1. Redskins WR group
2. Colts TEs/RBs
3. Packers WR group
1. There is a ‘prototypical size athleticism package’ (that has yet to produce) who is primed for a breakout, in former first-round selection, Josh Doctson. The Washington Redskins also have a prolific slot build wide receiver in Jamison Crowder — entering his fourth season in a contract year. My personal favorite, and the newest addition in Paul Richardson, recently removed from a breakout season with the Seattle Seahawks. Also, still in the picture are Brian Quick, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis (reaching even further into the well are new draft picks Trey Quinn and Simmie Cobbs). Everyone seems high on Crowder and so many Doctson truthers are still standing and chanting for their guy.
I’m ready to fade the noise and draft Richardson. Why? Follow the money trail. The Redskins’ front office looked at the free agent market and came away with Richardson. Management inked him to the third largest contract among free agent wide receivers this offseason. Richardson had incredible college statistics, a 46.3% College Dominator Rating on Player Profiler. Looking at his 2017 statistics with the Seahawks he averaged 9.4 FPTS/G, while receiving the sixth-highest Air Yards in the NFL. Plus, Russell Wilson had a QBR of 104.3 when targeting Richardson – good for 14th overall in the NFL. All of that on just 44 receptions, which ranked him at 55th overall, 22 catches less than Crowder. Richardson’s best comparable player on PlayerProfiler.com is Emmanuel Sanders.
Crowder had a College Dominator Rating of 33.3% and his best comparable player is Cole Beasley. Crowder’s 66 receptions were good for 18th overall and his Air Yards were 89th overall in the NFL — Kirk Cousins had a QBR of 85.0 when targeting him. Crowder managed this due to more influence in the passing game in Washington compared to what Richardson had in Seattle. All in all, Crowder averaged with 10.8 FPTS/G.
Doctson recently injured his shoulder — the extent of which was listed as an AC joint sprain/shoulder bruise. This will allow more time for Crowder and Richardson to build a rapport with the newly acquired Alex Smith. Richardson has a body build that can succeed on the outside and he has shown it. Crowder is playing his last year with the Redskins and will do so in the slot. What a lot of people tend to forget is Smith’s affinity for the tight end position. The Redskins possess a few good tight ends that you may have heard of: Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis (if you own one, get the other as well). In my opinion, Crowder will see his role outside of 3WR sets diminish this year, that is if Doctson stays healthy.
My Projection: WR1 Doctson, WR2 Richardson, WR3 Crowder, WR4 Brian Quick, WR5 Robert Davis and WR6 Trey Quinn. Cut candidate: Maurice Harris. Practice Squad: Simmie Cobbs.
2. In 2017, Frank Reich was the coordinator for the powerhouse that was the Philadelphia Eagles. The eventual Super Bowl Champions absolutely throttled the best defense in the league during the NFC Championship game, the Minnesota Vikings. The approach in the backfield that the Eagles used frustrated many fantasy players. You couldn’t key in on one running back and know that he would be the right choice. Whether it was LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, or even Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles at the beginning of the year.
Now we find coach Reich in Indianapolis and he is quietly molding this offense to mimic what he had so much success with in Philadelphia. He has his two tight ends in Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. Remember this, first-round tight ends tend to stick around and Ebron has shown flashes of his true potential in the past. I must admit I have more faith in Reich’s ability as an offensive coach than that of Jim Bob Cooter’s in Detroit. Having said that, I know Andrew Luck has built a rapport with Doyle, but Ebron is much more talented. They paid Ebron and he will be the featured pass catcher in Indy. I project the tight ends in Indianapolis shake out like this: TE1 Eric Ebron (FA DET), TE2 Jack Doyle, TE3 Travis Ross (FA KC) and TE4 Mo Allie-Cox. I think Erik Swoope’s days in Colts blue and white are numbered.
Regarding the backfield in Indy, it’s looking more and more like an all-out running back by committee. Marlon Mack is the favorite, entering his second year as a former fourth-round pick, he has break away potential but seemed determined to bounce outside every time he was handed the ball in 2017. Reich and company recently drafted Nyheim Hines out of NC State (4th Round) and Jordan Wilkins of Ole Miss (5th Round), as well as the other holdovers from Chuck Pagano’s days in Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson.
I am not including Christine Michael in anymore of this discussion, other than this individual sentence. Hines is much like that of Tarik Cohen and many people seem ready to dub Wilkins as the second coming of Matt Forte. Turbin has the NFL’s largest biceps, and in miraculously non-related other news, he was recently suspended for the first four weeks of the 2018 Season for PED’s. We’ve seen what Mack offers in an offense without Luck, so that can improve, and we can watch film of Hines and Wilkins to form our own projections. We also know that Turbin, when on the field, can be that goal line back that vulture’s touchdowns. If you wanted a cheap version of Mack, I feel like that chance has come and gone, much like the idea of getting Wilkins or Hines at a discount. If you can, buy either Hines or Wilkins, I don’t personally agree with Jim Irsay’s 1500-yard 2018 season predicted for Mack. I honestly don’t think Mack ever really becomes a thing. I see the pecking order to begin the year like this: RB1 Marlon Mack, RB2 Jordan Wilkins, RB3 Nyheim Hines (passing down situations) and RB4 Robert Turbin. Cut Candidates: Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson.
3. I grew up a Green Bay Packers fan and have watched and read about my Packers play from different locations all over the world. Whether it was at an airport in Ireland or from a choppy satellite internet feed on a projector screen on the back of a concrete scud barrier in Iraq (2010 NFL Playoffs). I feel like I have been in tune with everything that has happened in Green Bay since the early 1990’s.
This year is a little different, although nerve wracking, still very exciting. For the first time, shortly after Aaron Rodgers took over, Jordy Nelson won’t be at the ‘Z’ position. Prior to the draft it was just a given that Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison would be the starters to open 2018. Now, Green Bay has a dilemma of choosing which talents to retain and which to cut loose. I have watched a bit of the camp film and I am excited for the preseason to hit so we can see what these young guys can do. J’Mon Moore (6’3”), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6’5”) and Equanimeous St. Brown (6’5”) provide plenty of big targets for Rodgers in the passing game. One thing I need to mention, there is a lesser known local kid by the name of Jake Kumerow from UW-Whitewater, also a big man at (6’4”) brought in on a one-year deal and is fighting for a roster spot. There are still two holdovers left from the Ted Thompson era, Deangelo Yancey and Trevor Davis (both have 2 remaining contract years), who are smaller than the previous four guys listed, but still have a good amount of talent themselves. Personally, I believe there is a reason that new GM Brian Gutekunst chose these three (Moore, MVS and St. Brown) and they already appear to be ahead of Davis and Yancey. If the camp talk is any type of real insight into what their plans are, I currently would list the depth chart like so: WR1 Davante Adams, WR2 Randall Cobb, WR3 Geronimo Allison, WR4 J’Mon Moore, WR5(A) ESB, WR5(B) MVS and WR7 Jake Kumerow; cut candidates: Trevor Davis and Deangelo Yancey. I think Valdes-Scantling is just as athletic as Davis and will be just as useful on special teams, but more useful in the passing game. Kumerow is quickly becoming Rodgers’ favorite depth piece, which naturally leaves Yancey on the outside looking in. One caveat to this thought process is that all three of the rookie wide receivers have full practice squad eligibility remaining, but I can’t imagine any talent like that making it through the season without getting signed by another team. Also, Kumerow does have some practice squad eligibility left, but you run the risk of someone poaching him immediately as well. I think these guys are going to put on a show in the preseason and I look forward to watching!
By Josh Deisinger — @SconnieJosh
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