Taking the 2015, 2016, and 2017 NFL Drafts and conducting a dynasty rookie draft using only prospects from those seasons.
I’m leaning with ‘PPR’ and ‘6pts per pass TD’ as the scoring basis and a normal(?) lineup of 1 QB, 2 WR/RB. 1 TD, 1 Flex…and 3-5 IDPs (for those with IDP). Obviously, everyone has their own whacked out scoring system, so we’ll try to keep those in mind making notes on the players that need special scoring system notes.
The three things standing out about this draft re-do…
1) There are a lot of quarterbacks suddenly very productive…just in this three-year block. Added to all the ‘old guys’ still doing well…and we have a growing glut at QB. I might need to push them down in draft value because of it. I did use it to push them down already in this re-do.
2) There are a lot of ‘franchise’ RBs starting to accumulate. There are several RBs you could see as the top RB for this re-do draft or in reality.
3) We’re lacking in #1 WR prospects. A lot of talented WR2, WR3 guys…but rare WR1 hopefuls. Thus, a couple WRs are ranked higher than you’d think going in here.
We’re going to add a prospect/pick or two to this list every day into February 2018. It will be a top 30-40 list by the end. I might change the order of a player (drop or rise) already posted prior, and I’ll note when we do.
Here we go…
1) RB David Johnson, Arizona
You can put Todd Gurley #1 if you desire, I have no complaints with that. We don’t know who the new Arizona head coach will be (as of this writing), so this is a fluid situation -- but Johnson is the supreme RB talent of our lifetime…you think Gurley looks great now, but you forget how amazing DJ is. Bigger, stronger, faster, much better hands, etc.
I get the ‘headwinds’ – unknown coach, Gurley has the best coach…and a real QB, whereas DJ has no idea who his QB will be. That’s why I mention if you want to go Gurley #1…I get it for the extenuating circumstances. Aside from ‘circumstances’, no one is as talented all-around as Johnson.
2) RB Todd Gurley, LA Rams
The consolation prize not getting David Johnson. For NFL purposes, I’d rather have Leonard Fournette…but based on where they are with coaches and ‘systems’…I’ll givea slight edge to Gurley at #2 for fantasy.
What I can’t shake out of my mind is how mediocre Gurley has looked most of his career, except for the last 3-4-5 weeks of the 2017 season. His 2016 was a semi-embarrassment, given how lofty a perch he’s put on. I fear that version of Gurley returning…but Sean McVay tends to make everything better. However, the Gurley of the last few weeks of 2017 is worthy of the #1 spot, especially with this offense.
3) WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
You probably think my love for Tyreek has gone overboard and I’m overvaluing him here. Three things…
1: I never let emotions rule my FF-valuations, as you’ll see by the names on this list and where we rank them. There are some guys I like and some I don’t like for various reasons but when we’re playing for money I don’t have time to be emotional.
2: As I outlined the first 15-20 names on this mock draft – just two WRs appeared, and one of them I love the talent and upside on – Tyreek. Endangered fantasy species: young WRs. You’ll see what I’m saying as this list unfolds. It shocked me too when I dug into the state of young WRs.
3: The potential Patrick Mahomes + Tyreek Hill connection could be magical – the ultimate deep threat joins forces with the deep-ball gunslinger.
If I had to bet money on the fantasy top PPG scorers by positions in 2018 (using only guys drafted 2015-16-17)…it would be: RB D Johnson, TE Evan Engram, WR Tyreek Hill.
4) TE Evan Engram, NY Giants
Arguably could be ahead of Tyreek, but it’s shocking how awful/scarce the young WR talent is. I know some of them will emerge over time with their offense/QB, but right now it’s a barren wasteland – all the top WRs are like 4-5+ years in the league. However, elite tight end prospects are usually a pretty scarce resource as well…and Engram is anything but dull.
Quite simply…the most amazing athlete at tight end I’ve ever seen. Better than (different than) Jimmy Graham at the peak of his powers. No tight end I’ve seen moves like Engram. He’s an OK+ receiver, and not a super-tall basketball-type tight end…but his speed and movement are otherworldly. He’s impossible to cover for linebackers and DBs.
Engram will be a top five tight end fixture in fantasy for years. He works even if stuck with crappy QBs because he’s a catch-and-go guy.
5) RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville
If Fournette were with the Rams, he’d be #1-2 on this list. The best power runner in football…might go down as one of the best of all-time. The only thing that stops him is the ridiculous Jacksonville offense and their awful QB…which allows teams to stack the run.
Doug Marrone pulling Fournette in the 4th-quarter of games in all-pass situations also scares me, because Marrone is simply ridiculous. Teams should live to get their stud the ball in critical moments…Marrone…sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Depends on what constipation medicine he took that day.
Fournette has more to give via the passing game, so we’re pushing him up this high…there’s a lot of upside from his 2017.
6) RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati
I think there will come a day when Mixon becomes Le’Veon Bell 2.0 and Fantasy GMs kick themselves for doubting it because his rookie season was nothing special (to the human eye). The Bengals will build the offense around Mixon and he will be a ground-air threat like a watered-down Le’Veon. Not a full-fledged Le’Veon because old-school coaches never fully commit to stars. Marvin Lewis will sit Mixon at times for Gio Bernard if he has the chance. The Rams go all-in on Gurley. The 2016 Cardinals went all-in on David Johnson. I fear Marvin Lewis will only go mostly-in on Mixon in 2018. Someday soon Mixon will click.
You also have to like that Mixon will just be 22 years-old next season. Still young and lower miles. Room to grow.
7) WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
My long-time readers will likely be taken aback by seeing Thomas this high on the list after I spent two years crowing about how mediocre Thomas was as a talent.
I’ve learned my lesson, the hard way, in 2017…something that was there for years but I always fought it trying to be the smartest scout in the room – athleticism/talent take a back seat to relationship with the QB/coach. I don’t even mean ‘BFF’ type relationship…I mean the WR that gets ‘the reps’ with the QB. The guy pushed as the #1 WR because he runs the playbook properly. Tyreek Hill or Tarik Cohen are enigmas for dull, drab, classically trained O-Cs. They don’t have plays in a playbook for playmakers. They do have ‘you go here’ and by the time you turn the QB has the ball on the way…so ‘being in the right place at the right time’ is more coveted than ‘playmaker’. You think I’m crazy…it’s been true to a fault for my decade of football work. I just keep thinking someone will wake up. But it hasn’t come close to happening yet.
Thomas is the preferred guy for New Orleans and no one else, no other talent brought in at WR will matter. They could add Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown…and Thomas would lead the team in targets (see: Keenan Allen).
I prefer ‘makes plays’ or ‘great after the catch’ talents but I need to get over myself. The NFL prefers ‘did he get to the 5-yard out in rhythm with the QB?’ WRs. Where I see QB-WR BFFs…I’ll be there from now on.
Also, another season Thomas is so high here – lack of young WRs in that role/making a difference. What Thomas does/has done is a rarity among the 2015-2016-2017 draft classes so far. Most 1st-round pick WRs of the past two years have been near-busts. Even Amari Cooper died and went to WR heaven in 2017. It’ll be a while before you see the next WR on this list…and you’ll be shocked by who it is.
8) RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas
I started with Elliott behind Kamara, and then wondered if that was right…and then wondered would I rather have Fournette or Elliott and wondered whether my answer was based on favoritism (I don’t like Elliott all that much) or legit scouting.
I will justify this Elliott ranking this way…
If I knew Elliott and Fournette both played 16 games next season, who would I rather have for fantasy? Elliott by a nose.
But which guy will be a productive star in 2020 and which one will be suspended for making the wrong kind of headlines? – I think we know ‘which is which’ there. That’s my hesitation with Elliott. Perfect situation in Dallas. Talented enough. Not David Johnson but better than Melvin Gordon. I want to love Elliott…but I also don’t want to deal with the fall…the out of shape, the drugs, etc. The risk of these things drags Elliott behind Fournette but still barely ahead of Kamara in PPR.
9) RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
I evaluated Kamara improperly pre-Draft 2017. I thought he was being pushed as a between the tackles workhorse who could also catch the ball really well. I believed most NFL teams were looking at him as a three-down guy, and I rejected that. I saw a flawed between the tackles runner who could catch but wasn’t like the greatest receiving RB who I had ever seen.
When I saw Kamara had landed with the Saints, I warmed up to him as a likely PPR weapon…but still skeptical on how great that was going to be. Hey, Pierre Thomas was doing the same thing Kamara is, to some degree, in this offense.
