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June 25, 2016

2016 Fantasy Football Profile and Outlook: Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

For the first time in five seasons, Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore failed to exceed 1,100 rushing yards. In fact, he fell short of the 1,000-yard milestone for only the third time in his 11-year career.

Gore rushed 260 times for 967 yards and six touchdowns and added 34 catches for 267 yards and a touchdown in 2015.

The other two times that he fell short of the milestone were his rookie campaign and an injury-shortened 2010 season. In both cases, he would have rushed for 1,000 yards with more opportunities. As a rookie, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and led the team in rushing (608 yards) even though Kevan Barlow had nearly 50 more carries. And his 16-game pace in 2010 was 1,241 rushing yards.

Going into 2016, Gore's goal is to become the franchise's first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai (2007) nearly a decade ago.

“I’m not over it,” Gore said (via Scout.com). “I’m not going to be over it until I do it. I’ve been blessed that they kept me to get the opportunity to do it again. To go after my goals again, to be the one to get the 100 yards that they didn’t have in years. To get that 1,000-plus yards (in a season). To have the opportunity when it’s playoff time when it’s time to get down and dirty and we’ve got to run the ball when key plays happen. Now I got another opportunity to do it so from here on out I just have to start taking care of my body, eating healthy, start training to get myself ready to try to go get it.”

If Gore succeeds in rushing for 1,000-plus yards this season, he will become only the fourth player in NFL history to do so at his age. And it hasn't been done in a while. The other three running backs to exceed 1,000 rushing yards at age 33 (or older) are John Riggins, Franco Harris and John Henry Johnson.

- Poll: Will Frank Gore rush for 1,000 yards in 2016?

In terms of efficiency, it was also Gore's worst season ever. Not only did he set a career low in yards per carry (3.72), but it was the first time in his career that he averaged less than four yards per carry. In addition, Gore averaged just 60.4 rushing yards per game, his lowest average since he was a rookie in 2005.

On a positive note, however, Gore ranked fifth in the NFL in both carries (260) and touches (294). And Gore's 34 receptions were a four-year high.

In addition, Gore had 15-plus touches in 14 of 16 games. Tied with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson for second in games with at least 15 touches, only Oakland's Latavius Murray (15) had more such games. In fact, only six running backs had more than 10 15-touch games last season.

Primarily due to volume, Gore finished with the 12th-most fantasy points among running backs in 2015. Gore has now finished as a top-20 fantasy running back for 10 consecutive seasons, but it was a bumpy ride to get to his 2015 top-12 performance.

Despite finishing as a top-12 fantasy running back, Gore had only four weekly top-12 finishes. Meanwhile, he finished outside the top-30 weekly fantasy running backs in seven of 16 games.

Based on the team's depth chart, however, Gore appears poised for another heavy workload if he can stay healthy. The other running backs on the roster include Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman and UDFA Josh Ferguson. The Colts are high on Ferguson and he's worth a late-round flier in drafts this year, but Gore figures to get north of 250 touches once again.

Even though Gore is 33 with a cumulative workload of more than 3,000 career touches, he has been extremely durable with five consecutive 16-game seasons.

There are two positives going into 2016: (1) a healthier Andrew Luck and (2) an improved offensive line.

While Gore averaged a career-low 3.72 YPC last season, his efficiency was much better with Luck (4.11 YPC) under center than it was with Matt Hasselbeck (3.44). Missing nine games last season, Luck is fully healthy and ready to go for 2016.

The Colts have shored up their protection for Luck by investing four of their 2016 draft picks in the offensive line including first-round center Ryan Kelly. Not only will that help keep Luck upright, but it will help open holes for Gore.

Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule (SOS)

The fantasy schedule isn't favorable for Gore as the Colts running backs have the third-most difficult fantasy schedule. And his fantasy playoff schedule won't be much easier against the Texans, Vikings and Jaguars. Both the Texans and Vikings were among the 10-most stingy fantasy defenses to running backs last season and the Jags should be much improved on the defensive side of the ball.

