Players Who Need to Prove It or Lose It
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Players Who Need to Prove it or Lose it
Every year there are players who prove it and there are players who lose it. You could call it put up or shut up, piss or get off the pot, whatever you like but I'll call it prove it or lose it in this article. There are some players who break out in year one like AJ Brown did this past season and then there are players who take a couple of years to make an impact like Chris Godwin. The key to hitting on Godwin was patience but when the writing was on the wall it became time for him to prove it or lose it. Essentially, time to produce or time to give up on them.
Some of these players will be about fantasy value and some of these players will be about true talent and NFL ability. Jameis Winston showed us last year that these can be very different things after finishing as the QB5 in fantasy but failing to get a starting job in free agency.
Josh Allen’s rushing ability made him a very good fantasy quarterback last season. However, let’s not pretend that while great for fantasy, rushing ability creates job security in the NFL if you can't throw. Mitchell Trubisky had as much rushing ability as anyone and was trusted upon in many fantasy leagues last season but when everyone figured out that he couldn’t throw left, he disappeared and does not appear to be the starter as of right now after the Bears gave up a fourth-round pick and took on the large contract of Nick Foles. Now we can’t assume that Trubisky’s shortcomings are going to be what hurts Josh Allen but before we get off of Trubisky let’s not deny that their skillsets and deficiencies are similar. Both have a very strong rushing ability that is going to be good for fantasy, but both also have accuracy and passing issues. Trubisky couldn’t throw left or get off his first read, and Josh Allen can’t complete a deep ball. What’s disappointing about Josh Allen’s deep ball accuracy is that if you asked what are his best traits as a passer one would be his big arm. While a big arm is important for quarterbacks in the NFL, there have been plenty of guys that had a big arm but couldn’t be a good actual quarterback because of accuracy or decision making. Just ask the recent memories of Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. While hurdling Anthony Barr in a dominating upset makes Josh Allen a baller, he has to be able to throw the ball and throw it well. When I was in high school I played basketball with a big man who couldn’t shoot. He had all of the athleticism in the world, crazy long arms that helped him to be able to dunk at will, but he just wanted to shoot jump shots. When he was looking to play college ball he was told there’s a lot of athletic big guys who can’t shoot. With Josh Allen, there’s a lot of guys who can run but can’t throw. He has to be able to improve on that league-worst 58.8% completion rate.
What makes this such an important year for Josh Allen is that his team is built. The defense is one of the best units in the league and the ground game is ready to be relied on. The good news for Josh Allen’s arm is that his coaching staff can do everything it can to hide the inaccuracy by handing it off to Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, but Allen is still going to need to take the top off to make that efficient and keep defenses out of stacked box situations. Allen also has a new weapon on the outside after the team traded a first, fourth, fifth, and sixth to the Vikings to acquire Stefon Diggs. This gives him the best receiver he’s had in his career. Better yet this gives him one of the best-receiving cores in the league. Diggs and John Brown are two of the best in the league at getting open with route running and also catching the deep ball. Just ask Rasul Douglas about how dangerous Stefon Diggs can be with the deep ball. Cole Beasley in the slot and Dawson Knox at tight end make it a very solid receiving core. On top of a great team, Sean McDermott seems to be a head coach that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. This means one thing, and it's that it's up to Josh Allen to win this team games. If he doesn’t, I don’t think the team would be too afraid to move on or bring in competition. Last year with a very impressive team they went into wild card weekend and lost to the Texans in overtime after Deshaun Watson left everyone’s jaw on the floor. That said, this team isn’t looking for a wild card round exit. For the first time in 20 years, the AFC East is wide open. Tom Brady, is no longer there winning 10+ games every season making it really difficult to win the division, and the Bills should probably be the favorites this season. If things don’t go well, it won’t be Sean McDermott on the hot seat it’s going to be Josh Allen.
Last season, Allen threw the ball 461 times good for 21st in the league. Not surprising considering they were a run-first team. His attempts per game of quarterbacks that started five or more games, however, was 30th in the league. When I see this it makes me believe that the big arm and face of the franchise isn’t the quarterback that he is made out to be in fantasy circles. Just like Pete Carrol in the past has used his run game to hide the defense, the Bills at times appear to use their run game and defense to hide Josh Allen. His Completion Percentage Over Expectation, which is able to give us a good look at the quality of his throws, only beat out Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew, Dwayne Haskins, and David Blough last season. One was just a replacement, another not a starter anymore, the other two were rookies. The last stat that I’ll throw out about Josh Allen was that on deep passes last year he completed just 15 of his 59 attempts, which is only 25.4%! Not inspiring to say the least especially for a quarterback who is supposed to have a cannon for an arm.
This season I expect Josh Allen to have to prove it or lose it and if he doesn’t prove it, his job could be more on the line than people assume. His rushing totals might still be alright for fantasy, but if he doesn’t win them enough games and help them make a playoff run, his NFL shelf life could be running out. Should he struggle this year the way his passing stats show, his dynasty value could hit a cliff just like the aforementioned Mitchell Trubisky.
When Montgomery got drafted last year, he was highly sought after in fantasy leagues. He was a rookie but looked to have a clear path to playing time and a workhorse role. This was true and all but when he got on the field, he wasn’t all that impressive. That coupled with bizarre formation subs from Matt Nagy and David Montgomery’s rookie season was not all that it was talked up to be. What was most disappointing for fantasy owners was that the things we feared in his college film was what we got on the field. We knew he was very good around the line of scrimmage but lacked burst and speed to hit the hole and break long runs. He proved us right on both ends of that spectrum his rookie year. His footwork popped on film, but he carried the ball 242 times, only amassing 889 yards equaling 3.7 yards per carry. The receiving game was one of his best traits on film but again in his rookie year caught just 25 balls for 185 yards.
