With the NFL preseason beginning to wrap up, I am getting excited for the best part of the NFL season.

No, it’s not the drama that’s going to occur with the sun getting in someone’s eyes at AT&T Stadium. It’s not the inevitable decline of the Cleveland Browns — no matter how good they look on paper.

Two words: Fantasy Football

For a lot of people (myself included) this time-honored tradition is one of the most addicting things in the world. Last year when I discovered it, I became addicted fast. I found myself rooting for my players rather than my hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys.

There were highs and lows for me last season, whether it was Calvin Ridley scoring 42.6 points for me while I beat my opponent that week by .5 points, me losing five different Tight Ends to injuries or me losing by five points one week after Mason Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point.

If you’re just getting into Fantasy Football, there is a lot of fun to be had and this season, I hope to highlight the big news and things happening this year.

To start off my coverage, here are three players at each position outside of the top 10 (per ESPN fantasy rankings) that are worth picking up for your team if you are not able to get that superstar player you want.


Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers: Though Rivers will be sitting at 38 years old before the season is over, he has proven that his arm is capable of holding a spot as your QB1. To go along with that, superstar Chargers Running Back Melvin Gordon III is currently holding out and could possibly not play this season, meaning there could be more pressure on Rivers to get things done through the air.

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: Carr is a good NFL Quarterback and although last season was dismal, this season will be better for Carr who will have one of his favorite targets from last season back in Tyrell Williams and the newly acquired Antonio Brown (if they can find Brown a helmet he likes)

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears: Though the Bear’s defense absolutely dominated the NFL last season, Trubisky was probably the second best rookie QB. He will perform consistently, though I doubt he will have another six touchdown game like last year.


Austin Ekeler, Chargers: Ekeler will more likely than not get the starting role if Melvin Gordon III does not end his holdout with the chargers, meaning starting time for a running back that was racking up more points than average for a backup. Plus, the Chargers love throwing screens to their running backs, so look for Ekeler to be a solid player this season.

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts: With Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement, Mack will no doubt get a lot more touches as the Colts transition away from him. Mack was nothing short of an absolute terror on enemy teams towards the end of last season, so there is not but upside for him going into this season.

Duke Johnson Jr., Houston Texans: With Lamar Miller going down in Houston’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson is more likely than not going to get the starting nod. Though it should be said that he is behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league and should at best be considered a sleeper pick, but there is still potential.


T.Y. Hilton, Colts: Hilton has quietly been a force in the NFL for the last five years and there should be no reason to fear drafting him, even with the Colts having to switch quarterbacks right before the season starts. He will be a crutch for Jacoby Brissett and the Colts this season.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengal: In A.J. Green’s absence last season, the 24-year-old receiver fit nicely into the WR1 spot and was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Bengals. Though Green is coming back this season, Boyd should still have an excellent season.

Mike Williams, Chargers: A good, young target for Rivers on a team that has been statistically good for the last few years. He has extra upside, with more reps coming if Keenan Allen’s injury problems persist.


Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: Rudolph is a bit of an interesting case. He finished seventh among scoring for Tight Ends, but really only had a few games where he scored in double digits. This season, Rudolph will either be a great pickup or a waste of the starting spot.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: Though Olsen missed much of last season due to injury and 12 seasons in the NFL can wear you down, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. Though it seems like most of the touches this season will go to Christian Mcafferey and D.J. Moore, I still think theres a chance Olsen can return to form and be a productive TE1 again

Trey Burton, Bears: One of the better pieces on a young bears team that looks to be resurging. Assuming Burton stays without injury, there is no doubt he will be a prefered target of Trubisky.


Steelers: The Steelers defenses have been historically good and this year should not be any different. They managed to hold onto key players like T.J Watt and Cameron Heyward while picking up some key additions like Mark Barron and Steven Nelson, this team will remain a decent pick.

Texans: Despite the other side of the ball being in shambles, Romeo Crennel’s defensive units are more often than not solid and will be sure to not give up too much. There is also upside here if Jadaveon Clowney and J.J Watt can stay healthy.

Jets: A huge sleeper pick, but the potential is there. They boasted several double digit outings last season and with the additions of Quinnen Williams, Jamaal Adams and C.J Mosely, look for this unit to improve and be a great addition to your team.


Graham Gano, Carolina: The Panthers started the season off slow, but once their offense found their rhythm, there was little stopping them, leading to many opportunities to score for Gano. It should also be noted that Gano only missed only two Field Goal Attempts and three Extra Point Attempts all year in Carolina. Not a bad choice for sure.

Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers: It’s no secret that when you play with Aaron Rodgers, then you will likely get many attempts to score as a kicker. Crosby took those chances last season and flourished and became a regular contributor for my team last year. The reason ESPN has him ranked outside of the top 10 is because of his consistency issues, although it should be noted that four of Crosby’s seven misses were in the single game mentioned earlier.

Jason Meyers, Seattle Seahawks: It’s an absolute shame the Jets let him go to save money. Meyers was one of the highest point earners last season and should have no problems continuing that into this season.

(Parker Ward is a copy editor/page designer for the Longview News-Journal. Email: pward@news-journal.com)