Bottom Line

Even if Gore falls shy of 1,000 rushing yards once again, I still expect him to exceed 1,200 yards from scrimmage for an 11th consecutive season. Based on my current projection, Gore will score a tad more than 170 fantasy points, something only nine running backs did last season. Currently being drafted as the RB26 and with the 94th overall pick, on average, in Yahoo! drafts, Gore offers plenty of value for those that scoop him up late.

2016 Fantasy Football Projection: (Rushing) 245 carries, 992 yards, 7.1 TDs; (Receiving) 28 Rec., 218 Yards, 1.1 TDs

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June 08, 2016

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins: 2016 Fantasy Football Profile and Outlook

A top-15 pick and the third receiver off the board after Amari Cooper and Kevin White in the 2015 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker closed his rookie season strong.

Like his final season at Louisville, his rookie season began with dealing with a foot injury so virtuall all of Parker's rookie production occurred in the final six weeks of the season.

During that six-week span from Weeks 12 to 17, Parker hauled in 22 receptions for 445 yards (20.23 Y/R) and three touchdowns. Moreover, Parker was consistent during that stretch with eight or more fantasy points in five of six games and he was the WR18 over that span.

That per-game production down the stretch would extrapolate to a statistical line of 1,187 yards and eight touchdowns over a 16-game season.

Parker's end-of-season production also corresponded with the absence of Rishard Matthews, who signed a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Matthews missed the final five games of the season, but he was on pace for 69/1,059/6 through his first 10 games.

There are plenty of positive reports about Parker early this offseason.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill recently said the following of Parker (via the Sun Sentinel):

"I think you saw, the last six to eight games of the year, his confidence start to build. He made more and more plays it seemed like as the weeks went on. He got more comfortable and more confident and was attacking the football.

"He's starting at that point now. We can build from where he is at now, and the sky is the limit for him."

As one of Miami's top-three receivers along with Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, Parker is the biggest (6-3, 218) of the group. And while he's not necessarily a burner, he has good speed (4.45 forty). Given his size, Parker should be the most productive Dolphins receiver in the red zone.

"He can make big plays down the field [and] inside," Tannehill said. "He's a big-bodied guy. He's a guy that we're going to want to use in the red zone and we're going to want to use him on third downs and to stretch the field, as well."

Adam Gase takes over as head coach for a team that threw the ball on 64.79 percent of its offensive plays last season. Only three teams -- Detroit (65.63%), Jacksonville (65.02) and New England (65.00) -- threw it more often in 2015 than Miami.

Here are the rankings for Gase-coordinated offenses over the past three seasons:

YearTeamPass-play % (Rank)Pass Att. (Rank)Pass Yards (Rank)
2015Chicago Bears54.3% (25th-most)523 (25th-most)3,663 (23rd-most)
2014Denver Broncos59.21% (17th)607 (9th)4,661 (4th)
2013Denver Broncos59.68% (13th)675 (2nd)5,444 (1st)

Many of the top Bears pass-catchers missed multiple games last season -- Alshon Jeffery (seven missed games), Kevin White (16 missed games), Marquess Wilson (five missed games), Eddie Royal (seven missed games) and Martellus Bennett (five missed games). That said, Jay Cutler had one of the best seasons -- career-high 92.3 passer rating -- in his only season with Gase as a coach.

While the Dolphins may not throw the ball on as high of a percentage of their plays as they did last season, I'd expect their passing-game production to be more efficient in 2016. Earlier this offseason, Tannehill also had the opportunity to get tutored by Peyton Manning when it comes to understanding the new offense.

Compared to his current WR32 average draft position (ADP), Parker should easily return value assuming good health. Primed for a breakout in his sophomore campaign, Parker is currently ranked as my WR22 (I'm higher on him than most analysts target="_blank") but has top-12 upside if things go really well.

Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule (SOS)

Parker and the Dolphins receivers have the eighth-most favorable fantasy football strength of schedule (10th-best in PPR) in 2016. His fantasy playoff SOS (Weeks 14 to 16) is middle of the road (No. 16 in standard, No. 15 in PPR). In the fantasy playoffs, Parker faces the Cardinals, Jets and Bills, respectively.

2016 Fantasy Football Projection: 67 Receptions, 1,059 Yards, 8.4 TDs

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