Dynasty Experts Q and A: Offseason Week 3
Each and every week we will ask our dynasty experts several questions regarding fantasy football. Our expert panel will answer anything you throw at them. We’ll look at buy-low and sell-high players along with trade questions we receive during the week from our followers as well as other general dilemmas and draft questions. Here we go:
1.) Put your coach shorts and advise the Patriots on how to stop and/or slow both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown??
Luke Grilli -The strategy for slowing Antonio Brown is cut and dry. Put Malcolm Butler on him and let them fight it out all game. AB84 is going to get his, so I don’t think anybody expects him to put up a goose egg, but other than some safety help here and there, Malcolm and Antonio will get to know each other real well on Sunday. Le’Veon Bell is a bit of a different animal. They will have to hope that their big DL Alan Branch and Malcolm Brown can plug up the lanes and their LBs like Dont’a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich never over commit as Le’Veon plays the patience game before hitting his hole. Much easier said than done strategy for both players, but Bill’s been prepping for this team for about 3 weeks now.
Brian Hawkes – I think you scheme to contain Bell, and make every effort to let Malcolm Butler shadow Antonio Brown. If we look back at the meeting between these two teams earlier this year, the Patriots were able to contain Bell by limiting him to 21 carries for 81 yards, and 10 receptions for 68 yards. The key was, however, he did not score. Brown was also “contained” as he had 7 receptions for 106 yards….again he did not score. By limiting Bell’s effectiveness as a rusher, and using a bend but don’t break strategy – the Patriots can come out on top.
Josh Johnson – Belichick is “the Master” at taking away his opponents strengths. I believe they will rehearse at nauseam all the successful plays that they have seen on film from Pittsburgh. In doing so his defenders will be ready for whatever the Steelers have to throw at them. Much like the anticipation play that Malcolm Butler made in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks they will be ready. The truly interesting component to playing the Steelers is that you really have to stop both facets of Bell’s game. When doing that you must also have two guys with eyes on AB84? Belichick has done it before and it sounds like Butler will shadowing AB84. I would guess Logan Ryan who is a very underrated ballhawk (72 career games, 14 INTs & 47 passes defensed) will see a few snaps vs AB84 as well. The safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung will aid Rob Ninkovich and Shea McClellin on the perimeter. And there you have it! Now where do I pick up my Defensive Coordinator check?
Mark Schofield – I’ve written many a piece trying to predict a Bill Belichick gameplan, and have a spotty record in that regard, but it won’t stop me from trying. As we know, Belichick likes to look at what an offense does best, and take it away. It dates back to his gameplan to slow down the Bills’ K-Gun offense by stopping the run, a game plan which is now in the Hall of Fame. But looking at this Steelers’ offense, what do you focus on and take away? The explosive Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell?
To try and do both, I think it starts up front with gap integrity. Bell is an extremely patient runner, who picks his spots when attacking the line of scrimmage. As a result, the front six or seven defenders need to know their gap responsibility and carry out that assignment. It’s not so much a matter of stacking the box with eight or nine defenders, but being patient and avoiding freelancing. If a defender starts to leave his gap early, that give Bell an opening.
Regarding Brown, the last two times these teams played we saw Malcolm Butler traveling with Brown. But I’m not so sure that happens again. I’m reminded of the 2014-2015 regular season meeting between the Packers and the Patriots, when New England put their best cover corner, Darrelle Revis, on Randall Cobb and left him on an island, and then put Brandon Browner on Jordy Nelson with free safety Devin McCourty shaded toward Nelson most of the afternoon. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brown matched up with Eric Rowe or Logan Ryan, with dedicated safety help, while Butler tries to lock down the opposite WR on an island.
Again, I’ve been wrong before on a Belichick game plan, and I might be wrong again.
Shaun Laibe – I think it is safe to say that it is nearly impossible to stop both Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell. The Steelers offense thrives when they can get the ball into Bell’s hands as much as possible. This was evident when he got 32 total touches in last week’s win in Kansas City. Bill Belichick will need to get creative in order to force the ball elsewhere. The Patriots have the league’s 2nd ranked defense, giving up just 180 yards per game through the air, so forcing Big Ben to throw plays into their strength. Antonio Brown is one of the most dangerous receivers in the league. The Pats HAVE to make someone else beat them.
2.) Based on talent alone which 2017 QB prospect do you covet the most?
Luke Grilli -I barely watch college football. I’ll admit it. So with that being said, I will take a different route than my colleagues with the next two questions. If I’m in the position to draft a QB, I’m either trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or trying to sign Mike Glennon. Gun to my head, I’d rather trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. He will fetch a 1st round pick and an additional pick either in 2017 or 2018, but I think he is worth it. With no clear cut stud QB in the draft (ala 2016), I’d focus my resources on a couple of guys that have done something in the NFL over more unknowns that have questionable projections.
Brian Hawkes – Patrick Mahomes II. I’m not particularly high on any of the QB prospects in this year’s class. That being said, if I’m drafting a QB – I’m swinging for the fence. Mahomes has the tools to be special, but likely needs time to adjust to an NFL scheme. I’ll take my chances with Mahomes as the prospect with the best combination of size/speed and arm talent among this year’s class.
