When the Browns announced their intentions to release or trade troubled wide out, it was reported that teams around the league had shown some interest. When the dust settled, it was the Patriots sending a 5th round pick for the services of the of the former all pro.
This move comes at a time when the Patriots are starved for production at the wide receiver position. With Julian Edelman still suspended and Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, and Malcolm Mitchell all proving they weren’t the answer, Gordon immediately fills this need with plus talent.
Of course, the question is how quickly can he be ready, and can he even stay on the field. With the clause that returns a 7th round pick to New England if Gordon doesn’t play 10 of the final 14 games, it’s clear the Patriots are hedging their bets.
As a fantasy owner of Gordon myself, I’ve been salivating at the potential production of Gordon paired with Brady. With a below average receiver group since the days of Moss and Welker, Brady would be wise to target his new toy early. Gordon, Gronk, and Edelman could elevate one of the most milquetoast receiving groups to one of the most exciting.
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)
Much like our updates to the sleeper list, the Dr. is here to tell you who he’s avoiding in drafts this year. Of course, any time we’re suggesting to NOT draft a player, it’s understood that we’re referencing the current cost to acquire said player. All players have value, we’re just trying to help you maximize the value you receiving with each of your picks.
Tom Brady, QB – NE
As a card carrying member of the Tom Brady fan club, it pains me to include him on this list, but it’s important to remain realistic. His late season struggles in the last few years has been well documented, and much of the blame can be assigned on his offensive line. At 41 years old and behind one of the worst offensive lines he’s had in years, Brady is no safe bet to stay healthy all year, and the late season regression he’s seen for years now is a near guarantee. Sure, he’ll win 12 games for his football team, but he’s not as safe a pick as he has been in the past for your fantasy one.
Carson Wentz, QB – PHI
I’m not suggesting Wentz isn’t a good quarterback by including him on this list; I’m merely drawing attention to the fact that he’s being ranked far to high for my liking. While it’s encouraging that he’s returning from his injury so quickly, it’s important to remember that QB’s returning from knee injuries tend to take time to get up to speed. Head coach Doug Pederson went as far as to describe Wentz’s play as “tentative” further reinforcing the idea that he may not be 100%. Expecting the rushing game to return to the levels it did last year isn’t realistic, and neither is expecting him to remain hyper efficient in the face of NFL defenses. Expecting a low end QB1 finish isn’t outrageous, but drafting him at QB5 is expecting him to play at his ceiling; something I’m not confident a QB returning from injury can do.
Jerick McKinnon, RB – SF
When McKinnon was handed a three year contract by San Francisco in the offseason, I was one of the first to declare that McKinnon was set to breakout in a big way. After all, he was playing the lead back role in an up and coming Kyle Shanahan offense. Then, I put the time in to research, and while most of the industry is expecting big things, there’s a well defined group in the community who expect McKinnon to fall flat on his face. While I exist somewhere in between, the truth is that McKinnon has never really shown that he’s got lead back ability. Between losing snaps to Matt Asiata when Adrian Peterson went down, to posting sub 4 yards per carry in limited action over the last two seasons, it appears that we were a bit premature anointing the second coming of Emmett Smith. Expecting him to play all season as a RB1 is a recipe for disaster.
Derrick Henry, RB – TEN
Henry is a back that I personally think has the talent to be a top 10 RB in the league, but Tennessee had the great idea to add elite satellite back Dion Lewis to muddy the waters that had begun to clear when DeMarco Murray left town. Currently being drafted 25th overall, Henry has a steep hill to climb to secure a three down workload, and with a pick in the third round, I’m not sure I’m willing to spend it on a back who’s whole claim to the position was his college production. Henry could prove to be a very useful fantasy asset, but it’ll be only at the expense of Dion Lewis, who’d need to suffer a major injury to open up passing downs for the young Henry.
