It’s the day that every fantasy football player lives for – The NFL Draft!
And as you’ve come to expect from DLF, we’ve got you covered like no other site from our live blogging, live Tweeting, live broadcasts and draft recaps following each of these next three days. Leading up to the draft, we’ve had you covered with Combine analysis, rookie profiles and ongoing discussion. Quite simply put, you don’t need multiple sites to keep track of the action – you only need us!
Round one is in the books and I, personally, feel it was one of the most exciting and unpredictable drafts I’ve experienced yet. A great mix of offensive skills positions, intrigue and even a bit of disappointment as marquee names slid out of the first round. It had everything needed for a great night and we still have a lot more excitement to come.
Let’s dive right into the picks as we can now finally place our rookies with their respective teams.
1.02 (2) Chicago – Mitchell Trubisky, QB North Carolina
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It didn’t take long for the NFL Draft to deliver its first surprise of the night as the Bears traded up a single spot for the rights to Mitchell Trubisky, the somewhat unproven but intriguing gunslinger out of North Carolina. Trubisky has only 13 starts to his name but possesses many other prototypical traits such that his ceiling is quite high.
The Bears signed Mike Glennon in the off-season so all signs point Trubisky grabbing a cap and a clipboard for his first season which should provide the time he’ll need to acclimate to the NFL’s speed. For his development, this situation serves him well. In fantasy, however, he’ll likely fall well into the second round and, potentially, into the third.
1.04 (4) Jacksonville – Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
Most mocks had Fournette becoming a Jaguar and Jacksonville provided no surprise. Fournette becomes the immediate starter and his presence should help improve Blake Bortles’ prospects on snap number one. The question with Fournette is his ability to be a three-down back as he wasn’t called upon to do much work out of the backfield in the passing game. All tape I’ve seen leads me to believe that he is capable of participating out of the backfield well enough to carry significant value, but don’t forget T.J. Yeldon is known for his passing down hands and will likely retain a third-down role. The real loser here is Chris Ivory who likely now becomes trade bait or worse without a clear role in the offense.
1.05 (5) Tennessee – Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan
The first receiver off the board is headed to a team fully expected to select one.
Tennessee needing a big receiver on the outside gets not only that, but also arguably the most dynamic one in this year’s receiver class. We haven’t seen much from Davis this off-season but everything needed can be found within his game tape. He has great hands, leaping ability and is a threat with the ball. Quarterback Marcus Mariota gets a new toy and Davis could be in play for the 1.01 in fantasy for receiver-needy teams. Best of all, the selection of Davis doesn’t have major fantasy impact to other noteworthy players.
1.07 (7) Los Angeles Chargers – Mike Williams, WR Clemson
As expected, the first round is living up to offensive expectations.
One selection after Davis goes off the board, Williams hears his name called and he heads out to the valley to receive passes from the unappreciated and underrated Philip Rivers. Williams doesn’t carry the dynamic of Corey Davis but in the mold of Dez Bryant, he possesses elite strength and hands to match. His mid 4.5 speed won’t find him over the top of the secondary, but his physicality off the line and ability to make receptions in traffic will pay immediate dividends for Rivers and in fantasy.
My fear was Williams would fall to Buffalo and “fall” is the appropriate term. In Los Angeles, he gets a nice upgrade here and is certain to be a top six selection in fantasy and the second receiver off the board.
1.08 (8) Carolina – Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford
Most had McCaffrey mocked to Carolina and, once again, it comes to pass.
There is no denying McCaffrey’s dynamic and ability with the ball in his hands. But can he be an every down back or will he be limited in his role? He has a large number of carries to his credit and there are concerns about his durability but, that aside, he’s a perfect fit in the Carolina offense. If his role becomes five-to-seven receptions and ten carries a game, his production is going to be more than enough to reward coaches willing to risk his size and stereotype.
In fantasy, it’s not out the question that he is off the board at 1.01 in PPR leagues but, in all likelihood, he’ll be selected at 1.02, 1.03 or 1.04. There’s a lot to like in the top six picks in this year’s fantasy first round.
1.09 (9) Cincinnati – John Ross, WR Washington
The diminutive and speedy Ross carried a medical flag into the Combine but the fastest 40-time on record quickly lowered it.
With A.J. Green on the outside and Tyler Eifert in the seam at tight end, Ross slides into the slot immediately and could punish defensive secondaries trying to roll coverage to Green’s side. He’s going to be a dynamic receiver in this offense and has a strong chance of outplaying his fantasy selection, which should be in the neighborhood of 1.07. He doesn’t possess the size to be a dominant WR1 in all likelihood, but Antonio Brown would disagree with that assessment.
