Make Me Relevant – NFL Fantasy Football Edition

This post is a public outcry for the selected NFL teams to get these players more involved and relevant in fantasy football for the 2018 season.

Disclaimer: The blog may actually be me venting about players that have let me down in the past; but the guys you’ll read about all have tons of talent and the ability to impact fantasy matchups weekly, so it’s time to start featuring them moving forward.

QB: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the case of Winston it may be more about him just performing better rather than the team giving him more opportunities to succeed.

There were high hopes for Winston in fantasy football this year as the team brought in DeSean Jackson and drafted O.J. Howard to pair with a top-five receiver in Mike Evans.  Those skill players, and the fact that lead tailback, Doug Martin, was suspended for the first four games of the season, led many to believe that Winston was ready to join the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc., in terms of fantasy production.

The ceiling is the roof for Winston in this offense that is built to succeed through the air, but he’s going to have to cut down on turnovers and consistently perform like he did the final three weeks of the season when he averaged over 20 fantasy points per game.

RB: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

Miller has been fairly frustrating for fantasy owners since joining the Texans two years ago.  After flashing in Miami, but never really featured in his four years with the Dolphins, expectations were that Miller would be a top-flight fantasy running back on a team that was going to showcase his talents and have routinely had good fantasy production from the running back position.

However, Miller finished 2017 as RB14 after finishing as RB18 two years ago.  He has the speed, hands and overall talent to serve as a low-end RB1 on your fantasy team, and maybe a full year with Deshaun Watson will open more running lanes for Miller, but the Texans would be wise to lean some on Miller in 2018 as opposing teams will specifically game plan to limit Watson’s impact.

RB: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

We got our first glance of what life after DeMarco Murray may look like for the Tennessee Titans’ offense in their 22-21 Wild Card win over the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, and if it looks like a 23-156-1 stat line for Henry, stock in Henry is trending up.

The Titans have the ability to release Murray this offseason with no dead money, which should open the door for Henry to be the featured running back for the first time in his NFL career.

For the sake of the Titans, they better hope Marcus Mariota takes a step forward in 2018 or they’ll remain as another team stuck in mediocrity due to average quarterback play.  But Henry is just 24 years old with limited usage at the professional level, so this is the prime time for the Titans to ride the former Heisman Trophy winner in an offense that is at its best when the running game leads the way.

WR: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

Cooper had a very…. interesting 2017 season.  He did haul in seven touchdowns, but caught just 48 balls for 680 yards while also suffering a concussion and injured ankle – on the same play.

Does Cooper have an issue with drops?  Sure.  But he’s an exceptional route runner, has underrated speed and is actually pretty good at bringing down contested catches.  See for yourself

Cooper did have 96 targets last year, but the Raiders need to do a better job of designing plays specifically for him to highlight his unique ability.  Far too often he seems to get targets as a bailout from Derek Carr on passes that have no realistic chance of being caught.

WR: DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins haven’t really figured out Parker in his three years in Miami.  Initially, the thought was that Parker had all of the skills, but didn’t put enough preparation into the game and that’s why the production hasn’t come.

However, this offseason was littered with hype surrounding Parker claiming that he has bought into the system and was doing the necessary prep work that would lead to his year-three breakout.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Parker recorded just one touchdown in 2017 and the former first-round pick has still never topped 750 receiving yards in an NFL season.

The return of Ryan Tannehill should help Parker’s fantasy production as the two players have shown flashes of chemistry in the past, but the offensive game plan needs to feature more Parker and less Jarvis Landry if this team wants to take the next step offensively.  If this happens, the Parker-truthers may finally be rewarded with some fantasy production.

TE: Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

After finishing as a low-end TE1 his rookie season, Henry wasn’t utilized nearly as much as many predicted in 2017, finishing the year as the 12th-ranked tight end in a year where the position was lacking productivity outside the top five or so guys.

Henry saw just 11 more targets than Antonio Gates, and no offense to Gates as one of the best tight ends in NFL history, but the way he ran after the catch in 2017 basically screamed retirement.

The Chargers have a great core of skill players to feature in 2018 as Henry, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon are all unique talents at their respective positions, but it’s time for Rivers to fall in love with a tight end again.  That commitment to Henry will give him the targets needed to finish as a top-tier tight end and turn him into the productive fantasy football option we all thought he could be following his rookie season.

Flex: Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams

Is there a more talented player on offensive that is as underutilized as Watkins in the entire NFL?

There’s not even a need to go into the argument of Watkins being an early first-round pick just a few years ago, since where a player is drafted isn’t an immediate indicator as to how the player will perform at the next level, but it’s clear that Watkins has top-10 talent at the position – when healthy.

Watkins is in a great position to succeed in a young Rams’ offense led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, but the proper utilization of Watkins can and will take this offense to the next level.

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