Fantasy Football requires strategic planning for your draft to ensure a high-quality performing team. In order to do this, it is critical you pick the first five rounds of your fantasy draft properly. Decisions made within these first five rounds are where you can make or break your entire fantasy season. Using fantasyfootballcalculator.com, you can look at the ADP or average draft position for players going in the first five rounds in a .5 PPR league. You can also find statistics for the article at playerprofiler.com Even though many people could argue that there are gems to be found on the waiver wire throughout the season – I believe that most championships are decided within the first five rounds of your draft. In the article below, I will give you a rundown of the players to be found in those first five rounds that will lead you to the thing we all treasure most: a championship! I will also reveal which players could end up trashing your championship aspirations for the 2019 Fantasy Football season.
Melvin Gordon 1.06 I have been the biggest advocate for Melvin Gordon since the first time that I saw him play. Gordon has been one of the best workhorse backs in fantasy football for a couple of years in a row. Melvin Gordon will be a steal at his ADP currently of 1.06 considering the combination of skill set, talent, and opportunity. The likelihood of Gordon finishing as the RB1 at the end of the season is not only a possibility, but a high probability. He can run between the tackles well and he possesses the ability to be one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield in the league. Even if he does not perform well rushing the ball, there is a great chance that you can count on the receiving production. Melvin had 2.07 yards created per carry last season, which shows Gordon’s skill to run between the tackles. He does not rely on his offensive line to create wide-open holes to run through. If you watch Gordon’s tape, you can see how many defenders he often makes miss even behind the line of scrimmage to be able to gain yards. Gordon ended 2018 with 940 yards and 12 TDs on the ground, along with 504 yards and 4 TDs through the air. The situation in LA has not changed drastically since last year, so if Gordon can stay healthy for 16 games (which he has struggled with for the past 2 years), then the there is no reason that the opportunity should decrease in the 2019 season making him a great value at the 1.06.
Keenan Allen 3.05 Keenan Allen has been underrated ever since he came back from injury two years ago. I think that Allen is one of the most talented WRs in the NFL currently. Keenan Allen is regarded by some as the best route runner and technician in the game while on the field. His talent mixed with the great offense in Los Angeles is why Allen can be a steal within the first five rounds of your draft. Being drafted as the fifth pick in the third round, there is a good chance that he would end up as a huge value at that price. Many people may worry about the breakout year of Mike Williams but in a high volume passing offense, Keenan Allen should remain Philip Rivers’ number one target. Philip Rivers relies heavily on Allen to perform as the possession receiver on the Chargers, many times looking to him in important situations. Keenan Allen ended the 2018 season with 1,308 yards and 7 TDs, which could probably be replicated in 2019. Allen has top 5 WR upside at the position while going as the 11th WR going off the board. I think that he will be a reliable WR1 that most people can get in the third round if you decide to go with two RBs in the earlier rounds.
Stefon Diggs 3.12 Stefon Diggs is one of the most perennially underrated wide receivers at the position. Since Diggs is going at the 3.12 which is an average, there is a good chance that many fantasy players would be able to get him as their WR2. Many people may be hesitant to take a chance on Diggs because they do not think that Stefon Diggs is the #1 WR on the Vikings. Diggs’ teammate Adam Thielen is regarded by many as the #1 WR on the team but in my opinion, I see Thielen and Diggs as 1A and 1B. While Thielen had more targets and yards in 2019, there is plenty of volume to be spread between the two WRs. In 2018, Diggs had 102 receptions while Thielen had 113 receptions. The reason that I chose to endorse Diggs over Thielen can be simplified to the fact that Diggs’ ADP is 3.12 while fantasy players would have to take Thielen an entire round earlier at the ADP of 2.10. Their skill sets also differ greatly. Thielen is known as the possession receiver on the team while Diggs relies on playing the explosive playmaker in the offense. Diggs last year had almost half of his yards after the catch. 414 yards after the catch supports the idea that he is a playmaker, once the ball is in his hands he can make defenders miss and break off long plays. I believe that Kirk Cousins will rely on Diggs more heavily this season and Thielen’s production will regress. Diggs’ upside makes him a steal in any draft going almost a round later than his counterpart Thielen who is going at 2.10.
Kerryon Johnson 4.05 The Fantasy Football community is split on whether or not a running back’s talent matters the most. Some analysts believe that either volume is the most important aspect of a successful RB, while others believe that talent is what determines a good RB. My opinion is why not have the best of both worlds? Kerryon Johnson has the skill-set to be a workhorse back who is able to catch the ball as well as carry the ball 15+ times a game. Johnson is a value at 4.05 not only because of his skill-set but also because the Detroit Lions’ depth chart behind Johnson could be seen as one of the weakest in the league. As of this writing, the players behind Kerryon are CJ Anderson, Zach Zenner, and Theo Riddick. While some of these players may take some carries and receptions away from Johnson throughout the season, there is no immediate risk of his role in the offense being stolen away. Kerryon had 31 evaded tackles on only 118 carries last year, which shows if he finds himself in a tough situation, he can make defenders miss. If Johnson gets the workload that we saw last year in the middle of the season when he took over the main RB role, then expect him to finish easily as an RB1 this season.
