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9 Hardest Players to Rank (Fantasy Football)

Jul 9, 2020

Ronald Jones is a very difficult player to evaluate due to Bruce Arians’ unwillingness to commit to him and the presence of Ke’Shawn Vaughn

We all know that nothing is ever certain in fantasy football, but some players have a range of outcomes so vast that they become very difficult to judge. Less-than-ideal situations, depth chart concerns, injury issues, or the likelihood of negative regression are all factors that contribute to the potential floor these risky athletes could flirt with. However, extreme talent or a history of high-level production are just a couple of things that also inflate the ceiling of these same guys. So which players are extremely difficult to peg down and where are we leaning on them? Our featured analysts seek to tackle that very question below. Read on to see who they’re struggling to gauge and whether they believe these athletes have a higher chance of hitting either their floor or their ceiling.

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Q1. Which RB are you struggling to evaluate the most due to their wide range of outcomes and why?

Ronald Jones (TB) | Ke’Shawn Vaughn (TB) 
“Running back is one of the easier positions to evaluate, but the toughest backfield to figure out is certainly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ duo of Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. It’s a valuable role, as the team was a top-10 offense last year, and that was with a shoddy offensive line and Jameis Winston under center. They not only added Tom Brady, but they also added first-round talent to the offensive line as well as Rob Gronkowski, who is also a top-tier blocker, to the stable of pass-catchers. While I believe it’s Jones who gets the job to start the season, we can’t forget about what Bruce Arians did with him last year despite outplaying Peyton Barber all year. Vaughn was just a third-round pick, so it’s not like he’s guaranteed a big role in the offense, but it’s one of the tougher backfields to figure out.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Devin Singletary (BUF) 
“Buffalo ran the ball 45% of the time last season, which was good for seventh-most in the league. That is what makes Singletary an appealing option. However, 62% of the team’s total rushes came from Josh Allen and Frank Gore. Gore is no longer in the mix, but Buffalo did draft Zack Moss in the third round and he could very well be handed those former Gore touches, while also seeing the bulk of the goal line carries along with Allen. Singletary was only given the ball five times inside the 10-yard line last season. As a rookie, Moss could be unimpressive and the team can rely heavily on Singletary, giving him substantial upside, or we could see a similar split to last season and that would put a damper on his fantasy production. With the lack of preseason workouts this season making it more difficult for rookies to get acclimated, I like Singletary’s chances of being more involved in the team’s rushing attack and overall offense.”
– Rich Piazza (Fantasy Shed)

Todd Gurley (ATL) 
“It wasn’t too long ago that Gurley was one of the first picks in any fantasy draft. It’s clear his arrow has been pointing down and now he’s looking for a fresh start with Atlanta. Questions about his knee will continue to persist until he proves he’s healthy and closer to the guy who totaled nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage and 40 touchdowns in 2017-18 combined. While the doubts are certainly warranted, Gurley’s potential upside in an offense that has been fantasy-friendly for years, especially given his potential to be a big part of the Falcons’ passing game, is more than enough reason for me to gamble that he’s not finished just yet.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Cam Akers (LAR) 
“Akers is an extremely difficult player for me to evaluate right now due to the wide range of outcomes. While studying Akers at Florida State, I saw a player with a ton of potential, but one who was also extremely raw. He’s at his best when he’s out in space and he struggles with proper vision in between the tackles. He now has Darrell Henderson in the same backfield and the Rams are likely to use him after spending a third-round pick on him in 2019, too. In my opinion, Akers is unlikely to be the pure workhorse back and he still has a lot of developing to do to be a top-tier fantasy football option.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Q2. Which WR are you struggling to evaluate the most due to their wide range of outcomes and why?

DeVante Parker (MIA) 
“Will we be getting the DeVante Parker that was the No. 2 overall wide receiver from Weeks 10-17? If we knew the answer to that, he wouldn’t be on this list. In the first half of the season, Parker was outside of WR3 territory in half-PPR formats. While it was nice to see him finally break out, we need to take a look at some of the circumstances around him that could have contributed to that. In the first nine weeks, Parker was sharing the field with Preston Williams and saw double-digit targets in only two games. After Williams went down with his injury, Parker was given 10 or more targets in every game except for two. In addition, while the Dolphins weren’t very effective running the ball all season, Parker became more prevalent in the offense once Kenyan Drake was traded after Week 7. We could hope for the second-half DeVante Parker, but he’ll have to do it with Preston Williams most likely back and a running game that now features Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. I’m going to have to go with his history here because four-and-half seasons of disappointment is just too great a sample size.”
– Rich Piazza (Fantasy Shed)

A.J. Green (CIN) 
“The last time he played a full season, Green was a borderline top-10 fantasy wide receiver. The problem is that was 2017 and he’s played in just nine games since. Once listed among the top at his position, no one is sure what to expect from Green, who just turned 31 and is only six years younger than his head coach, Zac Taylor. Green will also be catching passes from No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, who put up eye-popping numbers last year for LSU, but that was college and no one knows how he’ll fare in the pros. Furthermore, is Green even the No. 1 target on his team at this point? Tyler Boyd was a top-25 fantasy wide receiver last season and the Bengals also drafted Tee Higgins to bolster their receiving corps. Green probably has plenty left in the tank to be a valuable contributor, but I will be taking the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach on draft day, reminding myself that in fantasy terms, 2017 was a long time ago.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Brandin Cooks (HOU) 
“There are a few wide receivers I’m struggling with, but possibly none more important than Cooks. He’s on his fourth team in five years and won’t have an offseason to work with Deshaun Watson, but it’s hard to say he won’t produce considering he’s been a top-24 wide receiver in every healthy season he’s had. On top of that, his competition for targets, Will Fuller, hasn’t been able to stay on the field. If Fuller missed time, Cooks would get eight-plus targets per game. Still, when you add in the concussions he dealt with last year, Cooks is a tough one to gauge in fantasy football this year.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Cooper Kupp (LAR) 
“Kupp has been keeping me up at nights. Last year, we saw him finish as the WR4 on the season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Kupp was on fire the first half of last season, but saw his snaps plummet when the Rams’ offense shifted heavily to 12 personnel. All indications are that the Rams appear to be moving forward with that same philosophy this season, which means that he could very well finish this season outside the top-30 wide receivers like he did the back half of last year. I’m unlikely to have any shares of the talented wideout when you factor in his current ADP.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their hardest players to evaluate. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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