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Either Or? Who do YOU take?

LewisOur second installment in the Either Or series take a look at the 7th round of the draft. If that number sounds arbitrary, it’s because it is. As usual, we’ll be using a 12 team PPR league, and our random draft position is 11th.

6 Player Roster (So Far)

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Alex Collins
  • Derrius Guice
  • Julio Jones
  • Corey Davis
  • Pierre Garcon

At this point in the draft, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with my team, although there’s a bit of a gap from my top back and receiver and the guys below them. In

a 12 team league I suggest waiting on a QB as the player pool is significantly shallower at running back and wide receiver, so in the 7th round, you’re decision should be which position to bolster before moving on to the QB and TE positions.

Top Players Available

As always, adjust your rankings to suit your preferences. The players below are targets that I’d be interested in that should be going in this range of the draft.

  • Dion Leis
  • Marlon Mack
  • Rex Burkhead
  • C.J.Anderson
  • Cooper Kupp
  • Robby Anderson
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Davante Parker

What you’ll notice is that all of these players have significant question marks but expect to factor in heavily to their respective offenses no matter their position on the depth chart. A quick glance at our roster and my personal belief is that we’re far stronger at the wide receiver position with proven commodities in Julio Jones and Pierre Garcon, and a young top 5 draft pick that should take over the top receiver duties in Tennessee.

I love Fournette, as he’ll have the kind of volume that should make him an easy top five running back, but Collins and Guice both have committee questions that can’t be answered until the season starts.

While I like both players, Collins has to fend off Kenneth Dixon (who Baltimore refused to cut bait with despite his off field issues AND Collins success) and Guice is a rookie who’s talent is undeniable but has a floor that could see him sitting on my bench before long.

The Decision!

For this scenario it comes down to the running back position, and I’ve narrowed it down to two: C.J. Anderson and Marlon Mack. It’s important to note that I like Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, but their roles are more difficult to define so I’ll ignore them at this point in the draft.

The Case for Anderson

Replacing Jonathan Stewart as the primary “early” down back, Anderson expects to play a solid number of snaps this year despite 2nd year pro Christian McCaffrey’s presence on the roster. As a team, the Panthers ran the ball nearly 500 times, and 198 of them went  to the 30 year old Jonathan Stewart over his 15 games (only 10 starts). Expecting a similar share for Anderson sits him firmly in the 200-220 touch mark (12-15 per game). Now, it’s important to note as well that Anderson has never rushed for less than 4 yards per carry, and should improve on the numbers Stewart posted last year. My (conservative) prediction is 900 yards and 6 TDs on the ground.

The Case for Mack

Unlike Lewis and Burkhead, Marlon Mack sits atop his team depth chart as the number one back, and only has to beat out rookies Nyheim Hines (a gadget back) and Jordan Wilkins (a 5th round pick who grades out as a special teamer). While you may feel Mack was underwhelming last year in his limited touches, but it was revealed he played through a torn labrum for much of the season and is expected to be 100% for the start of training camp. Equally important to note is that Mack was effective in the passing game, hauling in 63% of his targets for 21 receptions and 220 yards. Even with a healthy Luck, the Colts have a history of giving their starting back between 250-275 rushes, something that can’t be overlooked here. Providing another conservative projection, I can see 1,200 combined yards and 7-9 TDs for Mack.

Summary – Marlon Mack

While I’m tempted to take Anderson  based on his track record of performing well in similar committees, Mack’s inside track at 15-20 touches a game is too good too pass up. While other backs in this area are firmly entrenched in committees, Mack should be an NFL starting back right out of the gates.

Do you disagree? Share in the comments below!

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Team Fantasy Rankings: 25 through 20

25. Arizona Cardinals

Similar to Dallas, this top heavy roster has failed to produce beyond it’s run game and Larry Fitzgerald for years. Both Johnson and Fitzgerald are fairly safe bets, but who else on the roster can you trust. Newly signed QB Sam Bradford has never wowed me, but his efficiency may help support a 2nd QB if he can stay healthy. That, of course is the million dollar question… can he stay healthy?

