Everyone here at RotoExperts sincerely hopes you had a great holiday weekend. With most Fantasy championships decided now, this column will shift its perspective beginning this week. Instead of the normal recap and analysis concerned about how it will affect the next few games, I will discuss how certain players will likely be drafted next season. In other words, I’ll try to measure how the value of some players has changed for next season, now that the 2016 NFL regular season is about to be completed. As always, good luck to those still playing in Week 17.
Giants at Philadelphia
Eli Manning may have come into this season as a QB1 but he will only be started next season in leagues that start two quarterbacks. Maybe it was just a down season or perhaps this is the beginning of the end for Manning. All is not lost, however, for the Giants on offense. Sterling Shepard is likely to be a WR3 with upside and Paul Perkins could be the starting running back, also with upside. It would be an upset if Victor Cruz is still with the team next season. Carson Wentz will only get better with experience but he still won’t be a QB1 next season. The Eagles will need to surround him with weapons, as only Jordan Matthews can be considered a starting wide receiver in Fantasy, and that’s just in PPR leagues. Zach Ertz has once again come on strong late in the season to be thought of as a low end TE1.
Miami at Buffalo
Jay Ajayi is clearly an RB1 heading into next season. He can be inconsistent, as it seems he either has a big game or a dud, but three 200-yard games is impossible to ignore. Ryan Tannehill will only be startable in two-QB leagues. DeVante Parker is a WR3 but with upside, as he was getting better and better as the season rolled along. Sammy Watkins has number one wide receiver talent but can’t stay on the field. He’ll be drafted early but not by me. I don’t expect Tyrod Taylor to be the starting quarterback for Buffalo next season, but if he is, he’s a QB2. Charles Clay has scored four touchdowns in his last three games but he’s still a TE2.
Jets at New England
The Jets’ offense could be in for a complete overhaul next season. They may rebuild and move on from Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, or just look to reload. Where the receivers rank will depend upon what the Jets do at quarterback. Robbie Anderson is likely just a bench player. Bilal Powell should share the running back job with Matt Forte or another back, making both low-end RB2 or flex plays.
I’ll assume Rob Gronkowski is 100-percent healthy by the time next season rolls around, but I didn’t draft him in the first-round this year and certainly won’t be doing it next season either. No matter where you draft him, he will still be an injury risk. Julian Edelman is a high-end WR2 in PPR leagues but touchdowns will be few and far between. LeGarrette Blount will be a low-end RB1. Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan will both be depth wide receiver plays. It’s always dangerous to bank on a NE player, as they are game plan dependent. Dion Lewis could be a threat next season again, but maybe not.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
Marcus Mariota will vault up into the QB1 conversation but let’s not forget, the quarterback position will be super deep next season. There will easily be 12 starting Fantasy quarterbacks to go around. DeMarco Murray will be an RB1 but you have to wonder if Derrick Henry will eat into even more of his carries next year. Rishard Matthews developed strong chemistry with Mariota and will likely be a low end WR2 or a high-end WR3. Who is Blake Bortles? Is he the quarterback who was terrible NFL-wise for most of the season, or the one who lit up Jacksonville on Saturday to tune of 325 yards? The answer to that question will go a long way toward telling us where we should draft Allen Robinson. It won’t be in the first couple of rounds no matter what your answer is.
Minnesota at Green Bay
The first question we will ask about Minnesota is, who will the starting quarterback be? Will Teddy Bridgewater (knee) be healthy enough to start? Neither quarterback currently on the roster is Fantasy-worthy. I doubt Adrian Peterson ends up returning to the Vikings. Remember, he was playing poorly before the knee injury. Teams that want to sign him will have to decide how much he has left in the tank and whether his poor performance was because of declining skills or terrible offensive line play. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will be in WR4 territory. If Sam Bradford remains at quarterback, then Kyle Rudolph will remain as a low-end TE1. I wonder what Fantasy sites will do with Ty Montgomery next season? Will he be considered a running back, a wide receiver, or both? If he has running back eligibility, he will be an RB2 in PPR leagues. Will the Packers bring in a running back? I don’t expect Eddie Lacy to return. Davante Adams will be a WR2 but Randall Cobb falls to WR3. He seems to be aging quickly.
San Diego at Cleveland
Melvin Gordon went from a disappointing rookie season to being one of the best running backs in Fantasy. He’ll be an RB1 next season. Keenan Allen will return, but you have to wonder at what level after he suffered season-ending injuries in each of the past two campaigns. Tyrell Williams will be a WR3. I won’t be drafting Antonio Gates if he returns, and if he does, Hunter Henry won’t be a TE1 either. Will this team even be playing in San Diego next year? The Browns caught a break, I think, when
San Francisco also won Saturday. That means they still have the number one draft pick right now. Will they take a quarterback? Will they sign one in free agency? Terrelle Pryor will be a WR2 if he comes back. I like Corey Coleman but he won’t be anything more than a WR4 next season, and if the Browns do draft and start a rookie, I may pass on both altogether. Isiah Crowell will be a low-end RB2.
