Preeminent vs The Undistinguished: Ranking Rookie Quarterbacks

Welcome to my rookie rankings based on my recent article detailing differences between prospects drafted in round 1-5 versus 6-7+UDFA! I figured out an interesting way to not only help everyone draft more successful teams, but to know how to value positions a little better going forward.

To get the breakdown you can visit the previous article here which has the thread that started it all as well.

New Users get a FREE $3 Entry with promo Code “TOP2”

I’m Going to Let You Finish but First…

Before I begin, I’d like to add a little more detail into the success of the QB position. Quarterback has less success than any other fantasy skill position (QB, WR, TE, RB). The twitter thread discussed rounds 6-7/UDFAs but what about the other rounds?

In the last 10 years, only 9 quarterbacks not drafted in the first round have averaged at least 184 fantasy points per season, in standard quarterback scoring formats. 184 fantasy points is equal to the average QB24 finish in that same time span-meaning that just the following players have become fantasy football relevant without being drafted in the first round:

RoundName
2Andy Dalton
2Colin Kaepernick
2Derek Carr
2Geno Smith
3Russell Wilson
3Nick Foles
3Jacoby Brissett
4Dak Prescott
4Kirk Cousins

No quarterback drafted after round 4 has become fantasy football relevant over the past 10 seasons.

With that being said, it tempers my expectations when ranking my quarterbacks. This isn’t to say I’m counting them out or they’re not in a good spot, it’s just part of how I value said player.

Before I get into these ranks. I don’t do all-inclusive ranks because whenever you draft, it’s all about NEED. Best available at each position is how I do things. Sure, some drafts you just take best available, but it’s just common practice for me to rank everyone separate. Also, these ranks factor in landing spot, draft stock and depth chart.

The Preeminent Tier

RankRoundNameTeam
11Kyler MurrayCardinals
21Dwayne HaskinsRedskins
32Drew LockBroncos
4 1Daniel JonesGiants
53Will GrierPanthers
64Jarrett StidhamPatriots
73Ryan FinleyBengals

The Undistinguished Tier

86Easton StickChargers
96Clayton ThorsonEagles
106Gardner MinshewJaguars
116Trace McSorelyRavens
12UDFATyree JacksonBills
13UDFABrett RypienBroncos
14UDFAJordan Ta’amuRaiders
15UDFAJacob DolegalaBengals
16UDFADavid BloughBrowns
17UDFAKyle ShurmurChiefs
18UDFADevlin HodgesSteelers

You may not be drafting the “undistinguished” as starters but what I do see, is that guys like these will be great spot starts when the starters go down. Some of them will need a good matchup too, but like I said, “dont count them out”. As always with this tier, leave them on waivers or stash them for rainy day “break if nececssary” type situations.

Next Time On the Preeminent vs the Undistinguished….

We’ll be getting into tight ends!

Opportunity vs Ability: NFL Smarts in Rookie Drafts

We all know a kid sometime in our past who had all the talent in the world, but never made it. It could’ve been due to many different circumstances like money for college, more important responsibility at home, couldn’t stay out of trouble and so on. It still doesn’t change the fact that sometimes people just miss out.

In terms of the NFL, you have to add in the fact that every scouting department isn’t created equally and even if they were, they don’t make the choices. The ones choosing could be sold on someone who is just terrible compared to other guys, but there’s nothing we can do about it. The only things we can do is hedge those decisions for fantasy, which is what I’m here to help you do.

Opportunity’s Call

When dealing with fantasy football we like to have guys who have a huge opportunity share in the offense (or defense with IDP leagues). History shows we have to be the same with our rookie drafts.

Here’s why you should, for the most part, avoid guys (with your high picks) drafted in the 6-7 rounds and undrafted free agent pools:

In last 10 years, here are some of the hits for 6-7 rounders and UDFAs. From a recent conversation I had, I decided to change it from an all inclusive 100 PPR points or 6.25 ppg, to position specific. My baseline for success for each position was someone you’d be flexing or starting in most leagues.

Quarterbacks (3 year average of the QB24 = 184 points)

7 QBs have had success in rounds 6-7 with only 4 out of the 7 having done it more than once:

Tom Brady, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel

The UDFA to accomplish this feat:

Tony Romo, Case Keenum and Kurt Warner.

Wide Receivers (3 year average of the WR36 = 166 points)

6 receivers have done it with only 4 out of 6 having done it more than once:

Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Pierre Garcon & Steve Johnson.

