RB, Penn State Drafted 1.2, Giants
Post-Draft: Barkley is one of the most coveted dynasty rookies in the past twenty years and will be the unquestioned 1.01 in virtually every upcoming rookie draft. In startups, it won’t be uncommon to see him taken in the top ten, despite never taking an NFL snap. Explosive, strong and elusive, Barkley will step right in as New York’s featured back, pushing the likes of Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins and Jonathan Stewart to the side and destroying their dynasty value in the process.
With an offense featuring Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, defenses won’t be able to stack the box against Barkley and this landing spot should prove to be a good one. He may not have the fantasy career of LaDainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes or Le’Veon Bell but there’s a chance he could be in that class – that’s enough to pay a King’s ransom for the 1.01 this year.
Pre-Draft: Fresh off a three-year career at Penn State that featured 43 rushing touchdowns and 3,843 yards in just three seasons, Barkley enters dynasty drafts as the most coveted running back prospect we've seen since Adrian Peterson.
He put a nice little ribbon on his draft stock after he put on a show at the NFL Combine by running unofficial 40 times of 4.41 and 4.42. He also jumped out of the building with a 41" vertical. Barkley didn't disappoint and, if even possible, raised his already ridiculous stock to the point where he could be considered to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, an honor no running back has had since fellow Nittany Lion Ki-Jana Carter was taken first overall by Cincinnati in 1995.
Simply put, Barkley is as talented a runner as we've seen come out in the last 20 years. Nothing will matter in dynasty leagues from now until draft time as he's the clear 1.01 selection in rookie drafts and is likely also a first round selection in inaugural drafts this Summer.
RB, LSU Drafted 2.27, Redskins
Post-Draft: Guice’s slide in the draft finally ended at pick #59. It’s fair to assume NFL teams were turned off by his allegations of, well, “interesting” questions being asked of him at the NFL Combine that later proved to be a little flimsy, at best. Guice’s character concerns (there are other issues at play with that and rumors of some type of investigation following him) were enough to scare teams away and make him the seventh running back taken. There are no on the field questions with him, however, after a decorated career at LSU that featured over 2,500 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns over the past two years. There were times where many even believed Guice was a better prospect than teammate Leonard Fournette. Guice’s position in rookie rankings is going to be the story of May as this draft has seemingly produced no fewer than eight new starting running backs in the first two rounds. Those who want to play it safe have several options over Guice. Those who want to take a risk may be able to get a talented running back at a draft slot in the middle of the first round where nobody expected him to end up. Just remember the fuss about Dalvin Cook last year. In the end, he was just fine.
Pre-Draft: While this rookie draft will likely be remembered as the one that gave us Saquon Barkley, Guice is going to be a nice consolation prize for dynasty owners who don't own the 1.01. In three seasons at LSU, Guice finished with 3,074 rushing yards (on a healthy 6.5 average) and scored 29 touchdowns. He also posted 32 catches for 250 receiving yards and three receiving scores.
Guice is described as a downhill, violent runner who does not shy away from contact and has a nice blend of speed and power. In fact, many felt he was even better than Leonard Fournette during their time at LSU. As a bonus, Guice won't even turn 21 until June, making him a great prospect in dynasty leagues. There will be a lot of competition to be the 1.02 behind Saquon Barkley and Guice's landing spot will need to be considered. However, he's certainly one of the favorites to be taken with the 1.02 in rookie drafts this Summer.
RB, Georgia Drafted 2.3, Browns
Post-Draft: If you’ve been playing in dynasty leagues for any amount of time, you know just how frustrating it’s been to rely on running backs from Cleveland. In fact, Isaiah Crowell is largely considered a disappointment but his 3,118 rushing yards represent the eighth most in club history – that tells you about all you need to know. Chubb will attempt to reverse the futile recent history of Cleveland backs and should have a chance to do just that. The Browns currently have Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, so he may not be given true featured back duties from the get go but Chubb has the talent to emerge as the back Hue Jackson and the Browns have been searching for. If he’s truly returned to his pre-injury form, this could be a steal of pick for the Browns. He’ll be in play in the top half of rookie drafts this off-season, possibly in the top three.