Players worth Drafting: David Johnson (ADP 3), Larry Fitzgerald (ADP 33), Christian Kirk (ADP 182)

In ESPN mock drafts neither Bradford or Rosen are being selected with any regularity, further muddying the waters beyond the two players being selected early. Kirk is a buzzy rookie, but the rest of the roster seems to be off of the radar. Of course, if Bradford gets hurt, Rosen could be a sneaky waiver add; his profile certainly looks like that of an NFL starter.

Deep Sleeper: While Kirk was my first choice, the buzz surrounding him is loud enough now that Ricky-Seals Jones is currently being overlooked as a potential breakout candidate. A WR in college, Jones certainly profiles as a pass catching TE, and only his ability to pass block can keep him from seeing meaningful snaps in the passing game.

24. Washington Redskins

Like many of the teams in this range, turnover at the most important position in football, the quarter back position, could mean any number of things. Will Alex Smith continue to throw the ball down field after reinventing himself in Kansas City last year? Can the post hype potential of guys like Josh Doctson finally be realized?

Worth Drafting: Derrius Guice (ADP 40), Jordan Reed (ADP 85), Chris Thompson (ADP 99), Jamison Crowder (ADP 100), Alex Smith (ADP 129), Josh Doctson (ADP 137), Paul Richardson (ADP 174)

It was a strange season for Washington last year. Despite the heroic efforts of Kirk Cousins, the offense never really found a rhythm, and the ADP data suggests that no one really knows who will emerge as a top 25 WR. Alex Smith has made a career out of making the safe play, so expecting a return to last years gun slinging ways is a bit pre-mature, but Jordan Reed may be the biggest beneficiary if he can stay healthy. Odds are he won’t, but Smith tends to turn TE’s into elite fantasy options, and Reed has the talent to be a top 5 TE this season.

Deep Sleeper: While Alex Smith will have to gain some chemistry with his new team, 2nd string TE Vernon Davis is already intimately familiar with the former first overall pick. I expect Davis to have a healthy amount of snaps in this offense, and while he’s been mostly quiet since leaving San Fransisco, the TE is still a  great athlete and he’s turned in his best seasons with Smith at the helm. For just about nothing, he has Top 15 potential (at the TE position).

23. San Fransisco 49ers

One of the busiest teams in the last year and a half, the 49ers went out and got what they consider a cornerstone pairing with Jerick McKinnon in the backfield to go with QB Jimmy Garoppolo. While the defense is expected to be better, this offense should continue to evolve into the high flying machine that Kyle Shanahan tends to put together.

Players Worth Drafting: Jerick McKinnon (ADP 28), Pierre Garcon (ADP 71),  Jimmy Garoppolo (ADP 104), Marquise Goodwin (ADP 106),  George Kittle (ADP 164), Matt Brieda (ADP 186)

Expecting the passing game to be any kind of consistent may be asking a bit too much. While Garoppolo figures to be a very good QB, the stable of receivers isn’t highlighted by any big names, and Jimmy G is just as likely to adopt the Tom Brady method of finding who’s open rather than forcing it to one or two guys. Garcon is a safe bet for consistent targets, but beyond him, there’s no guarantees for season long success.

Deep Sleeper: George Kittle seemed to fade a bit when Garoppolo came into the offense, but a few decent weeks at the end of the season rejuvenated the breakout rumors. With another season in this offense, the young TE is expected to see the bulk of the snaps at the position, and with a passing game orchestrated by Shanahan, we could see a big year at a relatively inexpensive price tag for the 2nd year TE.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

After turning in a dominant season, riding the strength of it’s rushing game and defense, the Jaguars return in 2018 featuring many of the same strengths and weaknesses. Beyond the obvious stud in Leonard Fournette, this is a team that could warrant it’s own article with all of the moving parts. As always, the Jags figure to surprise in a few more areas this year.

Players Worth Drafting: Leonard Fournette (ADP 11), Marqise Lee (ADP 118), Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (ADP 166)

The list of players being drafted, as noted above, may seem smaller than one would like, but part of the problem is that beyond Lee, the passing game features a handful of guys who have little on their resume. With the mercurial Blake Bortles set to start under center again, it’s always a question of who outside the top guy can he support? I’m a fan of Keelan Cole, if only because he helped me secure a championship, but there’s a lot of middling talent on this team that could be both fantastic or awful.

