2017 NFL Draft: Whose Fantasy Stock Went Up/Down for All 32 Teams
Now that the draft has come and gone, we can reevaluate each fantasy situation around the league. The majority of fantasy players play in traditional, re-draft leagues rather than dynasty leagues, so here I’ll go through each team and specifically look at which players’ 2017 fantasy value increased or decreased based on what their team did or didn’t do in the draft.
Feel free to jump directly to the team-by-team analysis below, but I'll start with a historical study on rookie-year usage for players at each position based on draft round.
How Much Usage to Expect in a Player's Rookie Year
Now, predicting how college players will perform in the NFL is challenging — so much so that data suggests that no NFL team can maintain a long-term edge at it. So while there are of course certain prospects and situations I like more than others, which I’ll get into below, I also want to employ a gut check of sorts by employing some data that projects rookies while being mostly immune to my personal biases — data that isn’t affected by a player’s workout metrics, tape, or even the team he was drafted by.
|Draft Round||QB Pass Attempts||RB Touches||WR Targets||TE Targets|
We know opportunity is paramount in fantasy football, and it turns out that the round a player is drafted is predictive of the amount of opportunity he’ll receive in year one — generally, the earlier a player is drafted, the more time he’ll spend on the field in his rookie year.
Projected 2017 Team-by-Team Rookie Usage
Using this data, we can projected total incoming rookie usage at each fantasy position for each team based on their 2017 draft class. For instance, since the Panthers drafted an RB (Christian McCaffrey) in round one, they’d be assigned 200.5 RB touches, representing the average rookie-year usage for a first-round RB over the last 10 seasons.1 Then we’d assign 56.9 WR targets for Curtis Samuel, representing the rookie-year average for second-round WRs, and so on.
Here is the entire breakdown of each team’s 2017 draft class:
|Team||QB Pass Attempts||RB Touches||WR Targets||TE Targets|
These projections is of course to be taken with a grain of salt — no one expects third-rounder Davis Webb to throw 167 passes at the expense of Eli Manning, for instance — but they serve as a good starting point for putting things in perspective as far as identifying which veterans’ jobs are in the most danger, which veterans have job security, which QBs are likely to be throwing a lot of passes to rookies, which QBs are likely to be complimented by a new running game, and of course, which rookies are likely to get the most playing time.
Fantasy Stock Up/Down Team-by-Team
The following is a team-by-team breakdown of which players' fantasy stock went up or down due to moves their team made (or didn't make) during the 2017 NFL Draft. Because the Draft offers a glimpse not only into how each team has evaluated incoming rookies, but also into how each team views their own roster, my process not only included evaluating each incoming rookie's college production, combine metrics and film, but also seeking out explanations from GMs on their rationale for making the choices they did. We'll continue to learn new information as the offseason progresses, but my hope is that the legwork down here can provide fantasy owners with a solid foundation to build on for properly valuing players leading up to fantasy drafts come August (and best-ball leagues throughout the offseason).
1 (13). Temple LB Haason Reddick
2 (36). Washington DB Budda Baker
3 (98). Grambling WR Chad Williams
4 (115). Pittsburgh OG Dorian Johnson
5 (157). Vanderbilt OT Will Holden
5 (179). North Carolina RB T.J. Logan
6 (208). Auburn S Johnathan Ford
While 31.8-target rookie-year average for third-round WRs appears to make a strong case for an increase in the target totals of Larry Fitzgerald (150), J.J. Nelson (74) and John Brown (73) due to the absence of Michael Floyd’s 70 targets, there’s a solid chance that third-rounder Chad Williams steps into Floyd's role. Brown was also a third-rounder when he racked up 102 targets as a rookie under Bruce Arians, and the 207-pound Williams -- who has a 99th-percentile SPARQ score -- is a more ideal fit as a full-time outside receiver for Carson Palmer to throw to than the 179-pound Brown or the 156-pound Nelson. Ultimately, Brown is the most likely Cardinal pass-catcher to pick up the slack now that he's supposedly healthy, but I'm keeping a close eye on Williams's development.
Stock up: Carson Palmer
No Falcon besides Vic Beasley had more than 4.5 sacks last season, so first-round DE Takk McKinley improves the outlook of a fantasy D/ST that still managed to finish in the top-10 last season despite allowing the sixth-most points in the league.
Stock Up: Falcons D/ST
1 (16). Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
2 (47). Houston LB Tyus Bowser
3 (74). Michigan DT Chris Wormley
3 (78). Alabama LB Tim Williams
4 (122). San Diego State OG Nico Siragusa
5 (159). Texas A&M OG Jermaine Eluemunor
6 (186). Virginia Tech DB Chuck Clark
Somewhat shockingly, the Ravens failed to add a single skill-position player in the draft, most notably at WR. Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, and Kyle Juszczyk vacated a combined 200 targets, so the stock of all Ravens pass-catchers gets a bump. Breshad Perriman, a first-round pick in 2015, has the most room to grow after drawing 66 targets in his first pro season. Perriman is 6-foot-2, 214 pounds and ran a 4.30 40-yard dash; he has No. 1 WR upside. There should also be plenty of targets for Mike Wallace, Danny Woodhead, and Dennis Pitta, although I’m not sure Pitta can handle much more than the team-leading 121 targets he received last year. Michael Campanaro seemingly the No. 3 WR by default right now. Chris Moore, last year’s fourth-round pick, may also factor in.
