Fantasy football Week 3 recap and top waiver wire picks

Sunday was wild.

So much history made, so many upsets and quite a few break out performances highlighted Week 3.

Drew Brees broke the record for career completions on the way to 396 yards and three touchdown passes in an overtime win over the Falcons. He also rushed for a couple touchdowns with the help of a pretty sweet spin move and a game-winning QB sneak over the top.

Opposite Brees, Matt Ryan threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns. And despite leading many fantasy teams to wins, he was a loser Sunday.

On the bright side, Ryan looks to be building a nice rapport with Calvin Ridley. The rookie has been better week after week and should be a high priority waiver wire addition.

That overtime clash would have been the main story of the week if there weren’t so many big upsets.

The upsets were some serious head-scratchers, but the Vikings, who were favored by more than two touchdowns, falling to the Bills was unbelievable. The Bills took a 27-0 lead into the fourth quarter before winning 27-6. Josh Allen rushed for two scores and threw another, but I don’t think you should rush out and add him to your team.

Outside of Adam Thielen, who had 14 receptions for 105 yards, this game was somewhat of a fantasy points wasteland. Kirk Cousins turned the ball over three times while Stefon Diggs caught four passes for just 17 yards. The Vikings rushed just six times in the game. That’s astounding and was a big reason Latavius Murray didn’t cash in on a start in place of injured Dalvin Cook.

The Sunday night game also offered up a surprise. The Lions, with the help of a break out performance from rookie running back Kerryon Johnson, topped the Patriots 26-10.

The Patriots offense struggled mightily. Tom Brady threw for fewer than 150 yards and was intercepted while Rob Gronkowski had just four receptions for 51 yards.

Johnson helped salt away the win with some tough gains and became the first Lion to rush for at least 100 yards since 2013. He tops my list of waiver wire picks.

Top waiver wire picks:

Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions: Johnson ended the streak of rushers failing to gain 100 yards for the Lions in Sunday night’s win over the Patriots. It’s a good sign that his 16-carry, 101-yard effort came in a win. Hopefully that means he has earned the Lion’s share of touches. (Sorry.)

Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons: Targeted eight times through the first two games, Ridley had a coming out party on Sunday as he caught seven passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. The first-round pick is progressing toward becoming the No. 2 receiving option in Atlanta.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals: I guess people aren’t trusting him yet because he’s still widely available in a lot of leagues. He just had his second straight game of making six receptions and scoring a touchdown. Boyd did that on the way to gaining 132 yards.

Mike Williams, WR, Chargers: Williams scored twice this week on the way to gaining 81 yards. That brings his totals to 189 yards and three touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders: It’s a little weird to have him as a suggested waiver wire addition, but some owners probably had enough after two dud weeks. He caught six passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Miami Sunday and looks like he’s getting comfortable with Derek Carr.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns: Don’t get crazy, but you can pick him up to stash until he makes it clear that he can string a few good games together.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks: Teams tend to stick with what works. The Seahawks were favored at home against the Cowboys, but they were 0-2 with previous gameplans. This week they handed the ball to Carson 32 times for 102 yards and a win.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: He caught six passes for 80 yards and scored a touchdown in the Giants’ first win.

Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers: If the Bucs stay with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Godwin should be a decent play for WR2 status. He’s scored in each week so far, including a five-catch, 74-yard performance Monday night.

Vance McDonald, TE, Steelers: He’s been targeted at least five times in each of the first two games he’s played in. Jesse James was barely visible Monday night, getting targeted just once. McDonald has the skills to be a TE1, evidenced by his 75-yard score.

Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens: His fantasy scoring has been consistent, but it’s hard to imagine him scoring a touchdown in every game. That’s the only way he’s been valuable through the first three games. He has 29 touches for just 102 yards but has scored four times. Add him, but be aware.

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Don’t look now but Flacco is starting to put up decent fantasy numbers. He hasn’t thrown for fewer than 236 yards in a game this season and has six TDs versus just two picks.

Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals: He’s starting to warm up, finishing with seven catches for 90 yards in Week 3. Strike now before he has a serious break out.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins: With bye weeks coming up, you’ll want a decent fill-in and Tannehill has been better than decent. He’s thrown seven touchdowns against just two interceptions in three weeks. Not to mention he’s rushed for 74 yards in that span as well.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles: Add him if you’ve got room on your bench because he could end up paying off. Carson Wentz returned to the lineup and utilized the rookie effectively. Goedert caught seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Philly is hurting at the WR spot, so they’ll look to get both Zach Ertz and Goedert involved.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football position rankings: Tight ends

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting soon. Through Saturday I’ll share my rankings for each position. I started with quarterbacks Tuesday, followed by running backs Wednesday and wide receivers Thursday. Tight ends are next with defenses to follow. This year I’ve added tiers to better help you prepare for your draft.

RELATED: Fantasy football rankings: Top 250.

Tight ends

Tier 1

No surprise at the top of this tier, but Rob Gronkowski isn’t in a tier of his own anymore. Zach Ertz was outstanding last year, catching 74 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. That made for three straight years of at least 74 receptions and 816 yards for the sixth-year tight end. Ertz has the edge over Travis Kelce for me since the Chiefs will have a new quarterback in Pat Mahomes. Kelce will still have a big year, but I don’t think he tops 1,000 yards like he has in the last two seasons.

