NFL Draft 2018 Fantasy Football Quick Take

Gridiron Experts will be releasing an NFL Draft grades article very soon. In the meantime, Mike Rigz and Anthony Cervino decided to get their fantasy football (and Dynasty) thoughts out for those curious about how this new crop of rookies will affect the fantasy players we own in our leagues. The following are some quick takes from the two staff writers.

Fantasy Quick Take

Quarterback Landing Spots: Fantasy Quick Take

[avatar user=”Anthony Cervino” size=”70″ align=”left” /]

Anthony Cervino: I thought this years quarterback draft class was a tad overrated. However, since the modern-day NFL is a passing league, we saw five signal callers go in the first round. While Mason Rudolph and Jared Lauretta — both post-first round selections — could be the future with the Steelers and Giants respectively, they won’t make an immediate impact.

Baker Mayfield 1Focusing on the first round quarterbacks, my initial thought is that I don’t see any of them being a Week 1 starter, except for Josh Allen in Buffalo. The Bills have A.J. McCarron in place to bridge the gap until it is Allen’s time, but McCarron is almost as unproven as the rookie is in the league. And with a strong showing in the preseason, I think Allen at least has a shot to open the year as the starter, which is more than I can say for the rest of the bunch. Although Baker Mayfield was the top overall pick, the smart decision would be to let Tyrod Taylor go out there while Mayfield waits until the Browns are eliminated from the playoffs for him to get his chance. The same could be said for Josh Rosen, who has Sam Bradford in front of him as well as Lamar Jackson’s situation with Joe Flacco and the Ravens and Sam Darnold’s with Josh McCown and the Jets.

From a fantasy perspective, Rosen, Mayfield, Allen, and Darnold should all be stashed in 2QB leagues as well as in Dynasty formats — they are all in situations in which their respective team’s starters are either under-whelming assets or injury prone. I believe out of all seven QBs drafted so far, they have the best shot to see the field at some point in 2018 with Mayfield as my No. 1 target due to him landing with the Browns.

While I’m a Tyrod Taylor guy, I think that if he doesn’t get the job done early, ownership and fans alike will be calling for the No. 1 overall pick to take the field. The Browns have ample talent on the offense, an upside running game, and a top 10 offensive line in place for when Mayfield is ready. Not to mention a pair of sound offensive minds like Todd Haley and Hue Jackson to coach him up. Mayfield has a chance for early success which could come to fruition within his first two years in the league.

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Mike Rigz: I’m not crazy about this year’s draft class, but due to high demand, we should see a number of rookie QB’s getting starts in 2018. As much as I like Baker Mayfield, I’m concerned the Browns coaching staff won’t be able to groom him. The Browns have all the talent, but it may take another year to put it all together.

Josh RosenI’m really surprised the Bills chose Josh Allen over Josh Rosen. The cost for the Bills to move up and get Allen seems ridiculous considering they had a shot at Deshaun Watson last year.  Leading up to the draft I really liked what I saw and heard from Rosen, I think he should win the starting job over Sam Bradford for the Cardinals easily. The Jets seem ready for a change, no doubt Sam Darnold starts and gets valuable experience from playing right away.

No Quarterback from this group should have an impact in fantasy; however, I’m curious about the shakedown next season. Flacco could be out if he fails to take the Ravens to the playoffs, and Big Ben may hang it up paving the way for 3rd rounder Mason Rudolph to take over.

Running Backs Landing Spots: Fantasy Quick Take

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Mike Rigz: The Giants opted not to draft the future at quarterback and instead picked the most gifted player in the draft. Saquon Barkley, a 6-foot, 233-pound RB from Penn State, ran an official 40 time of 4.40 seconds. He had a better bench press than Joe Thomas, a quicker 10 -Yard Split than DeSean Jackson and jumps higher than Julio Jones. This pick will be debated for years. Did the Giants make the right decision? Could they have waited? It’s a never-ending pointless argument. The team still feels Eli has something left in the tank, and the ownership wanted Barkley.

However, if Redskins Derrius Guice (the player most people had thought was the second-best running back in this draft class) outperforms for a divisional rival, Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s job will be lost. Guice was the 7th running back taken due to character issues and fell to the late 2nd round. Basically, the way I interpreted it, Guice failed the interview processes. Dynasty owners may feel nervous with 1.2 (the second rookie pick), but they shouldn’t. Where he was drafted will all blow over and Guice should have a solid career.

I’m a big fan of Royce Freeman; I was surprised he didn’t go sooner and think he could have a significant impact in terms of fantasy production this season. I’m not afraid of Devontae Booker and think the job will be Freeman’s by preseason.

There are a few interesting running back landing spots that I look forward to researching further this week including Nyheim Hines to the Colts, Kerryon Johnson to the Lions, and Kalen Ballage to the Dolphins. Check back for fantasy breakdown articles that should focus on the fantasy stock of Marlon Mack and Kenyan Drake. Without getting ahead of myself, I think both Mack and Drake dodged bullets and should get the workload in 2018.

