I’m an avid golfer. Yes, I know that has nothing to do
with fantasy football but bear with me. The other day, my buddy
Drew and I played a new course, a bit off the beaten path, but
we had been given a very good recommendation, so off we went.
It was a long drive, out in the country, far away from the city
lights and as we came over the mountains we could see the course
below, cleverly cut out from a thickly wooded forest. We checked
in without issue, though the guy at the register had a funny smirk
on his face as he smiled and said “have a great round.”
We were playing fairly well, when on the seventh hole I sliced
my drive far to the left, deep into the tall trees. I got out
of the cart and headed into the woods to see if I could find my
ball. As I headed deeper and deeper into the forest, I was about
to give up, when I saw something shiny off to my right. I reached
down to pick up what I thought was my ball, but it was actually
the last glint of sunlight that extended this far into the forest
reflecting off something metal.
I picked up what looked like a tiny teapot. It was a little bit
muddy, so I began to rub the dirt off it, when suddenly a puff
of smoke and a miniature genie appeared and in a squeaky voice
said “Thanks for setting me free. I’ve been stuck
in this stinkin’ urn for a 1,000 years. I’ll grant
you one wish. Anything you want!”
I thought for a moment. A million dollars would be nice. A billion
would be better. How about power? I could be President of the
United States! No, that seems like it might be too difficult a
job what with the country so divided and so much hate. Then it
came to me, “I got it,” I said.
“I want a crystal ball that allows me to see six months
into the future.” With that, the genie disappeared in a
bat of an eye and he was gone.
Was I dreaming? Hallucinating? Had Drew spiked my Gatorade so
he could beat me?
I started back out of the woods toward the fairway with my head
spinning when almost impossibly I saw a ball. As I picked it up
to make sure it was mine, I also saw a teeny, tiny crystal ball,
not even as large as the golf ball. I stuck the crystal ball in
my pocket and returned to the course and finished the round. I
told no one about what happened.
I’m home now. The ball is sitting in front of me as I type.
I wonder if it really works. If it is really magical the world
is mine! I could predict the future. I would know what the stock
market is going to do. I would know what countries will do. I
would know what people will do. I could be king of the world!
Riches, power, influence would all be within reach.
I’m going to test it out. Something easy. It’s July
4th, so six months from now the 2018 NFL season will be coming
to a close. I’m going to ask the crystal ball who will have
a breakout season.
Just as I finish this thought, a picture has started to form
inside the ball, but it is very small and hard to make out. A
bit fuzzy, I can still manage to see what is forming in the haze.
It is a list of the NFL leaders by position! No surprises at the
top, but I see a few names that you wouldn’t expect to be
there. Guys that won’t be selected anywhere near the top
on draft day, if at all.
I’ve decided to let you in on this secret to help you win
your league, but when it turns out the crystal ball has mystical
qualities, don’t try to find me. My crystal ball and I will
have disappeared into the night. I’m thinking Las Vegas.
Eli Manning's poor results the last two
seasons have his draft price in the tank. Time to buy.
Manning, QB, New York Giants Ė Manning finished an
ugly 29th among quarterbacks in 2017, averaging just 17.2 FPPG.
His offensive line was horrible. His wide receiver corps decimated
by injury and he had no running game to rely on. Itís 2018 and
the Giants improved their line by signing former Patriots tackle
Nate Solder and drafted guard Will Hernandez. To fix the running
game they used the No. 2 overall pick to select the multi-talented
Barkley. And All-Pro wideout Odell
Beckham Jr. is healthy. Thatís a lot of firepower. If the
line is, in fact, improved, Manning should lead a dynamic offense.
And they will need to be given that their defense finished 27th
in points allowed (388), 31st in yards allowed (5971) and 30th
in yards-per-play (5.7). The best fantasy offenses are frequently
those that try to score for 60 minutes each game, not those who
are nursing big leads. Manning (current ADP 140.8) will finish
Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Ė Andy Reid loves the forward
pass. We know it. Defenses know it and yet he still throws the
ball. Last season the Chiefs threw the ball 57 percent of the
time. He threw it that often despite a breakout season from his
rookie running back (Kareem
Hunt 272-1327-8). Thatís because his two most talented offensive
players catch the ball Ė Tyreek
Hill and Travis
Kelce. Over the offseason they added wideout Sammy
Watkins. Now three of his four best players catch the ball.
So he will throw. That means second-year starter Mahomes will
throw Ö often. He will throw for more than 4,000 yards and if
I am seeing the crystal ball correctly, 28 touchdowns. Given his
118.3 ADP, thatís going to be a huge bargain.
Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers Ė Ignore last seasonís
injury-filled rookie year. Williams becomes an integral part of
the offense in 2018. There is certainly plenty of opportunity
with the loss for the season of Hunter
Henry (ACL) and the retirement of Antonio
Gates. The two tight ends accounted for 114 targets. With
no reliable receiving tight end, the Chargers will go to three
receivers more often. The Chargers top wideout, Keenan
Allen, was the 2017 Comeback Player of the Year, which of
course means he was injured the previous season. In fact, heís
only played a complete season once in his five-year career. Heís
injury prone and thatís more targets for Williams. The second-year
wideout will catch 60 balls for 737 yards and eight scores. Those
numbers are similar to what Nelson
Agholor posted in 2017.
Shepard, WR, New York Giants Ė Think about it. You
are the opposing defensive coordinator looking at the Giants offense.
Who is the most dangerous player? ODB of course. You plan to double
cover him with a safety over the top. Who is the next most dangerous
threat? Barkley is the answer. You decide to crowd the line of
scrimmage with your linebackers. Thatís going to leave a lot of
space for Shepard and tight end Evan
Engram. Shepardís explosiveness will allow him to rack up
just under 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Top-20 value. Not
bad for a guy with a 126.9 ADP.
Kittle, TE, San Francisco Ė Kittle ranked 27th in FPts/G
last season (4.2). Over the last five games with Jimmy Garoppolo
under center he averaged 6.68 FPts/G. Had he done that for an
entire season he would have finished seventh. Garoppolo likes
using his tight end. He comes from a system in New England that
obviously likes its tight ends. Head coach and OC Kyle Shanahan
used his tight ends throughout his career. The second-year pass
catcher from Iowa will just miss the top-10, finishing 11th among
Uh-oh, the crystal ball is getting a bit fuzzy.
I see one more thing … the Golden State Warriors will be
NBA champions again next season. OK, I didn’t need to be
clairvoyant to see that one.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.