This will be the 9th season that Fantasy Football Nerd has hosted its annual fantasy football charity league where we compete for a cause greater than ourselves. So who better to get some fantasy advice from?
1. Are you willing to draft Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Antonio Brown, or A.J. Green? If so, where is the right spot?
Erin: All these names scare me and aren't worth taking in the first round (unless of course Zeke signs a deal). If they fall into the bottom of the 2nd...then I'd be willing to take a chance. Burning a 1st round pick on these questionables isn't worth it in my humble opinion. You can ask everyone that drafted Le'veon Bell last year how that situation worked out. AJ Green is injury prone and Antonio Brown is in a new offense where emphasis is on the run game. For a higher return on investment, try to wait to draft these guys...
Drew: I am not shy about Zeke or Gordon (contract disputes routinely resolve, Le'Veon was an outlier). Have pushed Zeke from No. 2 to No. 4 overall. Melvin downgraded as if he will miss two games, so still eager for him in third. If A.J. were to slip to fifth, but he rarely does. Brown going before I'm comfortable -- new offense, new QB, foot problem, weird helmet stuff, just a lot of discourage. Maybe in third, but he doesn't last that long.
Zach: I'd be willing to take Zeke in the first round, slightly below his current ADP. I've taken him recently in drafts at No. 5 overall and at this point, I'd take him after the first batch of WRs — Hopkins/Adams/Julio/OBJ and right after the second batch of RBs Chubb/Mixon. With the Cowboys as legit SB contenders, I can't see Jerry Jones letting this spill into camp.
I'm not touching Melvin Gordon at his current ADP. I could very easily see him holding out the entire season and it's just not worth the upside in round 2. Antonio Brown is another player I'm avoiding at basically all costs. He said he's willing to retire. He already has the foot issue, he's in a worse offense in Oakland with a much worse quarterback. I'm not buying the upside considering how low the floor is. A.J. Green I'd consider in the sixth round or lower, depending on who else is available and how my roster looks.
Des: I'm willing to draft anyone if he falls to the right spot. In this case, I have Zeke eighth overall (I'd want to reach a bit for Tony Pollard in that case), Gordon at 65th (don't have nearly as much confidence that his holdout will be resolved anytime soon), AB at 26th (dropped him a bit amid the foot/helmet madness but might move him up if I start getting spooked about Keenan Allen's Week 1 availability) and AJ at 62nd (assuming he'll miss a few games).
Joe: I'd draft any of these guys - at the right spot. I'm hoping that Zeke and the Cowboys come to terms on an agreement soon. While DeAndre Hopkins makes for a safer pick after Barkley, McCaffrey, and Kamara are off the board, I'd still take a roll of the dice with Elliott at 4. I just don't feel the same about Melvin Gordon though who has dropped two rounds since early summer. I'd still take him if he's there in the fourth. Antonio Brown in the third for me, and I have drafted AJ Green on several teams already, but he's been my WR4 in all - exceptional value in my opinion.
Cindy: Names like Elliott, Gordon, A. Brown etc. I would not draft too high. In the case of most of them it's because of injury or no training camp. In the case of Elliott it's because I'm an Eagles fan and would never draft a Cowboy! Lol
I would however take a chance on Le'veon Bell. When healthy, he was the best all around back in the NFL. At #7 I feel i need to draft a sure thing though.
I'm leaning towards a RB whose name means Tubby!
2. Give us one lottery ticket pick that we should target at the end of our drafts.
Zach: Darwin Thompson is my lottery ticket that I'm reaching a few rounds early to get. Damien Williams was outstanding last season, but considering his small sample size and all the hype Thompson is getting in camp, I'm as heavily invested in Thompson as any current backup.
Drew: I like punting on tight ends early, grabbing one in middle rounds, then backing up with Chris Herndon late. Feel like he can play significant role in offense once he returns from four-game suspension, and comes at virtually no cost.
Des: Is it too obvious to suggest Darwin Thompson at this point? Or Alexander Mattison? In that vein, let's go with Malcolm Brown, who might actually step into the Todd Gurley role should the latter go down (with Darrell Henderson simply keeping his role, or something close to it).