Kamara had a terrific rookie year and looked untackleable at times this season. It’s the simplest thing, and I over looked it – I don’t see Kamara working well between the tackles unless he gets big gaping holes to run through, which he had at times this season. The hidden Kamara value was a 215-pound RB being used like the Redskins use Chris Thompson. Of course, Kamara broke a lot of tackles…he’s 215+ pounds racing to meet DBs downfield. The Saints get Kamara out in space and then let him use his toughness, skills, and most importantly…size to his advantage. There are several RBs who could do this, but the Saints are that rare team that actually uses theirs. It won’t change any time soon because Sean Payton is literally, romantically in love with Kamara.
I think Kamara will fall back to earth some, but I also know the fall won’t be too far because he’ll get 5-6 catches a game without fail.
10) TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay
The future of the fantasy tight end position lies with ‘freaks’ Evan Engram and O.J. Howard. They are TE prospects like none we’ve ever seen…the size and speed are unnatural.
Engram is more ‘freaky’ than OJH, so he gets the push ahead of Howard. But Howard is probably going to break out in 2018 and make it an interesting debate between the two. Engram and Howard are so clearly ahead of the young TE pack that you have to push them way up on a ranking like this…for scarcity reasons.
11) QB Jared Goff, LA Rams
Of the QBs we have ranked in the top 25 overall here, I think Jared Goff is the least appealing on the surface for fantasy, in general, because he is nothing as a runner, but where Goff picks up the fantasy slack is – he’s teamed with Sean McVay. If Goff were with Sean McDermott or Vance Joseph, as two examples, we’d be discussing Goff as a potential draft bust and he wouldn’t crack the top 50-100 on this list. I don’t mean that Goff is being propped up by McVay…I mean it in the sense that Goff is really talented plus he got a major bump getting paired with McVay. He’s the potential Tom Brady of our generation…and working with a pro-offensive head coach. Goff is fantasy relevant as a top guy because of McVay’s style…the anti-Doug Marrone.
Better in a 6pts per pass TD league and/or with 300+ bonuses. Not ahead of Wentz/Dak in a strictly 4pts per pass TD league, probably.
12) RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City
I was a Kareem Hunt fan before it was cool…and then I cooled on him going to KC because Spencer Ware wasn’t going to just disappear. Then, Ware disappeared (with injury).
Hunt had a stunning Week 1 debut in primetime against the Patriots in 2017…and a star was born. For about three weeks to start the 2017 season, people were pushing him as the RB in the NFL/fantasy for now and the future. I liked Hunt too, but I knew that valuation was crazy and told people to sell high…and if they did, they were thankful they did.
Hunt fell off the face of the earth for half the season and then rebounded to life late. He’s finally at proper valuation – not the top guy, but in the discussion. Why ‘in the discussion’? Andy Reid is addicted to running the ball and swinging passes to his RB. And he named his RB coach (Eric Bienemy) to become the new O-C…so they could keep running heavy despite having a magical gunslinging QB for 2018 (Mahomes).
Hunt being in the top 5 RBs for fantasy next season would not shock me but falling outside the top 10 is on the table for the mere fact that Spencer Ware is back. If Ware returns fine, he’ll be the backup…but he’ll get touches. Ware is good enough to get hot and steal more share. It’s great for KC…running game diversification. Not great for Hunt for FF 2018. If Ware is cut/traded and they still have a lesser-talent backup like Charcandrick West…all-in on Hunt, but if Ware is back…he’s going to siphon off some touches.
13) QB Dak Prescott, Dallas
People slam Dak for his performance drop with Ezekiel Elliott out, although it was really more to do with LT Tyron Smith being out. But let’s not get bogged down in that debate…regardless, Dak died for 3-4 games and then perked back up. Before all that, Dak was one of the top 3 fantasy QBs in the league for the prior 20 games. He’s been a fantasy ace, derailed when he lost some weapons.
OK, so if the weapons are back…then Dak goes back to great again, right? Plus, what happens when Dallas remakes their entire WR group for Dak in 2018? There’s a lot to like.
We also can’t ignore Dak is human…dependent. Other QBs didn’t curl up ans die like Dak (for fantasy) when they lost key offensive members. Before the Ezekiel thing, Dak was arguably the best young fantasy QB out there…now, there’s some doubt/concerns and he’s ‘in the mix’ now, not the clear top guy.
