Every year, a handful of NFL teams dominate the fantasy football landscape. At the same time, there are several teams that are avoided in fantasy drafts. 2018 will be no different. These are the best and worst fantasy values by team.
Best Fantasy Football Values
The Vikings enter 2018 with a new quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and essentially a new running back in Dalvin Cook. Cook, of course, is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week Four of the 2017 season. Still, Cook is considered a top-15 fantasy player and a top 10 fantasy running back. He has a chance to be a star in Minnesota. His handcuff, Latavius Murray, had several big games last season in Cook’s absence. The two running backs should rack up their fair share of touches this season.
At wide receiver, the Vikings have two top-20 caliber players. Adam Thielen is a PPR monster with strong hands. He will likely lead the team in receptions in 2018, giving him another big fantasy season. Pair him with Stefon Diggs and things get explosive. Diggs has the ability to turn any completion into a big play, so long as he stays healthy. If that’s not enough, Minnesota also has Kyle Rudolph at tight end, who holds the franchise record for touchdown receptions at the position.
Cousins has been one of the premier fantasy quarterbacks in each of the last three seasons, finishing in the top eight by years end. The offense in Minnesota will be loaded and will impact several fantasy rosters. The defense is one of the best in the league, if not the best. They will get plenty of sacks and force quite a few turnovers, making them a great fantasy play as well.
Drew Brees is a perennial stud in fantasy leagues. He spreads the ball and consistently racks up the yards. While he didn’t blow the league away with touchdowns last season, he should bounce back in 2018 and carry an explosive offense. There are a ton of weapons in place for Brees to utilize, and they will all be relevant for fantasy purposes. Alvin Kamara is already an icon in the NFL, and his contributions in the run game and pass game have him listed as a top-10 fantasy player. His counterpart, Mark Ingram, is suspended for the first four games of the season. However, he should still contribute when he returns to action as he is more of a bruising runner. Ingram and Kamara are perfect compliments to each other, as the league saw first-hand last season.
Outside, Michael Thomas is well on his way to becoming one of the best receivers in football. It isn’t absurd to expect Thomas to reel in over 100 passes for the second-straight season. Ted Ginn, Jr. is also a big play waiting to happen. He might not make a consistent impact, but he will have a few long completions when the defense is biting underneath. The Saints also went and signed Cameron Meredith in the off-season, giving Brees yet another threat. Meredith is coming off an ACL injury of his own, but if he is healthy, he can be a great pickup for New Orleans.
Like Minnesota, the Saints have a dominant defense. Last season, New Orleans was third in the league with 20 interceptions. That should remain the same this season with Patrick Robinson joining the secondary.
This one might come as a surprise. Saquon Barkley was drafted second overall for a reason: to contribute right away. With Eli Manning nearing the end of his career, the Giants need to develop more of a rushing attack. Barkley will be a fantasy superstar from day one. He can contribute on the ground and in the air, with incredible explosiveness and big-play ability.
Odell Beckham, Jr. is back from his broken ankle. He has been arguably the best receiver in the league when healthy, and he just got paid accordingly. Beckham will be the focal point of the offense yet again, and he should easily be one of the best fantasy players in the league this year. Sterling Shepard, the other wide receiver, is severely slept on. He isn’t drafted very high in fantasy drafts, as his average draft position is 119th overall. He will outplay that draft position as the team’s definite number two receiver.
The biggest sleeper on the Giants is tight end, Evan Engram. Engram is listed as a tight end, but he plays much more like a wide receiver. His job is to provide Manning with a reliable target in the middle of the field. In a PPR format, Engram should be one of the best tight ends. In total, the Giants have a top-10 talent at three different positions on the offense, which is just unfair.
Worst Fantasy Football Values
There is a ton of hype surrounding Andrew Luck, especially as a fantasy quarterback. However, he didn’t play at all last season and will be rusty to start the season. While he can be a good option late in a draft, he does not have any weapons besides T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is a deep ball receiver whose impact will be limited with Luck’s shoulder issues. If Luck cannot push the ball downfield, Hilton is bound to take a step back this season.
The Colts really don’t have any other receiving threats on the roster. Donte Moncrief left in free agency and was replaced with Ryan Grant. Grant has done nothing to show that he is a good fantasy pickup. At tight end, the Colts have some talent with Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. However, Ebron is a former first-round pick that was cut by the Detroit Lions because he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Having two tight ends should help the offense, but in terms of fantasy, it’s not great for owners.
Heading into the season, nobody knows who will be the starting running back. Christine Michael looked solid in the preseason, but he hasn’t been able to stay on a roster throughout his career. Marlon Mack struggled as a rookie and hasn’t done nearly enough to earn the job. That is why the Colts spent two draft picks on running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Both rookies will fight for a chance to play in 2018, giving the Colts a complete mess in the backfield. Avoid them at all costs in fantasy drafts.
Ezekiel Elliott is the only talented player on the Cowboys. He will rightfully be drafted and valued highly in fantasy, and he is in for yet another big season. Beyond Elliott, there isn’t much to like about the Cowboys. Dez Bryant was released this summer, leaving a gaping hole at wide receiver. They signed Allen Hurns with hopes of him becoming the number one receiver, but that’s simply not his role. He is a perfect complementary piece, but he cannot carry the load as the main target. Rookie Michael Gallup has the potential to become the top receiver for Dak Prescott, but he is still an unknown at this point.
Jason Witten retired, leaving yet another hole in the offense. At tight end, the Cowboys do not have a clear-cut starter, let alone a threat in the passing game. Sure, they have a great offensive line, but that does nothing for a fantasy football team except for helping Elliott. Prescott is a decent quarterback, but he has nobody to throw the ball to. The Cowboys need to be disregarded in fantasy football.
Whether Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, or even A.J. McCarron starts for the Bills, they are in for a long season. They somehow beat Dallas for the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Kelvin Benjamin has the size to be a stud, but he hasn’t proven himself in three full seasons. Zay Jones is still a complete mystery despite holding the NCAA record for career receptions. They traded for Corey Coleman, who hasn’t panned out so far in his short career. Buffalo has done a great job of accumulating college talent that hasn’t translated to the NFL.
LeSean McCoy has always been a great PPR running back because he can make plays in the passing game, but he is 30 years old entering the season. That number is a curse for running backs, signaling the downfall of their careers. He also has some off-field concerns that may impact his standing during the season.
The only bright spot on the offense is tight end, Charles Clay. Clay will likely lead the team in targets and receptions this season as he serves as the safety net for whichever quarterback gets the nod. Clay isn’t a highly touted fantasy player, so his value should be great later in drafts. In the meantime, do not draft players on the Buffalo Bills if there are players on better offenses that are rated evenly.