The fantasy wish list for the draft
(It’s “Mock Week” on Pro Football Focus. All week, PFF’s top analysts will offer their ideas of what this season’s draft could look like. Below is a fantasy take on the draft, with PFF Fantasy’s Mike Castiglione looking for the ideal landing places for the draft’s key running backs and receivers.)
As the draft draws nearer and the rumor mill heats up, fantasy die-hards like you and me start envisioning scenarios where certain players end up on certain teams. Perhaps there is a natural scheme fit here or a depth chart opening there just screaming for a particular player.
A few months back I put together an offseason wish list for fantasy, and so I thought I’d have a little fun and do an incoming rookie version of that. We all have a good idea by now of who the best available skill position players are, but the all-important landing spot factor is what can make or break fantasy outlooks. Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas was a match made in heaven. Derrick Henry in Tennessee — not so much, at least not right away.
First, let me just state the obvious that this is a subjective exercise. Naturally, after the consensus top handful of prospects, there is always healthy debate about the specific ranking of the remaining prospects. The players listed below aren’t ranked in any particular order, but rather, there are some logical cues that can help point us to one landing spot or another. Click their names to see their PFF scouting profiles.
Lastly, we’ll limit this list to running backs and receivers. Going back to the merger, only a small handful of rookie quarterbacks have turned in QB1 fantasy seasons, and history is even bleaker for rookie TEs.
Dalvin Cook to the Washington Redskins
A poor showing at the combine has opened up some debate about just how early Florida State’s Cook will hear his name called. But there’s not much debate regarding Cook’s game-breaking ability, as he led the nation in missed tackles forced (99) and rushing yards after contact (4.19) while ranking second in elusive rating (129.4). For some context, Jalen Richard owned PFF’s top elusive rating (90.7) and YAC average (3.63) in 2016. However, Cook also faces some questions about his ball security (14 career fumbles) and blocking (graded 50th in the draft class).
One interesting landing spot could be in the nation’s capital, where the Redskins got a combined 1,520 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns on the ground from the trio of Robert Kelley, Matt Jones, and Chris Thompson, although none of those players cracked the top 24 fantasy RBs. Washington could certainly use a home-run hitter who is a threat to score on any play, assuming Cook is still on the board at pick No. 17.