Evan Silva

Goal Line Stand

print article archives RSS

Silva's July Rankings, 1-100

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Round Seven

73. Dennis Pitta -- Owen Daniels ranked 7th, fifth, 18th, and 5th among NFL tight ends in targets in his last four healthy seasons under Gary Kubiak in Houston. Now calling plays in Baltimore, the "move" tight end is a high-volume piece in Kubiak's scheme. Recovered from last August's scary hip injury, 29-year-old Pitta should be a steady if unspectacular fantasy TE1, with heightened appeal in PPR leagues. I think Pitta is better than Daniels, and Torrey Smith doesn't command the ball quite like Andre Johnson. Pitta has the look of a value pick at his mid-eighth-round ADP.

74. Robert Griffin III -- Through two NFL seasons, 24-year-old Griffin has finished as the QB5 and QB12 in points per game, a fine start even if his 2013 stats regressed coming off reconstructive knee surgery. This season, RG3 is armed with the best supporting cast of his career (Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed) in addition to Washington's hire of pass-first coach Jay Gruden. Whereas Gruden allowed inferior talent Andy Dalton to rank ninth in pass attempts per game last year, Griffin ranked 16th. Causes for pause are learning a new offense and Griffin's somewhat running-dependent fantasy stock, but ultimately he offers an enticingly high ceiling for a middle-round, lower-end QB1 pick. RG3's volume is rising and he's got better pieces around him.

75. Golden Tate -- Even if the addition of Tate proves to have more real-life than fantasy impact (see Matthew Stafford), I think he has a chance at WR2/3 stats as the second fiddle to Megatron. Rookie TEs like Eric Ebron often struggle, and the only other Lions pass catchers who command targets play running back. Moving from the Super Bowl champs to Motown, 26-year-old Tate is going from a team that last year ranked 31st in pass attempts, to a Lions club that could easily finish top five. Tate combines sure hands with elite after-catch ability, and his usage could rise by 25 targets. The Lions want Tate to be heavily involved on offense, refusing to let him return punts.

76. Terrance Williams -- I see Williams as a James Jones-ish talent; a player with enough strengths to operate effectively as a No. 3 NFL receiver, but who may struggle to ever establish himself as a quality No. 2. Why Williams offers 2014 breakout potential is primarily based on his opportunity. New playcaller Scott Linehan's track record suggests Dallas' team pass attempts will rise, while one of the league's worst defenses may force them to. Turning 25 in September, Williams finished his rookie year with a 44-736-5 receiving line on 74 targets and 68.3% of the snaps. If his snap rate increases into the 80s, Williams should flirt with or surpass 100 targets.

77. Steven Jackson -- S-Jax carries virtually every late-career breakdown red flag into 2014. He'll be 31 when the season starts. He missed four games due to injury last year, and averaged career worsts in both yards per carry (3.46) and yards per catch (5.8). Jackson's 2,552 rushing attempts are most among active players, and 365 more than runner-up Frank Gore. In fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman, the Falcons drafted a back they seem to believe is Jackson's successor. I still think S-Jax is worth a seventh-round stab as the Week 1 starting running back in a high-scoring offense. There is an outside chance Jackson could offer stable RB2 value for most of the season.

78. Tom Brady -- In the seven 2013 games Brady played with Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, he averaged 315 passing yards and threw 13 touchdown passes. In nine games without Gronk, Brady's per-game yardage average dropped to 237 with 12 scoring tosses. His fantasy points-per-week average with Gronk would've placed Brady fourth among quarterbacks. His average without Gronkowski would've come in 24th. Brady's value has become strongly tied to Gronk's availability. If Gronkowski can finally turn in a healthy season, Brady could be quite the 2014 value pick.

79. Jason Witten -- Typically a low-ceiling, high-floor middle-round pick, Witten may offer more upside this year than meets the eye. Dallas is unsettled in the pass-catching corps behind Dez Bryant, and new playcaller Scott Linehan is going to have to air it out. Plodding Brandon Pettigrew averaged 77 catches per year in Linehan's 2010-2011 offenses, while Detroit's 2013 tight ends combined for a 68-739-9 line. That's no great shakes, but indicates strong tight end involvement in Linehan's offenses considering how poor the Lions' were. Witten is beginning to fade at age 32, but he's still light years better than Detroit's tight ends. He will continue to be a high-volume target.

80. Bernard Pierce -- Pierce fell victim to a discouraging sophomore slump, but his production slip is built into his eighth-round ADP. I see him as a value pick beginning in round seven, with some potential to become a viable sixth- or even fifth-round fantasy selection based on camp reports and preseason performance. While new OC Gary Kubiak installs a run-heavy zone-blocking scheme, Ray Rice will open the year on a multi-game suspension, and fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro has encountered off-field trouble of his own. If Pierce capitalizes on his anticipated early-season opportunity, Kubiak may have no choice but to ride him as Baltimore's feature back the rest of the way.

