Miles and miles away
“Don’t pick me up in fantasy no more, I really don’t care” are the words Miles Sanders uttered that had the fantasy football world going crazy this week. In a conversation with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark, Sanders made it clear that he does not care about fantasy football. In fact, most NFL players don't, but they certainly want to perform well. Most took his “don’t pick me up” comment as fantasy advice, but I see it as anything B.T. Sanders’ comments were more about how the Eagles’ offense works. He stressed that while he needed to be more consistent, he’ll also need more opportunities going forward. It's a fair gripe considering Sanders has averaged 5.1 yards per carry over his three-year career. Although he's been the team’s leading rusher every year, he's split rushing duties with Jalen Hurts, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott. Fantasy managers will hear his comments and leave him off draft boards completely. While you shouldn't do that, you should proceed with caution.
In three seasons with the Eagles, Sanders has yet to eclipse 900 rushing yards in a season. After finishing as RB15 and RB23 in his first two seasons respectively, Sanders finished as RB44 in 2021. Scoring a total of 12 touchdowns (nine rushing) in three seasons doesn't get you excited either. Can it get better? Worse? Or stay the same? Well, what we know is he can be a viable RB2 on your fantasy roster. The problem is he’s playing with the second-most effective runner at the quarterback position in football. Hurts led all quarterbacks with 784 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. No matter how you slice it, that’ll always affect a running back’s ceiling in fantasy. Sanders can definitely help himself by staying on the field as he only played in 12 games last season. His injuries played a role in Scott and Kenneth Gainwell combining for 12 rushing touchdowns last season. Both are still on the roster. Despite Sanders’ comments, if he can stay healthy and continue being efficient, he will surely climb back into the RB2 ranks.
“Big Money” McLaurin
Another day, another wide receiver gets paid. This time it’s Terry McLaurin. The Commanders’ top wideout held out of the team’s voluntary and mandatory minicamps in hopes of a new contract. McLaurin agreed to a three-year $71 million deal, with $28 million guaranteed. If there was any uncertainty, this deal ensures that McLaurin will be Washington’s top target for the foreseeable future. Despite the uneven (mostly unreliable) quarterback play, McLaurin has managed to put together back-to-back seasons in which he caught at least 75 receptions and over 1,000 yards. Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel will compete for targets behind McLaurin, while Dyami Brown and Cam Sims provide depth.
With Carson Wentz now the Commanders’ starting quarterback, McLaurin is set up nicely to have his best season yet. Despite questionable decision making in 2021, Wentz put up a stat line of 3,563/27/7 and finished as a mid-level QB fantasy. Not known for being healthy and strong as an ox, Wentz started all 17 for the Colts in 2021. It’s fair to say and by now we all know that Wentz will be the best quarterback that McLaurin has played with. The pairing will ensure that McLaurin keeps his WR2 status, with WR1 being a potential possibility. McLaurin is the latest young wideout to get the money he’s earned. The two biggest names that remain without contracts are DK Metcalf and Deebo Samuel. With all of the receivers getting big dollars, it shouldn’t be long before they join McLaurin and the others.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Baker Mayfield was asked this week if he’d be willing to play for the Browns if Deshaun Watson gets suspended. He didn’t say no. He also didn’t say yes, saying the Browns would have to reach out to him to reconcile. Mayfield went on to say that both sides have moved on. The Browns have failed to trade Mayfield, who is due almost $19 million (guaranteed) this upcoming season. There are reports that the Seahawks and Panthers are still interested in trading for the polarizing quarterback, but both teams know they have leverage over the Browns. Watson’s disciplinary hearing was this week and there is no timetable for a decision in his short or long-term future. Once that is decided, things could move rather quickly for Mayfield. At some point, something has to give. After a lackluster 2021 in which he finished as QB25, Mayfield’s outlook in 2022 will be based a lot on where he lands.
Belief is in the eye of the beholder
The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia reported that despite drafting James Cook in the second round, the Bills remain “firmly behind” Devin Singletary. This comes as no surprise as most teams need/use more than one running back. How much they are behind him is the question. What is clear is that they clearly aren’t behind him enough to make him a workhorse running back. Singletary proved last season down the stretch that he could be that guy if needed. In his final five games of 2021, Singletary averaged 75 yards rushing per game and scored six touchdowns. Cook, another South Florida phenom, will certainly be breathing down his neck for touches. I expect both players to thrive in this Josh Allen-led offense, but at some point (probably sooner rather than later) I expect Cook to take over as the lead runner in the Bills backfield.