Andrew Gould’s 2018 Fantasy Football Rankings
There’s only one proper way to spend the year’s last weekend without NFL action. That, of course, is by drafting a fantasy football squad.
Late drafters gain the advantage of added information, but lose a competitive edge since the rest of the room has also absorbed that insight. Those who drafted weeks ago could have plucked Jamaal Williams, Chris Carson, or Peyton Barber with a bench spot. All three projected starting running backs should now cost far more.
With only precious days remaining before Thursday night’s 2018 opener, here are my full overall and position-by-position rankings.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU): +1 vs. ECR
After struggling to overcome dismal QB play in 2017, Hopkins reminded everyone that he’s an elite talent. He snagged 35 of 76 targets for 606 yards and seven TDs in seven games with Deshaun Watson before finishing with an NFL-high 174 targets, 13 receiving TDs, and WR1 finish in standard formats. (Antonio Brown beat him by 0.5 point in PPR.) He could have inflicted more damage if not for drawing 11 defensive pass interference calls spanning 155 yards. Playing a full season with Watson will net video-game numbers for Nuk, the second-ranked WR behind Brown in all formats.
Tyreek Hill (WR – KC): -11 vs. ECR
Hill handled more volume than anticipated with 75 receptions for 1,183 yards and seven TDs. Yet each score stretched at least 30 yards, as he vanished inside the red zone with two touches. Patrick Mahomes has the arm to make more deep magic, but he won’t match Alex Smith‘s precision. Sammy Watkins will also threaten Hill’s pedestrian 19.3 % target share, so don’t touch the 5’10” playmaker at his bloated No. 28 overall ADP.
Marshawn Lynch (RB – OAK): +7 vs. ECR
Lynch’s comeback would have exceeded the hype had Oakland not handed him an inconsistent workload out of the gate. Beast Mode finished with 13.8 carries per contest as a result of compiling single-digit touches in four games (including an ejection). Perhaps this caution helped him resemble the Seattle star with 4.3 YPC and 3.1 yards after contact, but investors would love to see Jon Gruden extend the veteran a high-volume workload akin to the 123 touches tallied over his last six bouts. That level of opportunity would make last year’s standard RB19 a steal at his current price.
Drew Brees (QB – NO): +16 vs. ECR
Brees’s idea of a bad season is finishing QB9 with the highest completion percentage (72.0) in NFL history. His 4.3 TD % marks his first clip below 5.0 since posting the same rate in 2007, and he attempted the league’s ninth-most passes (536) despite a steep drop-off from 2016’s 673. The set-and-forget stud doesn’t cost a premium (62 ADP) despite most onlookers expecting a rise from last year’s 23 passing TDs, his lowest tally in a dozen seasons with the Saints.
Greg Olsen (TE – CAR): -10 vs. ECR
Tallying 116 of his 191 yards in one game is troubling for Olsen, who ended three of those seven contests with one 10-yard catch. (He also recorded 107 yards and a TD in Carolina’s playoff loss to New Orleans.) There’s risk in drafting a 33-year-old back from foot surgery, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his ADP.
Trey Burton (TE – CHI): +9 vs. ECR
Burton is this year’s trendiest TE breakout pick, and for good reason. No longer stuck behind Zach Ertz, he joins a Bears squad that also hired former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy and Giants tight end coach Kevin Gilbride. Burton, who caught three TDs in two games without Ertz, should create mismatches in the slot like his new coaches created for Travis Kelce and Evan Engram. Most drafts aren’t going to let him fall, but he’s still one of the last credible weekly starters with legitimate top-five upside.
Keelan Cole (WR – JAC): +9 vs. ECR
Only a dozen wideouts fared better than Cole from Weeks 10-17. He produced 442 yards and three TDs over a prolific four-week stretch (Weeks 13-16) during the fantasy playoffs. His stock skyrockets in light of Marquise Lee landing on the IR with a season-ending knee injury.
Anthony Miller (WR – CHI): +21 vs. ECR
The hype train is quickly filling for Miller, who is expected to start as the second wideout in a revamped Bears offense. He’s still falling to the double-digit rounds after leaving Memphis with 191 catches, 2,896 yards, and 32 TDs over the past two seasons. He’ll need to fend off Taylor Gabriel and Kevin White, but he’s a fun late-round pick if the preseason helium doesn’t expand too far.
Jared Goff (QB – LAR): -11 vs. ECR
The game-manager label is too harsh for Goff, who averaged 8.5 adjusted YPA and a league-high 12.9 yards per completion. He’ll also, however, struggle to maintain a 5.8 TD% and muster another eight plays spanning 50 yards or more. The 2016 No. 1 pick averaged 253.6 passing yards per game despite those deep strikes, and the Rams could lean even heavier on the run if a revamped defense feeds them leads. There’s not enough upside to bite on Goff as anything beyond a reserve.
Adrian Peterson (RB – NO): -27 vs. ECR
Peterson proved useful when getting more than 25 touches in a game last year. Otherwise, not so much. He averaged 3.4 YPC and accrued 293 of his 529 rushing yards in two high-volume games. The preseason signing could emerge as Washington’s featured back without Derrius Guice, but he still must contest with Samaje Perine and Robert Kelley. Don’t reach for name recognition.