Photo Essays  

 

Published: Aug. 21, 2015 at 12:18 p.m.

Fantasy 'Franchise Tag' players for drafts

In case you didn't know, my nickname around the NFL Media office is "Franchise". And since I’ll be playing in somewhere around eight to 10 fantasy football leagues this season, I figured it'd be fun to give some players that I'm targeting in all of my drafts for one reason or another my custom stamp of approval. It's a little something I'm calling the fantasy Franchise Tag. It's quite a prestigious nomination, as not just any average Joe fantasy player gets my fantasy Franchise Tag. So if you're in a league with me, don't go snaking them away, that's just rude. And if you're all up on the Twitter, be sure to send me some feedback @m_franciscovich #FantasyFranchiseTag and get this thing trending! Now let's get to it

10 Photos Total

  • <p>I like the Auburn product's <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000512027/article/carolina-panthers-training-camp-cam-newton-looking-good" target="new">chances of a rebound</a> (yes, even without Kelvin Benjamin) so I'm endorsing him with my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> for drafts this summer. He's 100 percent healthy following a season in which his main generator of fantasy production, his ability to run, was hampered by injuries. But once he regained his health the end of the season, that aspect returned to his game. He scored a rushing touchdown in each of his final three regular season contests, averaged 25.7 fantasy points per game and compiled 27 percent of his total fantasy points during that stretch. Despite the season ending injury to Benjamin, Newton, who as averaged 8.25 rushing scores over his four seasons in the league remains a great value in fantasy drafts this year. </p> 10

    Perry Knotts/NFL

    Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

    I like the Auburn product's chances of a rebound (yes, even without Kelvin Benjamin) so I'm endorsing him with my fantasy Franchise Tag for drafts this summer. He's 100 percent healthy following a season in which his main generator of fantasy production, his ability to run, was hampered by injuries. But once he regained his health the end of the season, that aspect returned to his game. He scored a rushing touchdown in each of his final three regular season contests, averaged 25.7 fantasy points per game and compiled 27 percent of his total fantasy points during that stretch. Despite the season ending injury to Benjamin, Newton, who as averaged 8.25 rushing scores over his four seasons in the league remains a great value in fantasy drafts this year.

  • <p> Although Roethlisberger is technically being drafted after the likes of Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady there seems to be a run of low-end QB1s in Rounds 6 to 7, so it's more a matter of fantasy drafters picking Ben last out of a group evenly-priced signal callers. But Roethlisberger is far from a "low-end" QB1 in fantasy. In fact, the Steelers signal caller is our <a href="http://fantasy.nfl.com/research/rankings" target="new">consensus No. 5 ranked</a> player at his position this season. That's why I'm giving him my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> for draft day. Don't forget that he tied for the most passing yards in the entire league last season (Drew Brees) and remains in an offense with a slew of young and talented weapons to spread the love to. So what's keeping you from selecting Roethlisberger to anchor your fantasy squad? </p> 9

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Although Roethlisberger is technically being drafted after the likes of Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady there seems to be a run of low-end QB1s in Rounds 6 to 7, so it's more a matter of fantasy drafters picking Ben last out of a group evenly-priced signal callers. But Roethlisberger is far from a "low-end" QB1 in fantasy. In fact, the Steelers signal caller is our consensus No. 5 ranked player at his position this season. That's why I'm giving him my fantasy Franchise Tag for draft day. Don't forget that he tied for the most passing yards in the entire league last season (Drew Brees) and remains in an offense with a slew of young and talented weapons to spread the love to. So what's keeping you from selecting Roethlisberger to anchor your fantasy squad?

  • <p> You have to give the Washington running back some credit for being able to stay above the 1,000-yard rushing mark for three straight seasons on a team that's won just seven games in the last two years. Washington did some work this offseason to shore up its suspect offensive line, (although they didn’t look so hot in a preseason game against the Lions) so I like Morris' chances of besting his 2014 numbers and being a more consistent producer on a weekly basis. Plus, if Washington is going to be productive at all on offense, they’re going to have to feed the rock to Morris. I'm stamping him with my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> for the season as an RB2 that you can wait on and get solid production out of without having to worry. </p> 8

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

    You have to give the Washington running back some credit for being able to stay above the 1,000-yard rushing mark for three straight seasons on a team that's won just seven games in the last two years. Washington did some work this offseason to shore up its suspect offensive line, (although they didn’t look so hot in a preseason game against the Lions) so I like Morris' chances of besting his 2014 numbers and being a more consistent producer on a weekly basis. Plus, if Washington is going to be productive at all on offense, they’re going to have to feed the rock to Morris. I'm stamping him with my fantasy Franchise Tag for the season as an RB2 that you can wait on and get solid production out of without having to worry.