[avatar user=”Anthony Cervino” size=”70″ align=”left” /]

Anthony Cervino: Obviously, all eyes are on Saquon Barkley, the second overall pick by the Giants. It will be a pick that I will look at under the microscope for years to come. In my mock, I had the Giants making a Giants-type pick — Quentin Nelson, who drew Larry Allen comps. Instead, Dave Gettleman went with the splash selection, one that many expect to pay dividends quickly in Barkley. However, while Barkley has it all talent-wise, history is not on his side. Aside from Larry Johnson, first-round Penn State running backs have been busts dating back to D.J. Dozier in 1987 — add Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis and Ki-Jana Carter to the list. Whether it was underwhelming production or injuries, luck hasn’t been on their side. So if you believe in the Madden, Kardashian or Hard Knocks curse, you may want to shy away from Barkley in his rookie campaign.

But most of us won’t pay any mind to history, and will target Barkley early and often in upcoming fantasy drafts. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he went in the late-first/early-second. My knock on Barkley is the Giants’ offensive line. While they added Nate Solder, there are still gaping holes, primarily, where Ereck Flowers lines up. Barkley is one that I’m wary about.

Rashaad Penny NFL draftFor the other rushers who went in the first, similar questions come to mind for several reasons. First, Rashaad Penny to the Seahawks. Seattle is in rebuild mode. They still had their glaring offensive line needs as well as ones at receiver, tight end and all over their once-stingy defense. While Penny is poised to be the Week 1 starter, he’ll likely have similar issues as his recent predecessors. You can’t run without a line. But still, because of his opportunity, he’ll draw mid-round fantasy consideration in redraft leagues. He could be the Joe Mixon of 2018.

Sony Michel is another head-scratcher. For the first time in seemingly a long time, the Patriots had needs and weren’t in the position to draft best available — not to mention the fact that Michel was far from being the best available, not even at his position. They have an extremely crowded backfield now, which is not fantasy friendly. Michel will be a role player, but how much field time he will see is the great conundrum. Until the Patriots’ running back depth chart unfolds, Michel is a late-round flier for me in redraft leagues who will draw greater value in PPR and Dynasty scoring formats.

Of the notable day-two prospects at running back — Nick Chubb to the Browns, Ronald Jones to the Buccaneers, Kerryon Johnson to the Lions, Derrius Guice to the Redskins and Royce Freeman to the Broncos — my favorite has to be Freeman landing with the Broncos.

Royce FreemanFrom a fantasy perspective, Royce Freeman is in a prime position to start right away since the Broncos recently cut ties with C.J. Anderson. The Broncos are in rebuild mode — getting younger and more effective on the offensive side of the ball was the focus of John Elway’s offseason in Denver. Adding Freeman to the likes of Courtland Sutton, Case Keenum, Demaryius Thomas, Jake Butt and Manny Sanders makes for a strong nucleus of weapons for years to come. Freeman is another one of my players with an outstanding opportunity ahead. He is an upside mid-to-late round target in upcoming fantasy football drafts.

While I can go on and on about the before-mentioned RBs, I’d like to turn my focus on Kerryon Johnson. I believe he is another rusher with a promising opportunity in front of him in 2018 — although Derrius Guice’s could have been a day-one pick due to his immense talent, he slid due to his off the field issues and was taken by a Redksins team already equipped with three respectable RBs including Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, and Rob Kelley. The same could be said about Chubb who will compete for touches with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson.

For Kerryon Johnson, I can see him as the Lions’ Week 1 RB1. Let’s face it, Ameer Abdulah is a bust and Theo Riddick is a PPR specialist. To me, LeGarrette Blount is Johnson’s only competition for early-down carries. But Blount is over the age of 30 and was likely only signed to play a leadership role for the team and receive 8-10 carries in a game. For 2018, I’m targeting Johnson a few rounds ahead of Royce Freeman.

Wide Reciever Landing Spots: Fantasy Quick Take

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Anthony Cervino: Although the 2018 wide receiver class is deep, I don’t believe there is any wideout who can return legit WR1 upside outside of D.J. Moore and perhaps, Calvin Ridley. Which is why I’m not surprised that they were the only two WRs selected in the first round. Moore, the first WR taken, landed with the wide receiver-needy Panthers. Since Devin Funchess is the only receiver on the depth chart who can legitimately challenge Moore for the No. 1 spot, I believe it’s the rookie’s job to lose. He should be the top rookie wideout taken in fantasy. Up until the combine, Ridley was the top prospect at receiver. However, leading up to this weekend’s draft, his stock began to slip. Once viewed as an early day-one pick, Ridley was a few spots behind Moore. Landing with a Falcons team that regressed in 2017 under OC Steve Sarkisian, Ridley will look to add a spark to a once-potent offense. However, I don’t trust Matt Ryan or Sarkasian. Therefore, I view Ridley as a risky fantasy asset in year-one. I’m avoiding him in his rookie campaign unless the Falcons move on from Julio Jones or Mohamed Sanu. While we saw six receivers go off the board in the second round — I believe their upside is capped for one reason or another — there is one round three receiver garnering my interest. Michael Gallup, the Cowboys third-round pick, could be the sleeper of this year’s rookie class at his position. Not only is the opportunity there since the Cowboys moved on from Dez Bryant, but his competition for the No. 1 spot is full of question marks. Aside from Allen Hurns, I don’t see any receiver currently on the Dallas roster who can beat Gallup out for one of the starting spots on the outside. His speed and ability to create separation are two areas in which the Cowboys’ WR corps lacked in recent years due to Bryant’s sudden regression, which led to his release. As long as he has a good preseason and builds a quick rapport with Dak Prescott, I can see Gallup returning WR2 value on a late-round flier.

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Mike Rigz: This draft class isn’t great. I think in a few years we may look back and see only a handful of names putting a dent in the stat columns. That being said I really like the landing spot of Calvin Ridley. In terms of fantasy, some may not like him going to the Falcons, but there is a “potential out” clause in Mohamed Sanu’s 2019 contract next year, one that I think the Falcons may take advantage of. If they do decide to cut Sanu, Ridley would be playing opposite Julio Jones who will be turning 30 years old in 2019. I see Ridley having a modest rookie campaign, but he could really step into a huge role next season.

DJ MooreD.J. Moore got a raving review from Steve Smith Sr. on NFL Network after the pick was announced. Smith said that he felt the Panthers hadn’t filled his role since he left, until now. That’s a bold statement and one fantasy owners should take note of. The Panthers could use a boost from their receiving group, and Moore should help Cam Newton right out of the gate. We have a D.J. Moore blind comparison article that I think you might like, check that out here.

Finally, I really like James Washington landing on the Steelers. I know it’s a crowded house with AB, Bell, and Juju, but Washington is a baller who should make plays even in his rookie season.

Tight End Landing Spots: Fantasy Quick Take

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Mike Rigz: The Ravens filled a need with Hayden Hurst in the first round. Hurst will be a 25-year old rookie next season, after playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s an all-around athlete with some life experience. I think people will overlook his potential due to his age. He doesn’t have a high ceiling but can be productive regardless. Hurst, who stands tall at 6’5″ and weighs 250lbs, did run a 4.67 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That’s the 12th fastest time of all tight ends in the last three years. The Eagles traded back out of the first round with the Ravens moving back 20 spots, but did skip ahead of the Cowboys to select Dallas Goedert on the same day Jason Witten retired. Fantasy Owners may think Goedert’s presence hurts the value of Zach Ertz, but the tight end position, which is a combination of blocking and running routes, is not easy to pick up. The Eagles are being proactive as they had no major needs. Goedert should contribute in small doses with the team in his rookie season but is being groomed for the future. I don’t think we’re going to see fantasy production out of this draft class like we did out of last years group, however, one name to watch for could be Jordan Akins for the Texans. Much like Hayden Hurst, Akins is older and tried his luck at baseball before turning to the NFL. His senior bowl performance is what got him drafted so high. He got open against some of the best defenders in the draft class.

[avatar user=”Anthony Cervino” size=”70″ align=”left” /]

Anthony Cervino: I’m tremendously surprised that more than one tight end wasn’t selected in the first round. The only first-round tight end was Hayden Hurst, who was drafted by the Ravens. In fact, I had Mike Gesicki, who went to the Dolphins in the second — as my top prospect for this position. For Hurst, he is landing with a team that will make him an impactful player from day one — the Ravens and Joe Flacco love featuring the tight end in the passing game. I expect Hurst to open the year as the Ravens’ TE1. He should see ample targets, especially in the red zone. At a minimum, a 50-600-6 stat line is what I expect out of Hurst in his rookie campaign.

For Gesicki, he is landing with a Dolphins team that hasn’t employed a fantasy relevant tight end in recent memory — see Julius Thomas. However, that has changed now with Gesicki coming to town. Gesicki has the best hands in this year’s tight end class and is viewed as a superior pass-catching weapon more so than he is as a run-blocker, which bodes well for his fantasy upside. While I don’t expect much from Ryan Tannehill or the Dolphins, Gesicki could be one of the bright spots on a struggling offense. And since Jarvis Landry is no longer with the team, there are plenty more targets to go around. Gesicki is my rookie TE1.

I do have to mention Dallas Goedert. I love the pick by the Eagles but hate that they jumped in front of my Cowboys to snag him — otherwise I believe he’d be a Cowboy right now. While the Eagles employ the great Zach Ertz — my early TE1 — they also lost Brent Celek to retirement and Trey Burton to the Bears. Thus, the need that Goedert will fill is just fine. Goedart will be the Eagles’ immediate TE2 and due to Ertz’s injury history — it’s not much but he does miss a handful of games — it wouldn’t surprise me if he drew a start or two throughout the year. Still, while that won’t be enough for him to draw any serious fantasy consideration, I’d be all over him on the waiver wire in the event Ertz does, in fact, miss any time.

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