In my last article (Running back sleepers who could help win your fantasy league), I went over why this is the year to go Zero RB if you don’t draw an early draft slot. In that article I list a few of the later round RBs to make sure you draft. So, we won’t spend any time on RB targets here. Instead, I’ll talk about why these receivers are worthy of your first couple picks.
All ADP figures courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator PPR ADP
Rob Gronkowski – ADP: 21
Can I really start a WR target article with a Tight End? Yes.
Gronk is worthy of a middle-of-the-first pick in all formats, and he’s going later than he has in my corroded and corrupted memory.
No player has the potential to absolutely dominate their position like Gronkowski. In a career year for Travis Kelce (15 games), Kelce outscored Gronk (13 games) by 10 total points in PPR, but Gronk came out 2 points the better in points per game. Gronk outscored the #6 TE in points per game by 6 points. That is a full TD advantage over the median starting TE!
With the dearth of receiver talent in New England, and the Patriots’ prolific scoring history, Gronk has the potential to lead the Pats in receptions and yards while leading the league in TDs like he did back in 2011.
DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, and Antonio Brown – ADP: Mid to late first round
I’m grouping these guys together because they’re all worthy of your first pick. Each one could lead the league in every receiving category and no one would be surprised. I’ll not spend a lot of ink splitting the finest of hairs for who should be #1 out of the group, even though I’d lean towards Hopkins.
Keenan Allen – ADP: 17
Allen was targeted 159 times (5th most among receivers) in 2017. He hauled in 102 receptions for 1,393 yards but only 6 TDs. Going in to his age 26 season, Allen has shown he’s not only mind-melded with Phillip Rivers, but he has shown just enough speed to to compliment his uncanny ability to get just enough separation.
With the Chargers equipped to be one of the best teams in the league, Allen has a real chance to end up as the #1 receiver in fantasy. At his current ADP, Allen makes the perfect 2nd receiver to dominate with the Zero-RB approach.
Davante Adams – ADP: 18
In 2014 and 2016, years where both Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers were healthy, Jordy caught 13 and 14 touchdowns respectively. Last year, playing with Brent Hundley, Adams finished as the WR 15, catching 10 TDs. Even though we all know Jimmy Graham is going to catch 25 touchdowns this year... There should be plenty of scores left over Adams to make a run at the #1 overall WR in fantasy. That you can get Adams in the middle of the second makes him a no-brainer.
Davante will be going in to his age-25 season this year, and he’s clearly the #1 in Green Bay. We could see another big step forward for the young receiver with Rodgers back under center.
Ok… I know it’s not real hard-hitting advice to say ‘draft these amazing receivers early’. The real question is: Which RBs should you pass on to draft these receivers?
Leonard Fournette (ADP: 1.10) - Are the Jaguars going to play the league’s easiest schedule again? Do you trust Blake Bortles?
Kareem Hunt (ADP: 11) – I love Hunt long term, but the point of 0-RB is to take a safer receiver option with your most valuable picks. With Mahomes under center, and the Spencer Ware buzz building, easy pass for me here.
Christian McCaffrey (ADP 14) – Had a great rookie year, and I love C-Mac long term. But do we have the TD upside we need for this price? Is CJ Anderson going to get all the goal-line work Cam doesn’t keep for himself?
Dalvin Cook (ADP: 15) – He looked really good in the 4 games before tearing his ACL. We’re just assuming he comes back and he’s just lights out amazing again?
Devonta Freeman (ADP: 19) – Love Freeman as a real-life back but not in fantasy. The Falcons bounce-back folks are predicting isn’t a sure thing. I’ll pass at this price.