Honorable mentions: Dalvin Cook, Phillip Lindsay, Marlon Mack
Mike Evans 2.09 Mike Evans has been long considered by the fantasy community as one of the best WRs in the NFL for a couple of seasons now. That hype is getting out of control for Mike Evans this year because of the loss of Desean Jackson mixed with the new head coach Bruce Arians who is known for his air-raid offense. The scheme may benefit Mike Evans’ skill-set but I do not have the confidence in the players around him to be able to draft Evans as my WR1. Jameis Winston has a tendency to throw the ball deep even when the target may not be open. Winston had an average of 5.6 air yards per attempt last year, which is second in the league. This statistic backs up the fact that Winston likes to throw the ball deep. Although he threw the ball last year, Winston only completed 35.8% of his deep ball attempts last year which is 16th in the league. This backs up the theory that although Jameis Winston does throw deep targets quite often, they are not always the most efficient targets. Evans may be the number one target in Bruce Arians system but he also has Chris Godwin on the field with him, who many people believe may have a breakout year. Even if everything comes together perfectly, I think Mike Evans will just be returning value at his ADP of 2.09.
Leonard Fournette 3.04 Leonard Fournette was regarded as one of the best prospects coming into the league and has been thought by many to be a legitimate RB1. Injuries, offensive scheme, and poor quarterback play have hurt Fournette’s fantasy production of the past couple of years. He should see an enormous amount of volume in Jacksonville’s offense and many things have also changed in the offense that could help Fournette out. Blake Bortles’ tyranny is over in Jacksonville and Nick Foles should be an upgrade in the offense which will cause defenses to respect the passing threat more. This means that Leonard Fournette should see less loaded boxes and have more room to operate in 2019. What this also means potentially is that the offense may skew more toward the passing game and rely less heavily on Fournette to carry the ball 20+ times a game. Although he may be the workhorse for an average to above-average offense in 2019, his statistics prove that Fournette struggles with being an efficient playmaker. In 2018, Fournette only played eight games which also backs up my point about his nagging injuries so far throughout his career. In those eight games, Fournette had 133 carries which put him on pace for 266 carries for a full season. During those eight games, he only had a big run rate of 2.3% which was 50th in the league last season. He also only had .99 yards created per carry which was 44th in the league, which means that he relies on the offensive line to open big holes for him to run through instead of being able to create yards on his own. I personally would not be taking Fournette at the 3.04 but may take a chance on him if he fell into the fifth round or later.
Amari Cooper 3.10 The Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper in week nine of the 2018 season. Cooper has been known for being wildly inconsistent ever since being drafted into the league. Many people think that Cooper was more consistent since being traded to the Cowboys. In reality, Cooper had a couple of blow-up games in weeks 12 and 14 where he went for 180 yards and 2 TDs and 217 yards and 3 TDs. Cooper offers an enormous amount of upside because of weeks like this. The huge potential may be tempting to Amari Cooper at 3.10 but I personally would rather have a more consistent player as my WR1. In weeks 15, 16 and 17, Cooper ended with only 32, 20, and 31 yards. Amari Cooper will be a vital part of the Cowboy’s offense as he and Zeke are the two main skill players on the team. Though there should be volume for Amari Cooper this season, I personally do not believe that a wildly inconsistent player throughout their career will magically put it all together in one season. Cooper is known for his precise route running and ability to get open but the issue he has had is catching the targets when he is open. He had a 3.7% drop rate last season which is not terrible but with the struggles he has had, I would expect his drop rate to regress to the mean. He has struggled with drops his entire career for example in 2017 when Cooper’s drop rate was at 10.4% Cooper would be a good value as your WR2 but there is no way I am trusting him this season as my WR1 for the entirety of the season.
Jarvis Landry 5.03 There are many great players still on the board in the fifth round of the draft that has huge upside and could lead your roster to a championship. Jarvis Landry is a talented player who will be in an offense that many people are projecting as a top-10 offense this year. Fantasy players will be tempted to take Landry in the fifth because of how much hype the Browns’ offense is going to get this year. Baker Mayfield is already regarded as a top tier quarterback by many people. If you combine Mayfield’s talent with Landry’s talent, then there should be no reason that Landry does not have a big year, right? I do not believe that talent will win out in this situation. Mayfield showed near the end of the 2018 season that he likes to spread the ball around to different players. Landry had a 26.4% target share in 2018 which is great, but this was including the games before the new coaching staff took over. Along with the new coaching staff spreading the ball around more, they also added capable playmakers to the offense including Odell Beckham Jr. who is one of the best wide receivers in the league. Not only was OBJ added to the offense but this does not account for the skill position they already have there that are more than capable of taking targets. These include Nick Chubb, Antonio Callaway, Kareem Hunt (after suspension), and David Njoku. There will be too many mouths to feed in this offense that is overloaded with talent. Landry also plays the possession receiver role in the offense and will be catching most of his targets closer to the line of scrimmage. Jarvis will be a fine flex position pick but there are many higher upside players behind him that I would rather take a shot on such as Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett, and Mike Williams.
Honorable mentions: Travis Kelce, Mark Ingram, Kenyan Drake, Alvin Kamara