After going over the eight worst teams from a fantasy perspective — teams Nos. 29-32 and Nos. 25-28 (check the chart below) — we’re moving up the list to the better (but still below-average) teams.
A few of the teams included in today’s grouping of four might come as a surprise. But as a reminder, these rankings are based on each team’s fantasy worth as it relates to 2018 drafts. It has nothing to do with how good (or bad) these teams might be on the real field.
(The information here was compiled from the stats and projections available to subscribers.)
|July 23: 32-29||July 24: 28-25||July 25: 24-21|
|No. 32||New York Jets||No. 28||Oakland Raiders||No. 24||Indianapolis Colts|
|No. 31||Buffalo Bills||No. 27||Jacksonville Jaguars||No. 23||Dallas Cowboys|
|No. 30||Miami Dolphins||No. 26||Washington Redskins||No. 22||Chicago Bears|
|No. 29||Baltimore Ravens||No. 25||San Francisco 49ers||No. 21||Cleveland Browns|
No. 24: Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis received good news just days before training camps officially opened when it was announced that Andrew Luck would be fully practicing with the team once camp started. But despite the boost, the Colts are still a below-average team from a fantasy perspective, and they rank No. 24 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.
The Colts offer fantasy players 77 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have seven fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:
- Andrew Luck, QB
- Marlon Mack, RB
- Nyheim Hines, RB
- Jordan Wilkins, RB
- T.Y. Hilton, WR
- Chester Rogers, WR
- Jack Doyle, TE
The Colts have the No. 31 backfield from a fantasy perspective.
Frank Gore is no longer with the Colts, and despite his advanced age, he will be missed, as he gave the Colts a semblance of normalcy in the backfield. Things will get turned on their head in 2018 as the Colts will look to Mack to serve as their lead back — although a committee approach is certainly a possibility.
Mack, who is returning from a shoulder injury, enters Year 2 after touching the ball just 114 times as a rookie. His 3.8 YPC average was mediocre, but he did average a healthy 10.7 yards per reception, which was seventh among running backs. Mack flashed big-play ability at times last year, but questions remain about how much of a workload he can truly manage. We have Mack projected as an RB3/flex option on about 200 total touches.
Rookies Hines and Wilkins will be Mack’s primary competition for touches. Hines (No. 56) and Wilkins (No. 64) do not project as anything more than fliers at the end of your fantasy draft, but they are names worth knowing given the fact that there is nothing set in stone in this backfield.
The Colts have the No. 15 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.
No player will benefit more from Luck’s return than Hilton. With Luck in 2016, Hilton led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards on 91 receptions. He was the No. 5 receiver in PPR leagues that year. However, in 2017 (without Luck), Hilton fell down to the WR26 spot while catching just 57 passes and gaining fewer than 1,000 yards for the first time since his rookie year. (His touchdown total last year was also a career low.) Hilton should be viewed as a tail-end WR1 with Luck back under center.
Rogers could be worth a late round flier given that there is plenty of opportunity in Indy’s receiving corps behind Hilton, and we currently have Rogers projected as the team’s No. 2 wideout.
The Colts have the No. 11 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.
Doyle returns to the Colts after a breakout 2017 season in which he posted a line of 80-690-4 en route to the No. 9 overall finish among tight ends. Doyle’s 102 targets were tied for fourth at the position with Zach Ertz. We have Doyle projected as a tail-end TE1 again for 2018.
One reason why we don’t have Doyle projected to take another leap forward is because the Colts added Eric Ebron this season, who, despite never living up to his first-round hype, has turned into a dependable pass-catcher. Ebron was good for about 50 receptions and 500-plus yards per year in Detroit, and it’s unlikely the Colts brought him in to serve solely as a backup. Ebron doesn’t need to be drafted, but he is someone you should keep an eye on in case the Colts end up utilizing two tight end packages.
The Colts have the No. 10 group of quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective.
Luck — assuming he really is fully healthy — should be viewed as a QB1 for the 2018 season. His weapons are nothing to write home about, but outside of Hilton, they never have been (and Hilton is still there). Luck has overall No. 1 upside, and it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Luck — who has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in every healthy season — doesn’t put up top-10 numbers.
