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My plan is to update the entire board on Thursday nights each week of the preseason right up to kickoff. Changes are noted.
2017 Dynasty Rookie Draft
1) RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville
Doug Marrone’s two years as NFL head coach…
In 2013, rookie coach Doug Marrone’s Buffalo Bills were second in the league in rushing, second behind crazy new head coach Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles. The tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller ran roughshod over the league.
In 2014, Marrone’s Bills were 8th worst in rushing yards per game. C.J. Spiller got hurt early and faltered all year. 33-year-old Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon combined to lead the Bills’ weak offense…quarterbacked by last-second grab off the streets Kyle Orton. The Bills were a miraculous 9–7…which got Marrone fired because…’football logic‘.
Tom Coughlin’s dominant run with the Giants (2005–2011)…a 68–40 record and two Super Bowls – his rushing yards per game ranks in those six seasons (in order): 6-7-4-1-20-7-32. The 32 rank was in 2011, a Super Bowl season.
Years prior to his Giants run – Coughlin took the Jaguars to the playoffs four straight years, starting with his second year there/second year of the franchise’s existence (1996–1999). His rushing-per-game ranks in the league during that stretch: 17-18-5-2.
In Coughlin’s 11 most successful seasons, his teams were in the top 10 in rushing in the league seven times (67%).
Marrone and Coughlin are throwback coaches. They seem to want to run the ball. Drafting Leonard Fournette is the obvious outcome of the union of Coughlin-Marrone.
There have also been some indications in the DNA of Marrone-Coughlin (Cough-rone) that they will split the backfield touches. Marrone – Jackson/Spiller, then Jackson-Dixon. Coughlin had blips with Tiki Barber as a main carry star, but he was soon replaced by Brandon Jacobs-Ahmad Bradshaw. You have to consider Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon in this Fournette equation…one of them is likely to see touches to some degree. Fournette may not get the Ezekiel Elliott treatment as a rookie (all the carries, all the time).
Fournette is great and all, but consider the Jaguars’ O-Line and offense/QB…
The Jags were 21st in yards per carry last season and 31st in rushing TDs. The Jags have a bad O-Line…or they have a mediocre line but Blake Bortles is so godawful that teams overplay the run. The lack of rushing TDs last season probably comes straight from Bortles suck-tatude.
The Jags signed lower-level free agent offensive lineman (Earl Watford/ARI), and dumped Kelvin Beachum and Luke Joeckel. They added Cam Robinson in the draft…great pass-blocker, solid/OK run-blocker. They didn’t draft or sign a QB…their most glaring problem.
So, what do we have in 2017? The same shitty offensive framework, a new coaching staff, and Cam Robinson and Leonard Fournette likely to get stacked as opponents dare Blake Bortles to be Blake Bortles. This is not the Dallas O-Line and Dak Prescott propping up Ezekiel Elliott. This Fournette-Jags situation is closer to the Todd Gurley-Rams disaster circa 2016 than it is to Dallas’s golden situation.
The surrounding circumstances say that Fournette might not have as good a rookie season as Jordan Howard did last year. Not because of talent – because of Blake Bortles.
How valuable is Fournette as a 1,200-yard rusher, not used much in the passing game, and scoring 5–8 TDs in 2017? I love watching tape of Fournette being a colossus in the open field, but his 2017 upside looks limited…we have to hope on 2018+, and that the Jags get the QB situation right finally.
People may argue Joe Mixon or Samaje Perine as more valuable than Fournette in the dynasty rookie draft…and that’s not crazy, but the one true talent unlike almost anything we’ve ever seen is Fournette (given his size and speed)…so, I have him #1, but more so looking at the future – and I hate looking to ‘next year’ with a fantasy RB when ‘this year’ hasn’t started.
With that thought in mind, I think the most value you’ll get from pick #1.01…might be to trade it as part of a package for a ‘real player’ in existence.
Fournette is flawed due to ‘Jags’, but there is hope on the horizon.
Mixon is flawed due to ‘Mixon’…and he has some competition in that backfield.
Perine is not a radical RB talent, just really, really good.
If I could use my #1.01 overall + ____ for David Johnson, I don’t think twice about moving the pick.
Would I rather have Todd Gurley or Leonard Fournette? Gurley…especially, in PPR.
Would I trade 1.01 for Gurley? No. Not straight up. Why? Gurley’s value has dropped off. I’d want Gurley+ in exchange.
If you agree with my valuation of Gurley, and his drop-off in value…what do you think Fournette’s value will be after a year where he runs for 60–80 yards a game, scored 6 TDs and has 1.0–1.5 catches per game behind P.O.S. Blake Bortles? As fast as Gurley’s value dried up…Fournette’s could as well. As is true about most top rookie picks – real players are worth more than picks in most cases…and in 2017 it may be the truest it has ever been.
I like Fournette a lot and I see hope. I’m OK possessing him. But we have to brace ourselves for a not-Ezekiel Elliott 2016 splash. Fournette’s situation is nothing like what Elliott walked into. Have hope, but explore the best way to leverage the 1.01.
If you’re not into Leonard Fournette for whatever reason, and/or you do buy my reasoning on the 1.01 being worth more to trade – I extend that message through the rest of this first round of the dynasty rookie draft. Trade it.
Trade it all.
Almost every pick among the next 10 or so are flawed (situationally/roster-wise), and the only one I really glow about (Kupp)…he’s likely available round two (as of this writing, and probably up to the preseason kickoff games).
There’s better value getting more known commodities in exchange for these top 10–12 picks than trying to throw darts through a keyhole.
2) TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay
5/15/17: The more I think about and analyze this, and looking over our 2015-16-17 mashup mock rookie draft…there are really no tight ends out there for fantasy. Lots and lots of RBs. Plenty of WRs. Nice QBs in confusing places. Solid IDPs. Interesting basketball to football converts to TE…but no elite TEs…except for O.J. Howard.
Yes, rookie TEs start slow. Yes, Tampa/Winston is nerve-wracking. I just think – you only get so many chances at an elite TE…this is one of them.
I could make a case for O.J. Howard as the 1.01…or the 1.05.
Here’s the problem – I hate Jameis Winston, as a quarterback, with the fire of a thousand suns (and Blake Bortles two thousand suns). About 750,000 of those suns also include head coach Dirk Koetter. You remember Dirk Koetter? The guy who watched Antone Smith destroy NFL history on every touch a few years ago when they were in Atlanta together – and Koetter ‘couldn’t find a way’ to get Antone more touches. You think that guy realizes what he has on his hands with O.J. Howard?
Jameis Winston throws four types of passes: (1) 27 feet over the intended target’s head. (2) To the other team. (3) Prayer throws to Mike Evans no matter how many people are covering him. (4) Dump passes, safety valve throws to pad his stats away from a sub-60% completion percentage.
This leaves O.J. Howard with a one in four chance a pass might come his way, accurately. Cameron Brate did have a nice season, but that was also a direct effect of nothing else to throw to – Mike Evans started getting tripled and there was no Charles Sims or Doug Martin for most of the season. Now, the Bucs have all kinds of skill players.
I love OJH. Second best player in the draft…and went to a team/offense I hate. When will Koetter and Winston be flushed away? Koetter 1–2 years…Winston, never. If Howard has a 2017 flop, he’ll have little value more than any other #10–15 TE for fantasy. He’ll be the new Coby Fleener of perpetual ‘hoped fantasy value’.
Howard has a higher rating because of the lack of TE options in the universe, and I have some hope for him in Tampa…but my gut tells me this was a bad draw for OJH. At a minimum, restricting his upside.
3a) RB Samaje Perine, Washington
5/2/17: The more I think about this the more I love this situation for Perine. All he has to do is beat out Robert Kelley! That’s a dream situation! I’ve toyed with O.J. Howard at #2, but given that it takes rookie TEs a bit to get going…and with the ‘Winston factor’, I don’t want to overvalue Howard for being a great talent while overlooking his muddy landing spot. Perine’s landing spot is clean as wind-driven snow.
Original Comments: Of all the hot spots (teams in real need) we were watching for a top running back prospect to land, Washington was the only one that connected a team in desperate need of an RB with a top RB in Perine. Robert Kelley is awful. Chris Thompson is a third down back. Perine is at least a two-down back but will be in on third downs to block. He’ll be on the field a lot. He’s probably Washington’s opening day starter and should be a workhorse.
Because of the situation, and his talent, Perine could be the best fantasy RB of this class in the first 2-3-4 seasons. He could be the Jordan Howard of 2017…and his style is much like Howard.
If someone wanted to take Perine at 1.01, I couldn’t squawk about it, but it would be further proof this rookie draft is not ‘rich’.
3b) RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
I could not hate a landing spot any more than McCaffrey to Carolina…only made worse by the Panthers drafting Curtis Samuel. Pass-catching RB extraordinaire goes to a team/QB not known for throwing swing and dump passes to their running backs. Carolina’s top RB for targets last year was Fozzy Whitaker…#40 in targets among all RBs in 2016.
In addition to the QB/offense issue, Jonathan Stewart looms for carries per game…and Cam Newton looms as the thief of five yards or closer TD runs. It’s a terrible fantasy situation for McCaffrey, on the surface.
There’s one thing offsetting all the negatives. The Media.
All I heard for three days of draft coverage was how much David Shula (O-C) was going to have fun drawing up plays for McCaffrey, and how Shula BETTER get him involved. It’s a shame the media didn’t have this fawning lovefest for David Johnson when he came out…or Le’Veon Bell…or Jordan Howard…or Danny Woodhead…or Matt Forte…or Darren Sproles. McCaffrey is where they’ve planted their flag, for some reason.
The media is going to get McCaffrey more touches by sheer, written desire. Every time McCaffrey doesn’t have several touches in a game, the media will have pitchforks and torches out for Shula and Ron Rivera. The media is married to McCaffrey…not to Curtis Samuel. It could be Samuel as the real loser between himself and McCaffrey.
5) RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati
I really hate this. I don’t like Mixon the human. But I despised Ezekiel Elliott…and he had a fine 2016 (Elliott will crash and burn off the field…wait for it…). Mixon has an Elliott-like skillset – solid ‘B+’ NFL talents given their size and speed.
However, Mixon walks into a totally different situation than Elliott. There is no Dak or All-Pro O-Line waiting for Mixon. You have a crumbling Cincy O-Line and a team that cannot score in the red zone. It would be one thing if you KNEW for sure that Mixon was the opening day starter, but what if he is brought along slowly? What if he is just part of a weird rotation with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard? What if Mixon can’t handle the bright lights and does something else stupid…he’s not too swift as it is. I can think of a lot of reasons to worry, and not many to embrace.
On the plus side – Cincy is going to want to use this shiny new toy. Marvin Lewis is under the gun because his team has been sliding off a cliff since Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer left. He’ll use any lifeline he can. Mixon should get a push, you’d think…but it may take a while before it’s the full push.
The downside is ‘Mixon’, the person. The upside is Marvin Lewis is going to push this to prove everyone wrong. Mixon gets a push in a very unstable offense…middle of the pack, or worse, in most every team offensive stat in 2016. The O-Line is only getting worse and lost Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth.
