Patrick Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster Highlight the Roto Street Journal's Best 2018 Fantasy Hits - Roto Street Journal
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Patrick Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster Highlight the Roto Street Journal’s Best 2018 Fantasy Hits

To be fair, the 2018 season was our first legitimate year on the fantasy football map. We had the likes of ESPN’s Field “I’m not in the prediction business” Yates on The Fantasy Fullback Dive, our loyal followers increased substantially and our pageviews continued to grow at a pretty solid rate. The thing about added eyes on the product though, is that we needed to be even sharper than 2017. Sure, we gave our 2017 Wolves Tyreek Hill, who hit it out of the park, but we also had a fair share of misses. All-in-all, 2017 set up 2018 perfectly.

Before Nick Foles even penetrated Bill Belichick’s defense with his foot-long dong, The Wolf was ALREADY all-in on Chiefs’ second-string QB Patrick Mahomes. If you were a loyal member of The Wolfpack and trusted us on this relatively unknown Muppet sounding quarterback, you likely hoisted your league’s fantasy trophy at the conclusion of Week 16.

Note: This article wasn’t written to just stroke ourselves. There will be an upcoming article that shows our misses (thanks, Gronk and Jordan Howard).

Patrick Mahomes

If you followed us throughout the 2018 season, you either had Patrick Mahomes on your roster, or you were kicking yourself for passing on him. We told you over and over again to spend a ninth rounder on the Texas Tech gunslinger and to pair him with someone steady, such as Philip Rivers. It started back on January 28, 2018, when the word out of Kansas City was that they were looking to move on from the reliable Alex Smith. That’s when The Wolf proclaimed that he was “Already All-In” on Mr. Mahomes (and Tyreek Hill) — two days before Smith was dealt to the Redskins.

Once the trade was made, we whipped up an article with the headline, “Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill set to explode after Alex Smith’s trade to the Redskins.” After Mahomes’ threw a couple of interceptions during training camp that caught national headlines (lol), The Wolf hopped on the podcast and told people to RELAX — that’s what gunslingers do in the preseason. Instead of worrying, we told you to not “fear the unknown” and once again to go all-in on Mahomes.

In his final Preseason Big Board, The Wolf placed the Texas Tech product as his QB9, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford (silly ECR), Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan — all players who the ECR were higher on than Mahomes. The ECR had Mahomes ranked at QB15, while his ADP was the QB16. In hindsight, we should have been even higher on the Chiefs’ quarterback who had the voice of Kermit the Frog. The paper trail more than proved how much we believed in his skill-set and should have been around our QB5. But either way, we told you he needed to be rostered and selected around the ninth round.

For those who live under a rock, Mahomes finished the season as the clear No. 1 player in fantasy football. He finished with 410 fantasy points (standard QB scoring, .5 PPR), 68 points above the second place player, Todd Gurley. We hope you listened to us, because if you did, you likely got your name on your league’s trophy. If not, we hope this type of analysis gets you on board for 2019.

Mitch Trubisky

We weren’t necessarily “all-in” on Trubisky like we were with Mahomes, but our obsession with Matt Nagy and the Bears’ offense led to us saying he was the “Ultimate Late-Round QB to Target” and “This Season’s Jared Goff.” The guy who got us on the Nagy and Mark Helfrich bandwagon was none other than Oregon football guru, Charles Fischer, of FishDuck.com. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Trubisky’s talent. He has what should be an elite skill-set, but he wasn’t able to beat out Marquise Williams at North Carolina before starting his final season. However, after listening to Fischer on The Fantasy Fullback Dive, both Wolf and I were able to look past Trubisky’s deficiencies and buy into the dynamic offense under two brilliant offensive minds. I mean, Nagy turned Alex Smith into a downfield passer in 2017, and Trubisky possesses better running attributes to run the zone read.

Just like with Mahomes, our paper trail signifies that we were touting Trubisky pretty hard as a late-round option. He finished as our QB19, which was three spots higher than the ECR and five spots higher than his ADP. The former Tarheel responded with a QB14 season, which could have been even higher if he didn’t miss two games. Trubisky had a heroic stretch during Weeks 4-10, highlighted by a 43 point thrashing of the Bucs’ defense, where he averaged 28.5 fantasy points per game. He finished only 1 point behind Tom Brady, 18 points behind Kirk Cousins, and finished ahead of Field Yates’ boy, Dak Prescott.

Christian McCaffrey

Even though we were extremely high on Christian McCaffrey in Norv Turner’s bell-cow offense, we weren’t all-in on the Panthers workhorse right away. In fact, the late addition of CJ Anderson scared us away momentarily — that was until Turner rode the shit out of the Stanford product in the preseason. That was when The Wolf put his hand up and took the early loss, before he changed his mind and labeled McCaffrey as a “bell-cow” and one who was “set to explode in 2018.”

His workhorse usage was evident through three preseason games, when he played 59-66 (89%) first team snaps, compared to Anderson’s seven snaps (11%), and even had a few goal line touches. In a world where “coach speak” is so common — especially in the preseason — it was refreshing to hear Turner keep his word when he stated CMC would receive 25-30 touches per game. The workhorse proved the “fantasy experts” wrong and touched the rock a heroic 321 times to the tune of 327 (.5 PPR) points — good for the second most points at his position. We’re glad we corrected ourselves early on in the process and had him ranked as our 12th overall player — someone who we said would be the ideal pick at the end of the first round.