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE
2. Zach Ertz, PHI
3. Travis Kelce, KC

Tier 2

I still like Evan Engram even though he’s not the only reliable target in New York anymore. Last season he had to lead the way with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard all missing time. Engram led the team with 64 receptions and was second on the squad with 722 yards while scoring a team-best six times. Something you rarely see is a rookie tight end having a lot of fantasy production. Engram was able to do that and then some. Also in this group is Jimmy Graham, who could be special if he stays healthy. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t used the tight end effectively but he’s never had a tight end like Graham. I have to also mention Trey Burton, who looks to be a big part of the Bears offense. With a second-year quarterback and a shaky wide receiver corps, Burton should lead the passing attack.

4. Evan Engram, NYG
5. Jimmy Graham, GB
6. Greg Olsen, CAR
7. Trey Burton, CHI

Tier 3

Delanie Walker has been so solid for the last four years, gaining at least 800 yards while catching at least 63 passes in each of those seasons. Someone in this group who I’m high on is Ricky Seals-Jones. I’m out on a bit of an island (pun intended) on this one, but I think he has a lot of upside. He would be nearly free in drafts so you don’t have to draft him as your starter. In 2016, when Sam Bradford played 15 games for the Vikings, Kyle Rudolph caught 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. Bradford could help Seals-Jones have that kind of production.

8. Delanie Walker, TEN
9. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
10. Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI
11. Jared Cook, OAK
12. Jordan Reed, WAS

Tier 4

I nearly had Jordan Reed and George Kittle swapped, but the talent of Reed is a little too much to overcome. If he can stay healthy, and it’s always a huge if, then he’s still definitely a TE1. Kittle, depending on his chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo, could take the next step after a solid rookie season in which he caught 43 passes and gained 515 yards. David Njoku, another second-year tight end, could be productive with Tyrod Taylor tossing him the ball in Cleveland. Also in this tier is Tyler Eifert, who really should be in a higher tier based on talent. Injuries and having to play with Andy Dalton has him as a bye week sub in my opinion.

13. George Kittle, SF
14. David Njoku, CLE
15. O.J. Howard, TB
16. Jack Doyle, IND
17. Benjamin Watson, NO
18. Tyler Eifert, CIN
19. Charles Clay, BUF

Tier 5

There are a lot questions surrounding the Colts offense, mostly due to the play of Andrew Luck, a bad offensive line and the rest of the backfield. But I also think there’s a question of which Colts tight end will be more productive. Eric Ebron has the size and talent you want in a tight end but he just hasn’t delivered. Someone who could surprise in this group is Austin Hooper of the Falcons, but it depends on how successful the offense is. Hooper was the third most targeted receiver for Atlanta last season, but the team added Calvin Ridley in the draft.

20. Eric Ebron, IND
21. Austin Hooper, ATL
22. Cameron Brate, TB
23. Luke Willson, DET
24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAC

Tier 6

For the most part these guys are going to be replacements during bye weeks, but Hayden Hurst could end up having some value. He should start for the Ravens, but I can’t rank a pass catcher from Baltimore very highly.

25. Vance McDonald, PIT
26. Stephen Anderson, HOU
27. Vernon Davis, WAS
28. Hayden Hurst, BAL

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Updated 2018 fantasy football rankings: Top 250

We’re just a little more than two weeks away from the kickoff of the NFL season so it’s time to strap in for another year of fantasy football. You’ll want to make sure to check the frequently updated rankings at the bottom of the page. Here’s a look at the top 250 fantasy football players for half-point per reception leagues. Rankings by position can be found in the widget at the bottom of the page.

