Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Who's #1 in Redraft Leagues for 2018?

Every year, there is a consensus #1 overall pick in fantasy football. The consensus varies in strength, but there's usually a guy the majority of the fantasy community agrees should go first. Last year, it was David Johnson. In 2016, it was Antonio Brown. In 2015,  it was Adrian Peterson.

The past three seasons have seen a relatively universal consensus, especially in 2016, when, for the first time in as long as I've been doing this, the consensus #1 overall pick wasn't a running back.

This year, things won't be as cut and dry. There are four players that you can justify taking first overall with little room for argument against them. Let's go through each one's credentials and see if we can't reach a definitive conclusion as to who should be #1.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Contenders for the Throne

Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)

Currently, Todd Gurley is the leading candidate to be selected first in redraft leagues, but it's certainly not unanimous. Following a disappointing 2016, Gurley exploded last season, finishing as the RB1. He averaged 25.6 PPG in PPR leagues (for all fantasy stats, I will be excluding Week 17), which was nearly three points more than the RB2, Le'Veon Bell.

Gurley is on one of the best offenses in the NFL with a young, innovative, offensive-minded head coach, a young QB, and a loaded WR corps. Gurley was fourth in yards per touch (6.1), sixth in evaded tackles (84), and first in dominator rating with 40% of his team's yards and touchdowns. We never doubted the talent, but the situation and opportunity presented a problem during the Jeff Fisher era. Last season, the situation and opportunity caught up to the talent and magic happened.

One concern with Gurley is that he is unlikely to repeat his receiving game proficiency. That is not say he's not a good pass catcher - he is - but of his six receiving touchdowns, one came from 53 yards, another from 80 yards, and two more from 18 and 14. For comparison purposes, David Johnson's four receiving touchdowns in 2016 were from distances of three, four, three, and 25. Gurley's pass catching stats were boosted by gains he is doubtful to repeat.

Then we have the added concern of Brandin Cooks - someone who should command a larger share of the targets than Sammy Watkins. The Rams already had Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. There are a lot of ways the Rams can hurt opponents and I have to think Sean McVay is unlikely to want to put the ball in Gurley's hands 343 times again.

Ultimately, Gurley is a three down back that catches passes and handles all the goal line carries. The Rams should once again be one of the league's better offenses. I have no concerns that a healthy Todd Gurley won't be an elite fantasy RB. He is definitely worth the #1 overall pick, but could there be another player with a higher ceiling?

Le'Veon Bell (RB - PIT)

2018 will mark the fourth consecutive year that Le'Veon Bell has been a top-three pick (I know he went later in 2016 because of his suspension, but he would've been a top-three pick had he not been suspended). He is the epitome of consistency. 2017 was actually a bit of a down year for Bell. He posted similar totals to his 2016 season, except he played three more games in 2017 and still finished as the overall RB2.

Bell, like Gurley, is a three down back that catches passes and handles all the goal line carries. The difference is that Gurley is a running back who catches passes, while Bell is a legitimate pass catching back that can line up at WR and run real routes. It appears as if the off the field concerns are behind him and he doesn't pose any significant injury risk despite having torn his ACL three season ago.

Bell's situation is also similar to Gurley's in that Bell also is on one of the league's best offenses with a very good QB and a loaded WR corps. The Steelers also have a TE in Vance McDonald while the Rams don't really have anyone commanding targets. But the thing with Bell is he's had this elite competition for touches and targets before - it's never mattered before and it won't matter now. Bell is well worth the #1 overall pick given his incredibly high floor, his high ceiling, and his lengthy track record of success. But, is he my choice?

David Johnson (RB - ARI)

Last year's consensus best player in fantasy was unable to build on his monster 2016 season after a wrist injury ended his season before it really began. But this is still the man that holds the fourth highest fantasy football season since 2000, averaging 26.7 ppg in 2016. In fairness to Bell, he only averaged 0.2 ppg fewer that season - so he was right there. For as great as Todd Gurley was last season, he was still a full point worse than DJ in 2016. So that's just your friendly reminder as to how truly transcendent DJ was in 2016.

DJ's ceiling is the highest of all the backs because of his pass catching ability. He is a converted wide receiver. He is essentially Arizona's #2 WR behind Larry Fitzgerald. Johnson said his goal is still to go 1,000-1,000 and I believe he can do it. No one is doubting DJ's upside as the best player in fantasy football. However, there are concerns.

