The NFL draft is great for the fans, as it gives them something to do to keep themselves sane while they wait for the new season to kick off. For fantasy football owners, it’s a chance to see their future fantasy stars find their new home. This year certainly did not disappoint.
Let’s start off with an absolute bang at #2, when the Chicago Bears traded a package of picks to move up one spot and select UNC QB Mitchell Trubisky. I like Trubisky’s fit in Chicago, and believe a year of working on his game will help him a lot since, he only started one season at UNC. Still, he’s the most NFL-ready quarterback in the class, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start at some point this year if the Bears fall out of playoff contention.
Trubisky Projected Numbers: 900 PYDS, 5 TD, 5 INT
We didn’t have to wait long to see the biggest fantasy name in the draft, LSU RB Leonard Fournette, get called upon, as he was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars fourth overall. The pick was much expected and makes a lot of sense. The Jags have looked desperately for MJD’s replacement the last few years. Fournette has the skill to be a top-ten pick his first year. He’ll likely cost you more draft capital than the rest of the rookies, but expect him to be well worth it.
Fournette’s Projected Numbers: 1,100 RYDS, 6 TDs
The Titans finally got Marcus Mariota’s big weapon, as they took WMU WR Corey Davis fifth overall. Davis was my favorite receiver in the draft, but it seemed as though Clemson’s Mike Williams had crept past Davis, due to an ankle injury that kept the Western Michigan star out of pre-draft workouts, including the combine. Expect Mariota to look for Davis a lot, even early on. He does need to improve his focus, but if he can do it, Tennessee will have spent that high pick wisely.
Davis’ Projected Numbers: 950 YDS, 7 TD
The Chargers really shocked by selecting Clemson WR Mike Williams, not because it was too early, but because they already have enough receivers. The Chargers already have Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin at receiver, and Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry at tight end.
But, they’ve made the pick, so we’ll have to see if Williams can get his share of targets from Philip Rivers. Also, Keenan Allen is always a potential injury risk, so Williams may be thrust into the #1 spot.
Williams’ Projected Numbers: 800 YDS, 8 TDs
The Stanford RB Christian McCaffery hype train really picked up steam a couple weeks before the draft, and he ended up at #8 to the Carolina Panthers. Now, I get that the fit isn’t perfect, and that is a valid point, but this dude can ball.
He can run, catch, and return kick-offs and punts. He’s small and had a huge workload in college, so he isn’t a guaranteed home run, but the potential is there. McCaffery also helps Cam Newton out, as he is able to catch passes out of the backfield. I wouldn’t expect him to be the clear #1 in Carolina right away, considering Jonathan Stewart recently re-signed.
McCaffery’s Projected Numbers: 700 Rush YDS, 4 TD. 200 Receiving YDs
Breaking the all-time 40-yard dash record can really boost your value. Washington WR John Ross is living proof of that. After his blazing 4.22 run, he shot up draft boards and ended up in the top-ten with the Bengals, and in a great situation. He’ll now be stretching the field for AJ Green. But Ross isn’t just a nasty speedster, he’s a decent route runner who had 17 touchdowns his senior year at Washington. Combine all of these factors and you’ve got one of my favorite rookies for fantasy this year and beyond.
Ross’s Projected Numbers: 700 YDS, 4 TDs
The Chiefs trading up to get Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes at the #10 spot was the best NFL move in my opinion. I had Mahomes as the QB with the most upside this year, but he isn’t even close to a finished product. Being in Kansas City is perfect for the former Texas Tech gunslinger.
Alex Smith will continue to start until Mahomes is ready. When he is ready, he’ll be a great quarterback, considering Andy Reid will be coaching him. If you’re in a dynasty league, Mahomes might not be the worst investment.
Mahomes’ Projected Stats: Don’t expect to play this year barring injury to Alex Smith.
The Texans have had a Browns-like revolving door at quarterback lately, and they may have finally put a stop to that. They traded with Cleveland to take the national champion at #12. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson wins big games, and plays well when it matters, but that doesn’t matter in fantasy football.
