Epilogue – 2018 Draft Day Lookback
Before closing the books completely on the 2018 fantasy season, let’s stroll down memory lane with the “Ghost of Draft Day Past” and revisit Draft Day 2018. We will take a look back on things that worked, things that did not, and were any of us right about anything? If we could take a walk with the “Ghost of Draft Day Future,” what might we be able to expect when we get ready to make our selections for the 2019 season? And what about the “Ghost of Draft Day Present” might be able to come in handy?
“Ghost of Draft Day Past”
The end of the fantasy season is the perfect time to take a look back at how preparations for Draft Day and the Draft Day itself played out, and did any of it make any sense?
Free Agency Thin in 2018
One thing that did not work out in 2018 was relying on free agency to fill any holes that were left behind on Draft Day. Last week we talked about the “All-Waiver Wire Wonder team,” which included a very small sampling of players. In past years, there were many contributing players picked up during the season, making it difficult to pare down the AWWW team to a manageable number. That was not the case this season as we had to bring in several “honorable mentions” into the fold to get the listing up to a baker’s dozen.
While we did a good job of identifying players to pick up during the course of the season, by-and-large the pool of players this year picked up in free agency was small in number. This season did have its share of season-ending injuries to star players, but many times the player’s backup was already on a roster. Rare was the occasion where a player 3-4 deep on the depth chart got a chance to make any fantasy noise in 2018.
There were a lot of questions at the quarterback position heading into this season. Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold were rookies slated to get significant playing time, but this has generally not been a good place for the fantasy owner to get good fantasy production. Elsewhere, Patrick Mahomes was taking over in Kansas City, and many were wondering how Jared Goff and Deshaun Watson would fare in their second seasons. Not rookies, but on Draft Day considered in the same class as the true rookies.
Speaking to the rookies, all three had their moments. Mayfield was the starter in Week 4, and he had a very good season on his way to finishing as the No. 18 fantasy quarterback (not bad for being the backup for the first two games of the season). Darnold began the season as the starter (Allen earned his first start in Week 2), both got hurt and missed time, but both came back strong and also made a fantasy impact for those who needed late in the season. One can argue that Lamar Jackson should also be in this mix, a rookie who took over mid-season and produced at a high level. The future is very bright for this entire group.
Waiting on Quarterback Was a Winner
Speaking of quarterbacks Mahomes and Goff … the draft strategy of waiting on quarterback and bulking up at the position in the middle rounds was very much a winning play in 2018. Sure, Aaron Rodgers performed well as the overall best option heading into Draft Day, as he ended up as the No. 6 best fantasy player at the position. The next couple on Draft Day, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson ended up No. 12 and No. 14, respectively. Beyond that it was scattered, but if you waited until the seventh/eighth/ninth/10th round(s) to select quarterback(s), then you got a very good player.
The top-producing quarterback this past season was Mahomes. All he did was open the season by throwing 10 touchdowns in the first two games (!), then kept that going on his way to 50 touchdown throws and 5,097 passing yards. He was followed by Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck, all of whom were selected in Rounds 8-10. Some other selections around that same time in the draft that also ended up as Top 10 fantasy quarterbacks were Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott.