If you have a top five pick in your fantasy draft (one with a regular scoring system and roster or .5 PPR), you probably have a vague idea of what you are doing.
A top two pick will likely choose between running backs David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell. A third pick will nab the top receiver in the league in Antonio Brown. A fourth or fifth pick will decide between Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr.
Those are two really big decisions. Which running back is a safer bet? Which wide receiver should go fourth?
Bell, Steelers RB, 1,268 rushing yards, 616 receiving yards, 9 total TD
Johnson, Cardinals RB, 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards, 20 total TD
The numbers clearly suggest Johnson, as does a glance at the offenses they play for. In Pittsburgh, Bell will get a lot of attention from opposing defenses but with the best wide receiver in football, Brown, lining up all over the field along side him the dual threat does make it more likely that Bell will get a favorable match up.
Johnson in Arizona is flanked by the aging Larry Fitzgerald, much less imposing than Brown, and was an absolute beast of a workhorse in 2016, getting 120 targets, more than all but 23 wide receivers — a lot for anyone not just a running back.
The nod should go to Johnson at No. 1 overall due, in large part, to the attempted hold out by Bell. He says he will report to the Steelers on September 1, giving him about a week to prepare for the season. Johnson has been with the Cardinals since the team reported more than three weeks ago. Despite the incredible talent and upside presented by Bell, preparation is king in the NFL.
Who to pick at No 1: Johnson
Jones, Falcons WR, 83 catches, 1,409 receiving yards, 6 TD
Beckham, Giants WR, 101 catches, 1,349 receiving yards, 10 TD
You might notice, right off the bat, that Jones was sixth in fantasy points among wideouts in 2016. That is due in large part to his six touchdowns — and the fact that he missed two games last season. But that’s all the reason to want Jones. In 14 games he posted ridiculious numbers and has been sturdy as one of the most consistent and intimidating wide receivers in football over the last three or four seasons.
Beckham has been equally as impressive, showing time and time again that a simple slant over the middle can be lethal when it’s Beckham catching it. He’ll have the gun-slinging Eli Manning under center yet again but with some demanding weapons in toe potentially causing his targets to go down. Rookie tight end Evan Engram, second-year standout Sterling Shepard and veteran Brandon Marshall will be commanding targets as well and there are only so many to go around.
It is very likely that Jones gets more targets — if healthy — than Beckham in 2017 and volume should be a key consideration when drafting.
Who to pick at No. 4: Jones