Washington at Chicago
Kirk Cousins is one of the reasons why quarterback is so deep. He can certainly be in the QB1 debate. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both WR3s but the bigger issue will be Jamison Crowder’s spot. Over the past month, he’s gone from a WR1 and Fantasy MVP, to a bust. Maybe the long season has caught up to him, or the defenses have, but he’ll be a very tough player to judge next year. I love Jordan Reed when he is on the field, but I won’t be drafting him. He just can’t stay healthy. Whoever starts at running back will be a high-end RB3. Alshon Jeffery is probably gone but the bigger question is who will take over at quarterback? Jordan Howard will be an RB1, no matter who the signal caller is. Kevin White will be back as well, but I wouldn’t be spending anything more than a late round pick on him.
Atlanta at Carolina
Matt Ryan will go back into QB1 territory, as he could be in the argument for both NFL MVP and Fantasy MVP this year. Devonta Freeman will be an RB1 but Tevin Coleman will be an RB2 next year. They both have value. Tyler Gabriel has had a nice run this season but will likely be a WR4 next year. What has happened to Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin? Newton came into this season as the first quarterback taken off the board. Next season he may not be in the Top 10. Benjamin may be more about the recovery from the ACL tear but he was unstartable for a good portion of this season. I’ll draft him as a WIDE RECEIVER3.
Indianapolis at Oakland
Will this team please get an offensive line? How about a defense? They might also need a running back to pair with Frank Gore, as he is getting up there in age. I’ll be high on Donte Moncrief, once again, as a WR2. I won’t be touching the tight end. It was just devastating to see Derek Carr’s season end with a broken fibula Saturday. He will be fully recovered well before next season start and will be a QB1 with those weapons. Amari Cooper has all the talent to be a WR1 but he can be inconsistent. I’ll take him as a high-end WR2. Michael Crabtree a low-end WR2. Latavius Murray lost some snaps Sunday due to his issues with putting the ball on the ground. It will be hard to trust him and I wonder if Oakland looks to make an upgrade there during the off-season. RB2 for me.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
The benching of Doug Martin on Saturday speaks volumes about how they feel about his play. They just signed him to a new contract, so he will be back next season. He must prove that he deserves the starting job, as it’s not going to be handed to him. Cameron Brate is the real deal and a TE1. Jameis Winston is still too inconsistent for me to trust as a starter. He’ll be a high end QB2. Michael Thomas is the real deal. I don’t think he can crack the WR1 tier, but he won’t be far behind it either. He and Brandin Cooks will be very high-end WR2s. This will continue to be a dangerous offense. Mark Ingram will be an RB2 but if I were to draft him, I’d want to get Tim Hightower or whomever the backup is, later in my draft.
Arizona at Seattle
Will Carson Palmer be back in Arizona? I would imagine so but he had a subpar season and may be showing that his age is catching up with him. I’ll let someone else take a chance on him. Larry Fitzgerald will be a low-end WR2, but where you will draft John Brown and/J.J. Nelson will be much more interesting. Nelson could be a breakout player but he could also be a big time bust.
This is another team that needs to fix the offensive line. That was a brutal injury that Tyler Lockett suffered Saturday, and just as he was starting to play well. Thomas Rawls will remain an RB2.
San Francisco at Los Angeles
Carlos Hyde suffered a knee injury Sunday and we don’t know the severity of it yet. He has proven to be a dangerous back when healthy, but availability is not always something he possesses. He’ll be an RB2 unless the injury is severe. Will Colin Kaepernick be back? I doubt it, but if he ends up as a starter somewhere with better weapons on the outside, he will be in the QB1 conversation. He puts up Fantasy points no matter how you feel about him as an NFL quarterback. Todd Gurley will fall into RB2 for me, although, he will have upside. He could even sneak into being an RB1, if the Rams upgrade the offensive weapons around him. Kenny Britt will be a low-end WR3. Jared Goff should only get better with experience.
Cincinnati at Houston
Tyler Boyd is the player here to watch. He will enter next season as a WR4, but the upside is there for him to take a big leap. Andy Dalton will be nowhere near QB1 range. Life can’t be as bad for DeAndre Hopkins next season, as it was this season. He and Allen Robinson have the same problem, starting QB. Both were considered WIDE RECEIVER1 this season and neither paid off. Will Fuller is another WR4 with upside. It just depends upon who the starter will be, and if it’s an upgrade. C.J. Fiedorowicz has had a nice season in the second half but he’s still a TE2.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Hopefully, we will know by draft time next season who the starting RB will be, Kenneth Dixon or Terrance West. If they were to go into the season as a tandem once again, then neither will be anything more than a flex play. Steve Smith may or may not retire, but if he were to return, he could be a WR3 once again, the same with Mike Wallace. The Steelers aren’t the same offense on the road as they are at home, and this will keep Ben Roethlisberger from being one of the Top 5 QB taken. Who breaks out at wide receiver between Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates will determine which one will be a WR3 or WR4, but remember, Martavis Bryant should return next season. Ladarius Green will be a low-end TE1.
Denver at Kansas City
When you look at this offense, it’s hard to believe that Denver won the Super Bowl last season. Sure, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will both be WR2s, but who will the quarterback be? Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Tony Romo? What a mess. C.J. Anderson should return as the starting RB and he’ll be a RB2. Spencer Ware is nothing but an average RB, so even if he is the starter next season, he’s an RB2. If Jamaal Charles (knee) returns, I won’t want much to do with him. Tyreek Hill has really come out of nowhere to add a dangerous element to this offense and could be a low end WR2 next season. He is big play dependent, however.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.