By Christopher Thompson
Published: September 14th, 2017
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas CowboysZeke’s number one! With Elliott’s suspension having entered the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit this past Monday, it looks like Elliott will be able to play the full season. That is why you should draft Elliott number one overall in all formats of fantasy leagues. Elliott, last season’s leading rusher with 1,631 yards and another 363 yards receiving on 32 receptions totaling for 16 TDs, showed no signs of a sophomore slump on Sunday. He ran for 104 yards adding on 36 yards receiving on five catches against the vaunted New York Giants’ defense, which finished last season as the 2nd best overall defense.
Brandin Cooks, WRNew England PatriotsEntering his fourth season in the NFL, Cooks looks to enjoy a 2007 Randy Moss-type season. Cooks, like Moss, is the type of receiver that Tom Brady loves and can create separation from defensive backs with his speed stretching the field. Cooks’ big-play capability and high volume of targets (117 in 2016) will be enjoyed from fantasy owners in standard and PPR leagues alike.
Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta FalconsComing off an MVP season where Ryan enjoyed his best statistical season only to have it end in a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, it’s tempting to think he can do it again. The last two QBs to win the regular season MVP (Manning 2013, Newton 2015) and lose the Super Bowl have seen severe declines, as both Manning and Newton threw for 16 fewer TDs the following season. Adding the fact that Ryan also lost his offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers, expect Ryan to have a similar drop as he faces a tougher schedule this season.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR
New York Giants
I know that OBJ is a statistical and physical freak of nature. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the status of his ankle injury. The Giants’ also added wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who comes in with a 29 percent Red Zone target rate, third only to OBJ at 34% and Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings at 32 percent. As a result of this addition, expect to see a dip in OBJ’s Red Zone targets and overall production. OBJ is the third highest drafted WR (behind Antonio Brown and Julio Jones) and sixth overall, according to Fantasypros.com, but fantasy-wise, he may be as far down the ladder as being behind other wideouts like Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders and Cooks of the Patriots.
- Christian McCaffrey, RB Carolina PanthersThe Stanford standout may be undersized but he will prove to be big-time once the season gets going. The former All-American and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year award winner will look to add versatility to the Cam Newton-led offense. McCaffrey is a shifty runner who was hard to catch in a defensively strong Pac-12 Conference with great hands—perfect to catch passes out of the backfield. Also, look for the Panthers to use McCaffrey as a weapon on special teams.
Chris Carson, RB Seattle SeahawksThis rookie comes with a disclaimer. Last season was a bit of a revolving door at the running back position for Pete Carroll’s Seahawks after Marshawn Lynch’s retirement. With no real standout this preseason between Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy, Carson could see a high volume of touches later in the season if Seattle continues their rushing struggles from last season. Steer clear of him early in drafts, but Carson could be a player to look to add off the waiver wire once the injury bug begins to bite.