Still the best arm talent in the league. Enjoy top 3 fantasy production for the next 5 years.
He’ll need to become more savvy to avoid the big hits, but we’re talking about a potential top 5 fantasy QB for the next 10-15 years.
If Wilson can avoid the injury bug like he did in 2016, then you’re looking at a top-flight QB for another 7-8 seasons. Very few teams rely as heavily on their signal-caller as the Seahawks.
How will the shoulder hold up? That’s really the only question that separates Luck from being a disappointment to a top 5 or 6 QB for the next 10 years. It’s a risk, so be prepared to have a backup plan in place.
Long term, I like him slightly more than some of the other young guys at the position. In 2018 and 2019, Watson or Mahomes might be the better option, but I’m guessing Jimmy G learned a thing or two from one Mr. Tom Brady.
The upside is obviously immense. Another athletic QB who will need to stay healthy. Are the 21 TDs in 7 games an aberration, or can he build on his early success?
He’s averaged 39 pass attempts/gm over the last 7 seasons to go along with 4,000+ yard seasons in each one of those. About as consistent as it gets for fantasy purposes. As long as the TDs can keep up, enjoy top 8 numbers for the next 6-8 seasons.
He still needs to work on his efficiency in the pocket, but there’s no denying Newton is one of the transcendent talents at the position. Will the Panthers’ limit his work on the ground to help extend his career? Don’t bet on nearly 140 carries as he approaches 30-years-old.
I don’t know if he has quite the upside as Watson, but there’s no denying Mahomes’ arm talent. He’s also been given the keys to a dynamic offense with a plethora of playmakers — Hill, Kelce, Hunt, Watkins — all under 30-years-old.
Cousins brings three straight 4,000+, 25+ TD seasons to Minnesota, where he’ll be equipped with a better running game, better receivers, and a better defense. The sky is the limit for the next 4-6 seasons.
It’s still early, but Goff looks like he took a big step in 2017 towards becoming a very good (great?) franchise quarterback. Brandin Cooks’ 5 year extension ensures a top talent on outside for years to come, and his connection with Kupp and Woods should only improve. Not to mention a superstar RB in Todd Gurley, and everything sets up nicely for Goff to be fantasy relevant for a long time.
Still only 27-years-old, Carr will need to prove he can replicate 2015 & 2016 where he averaged nearly 4,000 yards and 30 TDs.
Will Jameis Winston remain a Buc for his entire career? Franchise quarterbacks aren’t easy to come by, but Winston’s off-the-field issues have become a problem for the organization. Plus, he’s become a bit of a turnover machine, averaging 15+ INTs/yr (over a 16 game average) in his first three seasons in the league.
Thought he’s played 16 games in eight straight seasons, Ryan has managed to average 20 or more fantasy points/gm just twice in his 10-year career. The hope is that Ryan returns to 2016 form in year two with Steve Sarkisian.
While the INTs were up last season (4 in 2016, 13 in 2017), 7 of those came in weeks 10-15 while Elliot was suspended. The combination of an A+ line and an elite RB should help Prescott get back on track in year 3.
Perhaps Mariota was still hampered last season from the leg injury he suffered in 2016. Corey Davis and Dion Lewis are the newest weapons, but, much like Winston, we’re still waiting on Mariota to live up to his 2nd overall draft status heading into year 4.
In redraft, he’s still a top 5 or 6 option for the next couple years. But, how much longer will the future hall-of-famer play? He signed a 2-year deal with the Saints in the offseason, and there’s a good chance this may be his last contract.
Entering his 41-year-old season, Tom Brady is clearly entrenched as the GOAT, and still clearly has some left in the tank. He was 3rd in fantasy points and 3rd in passing TDs among QBs last season. Much like Brees, the 2019-2020 season feels like the finish line for Brady.
Slightly different situation than Brady & Brees. Big Ben has said he could play another five seasons (though we would bet on three). Regardless, Roethlisberger will still have one of the best disposals of offensive playmakers at his side until the end, even if this is Le’Veon Bell’s last season in the Steel City. He remains a player with top 8 upside at the position.
Rivers is yet another candidate to retire after next season, as he will be a UFA at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season.
The Cardinals took Rosen 10th overall in April’s draft with the thought that they found their next franchise quarterback. While Sam Bradford will get the nod to begin the season, Rosen’s first looks under center could come sooner rather than later, given Bradford’s inconsistent career and injury history. He has a chance to be the best signal caller in this year’s class.
The Jets bring back Josh McCown for one more season, and they also signed Teddy Bridgewater this Spring. Darnold may sit this season, but figures to be in competition for the starting job beginning in year two.
Smith enjoyed his best fantasy season in 2017, finishing as QB6 in 6-point per passing leagues. He’ll try to build off that success as he finds himself in Washington in now his 14th NFL season. With not quite the number of weapons he had in Kansas City, it’s hard to envision Smith replicating last year’s success.
While he was awful in year 1, there is reason to be optimistic when trying to project Trubisky’s trajectory as a franchise quarterback. Let’s face it – he was in a terrible situation last season. Now, Matt Nagy enters with what should be a much better offensive scheme. Plus, the Bears gave Trubisky new toys in Allen Robinson and Trey Burton, along with the drafting of 3rd-round rookie WR Anthony Miller out of Memphis. Things are certainly looking up.
As underwhelming as his college numbers were, Buffalo was clearly excited about Allen’s upside as a potential franchise quarterback. At 6’4″, nearly 240 lbs, and equipped with a rocket launcher for an arm, the Wyoming product has all the makings of a star. He’ll need to prove he can be an accurate passer from the pocket (56.2% completion in 2 years at Wyoming). LeSean McCoy is clearly excited about him, saying, “I’ve got to be honest, he’s pretty good, and I’m not a big fan of rookies.”
Still only 26-years-old, Hopkins is coming off a year in which he was nearly unstoppable (96/1378/13). And the crazy thing? He might have even MORE upside. In the 7 games with Deshaun Watson last season, Hopkins caught 7 TDs and averaged 11 targets per/gm. Given his age and the already established relationship with Watson, Hopkins has to be #1.
Assuming the broken leg doesn’t hamper him any, Beckham should come back with a vengeance in 2018. His first three seasons were like nothing we’ve ever seen before: 288 rec, 4,122 yds, 35 TDs. And he missed 4 games in that time. Even with a revamped running game featuring no. 3 overall pick Saquon Barkley, OBJ should still see 25-30% of the target share year in and year out to go along with double-digit (or near) TDs. Regardless of who is behind center, the 25-year-old superstar will be a force to be reckoned with for the next 5-6 years at least, barring injury.
Without question the most consistent receiver over the last five seasons (and maybe over any five year stretch in history), AB is about as close to a sure-fire premier fantasy option as possible. The only reason he’s third in our rankings is because of the age — he just turned 30 — and because Ben Roethlisberger is nearing retirement. But, as long as Big Ben is under center, you can pretty much pencil Brown in for 100+ receptions, 1400+ yards, and 8+ TDs.
In his first two seasons in New Orleans, Michael Thomas has looked more like a 1st round pick than a 2nd. He’s averaged 98 rec, 1,191 yds, and 7 TDs in that time. The best part? There’s room for improvement. Thomas just turned 25 this offseason, and he was able to find the end zone only five times in 2017. It remains to be seen if he can maintain his 73% catch rate once Brees decides to hang it up, but for now Thomas is one of the best young talents at the position.
It’s been a bit of an up and down career thus far for the soon to be 25-year-old receiver. Evans caught 12 TDs in 2014 & 2016, but followed those seasons up with just 3 TDs (2015) and 5 TDS (2017). While the 6’5″ 230 lb 5th-year product from Texas A&M has immense talent, he has been inconsistent at times. There may be no other receiver who has a higher ceiling (WR2 in 2015), yet also a very unimpressive floor (WR21 in 2017). Given his age, size, and talent, it’s still hard to bet against him in the long run.
Despite having essentially two consecutive lost seasons due to injury (2015 & 2016), Allen remains one of the best options at the position, particularly in PPR leagues. Still only 26-years-old, Allen is entering his 6th season and is coming off his best season: 102 rec (159 targets), 1,393 yds, 6 TDs. He remains Philip Rivers’ favorite target, and a good bet to reach 140+ targets.
I’m not sure there has ever been quite as much hype surrounding a 5th-year WR who has never topped 75 rec. But when you’ve proven yourself as a touchdown machine, and when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback, anything is possible. 22 TDs over the last two seasons is juicy. But what’s even more juicy is the thought of having a shot at those numbers for the next five seasons. Rodgers has said he wants to play until he’s 40, and as long as Adams is in a Packers’ uniform and remains No. 12’s favorite red-zone target, the sky is the limit.
There’s no question that the 8th-year pro is still one of the top two or three talents at the position. He’s had 1,400+ yds each of the last four seasons, finishing as a top-7 receiver every time. That’s the good. The bad includes Jones’ odd in ability to find the end zone. He’s averaged under 6 TDs/yr the last four seasons. That’s an incredibly low number for a player as dominant as Jones. On top of that, Jones is constantly hobbled, has played in 16 games just 3 of his 7 seasons, and is fast approaching 30-years-old. While he is still a fine bet to post huge numbers over the next couple of seasons, the decline might not be that far away.
While he isn’t always in the same conversation as Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and Julio Jones, A.J. Green has certainly had an excellent career to this point. Much like Jones, Green has had a couple injury concerns, and will turn 30 before the start of the season. While he’s still a good bet for 140+ targets, there’s no denying he hasn’t been quite as dominant as the top tier. Green should still compete as a top 8 or 10 fantasy WR for the next couple of years, but in a dynasty format, you should be prepared for a decline on the horizon.