14) RB/WR Tarik Cohen, Chicago
I think Tarik Cohen could be a different but similar version of Tyreek Hill…a guy who is a better pure receiver than Hill, but not the athlete Hill is…but still a top athlete (no one is the athlete Tyreek is).
If Cohen stays as an RB who takes a few carries, sees a few targets…is a ‘change of pace’ back – then he is not better than an RB2-2.5 in PPR. However, there is a real upside here – Cohen could be classified as an RB but play 50-50 RB/WR…like a legit WR; a radical weapon in the passing game (like when he caught 8 passes in each of his first two NFL games in 2017). You also have the possibility that Cohen is designated as a WR…and plays as a radical, Tyreek-like WR while still taking 2-5 carries a game.
The upside is delicious, and I want in on it. There are a million ‘good’ players to possess in the NFL/fantasy. There are only a few radical/special ones…Cohen is one of those guys.
We’ll all look back someday and be surprised that Cohen was the better radical passing game RB than Christian McCaffrey.
Obviously, Cohen’s real world value is a lot less than this and I wouldn’t take him this highly if this were a real draft, but I am showing where I value him here. I want a shot at ‘special’ for fantasy.
15) QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago (+2 spots)
I’ll say it for the thousandth time this year – Jimmy Garoppolo was the best pure QB talent I think I had ever laid eyes on as a scout…until I saw Mitchell Trubisky. Tall, big arm, Aaron Rodgers-like feet (and arm/delivery), and a stunning ability to place passes in perfect spots throwing from any arm angle or cleanliness of pocket. He is a quarterback prospect created in a lab or in a video game.
Trubisky getting stuck with John Fox as a rookie is like Jared Goff getting stuck with Jeff Fisher. Goff got Sean McVay…we’ll have to see what Matt Nagy brings to the table. It’s more positive than negative but there is a reason to bridle some of the enthusiasm. I think Trubisky’s ceiling is higher, for fantasy and NFL, than any QB on this list.
He sits in this spot trying to interpret coaching/offense impact, etc.
16) RB Jordan Howard, Chicago
Back-to-back 1,000+ yard rushing seasons for Howard, but fewer yards in 2017 (1,122 rushing yards in 16 games/16 starts) despite more games played/starts than he played in 2016 (1,313 rushing in 15 games/13 starts). Howard’s catch count went down as well (29 to 23). 2017 was a solid season but not like ‘wow’. He had some big games but mostly a lot of ‘OK’ games as the Chicago offense embarrassed themselves on a weekly basis, one of the most predictable, sad offenses in the NFL (and their O-C in 2017 was able to land a gig with the Dolphins for 2018…).
Is Howard just a mediocre-to-good fantasy RB…or is there an upside?
There’s a little upside in that they have an ace QB under development and rising tide will lift all boats. However, Howard has a Tarik Cohen factor to deal with…not that Howard would lose his job, but he can have touches and TDs siphoned off by the electric Cohen.
Howard is stable but his upside seems stuck…it doesn’t seem like he’ll be a top 3 fantasy RB, especially in PPR (he has bad hands), but he’ll be a safe top 10 RB. I like him but I don’t want to pay a fair price for him, if I can help it.
17) QB Deshaun Watson, Houston (-2 spots)
I know Watson is the ‘bee’s knees’ right now. His value in fantasy circles is twice Goff-Trubisky’s. I could draft Watson and trade him for Goff + nice stuff or Trubisky + nice stuff if I wanted. I could see him among the top seven overall on this list considering the extreme valuation with the public today…the current trade value.
In addition… This is fantasy. If I were building an NFL team give me Trubisky-Goff, but for fantasy, and especially in 4pts per pass TD leagues…we have to acknowledge the statistical advantage of having a great runner for numbers who is a decent passer.
I’m a Watson skeptic, but his running ability makes him a top 10 fantasy QB more often than not. If he’s as good as his debut…he’s a #1 fantasy QB contender. If he comes down to earth, he’s still viable with his penchant for running. He’s not my favorite guy but I see the value. Between injury risks and his weaker QB skills, I think there’s some reason to believe Watson could drop hard and fast…. His 4-5 games of magic may have been a blip that will be figured out quickly. However, keep him in the spread offense and he will always produce fantasy numbers.
