WR Travis Benjamin – Travis saw his stats (34/567/4 on 65 targets) regress for the second straight season after posting the best year of his career in 2015 (68/966/5). His catch rate (52.3) was unimpressive with the Chargers, but he did add more length to his catches (16.7 yards). Over the last three seasons, Benjamin has 33 catches over 20 yards and 14 catches of 40 yards or longer. In 2017, he had three games of value (5/105, 5/64/1, and 4/96/1). Tough Fantasy option without an injury based on the top two WRs on the Chargers’ roster.
RB Frank Gore – In his 13th year in the NFL, Gore fell just short of his tenth season with over 1,000 yards rushing (961). The Colts gave him 300 touches leading to 1,106 combined yards with four TDs and 29 catches. Frank needs 76 yards to pass Curtis Martin for the fourth most all-time. Miami will get him 150+ touches in 2018 with possibly most of the goal line chances. Gore never gets hurt, so he’ll be a pest all season for Drake owners.
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TE Jimmy Graham – Graham regained his scoring ability (10 TDs) in 2017, but he had a career-low catch rate (59.4) while only gaining 9.1 yards per catch. Over his three seasons in Seattle, Jimmy caught 170 passes for 2,048 yards and 18 TDs on 265 targets. His opportunity was at least 50 percent lower than his best years in New Orleans. Graham has 64 TDs over his last 84 games, which will undoubtedly upgrade the scoring ability by the TE position in Green Bay. Last season the Packers completed 56 passes for 627 yards and two TDs on 94 targets to the TE position. Jimmy will be a top two scoring receiver for the Packers in 2018. At a minimum, Graham should catch 60+ balls for 750+ yards and eight to ten TDs with more upside if he regains some of his big-play ability and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. Last year he played through an ankle injury for most of the season.
WR Allen Hurns – Injuries crushed the Fantasy value of Hurns over the last two seasons. He’s missed 11 of the last 32 games with ankle and hamstring issues. His career started off better than expected in 2014 and 2015 when Allen caught 115 passes over 23 starts for 1,708 yards and 16 TDs on 202 targets. In 2015, he offered big play and scoring ability (64/1031/10) as the WR2 for the Jaguars. Over the first nine games last year, Hurns had 36 catches for 446 yards and two TDs on 51 targets with two playable games (6/82/1 and 5/101) in the Fantasy games. Allen can be a mismatch problem out of the slot if the Cowboys choose to use him in that role. The WR structure in Dallas will be in transition in 2018 leading to Hurns possibly being the top receiving option. Last year the WRs on the Cowboys caught 183 passes for 2,112 yards and 12 TDs on 309 targets. If healthy for games Allen projects to have a 60-catch opportunity for 800+ yards while expecting to lead the team in receiving TDs. I view him as WR4 in PPR leagues.
RB Duke Johnson – In his third year in the NFL, Johnson posted his best season (1,041 combined yards with seven TDs and 74 catches). He finished as the 12th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues. Over his career in the NFL, Duke has 188 catches for 1,741 yards and five TDs, which sets a floor of 8.17 Fantasy points without his early down action. Johnson has never missed a game in the NFL while gaining about 350 yards rushing each year. Last year the Browns’ RBs caught 109 passes for 932 yards and three TDs on 145 targets. The addition of possession WR Jarvis Landry will hurt the RB chances in 2018. I’d lower Duke’s bar to about 60 catches for 550 yards with minimal value in TDs with about 300 yards rushing. When building a Fantasy roster, a Fantasy owner should shoot for more upside at RB2. I would prefer to own Johnson as RB3 with rotational value. He projects to be a back-end RB2 in 2018.
TE Greg Olsen – Heading in 2017, Olsen had this player profile at Scout: If a Fantasy owner is looking for a player to show up every Sunday, Greg is that guy at TE. He’s never missed a game in his career while setting a high floor over his last three seasons. Olsen has three straight years with over 1,000 yards receiving while averaging just over 80 catches over this span. His targets have grown in each of his last six seasons (69, 89, 104, 111, 123, 124, and 129). The weaker play of Newton led to a career low in TDs (3) in 2016. Greg scored over 200 Fantasy points in PPR league in his last three full seasons (84/1008/6, 77/1104/7, and 80/1073/3). In 2016, his best success came over the first six games of the season (39 catches for 610 yards and two TDs on 60 targets) highlighted by Week 2 (5/122/1) and Week 5 (9/181). Olsen only scored one TD over the last 12 games of the season. Well, the safe bet at TE in 2017 ended up missing nine game with minimal success over his other seven games (17/191/1 on 38 targets) due to an early-season broken right foot. With Olsen out the Panthers’ line most of the year, the TE positioned with only 49 catches for 645 yards and two TDs on 87 targets. With more competition for targets in 2018, I’ll lower his bar to 70 catches for 850+ yards and about six TDs.
RB Lamar Miller – Over the last four seasons, Miller saw his yards per rush fall from 5.1 to 4.5 to 4.0 to 3.7. His slide in this area with Houston falls on the poor play by their offensive line. Last year Lamar only had one run over 20 yards after having 23 combined runs over that number from 2014 to 2016. He has over 30 catches in each of his last four seasons with growth his yards per catch (9.1) in 2017. Over five seasons in the NFL, Miller missed only two games. Last season he averaged 17.2 touches per game, but he failed to gain over 75 yards rushing in any game. In 2017, the Texans’ RBs ran the 402 times for 1,531 yards and six TDs while securing 67 catches for 605 yards and three TDs on 86 targets in the passing game. Houston would like to get D’Onta Foreman more involved, which will lead to a split role for Miller in 2018. I expect between 275 and 300 touches for 1,200 combined yards with about 40 catches and five to seven TDs. His lack of upside and offensive line would push me away from him unless he falls to the eighth round or later in PPR leagues.
Update: 7/27/18 > The last report has D’Onta Foreman missing the start of the season, which is a positive for Miller maintaining a high volume of touches. Lamar remains undervalued in drafts based on his expected touches. His offensive line ranks at the bottom of the league creating minimal upside in rushing TDs. Solid buy as a RB3 if his ADP slips into the sixth round or later.
TE David Njoku – Over two seasons at Miami in college, Njoku caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine TDs. His game has elite upside with a unique combination of athletic ability, speed, and strength. David’s route running needs to show growth while improving his pass blocking. He’ll offer big-play ability while understanding how to sit down in zones. Njoku may not hit the ground running, but he’s going to be a future top 10 TE while having enough talent to be one of the best players at his position in the game. In 2017, he caught 32 of 60 targets for 386 yards and four TDs while never delivering an impact game. The Browns’ TEs caught 68 of 119 passes for 817 yards and five TDs in 2017. The change in offensive structure with Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry in the mix for targets limits the TE opportunity in 2108 while giving Njoku time to develop. With a 75 percent share of TE snaps, possible 50 catches for 500+ yards and a handful of TDs.
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