Derek Carr, OAK – Last year is certainly appealing when you look at Carr’s overall numbers. In fact, I was impressed with Carr’s development, as I didn’t expect a leap in his progression until this season. However, expecting Carr to take another step forward looks like a mistake, especially when you consider his second half numbers.
Carr finished as QB14 with 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. Fairly impressive for a second-year quarterback with a rookie receiver as his No. 1 option and a castoff as his No. 2. That’s why many believe Carr will be better in 2016 with the additional improvement from Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Following that logic though, you would expect Carr’s second half numbers to be better than the first, and it was the opposite.
Through the first eight games, Carr had the ninth most Fantasy points (155.0) with 2,094 yards (four game of 300-plus), 19 touchdowns and four interceptions, despite only going 7-for-12 with 61 yards and no touchdowns in the first game. Over the second half, Carr had just 127.3 Fantasy points, 1,893 yards (two game of 300-plus), 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions (QB17). If chemistry and receiver improvement is supposed to be a factor for a 2016 increase in numbers, shouldn’t the second-half numbers look better… or at least be comparable?
There is some good news with Carr, as he performed nearly as well with the lead than playing from behind. That lessens similar concerns to Blake Bortles and his volume of play in the fourth quarter and trailing… a tad. However, as with the Jaguars, the Raiders should be a better team defensively, which does mean less passing if the Raiders have the lead more often. So while Carr was nearly as efficient, less opportunity means lower numbers. That’s not a given, but it’s a factor to consider when you already have a quarterback that was trending in the wrong direction during the second half. Carr might be just as good as last year or even improve, but the numbers cast a cloud of doubt on that happening, and it’s more than enough for you not to take him as a fringe QB1.
Teddy Bridgewater, MIN – Fourteen touchdowns. Just 14! That’s all…
Jay Cutler, CHI – Well, scratch that with Bridgewater. Cutler is a close second along with Alex Smith. The problem is that Cutler is too inconsistent, and that includes his drive. I am not one of those that question if he wants to win, I just watch Cutler and see that when the team is losing or things aren’t going right, he doesn’t seem to care if it gets worse. If Cutler has a bad pick, you can often expect at least one more, and once he has two, watch out as he might just start heaving the ball downfield nonstop. Cutler just doesn’t have enough 300-yard or three-TD games to offset the risk that comes with the stinkers and high turnover affairs. Pass on Cutler.
Doug Martin, TB – Martin impressed and excited owners in his rookie season… for about four games. The words of warning were plentiful heading into 2013 that Martin was a four-game wonder, yet people still drafted him in the first round. That season was a bust, albeit to injury. Although, even before the end of Martin’s season, he had just one touchdown and topped 67 rushing yards twice – one with 88 and another of 144. That 144 yards against the Saints was his best game by far, as the other performances proved the concerns were warranted. In 2014, Martin disappointed again with only two touchdowns and topped 58 rushing yards only twice on his way to 67.8 Fantasy points in 11 games… or just 11.6 more than he had in six games from 2013. Well, everyone has forgotten about that version of Doug Martin after 1,673 total yards and seven touchdowns last year. Should they though?
Martin had six big games last year – three of those being exceptionally big with 20.3, 23.5 and 33.8 points. Outside of those, Martin averaged just 62.6 rushing yards and 7.6 Fantasy points. Those numbers are a bit too similar to his rookie season to ignore. Additionally, a terrific backup in Charles Sims averaged 6.7 carries, 33.1 yards rushing, 3.2 catches and 35.1 yards receiving per game, or 8.1 FPPG standard. Sims more than doubled Martin’s receiving yards (561-271) despite only catching 18 more passes (51-33). Sims is an electric part of this offense and should see more work in 2016. Even if Sims simply repeats last year, buying into Martin means buying a running back inside the Top 10 that failed to score like a RB1 in 10 of his games.
Matt Jones, WSH – When given the opportunity to be the Redskins lead running back from Weeks 13-15, Jones averaged just 3.0 yards per carry. On top of that, Jones has one of the highest fumble rates for running backs and is middle of the road in yards after contact. I fully admit that opportunity is a huge factor in Fantasy Football success. However, the opportunity isn’t guaranteed for Jones. First, the Redskins might not give him many carries if he can’t improve (heck, Kirk Cousins led the team in rushing touchdowns last year), and second, Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley has enough talent to siphon touches. Jones is going as a RB2 in drafts, and that is way too high for someone who might not have the lead role by midseason.
Thomas Rawls, SEA – All the offseason reports on Rawls sound great… Oh, wait… what’s that now? We haven’t had a lick of good news about Rawls’ recovery. Well, isn’t that special? Not only have we not seen Rawls on the field or heard his progress has been going well… or anything really… but Rawls might not see the field until Week 1. You read that correctly. The Seahawks might hold out Rawls until the regular season. You want to rely on a high-end RB2 that you won’t get to see once before the season? Not me. I’m out!
It’s not just the fact that Rawls is a question mark, but the Seahawks have options. They drafted C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins, plus Christine Michael is still on the team for every Fantasy fan of his hanging onto the dream that Michael will break out. Prosise is a David Johnson clone, although about 90 percent of him in quality, and Collins is a strong inside runner. They could easily form a quality backfield if Rawls never saw the field again. Even if Rawls is ready for Week 1, Prosise has the ability to command 8-10 touches per game. I’d happily take Rawls as my RB3, but he’s not lasting that long. Heck, he’s not even sniffing that value, as his ADP is still RB13 ahead of names such as Matt Forte, C.J. Anderson, Carlos Hyde, Latavius Murray, DeMarco Murray, etc. Stop the madness!
Justin Forsett, BAL – No one enjoys banking on a running back over the age of 30. Fewer like trusting one that has a significant history of injuries. So why are people still drafting Forsett near the Top 30 for running backs when he has both concerns? Forsett has missed considerable time in three of the last four seasons and will be 31 years old in October. Forsett also has just one season with over 1,000 total yards. Now, I know he was never used as a lead option until 2014 in Baltimore, but on the same token, we’re not talking about a running back with these concerns and a pedigree like Arian Foster.
If Forsett’s age and injuries were the only issues, I might buy in, but this isn’t similar to Carlos Hyde with no competition behind him. Forsett isn’t even the best talent in the Ravens backfield, and he might not be back wiht the team… but even if he is, the rest holds true (edit: Forsett was released at the cut deadline). That honor goes to rookie Kenneth Dixon. Coming from a smaller school with an extremely weak offensive line, Dixon still put up big numbers and averaged 3.6 yards after contact. That’s impressive. I’m waiting on this backfield and drafting Dixon everywhere, even if I have to wait a few weeks for him to take over as the starter, especially now that he’s starting the year injured.
Derrick Henry, TEN – Bonus mention just because of how ridiculous it is.
Come on, really guys? Inside the Top 40 running backs and Top 100 overall for ADP? You realize DeMarco Murray is a great fit for the Titans offense, and that Henry is nothing more than a touchdown prayer? Henry isn’t even going to near the volume Jeremy Hill will, and we already covered that issues with Hill. I’m not even going to go much deeper here; there’s no need! Don’t waste a pick on Henry inside the Top 100. There is a litany of players more worthy of a selection. If you get into Rounds 12-plus, maybe you will get my blessing, but that’s about it.