Starting from the five hole, I knew I could get a top receiver, and that ended up being Odell Beckham Jr. I have little faith in Eli Manning, but I do have faith in the tremendous amount the Giants will be passing the ball in their hurry-up offense. Beckham ranked second in targets last season with 169, and even if Brandon Marshall causes that total to drop a bit, Beckham's targets this season should be a little better with Marshall on the other side.
My second pick was Mr. Rob Gronkowski of the Hampton Gronkowskis. He has been a league winner in the past, and you know he will be again if he can stay healthy. Gronkowski has played 15 games in two of his last three seasons, so it's not as if he is always hurt, and he will likely be babied in training camp and during practices. If you can get a season out of him, you know he will be head and neck muscles above the tight end pack.
For my third pick, I wanted to go wide receiver before all the top dogs had been adopted out, but I had a tough decision and, once again, went with upside over safety. Sammy Watkins has been bothered by injuries so far in his short career, but he's flashed plenty of great upside as well. Last season plagued by a foot injury, he was only able to get on the field for eight games and wasn't the same player he was in 2015 as he found the end zone just twice and only caught 28 passes. But even with those horrible stats, Watkins holds a nice line of 69 receptions, 1,162 yards and eight touchdowns over his last 16 games played. Yes, he's risky, but he could easily win you a league.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 1-3:
This draft went about as expected early. There weren't any outstanding values early, but I think Mr. Blount Rushmore's start with A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas is a nice one when we are starting four wide receivers and have a flex spot for another. There is a nice big group of top wide receivers, but they become a crapshoot quickly, and I can very much see them running out in this draft with 20 taken in the first three rounds.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 1-3:
The first round went about as planned, but this might be a good time to talk about our friend Ezekiel Elliott. The poor kid just seems to be running with a bad crowd. He's a nice kid. He would never do anything to hurt anyone. And so forth and so on. Despite his enablers, Elliott could serve a suspension this season, which puts his top-three status into question. I'm conflicted on where to take him while this possible suspension suspends over his head, but I also don't think he will see a large number of games if he is punished. So for now, I'm keeping him in my top five or six. I could see grabbing Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. before him, but his consistency on the field is going to be worth the early pick, even if he misses a few games. So this wasn't really a "bad" pick, but it is riskier than it was a few weeks ago.
MY PICKS, ROUNDS 4-6:
I started with two wide receivers and one tight end, but like I was saying earlier, I felt like the need in this draft was going to be wide receivers, so I got them while the gettin' was good. Michael Crabtree was there at 44th overall, which is earlier than his PPR ADP, but he was also the 24th wide receiver off the board, and his ADP is around the 22nd wide receiver taken. I like him here quite a bit, as he has been consistent and Derek Carr loves him in the red zone. Last season, Crabtree was the 12th-best fantasy receiver statistically and ranked 10th in targets. Even a slight dip in his numbers would still give him value at this pick.
Next was Mr. Brandon Marshall, who joins my No. 1 pick, Beckham, on my team. Last season, the Giants gave Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz and Will Tye 247 targets. Tye and Cruz are gone, and Marshall will take over Shepard's spot on the depth chart. Add that to the fact that Marshall is a beast in the red zone, and I don't see how he can't push 10 touchdowns. That's a nice number to get out of your fourth wide receiver.
My first running back is Eddie Lacy. He's not a sexy pick, but that's where we are when grabbing our first running back in the sixth round. Lacy has plenty of question marks, but he's slated to be the lead back in Seattle, who very much wants to get back to running the ball well. He'll have competition from Thomas Rawls and will lose targets to C.J. Prosise, but when healthy, Lacy can do everything you need on a football field and has a lot of upside.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 4-6:
I'm looking for strong PPR receiving running backs in this draft, so Bilal Powell going right before my Marshall pick made things a bit easier. I see Powell getting a ton of targets this season as the Jets struggle to contain opposing offenses.
The same is true with Danny Woodhead. This pick was made before news that Kenneth Dixon has a meniscus tear, but either way, we know Woodhead is going to be a target whore in this Baltimore offense, and when you go heavy on wide receivers early, you have to look for these receiving backs who can put up stable numbers despite not being a bell-cow three-down back.