No. 23: Dallas Cowboys
It may be surprising to see the Cowboys check in at No. 23 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings, but outside of Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys don’t have much to offer fantasy players.
The Cowboys offer fantasy players 78 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have three fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:
The Cowboys have the No. 4 backfield from a fantasy perspective.
Elliott gears up for a new NFL season in which he (presumably) won’t have the possibility of a six-game suspension looming over his head the entire time, as was the case last year. Elliott was the No. 12 fantasy running back last year despite the fact he only played 10 games. His full-season pace would have ranked No. 3 overall at the position, which is about where we expect him to finish this year.
He’s a decent bet to lead the league in rushing yards and should contend for most rushing touchdowns, but he doesn’t see enough work in the receiving game (just 2.6 catches per game last year) to warrant consideration for the No. 1 overall pick in PPR drafts.
If the Cowboys didn’t have Elliott on the team, there’s a good chance they would rank last from a fantasy perspective.
The Cowboys have the No. 32 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.
The Cowboys let go of Dez Bryant this offseason, who, despite a clear decline in production, was still far and away Dallas’ best receiver. They “replaced” him with Hurns, who was an on-again, off-again productive No. 2 for the Jaguars in recent years. Hurns profiles as a flex option based on volume alone.
Assuming he plays, Williams will once again be a viable emergency bye week flex fill-in player for fantasy squads, and nothing else. He is the epitome of consistent but not great (and hardly even “good”). Through five seasons, Williams has always finished with between 550-850 receiving yards and 35-55 receptions.
Jason Witten’s retirement leaves the Cowboys with no tight ends you need to know about for your 2018 draft.
Once you get outside the top 10 quarterbacks in fantasy this year, it’s a slim gap between Nos. 11-20. Dak Prescott fits somewhere in that range, but as of now, we don’t have him projected to be a high enough scorer at the position to warrant getting drafted.
No. 22: Chicago Bears
Chicago’s offense appears to be trending in the right direction, and the Bears check in at No. 22 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.
The Bears offer fantasy players 80 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have five fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:
The Bears have the No. 18 backfield from a fantasy perspective.
Howard carried the ball 276 times last year, which ranked fifth in the NFL behind Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, and Todd Gurley — not bad company from a volume perspective. Where Howard loses a ton of fantasy value is in the passing game, where he hauled in just 23 receptions for 125 yards. A total of 57 other running backs had more receiving yards last year.
Howard is a volume-based RB2 who is unlikely to ever be more than that in PPR leagues because of his lack of receiving chops. This isn’t to knock Howard — there’s nothing wrong with being a strong RB2 option — but it is to say that he is being drafted at his fantasy ceiling.
One reason Howard is unlikely to see more work in the receiving game is because of the presence of Cohen, who emerged as one of the league’s better pass-catching backs as a rookie last year. Cohen’s 65 targets and 53 receptions both ranked 11th at the position. He finished as the No. 32 overall running back last year, which helped solidify him as a weekly flex option in PPR leagues. That’s where you can expect Cohen to finish again in 2018, as his role in the offense shouldn’t change.
The Bears have the No. 19 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.
The Bears added Robinson and rookie Miller to their receiving corps this year to give it a needed facelift while giving second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky some new talent to work with.
Robinson developed into one of the league’s premier deep ball receivers in 2015. He led all wideouts that season with 672 deep-ball yards (targets 20-plus yards downfield). He was the No. 6 receiver in PPR leagues that year. He followed it up with a disappointing 2016 in which he finished as the No. 27 receiver before missing virtually the entire 2017 season with a knee injury.
Robinson steps in as Chicago’s clear-cut No. 1 wideout. An optimistic outlook pegs him as a high-end WR2. A less rosy projection makes him look like more of a flex option. (We’re in the first crowd.) If you get Robinson as your WR2, you can be happy about it; we know he has top-10 upside.
While Robinson will be “the guy” in Chicago, Miller has been turning heads in the fantasy community. He’s worth a late-round flier given the opportunity that exists in Chicago. Here’s what our own Jeff Ratcliffe wrote of Miller shortly after the draft: “If there’s a player in this year’s class who has the potential to be the next Odell Beckham Jr., it’s Miller. You read that right. Don’t sleep on him.”
