FANTASY PLAYS: Rating aging stars Bryant, Murray, Howard
Former Cowboys Pro Bowlers Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray find themselves united again, only now they are joined as one-time Fantasy football anchors who have not received a nibble from an NFL team.
Both will sign at some point between now and the start of the regular season, as injuries and/or depth issues arise in training camps. When it comes to whether Bryant and Murray still have any Fantasy value, drafters will have to proceed with caution.
Regardless of where he signs, the days of viewing Bryant as a WR1 are long over. Last season marked the third straight season he both failed to eclipse more than 838 yards and catch barely half of the passes targeted to him. After a 2014 season in which he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and a league-high 16 touchdowns, Bryant's receptions and yardage per game have taken a dive. Since then, those numbers have dropped as low as 3.4 catches per game and 44.6 yards per contest, both in 2015.
A best-case scenario for Bryant would be to go to a pass-friendly team with a competent quarterback, which would offer some hope for him as a WR3/Flex option. At 29, there's a glimmer of optimism that he can be useful but, at least for now, Bryant is in "Hmm...he's still on the board?" stage of his career where he's a late-round play.
Murray has never been the same since the Cowboys gave him a whopping 457 total touches in 2014, the sixth-highest total in NFL history. He was woefully ineffective with the Eagles in 2015 before a revival with the Titans a year later when he accounted for 1,664 yards from scrimmage on 346 total touches, sparking false hope. Murray fell to 925 yards last season on 223 total touches, his lowest since 2012.
At 30, Murray is probably at the stage of his career where he's more of a specialist. He remains a good receiver, so it's not hard to envision him being a third-down back with the potential of 45-50 catches a season. After 1,921 touches in his seven-year career, Murray no longer can be considered a workhorse back, but there can be a place for him on a Fantasy roster, especially in PPR formats.
BROOKLYN NETS D12
Dwight Howard has another jersey for his collection after being acquired by the Nets from the Hornets on Wednesday. No longer the monster he was in his prime for Fantasy basketball players, Howard still put up 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last season, ending his 2017-18 campaign with 11 double-doubles in his last 12 games.
Howard will be 33 early next season and still can solid production. In an NBA deep with younger, more versatile centers, Howard will fall into the mid-to-late stages of most drafts yet will also have to be considered a strong Sell High candidate with the Nets set to give second-year center Jarrett Allen (who is a strong sleeper) more minutes.
BREAK ON THROUGH (To the Other Closer)
Giants closer Hunter Strickland slammed (or rather, punched) away his potential career year when he lost a one-round bout with a clubhouse door. Strickland, who had 13 saves, will now miss up to eight weeks.
Enter Sam Dyson, who now becomes San Francisco's stopper after rebounding from a horrific 2017 campaign. Dyson isn't a hard-throwing beast, but he did have 38 saves for the Rangers in 2016 and has the support of manager Bruce Bochy. That alone will raise his value in leagues where he currently sits on the waiver wire.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com