Kelvin Benjamin is getting overlooked this season despite his No. 1 job still being intact. Yes, he's a fatty and is inefficient, along with his quarterback, but he will continue to have plenty of opportunity. We will see more work underneath to Christian McCaffrey, but that should only help Benjamin see better targets down field.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 4-6:
Jarvis Landry's upside took a big step back last season when Adam Gase pushed in a run-first offense with Jay Ajayi. Over the last 10 games of last year, Landry only saw 66 targets. And if you believe DeVante Parker is going to step up this season, Landry could see his targets really lose consistency, which has kept him as a PPR stud for a while now.
Martavis Bryant is likely going to put up some huge games this season, but with Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell in the picture, it will be tough to stay consistent. I would much rather have Jeremy Maclin or Kelvin Benjamin, both of whom went after him.
MY PICKS, ROUNDS 7-9:
I'm not overly in love with Paul Perkins, but it is notable that Ben McAdoo already named him the starting running back. My hope is that Perkins will also soak in the majority of the 114 targets the Giants' running backs saw last season. He has a wide range of outcomes this season, as the Giants haven't used their running backs well recently, but his PPR upside is quite high in this offense.
My next pick went for my old friend Eric Decker. I can't bear watching him fall too far in drafts. He's averaged an 8.3 percent touchdown rate in his career, and Marcus Mariota is a true stud in the red zone. Decker won't see the targets he's used to, but should still be extremely efficient as the Titans' No. 1 receiver.
James White fell to me in the ninth round. White is currently going off the board in ADP as the 40th running back in PPR leagues, which is crazy. Last season, he finished as the 25th-best fantasy running back in full PPR and was third in running back targets with 86. White now has a better grip on the receiving-back duties having signed an extension, while Dion Lewis's injury history has relegated him down the depth chart.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 7-9:
I am coming around to Dalvin Cook as a high-upside pick, especially in the seventh round. All reports are that he's excelled so far in practices and has done so both as a runner and receiver. It appeared that Latavius Murray would take goal-line work based on beat writers' guesses, but Murray is still not practicing, and Cook is likely just as effective near the goal line as Murray. By Week 1, Cook could be the every-down back for the Vikings, which would be a surprise to nobody.
John Brown could beat out Larry Fitzgerald in fantasy points this season if the reports of his health and speed from this offseason are accurate. Fitzgerald will still be the target leader, but Brown is the explosive play-maker on the team now, and the Cardinals can feed Brown in this offense.
Eric Ebron is hyping himself up, as are beat writers in Detroit, and I'm on board the hype train! His ADP hasn't shown a big jump yet, but I expect that to happen soon, as O.J. Howard is somehow ahead of Ebron in ADP, which is probably the dumbest thing ever seen by humans. Ebron has improved each season, and now he won't be asked to block as much with additional tight end help at the line. He also won't have to contend with Anquan Boldin hogging the red-zone targets. This is early for Ebron compared to his ADP, but I'd be more than happy grabbing him here.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 7-9:
Last season, Jimmy Graham had one game in which he saw double-digit targets and also had eight games in which he saw five or fewer targets, and 2016 was the most Seattle had passed the ball while Russell Wilson has been quarterback. Graham will be touchdown dependent, which most tight ends are, but this is too early for me for a tight end who couldn't hit 100 targets in what was a pass-friendly offense for Seattle last season.
I want so badly to believe that Hunter Henry will lead the Chargers in red-zone targets and tight end targets, but I think Antonio Gates is going to need his arms cut off at some point for that to happen. Philip Rivers loves Gates in the red zone, giving him 22 of his 93 targets there last season. Of course, Rivers was trying to get Gates the touchdown record for tight ends, so there was some extra emphasis, but I just don't know if Henry can get even the bulk of the targets between himself and Gates, so I'll wait until the dismemberment.
MY PICKS, ROUNDS 10-12:
I worried that Alvin Kamara was just a one-trick pony coming out of college, but the fact he landed in New Orleans and Brandin Cooks has landed in New England has me excited for Kamara's upside working out of the slot or backfield. As a rookie, we have to worry about him learning the offense, but at its most basic, Kamara should be able to help you in PPR leagues.
When I put together my Carolina projections, I couldn't help but give Jonathan Stewart healthy usage as the lead back, despite Christian McCaffrey joining the fray. Stewart should keep the early down and goal-line work, and at this point in this draft, it's going to be hard finding someone with as much usage upside.
