We Debate, You Decide – First Pick

Edited: Aug 17th 2017

So, fantasy football season rolling around again. August, big month. Listen, its hot out there so why not stay in the AC and read up on some fantasy football. We got our first article here back in Fantasyphilosophy.com version 2.0. This is pure opinionated writing here, no bs, no biases. So lets get to it.

You’re sitting down on your over priced laptop, trying to figure out how to begin to study for this upcoming fantasy football season. Maybe you’ll head to your favorite website, or jump right into some mock drafts. My advice? Start by looking at your top 200 rankings. Who do you like? Who do you hate? Who got traded? Who stayed? This is the perfect place to get started with your draft studies. So since you’re checking out the top rankings, why not start at the top: the number one pick. First pick is HIGHLY valued this year so you NEED to make it count.

Whether you’re drafting standard or PPR, the consensus average draft position (ADP) for the top 5 players typically go as follows:

  1. David Johnson
  2. Le’veon Bell
  3. Antonio Brown
  4. Ezekiel Elliot
  5. Julio Jones

Unless we see any injuries (or suspensions) these rankings should remain static until the start of the season. Lets go player by player to decide who you should take with your first pick.

David Johnson

This guy is incredible, 20 touchdowns and over 2000 yard from scrimmage. He did it all for the Arizona Cardinals. He led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns and was second in receiving only behind Larry Fitzgerald. Now, after giving him the credit he deserves, its almost IMPOSSIBLE, that he repeats this type of season. I mean, after scoring 20 times its almost certain DJ will see a regression.

So why is he the top pick?

Because he is the safest pick in this years draft. He is the blue chip stop in football, if you invest in him, you’re almost certain to get rewarded for it. He is the Apple stock of the fantasy draft. If you want safety with your top pick, go with DJ. He won’t let you down, but don’t expect another 20 touchdown season.

Le’Veon Bell

A little different story here, if DJ is the Apple stock then Le’Veon Bell is Netflix. A little more risk, but also a little more reward. Le’Veon Bell had 1800 total yards and 9 touchdowns. These stats down come close to David Johnson, but Bell only played in 12 games last year after dealing with suspension. I believe he is NOT a regression candidate and will have even higher numbers next year. Combining for about 150 yards per game, Bell would have had around 2400 yards from scrimmage if he played all season. Now, thats a big IF for Bell, as he only completed that feat once in his 4 year career. So, if you want more risk, but more reward, go with Bell. Now, lets discuss his contract issues. Bell has not agreed on a contract and hasn’t signed his franchise tender for next year. Well what the hell does that mean? It means he does not have to report to training camp until he signs.

Well that can’t be good, right?

I actually believe this is BETTER for Bell. Last year he missed all of camp while recovering from ACL surgery, along with his 3 game suspension, and had a monster season. Time off may be better for Bell, or any running back for that matter. Now, Bell isn’t sitting at home, he’s working his ass off in Miami with his boys. How do I know this? Because I follow Bell on snapchat! Don’t believe that he’s working out? Follow him on Snapchat @ l_bell24. So now that we cleared that all up, I believe Bell is a steal at the number 2 pick and can even make a case going at the number one pick.

Well what if he holds out? I don’t want a player who is holding out!! 

Bell has reassured the Steelers that he plans on playing this year. If that is not enough for you then I’ll continue. Bell has publicly stated that he wants to get paid as a number one back and a number two receiver, which would be somewhere around $16 million, which would change the game for running back salaries in the NFL. I believe Bell wants to prove that he is deserving of this money this year. I expect this to motivate him more than ever. And if THAT isn’t enough for you then get this: For every game Bell skips he will lose $700,000. Now I don’t know about you, but that is a good chunk of change.

Antonio Brown

Arguably the greatest receiver of this generation, Antonio Brown has been doing it year in and year out for the past 6 years! In the past four years he has been ranked in the top 3, with two number 1 finishes. He is the master of consistency and I have no doubts he will finish top 5 again this year. Big Ben and Brown have created great chemistry together. Not much will be different this year for the Steelers offense.

