Fantasy Football Projections 2018: Early Dynasty and Keeper Cheat Sheet

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints carries the ball in the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Minnesota Viking on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Redraft leagues are fun, no doubt, but dynasty and keeper formats are where the real strategizing and intrigue comes into play. Anybody can get lucky on a few picks in a redraft league, but can you spot the  young rookies and fantasy values year after year?

That's what separates the casuals from the hardcore. Below, we'll break down some advice and philosophies for both dynasty and keeper formats to aid you in your pursuit of a fantasy title.


Dynasty Advice

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions reacts on the bench during the final moments of the second half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl against the Washington Huskies at University of Phoenix Stadium on
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Everybody is going to know that Saquon Barkley should be off the board immediately. That's easy, and obvious, and barring an injury between now and your draft, don't expect to see Barkley on the board past the first pick in the rookie draft.

So the key will be if you can identify this year's Kareem Hunt or Jordan Howard.

A lot will be based on where this year's running back prospects—or any players, for that matter—are drafted. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott would have been good anywhere he was drafted in 2016, but he was awesome because he inherited the best run-blocking offensive line in football that season.

Ditto for Hunt landing with head coach Andy Reid, a coach who famously utilizes his running backs to maximum effect.

The New York Giants are a team that could use a solid running back and have the other pieces in place at the skill positions to be a good offense (Orleans Darkwa was decent last year, though that could end up being a platoon scenario). The Miami Dolphins are sure to add a running back, and Jay Ajayi had a superb 2016 season there before getting dealt this year, so that's a situation worth monitoring.

As for the players themselves, Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis is the sort of player who could be the next Tyreek Hill. He could end up being a serious bargain.

At running back, there are a group of players a tier down from Barkley (LSU's Derrius Guice, USC's Ronald Jones II, Georgia's Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) who should be prioritized based on the team they land on. One of those guys, in the right situation, could have a major breakout year.

Quarterback is a similar scenario. It wouldn't be surprising if Baker Mayfield offers the most immediate upside, while Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold could offer the most long-term production. For those who like to walk the more dangerous but potentially rewarding path, Lamar Jackson is a must pick. There's no questioning that he's a dynamic talent, but will he stick at the quarterback position?

If he does, you are talking about the sort of player who could have the fantasy impact of a Michael Vick in his prime. Do not be afraid to roll the dice on Jackson. 

Players to target outside of Barkley:

  • Pettis
  • Jackson
  • Rosen
  • Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
  • Jones II


Keeper Advice

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31:  Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on during a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 31, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

First and foremost, know your rules. If your keeper rules are simple and you keep two to four players with the first two to four picks in your draft, keep your best players. Duh.

Things get more interesting when the rules vary. For instance, I've been in a league for years and we sacrifice the pick a player was originally drafted with when choosing our keepers. So in that league, you want to keep the best possible players at the best possible draft value.

When deciding on keeping a player you used a first-round pick on, for instance, ask yourself: If I don't keep this player, can I get someone of equivalent value in the draft? If the answer is yes, drop that player. If the answer is no (and if you have a player like Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliott), keep that player.

There are certain players from last year in this type of format that you likely drafted in the later rounds and will represent an amazing value for you going forward:

  • Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
  • Hunt
  • Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
  • Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
  • Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  • Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

There's a pretty strong argument to be made for holding on to players like Watson, Hunt and Kamara in any keeper format, as all have elite upside. 

As for the type of players you might be able to get great value on in your draft if folks in your league drop them this year:

  • David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
  • Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
  • T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
  • Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

When looking for solid values, there are always a few factors involved. First, is there a veteran who had a down year or a player coming off an injury who has the talent to bounce back in a big way? You can generally find great value in those players, even if it means selecting a player in the fourth or fifth round who normally would be a second-round selection.

Then look for players who should have increased opportunity due to roster changes or turnover. Mahomes, for instance, has a chance to emerge as a fantasy star with Alex Smith heading to Washington. Smith, traditionally viewed as a game-manager, thrived in Kansas City. Mahomes could as well.

Finally, look for players with new coaching staffs who could benefit from a change in leadership. The Titans, for instance, never really optimized Mariota's talents. He may not make a leap like Jared Goff made under Sean McVay, but he could hover around the top 10 in the quarterback rankings given his ability to make a fantasy impact with his legs and his arm.