- Don't put heavy emphasis on past weeks 3-4, we REALLY don't know how good a team is going to be, so when you hear like .... oh he plays XYZ defense in Week 10, well, you literally have no idea how good a team is going to be.
- I think the way to approach the strength of schedules is this. You should put weight into it if the defenses are top-5 to top-7, or bottom 5-7, in that range, because those are the teams with the most likelihood of still being very good or very bad and it makes sense, just common sense, right? They have very good or bad personnel on their roster or at least last year they did, so for them to fall off it would take a lot more personnel change for a team to drop or raise up then a middle of the pack team, right. For example, we look at a defense like Indy, who was an awful pass defense, the likelihood of them turning things around in 2018, to even become top 10, but average or above average is very low, because they would need a lot of personnel turnover and that doesn't tend to happen in one offseason. So when you're looking at it from a micro level, I would say keep the SoS analysis small, like the first four weeks and only heavily weigh on defenses that were at the top or bottom of the spectrum. Kapeesh?
Mitchell Trubisky - Chicago Bears
Overall 153, QB23
Apart from being everyone and their mother's favorite sophomore breakout, Trubisky benefits from a Sunday morning easy schedule, assuming you don't drink like me on Saturday nights.
We take a look at the Bears early szn schedule, beginnig with a divisional matchup with GB. I know, GB will be much improved on this side of their defense after snagging a couple early round studs at CB in Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, I'm ecstatic if I'm a Packers fan, but it doesn't change the fact that they were very bad against the pass last year. This isn't Madden where you just plug players in and everything is perfect, it's going to take some time for this defense to gel, they're not going to have done a 180-degree turn by Week 1. Then they get a home game against Seattle who lost 90% of their defense, so while they still wound up being a higher rated pass d in 2017, it's not the same team. They lost Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Michael Bennett, we don't know what's going on with Earl Thomas, if he's going to get traded, it's a mess there and likely a team that fantasy QBs will take advantage of in 2018. Arizona's still lowkey tough against the pass but after that, he'll get a beautiful bye-week sandwich of matchups against TB & MIA two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year.
The changes to the offense are what obviously put Trubisky into the breakout discussion this year. They signed a true #1 on the outside. Taylor Gabriel. And they also brought in this other guy named Allen Robinson who's not bad. Trey Burton signed as well, all before grabbing stud WR Anthony Miller with their 2nd round pick. The most important change was to that of their coaching staff, getting rid of geriatric John, Fox, and bringing in former Chiefs OC Matt Nagy to be their head coach. Nagy brings a new, more-explosive type of offense to Chicago, where we saw him take over play-calling duties from Andy Reid down the final stretch, leading them to a 4-1 record, averaging over 28 ppg, the Chiefs starting QB averaging 291 yards ad over 34 attempts/game in that span. You just have to love that the weapons in Chicago are similar to those in KC and he'll know how to use them. Look what he got out of Alex Smith last year. He knows how to use guys like Tarik Cohen, Trey Burton, all of them, it's going to be fun to see how this plays out. Trubisky is a guy with a big arm, rushing ability upside and could pay dividends immediately out of the gate for you.
Case Keenum - Denver Broncos
Overall 155, QB23
Keenum's an interesting case for 2018 fantasy football. So, he has this tremendous 2017 season in Minnesota, steps in for the injured Sam Bradford, plays phenomenally, and is written off as a fluke I guess after signing with Denver for two years and $36-million?
We look at the situation he winds up in, you could argue the weapons are worse in Denver than they were in Minnesota. But it's not a major fall off, Thielen & Diggs to DT and Emmanuel Sanders. Plus the addition of rookie WRs Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and the return of the explosive slot WR Carlos Henderson.
What I like even more though, is the offense. While you don't think of Denver as a high-flying explosive offense, and they're not, Keenum was able to finish as QB15 while playing on a Minnesota team that ran the ball more (31.3/game) than every team not named the Jaguars. You look at Denver, and despite having an absolute shit show at the QB position, were 11th in the NFL in pass attempts per game, with 35.4. If we put Keenum at those numbers, just pacing out what he did last year, he's looking at an increase of 370 passing yards & 2-3 more passing touchdowns, and that's in 15 games, if he plays the full 16 even more and he's finishing as a top-12, maybe top-10 option for sure.
Also want to just throw this in here, a neat little article from Matt Harmon over at NFL.com who works with Next Gen Stats - Keenum was the NFL's 3rd best tight-window thrower in 2017.
Now we look at the early szn schedule:
Apart from Baltimore, every other matchup on here is one to exploit for Keenum. I discussed Seattle already, Oakland was a joke last year, KC's pass d was already bad last year then they lost Marcus Peters, and the Jets over performed but are average on that side of the ball at best. Keenum is a very under-the-radar streamer that's more likely than not going undrafted in your league because he's not "flashy". But remember, Keenum was an absolutely prolific college passer a the University of Houston smashing statistical passing records while he was there, and last year was the first time he had gotten a reasonable shot within a competent NFL offense to prove that he can play at this level. So don't be surprised when Keenum plays well again in 2018.
Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
Overall 102 - QB11
Staff isn't necessarily a late-round guy, definitely not a sleeper, but he'll be one of the guys that you can take as your streamer, if not full-time guy and he's going outside of the top-10, and outside of the top 100 picks. Staff might be my favorite guy at this part of the draft. I think you know what you're getting from Stafford, and it's a really, really high floor. The floor comes from both his ability, but more so from the volume. He's a guy who has consistently ranked inside the top 5-7 QBs in terms of pass attempts pretty much every year since 2011. 4th overall last year, things won't change much as Jim Bob Cooter is still expected to call plays despite the coaching changes in Detroit.
Their offensive line has finally started to improve, something Stafford has not had the luxury of experiencing in a long time in Detroit, they made an ever further effort via the draft using their 1st round pick on Frank Ragnow out of Arkansas, a guy who allowed 0 career sacks at the college level. They also grabbed a kid in Tyrell Crosby in the 5th round who many expected to go inside the first or second day but believed to have dropped because of concussion issues. A lot of upside for the line to be even further improved for Stafford. A really solid group of weapons has been assembled around Stafford now between Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and now it looks like they'll finally have a running game to help him out with Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount joining the backfield.
Stafford finished as QB8 last year and it was arguably the best ball he's ever played. Again, want to go back to Harmon's Next Gen Stats, labeling Stafford as the 2nd best tight-window passer last year
According to Harmon, "he was the only QB to clear 7.0 (adjusted ypa). ANd is the lone player to rank inside the top 5 in tight-window completion rate in each of the last two seasons."
Great weapons, and improved offensive should keep Stafford in the weekly top-10 discussion. He hasn't finished with less than 4,240 passing yards since 2010 and has actually increased the stat now in four consecutive campaigns, averaging over 28 passing scores per szn over his last 3. Last year only 3 QBs not named Stafford threw for more than 28 touchdowns.
But let's look at that schedule:
Nothing at all that scares you in the first half of the year. And to be honest, the entire szn isn't too bad. He does have to face MIN twice of course, and gets the Rams, but it's a generous schedule overall for Matty.
I know a lot of you guys love the thought of grabbing Patrick Mahomes, but his schedule early on is brutal - @LAC, @PIT, SF, @DEN, JAX, @NE. 4 road games, a bunch of really tough pass defenses, I'm a bit more hesitant to draft him thinking he's a set & forget guy like a lot of people are. Sure the upside is there, but you also have to be smart and realistic.