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Senior Fantasy Football Expert Shawn Childs breaks down and forecasts the top players from the biggest colleges in the nation! In this edition, he takes a look at Marcus Mariota, Royce Freeman, LeGarrette Blount and many more of your favorite Oregon players! Stay tuned for more College Football Player Breakdowns!
QB Marcus Mariota – Over the last two seasons, Mariota has a 17-13 record while averaging only 30.1 passes per game. In 2016, Marcus played well leading to 26 TDs and only nine Ints. Last year Mariota struggled to throw TDs (13) while making more mistakes (15 interceptions). He continues to offer value as a runner over the last two seasons (60/349/2 and 60/312/5). In 2017, Marcus passed for over 300 yards in two games while never delivering more than two TDs in any game. He missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury. Over his three years in the NFL, Mariota hasn’t delivered a special season in line with his success in 2014 at Oregon (5,224 combined yards with 42 passing TDs and 15 rushing TDs with only four Ints. The new offensive coordinator invites intriguing upside to the 2018 offensive game plan. Matt LaFleur has been part of two great offenses in 2016 (Falcons – 33.8 points per game) and 2017 (Rams – 29.9 points per game). Based on his direction and questions with the possible production at WR, Marcus will be drafted as a backup Fantasy QB in 2018. He has top 12 talent for sure, but his passing attempts will rank well below the league average. His winning value will need to come from his ability to run and TDs. With a full season of games, Mariota should deliver 4,000 combined yards with just over league average TDs. His potential for upside and change in offensive philosophy would lead to me drafting Mariota on many teams as a QB2 in 2018.
RB Royce Freeman – In his four seasons at Oregon, Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards with 60 TDs while adding 79 catches for 814 yards and four TDs. He runs with vision and enough lateral quickness to create winning plays over any part of the line of scrimmage. Freeman runs with power and follow-through at the second level of the defense. His speed (4.54) is about NFL average while lacking home run ability. In 2017, the Broncos’ RB rushed for 1,631 yards on 407 carries with only six rushing TDs. Their RBs caught 87 of 112 targets for 699 yards and two TDs. Freeman is going to be the early-down back in this offense with a chance to 300+ touches for 1,400+ yards. I expect about 25 catches in the passing game with a team-high in rushing TDs. He projects as a better version of C.J. Anderson who finished 273 touches in 2017 for 1,231 yards with four TDs and 28 catches. His style and opportunity have similarities to Jordan Howard while playing for a team that has a chance to play from the lead in many more games.
RB LeGarrette Blount – I expect Blount to win the power lead running back job out of training camp. His best season came in 2016 with the Patriots where he gained 1,199 combined yards with 18 TDs and seven catches on a career-high 306 touches. Last year the Eagles rotated RBs, which led to LeGarrette gaining 816 combined yards with only three TDs and eight catches on 181 touches. He has no value on passing downs. With Kerry Johnson in the mix, I can’t put a number on Blount’s value. The lead runner in Detroit has a chance to run the ball 225+ times for 1,000 yards with questionable value in TDs. In general, the Lions’ early-down back looks to be a Fantasy trap even with an improved offensive line.
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RB Jonathan Stewart – Over the last three seasons, Stewart has lost value in his yards per carry (4.6, 4.1, 3.8, and 3.4). The Panthers gave him 200 or more touches over the last four seasons, but his game is just about empty in the passing game (2016 – 8/60 and 2017 – 8/52/1). Jonathan has 23 TDs over his last 41 games. Stewart should see between 75 and 100 touches on the year while being only an insurance card for Saquon Barkley.
TE Ed Dickson – The last man standing at TE for the Seahawks is Mr. Dickson. As a fill in for the injured Greg Olsen in 2017, Ed had his best season (30/437/1 on 48 targets) since his sophomore campaign (54/528/5 on 89 targets) with the Ravens. Dickson only had one game of value in 2017 (5/175 on five targets) thanks to him being overlooked in the deep passing game by the Lions in Week 5. Over his next 11 games, he only has a combined 19 catches for 166 yards and one TD on 34 targets. There’s no Fantasy upside here even if he’s named the starter.
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