  • <p>The fact that the Inconvenient Truth has <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000503718/article/frank-gore-set-up-for-smashing-success-with-colts" target="new">never been in a better offensive situation</a> in his career is enough reason to give him my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> for drafts this season. With Andrew Luck at the helm, and a ton of other weapons on the field for the Colts there is no doubt that <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000506767/article/gore-on-luck-he-runs-the-huddle-i-never-had-that" target="new">he'll face less stacked boxes</a> than he ever has in his career. Gore presents excellent value to fantasy owners who will be lucky enough to select him at his current Round 5 ADP. As long as he doesn't run out of gas in Indianapolis Gore should be firing on all cylinders this year. </p> 7

    Associated Press

    Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    The fact that the Inconvenient Truth has never been in a better offensive situation in his career is enough reason to give him my fantasy Franchise Tag for drafts this season. With Andrew Luck at the helm, and a ton of other weapons on the field for the Colts there is no doubt that he'll face less stacked boxes than he ever has in his career. Gore presents excellent value to fantasy owners who will be lucky enough to select him at his current Round 5 ADP. As long as he doesn't run out of gas in Indianapolis Gore should be firing on all cylinders this year.

  • <p>The more I read about the Dolphins offense, the more excited I get about running back Lamar Miller. The storyline this summer has been that Miller <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins/article30311943.html" target="new">will see more carries</a> and run as Miami's featured back as long as he can hold up for the entirety of the season. Last year he averaged 5.1 YPC on 216 attempts (1,099 rush yards) and also caught 38 receptions for 275 yards. He scored eight touchdowns in 2014 -- a total that is sure to increase along with his workload. Miller gets my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> as a great option if you decide to wait on drafting a running back and could not be set up any better for a breakout campaign in a contract year. </p> 6

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

    The more I read about the Dolphins offense, the more excited I get about running back Lamar Miller. The storyline this summer has been that Miller will see more carries and run as Miami's featured back as long as he can hold up for the entirety of the season. Last year he averaged 5.1 YPC on 216 attempts (1,099 rush yards) and also caught 38 receptions for 275 yards. He scored eight touchdowns in 2014 -- a total that is sure to increase along with his workload. Miller gets my fantasy Franchise Tag as a great option if you decide to wait on drafting a running back and could not be set up any better for a breakout campaign in a contract year.

  • <p> I figured it wouldn't hurt to give rookie Duke Johnson a bit of love. I mean, have you see this kid's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whrEuLmCcV4" target="new">highlight reel</a>? If he can get healthy (he's been sidelined most of the preseason with a hamstring injury) there's no doubt that he is capable of being the lead runner in Cleveland's backfield. Both Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West have been huge disappointments this preseason and were even <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2015/08/embattled_browns_running_backs.html" target="new">called out by their coach</a> for poor performance. Also a prolific pass-catcher, Johnson is one thing the Browns need more than anything -- a playmaker. Johnson gets my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> as a running back you can get in the latter rounds of your draft and could provide value in the way Jeremy Hill did for the Bengals in 2014. Yep, I said it. </p> 5

    David Richard/Associated Press

    Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns

    I figured it wouldn't hurt to give rookie Duke Johnson a bit of love. I mean, have you see this kid's highlight reel? If he can get healthy (he's been sidelined most of the preseason with a hamstring injury) there's no doubt that he is capable of being the lead runner in Cleveland's backfield. Both Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West have been huge disappointments this preseason and were even called out by their coach for poor performance. Also a prolific pass-catcher, Johnson is one thing the Browns need more than anything -- a playmaker. Johnson gets my fantasy Franchise Tag as a running back you can get in the latter rounds of your draft and could provide value in the way Jeremy Hill did for the Bengals in 2014. Yep, I said it.

