While the Dr. hasn’t really spent much time focused on the Daily side of Fantasy Sports, the noise has grown too loud to ignore. Of course, the strategy around building solid daily lineups is both similar, and all together different from what you’re used to in season long leagues.
If you’re a veteran of Draft Kings or Fan Duel, you can skip this section, but for first timers or newbies, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
- Take the time to learn the names at the BOTTOM of the price list
- It’s more important to nail the inexpensive players you choose to roster as their value can be the most helpful for placing you in the money. Players like James White ($4,000 on Draft Kings) can be super helpful if you know how New England’s offense is trending.
- Understand the matchups
- If you’re on the fence about a player or two, sometimes it helps to understand the game plan. If two high powered offenses are playing each other, it may mean more opportunity for pass catching backs and depth receivers. Targeting a player like Matt Brieda ($4,600 on Draft Kings) can help you maximize the points from the bottom of your roster.
- Pay attention to trends
- This one is tougher to do in the first few weeks of the season, as trends haven’t yet begun to show, but keep an eye on players who consistently out perform the more expensive options. As mentioned above, with a finite cap number, you’ll need players to perform like Chris Thompson did last year when healthy.
Week 1 Targets
We won’t spend too much time on Tiers in this article, although come back later for more information on those particular contests later in the week. Instead, we’ll look at players throughout the league at each cost and highlight a few we think should perform at or above expectations.
Week one may be the easiest time of the year to justify spending a large amount on a player or two, as these players are easier to predict than mid level or inexpensive roster options.
QB – Tom Brady, NE ($7,200) – While you may argue that the lack of weapons will be a problem for Brady, starting quick has never been an issue. With a Houston defense that’s not been great against the pass, and the likelihood of a shootout, and Brady looks like he’ll be a fine option despite his large price tag.
RB – Alvin Kamara, NO ($8,500) – The signing of Mike Gillislee may scare you away from last years breakout running back, but the truth is that one week isn’t enough time for Gillislee to learn enough of the play book to make an impact. Kamara will be a huge part of the offense all season, and during Ingram’s suspension he’ll be a workhorse.
WR – DeAndre Hopkins, HOU ($8,300) – There’s a lot of names at the top of the list that oyu’d be justified in using, but the New England offense is one of the worst against the pass in the league, and Hopkins is a constant mismatch even against the great ones. With Watson returning from injury, it’s likely he’ll rely on the talented receiver all game long.
TE – Rob Gronkowksi, NE ($6,900) – This is a bit of a cop out since there’s no other really expensive options at the position, but Gronk is the only reliable pass catcher available to Brady in week one. He’ll have plenty of opportunities for a TD or two right out of the gates.
The Rest Of The Field
Crafting a winning lineup will require a handful of players at each tier. We’ll give you an idea of a few players who may be considered a value come game time, and can give you a boost without costing you an arm and a leg.
- Russel Wilson, SEA ($6,200) – It seems like the disrespect for Wilson being a top tier fantasy asset has gone too far, and this just reinforces my opinion. A healthy Wilson is a threat regardless of how good a defense may be against the pass thanks to how well he runs the football. With Doug Baldwin less than a 100% it’s far from a stretch to see him run the football for 75+ yards and a TD.
- Blake Bortles, JAX ($5,600) – He’s been the butt of many jokes but he’s quietly produced in fantasy terms nearly every year of his career. With the Giants defense being ugly against the pass, he’s an inexpensive option if you’ve invested elsewhere.
- Mitchell Trubisky, CHI ($5,600) – While the expectation is that the second year start is going to struggle out of the gates, he’s playing a Green Bay team that should force Chicago to pass. If I were drafting a QB to win I may pass, but Trubisky could be playing catch up from the opening drive.
- Saquon Barkley, NYG ($6,700) – We’ve seen rookie backs come out and dominate early in the season for several years now, and Barkley is in a unique position to carry a large portion of the load for the Giants. With Jacksonville on the schedule, you may worry about the defense, but they were one of the worst against the run in terms of fantasy scoring. I’d be surprised if Barkley doesn’t find the end zone at least once.
- Kenyan Drake, MIA ($5,900) – I’ve been critical of Drake in the past, but recently I’ve softened my stance on him. While I still expect Ballage to take some of the passing downs, his concussion issues should leave Drake in line for a solid three down work load against a Tennessee team that’s made opposing backs look really good.
- Carlos Hyde, CLE – ($4,500) – While it’s true that the Cleveland backfield is a bit crowded, it’s still Hyde who figures to be the defacto lead back going into week 1. With the most impressive play through the preseason and a history of three down work, he’s an impressive discount at his current DFS value.
- Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – ($6,600) – There’s a case to be made for Washington’s secondary as one of the leagues best, but Fitzgerald’s primarily lined up over the last few years in the slot. With the DB’s locking down the outside, Fitzgerald should be targeted heavily in week 1.
- Emmanuel Sanders, DEN ($5,000) – As bullish as I’ve been on Demaryius Thomas of the Denver wide outs, part of that is because they’re planning on using him more in the slot. Despite that, it’s still Sanders that should see the bulk of his snaps at a position Keenum targeted a ton last year. Think Adam Thielen level production out of Sanders, who is probably a more talented receiver than Thielen anyhow.
- Anthony Miller, CHI ($4,600) – Much like the case for Trubisky, Miller should settle right in as one of the top target getters for the Bears right out of the gates. Given that Green Bay was one of the three worst teams in terms of providing production to fantasy wide outs and that Chicago will likely be playing from behind, and Miller’s value as Trubisky’s safety blanked can’t be highlighted enough.
- Delanie Walker, TEN ($4,900) – He may be closer to the top of his position group than the other names mentioned, but he’s a discount at his current price. The match up against Miami is as good as it gets (Miami ranked at or near the bottom against TE’s all season long) and the potential for a lingering injury to keep Rishard Matthews at less than 100% means an increased workload for one of the steadiest producers at the position.
- Jack Doyle, IND ($3,600) – Andrew Luck should be back in week one, so we expect an immediate boost in performance for Doyle. He proved his connection with the former all pro two seasons ago, and a favorable match up against a Cincinnati team should work wonders to get the two off to a soaring start to this season.
- Antonio Gates, LAC ($2,600) – If you think this means I expect him to be used heavily in the passing game, you’d be wrong. What I do expect is his usage in the Red Zone to be prolific. With an understanding of the offense and a great rapport with Philip Rivers, the 39 year old Gates should have a strong start thanks to the high potential for early season TDs.
Dr. Fantasy’s Daily Sports Lineup
- QB: Mitch Trubisky ($5,600)
- RB: Kenyan Drake ($5,900) Carlos Hyde ($4,500)
- WR: DeAndre Hopkins($8,300) Emmanuel Sanders ($5,000) Anthony Miller ($4,600)
- Flex: Alvin Kamara ($8,500)
- TE: Jack Doyle ($3,600)
- D/ST: Ravens Defense ($3,800)
We’re pushing through into the regular season this week and a lot of you are drafting; it’s time to post our final pre-season tiers for each position. It’s going to be a busy Sunday as we push to publish the remaining positional tiers!
- Rob Gronkowski
- Travis Kelce
You may want to elevate others to this tier, but the truth is outside of these two guys, there’s no one else worth reaching for. Every week they factor as one of their teams highest scoring players, and having one or the other gives you a significant advantage nearly every week.
- Zach Ertz
- Greg Olsen
- Jimmy Graham
- Kyle Rudolph
- Delanie Walker
While we don’t condone reaching on a TE, these five tight ends are worth grabbing in the middle rounds similarly to the middle tier of wide receivers. With plenty of consistency, either in targets or in the red zone, these guys won’t hurt you to have on your roster. There will be weeks they blow up and weeks they disappear, but the range of outcomes is fairly predictable.
VERY GOOD Tier
- Trey Burton
- Evan Engram
- George Kittle
- Jordan Reed
- O.J. Howard
- Jack Doyle
It’s important to understand that the TE position isn’t likely going to win you a championship, so waiting on a TE will land you a player likely in this tier. There’s some upside for many of them, but either inexperience, a new team, or extensive injury history suppress their value. We suggest understanding that a back up is necessary to offset the potential pitfalls here, but after missing out on the top seven TE’s, these guys are solid options.
- Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
- Charles Clay
- David Njoku
- Mike Gesicki
- Austin Hooper
It’s a shorter tier than the one before it, mostly because after Hooper, the proverbial cliff is steep and obvious. Starting one of these guys will likely leave a hole in your roster on some weeks, so pair with a player you like that’s still available and pray.
BACKUPS and PRAYERS Tier
- Eric Ebron
- Virgil Green
- Jared Cook
- Hayden Hurst
- Tyler Eifert
- Luke Willson
- Cameron Brate
- Vance McDonald
- Benjamin Watson
- Nick Vannett
If you’re grabbing a player in this tier, you’d better hope it’s as a backup or depth piece. There’s little upside with these players despite what the experts would have you think. There may have been some buzz recently about the guys in this tier, but a lot needs to happen to make them fantasy relevant. Of course, in keeper leagues or dynasty formats, guys like Hurst, Willson, and Vannett are worth a look as a long term asset.
Things in New England haven’t gotten much better for a team riding the waves of a turbulent off season with the news that free agent wide out Jordan Matthews has been released.
A hamstring injury recently suffered by the mercurial receiver was deemed “significant” and the Patriots deemed it was time to move on. With lingering injury issues to Malcom Mitchell (knee) and Kenny Britt (hamstring), it’s likely the Patriots consider adding depth to aid a group that’s already without Julian Edelman for four games.
Veteran Eric Decker was recently worked out by the team, and has to be considered one of the better bets as his skill set works with how Brady operates, but it’s a situation to monitor.
In the meantime, the value on Chris Hogan should be bumped slightly as only he and Gronkowski return as reliable passing game targets among the receivers and tight ends group. Rex Burkhead and James White could see a bump in value as well due to their proficiency catching the ball from other areas outside of the backfield.
As usual, the Patriots will go into the preseason with questions fantasy owners would love to have answered.
