Published On: Fri, Apr 13th, 2018

Fantasy: The best landing spots for 10 top offensive talents

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Rookies are one of the most fun parts of fantasy football, as they represent the kind of risks and gambles that can help create upsets in otherwise uneven matchups.

Even the top projected talents are typically volatile in their first year as pros. Relative April unknowns like Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara can blossom into league winners in the fall.

Fantasy managers should focus more on the situation a player is drafted into and less on their college tape and combine performances.

While rookie quarterbacks should be avoided in most fantasy drafts – especially the early ones – here are the best landing spots for the 2018 NFL Draft’s top offensive talents.

Saquon Barkley, RB ➡️ Colts (No. 6)

The buzz around Barkley – once considered a candidate for the Cleveland Browns‘ No. 1 pick – has died down a little since the end of his final college season and the combine. He could drop all the way to the Indianapolis Colts, who may be intrigued enough to forego their obvious needs on defense.

Barkley would face little competition in the backfield. Sophomore Marlon Mack is currently atop the depth chart, but he carried the ball just 93 times for 358 yards in 14 games as a rookie. Barkley would be in position to surpass Leonard Fournette‘s 304 rookie touches with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Calvin Ridley, WR ➡️ Cardinals (No. 15)

Ridley has long been viewed as the draft’s top receiver. The excellent route-runner would provide the Arizona Cardinals with a long-awaited true No. 2 option across the field from Larry Fitzgerald for his final season(s), and he could later take over as the team’s leading receiver.

Ridley could have a very serviceable fantasy season in the desert under Fitzgerald’s tutelage if quarterback Sam Bradford can stay healthy for a full season.

Courtland Sutton, WR ➡️ Seahawks (No. 18)

The Seattle Seahawks created a need at receiver by letting Paul Richardson leave via free agency after a breakout 2017 season. Doug Baldwin has consistently served as the team’s unquestioned No. 1 receiver, but they need to add some size to the positional group.

Sutton doesn’t possess game-breaking speed (Seattle’s got Tyler Lockett for that), but he does have great hands and an ability to win jump balls on the outside. He’d be a top option to replace Richardson and tight end Jimmy Graham as the Seahawks’ red-zone threat.

Derrius Guice, RB ➡️ Lions (No. 20)

The Detroit Lions took a shot on LeGarrette Blount in free agency, but they should address what’s long been their weakest position by taking a chance on Guice in the middle of the first round.

The LSU product is a hard runner with little experience in the passing game, leaving that role to incumbents Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Guice could lose goal-line work to Blount, but he should be able to score from distance with long runs created by bursting through initial contact.

Dallas Goedert, TE ➡️ Steelers (No. 28)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have fantasy’s top running back and wide receiver. But the team has long missed a play-making tight end, as both Vance McDonald and Jesse James are better served as blockers.

Goedert caught 72 passes for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns in his final year at South Dakota State. He would have plenty of room to operate as defenses focus on his teammates.

Sony Michel, RB ➡️ Redskins (No. 44)

The Washington Redskins need an upgraded complement to Chris Thompson‘s abilities in the passing game. Both Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine have performed well at times, but have struggled with consistency and health.

Michel would take control of the rushing attack and could serve as Alex Smith‘s emergency option whenever Thompson isn’t on the field. Washington’s versatile receiving corps can open up space downfield, where Michel is at his best.

James Washington, WR ➡️ Colts (No. 49)

The Colts would be ill-advised to use two of their top picks on offensive players, leaving their defense in disarray, but the collection of second-round picks obtained from the New York Jets will allow them to be creative if they miss out on Barkley in Round 1.

Ryan Grant is currently penciled in as the No. 2 receiver across from T.Y. Hilton, and there’s not much depth at the position. Washington offers big-play ability and similar speed to Hilton and Grant. That poses some risk of redundancy, but a healthy Andrew Luck would be able to utilize all three options.

Mike Gesicki, TE ➡️ Cowboys (No. 50)

Jason Witten‘s 2017 reception and yardage totals were his lowest since his rookie season, as the soon-to-be 36-year-old nears the end of an illustrious career.

The Dallas Cowboys would allow Gesicki the freedom of running routes downfield with Witten playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-5 combine star could be a significant red-zone threat and has the ability to win tightly contested jump balls – a role the team sorely needs to fill.

Nick Chubb, RB ➡️ Ravens (No. 52)

The Baltimore Ravens should be looking to add to a committee consisting of Alex Collins, Javorius Allen, and Kenneth Dixon that lacks a reliable presence. Chubb is accustomed to working in a timeshare, having split reps with Michel at Georgia.

He’d have a very feasible path to the top of this group on a team that ranked 21st in pass-play percentage last season and still has a questionable receiving corps.

Ronald Jones II, RB ➡️ Panthers (No. 55)

The Carolina Panthers lost Jonathan Stewart in free agency, leaving them in need of a ground-based accompaniment to Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey caught 80 of 113 targets last season, but he had just 117 rushing attempts at an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Jones averaged 5.9 yards over 261 carries while catching just 14 passes in his final year at USC. There’ll be plenty of work for him should the Panthers decide to double down on early-round running backs.

Christian Kirk, WR ➡️ Bills (No. 56)

The Bills remain in desperate need of receiver help. Buffalo is a somewhat unstable landing spot with a yet-to-be-named starting quarterback, but Kirk would be able to rack up targets out of the slot with Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones operating on the outsides.

He wouldn’t have any red-zone presence, but he could fill the much-needed role of possession receiver, allowing him to be a solid option in PPR formats.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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