Top 250

1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT, RB—You could go with Todd Gurley here, but truth be told, any one of the top 5 could end up with the best fantasy year. Bell is playing with a franchise tag and will be a free agent after this season. He’ll want to put his best foot forward in order to demand a huge contract from his eventual team.
2. Todd Gurley, LAR, RB
3. David Johnson, ARI, RB
4. Antonio Brown, PIT, WR
5. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL, RB
6. Melvin Gordon, LAC, RB
7. Alvin Kamara, NO, RB
8. Leonard Fournette, JAC, RB
9. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, WR
10. Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB—Getting a minor injury in the preseason could have been the best thing that happened for him. He’s virtually guaranteed to enter the first week fully healthy after flashing a glimpse of what could be in his first preseason game.
11. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, WR
12. Julio Jones, ATL, WR
13. Christian McCaffrey, CAR, RB
14. Michael Thomas, NO, WR
15. Kareem Hunt, KC, RB
16. Dalvin Cook, MIN, RB
17. Keenan Allen, LAC, WR
18. A.J. Green, CIN, WR
19. Davante Adams, GB, WR—Jordy Nelson is no longer in Green Bay which opens things up for Adams to take the next step and likely record his first 1,000-yard season. When Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, you want to have the Packers’ No. 1 receiver on your fantasy squad.
20. Devonta Freeman, ATL, RB
21. Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE
22. Adam Thielen, MIN, WR
23. LeSean McCoy, BUF, RB
24. T.Y. Hilton, IND, WR
25. Joe Mixon, CIN, RB
26. Jerick McKinnon, SF, RB
27. Mike Evans, TB, WR
28. Jordan Howard, CHI, RB
29. Alex Collins, BAL, RB
30. Zach Ertz, PHI, TE
31. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, WR—He just keeps getting it done year after year. After a third straight season catching at least 100 passes and gaining over 1,000, he gets Sam Bradford as his quarterback. Bradford is extremely accurate on short routes, a Fitzgerald specialty.
32. Travis Kelce, KC, TE
33. Dion Lewis, TEN, RB
34. Aaron Rodgers, GB, QB
35. Stefon Diggs, MIN, WR
36. Amari Cooper, OAK, WR
37. Doug Baldwin, SEA, WR
38. Russell Wilson, SEA, QB
39. Royce Freeman, DEN, RB—I expect Freeman to be the main rusher for the the Broncos. They’ve used him on goal line situations in the preseason and he’s already scored in that role. The presence of Devontae Booker doesn’t make me shy away from the rookie.
40. Jay Ajayi, PHI, RB
41. Tyreek Hill, KC, WR
42. Cam Newton, CAR, QB
43. Demaryius Thomas, DEN, WR
44. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT, WR
45. Marvin Jones, DET, WR
46. Kenyan Drake, MIA, RB
47. Brandin Cooks, LAR, WR
48. Lamar Miller, HOU, RB
49. Marshawn Lynch, OAK, RB—I can see why he’s being drafted in the late fifth round of mocks, but he’s looked good in preseason and still put up decent numbers last year. He gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scored seven times. That’s nice from likely your third running back.
50. Jarvis Landry, CLE, WR
51. Deshaun Watson, HOU, QB
52. Golden Tate, DET, WR
53. Allen Robinson, CHI, WR
54. Drew Brees, NO, QB
55. Rex Burkhead, NE, RB
56. Derrick Henry, TEN, RB
57. Evan Engram, NYG, TE
58. Alshon Jeffery, PHI, WR
59. Chris Carson, SEA, RB—Rashaad Penny was all the rage on draft day based on who drafted him. But he hasn’t asserted himself as the No. 1 rusher and is now dealing with a broken finger. Carson can be had in the eighth round and he looks like he’ll start the season as Seattle’s starter.
60. Josh Gordon, CLE, WR
61. Tevin Coleman, ATL, RB
62. Corey Davis, TEN, WR
63. Jimmy Graham, GB, TE
64. Kirk Cousins, MIN, QB
65. Mark Ingram, NO, RB
66. Robby Anderson, NYJ, WR
67. Sony Michel, NE, RB
68. Isaiah Crowell, NYJ, RB
69. Tom Brady, NE, QB
70. Greg Olsen, CAR, TE—In mocks he’s getting drafted at the 60th overall pick. I don’t see that as a value and he’s coming off an injury. The addition of D.J. Moore could take some targets away as well. Take Trey Burton in the eighth round instead of Olsen in the fifth.
71. Carson Wentz, PHI, QB
72. Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR
73. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, WR
74. Kerryon Johnson, DET, RB
75. Robert Kelley, WAS, RB
76. Marquise Goodwin, SF, WR
77. Matthew Stafford, DET, QB
78. Rashaad Penny, SEA, RB
79. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, QB—Big Ben is my 10th-ranked quarterback and has many weapons at his disposal. He’s got the best receiver in the game in Antonio Brown, a great sophomore wideout in JuJu Smith-Schuster, a talented rookie in James Washington and arguably the best pass-catching running back in the league.
80. Chris Hogan, NE, WR
81. Trey Burton, CHI, TE
82. Andrew Luck, IND, QB
83. Tarik Cohen, CHI, RB
84. Pierre Garcon, SF, WR
85. Sammy Watkins, KC, WR
86. Carlos Hyde, CLE, RB
87. Delanie Walker, TEN, TE
88. Allen Hurns, DAL, WR
89. Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR—I think Shepard is a great value as he’s being taken in the 10th round. Odell Beckham Jr. is back so Eli Manning will have three solid targets (Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, Shepard), four if you count Barkley. Shepard will be productive and a decent flex play if he stays healthy.
90. Michael Crabtree, BAL, WR
91. Duke Johnson, CLE, RB
92. Bilal Powell, NYJ, RB
93. Robert Woods, LAR, WR
94. Randall Cobb, GB, WR
95. Ty Montgomery, GB, RB
96. Marlon Mack, IND, RB
97. Jamison Crowder, WAS, WR
98. Nelson Agholor, PHI, WR
99. Philip Rivers, LAC, QB
100. Jamaal Williams, GB, RB
101. Kenny Stills, MIA, WR—Stills is another tremendous value (ADP in the 11th round) and could definitely end up as the best WR for the Dolphins. He’s had at least 726 yards and 6 TDs in each of the last two seasons. With Jarvis Landry in Cleveland now, there are a lot of targets unaccounted for.
102. Matt Ryan, ATL, QB
103. Jared Goff, LAR, QB
104. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF, WR
105. Kyle Rudolph, MIN, TE
106. Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI, TE
107. Peyton Barber, TB, RB
108. Jared Cook, OAK, TE
109. Dak Prescott, DAL, QB
110. Ronald Jones II, TB, RB—You may have noticed that three spots above this is Jones’ teammate Peyton Barber. Barber has the inside track so far and Jones hasn’t impressed yet. Jones is getting drafted in the sixth round which is way too high for a running back struggling with pass protection.