Josh Johnson – Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) have a lot of supporters and Nathan Peterman (Pitt) has gained some well deserved press. Yet, I want DeShone Kizer. In today’s NFL you need to have a lot of things to survive. Kizer has it all size, speed and arm strength. I don’t think any other quarterback in the class can say that. He is not a just traditional dropback QB nor is he a just running college QB. He displays both elements really well. He will need some time to mature. Depending on landing spot I am willing to invest potentially a high second round dynasty rookie pick on him.
Mark Schofield – On talent alone I think the player I’m most interested in is Pat Mahomes II. While Deshaun Watson is the guy I’m hanging my hat on this year, Mahomes is a tremendous – albeit raw – talent. He has arguably the best arm in this class, can make some incredible throws off platform, and makes some plays that leave you blown away. But that’s a double-edged sword. Mahomes has some mechanical flaws, needs to learn to reign in the aggression and free-lancing at times, and needs to prove that he can consistently play within structure (I think he does at times, perhaps more than he gets credit for, but it’s a matter of consistency). But on raw talent alone, Mahomes is impressive.
Also impressive is putting a team on your back in the National Championship against Alabama – twice – and coming out on top in your final collegiate game. But I’ll save my Watson pining for a later date.
Shaun Laibe – I am all in on Deshaun Watson. His biggest strengths are a high completion percentage along with an above average rushing ability, both of which will help raise his floor from a fantasy perspective. Perhaps his best attribute, however, cannot be measured. It was his poise under the spotlight in the National Championship game was undeniable. He almost reminded me of a “Young Dak Prescott”.
3.) The 2017 TE class is getting a lot of praise. Do you agree with the masses and what are a few keys you look at when scouting TEs?
Luke Grilli -Again, couldn’t tell you anything about the TEs in the 2017 class other than there’s a guy named Butt with a torn ACL. So I’m looking at a couple Tight Ends headed into their sophomore NFL season. Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry are two players I am definitely targeting in off seasons and will probably cost as much, if not slightly less, than their rookie counterparts. Everybody gets rookie fever in the off season, so take advantage of that by getting Hooper or Henry at potentially cheaper price and strengthen your TE position that way.
Brian Hawkes – Yes, I agree with the masses. This year’s TE class has more top end talent, and depth, than any class in recent memory. When scouting Tight Ends I look at: Tools (athleticism/measurable), Stats (college production/ breakout age/ market share), and Intangibles (blocking ability/ work ethic/ effort). The “intangibles” piece is critical for tight ends because blocking/work ethic/effort will often lead to more immediate playing time. There have been players who check all of the other boxes, except for the “intangibles” (Austin Seferian-Jenkins), and their impact is either delayed or fails to reach it’s potential.
Josh Johnson – This year’s TE class could be the best ever. However it may take four or five years to see it at its strength. The “Potential is phenomenal from top to bottom. Even small school guys Eric Saubert (Drake) and Gerald Everett (South Alabama) are intriguing with a solid landing spot. The Jake Butt’s (Michigan) injury hurts his draft status but he could eventually be the best of the bunch as I view him as the most complete player. If you are a patient/TE needed dynasty owner this class as a whole is definitely one to focus on. I have O.J. Howard (Alabama), Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), Evan Engram, (Ole Miss), David Njoka (Miami) and Jordan Leggett (Clemson) as my current Top five and any one of them would have been the top TE coming out in 2012-2016. Even Jeremy Sprinkle (Arkansas) and his off-field issues would have had right next to his teammate Hunter Henry in the 2016 class. When scouting college level TEs I generally pay attention to how long they stay on blocks and how many different ways they are used within a scheme. I understand blocking isn’t a fantasy worthy thing but if they are not a blocking liability it will lead to more snaps/opportunity.
Mark Schofield – I agree that this TE class is among the best we’ve seen in awhile. Jake Butt’s injury in the Orange Bowl hurts his draft stock, but I think he’s a near-complete tight end. O.J. Howard might not have been used enough in Alabama’s offense, but I think starting with the Senior Bowl he’ll get a chance to show the various aspects of his game, and I expect his stock to rise through the process. Another player I’m very intrigued by is Evan Engram from Mississippi. He’s more of a move tight end in the mold of a Jordan Reed or Travis Kelce, but can fit in most of today’s NFL offenses. So it’s a strong class with a lot of names, making it a good year for teams looking to address this position.
As far as scouting the position, it’s arguably one of the tougher ones to scout given how tight ends are used in the college game. You’re trying to find players that can both run routes and contribute in the passing game, but can also play the role of an offensive tackle or even a fullback at other times. So there are a number of traits you need to examine, from route-running to ability at the catch point to even run or pass blocking. But not all college offenses ask their TEs to contribute in the run game, or to chip guys on the edge, so you need to really look for those aspects of their games, pouring through tape until you find what you are looking for.
Shaun Laibe – Scouting Tight Ends is one of the more difficult things to do. Collegiate production is much more dependent on a particular team’s system. If you are drafting now, you need to be more reliant on size/speed. Today’s NFL Tight End will need to be big enough to block, but fast enough to split wide on long distance throwing situations. Guys like Alabama’s OJ Howard, and Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges both fit that bill. Another guy you hear a lot about is Evan Engram. He is a smaller TE at 6’2″ 220 lbs, but he put up excellent numbers at Ole Miss nonetheless.
Do you have any burning questions you want us to answer for next week’s Q&A? If so send them to [email protected]