*Just a quick update about 7 days later from the original rank/mock completed. Now, that I've gotten to study most of these players a little deeper. Just wanted to go on record with some updates. In April, I'll do a much cleaner Dynasty Mock Draft rank, and rolling updates before the Combine...and then 'it's on' with constant dynasty rookie draft rankings after the draft -- the big board of 250+ right up to opening day.
Here's the update with the moves since 3/11 noted...
*Original Commentary...just moving players (unless otherwise noted)
Post-NFL Combine Reaction 2018 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft (Top 12+)
Some of these players I’ve scouted more deeply than others at this point, so this list can/will shift as we go through the process…but this is what I’m thinking as of now/right after the NFL Combine.
I’m using a personal preference here. No taking into consideration that (example) Calvin Ridley should be a top 3 guy because of how great his trade value is (either the name or the 1.02/1.03 pick as of today). I’m not really looking at that angle here. I’m looking at this list as – if I were stuck with these players the next few years, who has the most value to me fantasy-wise.
1) RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The most hyped rookie prospect I’ve ever seen. Not saying he doesn’t deserve it, but the proportion to which the hysteria has hit is aggravating, to me…as a ‘trader’ of fantasy things. Any time I smell hyperinflation, I’m not afraid to trade it.
David Johnson was a similar freak, and no one in the football establishment really cares. Leonard Fournette, in his own way, because of his size is also a freak…and he didn’t get this type of hysteria. If I could acquire David Johnson/Leonard Fournette + a good player/prospect + a middle dynasty rookie pick/other prospect for Barkley…I’d do it just to cash in. I get three good things or two great things, or I’m not dealing him…I’ll keep him.
The last two times I can recall seeing this type of RB hysteria at/near the top of the rookie draft – Trent Richardson and Christian McCaffrey. Last year, the media talked McCaffrey into a god and got him pushed into the top 10 of the draft and #1-2-3 in most dynasty rookie drafts…he’s very good, he’s not the second-coming of great receiving RBs. He’s really good…but was talked up to ‘elite’.
I like trading hyperinflation and buying depressed markets. I’m a seller on Barkley…ONLY if I make a mega deal. No fair deals accepted…people will bleed in what they pay me, or I’ll just hold him.
2) WR Courtland Sutton, SMU (+5 spots on 3/10/18)
Update: I have spent parts of the last two days studying Sutton, and I am blown away. The ‘concern’ items I had with Sutton…they’re not real concerns at all. In fact, they are positives for him…not the quick concerns I felt.
Sutton is a legit #1 WR for an NFL team…the only #1 WR prospect I have seen so far from this draft class. Honestly, one of the best WRs that I’ve scouted in a while. There’s not a WR close to him from the 2017 NFL Draft class. From 2016 draft -- I think Corey Coleman is/was a hidden gem, and he’s a different styled WR than Sutton…and I was pretty excited about Coleman (before he sadly became a Brown) – I’m more excited about Sutton comparing their pre-drafts.
When you read my love letter to him/scouting report…it will make more sense. Expect that on Monday or Tuesday, I hope. I’m still working on it and checking a few more things.
That 6.57 three-cone…his feet…they are real and they are spectacular.
I’ll be explaining more and beating the drum more ahead to help put him into perspective/proper valuation. Prepare for the Summer of Sutton.
Original note: I have concerns with Sutton, but if there was one guy I could see becoming a true #1 WR from this draft class, I’d probably put my money on Sutton.
I go back and forth. I thought he played a little diva-ish and disinterested last season for SMU, but he may have just been keeping himself safe for the NFL…or I just misinterpreted what I watched.
I was hoping Sutton might be a 4.4+ runner with a 38”+ vertical at the Combine but instead he posted a 4.54 40-time with a 35.5” vertical…and I got disappointed. However, my expectation drop shouldn’t cloud that a 6’3”+/218 WR running a 4.54 is a bad thing. I was still more, “He’s not an A-level potential” whining during the Combine…and then later in the day the official three-cone times posted – 6.57 for Sutton? What the (edit)? That’s stunning. I also watched him in his receiver drills at the Combine and he really caught the ball smoothly, like in a manner that caught my attention. I thought he was good prior to the Combine but watching him up close -- he may be closer to having great hands.
…but it’s also catching passes with no defense.
My fear on Sutton is that once the defense is there he doesn’t fight them hard enough.
In the end, a guy his size, agility, hands – you have to take him serious as a possible #1 WR threat for the NFL. There may not be another WR you can say that about. Sutton may not live up to it, but he might be the only one who can achieve it.
**When you notice how fast the names/excitement you feel drops after Barkley (and now Sutton)…it’s probably a sign that picks 1.03-1.06-7-8, etc. are not worth keeping/better off trading and getting more late 1st and 2nd/3rd-round picks. Samuels is likely a 2nd-round pick**
3) TE/RB Jaylen Samuels, NC State
This could be one of the worst rookie draft picks…or the most brilliant.
Right now, Samuels is classified as a TE…an undersized (5’11”/225) ‘move’ TE who also doubles as one of the 10 best RBs in this draft class. A ‘freak’…maybe the ‘freakiest’ of all in this draft class. Imagine a fantasy TE only used for offense, with terrific hands, but also takes 2-3 carries a game as an RB/FB as well? Maybe more carries? Maybe becomes a full-time RB?
On the downside, this is the type of player the NFL has no vision for…there are greater odds that he’ll be drafted to be a blocking H-back and gets 1-2 targets a game, every other game. However, the potential he lands right and is used as a weapon…fantasy delicious.
I almost pushed him #2 on this list. If Goedert fails at his Pro Day times…it might happen.
4) TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
At this stage, we’re still only ‘just guessing’ as Goedert benched an impressive 23 reps but wasn’t cleared to do the timing drills at the Combine due to a nagging injury.
I know Penn State’s Mike Gesicki had a surreal Combine, but I don’t see that guy when the pads are on and the defenders are there. Goedert is the one hope for an ace, major TE prospect for fantasy. And we won’t know that for weeks until his Pro Day…if he’s good by then even.
A leap of faith here. He could be out of the top 10 quickly with an average (or worse) Pro Day.
5) RB Royce Freeman, Oregon (+1 spot on 3/18/18)
Sailing right under the Saquon Barkley radar is a 5’11”/229-pound RB who ran a 4.54 40-time with a 4.16 shuttle and 6.90 three-cone at the Combine – Royce Freeman. In most draft seasons, Freeman would be debated as the best RB prospect in the class and a possible 1st-round pick – given his quality college career and size-speed numbers. Not this year. This year a big ‘yaaawnnn’ -- as no one is ‘Saquon’.
Freeman might be the second-best RB prospect in this draft and is primed to become a savvy 2nd-round pick for a team who needs a starting RB…but one who didn’t get Saquon.
What if Freeman is drafted by Detroit? What if he’s drafted by Miami? You get the point.
He also could be drafted into a Derrick Henry situation where he sits for 2-3 years before getting a clean shot. That’s the risk we run with all non-Saquons.
5) QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville (-1 spot on 3/18/18)
Think about this hypothetical… If any prospect on this (or any other) top 12 rookie list was made an instant NFL ‘starter’ in 2018, which one of them would bet on/suspect to be the #1 fantasy scorer at their position as a rookie? I’d say it’s Saquon Barkley…and Lamar Jackson.
If Jackson is the new Michael Vick, and his best attribute is running the ball, and that’s exactly what he’d do if pushed into a starting role -- he’d likely rush for 50-70+ yards per game and 6-10 TDs in a season. He may be trouble from an NFL QB standpoint…but he’s pure gold for fantasy IF he gets a chance – that’s the risk here.
Jackson will be drafted as a QB, and probably to be a backup initially…but if he backs up a weak QB, the calls from the fans and media will go out – and Jackson will get a shot and probably be as exciting as RG3, Terrelle Pryor, Jake Locker, Deshaun Watson were right off the bat. Can LJax sustain it? Up for debate…but it will be an asset of great value to use or capitalize on potentially.
7) RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
Most likely to be the second RB taken in the NFL Draft, which makes him more likely to ‘matter’ for fantasy right away. It gives him an advantage over guys like Freeman-Ballage-Penny-Guice, et al.
As good a power runner as there is in the draft, but he’s faded off the past two seasons post-knee injury/surgery. If you can get 2014-2015 Nick Chubb back and not the 2016-2017 version…you’ve really got something to work a power run game behind.
8) WR D.J. Chark, LSU
Courtland Sutton may be the more obvious #1 WR for a team prospect – the go-to, workhorse with game breaking ability – but for the NFL but Chark might be the best fantasy option – a guy that will make his money by producing long TDs. 4.34 40-time speed and a 40.0” vertical – Chark has some elite measurables. I want to see his agility times (skipped at the Combine) but Chark is the most dangerous homerun threat among the WRs with his elite speed at a nearly 6’3” frame he could add 10 pounds of muscle too and possibly become a big-time weapon in the NFL quickly…and a great one for fantasy production.
9) WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
So far, I think he’s the best/more sure thing of the ‘smaller’ WRs (Anthony Miller might jump up here after we see his Pro Day numbers). I think Kirk can step in and start effectively for most NFL teams on day one, but I’m not as confident about that for Calvin Ridley or D.J. Moore.
Kirk can be a worker…an 8+ target a game who is better after the catch than given credit. Daniel Jeremiah likened him to Golden Tate…and I thought that was an interesting, potentially proper way to compare him. He’s a tougher Golden Tate.
10) DE/LB Bradley Chubb, NC State (+2 spots on 3/18/18)
The best front-seven guy in the draft, one of the best in the past few years. Can rush the passer effectively but also plays the runs/tackles well. He’s not just ‘sacks’. He gets drafted top 3 and is a starter day-one for the next decade.
11) QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (+3 spots on 3/18/18)
NEW TO TOP 12: Mason Rudolph is out top graded QB prospect but Mayfield isn't far behind and I'm starting think he's better for today's NFL, but is for sure better for fantasy.
12) TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State (-2 spots on 3/18/18)
Amazing, stunning Combine numbers…one of the best ever among tight ends. But like I’ve said a few times – I don’t see this Combine-guy on tape at all. I’m going to need to take a deeper look. The fact that he has these elite athletic traits means we really have to study this one deeper, and we will this week.
His radical Combine means we have to take him seriously because he’s at the getting-scarcer-by-the-day TE position.
Others considered for the top 12:
13) RB Sony Michel, Georgia (+3 spots on 3/18/18)
14) SAF Derwin James, Florida State (+1 spot on 3/18/18)
15) WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State (+2 spots on 3/18/18)
16) RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State (-5 spots on 3/18/18)
17) WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
18) WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
19) RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (-6 spots on 3/18/18)