111. Chris Thompson, WAS, RB
112. Latavius Murray, MIN, RB
113. Marcus Mariota, TEN, QB
114. Jordan Reed, WAS, TE
115. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB
116. Devin Funchess, CAR, WR
117. Will Fuller, HOU, WR
118. LeGarrette Blount, DET, RB
119. Corey Clement, PHI, RB
120. Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB—Mahomes has a huge arm which was displayed on his 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in his second preseason game. He’ll be a great streaming option if he doesn’t prove to be a weekly fantasy starter for you. Also note that he can run the ball.
121. DeVante Parker, MIA, WR
122. Marqise Lee, JAC, WR
123. Rishard Matthews, TEN, WR
124. George Kittle, SF, TE
125. David Njoku, CLE, TE
126. Eli Manning, NYG, QB
127. James White, NE, RB
128. D.J. Moore, CAR, WR
129. Jordy Nelson, OAK, WR—He’s shaved five years off his age, if you’re to believe reports out of training camp. The 33-year-old isn’t playing with Aaron Rodgers anymore and he’ll be targeted behind Amari Cooper. Martavis Bryant could even take some deep targets away from Nelson.
130. Jacksonville Jaguars, JAC, DST
131. Alex Smith, WAS, QB
132. Derek Carr, OAK, QB
133. Minnesota Vikings, MIN, DST
134. Kenny Golladay, DET, WR
135. Frank Gore, MIA, RB
136. C.J. Anderson, CAR, RB
137. DeSean Jackson, TB, WR
138. Devontae Booker, DEN, RB
139. Los Angeles Rams, LAR, DST—I may have them ranked too low, at this point (make sure to stay up to date by checking the bottom of this page). They’ve added so much defensive talent in the offseason after having a great 2017.
140. O.J. Howard, TB, TE
141. Julian Edelman, NE, WR
142. Giovani Bernard, CIN, RB
143. Spencer Ware, KC, RB
144. Benjamin Watson, NO, TE
145. Philadelphia Eagles, PHI, DST
146. Tyrell Williams, LAC, WR
147. Donte Moncrief, JAC, WR
148. Matt Breida, SF, RB
149. Paul Richardson, WAS, WR
150. Los Angeles Chargers, LAC, DST
151. John Brown, BAL, WR—Don’t be afraid to take a shot on Brown late in your draft. He can fly and has looked healthy in the preseason. Beating out Michael Crabtree as the team’s top target isn’t out of the question.
152. Case Keenum, DEN, QB
153. T.J. Yeldon, JAC, RB
154. Josh Doctson, WAS, WR
155. New Orleans Saints, NO, DST
156. Calvin Ridley, ATL, WR
157. Dede Westbrook, JAC, WR
158. Tyrod Taylor, CLE, QB
159. Nick Chubb, CLE, RB
160. Tyler Eifert, CIN, TE
161. Mike Williams, LAC, WR—I’m high on him as a second-year player to become a productive fantasy receiver. He’s looked good in preseason and his size makes you see how he could be a great red zone target in the absence of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.
162. Mohamed Sanu, ATL, WR
163. Jordan Wilkins, IND, RB
164. Chris Godwin, TB, WR
165. Denver Broncos, DEN, DST
166. Justin Tucker, BAL, K
167. Charles Clay, BUF, TE
168. Theo Riddick, DET, RB
169. Eric Ebron, IND, TE
170. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, K
171. Nyheim Hines, IND, RB—He’s too small to be a feature back, but he can catch and that can prove valuable if the Colts need to score a lot due to a poor defense. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Jordan Wilkins, but taking Hines in the 10th round isn’t a bad move.
172. Matt Bryant, ATL, K
173. Jameis Winston, TB, QB
174. Houston Texans, HOU, DST
175. Sam Bradford, ARI, QB
176. Tyler Lockett, SEA, WR
177. Greg Zuerlein, LAR, K
178. Cameron Meredith, NO, WR
179. Darren Sproles, PHI, RB
180. Andy Dalton, CIN, QB—The Bengals should lean on Joe Mixon and A.J. Green to do most of the heavy lifting for this offense. Nothing tells me Dalton will improve too much on last year’s effort, though. The line could be better, but that may not translate to fantasy production for Dalton.
181. Wil Lutz, NO, K
182. Baltimore Ravens, BAL, DST
183. Carolina Panthers, CAR, DST
184. Jack Doyle, IND, TE
185. Jake Elliott, PHI, K
186. Ted Ginn, NO, WR
187. Arizona Cardinals, ARI, DST
188. Quincy Enunwa, NYJ, WR
189. Doug Martin, OAK, RB
190. Martavis Bryant, OAK, WR—It’s amazing the kind of talent you can find in late rounds of fantasy drafts. Bryant isn’t getting selected until the 14th round of mock drafts, but I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on him a round or two earlier. He’s just that good when he’s not being a knucklehead.
191. New England Patriots, NE, DST
192. Kenneth Dixon, BAL, RB
193. Austin Hooper, ATL, TE
194. Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT, DST
195. Cameron Brate, TB, TE
196. Aaron Jones, GB, RB
197. Luke Willson, DET, TE
198. Chris Boswell, PIT, K
199. John Ross, CIN, WR
200. Lamar Jackson, BAL, QB—He’s not the starter…yet. If Joe Flacco starts feeling the pressure he could start forcing matters, which likely won’t end well. If Jackson gets on the field, his running ability gives him value. Even if he doesn’t start, John Harbaugh has hinted that he’ll be on the field.
201. Atlanta Falcons, ATL, DST
202. Chicago Bears, CHI, DST
203. Matt Prater, DET, K
204. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAC, TE
205. Chris Ivory, BUF, RB
206. Jonathan Stewart, NYG, RB
207. C.J. Prosise, SEA, RB
208. Taywan Taylor, TEN, WR
209. D’Onta Foreman, HOU, RB
210. Jermaine Kearse, NYJ, WR
211. Vance McDonald, PIT, TE
212. Blake Bortles, JAC, QB
213. Cole Beasley, DAL, WR
214. Seattle Seahawks, SEA, DST
215. Mason Crosby, GB, K
216. Geronimo Allison, GB, WR
217. Dan Bailey, DAL, K
218. Ryan Grant, IND, WR
219. Harrison Butker, KC, K
220. Kansas City Chiefs, KC, DST
221. Terrance Williams, DAL, WR
222. Danny Amendola, MIA, WR
223. Charles Sims, TB, RB
224. Adam Vinatieri, IND, K
225. Albert Wilson, MIA, WR
226. Joe Flacco, BAL, QB
227. Elijah McGuire, NYJ, RB
228. Cincinnati Bengals, CIN, DST
229. Mike Wallace, PHI, WR
230. Michael Gallup, DAL, WR
231. Dante Pettis, SF, WR
232. Stephen Anderson, HOU, TE
233. Vernon Davis, WAS, TE
234. Hayden Hurst, BAL, TE
235. New York Giants, NYG, DST
236. Ryan Tannehill, MIA, QB
237. Anthony Miller, CHI, WR
238. Christian Kirk, ARI, WR
239. Green Bay Packers, GB, DST
240. Chad Williams, ARI, WR
241. Mitch Trubisky, CHI, QB
242. Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB
243. John Kelly, LAR, RB
244. Brandon Marshall, SEA, WR
245. Terrelle Pryor, NYJ, WR
246. Keelan Cole, JAC, WR
247. Corey Grant, JAC, RB
248. Josh Rosen, ARI, QB
249. James Conner, PIT, RB
250. Alfred Morris, SF, RB

