Let’s face it—old habits die hard in fantasy football.
You have been playing for years, and while you have heard some of the experts and talking heads remind you that you don’t have to take running backs with your first two picks, you follow that route in 90 percent of the leagues you have played in.
It may have been successful in some and caused a struggle in others, but that’s your signature. OK, we get it. But we are here to give you options.
Unless you can get your hands on Aaron Rodgers, you know you will not be selecting a quarterback. But you may just want to take a wide receiver with one of those first two picks in the first round.
In this piece, we are going to give you our ratings on 10 running backs and 10 receivers who are worthy of getting drafted in the first two rounds.
Elite Running Backs
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
After virtually a year away from the game, Peterson will be fresh when he takes the field in Week 1 for the Vikings against the San Francisco 49ers. Not only will he feel strong after playing just one game in 2014, he has something to prove.
Peterson is the top combination of speed and power at the running back position, and head coach Mike Zimmer wants to give him every opportunity to show he can approach 2,000 yards. Not only is he worthy of a high first-round pick, he is dominant enough to earn No. 1 status overall.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
He compared himself to LeBron James during training camp, and he is coming off a year in which he rushed for 1,033 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Charles can exceed those rushing numbers this year, and he is also a stellar pass-catcher. He caught 40 passes in 2014, but that figure was 70 in 2013. Charles will definitely get his touches.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll is an innovative head coach, and he knows that if his team doesn’t keep getting better, opponents will start to catch up. That’s a big part of the reason tight end Jimmy Graham was brought into the fold. Graham can stretch the defense and give Russell Wilson more options downfield.
But one thing Carroll knows is that his team can run the ball, with Lynch serving as a battering ram. Lynch has a relentless hunger, and he seems stronger in the fourth quarter than he was in the first. His rushing-touchdown total improved from 11 to 12 to 13 in each of the past three years, so we are saying he’ll hit 14 this year.
Marshawn Lynch never quits 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/oZ48dUNGkg
— ALL TIME SPORTS (@AIITimeSports) August 25, 2015
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s going to be a difficult first two weeks of the season for the Steelers without Bell, who saw his original three-game suspension for a DUI cut to two games. Missing two games will hurt Bell’s season-long rushing totals, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t approach 1,200 yards after rushing for 1,361 yards last year.
Bell simply does not go down after first contact, and he can run away from tacklers when he gets to the second level. He should find his way into the end zone 10 times or more this year.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Giving Rodgers a high-level running game only makes him more dominant at the quarterback position. The Packers love to give Lacy the opportunity to play the role of battering ram and weaken the opponent’s defense.
While the Packers are not going to be balanced, the ideal scenario would have Lacy establishing the run early in the game and then pounding away in the fourth quarter when the Packers have the lead and are running out the clock.
— Sports Photos (@sportsphotos) August 30, 2015
Elite Wide Receivers
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
There’s a very good reason Brown caught 129 passes for 1,537 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Nobody can cover him, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
As long as Brown is healthy and the Steelers offensive line can give Ben Roethlisberger a modicum of protection, Brown is going to get his. He runs remarkable patterns with speed and precision, and he makes a remarkable effort to catch the ball on every play.
Most Receiving YPG Over Last 2 Seasons – Minimum 20 Games Julio Jones 108.7 Antonio Brown 99.9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2015
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant understands what just happened in the offseason, and he should be ready to reward the Cowboys for their faith in him with another sensational season. The Cowboys could have made the decision to bank on DeMarco Murray, but they let him go to Philadelphia.
Bryant plays with and edge and a bit of nastiness, and he clearly wants the ball in the fourth quarter. He has had at least 12 TD catches in each of the last three years, and he won’t fall below that level this year.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Brown, Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. are rated ahead of Johnson for a wide variety of the preseason fantasy publications, and that may be a mistake. While Johnson slumped to 71 receptions for 1,077 yards last season, he caught 122 passes for 1,964 yards in 2012. We don’t believe Johnson is over the hill—or anything close to it—and he is no worse than the third-best receiver in the game.
#Lions Notes: Calvin Johnson has NOT lost a step. Remember he battled an ankle injury for nearly 2 months early last yr. He’s only 29.
— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) August 28, 2015
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
It was a remarkable rookie season for Beckham, as he made a series of circus catches throughout the year that earned him superlative status from coaches, executives, players and fans.
His Sunday night catch vs. Dallas in Week 12 will continue to live in the highlight films for years. Beckham has gamebreaking speed, and he caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games last year. He’ll break the century mark in receptions this year.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jones seemed like a risky pick at this point last year because he was coming off an injury-ravaged 2013 season. However, he bounced back from that broken foot by catching 104 passes for 1,593 yards. The Falcons may have issues in 2015, but they will be unrelated to Jones’ stellar play.
Team names to consider
We are not going to bother explaining any of these choices, but we offer them for your consideration. The only thing we will say is that all of our suggestions have something to do with the elite players mentioned above.
- Dez-tiny’s Darlings
- Yo, Adrians
- Skittles to the Rescue
- Me and Julio
- Lacy’s Underalls
- The ODB Experience
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