Less than a year removed from a torn ACL that cost Robinson the entire 2017 season, the 4th-year receiver now finds himself in a new home in Chicago. While he should be the team’s #1 target, A-Rob still has a lot to prove. In 2015, he snagged 80 passes for 1,400 yds and a whopping 14 TDs, finishing the year as WR4 in standard leagues. It will interesting to see if Robinson can carve out a similar role in Matt Nagy’s offense. More importantly, he will need to find a connection with 2nd-year QB Mitch Trubisky. We’ve seen what Robinson’s upside is as a playmaker, but now he’ll need to show the consistency to be considered a top fantasy option.
The news that Andrew Luck appears to be healthy heading into training camp is music to the ears of T.Y. Hilton owners everywhere. Between 2013-2017 with Luck under center, Hilton averaged 81 rec. for 1,250 yds., and nearly 6 TDs. Without Luck last season he caught 57 passes for 966 yds. and finished as WR25 in standard leagues. So yeah, please stay healthy Mr. Luck.
At just 5’10”, 185 lbs, Hill isn’t the most imposing receiver in the league. But, watch him play, and you’ll understand why he topped 1,180 yds., to go along with 7 TDs in year two. In order to best his 4th ranked finished in standard last season, Hill will need to find a connection with new QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs also added WR Sammy Watkins, a true talent on the outside that will probably command 90-100 targets. With all of the weapons in Kansas City, Hill will need to catch over 70% of targets thrown his way again to replicate last season’s success.
Davis’ first season in Tennessee didn’t quite go as planned. Injuries limited him to just 11 games and a total of 65 targets. If that isn’t bad enough, Davis only turned those targets into 34 rec. (52% catch rate), and zero touchdowns. Despite the disappointing rookie season, there’s no denying the former No. 4 overall pick’s talent. A healthy training camp will go a long way to helping establish Davis as the Titans’ top receiver.
Thielen was a bit of a late bloomer, catching just 20 passes in his first two seasons combined. That changed quickly. Following up his 69 catch season in 2016, Thielen had a true breakout season in 2017. His 91 rec., 1,276 yds., and 4 TDs were good enough to place him as WR8 in PPR and WR10 in standard. Enter newcomer Kirk Cousins, and there’s optimism for even bigger numbers. If he can catch a few more TDs, Thielen is in line for a monster season in 2018. Furthermore, he enters his 28-year-season and should have at least 3 to 4 years of very good production left, even with the likes of Rudolph, Diggs, and Cook being major factors.
2017 was a disaster for Cooper. The former top 10 overall pick caught just 48 of his 96 targets for a total of 680 yds. With that being said, there is still a lot of room for optimism. Michael Crabtree left for Baltimore, and Derek Carr enters the season healthy. Cooper should have a good chance to get back to the 80+ catches and 1,100+ yds. he posted in 2016. Plus, he’s still only 24-years-old. Try to erase 2017 from your memory bank and draft him with confidence.
The former 5th round pick has already solidified himself as a very good talent in the league. Now, fantasy owners are anticipating a breakout. Diggs has yet to top 1,000 yds. in his first three seasons, though he has also yet to play a full 16-game schedule. Last year’s 8 TD receptions doubled his career high. If Diggs can stay healthy, 120+ targets is clearly in reach (previous high was 112 over 13 games in 2016). Expect 2018 to be the year Diggs tops 80 receptions and 1,100 yards.
Cooks is already on his third NFL team despite being just 24-years-old. The former 1st round pick joined the Rams this offseason after the Patriots traded him for a 1st and 6th round pick. The good news is it looks like Cooks could be in L.A. for a while. He recently signed a 5 year extension and plans to compete for the Rams #1 receiver role. The problem is Cooks joins a fairly crowded group of playmakers. Todd Gurley’s is a 23-year-old superstar who registered 87 targets last season to go along with his 279 carries. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods proved to be Jared Goff’s favorites targets despite sharing the field with the more talented Sammy Watkins. It will be interesting to see what kind of role Cooks can carve out. There may be some struggles early on, but he’s still a talented player who will get his fair share of looks, even if he shapes up to be more of a strong WR2 in the long run.
A true PPR darling, Landry brings three straight top 15 fantasy seasons with him to his new home in Cleveland. While the 160+ targets he saw two of the last three seasons will probably come down, Landry is still a good bet to see 125+ targets. If Josh Gordon misses any time, that number would certainly go up. For now Landry looks like he’ll be one of the top options but in a crowded group. Gordon’s playmaking ability is well-documented, plus Cleveland has plenty of other firepower with Njoku, Duke Johnson, and Carlos Hyde. The Browns also drafted rookies Nick Chubb and Antonio Callaway.
