Fantasy Football is one of the most addicting and competitive activities to come along in recent memory. Everyone enjoys getting together with a group of close friends, throwing back some beers, and posting colored stickers atop a large draft board. However, for those serious competitors, winning is everything. Drafting, strategizing, and researching almost takes on a second life. Players are constantly looking for a way to get ahead, looking to hit on the undrafted gem or pluck the next James Connor off the waiver wire. Those are the type of moves that can win you a league. Without further ado here are the guys you want to target and avoid in your fantasy drafts.
The Tampa Bay offense was kind to fantasy owners last season. Whether it was Ryan Fitzpatrick or Winston, the position was consistently putting up QB 1 numbers week in and week out. Armed with a true number one WR in Mike Evans, and emerging WR in Chris Godwin (more on him later), a reliable RedZone target Cameron Brate, and one of the best young TEs in the NFL in OJ Howard; Winston is the ideal candidate to target later in the draft (ADP 164) and still get elite QB production without paying a premium.
Drew Brees is a HOF QB and one of the best pure pocket passers to ever grace the gridiron. However, he is also 40 years old and 2018 marked the first time in 13 years he has not eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark. While Michael Thomas provides a nice security blanket for the veteran signal-caller, the WR corps outside of Thomas is barren. With the departure of Mark Ingram, the Saints lost their true bell-cow back and putting all their eggs in the Alvin Kamara Basket is not one I choose to shop from. Drew Brees will finish as a top 12 QB but I am not biting at his current ADP. You can find better value later in the draft
League Winner- Matt Ryan
Just two years removed from his NFL MVP season, Matt Ryan has quietly built a HOF resume. He has eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark in 8 straight seasons and finished last season just 76 yards shy of his first 5,000-yard season. His 35 TD passes were only three less than his MVP season. He quietly finished third in both passing yards and TD passes. He did all this with one of the best pass-catching backs shelved for the season. Davonta Freeman is now healthy and ready to roll. Simply put Matt Ryan was a fantasy stud. His plethora of weapons feature the best WR in football (Julio Jones), and emerging former first rounder in Calvin Ridley, a reliable slot target (Mo Sanu), and an underrated TE in Austin Hooper. You can make a case for the Falcons having the best weapons in football. You can also make a case as Matt Ryan is the best QB Value in Fantasy.
Target – Darwin Thompson
The Chief’s backfield has been a gold mine for fantasy players. We have seen this system produce constant RB 1 production from guys like Kareem Hunt, Damien Williams, Charcandrick West, and Spencer Ware. While he may lack the star cache of a Kareem Hunt, make no mistake about it Darwin Thompson is the most talented back in the Chief’s stable. Andy Reid has proven since his days in Philadelphia to be a RB whisperer, and although I’m sure Andy would prefer a nice steak, Thompson seems to be the apple of his eye. The 6th round pick quickly displaced Carlos Hyde and pushed his way atop the team’s depth chart, splitting first-team reps with Williams. With Williams’ lack of proven track record, Thompson is one of the few late-round targets that could provide you with RB 1 upside. He should be drafted in every league. If you have already drafted, stop reading and go pick him up.
Pass – Phillip Lindsay
Lindsay was a wonderful story last season. An undrafted free agent from Colorado Boulder who was a long shot to make the roster and ended up taking the starting job and running with it. A guy who went from living in his parent’s basement to NFL household name in just a few short months. Everyone loves an underdog story, but then again everyone likes to get carried away by that underdog story too. Royce Freeman was a huge bust for fantasy purposes last season, but he’s still a guy the Broncos think highly of. Lindsay’s calling card last seasons was his consistent production. However, he topped the century mark only three times last season, scoring double-digit TDs twice. Lindsay can provide solid flex production if he were to slide, but at his ADP he is nowhere capable of being a solid RB2. He is better left on draft boards.
League Winner Kalen Ballage
This is a man with RB 1 upside that can be had past the 8th round. Oozing with talent, the 6-foot 2 231 pound back from Arizona State will look to capitalize on starter Kenyan Drake’s ineffectiveness and current injury to leap to the top of the Dolphins depth chart. Given a shot last season, Ballage responded in week 15 with a 12/123/1 stat line running against a stout Vikings front 7. Off to Buffalo is Frank Gore and his 168 touches. Ballage is in prime position to absorb the majority of those touches and then some. Last year I hit on guys like Marlon Mack, James Connor, and Nick Chubb late in drafts. This is the late-round flier that can win you a league this season.
Nick Nazzario (The statistically superior Mr. Roto)