Mixon enters the scene with a better offense/QB than Leonard Fournette, but more competition for touches and the risk that Mixon is a knucklehead. This might pay off, but it is definitely not risk-free.
6a) WR Cooper Kupp, LA Rams
Why would I race Kupp ahead of every WR in 2017 (for now) after the NFL Draft? It’s simple… All the other top guys landed in bad fantasy situations and Kupp landed in a spectacular situation. Who is Kupp’s competition for targets? Pharoh Cooper? Tavon Austin? Robert Woods? Kupp is far superior to every one of them.
It’s beyond just a favorable-looking scene on the surface… My greatest fear for Kupp was that he would go to a team that didn’t respect what he brought to the table as the smartest, most technically gifted WR in the draft. However, he was taken by a new coaching group that is smitten with him – they wanted him and reached up and got him. Kupp didn’t fall to an already-loaded team that he’d have to prove his way into playing time with. He was purposefully drafted higher than expectation by a team desperate for WRs. Kupp walks in with status…and that’s key.
6b) WR Corey Davis, Tennessee
Yes, he’s going to fight with Rishard Matthews and Taywan Taylor…and the running game…for targets. If it seems like I am bringing up/harping on all the negatives with these top players – it’s because it’s true, and the reality we have to wade through. Go back and read the Cooper Kupp analysis for sunshine. I’m not just being down to be down – this 2017 NFL Draft killed off many top 12 dynasty rookie draft prospects as if this were the Hunger Games. Only a few have survived the onslaught.
With Davis, we have to think he was drafted #5 overall for a reason. The Titans need defensive help too. They went with a WR at #5…a radical move, really. They didn’t draft Davis to be a second fiddle…he’s going to get the star treatment.
On a team with a very good QB, on an offense that is loaded with talent and a top O-Line, Davis should be the lead producer. The risk being that Rishard Matthews is gifted and Taywan Taylor may be better than all of them. Delanie Walker sees targets…as does DeMarco Murray. Good luck figuring out who is the primary receiver week to week.
8) WR/RB Curtis Samuel, Carolina
Samuel lost major dynasty value when he joined the Carolina Panthers. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey is already there…and is the more beloved prospect. It goes deeper than that. You hoped Samuel would not have to battle a similar entity like McCaffrey, but doing so means the chances he’ll play a bunch of RB went down dramatically. I mean, you have JStew. You have CMcCaff. There’s little room at the Inn for C-Sam as an RB.
Samuel most likely works more as a WR, and that’s not going to be so bad. He’ll be the second-best receiver on the team…maybe, the best (if reports of Kelvin Benjamin being way overweight are true). He is a much better receiver than people realize, and not that much slower than John Ross…or Ted Ginn.
If you look at Samuel strictly as a WR in the arena of John Ross then we should get excited – Samuel has blazing speed, but is physically tougher with less wear and tear injury-wise. We get distracted by his RB/WR ways…but looking at him just as a WR, he’s as good/better than John Ross…in my book. And then you have the RB experience/potential as a kicker. If McCaffrey wasn’t in his way, Samuel might be a top 5 guy on this list. It’s possible Samuel and McCaffrey co-exist for fantasy success, but there’s some risk McCaffrey is forced/steals all the spotlight.
9) DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland
If Joey Bosa can throw a switch, we have to take Myles Garrett seriously.
Joey Bosa had a really nice year before his final college season, a breakout. In his final year, Bosa was M.I.A. often. Ditto for Myles Garrett…even worse, honestly.
I felt like Bosa’s laziness and up-and-down Combine were enough to walk away. He then became Defensive Player of the Year. Garrett is lazier…but had a way better Combine. Perhaps Garrett follows suit in his transition to the pros?
Assuming he’s a DE and your IDP league values sacks – Garrett is your guy. He gets labeled an OLB and it’s a Jadeveon Clowney nightmare for IDP.
10) ILB Haason Reddick, Arizona
5/16/17: Sliding him back some not because of any lost faith…just there are plenty of sweet ILB prospects out there over the past few years. It’s not as desperate a need or low supply position as some of the others.
Original Comments: This is one of the only ‘lay-ups’ at the top of the 2017 dynasty rookie draft. A team that needs a middle linebacker drafted the best one available.
You have the risk that he’s never played the position before…but who cares about such minor details? Reddick projects well, athletically, into the position. It’s his job to lose. He should be good for 6–8+ tackles a game right off the bat with an upside that he has nice pass-rushing skills/experience and can steal some sacks/TFLs along the way.
11) RB D’Onta Foreman, Houston
Foreman is a hard one to rank here. You see Lamar Miller on the roster and you pause. If Miller got hit by a bus tomorrow, where would you put Foreman on this list? 1.01…1.02…1.03? Foreman is a Lamar Miller misstep away from being the toast of the dynasty rookie draft town.
Could Foreman beat out Miller this preseason? It’s possible. Miller was pretty dull last year, but fairy tales like that exist only in my mind…not usually in reality. The respected and highly paid veteran will not easily be cast aside in Houston. However, another dull start by Miller/the Texans…and Foreman’s going to get his chance and could blow right past him. Foreman is the kind of runner old-school coaches want.
There’s hope with Foreman, but that Miller roadblock looms large for the 2017 start.
12) WR Zay Jones, Buffalo
5/3/17: The Sammy Watkins option was not picked up by the Bills. A good sign for Zay Jones’ future.
