It’s football time! Perhaps more excitingly, it’s FANTASY FOOTBALL TIME! Don’t get caught scrambling around at the last minute trying to determine player roles for the upcoming season. The time to start studying is now. Luckily for you guys, I’m a fantasy fanatic and have spent the last 5 months salivating over the opportunity to drop these nuggets on anyone who will listen. Here is my fantasy cheatsheet to prepare you for your 2018 fantasy football draft.
Fantasy Draft Strategy
With the exception of Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, focus on RB and WR in the early rounds because they go the fastest. It’s much harder to find a RB or WR with a prominent role the later in the draft you go. The further you can push back the QB position and load up on RB and WR, the better off you’ll be.
Keep in mind that during the season, the RB position shuffles the most because of injuries. It’s easier to find a legit RB option during the season(on the waiver wire) than it is to find a legit QB or WR on the waiver wire. After the first 2 rounds, you should have a solid RB and WR, unless you have Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees on your team.
If you’re going to draft a player returning from injury, make sure to keep a vigilant eye on their progress throughout training camp and preseason. Don’t be the guy or girl celebrating drafting that familiar name only to find they are on IR, or retired. Those rookie mistakes in August will be giving you nightmares at Christmas, and will probably get you teased relentlessly between now and then. Do your future self a favor and take notes on this year’s talent at QB, and how they rank for the 2019 fantasy football season.
1. Aaron Rodgers – Packers
You tell me why he should NOT be the number one fantasy QB. I’ll wait…
2. Drew Brees – Saints
The Saints ran the ball more than ever last year. While I think they’ll stick to a solid ground game, the Mark Ingram suspension will lead to more Alvin Kamara snaps to start this year. That should open up more possibilities for the passing game.
3. Tom Brady – Patriots
Call me crazy, but I have a weird hunch that Bill Belichick will tone down on the passing somewhat this year. The first clue is them taking a workhorse RB in the 1st round of the NFL draft, which is practically unprecedented for an NE squad. I would expect them to pay a RB big money, only if they planned on running him into the ground. The Sony Michel injury is a wrinkle that will lead to consistent aerial opportunities for Brady, hence he’s still at #3.
4. Deshaun Watson – Texans
I expect Watson to prepare and play the same way he did last year, with the added knowledge from his rookie campaign. He looks good this offseason coming off of injury, and his weapons appear to be at full strength as well. I understand the apprehension behind taking Watson this high, but how many times does this guy have to prove naysayers wrong before it starts to sink in: Deshaun. Watson. Is. Beast.
5. Russell Wilson – Seahawks
Wilson is in his physical prime and can make plays with both his arm and legs. Another horrible offensive line up front all but ensures his ability to work outside of the pocket will be as valuable as always. Add new OC Brian Schottenheimer and his Air Coryell system to the mix, and you have an offense with a built-in emphasis on vertical routes, which happens to be the bread and butter of a scrambling Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.
6. Carson Wentz – Eagles
Another dual threat QB that should pick up right where he left off. Yes, he has a major injury to bounce back from. He also has what is arguably the best offensive line protecting him, and a top-three outlet weapon in tight-end Zach Ertz. If worse happens to come to worst, he has something no other QB has this year: a Super Bowl-winning handcuff.
7. Cam Newton – Panthers
The biggest, baddest, dual-threat QB in the league with better options, and hopefully, a better offensive game plan from the coaches. The Panthers added Norv Turner -another branch of the Coryell tree – as offensive coordinator, which gives me the feeling that we will be seeing a lot of downfield throws to Devin Funchess.
8. Kirk Cousins – Vikings
Cousins was a premier fantasy QB last year, and he’s never had a WR core as good as the one he has now. He might arguably have the best RB he’s ever played with as well, assuming Dalvin Cook comes back 100%. Of all the notable QB moves this offseason, I think Cousins is best situated to continue the upward trend.
9. Jimmy Garappolo – 49ers
Poised and ready to take the next step in his game, I don’t see many obstacles in Jimmy G’s future. Behind a great, offensive-minded coach, their starting personnel suggests that they’ll be airing it out. I’d be looking to draft Jimmy Garoppolo in daily leagues, dynasty leagues, intramural flag leagues, community bingo, whatever. The upside and the positives he’s shown so far are just too great to ignore.
10. Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers
With outside weapons like Antonio Brown and youngster Juju Smith-Shuster, you have to assume 4,000+ yards. There is a new OC, although the system will largely be unaffected. This team could blow these projections up, but let’s see how they handle the new leadership and the latest Le’veon Bell hold out.
11. Patrick Mahomes – Chiefs
Andy Reid has prepared him and given him the keys with some dangerous surrounding weapons. Mahomes is a gunslinger with a rocket arm. If he wasn’t playing football, he’d be an MLB ace like his father was. There isn’t a lot I’ve seen to dislike about Mahomes, and I trust Andy Reid wouldn’t take such a bold step if this guy is all hype. Besides, with the weapons on this team, having bad fantasy numbers would take a Herculean effort.
12. Andrew Luck – Colts
TY Hilton is more seasoned, they have 2 young RBs with capable hands out of the backfield, they’ve upgraded the OLine, and added former-Lion TE Eric Ebron for more depth. TE Jack Doyle finished strong last season and should take the next step in his game. Oh, most importantly, Andrew Luck’s arm grew back.
13. Philip Rivers – Chargers
Keenan Allen is a stud WR. 2017 1st round pick, Mike Williams, should also have an impact this year. Losing Hunter Henry is a definite concern, but on the flip side their schedule isn’t exactly full of tough defensive matchups. My crystal ball says Philip Rivers will have more TD’s than he has small children, now that’s value.
14. Matt Ryan – Falcons
With Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and now Calvin Ridley, the Falcons’ passing should be as explos
ive as ever. Add the 2 RBs that can both handle full-time workloads and catch balls and there is no formula for Matt Ryan to fail in fantasy right? Negative. Steve Sarkisian is on the joystick, so Matty Ice slides down my board.
15. Eli Manning – Giants
Eli had terrible numbers last season, but expect a comeback performance this year as the team has added Barkley, a stud RB with excellent hands. Odell Beckham, arguably the best WR in the NFL, is returning. I won’t even mention that Evan Engram has a year of seasoning under his belt, and should thrive as defenses have to account for the other weapons.
16. Matthew Stafford – Lions
17. Alex Smith – Washington
18. Jared Goff – Rams
19. Marcus Mariota – Titans
20. Derek Carr – Raiders