NFL Offenses: Ranking and Analysis (32-25)
NFL offenses drive our fantasy teams. We constantly scour over the data trying to find sleepers and breakout players to help us win this year and beyond. Now, more than ever, it behooves us to understand the general trends that drive the league and use those trends to try and anticipate the best sources of fantasy scoring. This is our first installment of this series, starting with our 32nd through 25th ranked squads. In the team breakdowns, I will give you some information on the team overall, and if I feel they will have much fantasy success this year.
We have seen that NFL offenses are changing. Over the past two years, NFL top wide receivers have seen a dip in their receptions because teams are starting to spread it out more. Concurrently, while WR1s have seen a dip in overall target shares, WR3s, tight ends, and pass-catching running backs are seeing increases. With spreading it out more resulting in astronomical passing numbers over the past few years, defenses have started to shift to counteract that- playing more defensive backs and lessening the men in the box. And as a response to that, we’ve also seen more teams commit to running the ball, at a time when the running back had been seriously devalued (to the point of absolute studs being drafted late in the second round in the NFL Draft).
Plan- For this four-part series, I am going to break down every NFL offense and rank them from worse to first, giving you an idea of what offenses will succeed this year and which are set up for success for the coming years. I will also try and touch on some possible free agents who could affect the team if they are let go in the coming years.
Methodology- My rankings are the result of a combination of three different rankings: Offensive Line rankings (h/t to Pro Football Focus), Quarterback rankings (h/t to our rankings), and Offensive Weapon rankings (personal analysis of top three wideouts, tight end, and running backs).
While ranking the offenses I will give some quick hits on who I think will be relevant in certain roles and whether or not they have breakouts or sleepers.
32. Buffalo Bills
Offensive line ranking per PFF- 29
Quarterback rank- 32
Offensive weapons rank- 31
In a move that should surprise no one, Buffalo comes in as our lowest-ranked offense. After making the playoffs and ending the longest playoff drought, the Bills look to be entering a sort of rebuilding phase. Young and inexperienced QBs, a mostly young and inexperienced receiving core, a running back facing suspension, and a division with the Patriots is not a recipe for success (the Bills’ defense notwithstanding).
Quarterback: A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen
Going into the 2018 season we don’t know who will be their opening game starter, and I suspect the Bills don’t know either. Avoid this QB situation at all cost, if possible. If you have to invest in one of these guys I would go with Josh Allen as he was drafted this year and looks to be the face of the franchise.
Running backs: LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Travaris Cadet
As of the time of this writing, the investigation into the domestic abuse allegations against McCoy, and any subsequent punishment, are still undetermined.
LeSean McCoy has left us guessing if he’ll ever slow down, but this could be the year- the Bills offense will have to lean heavily on him for production, and the 30-year-old will be running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the game. I think this is the year he starts to slip out of that top tier.
Chris Ivory will likely get carries to spell McCoy throughout the year and has proven he can be a receiving threat as well. If McCoy is suspended, Ivory will likely be the every-down back. Regardless of his workload, he should produce this year. The same cannot be said for Cadet, who will likely only have value if either McCoy or Ivory is off the field.
Wide receivers: Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater
Kelvin Benjamin is coming into this year healthy and looking to return to the form he showed in Carolina, something he wasn’t able to do last year. Benjamin is a bit of an enigma for me this year due to the murky QB situation, but he does have the talent to make his QB look a little bit better (no shots to Cam Newton’s accuracy, but…ok, yes shots to Cam Newton’s accuracy). Zay Jones is currently recovering from a disappointing 2017 and offseason knee surgery. He may have to earn his spot on the roster, but his talent should let him do so. If his quarterback turns out to be competent, he could be a sleeper. I’m not confident in any of the other starters having any consistent fantasy relevance this year.
Tight end: Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Thomas Logan
Clay has been known to have a good game once every three or four weeks, and he’s worth a late round stash to see if he can click with his new quarterback. Nick O’Leary and Thomas Logan are both more blocking tight ends, and I wouldn’t expect much for either even if Clay goes down.
Roster Sleepers: Malachi Dupree got a lot of hype coming out of LSU. He’s a big wide receiver with decent speed, and I would like to see him given a chance. He could be worth a Taxi Squad stash.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
WR- Kelvin Benjamin. Could be gone after the 18 season especially if he plays badly again this year.
O-Line- Ryan Groy (G). Groy was their top swingman last year and filled in at multiple positions. Losing him could hurt the depth of the already beleaguered O-Line.
31. New York Jets
Offensive line ranking per PFF- 31
Quarterback rank- 23
Offensive weapon rank- 26
While the Jets have some young promising players, most of them look to be at least a year away from serious fantasy value. Robby Anderson was their highest rated offensive player in 2017, finishing 16th at the wide receiver position. The Jets added a new running back in Isaiah Crowell after Matt Forte retired. I expect big things out of this offense in a few years, and now may be the time to buy low on some of these guys.
Quarterback: Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold
McCown should start 2018 for the New York Jets after finishing as the 21st best fantasy quarterback last year (despite missing the last three games due to injury). Bridgewater will start as the backup and I don’t see a lot of playing time unless he 1) blows the coaches away or 2) McCown suffers another injury. Sam Darnold is the future and the face of this franchise. From everything we’ve been lead to believe he will likely stay as the number three on the depth chart and learn from consistent pro McCown. Darnold has the skills and the smarts to be a future star at the position, and he’s a worthy stash on Taxi Squads.
Running Backs: Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire
Crowell has been consistent for the Cleveland Browns the past two years, getting over 190 carries both seasons. The problem is that his team was often playing from behind, which should also be the case here. Given that Crowell is not a particularly talented pass-catcher, his value is fairly limited on this team (despite him being the lead back). Powell and McGuire will likely split work on third down and in the receiving game, but McGuire is my pick to pull ahead and claim the receiving back work: McGuire has looked just as explosive and is younger, Powell hasn’t capitalized on previous chances with the role, and he will be a free agent next year.
Wide Receivers: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, Charone Peake.
Quincy Enunwa finished as WR16 in 2016 and looked poised to continue to grow in 2017 until a neck injury kept him down all year. Assuming health, I think he easily slots into the number one spot again this year.
Robby Anderson had a good 2017 season- he finished as the WR16 in 2017, stepping into Enunwa’s role perfectly. Unfortunately, he had a tumultuous offseason including some trouble with the law. At this moment we don’t know if he’ll be suspended or not, but if he isn’t I believe he will slot in good in the two slot and produce.
Terrelle Pryor looked to be a possible late-season breakout after a great season with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, but he struggled to stay on the field and produce in 2017 (dealing with an ankle injury all season). I don’t see much from him at the moment but he’s shown the ability to be a stud, so I think he’s worth a stash to see what happens.
Tight end: Chris Herndon, Jordan Leggett, Clive Walford
Chris Herndon looked to be the guy going into the offseason, but he’s had some trouble with the law this offseason. If he isn’t suspended he is the best offensive option they have at the position. Clive Walford got a lot of buzz as the 68th overall pick in 2015 (to the Raiders), but he’s never lived up to that hype. Walford has flashed his catching ability but is neither particularly fast nor deceptive. That being said, the potential of this offense could make him worth a stash, as the job could be anyones.
Roster Sleepers: Aside from Sam Darnold and Elijah McGuire, My other two are Chad Hansen and ArDarious Stewart. Hansen seems to be well-liked by the front office. He was a bit raw last year but has the talent and skills to develop into a downfield threat. Stewart plays quick and has great hands, and he could become a decent option out of the slot.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
QB- Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Neither should make a huge difference with Darnold here but one could come back as the backup.
WR- Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, and Terrelle Pryor. The Jets entire starting wide receiver corps will become free agents next season. Anderson and Enunwa would be the two I would expect them to re-sign, giving some of the younger guys a shot.
RB- Bilal Powell. McGuire is cheaper, controllable and just as effective as Powell; I imagine Powell will be gone.
30. Miami Dolphins
Offensive line rank per PFF- 20
Quarterback rank- 27
Offensive weapons rank- 28
Miami had an interesting 2017. They lost their starting quarterback before the year started and traded their young workhorse running back, only to find another one in Kenyan Drake. They have a chance to jump these rankings behind their franchise quarterback and their top pick in 2015 DeVante Parker. I believe they have a top talent at running back and a possible breakout at wide receiver, but this offense truly hinges on Tannehill. He looked to be on his way to a top QB before his injury, but can he recapture that form? Another big question for this team: if they succeed this year could they lose offense guru head coach Adam Gase?
