For the third year in a row I have had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Rank of NFL Fantasy Live and NFL.com. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to fantasy football, high-quality music and Star Wars, he is a really cool, down-to-earth guy.
I met Adam in New York at the 2013 NFL draft. I have interviewed him a handful of times over the last three years and he has yet to disappoint.
Booga: It is that time of year again. It’s time for all of the fantasy football players to get that much-needed info to build a Championship fantasy team. With the No. 1 pick, in this year’s fantasy football draft, fans should select?
Adam: I’m going with Eddie Lacy. Too often, we as fantasy enthusiasts can be reactionary. But it’s going to be important to be proactive here, so I like Lacy a ton. He had some injuries last year and ran o.k. early in the season. But he averaged close to five-yards per carry during the last 10 games of the season. And he plays in one of the top offenses in the league, which is nice.
But perhaps the biggest reason why I like him over a player like Adrian Peterson (who seems to be the consensus No. 1) is that he’s involved in the passing game. He established a career-high in touchdown receptions last year and I see him taking a bigger role for the coming year.
Jamaal Charles is another candidate for the top spot, but dang, he’s the only guy in Kansas City. He gets bullied way too much by opposing defenses. I hope Jeremy Maclin helps him out a little bit, but dang, I get bummed for the guy.
So I’m going Lacy. And if I’m at the end of the first-round, I’m thinking about going WR (like Antonio Brown).
Booga: I asked the fans to submit some fantasy football questions. Here is one from Thomas Powell. “With the Chargers adding to their offensive line, and, especially, the drafting of Melvin Gordon, how will this affect Philip Rivers’ numbers as a fantasy quarterback?”
Adam: Rivers average draft position is in the ninth round. That’s a tremendous value for a guy I have a lot of confidence in.
Everybody is going to pass on him in drafts because they fear his best days are behind him. But as long as Chris Watt continues to develop, Rivers will have another fine season. To me, that’s the key. Making sure that center position is all square and ready to go. People outside of San Diego don’t get how great Nick Hardwick was. It’s a pretty jarring transition to go to a new center.
Booga: Another fan question. Nick Millican asks, “Can you please rank your top-five rookie fantasy players for the upcoming season?”
Adam: This is an interesting one. I think the key to this is, who is the best fantasy running back out there. And I really like T.J. Yeldon in Jacksonville. I know, the Jaguars get besmirched a lot by NFL fans. But they are a pretty fun team. As a former Chargers season ticket holder, I can vouch for the Jags fans. They are a lot like you. Laid-back, but passionate and better fans than they (and you) are given credit for. Why do people think just because we have nice weather, we can’t care about the NFL?
But I digress because none of that really has anything to do with why Yeldon will be good. I like his situation down in Duval County. The Jaguars have made some improvements on the offensive line with Jeremy Parnell and Steve Wisniewski. Plus the team is going to want to run the ball an absolute ton. Which will be great. Yeldon doesn’t have the break-away speed, but he can be that Emmitt Smith-type of runner. I’m pretty high. Oh, and I’m pretty high on him.
After that I like Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Todd Gurley (he’s going to be a stud at the end of the season) and Ameer Abdullah. I met Ameer at the Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles (I know, I’ll stop name-dropping at some point. Actually, I probably won’t), and I really liked him. I have this irrational thing where I’m drawn to people who are pretty cool.
Remember that when I (expletive) can Amari Cooper. Actually, if you want to mix in a rookie receiver, Kevin White is pretty damn good. Cooper’s ADP is the fifth round, White is the seventh. Nelson Agholor is right around the seventh. I’d take both of those guys over Cooper.
And for the record. If the unthinkable happens and the Chargers fold, and a new team springs up in Los Angeles called the “Chargers” (which is weird because the same stuff happened with the Rams and St. Louis), I would endorse you becoming Jaguars fans. They are cool fans. But let’s not think about such awful things.
Booga: It seems as though we have all been waiting for Ladarius Green to break out and make an impact at the tight end position, both on the field and in fantasy football. Is this the year that Green should be slotted as high as past expectations would see him drafted?
