The 2018 fantasy football season is here, and keeper league players have some tough decisions to make.
Deciding who to draft and stash on your team for the long haul isn’t easy. More often than not, the players up for consideration are unproven commodities. Do you buy into the hype on a running back drafted high in NFL Draft? Do you assume a young quarterback really has landed in the perfect situation? Will a rookie wide receiver’s success in a college system translate to the NFL?
There are no easy answers to those questions, but we’ve done our best. Here are five players to target and five to avoid in keeper leagues:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley, who dominated college defenders during his days at Penn State, probably will go early in fantasy drafts, putting a cap on his real “value” in keeper leagues. Still, he figures to feature prominently in the Giants offense for years to come, and has the all-around skill set to be a premier RB1 for a long, long time.
2. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Young receivers are notoriously difficult to project, but Ridley feels like a safe bet after landing in a perfect situation. Matt Ryan loves to spread the ball around and, if he proves worthy, Ridley should become the primary target once Julio Jones starts to regress — a scenario that might not be too far off.
3. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
This one is a bit risky, and quarterbacks typically aren’t the players you want to target in keeper leagues. Still, we believe Jackson has the skill set and poise to push Joe Flacco for the starting gig, perhaps taking over the job as early as midseason. When that happens, we expect his dual-threat talents to translate to big fantasy points for years.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Again, quarterbacks shouldn’t be your first targets in keeper leagues. But if you’re looking to lock down your QB spot for the next 5-10 years, Garoppolo might be your best option.
5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Cook’s rookie season was cut short by an ACL tear, which should cause him to fall to the mid-to-late rounds in fantasy drafts. If that happens, make sure you snatch him up, as he could be a fantasy stud for a while.
1. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Young receivers typically are the most popular targets in keeper leagues, and at 24-years-old, Cooper seems like a popular choice. But his numbers dropped way, way off last season, and we’re not confident that Derek Carr is good enough to get the most out of Cooper on a yearly basis.
2. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
When DeMarco Murray retired in the offseason, many believed Henry finally would get the chance to prove he’s a feature every-down back capable of putting up huge fantasy numbers. Then former New England Patriot Dion Lewis signed with the Titans in the offseason, meaning Henry once again is looking at a timeshare, and probably will for years to come.
3. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
On paper, Michel seems like a perfect fit for the Patriots offense: Shifty, strong and great catching the ball out of the backfield. However, a knee procedure threatens to keep him off the field at the start of the season, and it’s fair to wonder whether he faces an uphill battle in earning the trust of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Furthermore, the “don’t trust a Patriots running back” fantasy rule still should be obeyed.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Maybe Luck really still is the future of the quarterback position, but we’re off the bandwagon. We don’t trust his shoulder is back to normal, and Luck and the Colts never have proven capable of providing big fantasy points on a regular basis. There are far, far better options.
5. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown still is the best fantasy wideout in the game, and might maintain that status for another season or two. But at 30 years old, you probably should look elsewhere for your keeper team.
Thumbnail photo via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports Images
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