Be honest. The only reason you watch football is because of your fantasy team. Such is true for 90 percent of viewers today, which is also the reason why I decided to bring back the Mr. Brad Evans, Yahoo! Sports’ fantasy football extraordinaire, for another one-on-one.
With just weeks leading up to the start of the 2014 season I had to ask Brad about the latest news surrounding the fantasy world and how we should use those vital bits in preparation for our fantasy drafts this month. Here is what the full-time sports guy (part-time comedian) had to say in regards to his latest fantasy advice and what Yahoo! Sports has planned in Las Vegas for you fantasy owners willing to take your league to the next level.
Josh Helmuth: Since we spoke last month, whose draft stock has risen and fallen significantly?
Brad Evans: The biggest upward mover has to be Rob Gronkowski. He was able to stave off the PUP list pre-camp, which was a surprise to many. His ADP has rocketed from roughly a mid-third round pick to as early as the first half of Round 2 in 12-teamers. Despite the risks, the hefty price is warranted. He’s bested Jimmy Graham by a full point in fantasy points per game average over the past three seasons, and most leagues score handsomely for shirtless air-humps on the dance floor. Additionally, Toby Gerhart, Rashad Jennings and Carlos Hyde have risen sharply.
Meanwhile, Steven Jackson has fallen down an empty elevator shaft. Suffering a hamstring pull that will likely sideline him for most, if not all, of the preseason, has many hesitant to invest in the Falcon. After all, he’s accumulated nearly 3,000 total touches in his career, is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off an injury laden 2013 in which he averaged a meager 3.5 yards per carry. The guy once received handoffs from Chris Chandler. Yes, THAT Chris Chandler, the one that once played for the now defunct Houston Oilers. It’s only a matter of time before rookie Devonta Freeman replaces him in the starting lineup. Avoid S-Jax at his current mid-60s ADP.
Josh: Which player is being over-hyped?
Brad: The frenzy over Cordarrelle Patterson has reached manic proportions. Widely going inside the top-40 and WR top-20, he likely won’t push owners into the black at that price point. His baseline skills and size are mouthwatering, but simply because he’s in a Norv Turner offense that elevated Josh Gordon to superstardom last year doesn’t mean a repeat performance is on the horizon. His route-running skills are a bit raw, Adrian Peterson will still be the centerpiece of the Vikes offense and question marks loom at QB. Don’t overspend.
Josh: As Matthew Berry would say, for which player has ‘the hate gone too far?’
Brad: People too often make misguided assumptions regarding a certain breed of RB. Toby Gerhart is a prime example. Many question his athletic ability, but the projected Clydesdale racked 4.5 yards per carry and 91.3 total yards per game in six career starts in Minnesota. Without much competition for touches and on a team that desperately wants to emphasize ball control, he should average between 20-25 touches per game. A popular Round 4 pick in 12-teamers, his value is shooting north, but, in fantasy, volume talks. Gerhart will be a strong RB2. Leave the haterade in the fridge.
Under-drafted wideouts: Cody Latimer, Andrew Hawkins and DeAndre Hopkins are also getting no respect. The lack of Tony Romo love is equally baffling.
Josh: Which first rounder is the biggest gamble this season?
Brad: Several would instantly say Montee Ball and Le’Veon Bell because of their unproven track records. However, I vehemently disagree, especially on Ball. Those who choose to invest in Marshawn Lynch, however, are spinning the roulette wheel. He’s a 28-year-old rusher coming off his third-consecutive 300-touch campaign who is expected to shoulder a lighter load with Christine Michael’s role increasing. He’s also coming off a season in which his yards per carry dipped dramatically from the year before (5.0 in 2012, 4.2 in 2013). Let someone else taste the rainbow.
Josh: Your absolute sexiest sleeper pick at each position?
Brad: QB – Johnny Manziel. The much-publicized rookie is still second in the pecking order behind Brian Hoyer, but that could soon change as Mike Pettine is slated to give him some first team reps. It’s only a matter of time before JFF overtakes the journeyman. His strong downfield arm and improvisational skills mesh well with Kyle Shanahan’s system, a scheme that instantly shot RGIII’s value into the stratosphere when he was a rookie in 2012. He will struggle vertically at times, but don’t underestimate his impact on the ground. There’s real potential for back-end QB1 numbers once he seizes the reins. Start rolling those $20 bills …
RB – Carlos Hyde. Kendall Hunter is cooked, LaMichael James will miss the next month and Marcus Lattimore, still recovering from various devastating injuries, may never return to full strength. The wrecking ball from Ohio St. is the clear-cut backup to a 31-year-old running back with thin tread on the tires. It’s no stretch to think Frank Gore succumbs to major injury, pushing Hyde into RB1 territory even in 10-team leagues at some point this year. He’s versatile, brutishly strong and coming off a season in which he averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Bet on him starting at least five games this year in San Fran’s run-early, run-often offense.
WR – Cody Latimer. Emmanuel Sanders has a grip on the WR2 gig in the Mile High City, but the youngster from Indiana will make fantasy noise at some point this year. His strong route-running ability, strength shaking off press coverage and fantastic build (6-foot-3, 215-pounds) says ‘red-zone threat.’ The MVP of Broncos training camp thus far, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes an impact player. Only drafted in 1-percent of Yahoo leagues, don’t forget about him in the beer-fuzzy rounds.
Josh: My camera man, LJ, wants to know who to draft late in a super-deep 14-team league? Ya, the newsroom is insane.
Brad: As mentioned previously, Devonta Freeman is the diamond in the rough LJ needs to shovel for. Similar to Hyde, the FSU product is in a terrific situation playing behind a brittle, veteran back standing on his last good leg. An excellent receiver out of the backfield, tough between the tackles and terrific in pass protection, he’s drawn comparisons to a young Gore. You’re stealing him at his current 120-plus ADP.
Josh: Tell me about the event in Vegas and why you’ll be the most badass fantasy coach in town.
Brad: Drafts. Advice sessions. A 90-minute live-streaming of ‘Fantasy Football Live.’ Blackjack tournaments. Barley pops. Pool parties. Sports book bonuses. And, presumably, Brad Evans lap dances … Our National Draft Day event at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel should satisfy all of your fantasy needs. While other sites frolic with Mickey Mouse, we’ll be rockin’ the house in Vegas. Seriously, does it get much better? Come, join the party August 22-23 — Get in on the action here. The first round is on me.
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