Who to draft as your first pick for your fantasy teamDate: August 7, 2019
By: Jorie Mickens
Fantasy football drafts are rapidly approaching and although choosing favorable matchups throughout the season and finding diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire are key for successful fantasy seasons, your draft is the most important day of the year.
There is a lot of talk about value players, and players that you can grab late who have potential to exceed expectations, but what if you have the first pick in your draft? Who should you take?
This is a crucial decision; owners will not have another selection until the end of the second round and more than anyone in your league, will have to rely on one player to carry the load for your team all season.
There are three players worthy of the first pick this season, the first is Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery. I already wrote an article about why I believe McCaffery is going to be the best fantasy football player in 2019, so I will not spend too much time on him.
McCaffery is a no-brainer for the number one overall pick. Even with a hobbled Cam Newton, last season McCaffery broke the single-season receptions record by a running back and was 133 receiving yards from becoming the third player to ever have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season.
McCaffery has put on weight, is not injury-prone, plays in a top-10 offense, will be a workhorse running back and will have a healthy Newton this season, just a few reasons why McCaffery is the safest bet for the number one overall selection.
Next is New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley could end up being the greatest running back of all time when he retires. He had arguably the greatest NFL combine of all time, stands at 6-feet tall, weighs 233lbs and moves like Barry Sanders.
Last season, Barkley was second in the league in rushing yards, second among running backs in receiving yards and receptions, became just the third rookie to have 2,000 yards from scrimmage and tied Odell Beckham Jr.’s Giants franchise rookie record with 91 receptions.
Barkley accomplished all those feats playing behind a below-average offensive line. The Giants upgraded their line though when they traded for guard Kevin Zeitler this offseason, a top-five guard who will come into the Giants organization and be their best offensive lineman right away. Sophomore guard Will Hernandez will look to improve on a promising rookie campaign and tackle Nate Solder was an underappreciated yet underrated addition to the Giants O-line last season.
Those who believe the absence of star wide receiver Beckham Jr. will hinder Barkley’s production is mistaken. Barkley averaged more rushing yards per game in the four games Beckham Jr. missed, all while maintaining the same production through the air as well.
The biggest concern for Barkley is who will be throwing him the ball. Whether it be Eli Manning, who Pro Football Focus ranked the 32nd most inaccurate quarterback from last season, ahead of only rookies Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson, or rookie Daniel Jones, who has shown promise during training camp, but unlikely to set the world on fire during his rookie season.
Barkley though, has already shown that poor offensive line and quarterback play will not stop him from being a top-three fantasy player. Do not be surprised if he was atop of the fantasy football rankings at the end of the 2019 season.
Last is New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. In the four games fellow running back Mark Ingram did not play last season, Karama averaged 152.8 yards from scrimmage and nearly two touchdowns per game. Those numbers dipped when Ingram came back but now, Ingram is in Baltimore.
Running back Latavius Murray joined the Saints this offseason but he not the pass-catcher that Ingram is. As Drew Brees ages, he will rely more on dumping the ball off to his running backs and the run game in general. Even after the Saints made wide receiver Michael Thomas the highest paid receiver in the league this offseason, still expect Kamara to be the focal point of this offense.
The reason running back Ezekiel Elliot was kept off this list is because of his contract situation in Dallas. Even though it was only last offseason, I feel people have forgotten how Le’Veon Bell ended up missing the entire 2018 season. Bell wanted $17 million per year, making him by far the league’s highest paid running back, and refused to sign for anything less.
It appears Elliot wants somewhere around $60 million over four years, which would make him the highest paid running back at the time his contract kicks in. The Cowboys have said they do not want to be a “market-setter.”
Even if Elliot only misses a game or two let alone the entire season, that could completely derail your fantasy season, especially if he is the number one overall selection. Play it safe and take one of the three running backs previously stated.
Jorie Mickens can be reached at email@example.com.