20 UDFAs did it with just 9 of them doing it more than once. The most notable:

Wes Welker, Doug Baldwin, Victor Cruz, Adam Thielen, and Willie Snead

Michelle Magdziuk @BallBLastEm made a great observation that cannot be over looked:

Running Backs (3 year average of the RB36 = 134 points)

9 running backs were a RB36 or better and only 6 of them did it more than once:

Rashad Jennings, Alfred Morris, Latavius Murray, Theo Riddick, Andre Ellington, and Justin Forsett

The undrafted accomplished this 22 times with 12 having continued success:

Fred Jackson, Isaiah Crowell, Adrian Foster, Pierre Thomas, Danny Woodhead, C.J. Anderson, Joique Bell, LeGarette Blount, Chris Ivory, Ryan Grant, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Mike Tolbert

Tight Ends (3 year average of the TE24 = 93 points)

The TEs that have done it:

Charles Clay, Zach Miller, Brandon Myers, Mychal Rivera, and Ryan Griffin

The only undrafted free agents to do it:

Antonio Gates, Cameron Brate, Jack Doyle, Will Tye, Jake Ballard, Trey Burton, Larry Donnell, and Tim Wright

It’s simple, if the TEAM invests in them, WE have to invest accordingly. The caveat here is that you don’t forget about the late round/UDFA guys.

Allen Iverson’s Law: Talkin’ Bout Practice

One of the best practices is the utilization of your local taxi squad IF you have the room or regular roster if you have the spots. If through the draft process, you found a guy or guys whom you’ve just become enamored with, GO GET THEM. Don’t be dissuaded from getting your guys, just utilize your own draft capital for guys with true draft capital. This is because on average, for every position except quarterback, 1-2 guys per year emerge from that murky junkyard of 6-7 rounders and undrafted free agents to become PPR relevant at least once. Some of these guys end up with long term success, A LOT don’t.

A Rule of Thumb:

There is a much bigger area for “boom-bust” in 6-7/udfa areas than rounds 1-5.

Which is why I believe that these guys are sometimes better served for waivers later on. If they don’t end up free agents in your league, it’s ok. Let someone hold onto your asset for you until it’s time to obtain. Once that player starts tracking for success, you have to act before the price raises or otherwise you over pay in a trade vs making that asset a throw in for an otherwise “underwhelming” trade in the eyes of everyone but you. It’s all about timing. The trick is to not go in to negotiations showing your hand and you’ll be just fine.

Another good practice is to grab these guys when an injury happens to guys ahead of them on the depth chart. This is generally a key time where they can begin to be able to garner more snap counts (time on the field) if they perform well enough.

Going Forward

My pinned thread from Twitter and this article are just a warm-up for a series of articles and rankings so, be on the lookout for those, which will come directly after this.

A small hint to my ranking content-they will be different than you’ve seen before! Hopefully this has helped you prepare for your rookie drafts, stay tuned!

Kenny Golladay is the Most Valuable Wide Receiver in Detroit

I believe 2018 will mark the breakout of Kenny Golladay. I am the conductor of the Kenny Golladay hype train and I am asking everyone who plays fantasy to come along for the ride. There were flashes of his talent in 2017, but injuries kept him from be able to do more. This article is your definitive argument for taking him over Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.

Overtaking Marvin Jones

The hierarchy in the Lions passing games is important to look at. Golden Tate is going to be the most targeted again in 2018 and he plays a much different role than Golladay. I expect  Golladay to surpase Marvin Jones as the top target on the outside for Matthew Stafford.

Jones had a very good 2017 season, but that included playing above what he had done in his career to this point. Jones led the league in yards per catch, averaging 18 yards for every reception. His career average is actually 15 yards per catch, which leads me to believe that number will be coming down in the coming season. Jones found the end zone 9 times on 107 targets. The previous 2 seasons he was targeted 103 times and scored 4 times, which tells me he will not repeat those 9 TDs in 2018. 2017 was the best case scenario for Jones and he’s not likely to repeat.

In his rookie season Golladay averaged 17 yards per catch and had a 58.3% catch rate, which is slightly better than the 57% catch rate of Jones. While Golladay only has a small sample size, he has flashed the ability to match the numbers Jones did in 2017 and since he is younger it is more likely he will improve year over year. Once Golladay starts to show more on the field I see the Lions shifting more of the passing game focus to him. The Lions would be smart to get an idea of what this talented young WR’s ceiling looks like, we have seen that for Jones already and he is unlikely to repeat his career season from 2017. The Lions are likely going to be 3rd in their division and developing Golladay into a potential breakout star will be more beneficial to them in the long run than see Jones regress a little and continue to be a solid starter.