81. Kendall Wright -- After Wright's 94-catch breakout, I dubbed him "Randall Cobb South." I stand by that evaluation; 24-year-old Wright is a playmaking slot receiver with a knack for finding soft spots in zones, and enough quickness to defeat man coverage inside. Unlike Cobb, Wright plays in a suspect offense with an inaccurate quarterback. It should also be noted that Wright's 2013 spike in volume came in large part after Jake Locker's injury, as then-OC Dowell Loggains implemented a spread offense to suit Ryan Fitzpatrick's comfort zone. 58.5% of Wright's catches, 59.5% of his yards, and 64% of his targets came in Fitzpatrick's nine starts. Wright still had an 89-999-2 16-game pace in Locker's seven starts, although he would've lost 24 targets off last year's total (139). Now under a new coaching staff where he may lose volume, volume-dependent Wright is a fairly unattractive standard-league pick. He should remain a quality WR3 in PPR.

82. Terrance West -- I'm tempted to rank West higher based on my projection that he will pass Ben Tate no later than Week 5, quite possibly en route to bellcow work in a run-based offense heavy on zone-blocking concepts. I may move him up as camp progresses. With a current ADP of the late seventh, a touch earlier in the round is a savvy place to secure this year's premier small-school rookie. The Browns traded up to draft West, who's built like a MACK truck at 5-foot-9, 225, with 4.54 speed and an explosive 10-foot broad jump. West is also functional in the passing game. On college tape, he flashed open-field jump cuts that remind of ex-Kyle Shanahan pupil Alfred Morris.

83. Ben Tate -- I feel comfortable ranking West and Tate close together because I honestly don't know which one of them will lead Cleveland in touches. West is higher for reasons stated above, but I'm not sleeping on his more expensive teammate. Tate is familiar with new OC Kyle Shanahan's offense -- having played in the same scheme under Gary Kubiak -- and will get the first crack at lead-back work. Tate's alarming injury history and lack of truly special talent suggest his leash may not be long. I do want a piece of the Browns' backfield in fantasy this year because they're going to pound the rock, likely in an efficient manner. Considering current Average Draft Positions, however, I'd rather take my chances with West in round seven than Tate in the fifth.

84. Eric Decker -- The quarterback downgrade from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith is enormous, and Decker is entering an AFC East where he'll face Darrelle Revis, Stephon Gilmore, and Brent Grimes each twice a year. But this will also be Decker's first career exposure to legit No. 1-wideout usage, and the 27-year-old has always been a touchdown scorer, posting eight TDs with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow under center in 2011, and 16 over his final 22 college games, with now-CFLer Adam Weber at the controls. If Geno builds on his impressive final month of 2013, Decker drafters could have a WR2/3 steal. His draft-day price tag is a mere eighth-round pick.

Round Eight

85. T.Y. Hilton -- Hilton is one of my favorite NFL players, but I don't believe OC Pep Hamilton sees him as an every-down wideout. Whereas Hilton played just 42 snaps per game with Reggie Wayne healthy in the first half of 2013, Hilton's per-week average jumped to 55 in the ensuing 11 weeks, including playoffs. Hilton averaged 9.8 targets per game without Wayne, as opposed to 7.9 with him. Add Dwayne Allen's healthy return and Hakeem Nicks, and Hilton will likely transition from a featured weapon into a situational deep threat/punt returner. There are too many mouths to feed in Indianapolis now for Hilton to repeat the volume he saw over last season's final 11 games.

86. Aaron Dobson -- New England's complex offense and a recurring foot injury were to blame for Dobson's largely quiet rookie season. He still intermittently flashed playmaking ability, dropping a 5-130-2 line on the Steelers in Week 9, and catching four or more passes in five of his first six starts. 23 in July, Dobson offers the highest ceiling in New England's otherwise rag-tag wideout corps, at 6-foot-3, 210 with 4.37 wheels and one year under his belt with OC Josh McDaniels. The foot injury required surgery and remains an obstacle. But I'd love to draft Dobson as my WR4.

87. DeAndre Hopkins -- My best guess on Hopkins is a 2014 step forward followed by a big 2015 leap. (This assumes Andre Johnson isn't traded, of course, and I don't think he will be.) Still only 22, Hopkins is learning a new system in a run-heavy offense under a coaching staff that did not draft him. Johnson figures to command No. 1 receiver targets for one more year. And quarterback is a major question mark in Houston this season. I think Hopkins will finish in the WR26-32 range.

