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This is my final fantasy big board of the NFL preseason, but that doesn’t mean the rankings are locked in. With more than a week until the regular season kicks off in Chicago and cutdown day fast approaching, situations are still malleable.
Until then, we’ll hopefully learn more about the lingering injuries from the last month.
Teams have no responsibility to give out any official information until the first practice reports leading up to Week 1. Antonio Brown appears to be over his foot issues (and helmet battles), but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him land on the Oakland Raiders’ first injury report.
Other than injuries, you should pay attention to final cuts on Saturday. If a team is looking for a position of need, it may call around the league to see who’s on the chopping block. Perhaps the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs will check in with the Buffalo Bills about whether LeSean McCoy is available.
With all of that in mind, my rankings will be updated again before the start of the regular season, so bookmark this page to see the latest changes. While this article focuses on point-per-reception formats, the bookmark provides my rankings for PPR, non-PPR and half-PPR scoring systems.
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Based on current ADP data, 19 quarterbacks, 51 running backs, 56 wide receivers, 16 tight ends, five defenses and three kickers are going off the board in the top 150.
My top 150 features 18 QBs, 44 RBs, 72 WRs and 16 TEs without any kickers or defenses.
Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey both top my board and the ADP board. My top 36 rounds out with Melvin Gordon as RB15 and includes 18 WRs, three TEs and no QBs. The top 36 in ADP finishes with Gordon as RB18 and includes 14 WRs, three TEs and Patrick Mahomes as the lone QB with an ADP of 21.2.
While I remain skeptical about the health of Todd Gurley (RB14), he’s among the top 10 RBs in ADP (RB8). No other Los Angeles Rams player has an ADP inside the top 36, with Brandin Cooks coming the closest at 38.4. I rank Robert Woods (WR15), Cooks (WR16) and Cooper Kupp (WR17) inside the top 36 in part because of concerns with Gurley’s knee.
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Target Based on Value
Carson Wentz, PHI
Current ADP: 79.6/QB6
My Ranking: QB4
Wentz finished as the QB5 in 2017 despite missing three games and was the top QB based on fantasy points per game (minimum 10 games). Last season, neither Wentz nor Alshon Jeffery opened the season on the field, and Wentz’s back issues took him down after 11 games.
This year, Wentz and Jeffery are both healthy entering the season, and the Philadelphia Eagles upgraded their receiving corps with DeSean Jackson and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Jackson has a broken ring finger, but he may play though what he was told is a 3-4 week injury, per Josina Anderson of ESPN. Plus, the Eagles backfield looks far better than it did in 2018 with rookie Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard leading the way.
When you add in tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, this is the deepest group of offensive talent Wentz has had at his disposal. As long as he can avoid the injury bug, he should be a top-five QB.
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI
Current ADP: 150.6/QB19
My Ranking: QB12
Trubisky is a great example of the difference between reality and fantasy. Even though he took a step forward under head coach Matt Nagy in 2018, he didn’t look like anything more than a serviceable quarterback who benefited from playing in a creative offense with good talent around him.
However, Trubisky was a solid fantasy option last season. In 14 games, he averaged 18.8 fantasy points per game, which ranked 10th amongst QBs who played at least 10 games. With 421 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Trubisky’s legs boosted his fantasy value. Only Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton had more rushing yards at the position.
Not much has changed for Trubisky. In fact, his backfield may be better with a potential star in David Montgomery joining Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. Trubisky is a great late-round option, especially since there’s no risk in drafting him as a backup.
Other Situations to Monitor
Cam Newton, CAR
Current ADP: 93.8/QB9
My Ranking: QB10
Injury concerns may never go away for the rest of Newton’s career. But when he walked out of the third preseason game in a walking boot, a new red flag popped up at an inopportune time.
Luckily, head coach Ron Rivera said there’s “no doubt in my mind” Newton will be ready for Week 1, according to David Newton of ESPN.
“Everything he’s been doing, everything he’s done, he’s done exactly what he’s needed to,” Rivera added. “We’re at the point now where it’s just a matter of time before we start our official prep for the Rams that he’s back on the field.”
Newton’s injury risks are built into his current ADP, so even if he has a top-five ceiling, you aren’t paying a top-five price.
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Jim Mone/Associated Press
Target Based on Value
Chris Carson, SEA
Current ADP: 39.0/RB21
My Ranking: RB13
Just because the Seattle Seahawks used a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny in 2018 doesn’t mean he automatically sits atop the RB depth chart. That wasn’t the case last year, and it won’t be the case to start this season, either.
Carson has done nothing to losing the starting job even if Penny is in line for more touches with Mike Davis now a member of the Chicago Bears.
The Seahawks ranked first in rushing yards and second in rushing attempts last season. Since then, No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin retired, and they’re battling injury issues at wide receiver including DK Metcalf (knee) and David Moore (shoulder).
Carson might be even more important to the Seahawks offense than he was in 2018.
Derrick Henry, TEN
Current ADP: 37.4/RB19
My Ranking: RB27
Henry’s scorching finish to the 2018 season likely contributed to many fantasy championships. But relying on him for the majority of last season might have kept your team out of the fantasy playoffs.
Over the final four games, Henry was the top fantasy RB with 26.5 fantasy points per game. From Weeks 1-13, he was RB39 in total fantasy points.
That wide disparity in outcomes should give you pause before believing in Henry as a reliable RB2 in 2019.
Should the Tennessee Titans lean on Henry? Yes, but game flow could be a problem. There isn’t much to be excited about in that offense with QB Marcus Mariota looking nowhere like the player who dominated in 2016.
If the Titans don’t stay in games, Henry’s fantasy value will plummet since he doesn’t catch passes.
While Henry appears to be over the calf issue that plagued him for much of training camp, it’s fair to question his ability to repeat his hot December in a less-than-ideal situation.
Latavius Murray, NO
Current ADP: 88.2/RB34
My Ranking: RB31
When in doubt, favor good teams.
Murray might not seem like an exciting pick, but reliability could go a long way if he’s in your flex spot on a weekly basis. Now that he’s a member of the New Orleans Saints, being the second back behind Alvin Kamara shouldn’t be considered a negative.
The Saints were sixth in rushing and fifth in rushing attempts last year. The Drew Brees-led passing offense was 12th in yards and 23rd in attempts. Brees was efficient, yet the Saints leaned on their running game.
When Ingram returned from his four-game suspension to open last season, he played at a top-20 level for the rest of the year. Based on Murray’s ADP, you’re getting a flex player in an offense that could produce two top-25 fantasy backs.
Other Situations to Monitor
Melvin Gordon, LAC
Current ADP: 34.0/RB18
My Ranking: RB15
The quiet surrounding Gordon is not good.
There are no positive reports on a potential deal, and with each passing day, his fantasy value takes a hit. Without any indication Gordon will be on the field for Week 1, it becomes harder to draft him before the third round.
As your second back, it’s probably worth the risk even if he misses two or three games. Just make sure you have a reliable option to plug into your lineup in the meantime.
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David Dermer/Associated Press
Target Based on Value
Alshon Jeffery, PHI
Current ADP: 62.6/WR27
My Ranking: WR21
Offseason shoulder surgery kept Jeffery out for the first three games of 2018, so he wasn’t a valued fantasy commodity last year. But Jeffery was WR17 from Weeks 4-17 and was able to weather the absence of Carson Wentz down the stretch.
Surprisingly, Jeffery isn’t getting much love in 2019 despite both he and Wentz being fully healthy. You can draft Jeffery as a WR3 with legit WR2 upside.
Antonio Brown, OAK
Current ADP: 20.0/WR8
My Ranking: WR10
Even if we ignore the frozen feet and helmet issues (which we can’t), consider the downgrade Brown faces going from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr.
Roethlisberger has averaged 7.8 yards per attempt throughout his career. Carr has never topped 7.3 YPA in a single season, and that happened last year. Brown also goes from an offense that led the league in pass attempts to the Raiders, who were tied for 16th in that category.
Brown is a talented enough player to put his ridiculous August behind him, but his ceiling won’t be as high playing in Oakland with Carr. Seeing him go ahead of players like Mike Evans and Keenan Allen doesn’t make sense when they are in better situations with better QBs.
Brown should have a good season, but you shouldn’t pay this price.
Geronimo Allison, GB
Current ADP: 122.2/WR46
My Ranking: WR32
Allison was one of my favorite sleepers coming into 2018 and appeared to be on his way to paying off over the first month of the season. He was the WR28 while averaging 15 fantasy points per game despite Aaron Rodgers playing at less than 100 percent on a bad knee.
Unfortunately, Allison dealt with multiple injuries and was limited to only five games.
With Allison expected to be featured in the slot this season, he could be a tremendous mismatch for Rodgers to exploit because of his 6’3″, 202-pound frame. If you believe in Rodgers, you should believe in Allison as well, especially at such a great value.
Other Situations to Monitor
T.Y. Hilton, IND
Current ADP: 32.4/WR12
My Ranking: WR19
ADP information is still adjusting to Andrew Luck’s retirement, although Hilton’s value was beginning to dip because of Luck’s ongoing leg issue.
With Luck now out of the mix, you can expect Hilton’s value to drop even more. However, he shouldn’t completely go off a cliff.
Jacoby Brissett is one of the NFL’s best backup quarterbacks. The Indianapolis Colts decided to keep him rather than trading him to a QB-needy team during the offseason. While he may not have the upside of Luck, Brissett finds himself running the No. 6 passing offense from 2018 and has lots of talent around him along with a strong coaching staff.
Hilton may not be a preferred target, but he can still be a good WR2 with big-play potential. Don’t hold the 2017 struggles of Brissett and the Colts offense against Hilton. This is a much better situation with a reliable supporting group.
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Don Wright/Associated Press
Targets Based on Value
Vance McDonald, PIT
Current ADP: 83.8/TE9
My Ranking: TE7
The battle for the No. 2 wide receiver spot in Pittsburgh is getting a lot of attention in fantasy circles with Antonio Brown vacating 24.9 percent of the target share. With Jesse James vacating another 5.8 percent, there are lots of fantasy points to be had, but everyone may be looking at the wrong position.
In 2018, McDonald finished as the TE10 despite missing a game. With all of those targets available on the team that threw the most passes last season, McDonald’s ADP suggests he’ll improve only one spot over last season.
McDonald logged six top-10 finishes last year. While that may not seem like much, only O.J. Howard, Eric Ebron, George Kittle, Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce had more.
McDonald has the chance to improve and potentially break out as a top target for Ben Roethlisberger, and you don’t have to pay for that breakout. If you don’t go for one of the elite options early in your draft, McDonald is a good value in the later rounds.
Eric Ebron, IND
Current ADP: 80.4/TE8
My Ranking: TE10
Ebron was a prime candidate for both fantasy and touchdown regression after scoring 13 touchdowns and posting a TE4 finish in 2018. The additions of Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell in addition to the return of a healthy Jack Doyle were bound to make Ebron’s massive 2018 tough to replicate.