Saquon Barkley

Yeah, yeah everyone was on the Penn State product who was labeled as a generational talent — some even called him a “bigger Barry Sanders.” But even though many fantasy analysts were enamored by his gaudy collegiate numbers and his boner-inducing ESPN The Body Issue photos, The Wolf stated back in April that Barkley deserved “Top-5 Overall” fantasy consideration. Even though Wolf stated in the video above that he would choose the rookie stallion over David Johnson, he ultimately penciled him in at No. 5 overall (RB3), on the final Preseason Big Board.

What made us fall in love with Barkley even more than most, was his landing spot. Getting drafted by the Giants and new head coach Pat Shurmur made it a fantasy match made in heaven for the uber-talented rookie. Shurmur is what we called a “bell-cow breader.” Shurmur developed and rode the likes of Steven JacksonLeSean McCoy, Trent Richardson (lol), and [a few games of] Dalvin Cook, and rode them all three downs. Wolf even said Barkley would achieve Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell “fantasy cheat code” volume.

Simply put, Barkley graded out as a 95 Fantasy Stock Score, and it couldn’t have been more accurate.

Tarik Cohen

Back when The Wolf was just a little pup with about five followers, he tweeted out this outrageous tweet that got zero reaction, but should have went viral in #FantasyTwitter world. It’s safe to say that outside of Tarik Cohen’s family, NOBODY has been a fan of the cute, 5-foot-6 running back longer than The Wolf, himself.

After flashing in spurts as a rookie, the hiring of Matt Nagy was an absolute game-changer for Cohen. As an Andy Reid disciple, we saw Nagy’s Cohen-esque playmakers in Kansas City run around the NFL in 2017. It’s always comical when certain experts make fun of the impact of coaching changes and scheme — most likely because they don’t understand it — but it doesn’t take a Belichickian understanding of football to recognize the importance of a scheme fit when it comes to Cohen. He needed a creative offensive genius calling the shots, and got two with the addition of Nagy and Chip Kelly protégé, Mark Helfrich.

After placing Cohen at RB27, which was an alarming 12 spots higher than his ECR, the little mouse even blew our projections out of the water, finishing as RB13. Even though he is sort of a boom-or-bust type gadget player who can roast teams with slower linebackers, Cohen only had six (.5 PPR) single digit games

Tyreek Hill

If you have been following us for the past two seasons, you would know by now that Tyreek Hill was our monster hit of the 2017 season and we were just as all-in on him heading into 2018. As noted above, The Wolf declared himself all-in on both Mahomes and Hill BEFORE the departure of Alex Smith. The fastest man in the NFL + the strongest arm in the league is the definition of no-brainer fantasy success — and it was evident right away when Mahomes roped a nice 69-yard missile to Hill in the preseason.

Unfortunately for the Big Board, the rest of the experts mostly caught up during the preseason and ranked Hill just six spots lower (27th overall) than us (21st overall). However,  there were a few timestamped articles that show we were in on the little speedster and his quarterback before and the night of the Smith trade.

All Hill did in his second season on the map was put up the absolute best fantasy numbers at his position. Ho, hum.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

This one is sort of mind-blowing from the ECR respective. In the final preseason Big Board, we had JuJu Smith-Schuster ranked 31st overall, which was +12 vs the ECR and +10 vs the ADP. Why were the experts so low on the clear No. 2 wideout on one of the league’s most pass-happy teams? *shrug emoji*

Smith-Schuster was the clear WR2 for Ben Roethlisberger once the team shipped the troubled Martavis Bryant out to the west coast. That departure opened up more targets (especially downfield) for 2017’s waiver wire hero. With Bryant in Tomlin’s doghouse for most of 2017, Big Ben targeted JuJu a crazy 32.3 percent without Bryant in the lineup.

Smith-Schuster made us look smart by finishing as the league’s WR9, nearly replicating Antonio Brown’s numbers. The second year stud snagged 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns on a whopping 166 targets — just two less targets than his teammate. With AB potentially on the move, JuJu’s ceiling is limitless in 2019.

Emmanuel Sanders

When we talk about “value holes,” we’re talking about when a player with the perfect skill-set is inserted into a position in a teams’ offense that excels on a yearly basis. When John Elway whiffed on a quarterback once again and decided to sign one-year wonder Case Keenum — it didn’t excite anyone. Well, anyone besides us. Based off Keenum’s 2017 season with the Vikings, it was clear that he preferred his slot receiver, Adam Thielen. Thielen’s 25 percent slot target share led all wide receivers in 2017 and his 32 percent third-down target share trailed only Keenan Allen and tied DeAndre Hopkins.

It was clear during the preseason that Sanders would be Keenum’s ‘slot slut.’ In the dress rehearsal game, Sanders ran 74 percent of his routes out of the slot, raising his percentage to 64 percent on the preseason, as compared to 28 percent of his 2016 season. We called him the ‘target hog’ of the Broncos offense and a ‘fantasy WR3 steal.’ In The Wolf’s final preseason Big Board, he had him at 45 overall (WR19), which was an asinine +17 vs the ECR and a laughable +30 vs the ADP. KEEP. UP.

Sanders finished the season as WR23 and it would have been even better if he didn’t miss the final four games of the season due to a freak injury during practice that landed him on IR.

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