Deep Sleeper: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is one of my favorite picks to bounce back this year. After failing spectacularly to cash in on the hype, it was learned he was struggling with some kind of alcohol or drug abuse and he set about getting clean. Recently, he explained that, now sober, he’s in the best place he’s been in years and he’s ready to bring it full circle. I’m willing to give the guy a 2nd chance, as his talent excites me.

21. Tennessee Titans

When the season started last year, many fantasy pundits, myself included, had several Titans queued up as breakout candidates. Unfortunately, despite a playoff birth, most of this teams fantasy studs took a step back, hamstringing teams that relied heavily on players like the recently retired DeMarco Murray and 3rd year QB Marcus Mariota. With a new coaching staff looking to rejuvenate a team with plenty of talent, there’s optimism that this year could be the breakout last year should have ben

Players Worth Drafting: Derrick Henry (ADP 47), Delanie Walker (ADP 63), Dion Lewis (ADP 70), Corey Davis (ADP 77), Rishard Matthews (ADP 140), Marcus Mariotta (ADP 141)

Knowing how much talent Mariota has around him, it’d be a shock to see him continue the trend of regression. Corey Davis is no longer dinged up and Rishard Matthews continues to be an underrated workhorse. Throw in that the coaching staff is now better suited to pull the most out of him and the run game has a two headed monster that’s above average in all aspects of the game, and Mariota is one of the hottest break out commodities in Fantasy.

Deep Sleeper: This team has invested heavily in weapons for Mariota, and none were as successful out of college as 2017 first round pick Corey Davis. Unfortunately for him, the season started off poorly and injuries limited him to just 9 starts and 34 receptions. The talent is certainly there, and a full offseason should work wonders for the teams top receiving threat. While not a traditional “deep” sleeper, his value is a potential top 15 WR is something that can’t be overlooked.

 20. Seattle Seahawks

A team in turmoil, the Seahawks had one real bright spot in 2017, and that would be Russell Wilson. There’s no doubting the former 2nd round pick any longer as he’s proven to be one of the leagues top QB’s, both in real life and in fantasy. Where the team lacked any continuity was in the run game. Porous offensive line play combined with a lackluster running back group (Chris Carson not withstanding) led to a season of “run for your life” stats that didn’t translate to success elsewhere. Improved O-line (even if just slightly) and a shiny new convertible in the backfield in Rashaad Penny, and one can be optimistic that there’s some new life in Seattle in 2018.

Players Worth Drafting: Doug Baldwin (ADP 34), Rashaad Penny (ADP 39), Russell wilson (ADP 50), Chris Carson (ADP 167), Tyler Lockett (ADP 170)

Whether you believe Penny is a true three down back or not, the truth is that his handling of 1st and 2nd down should provide some protection from Wilson, who no longer has Jimmy Graham to throw to. Doug Baldwin is the real deal in the slot, and Tyler Lockett has some upside, but this offense may have a handful of late round picks that turn into fantasy gold.

Deep Sleeper: The aforementioned Rashaad Penny is garnering much of the buzz in the backfield, but Chris Carson may offer the best value of any Seattle back. Prior to his injury, he was more effective than anyone else on the roster, and seems to have recovered well from the injury that ended his year. With Pete Carroll promising a return to smash mouth ground and pound football, Carson could be a fine sleeper if Penny isn’t all he’s been advertised (which is always a concern with rookie running backs).

Leonard Fournette, A Reason To Worry?

fournetteJacksonville’s first round rookie running back was a big question mark entering the 2017 season, but fantasy owners bet on the raw skill and opportunity. A final stat line of 268 carries for 1,040 yards and 36 catches for 302 yards (10 combined TDs) shows that the confidence was not misplaced. Despite missing 3 games due to minor injuries, Fournette finished as the RB9 in PPR leagues, and even higher in standard scoring.

Interestingly enough, the narrative this off season has been surrounding his sub par yard per carry numbers. The 3.9 may seem hardly worth talking about, but under the surface is hiding a more difficult monster to qualify. Aside from two big runs in week 5 and week 6, Fournette actually averaged a 3.2 yard per carry mark in 2017.

Now, one must ask, is this issue systemic? Can Blake Bortles perform like he did over the last 6 or so weeks of the season or will Fournette have to deal with stacked boxes every game? Can the new Jacksonville receiving corps of Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins help enough to draw attention?

