The NFL came to Dallas (but really Arlington), we saw the draft, and some of this year’s prospects are ready to conquer the fantasy football landscape. In total, 76 skill position players were selected over the three days of this year’s draft. That means a lot of depth chart movement, so let’s take stock of all 32 teams and how each of these players factors in.
Sam Bradford enters the season as the starter, but the Cardinals snagged their signal-caller of the future at No. 10 overall with the selection of Josh Rosen. Given Bradford’s recent injury history, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rosen under center at some point this season. Arizona also selected wideout Christian Kirk, who figures to have a prominent role right out of the gate given how thin the Cardinals were at wide receiver. His presence hurts the chance we see a Brice Butler fantasy breakout. The Cards also selected the hyper-productive small-school running back, Chase Edmonds, who is a name to know as a potential David Johnson handcuff.
Wide receiver didn’t necessarily stand out as a position of major need, but the Falcons spent their first-round pick on former Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley. He figures to man the outside in three-wide sets and could rotate with Mohamed Sanu in two-wide. Ridley isn’t a strong bet for immediate fantasy value, but his presence is a big hit to Sanu’s value. The Falcons also drafted WR Russell Gage in the sixth round, but he figures to be more of a special-teamer. It’s also worth keeping an eye on RB Ito Smith, who was selected in the fourth round. He’s undersized, but was very productive at Southern Miss. His immediate value is minimal, but Smith could have a role in 2019 if the Falcons don’t re-up on Tevin Coleman.
With 11 picks in the draft, Ozzie Newsome and company had the opportunity to stockpile some talent. They certainly did so at tight end, selecting Hayden Hurst in the first round and Mark Andrews in the third. Both players landing with the same team isn’t ideal for their long-term outlooks, but Andrews’ mismatch potential as a move option makes him the better dynasty option. That being said, neither is in play in 2018 fantasy leagues. The Ravens finished the first round with Lamar Jackson. Of the five signal-callers selected in the first round, he’s the least likely to be forced into action in Year 1. With time to learn, Jackson still has plenty of dynasty appeal. Baltimore also snagged a pair of wideouts on Day 3 with Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley. Scott is a big-bodied downfield threat and Lasley has long-term potential. However, neither are a threat to start in their rookie seasons.
It’s tough to endorse much of anything in Buffalo for fantasy purposes this season. The Bills did address a position of need in the first round, selecting QB Josh Allen at No. 7 overall. Allen certainly has a wow factor, but he’s still very raw. Unfortunately for him, he’s in a position where he’s almost guaranteed to be forced on the field quickly. Buffalo did not address their need at wide receiver until late, grabbing Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl in the sixth and seventh rounds. Neither figure to make an impact, and the Bills wide receivers remain largely unappealing for fantasy purposes.
Just two skill-position players went to the Panthers in the draft. The first is exciting WR D.J. Moore, who came off the board at No. 24 overall. He’s a good bet to hit the ground running as the No. 2 option. But with Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey in house, Moore is at best the fourth target. His short-term fantasy upside is capped from a volume standpoint. Carolina also snagged a potential Olsen replacement in Ian Thomas. The former Indiana tight end won’t make any fantasy impact in 2018 barring an Olsen injury, but he’s a name to know for the future.
Like the Panthers, Chicago picked just two skill-position players, and both were wideouts. At No. 51 overall, the Bears selected dynamic wideout Anthony Miller, who looks like a reincarnated Steve Smith. This is one of the best fantasy landing spots of the draft, and Miller is now one of the top rookie wide receivers in this year’s class both in redraft and dynasty formats. The Bears also grabbed the big-bodied Javon Wims in the seventh round. He isn’t likely to threaten for reps any time soon.
Perhaps the most important pick for the Bengals in terms of fantasy wasn’t actually a skill-position player, but rather came along the offensive line with C Billy Price. He’s a versatile and powerful player who should step right in and help bolster a major weak spot for Cincinnati. Joe Mixon is a clear winner here. The Bengals also appear to have a potential Giovani Bernard replacement in fourth-round selection Mark Walton, who shares a lot of traits with Bernard, including his ability in pass pro. The Bengals only other skill-position picks came in the seventh round with QB Logan Woodside and WR Auden Tate. Woodside doesn’t project to be anything more than a career backup. Tate has size you can’t teach, but tested out poorly in the pre-draft process. He’s a deep name to know, but don’t hold your breath for him to surface on the fantasy radar.
