Player Showdowns: The biggest draft conundrums of 2018
This year, Michael Moore’s Player Showdowns isn’t just a weekly series deciding some of the year’s top draft conundrums, it’s an award-nominated weekly series deciding some of the year’s top draft conundrums. The series was nominated for a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for 2017.
But that’s neither here nor there. Just something to brag about.
All offseason long, we’ll be looking at some of the key this-or-that decisions fantasy owners will face in the draft in 2018, looking for an edge. The series looks at player profiles, changes in supporting cast, and best- and worst-case scenarios.
Below are the pieces so far. Bookmark this page, as it’ll be updated all offseason.
April 1: Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Cam Newton
The up-and-coming 49er who is undefeated as a starter, or the rushing-threat Panther who has been up and down in recent seasons?
April 8: Julian Edelman vs. Emmanuel Sanders
Veteran wide receivers — one coming off a season lost to an ACL tear, and one who would like his injury-plagued-but-active year written off as well.
April 15: Devonta Freeman vs. Joe Mixon
Mixon disappointed as a rookie but has huge potential, while Freeman has been a fantasy starter for three years but could be nearing the end of his top-end time.
April 22: Trey Burton vs. Delanie Walker
Burton signed with the Bears this offseason as their likely starter-to-be, changing everything about his situation. Walker, meanwhile, is a mainstay in the Titans offense.
May 6: Marvin Jones vs. Golden Tate
Teammates! Jones finished 2017 as a WR1, while Tate finished as WR2. Will they be in that order in 2018?
May 13: O.J. Howard vs. David Njoku
There were three tight ends taken in the first round in 2017. Evan Engram had a monster debut season for fantasy. Howard and Njoku, meanwhile, had flashes but neither was dominant. The question is which is a better 2018 option.
May 20: Jay Ajayi vs. Kenyan Drake
This time, it’s ex-teammates. Ajayi had a breakout 2016 before the Dolphins soured on him in 2017 and shipped him to Philly, leading to a Miami breakout for Drake.
May 27: Marcus Mariota vs. Dak Prescott
Two younger quarterbacks who gain a lot of value from their legs square off.
June 3: Sony Michel vs. Rashaad Penny
Saquon Barkley is universally the No. 1 fantasy rookie this year, but two other backs went in the first round, and both could find their way into full-time workloads in 2018.
June 10: Evan Engram vs. Jimmy Graham
Engram had a huge fantasy 2017, with his team’s top fantasy options largely hurt. Graham, meanwhile, saw his yardage dip but put up plenty of touchdowns and now joins Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
June 17: Doug Baldwin vs. Adam Thielen
Barring a huge surprise, neither guy is likely to end the year as the No. 1 wide receiver or even particularly close, but of the guys without a shot at No. 1, they’re some of the highest-end receiver options out there.
Two longtime veterans. Stafford has been chugging along, steady and predictable, while Roethlisberger has been more volatile in recent years.
Fournette was an early draft pick in 2017, relied on from the start. Hunt was taken later, but had as much impact if not more. Now they head into their sophomore seasons.
July 8: Rob Gronkowski vs. Travis Kelce
Let’s settle this once and for all: Who should be the first tight end off the board? Should you opt for Gronkowski’s ceiling or Kelce’s reliability?
July 15: Jordan Howard vs. Jerick McKinnon
McKinnon’s older, but Howard’s been the starter for longer. Howard’s offense is not as geared to his skills as McKinnon’s is to his, but then McKinnon’s never been a bell-cow. Let’s sort this out.
July 22: Stefon Diggs vs. Adam Thielen
Teammates! Thielen had the bigger fantasy year in 2017, but Diggs missed time to injury. Let’s explore which makes the better investment for 2018.
August 5: Le’Veon Bell vs. David Johnson
Johnson had a massive 2016 before a 2017 injury. Bell has been for several seasons now. Which one has the higher ceiling near the top of the draft in 2018?
August 12: Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton
Most everybody is taking Aaron Rodgers first at quarterback. These are two of the three or four candidates for the second slot. Do you go with Brady’s arm or Newton’s legs?
In the 2018 season finale, the decision is who to take as the second wide receiver after Antonio Brown goes off the board in fantasy drafts.