It’s Super Bowl weekend! This is a bittersweet time when the entire season culminates and fans get to watch the two best teams of their respective conference duke it out for the Lombardi Trophy. At the same time, it is the last time we get to see live football until the preseason begins in August. Luckily, Last Word on Sports is happy to bring football fanatics news year-round to tide them over until then. Here is our second installment of our Fantasy Football Watch List.
NFL Fantasy Football Watch List in Review – Week Two
In week two we highlighted Nelson Agholor of the Philadelphia Eagles. Up to this season, Agholor had been a bust, barely topping 600 total yards in his first two seasons in the NFL. This year he finally broke out, gaining 768 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. In fantasy circles, only prophets would have drafted him, but those who picked him up off waivers were nicely rewarded. Agholor ended up finishing as the WR22 overall in standard scoring, and WR23 in PPR leagues.
The Eagles were this year’s breakout team behind second-year head coach Doug Pederson and second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. Before Wentz went down with an ACL injury, he was having an MVP caliber season. Even after missing the final three games of the season, Wentz finished second in the NFL with 33 touchdown passes. The entire offense ended up finishing third in points scored, seventh in yards, and third in rushing yards. Needless to say, Agholor benefitted from the entire offense clicking.
Agholor is in a good spot to duplicate his production from this year since basically the entire offense should remain the same. Wentz has plenty of time to recover, and the Eagles extended their true number one wideout, Alshon Jeffery. Still, the magical 2017 season of the Eagles draws way too many parallels to the Oakland Raiders 2016 season.
Jack Del Rio was also in his second season (although Derek Carr was in his third), and the Raiders offense looked unstoppable, garnering top 10 rankings in most categories as well. Add in the eerie coincidence of their quarterbacks being potential league MVPs and the stories are basically the same.
Next Year’s Outlook
Agholor had a great fantasy season and is likely to be a mid to late round draft pick next season. However, his fantasy numbers and a top 30 finish will be tough for him to duplicate in 2018. Agholor didn’t even top 800 yards receiving, and his numbers were boosted by his eight touchdowns. Touchdowns look good on paper but vary wildly from season to season. Also, the similarities between the 2016 Oakland Raiders cannot be ignored. Overall there are huge warning signs for Agholor, and the entire Eagles offense, to regress next year.
He Almost Had It
Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay was an interesting watch list player last season. He looked like he was on his way to becoming a top 10 tight end a quarter of the way through the season. Through his first four games he had 227 yards and two touchdowns. Not great numbers, but they were good enough to secure him the TE5 spot in both standard and PPR rankings a quarter of the way through the season.
It all came crashing down for him week five when Clay suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action until week 10. Afterwards, he never regained his role in the offense. He only topped 40 yards in a game twice, and never found the end zone again. It was bound to happen, as during his absence the Bills acquired Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers, and rookie wide receiver Zay Jones started to get more comfortable in the offense. Overall Clay finished as the TE18 for PPR scoring in a highly disappointing year for tight ends overall.
Next Year’s Outlook
Clay looked like he might have a breakout campaign in 2017, but injury cost him his opportunity. The first five weeks of the season are likely the last time he has any fantasy football relevance. Jones and Benjamin will have much bigger roles in the offense next season, and Clay, at 28 years old, isn’t getting any younger. Factor in the fact that there are so many up-and-coming tight ends like David Njoku, Evan Engram, and O.J. Howard in the league. Clay probably won’t even be a streaming option next season.
Only Fools Fell for Him
The first couple of weeks in the NFL are full of overreactions. Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears had just come off of an excellent rookie campaign, where he was second in the league in rushing yards with 1,313. He had a decent week one in 2017, rushing 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Still, analysts were abuzz about rookie Tarik Cohen, claiming he was going usurp Howard.
Unlike Howard, Cohen is skilled at both running and catching the ball. This is evidenced by his eight catches for 47 yards and a touchdown to go along with five runs for 66 yards the first week of the season. The league wants complete backs, and in fantasy, backs who are involved in the passing game have higher floors. This put Cohen is prime position to be the year’s first big waiver wire add.
This story began showing cracks week two. While Cohen stayed involved in the passing game, catching eight passes, he lost a fumble and only mustered 13 rushing yards on seven attempts. From there it looks like opposing teams caught on to his skill set, because he only averaged 2.5 catches per game for the rest of the season, and only caught more than four passes one more time. His rushing yards were just as bad, only eclipsing 50 yards in a game twice on the season.
Next Year’s Outlook
Cohen ended up finishing as the RB41 in standard scoring and RB32 in PPR leagues. Because of his pass-catching ability, he has a much better outlook in PPR leagues than standard leagues. Still, the best-case situation is Cohen finishing as a top 30 back in PPR. Howard has a stronghold on the starting job finishing in the top 15 in standard and PPR leagues.
The wildcard is the fact that the Bears just hired a new head coach, Matt Nagy. Nagy has spent his entire career with Andy Reid, who makes any running back look good on the roster. He was promoted to offensive coordinator last season and had great success with Kareem Hunt. Still, as a backup, we don’t know how much Cohen will be involved. It’s best to take a wait and see approach with him until at least the preseason.