Five Dynasty Questions Keeping Me Up At Night….

1. What happens with Tyreek Hill?

I’ve haven’t really quit on a player for character issues before. I have no intention of appointing myself head of the morality police so if you’ve previously dropped Joe Mixon or Kareem Hunt or Adrian Peterson or, well Tyreek Hill then more power to you. Generally, I’ve always taken the view that I’m in no position to judge people I barely know for actions I have little knowledge of. 

 

All that said I’m done with Tyreek Hill. He may play again, he may even play for the Chiefs this season, but the litany of accusations has become impossible to ignore and the audio released last month is about as damning as it comes.

 

Anyway, putting aside my struggles with morality, the question that a fantasy football website needs to wrestle with is what it means for the Chiefs offence. 

 

First things first. On the field Hill is a superstar and the Chiefs would miss him greatly, but no matter how good the wide receiver is, the key to the KC offence is Pat Mahomes. The star signal caller may struggle to replicate his debut season as a starter but it’s still difficult to think he won’t be QB1.

 

Losing one-star player to character issues is unlucky, losing two in 12 month’s borders on negligence. On top of the questions surrounding Hunt The Chiefs backfield needs to find a way to operate without Kareem Hunt. There are two schools of thought, firstly, that Andy Reid always produces a productive fantasy running back and it’s just a question of whether Damian Williams or Carlos Hyde wins the job. On the other hand, some will argue that neither is good enough and the gap between the pair isn’t sufficient to be clear who will be their lead back.

 

Hill’s troubles leave a huge void in the receiving core and someone will have to step-up to fill it. Sammy Watkins is most likely the man to own, a solid first season could turn to him really exploding if he becomes Mahomes number 1 target. 

 

Travis Kelce remains TE1 in everyone’s rankings and it’s almost impossible to find an argument to the contrary. Barring injury he’ll lead the Chiefs in receptions and touchdowns.

 

I’m not as high on Mecole Hardman as most. He’s fast but he lacks the strength and balance that Hill offers. I wouldn’t be stunned if he’s more Chris Conley than Tyreek.

 

2. Will Bears and Eagles find a lead running back?

 

Last season wasn’t a good year to own a Bears or an Eagles running back. Neither produced a thousand-yard rusher and both teams rotated through backs a rate guaranteed to infuriate fantasy owners.

 

The committee approach both teams favoured did not prevent either team from reaching the playoffs but the moves each team has made since free agency opened in March would suggest that they would both like to upgrade their rushing game ahead of the 2019 kick-off.

 

In Chicago the team moved on from Jordan Howard, the third league’s highest rusher over the last three seasons. Howard wasn’t unproductive last season, but he seemed to limit Matt Nagy’s offence and made them more predictable than the rookie Head Coach would have liked; if Howard was on the field they were running, if they brought in Tarik Cohen it was almost certainly a pass. Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace made a significant move to address that lack of disguise by adding Iowa State’s David Montgomery in the 3rd round of last month’s draft in Nashville.

 

Montgomery has drawn comparison with Kareem Hunt, but he lacks the explosiveness that Hunt possesses. Despite that he’s has every chance to cement the lead back role in the Windy City and if he does he could very quickly establish himself as a low end RB1 as early as next season.

 

There are reasons to be sceptical though. Montgomery didn’t convince every draft analyst due to his lack of top end speed. The team still have Tarik Cohen who figures to get a significant number of snaps and they also added former Seahawk Mike Davis who, if nothing else, could be a significant goal line vulture.

 

If the Bears confusing backfield caused fantasy consternation last year the situation in Philly has been barren for years. Since LeSean McCoy was traded to the Bills in 2015 the Eagles haven’t produced a 1000-yard rusher and in Doug Pederson’s time as Head Coach they’ve used an ever increasing stable of backs made up mainly of veterans and undrafted free agents.

 

The investment of a second-round pick in Penn State alum Miles Sanders marks the first time the Eagles have used any significant draft capital on a back since they drafted McCoy back in 2009. Sanders brings strong pedigree, a former 5-star recruit who served as Saquon Barkley’s primary back up at Penn State before breaking out last season with 1400 all purpose yards and nine touchdowns.

 

The question with Sanders probably comes down to whether Pederson and running back coach Duce Staley rotate because they want to or because they’ve never had a multi-purpose option. Sanders enters a crowded running back room with Jordan Howard who the team traded for in April, Superbowl 52 standout Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood. They also have intriguing UDFA Nico Evans on the roster. If they want to rotate they have the plenty of backs.

