Fantasy football cheat sheet: One to draft, one to avoid at each position

Josh Schrock
NBC Sports BayArea

Are you ready for some football?

Dumb question. Of course you are, why else would be reading this.

Fantasy football season is upon us, and if you've stopped by for some advice that will take you from league laughingstock to holding the trophy, then I'd like to think you've come to the right place.

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So, you want to know who to draft? You'd like to know what big names to dodge? Well, I have you covered.

Let's start with this: Yes, you should draft Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey if you can. Please, select Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers. I'm not going to tell you to draft Kyler Murray because I shouldn't have to. He was the No. 1 overall pick, and he's in a good offensive system -- albeit with a bad line -- for his skill set.

Would I have needed to tell you to draft LeBron James in 2003? No? Take Kyler if you can.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's look at one player you should draft and one you should avoid, at each position.

Quarterback

Draft: Derek Carr, Raiders
Yes, I know all about the stats. The yards per attempt, per completion, all of it. That was then, this is now.

The Raiders revamped their offense to give Carr the best arsenal of weapons he's ever had -- Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller form a dangerous, explosive group. Carr also has been locked in during training camp, showing better command of Jon Gruden's offense. The Raiders will score a lot of points., and you can expect a bounce-back year from Carr.

Avoid: Drew Brees, Saints
Wait, what? You thought it was still 2009? Brees is old, and Father Time, as they say, is undefeated (although Tom Brady is giving him a run for his money).

Brees has playmakers in Kamara and Michael Thomas, but he showed signs of slippage last season, and Sean Payton has been transitioning the Saints' offense to a more run-heavy approach to compensate in recent years. Fade.

Running back

Draft: Kalen Ballage, Dolphins
OK, yes, the Dolphins' offensive line has some issues. But Ballage is talented, and he'll have a lot of opportunities, especially with Kenyan Drake banged up.

The Arizona State product ran a 4.6 40-yard dash and is great catching passes out of the backfield. He should be available in the later rounds, so you might want to look like the smart guy and pick him up.

Avoid: Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
I just don't see the point. Fournette isn't explosive nor efficient, and he doesn't break tackles. The addition of Nick Foles as the Jaguars' QB won't magically make Fournette faster and more elusive. No thanks.

Wide receiver

Draft: Adam Humphries, Titans
Yeah, everyone hates Marcus Mariota. The guy only threw 45 touchdown passes to just 19 interceptions in his first two seasons, beat the Chiefs in the playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium in Year 3, and couldn't feel his hand last season. What a bum.

With the Titans finally committed to playing to Mariota's strengths, I expect Humphries -- if he's healthy -- to develop good chemistry with his QB and rack up the targets. Give me all the Titans stock.

Avoid: A.J. Green, Bengals
Let's make this one really simple. Green can't stay healthy. He's already hurt, and has missed at least six games in two of the past three seasons. Oh, and he's now 31 years old. Oh, and Andy Dalton still is his quarterback.

Tight end

Draft: Darren Waller, Raiders
Did I mention I'm bullish on the Raiders' offense? Waller is an athletic freak who ran a 4.66 at the combine. With the Raiders bringing in Brown, Williams and the like, Waller will have a lot of chances to torture defenses that are focused on the other guys.

Avoid: Jimmy Graham, Packers
It might be the end of the line for Graham -- at least as a productive fantasy tight end. He didn't have the 2018 that many predicted last year in Green Bay, notching just three games with more than 55 receiving yards. Plus, the Pack brought in Texas A&M stud Jace Sternberger to share (and eventually take over) the duties as Aaron Rodgers' tight end.

Kicker

Draft: Robbie Gould, 49ers
Now that he's done throwing his contract fit, Gould can get back to being one of the more reliable kickers in the NFL. Plus, Jimmy Garoppolo is back, so the 49ers' offensive attack should give Gould more scoring opportunities.

Avoid: Anyone who isn't Justin Tucker, Greg Zuerlein, Stephen Gostkowski, Gould or Harrison Butker
Honestly, if you don't get one of these five guys, and maybe Will Lutz, you're better off playing kicker roulette.

Defense/Special Teams

Draft: Denver Broncos
Vic Fangio with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Chris Harris and the boys? Yeah, pick up the Ponies.

Avoid: Baltimore Ravens
But ... but ... the Ravens always have a good defense. Yes, Baltimore's defense has been a terror for a long time, but this could be a transition season for that unit. The Ravens lost Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith in the offseason. That's a lot to overcome. Best to use the Ravens as a streaming option.

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Fantasy football cheat sheet: One to draft, one to avoid at each position originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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