It’s that time of year again folks; Mock Time! Sure, I may have been mocking for weeks now, but as last years fantasy owners wake from their off season hibernation, the lobbies are really filling up! If you’re like me, then you know how valuable mocking can be when setting your expectations.
Tonight I jumped into an 12 team standard mock and was pleasantly surprised by the crowd; most people stayed in and drafted. Over the course of 16 rounds we battled for pretend domination, and below are my thoughts on the draft. Dr. Fantasy selected 7th overall.
Right out of the gates we saw the draft stray from the normal expert projections with Odell Beckham being selected as the first wide out off the board at the 3rd overall spot. I may not have made the pick myself with Brown available, but we here at the Dr’s office preach “get your guy” so grabbing Odell at three is far from egregious. Saquon fell to me at 7, so I was excited to secure my bell cow back. Overall, there weren’t many surprises as all of these names deserved to be selected in the first round.
Best Pick: Leonard Fournette – Knowing the format can be all the difference between a contender and a pretender. In standard leagues, Fournette is a top 5 back in my opinion, and snagging him 10th is a steal.
The second round saw a few more deviations from the norm as Carson Wentz wins the dubious distinction of being the first pick that I don’t agree with. While I like his talent, he’s not a better fantasy option than Rodgers, Wilson, or Newton… and that’s not even taking into account that his season ended on a major injury. For my selection, grabbing a guy who could be a top 3 wideout at 18th overall is a steal. With Brett Hundley as his QB, Adams turned in a WR1 stat line. With Rodgers, his ceiling is as the WR1.
Best Pick: Devonta Freeman doesn’t get a lot of love these days, but he is still the lead back in what should be a top 10 offense again this year. Tevin Coleman will command passing downs again, but this is a standard league and Freeman should be a back end RB1 in 2018.
It was in round 3 that things got a little funny as “Team DM” selected his 2nd QB (Aaron Rodgers). I can only imagine this was an “auto pick” accident. Beyond that we had most of our high ceiling, low floor players start to trickle off the board. In true Dr. Fantasy fashion, we took a stab at a guy who could either see 350 touches or somehow play his way off my roster in Joe Mixon. I love his talent, but I hate the Bengals… not my favorite pick but Diggs (my original target) was sniped just one pick ahead.
Best Pick: I can’t say enough about Stefon Diggs and his undeniable talent. While Thielen was certainly a breakout performer (one that I was all over in 2017), he’s prime for regression and his draft price doesn’t give him much room for error. Diggs, on the other hand, has a real chance to put up spectacular numbers with the strong armed Cousins throwing him the football.
For years now, the trend has been to see the best of the rookie running backs start to pop up in round 4. With Guice and Penny, you have two rookies that should walk onto the field in their first NFL start as the top dog in each respective backfields. Selecting them here is akin to Kareem Hunt last year, and could be a great source of fantasy points. Unfortunatey for me, with both off the board, I was left grabbing the only wide out left that has the pedigree and opportunity to finish as a WR1. I don’t think Cooper’s 2017 was as destructive for his prospects going forward, but there is certainly cause for concern.
Best Pick: I wrote an article recently about how Demaryius Thomas may be the most underrated receiver coming off the board in the first 5 rounds. I’m sticking by that analysis. With a massive target share and a declining Emmanuel Sanders ensuring at least 140 targets, his floor his higher than all but a handful of the receivers in his tier.
Guys started taking chances in the 5th round (ignoring Team DM and his obviously silly selections), and it’s becoming clear this is one of those “Championship Winner” rounds in 2018. The running backs pool is slim pickin’s and a few of these selections likely caused their owners a bit of pain when making them. The Golden Tate selection did the same for me as I’ve been critical of his inconsistency. It’ll require a lot of week to week management to maximize his potential as he typically turns in “bust” weeks about 30-40% of the time.
Best Pick: Team Anderson did it to me again but selecting one of Dr. Fantasy’s favorite breakout candidates one pick prior. Corey Davis, the former 5th overall pick for Tennessee, never got it going last year as he and Mariota struggled to play healthy with each other. With no such concerns going into 2018, his talent should see him take a leap at the position.
In the 6th round, it’s important to target players who provide a larger opportunity for touches or targets. Seeing both Engram and Clay go before Jimmy Graham was quizzical for me as neither figures to see as high a percentage of scoring opportunities as Graham will. Of course, Engram’s got the talent to be a top 5 TE, but with so many weapons being added to the offense in New York, it’s going to be difficult to repeat those gaudy numbers he produced as a rookie.
Best Pick: I’ll have to give myself a little bit of love for the Pierre Garcon pick. While it was commented that Garcon was selected a little early, I maintain that he’s being severly undervalued by the fantasy community in 2018. In the 8 games he started, Garcon was targeted an average of 8.3 times per game, good for a 134 over a 16 game season. With Garoppolo, he may see even more.
If we played out this league, I’d argue this would be our “wish I had a mulligan” round as a lot of drafters were left taking players who offer a mediocre return on their investment. The RB and WR positions were pretty picked over at this point, and unless you really loved a player here, grabbing a 2nd tier TE or top tier QB was the better play.
Best Pick: With some owners making funny picks (read: Team DM), it’s amazing that Russell Wilson fell to the 7th round. As a threat to be the QB1 every year, he deserves to be selected along side Aaron Rodgers as the only two “Draft Early” QBs. I love his talent, and an effective run game should protect him from undue injury risks.
It’s only natural that after a disappointing round 7 that a run on excellent, underrated receivers and running backs would help the draft get back on track. Neither Burkhead nor Williams figures to be a traditional “bell cow” back, but the opportunity to be a large part of a top 3 offense means huge value as we approach the tail end of the “starter quality” backs pool. Likewise, my selection of Jamison Crowder came down to adding yet another high volume breakout candidate as he becomes Alex Smith’s favorite target. His ability to get separation should lead to a massive campaign.
Best Pick: With Jarvis Landry gone and Ryan Tannehill resuming his job as the starting QB in Miami, Parker should see a giant uptick in targets this season. It’s a safe bet in the 8th to grab a player with a solid floor, and Parker’s is one of the last guys left that I’m comfortable starting nearly every week.
I’m not thrilled with my pick in the 9th, but with my roster super heavy at the wide receiver position, it was time to take a back that has a chance to be a true lead back in the NFL in D’Onta Foreman. While he’s no safe bet coming off that rupture achilles, I love his talent and Houston is desperate to fill that lead back role as Lamar Miller continues to decline.
Best Pick: There’s a few really good picks in this round, but Marlon Mack at 100 overall is criminal, as stealing a starting NFL running back in a round that featured 5 other backs who currently sit 2nd on their depth charts could the pick that puts a team over the top. Ignore those that are arguing against Mack as the Indy offense will look very different this year should Luck start (as we expect).
It was another tough break as my plan to secure Ty Montgomery fell through just before the clock turned to my pick. I’m pleased, though, with the consolation prize as Kirk Cousin’s off season failed to produce much change in his average draft position. While he’s not someone who will challenge Rodgers and Wilson in the ELITE tier, he has the goods to finish as a top 5 QB. It’s interesting that Dez Bryant went here, as well, given that as we approach the season he’s still not signed. While I believe Bryant could offer a team in need some valuable red zone help, he’s likely not going to have enough time to integrate himself in an offense, leaving owners scrambling to replace him when it comes time to drop dead weight.
Best Pick: It’s dangerous selecting a Patriots running back, but James White is by far the most consistent. At this point, the passing down back has the kind of sample size that should alleviate fears, yet one of the few backs to see consistent top 5 targets over the last few years is still going far too late in drafts. With no Dion Lewis in New England, he’s a threat to lead all backs not named Johnson or Bell in passing down targets.
In 12 team leagues, missing out at the running back position will leave you in the position I found myself in; tossing darts at high upside back ups and handcuffs in order to supplement an uninspiring unit. Gio Bernard represents a pure handcuff for Mixon, and could be used as a waiver dump should a player arise that I’m interested in. Should Mixon get hurt or lose ground early, I think Bernard has the kind of talent that will keep me from losing too much ground.
Best Pick: I put too much faith in the ADP data to secure me CJ Anderson in the next round as he dropped about 6 picks before I was planning on grabbing him. It’s clear that Carolina doesn’t plan on using McCaffrey on first and second downs as much as we’d like, and Anderson figures to be an underrated bench player in standard leagues.
Our first Jimmy G sighting! It’s all excitement these days in San Francisco, but it’s Patrick Mahomes who excites me in this block of picks. With one of the best skill position groups on the field, the 2nd year Kansas City signal caller should have every opportunity to capitalize on an offense that somehow helped Alex Smith finish as the QB4 last year. Unfortunately for me, I was left throwing darts at the RB position, and Chris Carson is a flyer at best. The Seattle Seahawks back up running back may have a hard time taking the job from Rashaad Penny, but has the talent to run away with it if he does.
Best Pick: His injury history is undeniable, but Tyler Eifert represents the unique situation that his talent and opportunity trump and risk of injury. At 144, and well behind far less talented backs, he will be a steal (when he plays) for whatever team has him.
More running backs, are you surprised? I’ll be honest, though, and say I just really dislike this pick. Had I the chance to do it over, I’d have grabbed DJ Moore and hunted the waiver wire for a 5th running back. Instead, I have Wilkins, who’s best suited as a handcuff for Marlon Mack. I’m not convinced Nyheim Hines is a three down player, so only Mack stands between Wilkins and a surprise arrival as a starting NFL RB.
Best Pick: I say it year in and year out; wait on a QB. Selecting last year’s QB4 all the way at pick 156 is proof that this strategy works, and works well. While there’s certainly value in trotting out Russell Wilson every week, it’s just as valuable to pair Alex Smith with a player like Brandin Cooks (similar draft price to Wilson).
At this point, teams are taking backups and flyers, and my selection of Doug Martin checks off all the boxes. We all know that Marshawn Lynch is well past his prime, and with Oakland promising to run the football this year, Martin could be the surprise recipient of coach Gruden’s plan to roll back the clock.