  • <p>In his sophomore campaign, Matthews is slated to be <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20150819_Will_Josh_Huff_get_enough_chances_in_passing_game_.html" target="new">the focal point</a> of the Eagles' passing offense. I'll be targeting him in all of my drafts as a WR2 with WR1 upside that can be drafted in Round 5 which is absolutely insane value. For that reason, Matthews gets my fantasy <br>Franchise Tag for the season. Even as the third option last year in Philly Matthews posted a 67-872-8 stat line on 103 targets. He should be able to produce in a big way out of the gate as three of the Eagles first five contests are against defenses that ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of fantasy points given up to wideouts a season ago (ATL, WAS, NO). </p> 4

    Perry Knotts/NFL

    Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

    In his sophomore campaign, Matthews is slated to be the focal point of the Eagles' passing offense. I'll be targeting him in all of my drafts as a WR2 with WR1 upside that can be drafted in Round 5 which is absolutely insane value. For that reason, Matthews gets my fantasy
    Franchise Tag for the season. Even as the third option last year in Philly Matthews posted a 67-872-8 stat line on 103 targets. He should be able to produce in a big way out of the gate as three of the Eagles first five contests are against defenses that ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of fantasy points given up to wideouts a season ago (ATL, WAS, NO).

  • <p> At 34-years-old, reports claim Johnson has <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/indianapolis-colts/post/_/id/12405/andre-johnson-and-frank-gore-are-lead-by-example-players-for-the-colts" target="new">"turned back the clock"</a> on Father Time while Andrew Luck <a href="http://www.colts.com/news/article-1/Joint-Practice-Wednesday-Notebook-Colts-O-Sharp-vs-Bears-D/a5d76c6a-054c-4c28-a458-0f4e23a1fff4" target="new">"continues to trust"</a> his veteran wideout in preseason practices. With T.Y. Hilton opening up opposing defenses over the top, there will be ample opportunity for Johnson to be fed underneath and to use his big body to out-muscle coverage, especially in red zone situations. Johnson gets my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> as a receiver you can draft in the fifth or sixth round who will bring WR2 value to your roster. </p> 3

    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Andre Johnson, WR, Indianapolis Colts

    At 34-years-old, reports claim Johnson has "turned back the clock" on Father Time while Andrew Luck "continues to trust" his veteran wideout in preseason practices. With T.Y. Hilton opening up opposing defenses over the top, there will be ample opportunity for Johnson to be fed underneath and to use his big body to out-muscle coverage, especially in red zone situations. Johnson gets my fantasy Franchise Tag as a receiver you can draft in the fifth or sixth round who will bring WR2 value to your roster.

  • <p> Why do I think Austin Seferian-Jenkins is poised to break out in Tampa Bay following an injury plagued rookie season? Let me sum it all up for you in a few easy to digest points: The dude stands at a larger-than-life 6-foot-5 which creates nightmare mismatches all over the field, yet he gracefully glides around the gridiron like a swan on a lake or something else that's, like, extremely graceful. He has otherworldly athleticism for his size which gives him the ability to reach for overthrown passes and make tough, toe-tapping catches in the same vein as some of the most talented wide receivers in the league. I'm stamping Seferian-Jenkins with my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> this season as a valuable tight end that you can wait on until Rounds 12 to 15. </p> 2

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Why do I think Austin Seferian-Jenkins is poised to break out in Tampa Bay following an injury plagued rookie season? Let me sum it all up for you in a few easy to digest points: The dude stands at a larger-than-life 6-foot-5 which creates nightmare mismatches all over the field, yet he gracefully glides around the gridiron like a swan on a lake or something else that's, like, extremely graceful. He has otherworldly athleticism for his size which gives him the ability to reach for overthrown passes and make tough, toe-tapping catches in the same vein as some of the most talented wide receivers in the league. I'm stamping Seferian-Jenkins with my fantasy Franchise Tag this season as a valuable tight end that you can wait on until Rounds 12 to 15.

  • <p> Eifert has an opportunity to emerge as the Bengals' No. 2 pass-catcher behind A.J. Green in what promises to be an explosive offense in Cincinnati. When Eifert was healthy during his rookie season in 2013, the Bengals had him essentially playing the role of an oversized wideout, lining up all over the field which led to impressive rare production for a first year pro tight end. At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame product is likely the tallest player on the field on any given play and his slender build lends more agility to his game than you'd expect from some of the shorter, more stoutly built tight ends. Eifert gets my fantasy <strong>Franchise Tag</strong> for draft season given his sky-high ceiling heading into the season. </p> 1

    David Kohl/NFL

    Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

    Eifert has an opportunity to emerge as the Bengals' No. 2 pass-catcher behind A.J. Green in what promises to be an explosive offense in Cincinnati. When Eifert was healthy during his rookie season in 2013, the Bengals had him essentially playing the role of an oversized wideout, lining up all over the field which led to impressive rare production for a first year pro tight end. At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame product is likely the tallest player on the field on any given play and his slender build lends more agility to his game than you'd expect from some of the shorter, more stoutly built tight ends. Eifert gets my fantasy Franchise Tag for draft season given his sky-high ceiling heading into the season.