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

 

Early 2018 fantasy football rankings

It’s April so that means the NFL draft is right around the corner. We’ll adjust these rankings immediately after the draft, but here’s an early look at the 2018 fantasy football rankings.

The 2017 fantasy football awards

Week 17 ended with some fireworks as the NFL playoff picture wasn’t totally clear until late. Now that the regular season is over, we can take a look back on the fantasy football year. Here are my 2017 fantasy football awards, complete with MVP, the All-Fantasy team and much more.

The MVP: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

He was my most disappointing player of 2016, given the spot in which he was drafted. This season he turned it all around, thanks in large part to rookie head coach Sean McVay. Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards, good for second in the league, and caught 64 passes for 788 yards. He totaled 19 touchdowns on the season, including 13 on the ground to lead the NFL. With the Rams looking like the NFL’s team of the future, if not present, I expect Gurley to keep it going next year.

2017 All-Fantasy Team

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seahawks (3,983 yards passing, 34 TDs, 586 yards rushing, 3 TDs)
Running back: Todd Gurley, Rams (1,305 yards rushing, 13 TDs, 788 yards receiving, 6 TDs)
Running back: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers (1,291 yards rushing, 9 TDs, 655 yards receiving, 2 TDs)
Flex: Alvin Kamara, Saints (728 yards rushing, 8 TDs, 826 yards receiving, 5 TDs)
Wide receiver: Antonio Brown, Steelers (101 rec., 1,533 yards, 9 TDs)
Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (96 rec., 1,378 yards, 13 TDs)
Wide receiver: Keenan Allen, Chargers (102 rec., 1,393 yards, 6 TDs)
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (69 rec., 1,084 yards, 8 TDs)
Defense/Special teams: Jaguars (8 TDs, 21 INTs, 55 sacks, 17 FF, 12 DFR, 2nd in points allowed)
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (45 XP/47 XPATT, 37 FG/40 FGA, 8 FGs made beyond 40 yards, 4 FGs made beyond 50 yards, Long of 62)

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a pass for a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (21) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Best rookie: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs

Hunt gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in the first seven games of his career. When Spencer Ware went down in the preseason, Hunt landed on many radars, but I didn’t expect him to lead the league in rushing. He hit a lull before finishing the season strong. He took his only carry in Week 17 for 35 yards and a score. That sealed the rushing title for the rookie as he finished with 1,327 yards.

Best waiver pickup: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

When the season started it was tough to see how the rookie out of Tennessee was going to be a factor in the Saints’ backfield. It looked like Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson would take a large share of the touches. Once Kamara caught 10 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, the Saints jettisoned Peterson to Arizona and things opened up for the rookie.

Running back Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints evades cornerback Brent Grimes #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he rushes 7-yards for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game on December 31, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Best bang for your buck: Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

The Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill to start the season and when Jay Cutler was brought in, there wasn’t much hope for big fantasy games from Miami. Landry has proven that he can be a reliable target no matter who starts at QB. He led the league with 112 receptions as he gained 987 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He finished as a WR1 even though he was drafted as a low-end WR2.

Breakout player: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

His injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, but you can’t ignore how well he performed up until then. Wentz’s rookie season was decent, but the way he ran the offense for Philadelphia this year put him in the MVP conversation. Not one of his games was a dud. He would have been fantasy’s top quarterback had he not missed the final three games of the year. Wentz finished with 3,296 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. He also rushed for 299 yards.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, right, escapes a tackle by Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Michael Brockers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Best comeback: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

Before this season, Allen played in just nine games the previous two years combined. He played in all 16 games this year and lived up to the potential displayed in his rookie year. Allen recorded career highs in receptions and yards with 102 and 1,393. He scored six touchdowns and had an outstanding run from Week 11 through Week 14.

Never say die award: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

Fitzgerald was last season’s “Never say die” award winner, and he just keeps producing. His future is up in the air right now, as is Carson Palmer’s. Their coach Bruce Arians just announced his retirement. It would be surprising if Fitz called it quits after turning in the year he had this season. He was second in the league with 109 receptions. He gained 1,156 yards and scored six times in his 14th year, one of his best.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a catch against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 31, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Worst regression: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons

I predicted his regression before the season started. The biggest reason for it is losing Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. The production Ryan had in 2016 was unsustainable, but his numbers dropped drastically this year. After throwing 38 touchdowns in 2016, he managed just 20 this season. That’s the least amount of TD passes he’s had since his rookie year when he threw 16.

