In this series of articles I will highlight one player on every NFL team that you should target in your fantasy draft, and one player from every team you should definitely avoid. The decision on these picks will be based on how I feel about the player in relation to their current average draft position.
Part one of this eight-part series will showcase players in the AFC East – so sit back, relax and get ready to adjust your fantasy rankings accordingly.
New England Patriots
Player to Target: Sony Michel
As the 11th pick in the fourth round you’re asking quite a bit of a rookie running back playing in a system that’s historically played musical chairs at the RB position. With that being said, I believe Michel is the Patriots’ running back to own in 2018.
I could see James White and Rex Burkhead seeing more action than Michel early in the season, but I don’t think it’ll take Bill Belichick long to see what he has in his rookie running back and he’ll quickly become the player to own in that backfield.
Michel was selected in the first round of April’s draft after rushing for 16 touchdowns while averaging nearly eight yards per carry for the University of Georgia – against SEC defenses. Belichick and the Patriots have never sought out a young, highly-coveted running back like they did Michel in the draft, so you can bet they have plans to utilize him already his rookie season. However, keep an eye on Michel’s latest knee injury as your draft approaches. If it looks like Michel may be hindered by it his rookie season, stock up on Burkhead.
Player to Avoid: Tom Brady
Every year there’s a group of people who believe age is going to catch up with Brady and he’s going to see a dramatic decrease in his statistical output. While this may eventually happen, I’m not going to bank on it since the guy is already 40 years old and hasn’t really lost a step. Well maybe he lost a step, as he was unable to snag the pass that was slightly overthrown to him in last year’s Super Bowl, but he hasn’t shown much of a decrease in regards to arm talent.
My theory on avoiding Brady at pick 5.05 as the third quarterback off the board has more to do about the quality of quarterback you can find another three or four rounds later. I project quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers to finish with very similar fantasy stats as Brady, so why not grab an impactful running back or wide receiver in the fifth round and then grab one of the quarterbacks mentioned in the eighth or ninth round?
Player to Target: Chris Ivory
In the event LeSean McCoy misses any action due to the recent allegations against him, Ivory is in line for a workload likely never seen by a player with an ADP of 14.04. Even if McCoy avoids suspension, he’s entering his 30-year-old season and it’s not like he’s a player that’s never on the injury report to begin with.
Player to Avoid: LeSean McCoy
You basically just read the reasons to avoid McCoy this fantasy season. Even before the allegations I was low on McCoy because despite the fact that he should dominate touches, he’s playing on a Bills’ team which projects to struggle on the offensive side of the ball in 2018. McCoy has had a great NFL career and he’s been a fantastic running back to have on your fantasy team for several years, but this is the year you should pass on him.
Player to Target: Kenny Stills
The last time Ryan Tannehill was healthy Stills averaged over 17 yards per catch and hauled in nine touchdowns. Do I think Stills matches this total in 2018 with a healthy Tannehill? I highly doubt it, but he definitely has more chemistry with Tannehill than any current Dolphins’ wide receiver and I’d be willing to bet that he has a more productive fantasy season as the fifth pick in the 12th round than teammate DeVante Parker does as the seventh pick in the ninth round.
Player to Avoid: Kenyan Drake
I’m not as low on Drake as some others you may see in the fantasy football community, but Drake has the highest average draft position of all Dolphins’ players at 4.06 despite the team adding Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage this offseason. While Drake will likely lead this group of running backs in touches, Gore has received great praise so far in training camp and Ballage figures to at least have a role in the Dolphins’ unproven offense.
New York Jets
Player to Target: Robby Anderson
Selecting a Jets’ player to target in fantasy football may have been the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in the last decade. All jokes aside, Anderson at 9.02 should provide decent fantasy value as he won’t need to be a player you rely on to start every week, and he should see plenty of action playing on a team that is likely to be passing the ball a lot due to playing from behind. There will be plenty of inconsistency due to the unknown of who will be playing quarterback on a week-to-week basis, but Anderson tallied seven touchdowns and nearly 1,000 receiving yards last season in just his second year in the NFL.
Player to Avoid: Isaiah Crowell
As the seventh player selected in the eighth round it’s likely that Crowell may provide you decent return on your investment, but tread lightly with any of the Jets’ running backs in 2018. Bilal Powell is coming off the board six rounds later, and he may factor more into the passing game than Crowell, ultimately becoming the more usable fantasy option.
Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys breakdown RBs 13-24 and let you know who they’ll be targeting/avoiding come draft day.