The Andrew Luck retirement saga has put a damper on all the Colts, but perhaps none more than Ebron considering how well the two connected in his first season with the team. Even though Ebron’s regression had been built into his ADP, he remained in the conversation as a reliable fantasy option for this season.
The Colts aren’t hopeless with Jacoby Brissett, but the ceiling has been lowered across the board.
Back in 2017 (before Ebron joined the Colts), Brissett targeted Doyle 108 times for 80 receptions. That target number was second only to Hilton’s 109, and that reception total led the team.
Ebron’s ADP should continue to drop, so don’t feel like you have to get him. The tight end position is a mess after the top eight players, so Ebron finds himself in the 9-15 mix.
Noah Fant, DEN
Current ADP: 190.0/TE22
My Ranking: TE16
In years past, Joe Flacco has had somewhat of a thing for tight ends.
Early in his career, it was Todd Heap. Later, it was Dennis Pitta. Players such as Ed Dickson and Ben Watson also had productive years working with Flacco.
That puts Fant on the fantasy radar in his rookie season.
Fant joins a Denver Broncos receiving corps led by Emmanuel Sanders, who is coming off a torn Achilles. Courtland Sutton enters his second season with raised expectations, but he failed to become a consistent fantasy contributor following the trade of Demaryius Thomas. Other than Sanders, the Broncos didn’t have a receiver register more than Sutton’s 42 receptions.
The door is open for Fant considering Flacco’s reliance on tight ends and the lack of established options in Denver’s passing game. Fant is basically a freebie at his current ADP, so don’t fear taking a shot on him at the end of your draft.
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Andy Jacobsohn/Associated Press
Until proved otherwise, stick to the script when it comes to defenses: Don’t bother taking one until the final two rounds.
Burning an earlier pick on a defense means you’re passing up the chance to take a shot on a diamond in the rough. In fact, you can ignore defenses entirely if you aren’t required to draft one. Just make sure to grab a unit off the waiver wire before Week 1.
The philosophy of streaming defenses can start right away, which is why you should only focus on Week 1 when it comes to drafting your defense. Consider a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, who have a favorable home matchup against a weak offensive team like the Washington Redskins.
The Dallas Cowboys are also an ideal option since they could stick in your lineup for the first three games. They open the season against the New York Giants, Redskins, and Miami Dolphins.
If you make a kicker a priority, you’re trying to lose.
Ideally, you want your kicker to have a blend of accuracy and opportunity, although this is another position to stream and can be bypassed if your league doesn’t require one on your roster at the end of the draft. In fact, you can wait until the last possible moment to grab a kicker if it keeps someone else from grabbing a player you have to drop to fill the kicker spot.
All average draft position (ADP) data and fantasy stats used to calculate finishes from FantasyPros. All advanced stats calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on PPR formats.
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Eric KarabellESPN Senior Writer
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Fantasy football managers typically ask when they see tiered rankings– despite sport– how I know a player belongs in a certain location. My response is constantly the exact same: Nobody knows, because there are no guarantees. That is the reality. Call it an instinct or a gut sensation, however all the statistical evidence we use to create rankings– in a basic sense, a minimum of– is one thing, however organizing gamers together is another. There are no outright right responses, but I understand that organizing players in tiers, intuitively or not, assists me when there are simple seconds to make an essential decision in a draft or auction.
The basis of organizing in tiers: Combine players to identify what you believe signals the depth ranges for the position( s). For instance, in a current draft– and practically in every draft, to be sincere, whether we are talking starting pitchers or point guards– I took a look at the readily available flex-eligible players and noticed quite a couple of broad receivers I still liked but only one running back I thought I would be able to rely on in September. Well, that is all I needed to see. If a group of 5 or 6 at one position remains similarly valued, however not at another, therein lies the response. I excitedly clicked to secure the running back. I do this at each of the four essential fantasy football positions.
Without further ado, here are one author’s thoughts on which running backs (for PPR formats) belong tiered together. It is all subjective, and clearly these are my rankings, since publish date. They will alter often during August, and this file will be updated later this month. Also, you may think a certain running back belongs two tiers ahead or behind, and that is precisely why you need to do your own tiers!
This is not so much extra work, you know, and the return on financial investment can be significant. One does not need some big spreadsheet with limitless lists. Just print our cheat sheets, circle some players, draw some arrows occasionally, and … well, perhaps put a bit more time into it. Draft day is, after all, the best day of the season.
Upgraded: Aug. 28
Tier 1: Top of Round 1
NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Vancouver Canucks.
The Vancouver Canucks spent the offseason adding talented veterans to their young core in order to help them return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs sooner rather than later.
[Canucks 31 IN 31:3 Questions|Top prospects|Fantasy breakdown|Behind the Numbers]
Vancouver, which improved by eight points from 2017-18 but missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, acquired forwardJ.T. Millerin a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 22 and added defensemenTyler MyersandJordie Bennas free agents on July 1 before signing forwardMicheal Ferlandon July 10.
They join a young group that includes forwardsBo Horvat,Brock BoeserandElias Pettersson, who was voted the winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year for 2018-19, and defensemanQuinn Hughes, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and had three assists in five games at the end of last season.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs so our young players can experience what playoff hockey is,” general manager Jim Benning said after signing a three-year contract extension Aug. 20. “That’s an important part of their development. So by signing some of these players we did this summer, it’s with the goal in mind we want to keep getting better and be a competitive team that can compete for a playoff spot.”
Horvat is the only member of the Canucks’ young core that has NHL playoff experience, playing mostly in a fourth-line role as a rookie when Vancouver last made the postseason in 2014-15. The 24-year-old had NHL career highs in goals (27), assists (34) and points (61) in 82 games last season despite playing with different linemates and often matching up against the other team’s top forwards.
Video: NHL Tonight discusses the Canucks’ expectations
Coach Travis Green, who is entering his third season, is counting on that type of continued growth from the rest of his young players. He said he believes additions like Miller will provide leadership in that process.
“Everyone talks about how the guys we added over the summer are going to really help us, but they are going to help our young guys,” Green said. “Our young guys are the guys we are waiting on to see where they are at. We need our young players, who are elite talents, to continue to progress to take us to the next level.”
The Canucks consider that next level making the playoffs, and that will require them to score more after they averaged the fewest goals per game in the NHL over the past four seasons (2.44). The new additions should help.
Miller had 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 75 games playing mostly on the third line with the Lightning last season but scored at least 22 goals playing in a top-six role in each of the previous three seasons with Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers. He is comfortable working down low on the power play.
Ferland had 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 71 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, his second in a row with at least 40 points, and has proven capable of playing with skilled players on the power play (NHL career-high 13 power-play points last season) and taking on a physical role (third on Carolina with 182 hits).
Video: Benning discusses contract extension with Canucks
Myers had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 80 games last season with the Winnipeg Jets and 36 (six goals, 30 assists) in 82 games in 2017-18 while playing mostly on the third defense pair. However, the 6-foot-8 defenseman should see an increase in opportunities in the offensive zone playing in a top-four role with the Canucks.
Even Benn, who was signed as more of a stay-at-home defenseman, is coming off an NHL career-high 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 81 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season.
Add it all up, and Green is excited about Vancouver’s chances of taking that next step and ending its playoff drought.
“I feel like our team is going to be a lot more equipped to play the way I think you need to in order to have success in the NHL,” Green said. “And when you watch the playoffs and teams that win, you have to have enough skill to get into the playoffs, and enough size and compete and grit to win in the playoffs.”
As part of NHL.com’s 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Vancouver Canucks. For more fantasy coverage, visitNHL.com/Fantasyand subscribe for free to theNHL Fantasy on Icepodcast.
[Canucks 31 IN 31:Season preview|3 Questions|Top prospects|Behind the numbers]
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE:Top 250 ranks|Mock draft|Team previews|Cheat sheet
Elias Pettersson, C(NHL.com rank: 30) — The center led all rookies with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games last season, 21 more than the next highest total from a first-year player (Brady Tkachuk, 45). Pettersson also led rookies with 10 power-play goals and 22 power-play points and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie. Pettersson has a ceiling of finishing top five at the position if his linemateBrock Boeserstays healthy for the full season.
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Pettersson
Brock Boeser, RW(71) — The right wing had an NHL career-high 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) but missed time because of injury for the second straight season. Boeser brings exposure to Pettersson on the top line and first power-play unit but may fall in drafts because of injury concerns. The reward with Boeser far outways the risk, and he should be targeted in the fifth or sixth round of standard 12-team fantasy drafts with a chance to score 35-40 goals.
Quinn Hughes, D(116) — The rookie defenseman had three assists in five games last season and could be among the most-valuable first-year skaters in 2019-20. Much of Hughes’ impact will depend on whether he brings PP1 exposure to Pettersson and Boeser. Hughes is worth drafting among the top 30 defensemen based on intrigue and has the ceiling to finish among the 20 best at the position.
Bo Horvat, C(139) — The center had a career-high 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games last season. Horvat led Vancouver forwards in average ice time (20: 50 per game) and shots on goal (227). He gains value in fantasy leagues that count face-offs after leading the NHL with 2,018 attempts, including the second-most wins (1,083) behind St. Louis Blues centerRyan O’Reilly.
Video: 31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks 2019-20 season preview
J.T. Miller, LW/RW(167) — The wing had an NHL career-high 20 PPP with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Miller, acquired by the Canucks on June 22, was fourth among Lightning forwards in power-play ice time per game (2: 35), impressive considering Tampa’s loaded offense with forwardsNikita Kucherov,Steven StamkosandBrayden Point. It was Miller’s second-straight season with at least 18 PPP, and he’ll likely slot in on Vancouver’s top unit with forwards Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat and either Hughes or defensemanAlexander Edler.
Jacob Markstrom, G(170) — The goalie was a quality streaming option last season, going 28-23-9 including one shutout and a .912 save percentage. Markstrom is a fantasy sleeper candidate with 30-win potential and should see the majority of starts over rookieThatcher Demko, who appeared in nine games last season.
Alexander Edler, D(171) — The veteran defenseman was on pace for 50 points last season but missed 26 games with multiple injuries. Edler has not played a full 82-game season since 2011-12 but is worth drafting as a bench defenseman that could set a career-high in points (previous best: 49) if he stays healthy and captures the PP1 spot over Hughes.
Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire:Micheal Ferland, LW/RW; Thatcher Demko, G;Sven Baertschi, LW;Tyler Myers, D;Tanner Pearson, LW
Listen:NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast
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Fantasy football draft season is in full swing, and this special edition of Gridiron Digest is chock-full of fantasy tips, insights and expert opinions, including:
• A breakdown of the top of the first round: Should Saquon Barkley be the first overall pick? Or will the dysfunctional Giants offense ruin your fantasy season?
• Fantasy-themed previews for the Browns and (uh-oh) Colts
• Buzz, stats and camp notes on some of this year’s so-called fantasy “sleepers”
• Advice from the fantasy experts at FootballGuys.com on stacking the top of your board, from Football Outsiders on identifying overrated and underrated quarterbacks, and from DraftKings on building a money-winning DFS lineup.