Biggest disappointment: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins

Pryor had a great breakout year last season, catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns when he moved to wide receiver. That was with the Browns, so most expected him to keep putting up big numbers as he joined Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. The situation was ripe for a new No. 1 wideout to join Washington as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon left the team. Instead, Pryor caught just 20 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown in ten games. With him being drafted as high as the second round in most fantasy leagues, he turned out to be a big bust.

All-Injury team

2017 was a tough year for a lot of top fantasy talent. You could make an all-star squad out of all the big names that fell to injury this year. So I did.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Running back: David Johnson, Cardinals
Running back: Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Flex: Ty Montgomery, Packers
Wide receiver: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
Wide receiver: Pierre Garcon, 49ers
Wide receiver: Brandon Marshall, Giants
Tight end: Jordan Reed, Redskins
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 14

The Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints to kick off Week 14 and the first week of the fantasy football playoffs. The Saints backfield is in the midst of a historic run as the tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara continue to produce big numbers. They’ve each scored more than five touchdowns and gained 95+ yards from scrimmage per game. If they finish the season that way, they’ll be the first duo to do that since Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in 1987.

It looks like they’ll both finish with an RB1 designation for the season so they’re obvious starts on Thursday. That is, of course, if Mark Ingram is healthy enough after not practicing Wednesday. Michael Thomas has been solid all year and is a nice safe play, though he may not score very high. Julio Jones, on the other side of the field, is likely to bounce back from a tough matchup with the Vikings last week. Matt Ryan should be a safe play, but picking between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a tougher call. Here’s who else you should start and sit in Week 14.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 14 rankings.

START THESE GUYS

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He finally started to look like the quarterback that started the season. Smith has a nice matchup this week, facing the Raiders who he torched last time around.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: Winston can make you pull your hair out with the types of decisions he makes. That said, he did well last week as he returned from a shoulder injury. Winston has a decent matchup with the Lions.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Unless he’s facing a top-tier pass defense, he’s a productive fantasy quarterback. He has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last six games.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Running against the 49ers has been pretty easy this season. Miller should have a nice performance.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: When the Cowboys stick to the game plan that they use when Ezekiel Elliott is playing, they have success. They did that last week, giving Morris the ball 27 times as he gained 127 yards and scored. The Giants are in the bottom third in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He rushed for over 100 yards last week and Doug Martin is still in the concussion protocol. Even if Martin plays, Barber has done well enough to warrant a flex start in a nice matchup against the Lions. Add to that, the Bucs are out of the playoff hunt and may want to see what they’ve got in Barber as a featured runner.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Don’t worry about a tough matchup with the Redskins pass defense. Allen is playing like he can when fully healthy. Don’t sit him now.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Goodwin has put together a few solid games in a row and with Jimmy Garoppolo now starting, his value gets a boost. The Texans have a tough time stopping wide receivers.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: He caught a touchdown the last time he faced the Chiefs, but he had just 24 yards receiving. I expect him to do better than that against a weak pass defense. Amari Cooper might even be out this game, as he is currently in the concussion protocol.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: The Giants are the worst team when it comes to defending tight ends. The last time Witten faced the Giants he caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Henry has a wide scoring range, in that he can get you zero points or he could get you double digits. This week he should do well against the Redskins who are in bottom five in points allowed to tight ends.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets: Seferian-Jenkins should do well against the Broncos who have given up eight touchdowns to tight ends so far this season.

Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: Winston is back, giving Brate newfound relevance.

SIT THESE GUYS

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: He’s coming off a great game against the Lions and has had success with Mike Wallace, but he faces the Steelers this week. They’re too good for Flacco to have fantasy success.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: I just haven’t seen him play that well against really good defenses. He’s struggled against the Seahawks, Jaguars and Vikings. Goff faces the Eagles next.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: If you streamed him last week against the Colts you were rewarded. Don’t try it this week against the Seahawks.

Eagles running backs: It’s a shame, since they have such a good matchup as they face the Rams. They give up 122.8 yards rushing per game, but divided evenly among three rushers does not make for a good fantasy performance.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: The Texans aren’t that good against the pass, but they try to make up for it with their run defense. They’re in the top-10 in rush defense. The 49ers will possibly let Jimmy Garoppolo loose on a weaker pass defense.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: He has a tough matchup with the Panthers, who are one of the top teams in points allowed to running backs. Plus, Latavius Murray has at least 15 rushes in seven straight weeks.

Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: Wallace has been good in spots this season, better than Jeremy Maclin. I don’t expect him to have much success against the Steelers this time around.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Kenny Stills has surpassed Parker as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Even with a decent matchup against the Patriots, there’s no reason to think he’ll break out this week.

Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: Amendola hasn’t produced when he’s had favorable matchups and Chris Hogan may return this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: He’s been a minor disappointment and he has a tough draw, taking on the Panthers this week.

Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals: Kroft has been a nice surprise, but he has a tough matchup against the Bears this week. They’ve only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Week 3 rankings

Congrats if you had Tom Brady or Michael Crabtree in your fantasy football lineup in Week 2. My condolences if you started Ezekiel Elliott or Jordy Nelson. That said, we’ll look forward to the Week 3 fantasy football rankings. Every week I’ll give you rankings for each position. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for analysis, trends and waiver wire advice throughout the season. In addition, every Thursday we’ll bring you start/sit suggestions. Rankings will be updated throughout the week so make sure to check back here.