While Flacco's stock went down, another member's of the Ravens backfield went up. After focusing on defense in the draft at the expense of pass-catchers, the Ravens aren't likely to lead the league in pass attempts (679) again, meaning their rushing attempts (367, third-fewest in the league) should increase. With Kenneth Dixon suspended for four games and Danny Woodhead primarily a passing-down specialist, Terrance West should be able to at least match his RB33 finish in PPR PPG (23rd overall), yet West isn't being drafted among the top 50 RBs on either MyFantasyLeague or Fantasy Football Calculator as of May 7.
Stock Down: Joe Flacco*
*Update June 24: The Ravens finally added a WR, signing free agent Jeremy Maclin on June 12. Based on recent history, the Ravens have no issue giving a newly-signed free agent WR a large role at the expense of incumbents. The stock of Flacco goes back to normal (althought it was never high to begin with), as Maclin shouldn't be much of a downgrade on final-year Steve L Smith, especially if Maclin's slow '16 was merely the cause of playing with a torn groin. The stock of Wallace goes back to normal, as his role likely won't change; his ADP in the WR40s is still fair. However, Perriman may again fail to see significant usage, while Campanaro and Moore aren't likely to bee fantasy-relevant.
1 (27). LSU CB Tre’Davious White
2 (37). East Carolina WR Zay Jones
2 (63). Temple OT Dion Dawkins
5 (163). Boston College LB Matt Milano
5 (171). Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman
6 (195). Boise State LB Tanner Vallejo
Mel Kiper pegged Dion Dawkins as his No. 2 guard and a “dominant run blocker”, which should help LeSean McCoy. Despite leading the league in rushing last season, the Bills’ offensive line ranked only 16th in adjusted line yards in 2016.
Tyrod Taylor also gets second-rounder Zay Jones at WR in place of Robert Woods. Despite an 88th-percentile SPARQ score, Jones never averaged more than 11.1 yards per reception in four seasons at East Carolina and is not likely to be a game-changer for Taylor any more than Woods was. The big winner here is Jones himself, who will likely slot right into Woods’ old starting role immediately.
1 (8). Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
2 (40). Ohio State WR Curtis Samuel
2 (64). Western Michigan OT Taylor Moton
3 (77). Texas A&M DE Daeshon Hall
5 (152). Miami (FL) CB Corn Elder
6 (192). West Georgia FB Alexander Armah
7 (233). Georgia Tech K Harrison Butker
After Ted Ginn and Corey Brown left in free agency, Cam Newton was left with perhaps the slowest receiving corps in the league. He’ll get a couple of speedy movable chess pieces to play with in eighth-overall pick Christian McCaffrey and 40th-overall pick Curtis Samuel. Both can play RB and WR, with McCaffrey expected to play more RB and Samuel expected to play more as a slot WR. Newton hasn’t had dynamic players at RB or in the slot at any point in his career.
Meanwhile, thirty-year-old Jonathan Stewart is the big loser here. At best, he’ll split work with McCaffrey, while at worst, he’ll become McCaffrey’s backup. Stewart’s two-year streak of at least 220 touches is in major jeopardy -- over the last 10 seasons, RBs drafted in the first half of the first round, as McCaffrey was, have averaged 234.6 touches in their rookie year.
Stock Up: Cam Newton
Stock Down: Jonathan Stewart
Head coach John Fox is likely to give Mike Glennon a fair shot this season after being "left in the dark" in the Mitch Trubisky trade, but Glennon's stock still takes a major hit after GM Ryan Pace paid a ransom to move up and take Trubisky. Over the last 10 years, first-round QBs have averaged 10.7 starts and 344.8 attempts in their rookie season.
The stock of Zach Miller and Dion Sims took a hit when the Bears expended a second-round pick on Adam Shaheen out of D-2 Ashland. Second-round TEs average 39.8 targets over the last 10 years, and especially if the Bears are as bad as expected, the 6-foot-6, 278-pound Shaheen may increasingly get looks as the season wears on at the expense of 33-year-old Miller and marginal talent Sims.
1 (9). Washington WR John Ross
2 (48). Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
3 (73). Kansas State DE Jordan Willis
4 (116). Auburn DE Carl Lawson
4 (128). Tennessee WR Josh Malone
4 (138). Michigan DT Ryan Glasgow
5 (153). Memphis K Jake Elliott
5 (176). Utah C/G J.J. Dielman
6 (193). Oklahoma LB Jordan Evans
6 (207). Houston RB Brandon Wilson
7 (251). Buffalo TE Mason Schreck
Andy Dalton is a painfully average QB, and as a result, his fantasy production tends to be wholly dependent on his supporting cast. Speedy wideout John Ross, drafted ninth overall, ran a 4.22 40-yard dash and adds an element of speed Dalton has never had before. Much-maligned runner Joe Mixon, drafted 47th overall, scored 9 TDs on 65 receptions in two years at Oklahoma while averaging a stellar 13.8 yards per reception. Dalton already has two top-10 fantasy PPG finishes in his career (2013 and 2015), and any contributions from Ross and Mixon should help him inch up towards the QB1 ranks from last year's 17th-place finish.
While Mixon is a heart-wrenchlingly controversial figure of the field, on it he has enough talent to command a feature-back workload and render Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard as true backups rather than committee partners. Even if Mixon doesn’t start right away, the RB pie will now almost certainly be split in three instead of two -- RBs drafted in the second round over the last 10 years have averaged 150.5 touches in their rookie season.
