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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Top 150 Big Board, Half-Point PPR: Version 1.0
Preseason Matchup Analysis

Half-Point PPR | PPR | Non-PPR

Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to evaluate and analyze well because 11 men are being asked to work in harmony roughly 60 times per game, while 11 other men are being asked to create chaos. Pro football is not pro basketball in that a team can clear out one side of the court when things break down and the offense can still score. Pro football is not pro baseball in that one player can defeat a pitcher and eight fielders by timing his swing just right. Even as great as Barry Sanders was, he never beat a defense all by himself. In football, a player always needs help from at least one teammate to accomplish his goal. That is part of what makes football so great and part of what it makes it so highly unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer standards in this day and age - adds another element to the equation that is difficult to quantify.

Regardless, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Over the last two weeks, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players. Analyzing matchups alone requires me to make 7,500 "decisions". This is not meant to be a humble brag of any kind. Each year, my goal is to give those who put their faith in my evaluations the confidence they have the best draft-day tool at their disposal. I like to think that even if readers believe my logic is flawed for whatever reason, they can count on the fact that much thought has been put into that opinion.

Fantasy football is a stock market game, and our job as analysts is identifying when stocks may be poised for an increase or ready to tank. While last year's results help owners/analysts set the table for the following season, they are merely a starting point. Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not reactive. This is the approach I have taken for more than 10 years. While some of the processes have changed in that time, the main goal has not.

Speaking of changing processes, the Success Score Index (SSI) below is moving away from an attribute-based algorithm and one centered around my target and carry predictions that have been featured in this space over the last two weeks. As always, the matchups are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly, I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.). Long story short, I am much more confident in the product. SSI also helps me set me tiers, essentially giving me (and you) a vertical and horizontal board in one place.

Moving forward, I am including my fantasy-point projections as well. For those of you interested in my actual individual player projections, please tweet or email me.

For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain the color-coding system before we start:

Red – For lower-level players, a red matchup is the most difficult one a player can face. For a second- or third-tier player, drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e. from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like an RB2).

Yellow – For lower-level players, he is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, the slight edge goes to the defense in what is essentially a toss-up. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White – This one can go either way, but I favor the player over the matchup. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this matchup. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable for all levels of players.

Green – For non-elite players, the stage is set for a player to have a productive day. For the elite player, this matchup could produce special numbers.

Black –
Player is either on a bye week or is expected to miss due to injury or suspension.

Note: Players with a next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout concern. Players with a * next to their name have a higher than normal chance of losing their job at some point during the season.

Later this week, I will release my first Big Boards for The Fantasy Championship (TFC) and FFPC. In the second and final round of Big Boards near the end of the preseason, I will rank at least 200 players and present my final rankings for kickers and defense/special teams.

Here is the scoring system that I used to rank the players in the Half-Point PPR format:

