Most people go into their fantasy drafts with maybe some rankings that they printed off of ESPN, and they think they are ready to go. This is going to lead to you taking way too long to make your picks and you will have no confidence in the player or team you are drafting.
Please don’t do this guys, prepare for your draft and you will have a lot more fun and maybe even end up winning your league. I always recommend tier-based drafting: a strategy many fantasy players have been using for years.
Tiers are groups of players that should produce a very similar amount of fantasy points for your team. For example, the first tier of players should be superstars that every fantasy player wants on their team. The second tier should be the next group of consistently outstanding players. The third tier will still be great players that will be weekly starters for your team, but they usually have some question marks surrounding them...and so on. I suggest that everyone should go into their drafts with tiers of players to focus on. That way you can assure that you are drafting the most valuable player possible and you know how long you can wait on certain positions during your draft.
This article will cover the first five tiers of FantasyPros expert consensus rankings (ECR) in a PPR format. I will discuss 3 different categories in each tier: 1) the player with the most upside, 2) the player that probably does not belong in the tier, and 3) The player that I want most on my fantasy team.
1) David Johnson
2) Le’Veon Bell
3) Antonio Brown
4) Odell Beckham Jr.
5) Julio Jones
Highest Upside: Le’Veon Bell
Bell is probably one of the most talented running backs of all time. He is on an extremely high powered offense and will probably be the second most productive receiver on the Steelers. Bell could be setting some records this year.
Doesn’t Belong: Odell Beckham Jr.
Don’t get me wrong, Odell belongs in this tier...if he is fully healthy. He has already suffered an ankle injury this preseason, which could linger into the regular season. Be cautious when selecting an injured player with your first overall pick. If Odell misses any games, he should not be drafted this high.
My Favorite: David Johnson
I believe that Johnson and Le’Veon Bell deserve to be the first two picks in every draft. When choosing between the two, I would say Johnson is the safer pick. He is much less injury prone and is the focus of the Cardinals offense. You might not get the immense upside of Bell, but DJ is bulletproof.
6) LeSean McCoy
7) A.J. Green
8) Mike Evans
9) Devonta Freeman
10) Melvin Gordon
11) Jordy Nelson
Highest Upside: Mike Evans
Mike Evans is now heading into his fourth season and his stats just seem to be getting better. Last year, defenses focused solely on Evans and he still had a fantastic season. Evans now has more offensive weapons around him to distract defenses. I could easily see him being the #1 fantasy WR at the end of the season, but he will have to be more efficient with his targets.
Doesn’t Belong: Melvin Gordon
I would not draft Gordon in this tier. He had an excellent season last year but was very reliant on touchdowns and generally inefficient on the ground (3.9 yards per attempt). If he doesn’t get the touchdowns this season, he will disappoint fantasy owners.
My Favorite: LeSean McCoy
Shady could honestly be placed in tier #1. He is going to be relied on heavily by the Bills both on the ground and in the passing game. If he stays healthy, he will be an easy top 5 running back.
12) DeMarco Murray
13) Michael Thomas
14) Jordan Howard
15) Jay Ajayi
16) Dez Bryant
17) Doug Baldwin
18) Amari Cooper
19) T.Y. Hilton
20) Todd Gurley
21) Rob Gronkowski
22) Demaryius Thomas
Highest Upside: Michael Thomas
With the departure of Brandin Cooks, Thomas should see a boost in all his stats. Last year he had 92 catches, 1,137 yards and 9 touchdowns… Even in the second round, Thomas could be a steal.
Doesn’t Belong: Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius is as consistent as they come, but lacks the upside that you want from a wide receiver drafted this early. I would rather wait and draft a WR with more upside later in the draft, which is basically every receiver in tier #4.
My Favorite: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas has more than a ton of upside, he has a very high floor as well. Honestly, everyone in this tier possess a lot of talent but they all have more question marks than Thomas. As long as Drew Brees is throwing the ball in New Orleans, Michael Thomas is the guy I want. Draft him with confidence!
23) DeAndre Hopkins
24) Brandin Cooks
25) Leonard Fournette
26) Isaiah Crowell
27) Keenan Allen
28) Ezekiel Elliott
29) Lamar Miller
30) Travis Kelce
31) Terrelle Pryor
32) Alshon Jeffery
33) Aaron Rodgers
34) Allen Robinson
35) Golden Tate
36) Christian McCaffrey
Highest Upside: Terrelle Pryor
I was tempted to put Ezekiel Elliot here, but it’s hard to justify picking someone who is currently suspended for 6 games. Pryor converted from QB to WR last season and was incredibly impressive playing for the Browns. This year he has a much better situation with Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. It’s a risky pick but it could pay huge dividends.
Doesn’t Belong: Travis Kelce
Kelce had an outstanding season last year, and you are paying for it in drafts this year. I would try to avoid drafting a TE this early unless it is Gronk. Kelce belongs in Tier #5 with Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen.
My Favorite: Leonard Fournette
Fournette is another guy that has a high ceiling and a very high floor. The Jaguars actually have a good defense (seriously) which should keep them running the ball later in games. This is one of the most talented running backs we have seen coming out of the draft in the last decade. I would be very happy having him on my fantasy team.
37) Michael Crabtree
38) Larry Fitzgerald
39) Davante Adams
40) Ty Montgomery
41) Tom Brady
42) Marshawn Lynch
43) Dalvin Cook
44) Carlos Hyde
45) Jarvis Landry
46) Greg Olsen
47) Drew Brees
48) Joe Mixon
49) Jordan Reed
50) Danny Woodhead
51) Mark Ingram
52) Julian Edelman
53) Sammy Watkins
Highest Upside: Joe Mixon
Mixon will not be handed the starting job in Cincinnati, so he is a risky pick. You might have to wait a few weeks for him to take over the starting role, but I fully expect him to earn it. When Mixon becomes the starter, he should be highly successful playing with other talented players like A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Andy Dalton.
Doesn’t Belong: Ty Montgomery
I could see this one coming back to haunt me. Montgomery is on, arguably, the best offense in the league, so I see why he is ranked this high. I just have a lot of faith in Jamaal Williams, Green Bay’s backup RB. Montgomery has already fumbled this preseason not to mention struggling in pass protection, and Williams has been impressive. I would rather draft RBs in the next tier, like C.J. Anderson and Bilal Powell, over Montgomery this year.
My Favorite: Marshawn Lynch
He is not going to get every carry like he did in Seattle, but Lynch still has the opportunity to have a great season. Last year, Latavius Murray had 12 touchdowns for the Raiders, and I expect Lynch to have a similar amount of touchdowns while being much more efficient. The Raiders will be scoring a lot and have one of the best offensive lines in the league to run behind. Marshawn should be great even with limited touches.
This is one of my favorite articles every year.
Everyone wants their sleepers and studs and busts and all that stuff, but it becomes a lot less abstract when you compare it to a guy from last year. Who is this year's Ezekiel Elliott? DeAndre Hopkins? Travis Kelce?
You're about to find out.
Buy your fantasy draft materials at FantasyJocks and use code "Fusion" for 10% off!
Who is this year's Ezekiel Elliott?
Criteria: Highly-touted rookie running back that lights the league on fire
Donald: Leonard Fournette
I hate to take the easy answer here, but I think it has to be Leonard Fournette. I'm looking forward to seeing guys like Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon, but Fournette's situation has him primed for immediate success.
Mike: Dalvin Cook
No rookie will duplicate Zeke’s numbers, but my favorite rookie RB is Dalvin Cook. Neither Jerrick McKinnon nor Latavius Murray has been able to prove either one deserves the majority, and Cook was already thrust into the action in the Vikings first preseason game. It’s early, but I expect Cook to develop and be a major asset in many championship rosters.
Josh: Joe Mixon
Mixon has a legitimate shot at being a top-5 running back this season. He is extremely talented and should quickly take over the starting role. The Bengals also have the tools around Mixon to help him become a star.
Who is this year's Todd Gurley?
Criteria: Consensus top 10 RB that ends up disappointing
Donald: DeMarco Murray
I was a big fan of Murray heading into 2016, but I don't like how last year ended. In the final 5 weeks, Derrick Henry scored five touchdowns to Murray's one, plus Henry out-rushed Murray twice. Henry's involvement is just enough to give me pause.
Mike: Melvin Gordon
Immediate reflex tells me Zeke, simply because of the uncertainty of suspension. If Zeke isn’t suspended, I’m thinking Melvin Gordon is the weak link in the top five or so RBs off the board. I detail why here.
Josh: Jordan Howard
Howard looks a lot like Todd Gurley did a year ago. Outstanding rookie year with a lot of big plays but a bad team surrounding him. Will Howard’s talent prevail? Or will he be crippled by his supporting cast?
Who is this year's Jay Ajayi?
Criteria: RB that starts the season as a backup but ends up being a formidable starter
Donald: Jamaal Williams
The Ty Montgomery - Jamaal Williams competition is going to be very interesting. Montgomery fumbled in his first preseason game, so the highly-touted Williams is inching ever closer to the starting job. If Montgomery falters, he'll still contribute in the receiving game so don't worry about him completely falling off.
Mike: Mike Gillislee
New England let LeGarrette Blount walk and filled their need for a goal-line back by signing Gillislee from division rival Buffalo. He could be the guy who does everything but catch passes, as they have White and Lewis for that already.
Josh: Jamaal Williams
Williams was a workhorse back at BYU and has a ton of talent. Plus, Ty Montgomery could be more of third down back for the Packers. If Williams is given the starting role this season, he should be highly productive in Green Bay’s high powered offense.
Who is this year's Tevin Coleman?
Criteria: Backup RB who stays a "backup" but still contributes extensively
Donald: Marlon Mack
Frank Gore won't get hurt because he's made of titanium, but the Colts will need a jolt out of Mack to keep their high-powered offense rolling.
Mike: Adrian Peterson
This sounds odd, but I’m going Adrian Peterson. Currently, he’s listed behind Mark Ingram, but I think AP still has enough left in the tank to return value. Plus NO never really seems to believe in Mark Ingram.
Josh: Tevin Coleman
What can I say? Coleman is extremely talented, but he is still going to be the back up this year, especially after Freeman’s huge contract. He will still play an important role for the Falcons.
Who is this year's Melvin Gordon?
Criteria: Mid-round RB that becomes a premier piece of his offense
Donald: Danny Woodhead
Woodhead is perpetually under-drafted, and Joe Flacco dumps the ball off a truly mind-blowing amount. If Woodhead stays healthy, he's going to be a PPR machine.
Mike: Carlos Hyde
A guy I’m targeting as later RB help is Carlos Hyde. He was probably drafted decently high last year, and there’s a chance he may be again, but his current ADP is about 61 overall. It seems like I see more and more positive Hyde reports every day, so I’ll continue the (quiet) hype.
Josh: Mike Gillislee
Gillislee was excellent as a backup for the Bills and the Patriots had to give up a draft pick to acquire him. Gillislee has an opportunity to take over the “LeGarrette Blount” role for New England. Patriots running backs can be difficult to trust but Blount had 18 touchdowns last year...I'll take the risk.
Who is this year's T.Y. Hilton?
Criteria: Second- or third-tier WR that has a chance to lead the league in receiving yards
Donald: Amari Cooper
I'm usually out on Cooper, but lately I've had a realization that there will be a year very soon that he explodes. Even if he doesn't get red-zone targets for whatever reason, he could still lead the league in receiving - exactly like T.Y. Hilton from last year.
Mike: Keenan Allen
My guy here is Keenan Allen, assuming he can stay healthy. Mike Williams (if he plays) and Tyrell Williams will be able to take some double coverages off of Rivers' favorite receiver. Sneaky play (and maybe a favorite player plug) could be Jarvis Landry. I hear a lot of hate from Donald about how Cutler won’t throw short passes to Landry, so maybe Landry will have more opportunities to go downfield.
Josh: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas has an extremely high floor and an extremely high ceiling. Brandin Cooks is gone and Drew Brees is still throwing the ball in New Orleans. Thomas could end up having the most receiving yards and touchdowns this season.
Who is this year's DeAndre Hopkins?
Criteria: Top 10 WR who vastly underperforms
Donald: Mike Evans
The more I think about Mike Evans, the less I see myself drafting him. The Bucs offense is coming together nicely after the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, but that may hurt Evans. Among the top 20 receivers in targets in 2016, Evans ranked 1st in targets (175) and 17th in catch rate (54.9%) leading only DeAndre Hopkins (wink), Allen Robinson, and Brandon Marshall. Decreased targets in a generally inefficient offense could mean bad news.
Mike: Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is still getting drafted as a top 10 WR, and I’m staying far away. The offense no longer suits his talents, and I see another disappointing year, hopefully without injury for his sake.
Josh: Dez Bryant
I love Dez’s talent but he is constantly injured and almost 30 years old. Dak Prescott was very good last year, but there are still question marks going into his second season. Dez could definitely underperform this year.
Who is this year's Michael Thomas?
Criteria: Young receiver thrust into fantasy stardom
Donald: Terrelle Pryor
Similar to Amari Cooper, Pryor is growing on me a lot lately. He goes to a Redskins offense that ranked 3rd in passing yards last year and immediately becomes the premier receiving option. He's expensive in drafts, but there is a world where taking him there is worth it.
Mike: Donte Moncrief
Moncrief is going to be the guy in Indy this year. I'm sticking to it.
Josh: Terrelle Pryor
Pryor is an athletic freak and is joining a team that is well...not the Browns, which is a big plus. Kirk Cousins is a huge upgrade at QB and Pryor should be getting plenty of targets. Pryor could easily be a top 10 WR this season.
Who is this year's Dak Prescott?
Criteria: Value QB who ends up being a very competent fantasy starter
Donald: Eli Manning
Eli gets another year with Odell Beckham Jr. and also has a new buddy in Brandon Marshall. Let's give him another good year before the drop off, eh?
Mike: Eli Manning
Last year, I predicted Fitzmagic would be a top 10 QB, so take this one with a grain of salt. I think this year, Eli is going to finish top 7. Yeah, I went beyond the top 10 projection, whatever. Eli has too much talent around him to allow him to finish at QB19, which is where he’s currently being drafted.
Josh: Tyrod Taylor
Taylor was the 8th best QB last year and was a top-15 QB in 12 of the 15 games he played. Taylor did lose Sammy Watkins but he was hurt most of last year anyway. He's as consistent as they come and should have a solid fantasy season.
Who is this year's Travis Kelce?
Criteria: Mid-round TE that becomes the focal point of his offense
Donald: David Njoku
This might be a bit of a stretch, but Njoku is a freak athlete and Cleveland doesn't have a ton of receiving options beyond Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt. I believe they'll be a run-first team, and I think they'll sacrifice some down-the-field bombs for high-percentage routes to the TE.
Mike: Eric Ebron
This question should have been phrased, “Who is this year's... Kyle Rudolph”, but I digress. Once again, I believe in Eric Ebron. Safe pick would be Delanie Walker, even with the weapons in Tennessee.
Josh: Zach Ertz
The Eagles just shipped their slot receiver, Jordan Matthews, to Buffalo, plus Wentz and Ertz showed solid chemistry at the end of last season. Ertz has been a quality TE for most of his career, but this is the year he becomes a top-5 fantasy TE.
That's it for us. Let us know who your guys are!
I'm sure you already recognize the premise of this article by the title: I'll provide you with one guy per team that will not be on any of my fantasy teams in 2017. Sometimes that will be due to injury, past experience, disagreement in value, or literally anything else.
Let's dive right in. Rankings are for Standard scoring as of this writing according to FantasyPros, and the verbiage is for a 10-team league (i.e. end of the fourth round).
Before I forget, my rankings are always updated here and on FantasyPros, plus you can get 10% off at FantasyJocks with code "Fusion" by August 31st. Don't miss out!
Baltimore Ravens: I'm actually from Baltimore, so I get to see the Ravens offense on a weekly basis (often times unfortunately). Most Ravens go at a pretty good value, so forgive me for picking a weak Mike Wallace (ADP: 136). You can basically get Wallace for free, but I'd rather aim my late-round dart throws at a more consistent, high-powered offense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon (ADP: 41) was arguably the most talented RB from the 2017 NFL draft, but the Bengals RB corps is way too crowded for Mixon's draft price. They have a receiving specialist in Giovani Bernard and a goal-line specialist in Jeremy Hill. Mixon may be productive otherwise, but not for a 4th-5th rounder.
Cleveland Browns: I actually like Isaiah Crowell (ADP: 30) this year considering his talent and the changing intent to run the ball in Cleveland, but I have a feeling that if I'm looking at him and a nice tier two receiver like Keenan Allen or Demaryius Thomas, I'm going receiver every time.
Pittsburgh Steelers: He's back from suspension, but Martavis Bryant (ADP: 52) won't be on any of my teams this year. The combination of suspension risk and general boombustability (just made that up) scares me for a late 5th/early 6th round pick.
Buffalo Bills: After the trades that sent ripples through the NFL last week, I did move up Jordan Matthews (ADP: 131) in my rankings a bit. Regardless, I'll never see him as more of an inconsistent slot guy, and I bet his ADP heads into the 8th or 9th round. No thank you.
Miami Dolphins: With slingin' Jay Cutler in Miami now, I'll be talking myself out of a lot of Jarvis Landry (ADP: 51). I'd much rather go after Devante Parker at 90th overall.
New England Patriots: This is a general draft strategy thing, but I won't start looking at QBs until the sixth round at the absolute earliest. As a result, I probably wont be seeing Tom Brady (ADP: 26) listed on any of my rosters.
New York Jets: I want none of them. Moving on.
Houston Texans: Did you see what happened with DeAndre Hopkins (ADP: 29) last year? I'm going to need to see a recovery year before I can slap his name on the draft board.
Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore (ADP: 84) literally has no upside. He's as solid as they come, but I'm not going down that road, even in the 9th round.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Similar to Hopkins above, I need to see the Jaguars offense click before I go after Mr. Allen Robinson (ADP: 36) again.
Tennessee Titans: I'm very concerned about DeMarco Murray's (ADP: 14) involvement heading into 2017. I'll be including him in an upcoming article as well, but Derrick Henry's usage spiked at the end of 2016 and I'm going to need to see serious value to grab Murray this August.
Denver Broncos: I essentially consider Jamaal Charles (ADP: 117) to be retired, so I won't be searching for gems anywhere near him.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyreek Hill (ADP: 45) is entirely too boom or bust for me. Add in Alex Smith's "safety-net" style of play, and I can't pull the trigger on Hill.
Los Angeles Chargers: The only thing I hate more than tight ends is a tight end by committee, which is exactly what we have in San Diego. Hunter Henry (ADP: 92) just isn't going to give me any confidence in 2017 with Antonio Gates peering over his shoulder.
Oakland Raiders: Did you know that they make glasses that can completely eliminate someone from your line of vision? Just ask Derek Carr if you can borrow his. He literally never targets Amari Cooper (ADP: 23) in the red-zone, and that's enough for me to pass.
Dallas Cowboys: With the recent suspension, Ezekiel Elliott (ADP: 7, will drop quickly) is going to have to fall quite a bit for me to grab him. Missing six games is enough, but the prospect of missing the whole season due to another infringement is enough to make me shake in my boots.
Philadelphia Eagles: Similar to Cincinnati's situation above, they have too many RBs in specific role silos. I'll pass across the board.
New York Giants: I realize that the opportunity is there, but I'll likely be passing on Paul Perkins (ADP: 77) across the board. The Giants haven't been able to establish a consistent running attack since the days of probably Brandon Jacobs, plus I'd rather have RBs like Eddie Lacy, Danny Woodhead, Rob Kelley, and Kareem Hunt going around the same price.
Washington Redskins: I actually like the idea of Terrelle Pryor (ADP: 33), but his ADP just keeps rising, and I'm at the point that I'm most likely going to pass. He'll go for 90/1300/9 though to make me look stupid.
Chicago Bears: I was talking to a co-worker yesterday in line at Chick-Fil-A, and I had a realization that I probably won't have any shares of Jordan Howard (ADP: 14) in 2017. I like his ability as a running back as well as his stronghold on the job, but game scripts will not favor Howard, and I don't see a ton of games where he's going to be a lock for 20+ touches. I'll probably just go with Dez Bryant at that spot instead.
Detroit Lions: I'm actually pretty fond of the Lions this season, but I'm going to avoid Eric Ebron (ADP: 139) at all costs. I'd rather just not be sad after both of his hamstrings fall off, ya know? Plus, drafting Ebron would require me to draft two TEs, which I generally try to avoid.
Green Bay Packers: I have my doubts about Davante Adams (ADP: 44), though I fully realize that he's probably the second-most important playmaker in arguably the best offense in the NFL. I won't own him simply because I'll be happy with wide receivers later (Martavis Bryant, Willie Snead, Jeremy Maclin), and I'm going to try to lean RB in the first few rounds so I don't end up with a duct-taped committee of running backs.
Minnesota Vikings: I don't trust the Vikings offense, mostly because of their line and Sam Bradford, so I won't own any Kyle Rudolph. Here's the real reason though. In like 2012 or whatever year that was, I drafted C.J. Spiller in the first round in literally every single draft - 2nd overall, 9th overall, I didn't care. I was all in. As a result of his HORRID season (and probably the rest of my team), I started 0-6 in my home league. Kyle Rudolph was my tight end. The Vikings played the Giants on prime time in Week 7, and I only needed like 8 PPR points from Rudolph to get my first win. Josh Freeman was the QB (at least on the box score - he actually looked like he should be behind a desk or farming or literally anywhere except a football field), and Rudolph finished with 3 catches for 27 yards aka not 8 PPR points. If memory serves correctly, I went on to win 6 in a row, and would have made the playoffs if it wasn't for Rudolph's performance - at least that's what I tell myself. It definitely had nothing to do with the awful team I put together or Josh Freeman's QB play. No way.
Atlanta Falcons: Weirdly enough, I don't think I'm going to own much Julio Jones (ADP: 4) this season. I much prefer ODB as the second WR off the board, and I actually prefer LeSean McCoy over Julio overall. Chances I have the 6th pick, and Julio lasts longer than both ODB and McCoy? Not too high.
Carolina Panthers: I have zero faith in Panthers receivers not named Olsen, and I refuse to pay a 7th round price tag for Kelvin Benjamin (ADP: 67). There are a ton of receivers below him that I prefer in Brandon Marshall, Willie Snead, Jamison Crowder, etc.
New Orleans Saints: Ted Ginn (ADP: 163) cannot catch footballs well. Ted Ginn's job is to catch footballs well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The more I look into Mike Evans (ADP: 8), the more I tend to shy away from him. He's fallen from 6th overall to 10th overall in my rankings, and I tend to find myself justifying other players around him. Evans dropped off significantly last season and didn't surpass 100 receiving yards - including only one over 66 yards - in any of his final five games. Two of them were against the Saints!
Arizona Cardinals: John Brown (ADP: 116) burned me in a few leagues last year. I hope he's healthy and can return to form, but Carson Palmer played very poorly in 2016, and I can't take a risk that Brown still isn't healthy.
Los Angeles Rams: Sammy Watkins (ADP: 37) is currently going at the end of the fourth round. I actually like Watkins more than I did as soon as the trade happened, but his ADP is going to have to fall another round or so for me to be willing to take a chance on him.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers will probably be losing a lot of games, which will handicap Carlos Hyde's (ADP: 34) workload. In addition, you can get guys like C.J. Anderson, Dalvin Cook, and Ty Montgomery more than a round later, so I'll probably hold off on Hyde.
Seattle Seahawks: I was never a huge fan of Doug Baldwin (ADP: 27), but I must admit that he's been growing on me lately. He should be the focal point of that offense, but I can't see myself actually drafting him when guys like Brandin Cooks and Demaryius Thomas are still on the board.
Let me know who won't be on your team in 2017? Promise? Follow me on Twitter @DonaldGibsonFF, and also undertake a scavenger hunt to find Fantasy Fusion Sports on Twitter and Facebook.
Alright, it’s time for some of you to wake the $%&# up, because you have been sleeping on these guys!
Too intense?? Sorry. It’s just upsetting seeing these awesome football players going so late in drafts! It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Here’s a list of “sleepers” - guys that are drafted in the middle-to-late rounds and unexpectedly become prominent fantasy options.
Tyrod Taylor (QB18) ADP: 130
Guess who finished the season as the QB8 last year and is now being drafted as the QB18?
Guess who finished the season as the QB17 last year and is now being drafted as the QB8?
I have no idea. Taylor is seriously as consistent as they come. Last year, he was a top 15 QB in 12 of the 15 games he played. He also has rushed for almost 600 yards each of the last two seasons. This guy can do it all!
Oh and let's talk about Sammy Watkins for a second. He is good...like really good. Watkins was hobbled with an injury most of last year, but is coming into this season allegedly fully healthy. If Watkins can stay healthy, Taylor should really take his game to the next level.
I just don't understand why someone would draft Cam Newton when you can get Taylor 53 picks later. By drafting Taylor, you essentially have a weekly QB1 with immense upside, plus you're getting him for pocket change.
Brian Hoyer (QB26) ADP: 223
In most redraft leagues, I would not draft Hoyer. There are so many good quarterbacks, and I usually don’t want more than one of them on my team, but Hoyer should at least be drafted inside the top 20 quarterbacks.
His injury history is his biggest problem. Hoyer broke his arm after just five starts last year and has never finished a season. But hey, check out what this guy does when he plays! Last year, after taking over for the Bears, he had four games in a row with 300 passings yards and threw six touchdowns with zero interceptions. Even though he has always played for bad teams, he just knows how to put up numbers.
I see the cons…he is on the 49ers, he is still injury prone, and he does not have a ton of weapons. Regardless, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. He is reuniting with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan (look what he did for Matt Ryan), on a pass happy offense that is going to be playing from behind in most games. That means a lot of garbage time yards and touchdowns - every fantasy owner's favorite. If Hoyer can find a way to stay healthy all year, then he could very well slip into QB1 territory here and there.
Bilal Powell (RB24) ADP: 63
Powell is a very talented running back and an excellent pass catcher. The Jets relied heavily on Powell at the end of last season, and he ended up averaging over 25 touches over the last four games. Matt Forte’s 31 year old body obviously wore down throughout last season, and I expect more of the same this year because he's still, ya know, old. Powell was actually on the field more than Forte last year and averaged 5.5 yards per carry compared to Forte’s meager 3.7 yards per carry. With the Jets looking towards the future, they seemingly have no reason to feature Forte anymore. Powell could easily be a mid-range RB2 this season and has a ton of upside, especially in PPR leagues.
Terrance West (RB42) ADP: 115
With the news of Kenneth Dixon missing the rest of the season, West should be on everyone’s mind. He was playing extremely well last year until Dixon joined the backfield and started to take away some work. The Ravens did add the often-injured Danny Woodhead to their backfield, but he should be more of a pass catcher and third down back. West should be handling 1st and 2nd down as well as the goal line carries this year.
The Ravens have also made it known that they want to run the ball more frequently. They have gotten bigger on the offensive line, they are more focused on power running, and they have a better defense. Overall, West is going far too late in fantasy drafts right now. He is the starting running back for the Ravens and unless they add someone else to the back field, that isn't changing.
Jamaal Williams (RB52) ADP: 148
The Packers drafted Williams out of BYU in the fourth round in this year's draft. While at BYU, Williams was a workhorse back and showed that he has the potential to handle a large workload in the NFL. The Packers running game was very weak last year, and even though Ty Montgomery was their most effective runner, he only received double-digit carries in one game. One! The Packers like Montgomery as a third down back and maybe he is the starter at the beginning of the year, but I expect Williams to take over as the early down back. If Williams does become the starter, the sky is the limit for him being on Green Bay’s high powered offense. Keep your eye out for him late in drafts.
Randall Cobb (WR39) ADP: 93
Cobb is going way too late this year guys! I understand that he just had a “down” season, but honestly his stats were not that bad.
In the 13 games he played, Cobb had 60 catches, 610 yards and 4 touchdowns. Okay, fine, not the best stats in the world, but Davante Adams had 75 catches, 997 yards and 12 touchdowns. Adams played in 3 more games than Cobb. If Cobb played those games, he could have easily had very similar stats.
Clearly, the difference comes downs to touchdowns. Cobb had 12 touchdowns in 2014, so it's not like he's a ghost in the redzone. Look at Tyreek Hill (ADP: 50). He had a very similar receiving stat line as Cobb - Hill posted 61 catches for 593 yards and 6 touchdowns. Hill did have some rushing touchdowns but only had one more catch and less receiving yards while playing 16 games.
Oh, let’s not forget who throws to Cobb. If I’m betting on anyone to have a comeback season, I’m taking the guy who has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. Jordy Nelson is another year older and Adams has only had one good year. Cobb could win a lot of people fantasy leagues this year.
Corey Coleman (WR43) ADP: 104
I know I know, the Browns are about as exciting as waiting at the dentist’s office, but did you hear? They aren’t supposed to be as bad this year! Vegas has them winning 4.5 games so thats 3.5 more than last season.
Seriously though, their offensive line will be better which should give Coleman more time to get open. Coleman was drafted 15th overall last year to be a future star for their offense, and he is a home run hitter with big play potential. We saw some of those big plays at the beginning of last year but then he got injured for six weeks and never really settled in.
Kenny Britt is a new addition who quietly had a 1,000 yard season last year for the Rams, but the Browns needed someone after losing Terrelle Pryor’s 140 targets. Both Britt and Coleman are going late in drafts but I will take Coleman’s tremendous potential over the consistency that you might see from Britt. Coleman is an excellent value/upside pick where he is currently being drafted.
John Brown (WR47) ADP: 111
Brown looked poised to breakout last year, after a season with 65 catches, 1,003 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Then boom, strange injuries at the beginning of last season then it is discovered that he has sickle-cell trait. I’m not a doctor, but I do know that sickle-cell trait can be managed. There are other players in the NFL that have overcome this condition.
Apparently John Brown has it under control and is coming into this season much healthier. Fitzgerald is another year older and the cardinals are looking for a #2 receiver (other than David Johnson). Floyd is gone and while they do have other receivers on the depth chart, I believe that John Brown has the most talent. If he is able to stay on the field, Brown could easily be a flex option with top 20 receiver potential.
David Njoku (TE21) ADP: 181
Really??? Another Brown???
Yeah, I don’t feel great about it. But this team is going to have people who score fantasy points...believe it or not. While it’s uncommon for a rookie tight end to contribute their first year, Njoku is an athletic freak. Immediately after the Browns drafted Njoku they cut their very reliable tight end, Gary Barnidge.
This rookie should receive plenty of playing time and could be a very reliable option if he can learn quickly. Right now he is undrafted in most leagues. Monitor his progress throughout the preseason; he could be a solid dart throw at the end of drafts when you are waiting on a tight end.
Be sure to check out the rest of the FantasyFusion draft kit here.
In my experience, drafting a tight end should be like drafting a QB: if you don’t get one of the top two or three guys, just wait until you fill the rest of your starting lineup, maybe even after a few RB/WR backups.
I’ve noticed that I seem to have some sort of knack (if possible) in finding quality tight ends to plug and play for the majority, if not all, of the season. So I begged (demanded) that I be in charge of writing the article focusing on drafting tight ends for this draft kit. Yes, this title was meant to get the blood pumping because nothing makes the blood flow harder than finding a surprising Tight End, see Kyle Rudolph (TE2), Cameron Brate (TE7), or Jack Facking Doyle (TE13).
Most fantasy players will tend to agree with my opening statement: wait on tight ends. I can tell you a handful of players in several of my leagues (including me) that will never consider taking Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce within the first two rounds. A “premium” TE will cost you just as much as a premium RB or WR, but gets you less points. Travis Kelce was TE1 last year in PPR formats and scored 223 points. Golden Tate was WR17 and finished with 223.1 points and Jordan Howard was RB10 and finished with 230.1 points. What I’m saying is, you could spend one of your first four draft picks on a premium TE, but would it really be worth it?
My bashing of the Tight End position isn’t actually bashing, I’m just trying to make a point. I would argue, however, that getting an above average tight end is where you will win a lot of the closer matchups throughout the season. I can’t tell you how many matchups I’ve won over the last few seasons by having an inferior team in RB and WR slots, but having a deeper and better quality team due addressing every position, especially the TE spot - even if that was toward the end of drafts.
Maybe I was just lucky, but I consider it a skill of some sort...so buzz off.
Below are four TEs that are being severely undervalued, especially in auction and larger league formats. Every TE is currently TE11 or worse, per FantasyPros Standard rankings, and all are TE10 or worse in PPR formats aside from Ebron, who is listed at TE10.
Eric Ebron (STD: TE11, PPR: TE10)
Eric Ebron is a popular target in the fantasy world every summer. The man is a physical specimen. The only problem is, he seems to get injured pretty frequently. Regardless, he ends up on the list because he has so much promise and is still being drafted behind guys named Ertz and Bennett.
Ebron missed 3 games in 2016 but was still able to finish as TE 14 in PPR. With the gunslinger Matthew “Frat” Stafford at the helm, Ebron saw 86 targets, hauling in 61 receptions for 711 yards and only 1 TD.
If you look deeper into the numbers, you’ll see that Ebron had 9 catches of 20+ yards, showing that he has big-play ability in an offense with some often questionable wide receivers. Of the 13 games played, Ebron was able to see at least 5 targets in 12 games, had 40 yards or more in 9 games, and actually finished the season strong hauling in 26 receptions of the 36 targets over the last 5 games. With a healthy season in his sights, aside from his current hammie issue, I expect Ebron to finish as a top 10 TE in 2017.
Zach Miller (STD: TE24, PPR TE23)
I said we were looking at deep TE pickups, didn’t I? Zach Miller, as well as the next few tight ends, are VERY unsexy picks. You can probably find him in the Free Agent Pool after your draft and he may even stay a FA until you have to use a waiver on them. I do think there’s some potential here for Miller to be a decent play in 2017, so hopefully you won’t have to use a waiver on him. In 2016, Miller was only available for 10 games, but in those 10 games he racked up 47 receptions on 64 targets. For a tight end, that isn’t bad at all. Hell, Cameron Brate finished as TE7 last season and only had 17 more targets in 6 more games.
Miller was on a quiet-but-destructive pace last season before the injury. After Week 11, which was the last game he played, Miller was on pace for 102 targets, with 75 receptions. Travis Kelce was the TE1 last season with 85 receptions, granted, Kelce was the main focus point in KC’s offense. At the end of the day, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to see Miller finish as a top 10 TE in 2017 assuming health isn’t a factor, although a midseason QB switch in Chicago could impact Miller’s fantasy impact.
Charles Clay (STD: TE29, PPR TE22)
This list just keeps getting uglier and uglier, doesn’t it? Ew, Charles Clay, why would I ever draft him? I’ll tell you why, he’s another main weapon in an average passing attack in Buffalo. While I wouldn’t draft him in your 10 team league, I could see him as a decent play with some upside or as a VERY low-priced option in auction leagues.
With yet another season of a hobbled Sammy Watkins, Charles Clay, yes CHARLES CLAY, led Buffalo in targets (87), receptions (57), and tied for the most receiving TDs (4). He played in 15 of 16 games, having at least 7 targets in 7 games, at least 5 receptions in 7 games, at least 40 yards in 7 games, and had a catch rate of 65.5%, which isn’t bad considering T-Mobile isn’t exactly the most accurate QB. Do I think he can get better? Maybe, he is technically entering the peak years of his career. I wouldn’t bet on a big season, but I expect a top-15 performance, especially if Watkins and an older McCoy both continue to be stricken by injury.
Benjamin Watson (STD: TE33, PPR TE28)
This pick shouldn’t be surprising to any reader who is familiar with the Ravens passing attack, especially if you’re a PPR player. If you’ve ever watched even a half of the Ravens offense play, you’ve seen how important the tight end is to the offense.
Watson was a new signing last season, but tore his Achilles in preseason and missed the entire year. Dennis Pitta, who has since died of a hip injury, had 121 targets last season with 86 receptions (1st among TEs). He finished as TE8 in PPR formats. If you look at the available Ravens tight ends, you’ll see it’s basically just Watson.
Now Watson isn’t exactly a sure thing, especially in fantasy. He’s seen 90+ targets only 3 times in his 12 season career (technically 13, but last season was lost). He’s had one season of 800 yards and was primarily used as a blocking tight end throughout his career. The upside of Watson is decently high, especially in a game where tight ends are few and far between. Maybe this is just a Ravens fan seeing a “new” weapon in an offense that attempts so many 5 yard check-downs to tight ends and running backs, it would make your head spin, but I do think there is something to be said about the role Watson may play in 2017.
Any Questions or Comments? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @FFMilkman or leave a comment below!
Over the last few years, the wide receiver position has seemed to take over running back as the dominant selection through the first two rounds of fantasy drafts. Last year, the first round probably included David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and maybe Le’Veon Bell, depending on if you drafted before or after his suspension, plus that Todd Gurley guy, but I didn't want to upset you off the bat.
Aside from that, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, and the rest of the lot probably filled out the rest of your first round. Unfortunately for many fantasy owners, like myself, their early round receivers under-performed.
When a player under-performs the season before, their Average Draft Position (ADP) tends to drop the following year.
That’s okay, it’s logical.
Why should we trust someone who didn’t do as well as we hoped? After all, Fantasy Football seems to be a “what have you done for me lately” sport. Yeah, I said it: sport.
I’m here to tell you that these four receivers who disappointed their owners last season (immensely) will bounce back in 2017 In addition, they'll finish better than last year and prove to be great draft values.
Note: focus is on Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues.
I’m going to say what we all already know: Brock Osweiler was the cause of Hopkins's shortcomings last season. After all, it is usually the QB’s fault whenever there’s a problem, right? Whether it be amount of targets or accuracy, the blame usually goes to whoever is throwing the ball.
Is Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson an upgrade? I think so, especially because I think Watson will end up being the starter, whether it be immediately or within the first few games. The kid has proven that he’s good, and Houston will look to replicate what Dallas did with Dak last year: run the ball a lot and throw high percentage passes.
“But he (Watson) is still a rookie!”
Yeah, true. But let’s look at the numbers of the starting QB rookies from 2016 and compare it to Osweiler’s numbers in relation to Hopkins’ production.
Quarterback (Team) - Completion % - Total QBR (out of 100)
Jared Goff (STL) - 54.6% - 22.2
Carson Wentz (PHI) - 62.4% - 52.8
Dak Prescott (DAL) - 67.8%- 81.5
Cody Kessler (CLE) - 65.8% - 49.6
Paxton Lynch (DEN) - 59.0% - 28.8
Brock Osweiler (HOU) - 59.0% - 55.3
If we compare Osweiler’s production to the 2016 rookie class, he stacks up pretty well (probably because...he wasn’t a rookie). He did tie for the 2nd lowest in completion percentage but also had the 2nd highest QBR. The way I see this, Osweiler was a better game-manager than a thrower. Now let’s consider the stat that tends to be VERY unappreciated: receiver catch rate. Basically, catch rate shows the impact a quarterback’s skill has on his receivers, assuming the receivers can actually catch the ball. In this case, because Hopkins is a sure #1, we’ll consider only the #1 receivers’ catch rate for each rookie QB in 2016.
Quarterback - Receiver - Catch Rate %
Jared Goff (STL) - Kenny Britt (STL) - 61.3%
Carson Wentz (PHI) - Jordan Matthews (PHI) - 62.4%
Dak Prescott (DAL) - Dez Bryant (DAL) - 52.1%
Cody Kessler (CLE) - Terrelle Pryor (CLE) - 55.0%
Paxton Lynch (DEN) - Demaryius Thomas (DEN) - 62.5%
Brock Osweiler (HOU) - DeAndre Hopkins - 51.7%
Well would you look at that, Osweiler just can’t complete passes to Hopkins, hence the poor performance in 2016. If I have to spell it out for you, a “veteran” quarterback did a worse job at completing passes to his star receiver than any rookie starter in 2016. If Watson is able to have just the average of the 2016 QB’s-WR catch rate above, Hopkins will be producing bigger numbers in 2017. Hopkins’ 2017 Projection: 90 receptions, 1160 yards, 8 Touchdowns.
I had a baaaaad year in my home league last year, mostly because I believed in Marshall so much. While there were a few quality/good performances out of Marshall in 2016, he didn’t return value for his ADP. This, of course, was due to the shuffling of QBs due to HORRENDOUS play by Fitzmagic, Bryce Petty, and Geno Smith before he died (RIP). Marshall is trading a bucket of shit for a Ferrari by going to the Giants. Is he expecting to be the premier receiver on the team? I hope not, there’s a guy named Odell there. What I do expect out of Marshall is a much higher finish than his 49th ranked receiver performance from last season.
Marshall finished 2016 with a career low in receptions (59) and catch rate (46.1%) last season. While I don’t expect to see Marshall put up new career highs (or even his average numbers), I do expect the Giants game-plan to keep him heavily involved, even with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard (who recently left practice with a pesky ankle sprain, but is supposedly “fine”) commanding targets.
Last season, Sterling Shepard was lined up as the 3rd receiver beside Victor Cruz and Beckham. Shepard eventually pried the WR2 spot away from Cruz with an overall grade of 73.7 per Pro Football Focus and ended the season with 65 receptions and a catch rate of 61.9%.
Eli was able to establish a catch rate with his WR2/3 almost 16% higher than any Jets QB could with their #1 receiver in Marshall. That’s how much Eli is better than what Marshall had on that terrible Jets offense. I think Marshall will have one “big” year with the Giants before he begins his descending into fantasy irrelevance in 2018. My projection: 63 Receptions, 915 yards, 6 TDs. Certainly not record-breaking, but he'll return more value than his ADP in the mid-7th round.
Robinson seems to be on everyone’s list as a “bounce-back” candidate for 2017. In 2016, Jacksonville ranked 4th in the league in passing plays, usually because they were playing from behind. This is similar to 2015, when Robinson and Bortles padded their stats quite a bit, scoring the majority of their points when the team was already losing.
While this isn’t expected to change much in 2017, the main focus will be on Bortles and how he can progress. Last season, Bortles seemed to regress in his accuracy, especially with passes over 20 yards. Robinson’s catch rate diminished from a 53% to a 48.3%, not a huge number, but still statistically notable.
This lack of accuracy from Bortles attributed significantly to the stat regression of fellow wide-out in Allen Hurns, but also Robinson's as well. Robinson saw the exact same number of targets as in 2015 (151) and had only 7 less receptions (2015: 80, 2016: 73), but saw his average reception dip from 17.5 in 2015 to 12.1 in 2016. While 17.5 yards per reception is pretty high, especially for a receiver with such a high amount of targets, it isn’t unrealistic to expect an increase from the 12.1 yards per reception from 2016.
Like I said initially, the Jaguars will be playing from behind frequently because, well, they stink. Defenses will be able to play looser coverage, which should help Robinson get the numbers we expect from him. I can realistically see numbers similar to 2015 for Robinson, except for the touchdowns. While I do believe Jacksonville will continue to sling the ball, even on the goal line (see previous article on why Fournette’s ADP is too high), I don’t think Robinson will be able to accrue the 14 touchdowns he snagged in 2015. I expect to see about the same volume of targets, receptions, and touchdowns as 2016, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a jump in yards. My projection: 80 receptions, 1,070 yards, 7 TDs.
Maybe I’m being a little bit of a homer, as this site is Baltimore-based, but I expect to see a significant improvement from Maclin this season. It can’t be that hard, you may say.
Maclin was injured the majority of the year and completely missed 4 games, not including games he was taken off the field after initially playing. When a player is slated to start a game and then stops playing, it ruins the trust you have in the player as a fantasy owner. It may cause you to have a grudge against him, but I think you should give him one more chance this upcoming season.
Maclin’s current PPR ADP of WR36, 82nd overall per FantasyPros PPR, which seems to be a little low for me. I certainly don’t expect a top 20 finish for Maclin this season, but I do expect a top 30. Maybe that isn’t much of a jump to move the needle for you, but I can tell you that I’ll be focusing on Maclin a lot this season as a value pick.
In addition to the injuries he suffered from in 2016, Maclin was also in an offense that seems to spread the ball almost too much. Kansas City was throwing the ball to back up receivers, back up full backs, tight ends no one knows about, and pretty much anyone else, which significantly lowered Maclin’s targets and, in turn, production.
Did you know Joe Flacco led the league in pass attempts last season and finished second in completions? Because he did.
In his first year in Kansas City, Maclin demonstrated how valuable he was as a possession receiver as well as a receiver who can run the deep route. Maclin saw at least 124 targets and caught 87 of those for a catch rate of 70.2%. While this 70% catch rate demonstrates how cautious Alex Smith is/was throwing the ball, it also indicates how valuable Maclin can be in an offense that actually relies on passing.
This versatility will allow Flacco, who will probably still be chucking the ball around (although hopefully not as much), to connect frequently with his new weapon at wide receiver. I honestly expect to see Maclin quietly finish 2017 with a stat record of 70 receptions for 890 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Questions, concerns, or comments? Feel free to reach out to me on my Twitter @FFMilkman or leave a comment! Nobody ever comments. Someone comment.
I can't tell you how many times I've mentioned fantasy football and the response I get is "Oh cool...I've never understood how that works."
And then I take 10 seconds to try to explain it as simply as possible.
"Yeah I still don't get it."
I'm going to try to lay it all out there as simply as possible so instead of having that sad, sad conversation, I can just give them a link to an article and be on my way.
I'm sure you could have guessed this, but experienced fantasy football players should probably just move on now. This one is for the beginners or the ones who want to be beginners.
Note: There are a ton of variations in terms of league settings and procedures, but I'm going to try to stay as basic as possible.
As you may well know, there are 32 teams in the NFL, each comprised of 50ish players. Most fantasy football leagues (but definitely not all) focus on the offensive players, the kicker (though a lot of leagues are starting to get rid of kickers), and a "team" defense.
The offensive players include the Quarterback (QB), Running Back (RB), Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE), and a slot for your choice of a RB/WR/TE called a FLEX. Kicker is abbreviated with (K) and team defense is abbreviated with (D/ST) for Defense/Special Teams.
You select players at those positions in a draft (more on that later) among any player in the NFL and then have to choose a certain group of them to start each week (more on that later too).
In most of my leagues, we draft 16 players. The roster construction generally looks like this:
Starters: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 D/ST (9 Total)
Bench: 7 spots for any position (16 total)
Let's move on to the draft for now, then we'll come back to the rosters.
So, you understand the concept and you're ready to just dive in. Most leagues conduct a draft anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before the NFL season begins. I'm required by United Nations Internatinoal Law to recommend that you gather all of your draft intel from the FantasyFusion draft kit.
Let's say you have yourself and nine others that want to start a league. You have ten total, which is a pretty typical amount - usually ten or twelve members is what most consider ideal.
You have to schedule the draft at a time that works for everyone, which, trust me, is not easy. Most leagues do some kind of random selection to determine draft picks, and then you "snake." Snaking means that the picks go from first to last, then last to first, and so forth. In a ten-team league, the picks would look something like this.
First Round: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
Second Round: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Third Round: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
As you can see, the member picking first obviously gets their selection of any player in the NFL but then has to wait about 20 picks until they get to choose again. On the contrary, the member choosing tenth has to wait nine picks to make his first selection, but then he gets two in a row. This is designed to minimize any advantages due to draft position, and all major fantasy football hosting platforms (ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, etc.) default to snake drafting.
Go ahead and set a date, get your names in there, and start to think about who to pick.
If you're looking to get started with a draft board or trophy or championship belt or funny license plate cover, you can get 10% off at FantasyJocks with code "Fusion" from now until August 31st.
The Player Pool
I think this is where a lot of people get hung up.
As I mentioned earlier, you can choose anyone in the NFL to make up your roster. Your 16 players could represent 16 different NFL teams if you'd like, or they could represent just one (don't do that). You obviously want to choose the better players that play all the time so you aren't just throwing darts, but any drafting site provides rankings to give a general idea. If you're completely clueless, you can go in and just pick the hosting site's "best available player" and you'll probably come out okay. Beyond that, there are literally troves and troves of research out there, both on this site and many, many others. FantasyPros is a good place to start.
See the sample starting roster below. This would really never happen, but I'm trying to use high profile names so hopefully you recognize the players.
QB: Tom Brady - New England Patriots
RB: Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas Cowboys
RB: Marshawn Lynch - Oakland Raiders
WR: Odell Beckham, Jr. - New York Giants
WR: Demaryius Thomas - Denver Broncos
TE: Rob Gronkowski - New England Patriots
D/ST: Arizona Cardinals
K: Adam Vinateiri - Indianapolis Colts
As you can see, our nine starters span eight different NFL teams. You can choose literally any player in the league at those positions, and it doesn't matter what NFL team they represent. As a result, there are a kabillion combinations of players you could have, which makes it a lot more exciting.
So you set the draft date, select your players from across the NFL, now what?
In fantasy football, you'll be matched up with one of your other league members on a week-to-week basis. The goal is to have your starters (see below) score more points than their starters, which will give you a win and put you on your path to redemption.
The regular season is generally 13 weeks long, and the playoffs can last 2-3 weeks. As with any sport, playoffs seeds are given to the teams with the most wins during the regular season. If you're skilled enough to make it to the playoffs, you'll have to win every game after that to take home a championship, which you will do, obviously.
The reason setting a lineup is so important is that the points that you accumulate will only come from your nine starters, as mentioned above.
How do I accumulate points?
The points that you receive are determined by how well your fantasy player performs in his real-life NFL game that week. Fantasy matchups coincide with the NFL schedule, so your players Week 1 Matchups will coincide with the NFL's Week 1 matchups. If Tom Brady is playing the Browns in the NFL in Week 1, he's playing the Browns on your fantasy team as well.
Most scoring settings for quarterbacks look something like this, though this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Passing: 1 point per 25 passing yards, 4 points per touchdown, -2 points per interception
So, if Tom Brady threw for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, how many points would he accumulate?
250(passing yards)/25(yards per point)=10
2(touchdowns)*4(points per touchdown)=8
1(interception)*-2(points per interception=-2
10+8+(-2) = 16 fantasy points
Any hosting platforms do this math for you, so don't think you have to whip out the calculator.
Running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends both generally accumulate 1 point per 10 rushing/receiving yards and 6 points per touchdown. Kickers gain/lose points based on making/missing field goals of different ranges, and D/STs gain/lose points based on yards allowed, points allowed, sacks, interceptions, and all that other fun stuff.
Ultimately, the stats that your players put up in their real-life NFL games determine your points. Let's say your team's combined score was 103 and your opponent's was 99. You just got yourself your first win.
Setting a Lineup
Okay, so once the regular season starts, you have some decisions to make. You have 16 players on your roster from the draft, but you can only start nine of them on a week-to-week basis. You can change them based on how they've been playing or who they're playing against, and you can even use more "off-the-wall" material like inclement weather, if he's playing a team he used to play for, if you had a dream about them and just have to start them, etc. It's up to you.
In Week 1, you may start Tom Brady because he's awesome and you really don't need another reason. In Week 2, let's say Tom Brady is recovering from a minor injury and he's playing a really good defense, but the backup QB on your bench played well in Week 1 and he's playing the worst defense in the league in Week 2. You can go ahead and toss him in if you'd like. In Week 3 you can move Brady back to your starter.
Keep in mind that you still only accumulate points from your starting nine players, so when Tom Brady breaks a bunch of NFL passing records on your bench, you just have to cry and suck it up.
You obviously want to start the best lineup every week, but that's a lot easier than it sounds. You can consult us here at FantasyFusion or check out recommended starts on any one of the many fantasy football websites.
Trades and Pickups
Ah yes, another piece that makes it much more fun. Throughout the season, you have the ability and opportunity to trade players to another person's team in exchange for someone else that you need. Remember that good backup QB we talked about earlier? Maybe league member Billy Joe's QB is awful, and your starting RB Marshawn Lynch just suffered a bad injury. You can go out and offer your backup QB for one of his RBs and, depending on the quality of those players, you may agree to a swap and both fill some holes on your respective teams.
In addition, there are always random guys that end up being very productive that no one saw coming, and, thus, they weren't drafted. If they are a "free agent," you have the ability to go out and pick them up in exchange for dropping one of your current players. If any of your players suffer a season-ending injury, you can drop them and pick up some promising talent.
Most leagues employ a "waiver" system on a weekly basis, which basically means that there is a priority list for certain players and you have to submit which player(s) you want. The higher you are on the priority list, the more likely you are to get your guy.
In short, it's fun! It gives you another venue to harass your friends and it makes you more interested in football in general. Patriots fans suddenly care about the Browns vs. Jaguars slop fest, and Browns and Jaguars fans have legitimate reasons to watch better teams. It's a win-win!
Plus, if you're good at it, you can end up being profitable through your leagues or through Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
One step at a time, though.
Feel free to reach out to me @DonaldGibsonFF if you have any additional questions, and follow @FantasyFusionFF on Twitter and like FantasyFusion on Facebook. We're here for you.