Pre-Draft: Once a potential “what could have been” story, Nick Chubb demonstrated at the Combine he is still a premier athlete with immense upside despite a major knee injury which truncated his 2015 season. Highly productive and built like the feature backs of yesteryear, Chubb should have no issues making a quick transition to the NFL level. Many are down on Chubb due to his limited production in the national championship game. It is a myopic view; the Tide shut down runners of his caliber all the time.
The former Georgia star should be locked into round one of rookie drafts and despite a decorated collegiate career and great Combine, is still providing a value due to recency bias. Owners with a rookie pick in the middle of round one could be getting a future pillar to build a dynasty team around in the form of Chubb.
WR, Maryland Drafted 1.24, Panthers
Post-Draft: After Saquon Barkley, we had to wait all the way up until pick #24 to see another skill position player drafted. It ended up being none other than DJ Moore, who ended up being the fast riser throughout the draft process, vaulting the momentum all the way to being the first receiver taken in the draft. Moore blew up the combine this year and the Panthers obviously took notice. He has all the measurables you can possibly want in a receiver and the Panthers should throw him into the fire early and often after Devin Funchess led the receiving corps with 63 catches and no other wideout posted more than 17 last year. He seems destined to go in the latter part of round one in rookie drafts and should battle the likes of Calvin Ridley and possibly Courtland Sutton to be the first receiver off the board.
Pre-Draft: DJ Moore is the potential WR1 in the 2018 NFL Draft class who nobody saw coming. However, when a wide receiver accounts for around 50% of a team's receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, people tend to start paying attention. And that’s exactly what DJ Moore did at Maryland in 2017. He caught 80 passes for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns on an offense that only generated an anemic 161 passing yards per game - that’s impressive.
Moore was forced to deal with a revolving door at the quarterback position throughout his time at Maryland he grew as a player every season. Even after it was quite clear Maryland’s offense ran almost exclusively through Moore, defenses still couldn't stop him. DJ’s ability to succeed on a wide variety of routes and create extra yards after the catch made him a deadly weapon at the college level. But there were some concerns about his true athletic profile even after his college career ended. Luckily, he answered all of those at the NFL Combine, putting together one of the best athletic profiles for a wide receiver we've seen in the past few seasons. Standing at 6 feet tall, 210 pounds, Moore ran a 4.42 second forty-yard dash (or in other words .01 seconds faster than Odell Beckham Jr). He then followed that up with a vertical jump just shy of 40 inches, a broad jump of 11 feet, and showed above average skill in agility drills as well.
Don’t overthink things with DJ Moore. He’s going to find success in the NFL. If you’re expecting to grab him in the late first round of rookie drafts you may just miss out on potentially the best receiver in this class.
RB, Georgia Drafted 1.31, Patriots
Post-Draft: The Patriots hadn’t taken a running back in the first round since Laurence Maroney back in 2006 but they took the plunge with the uber-talented Michel with their second first round pick. This selection is very interesting as the Patriots are known for using multiple backs and destroying fantasy value of their players in the process.
At worst, Michel should be able to replace the production of the departed Dion Lewis. At best, he becomes a dominant player like Corey Dillon was for New England so many years ago. The concern over his possible bone-on-bone condition of his knees and volatile history of New England will make Michel a risky pick in dynasty leagues. Still, he’ll be squarely in the mix for a pick in the middle part of round one in dynasty rookie drafts and has the potential to become either a serious dynasty contributor or another running back in the ongoing Patriot carousel, though clearly the most talented one we’ve seen in some time. Feel lucky?
Pre-Draft: Sony had a solid career at Georgia totaling 3,613 rushing yards and 621 receiving yards in his four seasons there. However, the hype surrounding Michel really didn’t take off until the College Football Playoff game against Oklahoma. Since that game though, Sony has risen from “second tier rookie pick” to one of the top players in this draft class.
Michel originally took over the lead role for Georgia back in 2015 when Nick Chubb went down with a horrific knee injury. That season, Michel put together his best year as a receiver and carried the ball over 200 times as well. It was clear even then that Sony wasn’t just a change-of-pace back. However, when Chubb returned in 2016, it was clear Georgia much preferred Chubb over Michel as their lead back. That trend continued throughout the remainder Sony’s college career.
