In a little over 24 hours, the 2018 NFL draft will kick off. But that means there’s still some time to get one more mock draft in. We released our fifth and final mock draft of the year Monday, so let’s take a look at the potential fantasy implications if these picks actually came to fruition.
Of course, the likelihood of things playing out this way is very slim, but it’s still an important exercise to be able to quickly process the results of the draft for fantasy purposes. That’s especially valuable if you happen to have a rookie draft in May. Don’t forget that we’ll have you covered here at PFF with detailed analysis and my rookie draft board.
As he’s had all along, Steve Palazzolo has Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield going No. 1 overall to the Browns. This is certainly a potential outcome, but that’s beside the point for fantasy purposes. The more important takeaway is that Steve and the rest of our team view Mayfield as the top quarterback in this year’s class. He’s going to be a long-term fantasy target, regardless of landing spot.
Sam Darnold is the next signal-caller off the board to the Giants at No. 2. Darnold has the potential to offer a fantasy profile similar to Matthew Stafford and would get the benefit of sitting for at least one season in this destination. Josh Rosen then goes with the next pick to the Jets. It’s a far from optimal spot in the short-term, but Rosen would be in play as a potential long-term QB1.
Two more signal-callers go in the first round: Lamar Jackson to the Cardinals at 15 and Mason Rudolph to the Bills at 22. Both teams are in a rough place at quarterback, so these picks make a ton of sense. Jackson offers the highest fantasy ceiling of this year’s group thanks to his dual-threat ability, but there are a number of questions about how he’ll translate to the pro level. This landing spot isn’t the best for his short-term fantasy outlook given the Cardinals’ thin depth chart at wide receiver. Rudolph would also step into a situation with a thin wide receiver corps, which is the exact opposite of what he had at Oklahoma State. That being said, he’d be a sneaky long-term fantasy option in Buffalo.
Just one running back comes off the board in the first round: Saquon Barkley. The fantasy world is abuzz with Barkley hype, but Steve has the former Penn State back falling all the way to the Raiders at 10. Barkley is one of the rare players whose fantasy stock won’t be impacted much by landing spot, but this would be one of the worst spots for his short-term value. The Raiders have an uber-crowded depth chart that certainly wouldn’t be mitigated by adding Barkley. That said, he’ll still be the No. 1 pick in rookie drafts.
This is a relatively thin mock for non-quarterback skill position players, as just three wide receivers are picked. The first one goes to the Cowboys at pick 19 with Calvin Ridley. Dallas is in the market for a No. 1 receiver after parting ways with Dez Bryant, so this pick makes perfect sense. While he may not have the most athletic upside in this year’s class, Ridley is the most polished player of the bunch. In this landing spot, he’d step right in and figure to lead the Cowboys in target share. It isn’t the perfect landing spot, but that sort of volume would likely immediate place Ridley in the tail end of the WR2 conversation.
After Ridley, James Washington comes off the board at No. 26 to the Falcons. This is an intriguing long-term landing spot, but Washington would not have the same short-term value as Ridley. He’d figure to be the No. 3 receiver behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, which means the volume won’t be there to support consistent fantasy production in 2018 redraft leagues. Still, Washington would certainly have appeal as a future fantasy WR2/3 in this location.
The third and final wideout off the board is D.J. Moore at pick 29 to the Jaguars. Jacksonville has a crowded wide receiver room, but Moore is arguably better than the entire bunch and would figure to immediately step in as the No. 1. While that’s typically been a high-volume role in recent seasons, Moore’s fantasy upside would be somewhat capped by Blake Bortles. That being said, Moore would have to be considered an immediate upside WR3.
Like running back, just one tight end comes off the board in the first round. Steve has Dallas Goedert going to the Patriots at No. 23. This is an obvious move to prep for life after Gronk, but it’s a tough place to project long-term value. New England has no successor to Tom Brady as of today, and that eventual signal-caller will have a significant impact on Goedert’s outlook. All of that aside, he’s the top tight end fantasy prospect in this year’s class, and you’re likely be looking at Goedert coming off the board in the middle of the second round of dynasty rookie drafts regardless of where he lands.