Opportunity is Not an Issue

In 2017 Detroit lined up with at least 3 WRs on the field on 75.7% of plays, so Golladay will be on the field plenty. The last 5 weeks of the season Golladay was on the field for at least 76.2% of offensive snaps, Detroit will have him on the field and would be foolish not to utilize him. He stands at 6-4 and has been called Babytron by some because of his physical presence. To start the season, in 3 WR sets Detroit will have Tate will man the slot and Jones will draw coverage leaving Golladay to face lesser defenders which will provide him with the change to shine.

His size will make him a valuable red zone weapon for the Lions and he is likely to draw some of the targets that went to Eric Ebron in 2017. Ebron was targeted 86 times and his replacement Luke Willson has never seen more than 40 targets in a season. It is easy to look at the Lions offense and find around 100 targets for Golladay in 2018. He has the talent to generate a lot of value with that volume and be a real asset for fantasy.

The early reports out of camp and comments from the team have been positive. I know this time of year most reports are positive, but I do think what the team is saying speaks to their plans to involve Golladay in the offense more after injury limited him in 2017. He has the talent and as long as he gets this chance he will earn more targets with this play.

Late Round Value

The best thing about Golladay is that he represents big upside; he is being picked towards the end of the 12th round as the 56th WR off the board according to Fantasy Football Calculator. At this price, if you hit even on a player that is usable in the flex it is a big win. Using a late round pick on a young, talented WR who has a great QB throwing the ball his way seems like an easy pick to make. Hitting on late round breakouts is the kind of thing that helps win titles, and Golladay is one of favorite targets in 2018 drafts. If I am wrong and the Lions do not utilize him at that price he is easy to move on from.

Now is the time to get in on Golladay, especially in dynasty leagues, if you miss the breakout you will need to pay up next season for his services. Get on the hype train before it is too late.

Grading the Pros & Cons of All 2nd Round ADPs

We all know the heroes of the first round; Bell, Zeke, Gurley are consensus top 3 with a swath of young RBs falling after them across ADP rankings everywhere. For this article, we look at the players who are going in the second round according to FantasyFootballCalculator’s 12 team, Redraft, PPR ADP rankings, and what their pros and cons are at their draft spot. I must say, there’s some mind-boggling players still available at the start of the second round that are values where they are.

2.01 – Odell Beckham Jr.: A+ Value

Pro: You’re getting OBJ at the turn! The last two years this guy was a top 6 pick. Unfortunately for him, injuries and a terrible Giants team has led him to drop. Nonetheless, he still is a young, elite WR who can be uber dangerous over the middle on slant routes. The Giants made improvements to their O-line and added a young back that could be a workhorse which means OBJ can have more time to be free and less eyes on him as he runs wild all over defenses.

Con: Exactly that, there are many mouths to feed on the Giants. Surely Beckham Jr. is the centerpiece, but Barkley may take over as Eli’s play continues to decline and the ability to move the ball offensively comes on the ground and not in the air. He’s still competing with Engram and Sterling Shepard who are of lesser talent and ability but can still perform well and be targets for Manning and OBJ gets the double team from defenders. Also, injuries, he has a history and we never really know if Odell will get a full 16 game season.

2.02 – Julio Jones: A+ Value

Pro: He is a freak of a human specimen. Arguably one of the most dominate receivers with big play ability. He’s used to being the defensive focal point and still producing numbers. Last season he eclipsed 80 receptions for over 1,400 yards and saw the highest volume of targets on from Matty Ice. Things won’t change much with only added benefit coming in the way of young rookie Calvin Ridley,who will warrant defensive attention and give Jones the chance to dominate.

Con: His redzone production has decreased over the last 3 years. 8-6-3 has been the descending order of TDs that he’s caught. We’re not quite sure why; maybe it’s a harder coverage that defensives put on him when they get inside the 20, maybe it’s pressure? Inside the 10-yard mark, Jones received over 30% of targets in 2017. His catch rate? 36%. Something has to change otherwise owners will be praying for more 1,000 yard seasons and high volume of catches. But, if that marriage of redzone efficiency with total overall play can happen, you’re getting a value at 2.02 when he should be a 1.04/5 player.

2.03 – Devonta Freeman: B+ Value

Pro: 2015 and 2016 were the years of Freeman. He was in the conversation as top 6 pick worthy and on par with DJ, Bell, and Zeke. He has dual threat ability that can change games. In both seasons he eclipsed 1,000 yards with 11 TD JUST ON THE GROUND. Through the air he saw even better usage averaging roughly 8 yards per catch. He can do it all and Ryan knows this and trusts him. They had an offensive coordinator change that may have affected him in 2017 but he had another off-season to work with him and got paid, I expect big things from him this year.

