You’re out of the playoffs, your season is over and there’s little left to do but wait for this agonizing year to end and then find some way, any way, to endure another off-season of boasts from the coach in your league who has won it all. God forbid if he (or she) has won in back-to-back years! What is really left to be done?
We’ve all lived through it and we all know the answer. You don’t need to be a seasoned dynasty player to understand what comes next. In fact, in all likelihood, you’re already engrossed in preparation for 2018. Hey, give yourself credit, you’re here, reading this now – putting in the work. Or, you’re hopelessly addicted to football. Either way, we understand you and are here for you.
When it all comes down to it, only one team can win in a given year and it takes a special blend of skillful roster construction, match-up management during the season and a lot of luck. There’s simply no way to remove luck from the game, nor would we want to. But, those that do their homework earn a greater amount of luck. Whether that truly is or is not the case, I choose to believe it is.
DLF members expect coverage that gives them get a leg up, an advantage and an edge for winning. The NFL season is, believe it or not, our low-period for activity. Things begin picking up in December as dynasty players, mostly super-fans, begin the process of building for next year. Trades, draft research, free agency and waiver wire additions all play important roles in the building of a dynasty team. Heck, many of us play dynasty not just for the challenge, but also as an excuse to stay immersed in the game year-round. I don’t blame a single one of you. DLF exists for this same reason – for you!
Many of you have followed me for close to a decade. You know that my calling card is draft research. I don’t use group-think or others’ work to determine my rankings or thoughts on a player or players. Sure, I use all resources toward helping fill the pool so to speak and generate initial assessments, but that is when my work really begins. Being a draft/player analyst means that you’re going to have amazing hits and epic misses. I’m accountable to every one. I’m not afraid to go against the grain and be the lone wolf sounding the alarm on a high profile player (Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin and Johnny Manziel) or stand alone in singing the praises of under-the-radar players (Dak Prescott, Alex Collins, Greg Jennings and Jimmy Graham). And, of course, I learn from every miss (David Johnson, RGIII, James Starks and Michael Thomas).
My first entry to the 2018 class can be found here. It’s my quick overview of the incoming group and a very basic top-ten. Now we go deeper, beginning with the running backs. As is always the case, my rankings and thoughts on players will change as I watch more tape, not just highlights. You can’t judge how a running back pass protects from a highlight tape, nor can you necessarily assess his hands. Most of all, you can’t rate character, leadership or intangibles from watching a video review of his top plays. For those things, an analyst much go much, much deeper. You must watch the boring videos, the “touch-tape”, as I call them, that goes well beyond just highlights.
Lastly, you don’t need to spend huge sums of money, read hundreds of pages or climb the tallest mountains in Tibet to find the best information. If we thought that is what it takes to give you an advantage, we’d be doing just that. What you need, more than anything, are trusted resources. We know from the work we put in that DLF is just that, a trusted resource. You hold us to a higher standard and expect greater accuracy, and we’re very happy to attempt to clear that bar each and every year. But there are many good analysts out there. Find ones that earn your trust! I’ve read the longest guides and the shortest and I can tell you with great confidence that volume does not equal quality, nor does price. Passion and good ol’ research are what we offer you and what we believe you should seek in others.
Let’s get cookin’ here and have some fun as we begin to march our way to NFL draft declaration day, the NFL Combine and, finally, the NFL Draft.
Once again, please remember that my rankings and assessments will change over time so don’t take offense if your player is rated poorly or hasn’t made my list. It’s still early and there’s a LOT of research still to be done Here are my top ten running backs for the 2018 NFL Draft:
1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Weight: 223 Lbs.
I just don’t need to spend much time on highlighting Barkley’s game or how he projects to the NFL. I’m as excited about him at the next level as I was Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley. He’s got a thick and wide base with a low center of gravity. Very agile for his size with a devastating jump-cut and angular burst off a head-fake, especially to his right. He runs with patience and and is a a tackle-breaking machine. Combine those qualities with excellent patience behind the line of scrimmage, sneaky-fast acceleration once he squares his shoulders to a hole, adept hands out of the backfield and a passable grade on pass protection and the only mystery left will be how high he goes in the draft and to who. He’s certain to be a top-seven selection.
Barkley will remain alone in my first tier and I’ll be surprised to see his name at 1.02 in any fantasy draft in 2018. He’s that good.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff