Football is back! With the preseason under way, fantasy players are doing mock drafts hourly (or maybe it’s just me) to prepare for their fantasy drafts. Each year fantasy owners want to construct their team with a proper mix of good value players and upside sleepers while avoiding players with high bust potential. In part five of my eight part installment, I will look over the AFC North and provide ADP values, likely to bust candidates and potential sleepers.

Players ADP is based off of PPR scoring according to the fantasy football calculator. Remember you can practice for your fantasy drafts using the mock draft simulator. Check out the previous installment here. As always, happy hunting fantasy friends!

ADP Values

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers (2.01) – Despite averaging just 3.7 yards a carry, Christian McCaffrey finished the season as the RB10 in PPR scoring. McCaffrey ranked third among running backs with 80 catches, and tied for 13th overall in the league. Furthermore, McCaffrey ranked second with 32 targets on third down and finished fourth among running backs with 53.1 fantasy points on third down.

With the return of a healthy Greg Olsen and all the injuries on the offensive line, some have concerns with McCaffrey. However, last season McCaffrey only got 197 touches, yet he averaged 5.5 yards a touch. Recently Ron Rivera stated that it would be “ideal” if McCaffrey got between 25 and 30 touches a game. Now that is coach speak, but if McCaffrey can get 20 touches a game, that would be a great improvement from his 12.5 last season.

I’m not worried about C.J. Anderson at all. Through the first three preseason games, McCaffrey has 11 more touches than Anderson and has averaged 2.3 more yards per touch, despite getting the majority of the snaps against first team defenses. McCaffrey has had a solid preseason, including a 71-yard rushing touchdown against the Dolphins.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints (4.12) – Even with the four game suspension, Mark Ingram is still a value at his current ADP. Currently Ingram is being drafted as the RB23 at the end of the fourth round. Some fantasy players may have concerns with Ingram’s production coming off a PED suspension and that he will only play in 12 games this season.

However, for those for those individuals, Ingram actually has averaged similar FPPG over the last four seasons including two seasons where he played under 16 games.

Season

Fantasy PPG

RB Finish in PPR Scoring

2017 (16 games)

17.4

RB6

2016 (16 games)

15.1

RB8

2015 (12 games)

17

RB11

2014 (13 games)

14.8

RB15

In addition, Ingram was second in the league in rushing touchdowns and fantasy points scoring from inside the five yard line last season; only behind Todd Gurley. The suspension is an issue. Combined with the early bye week, fantasy owners may not have Ingram for half of their fantasy regular season. However, if fantasy owners can weather the storm until week seven, Ingram could be that spark plug that takes you to the fantasy playoffs.

Busts

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints (1.06) – Last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and fantasy stud, Alvin Kamara was the perfect late-round find. However, I don’t have Kamara as a first round pick this year for one reason; his high touchdown rate. Last season, Kamara finished with a 6.5% touchdown rate as he scored a touchdown once every 15.5 touches. Over the three previous seasons, no running back has registered 6% TD rate or higher. The closest one was Jamaal Charles in 2014 at 5.7%.

Over those previous three seasons, running backs who registered a 5% touchdown rate or higher had their touchdown drop an average of 2.5% the following year. If you adjust Kamara’s 2017 numbers to reflect a 4% TD rate, he would have finished as the RB6 in PPR scoring. However, he may not even put up that kind of fantasy finish.

In the off-season the Saints added three new weapons in the passing game: Cameron Meredith, Benjamin Watson, and Tre’Quan Smith. Drew Brees threw just 23 touchdowns last season, his lowest since 2003. I fully expect Brees to rebound closer to 34 touchdowns this season; his average as the Saints quarterback. Kamara is still a RB1 for me, but I expect him to finish in the RB6-9 range this season.

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons (2.02) – Julio Jones is still a WR1 and can single-handedly win fantasy owners their week with a big game. However, the downside with Jones is he struggles to consistently finish as a top-24 wide receiver on a weekly basis. Over the last four seasons, Jones has finished as a WR1 in only 44% of his games while failing to finish as a top-24 wide receiver in 39% of his games.

Last season, Jones had just three touchdowns, his lowest since 2013. While many expect him to bounce back this season, he has never been a big-time touchdown receiver. Over his seven year career, Jones has scored nine or more touchdowns just once, and never had a season over 10. In addition, Jones has averaged just 5.8 touchdowns per season over the last four seasons.

Against the Buccaneers in week 12, Jones had a league high 50.8 fantasy points, but finished as a WR1 only two other times last season. The addition of first round pick Calvin Ridley should only add more concerns with Jones’ consistency. For fantasy owners that like boom-or-bust players, Jones is for them. But he’s not for me.

Sleepers

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers (13.12) – Because the Buccaneers had a disappointing season and Jameis Winston was injured the second half of last season, many don’t know that the Buccaneers ranked fourth in the league with 4,366 passing yards. If you remove the two games Winston started but didn’t finish last season, he would have averaged 17.8 FPPG and finished as the QB8 on a points-per-game basis. While Winston does have his three-game suspension to start the season, when he returns he has plenty of upside to him, and as he is currently being drafted as the QB21.

Winston has plenty of weapons to throw to this season. Mike Evans has finished as a top-24 wide receiver in four straight seasons. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard were the only teammate duo to both finish as a top-24 tight end last season. While reportedly, Chris Godwin has taken huge strides during the off-season and the Buccaneers view him as their “1A” receiver behind Evans. Lastly, Winston finished as a top nine quarterback in 55% of the games his started and finished last season.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints (undrafted) – For some reason, old man Benjamin Watson doesn’t get any respect. I know many fantasy owners would rather reach for a tight end than stream the position but that’s not the right move to make. Watson has finished as a top-11 tight end in two of the last three seasons; the exception was in 2016 when he tore his Achilles in the preseason. Furthermore, Watson had a career year across the board with the Saints in 2015.

During his career year, Watson finished as the TE7; averaging 11.9 FPPG. Watson finished that season as a TE1 in 50% of his games, including twice as the TE1 overall. Furthermore, Watson finished as a top-24 tight end in 75% of his games. Lastly, over the last three seasons, Drew Brees has targeted his tight ends 18.4% of the time. For fantasy owners in two tight end leagues or who stream the position, Watson is a guy to keep an eye on.

About The Author Mike Fanelli

Mike is a former journalism major who spent all four years in high school working for the school newspaper. At 25 years old, he is happy to write for Breaking Football as it gives him a platform to get his fantasy football takes and sports opinions out there.