88. Chris Johnson -- 2014 CJ?K truthers presumably subscribe to the theory that less work will result in more long runs, because at surface level his outlook is bleak. Since signing his megadeal after the 2010 season, Johnson's overall fantasy back finishes of 16, 12, and 9 have been buoyed to the extreme by volume, something he'll lose in New York sharing carries with Chris Ivory. Ivory is also very likely to vulture goal-line work. OC Marty Mornhinweg would probably like to utilize Johnson in the passing game, but he's always been a liability there, at one point in his Titans career even losing passing-down duties to Javon Ringer. Now in his age-29 season, Johnson is a dicey RB2/flex with diminishing upside. Can Rex Ryan inspire him to run hard consistently again?

89. Dwayne Bowe -- The reasons for pessimism on Bowe are many. He played 15-of-16 games in 2013 with checkdown specialist Alex Smith, and managed five-year lows in catches (57) and yards (673). Bowe ranked 34th among wideouts in targets (103) as Smith preferred peppering tailbacks/fullbacks (143), tight ends (74), and Dexter McCluster (83) with footballs. The reasons for optimism are 30-year-old Bowe's improved endurance after working with a nutritionist and personal trainer this offseason, in addition to his fast finish as Kansas City's defense lagged down the stretch. Bowe compiled a 39-521-4 stat line over the Chiefs' final eight games, which works out to a 78-1,042-8 extrapolation over 16. Those numbers would have made him the fantasy WR18 overall. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, however. I see Bowe as a shaky WR3.

90. Sammy Watkins -- There are a lot of things to like about Watkins as a player. There aren't many things to like about his 2014 projection. His current ADP is the middle of round seven. He's a rookie wide receiver. His quarterback, E.J. Manuel, looked like a player who isn't long for a starting job during his first year. The Bills have the run-heaviest offense in football. And they're not without mouths to feed, having added Mike Williams and Tony Moeaki to Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Scott Chandler. My plan is to let someone else deal with Watkins this year, and perhaps target him in 2015, when I think he'll probably be a much better draft value.

91. Kyle Rudolph -- New Vikings OC Norv Turner's offense is historically tight end-friendly, facilitating the best years of Jay Novacek, Randy McMichael, Jordan Cameron, and Antonio Gates' careers. Though vertical in nature, the system relies on tight ends as high-volume safety valves in the middle of the field. Under Turner last season, Cameron ranked third among NFL tight ends in targets (118). The 2014 Vikings will run more than the 2013 Browns, but Rudolph's outlook remains enticing. Still only 24 years old, Rudolph is a far more polished pass catcher than Cordarrelle Patterson, and vastly superior red-zone presence to aging Greg Jennings (5'11/197). Rudolph is a smart bet to lead Minnesota in receiving TDs, and a sleeper to lead them in catches.

92. Zach Ertz -- 23 years old and coming off a promising 36-469-4 rookie campaign, Ertz was limited to 41% of Philadelphia's 2013 offensive snaps while superior blocker Brent Celek played 77%. The pendulum will likely swing toward Ertz this year. Ertz's ascent began in the second half of last season, as he posted a 25-290-5 receiving line across the final nine games, playoffs included, as opposed to 14-201-0 over the initial seven. Ertz's overall-slow rookie year was to be expected; rookie tight ends generally struggle. Good ones also generally take year-two leaps. There are still a lot of mouths to feed in Philly, but Ertz's opportunity arrow is pointing up with DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant's 202 combined targets removed from Chip Kelly's offense.

93. Greg Olsen – Some folks are promoting Olsen as a value pick and blowup candidate because the Panthers "have no receivers," but recent performance suggests Jerricho Cotchery could actually be an upgrade on fading 35-year-old Steve Smith, while rookie Kelvin Benjamin obviously offers a higher ceiling than Brandon LaFell. Carolina's wideouts aren't worse than last year, and there are reasons to believe they might be better, particularly in the red zone with Cotchery and Benjamin both coming off double-digit TD seasons. (Smith and LaFell combined for nine scores in 31 games last year.) If I draft a middle-round tight end, it probably won't be Olsen.

94. Brandin Cooks -- The departures of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles leave a 143-target, 108-catch void in Sean Payton's offense. My guess is the Saints traded up for Cooks because they believe he can be the primary filler for those holes. I expect Kenny Stills' clear-out role to not change much, and Cooks to handle a lot of volume right away. He's a better player than Tavon Austin under a more creative offensive coach. I think 75 catches are within reach.