After months of speculation, the Browns finally answered our questions with the No. 1 overall selection of Baker Mayfield. He’s an extremely intriguing dynasty option who should also see the field in Year 1. Carlos Hyde’s fantasy stock took a major hit after the Browns added Nick Chubb in the second round. There’s a good chance Chubb beats out Hyde for lead early-down duties. Cleveland also landed a pair of Day 3 wideouts in Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley. Of the two, Callaway is much more interesting. He has borderline Day 1 talent, but a string of off-field issues caused his stock to plummet. Either way, his presence certainly doesn’t bode particularly well for Corey Coleman’s long-term fantasy stock.
Like the Bengals, the Cowboys added offensive line help in the second round, getting a steal on Connor Williams. Dallas also address life after Dez with the selections of Michael Gallup in the third round and Cedrick Wilson in the sixth. Gallup was one of the most appealing prospects in this year’s class, and figures to immediately see the field. He has the chops to be a long-term WR2. With Jason Witten retiring, the Cowboys added a Witten clone in Dalton Schultz on Day 3. Dallas also picked the big-armed QB Mike White in the fifth round and RB Bo Scarbrough in the seventh. While that’s later than some expected Scarbrough to go, his NFL size will at least keep him on the fringes of the dynasty radar. That being said, it’s far from ideal to be buried behind Ezekiel Elliott.
One of the most interesting drafts for fantasy purposes came from the Broncos. Denver drafted a potential replacement for Demaryius Thomas in Courtland Sutton and for Emmanuel Sanders in DaeSean Hamilton. They also added an immediate lead back in Royce Freeman, who is in the RB2 conversation from the gate. Freeman has a good chance to be the surprise breakout fantasy running back. Denver also added a potential future weapon at tight end in Troy Fumagalli. His presence certainly hurts Jake Butt’s long-term outlook. The Broncos also selected RB David Williams, a bigger back who could figure into short-yardage situations if he makes the team.
With just six picks in the draft, there isn’t much to report for the Lions. Detroit did attempt to address their offensive line woes with the first-round selection of C Frank Ragnow. Otherwise, the only skill-position pick came in the second round with RB Kerryon Johnson. LeGarrette Blount figures to be the lead back, but Johnson will give this backfield some pop. While he certainly possesses upside, Johnson doesn’t project to be more than a committee back at the pro level. Limited volume will put a cap on his long-term value.
The M.O. for Green Bay in recent seasons has been to cycle through late-round wide receivers. Green Bay has selected at least one wide receiver on Day 3 in five of the last six drafts. This year, they grabbed three: J’Mon Moore (4), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (5), and Equanimeous St. Brown (6). The ordering of these three is very interesting, as most pundits had St. Brown as the highest-rated of the bunch and a potential Day 2 pick. His slide is very telling of how NFL teams view him. Either way, it’s clear the Packers had a type, as all three are tall and athletic, with both Brown and Valdes-Scantling also posting very fast 40 times. There’s the potential that one of these three sneaks into the No. 3 role, but for now Geronimo Allison sits as the clear favorite for those duties.
C.J. Fiedorowicz being forced into early retirement after a string of concussions opened up a big need at tight end for the Texans. Houston addressed the position with Jordan Akins in Round 3 and Jordan Thomas in Round 6. For fantasy purposes, Akins is the more appealing option. He’s extremely athletic and capable of catching the ball downfield. He’s a sneaky bet to surface on the tight end radar this year, and is one of the better dynasty tight end options in this year’s class. The Texans also got a nice deal in the fourth round with slot receiver Keke Coutee. His presence could mean the end of the Braxton Miller experiment. While Coutee would at best be the No. 3, he’s still offers deep PPR appeal.