This offseason, the Bears didn’t add anybody that is going to compete with Montgomery on the ground so the backfield is still his, even if he didn’t look impressive thus far. Tarik Cohen is still there and he is still going to get plenty of receptions, so Montgomery’s receptions totals will be capped but he will have every opportunity to carry the rock and blaze his own trail on the ground.
There are a couple of different arguments that can be made for Montgomery and I definitely understand both. In a redraft this year he’s being drafted as a back who is going to get a strong workload and volume leads to points even if it isn’t pretty. The problem is that from what we've seen so far, he just isn’t very good. With this remember that in a dynasty, talent usually wins out. For him to be able to improve on his value in a dynasty, he needs to be able to improve burst and speed and become a better running back. His vision at the line of scrimmage is still good and we have seen workout videos of him that let us know he’s working on speed which he’s going to need. If he can improve that he should be a viable back for the next several years. If he doesn’t and remains the back we saw last year, running backs can get replaced really quickly in the NFL. If he produces this year he’s in, if not, he could be headed for a complimentary backup role. It’s that simple.
The ceiling has never looked so high for Will Fuller. So far in his career, he has made fantasy owners really happy some weeks and he has really pissed us off others. Despite all of that he has yet to top 670 yards in a season. 670 is his career-high and it came last year in just nine healthy games. We all know the problem. He can’t stay healthy. In 2019 it was just nine healthy games, in 2018 just seven games, in 2017 just eight games, and in his rookie year, it was 13 games. Hugely disappointing but this coming year he has been thrown into the lake and told to swim. They dealt their star, and I mean star, receiver to Arizona leaving Will Fuller to pick up the slack. He doesn’t have any reason not to succeed this year, he just needs to stay healthy. If he does, we’ve seen what the ceiling on a week can look like. Last year in Week 5 he had 14 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns putting up one of the best fantasy performances ever. That of course is the absolute best-case scenario and *probably* won’t be topped by anyone for a long time.
This year is a prove it or lose it kind of year for Will Fuller possibly more than anybody. Fantasy owners everywhere have put up with injury after injury just to have a shot at those weeks he blows up for 200 yards or a couple touchdowns with his big play ability. If he ends up injured again, however, that could be the final nail in the coffin. Us fantasy owners aren’t very patient and can only be expected to wait so long. There comes a point that we can’t wait anymore for a guy, no matter how many times we tweet at him to please stay healthy. When Will Fuller was a rookie I entered my first dynasty league and didn’t really know what I was doing. I took him as one of my young wide receivers and held onto him for a long time putting up with injury ridden season after injury ridden season but last year my patience with him ran out and I traded him away for a championship push. There’s no way that I am the only one who gave up on him but those who didn’t, need to see something this year to give him another chance next season.
The good news for Fuller is that he has one of the games best young quarterbacks throwing him the ball. That is one thing that is always important when it comes to taking the next step and he has it. Deshaun Watson paired with the great speed of Will Fuller can really be special. We've seen it. Last season while he only played nine games healthy in those games he had 47 catches and 653 yards which prorated over 16 games put him up for a pace of 83 catches for 1160 yards. That would have been a season similar to DJ Moore last year who people were going crazy about. The bad news is that once again he only played 9 full games and had a season similar to Sammy Watkins.
The last thing on Will Fuller is that he is a free agent next season. His fifth-year option was picked up last year and this is his last year under team control. This means he could get an extension this season giving him something more to play for. I’m sure at this point he knows that his market value isn’t going to be very good unless he can stay healthy so be on the lookout for one of those workout hype videos from him soon.
This season is going to be a very interesting season to watch for the Texans after dealing Hopkins for David Johnson and acquiring Brandin Cooks from the Rams. Will Fuller being able to step up is going to be one of the pinnacle situations to watch on that team. There is no doubt that he makes that team better but can he stay healthy to do it?
For Gesicki the writing is on the wall. It’s his time. Last season he finished in PPR scoring as the TE12 but that was ultimately uninspiring. He had a couple of boom weeks and a lot of bust weeks. Bottom line he wasn’t a player that was relied upon very much in leagues that played just one TE. Going into his third year his spot with the team isn’t going to disappear like it could with some of the other players above but he needs to perform this year to stay in the good graces of fantasy players. If he doesn’t have a good year it’s going to leave a very bad taste in our mouths because the Dolphins don’t have very much for competition on their team. The opportunity for Gesicki is there and he has to capitalize.
Analytically Gesicki is a dinosaur. Scratch that, he could be more of an alien. Just understand that he’s really impressive. His Combine testing numbers were incredible, especially for a tight end. Every workout metric that he posted at the combine was above the 95th percentile and today what we look for in young tight ends is athleticism. He has plenty of that, he just needs to prove to us that he is a good tight end. Athleticism isn’t all there is to be a tight end of course, but when he gets comparisons athletically to Vernon Davis it's never a bad thing. We know that he's an analytical freak but is he as good of a receiver as he is an athlete.
Looking back to his college days he was never a dominant receiver and his highest total receiving totals were just 679 yards but caught enough attention from the NFL to be drafted with the tenth pick in the second round of the 2018 draft and this is going to give him every opportunity to succeed just like they kept DeVante Parker around to finally get his shot. Since he’s a second-round pick a lot of dynasty players expect him to take a significant leap this year.
If Mike Gesicki proves it this year we could be looking at a top-five tight end next year. If he loses it, we could be looking at a top 25 tight end. For Gesicki it is all about taking advantage of the opportunity that is in front of him.