Cramer's top stock picks for his 'fantasy portfolio' draft

  • CNBC's Jim Cramer celebrates the start of football season by building a fantasy football-style portfolio for investors.
  • From running backs to quarterbacks, Cramer picks best-of-breed stock "players" for his money-making team.

A fantasy team isn't the only thing CNBC's Jim Cramer's drafting this football season.

This time, the "Mad Money" host took inspiration from his fantasy football roster and applied it to his investment strategy: he built a fantasy stock portfolio.

After all, an investment portfolio is in some ways a team of stocks. Having a diversified portfolio is just like having a great team with an assortment of skills.

Here are Cramer's top "draft" picks for his fantasy stock portfolio:

The running backs

"You can't have enough running backs because you want consistent, grounded players who can deliver a lot of points week after week," Cramer said on Thursday. "The stock market equivalent right now? You want something strong, but also straightforward, and right now, that's either retail or medical devices."

For a retail running back, Cramer chose the stock of Home Depot. Like any running back, the home improvement play has faced some pain — see the market's negative reaction to its latest earnings beat — but it has been a consistently strong performer, the "Mad Money" host said.

And despite its exposure to a potential slowdown in the housing market, Home Depot's track record makes the stock worth buying, even at these levels, Cramer argued.

Cramer-fave Abbott Laboratories made for a steady-eddie medical device running back. The health care conglomerate behind Pedialyte and Freestyle glucose monitors has created a wealth of shareholder value over the years.

"While Abbott probably won't put up explosive numbers this year, that's OK. It's the kind of core holding you can expect to keep moving slowly but steadily higher," Cramer said.

The wide receivers

"Next, we need some wide receivers, explosive players who can eat up big chunks of yardage all at once," the "Mad Money" host said. "For our fantasy stock portfolio, we're looking at two of the most explosive groups in the market: FANG — yes, FANG — and the cloud kings."

Out of the cloud kings, Cramer chose a stock that packed just the right amount of punch: Salesforce.com. He liked that the cloud-based software giant mimicked the long-term "production" of a wide receiver like the Pittsburgh Steelers' Antonio Brown.

"Salesforce has more than doubled in the last two years," he noted, adding that the stock may have recently bottomed and could be worth buying amid the September weakness.

Cramer's pick from FANG — his acronym for the stocks of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, now Alphabet — was also a name often tossed to the wayside by those interested in newer investments: Alphabet.

"Incredible company, but it doesn't get the kind of respect it deserves from the growth-obsessed investors as younger, sexier start-ups do," he said. "Alphabet's simply got so many opportunities in search, in cloud infrastructure, in YouTube and, of course, in Waymo, their self-driving car business."

The quarterback

Cramer confessed that he "nearly had a nervous breakdown" when Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was seriously injured last football season.

"Fortunately, Philadelphia had a terrific backup quarterback in Nick Foles," he said. "But make no mistake about it — Wentz is the quarterback of the future for the Birds, even if he isn't quite ready to start playing again. ... For me, the perfect analogue here is Comcast."

After speaking with Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts on Thursday, Cramer warmed up to the entertainment giant and NBCUniversal parent's underdog story.

"Just like Wentz, Comcast's stock has been humbled of late thanks to cord-cutting worries and some M&A chatter. I think they're both hungry to prove the doubters wrong," he said.

The tight end

"Tight ends tend to be disrespected in fantasy football, but if you pick a good one, they can rack up a lot of catches and a lot of yardage," Cramer said, adding that the tight end is "the most versatile position on the field."

His money-making tight end pick was Take-Two Interactive Software, the video game maker behind the lucrative Grand Theft Auto franchise with a stock that Cramer felt had more room to run.

The defense

Even homegamers know a defensive stock when they see one: a security that's safe, not too volatile and produces a good yield. Cramer recommended the stock of Clorox.

"Clorox broke out last year, but it's had a rough offseason as the stock's been slammed by rising transportation and raw costs, not to mention rising interest makes making its dividend less attractive," he said. "But with rates cooling in recent months, Clorox has been on the mend."

The kicker

In fantasy football, kickers don't tend to make or break a team, so Cramer decided to have some fun with his stock market kicker and pick marijuana play Canopy Growth, in which alcohol distributor Constellation Brands owns a major stake.

"These are volatile stocks in an industry that's hazy, to say the least, but I think they're the two pot plays ... that could do more than go up in smoke," he said. "They pulled back hard today. I think they're both buys into weakness."

The bottom line

"When you build a portfolio, you don't just need companies in different industries — classic diversification — you also need some stocks that play different roles," the "Mad Money" host concluded.

So remember what makes a good team of stocks — reliable running backs, consistent wide receivers, ambitious quarterbacks, tight ends that deliver, a straightforward defense and a "mad money" kicker — and your portfolio will be in good shape to start the next investing season.

WATCH: Cramer's fantasy stock draft

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Abbott Laboratories, Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Comcast. Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

Programming Note: Watch the NFL Kickoff on NBC tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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