• A special fantasy edition of Point-Counterpoint.
Plus, not-just-for-fantasy breakdowns of all of this weekend’s dress rehearsal action, and much more!
The draft has begun. You are on the clock. Who are you gonna take?
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
If you are picking first overall in your fantasy draft, you know just what to do. Trade down! Swap draft positions with someone who doesn’t know better! Schedule a doctor’s appointment on draft day and let your brother-in-law take your place! Do anything else, but for heaven’s sake,don’t actually pick first!
Oh, it’s not so bad. Sure, there’s pressure. And by the time the draft snakes back around to you, the only player left on the board will be Nathan Peterman and some Jaguars receivers. But picking first guarantees you the best player in the league. All you have to do is identify the guy who’s about to rush for 1,300 yards, catch 75 passes and score 15 touchdowns, because 1,200 yards, 50 passes and 10 touchdowns just won’t be enough when your RB2 is Andy Janovich.
To make sure you make the right choice for your league, let’s break down the top four candidates for the first overall pick:
Saquon Barkley, Giants
The 2018 stats:2,028 scrimmage yards, 91 receptions, 15 total touchdowns
The skills:He’s basically Thor.
The quarterback:Eli Manning, at least until John Mara is ready to let go and move on. (I have a great aunt who still sets a place at dinner for her husband who died in 1997. Just providing context here.) For all his faults, Manning is outstanding at checking down to Barkley for 15-yard catches on 3rd-and-20, which are bad for the Giants but great for fantasy.
The situation:The Giants have almost no one else to give or throw the ball to, but their offensive line should be much better than it was last year.
The fear:Barkley gets force fed but needs to break three tackles to get to the line of scrimmage against stacked fronts, resulting in lots of 20-carry, 70-yard rushing days that leave him a notch behind the other elite runners.
The last word:Barkley has proven he can generate fantasy points in a dysfunctional offense, and his big-play capability makes him nearly Eli-proof. All other things being equal, he’s the no-brainer best choice as the top pick. But all other things are rarely equal in fantasy football.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
The 2018 stats:1,965 scrimmage yards, 107 receptions, 14 total touchdowns (including one passing!)
The skills:He’s like an elite all-purpose wide receiver playing running back. Shh…no one tell him how much money he is costing himself.
The quarterback:Cam Newton, assuming his foot injury doesn’t become a season-long issue. Newton draws defensive attention away from McCaffrey, but he also can generate his own rushing yardage and touchdowns.
The situation:The Panthers are rebuilding their offensive line; results so far are very mixed. Their receiving corps is full of up-and-comers but has no clear go-to guy. Also, there’s no committee or changeup back. Like, at all.
The fear:The Panthers get better, and it makes fantasy McCaffrey worse. Curtis Samuel and/or DJ Moore emerge as primary targets, a healthy Newton rushes for six to 10 touchdowns, and McCaffrey ends up around 1,500 total yards and six or seven touchdowns: very good but not necessarily first-overall-pick production. That, or Newton’s injury is serious and everything goes kablooie.
The last word:McCaffrey’s role in the Panthers passing game makes him a viable first-overall pick in PPR leagues or if your scoring system adds lots of extra weight to receiving yards and touchdowns. Otherwise, stick with Saquon.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
The 2018 stats:2,001 scrimmage yards, 77 catches, nine total touchdowns
The talent: He’s a two-time NFL rushing champion.
The quarterback:Dak Prescott. He may have his ups and downs, but he’s proven that he has what it takes to help Elliott be a two-time rushing champion.
The situation:The Cowboys All Pro linemen may all be healthy at the same time for once (Zach Martin’s back issue isn’t a major concern…yet). That means the only thing standing between Elliott and a huge fantasy season is his contract situation. But yeah, about that…
The fear:Elliott’s holdout goes Le’Veon Bell nuclear. Or his long holdout leads to a slow statistical start, like when Bell returned to the Steelers at the last moment in 2017. Or Elliott gets involved in another incident that earns him a spin of the NFL’s Wheel of Morality. Or Jerry Jones orders more touches for Tony Pollard, to teach Elliott a less…er…to keep Elliott fresh!
The bottom line:Even if Elliott reports to camp moments after you read this, he’s a better option to take at 3 or 4 this year than 1. Holdout concerns, Pollard’s emergence and a relative lack of elite receiving value give Barkley and McCaffrey the leg up.
Alvin Kamara, Saints
The 2018 stats:1,592 scrimmage yards, 81 catches, 18 total touchdowns
The talent:He’s more like an all-time great third-down back than the traditional workhorse. That makes him a better fit in the modern NFL, but old perceptions die hard.
The quarterback:Drew Brees, all-time NFL passing leader. Brees’ attempts and yardage have slipped drastically in the past two years, a trend that can work both for Kamara (more rushes) and against him (fewer targets).
The situation:Latavius Murray replaces Mark Ingram as Kamara’s committee co-chairman, which should mean more snaps and carries for Kamara. Michael Thomas and Kamara accounted for almost exactly 50 percent of Saints pass attempts last year, but the arrival of tight end Jared Cook and the emergence of other receivers could change that.
The fear:There’s a real possibility that Kamara drifts into a role somewhere between third-down back and slot receiver, which would be a disaster for a first-round fantasy pick.
The last word:Kamara is like the candidate who wins one of those elections where everyone lists him as their second or third choice, but with different people splitting the first-choice votes. He’s safe and he’s good, but last year’s 14 rushing touchdowns feel like a fluke. Kamara lacks that Barkley ceiling you need when picking first and waiting for the draft to snake back to you.
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Throughout the preseason, Gridiron Digest will highlight a pair of teams with news, notes and insights. In keeping with the fantasy theme, this week we’ll focus on two teams expected to generate some big offensive numbers this year. Let’s start with a Colts segment that needed a wee bit of editing over the weekend.
Real football outlook:Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement Saturday immediately transformed the Colts from Super Bowl sleepers into Tank-for-Tua Tagovailoa candidates. Yet perhaps the Colts were neither as good as they looked on paper with Luck nor as hopeless as they now appear to be.
Fantasy football outlook:Not too different than the real football outlook.
Quarterback: Jacoby Brissett threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus four rushing touchdowns, in 15-and-a-half games of relief for the injured Luck in 2017. The numbers are nearly worthless for fantasy, but keep in mind that Brissett was then a last-minute trade acquisition for a bad team with suspect coaching. Brissett now has two years in Frank Reich’s system, better weapons and a much better offensive line. He could have the year Nick Foles is expected to have. That still won’t help your fantasy team at quarterback, but it might keep other Colts players from statistically cratering.
Running back: The Fantasy Football Calculator had Marlon Mack hovering around the early fourth round in PPR leagues and the middle of the third round in more traditional scoring systems. Slide him below chairman-of-committee types like Phillip Lindsay and Sony Michel on your draft board, but don’t overreact too severely. … Nyheim Hines is a PPR leech who could sneak up into the 80-catch range if the Colts spend the year playing from behind.
Wide receiver: T.Y. Hilton had 57 catches for 966 yards and four touchdowns with Brissett in 2017. Like Mack, he should slide down your board but not off it. … Deon Cain, a sixth-round pick who missed all of last season with an ACL tear, weaved his way for a touchdown just before the Luck-pocalypse on Saturday night and looked like a late-round super sleeper. Put him on your waiver watch list, but expecting a breakout season under these circumstances is a little ambitious. … Eric Ebron didn’t look like a wise bet to come close to last year’s 13 touchdowns even with Luck under center. Ebron was hanging around a tight end tier with David Njoku and Jared Cook all summer. Like Mack and Hilton, he should slide to the bottom of that tier but not off a cliff.
Defense:The Colts defense has minimal fantasy value.
Kicker:Adam Vinatieri scored 109 points in 2017. If anything, his value goes slightly up if the Colts trade extra points after touchdowns for field-goal attempts. He also has more job security than kickers literally half his age on better teams.
Bottom line: Luck’s retirement is a much bigger deal than anything that can be summed up in a breezy fantasy preview. The Colts have a new organizational direction to chart, but they also have a season to get through and much more talent on both sides of the ball than they had two years ago. Teams have won the AFC South with Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler at quarterback, so why not Brissett? Like your fantasy season, the Colts’ season is just getting started.
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Jason Behnken/Associated Press
Throughout the preseason, Gridiron Digest will highlight a pair of teams with news, notes and insights. In keeping with this week’s fantasy theme, we now turn to the Browns.
Real football outlook:Never has a team that has accomplished so little spent an offseason talking so much. But the Browns are fun, so we’re all pretending they’re not setting themselves up for an epic face-plant.
Fantasy football outlook:Touchdowns! Touchdowns! Touchdowns!
Quarterback:The biggest concern for Baker Mayfield isn’t his post-Millennial Jim McMahon impersonation but the rickety line he plays behind. Mayfield will produce very good numbers, but spotty protection could keep him from producing great ones.
Running backs:Nick Chubb is a fantasy enigma. He has the chops for both big gains and short touchdowns, but a relative lack of receiving value and the fear that Kareem Hunt will siphon off touches after his eight-game suspension make Chubb a high fantasy risk. If you are sold on Chubb, invest a mid-round pick in either Hunt or a rookie likely to earn an increased role in the second half of the year (think: Buffalo’s Devin Singletary or Philly’s Miles Sanders).
Receivers: Pencil Odell Beckham Jr. in for 60 catches, 1,200 yards and about eight touchdowns. … Pencil Jarvis Landry in for 120 catches, 600 yards and about eight touchdowns (including an end-around and at least one throw to Beckham). … Tight end David Njoku only caught four touchdowns in each of his first two years but should benefit from all the space between Beckham’s ultra-deep routes and Landry’s micro-short ones. … Antonio Callaway is suspended for the first four games and may not have a niche when he returns. … Rashan Higgins is a solid receiver stuck in a not-enough-footballs scenario.
Defense:Myles Garrett plus Olivier Vernon plus Sheldon Richardson equals at least 50 sacks, making the Browns an appealing fantasy defense.
Kicker:Rookie Austin Seibert may have won the job with four field goals Friday night. There will be plenty of scoring opportunities in this offense, so if you have the stomach for a rookie kicker, knock your socks off.
Bottom line:The Browns sound like a group of players and coaches who think they have skipped the growing-pains stage of development, which is a sure sign that they have not skipped the growing-pains stage of development. They are more likely to be exciting than truly great this year, but excitement can help win you a fantasy championship.
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Gridiron Digest wanted some advice for setting up our draft board, so we hit up FootballGuys.com co-owner Sigmund Bloom to walk us through the first two rounds, the running back tiers and just why all the cool kids wait so long to draft a quarterback.
Gridiron Digest: What’s the first question I need to answer before I sit down at my draft?
Sigmund Bloom:You should ask whether you want to take Todd Gurley in the second round, knowing what we know and don’t know. And if not, are you looking for Darrell Henderson in the sixth round as a potential league winner if Gurley’s knee is never right again?
Digest: After that, what should my approach be?
Bloom:The first four picks in almost every league are going to be Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara in some order.
If you draw a pick late in the first round, that’s when your opinions about player values and teams come in. You may go for Travis Kelce in the first round. You may go with your top receiver. You may also look at David Johnson or Joe Mixon, but you may have to take a stand at that point.
The question of Patrick Mahomes comes down to your scoring, but in a basic league, you can wait on quarterbacks. And maybe Zach Ertz and George Kittle come into the mix in the second or third rounds as elite options other than Kelce.
Digest: Those are a lot of early-round tight ends.
Bloom:Every year, there are at most five to seven consistent tight ends. If you don’t get one of those, then some weeks you might start somebody who gets two catches for 15 yards. After the top three, there might be Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, maybe Hunter Henry. Then it’s all aspirational: You’re hoping for a geriatric guy to stay healthy or some young guy to break out. Most of those kinds of picks end up disappointing when the dust settles.
Digest: What running backs deserve to go in the top two or three rounds, besides the ones you mentioned?
Bloom:Le’Veon Bell deserves consideration. There’s the question of what to do about Melvin Gordon. Nick Chubb is there in the second round. There are people worried about what Kareem Hunt’s return from suspension after eight games will mean, but I’m not as worried.
When you get to the third round, you get a lot of running backs who could produce like first rounders, “if.” Devonta Freeman if he stays healthy. Kerryon Johnson, Aaron Jones or Derrick Henry if their teams feed them. Even Josh Jacobs wouldn’t be a surprise.
You can get away with starting the draft by picking wide receiver-wide receiver if you hit with those picks.
Digest: But that receiver-receiver strategy in the first two rounds is risky.
Bloom:It is. But say you are picking around the turn in the first round. If you take Michael Thomas and Julio Jones, or Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins, you’re doing great, because you know exactly what you have. But if you take Le’Veon Bell and James Conner, you don’t quite know what you have. You’re trading position scarcity at running back for the certainty you get with wide receivers. Then if you can dial in running backs later that can perform like first rounders, that’s almost an unfair advantage.
Digest: If I don’t target a wide receiver early, what should my strategy be at that position?
Bloom: There’s persistence of value at receiver through the third round or so. And then, wide receiver is all about players you think are going to take the next step this year. Chris Godwin, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel. Marcus Valdes-Scantling. Christian Kirk. Some of these guys are in new situations, so it’s going to take some imagination, but they could be at the intersections of perfect storms.
Digest: That leaves quarterback until the fifth, sixth or seventh round.
Bloom:Or later. Some drafts are more quarterback happy. But in our so-called expert leagues, we like to see who can wait the longest before taking a quarterback.
Because rushing stats are weighted so highly in most fantasy leagues, guys like Mitchell Trubisky, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson can make it unfair, and these guys are going outside of the top 12 or 15 quarterbacks in most drafts. Even Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger are falling to 12 through 15 . If the punishment for not taking a quarterback until everyone has one is “oh no, now you have to start Philip Rivers,” that’s not much of a punishment.
Digest: When speculating about a young receiver or an injured/holdout running back, how do you avoid analysis paralysis?
Bloom:You can talk yourself into or out of anybody. You can tell yourself the story of how Todd Gurley is going to win your league as a second-round pick, or you can tell the story that Malcom Brown or Darrell Henderson is going to win your league for you in a later round. So maybe the best thing to do in a fantasy draft is to look at that list of names, find the ones that make your heart flutter when you see them, and just take those guys.
Digest: When I do that, I wind up with four tight ends.
Bloom:There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone likes a good tight end.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Let’s get real: There’s no such thing as a “sleeper” anymore in a world where you can crowdsource five billion fantasy drafts on your smartphone 10 minutes before you sit down at the table. But Gridiron Digest has visited a few camps, watched gobs of preseason games and tracked some of the following players since they were in college, so we can help you sift through the speculator’s market in the middle rounds.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins: Ballage is stuck in a miserable offense and is expected to split time with Kenyan Drake. But Drake has spent the preseason in a walking boot and is a dreadful pass protector with a history of ending up in the coach’s doghouse for whiffing on blocks. Ballage is big, quick, useful as a receiver and has gotten positive camp buzz. He has crept from the 13th round to the eighth on fantasy boards during the summer, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Nab him if he’s on the board around there and you need a high-upside RB3 or RB4.
Cole Beasley, WR, Bills: A 30-year-old slot receiver on a new team? Total brother-in-law pick, right? Beasley is only valuable in PPR leagues, where he’s hovering around the 14th round. He has emerged in camp and the preseason as Josh Allen’s checkdown security blanket, which should result in lots of targets and yards-after-catch opportunities. Beasley’s ceiling is low, but 65-75 catches could stabilize your lineup if you went the “Zero WR” route.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Someone besides Saquon Barkley will get touches, no matter how bad the Giants offense is. Engram has Travis Kelce-level talent and has looked phenomenal in Giants OTAs and practices. He was targeted 115 times as a rookie in 2017 and should see even more opportunities now that he’s the best receiver on the roster, not counting the running back.
Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers: A former draftnik darling and perennial breakout candidate, Godwin scored seven touchdowns last year and should see more targets with DeSean Jackson and Adam Beasley gone. But beware: Godwin was leaving the board in the fourth round before his big preseason performance this weekend. Don’t overpay for the No. 2 receiver on a bad team.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: Golladay is listed on lots of breakout lists, but if you need incentive to take the plunge, check out these Football Outsiders breakdowns by Bryan Knowles of receiver efficiency by route. Golladay led the league last year in efficiency on out routes and drag routes while finishing third on fly routes. Anyone that good at working inside, outside and deep is due for massive production.
Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, RBs, Ravens: Hill was a productive no-nonsense runner at Oklahoma State who had a great camp and a strong preseason. He’s worth a last-round look and should be a waiver watch/DFS bargain if he finds his way into the running back rotation. He’s worth more in keeper leagues. Keep an eye on Gus Edwards as a last-rounder in non-PPR leagues or on the DFS discount rack. The Ravens used him as the fullback in some triple-option flavored plays, which could mean goal-line carries and a few leeched touchdowns.
DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, WRs, Panthers: Both are former draftnik favorites with exceptional run-after-catch elusiveness. Either could become Cam Newton’s go-to target. And don’t underestimate the Norv Turner factor: Despite the Panthers offensive coordinator’s many shortcomings, he’s great at developing wide receivers (ever wonder how Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs became two of the NFL’s best route-runners?). Samuel is slipping further than Moore in most leagues, which may make him a better value.
Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles: Sanders, a second-round pick, may be overvalued at this point; he has climbed from the mid-seventh round to early fifth over the last few weeks. Sanders has been the best running back at Eagles practices and has gotten long looks in preseason games, but he’s guaranteed a committee role with Jordan Howard and (when healthy) Darren Sproles. He’s a high-priority keeper-league acquisition, but a low ceiling for 2019 makes him a risky RB3 or RB4.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: Another third-year breakout candidate, Westbrook is Nick Foles’ favorite target in John DeFilippo’s offense, so he could produce Nelson Agholor’s 2017 numbers (62 catches, 768 yards, eight touchdowns). That’s great for a WR3 or WR4; just make sure you don’t draft him as your WR2.
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We’ll admit it: The whole “daily fantasy” revolution passed Gridiron Digest by, so we asked DraftKings daily fantasy expert Pat Mayo to get us up to speed in time for the Fantasy Football Millionaire tournament in Week 1 and other DFS contests.
Gridiron Digest: What can someone who plans to play a lot of DFS do in late August to get ready for the NFL season?
Pat Mayo:You can review last year by checking out our columns by Adam Levitan on DraftKings about how the big-money winners did it. Some of them played 50 lineups, but other times it’s someone who only played one lineup.
And of course, some folks are playing preseason fantasy football right now. Acclimating yourself to the different rules and strategies before the season starts will give you a huge leg up.
Digest: So knowing what type of contests you plan to play is as important as picking the best players?
Mayo:It’s not just tournament styles. You can play in a tournament like Fantasy Football Millionaire where only the first prize wins a million dollars. But there are lots of other tournaments, like 50-50 contests where you win if you beat half of the opponents. The strategy for beating 200,000 other people for a million dollars is much different than the strategy for just beating 50 percent of the other competitors.
Digest: It sounds like you have to be able to identify super-sleepers every week to win the big tournaments, whereas you can be more traditional in something like a 50-50.
Mayo:It’s usually the low-own players that make the difference. You play more of a balanced roster inside your salary cap in a cash game: guys with high floors. It’s less volatile. Not that you don’t want to target some low-own guys: You want to make your team a little bit different.
Say there’s a week where there are no injuries at running back. Maybe you roll the dice by paying down at running back and spend on someone like Travis Kelce because you know that everyone else is paying so much for both their running backs that they have no money at tight end. Then you hit if that happens.
Digest: Week 1 player values were posted on DraftKings weeks ago. Is it really wise for someone to put together a Week 1 lineup so early?
Mayo:I have a few Week 1 lineups already. You want to reserve your spot in some of the big contests. But the most important decisions have to be made on Sunday morning.
You can always amend your lineups up until the games. So you can make a dummy lineup that you like at the moment, but it’s subject to change when you change your mind.
Digest: It sounds like a DFS novice like me might need to combine some wagering experience with the old-school August-draft-at-the-bar fantasy knowledge.
Mayo:One of the best ways to generate points is to examine the odds of games. Look at the over-unders and determine what game is projected to score the most points.
In Week 1, it’s the Chiefs versus the Jaguars. Everyone is going to have a lot of Chiefs players, because they score a lot of points. But very few people will have a lot of Jaguars players. If you wanted to construct a lineup with Nick Foles, Leonard Fournette and Dede Westbrook, or even someone like Geoff Swaim, the cheapest tight end on the board, you can build a stack that way, then add Tyreek Hill and fill the rest of your lineup from other games.
Digest: Those are lots of variables to consider. What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give a longtime NFL fan dipping a toe into DFS for the first time?
Mayo:Just go with the team that you want to play. If you’re throwing a $20 entry into Fantasy Millionaire, pick the nine guys you want to play with, for entertainment value. We see single bullets win all the time.
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David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Football Outsiders’ KUBIAK fantasy projection tools have been helping folks win their leagues for well over a decade. And while running backs and receivers get all the fantasy attention, the right choice at quarterback can make or break your season. So Gridiron Digest asked FO assistant editor Vince Verhei, author of a pair of recent articles about overrated and underrated fantasy players, to help us sort through this year’s quarterbacks.
Gridiron Digest: The KUBIAK projection system ranks Tom Brady among the most overrated fantasy quarterbacks. Explain yourself, or else.
Vince Verhei:Brady is in uncharted waters. There has never been a quarterback as old as Tom Brady is right now who has had what you could call a “good” year. In the history of the NFL, there have been a total of 38 touchdowns thrown by players aged 42 or older, and the single-season record is 11, by Warren Moon. As soon as Brady throws 11 touchdowns—before Halloween, probably—he will set an all-time record for players his age.
