News & Analysis

Scott Barrett's 2018 fantasy football keeper rankings

Dec 3, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (left) attempts to catch a pass as Cleveland Browns defensive back Kai Nacua (43) defends during an NFL football game at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever I get asked keeper-related fantasy football questions I always have the same answer – lean toward whoever is higher in ADP, unless you significantly prefer one player to another. For instance, if you’re choosing between Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins, and Carson Wentz, and have them all ranked somewhat equally, take the player who is most expensive (Landry, a full round higher by ADP). This way you may still be able to acquire one of the other players but at a cheaper cost.

However, this advice is strictly limited to leagues with a draft penalty (you lose a draft pick in whichever round you selected that player last year). In leagues without a draft penalty, I typically just defer to my rankings (except in the rare case I have a player ranked well above their ADP).

If you’re in one such draft this year, let this article serve as your guide.

Here are my top-150 keeper rankings:

1. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams – Gurley led all players at all positions in fantasy points per game in 2017 (25.6). Excluding Week 17, this was the 14th-most total fantasy points scored by any player at any position all-time.

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Bell's volume was better than Gurley's last year and he has a larger sample of dominance, but he's also in the middle of a camp holdout.

3. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals – Johnson totaled 407.8 fantasy points in 2016, the ninth-most by any running back all-time – a number no other active running back has ever eclipsed.

4. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Brown has finished first at his position in fantasy points per game in each of the past three seasons. He finished second in 2014, but his 23.8 fantasy points per game that year still ranks top-10 all-time.

5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans – Hopkins led the position in fantasy points scored last year, despite drawing 57 percent of his targets from T.J. Yates and Tom Savage. Now he should get Deshaun Watson for the whole year.

6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys – Elliott is a solid bet to lead the league in rushing yards and rushing fantasy points. Target volume will be the key in him untapping Gurley/Bell-esque potential, as I outlined here.

7. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints – Kamara just put together one of the most efficient fantasy seasons of all time. Volume is a concern but should at least improve during the four games Ingram is suspended.

8. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants – Among wide receivers, only Brown has averaged more fantasy points per game over the past four seasons (21.0).

9. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs – Hunt was uniquely efficient in college and then just as dominant in his rookie year. Volume might be better next year, even with Spencer Ware returning, as outlined here.

10. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons – Jones ranks second among all non-quarterbacks in fantasy points since 2014. He had a down year last year but is due for regression, scoring seven touchdowns fewer than his expectation.

11. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints – Thomas was our second-highest-graded wide receiver last year and now ranks second among wide receivers in fantasy points over the past two seasons.

12. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers – Over the final seven weeks of last season, Allen led the position and averaged 23.9 fantasy points per game. Volume might be just as good this year, with Hunter Henry now out for the year.

13. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings – On a small enough sample, Cook was our fourth-highest-graded runner last year and ranked seventh in yards per carry (4.78), and 10th in PFF elusive rating (56.1). Despite these numbers being skewed by Cook leaving his final game early in the third quarter, he also ranked ninth in fantasy points per game (16.9) and sixth in opportunities per game (22.5).

14. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers – Gordon is one of only two running backs (along with Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott) to rank top-six in fantasy points per game in each of the past two seasons.

15. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars – Fournette ranked third in touches per game (23.4) last year on the league’s most run-heavy offense. I see little reason why that should decline, and Jacksonville’s elite defense should mean plenty of scoring opportunities for Fournette.

16. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers – Carlos Hyde ranked 11th in carries and fifth in targets despite grading out 50th of 58 qualifying running backs. McKinnon is now the sixth-highest-paid running back in the NFL and the offense should take a step forward with a full year of Jimmy Garoppolo under center.

17. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers – McCaffrey is one of just 19 running backs to ever see 100 carries and 100 targets in a single season. Rushing volume should improve (per coaches) as should efficiency (per me, based on college production and lighter fronts).

18. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals – Green took a slight step back last year (as did the entire offense) but would have ranked first among wide receivers in fantasy points per game in 2016 if we excluded a two-snap performance in Week 11.

19. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Evans has seen 120-plus targets and has hit 1,000-plus yards in every year of his career. This also includes two of four seasons with 12 touchdowns.

20. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots – If I was guaranteed a full 16-game season I'd take Gronkowski in the first round. His production, efficiency, and volume are unparalleled for a TE and he averages more fantasy points per game (over the past four seasons or throughout his career) than many of the wide receivers ranked above him.

21. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers – Adams is now the eighth-highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL, should see more volume with Jordy Nelson out of the picture, and ranked ninth in fantasy points per game last year (despite drawing 61 percent of his targets from Brett Hundley).

22. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle SeahawksThe league's most-efficient fantasy wide receiver is now a great bet to reach a new career-high in targets.

23. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons – Mark Ingram and Todd Gurley are the only other running backs to rank top-15 in fantasy points in each of the past three seasons. It’s a committee in Atlanta but Freeman’s volume will still be better than all but a few other running backs.

24. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins – Drake quietly put together a historically efficient season and Adam Gase's RB1s have been extremely valuable for fantasy throughout his coaching career, as outlined here.

25. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings – Thielen burst onto the scene last year, ranking fifth in receiving yards and 10th in PFF Grade. But it was little surprise to me after a historically efficient 2016 season.

26. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

27. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

28. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills – If there was no risk of a suspension or getting placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List he'd rank at least 10 spots higher.

29. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

30. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

31. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Fitzgerald ranks fifth, seventh, and ninth among wide receivers in fantasy points over the past three seasons. Sam Bradford has targeted slot wide receivers on 24.8 percent of his aimed throws since entering the league, or fourth-most over this stretch.

32. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos – Thomas ranks ninth in fantasy points over the past three seasons despite Denver ranking second-worst in team passer rating over this stretch. The acquisition of Case Keenum means, at least, things shouldn't be any worse than they were last year, when he finished 22nd in fantasy points.

33. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

34. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

35. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

36. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions

37. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

38. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles – Ertz averages 16.1 fantasy points per game across his last 16 games (playing on at least 25 percent of the team's snaps). That would have ranked ninth among wide receivers last year.

39. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts – Hilton would jump at least 12 spots if Luck is confirmed ready to go for Week 1.

40. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

41. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams

42. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns – Gordon ranked 28th for me before announcing he would not show up for camp.

43. Mark Ingram II, RB, New Orleans Saints

44. Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Detroit Lions

45. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

46. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans

47. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos – I'm higher on Sanders than most for the same reason as outlined in the Thomas section, but also because so many are forgetting he played hurt last year. Outlined here.

48. Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

49. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams – From Week 3 until the end of the postseason, Woods averaged 16.1 fantasy points per game, or what would have ranked seventh at the position.

50. Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots

51. Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens

52. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

53. Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

54. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

55. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

56. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers – Our first quarterback on the list. It's a great year to go “late-round QB” but Rodgers offers unparalleled safety, finishing first or second in fantasy points in seven of his last eight healthy seasons.

57. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

58. Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans

59. Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Am I the only one who remembers that Garcon ranked fifth in targets (61) before a season-ending neck injury suffered in Week 8? He'll also get a solid efficiency boost from the upgrade to Jimmy Garroppolo under center.

60. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

61. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

62. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

63. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans

64. Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers

65. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

66. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans – Fuller ranked second among wide receivers in fantasy points per game (21.1) during the weeks Deshaun Watson was active.

67. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

68. Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots – In the final six games Burkhead started and finished last year, he averaged 16.5 fantasy points per game. This would have ranked 10th-best at the position if over a full season. Keep in mind, Dion Lewis (now in Tennessee) was active in all of these games.

69. Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns

70. Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins

71. Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans

72. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

73. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami DolphinsParker dealt with injuries and a brutal cornerback schedule last year (and throughout the majority of his career) and Jarvis Landry leaves behind 161 targets in the wake of his departure.

74. Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

75. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints – Brees was a lot better last year than anyone is giving him credit for. He’s due for a bounceback.

76. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Buffalo Bills

77. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

78. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston TexansWatson is due for a massive regression, even excluding the small-sample and the fact that teams now have seven games of tape on him, but he also put together a historic fantasy season last year.

79. DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

80. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington RedskinsThe only other tight end who can compete with Gronkowski when he’s on the field.

81. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

82. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

83. Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders

84. Marshawn Lynch, WR, Oakland Raiders

85. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers – Jones averaged 5.53 yards per carry last season (on 81 carries) while his fellow Green Bay running backs combined for just 3.62 yards per carry.

86. Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins

87. Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

88. Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

89. Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins

90. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets

91. Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears

92. Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

93. Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets

94. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

95. Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans

96. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings

97. Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers

98. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers – He’s a lock to finish as a QB1 and maybe the No. 1 QB if you only start him when he’s playing at home.

99. James White, RB, New England Patriots

100. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins – Doctson has sky-high touchdown potential. A league-leading 22 of his 78 career targets have come in the end zone and now his coaches are saying they want to get him even more involved in the red zone.

101. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts – Please come back. We miss you.

102. Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns

103. Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

104. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers

105. Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos

106. C.J. Anderson, RB, Carolina Panthers

107. Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys

108. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

109. Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears

110. Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions

111. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals – Please stay healthy.

112. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

113. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

114. Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts

115. Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

116. Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers

117. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

118. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons

119. Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills

120. Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans Saints

121. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans – Mariota was a lot better last year than you would have expected.

122. Martavis Bryant, WR, Oakland Raiders

123. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

124. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Detroit Lions

125. Doug Martin, RB, Oakland Raiders

126. Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers – Jerick McKinnon is an RB1 lock if he gets Carlos Hyde’s 2016 volume, but McKinnon’s recent and career efficiency numbers suggest that might not be deserving. Since 2000, only Melvin Gordon averaged more yards per carry than Breida did in college (6.9).

127. Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins

128. Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins – I have a man-crush on Wilson, but he’s worth pairing with Danny Amendola in case I’m wrong.

129. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Winston averaged 306.9 yards per game in the 11 games he played on at least 50 percent of his team’s snaps last year. He’s much higher in my rankings but you could probably draft him in the last few rounds alongside Tyrod Taylor and be set at the position.

130. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens

131. Danny Amendola, WR, Miami Dolphins

132. Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins

133. D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans

134. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys – Despite losing Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, Prescott should rebound nicely from his sophomore slump.

135. Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys

136. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

137. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

138. Chris Ivory, RB, Buffalo Bills – Ivory’s ranking here is almost entirely tied to LeSean McCoy’s suspension risk.

139. Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

140. Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

141. John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

142. Mike Wallace, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

143. Terrelle Pryor, WR, New York Jets – Pryor played hurt all year but posted 1,000 receiving yards in 2016 – just his first full season ever playing the position.

144. David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns – Tight ends typically take a significant step forward in their sophomore years and Njoku played much better last year than his stats might imply.

145. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

146. Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

147. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs – Either multiple skill-position players on the Chiefs are grossly undervalued, or we’re way too low on Mahomes.

148. Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens

149. Paul Richardson Jr., WR, Washington Redskins

150. Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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