 Half Point PPR Big Board - Top 150
Rank Pos Player Tm Age FPts SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 RB1 Alvin Kamara NO 24 322.5 193.5
2 RB2 Saquon Barkley NYG 22 331.3 191.3
3 RB3 Christian McCaffrey CAR 23 316.0 188.0
4 WR1 Julio Jones ATL 30 267.1 143.1
5 WR2 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 27 275.9 139.9
6 RB4 David Johnson ARI 27 275.9 137.9
7 RB5 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 24 276.1 136.1
8 WR3 Davante Adams GB 26 257.7 135.7
9 RB6 James Conner PIT 24 265.0 131.0
10 RB7 Le'Veon Bell NYJ 27 265.4 129.4
11 RB8 Dalvin Cook MIN 24 259.1 129.1
12 WR4 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 22 261.2 125.2
13 RB9 Todd Gurley LAR 25 253.0 117.0
14 RB10 Nick Chubb CLE 23 256.5 113.5
15 WR5 Tyreek Hill KC 25 233.5 102.5
16 WR6 Michael Thomas NO 26 222.0 99.0
17 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 29 231.9 98.9
18 RB11 Melvin Gordon LAC 26 245.1 98.1
19 RB12 Joe Mixon CIN 23 242.1 94.1
20 RB13 Leonard Fournette JAC 24 237.4 90.4
21 RB14 Kerryon Johnson DET 22 235.9 89.9
22 WR7 Odell Beckham Jr. CLE 26 233.4 89.4
23 WR8 Adam Thielen MIN 28 212.4 88.4
24 RB15 Chris Carson SEA 24 232.4 88.4
25 WR9 Mike Evans TB 25 228.8 86.8
26 TE2 George Kittle SF 25 207.5 84.5
27 RB16 David Montgomery CHI 22 216.9 80.9
28 WR10 T.Y. Hilton IND 29 210.1 80.1
29 RB17 Derrick Henry TEN 25 225.8 77.8
30 RB18 Devonta Freeman ATL 27 221.3 77.3
31 WR11 Keenan Allen LAC 27 203.6 75.6
32 WR12 Stefon Diggs MIN 25 211.3 75.3
33 RB19 Damien Williams KC 27 215.0 75.0
34 RB20 Josh Jacobs OAK 21 230.8 74.8
35 WR13 Antonio Brown OAK 31 194.2 72.2
36 RB21 Aaron Jones GB 24 216.6 71.6
37 WR14 Chris Godwin TB 23 189.0 70.0
38 WR15 Amari Cooper DAL 25 208.5 69.5
39 RB22 Mark Ingram BAL 29 205.0 68.0
40 RB23 Marlon Mack IND 23 211.9 67.9
41 WR16 Julian Edelman NE 33 185.8 64.8
42 WR17 Calvin Ridley ATL 24 189.7 62.7
43 WR18 Robert Woods LAR 27 185.4 61.4
44 QB1 Deshaun Watson HOU 23 368.5 60.0
45 QB2 Patrick Mahomes KC 23 370.8 58.3
46 WR19 Tyler Boyd CIN 24 190.9 55.9
47 WR20 Brandin Cooks LAR 25 199.4 55.4
48 TE3 O.J. Howard TB 24 179.2 54.2
49 RB24 Kenyan Drake MIA 25 192.6 53.6
50 WR21 D.J. Moore CAR 22 189.1 53.1
51 WR22 Kenny Golladay DET 25 193.4 52.4
52 WR23 Mike Williams LAC 24 183.2 52.2
53 TE4 Zach Ertz PHI 28 181.1 52.1
54 QB3 Aaron Rodgers GB 35 358.8 51.3
55 WR24 Cooper Kupp LAR 26 166.1 51.1
56 WR25 Tyler Lockett SEA 26 183.0 51.0
57 RB25 Sony Michel NE 24 188.0 47.0
58 RB26 James White NE 27 180.9 42.9
59 WR26 Allen Robinson CHI 25 186.7 41.7
60 WR27 Curtis Samuel CAR 23 171.6 38.6
61 WR28 Robby Anderson NYJ 26 184.6 34.6
62 WR29 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 35 160.4 33.4
63 RB27 Phillip Lindsay DEN 25 181.9 32.9
64 WR30 DeSean Jackson PHI 32 159.8 32.8
65 WR31 Christian Kirk ARI 22 171.5 32.5
66 WR32 Sammy Watkins KC 26 168.6 31.6
67 WR33 Dede Westbrook JAC 25 163.8 30.8
68 WR34 Anthony Miller CHI 24 160.9 28.9
69 WR35 Alshon Jeffery PHI 29 168.5 28.5
70 RB28 Tarik Cohen CHI 24 161.6 25.6
71 WR36 Jarvis Landry CLE 26 157.9 24.9
72 WR37 Geronimo Allison * GB 25 151.8 24.8
73 QB4 Carson Wentz PHI 26 328.7 24.2
74 QB5 Kyler Murray ARI 22 330.3 23.8