Con: 2017 was a down year for Freeman. With less than 200 rushing attempts and less than 40 catches, his numbers weren’t great and only scored owners about 160 points. The reason? You could point to Sarkisian running the offense and not using Freeman right, and you can point to the injury. It came out after the season that he played most of it with a knee injury hampering him. He’s had time to address and correct that issue but how much does he improve? Does Sark come to his sense and realize he has a swiss army knife in the backfield that he should use? There’s a lot of questions and I find Julio and Devonta in a situation I see in the Giants, too many mouths to feed.

2.04 – Michael Thomas: A+ Value

Pro: He is the number one WR in arguably the most high-powered offense in the league. In his two seasons he’s caught more than 90 passes and beat 1,000 yards each time meaning his value in a full point PPR league is extreme, not to mention he did one of those seasons while considered the number 2 behind Cooks. His numbers should remain consistent especially with the saints losing Ingram for the start of the season. Brees will continue to lean on him even with the arrival of Cameron Meredith who I don’t see making much of an impact to Thomas’s stats.

Con: There really isn’t one. Teams can plan for him defensively, but this is a pick that I think you can’t go wrong with.

2.05 – Keenan Allen: B Value

Pro: He’s athletic and skilled with his routes, he can create a mismatch mostly anywhere and is coming off a 102-1,393-6 season so he has momentum going into the new season. He is a dream in PPR and has the added benefit of eating into the share of targets that would have been for Hunter Henry. Rivers doesn’t seem to age and continues his consistent play and combo that with Melvin Gordon keeping defensives honest, he has the perfect storm of a situation to see another 100 catch season.

Con: He’s an injury risk in the worst way, I’m sure he cost a lot of fantasy player some games in 2016 when he was only available for 6 catches before going down for the year. It was great to see him return in full but with Keenan, injuries always have to be in mind any time he goes down hard. He also has guaranteed match-ups with some of the top rated CBs in the league when he sees the Rams, Cardinals, and Broncos, meaning if he has even the slightest injury hampering him, those games could be a wash. Drafting him at 2.05 may be drafting him at his ceiling.

2.06 – Christian McCaffery: B- Value

Pro: As a rookie he had over 1,000 combined yards and 7 TDs. He was one of Carolina’s most consistent pass catchers with 80 catches. Those numbers and usage figure to go up in year 2. He has the speed and agility to be lethal out of the backfield which could be needed with the departure of guard Andrew Norwell.

Con: The panthers brought in CJ Anderson, who isn’t a slouch and just had the unfortunate luck of being behind a shoddy Broncos offensive line. He will certainly compete and take away carries from CMC especially in those “bruising” situations as he’s more of the power runner while CMC is the shifty receiving back. Also, Carolina brought in DJ Moore during the draft, a great, young receiver who will warrant targets from Newton thereby lessening the share for CMC. I think 2.06 is a reach on him, round 3 is where I have my target point on CMC, had they not signed Anderson, this may be a good spot to get great value on him.

2.07 – Devante Adams: B+ Value

Pro: He is now the top WR for arguably the best QB in the league. Green Bay relies on throwing the ball to move their offense and Adams will benefit from more targets because of that. Over the past 2 years as the number 2 behind Jordy Nelson, he still broke 70 catches AND double-digit touchdowns. I expect those numbers will rise as he assumes the role of Rodgers favorite target for every phase of the offense, not just the redzone. He’ll hit 90 catches and 10 touchdowns this year, quote me on it.

Con: He’s the number 1 receiver in an offense that can’t run the ball effectively meaning defenses know to focus their coverage packages on him. Rodgers obviously still has the ability to find Adams wherever the coverage is on him but it comes down to Adams’ ability to make the catch with the pressure of getting number 1 WR coverage. I also feel that this pick may be overpaying for him if you’re in a league with people who aren’t fantasy freaks but if you’re in a league WITH fantasy freaks, this could end up being a value grab towards the back of the second.

2.08 – AJ Green: A- Value

Pro: THIS SCREAMS VALUE. He has been a consistent 1,000 yard receiver (apart from when he went down with injury) even when the Bengals offense has been bad. He’s also done this, consistently, with under 80 catches. He’s seen over 100 targets in every single one of his seasons of play and I don’t think that will decrease. Green is a monster and has thrived regardless of what the Bengals have done elsewhere on their offense. They made improvements to their offensive line which we hope gives Dalton more time to throw. We expect a breakout sophomore year from Mixon who will warrant defensive attention, and all this spells great games for Aj Green.