The Colts were another team with a major need along the offensive line, and they ended up with the best talent in this year’s class at No. 6 overall with G Quenton Nelson. Indy also snagged another guard in the second round with Braden Smith. But we had to wait until Day 3 for the Colts to address the skill positions. Up to that point, it appeared like Marlon Mack may have dodged a fantasy bullet, but his stock took a major hit with the addition of Nyheim Hines in the fourth round and Jordan Wilkins in the fifth round. Hines is a dynamic third-down option, and Wilkins is a bigger-bodied early-down back. This could be the Colts’ thunder and lightning combo of the future, and Wilkins is a deep fantasy sleeper in 2018. The Colts also added two upside wide receivers in Daurice Fountain and Deon Cain. Both could threaten for No. 3 duties, but aren’t likely to be short-term fantasy options.
There isn’t a ton for report from the Jacksonville draft, as the Jags added just two skill-position players. Their sixth-round pick, Tanner Lee, is a fitting backup, as he profiles as a poor man’s Blake Bortles. While there’s no fantasy appeal with Lee, their second-round pick D.J. Chark is very intriguing. The size/speed prospect joins a crowded depth chart and doesn’t figure to see much work in the short-term. However, if he can develop, Chark has the makings of a future big-play fantasy option.
The Chiefs made no skill-position selections this year, and only added one player on the offensive side of the ball. That pick came with their final selection of the draft in the sixth round with guard Reginald McKenzie Jr.
Like Kansas City, the Chargers decided to spend their early attention on defense with their first four picks coming on the defensive side of the ball. LA only selected two skill-position players, with both coming on Day 3. They grabbed big-bodied possession receiver Dylan Cantrell in the sixth and productive running back Justin Jackson in the seventh. It’s tough to envision a quick path to fantasy success for Cantrell, but Jackson is a sneaky name to know as the best bet to handcuff Melvin Gordon.
Speaking of handcuffs to big-name running backs, the Rams selected John Kelly in the sixth round. He has a very good chance of immediately slotting in behind Todd Gurley on the depth chart. Kelly was the Rams’ only skill-position selection.
Entering the draft, Mike Gesicki wasn’t the top fantasy prospect at tight end. However, it’s tough to not view him as the No. 1 option both in the short and long term after he was selected 42nd overall by the Dolphins. With no incumbents on the depth chart, Gesicki figures to step right in as the top pass-catching tight end and is the best bet to surface on the fantasy radar in Year 1. The Dolphins took blocking tight end Durham Smythe in the fourth round. Kenyan Drake may have some competition in fourth-round selection Kalen Ballage, who is a very similar player to Drake. The fantasy community certainly needs to pump the brakes a bit on Ballage.
Technically speaking, the Vikings only drafted one skill-position player, but there is another name to know for fantasy purposes in fifth-round kicker Daniel Carlson. Teams typically don’t draft kickers unless they’re ready to move on at the position, which makes Kai Forbath a big-time loser. Carlson is a big dude with a big leg who will get to kick indoors for at least nine games every year with the Vikings eight home games and one road game in Detroit. The skill position player came in the fourth round with ex-basketball tight end Tyler Conklin. He’s a very athletic move option with some long-term dynasty appeal.
Few draft pundits saw the Patriots going running back in the first round, but that’s exactly what they did with former Georgia RB Sony Michel. There’s a lot of chatter on the interwebs about the crowded house in this backfield, but Michel stands out as the clear top option and is a good bet to take over the Dion Lewis role. Let’s not forget that Lewis finished ninth among running backs in PPR scoring last year. The Patriots also selected WR Braxton Berrios in the sixth round, who is essentially a Wes Welker clone. New England also drafted a potential practice squad quarterback in Danny Etling and in-line tight end Ryan Izzo in the seventh round.
Only two skill-position players came off the board to the Saints: WR Tre’Quan Smith (3) and RB Boston Scott (6). Smith is a downfield threat who appears to be Ted Ginn’s eventual replacement. He’ll have a similar boom-or-bust fantasy profile. Scott is an underrated talent, but his landing spot doesn’t do much for immediate fantasy purposes.
In the first round, the Giants selected some guy named Saquon Barkley. We already know he’s the top pick in rookie drafts, but the debate with Barkey is where we should take him in redraft and best ball. If you want him, you’re going to have to consider him in the first round. In fact, the earliest he could go is in the pick 4-6 range. Sound crazy? It isn’t. The hype surrounding Barkley is real, and the touch volume is enough to warrant consideration just outside of the top tier of Gurley, Bell, and Elliott. The Giants also took QB Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. The small-schooler has potential, but it’s unlikely for fourth-round pick at quarterback to ever emerge as a viable fantasy option.
