Dynasty players have been looking forward to this weekend for weeks, months, maybe even years due to the talented class loaded with running backs and tight ends that should impact the way we build our teams. The first round certainly did not disappoint with multiple trades and eleven fantasy relevant players coming off the board.
With these talented players entering the league, NFL veterans will feel the impact, some fearing for their respective jobs while others will breathe a sigh of relief, at least for 24 hours. Let’s take a look at some of the players who could see their dynasty value affected by this first round rookie class.
Case Keenum, QB DEN
Even after inking former Viking Case Keenum as a free agent, the Broncos had been linked to the incoming rookie quarterbacks. Instead, they took the gift that feel in their lap in the form of the top defender on the board, Bradley Chubb. That makes this Keenum’s team for the 2018 season and possibly more, plus the Broncos were able to hang onto veteran receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who were once viewed as possible cap cuts.
Eli Manning, QB NYG
The Giants had been expected to select running back Saquon Barkley with their second overall pick, so that was not a surprise. While some might second guess the decision to pass on a potential replacement for Eli Manning, the move cements Manning’s place in the lineup for at least another season and gives him the top offensive rookie in his backfield in the form of Barkley.
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Andrew Luck, QB IND
It has been a rough past year for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but the team remains optimistic he will return to the field fully healthy in 2018. While I’m not necessarily ready to believe that, the addition of guard Quenton Nelson, who has been compared to former Cowboy Larry Allen (considered one of the best guards of all-time) will potentially help keep Luck upright. Now we just need Luck’s shoulder to be ready to take advantage of the protection.
The 49ers, picking ninth, had me stumped when they took their turn on the clock. They were the first team that I had no idea which direction they might go. In the end, they added strength to their offensive line with the addition of former Notre Dame big man Mike McGlinchey. This team has clearly turned things around very quickly and this should only help the duo of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, both among the fastest off-season risers at their positions already.
Ryan Tannehill, QB MIA
Like the Broncos, the Dolphins were another team who were expected to at least consider a quarterback with their pick. In fact, there was even some thought they might have to trade up from the eleven spot to get the one they want. When their turn came up, only Louisville’s Lamar Jackson remained of the “big five” and they went a different direction, grabbing safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. This is good news for current starter Ryan Tannehill, but this season could still be his last chance to prove he can be the team’s franchise quarterback.
The Raiders had a busy night. First, they moved back outside of the top ten, adding offensive lineman Kolten Miller, who had reportedly been one of the late risers that many teams were tracking. Miller was a “workout warrior” type the Raiders have seemed to draft for years. They weren’t done though, shipping their third rounder to the Steelers for wideout Martavis Bryant. I view quarterback Derek Carr as possibly the top winner of the night as the team improved both his protection and his offensive weapons. I also like this for Bryant as he clearly needed a fresh start after somewhat of a wasted 2017 season with the Steelers.
Allen Hurns, WR DAL
Following the release of veteran superstar receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys became a team heavily projected to select a first-round wide receiver. Instead, they went with linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, another player they had shown a great deal of interest in through the pre-draft process. While they can (and will) still add a receiver as early as day two of the draft, this is a minor win for the team’s best wide receiver, former Jaguar Allen Hurns.
Joe Mixon, RB CIN
As a rookie in 2017, Bengals running back Joe Mixon was quite disappointing. Many placed the blame on the Cincinnati offensive line and for good reason. The Bengals let their top free agent leave town without much of a fight and they suffered for it on both sides of the ball. In round one, they stayed in state, selecting center Billy Price from Ohio State. Based on the recent history of Bengals team-building decisions, I don’t expect this to be a quick makeover. However, this is a step in the right direction.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
The story has again been Panthers quarterback Cam Newton needs more weapons – it’s been that way his entire career. After using their top two picks on running back Christian McCaffrey and receiver Curtis Samuel a year ago, Carolina again focused on that side of the ball, drafting DJ Moore as the top receiver off the board. Moore had climbed to the top receiver spot in many rookie rankings, including my own, and the landing spot is attractive. Maybe the addition of another pass catcher will allow Newton, who set a new career-high in carries last season, to actually run the ball less.