The fact that Bill O’Brien built and offense around Watson instead of forcing Watson into a ‘system’ – I respect that for FF. I’m a Watson skeptic, as a passer, so I’d likely take Watson to trade him to take the risk off the table.
18) WR Amari Cooper, Oakland (+3 spots)
How amazing is this fall from grace? He would have been top 10 doing this report same time in 2017…top 5 same time 2016. He should’ve been one of the best WRs in the NFL by now…but he suddenly isn’t even the best WR on his own team today.
Cooper gets a reset with a new coaching staff. Amari has flashed brilliance before. Banking he returns to his ‘norm’ or better and discounting the terrible 2017. Also, considering the lack of ‘great’ WR prospects available in this mock draft…I have to push Amari up this high – betting on the come.
19) RB Melvin Gordon, LA Chargers
I’ve been a Melvin Gordon detractor since day-day one. I think he’s a ‘C’ talent getting shoved ‘A’ touches…so you get nice ‘B+’ fantasy output.
If you look over this list, the names ahead of Gordon – a lot of running backs. More solid, talented RBs coming after him on this list as well. There are far more talented RBs than Gordon, but I acknowledge that Gordon is the center of the Chargers’ universe – and that has fantasy value. However, I worry Gordon is breaking down a little and I know he is not that talented (compared to the other top RBs)…and he works with a fading offense and a head coach I don’t trust. However, he gets all their cheap, short TD runs…and that matters.
There are so many other young, talented RBs to choose from who their teams are also in love with that I discount Gordon more than most. I just have a bad feeling, but I get he gets all the touches and cheap scores.
20) RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
He’s going as far as his targets will take him. He’s the new Danny Woodhead, only people believe he is much more than that…he’s not. I mean, he is a better downfield receiver. However, they are the same runner…limited, not workhorse backs. Good for a few (5-10) carries, but they make their value in huge targets/catches for an RB.
Norv Turner has arrived, and I don’t recall his offenses really getting radical passing to RBs in any spot ever…craft was honed before this whole PPR-back revolution. I’m sure McCaffrey will see solid targets to keep a fringe RB1 status in PPR…but I don’t see him going crazy with targets/receiving numbers and spiking into an Alvin Kamara circa 2017. He’s not a bigger back like Kamara, nor does he play in as innovative an offense. I like McCaffrey a lot…but only to a certain point in fantasy.
21) QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (-3 spots)
Obviously, he’s a much better passer than I graded/saw coming out of college…although I’m still a touch skeptical. When Wentz’s main left tackle went down in 2017, he just rolled on. When Dak’s left tackle went down…Prescott died. I cannot ignore that. As much as I like Dak better for the NFL…Wentz might be the better fantasy play because he’s around a better coaching staff.
You could argue Wentz should be ahead of guys like Goff and Trubisky straight up considering how many people play in a 4pts per pass TD league…and that favors the runners. Wentz ranked above them is logical in 4pts per pass TD leagues.
However, there is reason for doubt – Wentz coming off a serious injury in 2017. Wentz also struggling mightily in 2016, and while his 2017 was stellar…when I watched him every week in 2017 I saw a lot of flaws still. I did see the magic of him escaping and making plays on the run in 2017 too. Overall, he’s fine but he’s not the ‘given’ people make him out to be. I still have some skepticism that struggles could ensure…enough to maybe warrant a lesser draft status for fantasy.
Given his mobility. Given what he did in 2017. Given he has a pro-offense coach, I should push Wentz higher. However, I have a nagging suspicion on him not being as great as his 2017 flash. I’m willing to miss the party to listen to that little voice in my head. I see the signs for ‘greatness’ but I have a few concerns…and there are too many other fantasy QBs to choose from now.
22) QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
With Alex Smith for sure gone now, it’s Mahomes's ball game. This is going one of two ways right off the bat…
Either Mahomes is given the freedom to run his style of offense, and he’s going to lead a wild wild west explosion of yards and TD passes...
Mahomes is put in a box to run a very conservative west coast offense…one now being coached by conservative Andy Reid and a run-game slave (new) O-C in Eric Bienemy.