The Cardinals project to be one of the worst teams in the lead. While playing from behind isn't detrimental to DJ because instead of handing the ball to him, they'll just throw to him, the Cardinals' overall poor team could negatively impact DJ's scoring ability. If his touchdown count falls from 20 to even 12-14, he's probably not going to be able to finish #1 overall.

I do think the Cardinals can function well with Sam Bradford at the helm, but you and I both know that won't last very long. Bradford's career is going to end this season when his degenerative knee inevitably gives out. I like Josh Rosen, but I'm not overly excited about DJ playing with a rookie QB, although it could help his dump off numbers.

If all three RBs were in ideal situations, I would probably take Johnson as I feel he has the highest ceiling, but of the three RBs, his situation is undoubtedly the worst. So, is he safe enough to be considered for the #1 pick?

Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)

During the entirety of my fantasy football career (which began in 2003), 2016 was the only year in which a non RB was the consensus #1 overall pick. That man was none other than Antonio Brown. The second greatest receiver in NFL history is nowhere near the end of his career despite turning 30 this July. He's been the overall WR1 for four consecutive seasons. He's caught over 100 passes for five straight seasons. He's the surest of sure things in this game of randomness.

If you want to take AB #1 overall, no one can fault you. But should you? This analysis is less about Brown himself and more about positional value. We are looking at about 15 RBs going in the first 24 picks. If you spend an early first round pick, specifically the first pick on a WR, you are going to be at a significantly disadvantage at RB. Additionally, you are more likely to be able to find a quality WR in the middle rounds than you are a reliable RB.

Ironically, the blurring of the lines between WR1s, WR2s, and WR3s does not increase the value of an early WR. It's the exact opposite. Because the separation between a low end WR1 and a low end WR2 is smaller than usual, selecting an RB early is more important because the edge you will have at the position will be greater than the edge you'll have at the WR position. As you may have gathered, AB is not who I would go with at #1.


Final Verdict

You really can't go wrong with any of these guys, but if you are fortunate enough to secure that top pick, you have to make a decision. Personally, I would go with Le'Veon Bell. When we're talking about three running backs that are truly the elite of the elite, any separation between them is splitting hairs. Bell is on the best offense of the three and has the longest track record of success. I very much would like to land a top three pick this season and if I end up at #1, Bell is the man getting his name called.


More 2018 Fantasy Football & ADP Analysis

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.

More Recent Articles


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Le'Veon Bell (illness) is questionable to play this week. Marlon Mack is expected to be back on the... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Fantasy Football IDP Rankings for Week 14 (Top 100)

The fantasy playoffs are here for most of us, so every position matters that much more. IDP spots often become an afterthought or a set-it-and-forget-it situation but it could be that linebacker who has a monster game or that key interception that makes the difference between winning or going home. Look to our streamer suggestions... Read More

Week 14-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

The playoffs are here, and that means we're going to do things a little differently. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More

Star Players Who Might Miss the Fantasy Playoffs

As we head into the playoff weeks of fantasy football, you'll hear many experts preach (correctly) the need to stash high-upside handcuffs or backups at quarterback or tight end. You'll inevitably hear about looking ahead three weeks for favorable playoff schedules and thinking less about what the player has done up until now or whether... Read More

Week 14 Busts? Players To Consider Avoiding

It's finally here... The fantasy playoffs for most leagues. Hopefully you have a chance to win a fantasy championship in the next few weeks. If you're lucky, you have a first-round bye and won't have to worry about anything this week except for picking out a Christmas tree and setting up all your holiday decorations.... Read More

Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Zach Pascal, Jamaal Williams, Gardner Minshew

Whether this is the first week of your playoffs, the last week of your regular season, or the time to win a DFS league to pay for your holiday presents, this is the most crucial week of your fantasy football season. While my booms from last week (Robert Woods, Jack Doyle, Dede Westbrook, Kyle Allen)... Read More

Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 13 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. As many of you prepare for your Week 14 matchups, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which... Read More

Week 14 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are beginning in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning a championship.... Read More

Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in WR3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More

The King's Week 14 Lineup Rankings and Analysis (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers! Below you will find my Week 14 fantasy football lineup rankings for the first round of your playoffs. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR, and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions, especially on the weekends. Skill Position analysis versus... Read More

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More

Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 14

It's that time of year again! While many will be caught up in the thrills of the holiday season, those lucky few who have risen to the top of their fantasy leagues will be sweating over lineup decisions in pursuit of a championship (in most league formats). To our fantasy owners who have managed to... Read More