Quarterbacks: Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Bryce Petty, Riley Ferguson
Long considered “the guy,” this may be Tannehill’s final year with the Dolphins. Gase should tailor the offense around his skills, and he has a good running back who can run and catch. His receiving corps lost its best asset in Landry but replaced him with Amendola. Tannehill has the chance to be a top 15 QB, but if he isn’t (and if the Dolphins don’t win) he will likely be gone after 2020. Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty will likely compete for the backup job. While I don’t have any confidence in either, Petty does intrigue me a little if he shows something.
Running backs: Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage
Kenyan Drake is the man to own in this backfield. Last year he was given the starting opportunity and didn’t disappoint: double-digit points in 8 of 11 games he played as a co-starter with Damien Williams. Drake is the most talented running back on this roster and I expect him to run away with this job and finish the year as a top 15 back. Frank Gore is going to be 35 going into this season. I expect him to spell Drake on a series or two a game, and be his backup if he gets injured, but I don’t see him stealing many goal-line carries, if any.
Kalen Ballage is a physical freak, yet has not ever been able to break out. Despite a number of decent collegiate years, apparent work ethic issues have prevented a breakout. That could change with him being in the NFL- if he’s able to work at his craft and improve, he could be someone with huge upside. Until then I see him as a rotational back and special teams player.
Wide receivers: DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, Leonte Caroo, Jakeem Grant
Parker is yet again going into the season as Miami’s number one outside receiver. His best year came in 2016 where he played 13 games with Tannehill before Tannehill’s injury. He’s already come in early this offseason to work with Tannehill, and if they can get their connection back he could finally see those top wideout projections come true.
Albert Wilson will likely line up on the outside opposite Parker. His four years in Kansas City were spent under Andy Reid, a man whose coaching style usually produces only one fantasy-relevant wideout. If Parker starts to disappoint and struggle, I could see a breakout season from Wilson here with a healthy Tannehill. Danny Amendola will play in the slot and take over the vacated spot of Landry. While I don’t expect him to be as good as Landry, he should finish as a viable WR3 if he stays healthy.
Tight ends: Mike Gesicki, A.J. Derby, Gavin Escobar
Gesicki is the only player who matters here for fantasy. He is a physical freak- big body and good hands. He should get his fair share of red zone looks this season. That should be the extent of his value for this year, however- he’s seemed to struggle to understand the offense, which is not uncommon for new tight ends.
There are three players I would watch here. Riley Ferguson had some buzz coming out of Memphis and might be Tannehill’s replacement. Kalen Ballage is the big name on the list but as I stated above he needs to prove it: stash him and hope for the best. Leonte Caroo was drafted to be the slot wide receiver: Amendola could spell the end for him here, but he has the skills and speed to be special.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
O-Line- Sam Young (LT), Ja’Wuan James (RT), Jesse Davis (T). Much like Buffalo losing even two of these guys on already a bad line could make for an even worse line in 2019.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
Offensive line rank per PFF- 26
Quarterback rank- 30
Offensive weapons rank- 19
Cincy comes up next on the list with a lot more questions than answers on offense. They bring back Marvin Lewis, and Bill Lazor will be given another year to institute his offense and see if he can get these Bengals back into the playoffs. Can an all-pro wide receiver and a young stud running back help return this team to glory?
For an offense ranked so low on our list they do have what will likely be some fantasy studs. Green and Mixon are worth owning regardless. The hope is will be with a full year in Lazor’s offense they will really break out. If Dalton doesn’t perform this year, I could also see him being relegated to a backup role in ’19, with possibly a guy like *cough* Nick Foles *cough* being available next year. While the top guys on this offense are worth owning, I do think Mixon could be held back some with the way Marvin Lewis likes to play.
Quarterbacks: Andy Dalton, Matt Barkley, Logan Woodside
Andy Dalton will be the only player of significance in this group. While he struggled last year, his full offseason in Lazor’s offense could help him return to a top 15 QB. He has the assets around him to succeed, and if he doesn’t we could see him replaced as early as next year. Neither Barkley nor Woodside should have significant value unless Dalton gets injured. Woodside has more talent and I think will win the backup job, but that’s all he projects to be.
Running backs: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Mark Walton
Joe Mixon should finally be the workhorse back in this offense. He has the skill and ability to be a top back, but a poor offensive line and Bernard cutting into his receptions will limit him some. Still, even if allowed to carry the ball 15-20 times he should finish as a top 15 RB.
Giovani Bernard will likely come back and resume his third-down back role. He’s a good pass-blocker and should still see some dump offs. Mark Walton was a hard runner in college and I had him rated as one of my top backs before the ankle injury. He profiles to be more of a satellite back than a true workhorse for now, but he was electric in college and I predict will replace Bernard after this year.
Wide receivers: A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Josh Malone
Green is the obvious WR1 and top receiving option by far of this group. He will continue to dominate and be a top player in the game: nothing to worry about with him. John Ross was drafted ninth overall in last year’s draft, and I believe he’ll beat out LaFell (who really only produces once every six games). His biggest issue will be staying healthy and on the field. Tyler Boyd will likely be the slot receiver. He’ll lose work in the short areas to Bernard but was touted coming out of college and could be an interesting sleeper this year.
Tight end: Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft
Eifert has the most upside of these two. However, he has rarely shown the ability to stay on the field. If he can come back healthy and stay on the field he could become a top-five tight end once again. Kroft got a contract extension earlier this offseason and will step into the starting role if Eifert is out with injury. I like Kroft as a middle-tier tight end but not someone with great upside.
In addition to the potentially explosive Mark Walton, Josh Malone is being hyped as a possible sleeper by many pundits. I am not that sold on him, but if he can win the slot job he could produce in what could be a high scoring offense again.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
TE- Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft. It’s likely one or both could be back. The key guy here is Eifert: if he can remain healthy in 2018 he could be a top target once again.
WR- Brandon LaFell and Alex Erickson. I don’t see either returning to the Bengals as they have a young group of talented wide receivers ready to step up and replace them next season.
28. Baltimore Ravens
Offensive line ranking per PFF- 24
Quarterback rank- 19
Offensive weapons rank-25
Baltimore missed the playoffs in 2017 due to a lot of inconsistent play on both offense and defense. They used their offseason well by drafting potential franchise cornerstone Lamar Jackson and by loading up on other offensive weapons like Michael Crabtree. They hope to contend for the AFC North this year and knock off the Steelers. Is this Joe Flacco’s last year manning the Ravens? Will Harbaugh be back next year?
Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III, Lamar Jackson
Joe Flacco is still entrenched as the starter of this team at the moment. Flacco’s production has dipped over the past couple years and many believe his time remaining as the starter will be short-lived, despite the addition of offensive weapons. Griffin will likely go into the year as the backup, though I don’t think he has much value. Jackson is the future of this franchise and the star they plan to build around. He has great mobility and is a rare athlete. If he can improve his accuracy and be selective on when he rushes out of the pocket, he could easily cement himself as the QB1 for years to come, and in turn a worthwhile fantasy asset.
Running backs: Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, Javorius Allen
Collins surprised many last year: after being cut by Seattle, he ran away with the starting job in Baltimore. Collins finished as the 18th back last season and looks to improve on that this year. With a bad offensive line and two receiving backs on his roster, however, his upside may be limited and I could see him losing the role altogether.
Dixon has only played 12 games in his two-year career, including being suspended and injured all of last season. He was drafted to be the future back of this franchise. If he comes into camp healthy and competitive there is a real chance he could beat out Collins and take his job at some point. Allen is likely just a change of pace back to spell Collins and get some receiving work. Unless Collins or Dixon go down I don’t see much fantasy upside for him.
Wide receivers: Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott
Crabtree comes in and immediately shifts into the WR1 role. He’s been extremely reliable and productive, especially in his last three seasons in Oakland. He should continue to thrive here. Brown has been more of a deep threat for most of his career in Arizona and has struggled to stay on the field (he was out five games last season with sickle cell complications). He signed a one year contract with Baltimore and will be looking to prove himself to get a better deal. However, I don’t see much upside for him in this offense. Snead has a chance to be a key slot wideout for Baltimore. He has the speed and the hands to succeed and if targeted he could be the best WR on this squad.