Tyreek Hill, WR – KC
I’d like to preface this by saying I think Hill is one of the most talented down-the-field receivers in the NFL, but not enough is being made of the situation he’s facing with a first year starter and added weapons suppressing his overall value. Alex Smith may be rightly panned over his career for being a conservative quarterback, but expecting Pat Mahomes to step in and play even close to the season Smith had last year is insane. As an MVP candidate, Smith was one of the most efficient deep ball practitioners last year, and while Mahomes features a monster arm, there are going to be growing pains. While Hill should still be productive, he’s a regression candidate yet he’s being draft as though that’s a fallacy. If he falls a round or two, he’d be worth grabbing, but not as a WR1.
Juju Smith-Schuster, WR – PIT
I’m amazed at how quickly a player went from being un-drafted to being over drafted, but Juju managed it in record time. While he’s a name that I was hoping to target in drafts this year, I’m not touching him at his current price. Being drafted before Brandin Cooks, Josh Gordon, Larry Fitzgerald, and Demaryius Thomas, there’s clearly an unreasonable expectation that the Pittsburgh offense can support both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell as top 5 players and elevate Juju to anything more than a back-end WR2. The issue with drafting him at 42nd overall, his current ADP, is that you can’t expect him to outperform that position. We say it all the time, never draft a player at their ceiling, unless you’re prepared to be disappointed.
Jimmy Graham, TE – GB
Sure, it wasn’t long ago that Graham was considered one of the two or three best pass catching tight ends in the league. His time in New Orleans saw him secure no less than 85 catches over a four year period from 2010 to 2014, but the wheels came off in his first year with the Seahawks. While he was much better in 2016, the now 31 year old TE looked his age last year, performing admirably in the end zone but failing to record more than 65 receptions for the third straight year. In Green Bay, he’ll likely be asked to play a similar role, featuring mostly in the red zone, with less target share thanks to a deeper wide receiver corps. Expecting a return to the pre-Seahawks form is asinine, yet he’s being drafted 5th at the position, before Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, and Delanie Walker; all candidates I expect to finish ahead of Graham by seasons end.
Adam Theilen has seen his ADP drop a bit, so he’s no longer a focus on these bust lists, but he’s still being drafted a bit too high for me to like his value. Kenyan Drake was impressive in his limited time last year, but he doesn’t have the pedigree or track record to perform as a top 10 RB over a full season, and Miami’s offseason moves seem to say the same thing. DeShaun Watson has had plenty of time to recover from his major knee injury, but the obvious regression coming seems to be ignored when setting expectations. As the 4th QB off the board, I’m out on Watson.
As we continue to preach preparation here at Dr. Fantasy, we’ll shine our spotlight on the age old question of “when do you draft a QB?”
There’s plenty of different schools of thought on this one – I’m sure you’ve got the guy in your league who throws a second round pick at Aaron Rodgers every year. I’m not here to tell you that guy’s wrong. What I will tell you is that it’s often times far easier to secure a top 10 QB later in the draft while securing a stud RB or WR in that same spot than it is to hope you hit on all your mid round picks to make up for it.
There’s only a handful of QB’s that I’d consider “early” round picks. They are as follows:
- Aaron Rodgers (ADP 23)
- Tom Brady (ADP 29)
- DeShaun Watson (ADP 46)
- Carson Wentz (ADP 55)
- Russell Wilson (ADP 56)
- Cam Newton (ADP 58)
You can certainly waste an entire day arguing the merits of each of these QBs, but the fact is that if you want one of them, you have to prepare yourself to spend big time draft capital to acquire them.
Ignoring Wentz, Wilson, and Newton (because they all have decent value in the 6th round), we find ourselves debating second year QB DeShaun Watson, perennial #1 QB Aaron Rodgers, and a 41 year old Tom Brady.
Of this group only Aaron Rodgers is worth considering at their current draft point. Consider this; by selecting Rodgers at 23rd overall (his current ESPN draft price), you’re passing on the 2nd tier of receivers and the end of the starting running backs pool. Is it worth it to piece together a skill position group without a 2nd round pick? For an argument, here is what you can expect from Rodgers + an 11th round WR and what you can expect from 11th round Matt Stafford + a 2nd round receiver.