Adam: It seems like we’ve waited years for Laddy Green to make his impact. Enough to make me wonder if it’s ever going to happen. So I would end up taking a pass on him. I don’t like to stockpile tight ends anyway, and so I feel like he’s out of the Top 12 right now. I know Mike McCoy has said he wants to get Green more involved in the offense. But I have to put it in the “believe it when I see it” category.
Booga: With the turmoil surrounding Adrian Peterson and his time with the Vikings, is he still a player that should be drafted in the top three?
Adam: Oh yeah. Like I mentioned previously, Eddie Lacy is my top guy. I feel good about that. Peterson is my No. 2. He’s motivated. And he has a great coach in Minnesota. Look at some of the running backs Norv Turner has worked with (as an offensive coordinator). I mean, as awful as Norv can be as a head coach, dude is an exceptional offensive coordinator (which is why he continues to get these head coaching gigs).
I still can’t believe the Chargers passed on Rex Ryan to hire Turner. I know Ryan’s time in New York ended poorly, but he didn’t have a quarterback like Philip Rivers, either. I say he would have brought a fresh attitude to the Chargers during his tenure and I surmise he would still be the coach here in San Diego. Or down there in San Diego. I’m in Los Angeles right now, but you get my drift.
Seriously, why do the Chargers want to come to L.A.? San Diego is so much better. I’m telling you, I would take a gig in San Diego if the Chargers are committed to stay. I’ll go work for Fox Sports San Diego, do a show on XTRA 1360. I’d go to the Viejas Arena and support the Aztecs unless they are playing the Titans or Rebels. I’m in! But why does San Diego want out? I blame the Padres for building a beautiful stadium, and then not having a competitive team for so long.
But there I go again.
Booga: Chargers wideout Keenan Allen, despite having more receptions last year than he did as a rookie, experienced a sophomore slump of sorts. Where do you believe he should go in fantasy drafts? Is he only reliable in PPR leagues?
Adam: Allen is going to be a great value this season. I’m ready to kind of write-off last year, not so much as a sophomore slump, but as a bad season for the team in general. There was a turnstile at the center position. Danny Woodhead and a host of running backs got hurt. The team was a mess. So everybody suffered accordingly. Allen unfairly gets criticized because people over-drafted him and were burned. That’s the way fantasy enthusiasts operate. Hell, I’m still a little wary to draft Adrian Peterson because he nearly wrecked my team last year.
But I was surprised to see his ADP was in round five so far. Realize the only people doing drafts right now are the marks, the inside people who are super serious about fantasy. If those guys (and gals) are serious about Keenan, I feel very good about it.
Booga: Antonio Gates surprised so many last season, recording 12 receiving touchdowns. What should fans expect for his fantasy output in 2015?
Adam: I honestly don’t know, dude. I mean, you can continue to predict a drop-off for Gates every year and you will be right at some point. He has an ADP of the late-ninth round right now, which is a pretty good. I can live with that. If you are the type who likes to wait for a tight end and see what happens, that’s a good move. You can handcuff him with Laddy.
But if I’m projecting out for Gates, I can see about eight touchdowns. He’s still going to be a valuable asset for your team. He might not get double-digit touchdowns again, but he’s going to be good.
Booga: How does the trading of LeSean McCoy to the Bills affect his fantasy status? Is it safe to say that he will thrive in Buffalo’s offense?
Adam: I liked this deal. It was a good move for Buffalo. (And another fine set of football fans, too.) I really like the volume he’s going to get with the Bills. Ryan is going to want to run the ball a ton. Or more to the point, he’s going to have to run the ball a ton. And you’ve all read the reports the Bills want McCoy to lead the league in carries, much like DeMarco Murray did last year. So that’s encouraging.
The only downside is Fred Jackson. The guy always seems to find a way to weasel into our fantasy hearts. Watch, McCoy will end up getting dinged a little bit and here comes Action Jackson to get like 200 touches. It’s uncanny.
Also, McCoy was kind of salty because I gave him a fun little ribbing during the Madden Bowl. Geeze, dude. Why do you have to be so sensitive? He can’t take a little good-natured ribbing?
Booga: Odell Beckham Jr. posted phenomenal receiving numbers as a rookie in only 12 games played. If Beckham Jr. plays all 16 games, where do you believe he should be drafted?
