The fantasy fallout from Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft is unusually light, with just a quarter of the picks of the “skill” position variety. Moreover, patience is the key word for several of the players, including a pair of quarterbacks who may not even start this season. Here’s an early breakdown of the eight “skill” position players who learned their NFL destination Thursday night.
1. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams make a splash in their return to the West Coast, trading up to get their quarterback of the future in Goff. He’ll have the luxury of handing off to Todd Gurley, and there’s plenty of untapped potential in a receiving corps that includes Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Lance Kendricks. However, he’ll also join a division where he faces elite defenses on a regular basis, and with the usual growing pains and Jeff Fisher’s conservative offense his immediate fantasy upside is limited.
2. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s a real fit here, as the NFL comparison for Wentz is Alex Smith, who Philly coach Doug Pederson developed in Kansas City. And while Smith isn’t a fantasy deity he’s a solid, consistent producer with sneaky rushing totals to bolster his stock. Wentz projects similarly, with perhaps better receivers at his disposal in Philadelphia than Smith has in KC. We’ll see how serious the Eagles are about giving Wentz time to develop (as Philly has done in the past, starting Pederson for a year while Donovan McNabb acclimated to the NFL); sitting behind Sam Bradford doesn’t hold much fantasy value.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You don’t spend the fourth overall pick on a guy just to have him caddy for Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden—and if Elliott is to be the workhorse behind the Cowboys’ elite offensive line, the sky’s the limit. There’s no need for Elliott to leave the field in passing situations, as is often the case with rookie backs, nor is he the only member of the Dallas offenses that opponents need to game plan for. His fantasy upside is off the charts; with potential top picks like Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles dealing with injury concerns, Elliott could wind up in the conversation for the top fantasy selection.
15. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
The Browns are in desperate need of playmakers, and Coleman certainly fits the bill. He’s drawn comparisons to everyone from Steve Smith to DeSean Jackson to John Brown to Percy Harvin, all of who possess plenty of fantasy upside. That said, he’s extremely raw in the route-running department and Hue Jackson may need to scheme ways to get the ball into his hands a la Harvin with the Vikings or Tavon Austin with the Rams. Coleman gives fellow Baylor alum Robert Griffin III a deep ball target, as well as a guy who can turn short passes into magic as well.
21. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
Fuller brings his home-run speed to an offense that has all of the other boxes checked. Fuller doesn’t need to be the go-to target; DeAndre Hopkins has that covered. And if defenses want to stack the box to slow Lamar Miller, Fuller can make them pay deep. New quarterback Brock Osweiler has the arm to capitalize on Fuller’s speed. He won’t be a PPR dynamo, but there are big plays to be had here as he develops a more rounded NFL skill set.
22. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
On the surface this pick surprises, but DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both potentially done after this season; more importantly, the Redskins want to give Kirk Cousins the weapons to succeed. Doctson’s contested catch ability should make him an early favorite of Cousins as he mines the territory between Jackson’s home runs and Jordan Reed’s work underneath. With running back still a question mark in Washington, Jay Gruden could have this team throwing even more this season—opening the door for Doctson to be a fantasy factor sooner rather than later.
23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
It’s tough to get excited about a wide receiver going to the team that threw less frequently than anyone last year, but Treadwell fills a need for Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings. Treadwell’s unique skill set gives Bridgewater a big target with a large catch radius, a guy who can win red zone battles and make plays in traffic. His volume won’t be anything special, but he could emerge as a touchdown machine as the Vikings have not shied away from using play-action with Adrian Peterson at the goal line.
26. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
The defending Super Bowl champions lost Brock Osweiler to free agency; enter Lynch, a similarly sized quarterback with more arm talent than his Denver predecessor. His experience with a very Kubiak-like offense in college could expedite his transition to the lineup, though the immediate upside would be similar to what Osweiler was producing for the Broncos last season—and managing the game while your defense does the heavy lifting does not lend itself well to big fantasy numbers.
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