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One Player to Fade in Each of the First 5 Rounds

It’s the most hype-iest time of the year. Everyone’s a sleeper, and those who aren’t are just post-hype sleepers.

It’s fun to dream of league winners, but we’re weeks away from the sobering, perennial reminder that almost no one scores a lot of fantasy points.

Spoiler alert — you’re going to be disappointed with a lot of your early picks this year. Here’s one from each of the first five rounds who will be giving you heartburn.

Round 1

Ezekiel Elliott

ADP: Fourth overall

It’s hard to “fade” any of these guys. They are the precious few who actually have a chance to score a lot of points. Accounting for price, however, Elliot is the guy I’m avoiding most often.

This doesn’t mean I think someone like Kareem Hunt, or Melvin Gordon will outscore Elliot (though it’s possible), it just comes down to the fact that you should be drafting Antonio Brown here instead.

It’s the rare year where we have a chance to draft the biggest difference maker in fantasy1 with the fourth-overall pick. zeke

I know Elliott missed six games due to suspension, but that’s the point. Now on the NFL’s radar, he needs only one more mis-step, and a lost year is possible. I’m not suggesting that will happen, but his suspension risk is certainly higher than Brown’s.

More importantly, RBs suffer serious injuries at a rate than their WR counterparts.


Elliott is a pretty easy fade if Brown is still on the board, as he often is.

Honorable mention: Alvin Kamara

Round 2

Joe Mixon

ADP: 23rd overall

I don’t want to waste much more time talking about how silly it is to pick Mixon in the second round. Last year I suggested he was an easy fade as the overall RB13.2

And in 2018, for reasons which elude me, he’s once again the 13th RB the board after finishing as the RB34 last year.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here. I’d beg you to draft the discount Mixon, or literally any other RB instead, but I’d be yelling in the wind.

The hype only grows. Have fun.


Honorable Mention: Dalvin Cook

Round 3

Jerick McKinnon

ADP: 24th overall

This is a tricky part of the draft to negotiate, with potential landmines looming all around us.

My strategy in this segment of drafts is to target assured volume, and there are reasons to be concerned about McKinnon’s workload in 2018.

  • He’s already battling injury, a knee strain which will keep him out of the preseason.
  • Matt Breida, though also banged up, has also bulked up in the offseason, leaving 49ers beat writers to wonder whether this will be something closer to a time share.
  • There are other talented backs lurking as well, including Joe Williams and Jeremy McNichols. Even recently-acquired Alfred Morris ran for 1,610 yards under Kyle Shanahan in his rookie year.
  • Having never topped 202 touches in a season, there is nothing in McKinnon’s market share (MS) profile which hints at workhorse potential.
2017 Rush MS 2017 Tgt MS 2016 Rush MS 2016 Tgt MS 2015 Rush MS 2015 Tgt MS
Jerick McKinnon 30 13 42 9 11 6

While that could change, he’ll have to be a lot better in the run game to pay off at ADP. Over the past two seasons, McKinnon’s 3.6 yards per carry is tied for the second worst among all RBs.

Honorable mention: Kenyan Drake

Round 4

Aaron Rodgers

ADP: 50th overall

I’m cheating a bit here.

I debated picking Allen Robinson, but while there are enough reg flags (coming off ACL, moving to a new team) to cause pause on the Bears No. 1 WR, he could also win you leagues at this price, if he returns to form.

Also, I’m not fading any of these players altogether. I’ve got at least some shares of this entire tier, from Derrick Henry (37th) to Jarvis Landry (48th).

So instead, I’ll reach into the early fifth for Aaron Rodgers. Technically, his ADP is 50th overall (5.02), but he is quite often picked in the mid-fourth round.


He doesn’t have enough of an edge over guys like Tom Brady and Cam Newton, who can be had in the seventh and eighth rounds, to justify using such a valuable pick.

Our John Lapinski puts things in perspective. There’s no need to pay up here.

Honorable Mention: Robinson and Josh Gordon

Round 5

Dion Lewis

ADP: 51st overall

I’ll first mention Sony Michel and Ronald Jones, since they technically still have fifth-round ADPs, but they’re dropping so fast that they won’t stay that way for long.

I have been avoiding Lewis pretty all offseason, although to be transparent, it’s mostly one of my few “hunch” plays, and I don’t have a lot to back it up. Worries that his valuation has been inflated by playing in the second-most valuable backfield in fantasy football are warranted, as are concerns that Derrick Henry to fulfill his monster potential and finally breakout.

But this is less about Lewis and more about the other options in this part of the draft. Hammering the heavier workloads of Lamar MillerRex Burkhead, and the league-winning potential of Tevin Coleman, is the preferred tactic.

Honorable Mention: Michel, Jones, and Sammy Watkins

  1. I’ll entertain any arguments for Rob Gronkowski’s claim to this title.  (back)
  2. Unfortunately, our discount Mixon play, Spencer Ware, got hurt.  (back)

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