The Bears have the No. 10 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.
The fantasy industry is awash with excitement because Burton is finally getting his chance to be a team’s primary tight end after serving behind Zach Ertz in Philadelphia.
Burton certainly made the most of his opportunities in Philadelphia — both in the preseason and regular season. He caught five touchdowns on just 23 receptions last year and scored a 0.52 fantasy points per opportunity, fourth among tight ends. We have Burton projected as a tail-end TE1, but you should proceed with caution: Burton has just 63 receptions in his four-year NFL career. That’s not to say Burton can’t break out (we wouldn’t have him projected as a top-10 option if he couldn’t), but it is to say that Burton has never had to be the main man before, so we don’t know exactly how he will perform in that role.
Trubisky’s supporting cast looks much better than it did a year ago, but you don’t need to be thinking about him on draft day.
No. 21: Cleveland Browns
The Browns appear to be moving up in the world. They check in at No. 21 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings, up from the No. 27 slot they occupied a year ago.
The Browns offer fantasy players 83 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have six fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:
The Browns have the No. 22 backfield from a fantasy perspective.
The Browns have a deep backfield featuring veteran Hyde, rookie Chubb, and pass-catching specialist Johnson. It’s a solid group, but unfortunately, it makes things a bit messy from a fantasy perspective.
Let’s start with the rookie. Chubb projects to be the team’s leading back on the ground, as we have him projected for 156 attempts compared to Hyde’s 106. But 150 or so rushing attempts — without much work in the passing game (thanks to Johnson) — isn’t enough to make Chubb more than a fringe flex option.
Hyde is in an even worse position. Despite finishing last season as the No. 8 overall running back in PPR leagues, the former 49er now finds himself in a three-way competition for snaps and touches. Hyde is worth a late-round flier in the event that he simply outplays Chubb and becomes the teams early-down back, but it’s not a likely scenario. It’s far more likely that this will be a committee in which Hyde is the assistant. He’s a bye week flex fill-in.
Johnson was technically an RB1 in fantasy last year, as he finished as the No. 11 overall running back in PPR leagues. His 90 targets and 74 receptions ranked fourth at the position, while his 693 receiving yards ranked third. The Browns should be more competitive this year, which will reduce the amount of garbage playing time Johnson will see. He still profiles as an every-week flex option with tail-end RB2 appeal. His role as the pass-catching back in this offense is secure after he signed a three-year contract extension earlier this summer.
The Browns have the No. 13 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.
We are finally approaching a fantasy season in which we can realistically expect Gordon to play all 16 games. (This was written before the news this week of Gordon not reporting to camp right away. Fingers crossed.) Gordon played in just five games last year, catching 18 passes (on 41 targets) for 335 yards and a score. It was inefficient, but he was on pace to be a tail-end WR2 if you extrapolate those numbers over a full season.
With better quarterback play and a full offseason and regular season to actually work out with his team, Gordon can be viewed as a WR2 in fantasy with upside.
Landry has been a PPR goldmine in Miami over the last few years, and he actually finished the 2017 season as the No. 4 overall player at the position, behind only DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, and Keenan Allen. Landry’s 112 receptions led the league, but he still didn’t top 1,000 yards. He did, however, score 9 touchdowns, which was more than he scored in his two previous seasons combined.
With Gordon on the outside, Landry probably won’t be the focal point of Cleveland’s offense, which means another 110-plus reception season is unrealistic to expect. But Landry thrives in the role of slot man, and his improvements in the red zone last year give him a new ceiling. Landry can be viewed as a tail-end WR2 in PPR leagues who should be a consistent producer for your fantasy squad.
The Browns have the No. 16 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.
Njoku enters Year 2 after posting a 32-386-4 line as a rookie. It’s rare for rookie tight ends to put up big numbers, so you shouldn’t be dismayed by Njoku’s slow rookie season. There were some positive takeaways as well: He saw nine end-zone targets, tied with Zach Ertz (and Tyler Kroft) for fifth among all tight ends. The Browns like him as a red-zone threat, which is obviously huge for his fantasy upside.
The Browns have a ton of receiving options, so Njoku might be a bit buried on the target totem pole, but he is a viable TE2 option and will be in constant consideration as a weekly streamer this year.