Original Comments: This looks bad on the surface… WR we love goes to run-first, weak-QB Buffalo…and is definitely behind Sammy Watkins in the pecking order. However, there are some positives…
Buffalo is under new management, and they had a pretty solid draft. New coach Sean McDermott calling the shots…including having the GM bounced after the draft. We don’t know whether the new coach will be run-heavy or not. McDermott bounced the GM, as he should have. He had a solid draft. He hasn’t committed to picking up Watkins’s option year.
2017 looks iffy for Zay, but it might not be so bad…and then better from 2018+. This landing spot feels bad, but some of that is the stink of us still looking at this as ‘Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills‘. It’s hard to wash that out of our psyche.
Jones will start right away and will at least be productive. I can’t see him going to the next level with Tyrod Taylor, so I think his upside is capped. There’s hope right now, but boy does it look murky.
13) TE Evan Engram, NY Giants (+4 spots)
5/23/17: I didn’t buy the Giants using Engram ‘all over’, at first, but now I’m starting to reconsider. If they use Engram ‘all over’ while he’s classified as a tight end…it’s going to be usable for fantasy – fringe TE1 as a rookie, perhaps?
Original Comments: I could buy Evan Engram as more of a Jordan Reed-type because he’s so fast – a 4.43 40-time. That’s sick speed for a TE. Even though he’s really a big WR…he’ll be classified a TE. You want in on 4.43-running TEs…even ones surrounded by a lot of other weapons taking targets.
I’m a skeptic, but I respect the ‘TE’ label here.
14) WR John Ross, Cincinnati
Three WRs went in the first round, and John Ross was one of them. Isn’t that crazy? Ross wasn’t taken to sit idly by…however, A.J. Green rules this roost. So, now, best case – John Ross is the Bengals’ #2 WR. When has the #2 WR on Cincinnati mattered for fantasy besides a few games here and there? Marvin Jones…Mohamed Sanu…Tyler Boyd…you don’t care about any of them.
Now, I have to believe the Bengals have found religion and are going to use John Ross so heavily that he’s worth a top dynasty rookie draft pick. He might be…or he might have a Will Fuller rookie arc…another high pick WR you don’t care about today.
15) SAF Obi Melifonwu, Oakland
The first words out of Jack Del Rio’s mouth, post-draft, was about Melifonwu covering tight ends. I’m guessing they are looking at him as a safety – that’s a good thing for IDP scoring.
You are getting a true freak of nature with Melifonwu – a guy with amazing athleticism, stunning reach/size, and toughness like that of a strong safety (24 tackles in his final college game).
My only fear all along with Obi was that a team would move him to corner. Doesn’t look like that is happening.
16) TE Gerald Everett, LA Rams
I have not been buying the Everett = Jordan Reed narrative, but I’m starting to waver…starting to look for it. I know this – Sean McVay is going to do everything in his power to make it happen, so we have to take it seriously. I don’t see ‘next Reed’ when I watch Everett play. However, Everett had better measurables than Reed…so I could be the one in the wrong.
If you look at Everett’s highlight reel, you’ll fall in love. If you watch 3–4 full games play after play, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about with Everett. My eyes say ‘no’. The measurables say ‘maybe’. Sean McVay says ‘absolutely’.
I want in on any next Jordan Reeds for fantasy, so here I am…considering it, at least.
6′2.6″/239, 4.62 40-time, 22 reps bench, 37.5″ vertical, 6.99 three-cone = Everett (2017 Combine)
6′2.4″/236, 4.72 40-time, 16 bench reps, skipped the rest with a knee issue = Reed (2013 Combine)
17) QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago
I believe Trubisky has a chance to be a franchise quarterback… ahead of any other QB prospect in this draft or last year’s draft. He was drafted by his new team on purpose – and they showed love by giving up a lot of draft capital to do so. That’s a good thing for his future.
It’s just… I don’t know when that future is. Mike Glennon is pretty good. Trubisky probably needs a year. I love the player, but having to wait a few years…not very valuable for fantasy. I can buy Jared Goff for .25 on the dollar one year later from his draft day.
18) QB Pat Mahomes, Kansas City
5/17/17: Why is Mahomes pushing ahead of Davis Webb for us? His team spent a ton of draft capital to draft him highly. Webb was a guy who fell and the Giants grabbed him. I like Webb better as an NFL QB, but ‘draft status’ is with Mahomes. Take Webb ahead of him if you like.
Original Comments: Same reasoning as Davis Webb – why not? How excited would I be if Mahomes was with Tyreek, Maclin, Conley, Kelce, Ware, Hunt to start 2017?
I like Webb better as a pure QB talent, but for fantasy…Mahomes might be better because he’s going to ‘go for it’.
It took me some time, but the more I think about it…why assume these QBs (Webb and Mahomes) will not see the field for years? Why put a half-baked RB in front of them that will only matter if the RBs ahead of him get hurt. Why not go with QBs who might matter if the QBs ahead of them go hurt?
19) QB Davis Webb, NY Giants (+1 spot)
The more I think about this, the more I start to wonder – might Davis Webb be starting in 2018? What if Webb ends up in this year? Eli Manning will be nearly 37 years old by season’s end. Is Webb really going to wait that long until he gets in?
Why I am I suddenly giddy about Davis Webb at the helm of a team with OBJ, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Shane Vereen, and Evan Engram…it’s a better offensive weaponry than Dak Prescott walked into last season.
I like Davis Webb as a better QB today than Eli, so why not push Webb higher?
Don’t remind me about Ryan Nassib.
20) SAF Jabrill Peppers, Cleveland
Likely starts right away, and at safety – good/great for IDP. In addition, you get the upside of him possibly taking snaps on offense and playing some in the return game.
