2018 Keeper Selections
Top 5 WR (2015 Franchise Tag)
Another year, another strong Julio performance. The final remaining player from the inaugural 2012 draft, he still comes to play every week with the youth and vigor of 6 years ago. While slightly inconsistent in 2017, opponents still had to prepare for him – as he could go for 40+ if not kept under control. He finished as the leaguewide WR4 and remains atop the franchise standings in starts with 66 (1st), 39 regular season wins (1st) and 777 points (2nd). There appears no end in sight for his dominance as he seeks to solidify his legacy as one of the greatest Horsemen of all time by clinching a 4th straight title.
Top 5 WR (2016 Franchise Tag)
Antonio once again rested the last couple weeks of the regular season but finished as the WR2 in the league. He leads the franchise by a large margin in points scored, despite not being brought on until the 2013 compaign. He also has the most playoff wins of anyone in league history with 7. Three of those victories ended up with a trophy presentation. While the most dangerous wide receiver duo in league history may be onto the back half of their careers, they likely each still have several top 10 years left in them.
Top 5 RB
The Horsemen finally got a full season of Le’Veon Bell – and it wasn’t disappointing. He finished the league RB2 (second only to teammate, Todd Gurley) and climbed the historic ranks of Horsemen running backs to sit a mere 23 points behind franchise leader, Matt Forte… with 8 less starts. His antics have been fitting for a Horsemen team growing ever more confident with each victory and his end-of-season heroics against the Nosebleeds for a second straight year have only built his legend more. The Steelers core looks to be sticking together for another year which should lend well to another show of dominance in 2018.
Top 5 RB
Todd Gurley just needed a change of scenery to surge from the doldrums he’d been banished to as a member of Straight Laced. 2016 had been a nightmare, but 2017 proved to be the resurgence the Horsemen were after when they made a series of moves to acquire him last offseason. He would finish the season as the RB1 and through his 14 starts would launch into the top 10 all-time Horsemen scorers with 264 points – and averaging 18.86 PPG, the most of any non-quarterback in team history. This surge into the top 5 RBs would cause Michael Thomas to become a salary cap casualty.
Top 15 RB (Rookie Tag)
Leonard was a solid, volume dependent RB in 2017 leading to his RB8 finish – and nothing seems to suggest that this will change in 2018 with the resigning of a poor quarterback that will continue to need to use the running game to hide his deficiencies. When Gurley and Michael Thomas both entered the top 5 in their respective positions, one of them was going to have to go. Michael Thomas was sent packing just a year (and a ring) after joining the Horsemen last summer along with Lamar Miller for Leonard Fournette and the 1.10 pick. While not an important piece of the championship picture at this point, his rookie tag made him a safe keeper in the event anything got shaken up in the top 5 this offseason.
Top 5 TE
In a surprise move by the Horsemen involving dumping several keepable assets for draft picks, management would decide to keep the first tight end since 2013. That keeper in 2013 was Aaron Hernandez, and he would not play another snap with the Horsemen due to his subsequent arrest over the summer and his eventual suicide. Zach Ertz is no stranger to the Horsemen. He is second in starts and scoring among tight ends in franchise history and was a member of the 2017 championship roster. The obvious camaraderie with Carson Wentz, the parting of Trey Burton, the transition to 1/2 PPR for 2018 and the obvious depth at other positions would lead the Horsemen to move on from Demaryius Thomas and Derrick Henry in the offseason, heading into 2018 with a top 3 tight end.