But wait, what about Martinis Bryant returning?

Bryant will indeed be back this year for his 3 official season at receiver for the Steelers. He has always shown to be a great compliment to Brown and most likely a top receiver in the league one day. I don’t think many people are afraid that he will take from Brown’s targets. If anything, he may take some targets away from Bell. If you don’t believe me, Brown has had two seasons 1700+ yards and 10+ touchdowns, both when Bryant was playing. If anything, I believe Bryant will allow Brown to get open more often and also allow Big Ben to take more chances with a 1 on 1 coverage with Antonio Brown. If you want someone to put up a sure 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns, draft this guy.

Ezekiel Elliot

Beginner’s luck? I don’t know about that, but I do know that of these top 5 players, Elliot is for sure the riskiest to draft. Especially before the league decides on his suspension. Elliot had 1950 yards from scrimmage in his rookie campaign, as well as 16 touchdowns. Making him the number 2 overall running back in 2016.

So this guy is an absolute beast, why am I not taking him top 3?  

There are many ways to answer this question so lets start at the top. Elliot has one year under his belt, and by NFL standards, he is still not a proven entity. Its very possible to have one huge year and then die off, i.e. Peyton Hillis, Cadillac Williams, Ryan Matthews etc. So give him one more solid year before you take him in the top 3. Another reason for his lower top 5 placement, is because of the suspension looming over his head. Today, Cris Carter stated that he would be more surprised if Zeke did NOT get suspended. But, Jerry Jones stated that he would be surprised if he did. So who knows, hopefully you don’t have an early draft,

So what should we do about Zeke if he gets suspended?

Dependent upon the amount of games he is suspended, Zeke could be a steal in the draft. If he is suspended 1-2 games then I suggest keeping his ADP static and taking him top 5. If it is 3-5 games, then I would probably wait until mid round 2 to mid round 3 to draft him. If he is suspended 6+ then I would wait until the fourth or fifth round to take him. He will still be very valuable when he plays, especially if your eyeing the fantasy playoffs, which I would assume, you are. Listen, Zeke will give you a sure 12-15 fantasy points per week with major upside of up to 25 per week. Even if he is suspended, he should remain on your radar. Keep an eye on the news!

Julio Jones

Julio Jones, did you SEE this guy in the Super Bowl?! He was a MONSTER. Against arguably one of the best secondaries in the NFL, Jones posted 87 yards with two spectacular toe dragging catches. This guy is a straight up beast. I believe he is the most talented receiver in the game, he’s quick, tall, strong, and can go up and get it.

So if he’s the best receiver why is he 5?

A few reasons, namely his touchdown numbers. He has never put up more than 10 and has only eclipsed 8 touchdowns 50% of the time. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense love to throw to their running backs in the redzone as well as the tight end. It is also worth noting that the falcons had an all time historic offense last year, scoring around 34 points per game. Meanwhile, Jones only had 6 touchdowns, while the backup RB, Tevin Coleman had 10. We all wonder why Jones is not targeted more in the redzone, but it has worked for them. There is one thing that has me looking to take Jones top 3 this year.

What is it!?

Losing on the biggest stage. Failure, defeat. It motivates the best of us, and I think Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are up for the challenge to avenge themselves. Now, this could work both ways. The Falcons could crumble under the pressure next year or rise to the occasion. If the latter occurs, you could see Ryan and Jones putting up HUGE numbers. I’ talking 1800 yards and 10 touchdowns. It is definitely possible after a crushing lose next year. If you’re looking for a great WR with high upside, don’t be afraid to take Jones next year. I have seen too many fantasy players pass on him for someone like AJ Green or Mike Evans, and I fear they will regret that decision. Go with Julio, take the stud.

Final Rankings

So, how do my rankings end up? Here you go:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. David Johnson
  3. Antonio Brown
  4. Julio Jones
  5. Ezekiel Elliot

I believe in the upside for Bell and Jones, as well as fear the Zeke will be suspended for around 3 games.

-Paul Michael DeAngelis

 

 

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