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 1 recap and top waiver wire picks

Is it just me or was Week 1 kind of weird? You had Tom Brady posting a dud on Thursday while Alex Smith went off. You had Le’Veon Bell gaining just 47 total yards in a juicy matchup with the Browns, getting outscored by players like Tommy Bohanon of the Jags. Who? And you had Julio Jones getting outscored by players like Andre Holmes.

There are always a few surprises in the season opener, but this year seemed odder than most.

Don’t worry about Brady, Bell or Jones too much, though. Things should return back to normal in Week 2 for them.

The big news is surrounding the likely No. 1 pick in a lot of drafts, David Johnson. The initial diagnosis is that Johnson suffered a dislocated wrist, according to ESPN, and will likely need surgery. The Cardinals are going to get a second opinion, but he could be out for a lengthy period of time. Kerwynn Williams should be picked up off the waiver wire since he’ll be Johnson’s replacement in Arizona.

D.J. Hayden #31 of the Detroit Lions tackles David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 35-23.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Something that’s almost just as concerning for the Cardinals is the play of Carson Palmer. Even if Johnson is healthy, Palmer didn’t inspire confidence. When the passing threat isn’t much of a threat at all, the running game will suffer.

Speaking of suffering running games, only nine running backs rushed for more than 70 yards this week. That’s not to say there weren’t great performances overall out of the backfield.

Kareem Hunt had the best debut for a rookie running back this season, but he wasn’t alone in putting up great numbers as a rookie.

Leonard Fournette was expected to get a lot of touches and he came through with a productive performance in his debut. He rushed for 100 yards and and caught three passes for 24 yards.

Dalvin Cook took the lion’s share of touches in the Vikings backfield while rushing for 127 yards. He had 25 touches to Latavius Murray’s two.

Count among the running back duds, everyone in the Saints backfield. Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram each rushed just six times for a combined 35 yards.

One unexpected performance came out of Chicago’s diminutive Tarik Cohen. He looked great in preseason, but with Jordan Howard as the main back for the Bears, it wasn’t clear if Cohen would be used that much. Well, he was used just enough, totaling 13 touches and gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage. Cohen was very effective in the passing game, looking like Darren Sproles as he led the team with 12 targets. He even caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Cohen, Fournette, Hunt and Cook were four of the top eight fantasy scoring running backs this week. That’s a great start for my prediction that five rookies will end the season as RB1 or RB2 status. Add to that, Joe Mixon led the Bengals’ backfield in touches. He didn’t have a good game, but who did for the Bengals? That could possibly work in your favor. A piece of advice? Try to trade for him now. Buy low and benefit when his team-leading touches pay off.

Even rookie receivers performed well on Sunday. Kenny Golladay scored two touchdowns for the Lions and Cooper Kupp caught 4 passes for 76 yards and scored for the Rams.

Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions catches a fourth quarter touchdown next to Justin Bethel #28 of the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 35-23. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Speaking of the Rams, Jared Goff actually looked pretty good. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a TD. Has the Jeff Fisher curse finally been lifted? Could be, but we’ll have to see against a decent defense. If you’ve got room on your bench, go ahead and add Goff as trade bait.

This wild Week 1 really made me appreciate veteran quarterbacks who came through. Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Matt Ryan all played as well as expected. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play great, but they didn’t stink up your team like Brady, Palmer or Eli Manning.

Another veteran, Sam Bradford, is finally starting to look like what some thought he would coming out of college. He was sharp, decisive and accurate in the thrashing of a terrible Saints defense Monday night.

As far as veteran running backs go, LeSean McCoy, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley all played well.

Antonio Brown outplayed every wide receiver on Sunday, hauling in all 11 of his targets for 182 yards. Jordy Nelson was Jordy Nelson while Amari Cooper showed signs of taking that next step owners have been waiting to see. Of course, Tyreek Hill had the best game of all on Thursday.

Monday night, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs just outright abused the Saints secondary. Thielen had 9 catches for 157 yards while Diggs scored twice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jason Witten’s performance. He caught 7 passes for 59 yards and scored on his way to becoming the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receiving yards.

Top waiver wire picks:

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: 5 rushes-66 yards, 8 rec.-47 yards, TD

Sam Bradford, QB, Vikings: 27-32, 346, 3 TDs

Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: 4 rec.-69 yards, 2 TDs

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: 6 rec.-86 yards, TD

Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens: 21 rushes-71 yards

Mike Tolbert, RB, Bills: 12 rushes-42 yards, TD, 1 rec.-12 yards

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: Will start in place of Johnson.

Jesse James, TE, Steelers: 8 targets, 6 rec.-41 yards 2 TDs

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: 21 comp., 29 att., 306 yards, TD

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Rankings

It’s finally here. Week 1 of the NFL regular season starts Thursday and that means the kickoff of the 2017 fantasy football season. Every week we’ll give you our rankings for each position. Here’s the first installment. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for analysis, trends and waiver wire advice throughout the season. In addition, every Thursday we’ll bring you start/sit suggestions.

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

17 for ’17: Fantasy Football Predictions for 2017

Fantasy football success can come through many avenues. It can come through dogged research and statistical analysis. It can come through eye tests and understanding likely game scripts. Sometimes success comes from going with your gut. Ideally, your preparation is a well-rounded mix, but there’s a lot to be said for that gut feeling. With the NFL season a week away from kicking off, here are 17 gut predictions for the upcoming fantasy football season. Make sure to stay updated up until your draft with our standard and PPR rankings.

1. David Johnson will rush for 1,000 yards and gain 1,000 yards receiving. Last season he was 121 yards shy of accomplishing the feat when he got hurt in the final game of the season. This time he’ll make it happen. The receiving corps isn’t outstanding, so he’ll have ample opportunity to be used in the passing game. He caught 80 passes last year, more than Brandin Cooks, Terrelle Pryor, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Pierre Garcon.

