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The 192 players who should be drafted in fantasy football


    During the offseason, 2,880 human beings (32 teams x 90 players) can be rostered by an NFL team. Once Week 1 rolls around, that number is cut down to 1,696 (32 x 53). The ESPN Fantasy player database includes more than 2,300 players.

    You can’t be expected to know all of those players, which is why “The 192” is here to make your life easier. Why 192? Fantasy leagues come in all shapes in sizes, but many have settled into the vicinity of 12 teams and 16 players. The 192 is a list of the 192 players who should be drafted (and thus rostered) in a 12-team, 16-round, PPR league with relatively standard scoring and lineup settings. The players are technically listed in the order they should be drafted, though it’s important to remember that drafts are fluid and your decisions should be altered based on what’s left on the board and your previous selections.

    What if you’re in an eight-team league? Or a 16-teamer? The 192 can still help you win, but you’ll certainly need to make tweaks in the mid-to-late rounds. For example, in a smaller league, you may want to wait even longer at quarterback because the position is so deep. In deeper leagues, running backs and tight ends should be more of a priority as those positions lack depth and could leave you with a weak spot if you wait until late. At the end of the piece, I’ll also include players to consider for those of you in deeper leagues.

    Though some player analysis is included throughout the piece, strategy is the primary topic of discussion. For more thorough player analysis, check out our player profiles, which were drawn up by yours truly.

    At the end of the day, this should serve as a simple guide to help you maximize the value of your starting lineup while making the best possible decision each round.

    1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT, RB
    2. Todd Gurley II, LAR, RB
    3. David Johnson, ARI, RB

    The big three at running back this year, you’re sitting pretty if you land one of these every-down workhorses.

    4. Antonio Brown, PIT, WR

    Once the three elite, every-down backs are gone, Brown should be the next man off the board. He’ll attempt to pace wide receivers in fantasy points for the fifth consecutive season.

    5. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL, RB
    6. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, WR
    7. Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB
    8. Alvin Kamara, NO, RB

    Elliott’s low target ceiling keeps him out of the top group, but he’s a strong bet to lead the NFL in rushing. Barkley is a rookie — and thus a bit risky — but it shouldn’t be long until he’s handling a workload similar to the big three. Kamara joins this tier following Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension.

    9. Julio Jones, ATL, WR
    10. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, WR
    11. Keenan Allen, LAC, WR
    12. Kareem Hunt, KC, RB
    13. Dalvin Cook, MIN, RB
    14. Michael Thomas, NO, WR
    15. Melvin Gordon, LAC, RB
    16. Leonard Fournette, JAC, RB
    17. A.J. Green, CIN, WR
    18. LeSean McCoy, BUF, RB
    19. Christian McCaffrey, CAR, RB
    20. Devonta Freeman, ATL, RB
    21. Davante Adams, GB, WR
    22. Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE
    23. Mike Evans, TB, WR

    Yeah, the second round is DEEP! If you’re able to pick your draft spot, I’d take a top-three selection, land one of the elite backs and then likely have your choice of one of these players in the second (and possibly third) round. There’s a fairly clear top 13 at running back this season, so while I’d never say force a position, I’d suggest trying to grab one of them in the first two rounds.

    There’s a debate as to where Gronkowski should go each and every year. He was outstanding again in 2018 and, if you ask me, is the clear top tight end in fantasy. Grab him at the second/third-round turn.

    24. Adam Thielen, MIN, WR
    25. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, WR
    26. Tyreek Hill, KC, WR
    27. T.Y. Hilton, IND, WR
    28. Doug Baldwin, SEA, WR
    29. Travis Kelce, KC, TE
    30. Zach Ertz, PHI, TE
    31. Demaryius Thomas, DEN, WR
    32. Stefon Diggs, MIN, WR
    33. Allen Robinson, CHI, WR
    34. Golden Tate, DET, WR
    35. Josh Gordon, CLE, WR

    It’s back to the wide receiver well as we get into the third round. These are solid, high-floor, fringe top-15 options. Kelce versus Ertz is a toss-up, but both are third-round options because they offer a nice edge over the remaining tight ends.