You don’t draft Mahomes to put him into a box…you wouldn’t think, but that’s exactly the type of nonsense the NFL does all the time. I don’t even know where to put Mahomes on this list. He might end up being the best QB, for fantasy, of any one of the guys on here. He also might be a colossal bust, in a sense, in that once he starts turning the ball over (and he will with his style), everyone freaks out and tries to double-time change his style…and then it’s confusion, which leads to Andy Reid getting fired and who knows what coming in to coach next.
The NFL almost always votes playbook and coaching philosophy/system over changing their ‘system’ to fit what the player does best…so, it’s going to be interesting to see what KC does with this playmaking gunslinger Brett Favre reincarnation.
If Mahomes does meet with radical success immediately…he’s the sixth QB we have in 22 picks/names here. And, thus, the QB economics of fantasy are dangerously close to being radically oversupplied. Mahomes is a ‘tipping point’ name that might send the NFL/fantasy awash in higher-end QB talent.
23) LB Blake Martinez, Green Bay
I loved Martinez coming out of Stanford…thought he was the best coverer of RBs coming out of the backfield in the passing game that I might have ever studied. I thought he’d be a solid tackler, but I never thought he’d lead the league in tackles – which he did (tied) in 2017. Not only is Martinez one of the best coverage linebackers, but now he’s racking tackles. A great prospect and should be the Packers’ main man in the middle with the change to Mike Pettine as their D-C.
Is Martinez becoming a poor man’s or middle-class person’s Luke Kuechly?
24) TE George Kittle, San Francisco
I wondered if I should have Hunter Henry ahead of Kittle on this list, but we never know when Antonio Gates is going to retire, and I think we’ve seen Henry is a solid NFL TE…but Henry works in an offense I don’t trust with a QB who is fading slightly every year.
On the other hand, Kittle has all the excitement factors – the main receiving TE for his team with no real threat on the roster, plus an exciting young QB to work with. Kittle is a higher-end athlete at the position who was quiet in a weak Iowa offense in college but showed off skills as a rookie in the NFL. The upside and the surrounding cast gives Kittle a slight nod over Henry – betting on upside. Henry is a safer pick but Kittle may be the one that makes you smile if he hits his upside.
25) WR Corey Davis, Tennessee
I was as unimpressed with Davis’s 2017 debut as you likely were. There were moments where he looked good, but mostly he was average-looking as a rookie. High, first-round draft pick WRs have been garbage for the past few years. There are a lot of headwinds here.
However, Davis has 'draft status'. He plays with a good QB. Mike Mularkey is gone. In a fantasy world desperate for true WR1s, and with this list lacking in WRs…we have Davis as a bit of a reach here.
I’ll be doing a ‘Rewind’ study of Davis, I’m sure, in the next few weeks/months. Trying to get a better feel if he’s a ‘B’ WR shoved into an ‘A’ spotlight…or if there is an ‘A’ WR prospect here. Remember, he didn’t participate in the NFL Combine or a Pro Day. He missed the preseason. He could be a fraud or star under all our noses.
26) TE Hunter Henry, LA Chargers
I have an urge to put Henry higher on this list, but Antonio Gates is lurking around still, as of this writing. I don’t love the Chargers' passing game – Henry is great one week and a ghost the next for targets from Philip Rivers.
There are only so many TEs to get excited about, and Henry is one that doesn’t fully excite me. He’s good but needs targets to light the candle. Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce are not super-special, but they are in a great place for targets, etc. Henry could be Ertz for 2018…or still be the same Henry of 2016–2017, random spasms of output. Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger either.
27) RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee
The more likely Demarco Murray gets cut (and he should) the higher Derrick Henry goes on this list. I think Henry is a very good power running prospect, but I’m suspicious of him doing much else for fantasy – poor hands and a style that would fit better as part of a duo, and Henry as part of an RBBC is a fantasy nightmare.
He did go to Alabama, and that’s the #1 attribute of desire for any NFL team…so, it’s not impossible that Henry has the whole offense built around him for new HC Mike Vrabel. I don’t know if he’s closer to Jordan Howard or LeGarrette Blount for fantasy production in 2018.
**LATE ADD/OMMISSION** WR Stefon Diggs, Minnesota -- A better version of Sterling Shepard, and I'd like to go higher with him but unsure who he'll be working with at QB and how the new offense will work for him.