He also lost Rob Gronkowski, a one-of-a-kind touchdown scoring machine. Now, since the overrated article was written, Josh Gordon was reinstated, so Brady has his physical freak back. Per our projections, the gap has narrowed somewhat, but he’s still ranked about nine spots higher on the ESPN list than our list.
Digest: And yet, the system ranks Ben Roethlisberger as underrated, despite the loss of Antonio Brown.
Verhei:Roethlisberger has made the Football Outsiders list of underrated fantasy quarterbacks five times in the last nine years. He does have a checkered past, and there are a lot of fantasy players who may not want to cheer for him every Sunday, so they pick the next quarterback down the list. He also gets hurt a lot and misses some games, but he was healthy last year, and he was third in fantasy scoring.
And yes, he has lost his top receiver over the past half decade. But the Steelers do have guys in the pipeline. Frankly, as good as Brown was, he was never as big a piece of the fantasy pie as Gronk was in New England.
Digest: Jared Goff is listed as underrated. Why do you think the public is sleeping on him?
Verhei:We think a lot of people are overreacting to the Super Bowl and his late-season slump. That slump coincided with Cooper Kupp being sidelined. With Kupp healthy again, the Rams will play more like what we saw over the greater part of the last two years.
Digest: Jameis Winston is also on the underrated list. Does the KUBIAK prediction assume that he will take a big leap forward under Bruce Arians?
Verhei:If you look at the games he started last year, he was a top-10 quarterback on a per-game basis. People are skeptical because he also has a checkered past, and at one point, he was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those are good reasons to be skeptical, but Fitzpatrick’s in Miami now. Winston is not going to be benched for Blaine Gabbert. It’s impossible. So he doesn’t have to improve at all. If he plays as good as last year for 16 games, he’s a fantasy starter.
Digest: Why is Russell Wilson overrated? What’s not to love?
Verhei:Wilson, like Brady, has lost his best receiver for many years when Doug Baldwin retired. DK Metcalf has already needed surgery. And everyone expects Seattle to pass more than they did last year—they can’t pass any less, right?—but how much more? KUBIAK is a little reluctant to increase their pass attempts by that much.
Brady, Wilson and Drew Brees (who also made the “overrated” list) are all Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. There are a lot of fantasy players who put too much stock in hardware. Just because a guy won a Super Bowl—or six—doesn’t mean he’s going to help you win your fantasy league this fall.
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Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The third week of the preseason used to be the “Dress Rehearsal” week, when starters played until halftime and fans got a real sense of what each team would look like in the upcoming season. These days, some teams still give their starters real playing time, but others bench everyone, and a few play their games on 90-yard patches of lumpy Canadian tundra.
It’s nearly impossible to take anything meaningful away from a hodgepodge where Tom Brady is starting in one game and someone named Tim Boyle is starting another, but over the next two segments, Gridiron Digest will do its best with quarterback overreactions, good-and-bad injury news and some late-round rookies who are opening eyes.
Redskins 19, Falcons 7: Derrius Guice looked good in his first live action since tearing his ACL last August, rushing 11 times for 44 yards behind the offensive line the Skins unironically consider their starting unit. A healthy Guice could make the difference between Washington finishing 5-11 and finishing 5-11 with better rushing stats. … Linebacker Jermaine Grace has been the star of the Falcons preseason. He broke up a pass at the goal line Thursday, recorded an interception against the Dolphins and has generally been all over the field. Grace has been a knockaround practice-squader after getting dismissed from the University of Miami for an alleged memorabilia-for-luxury-car-rentals scam. Grace should make the Falcons’ 53-man roster; given their past injury misfortune, he’ll be starting by Week 12.
Dolphins 22, Jaguars 7: Nick Foles (6-of-10 for 48 yards with one touchdown and one interception) looked like a bottom-tier starter or top-tier backup, which is precisely what he has always been, save for a few hours in February 2018. Why yes, Jaguars, you did guarantee him over $50 million. Enjoy! Meanwhile, Josh Rosen looked good with the second- and third-stringers, which is what he had to work with all last season in Arizona. Brian Flores admits he now has a complicated quarterback decision: Does he start Rosen behind a balsa wood offensive line so the second-year quarterback looks like an all-time bust, or bench him for stunt double Ryan Fitzpatrick, which will make him look like an all-time bust? Decisions, decisions. … Jaguars first-round edge-rusher Josh Allen and Dolphins first-round defensive lineman Christian Wilkins are both going to be nightmares to block.
Giants 25, Bengals 23: Let’s let the Daniel Jones saga simmer for a moment. Third-round edge-rusher Oshane Ximines had a pair of sacks Thursday night. Defensive back Corey Ballentine, the sixth-round pick who was shot and wounded on draft weekend, had another excellent preseason effort. Factor Jones in and maybe, just maybe, general manager Dave Gettleman isn’t quite the laughing stock folks made him out to be over the past two years?
Patriots 10, Panthers 3: Brian Burns had his second two-sack game of the preseason. Panthers fans who don’t want to be depressed may want to focus on Burns and not the fact that Cam Newton sprained his foot behind an offensive line that, despite the additions of Matt Paradis and Greg Little, somehow appears to be getting worse.
Ravens 26, Eagles 15: Eagles rookie receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was the highlight of an excruciatingly dull game, with eight catches for 104 yards, a touchdown and several away-from-the-body grabs. Look for the Eagles to keep six receivers this season: Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Arcega-Whitside, camp standout Greg Ward Jr. and (if healthy) special teams ace Mack Hollins. … Also, the Ravens have now won 16 straight preseason games. They’re the 2007 Patriots of things that don’t matter.
Buccaneers 13, Browns 12: Jameis Winston was sacked five times in the first half by Olivier Vernon and others in starter-on-starter action. So is the Browns pass rush that great, or is the Bucs offensive line that terrible? The short answer: yes.
Bills 24, Lions 20: The Bills got a break when a serious-looking injury to cornerback Tre’Davious White turned out to be a quad contusion. The Lions got a break when a serious-looking injury to center Frank Ragnow turned out to be an ankle sprain. Otherwise, this game was a tedious succession of mistakes, injuries and penalties, which is about what you would expect from a regular-season Bills-Lions game, so maybe it really was a dress rehearsal.
Raiders 22, Packers 21: Even Pop Warner kids deserve to play on a field with no sinkholes in the end zones. This game should never have been played. And if Jon Gruden really thinks the field was fine, then he deserves a wide receiver who wants to take his helmet choices all the way to the Supreme Court.
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Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
If we were forced to watch all of these games, you are forced to read about them. Those are the rules, folks.
Cowboys 34, Texans 0: Lamar Miller’s ACL injury leaves newly acquired Duke Johnson, 31-year-old practice squad MVP Taiwan Jones and a bunch of guys even more obscure than Taiwan Jones as the Texans running backs. The team will do something about it as soon as its general managers play rock-paper-scissors to determine whose responsibility it is. Also, while preseason results are meaningless, a 34-point loss in the dress rehearsal should tell us something about the Cowboys or the Texans. Probably the Texans.
Rams 10, Broncos 6: Rams seventh-round pick Dakota Allen has 17 total tackles in the preseason and may challenge for the starting middle linebacker role while Micah Kiser is sidelined with a pectoral injury. Journeyman special teamer Bryce Hager is currently the starter, but Allen—who bounced from Texas Tech to East Mississippi Community College (akaLast Chance U) and back during a checkered college career, has both the athleticism and instincts to push for playing time.
49ers 27, Chiefs 17: Jimmy Garoppolo rebounded from a miserable first series—he missed several routine short passes—to drop a few deep teardrops and lead three scoring drives against (mostly) Chiefs starters. Maybe Garoppolo is turning the corner on a very worrisome summer. And maybe it’s a bad sign that we are still riding a preseason roller coaster with a quarterback entering his sixth NFL season.
Steelers 18, Titans 6: Second-year Steelers receiver James Washington caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to go with his 40- and 43-yard receptions in the two previous preseason games. Look for Washington and veteran Donte Moncrief to split up most of the targets that used to go to Antonio Brown. … The Titans starters looked overmatched on both sides of the ball, as they did against the Cowboys. Maybe we shouldn’t bury the Colts just yet.
Saints 28, Jets 13: Deonte Harris, a 5’6″ undrafted rookie out of Assumption College, may have pulled away from a crowded field for the Saints’ fifth receiver/return specialist spot with a 78-yard punt return touchdown and a 17-yard sideline grab Saturday. Harris also had a 26-yard punt return against the Chargers and some impressive kickoff returns. Want to see Harris’ college highlights, played on fields surrounded by suburban backyards? Gridiron Digest (and Draft Diamonds) have got you covered.
Bears 27, Colts 17: This may have been the most meaningless preseason game in history: One team’s starting quarterback retired, the other team steadfastly refuses to play any starters, and the whole second half felt like trying to make small-talk at a cocktail party after the host and hostess announced their divorce.
Seahawks 23, Chargers 15: Seahawks fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi had another strong game: six tackles, one of them for a loss, plus a quarterback hit. Amadi, who made the highlight reel last week as a punt gunner, won the NCAA’s Lombardi Award for leadership last year and got off-the-scale marks for effort and intangibles at Oregon. The Seahawks need someone like him in their rebuilt Legion of Whom secondary.
Vikings 20, Cardinals 9:Back in my high school teaching days, many school dress codes forbade flip-flops for some reason. Once per year, some administrator would decide to enforce the ban, and suddenly half the faculty had flip-flops on the brain: Teachers began handing out detentions for footwear, getting into heated philosophical arguments about heel straps, allowing A-plus student to slide while nailing the D-minus kid for exactly the same footwear. Point being: The Cardinals’ hand-clap false starts are the NFL officiating version of flip-flop mania. The referees are now scrutinizing gestures they have ignored for years simply because the hand-clap has gotten their attention, and they are not enforcing the rule uniformly because they now associate it with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, and also because the rule is poorly thought out and makes no sense. High school flip-flop mania always ended when everyone got busy and went back to ignoring the dress code and most other rules entirely, so NFL officials will be back to ignoring hand claps and being uncertain about what constitutes pass interference in no time. … (Also: That Dalvin Cook touchdown sure was something, wasn’t it?)
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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
We wrap up this week by asking the Point-Counterpoint guys their fantasy opinions, because that sounded like a good idea when we came up with it.
Is fantasy football ruining football for “real” fans?
Point:Heavens, no. True fandom these days means leaving 10 DFS lineups for your PPR and IDP leagues, all based on the ECR for maximum ROI, then playing Apex Legends all day Sunday while keeping track of point totals on your phone, just like George Halas intended.
Counterpoint:I don’t even know what language you are speaking! Real fans engage with football the old-fashioned way: by laying 40 points for Arkansas to cover against East Wesleyan Medical College in a untelevised 11 a.m. kickoff and waiting to read the results in the Sunday newspaper.
What are your draft strategies for Antonio Brown?
