After the combine was evaluated, measurables were calculated and mock drafts were written and changed numerous times, the draft is finally complete. 253 players were drafted over the weekend and will now look to make their dreams of landing on NFL rosters come true.
Instead of focusing on which teams “won” or “lost” this year’s draft, we will focus on which fantasy players ended up in the best and worst situations and which draftees will be able to impact the fantasy world, both in the immediate future and dynasty formats.
By most accounts this year’s draft was lackluster compared to previous drafts in terms of skilled position players. For example, many draft experts believed the two quarterbacks picked at the top of the draft, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, would have been drafted after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, if all four of them had been in the same draft. Last year five of the first 10 picks were devoted to skill position players.
This year only three of the top 10 were. In 2015, 10 skilled position players were drafted in the first round, compared to eight this year. That said, there were certain teams that came away with players that could instantly produce for them. Here is a list of the best and worst.
While Denver lost some pieces on defense this offseason, they are returning with all of their offensive weapons from a year ago. While rookie QBs always struggle their first or second year, Lynch should be viewed as a top dynasty pick in fantasy.
Connor Cook (OAK) Round 4, Pick 100
In a rather surprising move, the Raiders selected Cook in the fourth round. While he will most likely be the backup to Derek Carr, Cook is someone to grab in dynasty formats only. I believe he will be a starter in this league within the next three-to-five years.
Dak Prescott (DAL) Round 4, Pick 135
Once the Rams and Eagles traded up to get the top two QBs in this draft, the Cowboys were not going to take another one with their pick at No. 4 in the first round. Instead of trading down and perhaps selecting Lynch, they were patient and grabbed Prescott.
Prescott most likely will not play this season (even if Tony Romo gets injured), but he could be their QB of the future. Along with Elliott at RB, the Cowboys’ offense could be very dynamic in a few years. Grab him in dynasty formats if you have the chance.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) Round 1, Pick 4
From a team perspective, this pick was questionable. The Cowboys already had Darren McFadden on the roster and signed Alfred Morris in the offseason. They did not need to draft an RB and probably would have been better drafting CB Jalen Ramsey. However from a fantasy perspective, this is amazing. Fantasy owners can already dream of DeMarco Murray in 2014.
That year Murray rushed 392 times for 1,845 yards and 13 TDs. The previous year, he rushed 217 times for 1,121 yards and nine TDs. Behind one of the best offensive lines in football, Elliott has the potential to be the top RB in fantasy in two years.
He is the top pick in dynasty formats. The crowded backfield makes him more of a top-10 to top-15 fantasy RB this year since I think he’ll get closer to 200 carries than the 300 carries Murray received two seasons ago.
Kenyan Drake (MIA) Round 3, Pick 73
This pick is not good news for Jay Ajayi. When Lamar Miller left for the Texans, many wondered if the Dolphins would turn over the reigns to Ajayi, or look to add an RB in the draft. It appears they went the draft route and brought in a sleeper who could have immediate fantasy impact if he wins the starting job.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Drake, he backed up Derrick Henry in Alabama. Many scouts said Drake would have started at any other school but Alabama. Keep an eye out on the Dolphins’ offseason workouts and training camp. If Drake is the No. 1 option for them, draft him as a late sleeper this year.
Kenneth Dixon (BAL) Round 4, Pick 134
The Ravens historically do very well in the draft and this year was no exception. They selected Ronnie Stanley (Round 1, Pick 6) to shore up their offensive line and then selected Dixon in the fourth round, giving Joe Flacco another weapon to work with on offense.
The Ravens lacked depth at WR last season and Dixon provides some much-needed help in that area. He could produce right away for them and should be viewed as a late sleeper this year.
Corey Coleman (CLE) Round 1, Pick 15
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I actually like what the Browns did in the draft. They did not take a QB for a change in the first round and selected Coleman to replace Josh Gordon (assuming he remains suspended). Coleman could instantly become a WR2/flex in fantasy this year if he develops a chemistry with new QB Robert Griffin III.
Will Fuller (HOU) Round 1, Pick 21
While certain teams like the Browns and Vikings needed to find a WR1, others, like the Texans needed to find a WR to take away some of the double-teams from stars like DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans landed two WRs in Fuller and Braxton Miller (Round 3, Pick 85). Fuller could put up the kind of numbers Jordan Matthews had his rookie season (67 receptions, 872 yards and eight touchdowns) while Miller will most likely end up playing special teams.
Laquon Treadwell (MIN) Round 1, Pick 23
The Vikings desperately needed to get Teddy Bridgewater a WR and they did just that in the first round. Treadwell, like Coleman, could contribute right away in fantasy this year.
Tyler Boyd (CIN) Round 2, Pick 55
The Bengals desperately needed to replace Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu who left via free agency in the offseason. Boyd could wind up being the best WR to grab of all of the ones listed here, simply because of the situation he finds himself in and the offense he’s joining in Cincinnati.
While rookie tight ends don’t generally have much impact in fantasy, these three rookie tight ends Hunter Henry (SD) Round 2, Pick 35; Austin Hooper (ATL) Round 3, Pick 81; and Nick Vannett (SEA) Round 3, Pick 94 should be drafted in dynasty formats.
No defense improved more through the draft than the Jaguars. They were able to select CB Jalen Ramsey (Round 1, Pick 5), OLB Myles Jack (Round 2, Pick 36) and DT Sheldon Day (Round 4, Pick 103). There are a lot of new faces in Jacksonville to start the 2016 season, but if they can all come together, the Jaguars could surprise a lot of people of this season.
Jared Goff (LA) Round 1, Pick 1
This rating is more of a representation of where Goff was taken and what it took to get him than a judgment of his potential abilities. The Rams swapped first-round picks in this year’s draft with the Titans to move up to the No. 1 spot, as well as trading two-second round picks (2016), a third-round pick (2016), a first-round pick (2017) and a third-round pick (2017). Goff was considered the most pro-ready QB of all the QBs in this draft but was still considered to be far below where Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck were when they came out of college.
Many felt he wasn’t even as good as Aaron Rodgers, a fellow Cal Bear, who was drafted 24th overall in 2005. The Rams should have learned from their previous history when they received a similar number of picks from the Redskins in exchange for moving up to the No. 2 spot in the 2012 draft.
The Redskins selected Robert Griffin III, and the Rams ended up building the nucleus of their team through the draft. The Rams need more than just a QB to be good, and they just traded away valuable picks and opportunities to build around their new rookie QB.
Carson Wentz (PHI) Round 1, Pick 2
Similarly to Goff, Wentz won’t benefit from the Eagles trading up to get him. The Eagles sent the Browns their first-round pick (2016), a third-round pick (2016), a fourth round pick (2016), a first-round pick (2017), and a second-round pick (2018), in exchange for moving up to the No. 2 spot in this year’s draft.
Those picks could have been used to build and improve their current roster, and they had Sam Bradford already signed for two years. By trading away all these future picks, the Eagles, like the Rams will not be able to build around their rookie QB through the draft for years to come.
Christian Hackenberg (NYJ) Round 2, Pick 51
Simply put, the Jets stretched for Hackenberg. They failed to address their offensive line issues in the second round and rather than wait and be patient like Oakland (Connor Cook), Dallas (Dak Prescott) and Buffalo (Cardale Jones) were, they went out and selected a QB that is not ready to play yet this season. On top of all that, they already had a QB on the roster, Bryce Petty, who they drafted last year that was their project QB.
The Jets are desperately hoping to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, but if they don’t, they will likely miss the playoffs again this season and will have wasted this year’s second round pick on a player that they probably could have gotten later in the draft, or if not, someone very similar to him.
Derrick Henry (TEN) Round 2, Pick 45
The worst thing fantasy owners want to hear are those dreaded words “running back by committee.” From a team perspective, this was another questionable pick because the Titans committed a lot of money to DeMarco Murray in the offseason. Head coach Mike Mularkey clearly wants to turn the Titans into a ground and pound football team, and Henry helps them do that.
Besides drafting their second straight Heisman Trophy winner, the Titans also selected OT Jack Conklin (Round 1, Pick 8) to fortify their offensive line. Not only did this selection prevent Henry from landing in a better fantasy spot, but it also now remains to be seen how many carries each of them will get.
Fantasy owners were hoping that Murray signing with the Titans would allow him to revert to the bell-cow RB he was with the Cowboys a few seasons ago. The Henry selection means that probably won’t happen.
Thomas Rawls (SEA)
After Marshawn Lynch had retired, Rawls owners were hoping he would take over as the feature RB for the Seahawks this season. While that still may be true, Seattle drafted not one, but two RBs in this draft, C.J. Prosise (Round 3, Pick 90) and Alex Collins (Round 5, Pick 171).
Both of these rookies can play, and while their selections do not automatically mean Rawls is losing his job, it would certainly seem like there could be competition for it. It’s a situation worth monitoring in the offseason.
If they wanted some depth at the position, they could have waited until the middle of the draft to get someone. Doctson is a No. 3 WR on this team and it will be a struggle for him to get receptions.