Smith-Schuster was almost as impressive in the stat column as he was with his end zone celebrations last season. The 2nd year product out of USC brought a fun personality to the Steelers’ locker room in his rookie season. Now he’ll look to build on his impressive 58/917/7 (14 games) line he posted in 2017. Smith-Schuster finds himself firmly entrenched as the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver following the Martavis Bryant trade. The 21-year-old proved himself as a very capable blocker in his first season too, which should only help his case. With Antonio Brown entering his 30-year-old season, draft Smith-Schuster with confidence that you’ll eventually have a No. 1 WR on your roster. For now, he’s still a solid No. 2.
Baldwin should once again be in line for a lot work in year eight. Maybe even more so now than Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have moved on. The Seahawks did add former Cardinals WR Jaron Brown, but it’s clear that Baldwin is still Russell Wilson’s favorite target. He’s a good bet to surpass his career high of 125 targets and could very well see double-digit TDs.
It’s been an up and down career thus far for Watkins. While he’s arguably a top-10 talent at the position, injuries and misuse have plagued him. Already on his third team, Watkins is trying to once again find the success he had in 2015 when he had over 1,000 yds. and 9 TDs with the Bills. There’s still so much upside here. 95-100 targets isn’t out of the question in his first season in K.C., and that could be a solid number to build on in future seasons.
The biggest concern with Gordon is that he’ll have another slip-up and ultimately be out of football forever. Outside of that, there’s no questioning how dominating he can be when he steps in between the lines. The 27-year-old freak of nature showed the world what he’s capable of in 2013. That was also the last time we’ve seen Gordon play anything close to a full season. If last season is any indication, Gordon can still be a focal point. In just 5 games he saw 42 targets and averaged a whopping 18.6 ypr. If he’s able to play a full season in 2018, then 120+ targets is not out of the question.
While injuries have cost Jeffery multiple times (played in 12 or fewer games in three seasons), he established himself as a decent WR2 in his first season in Philadelphia. He should almost certainly improve on his 48% catch rate in 2017, easily the worst of his career. As Carson Wentz’s top receiver, there is still room for improvement.
Tate is an unrestricted free agent after this season, something fantasy owners in dynasty leagues will want to consider. It would be a little disappointing to see him leave Detroit considering the connection he has built with Matthew Stafford over the last four seasons. Tate has seen 120+ targets and recorded 90+ receptions each year since signing a 5-year deal with the Lions in 2014.
The Falcons selected Ridley in the 1st round of the NFL draft with the hopes that he would one day become his own version of now-superstar Julio Jones. While not as physically imposing (6’1″, 189 lbs.), Ridley still has good length and looks the part of a complete receiver. It may take a year or two before he becomes a shoe-in fantasy option, but in dynasty formats he’s someone you’ll want to stash. Even in redraft leagues Ridley has the potential of becoming a nice flex option in year one.
Moore was the first receiver off the board in April’s draft and figures to make an immediate impact in Carolina. He’s currently 3rd on the depth chart behind Funchess and newcomer Torrey Smith, but Moore wasn’t taken in the 1st round to sit back and learn for very long. He could make a push to be Cam’s favorite target by mid-season. Much like Ridley, he’s a must have in dynasty formats and could be a nice late round flyer in redrafts. His upside in year 1 is potentially more than Ridley’s.
Funchess will start the season as Carolina’s No. 1 receiver on the depth chart. The 24-year-old receiver came into his own last season after the Panthers dealt Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo. His 63 receptions were more than his first two seasons combined. He also saw at least seven targets in 9 of the final 14 games in 2017. He may have trouble replicating some of that this season though. The Panthers drafted WR D.J. Moore in round 1 and will also get Greg Olsen back after he missed 9 games due to injury.
Death, taxes, and 140+ targets for Demaryius Thomas. The 9-year veteran has made it a habit of reaching that number. Six straight seasons to be exact. If Thomas wants to make it seven straight he’ll need to build a quick connection with newcomer Case Keenum, who led the Vikings to the NFC title game a season ago. For dynasty owners, it’s worth noting that Thomas will likely have a new home next season as he’ll be a UFA after 2018. It’s hard to say how many more years he has left in the tank.
Kupp enjoyed a fine rookie season in 2017, finishing as a top 30 receiver in all formats. He was able to build a solid connection with first-year starter Jared Goff. There’s nothing that suggests Kupp can’t build on last year’s numbers (62/869/5). The Rams did add WR Brandin Cooks, but Kupp’s role figures to remain intact. He has WR2 upside but will more than likely remain a solid flex option in 12 and 14 team leagues.
Sutton figures to compete for the No. 3 role in his rookie season, but he’s a potential steal in dynasty formats. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are both UFAs after this season, and Sutton could be first in line to take over a featured role. At 6’3″ and nearly 220 lbs., he has all the makings of a No. 1.
