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.
Pick 3 and 4: Ezekiel Elliott vs. David Johnson
On the Clock with Pick 1.03
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
It’s clear what the Cowboys want to do and it’s feed Elliott. They made it clear in his rookie season and they did the same last year despite Elliott missing six games due to a suspension. Elliott had 322 carries for 1,631 yards (5.1 yards per carry) with 15 touchdowns as a rookie and caught 32 of 40 passes for 363 yards with a touchdown.
Elliott wasn’t as efficient last season with the offensive line hindered by some injuries, but the volume was still there. In ten games, he had 242 carries for 983 yards (4.1 yards per carry) with seven touchdowns and caught 26 of 38 targets for 269 yards and two touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott ran 26.7 routes per game compared to 17.6 as a rookie. In 25 games, Elliott is averaging 129.9 yards per game.
One of the knocks on Elliott is the lack of receptions, but Elliott can catch the football and Dallas is likely to pass him the ball more. Elliott had 3.8 targets per game last season and averaged more than 10 yards per reception. All he needs is a slight uptick in receptions to be in the conversation as the No. 1 running back at the end of the season.
Some people are concerned because Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are gone and teams will focus on stopping Elliott. What do you think teams have been doing the last two years? Everyone knew Elliott was getting the football and he was still good. Bryant and Witten weren’t stretching the defense and the Cowboys haven’t had a receiver that could stretch the field.
Elliott is talented, has a good offensive line and will get a lot of volume. He has a high floor every week. He had one awful game in Denver last season when the Cowboys got trounced. He was a RB1 in the nine other games. All the ingredients are there to finish as one of the top Fantasy running backs.
On The Clock with Pick 1.04
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Johnson injured his wrist in Week 1 last season and didn’t return. Johnson dominated in 2016 with 293 carries for 1,239 yards (4.2 yards per carry) with 16 touchdowns and caught 80 of 120 targets for 879 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson had 2,118 total yards with 20 touchdowns and 23.3 touches per game.
Coming off a wrist injury isn’t a concern. The offense is different as Bruce Arians is gone. Steve Wilks takes over as head coach after being the Panthers’ defensive coordinator last season and Mike McCoy will be the offensive coordinator. The offensive line wasn’t good last season and there aren’t many weapons in the passing game.
Johnson will be the focal point of the offense and can do it all. The offense could limit his scoring opportunities. The Cardinals offensive line ranked 30th last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Wilks did bring in offensive line coach Ray Brown, who spent seven years with the Panthers in a run-first offense. Johnson will also run behind a fullback for the first time.
Johnson showed his ceiling two years ago. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him come close again, but compared to Elliott, he has more concerns with a new scheme, a potential rookie quarterback and offensive line concerns.
Next: Picks 1.5 and 1.6
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