After making a power move up the board to No. 3, the Jets got their future signal-caller in Sam Darnold. He’ll likely be forced into action this season, but Darnold’s long-term fantasy appeal will depend on whether the Jets can surround him with talent. Right now, the Jets have arguably the league’s worst wide receiver group. They did, however, add upside tight end prospect Christopher Herndon. He’s a deeper dynasty name to know. The Jets also picked RB Trenton Cannon in the sixth round. The undersized small-schooler is a better bet to make an impact on special teams than he is to surface on the fantasy radar.
In Jon Gruden’s return draft, the Raiders took just one skill-position player. That pick didn’t come until the seventh round with big-body receiver Marcell Ateman. He could end up as a red-zone weapon, but Ateman should be high on dynasty rookie draft boards. However, it should be noted that the Raiders did land WR Martavis Bryant in a trade with the Steelers. Bryant gives the Raiders a speed presence on the outside that they lacked. He also puts a damper on Jordy Nelson’s 2018 fantasy prospects.
Like the Raiders, Philly only made one skill-position selection, taking TE Dallas Goedert in the second round. The athletic move option figures to be Trey Burton’s replacement in the short term. For the long term, this isn’t the best landing spot given the fact that Zach Ertz is locked in as the top receiving option. However, if Ertz was to go down with an injury, Goedert would have strong fantasy value.
Call them Oklahoma State North, as the Steelers went with back-to-back OSU picks in the second and third rounds with WR James Washington and QB Mason Rudolph. Washington will step into the role vacated by Martavis Bryant as the field-stretcher on the outside. His presence isn’t a major hit to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is still on the WR2 radar. Rudolph could end up as a long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, but that’s far from a lock. The Steelers also selected the athletic and versatile Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round. Samuels can play H-back and fullback, but there’s also a scenario where he emerges as the handcuff to Le’Veon Bell. We’ll need to keep a close eye on how the Steelers plan to deploy him.
The 49ers added talent at wide receiver, starting in the second round with Dante Pettis. He’s an athletic who offers the ability to line up both outside and in the slot. With Pierre Garcon getting up there in age, Pettis has to be viewed as the future at the position in San Francisco. The 49ers also used a seventh-round pick on WR Richie James, who is a smaller receiver who could compete with Trent Taylor for slot duties.
In a surprise move to some, the Seahawks selected RB Rashaad Penny with the 27th overall pick. Penny lands in a good location with a very thin depth chart. He figures to step in immediately as the lead back and is in the RB2 conversation. The biggest knock on this landing spot is the Seahawks’ offensive line, which Seattle only addressed with the fifth-round selection of OT Jamarco Jones. The Seahawks also added blocking tight end Will Dissly in the fourth round and practice squad quarterback Alex McGough in the seventh round.
With Doug Martin out of the mix, the Bucs found themselves in the market for a running back and grabbed one in the second round with Ronald Jones II. A dynamic slasher, Jones figures to step in as the lead back who will dominate early-down work. The major knock on Jones is his limited usage in the passing game, but he’s still someone to consider in the RB2 conversation for 2018. The Bucs also picked freak athlete Justin Watson, a wideout out of Penn. Watson’s pro day numbers jump off the page, but he’s buried behind on a talented depth chart.
The Titans had just four picks in the draft and spent one of them on a skill-position guy. That pick came in Round 6 with the selection on QB Luke Falk. He put up gaudy numbers in college but did so in a juiced up offense. Falk figures to be a career backup at best and won’t make a fantasy impact.
After falling out of the first round, Derrius Guice finally came off the board at pick No. 59 to the Redskins. There are rumors galore about why he fell, but what we do know is he’s talented and will have the opportunity to be the clear lead back in Washington. Let’s not forget that Chris Thompson is still there, so Guice won’t get much work on third downs. Still, he’s an immediate RB2. The Redskins also made WR Trey Quinn Mr. Irrelevant. Quinn has potential as a slot, but he’s far from a lock to surface on the fantasy radar.