Con: His catch percentage is low, 52% in the 2017 season. It certainly could be because he’s always blanketed in coverage, or that Dalton isn’t making the throws but it’s concerning when in a PPR league, you want those catches, you need them. He’s also reaching age 30 and while we’re seeing players play longer, we still don’t know when their cliffs are coming. He’s still a value here but where’s the cliff?

 

2.09 – Jerick McKinnon: C+ Value

Pro: He is elusive and can both run hard and catch out of the backfield. While he’s never been a feature back never eclipsing 600 rushing yards on a season, he has shown great hands and ability to be a receiver out of the backfield; from 2016 to 2017 he almost doubled his total receiving yards on only 8 more catches. I think he’s dangerous especially because he’s in Kyle Shanahan’s system; he’s improved shift RBs throughout his career (see Devonta Freeman BEFORE Sarkisian got there) and I believe that Shanahan and Jimmy G can turn McKinnon into a lethal, dual threat weapon.

Con: He’s never been a feature back with feature back workload. Some might say that’s not an issue but it still changes how his body will gather wear-and-tear throughout the year. Also, Matt Brieda showed a lot of promise for SanFran and some thought he may even assume the lead back role when Hyde left, if he shows growth and McKinnon doesn’t get off to the start that he’s getting paid to, Brieda will eat into his playing time. I think McKinnon is a reach at 2.09 when there’s still guys like Jordan Howard, at this spot you’re praying he gets 1k/1k like David Johnson so lustfully wants for himself.

2.10 – LeSean McCoy C+/B-

Pro: Oh how the mighty have fallen. McCoy used to be an early first rounder because of his ability to make cuts, find holes in the defense, and burst through. As well, his ability to be a receiving back is one that’s in the upper echelon of the league. Last year on a Bills squad that couldn’t figure it out he still garnered over 1,000 yards on the ground with almost 60 catches, he was their primary weapon and still will be giving him significant RB1 value.

Con: He’s going to be 30 and we all know how that goes for RBs. Not to mention, he does have an injury history. So, you’re taking a 30 year old, workhorse RB with a injury history, on a team that has terrible starting QBs in McCarron and Peterman (Oh please do not let Peterson start) AND they lost key starters on their offensive line? That’s a risky risky riskyyyy move. If they had top flight WRs I’d say this could work but they don’t really have that because Kelvin Benjamin can’t stay healthy. McCoy is their focal point, everyone knows that, and every defense playing them knows their QB is awful and their line is also now in the lower tier of the league due to injuries/retirements. I’d feel comfortable drafting McCoy in the end of the third/fourth round.

2.11 – Rob Gronkowski: A Value

Pro: No one has ever said Gronk is an easy matchup, defenses cannot handle him. When healthy, he’s guaranteed 1,000 yards in the air and he’s guaranteed to be Brady’s favorite redzone target, he even holds the current record for TDs in a season for tight ends. Last year he saw great production resulting in a 69-1,084-8 stat line with a 65% catch rate, those are pretty good stats for a guy who only played 14 games. You combine that with the Patriot’s genius when it comes to scheming against defenses and the fact that the GOAT is still quarterbacking at a high level and Gronk essentially becomes the game changer every week because there is such a wide gap between him and other TEs. The pats start off hot against 2 of what could be the leagues top defenses in Sacksonville and the Texans but then their schedule simmers down and gives Gronk the ability to play against weaker opponents.

Con: He hasn’t played a full season since his sophomore year. I think we all know that drafting Gronk means you’re playing on borrowed time and expecting to get up in the standings early in the season before he does miss time, it’s practically certain it will happen at this point. He’s also bounced around the thought of retirement which scares me because he’s always been a carefree guy and does that mean he will be carefree about his performance on the field this year?

2.12 – Mike Evans: B+ Value

Pro: He’s never had less than a 1,000 yard season which means Tampa loves to find him deep and often. He’s a big body wideout who gets physical and I love his play style, I think he in the upper echelon for receivers both from an impact and fantasy perspective. I think Tampa’s schedule will warrant them being in shootouts often and only maximizes the likelihood that Evans sees targets, he’s never seen below 120 targets in a season and that spells out mucho upside for him to perform often for his owners.