    36. Jerick McKinnon, SF, RB
    37. Joe Mixon, CIN, RB
    38. Jordan Howard, CHI, RB

    Running back gets pretty muddy once you’re past the aforementioned top 13. McKinnon and Mixon have serious efficiency question marks, but also clear paths to a massive workload. Howard is a terrific rusher, but may not give you much as a receiver. He has more value in non-PPR formats.

    39. Julian Edelman, NE, WR
    40. Alshon Jeffery, PHI, WR
    41. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT, WR
    42. Amari Cooper, OAK, WR

    The fourth round offers a few back-end WR2 options.

    43. Rashaad Penny, SEA, RB
    44. Kenyan Drake, MIA, RB
    45. Alex Collins, BAL, RB
    46. Derrius Guice, WAS, RB
    47. Jay Ajayi, PHI, RB
    48. Sony Michel, NE, RB
    49. Royce Freeman, DEN, RB
    50. Ronald Jones II, TB, RB

    This is a fun tier with loads of youth and upside, but it’s also easy to pick holes in each of these players. With Penny, Guice, Michel, Freeman and Jones joining up with Barkley, a hefty 12 percent of our top 50 is comprised of rookie running backs. That may seem too optimistic, but early-round backs haven’t had trouble finding their way into hefty workloads in recent years. You’re obviously throwing a dart at upside here, so I wouldn’t fault anyone for fading their second running back slot and instead loading up elsewhere.

    51. Jarvis Landry, CLE, WR
    52. Marvin Jones Jr., DET, WR
    53. Robert Woods, LAR, WR
    54. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, WR

    Speaking of which, if you do, in fact, want to avoid running backs in this spot, here are the rest of the top 24 wide receivers. Sanders stands out as a terrific value in the mid-to-late rounds of early 2018 drafts.

    55. Marshawn Lynch, OAK, RB
    56. Mark Ingram, NO, RB
    57. Derrick Henry, TEN, RB
    58. Dion Lewis, TEN, RB
    59. Duke Johnson Jr., CLE, RB
    60. Pierre Garcon, SF, WR
    61. Michael Crabtree, BAL, WR
    62. Brandin Cooks, LAR, WR
    63. Corey Davis, TEN, WR

    These players nearly round out the top 30 at both running back and wide receiver, which is especially notable for those of you in 10-team leagues. Ingram would be inside the top 40 if not for a four-game suspension to start the season. Davis underwhelmed as a rookie, but his elite upside makes him well worth a sixth-round pick.

    64. Aaron Rodgers, GB, QB
    65. Tom Brady, NE, QB

    The sixth round is where we find our first quarterbacks. Why the long wait? First, we haven’t been short on top-end (or potentially top-end) talent through our first 60 or so players and second, the position is as deep as ever. As you’ll see later — and average draft position shows — you can address other, more important positions early and often and still come away with a solid or better quarterback.

    66. Chris Hogan, NE, WR
    67. Sammy Watkins, KC, WR
    68. Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR
    69. Devin Funchess, CAR, WR
    70. DeVante Parker, MIA, WR
    71. Randall Cobb, GB, WR
    72. Will Fuller V, HOU, WR
    73. Greg Olsen, CAR, TE
    74. Delanie Walker, TEN, TE
    75. Evan Engram, NYG, TE
    76. Lamar Miller, HOU, RB
    77. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF, WR
    78. Jamison Crowder, WAS, WR
    79. Kerryon Johnson, DET, RB

    Finding a competent No. 3 wide receiver won’t be hard this year, as the sixth and seventh rounds are loaded with options (and even some nice upside). This is also a good place to land a solid tight end. Miller may seem low since he has upside in Houston’s offense, but his shaky efficiency has put his job in doubt.

