LESS than one week remains until the 2018 NFL Fantasy season launches with coaches preparations now well and truly kicking into overdrive. Sometimes a perfectly laid out draft plan can become pear shaped and all that tireless work you put in over the offseason goes out the window. Never fear, I’ve structured a guide to draft the perfect player in each round and help you build a winner this season.
All numbers/stats provided are based on ESPN fantasy leagues
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Round 1 – David Johnson, Ari, RB
2017 Stats: 1 game, 23 RUSH/yards, 67 REC/yards, 13 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 4.2
WITH the Cardinals running back eager to put an injury-interrupted season behind him, I’m a huge fan of taking David Johnson early. He isn’t showing any signs of regression in the preseason and could be in for a similar season to 2016 when he burst onto the scene with over 2,100 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns. I’d even be tempted to take him first overall. Tempted, but not quite.
Round 2 – Michael Thomas, NO, WR
2017 Stats: 16 games, 1,245 REC/yards (5 TD’s), 258.5 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 17.8
WITH a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball for New Orleans, some people are cautious of drafting him with an early pick as he might get overlooked. I am not one of these people. I’m calling it now, Michael Thomas will haul in the most receiving yards this season. While it might not translate to him being the highest scoring wideout, he shouldn’t slip outside of the top-3. In an offense fueled by Drew Brees’ arm, Thomas is destined to be on the end of a ton of passes and I have a hunch he’ll find the end zone more than five times like last year.
Round 3 – Davante Adams, GB, WR
2017 Stats: 14 games, 885 REC/yards (8 TD’s), 227.4 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 21.9
IF you are looking for a wide receiver to anchor your team and you missed out on one in the first two rounds look no further. No one has caught more touchdown passes (22) in the last two seasons than Adams and he should remain a huge part of Green Bay’s offense. Even with the addition of Jimmy Graham, Adams should continue his frequent trips to the end zone in 2018 with a 1,000-yard season well and truly on the cards.
Round 4 – Tyreek Hill, KC, WR
2017 Stats: 15 games, 59 RUSH/yards, 1,183 REC/yards (7 TD’s), 245.2 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 31.5
ANOTHER player I’m expecting big things from in 2018 is Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill. The crafty playmaker had a memorable campaign last year and with Patrick Mahomes under center now he should once again be a focal point of the passing game. Of course, the arrival of Sammy Watkins will eat into his targets, but Hill’s ability to turn any reception into a touchdown makes him a very valuable fantasy player.
Round 5 – Royce Freeman, Den RB
2017 Stats: N/A
Average Draft Position (ADP): 43.3
WHILE Derrick Henry was tempting to talk about in this spot I don’t trust him sharing a backfield with Dion Lewis. Royce Freeman on the other hand? He seems destined to be a workhorse in Denver next season. After being drafted in the third round in June a lot of people think he is a perfect fit for the Broncos scheme and he will be heavily utilised as they try to resolve their QB woes. Tick, tick.
Round 6 – Greg Olsen, Car, TE
2017 Stats: 7 games, 191 REC/yards (1 TD), 42.1 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 51.7
TRADITIONALLY I’m against drafting a tight end until that later rounds of the draft, however, Greg Olsen isn’t any other tight end. When healthy he is Cam Newton’s main threat and three straight 1,000-receiving yard seasons before 2017 illustrate that. Injuries kept him out of half of last season and at 33, Olsen might be nearing the end. If he can stay on the field though don’t rule out another big receiving season from the Panthers veteran.
Round 7 – Alshon Jeffery, Phi, WR
2017 Stats: 16 games, 789 REC/yards (9 TD’s), 195.9 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 65.0
WE all know that Alshon Jeffery might miss time to start the season. However, Doug Peterson said that Jeffery will come off the PUP list on Friday, which is a positive sign for the wideout’s fantasy owners. Even if he starts slow there’s no reason to think that Jeffery can’t offer WR1 upside in his second season as an Eagle. There are a few other weapons that will eat into his targets, but I expect similar numbers in 2018 with a slight bump.
Image from bleacherreport.com
Round 8 – Tevin Coleman, Atl, RB
2017 Stats: 1 game, 628 RUSH/yards (5 TD’s), 299 REC/yards (3 TD’s), 167.7 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 77.1
THERE might not be a better handcuff play than Tevin Coleman this season. We got a brief glimpse into what he could do as a starter when the Falcons lost Devonta Freeman for three games last year. Coleman impressed by chalking up four scores and 261 yards and should Freeman go down again, we can expect more of the same. Coleman has also performed admirably in his reduced role offering some value as a flex play.
Round 9 – Isaiah Crowell, NYJ, RB
2017 Stats: 16 games, 853 RUSH/yards (2 TD’s), 182 REC/yards, 143.5 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 87.2
SOMEONE has to run the ball in New York right? Crowell is slated as the starter in the backfield as opening day nears, beating out Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire for the job. Both those guys will see time as the featured back and Crowell might not be a full-time solution. That being said, the Jets could lean on him to help Darnold find his feet early as he possesses upside in both the running and receiving game. If you’re looking for running back depth by the 9th round you can do a lot worse.
Image from nypost.com
Round 10 – Chris Carson, Sea, RB
2017 Stats: 4 games, 208 RUSH/yards, 59 REC/yards (1 TD), 39.7 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 93.7
ANOTHER young back with one hand on the starting reigns is Chris Carson. Not since Marshawn Lynch has Seattle had a reliable runner and they need to hit on one now more than ever. The job is essentially Carson’s to lose after a broken leg ruined his chances of claiming the full-time role a season ago. He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down and he looks ready to go. If you can I’d try to handcuff him with Rashaad Penny, but if you can only get one I have faith in Carson.
Round 11 – Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB
2017 Stats: 6 games, 1,560 PASS/yards (7 TD’s, 5 INT’s), 11 RUSH/yards (1 TD), 87.9 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 108.8
THERE are a bunch of quarterbacks coming off the board at around this mark. Names like Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford can be found at this spot along with the great new hope, Jimmy G. While I don’t think Garoppolo can single-handedly change the 49ers fortunes, he will go a long way to fixing a lot of their problems. He doesn’t boast the most impressive pass-catching squad, but as we saw towards the end of 2017, Garoppolo can get it done no matter who surrounds him.
Image from sfchronicle.com
Round 12 – David Njoku, Cle, TE
2017 Stats: 16 games, 1 RUSH/yard, 386 REC/yards (4 TD’s), 94.7 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 114.1
IF you have watched ‘Hard Knocks’ this season then you will be led to believe that Njoku is going to be the greatest tight end ever. While I’m not as optimistic, taking him just outside the top 100 is something I’m doing in a few fantasy leagues this season. Outside of Jarvis Landy, the Browns receiving core is somewhat sketchy with the off-field issues of Antonio Callaway and Josh Gordon looming large. Back in Njoku to be a top-10 TE in year two.
Round 13 – Allen Hurns, Dal, WR
2017 Stats: 10 games, 484 REC/yards (2 TD’s), 99.4 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 4.2
AT this point in the draft you can usually afford to take some long shots by adding potential handcuffs/backups. I’m very cautious about investing in Cowboys players this year, especially given the veteran leadership and playmakers they have lost in the last two seasons (Romo, Whitten, Dez Bryant). While Ezekiel Elliott will dominate in the rushing game someone has to catches passes from Prescott and it seems like the former Jaguar is the best bet in a potentially bad bunch.
Round 14 – Tyler Lockett, Sea, WR
2017 Stats: 16 games, 58 RUSH/yards, 555 REC/yards (2 TD’s), 124.3 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 4.2
IT happens every season. Tyler Lockett is the popular ‘sleeper’ pick who fails to live up to the hype. But this year might finally be different. With the health of Doug Baldwin up in the air, Wilson is going to need someone to step up and catch plenty of passes, especially now Paul Richardson has flown the coop. We could be in for another lacklustre 500-yard season from Lockett, but with a healthier batch of targets coming his way, he should at least show some signs of growth. It’s worth the punt this late for the 4th year in a row.
Round 15 – Broncos D/ST
2017 Stats: 33 SCK’s, 10 INT’s, 7 FF, 4 TD’s, 117 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 135.2
A few years ago this group was one of the best on the defensive side of the ball. Losing Wade Phillips and a few pieces later and we aren’t really sure what to expect in 2018. They have some superstars in their front seven that should see them score reasonably well, but they could get lit up when the Chargers and Chiefs come to town. With all that said currently they are the 9th most selected D/ST unit, and I think they can easily outperform that ranking if they find their mojo.
Round 16 – Jake Elliot, Phi, K
2017 Stats: 15 games, 26/31 TOT, 39/42 XP, 134 PTS
Average Draft Position (ADP): 147.5
CHOOSING the right kicker after the first two/three are off the board is almost a lottery. One thing that can be guaranteed in 2018 though is the Eagles are going to try and score. Lots. And if the ball is close to the end zone, someone has to put the icing on the cake right? Enter Jake Elliot.
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