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It's almost time, yall. Fantasy football is about to gear up. Wait. That's not right. It's already here and if you haven't started your pre-draft work, then you are behind.
It's cool. I got you.
Up first is one of my favorite fantasy football topics: Teammate Double Ups.
What is a Teammate Double Up? It's when you draft and play a QB and a WR (or TE, RB, etc). Why would you do that? Well, there is certainly some risk involved. Obviously staking your future on teammates can backfire on you. A struggle by one is a struggle by both. But, there are undeniable upsides.
Take a look at just what one play can do for you. Let's say you had Clemson's Watson/Leggett combo, which is one of my top picks from last year. Clemson and Leggett formed perhaps the best QB/TE pair in the country. On just one play, the two hooked up for a 56 yard bomb.
Let's do some math. 56 passing yards is 2.8 points for Watson, the touchdown is 4 points for Watson. Leggett cashes in for a point for the reception, 5.6 points in receiving yards and another 6 for the TD. All together, that play is worth 19.4 points, and that's on the low end of scoring systems. In other systems, that could have been worth almost 25 points. More importantly, these two teamed up for a combined 226.4 points over the course of the season. That's solid numbers for anyone, but amazing production for a QB/TE combination.
Now, imagine the production between, say, MTSU's Stockstill and James. Try a combined 493 points. That's right. You could expect a weekly 9- 125-1 performance between the two or an astounding 38 combined points per week. Considering that it takes around 120 points (depending on your league layout) to be competitive, two players have a guaranteed third of your needed production to win week to week.
So, take a look at my picks from last year.I hit some very, very good combos. And the Stockstill/James combo is one I held back for myself.
It's 2017. Let's talk turkey.
Believe it or not, the SEC has three very legitimate combos.
Brent Stockstill/Richie James- We talked about what they did last year. It is highly unlikely they could repeat this performance of 105-1625-12. Keep in mind that the two chipped in 580 rushing yards and 4 more rushing TDs. The Blue Raiders have to break in three new offensive linemen and they do it against Vandy in week one. That isn't exactly the defense you'd want to face the first week. But, hey, it's gonna happen in Conference USA.
Drew Locke/J'Mon Moore- This is an easy one, really. Locke threw for over 250 yards in all but three contest last season including five performances of over 300 yards. In all, Locke threw for 3400 yards, though his touchdown to INT ratio wasn't great. Still, 62 passes and over 1,000 of those yards went to Moore, who put 8 of those passes into the endzone. The Tigers from Columbia have one of the easier SEC schedules and also play Missouri State, Idaho, Purdue, and UConn. Auburn and UGA are the only legitimate threats to slow down the Tigers. Most importantly, the offensive line that allowed just one sack per game is completely back.
Mason Rudolph/James Washington- This is an absolute no-brainer. 71-1380-10 on the year between the two. Soft defensive conference. The issue? These are likely early first round and early third round picks.
Jalen Hurts/Calvin Ridley- There is a lot of talk about Hurts retaining his status as the Tide's starting QB, an astounding statement to the Bama program considering this is the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. First, I am going to say that I don't believe he was THAT good as a game winning QB. But, I am willing to say that, not only will he be the Tide's starter in 2017, he will be a great fantasy QB. Calvin Ridley was a bit of a disappointment last year. I do believe in the sophomore slump, which is why I exercised SOME caution. Still, he was 72-77-7, which were solid WR2 numbers, despite having a lot of production stolen by Hurts' running and All-World OJ Howard at TE. Ridley will easily be the dominate playmaker outside of Hurts and I say that because of the crowded (and talented) backfield. Bama is stacked on the offensive line and, outside of the opener against FSU (Saban is 100% in these openers and is winning BIG, BTW), Alabama will sleep walk into November. I'm not saying these two will win you the league. I am saying these are two pieces to get you to the playoff.
Nick Fitzgerald/Donald Gray-Fitzgerald was an amazing out-of-nowhere surprise as he put up 105 rushing yards per game. When he wasn't scampering for the 3rd best QB rushing numbers, he was hitting Gray to the tune of 41-709-5. Now, I recognize those numbers aren't astounding, but bear with me. First, Fitzgerald is a run-first QB (though he will undoubtedly come along this year as a passer under Mullen). You get double the points from Fitz rushing, as it is. Mississippi State losses Fred Ross, who was Fitz's Go-To guy. Listing these guys is a projection of Fitz's rushing and Gray stepping up as a pass catcher. There are going to be games that are scary, pretty much every SEC West game and even the contest at UGA. State also losses the entire offensive line. So, let's not be too Bull-ish on these guys.
Lamar Jackson/Jaylen Smith- Like the above combo, this is less about combined production and more about piggybacking. Lamar Jackson was unstoppable...until the playoffs. That's a story for another day. Obviously Jackson was a complete threat to score points at will. Someone has to catch some of those and Smith is coming off a 27-600-6 campaign where he was the team leader (and a national leader) in yards per catch despite playing behind two NFL talents of Quick/Hikutini. Could a surprise WR step up? Sure. But this is a combo where you are going to get Jackson in the first round and you can draft Smith much, much later as a flyer that could pay big dividends. One other thing I am projecting is that the offensive line couldn't be worse and Jackson undoubtedly wants to progress as a passer for his NFL legitimacy.