I didn’t appreciate the fit and opportunity with Peppers in Cleveland. Time to shake off the drug test failure and realize Peppers was traded up for and he will play right away.
21) ILB Anthony Walker, Indianapolis
The Colts have terrible starting ILBs in their 3-4 base defense. Edwin Jackson and Sean Spence. Ummm…’no’. ‘No’ toAnthony Morrison as well. Anthony Walker is their most talented ILB, today. Walker may not be a super-talent, but he is good…and is the best the Colts have…he could start opening day. That’s a good thing for IDP.
120 tackles and 19.0 TFLs in 2015…and 4.0s sacks, 1 INT, 4 PDs, 3 fumbles recovered, 1 TD, 3 forced fumbles.
22) DE Jordan Willis, Cincinnati
Arguably, right up there with Myles Garrett as a pass-rusher. A better athlete than Garrett, a little smaller, and a lot less heralded. I thought he’d be a first-rounder, he slid to the early third round. There’s not quite the need to push him as there would have been if he were a first-round player.
I like Willis a lot, but his slide in the draft has me concerned. Talent-wise, athletically, he was a top 5–10 prospect in the draft.
23) WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee
I love Taywan Taylor’s skill set. I’m growing more and more concerned it will be overlooked and not fully utilized…and he wanders around in the fantasy desert for years until he finally pops. Much like Rishard Matthews did – his new teammate.
It’s going to be easy for the Titans to lean heavy on Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews…and Delanie Walker and Demarco Murray in the passing game. They have experience and/or draft status. Taylor will be fighting for looks for a year or two most likely – so why invest heavy in him now when you can get him in the discount rack a year from now?
There’s hope he splashes fast and shows that he is the ‘it’ WR from this class, but there’s a lot of talent surrounding him. A very crowded trade for targets with Taylor.
I love him. There’s hope. I fear him being the odd man out (for targets) in Tennessee for 2017.
24) RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City
This was one of the worst places Hunt could land. I’m a heavy owner of Spencer Ware stock, and now I have the very talented Hunt to deal with/worry about. I suspect Hunt will make a move on the Charcandrick West role initially – 3–7 carries per game and is the passing game back. Eventually, Hunt will work his way into a split with Ware – genius for the NFL, terrible for fantasy upside.
If Ware goes down, Hunt runs right up into the top 10 on this list. It’s not a talent thing…it’s a situation thing.
Maybe Hunt just becomes the PPR weapon and Ware the non-PPR god? It could happen. Hunt is a great, underrated receiver.
For those of you with Ware, don’t freak out fully. Rookie RBs take time, typically. Ware is established. Early on, this will be Ware’s show. If he explodes…Ware will carry the load and Hunt will be a bit player in 2017. If you have Ware, raise Hunt on this list about 5–10 spots of importance as the ‘handcuff’.
25) RB Jeremy McNichols, Tampa Bay (-6 spots)
5/23/17: The more Doug Martin impresses, the less likely McNichols will get near the ball in 2017.
Original Comments: McNichols on most other teams might have launched into the top 10, but now he’s outside it – an enigma. With the current roster, Martin-Sims-Jacquizz…there’s about as much of a chance he goes onto the practice squad as there is that he makes the team. If Doug Martin is released for obvious reasons…the door flings wide open for McNichols to rise to the top in Tampa.
No matter what, he’s going to have to battle Jacquizz for carries and Sims for pass catches. Koetter loves him some Jacquizz. It’s a very congested scene for one of the most talented RBs from the draft.
26) WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh
We did not like JuJu Smith-Schuster as much as everyone else, but we can agree on this – he falls into a perfect situation in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are dying for a #2 WR to step up. Martavis Bryant cannot be relied upon. Sammie Coates is awful. Demarcus Ayers was a media pipe dream last year.
JuJu is a very solid, stable WR. A perfect complement for Antonio Brown. My only concern is this – JuJu is a one-year play. I believe the Steelers are crumbling, quietly, and it’s all tied to Ben Roethlisberger. Once Ben hangs them up, and I think that’s after this year or next, Antonio and the rest of them come crashing down. Then JSS doesn’t seem so hot. But for 2017, it’s good/great, and that’s value, for now, to trade later.
27) RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
Will Kamara be used in the ‘Darren Sproles role’? Who has been used in that ‘Sproles role’ since Sproles left? Not really Pierre Thomas for a stretch…and then no one. Mark Ingram saw a lot of targets recently. If the Saints had a burning desire to fill the ‘Sproles role’ they’ve had nothing but opportunity to do so for years – they have done nothing of the sort.
Kamara isn’t that special. Sean Payton is on his last legs in New Orleans. Ingram and AP exist. I don’t know what’s happening with this team/offense. I get Kamara=Sproles might happen, but I have a lot of reasons to doubt it will be that meaningful. I get taking a chance on it but it’s not Fait accompli.
28) RB James Conner, Pittsburgh
Think about this for a moment…
Is Le’Veon Bell going to be back next year with the Steelers? Two franchise tags? Really? With Big Ben gone into retirement?
Is Le’Veon Bell going to stay off the bong in 2017?
If anything happens to Bell, the ‘winner’ is James Conner…and that has value. The non-Bell RB in Pittsburgh has value. Three years ago, Conner was talked about as a top RB in the entire college game. He fell off the track after a 2015 battle with cancer. He returned in 2016 to score 20 TDs…four of them receiving. I’m not sure why Conner has drifted so fast as an afterthought for me and others.
