I know, I know, the playoffs haven’t even begun yet. But, there’s not much fantasy left and it’s never to early to start preparing for next season. I noticed the guys at CBS Sports posted their initial mock drafts for 2018, and I wanted to do the same because I feel a little differently towards some of the players.
I’m a little more WR-heavy earlier than most, I find it much easier to build your team around a couple dominant WRs in the first couple rounds; then stock pile RBs in round 3 and beyond. Obviously there’s a few guys you just can’t pass up if they’re available. On my list, I have 7 RBs and 5 WRs. But, if I were to dive into the 2nd and 3rd round mocks (which I’ll get into later in the year), WRs would certainly have a more prominent role.
Without further adieu (explanation for each player follows the list):
- Todd Gurley (rams)
- Le’Veon Bell (steelers)
- Ezekiel Elliott (cowboys)
- David Johnson (cardinals)
- DeAndre Hopkins (texans)
- Alvin Kamara (saints)
- Antonio Brown (steelers)
- Odell Beckham, Jr. (giants)
- Kareem Hunt (chiefs)
- Julio Jones (falcons)
- Melvin Gordon (chargers)
- Keenan Allen (chargers)
Honorable Mentions (for the bigger leagues):
- Leonard Fournette (jaguars)
- Michael Thomas (saints)
- LeSean McCoy (bills)
- A.J. Green (bengals)
You’re going to be hard pressed to find anyone that suggests anyone other than Todd Gurley at the top spot after the 2017 numbers he just posted. He averaged 25.6 FPPG this season, far and away the best in fantasy football. With the offensive genius of Sean McVay and no real receiving superstars, expect Gurley to have another fantastic season in 2018.
The Steelers may have more of a question mark at QB heading into 2018. After all, Big Ben hinted at retirement this season. Expect that conversation to pop up next year, especially if they win a title this year. Either way, it shouldn’t affect Bell at all. He could have me at QB and he would still put up MVP-type numbers. He’s that good.
Zeke was on a roll prior to the suspension this season. With no suspension looming in 2018, and a Cowboys team that realized their offense truly goes where Elliott goes. I expect a big year from him. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a decent chance Dez Bryant isn’t a Cowboy by the time the season starts, putting more emphasis on the run game and Elliott.
What worries me more than David Johnson returning from his wrist injury is the state of the Cardinals. I have no doubt Johnson will return 100% and be ready to go next season. But, there’s a lot going on with the team surrounding him. The QB and HC, Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians, have retired. Who knows if Larry Fitzgerald will continue to play or if he’ll decide to follow suit and hang it up as well. Either way, Johnson is too talented to fall too far in the draft no matter what happens around him.
The connection between DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson has the potential to be downright terrifying to opposing defenses. They showed that in the short time they played together this season. With a healthy Watson in 2018, I fully expect Hopkins to be the highest scoring WR and flirt with being the highest scoring player in fantasy football next year.
By the time 2019 rolls around, I think Alvin Kamara’s name will be in the discussion with Bell and Gurley as the most dynamic dual-threat backs in the league. He showed this season that he is one of the best pass catching backs already and with a bigger role in the Saints offense, the sky is the limit for this kid.
While I believe Antonio Brown is the most consistent WR in the NFL, I believe the question marks surrounding Roethlisberger’s future and the emergence of first-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster will have an effect on Brown’s statistical output. I still see him being one of the top receivers in fantasy football, but, maybe not quite as dominant as he has been for much of the past 3 years. Still, I can make a good case for him being drafted anywhere between 4th-9th in next year’s drafts.
If you asked me this time last year who the most explosive receiver in all of football was; I would’ve said Odell Beckham, Jr. I’m worried the injury may take away some of his explosion off the line, and the double move that has become so deadly. I still have him going mid to late first round because of sheer upside. We all know what he’s capable of. The debacle that has become of the New York Giants hinders my expectations for him, as does the injury. But, he is too good and too dynamic to not be a first-round pick if healthy.
I like Kareem Hunt simply because of his situation. The Chiefs and Andy Reid love incorporating RBs into the gameplan early and often. With Pat Mahomes likely taking over the offensive reins in 2018, he may rely heavily on his trusted back behind him. Not only that, but he did lead the NFL in rushing this season.
The most athletically and physically gifted WR in the NFL, Julio Jones, had a fairly disappointing 2017. The decline in numbers had a lot to do with the steep decline in the play of QB Matt Ryan, and the loss of OC Kyle Shanahan. I believe the 2018 Atlanta Falcons will realize that this team goes as far as Julio Jones takes them, and I expect his targets (and production) to be up next season.
I think it’s safe to say Melvin Gordon’s mother is wearing his jersey proudly to all of the Chargers’ games. She famously said she wouldn’t wear his jersey until he earned it. Well he has, he was the 5th highest scoring RB this season and managed to find the endzone 12 times. He should play a very similar role in 2018.
Strange to put 2 teammates back to back but Keenan Allen has put his name up there with the Big 4 (Brown, Hopkins, Beckham, Jones). He ended the season on a tear, and I expect him to pick up in 2018 right where he left off in 2017. The only thing that will hinder him moving forward is Philip Rivers’ eventual retirement but I don’t think that will be this season as he showed he still has some gas left in the tank. Allen is going to be a consistent top 5 WR all season.
It’s never too early to begin preparation for the next season, and I’m sure this list will have some adjustments following the draft, OTAs, minicamps, etc. Let me know your thoughts and who you may agree or disagree with!
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