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Editor's note: Our latest pick-by-pick series was done prior to the third preseason games, when season-ending knee injuries to Julian Edelman, Spencer Ware and Cameron Meredith occurred. The goal of this series is to show you positions to draft in these spots as much as the players selected, so take that into account if those injured guys are listed here.
By now, David Johnson is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in every non-PPR Fantasy draft. That makes Le'Veon Bell a pretty obvious second choice. It's not ideal that he'll report to the Steelers only 10 days before his first game, but he should be very solid most weeks. There shouldn't be any hesitation there.
The picks in Rounds 2 and 3 are crucial. At least one should be a receiver. The other could be anything else you want but lean toward another running back. You won't pick again for a while, and when you do, the best available running backs aren't going to be pretty. In our draft I took DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Crowell. Hopkins should benefit from a better quarterback this season, and Crowell will almost certainly take advantage of an improved offensive line. If he had over 1,250 total yards and seven scores last year, he should come through with closer to 1,350 total and nine scores this year.
My general strategy is to load up on running backs, but this time around I spent picks in Rounds 4-6 on other positions. The rationale was simple -- I didn't want to let a good value get past me. Tyreek Hill has top-15 potential, a healthy Jimmy Graham should definitely deliver improved stats and Matt Ryan will remain one of Fantasy's productive passers.
Also of note: I was up in Round 4 with both Jordan Reed and Jimmy Graham on the board. I knew Jamey Eisenberg, who picked from the No. 1 draft slot, wouldn't take both, so I let him have his choice of the two and cherry-picked Hill instead. Similarly, I took Ryan in Round 6 so Eisenberg couldn't get his mitts on him with his two picks at the turn. Don't forget to keep tabs on the owner picking in the No. 1 slot to help you make smart draft decisions!
Here is my team at No. 2 overall:
- 1.2 Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
- 2.11 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ATL
- 3.2 Isaiah Crowell, RB, CLE
- 4.11 Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
- 5.2 Jimmy Graham, TE, SEA
- 6.11 Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
- 7.2 Terrance West, RB, BAL
- 8.11 Adrian Peterson, RB, NO
- 9.2 Randall Cobb, WR, GB
- 10.11 James Conner, RB, PIT
- 11.2 John Brown, WR, ARI
- 12.11 J.J. Nelson, WR, ARI
- 13.2 Broncos DST
- 14.11 Chris Carson, RB, SEA
Favorite pick: Matt Ryan
Despite a career year, Ryan is still a somewhat polarizing Fantasy quarterback. He's coming off a career year that which him the league's MVP award, and the track record of such passers isn't very good. But the basic tenets of an offense -- receivers, run game and O-line -- haven't changed. Ryan's skill set seemingly hasn't changed. Steve Sarkisian has moved into Atlanta's playcaller role, but he took it upon himself to learn Kyle Shanahan's system rather than install his own playbook, and the Falcons will ask Sarkisian to stay aggressive. Ryan might not finish with 38 touchdowns, but he should top 30 while also nailing down more than 4,500 yards. It only helps that Julio Jones is healthier than he was at this time last year.
Pick you might regret: Tyreek Hill
Is Hill fast? Heck yes. Is he a good receiver? Absolutely. Is there a chance he doesn't exceed the 85 total touches he had in 2016? Yeah, it's possible.
Hill is a dynamic player who is better than your typical kick-return guy. He runs solid routes, has nice hands and has unbeatable speed. If he's in the open field then he's in the end zone. He also totaled 880 yards despite five games with three or fewer targets. After the Chiefs let Jeremy Maclin go this offseason, it's a virtual lock that Hill won't have any more games with such few opportunities.
Alex Smith isn't known for being a creator of Fantasy stud receivers, but the two hooked up for six plays of 20-plus yards and should keep the targets coming, just as he did on his first preseason pass of this year. While Hill's downside could lead to five or six touchdowns, his big-play ability as, technically, the No. 1 wide receiver in the Chiefs offense makes his upside immeasurable.
Player who could make or break your team: Isaiah Crowell
Trust a member of the Cleveland Browns? Really?
Crowell managed to get 1,271 yards and seven scores in a season where the Browns played from behind often with ineffective quarterbacks and a below-average offensive line. That script has flipped in 2017 after the team improved its big men up front via free agency and the draft, not to mention add talent at quarterback, defensive end and cornerback. This should be a more competitive team, one that can focus on controlling the football with Crowell handling most of the rushing work. Expect a breakout season.