Friday Focus: Top ‘Fantasy Love” Connections

Graphic by Robert Robinson

Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL

Everyone has their own unique strategies when it comes to drafting their fantasy football rosters. One of my personal favorites is combining a quarterback with a receiver or tight end, and running back will work if you do believe he will see opportunities to score through the air. The term, ‘fantasy love’, comes from a group of friends that I play fantasy football with. Anytime one of our quarterbacks throws a touchdown to a receiver we own, that saying is being screamed in the living room while being texted in our group chat. You shouldn’t enter a draft with the plan to leave with a quarterback and receiver from the same team, but it wouldn’t hurt if you did land one of the duos worth owning.

For this to work, there are some factors that you want to consider if you want to take the chance of getting rewarded for a ‘fantasy love’ combo. For the quarterback, it needs to be a matchup-proof player so you have as many chances to double up on points throughout the season. For example, I am not going to go draft Andy Dalton just because I picked up A.J. Green. On the flip side, you don’t want to draft a receiver that is in heavy competition for targets. While you may double up sometimes if you team up Jared Goff with Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp, but you will have weeks where one of those guys isn’t seeing the ball as much when they get closer to the redzone. Here’s a look at my personal 5 favorite ‘fantasy love’ connections for the upcoming season:

1. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams - Green Bay Packers

Even though Aaron Rodgers had a down year, mostly because of injuries, he is still one of the top quarterbacks to own in fantasy football. A big part of his game now is that he is tossing the ball to one of the most reliable receivers in fantasy football, Davante Adams. While we didn’t get the production we are used to seeing from Rodgers, he was able to still throw 25 touchdowns. Adams caught 13 of those in 2019. That makes 46% of the time that Rodgers finds the endzone he is creating ‘fantasy love’ with Adams. Everything is in favor of the duo to continue their connection as there is no clear cut second guy in the Packers passing attack.

Cost: Rodgers’ ADP has dropped compared to previous years and he is currently going in the 5th round. But, because of Adams’ consistency in his play, his ADP has placed him in the back half of the first round. If you want to walk away with this duo then you will have to spend a 1st on Adams or hope he falls to you in the 2nd round while using your 5th round pick on Rodgers.

2. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins - Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson was able to put together a full-season together with DeAndre Hopkins which helped propel the Texans on a playoff run. Watson was able to reach 26 touchdowns in 2019 and Hopkins caught 11 of those. The duo connected on ‘fantasy love’ 42% of the time last year. I heavily debated putting these two as the #1 option but the emergence of Keke Coutee and with Will Fuller returning, Hopkins could see his touchdown numbers take a hit. Regardless, he should still see the same amount of targets which will give your fantasy team to double up on points throughout the season.

Cost: Watson’s ADP has risen compared to last year since he had the offseason to get healthy. He is currently going in the 5th round. Hopkins’ ADP has stayed the same which means you will need to draft him in the 1st round or hope for a fall to the 2nd round. Just like the previous duo, if you want this one then be prepared to spending a 1st and 5th round pick to make it happen.

3. Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce - Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes lit the world on fire last season by cracking the 50 touchdown mark. During his impressive first full season, he was able to connect with Tyreek Hill on 12 of those and hit Travis Kelce on 10 touchdowns. Hill (24%) and Kelce (20%) created ‘fantasy love’ on 44% of Mahomes’ touchdowns. I don’t see Mahomes reaching the 50 touchdown mark, but he should still have high production. Hill and Kelce have their established roles within the offense so I don’t blame you if you want part of one of the best offenses in the NFL heading into the 2019 season.

Cost: Either duo of Mahomes-Hill or Mahomes-Kelce will cost you premium draft capital to pull this off. Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce’s current ADPs place the trio in the 2nd round. So in order to pull off one of these tandems, you will have to reach for one in the 1st round or take the risk of one of them falling to the 3rd round. This is hands down the costliest ‘fantasy love’ connections to get.

