June 3, 2019 | Posted in: Publishing

2019 Fantasy Football has four clear top draft choices. Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. You’ve been dealt pick 5, 6 or 7, where do you go with your first round pick?

The top four running backs are off the board and certainly no one is going to criticize you for taking Melvin Gordon or David Johnson. But, do you feel good about either of these choices? What about DeAndre Hopkins? Do you feel Hopkins will be the top receiver in fantasy during the 2019 NFL Season? Picking 5-7 in your draft is a cunnundrum.

Running back a must in round 1

Looking past Gordon and Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, James Connor, Joe Mixon and Todd Gurley (ADP of 2.02 because of knee concerns) all make sense over Hopkins (1.07), Davante Adams (1.08), and Michael Thomas (1.10) in the first round because wide receiver is so deep when compared to a top-flight PPR running back.

The fantasy teams selecting Hopkins, Adams, and Thomas in the first round will be pressed into selecting Damien Williams (2.08), Dalvin Cook (2.05) (can’t stay healthy), and Nick Chubb (2.09) as their #1 running back. Meanwhile, teams who went running back in round 1 no matter what (think Sonny Weaver) will clean up on Antonio Brown (2.06), Mike Evans (2.08), Adam Thielen (2.10), and T.Y. Hilton (2.12) in the second round as their #1 wide receivers.

Wide Receiver in first two rounds?

When Hopkins, Adams, and Thomas come off the board picks five through twelve in your draft, one of those teams will not be able to pass on the likes of Julio Jones (1.11), Odell Beckham Jr. (2.02), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (2.04). These teams will have selected two wide receivers in the first two rounds and be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to risk. The number one goal in fantasy football is mitigating risk in what amounts to a weekly game.

Selecting from Devonta Freeman (3.03), Leonard Fournette (3.04), Josh Jacobs (3.07), Marlon Mack (3.06), Aaron Jones (3.10), and Derrick Henry (3.12) as your #1 running back results in a heavy load of anxiety and question marks. I’m drafting Keenan Allen (3.02), Amari Cooper (3.04), A.J. Green (3.06), Stefon Diggs (3.11), and Julian Edelman (4.02) ahead of any of the running backs listed above because I selected a running back in round 1, no matter what, and the listed RBs above are full of risk and question marks.

When I select third in the draft (Alvin Kamara), followed by Mike Evans (ADP 2.08) and Keenan Allen (ADP 3.03) in the third round, the foundation is greater than a team selecting a wide receiver in the first two rounds. There will be a breaking point if the first seven draft picks in your league are running backs. The eighth overall pick will be forced into a wide receiver, most likely Hopkins, followed by a run on Adams, Thomas, and Jones.

Fantasy drafts are about the first four picks

Analyzing drafts from my own league the past 25 years, the first four rounds are crucial. Successful teams, the first four picks usually panned out while unsuccessful teams traditionally blew their third-round pick. Injury? The invariable variable, ask David Johnson owners in 2017.

In a league starting three wide receivers, plus a flex, RB, WR, WR, WR in the first four rounds mitigate risk. Kamara, Evans, Allen, with the possibility of Brandin Cooks (4.06), Kenny Golladay (4.08) and Robert Woods (4.09) as a third wide receiver makes me feel better than a team consisting of Hopkins, Cook, Cooper, with a running back like Phillip Lindsay (4.04), Sony Michel (4.05), or David Montgomery (4.07) in the fourth round. The issue with all three of these running backs is the number of touches per game.

Fifth Round – The make or break round

RB, WR, WR, WR, with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers (5.05) and DeShaun Watson (5.11) could make the fifth round easy. Obviously, you’re looking for another running back with Kenyan Drake (5.04) and James White (5.08) among the choices. Your roster requires a tight end, O.J Howard (5.06) and Eric Ebron (6.02) are available in the fifth round range. Obviously, Howard has tremendous upside yet has trouble staying healthy and Cameron Brate is still in the picture. Howard is the fourth tight end off the board behind Travis Kelce (2.05), Zach Ertz (3.01) and George Kittle (3.07).

Flex decision? Perhaps a fourth wide receiver? Sammy Watkins (5.03), Chris Godwin (5.05), Tyler Lockett (5.07), Jarvis Landry (5.07) and Mike Williams (5.12) all offer intrigue. Williams (no Tyrell Williams) and Godwin (no Adam Humphries in a wide open offense) are the best choices among this group.

My selection? Watson. He’s the top QB in fantasy this season. These are the kind of things you hope when selecting any fantasy player.