Tight ends: Maxx Williams, Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews, Vince Mayle
Maxx Williams and Vince Mayle don’t factor much into the fantasy conversation as they will likely just be blockers, even though Mayle is a converted wide receiver. Andrews is the guy to own for me. Much like Mayle, he is a converted wide receiver and thrived both at WR and then at TE at Oklahoma. He runs concise routes and has good hands. I could very easily see Andrews leading the team with redzone touchdowns. Hurst doesn’t possess the offensive talent that Andrews does. He showed at South Carolina that he can do something when thrown the ball, but he is a much better blocker. That could be good news though, because when you’re blocking you’re on the field, which could lead to early playing time and opportunities.
Jaleel Scott is a big-bodied wide receiver who specializes at high pointing the ball. I could easily see him beating out John Brown and being a factor during the year, even though he is not a great route runner and will need some time to develop. Jordan Lasley was one of the best wide receivers to come out this year, but he struggled to stay on the field due to off-field issues. If he can focus on football and work his way into the starting lineup, we may be talking about how Baltimore stole him in the years to come.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
RB- Alex Collins. He’s their current starter and if he continues to play as well as last year he’ll likely return; if he doesn’t that should be good things for Kenneth Dixon
WR- John Brown and Breshad Perriman. Neither will likely be back and that’s good news for the two young wide receivers ready to make a big impact for this offense.
TE- Maxx Wiliams and Nick Boyle. Both will likely be let go after this year as they have two young tight ends, one who’s a great blocker and one who is a great offensive weapon.
27. Denver Broncos
Offensive line rank per PFF- 19
Quarterback rank- 28
Offensive weapons rank- 21
The Broncos are loaded with an elite defense along with a good–but aging–offense, bolstered by the new offensive linemen last year. Arguably, their downfall was putrid QB play, so will the addition of Keenum be enough to return them to the playoffs?
Bill Musgrave is traditionally run-heavy and was promoted to offensive coordinator earlier this off-season. They have some young ascending players at key positions, though their main offensive players such as Thomas and Sanders could both be gone after this year. Futhermore, Vance Joseph’s head coaching tenure may be brief, as he looked overwhelmed most of last season.
Quarterbacks: Case Keenum, Chad Kelly, Paxton Lynch
Keenum is the likely starter for the next two years, barring a complete meltdown. Keenum brings stability to the offense and will give them the best QB they’ve had since Manning. Chad Kelly is likely going to win the backup job and could be someone to watch for the future. He is liked by John Elway and has some talent, he could be groomed to take over once Keenum leaves.
Running backs: Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson, Phillip Lindsay
Royce Freeman is the guy to own here. He was a great and versatile runner in college, and he’ll likely take the reins and become the starter at some point this season. Booker is being touted as the starter by the Broncos even though he’s struggled to produce on a consistent level every time he’s been given the role. Booker may start the season as the lead back but there is a very realistic shot he not only loses his job but is out of this backfield altogether.
Henderson was a fantasy darling last year and many pundits and fans alike pick him to lead the backfield. He’s is a good runner and I think that if he’s given the shot, he will push for carries with Freeman and eventually move into a RBBC, thereby eliminating Booker from his role entirely. Phillip Lindsay is going to make the Broncos based purely on his talent; what he lacks in size he makes up for with hard work and gritty running. He is likely too small to be a three-down back, and will probably bee a special teams player to start. he could fill a Chris Thompson-esque role for the Broncos if he impresses.
Wide receivers: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Carlos Henderson
Thomas is locked in as the team’s WR-1, and will finally get a chance to shine again with a good QB. Unless he has a pro-bowl-caliber season, however, this will likely be the 30-year-old’s last season in Denver. Sanders will be in the slot and much like Thomas is probably gone from Denver after this year. With a minimal cap hit and multiple young wide receivers behind him, Sanders will likely be a decent option this year with Keenum.
Hamilton could see work this year opposite Thomas. Hamilton was a great route runner in college and is more refined than Sutton. Though he doesn’t have his ceiling, his floor is much higher. Sutton is the future WR1 of this corps. He has more talent than Hamilton, but his skills are a bit raw as his offense at Baylor more simplistic (to that point- most Baylor wide receivers have struggled to produce in the NFL).
