2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Strategies for picking No. 8 overall
Without a shot at an elite running back and potentially also being locked out of a top-flight wide receiver in Round 2, the No. 8 spot presents a challenge in 2019, writes Ben Gretch.
Right around pick eight would be my choice for my least favorite draft position this year. If you're picking later in the first round, you're likely going to be able to land two elite wide receivers, or perhaps Travis Kelce plus one of them. If you're picking earlier, you have either an elite running back, or oftentimes a player like David Johnson or DeAndre Hopkins who are still a step above what is available at No. 8.
In this draft, after the top five running backs and Hopkins went in the first six picks, I was hoping to land my No. 2 wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at No. 8. When he went seventh, I went to my No. 3, Odell Beckham. I'm not quite as high as most on Davante Adams this year, and Julio Jones was my major other consideration, and ultimately I don't think you can go wrong with any of those guys here. For me, the siren song of potentially dramatically improved quarterback play is enough to bet on the ability of Beckham, who when healthy has a case to be considered the best at his position in all of football.
After the elite tier went, I still had a chance to grab Mike Evans in the second round, and he's one of my favorite second-round picks in any format this year. Evans isn't quite on the same level as the top seven at the position for me, but he's also clear of the rest of the pack of wide receivers, and he's frankly closer to that elite tier than anyone behind him. I like to think of thinks in tiers, and for me Evans is sort of in his own as a bridge option who definitely has elite upside.
Here's how the rest of the draft played out after my WR-WR start:
- 1.08 Odell Beckham, WR, Browns
- 2.05 Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
- 3.08 Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
- 4.05 T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
- 5.08 Will Fuller, WR, Texans
- 6.05 Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals
- 7.08 Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles
- 8.05 Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams
- 9.08 Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
- 10.05 Vance McDonald, TE, Steelers
- 11.08 Ty Montgomery, RB, Jets
- 12.05 Dontrell Hilliard, RB, Browns
- 13.08 Darrel Williams, RB, Chiefs
- 14.05 Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Buccaneers
- 15.08 Andy Isabella, WR, Cardinals
It's rare for me to take a running back in the third round, but if Damien Williams is gone, Jones is one other I'd consider.
After that, I focused on WR depth since we can start up to four in this league, and that's something I've been recommending you do in the high-leverage rounds. Miles Sanders and Darrell Henderson give me some potential explosiveness at my RB2 spot, and I'm OK with the uncertainty around their playing time. There are plenty of running backs who don't put up the numbers we hope for or expect that go higher —. By waiting and then selecting two rookies, I built a strong WR corps that gives my roster a stable floor, and I didn't sacrifice upside at my RB2 slot.
The value on Baker Mayfield was nice, but it was also a key pick because of my investment of a first-round pick in Beckham. If I'm buying that Beckham will be a revelation in Cleveland, I'm already buying Mayfield as a quarterback to roster. For me, it's that logic that leads to stacks in these situations. I believe it builds in upside on my roster, and it's a big reason I also nabbed Dontrell Hilliard later. Hilliard looks poised to have more of a receiving role than Nick Chubb drafters would like, and if something were to happen to Chubb before Week 10 when Kareem Hunt can return, Hilliard would be a bridge Fantasy starter.
Along with Hilliard, my later-round backs are a slew of names that weren't on many people's draft boards several weeks ago. It's important to stay current with what's happening in the preseason; leveraging shifting depth charts is a key way to gain an edge in later drafts. Ty Montgomery played nearly every snap with the first team while Le'Veon Bell sat the preseason, and there's talk he'll have standalone value. Darrel Williams passed Carlos Hyde on the depth chart and looks likely to be a top three back in an unsettled depth chart for the league's best offense. Ogunbowale might just be the Buccaneers' best Fantasy back if he locks up the passing downs role.
I just can't stop drafting Fuller since Lamar Miller's injury. Earlier in the offseason, the knocks on Fuller were that he's an injury risk and that in a very small sample Keke Coutee out-targeted him. But the Texans' offense also pivoted to a very conservative style last year after Deshaun Watson took a beating behind a bad offensive line early in the year, and they may not have that luxury this year. Moreover, Fuller is healthy, while Coutee is not — there isn't much known about Coutee's health, but he could be looking at a multi-week absence. But even if Coutee is on the field, Fuller is and has been a hyper-efficient receiver dating to his college days at Notre Dame. He has extreme upside, and when you draft like I do, you've baked in some depth at the WR position in case he does miss time. He should get off to a fast start.
There is reason for some optimism with the Colts relative to Jacoby Brissett's first season with the team in 2017. The offensive line is significantly improved from a unit that frankly couldn't protect him at all. Brissett was also acquired eight days before Week 1, and he played in that game before going on to start each of the next 15 games that season. There's almost no way he could be considered comfortable with the offense in that situation. Perhaps more important than both of those things, the entire coaching staff has turned over, and Frank Reich has shown an ability to get the most out of multiple offenses now, from the Chargers to the Eagles to last year's Colts' team. And yet, there's no question Brissett is a major downgrade to Hilton's value. The question is: How much?
Jones' draft stock has slipped a bit, but there are unusual circumstances causing it. He was rehabbing some hamstring tightness earlier this offseason, but it seemed to be an abundance of caution from the Packers and he was cleared to practice August 10. While that injury kept him out of the first two preseason games, he was reportedly ready to make his preseason debut in Week 3, something that could have pushed his draft stock back up. Alas, the Packers and Raiders played that game on a modified field due to turf concerns, and both teams rested their starters at the last minute. Just like that, Jones has missed the whole preseason, but that may make him a draft value this year as there's really no indication he's anything but healthy entering the season.
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