Where to Draft Zeke, Gordon, AB, Mahomes, Green

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2019


As human beings, we like to be in control. We like to know how things are going to work out in the future. Uncertainty is a trait that we as a species generally try to avoid. The same situation applies to fantasy football. There are going to be players on your board that will cause you some uncertainty. Here are a few of those players and the game plan for them.

Ezekiel ElliottEzekiel Elliott
Zeke was on a flight back to Dallas and fantasy nation was excited. Then Tony Pollard had a good preseason game and Jerry Jones playfully said "Zeke Who" when asked by a reporter if Pollard was his best negotiator. Zeke boarded a flight back to Cabo and fantasy nation was back to where it was before. Zeke was the consensus #2 pick behind Barkley for the past few months. Now he's dropping even outside the top 5 picks. In standard scoring, he's sitting at fourth overall, but in PPR formats, he's dropped to sixth with Adams and Hopkins considered safer picks.

There are no short-term gains to be had financially for Zeke to continue his holdout. ESPN's Ed Werder considers it "likely" that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reports to the team before Week 1 - likely between the preseason finale and the regular season opener. We're not rushing to apply the Le'Veon Bell label to him yet.

If you have a top 3 pick, take Barkley, McCaffrey, or Kamara as they carry considerably less risk. If you have the #4 pick or later in the first round, Zeke is still worth a gamble here - even at #4. He's one of the most consistent players in fantasy, hitting 10+ points in 37 of 40 career games. If you draft him in the first round, it would still be a good idea to take Tony Pollard as a handcuff until this thing shakes out. Pollard can be taken in the middle of the 13th round.

Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon was considered a first round pick back earlier this summer. Today, he's being at the start of the third round...and dropping. His projections have him barely eclipsing 1,000 total yards (747 yards rushing / 382 yards receiving). Missing camp and the preseason is likely to up the injury risk for a guy who already has a bad history with his knees.

Reports out of the Gordon camp suggest that he's "waiting on the call" from the Chargers. With Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson looking solid in preseason action, it's hard to believe that the Chargers are in a position to give Gordon more than their last $10 million offer. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gordon's holdout "is now expected to be prolonged" and "threatens" to run into the regular season. Gordon is on record saying that he agreed with Le'Veon Bell's holdout strategy last year and we all know how that turned out.

All of that presents fantasy owners with a ton of uncertainty. He's a talented back, but he needs to be on the field to put up points. The weighted consensus has him as the 34th player off the board but his ADP shows him as the 26th - almost a full round ahead. He's being drafted around the same spot as guys like Devonta Freeman, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Chris Carson. If you're comfortable with the risk, go ahead and pull the trigger on him near the end of the 3rd round.

Antonio BrownAntonio Brown
It seems like the circus that surrounds Antonio Brown just never ends. Whether it's losing layers of skin on his feet in a cryotherapy machine or fuming about a helmet change that he's known about for a long time coming, AB certainly knows how to keep the media's attention. The real question is can he keep fantasy owners' attentions?

Currently Brown is ranked 29th overall in the FFN weighted consensus, but his ADP has him going a half round earlier. A few years ago he was going #1 overall in many drafts. This isn't the same guy. Even if everything goes right in Oakland, it's hard to see Antonio Brown being worth a first-round pick, and there are so many things that could go wrong. It's much safer to draft him in the third round at the earliest - fourth round is better. Brown has to acclimate to catching passes from Derek Carr and running routes in Jon Gruden's offense. The Raiders have to try to keep him happy. Even if all that comes together, he looks more like a top-10 receiver than one of the best in the game.

Patrick Mahomes
Without fail, the first QB to come off the board in drafts this year is going to be Pat Mahomes. As Warren Buffett once explained, "price is what you pay - value is what you get" Mahomes is flying off the boards at 20th overall (mid-2nd round in 12-team). We have him ranked 35th overall - more than a full round after he's being drafted. If you're banking on him putting up 50 touchdowns again, that's probably not a good bet. We have him projected for 36 touchdowns - a significant regression but still a solid number. Where folks are drafting him leaves little room for value however.

If Mahomes could make it to the end of the third or somewhere in the fourth round, then feel good about what you're getting. He's a fantastic player on a dynamic offense, but just know that this year's crop of QB's is very deep. If you don't get Mahomes, don't worry. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

AJ GreenA.J. Green
His ankle surgery has him sidelined for several weeks which has dropped his fantasy value. When healthy, Green has been a stud receiver, but injuries have been an issue. Last year, it was a toe injury that cost him seven games. He's not a lock to start Week 1, so you'll have to draft accordingly. He's the 22nd wide receiver coming off the boards making him a nice WR2 that you'll find closer to the Round 5 range. The addition of new coach Zac Taylor will hopefully help the offense in Cincinnati, and Green should remain the focal point for Andy Dalton, even with Tyler Boyd now looking like a legitimate threat. We're hoping for a bounceback campaign, but this injury will make things tougher for him, making Green a risk on Draft Day.

Josh Gordon
This is the first time since 2012 that Josh Gordon has a chance to play 16 games, and the Patriots could use that kind of talent. The Pats will be without Rob Gronkowski who retired. Chris Hogan (Carolina) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Chicago) are gone via free agency. Tom Brady will have to rely on Julian Edelman, James White, rookie N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas (maybe) and Benjamin Watson. Gordon could reward the Patriots by becoming a pivotal part of the offense. He spent the offseason working with Brady and has almost a year of experience with the playbook. He averaged 65 yards per game with New England and could easily surpass that number each game this year.

The real question is whether or not he'll actually play all 16 games. His history would call into question the viability of counting on that.

That being said, we would not be surprised to see Gordon crack the Top 30 by the end of the season, and it will certainly be fun to watch - which leaves us with the nagging question of where to draft him. We have him ranked 125th overall and his ADP has him at 112 which means that people are likely drafting him a full round earlier than his value. If you find yourself staring at his name in the 10th round of your draft, go ahead and drop him on your bench. We've seen him go as late as the 13th and 14th rounds in some drafts. He's not the same Flash Gordon from 2013, but he's probably one of the best lottery tickets you can get in this year's draft.

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