75 QB6 Cam Newton CAR 30 330.2 23.7
76 TE5 Jared Cook NO 32 152.2 23.2
77 WR38 A.J. Green CIN 31 169.3 22.3
78 TE6 Hunter Henry LAC 24 163.0 22.0
79 WR39 Jamison Crowder NYJ 26 155.1 21.1
80 RB29 Lamar Miller * HOU 28 178.7 18.7
81 WR40 Marvin Jones DET 29 153.3 18.3
82 TE7 Evan Engram NYG 24 155.7 17.7
83 RB30 Miles Sanders PHI 22 150.1 17.1
84 RB31 Tevin Coleman SF 26 153.7 15.7
85 WR41 Will Fuller HOU 25 151.8 14.8
86 RB32 Latavius Murray NO 29 170.8 14.8
87 QB7 Russell Wilson SEA 30 321.1 13.6
88 RB33 Rashaad Penny SEA 23 157.5 13.5
89 RB34 Jordan Howard * PHI 24 160.4 13.4
90 QB8 Jameis Winston TB 25 322.6 13.1
91 QB9 Matt Ryan ATL 34 321.5 13.0
92 WR42 Sterling Shepard NYG 26 154.8 9.8
93 RB35 Royce Freeman DEN 23 157.7 8.7
94 TE8 Vance McDonald PIT 29 142.5 5.5
95 QB10 Andrew Luck IND 29 314.8 5.3
96 TE9 Darren Waller OAK 26 147.0 5.0
97 WR43 Courtland Sutton DEN 23 154.7 4.7
98 RB36 Ronald Jones TB 22 161.4 4.4
99 TE10 Eric Ebron IND 26 132.4 3.4
100 RB37 Matt Breida SF 24 141.1 3.1
101 WR44 Donte Moncrief PIT 26 146.8 1.8
102 QB11 Drew Brees NO 40 296.2 0.0
103 RB38 Austin Ekeler LAC 24 148.7 -0.3
104 WR45 Dante Pettis * SF 23 136.0 -1.0
105 WR46 Corey Davis TEN 24 145.7 -4.3
106 QB12 Baker Mayfield CLE 24 310.9 -4.6
107 TE11 Delanie Walker TEN 35 131.9 -5.1
108 QB13 Lamar Jackson BAL 22 310.4 -5.1
109 WR47 Tyrell Williams OAK 27 134.9 -5.1
110 QB14 Jared Goff LAR 24 299.3 -5.2
111 TE12 Mark Andrews BAL 23 132.9 -6.1
112 WR48 Trey Quinn WAS 23 126.7 -6.3
113 RB39 Dion Lewis TEN 28 144.0 -7.0
114 TE13 David Njoku CLE 23 133.8 -7.2
115 RB40 Duke Johnson HOU 25 152.5 -7.5
116 TE14 Austin Hooper ATL 24 134.0 -8.0
117 WR49 Keke Coutee HOU 22 124.6 -8.4
118 TE15 Jordan Reed WAS 29 130.4 -9.6
119 RB41 LeSean McCoy BUF 31 150.3 -9.7
120 RB42 Kalen Ballage MIA 23 147.3 -9.7
121 RB43 Jaylen Samuels PIT 23 134.2 -9.8
122 WR50 Michael Gallup DAL 23 123.0 -10.0
123 QB15 Dak Prescott DAL 26 300.0 -10.5
124 QB16 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 37 298.9 -10.6
125 RB44 Darrell Henderson LAR 21 130.1 -10.9
126 RB45 Justice Hill BAL 21 127.7 -11.3
127 TE16 Chris Herndon NYJ 23 120.6 -11.4
128 WR51 Mohamed Sanu ATL 29 127.1 -11.9
129 WR52 Golden Tate NYG 31 117.4 -15.6
130 RB46 Derrius Guice WAS 22 141.7 -16.3
131 WR53 Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB 24 118.4 -16.6
132 QB17 Kirk Cousins MIN 30 299.2 -17.3
133 WR54 Kenny Stills MIA 27 120.5 -18.5
134 RB47 Giovani Bernard CIN 27 133.6 -20.4
135 TE17 Jimmy Graham * GB 32 122.6 -20.4
136 QB18 Philip Rivers LAC 37 285.1 -22.4
137 WR55 DeVante Parker MIA 26 125.9 -23.1
138 WR56 Albert Wilson MIA 27 112.5 -23.5
139 WR57 D.K. Metcalf SEA 21 122.3 -23.7
140 WR58 Parris Campbell IND 22 110.6 -24.4
141 WR59 Devin Funchess * IND 25 110.3 -25.7
142 WR60 John Brown BUF 29 132.2 -25.8
143 QB19 Mitchell Trubisky CHI 24 294.2 -26.3
144 RB48 Darwin Thompson KC 22 112.8 -27.2
145 RB49 Adrian Peterson * WAS 34 129.8 -28.2
146 TE18 Dallas Goedert PHI 25 99.3 -29.7
147 RB50 Jerick McKinnon SF 27 107.7 -30.3
148 RB51 Alexander Mattison MIN 21 116.5 -32.5
149 QB20 Tom Brady NE 42 278.6 -32.9
150 WR61 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 32 108.9 -33.1