In the end it may not even matter. It’s very likely that Fournette’s volume will overcome any inefficiencies he’ll have on the ground. If he averages 18 rushes a game, even a sub 4 yard per carry mark isn’t enough to dissuade me from drafting him. If his quest to become a better back this off season does help him improve the bottom line, he could be a top 3 back.

While I may not be willing to draft him before guys like Bell or Gurley, Fournette is a very safe back to select at the end of the first round. I personally expect a better year from the workhorse, and when you consider he was already an RB1, the potential is scary.

 

Early RB Rankings

  1. Todd Gurley, LAR
  2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT
  3. David Johnson, ARI
    • Despite missing most of last season and getting a new QB, Johnson remains a threat to be the #1 running back in PPR formats.
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
  5. Melvin Gordon, LAC
  6. Alvin Kamara, NO
  7. Kareem Hunt, KC
  8. Leonard Fournette, JAC
    • With 1,340 yards on 300 touches, Fournette proved that he can be a three down back in the NFL. Now, after the departure of Hurns and Robinson, he may be asked to do even more.
  9. Saquon Barkley, NYG
  10. LeSean McCoy, BUF
  11. Devonta Freeman, ATL
  12. Dalvin Cook, MIN
  13. Joe Mixon, CIN
    • The questions surrounding Mixon have nothing to do with his talent, and everything to do with how Cincinnati destroys the value of it’s running backs seemingly every year. I’m cautiously optimistic that Mixon approaches 250 touches this year.
  14. Jerick McKinnon, SF
  15. Jordan Howard, CHI
  16. Christian McCaffrey, CAR
  17. Alex Collins, BAL
  18. Derrick Henry, TEN
  19. Derrius Guice, WAS
  20. Rashaad Penny, SEA
    • The noise out of Seattle is that they’re committed to getting their run game going again. The selection of Penny shows me that they’re serious. He may not have as much room to run behind that OL as other rookie backs, but he should have a large share of the touches.
  21. Lamar Miller, HOU
  22. Royce Freeman, DEN
  23. Kenyan Drake, MIA
  24. Sony Michel, NE
  25. Ronald Jones II, TB
  26. Marlon Mack, IND
    • No longer splitting carries with Frank Gore, Marlon Mack is the defacto lead back in this continuously dysfunctional offense. It’s likely he’ll cede passing down touches to Hines, but offers a ton of value at a very low risk pick.
  27. C. J. Anderson, CAR
  28. Jay Ajayi, PHI
  29. Mark Ingram, NO
  30. Tevin Coleman, ATL
  31. Marshawn Lynch, OAK
  32. Carlos Hyde, CLE
    • Hyde is the most polished runner on the Cleveland roster, but Chubb should keep him from finishing in the top 20. Don’t expect much work on 3rd down either with Duke Johnson owning that area.
  33. Isaiah Crowell, NYJ
  34. Kerryon Johnson, DET
  35. Aaron Jones, GB
  36. Chris Thompson, WAS
  37. Tarik Cohen, CHI
  38. Dion Lewis, TEN
  39. Duke Johnson, CLE
  40. Rex Burkhead, NE
    • Just when we thought Burkhead would be the guy in New England, the Pats signed Sony Michel in the first round. Best as a waiver wire pick up or late round stash in deep leagues.
  41. Jamaal Williams, GB
  42. Theo Riddick, DET
  43. Devontae Booker, DEN
  44. Ty Montgomery, GB
  45. Doug Martin, OAK
    • After finally wearing out his welcome, Martin joins a crowded Oakland backfield with a proven starter ahead of him. His value comes mostly as a handcuff for the aging Marshawn Lynch.
  46. D’Onta Foreman, HOU
  47. Chris Carson, SEA
  48. Bilal Powell, NYJ
  49. Nick Chubb, CLE
  50. LeGarrette Blount, DET

10 Bold Predictions (since everybody’s doing it)

One of the most useless exercises that gets perpetuated during every sport’s preseason time is the “bold predictions” article. But since this is the fantasy sports blogger equivalent to “if all of your friends jump off a bridge” argument, I suppose I’ll jump too (featuring a whole lot of sarcasm).

1. Leonard Fournette has a monster sophomore slump, finishing outside the top 20 for running backs and costing his teams a shot at the title.

2. Jared Goff wins the MVP. With added weapons, and an elite defense protecting leads, Goff throws for 4,500 yards and 33 TDs.

