Football season is approaching, which means fantasy football drafts are about to get underway. Here are three storylines that you need to be aware of come draft day.
Elliott and Gordon Holdouts
Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott have been elite fantasy options since entering the league. Heading into the year, they were both two of the safest picks possible. However, with both running backs holding out and seeking new contracts, how does that change draft strategies?
First, Elliott’s situation is probably the one that fantasy owners can feel more comfortable about opposed to Gordon. Other than the fact that Elliott would help the Cowboys win games, he has no real leverage and will have to play at some point in order to make more money. The fantasy impact may be limited, as Elliott will likely still be taken in the first round. Drafting a handcuff may be difficult because Dallas has an abundance of running backs, and it is unclear as to who the back-up would be. If you draft before Elliott’s holdout ends, fourth-round pick Tony Pollard would likely get the first opportunity.
As for Gordon, the situation may be a little more complicated. Because he has recently requested a trade, his holdout has a very realistic chance of continuing through the start of the season.
“You can’t win the draft in the first round, but you can lose it.”
This common quote is something to think about when drafting Gordon. Gordon’s fantasy stock has dropped, as fantasy owners are limiting their risk of a “bust” potential in the early rounds. However, there isn’t a whole lot of analysis on Gordon, as there is so much uncertainty surrounding his situation. It’s very possible that Gordon could miss significant time, so it might be smart to allow someone else to take him. Meanwhile, the stocks of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson should drastically rise.
AJ Green Injury
AJ Green was injured during training camp and will miss a few weeks to start the season after ankle surgery. However, Green isn’t expected to miss a significant amount of time, yet the fantasy community seems to be down on him heading into the year. While playing the first half of 2018, Green’s 16-game pace was 1,374 yards and 12 touchdowns, which would have been the sixth best fantasy receiver. He is getting older and the deep balls may not be as frequent anymore, but Green continues to produce. His stock should drop a few rounds because of the injury concern, but he is falling way too far in some drafts. Green’s injury doesn’t only affect his draft stock, but it also affects the outlook of his receiving teammate.
Tyler Boyd is affected most by Green’s injury. The third year receiver was prepared to line up across from Green, a familiar position from the first half of the season a year ago. For the first eight weeks of the season, when Green was playing, Boyd was the 11th best fantasy receiver (Green was sixth). In the remaining games Boyd played after Green’s injury, he finished as the 21st receiver. With Green out, Boyd turns into Cincinnati’s best receiving option, which allows opposing defenses to zero in on him. During the first half of the season Boyd had five touchdowns. After Green’s injury, he had just two.
Tyreek Hill Impact
A season ago, Tyreek Hill broke out as a true WR1. His speed and explosiveness, alongside Patrick Mahomes’ arm talent, formed one of the most entertaining duos in the league. Some controversy surrounded Hill during the offseason, but since the NFL did not suspend him, we’ll take a look at his value on the football field. Because he is perhaps the most versatile weapon in the NFL, defenses have to game plan for him, which creates opportunities for his teammates.
First, his presence obviously helps Mahomes, who was by far the best quarterback in fantasy last season. He will be the first quarterback off the board in most drafts and is a surefire top-tier quarterback if healthy. Hill also takes a lot of attention away from tight end Travis Kelce, who should now avoid double teams with Hill on the outside. He will also be the top pick at his position.
Although it affects some teammates in a positive way, Hill’s presence certainly diminishes some opportunity from receivers Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman. Watkins was in line for a big year if Hill missed time, but now he moves back to the same role he had a season ago. He will still be drafted, but his ADP should significantly fall. As for Hardman, he had a chance to display his Hill-like skillset in the Kansas City offense with Hill’s absence. Hardman is now likely to take on a similar role to De’Anthony Thomas from a year ago.