 

The positives though are significant. Howard is in the last year of his rookie deal, Clement has never recaptured his Superbowl performance and Adams and Smallwood are just guys. There is every chance that Sanders will be the undisputed lead back by this time next year.

 

3. Is Dante Pettis the 49ers Number one receiver?

 

Heading into draft season I was convinced that the Kyle Shanahan and his 49ers would add a number one receiving option to help returning Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and ignite Shanahan’s offence. The third-year head coach has had the most success when he’s had a clear number one option to rely on; Andre Johnson in Houston, Julio Jones in Atlanta being the most obvious examples.

 

The team did use the 36th overall pick on South Carolina wideout Deebo Samuel but there are major questions over whether he will project best outside or in the slot at the next level. In many ways he faces the same questions as Dante Pettis, who the Niners spent the 44th overall pick on last year.

 

With two top fifty picks spent on the position it seems likely that Shanahan believes he now has his two starting receivers but where they fit in the plan will dictate which one has the potential to be a top tier fantasy asset. Pettis offers more speed and showed flashes towards the end of last season despite below average Quarterback play. Samuel will offer more strength and YAC ability, much like most recent rookie receivers you must expect that the transition will take time opening more opportunity for Pettis. We do know is that the X-receiver in Shanahan’s offence has the potential to be a fantasy beast so whoever emerges will be become a must own asset.

 

Right now, I think there’s a better than even chance that Pettis is on course to lead the Niners receivers in targets, receptions and touchdowns and that will make him an asset heading into the season.

 

4. What will the Patriots do without Gronk?

 

There is no serious doubt that Rob Gronkowski is the greatest tight end of all time. That said his production and performance was in decline last year and his retirement earlier this year came as little surprise.

 

Assuming Gronk is indeed finished and we don’t see a sudden, Jason Witten style, change of heart his departure leaves a significant void in the Patriots offence. Their ability to use the five-time pro-bowler as blocker and pass catcher made him one of the best offensive mismatches that the league has ever seen and as such made question of how the team would replace him easy fodder for mock drafters and reporters alike.

 

As it turned out the Patriots kept with tradition and avoided doing anything like the expected and decided not to draft a tight end at all. They added a handful of free agents; Ben Watson, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Matt LeCosse the most prominent but none of those journeymen is going to replace Gronkowski.

 

So instead it’s the rest of the skill position players who figure to benefit from the team’s loss. First round draft pick, N’Keal Harry may well inherit the red zone work, Julian Edelman will be targeted even more in the intermediate game and James White could get even more check down targets. On top of that the team have clearly indicated a desire to run the ball more, adding Alabama’s Damian Harris to an already crowded back field.

 

There are two things you can faith in with the Patriots. They’ll win a lot of games and they’ll do whatever it takes to win – right now I’d expect them to spread the ball around even more than they have in recent years and that finding any real fantasy value amongst their skill players will be tough enough that its best to stay clear.

 

5. Is Leonard Fournette Done?

 

Jacksonville’s run to the AFC Championship Game in 2017 was achieved largely on the back of an outstanding defence and a thousand-yard rushing season from rookie running back Leonard Fournette. On the back of a season where he produced 1300 all purpose yards and 10 touchdowns Fournette looked set to be a serious fantasy asset for years to come, he entered the 2018 season with an ADP of 10, a consensus RB1.

 

Last season, however, soured almost everyone on the former LSU back as injuries curtailed his season and his production regressed considerably. In the 8 games he played Fournette rushed for only 439 yards, though he did prop up his value by scoring six touchdowns.

 

As the season ended Fournette also fell foul of Jags EVP of Football Operations, Tom Coughlin who took exception to the running back’s side-line behaviour in the season ending loss to the Houston Texans. This followed the Jaguars removing all the guarantees from Fournette’s contract after he was ejected from a game in November.

 

Simply put Fournette’s career in Jacksonville and possibly in the NFL is at a crossroads. He enters his third season with a lot to prove but a landscape that may look brighter than you might think. The arrival of Nick Foles in Duval County should improve the Quarterback play and reduce the dependency on the running game. New offensive co-ordinator Jon DeFilippo is likely to use Fournette much more sparingly than before, a move that will hopefully make him more durable.

 

If Fournette can recapture the production that made him the 4th overall pick in 2017 he has the potential to be a league winner. His stock has fallen into the low end RB2 range and that will make him an attainable trade target or a possible 4th round pick in start-ups.

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