Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)
Through the first 5 weeks of the season with Dak healthy, he was a top 3 running back in fantasy football. After Dak went down, he was only a top 25 RB for the rest of the season. Defenses have to prepare for the pass, but Dak's ability with his legs keeps the defenses on their toes as well. With Dak healthy, I expect Elliot to get back to his status as a top 5 fantasy RB like he is most years. He might start on a downhill slide after this year due to age and workload, but I love him this year - especially since he is falling down draft boards in redraft leagues. He has been falling into the 2nd and 3rd rounds being drafted in the same grouping as many of the new young guys like Gibson, Akers, Dobbins, CEH, and Najee Harris. I think someone is going to get really lucky this year for going in and snagging Elliot when everyone wants to pass on the "old guy" at RB. Everyone wants to get the new shiny workhorse back when in reality, two of those guys are going to be busts based upon potential injuries and average draft position. I think Elliot is going to remind people of the type of back he is this year, especially since his OL is healthier than last year in addition to getting La'el Collins and Tyron Smith back. We've already seen Dobbins and Akers go down for the year, and I think people might actually be smartening up and drafting Elliot earlier.
Najee Harris (RB, PIT)
I was skeptical at first with Najee on the Steelers with an awful offensive line and an old big Ben, but after watching them in the preseason, Ben's arm looks great out there and the line looked good as well. PFF actually had the Steelers O-Line graded as the 2nd best through preseason and Najee looked great out there. He is looking like a true three-down back in Pittsburgh. With three rookies RBs getting into the top 12 last year with no training camps and no preseason, it seems like this year's rookie class should at least be more adjusted than last year. Najee is the clear top rookie by himself right now with top 12 upside and the opportunity to start and play a role in the passing game. Last year, the RB that gained the most first-round momentum was C.E.H and he ended up disappointing compared to Taylor and Gibson - but Gibson and Taylor had their own mass amount of fans in the fantasy community and ended up backing up their guys. People again are either all in on Najee or out on him since they want a more proven back or at least one that has shown it in the NFL. Guys want Gibson or Taylor if they're going young guys, and more Chubb or Ekler at the turns than Najee. While certainly a risk when drafting a rookie RB this high in fantasy, it is a risk I want to take - especially when Taylor and Gibson were both top 8 RB's last year.
A.J. Brown (WR, TEN)
This guy could end up finishing as the number one receiver in all of fantasy football this year although Julio Jones might eat into his target share. He has improved his route running every year that he's been in the league, his hands are getting better in contested catch situations, and he is a monster out there - basically right there with DK Metcalf as the most physically gifted wide receivers in the league. Having Julio on the team means that he can't be double-teamed. He'll still get a big target share and Ridley has proven that you can have a top 5 fantasy season next to Julio. Plus, Brown already has chemistry with Tannehill. If Julio misses any games, Brown could have a breakout year. I love the upside of Brown - especially when he is going after DK and Justin Jefferson in drafts right now.
Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)
Calvin Ridley was my favorite guy in fantasy last year. So much so that I tried to leave every draft with him last year just like I did with Godwin the year prior. The breakouts at the receiver position can be tough to find, but when you start breaking down the film of these guys, it gets easier. The reason why he is one of my favorites for back-to-back years is the possibility that his target share gets even bigger. With Julio gone, Calvin is going to be the go-to option everywhere on the field, and somehow even when he was double-teamed last year, he just ended up being wide open so often. With Matt Ryan still as his quarterback, we could see a 100 catch, 1400+ yard, 10+ TD season for him this year - especially with an extra game on the schedule. Plus if you've seen the camp highlights from this guy, he has been breaking ankles, especially in the joint practices. A healthy Ridley for 17 games will be dangerous thus the reason he is #3 in my rankings.
Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)
If you don't get one of the top 3 tight ends, you might as well wait on a tight end or hope those next 3 guys fall far enough for them to be a value pick in the 6th round or later. But if you go late-round tight end strategy, this is one of my guys. We saw Stafford pepper Hockenson with targets, especially in the red zone and it just came down to too many drops by TJ. Higbee has much more reliable hands, looks to be a big-time RZ target in this Rams offense, and has always had the talent - he just needed the QB. That Rams offense was awful last year and the tight ends almost split the duties last year with the hot hand getting to be the #1 target at TE for a couple of weeks. This season the QB position gets a major upgrade, the OL is looking a little better and no more Gerald Everett, so no more split committee. It's the Higbee show in LA. I think we see a season like the 2019 Higbee with an increase in TDs. In 2019 Higbee had 69 receptions on 89 targets for 734 yards and only 3 touchdowns. I think we could see him get 6+ TDs this season and jump into that top 6 of fantasy tight ends which would be a steal at his current ADP of TE12.