Do you want to shoot for the moon when drafting your Fantasy Football team? Ending up with a pick near the end of the first round can put you in position to take some big swings. The question is whether I took too many from the No. 10 spot in our pick-by-pick series.
The thing about this team is, I ended up with two of my top eight running backs and yet I can imagine most Fantasy players are tugging at their collars and trying to avoid making eye contact with this team. That's the thing about taking risks: Not everyone is going to be happy with them. But I am.
How'd it turn out? See for yourself:
1 10: Joe Mixon
2 3: Saquon Barkley
3 10: Amari Cooper
4 3: Julio Jones
5 10: Russell Wilson
6 3: Michael Thomas
7 10: A.J. Dillon
8 3: Curtis Samuel
9 10: Rondale Moore
10 3: Jonnu Smith
11 10: Tevin Coleman
12 3: Henry Ruggs
13 10: Jalen Reagor
14 3: Gabriel Davis
15 10: Malcolm Brown
A big part of why is because I just don't think Joe Mixon is all that much of a risk at this point. Everyone has agreed since Mixon came into the league that he's a pretty special running back, but he's gotten too much credit for that in the past, with too many overlooking what has never been a particularly good situation in Cincinnati. The situation might finally be good enough for him to live up to the hype this season, with Giovani Bernard out of the picture and Mixon slated for potentially his biggest role in the passing game ever on a team that is clearly on the upswing. I'm all-in.
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Now, Barkley is a risk by any definition of the word. We're still not 100% sure he's going to be available in Week 1, though I think all signs are pointing in the right direction in that regard. The question is how good will he be at first and how much playing time he'll get coming off a torn ACL. The Giants have been careful with his recovery, and you have to think they'll limit him at least a little early on, but we've seen his upside is comparable to anyone's in the past, so if he can get to that level before long, you won't be too worried that he only got 13 touches in Week 1.
Once you've taken a couple of "risky" players, some might be inclined to start looking for safety, but I say you should steer into the curve. If your league-mates are going to let talented players fall because of those concerns, stack your roster with them and see if you can hit on enough to build a juggernaut. Amari Cooper is the safe pick from my core group, and while there are questions about how the Seahawks offense will play, I count Russell Wilson among the safer options as well. Outside of that, this is an offense designed to make the championship or bust out.
So, let's draft Julio Jones, with his injury concerns. Why not add Michael Thomas, who won't play until Week 7 at the earliest, but who could be a top-five WR when healthy. Why not A.J. Dillon, a No. 2 RB with enormous upside if anything happens to Aaron Jones. And sure, let's add Curtis Samuel, who is expected to be ready for Week 1 after missing much of camp with a groin injury and who had a very valuable role in his last season in Ron Rivera's offense in 2019 but couldn't turn it into consistent production thanks to the QB play. I can bet on Sam Darnold to change that, right?
You may not have the stomach for a build like this, and admittedly, I can't exactly say I'm confident we're going to go out in Week 1 and dominate. But, things are going to go wrong for every Fantasy team in your league, but few teams have as clear a path to dominating if a few things go right.
WAS Washington • #10
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Samuel is one of my favorite breakout picks this season, and he's a screaming value now that he is trending in the right direction for Week 1. I might have "reached" for him in the ninth round, but between his likely role in the rushing game plus the fact that Ron Rivera liked to use him down the field in 2019, I think Samuel has so much more upside than anyone gives him credit for.
NO New Orleans • #13
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
I think I might have gotten too cute with this one. I love the idea of Michael Thomas catching passes from Jameis Winston, and I had him as a top five wide receiver before we found out about his ankle surgery. However, taking him in the seventh round is putting an awful lot of faith in his chances of coming back from the injury after the minimum six weeks and without much of an acclimation period. Carrying a guy I can't use until October might be easier to stomach if Jones and Samuel hadn't missed so much of camp. A slow start from those two and Barkley could be tough to overcome.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
At the risk of oversimplifying, if Barkley looks like himself early, my team is going to be just fine. If he plays limited snaps in Weeks 1 and 2 but looks explosive, I'll be thrilled, even if I have to scrape for wins those first two weeks. Because if he and Mixon are at full strength, I could have a pair of 20-point producers each week at running back, which is going to cover up for a lot of holes. If Barkley looks rusty, things could get hairy. I'm taking my antacids already.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.