This draft has a flex spot that allows for a tight end, so I figured a backup for Gronkowski isn't the worst idea. Hooper won't be a target magnet, but as the starting tight end for Atlanta, he will see a decent amount of work and more opportunities in scoring position than most of your late-round tight ends.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 10-12:
Doug Martin will miss four games due to his suspension, but he appears to have the starting job still under wraps for when he returns. Jacquizz Rodgers will lead the way while Martin is gone, but Martin should come out fresh in Week 5 and take over. This late in a draft, I'll take 12 games from a starting running back.
Chris Thompson, C.J. Prosise and Darren Sproles are three PPR backs who I think work well in this draft at this point. Prosise has the most upside, but all three should be nice flex or bye-week fillers.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 10-12:
Jamaal Charles is a good flier, but I don't think I'll take him over players who we know will get a good chunk of work. His chances for re-injury, ineffectiveness and getting cut are much higher than your average bear.
Any defense this early is always a bad pick.
MY PICKS, ROUNDS 13-15:
I went with Jacquizz Rodgers here for the first four games of the season and for the off-chance that he were to win work following Martin's return.
I waited on quarterback as did everyone else, but in Round 14, the value was too good compared to the chaff that remained. I went with Kirk Cousins, who I expect to again put up good numbers in a pass-heavy offense. Then in Round 15, I felt compelled to grab Ben Roethlisberger, as he has insane upside with Martavis Bryant back in the fold. You likely won't have this much value in your home drafts, but I will always wait until the last minute to draft a quarterback unless Aaron Rodgers, etc., lasts an especially long time compared to his ADP.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 13-15:
I'm usually Jason Witten-averse in fantasy, but at this point in this draft, you are getting a tight end who will get around 100 targets. If you wait on tight end, Witten should be able to give you a solid base at the position or be a solid backup when Jordan Reed or Tyler Eifert or Rob Gronkowski gets hurt again.
Picking the right backup to Marshawn Lynch might be a winning strategy this season, as Lynch likely won't see a full load and has injury risk with his age and history. DeAndre Washington should be in the lead for work after him, so I can see throwing Washington on your bench for safe keeping, but it isn't cut and dry. Jalen Richard would likely split work with Washington, and if Elijah Hood were to make a move in camp, he would likely be the best suited for goal-line work. So, this is probably all to say that it is going to be tough to pick correctly, but you should try.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 13-15:
O.J. Howard is likely going to be the second-most targeted tight end on his own team, so I'm staying far away.
Ryan Mathews probably won't even play this season, so be sure to mark him off your draft list.
MY PICKS, ROUNDS 16-18:
Kicker, defense and Wayne Gallman. Gallman has some upside as a bruiser-type back for the Giants. He also makes for a logical backup to Paul Perkins. If the Giants can run the ball at the goal line, there's a good chance Gallman would help spark that unlikely event.
BEST PICKS, ROUNDS 16-18:
Wendell Smallwood is currently getting hype as a back who could see a big chunk of work this season, and at this point in a draft, I see no reason not to grab a hype type.
James Conner is always on my radar late. We know Le'Veon Bell has injury history, and Conner is next in line for a job that helped propel the old-ish DeAngelo Williams into elite fantasy numbers the last couple years.
Will Fuller is a nice flier this late, as he has big-play potential and Brock Osweiler is no longer throwing the ball to tight ends all day every day.
WORST PICKS, ROUNDS 16-18:
They're all good picks Brent.
Below here is my team. Running backs are weak, but I knew that was going to be a problem, so I went after strong PPR backs and accumulated seven running backs over the final 13 picks. The hope is to strike enough gold to keep those three running back spots filled and in good matchups throughout the season. I feel great with my tight end, wide receivers and quarterback, so the running backs are the guys I'd likely need to manage well while sticking close to the waiver wire for any possible upgrades.
1.5 Odell Beckham Jr., NYG 2.8 Rob Gronkowski, NE 3.5 Sammy Watkins, BUF 4.8 Michael Crabtree, OAK 5.5 Brandon Marshall, NYG 6.8 Eddie Lacy, SEA
7.5 Paul Perkins, NYG 8.8 Eric Decker, TEN 9.5 James White, NE 10.8 Alvin Kamara, NO 11.5 Jonathan Stewart, CAR 12.8 Austin Hooper, ATL
13.5 Jacquizz Rodgers, TB 14.8 Kirk Cousins, WAS 15.5 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT 16.8 Justin Tucker, BAL 17.5 Wayne Gallman, NYG 18.8 New York Giants, NYG
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