We will have months to further evaluate the depths of what these players mean for fantasy purposes, but you’ve come to the right place for a rapid reaction as the NFL draft unfolds.
Surprise, surprise! After playing coy, Browns general manager John Dorsey drafted the Heisman Trophy winner No. 1 overall. Mayfield brings accuracy, grit and a competitive streak to the Browns. He transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech and was a walk-on success, so he knows how to work hard.
Tyrod Taylor will serve as a bridge to Mayfield — in theory. We have seen similar situations in recent years, most notably the Philadelphia Eagles trading Sam Bradford after anointing Carson Wentz the starter as a rookie.
In all likelihood, Mayfield doesn’t have much fantasy worth in 2018. The Browns have an impressive cast of receivers, but the offensive line has question marks, and the system is complex. Mayfield has a bright future for gamers in dynasty formats and is merely a late-round flier in 2018 leagues.
Arguably the most gifted player, regardless of position, in this year’s draft, Barkley brings 4.4 wheels on a 6-foot, 233-pound frame. New York improved its offensive line in the offseason and will find ways to utilize Barkley as a means to take pressure off of Eli Manning.
The passing game should help take some heat off of Barkley, too, with the likes of OBJ, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. A do-all back, Barkley immediate upgrades the backfield. He will compete for touches with Jonathan Stewart and possibly Wayne Gallman, though it is difficult to envision a scenario in which the No. 2 overall pick isn’t the focal point of the game plan sooner than later.
Barkley has been so hyped that it is easy to overvalue him in fantasy. He should be a rock-solid RB2 with upside to sneak into the lower tier of No. 1 guys. However, all of the positives, the Penn State product is still a rookie and could lose just enough touches to J-Stew to make a dent.
USC’s star passer will continue to live in the limelight. The Jets have about 534 quarterbacks on the roster at this point, but it will come down to Josh McCown and Darnold in training camp. At some point, it will be Darnold’s job, and smart money says it will happen much sooner than later.
The Jets have an obvious lack of weaponry to prop up a rookie version of Darnold. Improving the offensive line is a must for the Jets, especially given how carefree Darnold can be with the ball in the pocket.
Fantasy owners would be silly to waste a pick on Darnold in 2018 single-year leagues. His long-term worth is somewhere in the Matt Ryan/Matthew Stafford neighborhood — a starter but not a game-changer.
The Bills couldn’t take the chance another team played leapfrog and drafted their coveted passer. Allen brings much-needed size to Western New York. His cannon of an arm will cut through the wind, and he has enough mobility to evade the rush when protection breaks down. From the other side of the coin, accuracy is a major concern.
Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones and Charles Clay hardly instill confidence in Allen as a fantasy passer. LeSean McCoy, as long as he remains healthy, will be the focus of the offense. AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman will put up a fight to win the job, but it probably will prove futile.
In 2018, fantasy owners shouldn’t consider Allen as anything better than a wild flier in single-year formats. He has a glowing future and reminds a little of Ben Roethlisberger. In time, Allen should develop into a regular fantasy starter.
Rosen is as natural of a thrower as you will find, blessed with arm talent similar to Aaron Rodgers. He also has limited mobility and durability concerns. The comparison to Sam Bradford is very real.
Few rookies understand how to read a defense and demonstrate nuance like Rosen. The Cardinals will need to protect him better than most quarterbacks require shielding. Does he play in Year 1? Probably. The safe bet is Sam Bradford begins the year as the starter and eventually — whether it be through injury or otherwise — cedes to Rosen.
Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson will help his case, but Arizona must improve its targets to give Rosen more to work with on the outside. Second-year receiver Chad Williams needs to step up. Brice Butler talks a big game, yet he has failed to win a starting job in two previous stops.
Rosen is a quick study and has matchup appeal in 2018, assuming everything goes right. Drafting him could be a wasted pick in single-year setups. Think long-term success instead.
With Calvin Ridley still on the board, the Panthers opted to select Moore. At 6-foot, 210 pounds, the Maryland produce is as dangerous as can be after the catch. He plays with a controlled violence in the open field and draws comparisons to Steve Smith or Golden Tate.
Carolina desperately needed to add more weapons to the passing game. Norv Turner takes over as offensive coordinator and will open up the aerial attack in ways unfamiliar to Panthers fans. Moore will immediately compete for serious playing time with the likes of Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith and Curtis Samuel.
Don’t count on Moore to be a volume guy, even though he hauled in 80 balls last year from three different quarterbacks. His route-running skills are in question, and the offense has two wonderful short-range targets in Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen. Moore is a fourth fantasy receiver in 2018 drafts and has upside to become a regular flex contributor. His future is might brighter, and the “star” label is certainly within reach.
This is such an Ozzie Newsome pick. Hurst is a dynamic weapon down the seam and can step into the starting lineup from Day 1. The Ravens added another weapon for Joe Flacco to pair with newcomers Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. This offense officially has been overhauled.
How many balls will there be to go around if the system is functioning at full capacity? Debatable. Volume isn’t likely to be on Hurst’s side in ’18. Rookie tight ends rarely contribute, although we’ve seen a few exceptions to this rule in recent years. Hurst surely could be among that group. His best utility may come as a touchdown producer in the red zone. Unfortunately, it also makes Hurst tough to rely on in traditional fantasy lineups. Draft him as a TE2 with crazy upside.
While Ridley slid down the board a touch, he landed on his feet in one of the best offenses the league has to offer. Joining fellow Tide star Julio Jones, Ridley has a chance to be eased into the system as Taylor Gabriel’s replacement and learn from two polished veterans.
There is little reason to believe Ridley will see enough targets to consistently return starter-worthy production for fantasy gamers in 2018. The offense has two fine running backs, Jones, Mohamed Sanu and tight end Austin Hooper — just how many looks can one confidently expect for Ridley?
In the long haul, his fantasy worth is brilliant. Ridley is a WR4 or No. 5 in conventional leagues this season, and his dynasty upside is somewhere in the midrange WR2 territory.
Probably the biggest surprise of anyone not named Baker Mayfield, Penny brings a slashing style of power running to the Pacific Northwest. A 2,248-yard, 23-TD season at San Diego State last year didn’t happen on accident. He’s a 5-foot-11, 220-pounder who ran a 4.46-second 40 time at the scouting combine. Penny wasn’t used much as a receiver but is a capable catcher in a pinch, and he’s an above-average blocker.
He can play from any offensive set and has a nose for the end zone. Seattle could play him all three downs, giving Russell Wilson a layer of protection the Seahawks have not offered since Marshawn Lynch was truck-sticking his way through defenses.
All told, gamers can treat Penny as a fantasy dime in 2018. He has RB2 promise if Seattle commits to the run, though he’s a much safer third back or flex play. The sky is the limit over the next few years, but don’t be shocked if he has a shorter career because of a bruising style.
Dion Lewis was allowed to walk into free agency, and the Patriots “replaced” him with Jeremy Hill. While Hill had some promise as a sneaky sleeper around the stripe, Michel is leaps and bounds a better talent.
Think about Alvin Kamara. The Bulldogs didn’t use Michel quite in the same way in passing situations, but there is no denying the explosiveness on tape. Michel ran only a 4.54-second 40, which is considered slow for most backs, even at his size (5-foot-11, 214 pounds). He doesn’t play slow by any stretch.
Michel will join a committee in New England and be a frustrating fantasy play when it comes to inconsistent workload. But remember how useful Lewis was during limited action. There’s no reason Michel cannot be that good or better. He is a sound RB3 in drafts and could play like a No. 1 several weeks of the year.
Well, his 2018 value is pretty much zero, unless either Joe Flacco is lost to injury, or the Ravens stink so badly Jackson is thrust into the lineup.
Being Louisville’s all-time leader in offensive yardage is an accomplishment worthy of acknowledgement. Jackson’s footwork and mechanics need a complete overhaul. His instinct to tuck it and run after a read or two has to be depressed if he wants to survive at the next level. He’s somewhere between Michael Vick and Vince Young and light years behind Deshaun Watson as a passer. That is not to say Jackson can’t have a solid NFL career, but there are major strides to be made before he is a star quarterback.
The Ravens will have time to tutor Jackson and get him ready for 2019. Assuming he doesn’t touch the ball in ’18 to any meaningful degree, there is nothing to see here in fantasy until next summer or in dynasty leagues. He is a polarizing player, so get comfortable with whether a run-first quarterback is right for your team.
Raiders acquire WR Martavis Bryant
Oakland gets more depth at wideout, which was a definite need. Bryant gets his wish and leaves Pittsburgh for greener pastures. The biggest winner is quarterback Derek Carr. Bryant comes with some fantasy risk, running hot and cold much of his career. He’s a low-volume deep threat and the presumed third wideout in the overall pecking order. Treat Bryant as a late-round gamble whose upside is considerable if Jordy Nelson suffers another injury or is simply washed up.