Taking a look at how the landing spots of the offensive skill position players will affect their fantasy value going forward…
Let’s think about what occurred in the first round of the NFL Draft from a fantasy football perspective, assessing the relative fit and upside of the landing spot for each of the offensive skill position players drafted. For each pick, we will consider how the player fits on his new team and how he will likely fare there for fantasy.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (pick 1)
Murray should have a lot of fun running Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense. It is difficult to tell how successful he will be, particularly if the Cardinals offensive line play does not improve from last season. But since this offense seems to be a great fit for Murray’s skills, this was perhaps the best landing spot he could have hoped for. This makes Murray worth a flier in late rounds of re-draft leagues as a second QB. He is going in the second round of dynasty rookie drafts, which is appropriate. He has the potential to rack up points with such a high-volume passing offense and his running ability.
Daniel Jones, QB, Giants (pick 6)
This pick was the most entertaining of the night last night. Seeing the Giants fans react on Twitter was entertainment enough!
Jones is not a first-round pick, but Dave Gettleman took him 6th overall. He does not appear to have a strong enough arm to throw the ball downfield consistently and accurately, so he will likely struggle to compete against NFL defenses. We could all be wrong, but staying far away from him in fantasy for now seems to be the best strategy.
TJ Hockenson, TE, Lions (pick 8)
For a tight end to go inside the top 10 picks is quite impressive, and he was mocked there consistently pre-draft. Hockenson has all the tools to be one of the top tight ends in the league. However, the question is whether the Lions can use him intelligently, or whether he will also struggle to put up stats like so many tight ends before him in Detroit, most recently Eric Ebron. If newly hired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can figure out a way to use him as an offensive threat, Hockenson could rise into the elite ranks of tight ends. Since tight ends typically take a couple years to get traction, he should be avoided in redraft leagues until the late rounds as a flier, but in dynasty leagues he is worth a pick in the first round of rookie drafts, due to his potential and the draft capital invested in him.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Redskins (pick 15)
The Redskins staying put and patiently waiting for the board to come to them should be a lesson for Giants GM Dave Gettleman. GMs ought to have several players they like in tiers (just like fantasy football players) and be willing to take any player in a particular tier that comes to them. The Redskins waited, and got a quarterback many believe could be the best in this draft in Haskins. He has a great arm, and has grown in his ability to see the field and move in the pocket. He will likely take a few years of seasoning to learn the pro game, but then should be a middle-of-the-pack fantasy contributor at the position. His upside in Gruden’s offense is Ben Roethlisberger-type production. He should be avoided in redraft leagues, but is worth a late pick in a rookie draft in dynasty.
Noah Fant, TE, Broncos (pick 20)
The second Iowa tight end drafted in the first round, Fant is a totally different player than Hockenson. In real football, Hockenson clearly was and should have been drafted first. But it is entirely possible Fant will be superior for fantasy football. He is basically a wide receiver when it comes to his hands and his speed, but he is the size of a tight end. His athletic profile is eye-popping, and he is worth a first-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts. While the Broncos were not the perfect landing spot, it certainly looks like they want to become an offense that better utilizes the tight end based on this pick, and Flacco has a history of throwing to the tight end. With the wasteland the tight end position was last year in fantasy, Fant is even worth a mid-late round flier in redraft leagues.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders (pick 24)
It seems everyone predicted Oakland coach Jon Gruden would not be able to resist Jacobs, and they were right. It is also a very encouraging landing spot for Jacobs for fantasy, as Gruden does love to run the ball and presumably sees Jacobs as a three-down back since he invested a first-round pick in him. If the Raiders offense improves overall, which they should with their new receiver weapons and new offensive lineman, Jacobs could challenge for rookie of the year. He is worth the first overall pick in dynasty rookie drafts, and around a 4th round pick in redraft leagues.
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens (pick 25)
Many also anticipated the Ravens would go for a receiver, and it is understandable why they loved Brown’s dynamism, but there were better receivers in this draft. It is also not a good fantasy landing spot for Brown, since Lamar Jackson was one of the least accurate passers in the league last year. Certainly Jackson could improve, and Brown could have DeSean Jackson-type relevance with his deep speed. But Brown is probably only worth a late-round flier in redraft leagues. In dynasty league, he should still be taken with a measure of caution due to this landing spot, but he may be worth a late-first-round flier in rookie drafts.
N’Keal Harry, WR, Patriots (pick 32)
Harry has been viewed by many scouts as the best receiver in this class, due to his overall collection of skills. He is big and strong, a good route runner, and can play on the outside or in the slot. He looks a bit like Anquan Boldin. The Patriots are certainly in need of receiving help, particularly if Josh Gordon never gets his act together, and they like players who are versatile. Many on Twitter are calling Harry the first overall pick in dynasty rookie drafts due to his landing spot, but do not forget that the Patriots offense is very confusing and difficult to learn. It could take Harry some time to get rolling. Further, Brady will not play until he is 50, even if he wants to, so Harry might not be as attractive for dynasty as many are saying. Still, it is a good landing spot overall, and he is worth a later-round pick in redraft leagues, in case he is a fast learner.
It will be fascinating to see a bunch more running backs and wide receivers come off the board in rounds 2 and 3, and hopefully land in spots that will help them maximize their value.