Woods finished as a top 35 receiver last season despite playing in just 12 games. His per game average would have placed him as a top 20 finisher in all formats. Woods and Kupp will continue to be very close together in the Rams pecking order while Cooks figures to get the largest target share.
Godwin turned in a decent rookie season in 2018, recording 34 rec for 525 yards and one score. It was nothing spectacular, but Godwin has shown the athleticism to make a huge leap in year 2. It wouldn’t be surprising if he nearly doubled his receptions total in 2019.
Agholor’s first couple seasons in the league were far from what we saw in his playmaking days at USC. 2017 was a different story. The 25-year-old receiver broke out for 62 rec, 768 yards, and 8 TDs. He’ll look to build on that in year four and beyond.
While the Cardinals don’t figure to be a great offensive team in 2018, Kirk actually landed in a pretty decent situation in terms of opportunity. Larry Fitzgerald is possibly in his final season, and there doesn’t figure to be much depth behind the future hall-of-famer. The Cardinals also believe they found their franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen, this year’s 10th overall pick. Rosen to Kirk could be a fun combination for years to come.
Crowder was a bit of a disappointment in 2017. The 3rd-year pro saw a small decline in receptions and yards, while also catching less than half the number of TDs he caught in 2016. Now entering his 4th season, Crowder has a different supporting cast following the departures of QB Kirk Cousins and WR Terrelle Pryor. He’ll need to gel with new QB Alex Smith if a breakout is going to happen in 2019.
The Bears invested a 3rd round pick in the rookie from Memphis, and it’s widely believed now that he will begin the season as the Bears’ starting slot receiver. Miller has been praised for his attitude, work ethic, and playmaking ability. We could be looking at a star in the making.
Benjamin’s career looked like it was going to boom following his rookie season that saw the 6’5″ receiver go over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs. Since that 2014 season Benjamin has failed top those numbers. He missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL and has battled other injuries along the way. Following last year’s mid-season trade from Carolina to Buffalo, Benjamin will now look to establish himself as the No. 1 target for the Bills. Not all is lost for the former 1st round pick, but he’ll need to prove himself again to be considered a good fantasy option.
This could be Sanders’ last season in Denver. The 31-year-old receiver will be a UFA next year and could have a new home in 2019. Following three straight 1,000 yard seasons, Sanders’ only totaled 555 yards in 12 games last season. It will be interesting to see if it will be Sanders or Thomas who builds the better connection with new QB Case Keenum.
After playing in just two games in 2016, Doctson bounced back in his second season with over 500 yards and 6 TDs. If Doctson is going to live up to his 1st round draft status, 2018 will be a crucial year for his development.
The 3rd round rookie finds himself in a unique situation. Following the departure of star WR Dez Bryant and future hall-of-fame TE Jason Witten, the Cowboys are suddenly in need of playmakers outside of Ezekiel Elliot. Gallup figures to compete for a starting position right out of the gates. While Dallas did add Allen Hurns in the off-season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gallup was the team’s leading receiver in 2018.
Jones had a true breakout season in 2017, finishing as WR5 in non-PPR leagues. The 1,101 yards were the most in his 5-year career, and 9 TDs were second. Jones has clearly established himself as Matthew Stafford’s favorite deep threat. His 18.0 ypr and 20 rec. of 20 or more yards is evident of that.
Parker enters his 4th season in 2018 and to this point has not lived up to his 1st round draft status. From 2015-2017, Parker has not topped 60 receptions, 800 yards, or 5 TDs. In all fairness, he also hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule to this point. With Jarvis Landry gone, this should be his year to be in a featured role.
Crabtree comes off three straight years in which he finished as a top 20 receiver in terms of fantasy ppg. Now he enters age-31 season with a new team. While he still holds top 25 upside for 2018, it will be hard to trust Crabtree for much longer in dynasty formats.
What a fascinating situation. Bryant was one of Dallas’ all-time receivers, enters age-30 season, and yet here he is trying to find a new team after the Cowboys’ cut him. As we enter early to mid-August it’s starting to become a bit concerning he hasn’t found a home yet. While we would anticipate him playing for someone in 2018, the longer he misses training camp the more his fantasy value is in jeopardy.
Anderson turned out to be a nice surprise in 2017. The 6’3″ product out of Temple turned in a nice second season, going for nearly 1,000 yards and 7 TDs. If there’s one thing fantasy owners should be concerned about, its Anderson’s off-the-field issues. While he has publicly said those are in his past, it still looks like he could face some discipline from the league sooner rather than later.
Fuller’s 2017 season was cut short by injury as he appeared in just 10 games. But if his short time spent with QB Deshaun Watson if any indication of things to come, then we should all be jumping for joy. Fuller caught TDs on a whopping 25% of his receptions (28 rec, 7 TDs). Fuller has said that he’s gained about 15-20 lbs of muscle in the off-season to try and minimize risk of injury. Will that affect his ability to stretch the field? Time will tell. For now, there’s a lot to be excited about.
