With the preseason beginning and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2018 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to running backs and wide receivers:
- Top Duo – There’s a debate raging as to who will be the better fantasy back: Gurley or Bell. Obviously I don’t know the answer, but I really don’t think it matters. Both will have great fantasy seasons, both could help lead you to the playoffs. I would take Gurley because they need him more, Pittsburgh has Antonio Brown, but that’s splitting hairs. These backs will go #1 & #2 in most Drafts, so if you don’t pick at the top, you don’t need to worry about it anyway.
- DJ is back! – The return of David Johnson is great not just for fantasy owners but for the league; he’s no only a great player but also someone you can be proud to have on your teams. Last year he was injured, but in other seasons he’s been a megastar, and since his injury wasn’t to a leg or knee or something like that, I think he can jump right back to the top of the running back list. The Cardinals might not make it past .500, which is a concern, but only a small one.
- Young Guns – There are a bunch of young backs, mostly 2nd year guys, in a group right after the upper echelon of Gurley & the like, so grab one of them with confidence. Barkley, Kamara, Hunt, Cool, Fournette; if you don’t land your first choices these players can do almost as much for your team. Barkley is a bit of a wild card since he’s a rookie and the Giants aren’t amazing, but the rest should be pretty solid, and can be a #1 back for you.
- Middlemen – Then there’s a group in the middle that will make solid #2s: Freeman, McKinnon, Howard, McCaffrey, Henry. These guys are reliable and should produce for your team, so get them early as your second back before they get snatched up. If you wait a while and they become your #1 option, they won’t be selections to be embarrassed about; they should score their fair share of touchdowns for their respective teams.
- Rookie Avoidance – I would stay away from most rookie backs, except Barkley, if only because we have no idea what we’re getting. Penny, Guice (who is already out for the season), Michel, Chubb, Freeman; there’s really no telling how much teams will use these new weapons, and until we know more I wouldn’t draft them other than as backups who you’re hoping become surprises. Maybe in dynasty leagues you could stash these kids, but otherwise leave them until later in the Draft.
- Returning Cast – The receivers at the top of the list are mostly names that have appeared the last few years: Brown, Hopkins, Beckham, Green, Jones. A couple names that will joint them are a bit newer: Adams and Thomas. All of these receivers could be #1 guys for you, but make sure to think about how well their QBs will perform this season. For example, Eli is getting old, Brees isn’t singing it at quite the same volume as he used to, so don’t overpay for WRs with aging teammates.
- Hilton Head – T.Y. Hilton could return to the front of the line if Luck really is back to form, and his name hasn’t been buzzing in the offseason, so you might be able to get him for cheap. If Luck can play, Hilton is his favorite weapon, and the pair of them could be an extremely formidable duo. You might just be able to get the best fantasy QB and the best fantasy WR in rounds much later than you would normally pick them, simply because Luck was hurt last year. Something to think about.
- Vikings – With Kirk Cousins now in Minnesota, WRs Diggs and Thielen should have another strong season. They did well with Keenum, and Minnesota has a balanced approach that helps all offense players, because they run the ball to take pressure off and they play strong defense to get the ball back quickly. Cousins has been a solid fantasy QB over the past few seasons in Washington, and think that continues this year, which means his weapons should be in for quality points.
- Lowballing – I’m not as high on a few WRs as some fantasy experts are, so I’ll be letting other teams pick them too high. Allen Robinson, Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, Davin Funchess, Josh Gordon, JuJu Smith-Schuster; these guys are good, but in my book they’re #2s, even really solid #3s, not guys you reach for in early rounds. I’d be overjoyed to get someone from this group as a 2 AND a 3, that’d be great, but it probably won’t happen.
- Vets Vanishing – Here is a group I probably wouldn’t draft at all, veteran wideouts who simply won’t produce enough this season. Emmanuel Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordy Nelson; in some cases there just isn’t enough left in the tank, in others the talent surrounding the player isn’t strong enough to expect point to come. If you really have a good feeling, take one of these cats on a flyer, but don’t expect much production.