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You’re on the clock! Who do you pick? I will go through the first round and give my thoughts on who to take with the pick. This is based on a 12-team, PPR Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) format with one starting quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end and two flex spots.
On the Clock with Pick 1.07
RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
There are still people reluctant to take a rookie in the first round. They want to see a player prove it first. If you had that sentiment, you lost out on Ezekiel Elliott two years ago when he led the NFL in rushing as a rookie. Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing last season as a rookie and Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette also finished as RB1s.
When teams take a running back early, they are going to be give them the ball a lot. Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is a three-down back. He’s especially excellent in the passing game. The Giants improved the offensive line and with a healthy Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, this has the potential to be a good offense if Eli Manning can play well.
Volume is one of the key aspects to look at in Fantasy Football and Barkley will get it. He has the ability to catch 60-70 passes. Pat Shurmur likes to run the football. His most successful teams were near the top in rushing attempts, including the Vikings last season when they ranked second in attempts.
Barkley has the athleticism and was impressive at the combine. He has the size at 6-feet, 233 pounds and has breakaway speed. As a junior at Penn State, Barkley had 1,903 total yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 3.3 yards after contact.
On The Clock with Pick 1.08
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the NFL and has showed durability, missing one game in five seasons. He has produced with bad quarterback play. He has reached double-digit touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. He has at least 151 targets in three straight seasons.
Hopkins had 174 targets last year and caught 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hopkins will get volume every week. In 11 of 15 games last year, he had double-digit targets.
While many think Deshaun Watson helps Hopkins, it doesn’t mean his stats can get better. Watson played in seven games last season, but Hopkins averaged 12.25 targets without Watson and 10.86 with him and 86.6 yards with Watson and 96.5 without him. Watson had a touchdown on 9.3 percent of his attempts and that is highly unlikely to repeat. Even with those stats, Watson showed a glimpse of his potential.
Hopkins presents a high floor because of his target volume, durability and talent. While he might not repeat what he did last season when the Texans defense was hurt by injuries putting the Texans in a pass-heavy game script, Hopkins will still be one of the top receivers.
Next: Picks 1.9 and 1.10
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