- Aaron Rodgers (20.3 points per game) + DeSean Jackson (6.1 points per game)
- Mike Evans (10 points per game) + Matt Stafford (16.6 points per game)
Consistency wise, there’s not much of an argument as DeSean Jackson is, at best, a flex play and bye week fall back. While you’re likely to have other wide outs on your team, you can instead draft a starting QB who’s 50% production (compared to Rodgers) is far more appealing that the 35% you’d get from Jackson (compared to Evans).
Now extrapolate that for Watson and Brady and there’s little argument that those guys are as valuable in the 3rd and 4th round as a 2nd back or wide receiver. If you’re not really sure how to piece together a team with high upside backups and sleeper wide outs, we implore you: wait on a QB.
When New England made Sony Michel their first round draft pick in the 2017 NFL draft, it marked only the 2nd time since 1998 that the Patriots invested that kind of draft capital into the running back position. We all know how the Laurence Maroney experiment turned out, but the bigger question is does Michel’s selection signal the end to another long standing New England past time: the Committee?
After day one of mini camp, the news out of New England was that Michel was involved pretty heavily in the passing game, catching one touchdown pass in 11 on 11 drills that seemed to fire up veteran QB Tom Brady. While it’s important to take this type of thing with a grain of salt, it still speaks to the potential for Michel to see a large number of touches week to week.
It’s been a long time since a New England running back was used heavily, but if Michel can protect the football, it appears that the Patriots will be interested in using him on three downs. With one notable fumble on ball control drills, there’s some reason for concern (Michel fumbled once for ever 54 touches in college, a largely concerning number especially given Bill Belichick’s propensity to sit guys if they can’t protect).
But it’s a process that we’ll have to keep track, especially if one is interested in drafting the Georgia Bulldog. It appears, though, that he’ll be given every chance to take control of a mostly listless backfield, something we predict to be the case early in the season.
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!
Winning your league takes understanding the value’s at each of the tiers. Everyone get’s to pick a few high end starters in those early rounds, but what you do here, in rounds 4-10 can mean the difference between playoff hopeful and championship contender. (PPR ADP Data supplied by Fantasypros.com)
- Doug Baldwin, WR – SEA
- T.Y. Hilton, WR – IND
- Zach Ertz, TE – PHI
- Derrick Henry, RB – TEN
- Stefon Diggs, WR – MIN
- Amari Cooper, WR – OAK
- Kenyan Drake, RB – MIA
- Josh Gordon, WR – CLE
- Jay Ajayi, RB – PHI
- Alex Collins, RB – BAL
Player I Love: I’m aiming to get a piece of that Minnesota offense, and Diggs is the player I’m targeting. With Cousin’s big arm, Diggs could have a monster year.
Player I Hate: Kenyan Drake had a nice little finish to 2017, and it looked for a moment like he may be a breakout candidate for 2018. Then Miami added Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage to the stable. Neither guy projects as a 3 down workhorse, but in the fourth round, they inhibit Drake from being a true stud.
- Rashad Penny, RB – SEA
- Allen Robinson, WR – CHI
- Larry Fitzgerald, WR – ARI
- Deshaun Watson, QB – HOU
- Juju Smith-Schuster, WR – PIT
- Derrius Guice, RB – WAS
- Demaryius Thomas, WR – DEN
- Mark Ingram, RB – NO
- Brandin Cooks, WR – LAR
- Russell Wilson, QB – SEA
Player I Love: The fifth round features two rookie RB’s that I love as Penny and Guice figure to act as feature backs for two teams that will likely run the ball a lot. Both have the talent and the opportunity to be top 15 backs.
