The terrible sports month of July is coming to a close, signifying the approach of fantasy football season. To me, August seems to be the month to really start researching and preparing for the upcoming draft.
I participate in a PPR (points-per-reception) re-draft league, so my opinions are based on those parameters. I’ve had good years and I’ve had bad years, but here is my take on some players to snag early as well as some to let slide on your draft board:
Amari Cooper (WR): Draft
Hype has been building around Cooper for a while, with good reason. Watching Cooper tells you much of what you need to know. He has all the tools to be one of the elite receivers in the league. He also has one of the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in the league throwing to him. There is less risk here than choosing Todd Gurley or Lamar Miller, who are expected to go before him in Yahoo drafts.
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Jay Ajayi (RB): Avoid
Ajayi is on the hype train going into this fantasy season. He put up some impressive numbers last year and is positioned to go right around the end of the first round. I believe that the workload will be there, but he is too unproven to go that early. His numbers were inflated by three 200 yard rushing games. A very impressive feat, but one I’m not convinced that he can repeat. I wouldn’t let him slip too far, but a first-round pick is just too risky.
Rob Gronkowski (TE): Draft
Gronk’s fantasy and reality flaws are obvious; the guy can’t stay healthy. He is slated to go around the turn of the second and third rounds, but I wouldn’t be afraid to grab him midway through the second. Injury risk is huge here, but it’s hard to turn down a player with such massive upside early in the draft. There are a lot of mouths to feed in New England, but there is no doubt which one is Tom Brady’s favorite when healthy.
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Marshawn Lynch (RB): Avoid
After seeing Lynch’s body sort of break down on him in 2015, forcing him into temporary retirement, it’s pretty tough to trust the 31-year-old running back. Expected to go around the third round of drafts, he’s a tough pill to swallow since he also has a bit of an unknown role. He could be an effective goal-line back, but he’s in a pass-heavy offense that also has a couple of young running backs that could be thrown in the mix. Lynch can be seen as a high risk/high reward, but his floor is pretty low at this time.
Mike Gillislee (RB): Draft
Draft boards already have Gillislee pretty high, going around the start of the third round. I’m not suggesting you move him any higher than that, but I am saying he should be worth the pick. He will replace Blount’s role, which already tells you that the guy is going to get touchdowns. He will of course have ups and downs in usage in NE, but the touchdowns should be enough to buoy solid value.
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Sammy Watkins (WR): Avoid
Watkins has some years under his belt that show that he should be able to string together enough catches to have a 1000 yard receiving season if he can stay healthy. I just have a feeling that consistency will continue to plague Watkins. He is positioned to be drafted towards the end of the third round, but I see the names of multiple high-upside receivers not far behind him that you should hold out for.
Jeremy Maclin (WR): Draft
ESPN and Yahoo place Maclin at #100 and #99, respectively. To me, Mac has more left in the tank than he is getting credit for. Last season was a disappointment for Maclin in his Chiefs campaign. He claims that he was dealing with nagging groin strain issues, and after watching him all season, I believe him. A anticipate a healthy Maclin getting back to his efficient ways for the Ravens.