There hasn’t been any shortage of hype for Goodwin this off-season, and for good reason. The 28-year old burner (4.25 40) had 17.2 avg/rec last season and nearly hit the 1,000 yard mark despite having just 56 catches. What’s even better is that after Jimmy Garoppolo took the starting job in week 12, Goodwin saw a very solid 8+ targets/gm to finish the 2017 season.
Much like Josh Gordon, Bryant is probably on his last straw with the league office. While there were some reports that linked Bryant to another possible suspension this season, there hasn’t been any definitive answer one way or another. As of now, we’re assuming he’s playing in 2018. Bryant is gushing with talent and certainly has the potential to be a very good fantasy option in Oakland, assuming he and Derek Carr are able to find a connection much like the one he had with Big Ben in Pittsburgh. He’s a steal if he can remain on the field. But, buyers beware.
The rookie out of Oklahoma State finds himself in a pretty nice landing spot. The Steelers were content with trading Martavis Bryant to the Raiders for a 3rd round pick, essentially putting their trust in Washington to step in and compete for the No. 3 role off the bat. He doesn’t have a traditional deep threat pedigree (5’11”, 213 lbs, 4.54 40), but if his college tape is any indication, then the Steelers grabbed an exceptional down-the-field threat with their 2nd round pick.
Westbrook only appeared in 7 games during his rookie season, but he proved to be a popular target for QB Blake Bortles, averaging 7 targets per game over that span. The departures of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns should help, but the Jaguars still figure to spread the ball around to the likes of Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, and Westbrook. The Jaguars also added TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. It’s hard to see a clear path to anything more than flex-consideration for Westbrook in his second season.
Shepard only played in 11 games in 2017 due to injury, but was on pace for a career year in receptions (86) and yards (1,063). It’s important to remember, however, that OBJ missed nearly the entire season. The return of Beckham Jr., plus the addition of 2nd overall pick Saquon Barkley means a lot more work to go around than a year ago. Shepard’s upside remains a WR2, but currently it’s hard to envision him more than a very nice flex play in 10 and 12 team leagues. Still only 24 years old, dynasty owners should look to the future and his very good upside.
Cobb looked like a perennial WR1 after the 2014 season. His 91 rec, 1,287 yds, and 12 TDs that year marked three seasons in a row in which he either hit or was on pace for at least 85/1,107/8. Now, that feels like forever ago. Cobb hasn’t hit 80 rec or even 900 yards since. Still only 27, Cobb has a chance to redeem himself in 2018. That’s if he can stay healthy. A problematic ankle has already sidelined him much of the summer. With Jordy Nelson now gone, it’s Cobb’s time to once again step up.
Following 2016, Meredith looked like he was on the brink of stardom. That season he was on pace for 75 rec and over 1,000 yards. Unfortunately, he tore is ACL last fall and his 2017 season was lost. Now, Meredith goes New Orleans and will look to fit into an already loaded offense. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if Meredith carves out a role as the No. 2 behind Michael Thomas.
Golladay didn’t do a whole lot as a rookie. Injuries also kept him out of 5 games. But if you believe what Golden Tate has to say about the 2nd-year receiver, then Golladay’s ceiling is sky high. The Lions also seem to love his ability as a deep threat. It will be interesting to see what kind of role he can carve out in 2018. While Jones and Tate are still in town, it might be hard to envision a lot this year. Golladay may still be a year away from being a serious fantasy contributor.
Save Mike Williams, there may not have been a more disappointing rookie season than the one John Ross had in 2017: 3 games, 2 targets, 0 receptions. For a top 10 pick, that can’t happen. Unless he can avoid injury, Ross is trending towards a colossal bust. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. What’s encouraging is that the Bengals have parted ways with Brandon LaFell, meaning Ross figures to be in line for the No. 2 role behind A.J. Green.
To this point, Lee hasn’t done anything exceptional. In fact, he’s been somewhat disappointing. He actually might benefit the most from the departures of Robinson and Hurns. While he opens 2018 as the Jags’ No. 1, it would be shocking if he finished the season anything more than a WR2 in fantasy.
It’s hard to say if Coleman’s trade to Buffalo is a better or worse situation. The Bills have managed to screw up with the likes of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Plus, this offense just doesn’t figure to be very good. At least in the foreseeable future. Because Coleman was a 1st rounder just two years ago, we’re willing to hold out hope. For now.
Hurns gets a fresh start in 2018 with Dallas. The 26-year-old receiver hasn’t quite been the same since 2015 when he went over 1,000 yards and caught 10 TDs in 15 games. If there’s something to look forward to, it’s the fact that he has a real chance to be the Cowboys’ No. 1 right away. More than likely he will be competing with rookie Michael Gallup for that role.
