Five fantasy surprises from the draft
The 2016 NFL Draft was marked by the usual savvy and head-scratching maneuvers, but none of them can mask the first night drama of a new fantasy running back king potentially being crowned without playing a single snap. Ezekiel Elliott will top many positional draft lists now that he has the Cowboys offense in front of him.
While it may seem surprising, depending on Le’Veon Bell’s prognosis, a reasonable argument can and will be made for Elliott as the RB1. Still, we knew he would land in a solid situation and should not be shocked by the hype. Here are five even more surprising developments that will impact the fantasy landscape in 2016 and beyond.
Jets Hack Away Early
New York drafting a quarterback was expected. Christian Hackenberg getting picked, eventually, was no surprise. But the Jets selecting him in the second round sent shockwaves. It reverberates with the still-unsigned Ryan Fitzpatrick, the much-maligned Geno Smith, and with a good chunk of Fantasyland. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker investors, especially, are uncomfortable with New York’s quarterback drama.
Fitzpatrick’s two-month-long game of chicken with the Jets may extend to training camp, and word is only a one-year deal is on the table now. While a resolution is in both sides’ best interest, “Geno’s Jets” is a real possibility. While Smith was able to facilitate fantasy production from Decker in 2014 – he was the 10th-highest scoring wideout during the 11 weeks he ran at least 25 routes – it is a stretch to assume both he and Marshall can duplicate their 2015 output and validate their high draft costs without Fitzpatrick.
Hackenberg is a project, at best. PFF did not have a draftable grade on him, let alone a second rounder. His overall grade in 2015 ranked 41st in his class, his accuracy percentage placed 39th, and his quarterback rating while under pressure (44.5) was a disaster. As for Bryce Petty, his ground-up development got a strong vote of no confidence on Friday. Last year, Fitzpatrick was a safety net in case Smith didn’t improve and it worked. For now at least, investing fantasy capital into the Jets is anything but safe.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman