It is an unorthodox year for fantasy football. Nearly every running back has a question mark hovering above them, there is next to no value for tight ends, and there is not a clear cut prototypical fantasy offense like the Patriots or Steelers have been in years past. Although, the Saints and Chiefs are close but are not without their issues. Follow these suggestions and give yourself a better chance of dominating your league. I’m sure you don’t want to do the last place punishment again this year (I’m looking at you, guy who had to get a tattoo of your buddy’s mom’s face last year).
Ideal First Round
Here is my ideal first round draft choices in a 12 team PPR fantasy football draft:
Pick 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
Pick 2: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
Pick 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
Pick 4: Michael Thomas, WR, NO
Pick 5: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
Pick 6: Davante Adams, WR, GB
Pick 7: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
Pick 8: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE
Pick 9: David Johnson, RB, ARI
Pick 10: JuJu Smith-Schuster WR, PIT
Pick 11: Joe Mixon RB, CIN
Pick 12: Travis Kelce, TE, KC
Notice how I have omitted Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot from my ideal first round. Here’s why:
Todd Gurley is coming off of a nagging knee injury that kept him extremely limited in the postseason earlier this year. I am not convinced that he is 100% healthy or that the Rams plan to return him to his bellcow role he had in recent years. With the emergence of rookie Darrell Henderson in the preseason and training camp, lightening Gurley’s load might be in the Rams best interest. After all, we did just see Andrew Luck retire from the game because of the vicious cycle of injuries he’s been in for the past four years. The Rams might not want to overuse Gurley ultimately leading to another early retirement.
Remember drafting Le’Veon Bell last year? Remember keeping him on your team all year hoping he would come back eventually? Remember around week 10 when you just knew he would suit up for the Steelers again? I don’t remember that, but my buddy Ronnie does and that top five draft pick really ruined his season. I think we are seeing a similar situation with Ezekiel Elliot and Bell paved the way for players to hold out longer than usual in order to receive the money they feel they deserve. These guys are basically saying, “You don’t want to pay me what I want? Cool, try playing a whole season without me.” I do not trust that Zeke will play in enough games to be a viable fantasy asset. Of course in the games he plays in he will produce above average numbers but I would not risk a first round pick on a guy we don’t know will play 16 games, 8 games, or 0 games.
I also have Travis Kelce in my first round which may be surprising to many but the tight end position is getting thinner and thinner by the year. There was a time where Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, and Antonio Gates were all in their prime. The tight end position was stacked with talented pass catchers who could go off for a multiple touchdown game at any moment. This year, that is not the case. If you don’t have Zach Ertz, George Kittle, or Travis Kelce on your roster then you are going to be stuck with a middle of the road tight end who you draft in a later round. What separates Kelce from the other two is his MVP quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Zach Ertz and Carson Wentz have had a good connection in the past but if Wentz gets hurt again, then it’s very likely Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler, or Josh McCown do not have the same production. And George Kittle played very well last year but that was with Nick Mullens at the helm. I am hesitant about the chemistry between Kittle and “Porn Star Jimmy” as Stephen A. Smith would say.
Stacks to Target
If you have never heard the term “stack” before, you probably have still used it in season long and daily fantasy. Stacking is when you have a quarterback and a wide receiver/tight end from the same team in your lineup. Using this strategy, a touchdown scored by your duo results in a minimum of 11 points in a PPR league (10 in standard) and that’s without the yardage points calculated in. My stack of Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks helped get me to the championship game last year. However, I lost due to a flawless performance by my opponent’s team (damn you, George Kittle). Nonetheless stacking can create a good foundation for your fantasy team and put you on top of the league.
Kansas City Chiefs: QB Patrick Mahomes stacked with TE Travis Kelce and/or WR Tyreek Hill
If you manage to get all three of these guys congratulations you’ve made the playoffs. Also, get some more knowledgeable friends. If you are able to get only two of them then you’re still in good shape. In the words of Meat Loaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees stacked with WR Michael Thomas or RB Alvin Kamara
Let’s be honest, you will not get all three of these guys. Thomas and Kamara will be snagged in the first round but Brees is pretty low on a lot of people’s draft boards this year so grabbing him late is doable. Also, Kamara is involved in this stack because of his ability to receive out of the backfield. He’s been targeted at least 100 times and had 81 receptions in each of his first two seasons.
Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield stacked with WR Odell Beckham Jr. and/or WR Jarvis Landry
With the addition of OBJ, Landry’s stock has fallen a lot. Which makes him a considerable sleeper to pick in the mid-rounds of the draft. Mayfield will also likely go somewhere around there which makes me believe that Mayfield/Landry will be a common stack this season. Getting Odell is more luck of the draw than anything because of how high he will be drafted.
Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers stacked with WR Davante Adams
Davante Adams’ worst game last year involved 6 receptions on 9 targets and a touchdown which was good enough for 16 fantasy points. With a new offense and a healthy Aaron Rodgers, this stack could be lethal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston stacked with WR Mike Evans or WR Chris Godwin
If you read my previous post, I absolutely love Jameis Winston under Bruce Arians this year. When Winston plays a full season you can almost guarantee 4,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. Mike Evans’ consistency is undeniable. Every year he has been in the league, he’s had no less than 120 targets and 1,000 yards receiving. It often takes receivers three years to adjust to the speed and pace of the NFL and with the very talented Godwin entering his third year, expect a breakout from a guy you can draft in the later rounds.
Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger stacked with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Last season, Ben Roethlisberger had what was statistically the best season of his career and we had no idea it was happening. He posted career highs in both passing yards and passing touchdowns while he also had the third highest completion percentage of his career. If he can limit his interceptions and avoid more drama then we could be looking at the 2019 NFL MVP. Also, with Antonio Brown gone, JuJu is the obvious number one receiver on this team. Not that he wasn’t last year, AB just wouldn’t let it be obvious.
Other Stacks to Consider:
Houston Texans: QB Deshaun Watson stacked with WR DeAndre Hopkins
Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott stacked with WR Amari Cooper
The following stacks are stacks that are under the radar but might be very productive this upcoming season. Most, if not all of the players mentioned can be selected in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady stacked with WR N’Keal Harry
For a New England stack to be effective, touchdowns need to be scored. The receiver that comes to mind for the Patriots is Julian Edelman, however, Julian Edelman’s best season resulted in only 3 receiving touchdowns. I’m not saying don’t draft Julian Edelman, he’s a PPR monster. But for the sake of stacks, 6’4″ N’Keal Harry is more likely to contribute to Tom Brady’s touchdown total. Expect Harry to receive a plethora of red zone targets.
Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray stacked with WR Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk is probably the sleeper pick everyone is talking about this season. His expectations are very high in an offense under new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. When Kingsbury was at Texas Tech, his offenses were always very high powered and could score in bunches. Often times, his defense would falter. But we don’t draft players from defense in fantasy football in most leagues so that shouldn’t be an issue. Kyler Murray is a mobile quarterback that can make plays with his legs and combine passing touchdowns with rushing touchdowns. Much like Patrick Mahomes who played quarterback at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury. Twenty-two year old Christian Kirk is entering his second season in the NFL and despite missing the final four games of last season, he accounted for 20 percent of the teams total receiving yards. In a better, higher-powered offense, expect this duo to connect multiple times.
Written by Jon Dula