The elephants in the room

There is risk attached to every single pick in every single fantasy draft. With that said, there may be more risk inside the first three rounds this year than in any season in recent memory. Most folks were quick to anoint Ezekiel Elliott as their No. 1 overall pick given how much of a supposed lock he is/was for a huge workload in an offense geared around him. Since his situation and the amount of risk he carries even before considering his holdout were addressed at length in this space last week, the only other pertinent information to add at this point is that Zeke becomes even less likely to make an early-season contribution the closer we get to the season. If either he or the team caves roughly two weeks before Week 1, feel free to disregard the last sentence. If the contract stalemate continues past the final preseason game, then owners are probably going to have to get familiar with Darius Jackson, Alfred Morris and/or Mike Weber as well as rookie Tony Pollard in Week 1 and Week 2. The opponents in those weeks? Giants and Redskins. While both teams have the personnel to make things difficult for the running game, neither opponent appears capable enough offensively to force the Cowboys away from pounding the rock. If Elliott doesn't report until around Sept. 1, then just about anything he gives fantasy owners in those games should be considered a bonus … not exactly the profile we want in a first-round pick.

Most of what was just said about Elliott applies to Melvin Gordon as well. While there seems to be optimism that Elliott will report sooner - presumably because Jones caved into Emmitt Smith (not sure one event that happened 26 years ago means a similar conclusion will occur, but whatever) and Dallas has made him the centerpiece of the offense - there is growing concern the Chargers' bell-cow is prepared to wait this thing out as long as possible. Whether that's the way it ends up playing out or not is another story. There is the threat of a trade that doesn't exist with Elliott, but that seems like a longshot as well since most of the potential suitors have either addressed the position (Houston, for example) or made it clear they don't believe using a ton of resources to "fix" the position (Tampa Bay HC Bruce Arians said as much recently). The big difference between the two situations would seem to be the Chargers are a prime Super Bowl contender, theoretically making it hard for Gordon to sit out very long when the championship window may be closing within the next year or two. Especially given his propensity for missing multiple games and Los Angeles' depth at the position, there's more risk than meets the eye with Gordon. Austin Ekeler is a very well-rounded back who can do what needs to get done. Justin Jackson proved he was up to the task late last year as well, and the team reportedly loves him. In short, what's to keep OC Ken Whisenhunt and HC Anthony Lynn from reducing Gordon's workload from previous years? In other words, Gordon is unlikely to move up much in my rankings even after he reports.