Adam: OBJ’s rookie season was kind of like Guns-n-Roses debut album, “Appetite for Destruction”. You might want to Google that, kids. It was a big hit when I was a young boy, and trust me, it was huge. But the follow-up, well, not so much. I mean, I could go through tracks on the Illusion albums and find some hits. But it’s never going to be Appetite.
So it’s hard to expect OBJ to reach similar type numbers this year. Especially if he’s got this hamstring problem that lingers. Still, though. I love OBJ. Loved him at LSU. I’m probably going to overspend for him. Just because he was so amazing last year. Eli Manning is going to have a full offseason to get familiar with Ben McAdoo’s offense. So I see some big things. Plus Victor Cruz should help ease the pressure off OBJ a little bit, too. Hell, if the Giants can establish a ground game, he can be even better.
Great, now my expectations for OBJ are similar to the expectations I had for “Chinese Democracy” I just hope I don’t have to wait more than a decade for it.
And for the record, “Chinese Democracy” is a pretty great album.
Booga: Last year’s rushing leader, DeMarco Murray, crushed opposing ball carriers by almost 500 yards rushing in 2014. Now that he is in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, sharing the workload with newly acquired Ryan Mathews and former-Charger Darren Sproles, what type of fantasy impact do you think he’ll have in 2015? Where should he be drafted?
Adam: He currently holds an ADP of the second-round, just ahead of C.J. Anderson and Jeremy Hill. And I would take both of those guys ahead of Murray. I just fear a guy who was unhealthy for most of his career, suddenly found a magic elixir that made him healthy enough to run behind the best offensive line in the game. Now he’s got to share the load with your buddy Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles (another one of your buddies!), so there might not be enough of an opportunity for him.
At least he will be motivated in two games against the Cowboys! So there is that. But I’m going to find another direction in Round 2, and if he somehow makes it to the third round and he’s sitting there? Fine. But I don’t anticipate that.
Booga: Charger fans everywhere, myself included, are extremely excited about the drafting of running back Melvin Gordon. With a big, run-blocking offensive line, what are your expectations for the rookie runner out of Wisconsin?
Adam:Remember when I said that I have this thing where I will always lean towards the guys I meet in person and favor them? I really liked Melvin when I met him. So that is either good or bad depending on your perspective.
The big thing is the offensive line. Can it play well enough to open the holes for Gordon? The sizeable holes he enjoyed at Wisconsin? If the o-line plays well, Gordon will be the top rookie running back. The team is already trying to work him into the passing game. Listen to McCoy, he talked about pass protection when it came to Gordon and that’s a huge sign. So take this as a good thing.
Booga: In an effort to give you a bit of bragging rights, how many fantasy football championships do you own? And, please, be specific when it comes the ‘ships that were obtained among your peers at the NFL Network and NFL.com.
Adam: Oh stop, it’s not about the championships. I’ve done great on the NFL Fantasy Live League. I’m the Patriots of that league, replete with pushing the rules. But there is one league that continues to hang over my head. It is a keeper league. Over the last five years, my team has been: Tom Brady/Andrew Luck, Peterson, Forte, Le’Veon Bell, Alfred Morris, Brandon Marshall, Josh Gordon (his good year) and Rob Gronkowski. I never won that league. I always lose on the worst circumstances. Two years ago, I lost to the guy who played Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith that one week against the Raiders. I was going to win last year because I did pretty well with my waiver wire guys (I had CJ and Hill), but Luck put up a donut. It’s the best because I can never win it.
I would like to thank Adam for taking the time to do this interview. As expected, his responses were intelligent and humorous. You can follow him on Twitter @adamrank and you can catch him on NFL Fantasy Live on NFL Network.
Thanks a lot for reading.
After trading up from pick 17 to pick 15, the Chargers selected Wisconsin’s running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon has already become a fan favorite without playing a single snap. You all know of the stats, of the record-breaking game he had against Nebraska and the LT comparison. He was a sensational back in college, showing great vision and unbelievable lateral movement coupled with great speed at the college level. He was the top running back on many people’s big boards, and a no-brainer pick for the Chargers at 17.