3. Juju Smith-Schuster pushes Antonio Brown for the most targets on the Steeler’s roster and easily crests 1,200 yards receiving.

4. Evan Engram finishes as the TE1, scoring 16 touch downs to fall one shy of the TE record of 17.

5. Tyrod Taylor rushes for 700 yards and finishes as a top 5 QB despite Cleveland losing 10 games.

6. Saquon Barkley is a monster disappointment, costing fantasy owners a top 20 pick but rewarding them with less than 500 yards and nearly no contributions in the passing game.

7. Sam Darnold beats out the other quarterbacks in the preseason to start week one, and manages to win 8 games for the Jets as a rookie.

8. Sammy Watkins passes Tyreek Hill on the depth chart in Kansas City and coasts past the 100 target mark to finish as a top 15 WR.

9. Jeremy Hill fends off former teammate Rex Burkhead for the Patriots first two downs, and while he misses the 1,000 yard mark, manages 10+ scores for the first time in 2 years.

10. Minnesota Vikings fails to produce a top 15 WR as Kirk Cousins struggles in his first season for the Vikings.

 

Week 1 Thoughts

While week 1 featured several stellar performances by high-profile rookies, it also featured some dream killer injuries along the way. I’ll be brief, but below are the highlights of the Fantasy Seasons kickoff week.

Rookie Running Backs Shine

huntThe incoming group got off to a blazing start in the NFL opener in New England as Kareem Hunt stepped into the void following Spencer Ware’s injury and dropped almost 250 total yards and three touchdowns. His 41 points in standard leagues paced the NFL.

Also turning in solid performances were Leonard Fournette (124 yards, TD) and Dalvin Cook (137 total yards), Deshone Kizer (239 total yards, 1 Passing and 1 Rushing TD) , Tarik Cohen (110,1 TD), Kenny Golloday (69 yards, 2 TD), Cooper Kupp (76 yards, 1 TD) and Corey Coleman (53 yards, 1 TD).

Major Injury Woes

The injury to David Johnson (dislocated wrist) was a huge blow to fantasy teams as Johnson was, for all intents and purposes, the #1 pick in fantasy this year. At this point he’s expected to miss 8-12 weeks which would put his return right at the fantasy playoffs with no promises on what he may be able to produce.

Also injured: Allen Robinson (ACL injury, placed on IR), Danny Woodhead (Hamstring Injury, no timetable), Kevin White (Shoulder Injury, placed on IR).

Struggling to Get Going

While there were many players who surprised in week one, the more important story line are the players who failed to meet expectations.

Tom Brady: Brady’s value skyrocketed in the preseason thanks to a strong supporting cast, but an 8 point week 1 in a blowout loss against KC was not what owners were hoping for.

Russell Wilson: This was supposed to be a bounce back year for Russell but less than 200 yards against a GB defense that wasn’t the stingiest last year was awful for the former top 5 QB.

Le’Veon Bell: While David Johnson had an uninspiring week one prior to his injury, Bell had a disastrous one. 47 total yards and a 3.2 YPC line isn’t good enough for a player many believed was the best player in fantasy.

Joe Mixon: Maybe it’s not fair to read into his first NFL action, but Mixon’s opening stat line was borderline embarrassing as he managed only 9 yards on 8 carries. After a strong preseason saw Mixon jump up rankings, this should temper the expectations surrounding him for a bit.

Adrian Peterson: While I wasn’t very high on him coming into the season simply because of the crowd already in the NO backfield, I didn’t expect him to struggle in the run game to the tune of 6 carries for 18 yards. While Mark Ingram wasn’t impressive either, it appears that Peterson will play third fiddle to Ingram and rookie back Alvin Kamara going forward.

Brandon Marshall: With OBJ missing Sunday nights game, many expected Marshall to be heavily targeted, but he turned in a dud with only one reception on the final drive of the game.

Jamison Crowder: A popular preseason pick to elevate his game, Crowder’s struggles in week one may have been because Cousins couldn’t seem to hit open receivers. Still, it’s not encouraging going forward.

Martavis Bryant: It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that Bryant hadn’t played much football in the past two years, but his 2 catches for 14 yards certainly contributed to fantasy losses in week 1.

 

It Takes a Committee – RB Review

After looking at the middle round gems for QB’s, we turn our attention to the muddled mess that is the middle to late round “committee” backs. While studs like David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliot will dominate the backfield touches for their respective teams, there are plenty of potential stars slogging through the expanded depth charts of “RB by Committee” coaches.

Mostly Committee

New England Patriots: There’s little doubt to the risk one assumes when drafting a NE running back. Gillislee projects to man the bulk of the running downs, but White is my early pick for passing downs (Lewis and Burkhead will likely battle for the last roster spot). Back to draft: Mike Gillislee 

Cincinatti Bengals: Despite the addition of Joe Mixon at the draft, the Bengals have bucked conventional wisdom and rolled with a mostly effective committee over the last two years. With Bernard and Hill still on the roster, none of the three can be counted on to have an early fantasy impact. Back to Draft: Joe Mixon

Cleveland Browns: While the jury was out prior to last season on whether Duke Johnson could steam meaningful touches from the Crow, the biggest question mark this year is do they remain in a nearly 50/50 split? Crowell is likely to man the bulk of the rushes but Johnson is more than effective with the rock (4.9 ypc and 55 receptions for 500 yards). Your leagues format should dictate who you draft – Standard Scoring, Crowell – PPR, Johnson Jr.

Philadelphia Eagles: If the waters were muddled enough last year with both RBs often on the sidelines with injuries, the Eagles have added short yardage specialist LeGarrett Blount to the fold. Don’t expect 300 carries from the plodding back either, but he should syphon the bulk of the goal line carries effectively ending Ryan Mathews as a fringe RB1/RB2. Sproles will still garner some attention in PPR leagues, but even then he’ll cede some 3rd down touches to Dalton Pumphrey. Back to Draft: LeGarrett Blount

Seattle Seahawks: While things look a bit more stable with the addition of former stud Eddie Lacy, the talent of Rawls and Prosise behind him on the depth chart mean that Seattle will offer a short leash on Lacy’s tenure as the lead back. If he struggles early, Prosise will likely get the first shot at the lead role but his health could impact as well. Back to Draft: Eddie Lacy

Possible Committee

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags drafted Yeldon and added Ivory in an attempt to add both a dynamic between the 20’s RB and a head down goal line back. The addition of Fournette could make both obsolete as the massive rookie has both the speed and size to play three downs. Still, if the rookie finds a lack of footing in the NFL, Yeldon could still steal a chunk of carries.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos seem to make things interesting every year. First it was Montee Ball and whatever other bum he was fighting for time with, then it was he and Anderson, then Anderson and Booker. To make matters worse, the Broncos took a flier on the ultra talented (and oft-injured) Jamaal Charles. By all reports he’ll be ready for the start of the season, but it’ll take a rough patch early for Anderson to really lose out on touches.

Detroit Lions: Abdullah missed all of last season to injury but the Lions front office is saying they expect the young back to return at the top of the depth chart. He has the goods, but with Riddick eating away at the passing downs, there is a risk of a true two headed committee in Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings: When AP finally left town, the Vikings shelled out 15 million to land the athletically gifted Latavius Murray out of Oakland. Then, to make us all wonder aloud what the heck is going on, they trade up to select potential superstar RB Dalvin Cook in the draft. I would expect that the supremely talented Cook shows up atop the depth chart early, but with Murray waiting in the wings it could be a while before he really sees meaningful fantasy touches.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Any committee list isn’t complete until you discuss whether or not the Muscle Hamster can retain his tenuous hold on the starts role in Tampa Bay. Charles Sims (like Theo Riddick) is an obvious bet to see a lot of third down work, so Martin will have to have a monster year again to remain relevant as a RB1/RB2.

 

NFL Draft: First Round Fallout

With the excitement and surprise of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in the rearview, it’s finally time to start looking into the impact and fallout of the skill position players taken early in the draft.

Amitchell-trubisky-042717-getty-ftrjpg_1kgm9a8ct8wsa1vfjfrx72fq4qs I say every year around this time; be mindful when drafting rookies… for every Ezekiel Elliot there’s two or three Bishop Sankeys torpedoing your squad. Do your research and don’t committ to the rookie class too heavily (a mistake I’ve made myself).