The stock of Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd goes down with the addition of Ross, who is a threat to become Dalton’s second-most targeted WR behind A.J. Green, although Ross could start slow due a shoulder surgery that will likely cost him precious offseason work with Dalton. Head coach Marvin Lewis has a reputation for bringing rookies along slowly, but there's not much precedent for WRs like Ross. Green, the only other WR Lewis has drafted in the first round, got 115 targets in his rookie year, but the offense was devoid of No. 1 WR talent at the time. Only two of the other 16 WRs drafted by Lewis received more than 50 targets in their first year, although the fact that Boyd, a second-round selection in 2016, got 81 targets last season is promising. Ultimately, I believe that as long as he's healthy, Ross will get a chance to be on the field with the starters, but him boosting Dalton's stock is a more likely outcome than him becoming an immediate fantasy asset himself.
Stock Up: Andy Dalton
1 (1). Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett
1 (25). Michigan S Jabrill Peppers
1 (29). Miami TE David Njoku
2 (52). Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
3 (65). Charlotte DT Larry Ogunjobi
4 (126). Houston CB Howard Wilson
5 (160). Florida State OT Roderick Johnson
6 (185). Florida DT Caleb Brantley
7 (224). Arizona State K Zane Gonzalez
7 (252). North Carolina State RB Matt Dayes
Given the circumstances, 2016 third-rounder Cody Kessler actually performed decently last season, finishing the year with a 92.3 QB rating and 6:2 TD-INT ratio, but his stock took a major hit when the Browns drafted DaShone Kizer in the second round. Over the last 10 seasons, second-round QBs have averaged 4.8 starts and 158.7 attempts in their rookie year. Kessler is the favorite to open the year as the starter, but the tanking Browns have every reason to give Kizer an audition at some point ahead of a 2018 draft that is long on QB talent.
It appears as if developmental first-round TE David Njoku -- who, according to Player Profiler has a 97th-percentile burst score, and 92nd-percentile catch radius and a best comparable of Travis Kelce -- will get a chance to develop on the fly after the team parted ways with one-year wonder Gary Barnidge. Njoku averaged 16.6 yards per reception at Miami and scored on an absurd 18.6% of his 43 receptions last season. Even though he’s raw, I don’t see how Njoku doesn’t command more defensive attention as a rookie than Barnidge did last year based on sheer athleticism alone. Since 2007, TEs drafted in the first round are averaging 64.7 targets in their rookie year.
Stock Up: David Njoku*
Stock Down: Cody Kessler
*Update June 24: Word out fo Browns camp is that '16 fourth-round TE Seth DeValve may challenge Njoku for the starting role. Njoku offers appeal as a TE3 in best-ball as a potential every-down TE with supreme athleticism, but isn't a re-draft option until his hold on a starting job is secure.
1 (28). Michigan DE Taco Charlton
2 (60). Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie
3 (92). Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis
4 (133). North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer
6 (191). Louisiana Tech S Xavier Woods
6 (216). Florida State CB Marquez White
7 (228). Florida DT Joey Ivie
7 (239). Ohio State WR Noah Brown
7 (246). Colorado DT Jordan Carrell
The Cowboys were a bottom-five fantasy D/ST last season, but their stock gets a boost after spending seven of their nine picks on defense, as well as a fourth-rounder on WR Ryan Switzer, who returned 7 of his 99 college punt returns for TDs -- last season, the Cowboys were 22nd in the league in punt return average (7.1) with no TDs.
Stock Up: Cowboys D/ST
1 (20). Utah OT Garett Bolles
2 (51). Florida State DL DeMarcus Walker
3 (82). Louisiana Tech WR Carlos Henderson
3 (101). Lamar CB Brendan Langley
5 (145). Michigan TE Jake Butt
5 (172). Georgia WR Isaiah McKenzie
6 (203). Coastal Carolina RB De’Angelo Henderson
7 (253). Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
The Broncos D/ST should be improved not only by the selection of DeMarcus Walker, who had 16 sacks last season, but also from third-rounder Carlos Henderson and fifth-rounder Isaiah McKenzie, two of the best returners in the draft.
Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian should benefit from the selection of tackle Garrett Bolles in the first round after the Broncos ranked 27th in adjusted sack rate last season. In a weak draft for offensive lineman, Bolles was pegged by many analysts as the most NFL-ready offensive line prospect,
Jake Butt was a potential top-40 pick before an ACL injury, but if he makes it back on the field, he’ll also be an upgrade for the QBs -- Broncos TEs caught just 53 passes last season, second-fewest in the NFL. However, he may begin the year on the PUP and can’t be counted on for year-one impact.
1 (21). Florida LB Jarrad Davis
2 (53). Florida CB Teez Tabor
3 (96). Northern Illinois WR Kenny Golladay
4 (124). Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
4 (127). Toledo TE Michael Roberts
5 (165). San Diego CB Jamal Agnew
6 (205). Arkansas DE Jeremiah Ledbetter
6 (215). Miami (FL) QB Brad Kaaya
7 (250). Eastern Michigan DT Pat O’Connor
Lions GM Bob Quinn hinted the team will give third-rounder Kenny Golladay a chance to start outside or even play Anquan Boldin’s vacated big slot role, but also acknowledged Golladay is a developmental project. It’s almost a cliche at this point to laud Eric Ebron’s preseason stock, but third-round WRs, as well as fourth-round TEs, have historically tended not to make much of a first-year impact, and there’s nothing about Golladay or Michael Roberts that suggests either one will be an exception. The Lions have to replace Boldin’s 95 targets and team-leading 22 red zone targets. Ebron is a middle-of-the-field target like Boldin and has a lot of room for growth in red zone targets after receiving only six last season.
Stock Up: Eric Ebron
Green Bay Packers
2 (33). Washington CB Kevin King
2 (61). North Carolina State SS Josh Jones
3 (93). Auburn DL Montravius Adams
4 (108). Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel
4 (134). Brigham Young RB Jamaal Williams
5 (175). Purdue WR DeAngelo Yancey
5 (182). Texas El-Paso RB Aaron Jones
6 (212). South Florida G/C Kofi Amichia
7 (238). Utah State RB Devante Mays
7 (247). LSU WR Malachi Dupre
Only three teams added more projected rookie RB touches to their backfield than the Packers (187.1), so on the surface, it looks like Ty Montgomery’s stock took a post-draft hit even though he’s still penciled in as the starter. However, if Packers rookie backs do indeed account for 190-odd touches, that would still leave Montgomery with roughly 190 potential touches, assuming Packers RBs again account for somewhere around the 382 touches they did last year. Montgomery averaged 1.18 PPR points per touch last season, so 190 touches would put him in the high-end RB2 conversation in PPR (but more of a flex in standard leagues). Fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams poses the biggest threat to Montgomery, as Williams has No. 1 back size (6-foot, 212 pounds) and has shown potential as a pass blocker.
Stock Down: Ty Montgomery
1 (12). Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
2 (57). Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
3 (89). Texas RB D’Onta Foreman
4 (130). Bucknell OT Julie’n Davenport
4 (142). Clemson DT Carlos Watkins
5 (169). Oregon State DB Treston Decoud
7 (243). Baylor C/G Kyle Fuller
The Texans averaged 5.9 yards per pass attempt last season. That was "good" for worst in the NFL, and a mark which 76.9% of first-round QBs over the last 10 years have eclipsed in their rookie season. In other words, even if Deshaun Watson plays like a rookie, it should still be an improvement on last season’s Brock Osweiler disaster. First-round QBs have started 67% of their team’s games in their rookie year over the last 10 years -- Tom Savage will be a Case Keenum-esque placeholder at best. It’s also notable that Bill O’Brien’s Texan offenses eschewed targeting the TE until Brock Osweiler arrived, so I’m viewing a QB change as a negative for C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin.
After trading away next year’s first-round pick, the fact that the Texans still spent a third-rounder on a RB spells trouble for Alfred Blue, who racked up 112 touches last year as Lamar Miller’s backup. Since 2007, third-round RBs have averaged 118.4 touches in their rookie year, and Foreman will likely step right in as Miller’s backup.
1 (15). Ohio State S Malik Hooker
2 (46). Florida CB Quincy Wilson
3 (80). Ohio LB Tarell Basham
4 (137). USC OT Zach Banner
4 (143). South Florida RB Marlon Mack
4 (144). Albany State DT Grover Stewart
5 (158). Temple CB Nate Hairston
5 (161). Northwestern LB Anthony Walker
Colts RBs not named Frank Gore or Robert Turbin only accounted for 44 touches last season, but Marlon Mack brings something to the table that Gore and Turbin lack: athleticism. Mack represents the highest amount of draft capital spent on a RB in the Chuck Pagano era, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him eat into Gore’s usage a bit. That being said, it was feared the Colts would land a RB a lot earlier in the draft, and after Gore finished as a top-15 fantasy back in each of the past two seasons, he’s probably undervalued at his MyFantasyLeague ADP of RB45 as of May 7. Gore will continue to post subpar efficiency numbers due to his advanced age, and his stock took a slight hit due to the draft, but it could have been much worse.
Stock Down: Frank Gore
1 (4). LSU RB Leonard Fournette
2 (34). Alabama T/G Cam Robinson
3 (68). Florida DE Dawuane Smoot
4 (110). Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook
5 (148). Ohio LB Blair Brown
7 (222). Minnesota CB Jalen Myrick
7 (240). Miami (OH) Marquez Williams
Chris Ivory (117) and T.J. Yeldon (130) combined for 247 rushing attempts last season, but no RB over the last five years drafted in the top half of the first round -- as Leonard Fournette was -- has received less than 184 attempts. Fournette is expected to jump right into a feature back role. The 6-foot, 220-pound Ivory is redundant with the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Fournette and stands to see his role reduced the most. Yeldon will likely see last year’s 130 rushing attempts further reduced, but could still be utilized in the passing game. He’s averaged 3.2 receptions per game in the NFL, while Fournette caught only 41 passes in 32 college games.
Fournette's MyFantasyLeague ADP has climbed into the top-10 backs, but is he worth it? There have only been five RBs selected within the overall top-10 since 2007. Three (Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, Trent Richardson in 2012, Adrian Peterson in 2007) finished in the fantasy top-10, while two (C.J. Spiller in 2010 and Darren McFadden) came up way short. On a team that should field an improved defense and obviously wants to feed Fournette the ball, I think he has a chance at a top-10 finish, but I also think his ADP is being somewhat inflated by the recent success of fellow fourth-overall pick Elliott last season.
June 24 Update: The drafting of Fournette also signals a philosophy change, as the Jaguars will attempt to hide Blake Bortles going forward after he averaged 615.5 attempts over the past two years. Efficiency trumps volume at the QB position, but Bortles survived on volume perhaps more so than any other QB, so it remains to be seen if Fournette makes life easier on Bortles and leads to more efficiency, or if Bortles's numbers take a hit. After drawing 151 targets in each of the past two seasons, the target outlook of Allen Robinson takes a hit as well, but he may be able to offset some of that with likely positive regression. Marquise Lee finished last season promisingly, but will likely need to clearly separate himself from Allen Hurns as the No. 2 in order to be fantasy-relevant.
Kansas City Chiefs
1 (10). Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
2 (59). Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
3 (86). Toledo RB Kareem Hunt
4 (139). Michigan WR Jehu Chesson
5 (183). Georgia Southern LB Ukeme Eligwe
6 (218). USC DB Leon McQuay
Alex Smith has been the quintessential low ceiling-high floor fantasy QB in Kansas City, perfect as a low-risk second or third QB. But after the team traded up to 10th overall to nab Patrick Mahomes, Smith’s floor is lowered because there’s actually a high-upside prospect to bench him for.
The last time Andy Reid drafted a RB in the third round (Knile Davis in 2013), he tallied 81 touches in his rookie year, while starter Jamaal Charles got 329. Spencer Ware is the starter, but he’s no Jamaal Charles, and Ware’s job looks a bit less secure after the Hunt selection. I’d have to see Ware maintain a firm grip on the starter’s job throughout camp before I’d feel comfortable taking him at his current MyFantasyLeague ADP of RB17. I could see this situation devolving into a 1a/1b situation similar to what Ware and Charcandrick West had going on at times. Hunt’s addition is also bad news for West, who could fall to third on the depth chart.
Los Angeles Chargers
1 (7). Clemson WR Mike Williams
2 (38). Western Kentucky G/T Forrest Lamp
3 (71). Indiana OG Dan Feeney
4 (113). Miami (FL) S Rayshawn Jenkins
5 (151). Iowa DB Desmond King
6 (190). Utah OT Sam Tevi
7 (225). Notre Dame DL Isaac Rochell
The Chargers spent their first-rounder on WR Mike Williams, and their second- and third-rounders on guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney, respectively, making Philip Rivers a big winner here. Williams is a physical, 6-foot-4, 218-pound WR with a huge catch radius that gives the Chargers another potential stud WR should Keenan Allen continue to struggle with durability. Lamp and Feeney were Mel Kiper’s first and third-ranked guards and could help a Chargers line that was 24th in adjusted sack rate in 2016. Melvin Gordon could also benefit from the additions of Lamp and Feeney, as the Chargers ranked 23rd in adjusted line yards.
The addition of Williams to a crowded receiving corps could cause a decrease in targets for all of the Chargers’ pass-catchers, but the team’s complementary WRs will be the most negatively impacted. Tyrell Williams (119 targets last season) will be challenged by Williams for his No. 2 WR job, while Dontrelle Inman (97) and Travis Benjamin (75) will likely end up as the team’s fourth and fifth WRs.
June 24 Update: Mike Williams practiced once before suffering a herniated disk, and is now questionable for training camp. There is reason to believe the Chargers' coaching staff was not enthusiastic going forward with undrafted Tyrell Williams as the No. 2 despite a strong '16 showing, but Tyrell's grip on the job becomes more sturdy the more time Mike misses. As both Williams have fallen to the WR50 range and below, this is a situation to monitor, as it is entirely possible one of the two will outplay their ADP handily.
Los Angeles Rams
2 (44). South Alabama TE Gerald Everett
3 (69). Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp
3 (91). Boston College S John Johnson
4 (117). Texas A&M WR Josh Reynolds
4 (125). Eastern Washington LB Samson Ebukam
6 (189). Tulane DT Tanzel Smart
6 (206). Virginia Tech FB Sam Rogers
7 (234). Pittsburgh LB Ejuan Price
The Rams lost 296 targets between the departed Kenny Britt, Lance Kendricks, Brian Quick and Benny Cunningham, so even though the team has the fourth- and seventh-most projected targets for rookie WRs and TEs, respectively, all rookie Ram pass-catchers have a good shot at outperforming their projected targets without cutting into the workloads of the veterans already on the roster.
However, given the hire of forward-thinking 31-year-old offensive guru Sean McVay as head coach, I’m skeptical of all holdovers from the Jeff Fisher era, even if Les Snead is still on board as GM. Tavon Austin’s ludicrous contract (he’ll be paid nearly $15 million this season) essentially forces McVay to keep him around.
From my vantage point, it looks like McVay spent free agency and the draft handpicking his skill position starters. Like free agent addition Robert Woods, NFL-ready third-rounder Cooper Kupp can both play inside or outside. Fourth-rounder Josh Reynolds (4.51 40-yard dash) runs like a turtle compared to Austin (4.34), yet Reynolds already has a better deep-ball skill set than Austin, and at 6-foot-3, 194 pounds, also already possesses red zone ability that the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin will never possess. Second-rounder Gerald Everett has better college production and measurables than 2016 fourth-rounder Tyler Higbee. It’s too early to tell if the Rams’ new crop of pass-catchers will be a net gain for Jared Goff, but I firmly believe they will get an immediate chance to prove they are at the expense of Jeff Fisher’s holdovers.
1 (22). Missouri DE Charles Harris
2 (54). Ohio State ILB Raekwon McMillan
3 (97). Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley
5 (164). Utah OG Isaac Asiata
5 (178). LSU DT Davon Godchaux
6 (194). Oklahoma State DT Vincent Taylor
7 (237). Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford
The Dolphins stood pat at the skill positions except for seventh-round WR Isaiah Ford, so expect more of the same from RB Jay Ajayi and WRs Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. The biggest change will be TE Julius Thomas, who theoretically should provide an upgrade on Dion Sims and Jordan Cameron. The Dolphins took three defenders with their first three picks, but I’m not sure any of them project as a Week 1 starter at this point, so I doubt they’ll affect the D/ST in any meaningful way.
No stock up/down
2 (41). Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
3 (70). Ohio State G/C Pat Elflein
4 (109). Iowa DT Jaleel Johnson
4 (120). Michigan LB Ben Gedeon
5 (170). South Florida WR Rodney Adams
5 (180). Miami (FL) OG Danny Isidora
6 (201). Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges
7 (219). Miami (FL) WR Stacy Coley
7 (220). Northwestern DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
7 (232). Kansas State LB Elijah Lee
7 (245). North Carolina State CB Jack Tocho
After the Vikings already signed Latavius Murray in free agency, their selection of home-run hitting Dalvin Cook in the second round essentially means they are no longer counting on Jerick McKinnon, who handled 202 touches last season. Cook isn’t known as a strong inside runner, so Murray’s stock doesn’t take as much as McKinnon’s, but it’s also true that after the team traded up for Cook, a potential three-down workhorse (he averaged 24.7 touches in his final season at FSU), he is much more of a threat to steal touches from Murray than McKinnon was. Cook will seemingly be given an immediate chance to win the starting job after head coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal after the draft on his who his starting runner would be.
I don’t pretend to be able to forecast rookie-year offensive lineman performance, but after the Vikings stumbled to a 29th-place finish in team RB PPR points due to a line ranked 30th in adjusted line yards, the addition of third-round interior lineman Pat Elflein -- Mel Kiper’s No. 1 center and a good run blocker according to scouts -- is notable.
New England Patriots
3 (83). Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers
3 (85). Troy OT Antonio Garcia
4 (131). Arkansas DE Deatrich Wise
6 (211). UCLA OT Conor McDermott
If Brandin Cooks was included in this haul, Tom Brady would obviously be a huge winner, but since we’re talking about only what happened during the actual draft, there’s nothing to report after the Patriots only had four picks, and none before late on Day 2.
No stock up/down
New Orleans Saints
1 (11). Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore
1 (32). Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
2 (42). Utah FS Marcus Williams
3 (67). Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara
3 (76). Florida LB Alex Anzalone
3 (103). Florida Atlantic DE Trey Hendrickson
6 (196). Miami (FL) DE Al-Quadin Muhammad
A year after Mark Ingram set a career-high in receptions per game with 4.3, he dipped back down to 2.9 as the Saints fed journeyman Travaris Cadet 58 targets and the since-departed Tim Hightower another 26 -- not to mention fullback John Kuhn’s 22. Then the Saints traded premium draft capital -- a 2018 second-rounder -- to move up in the third round and take Alvin Kamara, who scored TDs on nearly 10% of his college receptions. The team’s whiffed C.J. Spiller signing a few years back, Cadet’s unexpected 2016 usage, and trading up for Kamara lead me to believe the Saints don’t want to involve Ingram much in the passing game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his reception totals fall again. To be clear, Ingram can still be a very productive fantasy asset and has RB1 upside, but the drafting of Kamara lowers his reception upside, and thus, his stock.
New York Giants
1 (23). Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
2 (55). Alabama DT Dalvin Tomlinson
3 (87). California QB Davis Webb
4 (140). Clemson RB Wayne Gallman
5 (167). Youngstown State DE Avery Moss
6 (200). Pittsburgh OT Adam Bisnowaty
After two straight seasons of averaging 7.3 adjusted yards per attempt (A/YA) under Ben McAdoo, Eli Manning's AY/A fell to 6.4 last season. One big reason why: Manning averaged 3.4 A/YA on 70 targets to Will Tye and 3.0 A/YA on 22 targets to Larry Donnell. The Giants spent a first-round pick on athletic seam-stretcher Evan Engram, Ole Miss’ all-time leading receiver at TE. Over the last 10 years, first-round TEs have averaged 64.7 targets per game, and I’d be willing to wager that the Giants, who are in win-now mode, will give their first-rounder every opportunity to approach or eclipse that number. With a better receiving TE giving him an option down the middle against cover 2 defenses, which the Giants were susceptible to last season, Eli’s numbers should make a jump. Engram’s poor blocking skills shouldn’t limit his playing time -- GM Jerry Reese signed Rhett Ellison to block. I think Sterling Shepard’s stock take a hit as well, as he could potentially fall to fourth in the target totem pole, but I also think the Brandon Marshall signing was more detrimental to Shepard than the Engram pick.
After the draft, Ben McAdoo named Paul Perkins his starter, but I'm not taking that as a reason to bump Perkins' stock. For one, the Giants did add a RB in the fourth round (and are said to be in the running for free agent LeGarrette Blount). But also, I don't think it's a good look when the head coach is surprised he's naming a player we thought was going to start all along a starter.
Stock Up: Eli Manning
New York Jets
1 (6). LSU S Jamal Adams
2 (39). Florida S Marcus Maye
3 (79). Alabama WR ArDarius Stewart
4 (141). California WR Chad Hansen
5 (150). Clemson TE Jordan Leggett
5 (181). West Georgia LB Dylan Donahue
6 (188). Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire
6 (197). Michigan CB Jeremy Clark
6 (204). Ole Miss CB Derrick Jone
Two safeties and then two WRs? Like throwing a football accurately baffles Christian Hackenberg, the Jets’ ‘17 class baffled me. After listening to a recent interview of GM Mike Maccagnan break down his latest draft haul, I came away with the impression that he based draft picks largely on intangible qualities, the Jets brain trust understandably shell-shocked after one of their star players told the whole (Snapchat) world how he really felt: “Where the h*** at though? F*** this game.”
The release of Brandon Marshall (128 targets in ‘16) and the likely release/trade of Eric Decker (Macaggnan was noncommittal on his roster spot in the aforementioned interview) raised the fantasy stock of the pleasantly surprising Quincy Enunwa (105-58-857-4) and Robby Anderson (78-42-587-2), with a projected increase in targets to offset the loss of Brandon Marshall drawing coverage away. In particular, I thought Enunwa was worth a late-round gamble as a potential 100-plus target WR that flashed at times last season.
Then the Jets drafted WRs ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, along with TE Jordan Leggett. While adding three pass catchers in rounds 3-5 should theoretically lower Enunwa and Anderson’s stock, Macaggnan’s poor track record of drafting plus the historical lack of year-one impact pass-catchers in rounds 3-5 tend have makes me hesitate to say it truly does. I do think the draft class makes it easier to move on from Decker (although there have been conflicting reports on whether he's in the team's plans or not), and I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him with a top-100 fantasy pick until we know more about his future and recovery from offseason hip and shoulder surgeries. As mid-rounders with no clear role on a team expected to have hideous QB play, I’m treating the rookie pass-catchers as fantasy non-factors.
*Update June 24: The Jets opened up snaps at WR by releasing the veteran Decker, which brings back up the stock of Enunwa in particular, who is now tentatively slated to lead the Jets in targets. Despite a dire QB situation, Enunwa is a bargain at his sub-WR50 ADP as a WR that has a legitimate shot at 120+ targets after drawing 105 last season. The concern with Enunwa is how he handles what will likely be the opponent's top cornerback on a weekly basis. Anderson will still have to prove himself he worthy of a full-time role and is not just a situational deep threat, while Stewart is in the mix to start as well.
1 (24). Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
2 (56). UConn S Obi Melifonwu
3 (88). UCLA DL Eddie Vanderdoes
4 (129). Florida OT David Sharpe
5 (168). Wake Forest ILB Marquel Lee
7 (221). Washington State S Shalom Luani
7 (231). Alabama State OT Jylan Ware
7 (242). North Carolina RB Elijah Hood
7 (244). Toledo DT Treyvon Hester
As far as fantasy relevance, the Raiders had a quiet draft -- the team’s main changes on offense came via trade (Marshawn Lynch) and free agency (Jared Cook). Expect more of the same from the offense, with Marshawn Lynch taking over Latavius Murray’s role and Jared Cook hoping to provide an upgrade on Clive Walford.
No stock up/down
1 (30). Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt
2 (62). USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
3 (94). Tennessee CB Cameron Sutton
3 (105). Pittsburgh RB James Conner
4 (135). Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs
5 (173). Utah CB Brian Allen
6 (213). Louisville LS Colin Holba
7 (248). Western Michigan LB Keion Adams
After Pittsburgh took JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round, Martavis Bryant declared that Smith-Schuster was Sammie Coates’ replacement, not his. A cruel joke, but likely correct. Martavis has been a monster, while Coates has struggled to make good on his potential, with a 43% catch rate over two seasons. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Smith-Schuster is a promising prospect with physicality who broke out young but has underwhelming measurables, shaky tape, and final-year college production that left a lot to be desired. I don’t expect Smith-Schuster to make much of an impact this season, but if he does, it will likely come at the expense of Coates. It’s also possible the Steelers try Smith-Schuster as a big slot at the expense of Eli Rogers.
1 (14). Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
2 (43). Washington CB Sidney Jones
3 (99). West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas
4 (118). North Carolina WR Mack Hollins
4 (132). San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey
5 (166). West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson
5 (184). Nebraska S Nate Gerry
6 (214). Washington DT Elijah Qualls
Ryan Mathews is likely to be released, while the only RB the Eagles drafted is 5-foot-8, 176-pound Donnell Pumphrey, which, for the time being, sends second-year man Wendell Smallwood’s stock soaring. Darren Sproles will be 34 this season and was never going to be able to hold up to a starter’s workload, leaving Smallwood projected as the default starter in what could be a much-improved offense in year two of Carson Wentz.
Stock Up: Wendell Smallwood*
San Francisco 49ers
1 (3). Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
1 (31). Alabama LB Reuben Foster
3 (66). Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon
3 (104). Iowa QB C.J. Beathard
4 (121). Utah RB Joe Williams
5 (146). Iowa TE George Kittle
5 (177). Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor
6 (198). Ole Miss DT D.J. Jones
6 (202). Utah LB Pita Taumoepenu
7 (229). Miami (FL) DB Adrian Colbert
The fact that Kyle Shanahan insisted that John Lynch trade up in the fourth round for Joe Williams lowers Carlos Hyde’s floor. Williams, who has character concerns after a brief “retirement,” could ultimately be a non-factor. But with the team’s new head coach seemingly obsessed with Williams, and with Williams not profiling as much of a compliment to Hyde (they both provide little in the passing game), we have to account for the fact that Shanahan may simply not be a fan of Hyde. Hyde is going in the middle of the third round as the RB13 in MFL10s as of May 7, and I see a lot more downside than upside to picking him that high.
Since 2007, third-round QBs have averaged 5.6 starts and 166.5 attempts in their rookie year, so the selection of C.J. Beathard lowers the stock of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, although they weren’t even realistic options in 2-QB leagues to begin with.
2 (35). Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
2 (58). LSU G/C Ethan Pocic
3 (90). Central Florida CB Shaq Griffin
3 (95). Michigan State S Delano Hill
3 (102). North Carolina DT Nazair Jones
3 (106). Michigan WR Amara Darboh
4 (111). Colorado S Tedric Thompson
6 (187). Cincinnati DB Mike Tyson
6 (210). Mississippi State OT Justin Senior
7 (226). East Central (OK) WR David Moore
7 (249). Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson
Second-round center Ethan Pocic was generally considered one of the best offensive linemen in a weak draft class and will reportedly be given a chance to win a starting job. If he can play up to his draft pedigree it should help an offensive line that finished 25th in adjusted sack rate and 26th in adjusted line yards last season. That’s a big “if,” though, so for now I can’t definitely say the Pocic pick will move the needle.
The Seahawks love Amara Darboh, but even with Tyler Lockett iffy for training camp, I can’t see him seriously challenging for much playing time, although the Seahawks should seriously consider giving a shot to anyone who can outplay Jermaine Kearse, whom Russell Wilson inexplicably targeted over 80 times last season.
Stock Down: Jermaine Kearse
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1 (19). Alabama TE O.J. Howard
2 (50). Texas A&M S Justin Evans
3 (84). Penn State WR Chris Godwin
3 (107). LSU LB Kendell Beckwith
5 (162). Boise State RB Jeremy McNichols
7 (223). USC DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu
Jameis Winston could be in for a monster season. In addition to netting DeSean Jackson in the offseason, the draft’s best TE, O.J. Howard, fell into the Bucs’ lap at 19th overall. The Bucs also added Chris Godwin, a physical outside WR who excels at contested catches. In the red zone, the Bucs could conceivably roll with Mike Evans (12 TDs last season), Cameron Brate (8), Howard and Godwin, allowing them to remove the 178-pound Jackson and 195-pound Adam Humphries from the field.
Nevertheless, Brate’s stock takes a hit -- first-round TEs have averaged 64.7 targets in their rookie year since 2007, so Brate is unlikely to match last season’s 82 targets. It’s also possible the team shifts to more 2-TE personnel to keep Brate and Howard on the field, which would hurt slot man Adam Humphries’ production.
The selection of Jeremy McNichols -- who caught 88 passes over his last two college seasons -- in the fifth round isn’t a good sign for Charles Sims, who has averaged 3.3 receptions per game over the past two seasons and was already part of a crowded backfield. "What jumps out at you the most is his ability on third down and in the receiving game," GM Jason Licht said of McNichols. McNichols, however, may not be ready for camp after undergoing labrum surgery after the Combine.
Stock Up: Jameis Winston
1 (5). Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
1 (18). USC CB Adoree’ Jackson
3 (72). Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor
3 (100). Florida International TE Jonnu Smith
5 (155). UCLA LB Jayon Brown
6 (217). UT-Chattanooga OL Corey Levin
7 (227). TCU OLB Josh Carraway
7 (236). Villanova OT Brad Seaton
7 (241). California RB Khalfani Muhammad
Marcus Mariota gets three new targets all drafted within the first 100 picks of the draft. Corey Davis is 6-foot-3, 209 pounds and gives Mariota his first legitimate first-round talent at outside WR (Kendall Wright primarily played the slot and Andre Johnson was 35 by the time he was a Titan). Davis projects as an upgrade on Tajae Sharpe, who caught only 49.4% of his 83 targets and averaged only 12.7 yards per reception. Despite Sharpe being a pleasant surprise after being drafted in the fifth round last year, he is likely to lose his starting job to Davis and see far less than 83 targets. I liked Sharpe last preseason, but ultimately, it looks like his better than expected play is still nowhere near good enough to be a long-term solution.
If Davis develops into a number-one WR early, Rishard Matthews is unlikely to see the 8.75 targets per game he saw during the second half of 2017, so his stock also takes a slight hit.
Taywan Taylor has a 92nd-percentile agility score and should be able to get more separation than Harry Douglas (22 targets last season), as well as the departed Johnson (22) and Kendall Wright (62). He also brings the element of being able to take the top off the defense.
Jonnu Smith is likely a year away from making an impact, but he’s a 92nd-percentile SPARQ athlete who gives the team blocking and receiving upside at the TE position in case the 33-year-old Delanie Walker’s availability or play declines.
Stock Up: Marcus Mariota
*Update June 24: The Titans continued to bolster their aerial attack, signing free agent WR Eric Decker. It remains to be seen how healthy and effective Decker truly can be coming off two major injuries, but his arrival muddles the Titans' target distribution. Decker's presence is a clear win for Mariota, especially in the red zone. But Matthews was due for regression anyway, and Walker is entering his age 33 season. This could be a spread-the-ball-around situation. Walker (TE7) and Decker (WR38) may struggle to return value at their ADP. Davis's (WR40) and Matthews's (WR48) ADPs are more palatable, but one or both could also fail to live up to expectation.
1 (17). Alabama DL Jonathan Allen
2 (49). Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
3 (81). UCLA CB Fabian Moreau
4 (114). Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine
4 (123). Michigan State S Montae Nicholson
5 (154). Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle
6 (199). Wyoming G/C Chase Roullier
6 (209). Georgia State WR Robert Davis
7 (230). Louisville S Josh Harvey-Clemons
7 (235). Auburn CB Joshua Holsey
Matt Jones’ ship had already all but sailed in Washington prior to the draft, but the fourth-round selection of Samaje Perine sends 2016 UDFA Rob Kelley’s fantasy stock cratering. While fourth-round RBs have averaged just 79.6 touches in their rookie year since 2007, Jon Gruden has let a rookie runner handle 163 or more touches in each of the last two seasons. I believe the Redskins would like the 235-pound Perine to take over for Kelley, with Chris Thompson continuing his role as a passing-down specialist.
Stock Up: Samaje Perine
Stock Down: Rob Kelley
1. I initially wanted to go back as far as 1994 -- the first year the NFL instituted a seven-round draft -- for sample size purposes, but the NFL has changed a lot since then, and certain trends weren't holding up.
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