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Heading into the draft, here are my top 20 dynasty rookie draft prospects…and obviously, this can/will all change once they find their land new landing spots.
The top 12 prospects with commentary will post three prospects per day the next four days (4/20-23). The #13-20 group just listed by name/quick note on the 5th day (4/24). Big name guys excluded, and an explanation why -- will post last/6th day (4/25). This will take us right up to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Here we go…
1) RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
#1 to start this process, #1 to finish. I’m not as high on him as most people (I’m at an ‘A’, everyone else is at A+++++) but the measurables are too tantalizing AND, more importantly, the NFL is sold 100% on him…he will get a million chances and a million touches to prove himself. His draft team won’t draft other complimentary backs, etc., the next few years – Barkley walks in THE MAN for years.
Possibly the most obvious, most beloved, most universally accepted #1 picks in my history of covering the dynasty rookie draft
I’m willing to trade this player/pick, but for the equivalent of an A+, B+ and C player/sleeper prospect, and a 3rd-4th round pick in return. The market is jacked up on Barkley…his value is only go higher as people start getting jacked about the season.
2) WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
…however, the player I believe is likely to be a superstar more than I believe it with Barkley – Courtland Sutton. Size, toughness, ‘plus’ athleticism. He’s going to be a physically imposing #1 WR for an NFL team. I just hope he lands on an offense he can flourish in. He’s a classic #1 WR…not a nice #2. All the other WRs in this draft are ‘nice to have’…Sutton is the only real ‘franchise’ WR potential.
3) TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
This feels like I’m reaching, but that’s only because the mainstream isn’t going hog wild here. I think the fact that he’s an FCS prospect is scary too. I get it, but here’s what we know:
-- He’s NFL+ got the size
-- He’s got the speed-agility times
-- He was a top bench press guy, so he’s strong enough to block and play physical
-- He’s got hands of gold…you’ve seen his highlight tape, it’s vast and deep and wonderful.
Measurables…check. Size…check. Strength…check. Hands…check.
Hands of gold…check.
We can’t let ‘FCS’ scare us away from the obvious data shouting in our faces.
4) TE/RB Jaylen Samuels, NC State
A radical gamble. If we get this right…we have a legit RB and legit WR prospect working as a ‘move’ TE. Classified as a TE and getting 4-8 targets a game + maybe a carry or two – none of us will have ever seen anything like this in fantasy.
…or the NFL does it’s usual with him…makes him an H-back with 1-3 targets per month.
The upside is what we’re taking a big shot on here, but I know it could land with a thud…because of the NFL not Samuels.
He gets classified as a TE…awesome. He gets classified as an RB, not as awesome.
5) RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame
One of the best-looking RB talents I’ve scouted in a while. I absolutely love his game and his athleticism. He’s not a superhero like David Johnson, but he has star potential…if he can get a fair shot in the NFL. If I thought the NFL knew what they were looking at…I’d have Adams on par with Barkley.
I love Adams’ gifts, but I don’t love the treatment I foresee him about to get in the NFL as a middle-late draft pick.
Oh, how I wish Mike Mayock could get him onto the Eagles somehow…
6) RB Sony Michel, Georgia *4/26 -- take off the top 12 board with rumored bone-on-bone knee issues*
I’m a fan of Michel’s toughness and athleticism…he just a quality RB. I like Royce Freeman a little better, because of his size-athleticism, but I know Michel is going to get more support out of the draft than Freeman is likely to, so I’m hedging my bet with him ahead of Freeman for now.
Can he be an NFL team’s ‘Alvin Kamara’? Maybe, but I think that storyline/’search for our Kamara’ by NFL teams is an overblown discussion – they look for Kamara’s but it’s not Kamara, per se, it was the offense/opportunity he was given. Most NFL teams would never use an RB like the Saints did with Kamara. They think if they have one play where the RB splits out as a receiver that they’re super-creative.
7) RB Royce Freeman, Oregon State
I’m not sure why we’re all not more excited about the size-speed-agility here. Super productive. NFL+ size and athleticism. Is a very talented, well-schooled runner of the ball. I’m very close to having him ahead of Sony Michel, but I’m hedging that the NFL welcomes Michel in as an instant starter and Freeman enters as a known backup trying to prove himself.
I think Freeman is a long-time starter in the NFL, eventually…but the story may start out a little slow.
I so much want to put Freeman ahead of Michel…I probably should because that’s where my heart is at. Nothing against Michel.
8) WR D.J. Chark, LSU
I could argue Christian Kirk ahead of Chark, but the reason why I go Chark ahead of him is because he’s built for more fantasy impact right away. Chark can/will work as a deep ball threat no matter how bad the QB/offense is. Kirk needs a more refined offense to light the fuse.
I also wonder if Chark has some secret A.J. Green #1 WR skills hiding within him…hidden by an awful LSU passing game.
9) WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
The best ‘professional’ WR in the draft. The guy who you can feed 8-10 targets a game and get 5-6+ catches and count on to make the tough catches over the middle but also has some juice after the catch. You could make the argument for PPR Kirk over Chark in these rankings, no doubt.
Because Calvin Ridley is the more favored WR in this draft (and shouldn’t be), Kirk will go late 1st or early 2nd-round, which means a higher chance to fall to a team with a better QB/offense. I’m liking Kirk more and more each day for fantasy outlook – hoping he can land great.
10) QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
I’m souring a bit on Lamar Jackson. I used to have him top 5, and maybe he should still be there. I know he’ll get a fantasy boost once forced into playing time. I just don’t see the long-term sustainability with Jackson…and not sure he gets his chance until 2019+. However, when he gets his shot it’s going to super-sweet for fantasy with his running ability/stat compilation for FF, so he has to be heavy consideration for a 1st-round DRD prospect.
11) RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
2014-2015, pre-knee injury Nick Chubb is more of a top 5 ranked prospect here, but shakier 2016-2017 post-knee injury Chubb is falling down fast me. I hold out some hope that his athleticism pop boosts back in the further he gets away from his injury.
A 100% healthy Chubb is maybe the best power runner on the board. For that reason, he hangs in my top 12.
12) WR Allen Lazard, Iowa State
I’ve wavered a bit on Lazard – loved him at first, backed down a little bit when no one else got excited…and then I conducted a deeper study and I cannot understand why he isn’t drawing more draft love. He is Mike Evans…like a half-step behind in style but about the same exact size and athleticism.
I love the ‘look’, but he can really play. He’s got much more ‘pro-like’ tape than Equanimous St. Brown does. Plus, you have the added bonus that he’s a long-shot convert to tight end.
13) QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma – Wherever he goes, he’s going to start and hit the ground running. Could be a shock QB for fantasy right away in 2018.
14) RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State – I’m not as high on him as others but I see all the good signs…size, speed, has draft momentum. If he lands right he could be top 5-6-7.
15) TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina – He’s going to be drafted to start not sit right away…at the ever-critical TE spot for fantasy.
16) WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State – I’m starting to think he might be the 3rd or 4th best WR in this draft. I was asleep on this one at first. I liked him at the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl but something didn’t seem right still…and then studying his tape and career deeper pushed me into realizing how sound/good he really is.
17) WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame – I’m a little wobbly on this one. I’m drafting size and upside-hope with the worry that I’m getting an underwhelming performer.
18) WR Michael Gallup, Colorado State – He could be one of the 3-4 best WRs for fantasy from this draft. His landing spot will mean everything. If he lands right and Christian Kirk lands wrong…Gallup may leapfrog him and wind up a top 3 WR on this board.
19) RB Chris Warren, Texas – Betting on ‘hope’…betting his fantastic size/athleticism package could be shaped into something radical as a top power runner from this group. Has some work to do to make this payoff.
20) Man of Mystery – Scouting Report to hit tomorrow and no one has this guy on their board…I mean no one. Not a small-school prospect that various sites are calling ‘sleeper’ – I mean a sleeper so asleep everyone is sleeping on him. This is potentially the scouting gem of the year…or a bunch of sound and fury that we all have a laugh about in a few years. You’ll see WED 4/25… *it's Caylon Weathers*
*Not taking* (these guys will be gone before I thought about taking them and I’m not interested in taking them even to trade because I don’t want to get caught holding the bag)…
RB Derrius Guice, LSU – I’m not overly impressed with him as a runner and I think he has a ton of baggage he brings with him to the NFL. He’ll fall in the draft and be taken as the secondary runner for his new team. I’m not betting the farm on him busting, I just see signs of a problem looming…worst case, just overrated.
RB Ronald Jones, USC – I see bust warning signs all over here. Poor measurables. Smaller back. Makes his hay running between the tackles in college but he’s not built for that in the pros. A weak runner to the outside. Good for college, weak for the NFL.
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama – Solid WR but totally overrated. If he falls in the draft to the point where he’s not an instant ‘must start’ for an NFL team right away (to justify their pick). He’s an average/good WR who could get lost quickly in the NFL.
WR D.J. Moore, Maryland – I’m not anti-Moore. I think he has real promise, like many others believe. I just feel Moore is a year or two away from having an impact and there are so many other WRs in this draft who I think are more ready-made. I’ll look to buy Moore when the price drops after Rookie Derangement Syndrome subsides late in 2018 or in 2019.
WR James Washington, Oklahoma State – I think he might be an OK talent, despite the weak measurables -- but with a very limited fantasy upside. People are willing to pay more than I am.
RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn – I’m almost certain he’s an NFL bust.
QB Sam Darnold, USC – I think he’s a terrible mechanical QB with some occasional scrappy instincts. Limited upside…with the potential for full bust downside. Decent rookie QBs flourish in the NFL, because it’s easier than college for various reasons these days, so he might be OK for a bit/moment but eventually he’ll be forgotten…if he doesn’t flameout instantly. I’ve got a bad feeling here.