By: Keith Richards
Anyone ever see that movie Karate Kid? I feel like I’m an old man, but that movie came out before even I was born. There’s a song in that movie that plays a huge role. One might even say that it is the central motif of the story. That song is called “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito. Lucky for you, I will not terrify you with my karaoke skills, which are just terrible, but in the song, Mr. Esposito says, “You’re the best! Around! Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down”. Last time, we discussed those breakout stars of fantasy that can give you an extra edge, but that’s not the only thing that will help you secure that bag. There’s more!
If I haven’t lost you on my trip down pop culture memory lane, by this point, you can guess what we’re looking at today. Yep! The best! Around! These four positional players will stop your opponents from keeping you down. I cannot overstate the importance of having a solid, all-around good team. That being said, these four players are your cornerstones. Having one of them will put you directly on the path to being a champion. If you can get two of them, well, let me know which league you’re in so I can join and clean house. So, now, let us discuss the best TE, QB, RB, and WR in 2018.
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Right out of the gate, I’m taking the gloves and #CrossingTheLine on who I think will be the best tight end in fantasy. Yes, that was a shameless plus for my podcast, Crossing the Line, on NBS Radio, which you should listen to, but I digress. Back to the point. For arguably the last five years, Gronk has been the king of the TE mountain. For great reason, too. History tells us that all kings must someday relinquish the crown. For the past few years, Kelce has been watching the throne and the time has come for him to claim it.
Last season, Travis Kelce had 83 receptions (on 123 targets) for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns. The gold standard, Rob Gronkowski, had 69 receptions (on 106 targets) for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in one less game. There are two reasons why I like Kelce over Gronk. First, Gronkowski is entering his ninth season and has only played 16 games twice. In 2013 and 2016, he played in seven and eight games respectively. Couple the beating that body (though massive) has taken with, no doubt, the amount of Red Bull and God knows what has been in that system, Gronk is due for a decline. It might not be steep, but it will be enough for Kelce to take the title.
Second, Kansas City added more weapons. Alex Smith is now with the Redskins and they’ve got a gunslinger in Patrick Mahomes behind center. While Smith did go downfield more last season, Mahomes has an absolute cannon. That cannon will be aimed at Sammy Watkins and Tyreek “Faster than Fast” Hill. This is going to leave the middle of the field wide open. Good luck, linebackers, but Kelce is going to destroy you and fantasy stats this season.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
If you read my last article, this should come as no surprise. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, Mr. Rodgers is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad man! What should put fear in the heart of all 11 defenders that stand opposite him on Sundays this season is that Aaron is hungry. Rogers has had to deal with bad running backs and terrible defense for many years now. There is only so much a man can take before he has had enough.
Like when Gohan unleashed on Cell and went Super Saiyan 2, Rodgers is going to release his fury on defenses this season. Mark my words, no one will be able to stop. You can only hope to contain him and that won’t happen often either. The Packers have a great group of receivers and have added a major red zone threat in Jimmy Graham. There nothing else to say. Just sit back, relax, and watch the show.
Running Back: Todd Gurley, LA Rams
I will admit that this is one I struggled with and have the least confidence with (least meaning under 95% sure). There are so many good backs in the league and it’s a war to be the best. It came down to three backs, all of which I believe have a great shot at being the best. That being said, only one can be the best…. around…. nothing is going to ever keep him down.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Gurley’s sophomore season. It was terrible. Abysmal. I’m not ashamed to admit I thought he was a bust. Enter the boy wonder, Sean McVay. I say boy wonder because Sean and I are literally the same age. I’m just better looking than he, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that Gurley saw an almost 500-yard increase in rushing yards and an over 500-yard increase in receiving yards. For you PPR fanatics, Todd Gurley had 64 receptions last year; that’s as many as he had in his first two years combined.
What makes Gurley most attractive is the opportunity. With the additions of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to an already good defense, Gurley will be the beneficiary of more touches and running out the clock mercy carries. I’ll take that. Side note, how long until Talib and Peters go at it in the middle of a play? Peters better keep that chain in the locker.
Wide Receiver: Odell Beckham, New York Giants
I’ve saved the best for last. The bread and butter of PPR leagues. Without an elite receiver, you really have no chance of winning. And by elite, I mean any of the top 15 receivers in the league. When it comes to surprises, I’ve also saved the best for last. Antonio Brown is not going to be the best receiver in the league this year. ODB is going to take that honor. Beckham has played distracted for the past few seasons. His dispute over his contract has caused him to fall behind on the field and lose some battles to a kicking net. Today, however, Odell secured that bag to the tune of $95 million over five years; $65 million of that is guaranteed. That burden has been lifted.
While his season was cut short last year due to injury, Beckham looks fresh. Most importantly, he’s having fun again. With a running back that should attract more attention at the line of scrimmage in Saquon Barkley, Beckham should have more opportunity to slice up defenses.
Now that you have the best of the best, and the breakout stars of the season, you’re ready to draft. Draft well. I’ve given you the wisdom you need to win, young padawan. It’s time to be a peacock and fly. If you do feel lost along the way, check back weekly for advice on which players to Buy, Sell, or Bench.