Have you ever sat back after the fantasy season and thought to yourself, “What would the perfect draft have been?” I may be alone in this, but it’s a fun exercise to look back and see what could have been. While you’re never going to nail every pick, we’ll do our best to determine how we could’ve seen each player coming.
For this exercise, I’ll be using the consensus ADP across multiple websites. It’s also important to keep in mind that just because a player scored the most points, it doesn’t mean he should be the player selected in that round, as we have to keep in mind the starting requirements for each position, which includes one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one flex (W/R/T), and one defense.
1st Round: Todd Gurley (RB – LAR)
Let’s not overthink this one, even if he wasn’t there when you needed him the most. Let’s be real… you likely wouldn’t have been in the playoffs without his services. He was the guy you saw in the opposing lineup and scared you the most. He performed as expected and should be the consensus No. 1 pick once again in 2019.
2nd Round: Davante Adams (WR – GB)
This was the first tough decision but knowing that we could find some value running backs later in the draft, we snag the No. 1 receiver from 2018 (Weeks 1-16). Did you know that Adams didn’t have a single game with less than 16.0 PPR points this year? That’s consistency you’d pay a high first-round pick for. The reason we should expect it to continue in 2019? Well, for starters, Aaron Rodgers‘ 4.2-percent touchdown rate was the lowest of his career (when the starter), meaning Adams may not have even reached his true ceiling. Runner-Up: Christian McCaffrey
3rd Round: Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
This one was tough, as it’s hard to pass up Travis Kelce‘s value in the third-round, but we’ll address tight end later. Hill may not have been the most consistent fantasy producer, but as our WR2, he’s a monster. Some predicted he would keep up his ridiculous level of efficiency with his targets, though nobody could’ve predicted he was going to be playing with the quarterback who set the all-time record for fantasy points in a season. Runner-Up: Travis Kelce
4th Round: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
It typically takes longer for a second-year receiver to overtake his MVP-caliber teammate, but Smith-Schuster gave Antonio Brown a run for his money in 2018. Despite seeing 12 fewer targets than Brown during the fantasy season (Weeks 1-16), Smith-Schuster finished with two more receptions and 92 more yards than Brown, though he wound-up on the wrong end of the touchdowns, as Brown tallied 15 to Smith-Schuster’s six. There’s a legit discussion as to which receiver of the two should be taken first next year. Runner-Up: Zach Ertz
5th Round: Mark Ingram (RB – NO)
This was by far the worst round to find any value in fantasy drafts, as it was either Ingram or Kerryon Johnson, who was only useful for about a month of the season. We knew Ingram was serving a four-game suspension, and if he hadn’t been, he would’ve been selected in the top three rounds. He wasn’t even a great pick here but was the best of the bunch.
6th Round: Sony Michel (RB – NE)
Another round that wasn’t great to find value but Michel was a rock-solid RB1/2 option for good chunk of the fantasy season. The knee injury he suffered against the Bears set him back a few weeks, and that’s on top of him missing much of the preseason due to a different knee issue. Health was an issue and he wasn’t a must-start every single week, but he was the best value to be found in the sixth-round. How could we have seen Michel coming? Well, he was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft who was going to be playing for an offense that’d been top-six in scoring each of the last nine years.
7th Round: Chris Carson (RB – SEA)
When the offseason began, Carson was being drafted much higher than the seventh-round, but the first-round draft pick of Rashaad Penny lowered his ADP dramatically, as it should have. Carson was a monster when on the field, finishing as the RB18 in standard formats despite missing two full games and parts of others. Even better, he saved his best work for the fantasy playoffs, as he totaled 325 yards and four touchdowns on the ground from Weeks 14-16. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s this – when we hear countless beat reporters (not just one or two) say that one running back (Carson) is clearly the best running back on the field, we should believe them.
8th Round: Robert Woods (WR – LAR)
Most know that Woods was a valuable commodity, but what they likely don’t realize is how stable he was for fantasy lineups. From Weeks 2-16, Woods never tallied less than 61 yards in any game and totaled at least 80 yards in 7-of-14 games. Because of that, he totaled at least 12.0 PPR points in each of those games. The addition of Brandin Cooks certainly scared many off Woods, but the lesson to be learned here is to trust wide receivers in great offenses, especially when they’re as wide receiver concentrated as the Rams offense is.
9th Round: Adrian Peterson (RB – WAS)
Those who jumped on Peterson when he signed with the Redskins turned out to get one of the steals of the draft, as they landed the RB17 on the season. He was a bit up-and-down throughout the season, but that’s what should be expected from a running back on a less-than-average offense who was missing three starting offensive linemen at one point. This was purely a speculation add in fantasy drafts, as nobody really expected the 33-year-old to come back and be a top-18 running back. The future Hall of Famer continues to defy his age.
10th Round: Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC)
This was the worst round to pick simply because there were so many good options, though it’s impossible to keep Mahomes out of the lineup, as getting the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback of all-time in our lineup makes too much sense. Even those who were Mahomes supporters couldn’t have seen this coming, as this was essentially Mahomes’ rookie year after starting just one game in 2017. The combination of Mahomes’ insane arm, athleticism to keep plays alive, weapons around him, and Andy Reid’s offense proved to be the perfect combination. The other options available in this round were some of the best values in the draft. Runner-Up: Nick Chubb and James White
11th Round: George Kittle (TE – SF)
While getting Travis Kelce in the third-round or Zach Ertz in the fourth-round would’ve been good, getting Kittle in the 11th is even better. If you had one of those three tight ends in your lineup this year, you had a weekly advantage over your opponent who was stuck trying to pick a streamer each and every week. If you’d have known that the 49ers were going to be starting Nick Mullens for half the season, there’s no way you would’ve touched Kittle. If this shows us anything, it’s that Kittle is the real deal who should be quarterback-proof moving forward. Jimmy Garoppolo is an upgrade for Kittle, who will have another year in the offense and the NFL. He’s likely to be picked in the top four rounds next year and rightfully so.
12th Round: Kenny Golladay (WR – DET)
Even before Golladay had a few things go his way regarding target share, he was one of the best values in fantasy football drafts. Even with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate healthy and on the roster for much of the year, Golladay managed to post his first 1,000-yard season in the NFL. It’s odd to see someone with his jump-up-and-get-it ball skills and 6-foot-4 frame finish with just five touchdowns, but we know those are volatile and, if anything, just gives us room for growth in his fantasy numbers. How could you have predicted this? Well, to be fair, you couldn’t have. Nobody knew Jones would get hurt and mis the final seven games and that Tate would be traded mid-season. We also didn’t know the Lions offense would be among the worst in the NFL, which again, leaves room for growth with Golladay. He’ll be in the top-20 discussion next year.
13th Round: James Conner (RB – PIT)
Maybe the fantasy MVP in 2018 when you factor in value. Yeah, he unfortunately got hurt during the fantasy playoffs, but that’s just how things shake out at times. His 1,376 total yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games from Weeks 1-16 amounted to 22.9 PPR points per game. When you stack that up against Le’Veon Bell‘s 22.8 points per game in 2017 with a 13th-round price-tag, you win fantasy titles. It was hard to know for sure whether Bell would sit out the entire season, but had we known that, Conner would’ve likely been a second-round pick in fantasy drafts, as the Steelers lead-back gets plenty of work.
14th Round: Eric Ebron (TE – IND)
Some of the biggest question marks last offseason were around the Colts roster. Would Andrew Luck bounce back? If he did, what would the offense look like under Frank Reich? Would Ebron play the Zach Ertz role, or would Jack Doyle hold down the starting tight end role? Well, Luck did bounce back, the offense looked fantastic, and while Doyle did hold down the starting role until he got hurt, it was Ebron who was a favorite in the red zone. Despite ranking 38th in receptions, Ebron scored more touchdowns (14) than all but one player (Antonio Brown) in 2018. It was relatively easy to know that a Colts tight end would succeed if Luck bounced back, but if your guess was Ebron, it paid huge dividends.
15th Round: Chicago Bears D/ST
Prior to the trade for Khalil Mack, the Bears defense should’ve been on fantasy radars to begin with, as Vic Fangio had the unit performing well without the addition of inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who was taken with the Bears’ No. 8 overall pick. They finished as the No. 8 defense last year with very little turnover, so adding Smith and Mack seemed like a no-brainer for improvement. They outscored all other defenses by 45 points this year in Weeks 1-16.