Con: Jameis isn’t reliable as a QB and is starting the season suspended. While he still is Winston’s favorite target, the QB can and does effect WRs so this must be a concern with owners both while Fitz makes the start and when Jameis comes back. While Evans does see a plethora of targets, his catch percentage is low, finishing last year with a 52% rating. Combine that with an even worse catch percentage when inside the 20 mark, 18.7%, and his hands or the positioning of the ball are worrisome, the only saving grace here is that he sees such a large amount of targets. Additionally, with that catch rate inside the 20 comes worries about the TDs and last year he had 5, the year before that 12, the year before that 3, the year before that 12, do you see the pattern that I do? He’s a roller coaster in the redzone so if you’re buying in 2018 you’re buying that the roller coaster will continue and he will have an up year for TDs.

***We know ADP changes frequently, when this article was created this was the order of ADP for the second round at that time according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s 12 team, PPR ADP ranking.

The Case for Dalvin Cook as a Top 5 Running Back

According to the Fantasy Football Calculator, Dalvin Cook is the 10th Running Back off the board in both PPR and Standard. He only rises to 9th when it becomes Dynasty. These ADPs are currently my best friend because the further we get into the preseason, the more I realize that Dalvin Cook should be the 5th Running Back off the board in all formats. It means that no matter what slot I pick from in the first round, I will be able to draft one of my top 5 RBs. Dalvin Cook should be drafted in before Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara (against the strong opinions of the @Top2Pod hosts – please give their RB rankings episode a listen!).

College Pedigree Worth Considering

Dalvin Cook holds the record at Florida State for the most career rushing yards (4,464) while only playing in three seasons. He also holds the school record for the most touchdowns (46). Two of his seasons sit on top of the single season rushing yards list for the school (1,765 in 2016 and 1,691 in 2015). Florida State plays in the ACC. The same conference as Pittsburgh (37), NC State (29), Louisville (18), Clemson (10), and Boston College (1). The number in parenthesis is the overall defensive rankings for the 2016 season in the NCAA. In other words, he was facing good defenses in that record breaking year.

Cousins Targets his Running Backs

Kirk Cousins has the ability to provide PPR value to his Running Backs. The only thing that has held this statistic from being even more impressive is the health of Chris Thompson. In 10 games (2017), Chris Thompson caught 39 passes for 510 yards and 4 touchdowns. If he had played 16 games while performing at the same level, that would have been 816 yards and 6 touchdowns. A counter argument might be, “Chris Thompson doesn’t play for Minnesota.” The answer to that argument would be, “Dalvin Cook plays the passing downs.” In the three full games before his injury (week 4), he played in 70% of snaps. Jerick McKinnon was used in the passing game after Cook’s injury, but McKinnon left town to be the 49ers lead back. Latavius Murray is not a passing down back. I’ll tell you a secret, he’s not as good as Dalvin Cook, either.

Injury Argument Shouldn’t Apply If You Have Watson Ranked Top 5

I’ve participated in several mock drafts with real people (please see the awesome Mock Draft Series Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). In those drafts, people are drafting DeShaun Watson incredibly high for the QB position. The similarities between Watson and Cook are oddly similar: Incredible talent out of college, was not the top pick in their respective position, lit up the stat sheets, played a truncated rookie season due to an ACL tear. Is the ACL tear really going to be part of the argument against Dalvin Cook while it is being completely ignored for DeShaun Watson? I certainly hope not.

Comparing Other Top Running Back Options

Player Avg Rush-YPG Avg Rec-YPG Avg TDs Avg Total YPG
Cook 101 26 0.6 126
Kamara 45.5 51.6 0.8 97
Fournette 80 23.2 0.6 103.2
Melvin 69.1 29.8 0.75 98.9
Hunt 69 28.4 0.7 97.4
Barkley NA NA NA NA

The stats tell similar tales. Some were used more in the red zone, but not by much. Some were used more in the passing game, but not by much (exception is Kamara, but his rushing yards bring the comparison back to reality). Since the stats are so close, here is my reasoning why I would draft Dalvin Cook over the 5 RBs immediately ahead of him in ADP.

Leonard Fournette – Cook’s stats are better. Fournette’s ankle issues will never go away. I believe it is safe to use the term “injury prone.” Fournette will miss games. Cook is safer.

Melvin Gordon – The stats are close. But despite Melvin Gordon’s relatively young age, his left knee has been problematic on multiple occassions: Torn meniscus in 2015 and sprained PCL in 2016, missing time both seasons. I like Melvin Gordon. If it weren’t for his injury history, this article could have been about him. But, I like Cook’s opportunity a lot more and I feel he is safer.

Kareem Hunt – Remember when Kareem Hunt disappeared for weeks on end? They have a new offensive coordinator, a rookie QB, a returning Spencer Ware…..and the same Andy Reid that made Hunt disappear for weeks on end. I’d still draft Hunt, but he is the second lowest in my personal rankings within this group.

Saquon Barkley – Saquon has skills and potential. I will not argue the higher ADP in Dynasty. In fact, I just barely disagree with it. But the Giants STUNK last season. I only see them stinking slightly less this year. Plus, Barkley has never touched an NFL ball. Unproven and bad team = lower ranking for me.

Alvin Kamara – Kamara has never been utilized as a feature back, not in college and not in the NFL. He might get a boost from Ingram missing the first 4 games, but we don’t have any evidence that he will be able to handle the workload. Once Ingram returns, it will go back to a timeshare. Those 2017 stats were magical and possibly not repeatable. If somebody is arguing for Kamara over Cook in PPR, they will receive a head nod from me even while I maintain my disagreement. I’m going to go with my gut.

My Rankings

Player Standard PPR Dynasty
Cook 5 5 5
Kamara 6 6 7
Barkley 7 7 6
Fournette 8 10 10
Melvin 9 8 8
Hunt 10 9 9

2018 Redraft RB Rankings

To quote Anakin Skywalker, this is where the fun begins. While QB rankings are fine and dandy, the fantasy community cares most about the running backs. My rankings are obviously subject to change and I even feel as if some people should already be moving up or down. However, I feel comfortable enough where everyone is enough to put it out into the fantasy world. Just like my QB ranks, the RB ranks will be split into 7 tiers and the players will be ranked according order they are revealed. So in this case, Ezekiel Elliott would be my RB1 and so on and so forth. So here are my Re-Draft PPR rankings for 2018.

Tier 1: Ezekiel Elliott (1), Todd Gurley (2), Le’Veon Bell (3) and David Johnson (4)

Here are the ELITE guys. If you get pick 1, 2, 3 or 4 in a re-draft league then congrats, you have the option to take one of the top guys at running back if you so please. On top of that, these 4 guys are interchangeable to be honest. They all are so close to each other that any one of them could be the RB1 this season. I won’t spend too much time on these guys because I feel as if everyone knows what they’ll be getting with these 4.

Tier 2: Alvin Kamara (5), Saquon Barkley (6), Kareem Hunt (7), Melvin Gordon (8), Dalvin Cook (9) and Leonard Fournette (10)

My most perplexing argument that I have heard this offseason is that Alvin Kamara can’t handle a full workload… what? Are you serious? This guy is a FREAK. He already is one of, if not THE, top receiving back in the league, which matters because these are PPR rankngs. He also averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season on 120 carries and added 8 rushing touchdowns to his 5 receiving touchdowns. Kamara is the real deal and he will absolutely NOT fall off in that offense. Barkley I’m ok with if you want to take him in the first round. His ADP is currently 1.07 and that’s about where Zeke was going in his rookie year. I doubt Barkley runs for 1,600 yards this year but I definitely think he’s an easy RB1 this season. Fournette worries me because dating back to college he has always been dinged up. I don’t doubt the talent, I just doubt the durability and that’s enough to scare me when talking about first round picks. I expect Hunt, Gordon and Cook to all have very good seasons. They are the alpha dogs in their respective offenses.

Tier 3: Jordan Howard (11), Christian McCaffrey (12), LeSean McCoy (13), Sony Michel (14), Derrius Guice (15) and Devonta Freeman (16)

I’ll be the first to tell you that McCaffrey is not an in between the tackles runner. He will never be that at the NFL level. The fact that a lot of people around the community think he will jut evolve into that this season is dumbfounding to me ESPECIALLY with CJ Anderson in town. Howard is a phenomenal talent who produced in his first 2 seasons in an awful offense. Enter Matt Nagy and I am now a firm believer in Jordan Howard. LeSean is at 13 out of respect for his talent and body of work but let me tell you, I don’t want any part of that Buffalo offense. As for the two rookies, I expect New England to realize that Sony Michel is the best running back they have by week 4 and maybe earlier than that. The fumbles are worrisome but until they happen, I am willing to give Sony and Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears the benefit of the doubt. I think Guice will have a serious chip on his shoulder. He’s THE guy in Washington and I expect him to prove why he shouldn’t have fallen so far in the Draft. Freeman worries me because of the injuries. A RB with his punishing style and concussion history is enough to scare me away.