4. Drew Brees and Michael Thomas - New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees continues to put up numbers regardless of his age and Michael Thomas has become quite a threat in the Saints passing attack over the last few years. In 2019, Brees threw for 32 touchdowns which Thomas caught 9 of them. The duo created ‘fantasy love’ 28% of the time that New Orleans found the endzone through the air. Thomas just got a big payday so I assume that Sean Payton will put the ball in his hands as much as possible. This is also a favorable situation because outside Jared Cook, I don’t see a weekly threat from any of the receivers to cut into Thomas’ touchdowns this year.

Cost: Brees’ ADP currently places him in 7th round so unlike the previous quarterbacks you don’t have to spend any of your premium draft capital on a quarterback. Thomas ADP has him going at the backend of the 1st round, but I can see him going at the beginning of the 2nd round. You’re looking at a 1st-2nd round and 7th round pick to get this tandem for the upcoming season.

Side Note: This is one scenario I could understand going after a QB-RB stack. I would completely understand if you wanted to draft Alvin Kamara and grab Brees later in the draft. They connected on 12.5% of Brees’ touchdowns in 2019.

Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton - Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton have a chemistry that allows them to put up a big play at any moment within a game. Hilton has been Luck’s favorite target throughout his career and that won’t change this year. While Luck threw for 39 touchdowns last season, Hilton was only able to grab 6 of them. The duo created ‘fantasy love’ 15% of the time, but if you play in leagues where you get bonus points for big plays, then you doubled up quite often throughout the season. I’m a believer that Luck can put together a QB1 season and if I can team him up with Hilton then I am all for it.

Cost: After showing that he was back to form, Luck’s ADP has risen since last season and he finds himself going in the 5th round. T.Y. has stayed around where he typically goes and is coming off the board in the 3rd round. It will be a 3rd and a 5th round pick to get this tandem on your roster.

Honorable Mention

Honestly, you could make an argument for any of these three tandems to be at the #5 spot and I would completely understand.

Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. - Cleveland Browns

Now, this is a duo that I could see at the top of this list as we are heading into the 2020 NFL season. But, we have yet to see them on the field together and there are plenty of mouths to feed within the Browns offense, which makes it hard to predict how many times they could connect in the endzone. With that being said, I would not be surprised if they create ‘fantasy love’ on 10+ touchdowns this year.

Cost: After breaking the rookie touchdown record, Mayfield’s ADP has skyrocketed. He is going in the 6th round while OBJ is going around the beginning of the 2nd. So it’s a 2nd and 6th to get this one.

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones - Atlanta Falcons

Even though Jones gets flack for not getting enough touchdowns, he still had 8 last season while Ryan had 35 himself. They created ‘fantasy love’ 22% of the time, plus Jones gives you that big-play ability. While Ryan might not be the flashiest quarterback, this tandem could give you solid production in 2019.

Cost: Ryan is finding himself in the 6th round and Jones is currently on the borderline of late 1st or early 2nd round. It will depend on where your picking to determine if you will be able to land Jones, but you should be able to grab Ryan in the 6th round if you want to land this tandem.

Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers

Smith-Schuster developed chemistry immediately with Big Ben and with AB moving on to Oakland, they could connect more times in the endzone in 2019. Big Ben was able to find Smith-Schuster on 7 of his 34 touchdowns. Which resulted in creating ‘fantasy love’ 20% of the time. While Roethlisberger does give you concerns when he is on the road, he still has the capability to put up numbers.

Cost: This would be one of the easier tandems to own from my list. Smith-Schuster is going in the 2nd round and you could wait on Big Ben to grab him in the 11th round. If you’re a fan on waiting on the quarterback position, then this is the duo you should go for. Especially if you land Smith-Schuster on your roster.

While there are plenty of other tandems that could create ‘fantasy love’ throughout the season, I tried to stick to my ideal mold of having an every week quarterback and a clear cut top guy of a passing attack that finds himself within an offense that can put up points all season long. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy stacking on my fantasy football roster and doubling up on points throughout the season.

***ADP per Fantasy Football Calculator

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