Rejoice, the preseason is finally over!
Roster spots are all but locked down at this point. For fans, the next big thing is the fantasy draft. Let’s examine some players who are must-haves from the SEC as well as some players who are flying under the radar.
Cream of the Crop
#1 Todd Gurley – RB (Rams) If you have the chance to nab him with your first pick, do yourself a favor and draft that man. Trust me on this, I was burned multiple times last year because of Gurley. He’s primed to take a step forward in his progression after having a monster season last year. We’ve covered him several times already, but you can’t really say enough about this guy. For fantasy purposes, his skill set creates opportunities for huge games. Outside of quarterbacks, he should be one of the top fantasy performers this season.
#2 Julio Jones – WR (Falcons) Anyone remember that time this guy had 300 receiving yards? That’s all you need to know about Julio when considering whether to draft him or not. Anybody that can rack up that many yards as a receiver should fly off of fantasy draft boards. He may not be as reliable a fantasy point producer as Antonio Brown, but he is still a top 10 fantasy performer. He’s the ultimate red zone threat and, with some new weapons on offense, he’ll be ready for another high caliber season.
#3 Alvin Kamara – RB (Saints) If Kamara can build off his phenomenal rookie season, then he should be right behind Gurley as one of the best running backs in football. He is a smooth and graceful runner that has deceptive power with the ball in his hands. He just doesn’t go down on first contact. Combine that with his receiving ability and you quickly see why he won Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. He should see an early season bump in production with battering mate Mark Ingram out for four games while serving a suspension. If not Gurley, then your next bet is to draft Kamara.
#4 Odell Beckham Jr. – WR (Giants) Odell finally got his money. Hopefully, all those dollars won’t deter him from staying focused on the field because when he’s healthy and locked in, there’s no one better. He is a human highlight reel in one of the biggest sports markets in the world. The Giants hit the reset button on their coaching staff and seem to be more put together compared to last year. They added arguably the best player from the draft to their roster in Saquan Barkley, so the offense should be back to clicking on all cylinders. That’s good news for anyone considering drafting Odell. I wouldn’t draft him above Antonio Brown or Julio Jones simply because of his injury history. But when he’s in the lineup you’re guaranteed production.
#5 Mathew Stafford – QB (Lions) Matt Patricia left New England to resurrect the Lions. That should bode well for Georgia alum Matthew Stafford who has posted some very respectable numbers in Detroit for a while now. He is a good fantasy option for those who don’t want to waste a high pick on one of the top-tier quarterbacks. He will give you 20 plus points every single game and is capable of some monster games. As far as quarterbacks go, I like him more than say Cam Newton. There are die-hard Cam Newton fans when it comes to fantasy, but he isn’t consistent enough for me. I’d rather take the guy who is going to give me 20-plus points every game versus someone who might give me 30 one game and then 10 the next.
#1 Kerryon Johnson – RB (Lions) The former war eagle has been impressive during the preseason. He might be the spark that the Lions have needed on offense. They haven’t had a running back go over 100 yards rushing in a game since 2013. He has the athleticism and big-play ability to be a difference maker in the NFL. He’ll probably go undrafted in most leagues, so he’s a player to keep an eye on the waiver wire. If you are in need of a bench running back, Johnson is worth it.
#2 Chark – WR (Jaguars) The injury to Lee has carved out a tremendous opportunity for the rookie out of LSU. He exploded onto the scene after an electric Senior Bowl performance. He has big-play ability but saw limited action in LSU’s run-heavy offense. If Blake Bortles can get him the ball, I think Chark can make the plays. He is an excellent pick to round out your fantasy receiver group.
#3 Calvin Ridley – WR (Falcons) I mentioned Ridley’s counterpart, Julio Jones above. Ridley has already looked like one of the top route runners in the league in the limited action he’s seen. He should flourish alongside Jones and will see a lot of chances for big plays. I wouldn’t be surprised if Calvin is in the running for Rookie of the Year at the end of the year. Draft wise, I think he’ll be up and down. He may last into the mid to later rounds in some leagues, and in others, he may fly off. I would consider him as a WR2 or WR3 option so keep a close eye on him if you need an inside receiver with the ability for a high catch total.
#4 Derrick Henry – RB (Titans) The 3rd year player out of Alabama is in an excellent position to put up some career numbers. Dion Lewis was brought in to add a dynamic aspect to the running back group, which makes Henry the bell cow back. He will get most of the early-down touches, and the goal line touches. I think that’s where his value is going to be most apparent. He should compete for the rushing touchdown lead. He’s a reliable bench option at running back to start the year. I wouldn’t use a high pick on him as he has yet to have a high caliber season. But it appears he’s ready to breakout.
#5 Jordan Wilkins – RB (Colts) This kid has worked his way into the starting lineup after having an impressive preseason. He has all the tools to be a playmaker in the NFL. At Ole Miss, he was as much as a threat as a receiver out of the backfield as a runner. That trait should lend well to his NFL career, and it’s a skill set that I’m sure makes Andrew Luck very happy. You should be able to draft him with one of your later picks as he’s not on a lot of people’s radars at the moment.
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