95. Ben Roethlisberger -- Annually undersold in drafts but typically a starting-caliber QB1, Big Ben has finished his first two seasons under OC Todd Haley 11th and 10th among quarterbacks in per-game scoring. He was last year's QB8 overall. Pittsburgh's weapons should improve with more-dynamic Markus Wheaton succeeding Emmanuel Sanders opposite 100-catch guy Antonio Brown, while a healthy Heath Miller will lift the red-zone offense. Haley's promised commitment to increased no-huddle usage is a big plus for Roethlisberger. Utilizing it more in the second half of last season, Big Ben logged a 20:7 TD-to-INT ratio across the final nine games, and was the No. 4 fantasy quarterback during that span. Roethlisberger is a quality, if lower-end fantasy starter.

96. Philip Rivers -- Rivers finished 2013 as the No. 6 fantasy quarterback and was an every-bit-deserving winner of NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Rejuvenated in first-year coach Mike McCoy's quick-hitting pass offense, Rivers played as comfortably in the pocket as he has since 2010, leading the NFL in completion rate (69.5) despite losing Danario Alexander (ACL) and Malcom Floyd (neck) to year-ending injuries. The concern is that McCoy's run-heavy late-season approach is a sign of things to come, which would limit Rivers' upside and attempts. Including the playoffs, Rivers threw the football 30-plus times in just one of San Diego's final six games. The Chargers reinforced their run-game devotion by signing Donald Brown and drafting Marion Grice.

Round Nine

97. Reggie Wayne -- Wayne tore his right ACL last October. He promises to be ready for camp, but is a 35-year-old possession receiver in an increasingly crowded pass-catching corps. How many snaps will the Colts' coaching staff allow him to handle? Dwayne Allen is healthy, T.Y. Hilton is broken out, GM Ryan Grigson took a one-year flier on Hakeem Nicks, and Donte Moncrief slipped to Indianapolis in the third round of May's draft. It's hard to imagine the Colts continuing to rely on a player with Wayne's age and recent medical flags to carry their passing offense. It could become very apparent early in the season that Wayne is better suited for a complementary role.

98. Danny Amendola -- Amendola flopped in the Wes Welker role last year, tearing adductor tendons in his groin during the preseason, and aggravating them in Week 1. He was concussed in October and wound up missing four games. The maladies only served to confirm the injury-prone narrative surrounding Amendola, and are deeply baked into his late tenth-round ADP. There are reasons to believe he could be a value pick. The cost has plummeted by about seven rounds, and his healthy, quiet offseason should be viewed as a good thing. If the Pats had their druthers, I think Amendola would see more targets and catch more passes than Julian Edelman this year.

99. Kelvin Benjamin -- As a redshirt sophomore at Florida State last season, Benjamin caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards (18.7 YPR) and 15 TDs from Heisman winner Jameis Winston. He has generated Alshon Jeffery comparisons for his high-pointing ability, but dropped too many passes in college, and recently weighed in at a tight end-ish 245 pounds. A boom-or-bust prospect with too many Big Mike Williams similarities for comfort, Benjamin's re-draft appeal is tied directly to his opportunity. He's been markered into the "X" receiver role in OC Mike Shula's offense, although no Panthers receiver hit 750 yards last year. If that holds in 2014, Benjamin will have to score an awful lot of touchdowns to warrant usefulness in fantasy leagues.

100. Heath Miller -- Miller returned from his December 2012 triple-knee ligament tear in Week 3 last year to start every game left in Pittsburgh's season. He finished with a 58-593-1 stat line. Although Miller was dragging his leg at times, he's going to be much closer to 100% now in the same offense that produced his top-four fantasy tight end ranking from the season before. With Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery gone -- replaced by underwhelming veteran Lance Moore and relative unknown Markus Wheaton -- Miller is right back in the TE1 conversation. A glance at Pittsburgh's diminutive wideout corps suggests Miller (6'5/256) could have a particularly big red-zone year. Antonio Brown is 5-foot-10 1/8. Moore is 5-foot-9 1/4. Wheaton is 5-foot-11.

As mentioned in the introduction to this column, I'll have writeups on players ranked 101-200 early next week.

Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days

Video Center

    MLB On The Bump: Friday

    MLB On The Bump: Friday

    Beer's MLB 6-Pack: Friday
    Short: MLB Fantasy Mailbag

    Short: MLB Fantasy Mailbag
    Short: Strasburg

    Short: Strasburg's slow start

    Beer's MLB 6-Pack: Wednesday
    MLB On The Bump: Wednesday

    MLB On The Bump: Wednesday

    Beer's MLB 6-Pack: Tuesday
    MLB On The Bump: Tuesday

    MLB On The Bump: Tuesday