Rob Gronkowski – Expert rankings have him going in the first round, while the average draft position (ADP) have him slipping slightly to 14 overall. I have no doubts as to his athleticism and ability. I do, however, have doubts as to who might be throwing him the football for one-third of the fantasy season.
If Tom Brady’s suspension holds up, then that means Jimmy Garoppolo will get 4 starts through week 5. (The Patriots bye comes in week 4.) Everyone assumes that Gronk will have equal productivity with Garoppolo – a QB who has (count ‘em) zero NFL starts and 27 career pass attempts. He’s not Brady.
It may be risky to draft Gronk so high as the centerpiece of your team. Particularly if he may not start contributing like an elite player should until week 6 of the fantasy season.
Jimmy Graham – Experts have him as a late third round selection while ADP has him as an early third rounder. Graham goes from a pass-happy Saints team (ranked 3rd in passing in 2014) to a pass-challenged Seahawks team (ranked 27th in the pass game).
Graham had 889 yards and 10 TD last season with Brees. The best receiver on the Seahawks, Doug Baldwin, had 825 yards and 3 TD and probably was not even owned in most leagues. Do you really want to burn a third round pick for that kind of production?
Everyone assumes that Graham will put up Saint-type numbers. Maybe he will. Maybe the Seahawks will pass more with Graham. But passing, when they shouldn’t have, also ended their season last year.
Amari Cooper – Both the experts and ADP have him ranked 44-45 overall. That means he’s being drafted as a WR2 in the fourth round. Like most rookies, Cooper is viewed as freakishly, Goliathly great and his ceiling is through the stratosphere in preseason. But he’s still unproven.
One thing that can be easily overlooked is that Cooper plays for a team with the worst NFL offense in 2014. No Raiders receiver made it to the 700-yard plateau. Even if Cooper turns out to be an above average player, yardage only gets you so far in fantasy. The Raiders were ranked 31 in points scored. Sometimes a lack of TD scores doesn’t hit home until the season is over and an owner reflects on what went wrong?
Arian Foster – Optimistic reports are now pointing to a possible return in week 2 or 3. Because of these reports, Foster is climbing up the rankings. Experts have him at 93 (RB-34) which is the 8th round. ADP is much more aggressive, ranking him at 63 (RB-24) which is early in the 6th round.
I owned Rob Gronkowski in 2013, the year that he had a serious forearm infection. Preseason prognostications had him playing in week 3. Didn’t happen. Then week 5 looked like a possibility. Nope. Finally he played in week 7 and did fantastic. Unfortunately my fantasy season was half over! It was tough to make up the ground I had lost – It was a nightmare. I certainly could have used that fifth round spot for a healthier contributor.
I see the same scenario playing out with Foster. If he lingers on the board until after your key starter positions are filled then grab him, but you could be in for a headache if you pull the trigger on him any sooner.
Ben Roethlisberger – Experts have him as the QB6 in the 5th round (55 overall); ADP gives him a bump to the 4th round at 42nd overall. Let me preface my comments by saying that Ben has always been fairly consistent as a fantasy contributor in his 11 seasons, but he is generally on the low-end of the QB1 spectrum – hovering in the QB2 (backup) territory.
If you take his best 8 years prior to 2014, his career passing average is 3637 yards per year. So last season he was 1300 yards above his average. 1300!! If you scale his best years down to the top 6 (about half), his passing average bumps a little to 4072. Which is still nearly 900 yards below last season. I think 2015 was an anomaly.
That doesn’t mean Ben can’t pass for over 4K, but getting close to 5K again? I tend to lean more toward his career history than one impressive season. Call me skeptical for a repeat performance.
If you decide to wait on these players, chances are you will miss out on drafting them. But it may be a blessing in disguise.
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