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Fantasy Football draft— Thumbs up, thumbs down

Nick Martinez-Esquibel

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Nick Martinez-Esquibel. Orion file photo.

Fantasy. Football.

Nearly 57 million people worldwide play fantasy sports and that number is only growing. If you’re one of those 57 million and your draft is coming up, check out some players that are trending up, and those that are trending down.

Quarterbacks

Thumbs up- Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)- In the first game of the 2015 preseason, Ryan looked sharp completing all six of his passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Ryan hopes to continue that during the regular season where the Falcons have the third easiest schedule for all quarterbacks. Easy schedule and consistent quarterback? Sign me up.

Thumbs down- Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)- With tight end Jimmy Graham and wideout Kenny Stills gone, Brees will be missing two of his favorite targets from last season. Last year, Brees had his worst fantasy production since 2010, and his touchdown totals have declined by almost 10 since 2011. Brees is being drafted a little too high for me as I’d much rather wait for another gunslinger.

Running Backs

Thumbs up- Chris Ivory (New York Jets)- Ivory is coming off his best season as an NFL running back. Ivory saw a huge jump in targets, 20 more than his previous high, which increased his production. The word at the New York Jets’ camp is they want to use a workhorse running back, and Ivory is perfect for the job. He could be a great late draft pick.

Thumbs down- Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams)- Coming off knee surgery, there is serious concern that Gurley might not even suit up for the first few games of the regular season. Using the 10th overall pick, the Rams will certainly take their time and wait until he’s healthy to bring him back. Gurley may not be a factor until midway through the season, and even then, will be eased into the NFL.

Wide Receiver

Thumbs up- Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles)- Matthews is poised to be a target monster in the Eagles’ fast-tempo offense this year. Although he will be playing in the slot which could limit his deep ball opportunities, the talent he demonstrated last year could make him a breakout wide receiver.

Thumbs down- Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Last year, owners of Evans were on a roller coaster ride with one of the streakiest players in the fantasy league. Where Evans is being drafted, consistency is important. A streaky receiver with a shaky rookie quarterback? I’ll pass.

Tight End

Thumbs up- Martellus Bennett (Chicago Bears)- Bennett could be a nice pick in a year with little hope for the tight end position in fantasy football. Former Denver Bronco offensive coordinator Adam Gase is now with the Bears, and if Gase uses Bennett like he did with former Bronco star tight end Julius Thomas, Bennett could be a surprise top 5.

Thumbs down- Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks)- Being traded from the pass-happy New Orleans Saints to the run-heavy Seattle Seahawks significantly hurt Graham’s value. Starting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a mere 20 touchdowns last season, only six of which were to tight ends. Reports from Seattle suggest that Graham will be used as a blocker more than with his former team. He will still be productive, but don’t expect the jaw-dropping numbers he had in New Orleans.

Nick Martinez-Esquibel can be reached at [email protected] or @THENickMartinez on Twitter.

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Fantasy Football draft— Thumbs up, thumbs down