No fantasy manager's draft plan should rigidly classify any player as a "must-own," but it's wise to enter yours with a shortlist of names to target. Below are seven players we believe will be key to winning a fantasy title this season.
You shouldn't expect to get them all - that's probably impossible - but if you build your draft around selecting at least a few players on this list, you'll greatly increase your odds of achieving fantasy glory this season.
Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator and is based on 12-team leagues with PPR scoring.
Wentz is my favorite quarterback to target in fantasy this year and someone who has a legitimate shot to challenge Patrick Mahomes' title as the top-scoring fantasy passer.
Knee and back injuries limited Wentz last season and continue to keep his ADP in check. However, he's without limitations and has shed his knee brace, so that could change.
Even with the health issues, Wentz's performance didn't suffer as much in 2018 as it may seem. Coming back from ACL and LCL tears, he set career highs in passing yards per game and completion percentage while tossing multiple touchdowns in eight of his 11 outings. He accomplished those feats despite being limited as a runner due to the offseason surgery, getting poor production from his running backs, and not having a field-stretcher to back defenses off.
Another year removed from the knee injury, Wentz's rushing totals should bounce back, and with the best supporting cast he's ever had, the Eagles' franchise QB will have a chance at another MVP-worthy campaign. Prior to his knee injury in 2017, Wentz had the second-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through 13 games.
Philly addressed its lack of a deep threat by adding DeSean Jackson to an offense that already featured Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz. Sophomore tight end Dallas Goedert is poised to take on a larger role after flashing his upside as a rookie. The team also invested heavily in the offense during April's draft, selecting running back Miles Sanders, wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and lineman Andre Dillard.
Sanders and veteran Jordan Howard represent a significant backfield upgrade and Dillard provides depth for an offensive line that's already one of the NFL's top blocking units.
The Eagles have put all the pieces in place for Wentz to succeed and he's available at a nice discount for those who recognize his near-perfect situation heading into 2019.
ADP: 8th round (QB8)
Cook is the most expensive player on this list, as it'll take a second-round pick to secure his fantasy services. But he's worth it.
Injuries and poor offensive line play are the only things that have held Cook back from a breakout campaign.
The 23-year-old missed 17 games over his first two NFL seasons, but as the Vikings shifted to a more run-heavy approach down the stretch in 2018, Cook saw at least 19 touches in four straight December contests.
Minnesota doubled down on its newfound commitment to the ground game by bringing in Gary Kubiak to work with offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. Kubiak's resume as an offensive mind is filled with strong rushing attacks, even dating back to his time with the Broncos in the early 2000s.
The Vikings should boast a more reliable set of blockers this season after signing free-agent guard Josh Kline and using their first-round pick on center Garrett Bradbury. They also have a star-studded passing game with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs running downfield for Kirk Cousins, which should prevent defenses from stacking the box against the run.
In short spurts, Cook has shown he can thrive as the centerpiece of an offense. With Kubiak's tutelage and the upgrades to the offensive line, Cook should cruise to his first 1,000-yard season and provide top-10 fantasy RB numbers in his third year as a pro.
ADP: 2nd round (RB10)
Mack is in a similar situation to Cook, as he finds himself on an offense that is shifting to a run-heavy approach.
Andrew Luck's pass attempts dropped from 42.75 per game in the first eight contests last season to 36.5 over the second half of the year and into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, we saw an evolved version of Mack after he returned from injury in Week 6. He was a much more decisive runner and emerged as a top-10 back in all fantasy formats during the final 11 games.
Credit should also be given to the Colts' offensive line, which has already established itself as one of the league's most dominant fronts. Indy's blockers ranked fourth in Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards last season, a major improvement on their 18th-place finish in 2017.
General manager Chris Ballard elected not to bring in any real competition for Mack, with the team's only backfield addition being D'Onta Foreman, who's still trying to come back from an Achilles tear suffered in 2017.
As we mentioned with Cook, defenses won't be able to load up at the line of scrimmage in an effort to stifle the Colts' rushing attack. If they do, Luck has a full arsenal of weapons to go over the top.
Running behind a well-respected Colts offensive line in an offense that's expected to be in scoring position often, Mack will be a high-end fantasy RB2 with an RB1 ceiling this season.
ADP: 3rd round (RB17)
As we pour some out for the abrupt end to Doug Baldwin's career, fantasy managers need to shift their attention to the biggest beneficiary in the Seahawks' receiving corps: Lockett.
The 26-year-old's 2018 performance earned Pro Football Focus' 13th-best receiving grade among wideouts, putting him in elite company.
But projecting Lockett's 2019 stats was going to be a challenge considering his efficiency last season was off the charts, as he recorded 965 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 57 receptions. Now, with Baldwin gone, Lockett's inevitable drop in efficiency will be offset by an increase in volume.
He should also see more snaps against easier coverage in the slot after he spent 60 percent of his time there when Baldwin was sidelined.
The only other true challenger to Lockett's target share is rookie D.K. Metcalf, who profiles as an outside receiver and may need some time to develop due to his limited route tree in college.
With talent, age, and quarterback play (Russell Wilson) all on his side, Lockett looks like an excellent bet to repeat as a WR2 in fantasy.
ADP: 5th round (WR23)
With D-Jax being dealt to the Eagles and Adam Humphries signing with the Titans, the long-awaited Godwin breakout is upon us.
In addition to the noted departures, Godwin dodged potential bullets in free agency and the draft, with the only new faces in the Bucs' receiving corps being fourth-year bust Breshad Perriman and a trio of long-shot rookies in Scott Miller, DaMarkus Lodge, and Anthony Johnson. They'll need to beat out sophomore Justin Watson to carve out a role in three-wide sets but are unlikely to pose a threat to Godwin's targets.
Mike Evans has a firm grip on the No. 1 receiver spot and O.J. Howard is on the verge of his own breakout at tight end, but Godwin's success with Jackson out of the lineup has been well-documented.
In the six games Jackson missed over the last two years, Godwin hauled in at least 98 yards in four of those outings and found the end zone four times. Even with Jackson around for most of 2018, Godwin compiled 842 yards and seven scores, and he reached the 100-yard mark three times in the second half of the season.
New head coach Bruce Arians has a history of using hyperbole to talk up his players, but still, it doesn't hurt to hear him suggest that Godwin could flirt with 100 receptions in 2019 while being deployed in a similar fashion to how Larry Fitzgerald was used in this same system.
Though Godwin won't reach triple-digit catches, he should return WR2 fantasy numbers in a high-volume Tampa offense.
ADP: 4th round (WR19)
How much will the switch from Blake Bortles to Nick Foles impact Westbrook?
Well, we have to start by acknowledging Foles' limitations. He's not the savior he appeared to be at times with the Eagles, but he's capable of giving the Jaguars the steady play and leadership they've been missing.
Foles excels in the short-to-intermediate range - the area of the field where Westbrook makes his most visible mark.
New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo - who has a history with Foles from their time together in Philly - has made good use of the slot in his last two stops, which has led to career years for Nelson Agholor and Thielen. Westbrook scored all five of his touchdowns in 2018 from the slot.
Even with Bortles at the helm, Westbrook was able to lean on his natural playmaking abilities to post 66 catches and 717 yards in his second NFL campaign. He led the Jaguars in targets and faces slim competition in that category once again.
Marqise Lee missed the season with a torn ACL and remains on the active physically unable to perform list. There's been some speculation that he might not be involved much in the offense this year. Keelan Cole struggled in a bigger role and saw his snaps reduced as the season went along, while athletic rookie D.J. Chark failed to take advantage of any of his opportunities, leaving doubt about his upside as a pro. Free-agent signing Chris Conley is also unproven.
One of the most enticing aspects of Westbrook's fantasy outlook is his ADP, which has him going off the board as the 39th wide receiver. Even if you're concerned about the Jags being a run-first offense, you won't find many receivers with top-25 upside in the eighth round.
ADP: 8th round (WR39)
Fresh off a volume-induced career year with the Raiders, Cook moved across the country to join the Saints.
It's been several years since Drew Brees produced a fantasy-viable tight end, dating back to the 2015 campaign when Ben Watson had the seventh-most points at the position. That came on the heels of four consecutive top-two finishes for Jimmy Graham from 2011 to 2014.
Cook gives Sean Payton his most skilled pass-catching tight end since Graham, something the coach acknowledged after the team signed the 32-year-old in March.
Cook's 68-catch, 896-yard, six-touchdown effort in 2018 came on 101 targets, a number he's unlikely to reach in New Orleans as the Saints lean more on the run in combination with their strong defense.
The offense has remained potent, though, which gives Cook considerable touchdown upside, and Brees' accuracy will help offset the lower target total.
If you don't want to pay up for one of the elite tight ends (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz) and you miss out on the rising stars (Howard, Hunter Henry, Evan Engram), Cook is one of the best consolation prizes available in the middle rounds. Don't be surprised if he turns out to be this year's Eric Ebron, with a top-five fantasy result supported by double-digit touchdowns.
ADP: 7th round (TE7)