Fantasy Football: NFL Draft Major Impacts
Many exciting rookies were drafted over the weekend and we’re going to have fun debating their value in dynasty rookie drafts and redraft leagues all summer long. The presence of these rookies on their new teams have altered the value of some veteran players. And on the flip side, some teams did not add the pieces we expected them to, increasing the stock of some already well-known names. All in all, the NFL Draft has created a ripple effect of player value. That’s what we’re taking a look at here. Let’s dive in.
Stock Up: Christian McCaffrey
Jonathan Stewart, who carried the ball 198 times and saw 15 targets last year, is no longer on the Carolina Panthers and no notable RB of any kind was brought in by the team during the draft. Thus, Christian McCaffrey‘s value skyrockets. He’s a dual-threat RB with elite talent that was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s locked into significant volume after already seeing 230 opportunities as a rookie.
Stock Up: Alex Collins
Alex Collins impressed in his second year in the league and in his first season with the Baltimore Ravens, rushing 212 times for 973 yards and 6 TDs while also adding 23 receptions for 187 yards through the air. However, he seemed to have all the makings of a one-year wonder thanks to late-round draft capital, already being on his second team in the league and a depth chart that was easy to climb up in Baltimore. Yet, with a ton of team needs, the Ravens opted to invest in other positions and did not significantly address the RB spot in any way shape or form. Alex Collins looks to be locked into the starting RB role once again in 2018.
Stock Up: Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck STILL isn’t throwing. However, a video has surfaced of him practicing in other areas already this offseason. If Luck can get healthy and play in 2018, his stock just rose thanks to General Manager, Chris Ballard. That’s because, with two of their first three picks, the Colts selected Guards Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith. As for Nelson, NFL.com Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah stated, “He’s the nastiest offensive line prospect I’ve ever evaluated.” and NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein compared him to Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Let’s pray Luck can get healthy because it FINALLY looks like he’ll be protected in the pocket, giving him more time to find open receivers downfield.
Stock Up: Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement
With LeGarrette Blount leaving in free agency, many thought Philadelphia was primed to select another RB in the 2018 NFL Draft. Well, that didn’t happen. Thus, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement project to see increased workloads this season. Darren Sproles is being brought back and should be sprinkled in as well but he’ll be 35 years old when the season starts and shouldn’t end up being much of a factor. Thus, Clement, who went HAM in the Super Bowl last February, makes for an intriguing high-upside late-round selection. As for Ajayi, his workload increased as last season went on and now he gets his first full offseason to prepare as an Eagle. Ajayi’s stock is up now that he looks locked into around 15 touches per game playing for the Super Bowl champs.
Stock Up: Ricky Seals-Jones
Ricky Seals-Jones came on down the stretch last season in his first year in the league. However, his playing time was never consistent enough for him to be seriously considered in fantasy football. That’s because he was sharing time with both Troy Niklas and Jermaine Gresham. Well, Niklas is now on the Patriots and Gresham is recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in Week 17. Thus, many believed the Cardinals would invest in a TE during the draft. It didn’t happen. That puts Seals-Jones in a position to take a big leap forward in year two. Seals-Jones was a college Wide Receiver and posted 16.8 yards per catch a year ago. He makes for an extremely interesting late round flyer for those looking to hit on some upside at the poopy Tight End position.
Stock Up: Kenyan Drake
Kenyan Drake was not someone I was getting extremely excited about this offseason because although he produced at a high level down the stretch last year, he only truly broke out after Damien Williams went down with an injury. That’s because Adam Gase was utilizing both in a timeshare prior to Williams going down. Williams is now in Kansas City and Frank Gore, who will be 35 when the season starts, was brought in to replace him. And the only RB the Dolphins brought in during the draft was fourth-rounder Kalen Ballage. Thus, I’m more into Drake at this point because he looks set up to handle the majority of the touches in Miami next season.
Stock Up: Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams
Dez Bryant was cut, leaving 132 targets from last season up for grabs and Brice Butler was not retained either. Yes, WR Michael Gallup was selected in the third round of the draft but his instant impact in no way shape or form makes up for the loss of Dez. Thus, newly signed Allen Hurns and long-time coach’s pet Terrance Williams figure to be significant factors on the outside for the Cowboys in 2018. And although neither player will excite you come draft day, their discounted price tags will put them in consideration. Remember, we’ve seen plenty of late-round WR flyers blossom over the past few years. In 2016 it was Davante Adams and Michael Thomas and last year it was Marvin Jones.
Stock Down: Carlos Hyde
Carlos Hyde was already projected to share the workload with Duke Johnson this season. And then the Browns went and spent a top of the second-round pick on Nick Chubb, one of the most talented RBs in this year’s class. In fact, some analysts, like Matt Waldman, are huge fans:
Nick Chubb has the highest grade of any back I studied in past five years.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) April 27, 2018
Volume means everything at the RB position and it’s clear Hyde won’t get the necessary touches while stuck in a murky three-way timeshare.
Stock Down: Tevin Coleman
Things just were not the same in Atlanta last season with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. In Steve Sarkisian’s first year as Offensive Coordinator, Tevin Coleman saw fewer targets in 15 games then he did playing in only 13 games back in 2016. Sarkisian just was not nearly creative enough when it came to getting Coleman involved in the passing game. And with Devonta Freeman still in town, the passing game is where Coleman must be relevant in order to maintain significant fantasy value. Thus, Coleman’s stock continues to trend down because Sarkisian is still the OC and the Falcons just told us they want to get their Wide Receivers even more involved in the passing game when they selected WR Calvin Ridley in the first round of the draft.
Stock Down: Curtis Samuel
Curtis Samuel was a very exciting rookie last season due to his athletic profile and potential opportunities due to the thin nature of the Panthers receiving corps. However, while building some steam last season, Samuel suffered a tough injury. And now he’ll be fighting for targets with Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess, and first-round WR D.J. Moore. Fade.
Stock Down: Rex Burkhead
I wrote about Rex Burkhead being a big under the radar free agency winner last month after Dion Lewis‘ departure left 215 opportunities up for grabs in the Patriots’ backfield. At the time, it looked like Burkhead was the clear favorite to absorb the majority of those touches. However, not only did New England draft a Running Back, they shockingly took one in the first round. Here are my notes after watching tape of Sony Michel:
- Very good athlete
- Has pass game upside
- Perfect RB for today’s NFL
So the best team in the league at optimizing dual-threat RBs just took an electrifying RB in the first round that fits today’s NFL perfectly. Ya, I’m excited about Michel and that no doubt hurts the stock of Burkhead.
Stock Down: Samaje Perine
I was a big fan of Samaje Perine last year. Ya, uhhhh that’s not looking too good right about now. In the second round, Washington selected Derrius Guice, who many had a first-round grade on. Guice projects to start from day 1 and Chris Thompson will still factor into the passing game plans. Thus, Perine offers little to no value moving forward. Pour one out.
Stock Down: Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson
After C.J. Anderson was released, things were looking good for both Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson in terms of increased volume in 2018. However, that all changed when Denver selected workhorse RB Royce Freeman in the third round. Freeman was a mega-college producer, rushing for 5,621 yards and 60 TDs while adding 814 receiving yards and 4 receiving TDs in four years at Oregon. Freeman projects to step in right away, likely as the starter. Either way, Booker and Henderson now once again offer little fantasy value.