent addition Julio Jones, stud AJ Brown, and slot receiver Josh Reynolds will serve him well. Look for Tannehill to make better decisions with the football this year too. That’s just my hunch.
  3. RB- James Connor- Arizona Cardinals: With a new number (#6) a new team Connor is gonna do very well with the Cardinals. Teams will lock in on their top WR’s so expect Connor to have a more increased role than expected. Connor only had 6 rushing TD’s in 2020 but expect that number to increase this season. Do not sleep on this guy.
  4. RB- Zack Moss- Buffalo Bills: Even though Moss is the 2nd string running back for the Bills, I’d expect him to have runs on crucial downs. Moss could start on any team in the NFL but the Bills have the luxury of putting him at 2nd string. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moss gets the starting job eventually. This guy may be the steal of all steals in any draft.
  5. RB- Sony Michel- Los Angeles Rams: With a new team and scheme, Michel can thrive in the Rams offense. I wouldn’t want to start him but that may bode well for some. If anything, Sony would be a decent Flex or 1st or 2nd running back on your bench. Don’t look for him to thrive early in the season but later in the season all bets are off.
  6. WR- Diontae Johnson- Pittsburgh Steelers: The most likely slot wide out for the Steelers, Johnson will put up big numbers in that role. Johnson is sure handed and speedy which is never a bad combination. I’d say he’s the poor man’s Tyreek Hill. Take Diontae before anyone else does in your draft.
  7. WR- DeVonta Smith- Philadelphia Eagles: Although I’ve trashed the Eagles throughout these articles, Smith is not a guy to take lightly. In an Eagles offense that likes to take big chances, Smith is a potential home run hitter. I wouldn’t take him in a PPR league but non-PPR go for it.
  8. TE- Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins: At 6’6 and 249 pounds, Gesicki is an imposing figure at tight end. Look for Tua to get the ball to Gesicki across the middle of the field many times. I have a bad feeling that the Dolphins WR’s will get locked down but that will allow for Gesicki to put up huge numbers. You couldn’t go wrong with this man as a starter or backup TE.
  9. TE- Anthony Firkser- Tennessee Titans: With Jonnu Smith now a member of the New England Patriots, Firkser is the top tight end in Tennessee. In some weeks the top WR’s are sure to get locked down so Firkser may be Tannehill’s only option. I wouldn’t reach for Firkser but he would absolutely be a solid backup tight end.
  10. D/ST’s- Los Angeles Rams: With playmakers all over the field and a low ranking on most draft boards, the Rams are easily a good sleeper. This is not the type of team to play conservative on defense either. They are going for interceptions or big hits and that can bode well. If anything, Stafford will cost this teams games not the defense.
  11. D/ST’s- Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals may end up with a very tough schedule but I think their defense will bode well. With recent addition JJ Watt adding to other playmakers on the field, the Cardinals are the type of team that will rip your heart out on defense. Do not draft them as your top defense but I think they’d be a good backup option or bye week option once it gets to that point.
  12. K- Younghoe Koo- Atlanta Falcons: In my crystal ball, I see Matt Ryan stalling out on a lot of drives this season which should allow Koo to have favorable kicks. Beyond that point, Koo has a strong and accurate leg and I’ve seen him drafted higher than I would’ve expected in certain leagues. In later rounds if you find yourself without a kicker- draft Koo.
  13. K- Joey Slye- Carolina Panthers: The Panthers will be in bad field position most of the season and will have to rely on Slye. Even though he’s been shaky in the past, expect Slye to have a big season.

Author’s Note #1: Sorry I put Kyler Murray as a stud and a sleeper in the last article. I didn’t edit well even though studs and sleepers are different.

Author’s Note #2: Consideration and advice was taken from Jon Sawlan for this article. Follow him on Twitter @JonSawlan.

By: Joshua Marion

Follow me on Twitter @jmarion34

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