3-Point Stance: Abullah an exemplary boom/bust candidate in fantasy
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Monday’s topic: The Detroit Lions
“Featured role.” “Best two-way back on roster.” Reporters walking the Lions beat potentially see a breakout year from third-year rusher Ameer Abdullah (59.9 ADP, RB21). Are their observations NEWS or FAKE NEWS?
Liz – NEWS. Despite underwhelming in back-to-back campaigns, the Lions remain staunchly in support of their former second round pick. Management did zero to address the position during the draft, choosing to focus primarily on the defense. With little competition behind him, Abdullah figures to be prominently featured.
Reportedly back to health, showcasing impressive burst, and wowing at OTAs, the odds of an Abdullah breakout are good. The human pinball will work behind an improved offensive line, which added Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang in free agency. A fantastic value in the second-half of the fifth round, patient owners will benefit greatly from those who have been previously spurned. FF: 1,200 combined yards and 9 total TDs
Brad – FAKE NEWS. Duped. Flimflammed. Hornswoggled. When it comes to Abdullah, I’m a gullible geriatric who squanders thousands to a phone swindler claiming to work for the IRS. At least, I used to be. Today, I’m a reformed Ameeraholic. I encourage every fantasy owner to devote time and energy elsewhere.
Abdullah, when healthy and not in the doghouse due to persistent fumbles, is a suitable runner equipped with noteworthy skills. However, the last time we saw him over a measurable sample size, as a rookie in 2015, he blew the pants off no one. On 143 carries he forced a mere 12 missed tackles. The 30-year-old tree in your front yard could do better. His resulting 0.08 tackles avoided per attempt ranked No. 118 at the position. Not exactly a pile driver either (2.0 YAC in ’15), Abdullah lacks the essential talents all successful running backs need – jukes and power. Dampening matters, he also isn’t the preferred short-field receiving option. That gig belongs to Theo Riddick, and to a lesser extent, Golden Tate. Throw in the possibility Zach Zenner may steal goal-line touches and he’s not a recommended buy at his bloated top-60 price. Over 16 games, you’re looking at maybe 1,000 combined yards with five touchdowns for the average house cat.
Five of the last six seasons Matthew Stafford tucked inside the QB top-12 in total fantasy points scored yet most owners continue to purposely dodge him in 2017 drafts (116.6, QB14). OVER/UNDER final fantasy QB rank this fall 12.5.
Brad – UNDER. ‘Country Jay Cutler’ really isn’t deserving of the nickname I gave him. Stafford sometimes makes mind-numbing mistakes, but, for the most part, he’s a mostly accurate and highly reliable slinger, even without Calvin Johnson.
One of the primary motivating factors for his consistency stems from Detroit’s seemingly nonstop defensive vulnerabilities. Last year, the Lions ranked 30th in sacks, coughed up 7.5 pass yards per attempt and finished top-five in most QB fantasy points allowed. Their loosenesses worked Stafford’s arm overtime, routinely locking him in 590-plus pass attempts per year. With many question marks on D, it will likely be more of the same in 2017.
Additionally, Stafford’s efficiency is very attractive. He ranked No. 10 in red-zone completion percentage and No. 2 in under pressure completion rate last fall. He also padded the bottom line with 207 rushing yards and a pair of end-zone dives. If Marvin Jones remedies the drops, the ground game contributes steadily and rising rookie Kenny Golladay sparkles as a third receiver, it’s within the realm of possibility Stafford delivers a top-10 line. His 2016 is the floor.
Liz – OVER. A QB who plays up (or down) to the level of his competition, projecting Stafford’s stats on a week-to-week basis can be crazy-making. The dude waits until the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter to step on the gas. Yet, each year he manages to sneak his way into the top-ten fantasy producers at the position. In fact, since 2011 he’s achieved QB1 numbers all but one time (2014).
Still, there are other signal callers I’d prefer to take before the Lions’ pride. Currently ranked as my QB15, I have younger prospects like Jameis Winston (QB7) and Marcus Mariota (QB8) as well as more consistent producers like Andrew Luck (QB9) and Matt Ryan (QB10) placed ahead of Staff. Admittedly, the boy in Honolulu Blue is a solid bet to put up 4,200+ passing yards and 28(ish) total TDs by the year’s end, but his weekly play could be anywhere between Earth-scorching to soul-crushing. And while I dig roller coasters, this one comes without a Fast Pass or the option to get off.
FILL IN THE BLANK. When the chill sets in late December, Golden Tate’s final fantasy line reads ______. (REC-YDS-TDS-RANK)
Liz – 93-989-5. High-end WR3. Since landing in Motor City, Tate’s production has been ultra-consistent. Grabbing between 90 and 99 balls and scoring between 4 and 6 TDs over the past three years, he wavered between WR2 and WR3 fantasy numbers. With Abdullah on the precipice of a breakout, Tate’s numbers figure to take a slight hit, which why I have him projected on the lower end of his usual range. In PPR formats, bump him to WR2 status.
Brad – 94-1079-5. Borderline WR2 (12-team standard). Top-20 lock (PPR). As Liz mentioned above, Tate is a prime king of consistency. He’s usually sure-handed, though he did record an uncharacteristic seven drops in ’16, pugnacious after the catch (No. 1 in yards after catch last year) and wonderfully versatile. His dirty work underneath complements Marvin Jones’ deep presence perfectly. In a Jim Bob Cooter offense predicated on bubble routes and quick slants, a system that stresses precision and open-field playmaking, Tate is the steady rock. Another 130-140 targets seem inevitable.