Player I Hate: Mark Ingram has been polarizing among fantasy owners in his brief time in the NFL thanks to injury concerns and lack of work, but with Kamara emerging and the four game suspension keeping him out for 25% of the fantasy season, there’s no chance I take Ingram this early in drafts.
- Jarvis Landry, WR – CLE
- Alshon Jeffrey, WR – PHI
- Golden Tate, WR – DET
- Lamar Miller, RB – HOU
- Jimmy Graham, TE – GB
- Tom Brady, QB – NE
- Sony Michel, RB – NE
- Evan Engram, TE – NYG
- Greg Olsen, TE – CAR
- Ronald Jones, RB – TB
Player I love: I’ve heard a lot of talk about Jimmy Graham as a potential bust, and I imagine it has to do with Green Bay’s history of not really using it’s tight ends. I’d argue it’s because Rodgers never had a weapon like Graham. I expect him and Adams to both put together top 5 seasons at their positions.
Player I Hate: Maybe it’s because I’m still bitter about the super bowl, but Tom Brady is 40 years old and has never had an off season like this one. On the field, he’ll likely win 12 games, but for your fantasy team he may hold you back as inconsistency should plague the Patriots this year.
- Carson Wentz, QB – PHI
- Marvin Jones, WR – DET
- Cam Newton, QB – CAR
- Dion Lewis, RB – TEN
- Drew Brees, QB – NO
- Delanie Walker, TE – TEN
- Kyle Rudolph, TE – MIN
- Tevin Coleman, RB – ATL
- Kirk Cousins, QB – MIN
- Michael Crabtree, WR – BAL
Player I love: Marvin Jones Jr is being ranked currently as the WR25 after finishing 11th at the position last year. Matt Stafford still likes to sling the ball, and Jones has proven that he’s the most reliable down the field target in the offense. 1,000 yards and 8 TDs is a safe floor.
Player I Hate: Dion Lewis is a fantastic satellite back, but for some reason he’s being drafted based on his 2017 season in which the then-Patriot finished as a RB1. Now, he’s playing second fiddle to a superior back in Derrick Henry, and yet folks expect him to put up 1,000 + combined yards again. Don’t bet on it.
- Corey Davis, WR – TEN
- Will Fuller, WR – HOU
- Sammy Watkins, WR – KC
- Devin Funchess, WR – CAR
- Marshawn Lynch, RB – OAK
- Carlos Hyde, RB – CLE
- Chris Hogan, WR – NE
- Julien Edelman, WR – NE
- Marlon Mack, RB – IND
- Robert Woods, WR – LAR
Player I Love: I have to give a whole lot of love to the two wide outs at the top of the round as Corey Davis and Will Fuller both have the potential to be top 20 WR’s. With Davis entering the year finally healthy and Fuller being reunited with Watson (whom he scored a ton of points with), neither guy is getting the respect they deserve.
Player I Hate: Marshawn Lynch may go down in history as one of the most entertaining backs of his generation, but the writing is on the wall for the aging back. With plenty of miles on his wheels, the Raiders brought in former Buc’s back Doug Martin to compete for the job. While both guys lack any excitement, Lynch’s time as a bell cow back is over.
- Jordan Reed, TE – WAS
- Tarik Cohen, RB – CHI
- Matthew Stafford, QB – DET
- Royce Freeman, RB – DEN
- Kerryon Johnson, RB – DET
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR – DEN
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – SF
- Pierre Garcon, WR – SF
- Isaiah Crowell, RB – NYJ
- Chris Thompson, RB – WAS
Player I Love: Pierre Garcon may not be a threat to break the top 10 at WR, but in PPR leagues especially, his ability to get open from the slot will mean a ton of targets for the veteran. His 67 targets through 8 games may be a bit on the high end, but 120 total targets are within reach.
Player I Hate: This one is a bit of a stretch as these middle round picks aren’t make or break, but Jordan Reed is still being drafted as a top 10 TE despite missing 14 games over the last two seasons. As an injury risk, drafting Reed is precarious at best, and should be avoided if at all possible.
- Cooper Kupp, WR – LAR
- Devante Parker, WR – MIA
- Andrew Luck, QB – IND
- Trey Burton, TE – CHI
- Jamison Crowder, WR – WAS
- Jordy Nelson, WR – OAK
- Marquise Goodwin, WR – SF
- Duke Johnson, RB – CLE
- Rex Burkhead, RB – NE
- Randall Cobb, WR – GB
Player I Love: Devante Parker has flashed before, but with the issues under center last year seriously disappointed fantasy owners who invested in him. I say ignore the feelings of discomfort and bet on his talent. With all the targets up for grabs, and Tannehill back under center, Parker could see 40-60 more targets this year.
Player I Hate: Jordy Nelson was once the cream of the NFL crop when it came to high end fantasy receivers. Now he’ll be a third option at best in an offense that struggled last year to find traction in it’s passing game. With Cooper and Bryant miles ahead of Nelson in terms of athletic ability and talent, it’ll be tough sledding for the 33 year old vet.
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.
- Aaron Rodgers, GB
- Russell Wilson, SEA
- Cam Newton, CAR
- Drew Brees, NO
- A quiet yet efficient season has bred this idea that Brees is no longer elite. Expect a return to the top 5, especially with Ingram missing time.
- Carson Wentz, PHI
- Deshaun Watson, HOU
- Tom Brady, NE
- This off season has been difficult for the Patriots as they have faced infighting, suspensions, and denatures. Brady will likely still be elite on the field, but his fantasy prospects take a hit.
- Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
- Kirk Cousins, MIN
- Matthew Stafford, DET
- Philip Rivers, LAC
- Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
- The 5 game stretch to finish the year was impressive, but too many quarter backs have wilted under the pressure after securing the big contract. If reports of Jimmy G’s struggles at camp are correct, caution should be taken.
- Jared Goff, LAR
- Matt Ryan, ATL
- Jameis Winston, TB
- Patrick Mahomes, KC
- The weapons are there in this high powered offense, but the difference between the potential floor and potential ceiling is where the questions begin. As likely as he is a top 10 QB, he’s a bottom tier guy who struggles in his first real action.
- Alex Smith, WAS
- Mitch Trubisky, CHI
- Dak Prescott, DAL
- Marcus Mariota, TEN
- Eli Manning, NYG
- The age is a real concern as Manning turns 38 this year and has tons of mileage on his tires, but his situation has improved immensely. Getting back OBJ and Shephard, receiving better protection, and having an effective run game should have him back in the top 20 conversation.
- Derek Carr, OAK
- Case Keenum, DEN
- Andrew Luck, IND
- This is likely to change as we approach the season and his availability becomes clearer, but for now we have him ranked conservatively, should he start the season on the roster.
- Blake Bortles, JAC
- Andy Dalton, CIN
- Ryan Tannehill, MIA
- Jacoby Brissett, IND
- Joe Flacco, BAL
- I would once have defended Flacco against the haters but I can no longer ignore the writing on the wall. One year older, and an early round addition in Lamar Jackson give Flacco very little room for error.
- Tyrod Taylor, CLE
- Sam Bradford, ARI
- Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ
- Sam Darnold, NYJ
- Josh Rosen, ARI
- Of all the rookie QB’s, Rosen feels like he’s the closest to a starting gig, mainly because Bradford is a safe bet to get injured. If you’re drafting in re-drafts, most of these rookie QB’s aren’t an option, but Rosen may be the best of the bunch.
- Baker Mayfield, CLE
- Nick Foles, PHI
- Josh Allen, BUF
- A.J. McCarron, BUF
- Neither McCarron, nor Allen, excite me much, but it’s likely McCarron’s offense for now. If you need a really deep play – he may be worth a look in the last round of your draft. Ideally he’d be a waiver wire pickup, though.
- Lamar Jackson, BAL
- Josh McCown, NYJ
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).