So you have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 fantasy football draft. Now what?

For your sake, I’m hoping it goes better than previous years. The No. 1 pick has been kind of a curse recently, with No. 1 pick David Johnson getting hurt in 2017, Antonio Brown finishing 35th in fantasy scoring in 2016, and Jamaal Charles getting injured in 2015.

The 2018 season will represent another challenge, too, since there’s more than just a couple of options to consider.

Oftentimes, it’s a fairly open and shut case about who should be taken No. 1. Last year, it was between Le’Veon Bell and Johnson, but the majority opted for Johnson. And in 2015, it was between Charles and Adrian Peterson, and the majority went for Charles.

Both turned out disastrous.

This season, there should be at least four names, and possibly five, depending on how much you value the wide receiver position for the top spot. Here’s my order of who should get drafted at the top of fantasy football drafts.

Le’Veon Bell is a monster in fantasy football. He should be considered the No. 1 pick in the 2018 fantasy football draft. Flickr

1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Nobody is more consistent than Bell. Even though he ranked 58th in yards per carry in 2018, he still was consistently a top-tier fantasy running back, finishing behind only Todd Gurley for the season.

What makes Bell a consistently attractive option is the amount of volume he produces. Rarely are players game-flow proof, but Bell fits in that category better than any player in the NFL. He averaged 28.47 touches per game, the best among NFL players in 2017, the third consecutive year of finishing in the top-two in that category.

For all the good Bell brings, there is drama. He’s threatening to hold out if the Steelers place the franchise tag on him again. There also is some uncertainty with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who aids Bell’s fantasy numbers as much as anyone.

However, the offensive line should once again be dominant, so Bell has plenty of upside. And I can’t dismiss his consistency and volume. He always gets plenty of volume and the Steelers offense consistently puts up points. He’s the safest No. 1 pick.

2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Elliott and Johnson are interchangeable. Both are really good runners who can contribute in the backfield.

But I’ll give Elliott the slight edge based on offensive ability. The Cowboys have a better offensive line than Arizona and they have a better quarterback.

That should take some focus off of Elliott, allowing him to maneuver better against opposing offenses. In limited action in 2017, Elliott finished just behind Bell in touches per game at 28. Elliott finished third in that category in 2016.

Elliott is showing some flashes as a target out of the backfield and will once again gobble up the carries on a run-first team. There are some weaknesses, though, as Johnson, Bell and Todd Gurley all catch the ball better out of the backfield.

But I believe I have a better team with the Cowboys. That should help Elliott not only gain yards, but reach the end zone.

3. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

The darling of 2016 crashed back to earth with an injury in week 1 in 2017.

But I won’t allow an injury to cloud my judgment on Johnson’s unique ability to also be game-flow proof.

Johnson is every bit as dynamic as Bell in the backfield as a receiving target. During his breakout season in 2016, Johnson averaged the second-most touches of any player, and registered just 0.3 fewer targets per game than Bell.

His yards per carry wasn’t great during 2016, but he has a nose for the end zone, with 20 touchdowns in 2016, the most of any position player.

Like Bell and Elliott, there are some drawbacks. Is he injury-prone? I know that’s not fair, but it’s a question that has to come up when considering him in 2017. And without a stable quarterback, how dynamic can that Cardinals offense be? With Bell, you’ll get a known commodity in the Steelers offense. With Johnson, he may be the only player worth owning on hist team, which can create too much focus on him from opposing defenses.

With Johnson, there is some risk. The basement is lower, but the ceiling is as high or higher than the rest of the players on this list.

4. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Brown represents pretty much the only wide receiver who I value on a consistent basis.

He’s a machine in targets. He’s a machine in catching touchdowns. And he’s going to be at the top of pile at the end of the season among fantasy wide receivers.

He’s just always consistent. And had it not been for an injury at the end of 2017, he would have easily led all receivers in fantasy points.

The biggest drawbacks to Brown, though, is that the wide receiver position has been devalued in recent years. You can find wide receivers on the waiver wire, and while Brown is better and more consistent than any other wide receiver, there are a handful of running backs who outscore him.

But the running back pool actually may be a bit deeper in 2018, so using a high draft pick on Brown may be warranted, as long as you invest in running backs in the next two picks.

5. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Doesn’t it just feel like you’re going to get some regression?

I had a similar feeling with Adrian Peterson a few years ago when he was injured early in the season. He was ranked in the top-three in fantasy football, but there was just something about that season that didn’t feel right.

I have that same feeling with Gurley in 2018.

He had some monster efforts in 2017. He basically won me a fantasy football championship. But there were games sandwiched in the middle where he was fairly average.

And I’m still not so sure how good he is out of the backfield as a receiver. His yards per target were ridiculous in 2017. He averaged 5.8 targets per game and averaged a little more than nine yards per target.

In the history of the NFL, only five players have averaged more than nine yards per target during a career.

So I don’t anticipate that will continue. The yardage should go down and the NFL is a tricky league, where innovative offenses usually have a difficult time in year two. Defensive coordinators will catch up to Sean McVay, which could have a devastating effect on Gurley.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *