I wrote an article similar to this last year, and the gist is simple: get in early before the price spikes and profit. We had some hits and misses last year compared to cost. In summary, Carson Wentz and Robert Woods were smash hits and big-time profits. The Giants backfield and Kenneth Dixon were misses (however not big losses due to cost.) There is a delayed year and stagnant value on the Marcus Mariota, Martavis Bryant, Austin Hooper and Eric Ebron buys as all are similar in price to last year’s cost. Now we’ve completed last year’s report card, let’s get on to this year’s buys ahead of the value spike.
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Baker Mayfield – QB20
Sam Darnold – QB26
To put it quite simply, this rookie class of quarterbacks is on par with the 2017 class that produced current coveted fantasy players Deshaun Watson, Pat Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky. In the case of Baker Mayfield, he has the highest ceiling and floor prospect of the batch of quarterbacks from either of the two years. He is the must-have on all superflex teams and is a wonderful buy in 1QB. After getting to see Mayfield in the first preseason game, I have never seen a more impressive performance in a rookie’s first live game NFL action.
He has either a natural and unteachable instinct for pocket presence and where to subtly move to and when to climb, or he has simply learned at a faster rate than anyone to come before him. The touted pinpoint accuracy was on display as well, particularly on a touchdown throw to Antonio Callaway where he had a shoebox size window to fit the football and placed it perfectly. His current NFL player comparison is Drew Brees, but Mayfield is wildly ahead of Brees’ progression at the same point of his career as Brees when he was in San Diego.
Darnold is the other player to get in on the ground floor while his price is still well past reasonable. The way the coaching staff has reacted to his presence in camp in such a short time after the delay getting his contract signed is nothing short of remarkable. The Jets had two quarterbacks in place who are competent and proven in Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater but ushered Darnold to the front of the line despite the presence of these two, and were comfortable in the rookie they shipped Bridgewater to New Orleans. I repeat, Darnold is already moved to the first team despite the staff only being able to have eyes on him for a few weeks!!!
All reports are he has an understanding beyond his years and is pinpoint accurate in his throws. At the time of this writing we are awaiting the Jets second preseason game which Darnold is slated to start. The unfortunate reality is by the time you’re reading this, that game will have happened and the price spiked. But even with a spike, he’ll still be a buy.
Bonus buy who more applies to your Superflex teams: Blake Bortles. He has turned in two QB1 and one QB2 seasons in the last three years and is currently priced as QB27. He is a sound QB2 with proven ceiling and is the SF buy for teams with holes at QB2 or QB3.
Chris Thompson – RB39
The season-ending injury that derailed Thompson’s 2017 season was unfortunate, as he was returning 15 points per game in PPR formats up to that point in the season. The silver lining to this is he has not yet been priced appropriately in 2018 and his role has not changed. Additionally, the pivot to Alex Smith at quarterback in Washington should lead to even more volume as we all know Smith has never been opposed to check-downs, nor does he pass up an open underneath route on his first read. A healthy season for Thompson all but guarantees an RB2 return at RB4 pricing. If you have even the slightest need at RB on a win now team, reach out to the Thompson owner.
Matt Breida – RB53
As the Jerick McKinnon hype train begins to lose steam, the community surely hasn’t adjusted to the back who will receive the bulk of the touches after him. Breida is still being drafted as an RB5 despite an impending workload that will be similar to Tevin Coleman’s but likely to have a little more volume to it. I wrote an instant analysis piece when McKinnon arrived in the Bay area, and not much has changed on the projections. An excerpt:
“My projection for McKinnon is 130-160 carries with an additional 105-120 targets. Assuming a moderate catch percentage and health, this would certainly put him squarely in the RB1 conversation. As far as Breida/RB2, I’m projecting 190-220 carries with an additional 45-65 targets. This would make the RB2 in SF a legitimate flex option.”
While I’ve backed off on the number of targets I believe McKinnon sees, the RB2 role projection remains intact. The RB5 pricing here is just silly, take advantage.
A quick note: there are a gaggle of “good” tight end buys but none who stick out like a sore thumb, so this section will feature four wide receivers.
Marquise Goodwin – WR50
Dante Pettis – WR62
After a spring and part of the summer of being bullish on Pierre Garcon being the wide receiver to own in San Francisco this season, all indications are that I was off base there, and a partial changing of the guard is occurring. Goodwin is operating as the X and Jimmy Garopollo’s favorite target, and Pettis has received glowing reviews about being open at will and additionally having an understanding of how to play any of the wide receiver spots.
While Garcon will still be a factor in the offense this season, the prices on Goodwin and Pettis are the ones to attack bring returns for the long haul. Goodwin is on the cusp of projected WR2 return at WR5 pricing and Pettis being priced as a WR6 is equally silly, making him the most undervalued rookie of the class.
Robby Anderson – WR51
Legal woes drove down Anderson’s price for most of the off-season, and he is still likely facing a two-three game suspension, however, he has sorted his legal troubles and is clearly operating as the Jets’ top wide receiver option. This is another player priced as a WR5 who will return WR2-3 value and is a no-brainer to send a future second round rookie pick for.
Kelvin Benjamin – WR61
Make no mistake, the state of the Bills offense is as putrid as one can dream of for an NFL offense. This is the worst collection of offensive talent not just in recent memory, but in memory, period. There is not a serviceable wide receiver on the roster after Kelvin and he will be supported by all the volume he can handle, given that the Bills will be losing and losing often. This is a different scenario than the aforementioned Goodwin and Anderson buys, but the price discrepancy is eerily similar. WR2-3 return for WR6 price. Don’t hesitate on any team lacking WR depth.
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