Trace McSorely/Mike Gesicki/Saquon Barkley/DaeSean Hamilton- Own The Team? Maybe. It's been an interesting ride for DaeSean Hamilton. He has seen his targets drop each and every year after 82-900-2 as a freshman. His numbers were nearly cut in half in 2015 and he saw even last last season as he went 34-506-1. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. Chris Godwin exploded for the Nittany Lions with the rise of McSorely before Godwin went to Tampa Bay. Gesicki also exploded on the scene for 48-680-5 as a tight end and Barkley kicked in 28-400-4. Under it all, Hamilton's pass catching efficiency went up significantly, though he is far from an elite fantasy talent. Penn State returns four of five linemen who allowed 1.7 sacks per game. That number should be better, especially since Iowa represents the sole challenge for them until a tough four game stretch against Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. Now, I'm not telling you to draft all Penn State players, but at least consider it. Both McSorely and Barkley are obvious targets. Gesicki is a top returning tight end and Hamilton could be a great late round flyer.
Logan Woodside/Cody Thompson/Jon'Vea Johnson-104-2,000-20 . What else do you need to know? How about three of five linemen from a unit that allowed a little over one sack per game and Miami as the only Power Five team on the schedule? The only worry is that Kareem Hunt and his 1400 yards are gone and that may cause defenses to game plan around the passing game. In the end, this was the 7th ranked offense in the country. It's fair to say these guys are must-owns, especially considering their value as a package instead of individual value.
Zach's Sneaky Picks
Will Grier/Ka'Raun White- There is nothing. Nothing. I LOVE more than a Dana Holgorsen Team Mate Double-Up. While the Mountaineers are known to choke in crunch time, they are also deadly when they are favored.West Virginia didn't score a ton of points last year (50th), but they were still 17th in total offense behind Skylar Howard. Will Grier SHOULD be eligible week one and I truly believe he will be a perfect match with Holgorsen. Grier was 1200-10-3 in his short stint at Florida before being suspended for PEDs. He also took a whooping 13 sacks in those games while adding 2 rushing TDs. He was on the cusp of being very, very good. White is entering the fall as the WR1, by default, after going 48-580-5 last year as WVU's No. 3 man. If one were smart, one could get RB Justin Crawford early and sit back for these two guys.
Baker Mayfield/Mark Andrews- Mayfield isn't going passed pick 10. Get used to that idea. While the Sooners are absolutely loaded on the offensive line, there was a mass exodus of skill positions. In fact, tight end Andrews is the leading returning receiver after a 31-490-7 year. Someone will surely step up for new head coach Lincoln Riley, but can you afford to draft them? Andrews is a solid late pick as a TE1. The two of them together will have some great success on the field. You might as well cash in.
Quinton Flowers/D'Ernest Johnson- Flowers is another one that isn't sneaking anywhere, but Johnson may. Gone is Marlon Mack and Johnson is in line to take over the lead back role, though Flowers led the team in rushing yards (1,500). Flowers is another QB who may be eyeing the NFL, making Johnson the beneficiary of a lot more touches. Johnson as a RB1 or RB2 may be a stretch, but his utility as a pass catcher make him very, very valuable FLEX play at the very least. He put up solid reception totals of 28-300-5 last season which expands his career totals to 62-750-10. He is a major threat in the passing game as it is and he added 550 yards and 8 TDs on the ground as a backup runner. The Bulls have to replace two linemen but play a joke of a schedule. They are poised to repeat as one of the very best offenses in the country.
Arion Worthman/Tim McVey- This one is a BIT of a stretch, but hear me out. Not everyone can get studs at all positions. Sometimes you have to settle. Let me give you one rock-solid way to settle. Worthman played about a third of the year last season for Air Force. He passed for 546 yards and 4 TDs while tossing 2 INTs. He also added 670 yards and 6 more TDs on the ground. Again, keep in mind that was as a part time starter. McVey is an established runner who had 708 yards and 10 TDs. The amazing thing is, he averaged a whopping 7 yards per carry despite not having a long over 40 yards. That's stunning. It means this guy is as rock solid a runner as you are going to find. He did it behind Nate Romine, who led a balanced attack and three other departed runners who had more carries. Both of these guys could have stellar years and are terrific late options. If they are used strategically, they could be excellent, especially against lesser opponents.
Nick Stevens/Michael Gallup- Few QBs finished the year as solid as Stevens. Despite missing the first half of the season riding the pine after being 2nd Team All-Mountain in 2015, Stevens responded in a big way. He threw at least two touchdowns in every game to end the season including an astounding NINE in the last two games of the season. So take that Fair-to-Midland 1936-19-5 stat and flush it cause that was HALF a season. Gallup finished with 76-1200-14, an elite season. Check this, though. Until Stevens entered the lineup against Boise State in week 7, Gallup had 25 total catches and just three TDs with just one game over 100 yards. Gallup erupted down the stretch with Stevens commanding the offense. 51 catches and 11 TDs later, it is fair to say the combo became elite. The lowest output for the tandem? 4-91-1. That's 28 points....on their bad day. The Rams do have to retool the offensive line a bit and they have Alabama on September 16th. Still, Mike Bobo has this program on the rise.