Good Lord, Antonio Brown. Even by his usual look-at-me standards, his current situation seems over the top. There has been so much information leaked about him in the last week (frostbitten feet, unable to find suitable helmet type of the 34 available to him, his retirement threat, noticeably playing with his phone during position and team meetings, etc.) that it's almost impossible to believe he can function away from the field without supervision. What Brown is capable of doing on the field is a plateau most players will never reach. Many people have probably been exposed to at least one or two clips of him showing off a work ethic that has been praised by many. But is he worth the headache anymore, especially now at 31 years old with Derek Carr throwing him the rock? Will Carr take the same kind of chances throwing to Brown that Big Ben did? There are certain types of players that fall under the category of acceptable risk - Todd Gurley, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb among them - and there are players like Brown, who has a tendency to make everything about him. When a player is just as likely to blow up for 180 yards and two touchdowns as he is to force a trade over some kind of slight or completely bail out on his team during a playoff chase, well, that makes him the opposite of a must-have. The end of the third round is an odd place to rank him, but he's earned it. Players such as Keenan Allen and Stephan Diggs boast similar catch upside and far less risk.

Accepting applications for the RB1 class of 2020

There may be no back in today's game that inflicts more punishment on defenders than Chris Carson. My top two fears with him to begin the summer were the amount of injury risk he possesses due to his aforementioned physicality and the looming threat of Rashaad Penny. HC Pete Carroll did little to allay my concerns, suggesting he wanted Carson and Penny to form a "one-two punch" before adding "I don't know who's one and who's two, it doesn't matter to me." For the second straight year, however, Carson has reportedly been the clear top back in camp, which makes it a little easier to like him. Assuming owners can get past the injury risk he carries due to his running style, his floor is considerably higher than most backs. Seattle is one of the best bets to run the ball 500-plus times again in 2019. In other words, even if Penny wrestles the lead job away from him at some point - which seems unlikely given that Carson has been the clear lead dog since the beginning of last season - the Seahawks' massive running-game volume will probably allow Carson to be a high-end flex. In today's NFL, it's a rarity to have one team to run the ball enough to allow both backs to push for 200 carries. That's not the end of the good news. Carroll has stated multiple times that he expects the running backs to catch more balls this year. To that end, Carroll recently told Sirius XM NFL Radio that Carson "may have the best hands on the team," has "great catching range" and "will catch the ball more this year, for sure. More Carroll:

"We'll play him more on third downs because he is such a capable guy. As a young starter a year ago, we didn't want to put too much on him. But he's worked throughout the offseason to become that, so he's going to make himself a well-rounded player."

Consider for a second that Carson missed two games and still ran for 1,151 yards last season on 247 carries. If he maintains anything close to that pace over 16 games in 2019 and manages to nearly double last year's 24 targets, owners might be on the verge of getting low-end RB1 value out of a player getting drafted anywhere from the late third to the sixth round. Carson's schedule isn't overly favorable for him to reach that summit, but his expected volume should more than make up for it.

My draft profile this spring said the following about David Montgomery:

If evaluators can look past the lack of big-play ability, the team that drafts Montgomery is going to land a highly versatile back capable of stealing the opponent's soul late in games. He runs with impressive power and is going to win the physical head-to-head battle with a linebacker much more often than he will lose it. There are elements of Marshawn Lynch and Kareem Hunt in his game.

Much like Penny's presence is enough to scare Carson's fantasy owners, Mike Davis is no small obstacle when it comes to Montgomery becoming the next rookie runner to make an immediate big splash. Davis may be one of the top five backup running backs in the league and would be a more than passable starter if he was ever asked to become one. Let's also be clear that Davis may be the only reason why Montgomery doesn't match Jordan Howard's workload from last year (270 touches). He may not need it though. First and foremost, Montgomery is sure to see more work as a receiver, giving him more "easy yards." Secondly, the rookie figures to waste little time proving he is one of the league's better backs in terms of breaking tackles and picking up yards after contact - it would be a surprise if he's not. Last but not least, what if Chicago takes another step offensively this season? Perhaps the ceiling for the Bears' lead back isn't just nine touchdowns (Howard's total in each of the last two years). There will likely be plenty of folks suggesting Montgomery makes a nice fifth-round pick in fantasy drafts over the next month. Yeah, he sure would. With 40-catch and 10-plus touchdown upside, he shouldn't be making it out of the third round anymore.

