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You have the No. 1 overall pick in your Fantasy league. That's pretty important, right? For some, the choice is easy. For others, you might be agonizing over who to draft for weeks.
We're here to help.
The main candidates are David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell in all formats. But what about Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham, especially in PPR? Maybe Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in a two-quarterback or superflex league? It could be a tougher call than you might think.
Most Fantasy owners will tell you Johnson is the player you want with the first pick, no matter the scoring system, and Average Draft Position on CBS Sports indicates he's the guy. Johnson was the No. 1 non-quarterback last year in all formats, and he's been with the Cardinals all offseason and through training camp without a concern.
Bell is No. 2 in ADP, but he's away from the Steelers heading into the second week of the preseason because he's holding out due to a contract dispute. He's not expected to miss any games in the regular season, but he's also coming off groin surgery earlier this offseason. Bell has also been hurt in the regular season or playoffs each of the past three years.
Brown and Jones are No. 3 and 4 in ADP, with Beckham at No. 7 behind LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman. It's hard to justify drafting a receiver at No. 1 overall given the depth at the position, even in PPR, but we'll make a case for them below.
And Rodgers is No. 10 in ADP, with Brady at No. 16, but that's reflective of one-quarterback leagues. There's a chance one of those guys could go No. 1 overall in a two-quarterback or superflex league where their value is more important.
Before we breakdown the best bet for the No. 1 overall pick, let's look at some recent history for this spot. And the results are interesting.
In the past 10 years, the last player to be drafted No. 1 overall based on ADP and finish as the No. 1 non-quarterback was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007. But the No. 1 overall pick has still been relatively successful.
Here are the past 10 players drafted at No. 1 overall based on ADP and where they finished in standard leagues:
- 2016: Antonio Brown, WR, PIT - No. 11 overall non-quarterback
- 2015: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - No. 4 overall non-quarterback
- 2014: LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI - No. 25 overall non-quarterback
- 2013: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - No. 14 overall non-quarterback
- 2012: Arian Foster, RB, HOU - No. 3 overall non-quarterback
- 2011: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - No. 14 overall non-quarterback
- 2010: Chris Johnson, RB, TEN - No. 5 overall non-quarterback
- 2009: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - No. 2 overall non-quarterback
- 2008: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD - No. 6 overall non-quarterback
- 2007: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD - No. 1 overall non-quarterback
As you can see, six of the past 10 players selected at No. 1 overall still finished in the top six, which shows that while they might not have been the best, they were still standout Fantasy options. And only McCoy was a relative bust given his finish in 2014. Thanks, Chip Kelly.
Now, here are the past 10 players to finish at No. 1 overall in standard leagues and their overall ADP coming into that season:
- 2016: David Johnson, RB, ARI - Drafted at No. 5 overall
- 2015: Antonio Brown, WR, PIT - Drafted at No. 5 overall
- 2014: DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL - Drafted at No. 15 overall
- 2013: Jamaal Charles, RB, KC - Drafted at No. 5 overall
- 2012: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN - Drafted at No. 23 overall
- 2011: Ray Rice, RB, BAL - Drafted at No. 4 overall
- 2010: Arian Foster, RB, HOU - Drafted at No. 55 overall
- 2009: Chris Johnson, RB, TEN - Drafted at No. 11 overall
- 2008: DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR - Drafted at No. 92 overall
- 2007: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD - Drafted at No. 1 overall
Seeing this, do you want to avoid the No. 1 overall pick now? Maybe trade down to No. 5 overall given what Johnson, Brown and Charles did in the past four years from that spot?
Not me. Give me the No. 1 overall pick. And I want Johnson with that selection.
The case for David Johnson in any league ...
Stats that grab you: Johnson scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in every game last season that he was able to finish. He sprained his MCL in his left knee in Week 17 but did not require surgery. ... His 80 receptions led all running backs in 2016 and only 16 receivers were better. ... Johnson averaged 20.25 Fantasy points in a standard league in eight home games.
Quote to note: "I think (his usage is) just right. I'd like to get it up a little bit more in receiving yards. Early in the (2016) season he had a chance to have big games, and he ran the wrong route a couple of times. I kept telling him all year about that. I said, 'You would have had your 1,000 and 1,000 (rushing and receiving yards) if you'd have busted those ones in September. … I think 30 touches is not too much for him when you're talking about 10 receptions, 20 carries. And that's not 20 times up the middle where he's gonna get busted up. We're going to make sure we take care of him." -- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians on Johnson via Pro Football Talk.
