In my efforts to leave no fantasy stone unturned, it’s about that time to unpack each division’s schedule, with the hopes of identifying some fantasy gold. This is not a new strategy, but opinions can change drastically from forum to forum, so pick your poison carefully, but also know that direct correlations can be made between game-to-game matchups and fantasy performances. Let’s go mining.
In this offense it’s all about Matt Stafford, and let me say, this season you’re going to crush value if you can get him at the right price. To give you some context, he had more passing yards and fewer TDs than Andrew Luck last season, but is going five rounds later, roughly 66 draft spots. Luck is the better QB, in the better situation, but Stafford is mature and stays in the pocket. He gets Green Bay, Chicago twice each, plus the Browns, Saints, Bengals and Falcons. Stafford’s schedule is rough out of the gates, so he could be a buy low candidate – but the fantasy playoff schedule is like a Swedish massage with Tampa Bay, Chicago and Cincinnati on the schedule… yes please!!
So here’s what you’re going to do if you have one of the first 6 picks in a standard scoring 10-12 player league. You’re going to draft a running back. David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot or even McCoy, though he scares me. You’re going to fade Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones. What the %**k are you talking about you ask?? Jordy Nelson is going to be an unstoppable rebel force this season, and here’s why. First off last year Nelson, finished with the 2nd most fantasy points amongst WR, and was also 2nd in FPPG at 13, only trailing Antonio Brown who had 13.4. Are you really going to pass up a feature back for Antonio Brown, when you can get similar production in the 2nd round?? Secondly Nelson will be catching passes from the highest scoring fantasy QB in 2017, so don’t pass up the chance to put one on the chin of your competitors on draft day. Thirdly, that schedule is nice, especially inside the division. I honestly think that a Rodgers/Nelson stack will lead you to the grail, and the only thing in your way is a Minnesota Vikings home matchup in week 16. Otherwise aside from a Week 1 tilt at home to Seattle the Packers get Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, New Orleans, and Cleveland which are all favorable matchups… I see a lot of shootouts, and a lot of blowouts… I don’t even need to bring up their cake divisional matchups. Happy birthday to you!
THE ONLY COOK IN THE KITCHEN
The Vikings roster is meh heading into this season, but if you can manage to peg whom will achieve fantasy superstardom, you should be able to turn out some exceptional value. I love Dalvin Cook, but hate recommending rookie RBs. I’m already on record as stating that Christian McCaffrey would be the top rookie RB this season, but I won’t be surprised if Cook is the guy. He should have no problem winning the starting gig and there’s no AP to get in the way. I like Stephan Diggs, but I love Adam Thielen especially with a schedule that has no dominant secondary units. The Vikings do go to Pittsburgh, host Baltimore and travel to Carolina, but if that’s as scary as it gets the Vikings will be looking 9-7 square in the face. Mark it down.
Nothing on the Bears schedule jumps out at you as being overly difficult so the issue remains the Bears actual roster, which isn’t that exciting. Jordan Howard is about to be on a list that features RBs that had one great season early in their career but could never pull it together after that. Howard sadly will suffer the same decline as Joseph Randle, Alfred Morris, and Thomas Rawls did. Once teams realize that Howard is all the Bears offense has, that box is going to get crowded and you’re telling me you are going to rely on Mitchell Trubisky to bail this team out… Good news is the schedule, which includes week 13-16 matchups against San Francisco, Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland is doable, but the bad news is this team is young and inexperienced on both sides of the ball. Unless Trubisky and like 50 players blow it up, the Bears will be hard pressed get to a .500 record, but should eclipse the 2016 win total.