Fantasy reaction to our latest mock draft
Immediately following the blockbuster Rams-Titans trade for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, our analyst duo of Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson went head-to-head in a mock draft of the first round. I thought it might be an interesting exercise to take their picks and flesh out the fantasy implication of their picks. Of course, draft day is going to throw us plenty of curve balls, but here’s how things would shake out based on their mock.
1. Los Angeles Rams – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St.
Wentz is an obvious upgrade on Case Keenum and will help the surrounding cast. But the Rams still have plenty of deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. Wentz’s presents would help the cause for the LA receivers, don’t expect a huge uptick in fantasy value. Tavon Austin currently projects the highest as our No. 49 wide receiver. He’d likely move to the mid-40s with Wentz under center. This pick doesn’t move the needle for Todd Gurley’s fantasy stock. He remains locked in as a high-end RB1.
2. Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff, QB, Cal
An NFL-ready quarterback to the Browns bodes well for the team, and obviously quite poorly for Robert Griffin’s chances of regaining fantasy relevance. Unfortunately, Cleveland still has one of the least inspiring stables of wide receivers (sans Josh Gordon), so the Goff pick wouldn’t make huge waves in fantasy circles. However, Duke Johnson proved a quality receiver out the backfield, ranking 11th among qualifying running backs with 1.57 yards per route run on 70 targets. Johnson has the potential to be a sneaky PPR asset with Goff under center. With this pick, Gary Barnidge would remain in the TE1 conversation, though touchdown regression is a concern. And for those keeping score at home, neither Goff nor Wentz figures to have fantasy value as anything more than a deep league streamer outside of two-quarterback formats.
3. San Diego Chargers – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
A Calais Campbell-esque player who will likely mirror Campbell’s statistical production as a 3-4 defensive end. That means a relatively high tackle floor, but relatively low sack ceiling. Buckner will be worth stashing in IDP dynasty leagues, but it may take some time before he’s a viable fantasy starter. The learning curve at defensive end is often steep.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Ramsey is Tyrann Mathieu with four inches and 20 pounds. He’s a versatile defensive back who would form a formidable one-two combination with Byron Jones in the Dallas secondary. The one major difference between Mathieu in Arizona and Ramsey in Dallas is Mathieu doesn’t have to play with Sean Lee and thus has less competition for tackles. That said, Ramsey still could very be on the DB2 radar in his rookie season.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
An intriguing landing spot for Bosa with defensive-minded head coach Gus Bradley at the helm in Jacksonville. More importantly, for fantasy purposes he avoids the dreaded linebacker designation. Grading out No. 1 against the run and as a pass rusher last season, Bosa has the makings of a future DL1. Though he would be considered more of a borderline DL2 in his rookie season.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
With Daryl Smith out of the mix, Jack would step right in to a starting three-down role alongside C.J. Mosley, giving the Ravens one of the most dynamic off-ball linebacker duos in the league. That said, there are two fantasy negatives to this landing spot: 1) Competition for tackles will be fierce with Mosley on the field, and 2) The Ravens’ home stat crew is one of the most assist-heavy in the league, awarding an assisted tackle on 41.9 percent of total tackles recorded last season.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
In this scenario, Tunsil slides all the way down to Chip Kelly and the 49ers at No. 7. This pick bodes well for whoever ends up under center, as Tunsil didn’t yield a single sack and just five total pressures last season. He’s a huge upgrade at right tackle over Eric Pears, who yielded 10 sacks and graded out as one of the worst run blocking tackles in the league last season. Running off right tackle last season, Carlos Hyde managed just 11 yards on eight carries, so Tunsil’s presence would also help Hyde’s fantasy stock.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Not much to see here for IDP purposes. Those in CB-required leagues may find some value in Hargreaves, as rookie corners tend to be heavily targeted and therefore have ample tackle opportunities.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Two in a row at the cornerback position. Rookie corners typically have minimal fantasy relevance outside of very deep-roster IDP leagues.
10. New York Giants – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
One of our top-graded interior linemen in an historic year for the position. Rankins impressed during Senior Bowl practices, and has the potential to make an immediate fantasy impact. A strong run defender, Rankins offers a high tackle floor with plus upside as a pass rusher. The one concern with this landing spot is reps in the Giants’ rotation. Still, he’d be worth considering as an option in DT-required leagues.
11. Chicago Bears – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
With holes to fill at both tackle positions, this is certainly an upgrade for Jay Cutler. Stanley also graded 19th among draft-eligible tackles as a run blocker. While his presence would certainly help Jeremy Langford, it’s still difficult ranking Langford as anything more than an RB2 given his lackluster performance in 2015 (3.6 yards per carry and only seven missed tackles caused on 148 rushing attempts).
12. New Orleans Saints – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Jones is an impressive interior pass rusher, who ranked first among all defensive tackles in pass rush grading last season. Despite just three recorded sacks, he was very disruptive with 49 total pressures (including 12 against Arkansas). For fantasy purposes, Jones may be more of a boom-or-bust option regardless of landing spot, as his tackle floor is somewhat low (only 32 in 609 snaps last season).
13. Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Welp. Sorry Jay Ajayi owners. It seems the Dolphins just aren’t sold on the former Boise State Bronco. If this Elliot pick comes to fruition, Ajayi’s fantasy stock goes down the toilet. Elliot has true three-down capability and would immediately be in the RB2 conversation.
14. Oakland Raiders – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Another corner who could have IDP value if he earns a full-time role in this defense.
15. Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Tennessee moves back and still ends up with a tackle to protect Marcus Mariota. Though not elite in pass protection, Conklin allowed just one sack and 13 pressures last season. However, where he really excels is as a run blocker. Only two draft-eligible tackles graded out better than Conklin (Cody Whitehair and Spencer Drango). His presence would mean good things for DeMarco Murray, who figures to see the lion’s share of touches in the Tennessee backfield.
16. Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
An interesting pick, as our guys have Floyd landing in a 4-3 defense. We’ve seen the Lions go after versatile linebackers who can play off-ball and rush the passer before (Kyle Van Noy). Floyd has the potential to be effective in a hybrid role, and flashed some tackle upside with 69 in 2016. The linebacker designation would somewhat hinder Floyd’s fantasy value, but he’d be an intriguing option in big-play scoring leagues.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Giggity. My favorite wide receiver in this class lands opposite Julio Jones and represents a huge upgrade over Mohamed Sanu. With sub-4.4 wheels and oozing with big-play ability, Coleman is an instant WR3-plus. His presence also raises Matt Ryan’s fantasy profile, though only slightly. We would still have Ryan ranked in the mid-teens.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Shaq Lawson, OLB, Clemson
With Bjorn Werner heading down bust street, the Colts try for an edge player in the first round yet again. Lawson excelled against the run and as a pass rusher (13 sacks on 50 total pressures) in 2015. Unfortunately, a linebacker designation does little to help his IDP fantasy stock. Notice a theme?
19. Buffalo Bills – Cody Whitehair, G/T, Kansas State
As I mentioned above, Whitehair impressed as a run blocker at Kansas State. With John Miller and Jordan Mills floundering on the right side of the Bills’ offensive line, Whitehair’s presence is an instant upgrade to the run game and bodes positively for LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams.
20. New York Jets – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
As our mockers note, this isn’t a pick of need, but Doctson is one of this year’s most impressive wide receiver prospects. He graded out as our No. 3 receiver, scoring 14 touchdowns and led all receivers with a jaw dropping 4.07 yards per route run. With Brandon Marshall on the wrong side of 30, Doctson gives another big-bodied receiver. However, Doctson’s short-term fantasy value wouldn’t be ideal in this scenario, as the Jets have plenty of mouths to feed and could potentially have Geno Smith under center.
21. Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
This pick is good for football purposes, but not so much for fantasy purposes. Reed figures to anchor the interior and factor more as a run defender.
22. Houston Texans – Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Polished and productive at the college level, Shepard averaged the 11th most yards per route run (2.89) last season. His presence gives the Texans and versatile compliment to DeAndre Hopkins, as Shepard is capable of playing in the slot and outside the numbers. With Hopkin the clear No. 1 fantasy option, Shepard’s short-term ceiling would be as a WR3, though that may be pushing it.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
The first Michael Thomas off the board lands in an ideal spot to step right in and produce. With a Demaryius Thomas-like skill set, he’s an immediate upgrade over Charles Johnson and, as Sam Monson points out, is a great fit for Teddy Bridgewater. Giving this landing spot, it wouldn’t surprise me if Thomas was the most productive rookie wide receiver in 2016.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Calhoun graded out as our second-best pass rusher last season, but isn’t nearly as polished against the run. He’d likely see situational duties, and therefore wouldn’t have any immediate fantasy value.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Safety has been a weak spot for the Steelers in the post-Polamalu era, so Joseph makes a lot of sense here. Though he’s coming off a torn ACL, Joseph had five interceptions in four games last season and he comps to Eric Weddle. That’s music to the IDP owner’s ears, as Weddle has been a top fantasy option for a better part of the last decade.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Offensive line woes plagued the Seahawks in 2015 after the dealt Max Unger to the Saints. Kelly is the top center in this year’s class, and his presence would certainly be a plus for Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks run game.
27. Green Bay Packers – Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor
Nose tackles in Green Bay tend to offer little for fantasy purposes.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Another young corner for the Chiefs to pair with Marcus Peters. With Peters emerging last year, Apple would likely see plenty of targets thrown into his coverage. With his big frame (6-1, 200) and ability to make plays (22 passes defensed) Apple would have intriguing IDP upside in this landing spot.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State
As Monson notes, Ogbah would figure to be a situational pass rusher, which would place him well off the fantasy radar.
30. Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
The opposite of the previous pick, Bullard would likely play on early downs in this scenario. Defensive players who don’t stay on the field field don’t make good fantasy assets.
31. Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Another sub-package player, who isn’t likely to have immediate fantasy value in this landing spot.