It’s that time of year again. Avid football fans are gathering their friends and drafting their fantasy teams as the NFL preseason concludes and the regular season officially starts Thursday.
There are many types of fantasy leagues. The most popular being PPR, or point per reception, granting an additional point for each reception a player has. There’s auction drafts, where instead of going through the draft order one person at a time, each person is given a salary, and is allowed to bid on each player one at a time. There’s even keeper leagues, a format that’s growing in popularity where friends stay committed to a single league for multiple years, where they allowed to keep one or two players from their previous season to carry over to next season (dynasty leagues are similar, but require you to keep most if not all of your players from season to season).
However, I thought it would be cool to look at a different type of fantasy league. I want to divide the NFL into each division (AFC West, NFC East, etc.), and form a fantasy team from only the players in that division. That would would create eight separate fantasy squads, a little smaller than the typical 12-team leagues, but still doable by all means. This will allow us to see which division is the fantasy powerhouse of the NFL.
For format, I wanted to stay with the standard PPR scoring, however I wanted to tweak the lineup a bit. Most lineups usually compose of one QB, two RB’s, two WR’s, one TE, one FLEX (any positional player), one D/ST, and one K. However, to really challenge the depth of each division, I wanted to add two additional roster spots. Each starting lineup will look similar to the standard format, but I wanted to add one extra starting QB, and one extra starting WR. The savvy fantasy players know that even though QB’s score the most points in fantasy, it doesn’t necessarily make them the most valuable position since they usually only require one starter as apposed to RB’s and WR’s. Adding an additional QB will feature half of each division’s quarterback play each week, and will really raise the value of the position.
So let’s take a look and break down each division one by one.
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
QB’s: Carson Wentz, Alex Smith
RB’s: Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley
WR’s: Odell Beckham Jr., Alshon Jeffery, Allen Hurns
TE: Zach Ertz
FLEX: Jay Ajayi
K: Jake Elliott
Running backs are definitely this team’s strength. With a one-two punch of Elliott and Barkley, the NFC East features one of the best RB duos, along with Ajayi serving as a quality FLEX. Ertz and Beckham Jr. are each near the top at their respective positions, but there are question marks from there. A pair of Philly players look to be hurt early in the season, with Wentz and Jeffery both potentially ruled out in Week 1, which will really challenge this division’s depth early on. Nelson Agholor and Nick Foles will be serviceable here, but I think other divisions will have more elite depth compared to this team, especially with the early injuries this team has suffered. Smith looks to be a quality QB2 following his stellar season last year, but even his projected output this year is a bit cloudy after he was traded to a Washington team with arguably less weapons around him.
Overall, I think this team has some elite options at nearly every position, but really lacks the depth they may need if injuries linger this squad.
Teams: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
QB’s: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford
RB’s: Dalvin Cook, Josh Howard
WR’s: Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson
TE: Jimmy Graham
FLEX: Golden Tate
K: Matt Prater
At first glance, this team is really lacking talent in the RB department. Cook and Howard are both nice options, but neither are quite at that elite level, which most divisions will have at least one elite talent at the position. Depth is a big question mark as well. If Cook or Howard go down, they will be forced to replace them with a player from the crowded backfields of Green Bay and Detroit. The QB position looks to be this squad’s main strength, with Rodgers being the premier option at the position. Stafford is a solid QB2, and Cousins will be a great third option if a juicy matchup appears or if one of the starters go down. Graham might return to his old self now that he sees himself in Green Bay with Rodgers slinging it to him, but if not, Kyle Rudolph or Trey Burton are both solid second options.
Overall, I’m not a huge fan of this squad. I love RB’s and having depth at that position, and this team really lacks that. This lineup features four WR’s, with one playing the FLEX, which is fine, but can be a little inconsistent at times, but that really just shows how thin the RB depth on this team is.
Teams: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks
QB’s: Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo
RB’s: Todd Gurley, David Johnson
WR’s: Larry Fitzgerald, Doug Baldwin, Brandin Cooks
TE: George Kittle
FLEX: Marquise Goodwin
D/ST: Los Angeles
K: Greg Zuerlein
This team looks very solid and has great depth at each position. The two headed monster of Johnson and Gurley looks fearsome, and is rivaled only by the NFC East as the best RB duo in the league. If Jerrick McKinnon hadn’t gone down with a season-ending ACL injury, this team would have been absolutely dominant in the RB department. Instead, Goodwin looks to be the FLEX play here, but if one of the RB’s in Seattle or San Francisco emerge, it could be them. Wilson is a good QB1, and there are high hopes for Garoppolo to have a great year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. If not, Jared Goff would be a solid QB2 if he can put up similar numbers as last year. This team has some quality depth, giving some good backup options in the FLEX or if injuries occur. There aren’t any standout TE options in this division, so they would be hoping for a breakout star to emerge.
Overall, this is a great looking team. WR doesn’t have any elite options, but great depth with the potential of at least one breakout star at the position. Look for this team to compete with the best in the league.
