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2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Gazing Into The Crystal Ball: Predicting The 2018 First Round

2018 First Round
Photo Credit: Tom

What will the Fantasy Football 2018 First Round look like?

It is a question that keeper and dynasty league owners must consider when doing their draft prep.

The players themselves might change from year to year, but some general trends hold true year after year. Some are obvious. For example, the collection of players never stays exactly the same. We generally see at least three new players become consensus first round picks. Conversely, we typically will see about half a dozen first round players retain their status from one year to the next.

There’s usually a player who was a first round player the previous year, fell out of the first round for whatever reason (injury, suspension, team change etc.), and then returns to the first round the following year. There is often at least one player, usually a younger one, who makes a three to four round leap into the first round.

And there are more trends, but those are just some of the bigger ones. I kept many of those in mind, but as you will see below I had some fun with what could happen. Agree or not with some of my forecasting, but here’s my way-too-freaking-early 2018 First Round projection.

2018 First Round

2018 First Round Returning Players

So let’s start with projecting which players will retain their first round status, starting at the back of the 2018 first round and moving forward.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

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Coming off a 13 TD, 1,200 yard season, Gordon provides a high floor at running back. Maybe he’ll get those six touchdowns in 2018 that Antonio Gates got in the redzone in 2017.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Green just doesn’t offer the upside with both John Ross and Tyler Boyd getting stronger. But Green offers his usual high floor despite the Bengals new head coach in 2018.

LeVeon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell continues to be a first round stud, but there is reason for doubt. It starts with the fact he played only 14 games. One was when he missed the week after the Ravens held him to only 30 yards and knocked him out early. The other was when the Steelers were locked into the fourth seed the final week of the season. Because James Conner looked strong in those two games. There’s enough reason for doubt that he’s now in the back half of the round.

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson, coming off another strong year, is an obvious first rounder. But with the retirements of both Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, he’ll see nine men in the box. Add the nearly 350 touches he lodged in 2017 and he brings too much risk to make him the obvious first pick.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown has another great year. There’s a bit of a malaise in western Pennsylvania after Ben Roethlisberger took a bone jarring hit and immediately announced that 2017 would be his last year. It’s obvious Ben is done. The Steelers are expected to become a run heavy team. But the Fantasy world knows that Brown is too talented to not to be a first rounder. Yet he does slip behind super stud Mike Evans.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

And Brown should slip behind Mike Evans, as Evans has nearly 1,800 receiving yards and 17 TDs. The pendulum swings back toward taking WRs with the top picks, especially when they are this good.

But who currently in the first round becomes viewed as not worthy of a 2018 First Round pick?

 

Non-Returning Players to the 2018 First Round

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Jordy Nelson is still a solid pick. However, he slips just a couple spots from the end of the first to the beginning of the second. Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around too much. And it looks like Jamaal Williams might finally stop the merry-go-round at RB in Green Bay.

The Falcons offense takes a step back, especially when Julio Jones hurts his foot again, giving his owners three weeks of donuts. Devonta Freeman sees far less carries. He and Tevin Coleman’s passing down work makes them both Top 25 picks, but outside of the first round. Freeman isn’t the only one who sees fewer carries though.

DeMarco Murray just seems to run out of steam. The Titans turn to Derrick Henry who rushes for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns in the last six weeks of the season.

LeSean McCoy is actually one of the best Fantasy backs in football during the first half of the season (they play the Jets twice during the first nine weeks of the season!), but an injury crushes his owners hopes shortly before the Fantasy playoffs begin.

Between being just a decoy the first two weeks of the season and an out and out distraction the final few weeks of the season, Odell Beckham puts up very solid numbers. However, owners are fed up with Beckham’s antics. Everyone except Giants fans decides he’s not worth the investment of a first round pick.

2018 First Round New Entrants

So, who’s in?

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Should have been a first rounder this year, but the suspension pushed him out of the first round. He’s back.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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Sean McVay is a huge upgrade to Fisher as expected. He knows who his team’s best weapon is and with the continued improvements to the OL, optimism is high for Gurley to repeat his nearly 2K combined yardage season again.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Coming off another 40-plus TD season, industry experts start to wonder if it does make sense to take the top QB in the first round. Some point to Tom Brady’s career ending injury, but Rodgers sees his ADP creep into the late first round.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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The biggest jump of any newbie, Hill far exceeds expectations in 2017. He actually does less on special teams in 2017 than he did last year but still has double-digit touchdowns. Furthermore, he is actually the least likely to match his first round ADP and the word bust is being whispered. Yet with Alex Smith done and Patrick Mahomes’ rocket launcher arm dropping bomb after bomb into the arms of the streaking Hill downfield during the last part of the 2017 season, expectations are sky high.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

His ADP has been jumping every single year. Seattle will be forced to go up tempo again like they did in 2017 with their issues at RB and defense. Baldwin is a great bet to put up first round numbers again in 2018.

 

I can sense you want me to go Nostradamus on some other players who might not be in the 2018 First Round but do see a big jump in draft stock in 2018. Fine. But these must be taken even lighter than the names above.

2018 Early Round Picks Not There in 2017

List of Predicted Players with a 2018 ADP within the first five rounds who are not currently there: Kareem Hunt, Carson Wentz, Jamaal Williams, Cameron Meridith, Doug Martin, and Jameis Winston.

The latter, of course, is obvious given that he gets to throw to Mike Evans, my projected 2018 First Round overall pick!

 

Need some tools to try and project just 2017? Try the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.

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Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg remembers making Jerry Rice his first round selection as well as taking a flyer on a young pitcher named Doug Drabek. His Fantasy analysis has spanned multiple sports including football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. A FSWA finalist, his fantasy analysis has been featured in various outlets including but not limited to SI.com, USA Today national magazines, Yahoo! and RotoExperts.
Mark Strausberg
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