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NFL Draft: Fantasy Fallout

Joe Bartel

Joe Bartel is RotoWire's eSports editor and a football contributor. When not at the office, he's probably playing a variety of Gen 4 console games or rooting on his beloved Green Bay Packers.

The first round is over! There is much to sort out, especially after the second and third days of the draft, but for now we have plenty of players to discuss.


Mitchell Trubisky, QB (North Carolina), 6-2/220
Selected 2nd overall by Chicago


It took just two picks for the NFL Draft to turn on its head, as the Bears gave up a haul to move up from the No. 3 pick to draft the North Carolina product. Given that Chicago signed Mike Glennon to what amounts to a one-year, $15 million deal this offseason to be the team's starting QB, Trubisky will likely be the backup for at least the 2017-18 season. A strong-armed quarterback, the 22-year-old shot up draft boards following a standout season at North Carolina, where he finished with 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns to just six interceptions. But questions about his accuracy remain, and likely won't go away as he “learns” behind Glennon. It's only a matter of time until Trubisky sees the field, and given his athletic abilities he should be a decent enough option in certain matchups, but the jury is still out on whether Trubisky is an NFL talent.


Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU), 6-0/240
Selected 4th overall by Jacksonville


Even with T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant and Chris Ivory already on the roster, the Jaguars opted to bring in the bruising LSU star with the fourth overall pick. Clocking in at taller than 6-foot and 240 pounds, a slightly disappointing 4.51 second 40 at the Combine didn't hurt the former five-star recruit who likely benefitted from a standout performance from Ezekiel Elliot to garner such a high spot. He should be a quality fantasy option in both standard and dynasty leagues. While it might be a stretch to suggest Fournette should be a second-round pick in redraft leagues, the success of Elliott coupled with Fournette's star power could see the LSU product slip into the back end of second rounds by the end of the preseason.


Corey Davis, WR (Western Michigan), 6-3/209
Selected 5th overall by Tennessee


An ankle injury kept Davis from participating in any of the Combine workouts, but the Western Michigan product was the best WR prospect in NFL Draft this year regardless. At 6-3, 209, Davis possesses elite ball skills coupled with excellent speed for a man his size. And considering Davis piled up 331 catches, 5,278 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns in his four-year career with Western Michigan, he certainly has the stats to back up the skills. Should he be healthy to start the season, as expected, Davis already contends as the Titans best WR and could be a sneaky candidate in redraft formats should you want to take a gamble in the middle rounds.


Mike Williams, WR (Clemson), 6-4/218
Selected 7th overall by Los Angeles Chargers


The Chargers certainly have weapons littered across the receiving targets. Whether it's perennially injured WR Keenan Allen, 2016 breakout WR Tyrell Williams, last year's marquee free agent signing WR Travis Benjamin, former second-round pick TE Hunter Henry or the immortal veteran TE Antonio Gates, QB Philip Rivers will have plenty of toys to throw to next season.

And that's before factoring in the seventh overall pick, Mike Williams. A 6-foot-4 receiving threat from Clemson, Williams already becomes one of the Chargers' better red zone options and should be an immediate starter. While Williams isn't the fastest wideout, his massive wing span and ball skills should still give him a solid floor when it comes to targets. In terms of fantasy value, I get worried about depending on a receiver to score touchdowns, but there's no doubt Williams has talent. It's clear the Chargers think the same, even if it means we may not see it initially.


Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford), 5-11/202
Selected 8th overall by Carolina


Whether McCaffrey plays more as a slot receiver, a three-down RB or a passing-catching specialist out of the backfield, he immediately jumps into the discussion as a top-15 PPR RB.

It'll be interesting to see how the Panthers employ McCaffrey, but don't just think of him as a receiving threat. During his three-year career with Stanford, McCaffrey ran for 3,922 yards to go along with the 21 touchdowns. Jonathan Stewart is still around, but the grizzled RB appears to be on his last legs, meaning that McCaffrey could even gain more opportunities out of the backfield in the coming years. Target McCaffrey in the mid-to-late rounds in PPR leagues, but don't be surprised if McCaffrey's better years are ahead of him.


