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In Week 1, Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines caught all four of his targets for just four yards. He also added four carries for 13 yards. In Week 2, he's nothing more than a dart throw in very deep leagues. During his rookie season, Hines' value came from his volume in the passing game with an average of 3.9 receptions per game. Against the Tennessee Titans this week, the outlook is not the brightest for him. The Titans allowed just four receptions to Cleveland Browns running backs for 24 yards. Unless you're playing in an ultra-deep league, you're avoiding Hines until he sees an uptick in his workload.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey led the NFL in scrimmage yards with 2,392 last year, with the next closest player (Ezekiel Elliott) at 1,777 yards. McCaffrey played 93.4 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps, which was the highest in the league among running backs. His 1,262 scrimmage yards on first down were the most for any player by almost 200 yards -- Derrick Henry came in second at 1,098 -- and he also added nine total first-down touchdowns. McCaffrey averaged 5.0 yards per rush inside the tackles, which was second in the NFL among those with a minimum of 75 inside runs. New head coach Matt Rhule hinted that McCaffrey might not be used as much this year, but even if that's true, the running back is still head and shoulders above the competition because of his capabilities as both a runner and receiver. He should be the first overall pick in all fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry earned more rushing first downs on first down (31) than any other running back in the league last season. Henry also had nine rushing touchdowns on first down (second-most in the NFL) and another on a pass. His yards per rush after contact of 4.2 was the best in the league among those with a minimum of 100 rushes, including the playoffs, according to Pro Football Focus. In a run-first offense, Henry was the key cog in Tennessee's machine, helping them to an AFC Championship appearance. The 26-year-old led the league in rushing attempts (303), rushing yards (1,540), rushing TDs (16) and rushing yards per game (102.7). While Henry is an obvious RB1, his lack of involvement in the passing game can make him volatile on a weekly basis.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won the 2019 NFL MVP with a blend of exceptional skills, the right play-calling and a supporting cast that helped make the most of his attributes. The second-year quarterback threw for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions on play-action passes last season, which was the best TD-to-interception ratio in the league, per Next Gen Stats. Jackson also had 24 touchdown passes and only two picks against the blitz, which was 10 more TD tosses against the blitz than any other QB in the league. He's only 23 years old and already set the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks as well. While it might be tough for Jackson to top his 2019 numbers, his elite dual-threat abilities put him in contention with Patrick Mahomes as fantasy's top QB.
Houston Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely announced his retirement on Friday after 31 seasons coaching in the NFL. Seely has served as a team's special teams coordinator in every season from 1989 to 2019 and has 41 years of overall coaching experience. He has appeared in nine conference championship games, won three Super Bowls and coached 10 different players to 17 special teams Pro Bowl selections. Seely started his NFL career with the Colts in 1989 before making stops with the Jets, Patriots, Browns, 49ers, Raiders and finally Texans. He won all three of his Super Bowls during his time with New England from 1999 to 2008.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he's done field work with running back Todd Gurley II "a handful of times" and came away "really impressed" with his new running back. The two have spent time together in recent weeks in Southern California. The Falcons are hoping Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, can help boost a running game that ranked 30th in the league last year with 85.1 rushing yards per game. "I think he's going to be an awesome fit for us," Ryan said of Gurley. "And I'm glad we have him." Ryan's workouts have also included receivers Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Jaeden Graham and fullback Keith Smith. Knee issues have slowed Gurley in recent seasons, but he still remains an effective back when on the field and could bounce back to RB1 status in his new home in Atlanta.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones held up quite well under pressure behind a porous offensive line in his rookie season. His numbers under pressure were comparable to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, which is incredibly impressive. Jones had an 8:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and nearly 1,000 passing yards while under pressure in 2019. The 23-year-old from Duke also posted two of the top-10 single performances by a quarterback last year, which demonstrates the kind of upside he possesses heading into his first full season as the Giants starter under center. With an excellent offensive cast on his side, Jones has a bright NFL future, in 2020 and beyond. Draft him as a high-end QB2 with QB1 upside.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was the only player on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of top-10 QBs under pressure to have a negative completion percentage above expectation in 2019, but his passer rating under pressure (80) and TD-to-interception ratio of 5:2 land him at No. 9. He took three and a half seconds on average to get rid of the football when under pressure, something he faced 125 times while completing 87 passes. Allen's legs give him considerable fantasy upside at his position, but if he can improve his decision-making and accuracy down the field, he has realistic top-five upside in 2020. Gaining wide receiver Stefon Diggs as his new No. 1 target certainly won't hurt.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed exactly the amount of pressured passes as was expected in 2019, but he also attempted the third-most pressured passes (144) of anyone on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of top-10 QBs under pressure. He's also one of just two passers on the list to break 1,000 passing yards under pressure. Prescott's 7:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio while under pressure looks pretty good. The young passer is tied with Philip Rivers for the fourth-most TD passes completed under pressure since 2016, with 19. He also has the highest single-season completion percentage above expectation under pressure in a single season since 2016. With or without a long-term contract extension in Dallas this summer, Prescott will likely be the third QB off the board in fantasy drafts behind Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
Nobody in the NFL faced more pressures last season than Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan with 216. And despite all that pressure, he still managed to post a passer rating under pressure that was more than 12 points higher than the league average of 66.2. Ryan's passer rating under pressure of 87.9 is the highest among QBs in every season combined since 2016. Only Tom Brady has thrown more touchdown passes while under pressure (30) than Ryan (27) since 2016. His 104.9 passer rating from 2016 sits third in the top-five passer ratings under pressure since 2016. Ryan also tied for the third-most TD passes thrown under pressure in a single season with nine in 2018. If Atlanta's offensive line can actually give him more time to throw, the consistent 35-year-old should have top-five QB1 upside in 2020.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played in just eight games last season because of injury, but he remained consistent under pressure when he was on the field. His passer rating of 84.2 while under pressure and his plus-2.2 percent completion rate above expectation are impressive considering that he threw more than 30 percent of his under-pressure throws into tight windows. Stafford's combined passer rating under pressure of 83.8 is the third-best mark of any qualified quarterback since 2016, trailing just Matt Ryan and Alex Smith. The 32-year-old was on pace for a great finish in 2019 if he hadn't gotten hurt, and many expect him to pick up right where he left off in 2020. Stafford is a borderline QB1 and makes for a great fantasy backup.
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