Round 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Thanks to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s ongoing contract holdout, the “big four” fantasy RBs have now become the “big three,” led by New York Giants runner Saquon Barkley. Each of the RBs after these three studs come with their share of question marks.
The easiest path to fantasy football irrelevance is missing on a pick at the top of the draft, which is why drafting Zeke is out of the question. Although two wide receivers are relatively safe first-round picks, grabbing a running back at No. 2 is highly recommended since all of the top backs will be snatched up in the following 20 picks before our next selection.
With the new consensus top pick off the board, we have a choice between the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints. Both players are viable options, but McCaffrey has the edge as the safer of the two dual-threat backs.
McCaffrey led the NFL in snaps last season and has no competition for touches on the ground, except from quarterback Cam Newton. In addition to seeing the field for approximately 50 percent more snaps than Kamara, McCaffrey is less touchdown-dependent, and Kamara could see his red-zone looks drop after the Saints’ addition of big-bodied RB Latavius Murray.
Kamara may be more fun to watch, but McCaffrey is the safer pick. After rushing for nearly 1,100 yards and catching 107 passes for 867 receiving yards last season, the Panthers’ workhorse running back is officially off the board with the second overall pick of the draft.