Draft Prep: Trey Huntsman’s Fantasy Favorites
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire
Recently, the staff at QB List came together for an article we dubbed “QB List Staff Fantasy Favorites” where we each shared our top picks for the respective categories:
- “Your Guy” – One of your must-have players for this season and one that ends up on all/near all of your teams.
- “Favorite Sleeper” – A player who could blow up, but you could also see them not. Generally said player comes at a very low cost or an extreme discount in terms of an ADP/$ amount.
- “Bounce-Back Candidate” – A player with previous NFL success or high draft pick expectations that failed to meet expectations a year ago and now is often able to be acquired at a cheaper cost than the year before.
- “Bust Pick” – A player with high expectations for performance in 2018 that may finish with poor statistical results and not return the appropriate value for their ADP/$ amount this year.
You can read more staff picks in the article linked above and there will be more staff articles explaining author picks in further depth coming soon so keep an eye out for those! Without further ado, let’s get into my selections:
Dion Lewis, (RB, Tennessee Titans) – “My Guy”
The Titans’ lack of versatility at running back was exposed against the Patriots in last year’s postseason. So, what did the Titans do to fix that issue? They signed the Patriots’ leading rusher this offseason. Dion Lewis totaled more than 1,000 yards of total offense for the first time in his career while also collecting 570 yards on special teams in 2017. While Lewis is not a guy that is going to set any all-time records, he is one of the most reliable backs in the league. Lewis has not fumbled the ball since 2016 and has put the ball on the ground only three times in his five-year career.
Lewis will share time with the more powerful Derrick Henry, but Lewis is primed to have a big year in Matt LaFleur’s first season as offensive coordinator in Nashville. Todd Gurley caught 64 passes in LaFleur’s system last season, which means Lewis will get plenty of looks in his first year under the former Rams’ OC. Lewis is an excellent pass-catcher (91.4% catch rate in 2017, first in the NFL) and is explosive when he gets past he gets into the open field. The 27-year old was second in the NFL in yards created (542) and first in yards created per carry (2.56). LaFleur’s offensive style and a top ten offensive line should benefit Lewis in Tennessee. If you are looking for a good FLEX pick, Lewis would be a quality selection in his first year with the Titans.
Tre’Quan Smith, (WR, New Orleans Saints) – “Favorite Sleeper”
This pick is based more on the Saints’ history of inserting rookie receivers into big roles early. Since Drew Brees’ first season in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have selected seven receivers in the Draft. In that time, Brees has targeted rookies such as Michael Thomas (92 catches, 1,137 yards, nine touchdowns), Kenny Stills (32 catches, 641 yards, five touchdowns), and Marques Colston (70 catches, 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns) early and often in their rookie seasons. Tre’Quan Smith, a third-round pick from UCF, is a similar target for fantasy owners.
Smith should fit in well with a receiving group that was last in the NFL in drops last season. According to Rotoworld, Smith had a 70.8% catch rate on passes 20 yards or longer. Thanks to his long arms, Smith is a reliable deep threat for Brees. If the former UCF star continues to torch defenses on deep passes he will be a nice sleeper pick in 2018.
Corey Davis, (WR, Tennessee Titans) – “Bounce-back Candidate”
2017 was mostly a disappointment for Corey Davis. The fifth-overall selection in last year’s NFL Draft caught 34 passes for 375 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie. Davis also missed six games early in the season before returning in November. But when Davis was on the field late in the season, he was making an impact. The Western Michigan-product caught two touchdowns against New England in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs last year. Davis’ breakout performance against the Patriots gave Titans’ fans and fantasy owners something to drool over leading into 2018.
One of the biggest reasons that fantasy owners should be excited about Davis is the buzz coming from his own team. Marcus Mariota said that the two have been working on their timing leading into 2018. The Titans will need Mariota and Davis to have their timing down in their new offense. Current Titans’ offensive coordinator and former Rams’ OC Matt LaFleur’s offense focuses on getting the ball in the hands of the team’s explosive players and letting them make plays. Both LaFleur and Rams’ head coach Sean McVay like to surround their gameplan around the players, not the actual plays. So Lafleur will design plays that help to get Davis the ball this season. Davis will be able to bounce back this season after an injury-plagued rookie year.
Joe Mixon, (RB, Cincinnati Bengals) – “Bust”
Fantasy owners should pump their brakes before selecting Joe Mixon atop their fantasy drafts this season. The second-year back out of Oklahoma ran for 626 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2017. But let’s look deeper at his rookie year. Mixon crossed the 100-yard threshold once last season, and it was against Cleveland. He was 33rd among eligible running backs last season in evaded tackles and 47th in juke rate. He is not elusive, and he doesn’t have breakaway speed. That won’t pair well with a Bengals’ offensive line that is ranked near the bottom of QB List’s rankings.
Mixon has not proven to fantasy owners that he can stay on the field. In his rookie season, Mixon missed two games last season with a concussion and left another game with an ankle injury. Mixon has already had missed practice this preseason with an unknown issue that occurred on August 15th.