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.
1) QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The Oklahoma star and Heisman Trophy winner will replace last year’s first-round quarterback choice, Josh Rosen, in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense. The Cardinals don’t have a tremendous cast with which to work, so it could be another ugly year for the Arizona offense. It should improve with an offensive-minded coach vs. last year’s disaster. How much is the real question….
Murray’s improvisational skills will give him a fighting chance at overcoming pass-protection concerns. He’ll need to get the most out of a well-seasoned Larry Fitzgerald and a second-year Christian Kirk. Having an offensive staff that actually understands how to best utilize running back David Johnson will go a long way for Murray’s chances of survival and success.
Fantasy footballers can mostly ignore Murray in standard drafts. He has late-round flier appeal in the deepest of leagues, and players full-retention keeper formats can elevate his stock to being a future fringe QB1.
6) QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Well, this one is somewhat of a surprise, only because it sure seemed like NYG had a chance at him with its second first-round pick (17th). There is a need for coaching up here, which works well given Eli Manning’s contract expires next March. The personality of Jones is right for the New York media, and he has held up well enough vs. adversity at Duke. Heady and talented is a promising foundation for a quarterback, yet Jones didn’t post a winning record in college. That’s not entirely his fault, although it is fair to question if he is capable of elevating those around him.
New York will ride Eli as long as the team is reasonably in consideration for the postseason. A smart draft the rest of the way could put the Giants in a favorable situation in a so-so division. Even if we see him this year, Jones has no immediate fantasy value but could be a starter in two or three years.
8) TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
General manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia are intimately familiar with what an athletic tight end who possesses blocking skills can do for an offense from their time in New England. While the offensive philosophy no longer revolves around letting Matthew Stafford sling it 700 times a year, Hockenson should be granted every chance to shine out of the gates as an integral piece of the offense.
Rookie tight ends typically offer sluggish results in fantasy, so modest returns are the safe forecast. However, given Detroit’s mediocre receiving corps in Darrell Bevell’s offense, Hockenson could see somewhere around 60 receptions in Year 1. Think a young Jason Witten if you’re unfamiliar with Hockenson’s play. Treat him as a TE2 in his rookie season.
15) QB Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins
The Maryland native brings prototypical size, a quick release, and a monster arm to the nation’s capital. He has all of the passing traits a team could want and plenty of upside. Mobility is an issue for Haskins outside of the pocket, but he has an NFL-caliber feel for incoming rushers. Only one year of mega production at a preeminent football school brings doubters and supporters.
Washington has an obvious lack of weapons, and Case Keenum will put up a valiant fight in the offseason to win the job for Week 1. It’s only a matter of time before Haskins makes his way on the field. A sound backfield should help take pressure off of Haskins when it is his time. There isn’t much to be excited about here in 2019. If Washington can bring in legitimate receiver talent in 2020, he could be in the midrange QB2 conversation.
20) TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
The second Iowa tight end to come off of the board in the first 20 picks, Fant is pure athleticism. Unlike Hockenson, there’s little in the way of blocking prowess here — and it won’t matter one bit. He’ll be utilized in Rich Scangarello’s offense in a way similar to how Kyle Shanahan deployed George Kittle in 2018.
Denver needs weapons, and with a shaky offensive line, Joe Flacco could use a checkdown tight end. Fant is capable of making things happen after the catch. Expect hit-or-miss results in his rookie season. His final stat line should show a low-volume, high-yardage profile.
24) RB Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Beast Mode has opted to return to the retired life, and even if he had planned to return, it probably wouldn’t have affected this selection. Jacobs is a dual threat but offers more on the ground than via the passing game. He timed only 4.65 in the 40, but Jacobs’ short-area quickness, vision and burst allows him to pick up yardage in chunks.
Oakland’s offense is shaping up to offer an intriguing mixture of big plays and chain-moving production. Jacobs has major upside in the red zone and offers easy RB2 worth in 2019 drafts. He could emerge as a three-down back with the occasional spell from Jalen Richard.
25) WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens desperately needed another weapon for Lamar Jackson, and Brown’s backbreaking speed will pair nicely with Jackson’s cannon of an arm. Oklahoma’s star wideout comes with some injury concerns but has a profile similar to DeSean Jackson — smallish in size and speed for days. Eight of Brown’s10 touchdowns last year came from the slot, and he’s a weapon in the short-area and downfield passing levels.
The only issue with this pick is Baltimore had a downfield burner in John Brown last year, but Jackson couldn’t connect with him for anything. A skeptical, conservative view is Brown is going to score several touchdowns in 2019 and will be maddening to play. Inconsistency from his style and Jackson’s maturation issues will induce a fantasy-league headache or two.
32) WR N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
Big-time threat in the red zone and a large frame for Tom Brady, Harry racked up at least 100 grabs in three of his four years at Arizona State. The Patriots have glaring holes to fill in the receiving corps with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, loss of Chris Hogan, and uncertainty around Josh Gordon. Harry is an athletic possession guy whose game has shades of Michael Thomas. Look for the rookie to vie with a recovering Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) for the No. 2 role.
Provided he picks up the offense in short order, there will be enough targets to go around to put Harry in the flex conversation. He is safely a WR4 or even fifth in smaller leagues, which mitigates any risk.