Tier 4: Jerrick McKinnon (17), Kenyan Drake (18), Derrick Henry (19), Dion Lewis (20) and Alex Collins (21)

Take what I said about Christian McCaffrey and apply it to Jerrick McKinnon. I am not going anywhere near McKinnon and his ADP of 2.09. No thank you to a guy who averaged 3.8 and 3.4 yards per carry the past 2 seasons and that was with a better offensive line than he has right now in San Francisco. I have him this high because I believe in Jimmy G, I believe in Kyle Shanahan and I still think McKinnon’s receiving ability is enough to warrant RB2 territory. Nothing against Kalen Ballage but Kenyan Drake is the real deal and is not relinquishing that job in Miami. He is a VERY good running back and should be given 16 games and a full workload. Believe in Kenyan Drake. Henry and Lewis are tough calls but I fully believe Dion Lewis is the better back. They will make a great real life running back duo but not a great fantasy running back duo. If the Ravens don’t give Alex Collins 16 games as the starting running back then John Harbaugh should be fired and ashamed. Collins was incredible last season when he was finally given a true opportunity to produce.

Tier 5: Royce Freeman (22), Rashaad Penny (23), Jay Ajayi (24), Ronald Jones II (25), Mark Ingram (26),  Duke Johnson Jr. (27), Lamar Miller (28) and CJ Anderson (29)

Denver shouldn’t get cute with their running back situation. Booker is not the answer and Freeman should just be given as many reps with the top offense as possible. I think because of a lack of weapons at the receiver and tight end position, Rashaad Penny has a good chance to be the top option in Seattle and maybe number 2 at the worst due to Doug Baldwin’s presence. Ajayi being in an offense as good as Philly makes me believe he will produce as long as he stays healthy. I’m a little bullish on the Bucs offense as a whole but I do really like Ronald Jones II. The uncertainty at QB plus the coaching is what scares me in his case. Duke Johnson is a slam-dunk pick at his ADP of 8.07. I would take that production all day even with Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde in town. I have no faith in Lamar Miller and the only argument I have been hearing in favor of Miller is that he will be the starter. Sure, the offense is good but the Texans’ offensive line is just that, offensive. I can’t buy into Miller because even with Deshaun Watson playing, he still didn’t perform well. That combined with his ADP means I’m avoiding him. CJ Anderson should be higher in my rankings; I will flat out admit that. I think the split in Carolina is going to be a lot closer than people think and CJ isn’t even remotely close to finished at age 26.

Tier 6: Isaiah Crowell (30), Tevin Coleman (31), Joe Mixon (32), Marshawn Lynch (33) and LeGarrette Blount (34)

I’m going to use the Lamar Miller argument that people are using for Isaiah Crowell here. He is the starter on an offense and his ADP warrants some good value. I’m lower on Coleman than I have been in the past but I really hope Atlanta realizes that Coleman is leaving after this season and they decide to utilize him as much as possible knowing he’ll be elsewhere in 2019. I am floored by how many people are picking Joe Mixon early in fantasy drafts. What on earth were you watching last season and are 2 new offensive lineman in Cincy really enough of a difference for you to think otherwise? I don’t get it at all and I’m not touching Mixon with a ten-foot pole as long as he is under the terrible watchful eye of Marvin Lewis and the Bungles. Lynch actually had a better year than I thought last season. With a revamped offense and new system in place, he might be worth the risk in the late 7th round where he’s currently going. Blount should start out as the lead back in Detroit but I really do wonder how long it will take Kerryon Johnson to surpass him. I think Johnson will end up being the starter by the end of the season; it just depends on when he takes over to decide if he’s worth the roster spot.

Tier 7: Rex Burkhead (35), Tarik Cohen (36) and Aaron Jones (37)

Ok so I feel as if a lot of people view Burkhead as a possible dark horse to be the lead back in New England. I think they have it all wrong. Burkhead is a wide receiver who is listed as a running back. He is more of a receiving threat that can actually run in between the tackles every now and then. He is by no means a lead back. Cohen is being a little overhyped for a couple decent games last season. I think he’s a talented player but I have no idea why he is going ahead of guys like CJ Anderson, Marshawn Lynch and Isaiah Crowell. Aaron Jones is the most talented running back in Green Bay. Yes I mean RUNNING BACK not offensive player (looking at you Ty Montgomery).

Tier 8: Marlon Mack (38), James White (39) and Latavius Murray (40)

The jury is still out on Marlon Mack but the limited sample we saw last year was promising. If Luck returns to form then his job will be a lot easier plus the addition of Quenton Nelson is going to be huge for the Indy running game. I still expect James White to be relevant in PPR formats and he will remain the go-to pass catching back in New England. I expect Dalvin Cook to be managed a bit early on so Murray still retains some value.