28) WR Sterling Shepard, NY Giants
What if Odell Beckham goes down again?
What if Odell Beckham goes off the rails…and/or gets traded?
What if the Giants just develop a better passing attack under new management and Sterling Shepard can operate as a great #2 WR in the shadows of OBJ taking all the coverage heat?
Shepard has 7 or more catches in a game in 5 of his last 13 games. He has 80 catches in his last 16 games (5.0 per game). He may just be waiting to breakout as a more of a ‘1b’ WR than just a sidekick #2 or #3. Pat Shurmur is just the guy to amp up the Giants' passing game.
The downside seems minimal…the upside may be surprising. And, again…we’re groping for WRs in this draft.
29) DE Joey Bosa, LA Chargers
I predicted against it…but Bosa has become a top sack man in the NFL. He’s a good pass rusher…not ‘great’ for me, but I marvel at how many second-chance sacks he gets. He never gives up and seems to find a way to hunt down a scrambling or seemingly-moved-out-of-the-way QB. Style points don’t count in IDP, sacks do…and if sacks weigh heavy in your scoring system, then Bosa is your guy.
12.5 sacks last season, but just 4.0 TFLs…because he’s more a chase-the-QB guy. Hey, it works for IDP sack points. Bosa also had a decent amount of tackles for a DE. He’s producing better numbers as a DL than any other DE in the past three drafts.
30) LB Jatavis Brown, LA Chargers
Brown was not invited to the Senior Bowl or NFL Combine in 2016 and wound up an unheralded 5th-round draft pick that people weren’t sure could make the Chargers’ roster. We graded Brown as one of the 10 best players in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Brown didn’t begin 2016 as a starter but forced his way into the lineup and was arguably one of the three best rookie defensive players that season – 79 tackles (led team in just 12 games played), 6 PDs, 3.5 TFLs, 4.0 TFLs, 2 forced fumbles. He was great.
Jatavis was even better to start 2017…leading the league in tackles after the first three weeks with 10+ tackles in each of his first three games. He then got dinged up and started playing less snaps, and then was effectively benched/a backup. One of the most surreal lineup decisions I’ve ever seen in the NFL.
I have no idea what the issue is with him and new coach Anthony Lynn but it’s an IDP killer right now. However, if Brown either gets his job back or is traded to start elsewhere – he’s a top 3 IDP producer among all IDPs. He seems like a bit of a lost cause at the moment, but he’s no ordinary sleeper…he could be THE best IDP in all the NFL when he gets his starting role back.
**Top 30 in the books…going to wrap this up by posting five more players with 1-2 liners per day until we hit the top 50 and then we’re done for this round.**
31) RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota – I’m not a huge fan, but Mike Zimmer is. He’s going to get all the touches and that’s valuable…but could be a bad offense he’s working in come 2018 kickoff.
32) WR Cooper Kupp, LA Rams – I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be with his 2017, and I’m a Robert Woods guy as Goff’s #1. However, Kupp is going to be given a hundred chances to be the #1 over the next few years…he might seize it eventually. Even a #2 on a top offense is
33) LB Joe Schobert, Cleveland – Tied for the league lead in tackles in 2017…and among the three guys tied at the top, Schobert had the most sacks (3.0) and forced fumbles (3). It was only Schobert’s first season as an inside linebacker and he got even better as the season wore on. He has the same coaching staff back for one more year, and the team should be as bad as ever – leading to lots of tackle opportunities as the defense is forever on the field. A bright young star tackler with great anticipation skills.
34) LB Kwon Alexander, Tampa Bay – Was a top 15-20 guy on this list last season. Had a drop off in 2017. Still a hot IDP producer when everything is clicking.
35) WR Cameron Meredith, Chicago – Risky business. If he’s back fine, with modern medical procedures being so amazing…he’s the incumbent #1 WR for this team. Rookie WRs have been garbage, so I’m not afraid of the draft. I’m worried about free agency or whether Meredith is ‘right’. If he is right and everything falls his way…he’s a #1 WR with an ace QB and an offensive-minded staff.
36) RB Samaje Perine, Washington – primed to be the Redskins #1 RB…and then a possible RB1 if he gets the workload. He’s more talented than the general sentiment seems to be out in football analyst-land.
37) DB Kevin Byard, Tennessee – Would have had higher on this list if not for the new coaching staff. He was ‘the guy’ for the old regime. Assume he will be for the new one, but we’ll have to see.
