The anticipation of the NFL Draft has been building for months in dynasty leagues and we’re finally able to whet our appetites a little with round one on Thursday night. As expected, we saw a decline in the number of fantasy-relevant skill position players selected. Although, of the players that were selected, there were some juicy landing spots. Let’s run though the picks and discuss their dynasty impact.
1 (1) = Kyler Murray, QB ARI
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One of the worst kept secrets of the off-season was made official as the Arizona Cardinals and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury got their man, selecting Heisman winner Kyler Murray with the first overall pick. Soon after Kingsbury was hired early in January, a clip of him suggesting Murray as the clear top pick surfaced and the dots were connected. There had been some rumors that Arizona would go a different direction, but that was pretty clearly not the case.
The addition of Murray likely signals the end of Josh Rosen’s short Arizona career and the combination of Murray’s playmaking ability and Kingsbury’s offensive game-planning should have Cardinals fans and dynasty players excited for the future. Murray presumably steps into the starting role with running back David Johnson and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk as his top weapons. The Cardinals have also been rumored to be interested in a Round Two wide receiver. Murray is the favorite to be the 1.01 rookie pick in super-flex leagues while he could be an early-second round selection in the 1QB format.
1 (6) = Daniel Jones, QB NYG
Another pick that wasn’t exactly kept quiet was the New York Giants choice of Duke’s Daniel Jones with the first of the day one picks. It seems that Giants brass, including general manager Dave Gettleman, were the only ones sold on Jones. In fact, it appears that the Giants could’ve had Jones with their pick in the middle of the round. Regardless of that, they hope they have found Eli Manning’s successor. Jones and Manning have reportedly developed a friendship through their shared coach, David Cutcliffe.
Speaking of Manning, the early expectation is that he will continue to hold down the starting job, though based on his play in recent seasons, it is difficult to envision him holding off Jones if the rookie shows any hint of promise. The other bad news for Jones is that the Giants already dealt away their top receiver, replacing him with Golden Tate. Manning and Jones will also be throwing to Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, along with running back Saquon Barkley. Even in a super-flex format, Jones is unlikely to be drafted any higher than the middle of the second round. He’s this year’s Josh Allen with more competition and less speed.
1 (8) = TJ Hockenson, TE DET
Iowa tight end TJ Hockenson established himself as a top player in the draft with an all-around dominant season in which he overtook his teammate, Noah Fant and showed that he was deserving of a top-ten pick. The Lions agreed, making him their selection with the eighth pick. Hockenson can do it all with size, speed and blocking skills. He won’t leave the field.
After letting Eric Ebron walk following the 2017 season, the Lions got little production from the tight end spot. That gap, combined with the trade of Tate, did major damage to quarterback Matthew Stafford’s production. The Lions attempted to address those holes, signing receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Jesse James, but those moves pale in comparison to the selection of Hockenson. Expect to see the tight end coming off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round of most rookie drafts.
1 (15) = Dwayne Haskins, QB WAS
Draft day rumors suggested the Washington Redskins could be interested in moving up into the top five picks to target a quarterback. That ended up being false, but they got their man anyway. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins fell further than he would’ve liked but he gets to go back home after growing up in the Washington DC area. Haskins attended high school with the son of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and that connection clearly had an impact.
Washington acquired veteran Case Keenum earlier in the off-season but he will offer little competition if Haskins proves he’s ready to play. Washington has some major questions at the receiver position though with Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson currently slotted in as starters and considering the team just dealt their second-round pick, which could’ve been used for a wideout. Haskins will still be a high-end pick in super-flex rookie drafts, likely coming off the board in the top six picks, while he could fall to round three in 1QB leagues.
1 (20) = Noah Fant, TE DEN
The Broncos made it clear they intended to fix their tight end position. Denver has been trying to find production at that spot since Julius Thomas bolted years ago. Once the Lions selected Hockenson, the Broncos quickly went to work in an attempt to move down and found a partner in Pittsburgh. That allowed Denver to move back ten spots, pick up some additional draft capital and take their next-best tight end, Fant.
An elite-pass catching tight end with speed to burn, Fant should serve as an immediate favorite for new Denver quarterback Joe Flacco, who has long favored the tight end position as pass targets. The Broncos are not exactly settled at receiver either with veteran Emmanuel Sanders expected to miss part of the season and young wideouts DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton far from proven. In rookie drafts, I expect Fant and Hockenson, who will be closely related throughout their careers, to be selected very closely. I slightly prefer Hockenson, but both are solid first-round picks.
1 (24) = Josh Jacobs, RB OAK
Yet another pick that we all saw coming for weeks. That is not common for the 24th overall pick but that is what happens when Jon Gruden is calling the shots. The Raiders used the second of their day one picks on Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, who later said that Gruden suggested he would be the pick as far back as the NFL Combine. While his production was limited in the stacked Crimson Tide backfield, there is a lot to like about Jacobs and he had already established himself as the clear RB1 in both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts.
The Raiders have already moved on from veterans Doug Martin and the recently-retired Marshawn Lynch, leaving Jacobs to compete with former Jet and Brown back Isaiah Crowell for the starting gig with Jalen Richard as the change-of-pace back. Jacobs will certainly be a contender to be selected as the top overall pick in many rookie drafts, given the capital spent on him and the wide-open path to playing time he has in Oakland.
1 (25) = Marquise Brown, WR BAL
The buzz had been building in recent weeks that even in this stacked wideout class, that it would not be one of the dynasty favorites being selected as the top receiver, but instead undersized playmaker Marquise Brown. That’s just what happened as the Ravens showed they were not concerned with Brown’s frame or his recent Lisfranc injury.
In some ways, this is an excellent landing spot. After all, the Ravens WR1 entering the day was Willie Snead. That makes Brown the best wide receiver on the team immediately. He’s also catching passes from Lamar Jackson, which gives fantasy players cause for concern due to his poor accuracy. Brown will be perhaps the most interesting player to watch when it comes to rookie ADP. Already sitting outside of the first round prior to the draft, Brown’s status as WR1 in the NFL Draft has to mean something, but that could be balanced out by the perceived poor landing spot. Expect Brown to be a late-first round pick in typical rookie drafts.
1 (32) = N’Keal Harry, WR NE
We thought we had everything all figured out as we began to reflect on the picks of the evening when Bill Belichick and the Patriots surprised us all, selecting receiver N’Keal Harry with the final pick of round one. It shouldn’t have been so surprising given the team’s needs at the position. With tight end Rob Gronkowski hanging them up, Chris Hogan off to Carolina and Josh Gordon’s status unclear, New England was left with Julian Edelman and not much else. Harry has a chance to make an early, major impact.
Harry has been the favorite to be the top rookie drafted for a couple of months now and I don’t see that changing. Jacobs will provide a solid alternative and there are other solid receivers who could land in plum locations on day two, but Harry has everything fantasy players look for in a top rookie pick…athletic profile, production, draft capital, opportunity.
Current Fantasy Rookie Rankings (Draft Players Only)
We’ll see you tomorrow as the draft continues!
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