QB: Deshaun Waston
Before his devastating ACL injury, Watson was on pace for 3,883 passing yards in 2017. That would have placed him ninth for most passing yards on the season. In his six games as a starter, Watson averaged 27.2 fantasy points on an astounding pace for 435.1 fantasy points. Todd Gurley, last year’s leading fantasy scorer, racked up 383.3 fantasy points (in a standard format). So yeah, Watson is pretty good. The only concern is how he’ll bounce back from his second ACL injury since 2014.
Backup: Pat Mahomes
Mahomes started only one game, so his fantasy stock is mostly based on potential. Considering the track record of quarterbacks under Andy Reid, Mahomes is looking like a solid pick. After all, the Chiefs sacrificed a future first-round pick for Mahomes for a reason.
RB: Alvin Kamara
Is there really any explaining to do here? Kamara finished fourth in fantasy points out of all players. On top of last year’s insane performance, there are no signs that Kamara will slow down this season. Kamara’s dual-threat ability makes him dangerous in both the passing and the rushing game, which is golden for fantasy owners. Stealing touches from Mark Ingram for four games should definitely help, too. Needless to say that Kamara is a safe first-round pick as well as a possible first-overall pick.
Backup: Dalvin Cook
Does anyone remember who the leading rusher was through the first three weeks last year? It was the same guy who averaged 13.6 fantasy points (16.4 in PPR) before tearing his ACL during Week Four. Cook should be in first-round consideration this season.
RB: Kareem Hunt
Hunt is another example of the 2017 draft’s loaded running back class. As the ninth-highest scoring fantasy player from a season ago, expectations are rightfully high for Hunt. For those wondering whether Hunt might take a step back after his sensational rookie campaign, consider how well Andy Reid’s running backs have done in years past. (And no, Hunt will not be affected by the quarterback change.)
Backup: Leonard Fournette
In case you still haven’t caught on, these running backs are good. Fournette is a bellcow who averaged 14.9 fantasy points (17.7 in PPR) in thirteen games last year. Durability and lack of a receiving threat might hinder Fournette, but not enough to stop him from repeating his first-year successes.
Smith-Schuster is quickly becoming a household name. While it might have something to do with his playful personality, people should pay more attention to what Smith-Schuster is doing on the field. Averaging 9.6 fantasy points (and 13.7 in PPR) is pretty impressive for a rookie. Not to mention that Smith-Schuster finished the season as the clear number two option on one of the strongest offenses in the league. Great offenses equals great opportunities, and Smith-Schuster should thrive in it heading into the 2018 season.
Backup: Corey Davis
He was taken fifth-overall for a reason, right? Injuries plagued Davis’ rookie year, but under new Offensive Coordinator Matt LeFleur, expect the uber talented receiver to build upon his impressive playoff performances. That is, if he can stay healthy.
WR: Cooper Kupp
Despite three wide receivers going within the first nine picks of the 2017 Draft, it is another second-day receiver who earns a spot on the All-Sophomore Team. Also like Smith-Schuster, Kupp will be a top option in a high-powered offense. The addition of Brandin Cooks might scare some people, but Kupp was and still is the Rams’ best possession receiver. Expect him to only improve on his stats from last year, which included 7.7 fantasy points a game (11.8 in PPR).
Backup: Mike Williams
Williams shares the same situation with Davis; he’s a talented, former top-ten pick who couldn’t stay on the field. While Williams’ is mainly here due to a lackluster rookie receiving class in 2017, his skill-set and potential place in the Chargers’ offense shouldn’t be written off just yet.
TE: Evan Engram
In a position where greatness is at a premium, Engram showed he is capable of being a top fantasy option at the position. After all, he did finish fifth among tight ends in 2017. However, it’s Engram’s situation in the Giants’ offense that has really elevated his stock. New coach Pat Shurmur loved featuring his tight ends back in Minnesota. In addition, defenses will have to compensate for Saquon Barkley now, alleviating some of the defensive pressure from Engram. An average of 7.3 fantasy points (11.6 in PPR) was okay, but all the signs are pointing towards a massive year from Engram.
Backup: George Kittle
Kittle didn’t have a great rookie campaign. It wasn’t really good either. However, he flashed as a reliable pass catcher and blocker. Why is being a good blocker important? More opportunities to stay on the field. Kittle has already established himself as the team’s best tight end, so expect him to see lots of action in 2018.