John Ross, WR (Washington), 5-11/188
Selected 9th overall by Cincinnati


As the man who broke the 40-yard dash record at the Combine, Ross seemed destined to drop thanks to a checkered injury past that included two meniscus tears, an ACL tear, and most recently, a shoulder injury that will require surgery. The Bengals had other ideas, in part due to the run at WR, adding Ross to a receiving corps that was surprisingly thin after losing Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency last season. While Andy Dalton has grown into a bit of a pseudo-game manager, he does have the ability to uncork the deep ball. Should he throw deep to someone not named Green, Ross may be an intriguing fantasy candidate, but he figures to be better in best ball leagues. In other words, it may be difficult to anticipate Ross' best games.


Patrick Mahomes, QB (Texas Tech), 6-2/225
Selected 10th overall by Kansas City


In one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory, it would make sense that three QBs would be taken within the first 12 picks, with every team trading up to take their target. Mahomes, much like Trubisky, will likely have to wait behind a veteran QB before he gets his chance at starting, as Alex Smith appears firmly entrenched in the role for now. However, should the Chiefs stumble this season, don't be surprised if Mahomes makes an appearance sooner rather than later as Smith has just two years remaining on his contract.

A Texas Tech product, Mahomes couples elite arm strength with a crafty sense of mobility, garnering comparisons to a young Brett Favre. While we won't know whether Mahomes will develop into the same personality that Favre had in his later years, it's clear the two also display an innate ability to rely too much on their arm strength. If Mahomes works out his gunslinger tendencies and improves on his decision-making, he instantly becomes an intriguing fantasy option. Otherwise, it will take sooner-than-expected starts for Mahomes' arm and legs to show up.


Deshaun Watson, QB (Clemson), 6-2/221
Selected 12th overall by Houston


The Texans moved all the way up from the No. 25 spot to acquire their franchise quarterback, acquiring Watson for a future first round pick as well as this year's spot. The Clemson star figures to be the most “pro-ready” of the three QBs taken, which makes sense given the Texans still managed to make it to the playoffs even with the mangled corpse that was Brock Osweiler.

While many will knock Watson's arm strength, he managed to make all of the throws in college and should have a better version of college wideout Mike Williams in DeAndre Hopkins to help ease any of the first-year jitters. Given that Watson's only competition for the starting role appears to be Tom Savage, the two-time Heisman finalist could make for a solid fantasy option, particularly in two QB leagues.


O.J. Howard, TE (Alabama), 6-6/251
Selected 19th overall by Tampa Bay


The best TE option in a surprisingly deep class, Howard possesses all the skills you would want – speed, size and above average blocking skills. So it was somewhat surprising to see him slip No. 19, especially given the emphasis on offense during the first half of the draft. Regardless, Howard figures to be in a cushy situation, with a plethora of receiving options flanking the emerging QB Jameis Winston.

Given that Cameron Brate caught 57 passes for 668 yards and eight touchdowns with the Bucs last year, it's not that hard to envision a scenario where Howard exceeds those numbers in the coming years. While Brate's presence likely mitigates Howard's opportunity to blossom into a top-five TE right away, he certainly has the potential to become a fantasy mainstay and should be one of the top dynasty options at his position.


Evan Engram, TE (Mississippi), 6-3/234
Selected 23rd by New York Giants


Engram doesn't bring the same well-rounded resume as Howard, but what he lacks in other areas he makes up for in speed, clocking in with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Despite being undersized for the position, Engram could be an intriguing fantasy option thanks to Eli Manning's propensity to throw to TEs. We know Eli can succeed when surrounded by solid TEs, which Will Tye, Jerell Adams and Larry Donnell are emphatically not, so Engram's presence could work two-fold for the duo.


David Njoku, TE (Miami), 6-4/246
Selected 31st by Cleveland


The Browns' third first-round pick of the 2017 Draft, Njoku brings immense measurables in the form of his size (6-4, 246), speed (4.64 40-yard dash) and jumping ability. However with Gary Barnidge still in the fold, for the moment, and the Browns still without a capable QB (unless you consider Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler capable, in which case you have other problems) Njoku's fantasy value appears to be limited to dynasty leagues for the moment.