Matt Ryan, QB ATL
Newton wasn’t the only NFC South quarterback to get a new toy. The Falcons have been trying to get back to the days of sending out a pair of stud receivers since Roddy White’s career ended and Mohamed Sanu had done an admirable job but wasn’t making the difference. Former Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley entered the league as one of the most refined route runners in the class and seems to be the perfect complement for superstar Julio Jones. This is good news for quarterback Matt Ryan, especially after a bit of a letdown in 2017
Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting you should go out shopping for the pair of veteran running backs currently sitting atop the Lions depth chart, banger LeGarrette Blount or pass-catching whiz Theo Riddick. The good news for them is twofold though after round one, though. The Lions had been reportedly considering a running back with their first pick and former LSU back Derrius Guice was a popular mock draft picks to the Motor City. Not only did the team not add a running back, they instead focused on their offensive line. Now these two, along with Ameer Abdullah, need to sweat out six more rounds without a potential impact rookie back being selected.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE JAX
I never quite understood this one, but the Jaguars were often projected to select a tight end with their late first round pick, often pegged to draft either Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesicki. Of course, this off-season, the Jags cut veteran Marcedes Lewis and signed former Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. His dynasty value is safe, although the team could still add a tight end in round two or beyond.
Tyrod Taylor, QB CLE
You’ll quickly notice a theme to this section. While it is quite difficult to project exact team and player matches, most expected the players on this list to lose value at some point this weekend. The first is veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Browns used their top pick on a quarterback, as expected, drafting Hesiman winner Baker Mayfield first overall. While Taylor will likely start the season under center, he’s almost surely going to be looking for a new home again next off-season.
Another situation we saw coming for a few days now involves the New York Giants’ backfield. Despite the major need at quarterback, the G-Men opted for former Penn State back Saquon Barkley, a three-down player who adds bench time for both veteran pounder Jonathan Stewart and second-year pass catcher Wayne Gallman – these two become instant roster cloggers.
Sam Bradford, QB ARI
Many were surprised when the Arizona Cardinals gave former Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford a big two-year contract, given his injury history. That contract didn’t stop them from trading up to select UCLA’s Josh Rosen, though. Unfortunately, I just can’t trust Bradford to stay healthy enough to keep this job the entire season. Rosen seems like the early favorite to earn the starting gig.
AJ McCarron, QB BUF
After he got very little interest in free agency, we all saw the writing on the wall for former Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron. Not only did the Bills draft a quarterback in the first round, they moved up to get one, drafting Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick acquired from the Buccaneers. While Allen has taken some heat throughout this process, he will get a chance to win this job and McCarron could be out of a job quickly.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB NYJ
Unlike some of the other quarterbacks on this list, Jets veteran Teddy Bridgewater might not just be sitting on the bench, he might be looking for a new team altogether. The Jets not only signed Bridgewater this off-season, they also retained veteran Josh McCown and essentially guaranteed he’d be on the roster for the full season. The Jets then used their third overall pick on USC’s Sam Darnold. With second round busts Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty also still on the roster, at least two of these players are likely goners, and Bridgewater could be one of them.
Mohamed Sanu, WR ATL
As I mentioned earlier, Sanu has certainly been a solid asset for the Falcons, but not a difference maker for the team or dynasty squads. Sanu is coming off his best fantasy finish of his career, a WR30 season last year. I expect Sanu to move back into the range of previous seasons, when he finished WR53, WR79 and WR41 the previous three years after the Falcons added Calvin Ridley.
Chris Carson, RB SEA
If you were a dynasty owner of Chris Carson, you had to know this likely wouldn’t hold. Not only were the Seahawks expected to draft a running back, but Carson didn’t even have much of a chance to convince the team to do otherwise as he missed much of the year with an injury. The surprise was the Seahawks, a team lacking draft picks this year, used their first rounder on a running back, and he wasn’t named Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb or Sony Michel. Instead, Seattle made Rashaad Penny the second back off the board and will lock him into a starting role after Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael, CJ Prosise and others have flopped in recent years. Carson becomes a clear backup and will tumble down dynasty ranks and ADP.
I’m going to fall into the trap once again. After chasing free agent flop Mike Gillislee last year, I told myself I would only target the “cheap” Patriots running backs, not the more expensive ones. That changed near the end of round one Thursday as the team used their second first round pick on former Georgia back Sony Michel. While the Patriots’ running back usage can be frustrating, Michel is simply more talented than any back on the roster and he’ll be a top target of mine in rookie drafts. Burkhead, viewed as the top fantasy option of the veteran trio, will be the main victim of Michel’s addition.
Joe Flacco, QB BAL
Things were looking good for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco early in the night. With their first pick, Baltimore selected the first tight end, South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst. Hurst joins the numerous other pass-catchers added to the roster this off-season, including Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. That didn’t last long as the Ravens traded up with the Super Bowl champion Eagles to acquire the final pick of the first round and select Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. While Flacco’s job might be safe for the 2018 season, the team is obviously making plans for the future and the Ravens can save $10 million by moving on from Flacco following the 2018 season.