There is a lot that goes into a successful fantasy season. You have to manage your roster correctly, play the right matchups, work the waiver wire and, yes, have a little bit of luck on your side at certain points. However, a successful draft is the biggest step you can take toward building a championship roster.
Without a strong foundation, winning on a week-to-week basis becomes exponentially difficult. Without the right players—both in the starting lineup and on the bench—no amount of shuffling will produce a consistent winner.
To help with your fantasy draft, you'll find a quick reference guide for the top players at each key fantasy position—running back, wide receiver, quarterback and tight end—along with some potential sleepers and some creative name suggestions.
If all else fails, you can ensure your team stands out by having the most unique and chuckle-inducing name. All rankings are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
2019 Running Back Rankings
1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
2. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
3. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
4. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
5. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
6. Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets
7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
8. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
12. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
13. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
14. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
15. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
16. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
17. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
18. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
19. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
20. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
Sleeper: Duke Johnson Jr., Houston Texans
The Cleveland Browns recently traded third-down back Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans. While this means Johnson has a new offense to learn in a matter of weeks, it also means he has a fresh opportunity to establish himself as a fantasy star.
Johnson has been a quality flex option over the past four seasons with the Browns, particularly in PPR leagues. He averaged 321 yards rushing, 542 yards receiving, 58 receptions and three touchdowns per season during that span.
It's the PPR factor that really makes Johnson a valuable fantasy option. With receptions included, Johnson has averaged roughly 146 fantasy points per season, or just under 10 per week.
In Houston, however, he could be in store for a bigger backfield role. Instead of splitting time with rising star Nick Chubb, he'll be sharing the load with 28-year-old Lamar Miller, who hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2016.
Johnson is likely to see more carries than he did in Cleveland to go with his usual third-down receiving opportunities. This should put him on pace to top 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards, as he did in 2017.
2019 Wide Receiver Rankings
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
4. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
5. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
9. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
10. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
11. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
12. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
13. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
14. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
15. Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams
16. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
17. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
18. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
19. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Sleeper: Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
Thanks in large part to the rookie struggles of Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk was generally overlooked in fantasy circles last season. However, Kirk had himself a fine rookie campaign, racking up 43 receptions, 590 yards and three touchdowns.
With a more explosive Kliff Kingsbury offense and a more dynamic quarterback in Kyler Murray, Kirk should emerge as Arizona's No. 1 receiver and a legitimate fantasy starter this season.
Yes, Arizona still has Larry Fitzgerald. It also drafted Hakeem Butler and Andy Isabella. However, it's worth noting that Kirk's 2018 production came in just 12 games and that he became one of the team's most-targeted players, per Marcus Grant of NFL.com:
"Kirk's 2018 season needs a little context. Despite missing the final four games of the season with a foot injury, Kirk grabbed a 19 percent target share with 20 percent of the team's receiving yards. The problem was that he played in an offense that was by far the worst in the league by just about any metric you could conceive."
Aside from Fitzgerald, Kirk is the most proven and reliable of Arizona's pass-catchers. With an improved offense and better quarterback play, he should be on pace for a 1,000-yard season.
2019 Quarterback Rankings
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
3. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
8. Philip Rivers, Los Angele Chargers
9. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
10. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
12. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
13. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
14. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
15. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Sleeper: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
If you're looking to wait until the later rounds to draft your quarterback, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is a guy to keep in mind. This is because of his rushing ability and because of the way most fantasy leagues award points to quarterbacks.
For many leagues, it takes 25 yards passing to produce a fantasy point but only 10 yards rushing. Many leagues award the standard six points for a rushing touchdown but only four for a passing score. Therefore, if Allen averaged 50 yards rushing—as he did in 2018—that's like tacking on 125 yards passing.
Allen's eight rushing touchdowns from a year ago are equal to 12 passing touchdowns. With rushing stats added, Allen averaged roughly the equivalent of 300 yards passing and two touchdowns last season.
The second-year player is a potential sleeper for the same reason that dual-threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson regularly end up as top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Allen isn't as developed a passer as either Newton or Wilson, but Buffalo's offseason influx of receiving talent should help him play more consistently.
The Bills added Cole Beasley and John Brown in free agency and drafted former Mississippi tight end Dawson Knox. With an improved receiving corps and another year of experience under his belt, Allen should emerge as a viable fantasy starter in 2019.
2019 Tight End Rankings
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
4. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts
5. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
6. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
8. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
9. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
10. Evan Engram, New York Giants
2019 Fantasy Team Names
Hooked on a Thielen
A Scanner Barkley
Kalen Me Smalls
Captain and N'Keal
Goff the Deep End
Kyler the Creator
Saquon, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' Blue)
A Whiter Shade of Fales
Baker of Chains
Everyday I'm Russelin'