Whew! One could not have asked for a more exciting first round in the NFL draft. Nine trades. Nine! There are a ton of aspects of this draft to break down, but we’re a fantasy football website, so I’m going to try and put a fantasy spin on each offensive pick of the draft.
2. Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Chicago Bears)
This was one of (if not the worst) picks of round 1 of the draft. Not because it was a reach, (which it was) but because of the picks the Bears gave up to move up one spot. Chicago got their quarterback, and it’s hard to fault at a team for that, but it appears San Fransisco had no real desire to take Trubisky. Anyhow, Trubisky is only a consideration in two QB or SuperFlex leagues. I don’t see him being any better than a low-end QB2 while he develops. On top of that, Jordan Howard is the focal point of an offense that has average receivers at best. I would rather take one of the other rookie QB’s taken after Trubisky in fantasy.
4. Leonard Fournette, RB (Jacksonville Jaguars)
This is an exceptional landing spot for one of the most hyped running backs in recent memory. The offensive line isn’t great, but you can be assured that the Jaguars will make the former LSU standout the main attraction in Jacksonville. You don’t spend the 4th overall pick on a running back to not give him the ball a ton. Expect him to approach or surpass 300 touches in his rookie year if he stays healthy. He looks to be an RB2 immediately, with the potential to be an RB1 very quickly. On the downside, the value of Allen Robinson and Blake Bortles takes a massive hit. Jacksonville is now a defensive team that is going to look to limit passing attempts to mask Bortles’ deficiencies. Robinson no longer can be considered a WR1 in fantasy. His efficiency may go up, but his fantasy value won’t approach his 2015 numbers anytime soon.
5. Corey Davis, WR (Tennessee Titans)
Truthers everywhere have to be stoked about this pick. Davis gets a fine young QB he can grow with, and no competition for the top spot on the depth chart. In dynasty, he is a slam dunk 1.01 pick, and in redraft he will me a great mid-round target with WR2 upside in his rookie year. Marcus Mariota gets a bump in value from this pick as well.
7. Mike Williams, WR (Los Angeles Chargers)
Another solid landing spot for a top wide receiver. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams’ styles should complement each other nicely. Allen is a target-hogging possession type, Williams is a 50/50 ball specialist who should vacuum touchdowns. The biggest loser in this situation is Tyrell Williams. Unless the Chargers utilize Allen exclusively from the slot (which isn’t out of the realm of possibilities) Tyrell loses a starting outside receiver gig. Phillip Rivers has to be stoked about this pick as the offensive weapons are almost limitless for him. Rivers is a strong darkhorse candidate to finish amongst the top-5 QBs this year if his offense stays healthy.
8. Christian McCaffrey, RB (Carolina Panthers)
This pick is one that many may have to digest for a bit. McCaffery is uber-talented and goes to an offense lacking skill-position weapons. Outside of an aging Greg Olsen, McCaffery can basically settle in as Carolina’s primary ball-handler. (that’s what she said) Christian may cede some early down work to Jonathan Stewart in year one, but he is sure to handle all the 3rd-down work, potentially some returns, and (judging by the draft capital invested) probably a fair share of early-down work as well. McCaffery is the quintessential PPR running back and should be a stud in this league for years to come. The only hesitation with him is that the Panthers offensive line is very mediocre. I see him as a PPR high-end RB2 as a rookie, with the potential to be a top-5 back in the NFL as early as next year. Read more about the neglected new-age workhorse here.
9. John Ross, WR (Cincinnati Bengals)
Good luck defending the pass when you play Cincinnati. If A.J. Green, John Ross, and Tyler Eifert are all healthy, you won’t find a better trio of weapons in the league that compliments each other the way they all will. With Green drawing plenty of attention in the secondary, Ross could find his path to the end-zone fairly easy in one-on-one matchups. Ross isn’t the type of boom/bust player I like to invest in, but I also think he is more than just a deep threat. He makes an outstanding best-ball selection and an intriguing dynasty asset in the mid-late first round. In redraft leagues, I probably wouldn’t look to Ross until round 9 or so. Pre-draft scouting profile on Ross is available here.
10. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Kansas City Chiefs)
The founding father of the TFA, Kevin Steele, was (literally) jumping for joy last night when his Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. We both share the opinion that he is the best QB in the draft. Mahomes lands in a great situation here. The pressure isn’t going to be on him to start immediately with Alex Smith at the helm, and that will suit him well as he isn’t a polished prospect. He isn’t worth drafting in redraft, but his dynasty stock is sitting pretty due to being drafted by a healthy organization like Kansas City. I would invest a late 1st rounder in Mahomes if available in 2QB or SuperFlex dynasty leagues.
12. Deshaun Watson, QB (Houston Texans)
Let’s be clear: I am not a DeShaun Watson fan. I think he is a poor man’s Alex Smith. However, Watson is an immediate upgrade from Tom Savage in Houston. The National Champion inherits some exquisite offensive weapons that are actually somewhat similar to his personnel at Clemson. I anticipate Watson having the best rookie year of the quarterbacks taken in round one, and could potentially find himself competing in the playoffs come January. He is a mid-t0-low end QB2 in year one with the potential to improve upon that in subsequent seasons. His dynasty stock is between Mahomes and Trubisky for me, worth a late 1st rounder in multiple QB rookie drafts.
19. O.J. Howard, TE (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Arguably the most highly touted tight end to come out of the NCAA in recent memory, Howard lands in a high-powered offense with young gunslinger Jameis Winston at the helm. Rookie tight ends rarely make an impact, therefore you should be cautious of his ADP in redraft leagues. I could easily see him getting overdrafted, so I probably won’t own him in redraft leagues this year. In dynasty, his ADP probably won’t change from a mid-late round rookie pick. I may have a hard time paying that price for a tight end, but Howard would be the one guy who I think could be worth it. Poor Cameron Brate. For more on rookie tight ends, listen to the TFA podcast with the usual suspects and guest Eliot Crist here.
20. Garet Bolles, OT (Denver Broncos)
Although Bolles isn’t a skill position player, he does impact others on his team. If the Broncos don’t add competition for C.J. Anderson in the latter portions of the draft, his stock gets a nice boost. I don’t have faith in either Broncos QB to be a QB1 this year, but at least whoever it is will be able to stay upright and deliver to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. It’s not a sexy pick, but it helps improve the outlook of the Broncos offense as a whole.
23. Evan Engram, TE (New York Giants)
I am actually not the biggest fan of this pick for a few reasons. First, I am an Eagles fan and it is going to suck to try and defend all of the weapons the Giants suddenly have on offense. Second, because of all those weapons, I can’t see Engram being a featured option. I see Engram at best being the 4th option in this offense year one. I won’t own him in redraft anywhere, and in dynasty, I would also caution against paying for his price tag. Engram isn’t a huge touchdown threat, and Eli Manning is no spring chicken. This offense could morph into something entirely different in as early as a year, and with that kind of uncertainty, I’m staying away. When Engram’s price tag drops in a year or two, that’s when I will be buying. I think this could further reduce Sterling Shepard’s immediete value as a slot target, and maybe even the rest of the offense as the ball is now likely to be spread around.
29. David Njoku, TE (Cleveland Browns)
I wasn’t the biggest Njoku fan as a prospect, but I actually don’t mind this landing spot. Young QB’s typically rely on tight ends for high-percentage passes like a mother relies on a pacifier to keep her baby quiet. Unless the Browns pull off a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, Njoku could be that pacifier. If the Browns upgrade at QB, I don’t think it necessarily hurts the former Miami Hurricane, but it won’t boost his value since Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman will likely get more targets from a better quarterback. The bottom line is that the draft capital spent on Njoku will assure he is relevant in the near future, and that’s worth an early 2nd rounder in dynasty rookie drafts to me. He could even be a sneaky late-round tight end in redraft. Keep an eye on how he gels with Hugh Jackson in camp.
*Update: The Browns have released Gary Barnidge, leaving the path to the starting job clear for Njoku right away
32. Ryan Ramczyk, OT (New Orleans Saints)
Finally, another tackle. It’s rare to see so few offensive lineman go in the first round, but there weren’t many exemplary talents this year. The Saints already have one of the top offensive lines in football. This only assures that running backs in New Orleans will continue to be relevant, and Drew Brees can keep being Drew Brees for at least another year.
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I currently reside in Denver, Colorado. I am from Philly so I am a diehard Eagles fan. When I am not writing about fantasy football, I am probably skiing, hiking, rock climbing, or playing hockey.