Point:I selected him first overall because my league awards big bonus points for moments of self-actualization. I ran away with the championship with Le’Veon Bell last year.
Counterpoint:I plan to start him for the first three weeks, when Jon Gruden will order Derek Carr to target him 20 times per game to keep him content and spitefully “prove” that there’s no tension. Then I will cut him the day before he files a class-action suit for the right to wear fuzzy bunny slippers for My Cause, My Cleats.
What is your policy on handcuff backs like Tony Pollard, Darrell Henderson and Austin Ekeler?
Point:I drafted all of them. My entire lineup is built out of handcuffs and sleepers. Also, my entire retirement fund is invested in ultra-rare Yu Gi Oh cards.
Counterpoint:I drafted Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon 1-2-3. Ride or die with the big guys! I also still keep Barry Sanders on the back of my bench. We’ll see who has the last laugh when he unretires. Oh, and my Week 1 starting running backs are Nick Brossette and Zach Zenner.
Do your leagues have any embarrassing rules for the player who finishes in last place?
Point:Of course not! Everyone in our league gets a participation trophy, and I throw a party in January where we sit around in a circle and everyone says one thing that they liked best about everyone else’s team. It’s a fabulous self-esteem building exercise, though everyone turns out to be strangely busy that weekend.
Counterpoint:Yes. It involves jumper cables, a kiddie pool and several notarized liability waivers.
Finally, and we really dread asking you two this question: What are your thoughts on Andrew Luck’s retirement?
Point:The NFL has a unique culture, and not everyone fits in. Scouts and general managers need to gate-keep by asking incoming prospects the right questions. Do you have interests besides football, hunting and fishing? Did you like math in high school? Have you ever voluntarily read a book that wasn’t about a football player, spy or cowboy? Have you ever rolled a 20-sided die? A player who answers “yes” to any of these questions needs to immediately get scratched off the draft board. This will ensure the highest-possible caliber of NFL product.
Counterpoint:Don’t worry, Luck will be back as soon as he gets tired of traveling the world with his beautiful young wife and realizes that it’s his duty to be pummeled for our entertainment.
NHL.com is supplying in-depth lineup, potential customers and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs might have as lots of as 11 new players in the lineup when they open the 2019-20 NHL season versus the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 2.
Following an offseason of roster turnover after being gotten rid of by the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Preliminary– the 3rd straight season the Maple Leafs were ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the preliminary– the key will be whether Toronto can come together quickly and leave to a strong start.
[Maple Leafs 31 IN 31:3 Questions|Top prospects|Behind the Numbers|Fantasy breakdown]
” Obviously, establishing chemistry is going to be a difficulty,” goalieFrederik Andersenstated, “but I believe most people in hockey are pretty easy to end up being buddies with, and I think that’s something we’ll have the ability to do pretty quickly. I don’t see that becoming the biggest issue at all. Undoubtedly, stating bye-bye to guys I was familiar with a lot the last few years is difficult, but that becomes part of how the organisation works.”
The most notable addition was defensemanTyson Barrie, acquired along with centerAlexander Kerfootin a trade from the Colorado Avalanche on July 1. The Maple Leafs are hoping the 28- year-old, who had 116 points (28 objectives, 88 assists) in 146 games over the previous 2 seasons, sixth amongst NHL defensemen because period, will strengthen their transition video game.
” We wish to be able to really get mobile, move the puck successfully, and pass the puck to our forwards,” basic manager Kyle Dubas stated, “and we have a defenseman now who can get up in the play and support it … and Barrie certainly is going to be a big, huge assistance for us in that regard.”
Video: Tyson Barrie joins Maple Leafs after a profession season
Toronto likewise acquired defensemanCody Ceciin a trade from the Ottawa Senators on July 1. The 25- year-old, who has 118 points (32 objectives, 86 helps) in 440 games through six NHL seasons, is expected to be on one of the Maple Leafs’ top two defense pairs.
Amongst the crucial gamers returning are centersAuston MatthewsandJohn Tavares, forwardWilliam Nylander, and defensemenMorgan RiellyandJake Muzzin
A huge cloud hanging over the offseason has actually been the status of restricted complimentary agent forwardMitchell MarnerDubas said he remains enthusiastic Marner will sign prior to the start of training camp Sept. 13, however the 22- year-old, whose 94 points (41 goals, 51 assists) led Toronto and were 11 th in the NHL, said he is not likely to come to camp without a brand-new agreement and has explored the possibility of training with Zurich of the National League in Switzerland.
Video: Morgan Rielly lands at No. 7 on the list
Another brand-new player is centerJason Spezza, who signed an one-year agreement July 1. The 36- year-old, who has 915 points (332 goals, 583 assists) in 1,065 video games in 16 NHL seasons, stated he is excited about the chance to play in his home town and is prepared to embrace a management role.
” You try to assist your teammates out, that’s always how I have actually been,” Spezza stated. “When I entered the League, there were lots of men who helped me out, so it’s a pay-it-forward thing for me. It produces a healthier environment when guys are working with each other and pushing each other.”
Spezza will try to help offset the loss of several key veterans, consisting of forwardsPatrick Marleau(whose contract was purchased out by the Carolina Hurricanes after being traded by Toronto on June 22),Connor Brown(sent to Ottawa with defensemanNikita Zaitsevin the Ceci trade) andNazem Kadri(sent out to Colorado in the Barrie trade). Also gone are forwardTyler Ennisand defensemanRon Hainsey, who each signed with Ottawa, and defensemanJake Gardiner, an unlimited free representative.
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Matthews
DefensemanTravis Dermott, who had 17 points (4 objectives, 13 assists) in 64 video games last season, is not anticipated to return up until early November after having shoulder surgery throughout the offseason. His lack could lead to a chance forRasmus Sandin, the No. 29 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, orTimothy Liljegren, the No. 17 choice in the 2017 NHL Draft.
” We’ve got a genuine good battle in the back end,” Dubas stated. “It’s going to be broad open at the start with some veterans we have actually signed into the organization and after that young gamers like Rasmus and Timothy, they’ll have the ability to challenge for those positions. We’ll provide every chance to make it.”
Listen:NHL Dream on Ice podcast
As part of NHL.com’s 31 in 31 series, the dream hockey staff identifies appropriate players from the Toronto Maple Leafs. For more fantasy protection, check outNHL.com/ Fantasyand subscribe for totally free to theNHL Dream on Icepodcast.
[Maple Leafs 31 IN 31:Season preview|3 Questions|Top prospects|Behind the Numbers]
MORE DREAM PROTECTION:Team previews|Top 250 ranks|Mock draft|Cheat sheet
Auston Matthews, C(NHL.com rank: 10)– The elite center had an NHL career-high 73 points (37 goals, 36 assists) regardless of missing 14 games. Matthews has actually been better than a point per video game in each of the previous 2 seasons but was also limited by injury in 2017-18(62 games). Matthews has a ceiling of 100 points if he stays healthy for a complete season, specifically with more even-strength exposure to bounce-back candidateWilliam Nylander
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Matthews
Mitchell Marner, RW(13)– The elite extreme right led the Maple Leafs with an NHL career-high 94 points (26 goals, 68 points) as a component on a line and power-play system with centerJohn TavaresMarner finished tied with defensemanMorgan Riellyfor the Toronto lead in power-play points (21) and is fourth amongst extreme rights in NHL.com’s rankings. It’s worth keeping in mind Marner lost dual-eligibility in Yahoo leagues (formerly C/RW) and is the top-ranked limited free representative.
John Tavares, C(23)– The elite center had NHL career highs in points (88) and goals (47; third in NHL) on a line with Marner and left wingZach Hyman; it was Tavares’ 4th season with more than 80 points (3 with New York Islanders). Tavares, among three Toronto gamers in NHL.com’s top 25 overall, must enhance his PPP total (19; NHL career-high 31 with Islanders in 2014-15) with exposure to offseason additionTyson Barrie
Video: 31 in 31: Toronto Maple Leafs 2019-20 season preview
Frederik Andersen, G(42)– The goalie has actually had at least 33 wins (36 last season), a.917 conserve portion and 60 starts in each of his 3 seasons with the Maple Leafs, making him among the most important fantasy workhorses. Toronto, who enabled the 8th most shots per game (331) last season, now has three fantasy-relevant defensemen (Barrie, Rielly,Jake Muzzin), which should assist Andersen’s cause. He’s sixth in NHL.com’s fantasy goalie rankings and one of the couple of candidates for 40 wins.
Tyson Barrie, D(55)– The elite defenseman ranks sixth at the position in points (116) and is tied for third in PPP (55) over the past 2 seasons combined. That said, he goes from being the clear power-play quarterback with the Colorado Avalanche to possibly splitting or sharing that function with Rielly after being traded to Toronto on July 1. Barrie, a potential 2020 unlimited totally free agent, is one spot ahead of Rielly in NHL.com’s defenseman and general rankings with a possibility to use PP1 with Matthews, Marner, Tavares and either Rielly or Nylander.
Morgan Rielly, D(56)– The defenseman could lose some worth with Barrie’s arrival but also has a possibility to fit together with his brand-new teammate at even strength and/or on PP1. The latter circumstance would provide Toronto 2 elite choices at the position, similar to what the San Jose Sharks have inErik KarlssonandBrent BurnsRielly, who ended up third amongst NHL defensemen in points (72) and led them in goals (20) last season, is a fringe top 50 general gamer and top 10 alternative at the position.
Video: Morgan Rielly lands at No. 7 on the list
William Nylander, C/RW(102)– The forward had a late start to last season because of a contract conflict and then a considerable dip in points-per-game average (0.50 in 54 video games) compared to his first two NHL seasons (0.75). Nylander skated mainly on the 3rd line with centerNazem Kadri(obtained by Avalanche in Barrie trade), taking a hit in fantasy worth playing away from Matthews. If Matthews has a full-fledged breakout, Nylander might be along for the trip and have his finest season yet with 70-75 points.
Other gamers to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Jake Muzzin, D (161);Andreas Johnsson, LW/RW (195);Kasperi Kapanen, RW (230);Alexander Kerfoot, LW/RW
Listen:NHL Dream on Ice podcast
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Bill Feig/Associated Press
With three weeks of NFL preseason action wrapped up, we’re starting to get a better idea of what NFL teams will look like in 2019. There are still some major question marks, to be sure (where the heck are Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott?), but with final roster cuts looming August 31, many of the biggest questions have been answered.
This is great news for fantasy enthusiasts fortunate enough to be drafting late in the preseason. You now have information that wasn’t available a few short weeks ago. For example, Saturday night brought the surprise retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and news that Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller had likely torn his ACL.
Yes, life comes at you fast.
How have these developments changed the fantasy landscape since our last full fantasy mock? Let’s take a look.
Once again, you’ll find a complete 16-round mock based on the average draft positions (ADP) from a series of eight draft simulations run on FantasyPros. We’re using points-per-reception (PPR) scoring and drafting teams comprised of a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker, a defense/special teams, a flex (WR/TE/RB) and six bench slots.
