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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 Andrew Luck, Christian McCaffrey, Zach Ertz and many more of your favorite Stanford players! Stay tuned for more College Football Player Breakdowns!
QB Andrew Luck – After the 2016 season, Luck had surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum. Unfortunately, his recovery lingered all season. Last November Andrew went to Europe to solve his shoulder woes. In late May. Luck still hasn’t thrown a football. In 2016, I didn’t trust Luck due to his questionable depth at the receiving positions. In the end, Andrew finished as top 5 QB despite missing a game. He passed for 4,240 yards with 33 combined TDs and 341 yards rushing. Over five years in the NFL. Luck has a 43-27 record while setting a career high in his completion rate (63.5) and yards per pass attempt (7.8). He did this even with a career-high sack rate (7.0 percent). Over his last nine games played, Andrew had two TDs or more in eight games. He finished with five games with over 300 yards passing (once over the last eight games). His shoulder injury is a huge concern, but it sounds as though he’s trending in the right direction. His offensive line is improving, but his receiving core is league average at best. I don’t see an impactful run game to take the pressure off his right shoulder. When healthy, Luck is a winner who can deliver impact games. Before drafting him in 2018, a Fantasy owner needs to see him at full strength in the preseason. Possible 4,000 yards with a run at 30 TDs. Update (7/27): The Colts expect Luck to play their first preseason game in August, which will create momentum in his draft value. For now, Andrew is on path to regain his previous form.
RB Christian McCaffrey – In his first year in the NFL, McCaffery finished third in RB catches (80) and fifth in RB receiving yards (651). When adding in his seven TDs, Christian has a floor of 200 Fantasy points in PPR leagues without even considering his value as a runner. Last year the Panthers’ RB had 349 rushes for 1,350 yards and nine TDs, but McCaffrey had fewer than 33 percent of the early down action (117/435/2). With Jonathan Stewart no longer on the roster, Christian can’t help but gain a much better portion of the run game. Carolina added C.J. Anderson in the offseason to fill the void created on early downs in the run game. Cam Newton runs the ball a ton at QB, which limits the overall chances on the ground for the Panthers’ RB. At the very least, McCaffery will see a bump to 50 percent of the RB carries. With 175 rushes, Christian should gain at least 700 yards. He’ll catch between 80 and 100 balls leading to another 700 yards at a minimum. His ability to catch the ball gives him a nice consistency factor from week-to-week while adding big game ability when the Panthers are forced to chase on the scoreboard. With 1,400 combined yards, 80 catches, and eight TDs, McCaffrey would score 284 Fantasy points in a PPR league, which would have ranked sixth in 2017, seventh in 2016, and 2nd in 2015. Even with a ten percent error on the downside, Christian will finish with a top 10 RB season with a full season of games.
TE Zach Ertz – Over the last three seasons, Ertz averaged 109 targets per seasons while missing five games. He has over 70 catches in each of these seasons leading to 800+ yards and 14 combined TD. Zach showed growth in TDs (8) in 2017. Ertz scored seven of his TDs in 12 games with Carson Wentz behind center. He had seven games with five catches or more while receiving double-digit targets in five games. Last season Philly completed 110 of 163 passes to the TE position for 1,202 yards and 13 TDs, which was actually a downtick for 2016 (129/1298/5). We know two things for sure in this offense. Ertz has talent and upside, but he needs to stay healthy for 16 games. Second, the Eagles like to throw to the TE. Zach is the top receiving threat in this offense with developing value in TDs. With a full season of action, I could see 90+ catches for 1,000+ yards and a run at double-digit TDs.
WR Doug Baldwin – After trending up in 2015 (78/1069/14) and 2016 (94/1128/7), Baldwin failed to produce a season worthy of his ADP in 2017. He caught 75 of his 116 targets for 991 yards and eight TDs. Doug finished with only two games with over 100 yards receiving with a miserable end to the year over his last seven starts (21 catches for 453 yards and five TDs on 37 targets). Over first eight games, Baldwin had four games with double-digit targets (15, 12, 10, and 12) while receiving seven targets or fewer in each of his last eight games. He plays for one of the top QBs in the games, but he’s averaged only 7.2 targets per game over the last three seasons. If Brandon Marshall plays well, Baldwin is going to slip to the second option in the passing game. It may not result in a drop in opportunity, but it may create more peaks and valleys from game to game. Not an edge for me at WR, but his ability to deliver some big games and TDs gives him the best value as a WR2 in PPR leagues. I’ll lower his projections to 80 catches for 1,000 yards with mid-level TDs.
RB Ty Montgomery – In his second season in the league, Ty had rushed for 457 yards on 77 carries with three TDs while securing 44 catches for 348 yards, but he failed to stay healthy in 2017 leading to 446 combined yards with four TDs and 23 catches over eight games. He averaged 5.9 yards per rush and 7.9 yards per catch in 2016 while showing regression in both areas last year (3.8 and 7.5). His size (6’0” and 216 lbs.) gives a fighter’s chance at regaining the lead role this year, but Montgomery needs to improve as a short yardage runner. Over four seasons at Stanford, Ty caught 172 passes for 2,125 with 15 TDs highlighted by his junior year (61/958/10). This season Montgomery should be the top option in the passing game while offering a change of pace value in early down. If he stays healthy, Ty could catch 60+ balls with a chance at 75 to 100 runs on early downs leading to about 1,000 combined yards. Heading into the summer, Montgomery is the third best WR on the roster.
TE Austin Hopper – The Falcons cleared the way for Hooper to be a viable Fantasy option at TE in 2017, but he fell short of expectations due to short targets (65). On the year, Austin had 49 catches for 526 yards and three TDs leading to the 17th place ranking at TE in PPR leagues. Hooper teased Fantasy owners after his big game in Week 1 (2/128/1). Over his last 15 games, he had more than three catches in a game just three times (5/50, 7/48, and 6/49). In two seasons at Stanford, Hooper caught 74 passes for 937 yards and eight TDs. Austin will add speed to the TE position for Atlanta to hopefully take advantage of him on seam passes. He is expected to have value in blocking as well helping him earn more playing time. Austin is getting better, but he slips one more notch down on the food chain with Calvin Ridley added to the roster. His natural progress would take him to 60 catches for 600+ yards with about five TDs. Last year the Falcons completed only 61 balls to the TE position for 680 yards and five TDs on 98 targets. Atlanta would need a massive jump in passing attempts in 2018 for Hooper to have a higher ceiling.
TE Dalton Schultz – Over three seasons at Stanford, Schutz caught 55 passes for 555 yards and five TDs. He’s a run-blocking type TE with no upside in the receiving game.
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