Fantasy Football Questions That Will Make You Queasy

By Michael Dubner
Michael Dubner While many members of the fantasy football community are unquestionably expecting certain players to have large roles in their respective offenses, I have some concerns as to whether these assumptions are, in fact, accurate. Below are four questions I will be pondering this offseason.
*All ADP is based on MFL10 PPR ADP

1. Who is the best fantasy football Wide Receiver option in Jacksonville for the 2017 season?

The fantasy football community clearly thinks Allen Robinson will be the wide receiver to own in Jacksonville. He is currently being drafted as the WR13 at 3.01, while Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are not being drafted until WR67 (13.08) and WR69 (14.08), respectively.

I understand the argument for Robinson. He was the WR6 in PPR leagues in 2015 and eclipsed 15 fantasy points in 62.5% of his games. However, in 2016, Robinson was a bust at his WR6 ADP, finishing as PPR WR29 and scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points in 62.5% of his games. Robinson was inefficient with a 48% catch rate that turned into only 883 recYDs, despite seeing 151 targets (8th in the NFL).

However, after the Jaguars' Week 5 bye, Lee actually outscored Robinson from weeks 6-16. Additionally, the Jaguars have improved their defense, which will help them stay in games more often, potentially bad news for Robinson who has scored 18 of his 24 career TDs while trailing. The Jaguars also selected Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft, a move that shows their intent to have a power running game.

While I agree that Robinson is the receiver to own in Jacksonville, it's within the range of possibilities that Lee or Hurns out produces him in 2017, or that Blake Bortles simply cannot sustain a reliable receiver option. The fantasy football community is drafting Robinson based on his 2015 production and trying to erase his 2016 production from memory.

2. Who is the best fantasy football WR in Carolina for the 2017 season?

Between Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, and rookie Curtis Samuel, who will be the best fantasy football WR to own in Carolina in 2017? Benjamin is currently being drafted as the WR32 at pick 6.06, compared to WR60 for Samuel (12.10) and WR80 for Funchess (17.06).

Although Benjamin was the overall WR1 through the first two games in 2016 and has double-digit touchdown potential, he was the WR53 from weeks 3-16 and is coming into training camp overweight once again. There is a non-zero chance that Samuel, a versatile rookie the Panthers intend to use to create mismatches, and/or Funchess, the owner of nine career TDs on 54 receptions, can out-produce Benjamin, especially if one is able to take over the Ted Ginn role. Or perhaps the correct answer is none of the above, and only Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey will be good 2017 fantasy football values.

3. Is Ryan Tannehill about to have a career year?

Here is some of the hype coming out of Miami this year: Jay Ajayi is feature back; Jarvis Landry will have around 100 receptions again; the team is designing multiple plays for double-digit TD threat Julius Thomas; and one of the biggest debates of the offseason, DeVante Parker is developing into a dominant threat.

That doesn't even include Kenny Stills, who just re-signed with a 4-year, $32 million contract after seeing 81 targets and scoring 9 touchdowns in 2016. So, according to my calculations, either Ryan Tannehill is a QB1, or something has to give.

In reality, the conservative projection is the most probably: Tannehill remains a low-end QB2, Landry has closer to 85 receptions, Thomas scores 4-6 touchdowns, Parker has a promising year with a few big games but doesn't fully breakout, Stills contributes but as a third-option, and Ajayi becomes the consistent focal point of the offense.

4. Can Alex Smith support two fantasy-relevant pass-catching options?

While no one is excited about Alex Smith as a fantasy football QB option, there is a lot of buzz around Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Even though Smith is not likely to contribute to fantasy football lineups in 2017, his ability to distribute the football to Kelce and Hill is relevant. So we must ask ourselves, is Alex Smith capable of supporting two fantasy-relevant pass-catching options?

The short answer to this question is yes. Hill was the PPR WR7 from week 7 on last year, and Kelce was the overall TE1. Kelce seems to be locked in as a strong TE1 again, but Hill has a wider range of outcomes. The longer answer to this question must explore how Hill accumulated his fantasy football points. Many argue that his three return touchdowns and per-touch efficiency will regress. These same people will also point out that Hill was held catch-less in weeks 14 and 15, and that it's foolish to rely on a player whose statistical output is inflated by fluke-ish big plays. However, the pro-Hill side will argue that he has already sustained WR1 production for a significant stretch of a season, has the ability to outrun anyone on the field at any time, and a projected increase in volume will may make up for reduced efficiency.

The release of Jeremy Maclin shows the Chiefs are content with Hill and Kelce doing the heavy-lifting in the receiving game. There is no doubt that Hill has week-winning upside, but the biggest question is: what is Hill's floor? Will Hill be a reliable fantasy football option on a weekly basis, or will he simply be a big play threat who is frustrating to own when he doesn't find the end-zone?