    80. Cam Newton, CAR, QB
    81. Carson Wentz, PHI, QB
    82. Russell Wilson, SEA, QB
    83. Deshaun Watson, HOU, QB
    84. Jordan Reed, WAS, TE

    The seventh round may be too late to land some (if not all) of these quarterbacks in casual leagues, but that’s OK. You’ll have similar options later. Reed has been too great when healthy to risky waiting any longer.

    85. Tevin Coleman, ATL, RB
    86. Tarik Cohen, CHI, RB
    87. Chris Thompson, WAS, RB
    88. DeSean Jackson, TB, WR
    89. Robby Anderson, NYJ, WR
    90. Jimmy Graham, GB, TE
    91. Jordy Nelson, OAK, WR
    92. Marquise Goodwin, SF, WR
    93. Dez Bryant, FA, WR
    94. Isaiah Crowell, NYJ, RB
    95. Jamaal Williams, GB, RB
    96. Rex Burkhead, NE, RB
    97. D’Onta Foreman, HOU, RB
    98. Marlon Mack, IND, RB
    99. Kyle Rudolph, MIN, TE
    100. Aaron Jones, GB, RB

    The eighth round includes high-floor scatbacks, lead-back dart throws, solid tight end options and fringe starters at wide receiver.

    101. Marqise Lee, JAC, WR
    102. Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR
    103. Kenny Stills, MIA, WR
    104. Nelson Agholor, PHI, WR
    105. Rishard Matthews, TEN, WR
    106. Josh Doctson, WAS, WR
    107. Bilal Powell, NYJ, RB
    108. Nick Chubb, CLE, RB
    109. Carlos Hyde, CLE, RB
    110. Jack Doyle, IND, TE
    111. Trey Burton, CHI, TE
    112. Giovani Bernard, CIN, RB
    113. Devontae Booker, DEN, RB
    114. C.J. Anderson, CAR, RB
    115. Allen Hurns, DAL, WR
    116. Paul Richardson, WAS, WR

    At this point, you’re simply adding depth and upside to your bench.

    117. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, QB
    118. Kirk Cousins, MIN, QB
    119. Andrew Luck, IND, QB
    120. Tyler Eifert, CIN, TE

    Here are three more quarterback options and a Hail Mary at tight end. Luck has been a top-five fantasy quarterback when healthy, so I’ll move him up if his Week 1 availability clears up. Make no mistake, he shouldn’t simply be crossed off your draft board. He’s too good.

    121. Kenny Golladay, DET, WR
    122. Mohamed Sanu, ATL, WR
    123. Martavis Bryant, OAK, WR
    124. D.J. Moore, CAR, WR
    125. Tyler Lockett, SEA, WR
    126. Calvin Ridley, ATL, WR
    127. Matthew Stafford, DET, QB
    128. Drew Brees, NO, QB
    129. Cameron Meredith, NO, WR
    130. Anthony Miller, CHI, WR
    131. Christian Kirk, ARI, WR
    132. Michael Gallup, DAL, WR
    133. Jordan Matthews, NE, WR
    134. Albert Wilson, MIA, WR
    135. James Washington, PIT, WR
    136. John Ross, CIN, WR
    137. Zay Jones, BUF, WR
    138. Mike Williams, LAC, WR

    We’re getting to the late stages here, so it’s time to start thinking high-upside fliers. Rookies Moore, Ridley, Miller, Kirk, Gallup and Washington were all picked in the early rounds and have a path to a top-three gig in 2018. Ross, Jones and Williams are terrific second-year post-hype targets.

