Draft, draft and draft some more. That’s a clear sign summer is ending and fantasy football season is here.
Two of my favorite fantasy football leagues are multi-year contract, salary cap leagues, which are played yearly through RealitySportsOnline.com’s unique platform.
Each preseason, RSO leagues have two enjoyable events: The rookie draft and the league auction. Both of the leagues I participate in have two rookie rounds (although I’ve been lobbying the commissioners to increase it another round).
Draft picks are worth more than gold, so I spend a ridiculous amount of time building and tweaking my rookie big board.
Generally, I try to acquire as many draft picks as I can in current and future years; it helps offset the money spent on prize players during the auction. Plus you own the player’s rights for four years (with a fifth-year option for first-round selections). And the salary scales down from top-dollar of $7.1 million (basically Saquon Barkley’s price tag) to $1.4 million for the 24th player selected.
By the way: If you haven’t tried RealitySportsOnline.com, you’re missing out. They have a great product, team and customer support … plus, the game really brings the fantasy football experience to the next level. Our friends at RSO are offering users 20 PERCENT OFF if you use the code “Huddle” when you sign up. But act fast, it expires at the end of the month.
Entering my rookie drafts, I take the “best player available” approach most of the time. Building for the future means more forward-thinking and less reacting to immediate positional needs – you can fix those holes in the auction.
Here is my personal RSO rookie draft board rankings for the 2018 fantasy football draft:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants – Every-down back. Game-changer. Could quickly be top-five fantasy player and challenge for league-lead in rushing if Giants and their questionable offensive line doesn’t screw it up.
2. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots – Injury and fumble concerns, and dealt with both this summer. And likely committee approach hurts. However, he’s the most talented option in backfield – only a matter of time before Patriots are using him regularly. “Feature” back is a reach, but should end up with most touches by end of season.
3. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers – Slippery slot target, incredible talent … but might be 3rd or 4th among targets.
4. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions – A lot of RBs to share touches in Detroit; but Johnson looks the part of what Detroit has needed for years. Ceiling limited in ’18, but he could be feature back in ’19 – might even push for that role in rook year if a few stars align.
5. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins – OUT FOR THE YEAR – Originally No. 2 on my board. Not out of it in RSO/full-dynasty formats, but the ACL injury a big blow. Regardless, he’s young (21) and the future is bright. He’ll be back and ready to go in ’19. Draft and IR if you’re in a position where you can sit on him for a year.
6. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons – Julio Jones will draw the coverage, should allow Ridley to run free … often. Team will find ways to get him the football.
7. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos – Will see playing time early in season and now looking like starter. Committee approach still likely, but Freeman should see bulk of carries and get stronger as the season goes.
8. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns – Believer that talent wins out 99.9 percent of the time. The talent, Chubb, has to beat out Carlos Hyde; will lose third-down looks to Duke Johnson. Limited ceiling due to committee but should see majority of work as early as this season.
9. Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears – Perfect situation; could step in as WR2 immediately and turn into WR1 before too long. A lot of upside and might be top rookie receiver to own for immediate, consistent production.
10. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos – Love the long-term upside here. Smooth, big and clean receiver who will be third among receiving options in Denver. Look for him to start for Broncos in ’19.
11. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks – Offensive line issues and questionable pass blocking a factor, but Penny could be solid, all-purpose RB2 when he unseats Carson… it’s just a matter of returning to health and time.
12. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns – Limited starts in rookie year if Tyrod Taylor plays OK, but future is bright. Has moxie, will make team around him better. Fantasy QB2 in 2019.
13. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Should be no worse than team’s third receiver… long-term potential with fellow rook Josh Rosen. Special teams play a plus in leagues that count return yards/scores.
14. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys – Should be in top-three on team early; strong play-making skills on WR-needy team.
15. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts – Versatile, speedy and a playmaker … all of the things Indianapolis was missing at running back and, in general, on offense.
16. Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doesn’t impress me. Flex-play may be best-case scenario in RBBC approach.
17. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals – Big arm, big ego. Backing up Sam Bradford, Rosen is an injury away from the starting lineup. It’ll happen soon.
18. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets – May not start Week 1, but countdown is on … Unfortunately, offense is very challenged around him. Probably not a big factor until ’20.
19. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Another deep threat for Steelers; inconsistent looks in rookie year but will be top-3 WR for next few years and they run better than 50 percent of offense with three-receiver sets.
20. Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens – Tight end friendly offense, but rookie TEs rarely make big contribution. A foot injury will slow him for at least the first month of the season; but this is a long-term play. Will be a TE1 in fantasy circles as early as next year.
21. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills – Longer-term prospect, raw with upside … would not play him in 2018, but Bills probably will be forced to. They have to get it right at quarterback one of these years. Right? Also not much talent on offense.
22. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens – Long-term plan for Baltimore; may not see field until ’19 outside of trick plays. Interesting upside, but don’t jump all-in on the hype train.
23. Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns – Long-term potential, but could see looks out of the gate with questions among the Browns’ receivers.
24. Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Limited initial role, but talent could push him onto field sooner than expected.
25. Tre’quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints – Size and wheels, but Saints have a lot of options on offense and passing game a bit more conservative now. Will likely have some packages for his rook year.
26. Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins – Should start in rookie year, but limited ceiling. Future is bright whenever they get their offense figured out.
27. Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles – Buried among TEs on roster, but will see spot duty until Zach Ertz misses time (it happens). More upside down the road.
28. D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – Size, good blocker and speed; Jaguars loaded with young talent at receiver. Future is bright.
29. Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans – Might step in right away as team’s slot receiver.
30. Deon Cain, WR, Indianapolis Colts – OUT FOR THE YEAR – Long-term value, draft and stash if your league offers an IR. Big body, speed and makes plays. Colts got a steal in the 6th round; could be force in a year or two.