Best Pick: I can’t decide between Michael Gallup and Jordan Matthews, so I’ll take the easy way out and say both. With Gallup, the chance to inherit the targets vacated by Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are enticing, and I personally don’t think Hurns is a true NFL #1WR. Matthews, on the other hand, profiles as the kind of player Tom Brady turns into a super star. Sure handed with crisp route running skills, the slot receiver will have every opportunity to become one of Brady’s favorite targets while Julien Edelman sits for a PED suspension. Even when he comes back, the 32 year old Edeleman is no safe bet to be the same player he was in years past.
Not much to talk about here as D/ST and Kickers are the bulk of the picks. Tucker is the kind of kicker I like to have every year; he’s as consistent as they get.
Best Pick: I’ve been bullish on Mitch Trubisky all off season, and as my QB19 (and rising) he’s likely to out perform a handful of the QB’s selected before him. He’s equipped with a borderline elite talent in Allen Robinson, a very talented rookie in Anthony Miller, and a backfield that should protect him from having to do too much too soon. In the second to last round you can’t do much better.
This is where you really reach into your bag of tricks if you’re not drafting a defense or kicker. The now-sober Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is our Mr. Irrelevent (we don’t count kickers here at the Dr’s Office), and profiles as one of the true breakout candidates at the TE position.
Best Pick: If you gathered from the brevity of the previous sentence that Austin Sefarian-Jenkins was my favorite pick in the last round, then kudos. A lot has been said about his talent, and the truth is that we’ve never even really seen him at 100%. After battling substance abuse issues, ASJ made the effort to get sober and has rededicated his life to football. I’m expecting big things from the new Jaguars’ Tight End.
My Final Roster
- QB: Kirk Cousins
- RB: Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, D’Onta Foreman, Gio Bernard, Chris Carson, Jordan Wilkins, Doug Martin
- WR: Davante Adams, Amari Cooper, Golden Tate, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder
- TE: Greg Olsen
- D/ST: Bears D
- Kicker: Justin Tucker
This isn’t the strongest mock I’ve had, but I only know one way to draft; like I’m trying to win the league. With so many of my targets disappearing just before my picks, I was left piecing together a mediocre backfield that I’m hoping features one or two breakouts. I don’t recommend drafting seven running backs either, but if you find yourself lagging behind at the position, it’s important to remember that two of them are wholly expendable. I want to secure a solid backup for Olsen given his age and the mileage, and I want to re-evaluate early on with the “back ups” as they shouldn’t stay on my roster longer than they need to be.
If there’s any advice I can give you going into your own twelve team drafts, it’s to not panic. A quick glance around the league leaves me with the impression that too many unproven commodities are being drafted too early. Leagues are never won at the draft – their won by expert management over the course of a long fantasy season.
A big thank you to the several mockers who stuck around and made this draft fun and insightful. As always, mock often, and enjoy the 2018 season!
The NFL recently denied the suspension appeal of New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Edelman will miss the first four games of the 2018 season, further muddying the waters in New England after a difficult off season.
I’ve already begun the process of re-evaluating other key Patriot players, most notably quarter back Tom Brady. His insistence on avoiding off season team activities has put him behind the 8 ball as only Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski return as major passing game weapons from a year ago. With no Brandin Cooks or Dion Lewis, and new-to-me receiver Jordan Matt
hews receiving very little work with the veteran, drafting Brady is a risk I’m not sure is worth it as the QB3.
- Jordan Matthews: His current ADP looks to be in the round 13 area, making him relatively low risk as he’ll likely command Edelman’s slot work early on.
- Sony Michel: Already considered by many to be the front runner for lead back work, Michel may be called on heavily in the passing game early.
- Chris Hogan: He’ll return as one of Brady’s favorite targets, and with Cooks out of town, he’ll be the primary down-the-field threat and should see a lot of red zone work.
- Tom Brady: Still considered to be in the top 3 at the position, Brady’s value takes a hit with his favorite weapon sidelined. Not enough work in the off season could spark a slow start for Tom Terrific.
- Rob Gronkowski: Similar to a big league slugger who loses the protection of an elite bat in the lineup, Gronkowski becomes opposing defenses biggest priority, and double teams could cause enough inconsistencies to keep him from paying off on a top 30 pick.
Well folks, it’s July and the fantasy season has crested the horizon. As we prepare to celebrate the day of our independence here in the U.S. it’s also important to note that July is the last month with no NFL football.
Please be sure to remember that here at Dr. Fantasy we ask that you continually adjust your own rankings as the season nears; drafting LeDarius Green as a starting TE only to find out you missed that he was cut only serves to sabotage all the work you’re putting in now. That being said, lets investigate how current ADP data looks for the first three rounds. (PPR ADP data provided by FantasyPros.com)
- Todd Gurley, RB – LAR
- Le’Veon Bell, RB – PIT
- David Johnson, RB – ARI
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL
- Antonio Brown, WR – PIT
- Alvin Kamara, RB – NO
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR – HOU
- Saquon Barkley, RB – NYG
- Kareem Hunt, RB – KC
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR – NYG
Players I Love: I like most of these guys, but Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham both have the talent and the volume to project higher than some of the guys going ahead of them. Obviously, Barkley doesn’t have a history in the NFL to draw from, but it’s clear that the Giants selection at #4 overall would have been a QB if they didn’t plan on using Barkley as heavily as anyone else.
Players I Hate: Quick disclaimer, I don’t hate any of these players as real life football players. What I hate is the price I have to pay to get one in my league. Alvin Kamara projects as an elite third down option, but expecting him to feature heavily in the run game, or duplicate the 6+ YPC carry mark is asking too much; expect regression.
Likewise, Hunt’s bottom line looked fantastic, and he certainly passed the eyeball test… at times. Still, the inexplicable slide in the middle of the season showed some chinks in his armor, and he’ll have to fend off a returning Spencer Ware for touches; again, expect some regression.
- Melvin Gordon, RB – LAC
- Leonard Fournette, RB – JAC
- Julio Jones, WR – ATL
- Michael Thomas, WR – NO
- Dalvin Cook, RB – MIN
- Keenan Allen, WR – LAC
- Christian McCaffrey, RB – CAR
- Davante Adams, WR – GB
- A.J. Green, WR – CIN
- Mike Evans, WR – TB
Players I love: There’s a lot of value in the 2nd round this year, but Michael Thomas and Davante Adams are two players who could elevate their games into the top 5 at the position. As the top target in two of the best passing offenses in the league, you’d be getting absolute studs in the 2nd round.
Players I Hate: Dalvin Cook was impressive in limited action last year, but a major knee injury derailed a promising season. Now, it seems drafters are expecting him to step back into the three down role and not miss a beat. A 2nd round price tag is way to high for a player who may not be the same following the injury.
Likewise, Mike Evans has plenty of talent, but is stuck playing for a listless Tampa Bay team that’s already is slated to miss it’s QB for the first three games. While it’s a possibility that he comes out firing, the second round isn’t a great place to take such a risk with guys like Thielen and Hill available in the following round.
- Devonta Freeman, RB – ATL
- LeSean McCoy, RB – BUF
- Rob Gronkowski, TE – NE
- Jerick McKinnon, RB – SF
- Joe Mixon, RB – CIN
- Travis Kelce, TE – KC
- Tyreek Hill, WR – KC
- Jordan Howard, RB – CHI
- Adam Thielen, WR – MIN
- Aaron Rodgers, QB – GB
Players I love: When Jerick McKinnon was brought in to replace Carlos Hyde, my eyes lit up. Recent history has shown us how Kyle Shannahan uses his backs, and McKinnon’s ability to play on passing downs could produce a top 5 RB season.
Jordan Howard’s standing in fantasy circles is a strange one as he’s being drafted as the RB16 this year despite rushing for 1,100 yards and 9 TDs last year. In the third round, the lead back in Chicago is a steal, and if reports out of Chicago are true, and they’re trying to improve on his pass catching, he could be a league winner at 28th overall.
Players I hate:
Rob Gronkowski may still go down as the best tight end of all time, but the time is past for you to reach early to get him. As easy as it is to argue he’s the only trustworthy weapon Brady has left, it’s just as easy to argue that the New England offense is going to look strange this year. With a first round pick invested in the run game, and a strange dynamic evolving with coaching staff and quarterback, there’s no telling how inconsistent the game plan will be. He’s a fantasy starter all day, but not worth drafting before Kelce or Ertz.
- Rob Gronkowski, NE
- Travis Kelce, KC
- Zach Ertz, PHI
- Jimmy Graham, GB
- Graham has had several peaks and valleys since his time in New Orleans, but he finds himself in an ideal situation in Green Bay. As the teams best red zone target, double digit TD’s is a reasonable quest.
- Greg Olsen, CAR
- Kyle Rudolph, MIN
- Delanie Walker, TEN
- Jordan Reed, WAS
- Trey Burton, CHI
- A contract with $22 million guaranteed is proof the Bears plan to use Burton heavily in the passing game. Beyond Allen Robinson, Burton could slide in as the #2 target for the young Mitch Trubisky.
- Evan Engram, NYG
- George Kittle, SF
- O.J. Howard, TB
- Howard only managed 26 catches last year, but his athleticism was on display through his 16.6 yards per reception and 6 TDs (that’s a score almost every 4!). He’s a big breakout candidate in his 2nd year.
- Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, JAC
- Charles Clay, BUF
- David Njoku, CLE
- Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI
- Austin Hooper, ATL
- Jack Doyle, IND
- Eric Ebron, IND
- By all accounts, Ebron looks like he’s adapting to the Colts offense well. While his talent never matched his on the field accomplishments, sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes for a player to pop.
- Virgil Green, LAC
- Jared Cook, OAK
- Tyler Eifert, CIN
- Hayden Hurst, BAL
- Ed Dickson, SEA
- No longer playing second fiddle to Olsen in Carolina, Dickson has a great opportunity to produce in Seattle. On a roster that’s top heavy in the passing game, Dickson is sure to be involved heavily in the red zone.
