As the NFL offseason drudges on, the first round of OTAs are now in the bag, and betting lines and fantasy football draft orders are being released. This week, Rotoworld’s Evan Silva released his Top 150 fantasy football players for the upcoming 2018 season, and four former Ohio State standouts made the cut.
Two running backs and two wide receivers, the four Buckeyes named included amongst the best options for your fantasy team are also some of the biggest legends to come out of Columbus in recent years.
5. Ezekiel Elliott (RB5) – Zeke led NFL in rushing yards per game in each of first 2 NFL seasons
The highest ranked Buckeye should come as little surprise to anyone even remotely interested in football. He was a phenom at Ohio State and went on to have one of the best rookie seasons on record with the Dallas Cowboys. After a lot of back-and-forth before and during his second season, the running back finally served his six-game suspension in 2017, and I’m willing to bet that he plans to make a statement with a full season on his horizon.
15. Michael Thomas (WR6) – Positive-TD regression candidate after managing 5 scores in ’17.
Already in the record book heading into just his third season, wideout Michael Thomas has continued to be one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets in New Orleans. Thomas has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his two seasons, and will look to not only continue that streak, but add to it through his versatility and big play ability.
Things have not exactly been smooth sailing for “El Guapo” in the NFL. After being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, he cycled through three head coaches in four seasons, and was then traded to Cleveland during free agency — even though he was finally finding his footing in San Francisco. He’s coming off of a career-best season with 1,288 total yards of offense and eight rushing touchdowns.
He may be one of the most veteran Buckeyes in the NFL (heading into his 12th season), but Ginn still has some legs on him. He’s found a bit of a career resurgence as a member of the Saints, often snagging a ball in the back of the endzone, or somehow managing 60-yards after the catch with a spin move mid-field. He finished the 2017 season with 787 receiving yards, the second-most in his career behind his 2008 season, and could have a similar finish in 2018.
So, Silva named four Buckeyes, but there’s ten times that number of former Ohio State players currently active in the NFL. Of those, 17 play fantasy draftable positions, leaving 13 more Buckeyes not ranked in the Top 150.
There’s really no reason whatsoever to consider drafting a quarterback out of Ohio State to lead your fantasy team, with the options being limited to Cardale Jones — who’s competing for a No. 2 spot with the Chargers -- and J.T. Barrett — a rookie who sits behind Drew Brees.
Tight end is another position that I wouldn’t exactly recommend taking a Buckeye. Jeff Heuerman is playing on the last year of his contract in Denver, but never was able to make an impact after missing his rookie season due to injury. Nick Vannett saw an increase in his number of snaps toward the end of 2017, and could be someone you add to your bench in case he ends up filling the role left by Jimmy Graham this offseason. The third TE option is rookie Marcus Baugh, who is spending his offseason training with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent, and will be lucky to make the final 53-man roster.
The only other running back, aside from Zeke and Hyde, is Dallas backup Rod Smith. He had a very solid season in 2017, and should he make his way into the starting rotation due to some unforeseen circumstance, he would be a good mid-season addition to your fantasy roster.
There are a plethora of wide receivers out of Ohio State that aren’t listed in the Top 150. While I wouldn’t consider any to be a valuable sleeper, there are at least a couple who could prove themselves to be worth the draft risk. Noah Brown could finally see some additional targets now that the Cowboys no longer have Dez Bryant on their roster, and DeVier Posey could really use his momentum from the CFL to make big contributions to the Ravens offense this season.
Other Buckeye wideout options include, Jalin Marshall (who has yet to sign to a team), Terrelle Pryor Sr. (who re-injured his ankle this spring), Devin Smith (who is one injury away from spending his entire NFL career on IR), and Curtis Samuel (who is still rehabbing his ankle injury from last season). You’ve also got Braxton Miller who has been a bit hit-or-miss the past few seasons, but taking him ahead of the season would be a waste of a fantasy roster spot.