Fantasy Football: Are WR’s the new RB’s?
A new fantasy football season is upon us, and with it possibly a new trend in draft strategy. For years the two stud running back strategy in standard leagues has paid dividends for many owners, myself included. However in recent years, the NFL’s passing game has exploded and made fantasy darlings out of more than a few number one receivers. Guys like Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are going much earlier in drafts than before. In PPR leagues, guys like Julian Edelman and Jordy Nelson are taken higher than in other leagues. The fact is they play with elite quarterbacks and are sure to get their share of catches.
In all the mock drafts I’ve done so far this summer, Antonio Brown has gone first in almost every one of them. The one time I had the first pick I took Todd Gurley, and sure enough Brown went second. Odell Beckham Jr. has also been going in the first round in mocks, and Dez Bryant has consistently been a high second round pick. Gronk has been a second round pick many times and when Jimmy Graham was a Saint, I would see him go in the high second round and sometimes low first round. I used to think this was crazy, but the numbers speak for themselves.
Adrian Peterson averaged 13.6 fantasy points per game last season, and Antonio Brown averaged 15.2. This is not a huge difference, but you can see how taking Brown over AP with the first overall pick isn’t the worst idea in the world. When you factor in the performance of their quarterbacks, taking a top receiver first can seem like a no brainer. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how your league is set up. PPR leagues change the whole scope of the draft. Two quarterback leagues can make it so all starting QB’s are gone by the third round. While the running back is still relevant in fantasy, a top 5 wide receiver is becoming a must on draft day.
Kevin McQuade covers Fantasy Football for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @kmcquade9.