Patriot games

The Boston Herald's Kevin Duffy noted Monday, Aug. 12, that RB Damien Harris isn't getting many reps in practice this summer. On the surface, that wouldn't seem to be an overly big deal in fantasy since the rookie wasn't going all that high in most drafts anyway. However, let this be another reminder that fantasy research isn't always about keeping track of what's going on with a given player, but also what is going on around that player. Earlier this summer, multiple outlets reported Harris was having a strong offseason. Depending on the source now, he's either dealing with a thumb injury or just hasn't been all that impressive. What does it all mean?

The first potential implication is New England is willing to start the season in roughly the same fashion it ended 2018, that is, with Sony Michel receiving the bulk of early-down reps and James White handling the passing downs. But is it really going to be that easy? Is it really ever that easy with New England? Remember, it wasn't long ago HC Bill Belichick loved Rex Burkhead's ability to contribute on every down. The Patriots brought back Belichick favorite Brandon Bolden as well. There is a microscopic chance all five make the final roster simply because NFL teams don't carry five running backs AND a fullback (James Develin will make the team barring something unforeseen). White's role is probably the only one that is pretty much set in stone, although Michel's hold on the starting job should be pretty tight considering the disparity in talent between him and the other backs.

Circling back to Harris, fantasy titles are often decided by attrition. In other words, fantasy teams led by the likes of Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt were most likely rolling for the better part of last year before C.J. Anderson and Damien Williams sealed the deal for owners in the fantasy playoffs. How many fantasy owners of Gurley and Hunt had their hands on Anderson and/or Williams? The point is using a draft pick on a back like Harris should not be made with the idea he will fill in a flex spot (obviously it's great for his owners if he does), but rather an investment in a high-end fantasy backfield that could lead to potential RB1 production if Michel's knee continues to be an issue. The main question is this: how much faith does any owner have in his/her ability to predict whether Belichick does? IF Michel gets hurt and IF Harris is asked to take over the same role, Harris will more than live up to his draft spot. But will Harris start the season as Michel's main backup? It's not fun to stash a back thinking he's the obvious handcuff only to find out there was nothing obvious about it.

Has Dante reached his peak?

Entering the summer, it seemed clear Dante Pettis was going to enter the season as the 49ers' top receiver and everyone else was going to fall in line after that. A funny thing happened along the way though. Pettis has enjoyed a solid training camp according to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, but he should be stepping up and making more plays. Maiocco was tough but probably fair in his assessment of the wide receiver depth chart in San Francisco, making it clear the team does not have a No. 1 or classic No. 2 receiver, but rather a bunch of "2.5s and 3s." He also clears up any potential confusion by reminding his readers Deebo Samuel plays the X (split end) in HC Kyle Shanahan's offense and Pettis plays the Z (flanker). Other reports within the last week that Marquise Goodwin is running as the starting X, while Kendrick Bourne has overtaken Pettis as the Z - at least temporarily. Shanahan told reporters after the preseason opener that he wanted to see Pettis "compete," further indicating Pettis has nothing wrapped up. Maiocco also predicted at the start of training camp that Trent Taylor would be the team's leading receiver - in terms of receptions - so there must have been at least a hint of doubt inside team headquarters about Pettis for some time. Of course, Taylor was later discovered to have suffered a Jones fracture, which will make him a question mark for Week 1, further muddying the waters.

There has been recent speculation that Shanahan's desire to see Pettis "compete" has to do with his ability (or perhaps inability) to defeat press coverage. (Anyone who saw Pettis emerge toward the end of last year understands he has little trouble creating separation once he gets off the line of scrimmage.) Meanwhile, 6-0, 215-pound Deebo Samuel and 6-4, 230-pound Jalen Hurd are showing "the kind of aggressive mentalities" Shanahan is seeking. Per Shanahan:

“(Hurd and Samuel are) both big guys, big targets. They have strong hands who can defeat holding. When guys are on them, they’re not thrown off their routes as much."

That comment may have only been meant as praise for the rookies, but it sure appears as if the coach wants the 6-1, 195-pound Pettis to show some more feistiness as well. At this point, it's hard to know if he's a value where he's listed or a reach.