The breakdown: The quote from Arians is in regards to him wanting Johnson to get 30 touches a game, as well as Johnson wanting to become the third player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season (Roger Craig in 1985 and Marshall Faulk in 1999 are the others). Taking out Week 17 last year, Johnson had just over 24 touches per game last season, and he's open to the idea of more work. With a good offensive line in front of him and a quality passing game led by Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, Johnson is surrounded by enough talent to succeed. He's worth the No. 1 overall pick.
The case for Le'Veon Bell in any league ...
Stats that grab you: Bell averaged 19 Fantasy points a game last season in standard leagues, If you project that over 16 games, he would have finished with 304 Fantasy points, which would have put him second behind Johnson. ... Bell has scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in 29 of the past 33 games he was able to finish over the past three seasons. ... Bell averaged 6.25 catches a game last season in his 12 outings. Over 16 games, he would have finished with 100 catches in 2016.
Quote to note: "I know Le'Veon's ability -- he's missed because of injury, and when he's come back, he's come back ready to go. I assume that's the way it will be. He's an astute guy who at least in the past has always come in at a high, high level for us. ... He's got his own issues he's dealing with. When he gets here, we will all be excited." -- Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Bell via ESPN.
The breakdown: In full disclosure, Bell was my No. 1 ranked player all offseason prior to his holdout. It was close between him and Johnson, and I moved Johnson ahead of Bell because of his contract dispute. Hopefully there are no lingering effects from his time away from the team, and he's the easy choice at No. 2 overall. But if you want Bell at No. 1 overall, his track record speaks for itself. He's a tremendous receiver out of the backfield, and his usage rate is amazing with 28 touches a game on average last year. I wish there wasn't a holdout because Bell, when healthy, is the best player offensive player in the NFL.
The case for Antonio Brown in PPR ...
Stats that grab you: He has more receptions in a four-year span than any other player in NFL history (481) from 2013-16, and he's either been first or second in receptions in every year over that span, with more than 100 catches in each year. … Over the past three seasons, Brown has scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in 34 of 47 games. … In his past three years at home (23 games), Brown has 192 catches for 2,540 and 24 touchdowns. He had 74 catches for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns in eight home games in 2015.
Quote to note: "I think his will. Obviously, he's a talented young man, but his will is on display in just about everything he does, whether it's competing or preparation. He's a strong-willed individual." – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on what makes Brown so good via CBS Sports.
The breakdown: Brown might be the safest pick at No. 1 overall, especially in PPR, because you know what you're getting. He's been the No. 1 PPR receiver in each of the past three years, and he's averaging 124 catches for 1,605 yards and 12 touchdowns on 177 targets over that span. One concern for Brown could be Ben Roethlisberger's health since he's missed five games over the past two years, and we'll see if the return of Martavis Bryant (suspension) hurts Brown at all. But while Brown is safe, we saw Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and Bell finish with more PPR points than him last year. It could happen again, and I want Brown at No. 3 overall and not No. 1.
The case for Julio Jones in PPR ...
Stats that grab you: Jones has averaged 100 yards a game for four years in a row. He's the only player in NFL history to do that four times, and he has 26 games with at least 100 yards in his past 50 outings. … In 2016, Jones became the sixth player in NFL history with 300 receiving yards in a game when he had 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 against Carolina. Jones also had 11 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown at Green Bay in Week 14 of the 2014 season. … Jones is No. 1 in NFL history with an average of 96.3 yards per game. Beckham is second (95.9) and Calvin Johnson (86.1) is third. By comparison, Jerry Rice is No. 11 at 75.6, and Brown is No. 5 at 82.9.
Quote to note: "I think he's the LeBron James of football. He's doing remarkable things at his size. You don't see that. He can run, catch, run guys over and take it to the house. He's a freak." – T.Y. Hilton on Jones via CBS Sports.
The breakdown: There are two things that keep Jones from being a serious candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, which is a lack of touchdowns and his nagging foot issues. Jones has one season in his career with double digits in touchdowns, which was 2012 when he scored 10. Otherwise he's averaging just seven touchdowns a year for the past three seasons, although the Falcons have said they want him more involved in the red zone this season (he only had nine red-zone targets in 2016). And he had another minor foot procedure in March, although he's expected to be fine for Week 1. Despite the lack of touchdowns, his receptions (108 on average over the past three years) and his yardage have clearly been exceptional, and he should continue to dominate this year, even with a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian, who is replacing the departed Kyle Shanahan. Take Jones at No. 4 overall in PPR behind Johnson, Bell and Brown.
