2018 Fantasy Football Rankings
It’s football time! Perhaps more excitingly, it’s FANTASY FOOTBALL TIME! Don’t get caught scrambling around at the last minute to determine player roles for the upcoming season. The time to start studying is now. Luckily for you guys, we’re fantasy fanatics and have spent the last 5 months salivating over the opportunity to drop these nuggets on anyone who will listen. Here is our full fantasy cheat sheet to prepare you for your 2018 fantasy football draft.
*Based on .5 ppr
1. David Johnson – Cardinals
A year off means fresh legs and hunger to play. Excellent hands and equally as dangerous whether he’s catching out of the backfield or running the ball. QB Sam Bradford is in his 1st year with the team, and the back-up QB is a rookie. So expect a lot of check-down passes this year, he could even lead the team in receptions.
2. Todd Gurley
Gurley has a coach that knows how to play to his strengths, and adds another healthy offseason to gain rapport with his Pro Football Focus graded top 10 offensive line. They play a tough schedule but Gurley showed late last year that he can shine even with defenses keying in on him. But that will be hard for defenses to do because they can spread the ball in so many different ways.
3. Le’veon Bell – Steelers
Bell’s future with the team is in doubt, so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. Do they run him into the ground or do they give their other 2 young RBs more reps than they would under normal circumstances? Do they trade him? There are plenty of questions in Pittsburgh, but one thing is certain, when Bell takes the field, he’s a top 5 talent. My guess is that they’ll at least want to get their money’s worth($14.5M) when he’s available.
4. Ezekiel Elliott – Cowboys
Might be the best pure runner in the league. He’d be 1st in fantasy if he could get more catches out of the backfield. If it’s not a PPR league he’s a legit #1 pick. The lack of outside weapons in Dallas is little cause for concern for me, because Zeke has thrived even without the vertical threat to this point.
5. Saquon Barkley – Giants
Barkley can do it all. Elite speed, elite explosiveness, elite power, elite hands, and can even handle returns if need be. The Giants RBs face a tough schedule and their line is still shaky at best. With all-world weapons both inside and outside, if the big guys up front can do even half their jobs, I foresee plenty of fantasy points to go around in the Big Apple.
6. Kareem Hunt – Chiefs
Slowed down by injuries after a hot start last year, expect him to come back stronger and more prepared to handle a full schedule. A 2nd year QB starting in his 1st year should lead to a run-first mentality in KC, until Mahomes gets comfortable in the offense; and Hunt’s ability to catch out of the backfield should bode well for his opportunities on the passing front.
7. Alvin Kamara – Saints
Before the Ingram suspension, I’d already entertained the thought that Kamara would take his starting job. He gives the Saints more versatility, more options in the playbook, and puts more pressure on the defense. He adds a dimension that Ingram does not have. Ingram should be giving Kamara a break whenever he needs one.
8. Leonard Fournette – Jags
Rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first season, expect more of the same. The team doesn’t trust Bortles’ arm, so that means a lot of ground and pound football with big bodied Leonard. He can handle a full workload and he can carry guys with him in the ground game, but he’s somewhat limited in the passing game. No worries though because the Jags are loyal to the run.
9. Dalvin Cook – Vikings
Cook was off to a hot start last year before tearing his ACL. Expect the quick back to regain his starting spot immediately. He’s Shady McCoy-like in tight space. He was well on track to eclipse 1,000 yards before his injury and has good hands as well.
10. Christian McCaffrey – Panthers
The Panthers weren’t sure how to use him last year. Jonathan Stewart is out of the picture, opening the door for a full-time role. Hopefully, they can take a page out of the Saints’ playbook, they way they use Kamara. Either way, Christian will be a featured player in both the ground game and passing game this year .
11. Joe Mixon – Bengals
Mixon had to fight his way through starter Jeremy Hill and 3rd down back Gio Bernard last season. Hill is gone, Mixon steps in as the starter, and Gio will handle 3rd down role. Mixon is built like David Johnson. His hands aren’t as good as Johnson’s, but he’s a big, strong back. He’s also agile and fast enough to break loose for big plays.
12. Melvin Gordon – Chargers
3-down back that will get plenty of opportunities on the field. He has a QB that will make sure he gets involved in the passing game and should also see 20+ carries a game.
13. Derrick Henry – Titans
Henry takes over as the full-time starter after Murray retires, but Dion Lewis will most likely handle 3rd down duties. Henry is built like a brick wall at 6’3 240. This workhorse wears defenses down by the 4th quarter, doing most of his damage in the 2nd half of games. Good luck trying to tackle this guy for a full 4 quarters, he always has his legs churning.
14. DeVonte Freeman – Falcons
The Falcons paid Freeman that big contract last year, so you can rest assured that he will be a featured player in the offense again. A quick back with surprising strength and solid hands.
15. LeSean McCoy – Bills
Amid investigation on some concerning allegations, McCoy is one of the highest paid players at his position, on a team whose offense relies heavily upon him. As he nears the end of his prime, the Bills will hand him the ball a lot and dump it off to him on plenty of passing screens to let him work his magic.
16. Jordan Howard – Bears
Howard has quietly rushed for over 1,100 yards in each of his first 2 seasons and played at least 15 games. He didn’t miss 1 game last year, although his ypc did drop from 5.2 to 4.1. That could be because he had a rookie QB behind the center and teams were focusing on him. The better Mitch progresses, the more space Howard will have. Most of his damage is done on the ground as he has average hands. That role belongs to Tarik Cohen.
17. Derrius Guice – Washington
*Torn ACL, out for year
I had Guice here before his ACL injury, but the only value he holds now is as a stash away player in a keepers league. I was actually going to take him with the #4 overall pick in my keeper league, which consists mostly of rookies, but now I’m left wondering where to go.
18. Kenyan Drake – Dolphins
One of the fastest backs in the league that can catch it well out of the backfield, leading to some big plays. His big play ability makes him a featured player in both the running and passing game for the Dolphins this year. He took over the full-time role last year after the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles.
19. Rashaad Penny – Seahawks
Expect Penny to take over 3-down duties sometime sooner rather than later. The Seahawks didn’t draft him in the 1st round to warm the bench.
20. Ronald Jones II – Bucs
Jones is the youngest back in the league and the explosive playmaker figures to take over the starting role from Peyton Barber at some point this season. There won’t be any looking back when they do pull the trigger on that. Jones can make plays with his legs and his hands.
21. Jerrick McKinnon – 49ers
McKinnon takes over a RB position on a potent offense. He’s a speedy scat back, not a pounder, suggesting the 49ers may air it out this year. McKinnon is most dangerous when he’s catching the ball. His value would drop significantly if it’s not a PPR league.
22. Sony Michel – Patriots
I usually avoid New England RBs, but I won’t avoid Sony Michel. I don’t think the Patriots would take him in the 1st round, putting him on a higher pay scale, unless they intended to use him a lot. He’s a complete back, a workhorse that can also block and catch it out of the backfield. Even the Patriots couldn’t resist.
23. Royce Freeman – Broncos
Freeman finds himself in a situation where the other RBs on the roster are weak, so he could become the immediate starter. He is a physical RB with a low center of gravity and wide hips. Not a fun guy to tackle, he’s like a bowling ball coming through.
24. Jay Ajayi – Eagles
Ajayi is a 1,000+ yard runner, but Philly is so deep at RB, they have no reason to run him into the ground as he gets older. Expect him to get a lot of breaks from other RBs.
25. Alex Collins – Ravens
A surprise player last year, it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up and hold onto to the starting position.
The next RB tier…