Henderson isn’t a lock for this team at the moment, but he does have the skill to play in the NFL. He will likely never be a full fledged starter but he will get work when someone is injured, especially if Thomas and Sanders are gone next year.
Tight end: Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli
None of Butt, Heuerman, or Fumagalli inspire much confidence for fantasy this year or beyond. Fumagalli should get the most work as he is a promising prospect who can block and play offense, but you should avoid these guys at all cost.
DaeSean Hamilton is a possible breakout this year and a future star for this team. Courtland Sutton could see some time this year but likely wont be a big player till next year or beyond. Same goes for Phillip Lindsay who’s the deep sleeper on this squad.
Impact 2019 Free Agents:
O-lineman- Billy Turner (G), Cyrus Kouandijo (RT). These are the only two major free agents for the offense. Whether they stay or go I don’t think affects this offense much going forward.
Sept. 9, 2017 – Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America
26. Arizona Cardinals
Offensive line ranking per PFF- 27
Quarterback ranking- 24
Offensive weapons rank- 13
Arizona’s 2018 outlook is much different than 2017’s. Bruce Arians retired and hired former Pathers DC Steve Wilks. David Johnson is coming back from wrist injury, and Larry Fitzgerald will likely be playing his last season with the Cardinals. How long will Sam Bradford play quarterback? Will the Cardinals be a playoff team again this year?
The Cardinals offensive line is still poor heading into this season, and even though the offense will likely run through David Johnson there is only so much he can do. Mike McCoy has been brought in as the new offensive coordinator, who has been known to run a more vertical, west-coast offense. This could mean less work for Johnson and the emergence of a deep threat.
Quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen, Mike Glennon
By all accounts, Bradford will be the starter going into the season. Bradford has actually been a decent quarterback when he is able to play, but staying on the field is his biggest issue. He’ll likely be a good play as long as he’s healthy. Josh Rosen is the future quarterback of this franchise, but much like Bradford has struggled with injury. Many believe Rosen was the most pro-ready QB in the last draft, but I don’t see him playing unless Bradford gets hurt, which is a likely possibility. Rosen has the skill set to play in a vertical offense and is known to be extremely smart. There are some that worry about his shoulder, as he’s injured it twice now and has had surgery. It’s likely nothing but still something to watch.
Running backs: David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster, T.J. Logan
Johnson is coming off a year where he was able to rest his legs and avoid the workload that’s usually put on a running back. The offense is going to run through Johnson this year, but the offensive line may limit some of his rushing yards. He is a skilled pass catcher and should receive more than enough check downs. Johnson will likely return to a top-three fantasy running back again this year.
Chase Edmonds is likely the backup and a possible insurance policy if Johnson leaves after this year. Though he played and dominated Fordham (FCS), he absolutely showed he can be a workhorse back. He has already impressed in camp-head coach Steve Wilks has him being a three down back. Edmonds is a high-value handcuff; even if you don’t own Johnson he is worth the stash.
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, Greg Little
Fitzgerald is likely playing his last season in the NFL. He will continue to dominate the slot and will put up points regardless of who is taking snaps. If you need a high-end WR2 for one last run grab Larry. Kirk is the upside guy in this offense, yet I’m worried about what he will be in 2018. He profiles to be more of a slot wide receiver and he will lose out a lot of playing time to Fitzgerald. While he could still play some on the outside, I don’t see him having a ton of success. Kirk is one of the future stars of this offense, but likely won’t be a main contributor until next season.
Williams and Nelson are both likely battling for the outside job. Nelson is a speed guy and will likely be the deep threat of the offense. Williams is intriguing for me- he was somewhat touted by previous coach Bruce Arians but never really got any playing time, and he has good size and some speed. Williams is my sleeper of this corps.
Tight ends: Ricky Seals-Jones, Jermaine Gresham
RSJ has been the sleeper everyone has been talking about at the tight end position, but a recent arrest puts his 2018 season into question. However, Jones is still the most likely to produce in this offense. I don’t see him as the long term solution at the position, but will likely be the guy for at least ’18 and ’19. Gresham has been a decent tight end for his career and suffered an Achilles injury last year. He is expected to be back by week one but that’s not a guarantee, and it will likely take him at least two to three weeks to get back into football shape. Gresham doesn’t appear to have much fantasy value this year or for the future.