Sony Michel is a balanced running back prospect. He can run inside the tackles, catch passes, and is savvy enough to make the right blocks and reads to get the job done. However, dynasty owners may be disappointed to find he may not be the top tier talent they’re expecting if they select him in the early first round of rookie drafts.
RB, San Diego State Drafted 1.27, Seahawks
Post-Draft: The stunner of the draft came at pick #27 as the Seahawks traded back, ignored their offensive line woes yet again and selected Rashaad Penny, making him the second running back off the board ahead of more heralded runners from draft pundits like Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. There are concerns about his pass catching ability and long speed but he was extraordinarily productive and even showed great return game chops. He should have the ability to make people miss and has the build to be a true three down threat in the league.
Penny will step right in to be the workhorse in Seattle (crushing Chris Carson’s dynasty value in the process) but there are some issues here. The Seahawks still boast a poor offensive line and Penny is going to have his work cut out for him because of it. Penny was our sixth ranked rookie going into the draft but he's likely going to go a bit higher in most rookie drafts.
Pre-Draft: If you want production, Penny is going to fit the bill. He led the country with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns last year at San Diego State after taking over for the departed Donnel Pumphrey. He also posted an amazing five straight games with at least 200 yards rushing to end his career and five total 200 yard efforts on the season. He also recorded a ridiculous 7.8 yards per carry average on 289 carries, finishing fifth in the voting for the Heisman trophy in the process.
Penny has the prototypical size and speed needed to be effective at the next level but there are questions about his long speed and ability to outrun NFL-caliber talent at the second level. Penny also was only able to post 42 career receptions, leaving some question as to his ability to be a true three down weapon. Still, Penny looks like a first round rookie draft prospect and will be a very interesting player to follow as a team could very well take the plunge on him as their new starter and send his stock up even more.
WR, SMU Drafted 2.8, Broncos
Post-Draft: Sutton has been our top receiver for over a year now, though the gap between Sutton and other players like Calvin Ridley and DJ Moore hasn’t been extreme. The landing spot in Denver is a little curious given the depth chart that currently boasts players like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but let’s be honest, they’re both on the back end of their careers and the Broncos are searching for a future top target. Sutton may start out slowly in his career but he has major upside in the Mile High City. At the very least, Sutton is strong enough to be a very good possession receiver and that gives him a relatively high floor. He’s going to be an interesting target at the end of round one in dynasty rookie drafts.
Pre-Draft: In a pedestrian receiver class, Courtland Sutton is one of few who profiles as a potential number one target at the next level. With a huge frame, plus athleticism, and excellent collegiate production, there’s little to nitpick with Sutton and at worst he profiles a quality redzone threat and complementary receiving weapon. Sutton’s play speed may not match up to his timed speed, but he is far from a plodder destined for a possession role. Sutton can play in the air and offers the highest ceiling of any receiver in this class. He is a first round rookie pick and will be the first receiver off the board in many leagues.
RB, USC Drafted 2.6, Buccaneers
Post-Draft: Jones became the fifth running back not named Derrius Guice to be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft and landed in a great situation on a young but talented offense searching for one more missing piece in the backfield. Jones was ranked highly by many teams and with good reason as he comes off a season featuring 1,550 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns for the USC Trojans. With no real competition other than Peyton Barber on the roster, Jones should emerge as a true three down back for the Bucs early on if he can develop as a pass catcher, which is a legitimate question. Regardless, this situation puts him squarely in play in the top or middle of the first round of rookie drafts. Tampa Bay was easily one of the most desirable landing spots for a running back this year and it won't be uncommon to see Jones taken anywhere from 1.03-1.06 in rookie drafts.
Pre-Draft: Ronald Jones is one of the most intriguing running back prospects in fantasy and reality this year after a decorated three-year career at USC. Jones was fantastic as a Trojan and capped off his college career with a whopping 1,550 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017. The 6'0", 200 pound runner is being downgraded by some draft pundits because of their concern with how he'd hold up at the next level. The ironic thing here is he handled 275 touches last year and really didn't show many signs of slowing down, picking up chunks of yardage in the process. Jones is a slashing running back with good vision and boasts one other thing NFL teams will love - he only fumbled twice on 591 carries.