Impact listings are in order of their draft position

1. Mitchell Trubisky – QB, Chicago Bears: If the Bears are smart (and there’s been precious little in past seasons to suggest that they are) Trubisky will be nothing more than a first round clipboard holder for a year or two. With Mike Glennon on the roster and lowered expectations, there’s no scenario that Trubisky starts or plays meaningful football this year. Don’t Draft

2. Leonard Fournette – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Following the failed Yeldon/Ivory experiment (they combined for 4 TD’s and 904 yards) the Jaguars got aggressive and selected the first RB off the board. Touted as an Adrian Peterson clone, his size and speed make him and intriguing pick for a team looking to get more balanced. If you believe he played hurt last year and has more to offer even than he did, this could be a day one fantasy asset, assuming you don’t have to draft him too early. Draft: Middle Rounds

3. Corey Davis – WR, Tennessee Titans: This team was in drastic need of a top end wideout to pair with Marcus Mariota, and they think they got him at the 5th spot in the draft in Davis. A sizable reciever at 6’3″ and 210 lbs I expect Mariota to look his way early and often. If he can improve on his drops (16 across his college career), his route running ability and verticle speed should make him a decent NFL player. Draft: Late Rounds

4. Mike Williams – WR, Los Angeles Chargers: Arguably the top receiver in the draft, Williams is now the new face of the LA Chargers as they make the move from San Diego. While he’ll be battling Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen for snaps, it’s only a matter of time before he sits atop the depth chart. Temper early season expectations, but don’t be surprised if he’s looking like a fantasy stud sooner rather than later. Draft: Middle Rounds

5. Christian McCaffrey – RB, Carolina Panthers: A Jack of all trades, McCaffrey is a perfect fit for a Carolina Panthers team desperate for some spark other than from the helmet to helmet shots Cam Newton takes when he runs the football. McCaffrey provides that being a fantastic options to line up in the slot or next to Newton as a flexible starter who can run the ball and catch it out of the backfield. If your league awards points for return yards he’ll be even more helpful. Draft: Late Rounds

6. John Ross – WR, Cincinnati Bengals: While laking the size of his contemporaries, the speedy Ross will line up opposite A.J. Green and should be in line for plenty of looks thanks to doubleteams and defensive schemes that will be forced to focus elsewhere. His production will likely be boom or bust in year one, so he’s probably more of a matchups play. Serious risk of being a bust if drafted too early though as the Bengals offense can become one dimensional at times when A.J. Green is right. Draft: Late Rounds

7. Patrick Mahomes – QB, Kansas City Chiefs: The same argument made against drafting Trubisky should be in play here as well; Alex Smith is still the starter of this playoff caliber team. The advantage is I believe Mahomes tracks to have a better NFL career than Trubisky, and his destination with the Chiefs is more enviable in the long run. Still, he’s no more than a dynasty stash. Don’t Draft

8. DeShaun Watson – QB, Houston Texans: If any of the three first round QB’s have a chance to play meaningful minutes this year, it’s Watson. Bill O’Brien has some work to do in rehabilitating his image with young quarter backs, but this Texans team will expect to win this year, and if Savage and Wheedon (Assuming both are on the roster by pre-season) there’s a reasonable chance Watson will find himself under center before long. Draft: Last round flyer

9 O.J. Howard – TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of the best TE in the draft, Howard will likely be the best pass catching TE on a team who often times trots two of them on the field together. With another year under his belt, Winston could be looking Howards way often, and with Mike Evans the only other real red zone threat, Howard could find a nice number of TD’s be years end. Draft: Late Rounds

10. Evan Engram – TE, NY Giants: The Giants have a lot of pass catchers after adding Brandon Marshall in the offseason, but Engram is by far the best TE on the roster. He’ll find immediate playing time but will likely have to be evaluated week to week based on matchups. I predict plenty of 100 yard, 2 TD weeks followed by 5 yards on 1 target. Draft: Late Rounds

11. David Njoku – TE, Cleveland Browns: The biggest knock against Njoku is that he’ll be playing for the Cleveland Browns. Maybe it’s not fair to expect a rough start for the athletic TE, but without consistency at the QB position, it’s a crap shoot to expect more than below-average fantasy statistics. IF the Browns add a QB via trade (Kirk Cousins for example) then I’d bump Njoku up on my board, but as of right now, he’s a dynasty/keeper pick but not in redrafts. Draft: Late Rounds (Keeper/Dynasty only).