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Giants RB Saquon BarkleyAssociated Press
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
5. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
7. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
8. Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets
9. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
11. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
12. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Draft simulations are still pumping out the usual suspects in Round 1. Every-down backs like Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey still top the pick order, and elite receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones are still in the mix.
The biggest change from the last rendering of simulations is that Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson consistently fell out of the first round. This is likely a reflection of Johnson’s subpar performances over the first two weeks of the preseason—he averaged just 1.7 yards per carry.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has dropped a couple of spots, but it does feel like he and the Cowboys will reach an agreement sooner than later. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Dallas has offered a contract that would make Elliott the second-highest-paid running back in the league.
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Cardinals RB David JohnsonAssociated Press
1. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
3. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
5. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
6. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
8. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
9. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
10. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
11. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
12. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
While Johnson’s slow start to the preseason is cause for concern, he may prove to be a valuable pick at the top of Round 2. He’s still an every-down back—precisely the type of player you want to target here—and he could be in store for quite the workload in 2019.
“He’s going to be [Kyler] Murray’s sidecar an awful lot,” Peter King of NBC Sports wrote. “… Keep in mind that [Kliff] Kingsbury’s last team for a full season at [Texas] Techaveraged35 rushes a game. Johnson will not go hungry, in the running or passing game.”
In fantasy, a heavy workload can be even more valuable than big-play potential. Even if you’re not enamored with a guy like Johnson or Minnesota Vikings back Dalvin Cook, they’re worth a pick here if you believe they will see 20-30 touches per game.
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49ers TE George KittleAssociated Press
1. Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
4. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
5. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
7. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
8. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
10. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
11. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
12. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
You should have at least one premier pass-catcher and one running back by the end of Round 3. There’s nothing wrong with doubling up on receivers or backs in the first two rounds. However, grabbing three pass-catchers or three running backs in a row can leave you severely lacking at an important position later on.
This is especially true if your initial pick comes early in the order. If you hold the first pick in the third round, you’re going to have the last pick in Round 4. That makes for a long wait without either a runner or a receiver on your roster.
When targeting pass-catchers, view elite tight ends Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz as you would a No. 1 receiver. They basically fill that role in their respective offenses, and production is far more important than position early in the draft.
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Texans QB Deshaun WatsonAssociated Press
1. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
2. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
3. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
4. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
5. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
6. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
8. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
9. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
10. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
11. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
If you didn’t jump all over Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes earlier in the draft, you can start considering signal-callers in Round 4. Passers like Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers are still elite and do not represent a huge step down from Mahomes anyway.
If there hasn’t been a run on quarterbacks to this point, however, it’s often better to continue waiting on the position. There are still starting running backs like Marlon Mack and Josh Jacobs available here, along with No. 1 receivers like Kenny Golladay and Tyler Lockett.
If you’re not going with a quarterback early, you should try to land two running backs and two pass-catchers by the end of the fourth round.
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Eagles RB Miles SandersAssociated Press
1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
2. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
3. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
4. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
6. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
7. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
8. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
9. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
10. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
11. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
12. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
The fifth round is where you want to start taking fliers on players considered to be sleepers. Sure, you may be able to land a sleeper pick a round or two later, but waiting could easily cause you to miss the mark.
Eagles running back Miles Sanders is a player you don’t want to miss out on. While Philadelphia drafted him in the second round to be its future at the position, Sanders should be in line for a heavy workload right from the start.
Sanders will likely split time with the likes of Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and Josh Adams. With his burst and vision, however, it will be difficult to justify keeping Sanders off the field.
“Forget the future,” Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote. “The Eagles need to play Miles Sanders a ton this year.”
Another sleeper to target here is Cincinnati Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd. While Boyd isn’t a sleeper in the traditional sense—he had a 1,000-yard season last year—he could blow up in a big way. With No. 1 wideout A.J. Green expected to miss regular-season games, Boyd should be Cincinnati’s top target early in 2019.
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Chargers WR Mike WilliamsAssociated Press
1. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
2. Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans
3. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
4. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
5. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
6. Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
8. Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens
9. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
10. Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
11. Josh Gordon, WR, New England Patriots
12. Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers
You should continue your sleeper watch in Round 6, where several potential No. 1 receivers are lurking. Corey Davis already has that role with the Tennessee Titans. Sterling Shepard is expected to fill it for the New York Giants. While Keenan Allen is still the top target for the Los Angeles Chargers, 2017 first-round pick Mike Williams could be headed toward taking the mantle.
This is a great place to gamble on New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon, too. Gordon has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL and could quickly become Tom Brady’s top target.
“He was just scratching the surface when he stepped away late last year,” NFL Network’s Nate Burleson said onGood Morning Football.“… Josh has the ability to make this the most dangerous group of targets Brady has ever had.”
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Saints TE Jared CookAssociated Press
1. Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Tevin Coleman, RB, San Francisco 49ers
3. Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
4. Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
5. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
6. Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints
7. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
9. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
10. Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
11. James White, RB, New England Patriots
12. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
If you didn’t land a premier tight end at the top of the draft, Round 7 is where you should start considering taking one. Several quality second-tier options, like Jared Cook and Vance McDonald, should be available here.
The same is true at the quarterback spot. You’re likely still looking at the second tier of signal-callers in Round 7, and you can definitely grab a high-end starter here. If you did take a tight end and a quarterback already, it’s time to focus on filling your flex slot and bench.
Keep an eye out for high-end complementary backs here, and value their roles based on your scoring format. If you’re in a standard league, a hard runner like Sony Michel is going to be the smart choice. If you’re playing PPR, a receiving back like James White becomes the smart pickup.
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Bears LB Khalil MackAssociated Press
1. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
2. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos
3. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers
4. Chicago Bears D/ST
5. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
6. Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Houston Texans
7. Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers
8. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
9. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
10. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
11. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
12. Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
It’s not advisable to take a defense in the top half of your fantasy draft. If you insist on reaching for a D/ST, though, the Chicago Bears are the team to target. Chicago allowed a league-low 17.7 points per game while also racking up 50 sacks and 27 interceptions.
You’re still in prime position to grab a quality signal-caller here, so if you haven’t taken a quarterback yet, go ahead and grab Russell Wilson.
Wilson is a tremendous choice in any league that awards points for quarterback rushing yards. He’s also a quality signal-caller in leagues that heavily weight touchdown passes, as he had 35 of them last season. If you’re looking for a reliable signal-caller regardless of format, you could do much worse than Wilson.
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Steelers WR James WashingtonJustin K. Aller/Getty Images
1. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Latavius Murray, RB, New Orleans Saints
3. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
4. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
5. Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers
7. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos
8. Donte Moncrief, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Golden Tate, WR, New York Giants
10. Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
11. Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans
12. N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
You should be working on your bench by Round 9, but don’t take just any player here. Look for players who could break out at some point in 2019. That point doesn’t have to come early, though. A midseason breakout is perfect timing for a fantasy playoff push.
Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James Washington is just the player. He’s been incredible so far this preseason—he’s averaged a whopping 20.3 yards per reception through two games—and could be headed toward the No. 2 receiver job in Pittsburgh.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny is another breakout candidate. The 2018 first-round pick will start the season behind Chris Carson on the depth chart, but he could see more playing time as the season progresses.
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Raiders WR Tyrell WilliamsEric Risberg/Associated Press
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
2. Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears
3. Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
4. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
5. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
6. Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans
7. Tyrell Williams, WR, Oakland Raiders
8. Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
10. Devin Funchess, WR, Indianapolis Colts
11. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
12. Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns
Keep throwing darts at potential breakout players in Round 10. There’s nothing wrong with nabbing an established receiver like DeSean Jackson, but players with upside like DK Metcalf and Tyrell Williams have more potential to become legitimate fantasy stars.
Metcalf has the skill set of a future No. 1 receiver, while Williams—who racked up 653 yards and five scores in 2018—is in line for a bigger role as the Oakland Raiders’ No. 2 wideout.
“He’s very underrated, but he can do it all,” Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley said of Williams, per Matt Kawahara of theSan Francisco Chronicle.
Oh, and if you still haven’t taken a quarterback, go ahead and pull the trigger on Baltimore Ravens signal-caller Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens have been working to refine Jackson as a passer this offseason. However, he’s proved during the preseason that he’s still more than capable of producing electrifying plays with his legs.
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Browns TE David NjokuAssociated Press
1. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
2. John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills
3. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
4. Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST
5. David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
6. Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
7. Los Angeles Rams D/ST
8. Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins
10. Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins
11. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
12. Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
If you haven’t drafted a tight end yet, now is a great time to do so. Guys like David Njoku, Austin Hooper and Delanie Walker may still be available in Round 11, and they’re players residing in that vast second tier of fantasy tight ends.
Don’t draft two tight ends just because there’s still value at the position, though. The tight end spot isn’t important enough to warrant keeping a backup, and tight ends do not belong in your flex. The exception here is if you drafted an elite tight end in the first couple of rounds and want to have a little insurance.
Otherwise, draft your starting tight end, stick with him, and use the waiver wire for the bye week.
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Colts WR Parris CampbellAssociated Press
1. Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Adam Humphries, WR, Tennessee Titans
3. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
4. Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
5. Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts
6. Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
7. Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
8. Carlos Hyde, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
9. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons
10. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
11. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
12. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Round 12 is the perfect place to start targeting rookies who don’t already appear headed for a No. 1 role. Indianapolis Colts wideout Parris Campbell, for example, could emerge as a big-play threat later in the season and, therefore, has sleeper value.
Likewise, Patriots running back Damien Harris has the potential to break out as a member of New England’s backfield committee. Neither is likely to be worth a start early in the season, so these are flier picks. This is the point in the draft where you can and should gamble on fliers, though.
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Rams QB Jared GoffAssociated Press
1. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
2. Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears
3. Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
4. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
5. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
6. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
7. Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
8. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
9. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
10. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
11. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
12. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Players who consistently came up in Round 13 indicate precisely why it’s silly to reach for a tight end or a quarterback in the early rounds of your fantasy draft.
While players like Kyle Rudolph and T.J. Hockenson aren’t likely to match the production of elite tight ends Ertz, Kittle and Kelce, they are starting-caliber players for the position.
Likewise, quarterbacks Jared Goff and Philip Rivers aren’t considered among the fantasy elite. However, they are signal-callers you can start and feel good about each and every week.
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Chiefs RB Darwin ThompsonAssociated Press
1. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
2. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
3. Baltimore Ravens D/ST
4. Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
5. Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens
6. Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
7. Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
8. Hakeem Butler, WR, Arizona Cardinals
9. Buffalo Bills D/ST
10. Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
11. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
12. Minnesota Vikings D/ST
Let’s be clear. If a running back like Justin Jackson, Darwin Thompson or Justice Hill is sitting there in Round 14, you need to pull the trigger. While these players are considered sleepers, they seem to be moving up their respective depth charts during the preseason.
Thompson, in particular, appears to be headed for a significant role regardless of his team’s situation. According to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, Thompson has already claimed the No. 2 job in Kansas City and has split time with Damien Williams in the first-team offense in practices.