Jones is clearly in the mix for a first round rookie pick in dynasty leagues, especially if he finds himself in a position where he's drafted as a starter on day one or two of the NFL Draft.
WR, Alabama Drafted 1.26, Falcons
Post-Draft: Ridley’s slide ended with the Falcons taking him at #26 overall. Heralded as the best route runner in the class and possibly the most pro ready receiver as well, Ridley will land in an offense where he won’t be asked to be the main weapon and that could help him post some immediate dividends. Unfortunately, he’ll also be playing second fiddle to Julio Jones and possibly even Mohamed Sanu. Ridley’s decorated career with the Crimson Tide featured 224 career receptions to go along with 2,781 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. While those numbers aren’t going to exactly blow you away, he did it on a team with a dominant defense and run-first mentality to go along with poor quarterback play. He’s an older rookie and that’s a concern. There are also some who believe he’s already hit his ceiling and won’t likely improve too much as a professional. However, Ridley offers a pretty high floor and is a safe bet for production early and often in his career. Ridley will be in the mix to be the first receiver taken off the board in dynasty drafts, likely late in round one.
Pre-Draft: It seems like Calvin Ridley has been the long-time favorite for the “WR1” label for the 2018 NFL Draft class. Yes, the dynasty community has been more bullish on Courtland Sutton, but even now many draft analysts want to anoint Ridley as the top option. However, is there any evidence that justifies him even being in that conversation?
Ridley is definitely a solid route runner. That is objectively undeniable. He boasts solid pro speed with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. Ridley (despite poor quarterback play) also grabbed at least 63 receptions in every collegiate season. However, Calvin’s overall physical profile is quite awful if you’re expecting him to be a WR1 in the NFL, let alone in dynasty leagues. His vertical jump, broad jump and short shuttle were around the tenth percentile at the NFL Combine. Calvin is also incredibly slight (only 189 pounds at 6 feet tall). He may struggle to win against press coverage with that frame. Combine that with the fact Ridley is already nearly 24 years old and dynasty owners should have some pause. In short, it’s not surprising he handled his business against much younger competition in college.
Ridley may be the most “pro ready” wide receiver in the 2018 class, but that doesn’t make him the WR1 for dynasty rookie drafts. Expect Ridley to contribute for a long time in the NFL. Don’t expect him to be a stud by any means.
RB, Auburn Drafted 2.11, Lions
Post-Draft: When the Lions traded up in the draft to this position, many felt it was for a running back. However, most believed this would be the spot for Derrius Guice. Instead, Johnson was the pick. The Lions (much like the Browns) have been desperately searching for a lead runner for years and certainly hope they’ve found it here. Johnson posted 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns for Auburn last year. Included in that massive season total were monster games against historically elite teams like LSU (156 yards), Georgia (167 yards) and Alabama (104 yards). Johnson was ranked #12 in our pre-draft rankings and that’s sure to rise as he landed in a good spot, regardless of the existence of LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
Pre-Draft: The 2018 running back class looks to be fairly deep again this year. When there are so many good players to watch it’s easy to just take one glance at a player like Kerryon and label him something far too simplistic. Some call him a grinder. Others bash him for his pad level saying he runs too high. Kerryon’s game is much more complex than that.
Johnson carried the Auburn offense in 2017 with 1,391 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He also put together eight different 100-yard games. If you wonder about the competition, Kerryon dropped 167 yards on Georgia and 104 yards on Alabama. If it weren’t for a rib injury late in the season, Kerryon may have carried Auburn all the way to a National Championship. And not only was he a threat on the ground, Johnson also posted a respectable 24 receptions.
In short, Johnson can do anything you ask him to do. Some worry about his speed, but he ran a 4.49-second forty-yard dash at his pro day. There are others who worry about his pad level. Kerryon actually runs similar to Le’Veon Bell. He may not be quite as talented, but Kerryon waits for the crease, gets small and finishes for extra yardage consistently. Through nine charted games in 2017, Kerryon gained positive yardage on more than an astounding 92% of his carries.
Kerryon Johnson may be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none type player. But don’t let that fool you. He has the potential to plug in and be the 1A in the right offense in the NFL. In the second round of a rookie draft, that's about all you can hope for.