The Deep Route Fantasy Notebook features recaps and thoughts about the recent action in the NFL and its implications in fantasy football, along with weekly awards, draft spotlights, and other random tidbits.
Real professional football has finally arrived, but all the excitement built up over the 215 days since arguably the best game ever amounted to a relatively lackluster weekend. The biggest story however has the potential to not only affect an entire fantasy league, but can change the course of the NFL season. In the first installment of The Deep Route Fantasy Notebook, the waiver wire is scoured for players who we might be overreacting about, I give some tough love to my favorite player, and as always, totally unnecessary yet completely justified awards are handed out.
THINGS I KNOW
I know Kenny Golladay is legit. Any true draftnik would agree with me. Throughout the offseason, reports of Golladay’s superior skills were coming out of Detroit as rapidly as Indianapolis TVs were being turned off during the Colts game on Sunday. Golladay didn’t get much pre-draft hype, but clearly the Lions liked him enough to take him in the third round. Add me to the Golladay hype train. He is a long receiver with great ball tracking skills and reliable hands; he dropped only five balls in two seasons as a starter at Northern Illinois. Golladay reminds me of Michael Thomas’ situation last year as a long receiver in a pass-happy offense with no true number one option. Mark my words, Kenny G will be a stud.
I know Tarik Cohen will not replace Jordan Howard, but he is still a solid pick up. There was a lot of hype this offseason that the Bears were enamored with the small speedster out of North Carolina A&T; no wonder they spent a fifth round pick on the “Human Joystick”. This man is literally the ultimate Madden player, and can be a viable fantasy option. Of course, his ceiling is limited due to his size, but his unmatched speed and crazy array of moves make Cohen a PPR machine. Unfortunately, that is all he will probably ever be.
Again, he is only 5’6” and weighs a measly 179 pounds. There is no chance he can be a bellcow running back, and the Bears know this. Jordan Howard is a much better, more physical running back than Cohen and was on the field almost 20% more snaps than his rookie teammate. However, Cohen had five rushes for a solid 66 yards, yet each run was an outside run. It would be foolish to bet that Cohen can rely on
outside runs for the rest of his career, and the chances are pretty low that his small body will survive the constant battering of inside runs.
Did you see that Keanu Neal hit on Cohen? Listen, if I can’t play in the NFL I sure hope a different Cohen can, but for now Tarik Cohen’s role is similar to that of Danny Woodhead or Darren Sproles. He is just a really
good PPR option, which isn’t a bad thing to have on your team. You can breathe a sigh of relief now, Jordan Howard owners.
I know my season predictions will be completely wrong. As per the early routine, experts and novices alike attempt to predict the future by naming who will win the NFL’s most prestigious awards. Also per routine, my predictions are never right, whether its my award picks or just bold predictions. Hopefully this year I hit on some of them, which I made unofficially on my podcast The Splash Zone. Which reminds me…
I know you should listen to The Splash Zone Podcast. I knew I had to get some advertising in here, but trust me this is a one time thing. I do the podcast with Dylan Ferrante and Jordan Alberti, the former who first introduced me to Armchair, and we have a lot of fun. It started out as solely a Miami Dolphins show, but I would say it is about 55-60% Dolphins and the rest is general NFL banter, with a few humorous jabs at each other. We already had listeners from the Czech Republic, so needless to say it has gotten pretty big. Check it out here.
THINGS I DON’T KNOW
I don’t know who will replace David Johnson. The Cardinals and basically every ESPN analyst is promoting Kerwynn Wiliams, but I’m not buying it. First off, Williams is just not very good. Also, the Cardinals will probably end up being in a committee with Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson. Second, and I can’t stress this enough, David Johnson is irreplaceable. Only Le’Veon Bell can run so swiftly yet so powerfully and still be a constant receiving threat. Anyone that thinks any of those Arizona running backs can match Johnson’s historic 2,118 all-purpose yards from a year ago is sorely mistaken. If I’m a DJ owner, I’m picking up Tarik Cohen or Marlon Mack and hoping that they can provide even half the amount of points Johnson would have gotten.