Erin: Donte Moncrief didnt excite anyone last year with a 48-668-3 line...but an upgrade at QB and with Antonio Brown now in Oakland, Montcrief is in a position to capitalize.
Joe: Assuming that Darwin Thompson and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are gone, I'm probably looking to the Ravens for my lottery pick. The backfield is crowded in Baltimore, but I'd spend a Round 13 lottery ticket on Justice Hill. Ingram is the starter, but Hill has the potential to be something special. In a run-heavy offense, I could see him coming in on passing downs or as a change-of-pace option. The kid is lightning fast and racked up serious yards and endzone trips while at Oklahoma State. All he needs is a chance - just what everyone says when they buy a lottery ticket.
3. Is there a player that you simply have to own this year?
Des: Not quite, but I am starting to rank Tyler Lockett pretty aggressively (38th at the moment), making it likely I'll get him in drafts.
Joe: It might sound like a stretch, but the guy that I'm targeting as one of my backup RB's is Latavius Murray. I just think his upside is fantastic and his ADP means that you can get him near the sixth round. He steps into Mark Ingram's old role in New Orleans, and while he's not Ingram, he's in an incredible offense and could legitimately operate as a stand-alone back.
Erin I like Mike Evans outlook, unlike Desean Jackson...Evans has chemistry with Jameis Winston and with the addition of a pass happy coach...Evans should see the volume.
Drew: I never marry myself to any one player, but do end up honing in on specific ones based on draft value. David Montgomery is one I was drafting a lot 2-3 weeks ago. Now I find myself getting a lot of Devin Singletary.
4. Best draft tip for someone new to fantasy football?
Erin: Please don't draft a QB early...no matter how much you love Pat Mahomes. Value and production can be found in the later rounds for a solid QB.
Des: Wait until at least halfway through before you start doing multiple shots. I mean, one celebratory shot to start things off is fine, of course, but you don't want to get sloppy before the defense/kicker rounds. As for actually useful advice, I'd say make sure you know your league's settings, and what implications they may have (i.e., if it's standard scoring, bump down pass-catching backs and volume receivers, if 3-WR lineups, then prioritize that position early, if there's a superflex, then bump up QBs, etc.).
Drew: Wait on QB. If you think you've waited long enough, wait a little longer. (One reason I love Superflex is because it dramatically changes this mundane approach).
Joe: Don't try and fill out your roster right away. It seems natural to want to fill out every open slot, but don't be afraid to draft some of your backups before you draft all of your starters. For example, in most leagues you'll likely draft at least one backup RB and WR before you take a QB. There's no need to rush on a QB either. The projected point differential each week for QB's 4 - 11 is in the tenths of a point. The QB position has a ton of depth so fill up on RB's and WR's.
5. Is there a sleeper candidate that you think will significantly outperform his ADP?
Drew: Some high-value picks who should outperform draft position: Tyrell Williams, Royce Freeman, Adrian Peterson, James White, Sterling Shepard, Jamison Crowder, Devin Funchess
Erin: Not only do I love his story but I love what we've seen from Patriot's undrafted rookie wideout, Jakobi Meyers in the preseason. No more Gronk, Julian Edelman has injury history and Josh Gordon, well...you just can't count on him. Meyers has high upside in New England's offense with Brady who is looking to dink and dunk all season.
Des: I'm keeping the faith with Mark Andrews, who seems to have fallen out of favor as the fantasy community has been reminded that he'll be sharing TE snaps with Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle. Well, duh, we already knew that, and I'm more encouraged by the facts that the Ravens will run a ton of two-TE sets (and dare we expect some red-hot 3-TE action?) and that Andrews was hailed all spring and summer as easily the most impressive receiver on the team.
Joe: Back in July I would have answered this question with Chris Godwin or D.J. Moore, but those guys have been consistently going earlier in drafts. One guy that I think is overlooked far too often is Dede Westbrook. He's easily the best wide receiver in Jacksonville, and the upgrade in QB from Bortles to Nick Foles can't be stressed enough. The Jaguars are a run-first team, but someone has to catch the passes that Foles throws. Besides, how many wide receivers at the top of their depth chart are you going to find in the seventh or eighth round?