All of my sleepers were mentioned above, but the future of this offense will center around Josh Rosen, Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, and Chase Edmonds. These guys are all worth a stash in dynasty leagues.
2019 Impact Free Agents:
Larry Fitzgerald and J.J. Nelson will both be free agents, Larry has already said he plans to retire and I would imagine they keep Nelson.
David Johnson is the big name here; While I can’t imagine the Cardinals let him go, we’ve seen crazier things. Johnson has struggled with injuries and they do seem to really like Edmonds. No matter where Johnson plays, however, he is a top-five talent at the position.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Offensive line ranks per PFF- 31
Quarterback rank- 3
Offensive weapons rank- 30
Seattle has worked to improve its offensive line over the past two seasons and has drafted a young running back, so it looks like they’re looking to get back to the running game. They need to do something to help out Wilson, who accounted for 98% of their touchdown production last year. Seattle hired Brian Schottenheimer as their OC, and if his career with the Jets and Rams are any indication, this offense will be league average. However, Wilson is the best QB he’s had in a long time, so we will see. Can Seattle’s young playmakers and new OC help out Russell, or are the Seahawks going to continue to take steps backward?
Quarterbacks: Russell Wilson, Austin Davis, Alex McGough
Obviously, Wilson is the one and only name to think of for Seattle QBs, as he succeeds in spite of his supporting cast. He has one of the worst receiving corps he’s had in a long time. The addition of Penny in the backfield should limit his rushing to situational scrambles and occasional designed runs. Losing out on rushing work will hurt Wilson’s value some but he is one of the best playmakers at his position; unless he gets injured Wilson will continue to be a dominant force.
Running backs: Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic
Penny was drafted 27th overall in this past draft and is likely the three-down back for this team. While Penny is a good runner and caught the ball a fair amount in college, his hands aren’t as good as many think. His biggest liability is that he struggles with pass blocking, which will be crucial if they want to keep Wilson upright. If Penny struggles throughout the year he could see his playing time reduced, and split time with Carson. Carson played fairly well for the Seahawks last year before breaking his leg. Coach Carroll likes Carson a lot and his pass blocking ability could see him on the field in crucial moments to help Wilson and his offensive line. If Carson can stay healthy, I can see him pushing Penny for carries and see them in a RBBC with Prosise or McKissic.
Either Prosise or McKissic will likely be the teams featured passing-down back, assuming one of them asserts himself. I would lean toward Prosise as he was a very talented back in college and when healthy has been electric. Health is a concern, and if he can’t stay on the field I see him being cut and McKissic getting the job.
Wide receivers: Doug Baldwin, Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett, Amara Darboh, Jaron Brown
Baldwin is the clear WR1 here and has a connection with Wilson. Regardless of how this offense shapes up the passing game will come through Baldwin. Lockett will likely become their slot WR. He has shown he can be explosive and if he can stay healthy should be the clear number two in this passing game. Lockett could see a lot of dump off passes, especially if Wilson gets rushed. Lockett has the most upside of this group outside of Baldwin.
Darboh, Brown, and Marshall will likely be competing for the outside job opposite Baldwin. None of these guys excite me and I don’t see any of them having much fantasy value. If I had to stash one it’d be Darboh.
Tight ends: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly
Dickson will be the guy to own early on and could get some serious work in the red zone, especially if Marshall doesn’t win a wide receiver spot. His upside is limited by that red zone work, however. Nick Vannett is my big sleeper for this roster. He thrived at Ohio State and is a big target with big hands and good pass blocking abilities. He is the tight end to own on this team for the future.
Nick Vannett is my deep sleeper for this team, but I also believe Lockett and Darboh could be sleepers.
2019 Impact Free Agents:
O-Line- Duane Brown (LT). Brown will be huge for this offensive line and will need to be re-signed, especially if they want this line to continue to improve.
WR- Tyler Lockett. He will be a free agent after this year. If he has a big year I think he will be re-signed. If he struggles to stay healthy or produce I think there is a real shot he’s gone after 2018.
Do you think I missed a huge sleeper, or am way off on a guy? Let me know in the comments!
Stay tuned for our next installment- 24 through 17!