So what’s all the negativity about? Melvin Gordon has some flaws, just like 99% of the players in any draft class. But Gordon ran behind the best offensive line in college football a year ago, and didn’t have to do much work. Gordon is “very in love with the sidelines”, meaning he will, more times than not, try to use his speed and bounce out of a hole to get to the sidelines and outrun defenders. With a 4.52 40-yard speed, he might not be able to do that in the pros.
Gordon lost 6 fumbles in his last seven games while fumbling in 50% of his games played in 2014. His fumble problems got worse after beginning his collegiate career with one fumble in 2012, then four in 2013 and seven in 2014. That can only get worse while at the next level.
But did the Chargers really need to move up two spots to take him? San Diego swapped their first-round pick with San Francisco and traded their 2015 fourth-round selection and 2016 fifth-round pick to nab him. It wasn’t necessary to move up and lose more picks, for a team who lacks depth and is in a slight rebuild mode. The 49ers were still targeting Arik Armstead and the Texans have Arian Foster and Alfred Blue. There is a high chance Gordon would have still been there. This was one of the deepest RB classes the NFL has seen in recent years. The team could have been able to get impact starters (Duke Johnson, Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, TJ Yeldon, Tevin Coleman) in rounds two and three, while drafting BPA (best player available) at 17. This trade only really makes sense if the Bolts trade back and get more picks.
At the end of the day, the pick was fine. Gordon is a heck of a back and one who can be put in as the starter day one.
Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon? As great as they may be, Gurley and Gordon are far from the only quality backs in this year’s draft. How about Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, TJ Yeldon, and don’t forget Duke Johnson. These are some of the names from what is expected to be the best running back draft class since 2005. Standouts from that year were Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Cedric Benson. Looks like some general managers will be salivating in a few short weeks!
Gurley and Gordon could conceivably be selected in the first round when the 2015 draft takes place in Chicago from April 30 to May 2. Both may very well be starters for whatever franchise chooses them, though Gurley may need time to complete the rehab from his 2014 knee injury. Of the approximate 74 college players who declared for the draft this year, eight might hear their name called anywhere from round two through round three.
So, if you think that Chargers GM Tom Telesco must pick a running back when San Diego is up at 17: I think you might need to reconsider. No question the Bolts need a power running back the likes of which hit the road when LT went to the Jets. But that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a guy in round one. There are going to be many high-value players available in this draft.
San Diego Chargers fans – “Trust in Tom” will need to be the phrase once the Lightning Bolts are on the clock!
Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to your comments.
It is no news to anyone that the San Diego Chargers are in dire need of a running back.
In fact, they need a running back that can do more than just take hand-offs from Philip Rivers. They need a back that can also catch passes and convert first downs, as well as bang it into the end zone when the game is on the line. Enter the quick and sure-footed running back out of Boise State, Jay Ajayi?
Weight: 221 lbs.
40-Yards Dash: 4.57 Seconds
Jay Ajayi is an extremely versatile running back, something that would benefit the Chargers tremendously. His size assists him in breaking and spinning off tackles to gain extra yards. The former Boise State Bronco made catches out of the backfield, was a power-back between the tackles, ran outside and even lined up as a wide receiver.
He displays good hands/vision/zone-blocking skills coupled with great footwork due to his years playing soccer. A powerful downhill runner, he plays with patience and is dangerous coming out of the backfield. This is where the Chargers can expect him to be most effective for them as proven by his college rushing statistics: 3,796 yards on 678 attempts and 50 touchdowns (TDs); he made 73 catches for 771 yards with five TDs.
At the professional level, NFL.com has compared Ajayi to Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks because they share a similar body type and running style. Like Lynch, the draft prospect uses the stiff arm to keep defenders away, is a physical runner, and has the potential to be a three-down back.
My projection is that Jay Ajayi will be selected in perhaps the middle of the second round. He has what it takes to be a difference maker in the NFL, and the Bolts should attempt to pick him up if the running backs expected to go before him (Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), Todd Gurley (Georgia), and Tevin Coleman (Indiana) are not available.
What do you think, Chargers faithful? I’m good with my choice. Do you feel the Bolts general manager Tom Telesco has Ajayi’s name penciled in on his draft board for San Diego?
Thanks for reading! Please comment below.