The case for Odell Beckham in PPR ...
Stats that grab you: Beckham and Jarvis Landry are tied for the most receptions for a player in the first three years of their career with 288. The four-year record is 342 from Anquan Boldin. … Beckham is the only player in NFL history with three-consecutive seasons of 70-plus catches, 1,000-plus receiving yards and 10-plus touchdowns to begin his career. And he's the fastest player in NFL history to catch 250 passes (38 games) and gain 3,500 receiving yards (35 games). … Beckham is a closer. He's played 26 games in November, December and January in the regular season in his career, and he has double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in 21 of those outings. He's averaging 16.4 Fantasy points in a standard league over that span.
Quote to note: "He's a guy that you know is going to get the rock. It's no secret. The things he can do to get open, the things he can do with his hands catching the ball, the things he can do after he catches it -- he makes it look so effortless at times. And he's out there swagging on people. People hate it, but I love it. I hope he continues to do his thing." – Titans receiver Rishard Matthews on Beckham via CBS Sports.
The breakdown: Beckham should be the first overall pick in dynasty leagues, but not in re-draft formats. It's hard to see him being the best player this year, even in PPR. He is going to share the field with the most accomplished teammate at receiver he's ever had with Brandon Marshall, which could hurt his production, especially if second-year receiver Sterling Shepard continues to play at a high level. But Beckham is clearly the go-to weapon in this offense, and Eli Manning is not going to shy away from him. Beckham has averaged 153 targets a year for his career, and his production speaks for itself. Marshall's presence keeps Beckham firmly in the No. 3 overall spot at receiver and No. 5 overall in PPR leagues.
The case for Aaron Rodgers in two-quarterback/superflex leagues ...
Stats that grab you: Rodgers has been the No. 1 or No. 2 overall player in leagues with six points for passing touchdowns seven times in the past nine years. The two times he finished lower than second were 2015 when Jordy Nelson was out for the year with a torn ACL and 2013 when Rodgers was limited to nine games because of injury. ... He's scored at least 40 total touchdowns in four of his past six seasons, and he has eight interceptions or fewer in six years in a row. ... Rodgers has passed for 4,305 yards, 39 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his past 16 games at home over the past two seasons. That's led to a lot of Lambeau Leaps.
Quote to note: "I think I'm on the back nine of my career. But I think I'm just kind of starting the back nine." -- Rodgers, 33, on his career via the NFL Network.
The breakdown: It's hard to argue against drafting Rodgers at No. 1 overall in this format since quarterbacks are more valuable, especially if passing touchdowns are worth six points, because his track record is impeccable. It's easier to do in a standard league, but if there is any PPR scoring then Rodgers might get pushed down a little. I'd still draft Johnson and Bell ahead of Rodgers in these formats given their potential at a position lacking in depth, and we saw last year that a quarterback like Matt Ryan could emerge with a late-round pick and post outstanding stats. But if you want Rodgers as the No. 1 overall pick in a two-quarterback/superflex league, then draft him. He's safe and highly productive, and that's a great combination to have.
The case for Tom Brady in two-quarterback/superflex leagues ...
Stats that grab you: Brady finished as just the No. 16 Fantasy quarterback last year because of his four-game suspension, but he averaged 25.3 Fantasy points a game when he was active. Over 16 games, he would have scored 405 Fantasy points in leagues with six points for passing touchdowns, which would have put him at No. 4 behind Rodgers, Ryan and Drew Brees. ... Brady has a record of 183-52 and 25-9 in the playoffs, with five Super Bowl victories. Only Otto Graham (.788) has a better winning percentage than Brady (.733) among quarterbacks in NFL history, but Brady has 147 more total wins. ... Brady has at least 20 Fantasy points in 22 of his past 28 overall games going back to last year. He was the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in 2015.
Quote to note: "To play with a guy like that is special. The way that he pays attention to the game, he makes you up your level a little more." -- Brandin Cooks on Brady via ESPN.
The breakdown: Brady has only finished as the No. 1 overall player once, which was his record-breaking year in 2007 when he was paired with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. His receiving corps this year might rival that season with Cooks and Dwayne Allen joining Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and quality pass catchers out of the backfield. But it's hard to imagine Brady outplaying Rodgers since he just turned 40. Still, we've seen Brady accomplish amazing things -- remember the comeback from 28-3 in Super Bowl LI against Atlanta -- and he's worth consideration of being the No. 1 overall pick in this format. The earliest I would draft him is No. 4 behind Johnson, Bell and Rodgers, but Brady could easily dominate in 2017 given his new weapons.