- Cameron Brate, TB
- Rico Gathers, DAL
- Vance McDonald, PIT
- Stephen Anderson, HOU
- Anderson flashed at times, but still needs to prove he can be consistent enough to be worth rostering. The retirement of C.J. Feidorowicz means we’ll know sooner than later for the Houston TE.
- Jesse James, PIT
- Luke Willson, DET
- One of my favorite positional sleepers, Willson has all the athletic intangibles to be a contributing member of the passing game. Despite that, overcoming the organizational depth means fighting for touches with several good passing options.
- Mike Desicki, MIA
- Ben Watson, NO
- Gerald Everett, LAR
- Jake Butt, DEN
- Adam Shaheen, CHI
Every year I run an article where I examine the what I consider to the be the most rewarding same team pairings in fantasy football. The idea, if you’re not familiar, is that by adding high tier quarterbacks with elite wide receivers or running backs you give yourself a larger share of the available points. Of course, this works best with high scoring offenses.
Last year I missed the mark a little bit with my go to; Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, as both disappointed. Luckily I planned well enough that it didn’t impact me too much (I won the league after all), but the same risks exist for any strategy as some guys just don’t show up.
But this year presents a different challenge, as the number of elite quarterbacks have dropped precipitously and the number of sure fire fantasy studs is at a questionable level. Let’s begin:
Earl Round Pairs ( Most Difficult To Manage)
Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams: Adams is finally getting the respect he deserves, ranking 7th among wide receivers. Pairing the #7 WR with the #1 QB is a healthy strategy regardless of what team they play for, but getting extra point for yards and touchdowns shared has this pairing at the top of list. Still, it’ll cost you two of your first four picks to assemble this pairing.
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown: While the jury seems to be out on Roethlisberger every year in the off season, Big Ben grinds his way to a top ten finish at the position. What’s NEVER a question is how good Brown will be when he’s on the field. The easy answer is that Brown is the safest pick in fantasy, but it will require you have a top 3 or 4 pick.
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas: Despite still playing at a high level, Brees has sort of slipped behind Thomas and Alvin Kamara as the top targets in the New Orleans offense. That in no way diminishes his ability to produce in fantasy, and I’d argue is a better option than both Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but that’s a different article all together. Getting Michael Thomas, though, is the hard part. His ADP of 15 will mean drafting 1-5 will preclude you from drafting him unless you get lucky. If you do get lucky, a 6th or 7th round pick will land you Brees, who’s ADP of 69 is criminally low.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski: Draft Brady at your own risk, but if you’re confident that the off season malaise in New England won’t affect Brady’s ability to perform then have at it. The truth is that Rob Gronkowski could set records this year as the only reliable pair of hands left for Brady to chuck it up to. Sure, Edelman will be back in 4 games and Hogan has shown he can play with Brady, but Gronk should see the end zone 10-15 times this year on top of a ton of yards. Grabbing him in the 3rd round to pair with Brady in the 7th gives plenty of time to add skill players besides.
Middle Round Pairs (Easier To Coordinate)
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin: This one isn’t as impactful in terms of fantasy because Wilson tends to supplement his passing stats with his legs. Unfortunately for this exercise, his rushing statistics can’t be taken into account. Still, Doug Baldwin is one of the leagues best slot receivers, and as a 4th round pick has a lot of value regardless. Without Jimmy Graham in the red one, he may even see a few more looks there. This one may not be the sexiest pair on the list, but they may be the most effective.
Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz: It may seem strange to see another WR/TE combo, but the fact is Wentz and Ertz seem to share a brain in the red zone, meaning a ton of points are up for grabs between the two of them. While Alshon Jeffrey may be the #1 wide out on the team’s depth chart, the true number one is Ertz. if you miss out on Gronk but you want a stud tight end, pair a 4th round Ertz with a 7th round Wentz and reap the benefits.
Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs: Wait, you say. This should be Thielen and Cousins! I’m here to tell you, not so fast. Now, I can see a scenario like in Denver years back with multiple 1,000 yard receivers, but the guy I’m targeting is Diggs in the late 4th round. He was excellent last year even though he wasn’t the top target for the Case Keenum led Vikings. Now, he has Cousins tossing the ball to him. A classic gunslinger, Cousins’ game best fits the strengths Diggs brings to the table. This is one of the least expensive pairings you can get as a 4th and a 10th gets you both players.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones: You may have to spend a 2nd round pick on Jones, but the wait on Ryan is a bit longer than the other QB’s on this list. As the QB13, he’s being drafted in the 11th round, and I’d argue his value is sky high this year as a bounce back candidate. If you’re like me, and you see more value in grabbing high end skill players to pair with the later round QB, Matt Ryan is a slam dunk. Have him and Julio, and you’ll reap the rewards for all those yards.
Odell Beckham and Eli Manning: If you’re nervous about drafting either of these guys, I’d say you’re hardly alone. Beckham is an otherworldly talent when he’s right, but the combination of recent injury woes and an inability to stay level headed means he may fall towards the end of the first round. What I will say is that if you manage Beckham, Manning is a wonderful pairing if you waited a bit long on your QB. In the 16th round of drafts (current ADP is 152) Manning presents a conundrum. He was awful last year but much of it could be logically blamed on the terrible circumstances around him. With healthy weapons, an upgraded offensive line, and an elite RB to draw the attention, and Manning could be a surprise top 15 QB this year.
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen: Allen proved last year that when he’s healthy, he’s every bit the stud we thought he was. Rivers remains one of the most under appreciated QB’s in fantasy, and his ADP of 112 presents tons of value. Without Hunter Henry, even more weight will be given to Allen, meaning these two could hook up for a ton of points.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Carr and Amari Cooper (a new coach could help get these two back on track). Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks (it’s a new look for Goff, but Cooks could be his go to early and often). Jameis Winston and Mike Evans (This requires a bounce back year for both, but not guaranteed). Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis (There’s so much talent between these two, it’s hard to imagine both of them laying duds this year).
If you hadn’t heard, Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots is facing a four game suspension for testing positive for some kind of P.E.D. The details have not yet been released, but it’s a safe bet that the Patriots will be without their star slot receiver until week 5 of the season.
What does that mean in terms of fantasy?
There are two major factors when determining where to rank Edelman. First, is that he’s coming off a major knee injury. At 32 years old, and a year removed from meaningful football, Edelman is already behind the proverbial 8 ball. Second, he’ll be missing 25% of the fantasy schedule even if he DOES stay healthy for the year. My projections have him hovering around the WR50 mark, which would plant him in the 14th round.
But who is going to assume the production early on (and possibly ingratiate themselves to Brady)?
The least impact should be to the Patriots newest receiver, Jordan Matthews. While he may be the most talented receiver on the board in terms of athletic ability, he’s had very little time to work with his new QB, as Brady continues to avoid the Patriots practice facilities.
Rob Gronkowski, meanwhile, should benefit only slightly, as he was likely in line for the lions share of targets anyhow even before the suspension. I expect that the Pats would rather involve other supporting cast rather than dump more on the oft-injured TE.
This leaves Chris Hogan as the receiver with the most to gain. We know Brady and Hogan have a bit of a rapport already, and with added expectation thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade, Hogan should slide in as the WR1 right out of the gates, and should see a more consistent usage in the passing game.
Of course, expect the running backs to see ample usage early on. Sony Michel, the Patriots first round draft pick, is a trendy name already but James White or Rex Burkhead should be more valuable considering where they are being drafted.
As always, keep an eye on the situation as things may change.
Over the next few days, we here at Dr. Fantasy will take a closer look at each skill position and where the best value is as you prepare for your drafts.
Elite Tier (1)
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
Before you jump down my throat that “how can you elevate these two guys into Gronk’s class!?” I’d like to point out that I’ve really just pulled back on my Gronkspectations as an injury or two are nearly guaranteed. Still, these guys offer the highest ceiling at the position.
Very Good Tier (2)
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
- Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
- Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks
- Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans
My plan this year is to grab one of these guys in the middle rounds. I’m amazed that Jordan Reed doesn’t get the same pass on his health that Gronk gets because when he’s on the field he’s really, really good. Delanie Walker has probably the weakest claim to this tier as the Titans offense should spread the ball round better than previously but he still offers plenty of talent.
Decent Tier (3)
- Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
- Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
- Martellus Bennett – Green Bay Packers
- Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions
- Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers
- Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
- Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints
I’m personally a big believer in Kyle Rudolph’s ability as a pass catcher. Last year was just a start to what he should accomplish. Hunter Henry should certainly see an uptick in targets between the 20’s but until proven otherwise the red zone still belongs to Antonio Gates.
Make A Prayer Tier (4)
- CJ Fiedorowicz – Houston Texans
- Jason Witten – Dallas Texans
- Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Julius Thomas – Miami Dolphins
- Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
- Antonio Gates – Los Angeles Chargers
- Evan Engram – New York Giants
This is a fantastic late round tier of tight ends as very little investment gets you a starting quality TE. Austin Hooper is the darling of the off season so be wary of where he’s being drafted but in the later rounds he’s a steal. Evan Engram is another TE that is getting a lot of buzz after playing very well in the preseason but anything other than a late round flier in deep leagues and dynasty/keeper formats may be a wasted pick.
Worth a Flyer Tier (5)
- O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- David Njoku – Cleveland Browns
- Erik Swoope – Indianapolis Colts
- Dwayne Allen – New England Patriots
- Benjamin Watson – Baltimore Ravens
- Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers
If you’re drafting these guys then make sure you do your homework. OJ Howard may be the most NFL ready TE from this draft class but that doesn’t mean he’ll unseat Cameron Brate as the top dog in Tampa. Jesse James is a sneaky good late pick if you miss on the top guys and want a back up to mitigate disaster. LeDarius Green is gone and Big Ben has a history of using his TE’s in the red zone.
I’ve never been in favor of spending a pick on a TE in the first 5 rounds, it’s effectually throwing away a very valuable asset so your team looks pretty on draft night. While Gronkowski is as dominant at his position as any other player, the fact is he can’t stay on the field and I’d rather take my chances with a WR or RB in the 1st or 2nd round and hang my hat on Kyle Rudolph in the 9th instead.