6’1.2″/233, 4.65 40-time, 20 bench reps, 7.14 three-cone = James Conner (2017 Combine/three-cone at Pro Day)
5’10.5″/233, 4.65 40-time, 30 bench reps 7.26 three-cone = Samaje Perine (2017 Combine)
6’0.2″/233, 4.46 40-time, 18 bench reps, 7.21 three-cone = D’Onta Foreman (2017 Pro Day)
6’0.6″/228, 4.45 40-time, 21 bench reps, 7.10 three-cone = Joe Mixon (2017 Pro Day)
It’s not like Conner is on another planet compared to these guys. He’s a Le’Veon Bell misstep away from working…
29) WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay
I love this player. I despise this situation. Godwin is the one who would have been utterly brilliant as the Steelers’ #2 WR. Instead, Godwin lands in Tampa with erratic Jameis Winston, surrounded by talent everywhere. Godwin will be the easiest weapon in Tampa for the QB to overlook because he is more of a ‘professional WR”…to be found in holes in the zone – and that’s not Winston’s game at all. Winston is going to go bombs away to Evans-DJax, dump passes to O.J. Howard and the RBs…and leave Godwin hanging in the wind.
Now, if DJax gets hurt, per usual…this situation starts to change in Godwin’s favor. I just hate how many things have to go Godwin’s way to make him a viable fantasy option.
30) SAF Jamal Adams, NY Jets
Adams is not a great safety…not as great as the media makes him out to be, but he’s good/fine. He could be coached into slowing his play down and not overrunning tackles and become a pretty solid NFL safety…maybe.
What we do know is the Jets took him #6 overall and will jam him into the lineup immediately…so there is an instant payback potential here.
Of course, everyone thought that about Calvin Pryor too…
31) TE David Njoku, Cleveland
Starting TEs are of extra interest in fantasy, especially if they might be top 10 producers. SO, you have to take Njoku seriously, even if you’re not a fan. And I’m so-so on him.
Pro: He’s the ‘big’ target for the Browns.
Con: The Browns’ QBs suck.
You usually need a great QB to ‘activate’ a TE to top five status for fantasy…the Browns don’t have that. Njoku is worth taking a chance on, but not reaching for.
32) CB Adoree’ Jackson, Tennessee
Adoree’ will plug right in as a starting corner, and get picked on – and that’s good for IDP production. He has the added component of the return game, but I don’t know how excited the Titans will be to have a high-end corner returning kicks. Don’t over-play/overvalue the return aspect too much…it might get taken away from us.
You also thought he might sneak onto the field as a WR, but the Titans are loaded at the position. He might see a few snaps as a gimmick WR.
33) OLB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh
I love what T.J. Watt brings to the table – plays the run, rushes the passer, can drop in coverage. He’s a talent that can start day one. Watt has more usefulness, three downs, than Bud Dupree. Eventually, the Steelers 3-4 will be Dupree and Watt on the edges.
34) WR Mike Williams, LA Chargers
Not a fan. I love the NFL Network coverage of the draft…they LOVED this pick because San Diego only has injury-prone Keenan Allen. I was told that ESPN talked for 2-3 minutes about Allen, Stevie Johnson, and Dontrelle Inman working with Mike Williams. On either major network that covers football for a living were the words TYRELL WILLIAMS ever mentioned.
Tyrell is exponentially more talented than Mike, and has already proven himself in the NFL…and people paid millions of dollars to study pro football throw in with Mike over Tyrell. The highly-paid national analysts don’t even know Tyrell exists. I guess that goes for LAC’s GM as well…I’m sorry, not LAC, I meant the Cleveland Browns West Coast Chapter.
Mike Williams is OK, but as the #7 pick in a draft – it’s a joke. For fantasy, I can’t totally dismiss it because these same idiots that run the Chargers will elevate Mike to starter RIGHT NOW, and send Tyrell to the bench…sight unseen. Mike is probably going to see some targets, deserved or not, right away. The risk is…LAC/CBWCC wakes up and realizes Tyrell Williams is their best WR and Mike goes into the background, eventually.
35) DT Solomon Thomas, San Francisco
Terrific player for the NFL, not sure how hot he’ll be for IDP. We’re off to a good start, however – the 49ers listed him as a defensive tackle upon drafting. That’s a good sign. He’s a good D-End but might be a great D-Tackle.
For those that just play IDP with the ‘DL’ designation…the ‘DT’ label/position has the opposite effect for you, I imagine.
37) DT Chris Wormley, Baltimore (+2 spots)
Could be the best DT prospect in this draft, over Solomon Thomas shifting to DT…they’re really close. If the ‘DT’ designation means more than ‘DL’ in your league…Wormley is a hot prospect. The Ravens are listing him and talking about him as a DT…but if they run a 3-4…Wormley becomes a DE. He can do more IDP damage as a 4-3 DT.
38) DB Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas (+2 spots)
5/11/17 enters into the top 50: Man, Dallas really cleared out a lot of their defensive backfield. Brandon Carr, Mo Claiborne, and Barry Church…all gone. Awuzie is going to be playing right away. If I knew for sure he’d start as a safety, I’d take him ahead of Jamal Adams on this list. But there is fear (fantasy-wise) that he’ll start at the less IDP lucrative CB spot. Even so…Awuzie is a great tackler for a corner.
39) LB Ejuan Price, LA Rams (-3 spots)
I love this player. A great hitter, quick reactions…he reminded me of Jatavis Brown for a second when I watched his tape. His measurables are not Jatavis. Price has some injury history. He was an NFL Combine and Senior Bowl invite but had to skip some stuff due to a nagging injury.
I could see Price converting to middle linebacker…and using his great first-step and pass rush skills to become a dangerous backfield disruptor as an ILB. Price is one of the better ‘football players’ in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has some concerns, but the dude can play…and Wade Phillips must have given the thumbs up to add him in the draft – which is a good thing.
40) RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis
I do not understand the love for Marlon Mack at all. Average-sized RB with average speed and average-to-below average hands. Who cares?
Well, I also don’t understand anything the Indianapolis Colts are doing either, especially at running back. Why Jamaal Charles is not on that team, I have no idea. The Colts have aging/ageless/boring Frank Gore, Robert Turbin…who scored a bunch of TDs late in the 2016 season, and Marlon Mack. Oh, and Josh Ferguson, who I like a lot and who blew his golden opportunity last season.
In a pile of turds, Marlon Mack may be the king turd as soon as Frank Gore’s hip pops out of his body in Week 1. Maybe…perhaps, it will be Robert Turbin. Groping for RBs with any fantasy value/hopes of touches in 2017…Mack has a shot. It’s something, at least.
41) LB Raekwon McMillan, Miami (-7 spots)
5/10/17: Looking more and more like ‘OLB’.
Original Comments: If Miami pops McMillan in as their 4-3 ILB and slides Kiko Alonso out to OLB…then this could get really interesting. What I think will happen is – McMillan will cut weight, boost speed, and move to the outside and start there day one. Either way, McMillan is playing. However, the hope he moves to ILB for the juicy tackle counts is what props his rank here. If they announce he’s an OLB…we’ll drop him more. If named ILB, he’ll be moving on up.
42) RB Joe Williams, San Francisco
OK, let’s get hysterical…
You may have seen the glowing stories by Peter King on the drafting of Joe Williams. By the time King was done, I started to believe I should’ve had Williams in my top 10. People talking passionately about a player with inside info is pretty damn compelling…that’s why I try to watch as little opinion stuff as possible – it messes with your mind. King was just as sureCarson Wentz was the greatest QB of our lifetime as well with his glowing stories last year. He’s a good storyteller. I know he believes it…and so does GM John Lynch.
At the end of the day, Williams is a solid NFL talent – a 4.4+ runner at 210-pounds with a poor three-cone. I watched him at the East-West Shrine…I wasn’t amazed. I was ready to be, but I wasn’t. He’s an average-to-good RB prospect, on paper. On tape. Productive, but with flaws and size issues.
However, John Lynch loves himself and Kyle Shanahan fell in love with Williams (the danger of a coach cherry picking scouting of players)…and thus the 49ers traded way up in the 4th-round to take a mid-size, solid-athlete RB prospect. Not wise. Jeremy McNichols, an RB 10x better than Williams, did not give the 49ers ‘the vapors’ like Williams. But we must acknowledge the 49ers do have ‘the vapors’ and are now bent to prove how smart their pick of Williams was. On some level, Williams has to be taken seriously…
…and it takes Carlos Hyde down a notch, I fear too.
43) RB/WR Tarik Cohen, Chicago (+9 spots)
Chicago’s attempt at their ‘Tyreek Hill‘. He’s not as talented as Hill, but he’s talented. Just 5’6″/180, but runs a 4.42 with 10″+ hands. He was a college RB but could be a ‘Tyreek-like’ runner-receiver weapon for the Bears. A poor man’s version.
44) RB De’Angelo Henderson, Denver
5/2/17: Jamaal Charles signed…and down goes De’Angelo’s stock.
Original Comments: If you don’t like C.J. Anderson, and I don’t, then your fantasy prayers may have been answered with De’Angelo Henderson.
Henderson is a bowling ball type RB, short and stocky, but a 4.48 runner with good hands. He’s a real sleeper in this draft class all the sudden.
45) LB Jarrad Davis, Detroit
I’m not a fan of Davis as an ILB, not at all. Great human, mediocre-to-weak inside linebacker. However, the Lions are already planting Davis in the middle and making him the signal caller. Stunning, given they have proven entities Paul Worrilow and Nick Bellore.
I’m not a fan, but I have to respect how far overboard the Lions are on him.
46) TE Bucky Hodges, Minnesota
How many athletic, 6’6″, good hands tight ends are out there anyway? At a certain point, I can wait for a year until Mike Zimmer and crew are removed from the premises.
47) WR Krishawn Hogan, Arizona
Hogan signing with Arizona after the draft is the reason I am starting to cool a bit on Cardinals 3rd round shock pick Chad Williams. I like Williams’ skills but fear his attitude issues. Krishawn Hogan has great size and measurables…without the ‘tude.
It’s possible Hogan is the Arizona rookie WR to have over Williams, and that Hogan will become a starter in short order via high work/effort the coaches notice. Williams is raw and inexperienced but has a path to become a shock player for 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs in the preseason – he may race up this list in short order.
48) RB Jamaal Williams, Green Bay
I guess Williams is the most likely lead back for the Packers?
I assume if the Packers were excited about the prospects of rolling with Ty Montgomery at RB they wouldn’t have drafted three running backs. The last team to do such a thing, draft three RBs…Seattle in 2016 when they had Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael. I guess they were trying to tell us something was not right/fine with Rawls or Michaels after all?
Williams is a better runner of the ball (among the GB rookie RBs taken), and fellow rookie Aaron Jones the better pass catcher type option. Devante Mays is like a fullback with their seventh-round pick. Williams may get the most touches but little action in the passing game and potentially pulled for Mays or Ripkowski near the goal line?
There’s a lot to try to figure out with the Green Bay backfield…much less how Montgomery fits in. I think I’ll avoid this situation except a Hail Mary play on Williams or Jones.
49) RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay
I don’t know what’s more valuable – the Green Bay RB who sees the most carries, but not the full amount…or the guy who sees a few targets out of the backfield? In his heart, I think Mike McCarthy wants to ‘ground and pound’, as he sits on greatest pure QB talent in the history of football. So, I give Jamaal Williams the edge over Aaron Jones…but Jones is in the running for beating out Williams and taking more of a lead role. Who knows. I don’t know that the lead role in Green Bay even matters at RG for GB. It’s a cluster.
50) DT Malik McDowell, Seattle
Purely taking a gamble McDowell can get his act together and become a star. McDowell has the measurables of a superstar, he has the mentality and game tape of a disinterested 12-year-old. He’s a bit of a freak, but also a huge attitude issue…and a college disappointment.
Seattle turned Frank Clark around, so there is some hope the same happens here.
51) LB Alex Anzalone, New Orleans
I love what I see on the tape. Active, energetics, high-effort…Anzalone is all over the place on defense. The problem is he has been all over the injury list more than on the field in college. He played 8 games in 2016…the most of his career (broken arm, shoulder issues).
Anzalone can tackle, rush the passer, and is decent in coverage. He has terrific instincts for find the ball and reacting to plays – he’s just a nice-looking football player. When healthy, Anzalone can be a 6-8+ tackle a game guy.
52) TE Michael Roberts, Detroit
He could be the best TE from this draft class, but he starts out working behind Eric Ebron and Darren Fells….and Fells is talented. Ebron has ‘status’. I would have pushed Roberts higher but the Lions just signed on for the option year with Ebron. Sad.
53) WR Josh Reynolds, LA Rams
The Rams have openings/needs at WR and they drafted Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds…I assume to start playing them right away. They’re the new coach’s ‘guys’. Reynolds has size and skills…and might be better in the pros than in college when he works with a more meticulous QB play.
54) SAF Malik Hooker, Indianapolis
Hooker should start right away on a defense that will be on the field quite a bit.
55) WR Ryan Switzer, Dallas
56) RB Elijah Hood, Oakland (+9 spots)
57) WR Carlos Henderson, Denver (-3 spots)
58) QB Deshaun Watson, Houston
I don’t like Watson, but I get there will be pressure to start him…and he’s not totally incompetent. He can be a mediocre, safe passer and add FF goodness with his feet. He’s not a top-flight runner, but he could get 20+ yards a game as a rookie.
There’s risk here – risk he just flat-out isn’t ready to be an NFL QB due to his weak arm speed and soft personality, and low Wonderlic. I’m not a fan, but there might be a moment of goodness here.
59) WR Chad Williams, Arizona
5/17/17: Falling out of like here. The more I studied the more I didn’t love him. Krishawn Hogan could really push him. Williams’s draft status + solid scouting profile grabbed me, but the more I consider the more I fall out with him.
Original Comments: When I first watched Chad Williams at the Senior Bowl practices, he and Zay Jones were stealing the show. I didn’t realize how good Zay Jones was until he dominated the actual Senior Bowl game and then I watched his film in-depth plus his great NFL Combine measurements. I lost Chad Williams because he didn’t see much work in the Senior Bowl game and then wasn’t invited to the Combine…some attitude issues at the Senior Bowl, and a track record of that in college.
Next thing you know, Williams is a high draft pick of a team in desperate need of a #2 WR.
Williams is a tough receiver. 6′0″/207, a 4.4+ runner and benched 21 reps with a 7.06 three-cone. He plays with a chip…he’s got a chip. Bruce Arians loves that. The door is open for Williams to play right away. The question isn’t Williams’s abilities – it’s his head.
60) DE Takk McKinley, Atlanta
61) SAF Justin Evans, Tampa Bay
62) RB Joel Bouagnon, Chicago
63) SAF Budda Baker, Arizona
64) WR Robert Davis, Washington
65) RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota
66) DE Derek Barnett, Philadelphia
67) DE Taco Charlton, Dallas
68) LB Eric Wilson, Minnesota
69) LB Tyus Bowser, Baltimore
70) WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit
71) PK Jake Elliott, Cincinnati
72) WR De’Angelo Yancey, Green Bay
73) WR Trent Taylor, San Francisco
74) DT Jonathan Allen, Washington
75) TE Adam Shaheen, Chicago
76) SAF Josh Jones, Green Bay
77) WR Garry Brown, Oakland
78) SAF Chuck Clark, Baltimore
79) TE Tyrone Swoopes, Seattle
80) RB Wayne Gallman, NY Giants
81) LB Zach Cunningham, Houston
82) RB Matt Brieda, San Francisco (+12 spots)
83) WR Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville (back in top 100)
84) RB Corey Clement, Philadelphia (-7 spots)
85) TE Jake Butt, Denver (-3 spots)
86) WR Noel Thomas, Detroit
87) CB/PR Tre’Davious White, Buffalo
88) DE Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans
89) CB Shaquill Griffin, Seattle
90) LB Reuben Foster, San Francisco
91) LB Duke Riley, Atlanta
92) LB Ryan Williams, Washington
93) DE Charles Harris, Miami
94) RB Brian Hill, Atlanta
95) LB Jayon Brown, Tennessee
96) TE George Kittle, San Francisco
97) DT Grover Stewart, Indianapolis
98) SAF Desmond King, LA Chargers
99) DT Larry Ogunjobi, Cleveland
100) WR ArDarius Stewart, NY Jets
The following table is searchable and sortable, and includes 100+ additional prospects. #101+, and then a cluster of ‘NT’ prospects – ‘not taking’…prospects that I don’t want anything to do with.
The (+) and (–) are indications of 101+ ranked prospects that have moved up or down since the last ranking.
You can expand or search this list in a variety of ways, FYI.