I don’t know why Marlon Mack was not drafted in 96% of leagues, per Fantasy Pros. The dude is a tank. His combo of speed, quick change of direction skills and big-play potential make him one of the best athletes among the rookie running backs. Of course, Mack still has some work to do. For instance, he tended to bounce outside too often at USF, which either resulted in those big plays he lived off of or a loss of yards. What really makes Mack so enticing is his situation.
He is sitting behind the legendary Frank Gore, who is 34 years old, and frankly on a decline. Most importantly, the Colts realize all of this as well, which is why Mack played just one less snap than Gore did in Sunday’s 49-6 massacre by the Rams. Yes, the Colts were playing from behind, but Mack still got the ball enough before it became clear the Rams would win by over 40 points. It is only a matter of time before Mack takes over as the starter, and when he does those who drafted him late, like me, should reap the benefits.
I don’t know how successful this notebook will be. It will not be nearly as successful as the ones by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King or Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, both of which I love rand highly recommend. They wrap up all of their thoughts into one long piece with all these facts and opinions and other fun stuff. I like it, but mostly because it has no real guidelines. It allows them to be creative, something very appealing to me. Basically I figured if experienced professionals like Peter King and Matt Miller can do it, why can’t a high school senior?
Every week I’ll talk a little about a college football player who I think will, or will not, make a great NFL player. This week, I’ll be highlighting Saquon Barkley.
I have never seen a running back as good as Saquon Barkley. Albeit, I have only
extensively watched college football for eight to nine years, but Barkley looks beyond spectacular. Not only do I think Barkley is the best running back, maybe even the best player in college football, but I think he is one of the top-five running backs in the world.
Barkley has a rare elusiveness combined with a powerful running style that allows him to go largely unmoved on most of his touchdown runs. He is also a solid contributor as a receiver, racking up 563 yards and five touchdowns though the air. Trust me, watch a couple minutes of Barkley in a game and you will be taken aback at how easily he dominates opposing defenses. Barkley can be an elite running back in the NFL. Early Projection: Top 5 pick
The I Got Your Back Award: Kareem Hunt
I appreciate you, Kareem Hunt. Hunt has been a favorite of mine since the Chiefs took him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. I talked about why I am such a big Hunt fan in my last article, and man his week one performance made me look like a genius. Thanks for making me look good Kareem, keep it up.
The I Still Love You, Bro Award: Martavis Bryant
Two receptions for 14 yards. Really, Martavis? Against the Browns? Really? In case you still haven’t read my last article, I am a huge Martavis Bryant fan. Obviously, I started him in both of my leagues knowing that while he is a boom or bust option, the boom seemed more likely against a terrible Cleveland defense. While I’m disappointed by The Alien’s stats, I expect him to bounce back sooner rather than later. They play the Vikings in Pittsburgh this Sunday, and Ben Roethlisberger breathes a sigh of relief louder than anyone.
The Heart-Stopper Award: Wil Lutz
Going into the Saints-Vikings game, I was up by one point in my fantasy matchup. I had the Vikings’ rookie running back Dalvin Cook left, my opponent had the Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz. Easy win, right? With 1:42 left in the game, I was up by .4 points. The Vikings, with a ten-point lead, kept running the ball to Cook to try and waste time. I was legitimately worried that the Saints would get the ball back, score, and Lutz would put a nail in my coffin by kicking an extra point.
After all, he was perfect on the night. Third and seven, Cook runs an outside sweep. My heart drops as I see Saints linebacker Craig Robertson, unblocked, make a dash for the rookie. It would have certainly been a loss of yards had Joe Berger not pulled right and stuffed Robertson, allowing for Cook to break outside and ultimately break Adrian Peterson’s franchise rookie rushing record in a season opener. It is close calls like these why I love fantasy football; any play no matter how small can have massive implications.
The “Hands” Award: Cole Beasley
This is a very special award that hopefully can be given out weekly. As a former flag football sensation who caught 21 touchdowns in 11 games, and yes I am being cocky, but the stats did back it up, I know a thing or two about great catches. Cole Beasley, that was a heck of catch. It required a combination of awareness and concentration that most players might have given up on once the ball bounced off their bodies. If you missed this catch of the year candidate, check it out here.