Jackson, meanwhile, looks set to be a big piece of the Chargers’ rushing attack for as long as Gordon stays away from the team. Justice Hill’s future is a little murkier, but he could emerge as Baltimore’s speedy complement to Mark Ingram.
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Texans DE J.J. WattAssociated Press
1. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
2. Houston Texans D/ST
3. Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
4. Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers
5. Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons
6. Cleveland Browns D/ST
7. Los Angeles Chargers D/ST
8. Greg Zuerlein, K, Los Angeles Rams
9. Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens
10. Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys
11. Indianapolis Colts D/ST
12. Denver Broncos D/ST
There’s nothing wrong with reaching a bit for an elite defense. If you haven’t done so before the second-to-last round, however, fill your D/ST slot here.
Under no circumstances should you draft a kicker before your defense. A weak defense is a bigger fantasy liability and much harder to replace via the waiver wire.
Don’t draft two defenses, either. If you’ve landed a good one, you’re only going to need a fill-in for a single week. You should be able to find a reasonable one-week option based on matchups alone. Look for the worst offenses playing during your D/ST bye, and scoop up a defense playing against one of them.
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Saints K Will LutzAssociated Press
1. Will Lutz, K, New Orleans Saints
2. Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
4. New England Patriots D/ST
5. Ka’imi Fairbairn, K, Houston Texans
6. Jake Elliott, K, Philadelphia Eagles
7. Robbie Gould, K, San Francisco 49ers
8. Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers
9. Matt Prater, K, Detroit Lions
10. Brett Maher, K, Dallas Cowboys
11. Matt Gay, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis Colts
The final round is almost always where you should take your kicker. The only exception to this rule is when you’re picking at the bottom of the second-to-last round and will, therefore, pick early here. It can be worth leapfrogging a couple of other managers to get the kicker you want in that scenario because you’ll still have one last pick to use on a potential sleeper.
Otherwise, wait until your last pick to grab a specialist. These are the least valuable players on your roster, and they’re the easiest to replace via the waiver wire.
NHL.com is offering extensive roster, prospect and dream analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, with among the most talented rosters in the NHL, are again among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup however will need to get better from a significant disappointment.
The Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference Preliminary after winning the Presidents’ Prize with an NHL-record-tying 62 regular-season wins (1995-96 Detroit Red Wings) and leading the NHL with 319 objectives, 30 more than the second-ranked San Jose Sharks.
[Lightning 31 IN 31: 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]
Tampa Bay reached the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in 2016 and 2018 however has not won the Cup since 2004.
” We have the structure in place to be effective,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said in April. “We have actually had some truly good playoff runs in the past. We had an actually good routine season and it didn’t equate into playoff success.”
The Lightning have actually not re-signed restricted totally free representative centerBrayden PointTheir lineup will be a bit different this season after trading forwardJ.T. Millerto the Vancouver Canucks for multiple draft selects June 22, and signing defensemanKevin Shattenkirkto an one-year contract Aug. 5, four days after the final 2 seasons of his four-year contract were bought out by the New York Rangers, and forward Pat Maroon to a 1 year contract Aug. 24.
Video: Talking Lightning offseason, Point contract scenario
Tampa Bay general supervisor Julien BriseBois stated he believes there’s plenty of excellent hockey left in 30- year-old Shattenkirk, who had 28 points (two goals, 26 helps) and was minus-15 in 73 games last season, his 10 th in the NHL.
” He’s a young veteran that’s played in a lot of games, a great deal of meaningful video games,” BriseBois said. “He’s seen basically every scenario that can stumble upon as a defenseman over the course of a season.”
Shattenkirk likely will be combined withVictor Hedman, who had 54 points (12 objectives, 42 helps) last season after being voted the winner of the Norris Prize as the finest defenseman in the NHL in 2017-18Ryan McDonagh,Erik Cernak,Braydon CoburnandMikhail Sergachevwill be the other routine defensemen.Jan Ruttaand totally free agent signingsLuke SchennandLuke Witkowskiwill offer depth.
Video: Victor Hedman is ranked No. 2 on the list
The Lightning have actually stated they expect to sign Point before training camp begins in September, BriseBois said. The 23- year-old, who had an NHL career-high 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists) last season, his third in the NHL, is their best two-way forward and typically is matched up versus the opponent’s top line.
” I do not have a precise timeline,” BriseBois said July29 “I feel really positive … [Contracts with players like Point who don’t have arbitration rights as Group 2 restricted free agents] are just a little more complex to get done, and the due date to get something done is basically the start of training camp.”
Point would again play on a line with forwardNikita Kucherov, who was voted the winner of the Hart Prize as NHL MVP last season after he had 128 points (41 objectives, 87 helps), the most in the NHL considering that Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Mario Lemieux had 161 and Jaromir Jagr had 149 in 1995-96 Kucherov had 100 points (39 objectives, 61 assists) in 2017-18
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Kucherov
Stamkos had an NHL career-high 98 points (45 objectives, 53 helps) last season. There is a possibility he will transfer to wing if 22- year-old centerAnthony Cirelliis offered a routine top-six role.
Returning forwardsTyler Johnson,Yanni Gourde,Ondrej Palat,Mathieu JosephandAlex Killorncomprise the rest of the anticipated top nine, however coach Jon Cooper will play with the lines early in the season.
Cedric Paquettesigned a two-year agreement to return as the fourth-line center, however he will have new linemates afterRyan Callahan( Ottawa Senators) andAdam Erne( Red Wings) were traded; the Lightning had actually revealed that Callahan would go on long-term hurt reserve with a degenerative disk illness of the lumbar spine.
Maroon will likely play in one of those areas. The 31- year-old had 10 goals and 28 points for the St. Louis Blues last season and will bring size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), grit and experience to the checking line. He likewise played a major role in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the champ Blues, scoring the game-winning objective in Game 7 of the Western Conference 2nd Round versus the Dallas Stars.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, who won the Vezina Prize voted as the finest goalie in the NHL last season, signed an eight-year agreement extension July29 The 25- year-old went 39-10 -4 with a 2.40 goals-against average, a.925 save portion and six shutouts.
Video: Andrei Vasilevskiy claims the No. 1 spot on the list
” Undoubtedly, Andrei is a key member of our NHL group,” BriseBois said. “He’s arguably the very best goaltender on the planet and he’s simply entering his prime now. We had the chance to lock him approximately a contract that made good sense for our organization.”
The goalie depth chart will look a little different after Tampa Bay signedCurtis McElhinneyto a two-year contract to support Vasilevskiy.Louis Domingue, who went 21 -5 -0 with a 2.88 GAA and.908 save portion last season, remains on the roster, however the Lightning will try to trade him to a team that will offer him a chance to be the starter.
As part of NHL.com’s 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey personnel identifies appropriate gamers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. For more fantasy coverage, check outNHL.com/ Fantasyand subscribe for complimentary to theNHL Dream on Icepodcast.
[Lightning 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]
MORE DREAM PROTECTION:Leading 250 ranks|Mock draft|Team previews|Cheat sheet
Nikita Kucherov, RW(NHL.com rank: 1)– He won the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player last season after leading the League with 128 points (41 goals, 87 helps) in 82 video games, his 2nd straight season with at least 100 points. The 26- year-old likewise leads the NHL in power-play points over the past 2 seasons (84). With his high shot volume (at least 209 in each of the previous four seasons), chemistry with Point on the top line and Stamkos and Hedman on the power play, Kucherov must again be amongst the top scorers in the NHL and be prepared in the top two general in all leagues.
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Kucherov
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G(12)– He won the Vezina Trophy as the leading goalie in the NHL after he went 39-10 -4 with a 2.40 goals-against average,.925 conserve portion and six nothings. Over the previous two seasons, Vasilevskiy’s very first 2 as Tampa Bay’s starter, he leads the League in wins (83) and is connected withSergei Bobrovskyfor initially in shutouts (14). Provided Vasilevskiy can remain healthy– he missed time last season because of a fractured left foot– he ought to again begin at least 60 video games and might match his career high in wins (44 in 2017-18). Vasilevskiy is arguably the most important fantasy goalie and worth taking in the late very first or early 2nd round.
Video: Andrei Vasilevskiy declares the No. 1 spot on the list
Victor Hedman, D(26)– Although his offending output dipped a bit last season, Hedman still ranked 11 th amongst defensemen with 54 points (12 goals, 42 helps). Over the previous three seasons, he ranks second at the position in scoring (189 points) behindBrent Burns(226) and initially in power-play points (84). Due to the fact that of Hedman’s high shot volume (182, 2.6 per video game) and typical ice time (led Lightning with 22: 46 per video game), he ought to return to the 60- point variety if he stays healthy (missed out on time with lower-body injury last season) and is one of the leading 3 dream defensemen.
Video: Victor Hedman is ranked No. 2 on the list
Steven Stamkos, C(28)– He set an NHL profession high with 98 points last season, consisting of 45 goals, the most he’s had because he scored 60 in 2011-12 Playing alongside Kucherov on the NHL’s finest power play (282 percent), Stamkos ranked 2nd in the League in both PPP (40) and PPG (19). The 29- year-old is a high-volume shooter (at least 210 shots in seven of his 8 complete seasons; 3.1 per video game in career), and his exceptional shooting percentage (192 last season; 16.9 in career) doesn’t suggest his objective overall will dip anytime quickly. Stamkos is likewise strong on face-offs (led Tampa Bay with 953 attempted last season; 53.1 percent) and worth picking in the first 3 rounds.
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Stamkos
Brayden Point, C(33)– He discovered chemistry with Kucherov last season and, as an outcome, had NHL career highs in objectives (41), helps (51) and points (92). The 23- year-old also led the NHL in power-play goals (20) and ranked 2nd in shooting portion (215; minimum 100 shots) behindLeon Draisaitl(216). Point likewise was strong on face-offs, attempting 856 last season (508 percent). As a gamer who has continued to improve each season, it’s not improbable to think he could top 100 points, making him an appealing choice in the third round, particularly if stacked with Kucherov.
Mikhail Sergachev, D(153)– The 21- year-old’s point total dipped a bit last season (32 points in 75 video games) compared to 2017-18(40 in 79 games), mainly due to the fact that of his power-play point decrease on the second unit (6 last season; 16 in 2017-18). Sergachev is still a valuable dream defenseman since of his effectiveness– he led Tampa Bay with a plus-178 shots attempt ranking last season– and covers hits (97), obstructs (93) and shots (128). He’s still young, so those totals need to improve as he continues to complete his video game, making him capable of setting an NHL profession high in points this season and worth targeting in later rounds.
Other players to think about in late rounds or off waiver wire:Yanni Gourde, LW/RW (202);Ryan McDonagh, D (212);Tyler Johnson, LW/RW (229);Ondrej Palat, LW;Anthony Cirelli, C;Mathieu Joseph, RW;Curtis McElhinney, G;Kevin Shattenkirk, D
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