2. Todd Gurley won’t be as disappointing as last season, but he won’t finish the season as an RB1. While it’s great that Jeff Fisher is finally gone and Sammy Watkins is now on the team, Gurley still has a bad line in front of him. In addition to that, he just doesn’t look good when he has to make one guy miss. He rushed for 3.2 yards per carry last season and had a long run of just 24 yards.

3. Martavis Bryant will finish the season as a WR2 or better. Before he was suspended last season, he was targeted 92 times in 2015. He caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant has looked solid in preseason and his talent is undeniable. He’ll definitely be able to hold off Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

4. Marshawn Lynch won’t break 850 yards rushing. His coach said he doesn’t want to give him more than 200 rushing attempts. It’ll be tough for him to be an RB1 with that volume. Also, people forget that before he was injured in 2015, he wasn’t playing very well. He had 417 yards on 111 carries for a 3.8 yard per carry average. He scored just three times.

5. Jay Cutler will make DeVante Parker a WR2 and Julius Thomas a TE1. Smoking Jay Cutler has never lacked ability. He just needs a good situation in which to thrive. If he can get the ball out quickly and rely on Jay Ajayi’s running ability, the passing game will open up and provide nice numbers Parker and Thomas wouldn’t have gotten with Ryan Tannehill.

6. LeGarrette Blount will have major regression, rushing for less than 8 touchdowns this season. He had 18 rushing touchdowns last season and won’t come close to that production this year. The running style of the Eagles isn’t conducive to Blount’s style. The Eagles’ best back last year rushed for just 661 yards. Blount was in a perfect situation last year. He won’t repeat.

7. Dak Prescott will be a top-6 fantasy quarterback. The lack of Ezekiel Elliott for (likely) six games will force the Cowboys to rely on the second-year quarterback that has looked great in preseason. Prescott was third in quarterback rating last season, but threw for just 229 yards per game. That was 26th best last season. If he can keep the efficiency up in an increased passing role, his fantasy scoring could propel him to the top tier.

8. Jamison Crowder will score more fantasy points than Terrelle Pryor. He already has chemistry with Kirk Cousins, playing in all 32 games in his first two seasons. Crowder was targeted 97 times last season with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both ahead of him last year. Pryor will be the focus of defenses, leaving Crowder with softer coverage.

9. Mark Ingram will be the best running back in New Orleans this season. He finally rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, but the Saints brought in Adrian Peterson. Ingram had a very efficient season, rushing 205 times with a 5.1 yard per carry average. He’s rushed for at least six touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. What’s even more encouraging is his reception numbers over the last two seasons. He’s caught 96 passes in the last two years. Ingram had four receiving touchdowns last year.

10. Jeremy Hill will win out in the battle of the Bengals running backs. Joe Mixon looks like he can do anything, and he probably can if his head coach lets him loose. But Marvin Lewis doesn’t like to do that. Gio Bernard will remain the third-down back and provide a change of pace. Hill is a veteran and is nursing an ankle injury now, but if he stays healthy then Lewis will trust him.

11. Nobody will have 100 receptions this season. Just three receivers had more than 100 receptions last season. Larry Fitzgerald (107), Antonio Brown (106) and Odell Beckham Jr. (101) were the only players to accomplish that feat last year. Fitzgerald is getting old, Brown will share targets with Bryant and Beckham Jr. has Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to contend with. The player that was next closest was Julian Edelman with 98 catches.

12. Matthew Stafford will respond to his mega contract with a top-8 fantasy performance this season. When the Lions didn’t draft one of the many available running backs, it became clear that they are happy with Stafford throwing the ball. Last season he threw 594 passes and the Lions rushed just 350 times, tied for the league low. With two agile, pass-catching running backs and a lot of receiving options, Stafford will put up big numbers.

13. Zach Ertz will be a top-5 tight end. Ertz was the number one receiving option in Philly last season, but when Alshon Jeffery joined the team it seemed he’d take a back seat. He may not be the top option for the Eagles anymore, but Jordan Matthews shipping off to Buffalo opens things back up. Ertz might be the No. 2 option but put up bigger raw numbers since he won’t be the focus of the defense.

14. Keenan Allen will play 16 games for the first time in his career. He’s looked great in the preseason and after playing just nine games in two years I’ve got a feeling he finally puts an entire season together. If he can pull that off, he’ll likely post career highs in catches and yards.

15. Andrew Luck won’t start the season, but he’ll end up as a QB1. He hasn’t practiced all preseason after undergoing shoulder surgery seven months ago. Chuck Pagano is being tight-lipped on the quarterback’s availability. It’s definitely a situation to be concerned about. But I just have a gut feeling that he’ll be back before too long. The good news is he’s falling in most drafts. You may be able to take him a lot later than his ADP (8th round). He’s going as low as the 11th in some drafts.

16. At least five rookie running backs will be RB1 or RB2 status. Leonard Fournette will benefit from volume while Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey can showcase versatility. D’Onta Foreman has looked great in preseason and it doesn’t take him a lot of touches to be productive. He’ll play second fiddle to Lamar Miller early, but he could break out when given the opportunity.

17. Kareem Hunt will be the top-performing rookie, outpacing the running backs mentioned in prediction No. 16. Spencer Ware had a great season last year, except he didn’t get into the end zone often. If Hunt continues to look like he does in preseason, with little competition in KC, he could end up as a high-end RB2 or even a low-end RB1. The Chiefs offensive scheme benefits the rookie greatly.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.