At 33-years-old and coming off easily his worst season since his rookie year, it’s hard to envision Nelson being a significant fantasy option in 2018. Add in the fact he’s going from the best quarterback in the league, to just a pretty good one in Derek Carr, and it’s even harder to picture the Jordy Nelson we used to know. Still, reports from Raiders’ camp suggest he looks fresh and young, and if he can somehow regain his form from even two years ago, Nelson has a chance (albeit a small one) to once again be a top 25 receiver.
Fitzgerald’s career looked like it was going nowhere following 2014. At that time he was coming off a season in which he caught just 63 passes and 2 TDs in 14 games. Instead, he’s taken the path of Frank Gore and become a true iron man at the receiver position. Fitzgerald will be 35-years-old when the season starts, but three straight 100+ reception seasons suggests he’s nowhere close to being finished. The only reasons he’s so low in our rankings is because of his current 1-year deal and the fact he could very well retire after 2018.
The Rams showed their trust in Gurley this offseason by making him the highest paid running back in the league. Gurley’s 4-year/$60 million extension ensures he’ll be a staple in L.A. for basically his entire prime. At just 24-years-old, he’s already one of the best three RBs in the league in a very good offense.
With Elliot’s off-the-field issues in the rear view mirror, the Cowboys can once again focus their attention towards giving their workhorse RB a ton of carries behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. Elliot is still only 23-years-old and to this point has avoided any serious injury. He’ll be an elite player at the position for the next five years.
There’s no denying Bell’s talent when he steps on the field. He’s arguably the best dual threat RB in the league. The reasons he’s behind Elliot and Gurley are becoming somewhat of laundry list. First off, Bell enters age-26 season with over 1,500 total touches. While we wouldn’t expect a major drop off for at least two to three more seasons, it’s something to think about in a dynasty format. Throw in the injury past, off-the-field concerns, and the uncertainty of where he’ll be playing next season, and there’s a lot to consider when drafting Bell.
Fantasy owners are probably still frustrated with Johnson’s missed 2017 that it’s easy to overlook how dominant he was in 2016: Over 2,000 total yards, 20 TDs, 80 receptions. It was one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen. Even though Johnson will be 27 at the end of this season, he should be very fresh considering his injury was to his wrist and lot the lower body.
The hype surrounding Barkley seems to build by the minute. At 6′, 235 lbs., with sub-4.4 speed, the former Penn State standout is as close to a sure thing as we’ve seen. He may be a better prospect than fellow Big 10 back Ezekiel Elliot. For now, we’ll still need to see him do it at the NFL level before moving him up in our rankings. It’s important to keep in mind the Giants O-Line woes over the last several years. This has been one of the worst running teams for some time. With Barkley though, that will probably change.
Before his knee injury in week 4 of the 2017 season, Cook looked like another running back primed for a massive rookie season. All reports from Vikings’ camp suggests the knee is 100%, and the training wheels are off. Cook has the most potential out of all the other 2nd-year backs, and that’s why he’s this high on our list.
Kamara’s rookie season was nothing short of special. The rookie back had 81 receptions to go along with 13 total TDs and a 6.1 ypc average on his way to becoming a top 5 fantasy option regardless of format. While we would expect the ypc average to come down a bit, he should actually have more opportunity this year with Mark Ingram suspended the first four games.
If one spectacular rookie RB wasn’t enough, then just take at Hunt’s 2017 numbers. The Toledo product took advantage of a preseason knee injury to Spencer Ware and churned his way to over 1,600 total yards and 10 TDs. That was good enough for a top 5 fantasy finish in all formats. Hunt should continue to act as the Chiefs’ lead back for years to come.
If you believe Ron Rivera when he says McCaffrey could see 25-30 touches per game in year 2, then we may have a top 5 fantasy option on our hands. We’re not quite as optimistic. While he’s a good bet to catch 80+ passes again, McCaffrey probably won’t see more than 13-15 carries/gm.
Fournette was the most heavily used rookie last season in terms of carries on a per game basis. In fact, his 21 carries per game trailed only Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliot. If he can avoid the foot and ankle injuries that caused him to miss three games in 2017, then Fournette is destined to be a very good back for years to come.
Mixon is the one back in this group who didn’t flash much in his rookie season, but still provides loads of upside. With Jeremy Hill now in New England, Mixon figures to be in line for a lot of 1st and 2nd down carries. Gio Bernard will still have his role, but it would be a major disappoint if Mixon didn’t see well over 200 carries.
While Gordon has been somewhat unimpressive at times (has yet to top 4.0 ypc), his consistency and usage over the last two seasons can’t be ignored. Gordon finished as a top 8 back in both 2016 and 2017. He’s also a good bet to get 250+ carries and 40+ catches. When it’s all said and done, Gordon’s opportunity almost automatically lands him as a top 10 fantasy back.