He has turnover problems that may haunt him in the pros. That being said, he’ll likely have the biggest rookie impact for a QB, since he’s the only QB1 on a franchise, unless Deshone Kizer slips in as the Browns starter. Watson will definitely have the weapons around him to put up numbers, with Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller to throw to and Lamar Miller behind him. Look for him as a potential sleeper candidate in re-draft leagues.
Watson’s Projected Numbers: 3,500 YDs, 18 TDs, 14 INT
The Buccaneers have had an amazing offseason, and that continued on draft night when they selected Alabama TE O.J Howard. He might just be the most NFL-ready tight end I’ve seen in recent years. He’ll come in and help in the run game, but he’s also lethal when it comes to running routes.
Now, the Bucs love Cameron Brate and the way he performed last year, but they wouldn’t spend a first round pick on a tight end they don’t intend on utilizing. I would make sure to grab this guy in your dynasty leagues. On top of that, make sure you snag Jameis Winston in any league, because this offense is set up to put up big numbers.
Howard’s Projected Numbers: 650 YDS, 7 TDs
After Howard was off the board, I figured the Giants would go with David Njoku. When their pick came around and he was still there, I thought it was a lock. Then, NY shocked me and many others when they took Ole Miss TE Evan Engram. Engram has been compared to Jordan Reed based on his route-running ability.
I just don’t see the fit. Engram can’t block and he doesn’t have usual tight end size, so in my book, he’s more of a wide receiver. The Giants are already loaded at receiver with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard. While Engram will see opportunity, due to lack of tight end talent in New York, I still prefer David Njoku in the long run.
Engram’s Projected Numbers: 550 YDs, 6 TDs
The Browns really nailed this draft. They got the best player in the draft, an electric safety, and a tight end with lots of potential all in the first round. Miami TE David Njoku may not be ready day one, but tight ends usually aren’t. However, Cleveland cut veteran and starting tight end Gary Barnidge, so maybe Njoku will get his opportunity earlier than expected.
Njoku’ Projected Numbers: 450 YDs, 4 TDs
Once the first round was over, Florida State RB Dalvin Cook still didn’t have a home. The Minnesota Vikings ended that after trading up to pick #41 and grabbing him. Cook has the ability to take any given run to the house, and that will benefit the Vikings greatly. The offensive line in Minnesota is underwhelming, and let’s not forget that Latavius Murray was signed by the team as well.
That’s not a good combination for Cook, but great talent has a way of making things work. The Vikings clearly like him, so he’s likely the future heir to Adrian Peterson. If he can get past Jerrick McKinnon and Murray on the depth chart, I expect Cook to be productive, but limited due to the line struggles.
Cook’s Projected Numbers: 700 YDs, 6 TDs
Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer was expected to be a first round pick, but that didn’t happen. The Jets and Cardinals both had opportunities in the second round to get him, but passed. This left the door open for the Browns to steal him.
I know Kizer needs the time to develop or he’ll flop, but will Cleveland have the patience for that? If they struggle with Cody Kessler at the helm, they may jump ship to Kizer, which may ruin them both. If they play it correctly, they got a huge draft day steal.
Cleveland has some weapons to throw to, and Deshone has the arm for it. Hue Jackson is a solid mentor that will bring him along, and Cleveland’s line is surprisingly solid.
Kizer’s Projected Numbers: 1,200 YDs, 7 TDs, 8 INT
One of the biggest storylines of the draft was Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, and who would take a chance on him. Mixon scared off most teams when the video of him knocking a woman unconscious was released. The Bengals ended up pulling the trigger and taking him, a move which will likely pay off.
Mixon is electric, and probably would’ve been the second running back taken if it wasn’t for the red flags. I see the end in Cincinnati for Jeremy Hill, but Giovanni Bernard might be a nice pairing with Mixon. Andy Dalton is going to be a happy man with Ross and Mixon as the Bengals top two picks.
Mixon’s Projected Numbers: 1,000 YDs, 6 TDs
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