Teams: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB’s: Drew Brees, Cam Newton
RB’s: Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara
WR’s: Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Julio Jones
TE: Greg Olsen
FLEX: Devonta Freeman
D/ST: New Orleans
K: Matt Bryant
When working on this article, this was the division I thought would be sneaky good. When I filled out their roster, I realized they might be one of the best. This team has no real weakness at any position, and offers plenty of elite options and depth all across the board. If there was any weakness, I guess you could look at the QB position, but even then there are high hopes. Brees may be getting up there in age, but the man can still put up elite numbers on any given night. Add in two formers MVP’s in Newton and Ryan, who you could stream in as a QB2 based on matchup, and the QB position doesn’t look that bad. WR features potentially three top 10 players, while RB features three top 15 players at their respective positions, giving this team plenty of upside.
Overall, this team looks to be a serious contender in the league. Injuries may be the only thing holding this team back from winning the championship, but even then this team offers great backups with Jameis Winston, Devin Funchess, and Mark Ingram.
Teams: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New England Patriots
QB’s: Tom Brady, Sam Darnold
RB’s: LeSean McCoy, Kenyan Drake
WR’s: Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Robby Anderson
TE: Rob Gronkowski
FLEX: Isaiah Crowell
D/ST: New England
K: Stephen Gostkowski
Oof. This team does not look great. Their starters don’t look great, and they offer very little depth in case of injury. Edelman is suspended for the first four games, so the AFC East will have to dive into their bench early on in the year for other options, namely Kelvin Benjamin or Kenny Stills. The Patriots feature their players at almost every position, the one exception being RB, which has always been a carousal and nearly impossible to predict who will emerge as their go-to. QB in particular will be rough after Tom Brady. Darnold provides the most upside out of the remaining options, so he will have to be the QB2.
Overall, this is probably the worst division in the league. When your team features the majority of one team, your weekly output won’t be great. Not everyone on the New England squad will score, so it will be tough for them to carry a whole division week in and week out.
Teams: Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens
QB’s: Ben Roethlisberger, Tyrod Taylor
RB’s: Le’Veon Bell, Joe Mixon
WR’s: Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Jarvis Landry
TE: David Njoku
FLEX: Josh Gordon
K: Chris Boswell
QB play will be the downfall of this team, but overall they should be pretty solid. They don’t really have any elite options at the QB position, but Big Ben and Tyrod Taylor are sufficient options. Bell and Brown are both among the best at their positions, with Mixon, Green, and Landry all being reliable options as well. Gordon at the FLEX was causing me headaches, for I didn’t know if I wanted to go with him or maybe Carlos Hyde or even Duke Johnson Jr. All are solid options, but if Gordon can stay away from off-field issues, he has a lot of upside.
Overall, this team has some elite talent surrounding it, along with some nice options off the bench if needed. The QB position is really holding this team back from being a serious title contender, but overall this is a solid team that could make some moves if their elite players go off.
Teams: Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders
QB’s: Phillip Rivers, Patrick Mahomes
RB’s: Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon
WR’s: Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Emmanuel Sanders
K: Harrison Butker
This team will feature a lot of changes throughout the year. This team will likely want to stream most of their options according to matchups, aside from TE and RB. They can honestly play any combination of the four QB’s representing the division, but I feel that Rivers and Mahomes will be the most used duo. Allen and Hill will most likely get the nod each week, but between Cooper, Sanders, and Demaryius Thomas, depending on matchup and how they are playing, any combination of them could play WR3 and FLEX. It’s tough to predict how the 32 year-old Marshawn Lynch will play, especially with Doug Martin in town, but he could emerge as a potential FLEX play as well.
Overall, much like the AFC North, this team has some solid options all around, but the QB play might be holding them back from really competing for a title.
Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans
QB’s: DeShaun Watson, Andrew Luck
RB’s: Leonard Fournette, Lamar Miller
WR’s: DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Corey Davis
TE: Delanie Walker
FLEX: Derrick Henry
K: Adam Vinatieri
I thought that this team would be the worst of all the divisions, but after filling out their lineup, they aren’t as bad as I thought they would be. They lack in depth big time, but they still feature a competitive starting lineup. There’s a big question mark looming over the QB position, but if Luck and Watson can both return to their former selves before they went down with injuries, this could be the strength of their lineup. The RB core of this team looks great, along with Hilton and Hopkins as the top two receivers. I wasn’t very confident with Davis at the WR3, especially since Marqise Lee went down with a season-ending injury, but the second-year player has a lot of high hopes surrounding him, so he could breakout as a stud at WR3. Keelan Cole or Donte Moncrief would be the next best options at the spot if Davis doesn’t pan out.
Overall, I actually like this team. A couple of question marks and potential lingering injuries could hold this team back from reaching its true potential. With the best D/ST and one of the best kickers to ever play the game featured in the lineup, this team could sneak up on some people.
Looking at all of the divisions, I think that the NFC West and NFC South are the two best divisions. However, as most fantasy owners know, injuries could easily wreck any team’s season, that’s why it’s always best to have some depth. Teams like the AFC West who have numerous options to work with won’t be hurt as much as other teams if injuries occur. The worst team looks to clearly be the AFC East, which has been top heavy for years now. The Patriots have dominated that division with little to no resistance, but that also means that they will have to carry their division against others in this fantasy experiment. It’s interesting to see the different types of teams and their strengths and weaknesses of each division and stacking them up with each other.