Written by: Cody Manning
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 a 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 Kirk Cousins with Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen, 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) Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins— Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson took the NFL by a storm last year and a big part of his success was the early chemistry he developed with DeAndre Hopkins. In the seven games the two played together, Watson threw for 19 touchdowns while Hopkins caught 7 of them. That is 36.8% of Watson’s touchdowns created by ‘fantasy love’ last year with Hopkins. While it was a small sample size and we will have to see if Watson can continue his high production, but you must like your chances of the two connecting on a touchdown. Will Fuller is the only one that bothers me as far as competition for targets, but he won’t win a 50/50 ball like Hopkins can, so I like my odds of the two connecting when they get into the redzone. This duo has so much potential, but keep in mind this would come at a high cost since Hopkins’ ADP has him going in the 1st round and Watson’s would place him in the 4–5th round. If you don’t mind drafting a quarterback that high and you grabbed Hopkins in the 1–2nd, then I wouldn’t blame you if you were the one to pull the trigger on Watson.
2) Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams — Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is the consensus number one quarterback entering the fantasy football year, so just by owning him alone will provide a major boost to your fantasy football lineup. If you combine him with his number one target entering the season, then there is a lot of potential to create some magic and win some games. The last time we saw Rodgers play a full season he threw 40 touchdowns, in that same season Adams caught 12 of those balls. 30% of the time Rodgers found the endzone, he created ‘fantasy love’ with Adams. Keep in mind, Adams was the third wheel entering that season behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. I believe Adams is set to have a career year and if it wasn’t for Jimmy Graham taking away some targets in the red-zone then I would have considered them as possibly the top duo for 2018. Like Watson-Hopkins, if you want these two on your roster it will come at a premium. According to both of their current ADPs, you would need to draft Adams in the 2nd and Rodgers in the following two rounds. This one might be the riskiest to pull off but could have some high payoff throughout the season.
3) Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski— New England Patriots
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have been tearing up the league since they have been teamed up together. Brady finished with 32 touchdowns in 2017 which Gronk was able to grab 8 of them. The duo created ‘fantasy love’ on 25% of Brady’s touchdowns. Outside of Julian Edelman, who has a 4-game suspension, there are a bunch of players competing to get on the field. Gronk’s role won’t change and he should continue to see as many balls that Brady can throw his way. Gronk is the number one fantasy tight end, his currently ADP would place him in the 2–3rd round of drafts. If you decide on grabbing the tight end with a premium pick, then you could wait until the 5–6th round to team them up on your roster. This duo has continued to tear defenses apart and could help lead you to the playoffs of your fantasy football league.
4) Drew Brees and Michael Thomas— New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas have quietly become one of the better duos in the NFL over the past couple seasons. Thomas set the record for having the most receptions (196) in his first two seasons. Last year, Brees threw for 23 touchdowns while Thomas caught 5 of them. That ends up 21.7% of the time the duo created ‘fantasy love’. While you would like to see more touchdowns from Thomas, he is only entering his third season and that is when players are supposed to become the player they were drafted to be. With the lack of competition for Brees’ targets, I believe the two will connect on a lot more touchdowns in 2018. Thomas’ ADP places him in the 2nd round so if you end up with him then you have the leisure to wait around the 6–7th round to grab Brees as your starting quarterback. This duo could pay off without spending two premium picks to make it happen.
5) Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton — Indianapolis Colts
We haven’t seen Andrew Luck on the field since the 2016 season, but during that year Luck’s arm helped T.Y. Hilton led the league in receiving yards. Luck threw for 31 touchdowns and Hilton caught 6 in the process. They only found ‘fantasy love’ 19.4% that season, but beyond Hilton, he doesn’t have proven players that could cut into his targets. I think once Luck shakes off the rust and gets comfortable, the duo is going to get back to tearing up the league like they were in 2016. If you find yourself taking Hilton in the 3–4th round, then I would consider Luck as your quarterback in the 7–9th round so you’re not having to overreach. The two can be teamed up without having to pay too much to get a return on your investment in 2018.
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown — Pittsburgh Steelers
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones — Atlanta Falcons
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin — Seattle Seahawks