1.10 (10) Kansas City – Patrick Mahomes, QB Texas Tech
The second real surprise this night comes as the Chiefs choose a quarterback. That, however, was not the surprise. Instead of Deshaun Watson, Andy Reid selected the ultra-dynamic, but very raw Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is going to be an intriguing fantasy selection due to his elite arm strength and mobility but he’s a major project and will likely sit behind Alex Smith for his first year.
Like that of Mitchell Trubisky, the cap and clipboard is the best thing for his development while he learns to operate from underneath center. It’s not out of the question that Mahomes, due to his dynamic, could be the first quarterback off the board in fantasy but in all likelihood, he’ll fall into the middle of the second round.
1.12 (12) Houston – Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson
The shocking development here is that Watson is the third quarterback off the board. But while he was certainly frustrated with the development, it looks to have paid off as he goes to the best situation of the three. Houston possesses a great defense and enough offensive weaponry to provide a foundation for early-career production. Unlike both Trubisky and Mahomes, Watson could well open the season under center.
Of the three, I also believe he’s the most NFL-ready and has a chance to produce immediately with little above him on the depth chart. In fantasy, it’s hard to project his selection but like the others, I expect he’ll fall into the second round but, in my book, is the first quarterback off the board.
1.13 (13) Arizona – Haason Reddick, ILB Temple
Rangy linebackers are in play on this first night of the draft and Arizona gets a good one. Arizona’s linebacking scheme can be tricky to play in fantasy but Reddick should stay on the field for all downs, an important fact for IPD leaguers. I still favor the play and ability of Reuben Foster as my top linebacker in the class, but it won’t surprise me any if Reddick performs well out of the blocks.
1.19 (19) Tampa Bay – O.J. Howard, TE – Alabama
Howard fell a bit more than expected and Dalvin Cook was the popular mock draft selection for the Bucs. However, it’s hard to argue the fit in Tampa as Howard could immediately displace Cameron Brate as the every-down tight end. Howard was mocked as highly as 1.04 to Jacksonville and his skill set makes for a very intriguing first round fantasy selection in a position that hasn’t had much bling in recent years. He’s NFL capable from day one which also means that he’ll provide late first round intrigue in fantasy. Expect a fantasy selection at 1.08, give or take a pick.
The real winners here are both Jameis Winston and Doug Martin. Winston now has another major weapon to go with off-season addition DeSean Jackson. Martin can breathe a bit easier as Dalvin Cook wasn’t selected. But expect the Bucs to select a back in the next two rounds.
1.23 (23) New York Giants – Evan Engram, TE Ole Miss
The fast-rising Engram brings major measurables to a Giant offense that is flush with talent.
Running a 40 in the low 4.4s, Engram plays like a big receiver and has major open-field dynamic that can stretch the field vertically or laterally. Eli Manning now has a full-house offense that should cause significant match-up problems for defensive secondaries. Trying to determine who will be the producers in the offense will be next to impossible at this juncture but Engram should be a productive player from week one.
1.29 (29) Cleveland – David Njoku, TE Miami
Njoku is the third tight end off the board and was in discussions to be first off the board in the position due to his speed, hands and ceiling. Njoku is another speedster who plays much like a receiver with legitimate field-stretching ability combined with effective hands. At only 20 years of age, Njoku wasn’t ultra-productive in Miami but scouts raved about his tangible NFL qualities. Cleveland gets a much needed offensive threat who should immediately challenge for field time with Gary Barnidge, who failed to follow up a phenomenal 2015 campaign in 2016.
Njoku is still developing into his NFL body and his ceiling is as high as any in this year’s class. He’ll be a mid-to-late second-round selection in fantasy but carries the upside to well reward the those coaches willing to take the risk.
1.30 (30) Pittsburgh – T.J. Watt, OLB Wisconsin
Watt might be the most flexible and dynamic of the IDP players selected in this first round.
Pittsburgh relies on rangy linebackers in their swarming 3-4 scheme and Watt should fit in immediately. Fantasy production will be nearly impossible to forecast as even veterans in their lineup can be streaky. While I wouldn’t select Watt highly, if you have a deep rookie draft, he’s a good later-round stab.
1.31 (31) San Francisco – Reuben Foster ILB Alabama
A bit of a surprising slide for the inside ‘thumper’ but he falls to a great situation in San Francisco.
Medical flags in addition to a pair of recent off-the-field issues likely dropped his stock. He’ll fit inside immediately on the 49ers defense and should be productive for IDP leaguers without much question. Remains to be seen just how productive he’ll be but he’s worth a shot in the third round of rookie drafts.
That’s a wrap for round one. Stay tuned to DLF as we keep you up to date with everything you need to know from this weekend!
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You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff