There are multiple schools of thought on whether to invest two top picks in the same offense. On one hand, its certainly a risk, as a major injury that derails that offense can basically derail your season. On the other, if the offense is truly elite, you've likely built a high-floor, high-ceiling roster.
It's with that in mind that I started with both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at the 1/2 turn in this PPR draft where we start three wide receivers. The top five running backs and top six wide receivers were off the board, so Hill was the clear next-best at the position on my board. And across positions, Kelce was, at that point, a great value as well.
When the draft came back to me at the 3/4 turn, my hands were tied. I'd already invested in both of Patrick Mahomes' top two receivers, and he was still on the board, something that's unlikely to happen in most leagues. Of course I made that selection, and I also added Mecole Hardman in the last round to insulate me from a potential Hill trade, injury or off-field issue.
Here's how my roster turned out.
- 1.12 Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
- 2.01 Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
- 3.12 Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers
- 4.01 Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
- 5.12 Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns
- 6.01 Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers
- 7.12 Matt Breida, RB, 49ers
- 8.01 Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks
- 9.12 Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins
- 10.01 Justice Hill, RB, Ravens
- 11.12 Ito Smith, RB, Falcons
- 12.01 Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals
- 13.12 Tre'Quan Smith, WR, Saints
- 14.01 Ryquell Armstead, RB, Jaguars
- 15.12 Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
We've writtenabout why a Zero RB strategy is viable from in 2019, and hopefully you're familiar with it by now. In this draft it was imperative because I took both an early TE and an early QB.
I'm sure the first thing you see is a roster with ugly running backs. But let me be clear: I don't. This is a roster I would pay a double entry fee to play with. I love it.
The top four wide receivers are phenomenal — we know about the upside for Chris Godwin and Curtis Samuel, and Jarvis Landry is one of the silliest afterthoughts in Fantasy this year. Yes, he'll lose some targets, but he'll also be shifting back toward a role where he was more successful earlier in his career, and we're talking about a WR who has never missed a game and never finished lower than WR30 in PPR across a five-year career (and never lower than WR20 in the four seasons since his rookie year). He's not flashy, but he's reliably productive, and drafting him at WR28 like I did here is an easy call if the only concern is his production will mysteriously crater, in his prime, in a good offense.
So after securing an elite roster across every lineup spot — QB, TE, all three WR spots and flex — attention turns to the RB position. And yes, there are no elite names here. But there's plenty of potential, and as I've said earlier this offseason, treating RB like forward-thinking teams treat the NFL Draft — which is to say, recognizing hit rates are low and stockpiling a high quantity of picks to try to increase the potential of a big hit — is a sound strategy. We can feel very secure about what little we know right now, or we can recognize that we do that every year, and every NFL season is still chaotic.
The only thing I know for certain about running back production in Fantasy this year is that there will be players producing that look a lot like the seven I drafted here. If I don't have one of them, I should still have something usable, and if not even that I have plenty of trade bait. But if I do hit a home run on a player like Penny or Hill, this roster will be tough to beat.
One of the most bizarre draft trends this offseason was Breida being selected as the third running back on his own team after he was a hyper-efficient player while battling injury in 2018, and the team leader in nearly every major running back category. That's notable because despite a sub-par record, this offense still had Kyle Shanahan's signature Fantasy running back upside — per Rich Hribar, their backs combined for the fifth-most total yards of any backfield in the league. Fast forward to now, and Jerick McKinnon looks unlikely to be ready for the start of the season (surprise) while Breida flashed all preseason and looks to be Tevin Coleman's equal. Coleman may still lead the backfield in touches, but there's plenty of production here and a soft early-season schedule for Breida to be an early-season starter when you go Zero RB.
I'm not a big fan of Ballage long term, and the concern is he just doesn't have it. But seeing his stock fall in recent weeks because of a sub-par preseason performance is silly. He's a lock to have a Week 1 role, and he could easily be the RB2 on this roster to start the season. Yes, he got stuffed frequently by Jacksonville's defense in the third preseason game. And yes, the regular season opener is against the Ravens, so he's probably not a preferred play by any means. But we do know he'll get touches, and not just a half's worth like in the preseason. I'm much more concerned about his long-term viability than whether preseason Week 3 will keep him from being a potentially early-season option.
The real make or break for this team is the trio of Chiefs, but I want to talk about Smith as well. Early hype around Brian Hill's preseason performance turned the Fantasy community off Smith, and he's now a value. He seems to have maintained his No. 2 role through the preseason, and did a few decent things himself that seemed to go ignored. In preseason Week 2, Smith caught all three targets he saw for 45 yards, while he found the end zone in both Week 2 and Week 3. He would be the other Week 1 option from this running back corps, and he still maintains plenty of upside should Devonta Freeman again struggle to stay healthy.