- Pick at least one RB with your first two picks
This year in fantasy, there’s a multitude of running back talent at the top of the draft. If you have a top-4 pick in this year’s draft, you’re more than likely going to pick one of the four-headed monsters in this year’s draft, which includes Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott.
But let’s say you get a pick lower than the 4th, do you take a chance on Antonio Brown, or do you take Saquon Barkley with that same pick? To answer this, I say yes! You’re not wrong with either of these two picks, if you capitalize with your second pick. If you pick Antonio, you can come back around a pick a player like a Leonard Fournette or a Dalvin Cook to be your RB #1. You could even go the Saquon route, then draft another running back and then go after like a Mike Evans or Doug Baldwin at wide receiver.
Unless the name of the player is Antonio, Julio or DeAndre though, I’m usually a little hesitant drafting a wide receiver with my first pick in the draft. The first two picks make or break your team, and you need a good workhorse running back to depend on game in and game out.
- Unless the value is good, don’t draft QBs or TE’s too early
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski is being drafted as the TE1 in this year’s draft, as well as he should. In 14 games, he ended the season as the TE2, behind only Travis Kelce. His ADP (average draft position) is near the mid-2nd round, early 3rd round range, which is just too high for ANY tight end to be drafted.
To put the value of the tight end position into perspective, if you placed Travis Kelce’s numbers in the wide receiver category for PPR leagues, he’d be only the WR10, behind players like Adam Thielen and Tyreke Hill. While this isn’t a terrible spot for a tight end to finish, tight ends have been losing value over the last couple of years.
Kelce, Gronk, and Zach Ertz were the only tight ends to have more than 200 fantasy points in PPR scoring. 19 wide receivers alone in 2017 had over 200 fantasy points, including New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson. While you could argue from this stat alone that drafting one of these tight ends early would benefit you, think again.
- DO NOT rely on consensus rankings
Anybody remember Terrelle Pryor Jr. last year when he was with the Washington Redskins? He was drafted in the top 25 of drafts last season. Now, he’s going undrafted in just about every single league. About 50% of players that were ranked in the top 25 of players to draft in 2017 finished outside of the top 25. This included players like Jordy Nelson, Demarco Murray, and Dez Bryant.
The consensus rankings are always skewed due to the amount of hype surrounding players. They fail to realize surrounding factors surrounding players, and because of that the consensus rankings every year always have players finishing worse than they have them ranked. Study up on player situations, including what type of target share they’ve had in past seasons, and what players might take away from their production.
- Don’t shy away from rookies
Last year was the year of the rookie tailback, three rookie running backs finished inside of the top 10 in points for running backs (Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, and Leonard Fournette). Rookies coming in every year have been able to make an impact every season. Go back two years ago, Ezekiel Elliott took over the league as a rookie in 2016, and finished as one of the highest point scorers in the league.
This year is one of the biggest years for rookie running backs in a long time. Players such as Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, and Rashaad Penny look poised to set the bar high for fantasy in 2018. If you run into a dilemma picking one of these players in the draft, don’t let the rookie label sway you away from doing that.
- Opportunity > Talent
I think that Sony Michel is one of the most talented running backs coming into the NFL this season. The combination of speed and strength make him a favorite to be a starter for his team this season. The one problem? He plays for the New England Patriots.
While the Patriots possess one of the best offenses in the NFL, the starting running back every year is always changing, and this year is no exception. Sony Michel is in a very crowded backfield that includes Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, and Jeremy Hill. Last season, Mike Gillislee was the projected starter in New England, having an ADP of no later than the 6th round in drafts. He ended up finishing as the #53 RB in fantasy last year, behind players like Alfred Morris and Peyton Barber. What happened? Well after scoring four touchdowns in two weeks with the team, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis started to emerge in the offense. Because of this, Gillislee scored no more than five fantasy points in any game the rest of the way last year.
Sony, while very talented, could see something like what Gillislee saw in 2017, with Burkhead and James White potentially stealing targets from Sony. Because of this reason alone, unless Sony becomes the clear lead back in New England, I’ll tend to pick somebody with a clearer chance at a workhorse load, like a Rashaad Penny or a Derrius Guice over Michel.
- You don’t win the league at your draft
For David Johnson owners last season, last year must have been tough week to week to try to squeak out a win, especially since you more than likely spent a first overall pick on the guy in most snake drafts, which means you couldn’t pick next until the last pick in the second round. But, if you played the waiver wire throughout the season, you could’ve picked up various players in free agency last season, including players like Alvin Kamara, Alex Collins, Kenyan Drake, and Jerick McKinnon who had various weeks this season in which they played like RB1’s.
Stay engaged in your leagues, observe the waiver, even attempt to trade with teams to have your best chance of winning! If you do this, I’m not promising you’ll win the championship in your league, but at least a fighting chance at the bare minimum playing spoiler in the playoffs.
As you can tell from this article, there are many things to watch out for every step of the way as a fantasy owner. The most important part being in a league is to have fun, and I’m a firm believer that if you at least take these things into consideration, you’ll be a smarter fantasy owner in 2018. The best part of being a fantasy owner is destroying your opponents in a game, and if you make the proper moves in fantasy, you’ll be very satisfied.