Henry finally gets his chance to be the Titans’ lead back in 2018. The addition of Dion Lewis certainly dampers that a bit, but Henry is still a good bet to see 220+ carries and 25+ catches. Where he’ll earn his pay is in the red zone. We have him slated at 10 TDs for 2018, and at just 24 years old with minimal wear and tear, he’s just getting started.
Guice is currently our 2nd ranked rookie running back for 2018. He was projected by many as a 1st round prospect but end up falling all the way to the end of the 2nd round. While the passing down duties will still belong to Chris Thompson, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Guice carry the ball 230+ times in year one.
Along with the entire Atlanta offense, Freeman’s production took a hit in 2017. His fantasy ppg dipped by nearly 3.5 points. On top of that Freeman had his lowest rushing yards and receiving totals since his rookie season. 2018 should be a bounce back season for the 26-year-old running back. For dynasty purposes, this is also the last year of Tevin Coleman’s deal, meaning Freeman could we eyeing career high workloads in 2019 and 2020.
It’s a little disappointing that the Seahawks appear they will be use a 50/50 split between Chris Carson and Penny to at least start the season. Carson has impressed and has actually been named at atop the depth chart early in camp. But don’t let that fool you for the long term. Seattle didn’t spend a 1st round pick on Penny to have him splitting carries for long. He has the potential to be one of the top 2 or 3 backs from this class and a perennial top 10 RB in fantasy.
Like Penny, we received some bad camp news for Michel. This time it’s because of injury. The rookie out of Georgia could miss a significant amount of time in August which will almost certainly affect his ability to get on the field early in the regular season. The good news is the Patriots used a 1st round pick on Michel for a reason, and in dynasty formats he’s a good bet to be featured in New England’s offense for years to come, even if it isn’t a great situation in 2018.
Howard enters 2018 coming off back-to-back top 10 fantasy seasons in non-PPR formats. Over that time, he’s averaged 264/1,1218/8. At 6’1″ and nearly 225 lbs., there’s no reason to believe he won’t hold up and sustain those numbers; or at least close to it assuming the Bears stick with him. While he doesn’t offer quite as much in PPR formats, it has been said he’s worked on his pass-catching a lot this off-season.
It may seem a little crazy to have Coleman inside our top 20 rankings, especially considering he’s never had more than 160 carries or 700 yards in any of his first three seasons. The big thing we’re banking on here is Coleman’s potential opportunity AFTER this season. The 4th-year pro’s contract is set to expire after 2018 and will likely be out from under Devonta Freeman’s shadow. He’s only 25 years old with a lot of tread on the tires.
Drake sure did look like a lead back the final five weeks of 2017. Take his 88.4 PPR points over that stretch, and calculated over a 16-game season he would have finished as RB6. The 17.68 points/gm he averaged were 8th best. Smoke and mirrors, or something more?
While Jones’ USC tape doesn’t necessarily turn heads all the time, this is more about the opportunity he’s going to have in a (hopefully) good offense for years to come. It’s already been said that Jones may see 15+ touches in year 1. That’s a better situation than most rookie RBs right off that bat.
The most prolific rusher in Oregon football history, Freeman was selected by the Broncos in round three of the 2018 NFL Draft. He could have a decent opportunity to step in and have an immediate impact now that C.J. Anderson is in Carolina. While he figures to compete with Devontae Booker to begin the season, Freeman could very well win that job outright.
Ingram had a career year in 2017, finishing as RB6 in both PPR and non-PPR formats. The bad news is he also got slapped with a 4 game suspension to begin the 2018 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Though he’ll be 29 in December, Ingram has never had more than 230 carries in a season, so it’s quite possible he still has two to three more years in the tank.
Ajayi followed up a 2016 season that saw him finish as RB11 with a not-so-great RB36 finish in 2018. To be fair, Ajayi was traded from Miami to Philadelphia mid-season, and never really got the type of workload fantasy owners had hoped for. Ajayi never reached 20 carries and topped 78 rushing yards just once after becoming a member of the Eagles.
While I’m not ready to move Johnson ahead of some his fellow rookie RBs in dynasty, I’ve already begun to move him up in redraft formats. Thought Detroit isn’t the perfect landing spot, Johnson has looked good so far in the preseason both rushing and catching the ball out of the backfield. There doesn’t figure to be a lot of competition for early work, so Johnson has a decent chance to finish as one of the best two or three rookie RBs in 2018.
At 30 years old and nearly 2,200 career carries, Shady is more than likely heading down the final stretch of his playing days. On top of that, he’s also dealing with perhaps an ugly off-the-field domestic dispute. McCoy isn’t a player with a ton of upside left. particularly in dynasty formats.
The Seahawks might still be kicking themselves for letting Collins go prior to the start of the 2017 season. As for Collins, he made out just fine in Baltimore, finishing the season as RB16 in non-PPR formats. If the Ravens commit to handing him the ball more (just 212 carries), it’s very possible he winds us as a top 12 RB.