Help on the way in Houston

One of the more obvious weaknesses of any team - especially among those expected to field the best offenses this season - was the backup running back position in Houston, especially after the Texans released D'Onta Foreman. So while it's generally pretty hard to get overly excited about a trade for a running back involving a conditional fourth-round pick, this is one case where it makes sense to be a bit intrigued.

Let's start with the most obvious consequence first. Johnson is among the better receiving backs in the league. Houston talked up the possibility of throwing more often to its running backs earlier this offseason, so it goes without saying this move would seem to indicate HC Bill O'Brien is serious about making that a reality. Some may recall the Browns never seem to be shy about using him out of the slot, which could in handy if normal slot receiver Keke Coutee continues to struggle staying healthy.

Speaking of Coutee, the trade has a profound effect on him. One of the most important things analysts and owners can do to help themselves project a player who has switched teams and how his arrival affects his teammates is by figuring out where everyone does their best work. Most people know Will Fuller is the team's primary deep threat, while DeAndre Hopkins does most of his damage in the intermediate area of the field. Most slot receivers (Coutee included) do the bulk of their work underneath and are tasked with moving the chains. That's going to be where Johnson lives as well, meaning Coutee's chances of experiencing a huge second-year jump are now in serious jeopardy.

Taking more of a long-term view, Lamar Miller's contract expires at the end of the season, while Johnson's deal lasts until the end of the 2021 campaign. Johnson has long expressed the desire to be used more, and his contract (he agreed to a four-year extension with Cleveland worth $16.3 million last June) is actually quite reasonable for a team that will have to think about extending Deshaun Watson in the near future. While a healthy (and motivated) D'Onta Foreman would have been a viable threat to Miller's workload, there's no question an all-purpose back like Johnson could steal the job. Will it happen in 2019? I doubt it, but not because he can't. It is very possible, however, that O'Brien uses this season to figure out if Johnson can be his next bell-cow.

The (tight) end is in sight

Considering how much owners seem to bemoan the lack of good tight ends in fantasy, there seems to be a solid market developing in terms of back-end TE1 options. Darren Waller has been on my radar for a while. If he falls on his face this due to some other reason than injury, HC Jon Gruden and Derek Carr will have no one else to blame but themselves. However, there are several others. Delanie Walker is risky simply because he is 35 years old and coming off a serious injury. Those are reasonable excuses to pass on him, as is Tennessee's run-heavy offense. With that said, even the most run-heavy teams attempt well over 400 passes. Until further notice, Marcus Mariota's favorite target is Walker. With the arrival of Adam Humphries, Walker's days of seeing 100-plus targets are probably over. That's fine. Draft him as a "safe" TE2 and pair him with a "risky" upside option such as the injury-prone Vance McDonald or the player most likely to suffer touchdown regression in Eric Ebron.

The Mark Andrews hype train has been rolling for a while, and the frenzy has been fueled by overwhelmingly positive reports from The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiac and the team's website. The main concern here is Baltimore figures to be among the lowest volume passing teams in the league. A secondary (but perhaps more important) concern may be the emergence of rookie Miles Boykin. At 6-4 and 220 pounds with jaw-dropping athleticism, Boykin oozes red zone upside and makes for an inviting target for a quarterback with inconsistent accuracy like Lamar Jackson. With that said, Andrews is a rare breed in that he is a big-play tight end, so he doesn't need a ton of volume to make his owners happy.

Considering Walker was just discussed two paragraphs ago, owners may be thinking a recommendation of Jordan Reed is coming from someone living about five years in the past or who has yet to be burned by him. Reed is reportedly healthier now than he has been in years. The difference this year from previous seasons is no one in 12-team leagues should need to rely on him as an every-week starter. Very few tight ends can legitimately make the claim they can be their team's leader in targets in catches. Reed can. That's a big deal when we're talking about a player consistently getting drafted as a TE2. Owners who miss out on the top eight or so tight ends could very well draft Walker and Reed after Round 10 and feel reasonably good about the position.

PPR Big Board | Non-PPR Big Board

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.