Hello, friends! It’s your good pal, Jimmie Maverick, and I want to help you win your fantasy draft in 2015! Right now there’s not a lot of news coming out of the football world as we are patiently waiting for training camp to open. Nevertheless, each season we see teams rise to become playoff contenders and other teams fall back into obscurity. These are three teams that did rather well in 2015 but I’m really not liking their prospects for the upcoming season.
New York Jets – Okay, so the Jets didn’t make the playoffs due to the fact that Fitzpatrick completely melted down in the final game of the season when everything was on the line. However, they did achieve a 10-6 record behind outstanding play from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. I think this team overachieved in 2015 and are due to for a regression in the upcoming season. Both Fitz and Ivory were on a contract year and the offense did very well as a result. But now Ivory is gone to Jacksonville and Fitz can’t get a contract worked out with management. Whether it’s Fitz or Geno Smith as the eventual starter, I think you’re going to see a more realistic 3,000-3,500 pass yards, 25 TDs and 14+ interceptions (maybe much higher if it’s Smith) from the QB position in 2016. The final game of last season was a harbinger of the difficulty this team can face if either Fitz or Smith regress back into their interception prone ways.
Last season was also a career year for RB Chris Ivory who ended the season with over 1,000 rush yards and 7 TDs. This year Matt Forte comes in after being cast off from Chicago and I can’t help but think of this as a downgrade. Forte is now 30 and clearly in the twilight of his career. We’ve seen declining stats from Forte for the past two seasons now and his rush yards have significantly declined from 1,341 back in 2013 to just 898 in 2015. Ivory is a smash mouth goal line back, but Forte is not. Forte does have better hands than Ivory and will be more involved in the passing game, but receivers like Forte, Marshall and Decker are only as good as the QBs who are throwing them passes. Fitz was intercepted 6 times in game 16. Geno Smith was intercepted 33 times in 2014 before he was benched. It’s hard to get good productions from your receivers when the QB keeps turning the ball over!
The Jets are facing the 7th most difficult schedule in 2016. Their first 5 games are Cincinnatti, @ Buffalo, @KC, Seattle and @ Steelers. I think a 0-5 start is a distinct possibility so I would stay away from these players and this team!
Cincinnatti Bengals – Last season was a good one for the team as they went 12-4. Andy Dalton was a legit fantasy QB1 until a thumb injury derailed his season in week 14. The one/two punch of RBs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill worked well but the time share makes them tough to start for your fantasy team. AJ Green was the best receiver with 1,297 receiving yards and 10 TDs but his play was often inconsistent and he was hard to trust week to week.
My concern with Cincy starts with the fact that their renowned offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, left the team to coach the Cleveland Browns(good luck with that, Hue!). They promoted QB coach, Ken Zampese as their new OC. Then during free agency they lost several key players including receivers Marvin Jones (now at Detroit) and Mohammed Sanu, leaving AJ Green as the only veteran receiver on the team. Green put up some good stats last season, but I was expecting more given it was a contract year for him. They did draft a pair of receivers, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core, but I don’t expect to see anything fantasy relevant from these guys in 2016. Now we are hearing that TE Tyler Eifert will probably miss time at the beginning of the season as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.
This all makes me very nervous when it comes to choosing these guys for my fantasy team. I can see opposing defenses blanketing AJ Green because there are no other decent receiver options on the field besides Bernard. At least most of these players outside of Green are fairly reasonable (ADP #59 or later), so the risk is much lower as compared to the Jets, but I think there are better options elsewhere. Cincy's first 5 games include: @ NY Jets, @ Pittsburgh, Denver, Miami and @ Cowboys. There could be a couple of shootouts here but a 2-3 start would not surprise me!
Minnesota Vikings – Never before have I seen an entire offense built around one player. In this case it’s good old Adrian Peterson, the 31 year old future Hall of Famer. This offense is built entirely around giving the ball to AP, but what happens if this is the year he finally succumbs to father time? Last season was incredibly impressive with 327 carries for 1,485 yards and 10 TDs. Minnesota rode that outstanding output to an 11-5 record so please allow me to eat some crow for all the crap I said about him last season.
However, outside of this one guy, there’s no one else on this offense you’re going to want on your team. Teddy Bridgewater threw a league low 486 passes last season. Their top receiver was rookie Stefon Diggs who managed to snag 52 catches for 720 yards and 4 TDs. They did draft another receiver in Laquon Treadwell but I’m not sure he’s going to be able to do much better than Diggs did.
My question is what happens to this offense if Peterson falters? If he comes out and his yards per carry drops to something like 3.5 yards this team has no other options to fall back on. They’re not going to turn Bridgewater into Aaron Rodgers I can tell you that! Their strength of schedule is right in the middle of the pack at #17 overall with games @ Tennessee, Green Bay, @ Carolina, New York Giants and Houston to start the season. Again, a 2-3 start seems like a best case scenario here - at least they can get an easy win to start the season!
I think it’s a distinct possibility that all of these teams miss the playoffs this season and lower stats across the board for these key offensive players. You would be wise to stay away and avoid the frustration of owning players on a faltering team.
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