All-Upside Fantasy Football Team
Each and every year, a number of high-upside mid-round picks breakout and help carry a team to the championship. Obviously, you won’t want to fill your entire team with these type of players, but I figured it was a worthwhile exercise to break down a team full of these guys before everyone drafts this weekend. I am confident someone, or perhaps several of the players on this list will take a tremendous leap forward and if you get your hands on the right one, it may just be the steal of the draft. So today, I’ve got a 14-man roster with 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and a flex with 6 bench spots full of only upside pieces. Make of it what you will, and if you have any questions, run it by me on Twitter.
Yes, the guy who had a “terrible season” last year and lost his two best weapons. I’ve got some surprising information for you though. First, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten weren’t actually that good. Replacing them with Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Rico Gathers may actually end up a net positive. Second, Dak finished as a QB1 last year despite being “awful”. That had him above Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff and Matt Ryan. Last season was his floor, folks. What’s most important, however, is that in the 23 games Dak has started with Ezekiel Elliott, Dak has been the BEST quarterback in fantasy football. Enjoy the discount, friends!
Joe Mixon, Sony Michel, Chris Carson (Flex)
This trio all has red flags around them from Mixon’s miserable 2017 performance to Michel’s backfield competition and knee injury. What they have in risk, however, is far outweighed by their upside. Mixon, particularly, is built in the mold of Le’Veon Bell. He can be a monster on early downs while contributing as a top pass-catching back. The Bengals appear to know what they have in him and we might just get 350 touches from the elite-athlete in 2018. There are offensive line concerns, but with 350 touches, anyone would be a top 8 back, let alone someone with the pure talent of Mixon. Behind him, Sony Michel is also a potential three-down back. Sure, the Patriots are funky with how they utilize backs, but Dion Lewis was a top 12 fantasy back last year and LeGarrette Blount the year before. Michel can be the pass-catching electric back Lewis was AND the goal-line beast Blount was. There is a chance he takes the league by storm once he is back to 100% from his minor meniscus injury. Finally, we come to Carson, who’s prospect of winning this job had me laughing a mere three weeks ago. Here we are now, though, and not only is he definitely going to start, but he has looked exceptional in the preseason while Rashaad Penny has ballooned to nearly 240 pounds. There is a shot Carson not only keeps the job, but is given workhorse type touches all season. With that type of opportunity, he would clearly far outperform his current ADP in the 8th round.
Amari Cooper, Josh Gordon, Corey Davis
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if any of these three players finished top five at their position, let alone top 12. Cooper is still just 24 years old and is off to one of the quickest starts in NFL history for a kid his age. The talent is clearly unbelievable and the only thing missing has been consistent targets. Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden has been clear that he intends to utilize Cooper as a heavy-volume focal point to their passing game. Gordon, meanwhile, is a different case, as he has already done it before, but many years ago. Still, he is young enough that he could return to bonkers production, especially now that he will finally be playing football while he isn’t drunk and/or high. What’s more, is that Gordon will be playing with the best quarterback of his career so don’t be surprised if he explodes back to All-Pro type numbers. We’ll round out the receiving core with the first wide receiver taken in last year’s draft class. Sure, Davis was dreadful in terms of efficiency last season during the regular season, but he also hardly had any work with the first team offense or exposure to the playbook, because of injury, before being thrown into the fire. He appeared dominant in the playoffs and may turn into a Brandon Marshall type of receiver as early as this season.
There were a number of tempting options here from George Kittle to Ricky Seals-Jones, but Burton is the one most likely to develop into a superstar this season. Not only was he as efficient as Zach Ertz last season, but he knows Matt Nagy’s offense well enough that he has actually been helping Mitch Trubisky learn it. There is some competition in Chicago for targets, but if you’ve been watching the preseason, you’ve noticed that Burton, and not Allen Robinson, is the head dog in the passing game.
Mike Williams, Aaron Jones, Geronimo Allison, Keelan Cole, John Kelly, James Conner
The collection of names here are quite a bit different than one another, but could all dominate this season if things fall in line. It never hurts to draft a high-risk, high-reward player with your later picks because if they bust and you have to cut them, the draft capital lost is minimal. Williams has recently been compared to Terrell Owens by his head coach and is likely their top red zone target this season with Hunter Henry out. Jones isn’t going to start right away when he comes back, but if Jamaal Williams plays himself out of the job or into an injury, Jones has top 5 running back potential in Green Bay’s deadly offense. Speaking of that offense, Allison is currently the number two receiver with Randall Cobb banged up and we’ve seen Aaron Rodgers produce multiple top 12 wideouts several times throughout his career. Close behind Allison on my pecking order is Cole, who not only benefits from Marqise Lee going down for the season, but actually led the NFL in receiving yards over the five games he started to close the season. Finally, we come to the two best backup running backs in football. If Todd Gurley and/or Le’Veon Bell were to go down, but Kelly and Conner would be RB1s every single week and could potentially carry your team to a championship.