While the Ramblers have been in full action over the past few weeks, the NFL is ready to get under way, as are fantasy owners. Anybody who has played fantasy football understands how the slightest edge can help reap the greatest of benefits. It is important to consider a player’s situation before drafting them. There are also many question marks about many players early on, whether it is linked to suspension, injury or how well they fit into their system. The evolution of football continues its trend with more pass-friendly offenses being implemented into the league. The value of wideouts continues to increase and is a main theme of fantasy football this year. Welcome to the new era.
Quarterback is crazy deep this year. Cam Newton is coming off a ridiculous year in which he threw for almost 4,000 yards, 35 TDs (with only 10 INTs) and rushed for 10 more scores. He did all this without having a legitimate threat on the outside. Now, Kelvin Benjamin returns from his torn ACL, and many complementary pieces return, such as Greg Olsen (77 receptions) and Ted Ginn Jr.(10 TDs). As aforementioned, there are many other QBs to look for in the later rounds. Target guys like Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning if you plan to wait on a quarterback. All three are in great pass-first offenses that are primed for big seasons. There are enough holdover options at QB to even nab Tom Brady (he will serve a 4-game suspension to open the season) early on, and then pick up another productive quarterback later.
Traditionally, running back was the alpha position. Not anymore. Although there is still major value at RB, they are not being selected as high as they typically used to be. At the top of the list, names like Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott jump off the board. However, there is plenty of upside as you look further down, especially in PPR leagues. Opportunity is huge for players like Matt Jones, Ryan Mathews, Arian Foster, and Rashad Jennings, who all have chances to be feature backs for their respective teams.
That is where fantasy differs from reality in football. Talent doesn’t always dictate players’ effectiveness. It may just come down to whose put in a better situation to get the most touches. Durability is also a large issue with many RBs, which make handcuffs extremely valuable. DeAngelo Williams, Spencer Ware, Christine Michael and Jay Ajayi are trending upwards on draft boards due to the injury concerns with the guys in front of them. Lastly, many RBs failed to live up to expectations last year. Despite this, look for big bounce back years from Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson, Jeremy Hill and Melvin Gordon. All are expected to take their game to the next level and live up to their full potential this season. Don’t overvalue running backs; they are much easier to replace in the season off the waiver wire than receivers are.
As said before, the NFL is turning into a more pass-heavy game. Wide receivers have replaced running backs as the prime fantasy position. Antonio Brown and Julio Jones both reeled in 136 receptions last year. Production like that cannot be duplicated by any other player and stands as easily the best 1-2 punch in most drafts. Both Alshon Jeffery and Jordy Nelson have top-5 potential if they can stay healthy. It will also be interesting to see if Donte Moncrief and DeVante Parker can take on bigger roles in their offenses, as they are being counted on heavily by fantasy owners. Keep an eye on the three-reliever sets that the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals will run and watch who emerges as the number one target in their offenses. Keep a keen eye out to see how far Josh Gordon falls in drafts. Remember three seasons ago, he led the league in receiving yards and now he is finally reinstated back into the league and is eligible week 5.
After Rob Gronkowski, the tight end position is wide open. Jordan Reed looks like the new vertical threat that complements Kirk Cousins in Washington perfectly. There are other consistent threats at TE consisting of Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce and Gary Barnidge. All project to receive consistent attention from their QBs and look to have solid seasons.
In conclusion, each position holds extremely great depth and value. This should be a fun year to watch how everything unfolds. There are many notable suspensions this year that could make or break many seasons (Le’Veon Bell, Josh Gordon, Tom Brady, etc.). Regardless, be careful not to reach for very deep positions like QB and RB as there are plenty to go around. Have a good time and enjoy this great season of football coming up.