38) SAF Landon Collins, NY Giants – Not my favorite safety, but he produces and that matters.
39) PK Harrison Butker, Kansas City – Seems crazy to put a kicker on here but Butker has the best leg I’ve seen on a young kicker since Greg Zuerlein. Butker had a big rookie campaign to prove his worth early…and plays on a team that kicks a lot of FGs.
40) WR Tyrell Williams, LA Chargers – I cry about how the new Chargers’ regime and Philip Rivers ignore this talent and we’re all wasting our time, probably…but if this talent ever gets the right chance, he could put up magical numbers. He’s a great fantasy WR and a good NFL one…if that makes sense. He’s capable of a WR1/top 5 scoring season among WRs…and we have to respect that.
41) WR Trent Taylor, San Francisco – This could be the wrongest prediction ever, but if I’m right…it’s big money. Taylor to be Garoppolo’s Julian Edelman/Wes Welker, because he’s seen up close how that works for the past three years.
42) LB Dylan Cole, Houston – Not exactly sure why I put him here. I mean, no one would draft him but me and I think he’s more of a top 20 talent and future ’wow’ IDP potentially. But here he is – my favorite IDP sleeper in the NFL, him and Jatavis Brown (who is suddenly a sleeper again for some reason).
43) RB Kenyan Drake, Miami – Suddenly, in line for a starting job and that’s worth something. He looked great with the opportunity late 2017. However, I don’t trust his team, his coach, his QB, or that Drake can stay healthy for 16 games or stay out of trouble. Other than that, he has my endorsement. He’s a guy I would trade hot before the season if he is ‘the guy’ going into the preseason. His value is in trading it.
44) DE Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas – I don’t know what happened in his weird 2016, but in 2017 (16 games) and his last 8 games of 2015…24 games and 21.5 sacks. He’s a sack machine. The player I may have been the most wrong about in the history of my scouting.
45) TE Rico Gathers, Dallas – Did you forget about him? Remember that exciting couple of weeks in the 2017 preseason? He returns 2018 and Jason Witten is about to crumble into dust and blow away.
46) WR Corey Coleman, Cleveland – He should be higher up than this but the Cleveland Browns are a team where talent goes to die. Until Coleman leaves CLE or they get a real coaching staff in…you can’t trust he’ll ever matter in FF. He’s a much better WR talent than people realize…not just athletically, but as a worker/grinder WR. I thought he was all athlete (and elite at that)…he’s actually tough and a technician of sorts…with crappy QB play. Someday…but not in Cleveland.
48) LB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh – Can do it all…rush the passer, cover receivers and play the run game. He could be higher on this list if he were classified a DE someday.
48) DE Matt Judon, Baltimore – Top 5 IDP DL scorer in 2017. Was a fan of his as a sleeper since watching his tape pre-Draft and seeing him work in the preseasons. He a really good, savvy NFL pass rusher/defender.
49) DB Desmond King, LA Chargers – I’ve always liked his game from the first time I watched tape pre-Senior Bowl 2017. He does a little of everything…willing, quality tackler, savvy in coverage, gives you something in the return game. His measurables are OK, but his actual play shows much better. Really came on 2nd-half of the season when he got more playing time. Was waffling on Budda Baker or King here and went King at the last second.
50) DL Solomon Thomas, San Fran – Just in case ‘DT’ designation matters in your IDP and if they moved him to 4-3 DT you could have a superstar stat producer on your hands. A poor man’s Aaron Donald, maybe.
DB Budda Baker, Arizona
DL DeForest Buckner, San Francisco
DE Taco Charlton, Dallas
WR Keelan Cole, Jacksonville
RB Tevin Coleman, Atlanta – 2018 will be another year in a split role and will not be an assumed/ coveted starter in 2019 free agency.
SAF Sean Davis, Pittsburgh – fear a move to CB.
WR Will Fuller, Houston
WR Devin Funchess, Carolina
WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit
LB B.J. Goodson, NY Giants
RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay
SAF Byron Jones, Dallas – fear a move to CB.
QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee
DB Obi Melifonwu, Oakland
SAF Keanu Neal, Atlanta
DE Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville
DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Cleveland
DT Larry Ogunjobi, Cleveland