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FANTASY FOOTBALL: A post-free agency look at the NFL’s top 75 PPR playmakers

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From only 14 games last season, Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook notched career-best tallies with rushing yards (1,135), catches (53), targets (63), receiving yards (519), total yards (1,654) and touchdowns (13).

APRIL

  1. RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants
  3. RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings
  4. RB Aaron Jones, Packers
  5. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
  6. WR Michael Thomas, Saints
  7. RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders
  8. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
  9. RB Alvin Kamara, Saints
  10. WR Davante Adams, Packers
  11. WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
  12. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
  13. TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs
  14. RB Derrick Henry, Titans
  15. WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  16. RB Kenyan Drake, Cardinals
  17. WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers
  18. RB Mark Ingram, Ravens
  19. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
  20. RB Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
  21. WR Kenny Golladay, Lions
  22. RB Nick Chubb, Browns
  23. QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
  24. RB Chris Carson, Seahawks
  25. QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals
  26. RB Joe Mixon, Bengals
  27. WR A.J. Brown, Titans
  28. RB Miles Sanders, Eagles
  29. RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
  30. RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
  31. WR DJ Moore, Panthers
  32. TE George Kittle, 49ers
  33. RB Todd Gurley, Falcons
  34. WR DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  35. TE Mark Andrews, Ravens
  36. QB Deshaun Watson, Texans
  37. RB Austin Ekeler, Chargers
  38. WR Adam Thielen, Vikings
  39. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
  40. QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
  41. WR Allen Robinson, Bears
  42. WR Stefon Diggs, Bills
  43. RB James Conner, Steelers
  44. QB Josh Allen, Bills
  45. WR DJ Chark, Jaguars
  46. RB Melvin Gordon, Broncos
  47. RB David Montgomery, Bears
  48. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
  49. RB Marlon Mack, Colts
  50. RB Devin Singletary, Bills
  51. WR D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks
  52. RB Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
  53. WR Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
  54. RB Kerryon Johnson, Lions
  55. WR Courtland Sutton, Broncos
  56. QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys
  57. WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
  58. WR Terry McLaurin, Redskins
  59. RB Derrius Guice, Redskins
  60. QB Carson Wentz, Eagles
  61. WR Keenan Allen, Chargers
  62. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
  63. RB Damien Williams, Chiefs
  64. TE Zach Ertz, Eagles
  65. WR Cooper Kupp, Rams
  66. WR Michael Gallup, Cowboys
  67. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  68. WR Will Fuller, Texans
  69. WR Mike Williams, Chargers
  70. QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers
  71. QB Jared Goff, Rams
  72. WR Marquise Brown, Ravens
  73. WR Tyler Boyd, Bengals
  74. TE Darren Waller, Raiders
  75. WR Sterling Shepard, Giants

BREAKDOWN

a) Christian McCaffrey was a runaway choice for Fantasy MVP honors in 2019, the happy result of 2,392 scrimmage yards, 19 touchdowns and 116 receptions — the NFL single-season record for tailback catches.

McCaffrey’s fortuitous owners, many of whom scooped C-Mac up at picks 4-6 in Round 1, supremely benefited from his otherworldly production and bedrock consistency, accounting for 130 total yards and/or one touchdown 14 times.

b) At first blush, Giants tailback Saquon Barkley (1,441 total yards, 8 TDs) didn’t live up to the sky-high expectations of being the consensus No. 1 overall pick in last year’s drafts.

However, when extrapolating his per-game averages of 111 total yards and 0.62 touchdowns over a full season of 16 outings, it shakes out to 1,776 total yards and 10 touchdowns; and that includes Barkley leaving the Buccaneers game in the first half with a gruesome ankle injury.

Essentially top-five numbers (among tailbacks) for a physical freak who should be a yearly candidate for 2,000 total yards and double-digit touchdowns, moving forward.

As for the No. 2 ranking for 2020, we’re putting a lot of stock into Barkley’s finishing kick for Weeks 15-17, enjoying otherworldly averages of 180 total yards and 1.7 TDs.

c) Unfortunately, you can bet the proverbial farm on Saints wideout Michael Thomas (149 catches, 1,725 yards, 9 TDs) incurring a production dip in 2020, citing four strong presumptions:

****Thomas recently put the finishing touches on the NFL single-season record for catches. As such, the odds of improving that feat are likely long, regardless of who’s under center for the Saints next year.

****It’s too early to tell if the Saints will re-sign quarterback Drew Brees for the coming season, even though it seems like an obvious fit for both parties.

****It’s difficult to envision Saints tailback Alvin Kamara (three-year average: 1,492 total yards, 12.3 TDs) falling short of 1,500 total yards and/or double-digit touchdowns next year, especially with the University of Tennessee product set to hit unrestricted free agency after the 2020 campaign.

****The Saints’ peculiar model of having Thomas outperform his wideout teammates by three or four times the targets reeks of absurdity; and this lack of balance might help explain why the Saints averaged three points less in 2019, compared to the 2018 offense.

d) Tailback Le’Veon Bell averaged 1,600 yards and eight TDs from 2013-17, without really breaking a sweat in the Steelers offense.

With the Jets, however, there were zero games of 100 yards rushing, zero outings of multiple touchdowns and only two efforts of 120-plus total yards.

Bottom line: In 2019, Bell likely didn’t carry a single owner to victory for any isolated week.

e) It’s time to acknowledge one cold, hard fact: The Odell Beckham Jr. we knew from 2014-16 — boasting Hall of Fame-like averages of 96 catches, 1,374 yards, 12 TDs — doesn’t exist anymore.

Chalk it up to injuries, ego, complacency, general unhappiness, unwanted change of scenery or simply getting older.

Whatever the reasons, isolated or cumulative, the days of presuming 90 catches, 1,300 yards or even double-digit touchdowns have likely passed.

The lesson here: Stop taking OBJ high in Round 2 of PPR drafts!

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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