    139. Theo Riddick, DET, RB
    140. James White, NE, RB
    141. Charles Clay, BUF, TE
    142. Philip Rivers, LAC, QB
    143. Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB
    144. Kenneth Dixon, BAL, RB
    145. Jordan Wilkins, IND, RB
    146. Latavius Murray, MIN, RB
    147. David Njoku, CLE, TE
    148. Jameis Winston, TB, QB
    149. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB
    150. Matt Breida, SF, RB
    151. Ty Montgomery, GB, RB
    152. Chris Carson, SEA, RB
    153. LeGarrette Blount, DET, RB

    Tight end gets a bit shaky after the top nine, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to wait a while if you miss out on one of those options. Clay (solid) and Njoku (upside) are fine targets here. We also start to get into backup quarterback options. I don’t generally recommend carrying two, but there are some variables that make it more justifiable in 2018:

    • You shouldn’t be picking one too early because of the available talent at other positions.
    • Some top-end quarterbacks have injury question marks, including Wentz, Watson and Luck.
    • The position’s depth means you should be taking shots on high-ceiling passers knowing you have viable fallback options.
    • There are many breakout options at the position, including Mahomes, Garoppolo and Mitchell Trubisky.

    154. Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST

    I try to wait until the final two rounds to take my defense and kicker (or avoid taking them at all if league rules allow it), but the Jaguars’ D/ST was dominant last season and is just as good on paper again in 2018.

    155. Cameron Brate, TB, TE
    156. Terrance Williams, DAL, WR
    157. Ted Ginn Jr., NO, WR
    158. Donte Moncrief, JAC, WR
    159. Nyheim Hines, IND, RB
    160. Alex Smith, WAS, QB
    161. Marcus Mariota, TEN, QB
    162. Dak Prescott, DAL, QB
    163. Matt Ryan, ATL, QB
    164. George Kittle, SF, TE
    165. Mike Wallace, PHI, WR
    166. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAC, TE
    167. Peyton Barber, TB, RB
    168. Jared Goff, LAR, QB
    169. Mitchell Trubisky, CHI, QB

    Aside from kicker and D/ST, this concludes the list of players who should be drafted/rostered in 12-team leagues. If you’re picking in this area and feel good about your quarterback and/or tight end situation, the likes of Chris Godwin, Danny Amendola and Darren Sproles just missed the cut and could make more sense for your bench.

    170. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST
    171. Los Angeles Rams D/ST
    172. Minnesota Vikings D/ST
    173. Houston Texans D/ST
    174. Baltimore Ravens D/ST
    175. Greg Zuerlein, LAR, K
    176. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, K
    177. Justin Tucker, BAL, K
    178. New England Patriots D/ST
    179. Los Angeles Chargers D/ST
    180. Denver Broncos D/ST
    181. Carolina Panthers D/ST
    182. New Orleans Saints D/ST
    183. Tennessee Titans D/ST
    184. Matt Bryant, ATL, K
    185. Wil Lutz, NO, K
    186. Chris Boswell, PIT, K
    187. Robbie Gould, SF, K
    188. Jake Elliott, PHI, K
    189. Matt Prater, DET, K
    190. Harrison Butker, KC, K
    191. Adam Vinatieri, IND, K
    192. Graham Gano, CAR, K

    Aforementioned Jaguars D/ST aside, these are your top-12 options at kicker and D/ST. Is it smart to pick these players a round earlier in order to get an edge on the competition? I’m fine with that if it’s an elite option, but those are few and far between. You’re better off just taking the best available in the final two rounds and streaming them based on matchup.

    Just missed the cut:

    QB: Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, Case Keenum

    RB: Darren Sproles, Frank Gore, Doug Martin, Austin Ekeler, Elijah McGuire, Mark Walton, John Kelly

    WR: Chris Godwin, Danny Amendola, Brandon Marshall, John Brown, Willie Snead, Dede Westbrook, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Taywan Taylor

    TE: Benjamin Watson, Vance McDonald, Mike Gesicki, Jared Cook

    K: Dan Bailey, Ryan Succop, Daniel Carlson, Josh Lambo

    D/ST: Redskins, Cardinals, Cowboys, Seahawks



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