2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Picking at No. 4 overall in non-PPR leagues is right time for David Johnson
Jamey Eisenberg shows you how to build a team from the No. 4 overall spot in a non-PPR league, and he starts his roster with David Johnson in Round 1.
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Editor's note: Our latest non-PPR pick-by-pick series was done in June and is a three-man draft with Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard, with each one selecting four teams in this 12-team mock. 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 when viewing each team.
One of the toughest decisions to make in the first round of a non-PPR league will come at the No. 4 overall pick. At least that's the perception.
Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott will most likely be selected with the first three picks, but No. 4 could be a toss-up in redraft leagues. Some Fantasy owners will gravitate toward the receivers of Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins. Others will look at the high-upside running backs of Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley or Kareem Hunt.
And then there's David Johnson -- the logical choice.
We tend to fall for the same mistake at times, which is to get turned off by a player coming back from injury. The fear is that player burned you once before, he's guaranteed to do it again. Well, don't be that person.
In our latest non-PPR pick-by-pick series, I went with Johnson at No. 4 overall without hesitation. He's 100 percent healed from last year's wrist injury, and he has the chance to finish as the No. 1 Fantasy running back this year, ahead of Gurley, Bell and Elliott.
Remember, before his injury in Week 1 last year, Johnson was the best non-quarterback in 2016 with more than 2,000 total yards, 20 touchdowns and 80 receptions. He's capable to repeating that type of performance, and he should be the easy choice with this selection.
Here is my team from No. 4 overall:
- 1.4 David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
- 2.9 Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
- 3.4 Jerick McKinnon, RB, 49ers
- 4.9 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
- 5.4 Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos
- 6.9 Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
- 7.4 Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins
- 8.9 Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears
- 9.4 Matt Breida, RB, 49ers
- 10.9 D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers
- 11.4 Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
- 12.9 Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
- 13.4 Ravens DST
- 14.9 Robbie Gould, K, 49ers
I prefer to start my teams with one standout running back and one standout receiver, and the best available wideout in this mock draft was Evans. Now, he might seem like a risk in Round 2 with Jameis Winston (suspension) out for the first three games, and Evans was a bust in 2017 when he finished as the No. 20 receiver in this format despite being selected in the first round. But I'm still confident in his upside, which you'll see below.
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If you can get a No. 1 running back and receiver to start your team, you have plenty of flexibility in Round 3, and I drafted my favorite breakout candidate in McKinnon. I handcuffed him with Breida in Round 9, and I'm excited about this 49ers backfield.
Round 4 brought some security with Fitzgerald, who continues to produce at a high level and should again this year, even with a new quarterback in either Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen. And I drafted another safe pick with Olsen in Round 6, who should be the No. 4 Fantasy tight end this season behind Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz.
I'll likely need one more receiver aside from Evans, Fitzgerald, Crowder and Moore, although I expect a bounce-back campaign from Crowder and a sensational rookie season from Moore. Still, more depth at this position is welcomed.
Two of my upside picks are at running back with Freeman and Cohen, and I expect Freeman to be the featured rusher for the Broncos. Cohen will also be a surprise Fantasy option with the Bears, and you should be excited with how new coach Matt Nagy plans to use Cohen in 2018.
I waited on quarterback with this team, and I love the value for Mahomes in Round 11. He has top-10 upside, and I covered myself in case he fails by drafting Ryan in Round 12. If Mahomes does what I expect him to do, I will likely drop Ryan early in the season in favor of a waiver-wire receiver.
Favorite pick: Jerick McKinnon
McKinnon is headed for a big opportunity as the starter for coach Kyle Shanahan. The track record of Shanahan's running backs as an offensive coordinator and head coach is impressive, including the past three seasons with Carlos Hyde (No. 11 running back in non-PPR leagues in 2017) and Devonta Freeman (No. 7 in 2016 and No. 1 in 2015). McKinnon will hopefully be next in line, and he should catch plenty of passes in this offense. I'm expecting 1,500 total yards and at least eight touchdowns for McKinnon, and if he gets hurt, Breida will be a lottery ticket. I'm thrilled having both San Francisco running backs on this roster.
Pick I might regret: Royce Freeman
As stated above, I expect Freeman to be the best running back in Denver. But he'll face a challenge in training camp from Devontae Booker for the starting job. And even if Freeman wins that battle, this could still be a committee backfield, including De'Angelo Henderson. I'm counting on Freeman to be my flex for this team, but I might have been better off drafting a third receiver in Round 5. Guys available were Golden Tate, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Michael Crabtree, Sammy Watkins or Robert Woods. All of those guys are proven and might have been a better option for my roster, especially if Freeman isn't the starter for the Broncos.
Player who could make or break my team: Mike Evans
Evans saw a decline in targets from 2016 to 2017 when he went from 175 to 135, but that total still made him the 11th-most targeted receiver last year. And I expect him to be in that range again this season. He also should be fine playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick until Winston returns; during the four games Evans and Fitzpatrick played together in 2017, Evans had at least seven Fantasy points in a non-PPR league in three of them, including two with at least nine points.
I need Evans to be a top 10 Fantasy receiver for this team to thrive, and I'm confident that will be the case. But another finish near the No. 20 Fantasy receiver could put this team in a dire situation.
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