The Number 1 Pick in Fantasy Football

Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET


There are pros and cons to having the first pick in the draft. The most obvious is that you get the pick of any player you want. The means that you'll have an elite option to anchor your team. The drawback to picking first though is that, depending on the size of your league, your next pick is going to be 20th or 24th overall. So who should you take with the first pick?

The answer to this question depends on your scoring format.

Point Per Reception (PPR) Leagues

First pick in Fantasy Football

In PPR leagues, the official first pick from FFN is: Le'Veon Bell

Even with a 2-game suspension, Le'Veon Bell is the clear leader here. He is a dual-threat and is just as dangerous in the passing game as he is in the run game. His 370 PPR points last season led the league and was 25 points more than either Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck. Bell was a question mark going into last season. In fact, ESPN labeled him as the #1 Bust Candidate before the season started. How wrong they were!

ESPN Fantasy Football Bust
ESPN projected Bell to be a bust in 2014.

We shouldn't be surprised to see some regression from what was obviously a monster year last season, but Bell is still projected to be the #1 running back in PPR formats with a projected 282 points. Don't be surprised to see him easily eclipse 300 total points however. A guy like Bell contributes to your fantasy team like an elite QB does. He's simply that good which is why he is our #1 PPR Running Back.

Standard Scoring Leagues

First pick in Fantasy Football

In Standard Scoring, the official first pick is: Adrian Peterson

Clearly the focal point of the Vikings' offense, Peterson is fresh off a suspension that saw him miss out on all but one game last season. Critics of this pick will certainly mention his age (the voodoo age of 30), his rustiness from a year off, and perhaps even his uneasy relationship with the Vikings organization. You can safely discard all of those critiques. He hasn't lost a step. Plenty of running backs have been productive at this age with several including Marshawn Lynch (29) and Frank Gore (32) ready for banner years. Few if any backs have the physical attributes of Peterson, and his contract extension last month erased any lingering doubts about his relationship with the team's brass.

Peterson is projected to score 226 fantasy points this season in standard scoring (269 in PPR), and we think that is awfully conservative. We didn't get to see the influence of Norv Turner on AP last season for obvious reasons, but we're still excited to see what these two can do in 2015. Turner has extensive experience turning running backs into fantasy gold - particularly in PPR formats. Some of the more illustrious names on his resume include Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams, and Frank Gore. Over the course of his career, Turner has nurtured fifteen 1,000+ yard rushers who have laid claim to five of the NFL's rushing titles. Regardless of how someone interprets his accomplishments, it's clear that he knows how to get the best out of his running backs.

Peterson has an easy schedule this year as well with only four games where he'll face a top-ranked defense. The fantasy football championship weeks 15 and 16 are cake walks for Peterson as he faces the Bears and Giants, both teams that are prone to giving up big yards.

First pick in Fantasy Football

Honorable Mention: Eddie Lacy

Technically, Lacy sits atop running backs in our standard scoring rankings list and he has the potential to unseat both Bell and Peterson. For the past two months, Lacy has moved between the first and third overall spots with enough frequency that even if you can't pick Bell or Peterson, you should feel supremely confident in having Lacy anchor your team. With Jordy Nelson likely out for the season with a torn ACL, Lacy's workload in both the running and passing game could get a slight tick upwards.

Lacy is projected to score 227 points in standard scoring and 269 in PPR.

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