2018 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Analysis (Round 1)

Apr 26, 2018

After months of mock drafts and analysis, the 2018 NFL Draft has finally arrived. So, what does it mean for your favorite team and your fantasy football club? Read below, as this roll up will include our fantasy football expert Mike Tagliere’s (@MikeTagliereNFL) take on each draft pick.

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No. 1 – Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield (QB)

After hearing that Mayfield was likely to be the pick earlier today, some thought it was simply noise. Browns fans, be happy, you just got our No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Mayfield is going to sit behind the recently-acquired Tyrod Taylor to start the season, but don’t be surprised if we see them go to Mayfield sooner rather than later. He may be mobile, but he’s a pass-first quarterback. He may be short, but he can make all the throws. This is a surprise, but it’s a good one if you’re a Browns fan.

No. 2 – New York Giants – Saquon Barkley (RB)

The rumors turned out to be true – the Giants wanted Barkley all along. After hearing GM Dave Gettleman talk about them searching for a Hall of Fame player at this spot, it’s no surprise to see them take Barkley, who just may be the most talented player in the draft. The issue is that the Giants lack what you’d consider a solid offensive line. Expect them to snag an interior lineman with one, if not multiple picks in the remaining rounds. Barkley is going to be an RB1 immediately in fantasy football leagues, but you need to temper expectations with all the playmakers in New York. As of now, he should be considered a mid-to-low-end RB1.

No. 3 – New York Jets – Sam Darnold (QB)

After being rumored as the No. 1 pick in the draft, Darnold “slips” to No. 3. After trading away quite a few draft picks, the Jets may have just landed the quarterback they would’ve taken as the first one off the board. Darnold is considered a “green” quarterback who could use some developing, so falling in with the Jets is the dream scenario where he’ll be able to learn from veteran Josh McCown. The Jets need to rebuild the offensive line around him, but Darnold’s stock shouldn’t take a massive hit going to the Jets instead of the Browns. He’s unlikely to play right away and might not even play at all in 2018.

No. 4 – Cleveland Browns – Denzel Ward (CB)

This is surprising, considering that Bradley Chubb was still on the board. After trading away Jason McCourty to the Patriots, the Browns really needed a top-tier talent at cornerback and Ward fits the bill. He may only be 5-foot-10, but he plays a lot bigger than that and he never leaves you wishing he had more height. Some scouts have compared his game to that of Derrelle Revis, a future Hall of Fame-caliber player. While most saw Ward falling outside the top-five, this isn’t a bad pick at all.

No. 5 – Denver Broncos – Bradley Chubb (DE/OLB)

Once Chubb fell outside the top-four, we would’ve expected a team to try and trade up for Chubb. After hearing that the Broncos asking price was through-the-roof, it makes sense. Chubb playing opposite Von Miller is going to be a nasty pass-rush to stop in the AFC West. Chubb was widely-considered the top defensive prospect in this class, though it’s surprising to see the Broncos pass on a quarterback.

No. 6 – Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson (OG)

Knowing that the Colts top priority will be to protect Andrew Luck, this pick should make plenty of sense, especially when you consider that both Denzel Ward and Bradley Chubb went before their pick. Nelson will come in and immediately make an impact in the run-game, which struggled for years with Frank Gore peddling along just 3.8 yards per carry the last three years. Don’t expect this to be the only addition to the offense, though, as the Colts are likely to add a running back and/or wide receiver with one of their three second-round picks.

No. 7 – Buffalo Bills (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Josh Allen (QB)

After being someone who was touted as the No. 1 pick for months, Allen slid down draft boards. Still, for someone with the accuracy concerns that he has, it’s respectable to go at No. 7 in the draft. He’s got a massive arm, though the Bills wide receiver corps is far from completed at this time and don’t have a downfield receiver that compliments him well. The potential is there with his arm strength, but accuracy is something that not many people can improve later in life. This is a ceiling-pick by the Bills and we’d expect it to be an open competition between him and A.J. McCarron in training camp.

No. 8 – Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith (LB)

The chips fell as the Bears thought they would, as they were left to decide on which linebacker to take between Smith and Tremaine Edmunds. Smith doesn’t have the size of Edmunds, but he’s got the best instincts in the draft at the linebacker position and his size doesn’t prevent him from being one of the better tacklers at the position. The Bears had holes at both inside linebacker and outside linebacker, so Smith makes sense considering he can play both positions. He’ll come in and make a difference in Vic Fangio’s defense immediately.

No. 9 – San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey (OT)

This is somewhat shocking considering how thin the 49ers are at linebacker, though it’s not a bad pick. McGlinchey might be every bit as talented as his teammate Quenton Nelson, and he just happens to play a more important position. He will start at right tackle with Joe Staley being the statue at left tackle. After acquiring Weston Richburg in free agency, the 49ers offensive line is looking to be an above-average unit. This does nothing but help the run-game and Jimmy Garoppolo in fantasy football.

No. 10 – Arizona Cardinals (via Oakland Raiders) – Josh Rosen (QB)

Some were shocked to see Rosen fall as far as he did, though he never appeared to be in the No. 1 overall conversation while the other “big three” were, so it’s not all that shocking. Rosen is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft, but the Cardinals just paid Sam Bradford a lot of guaranteed money to be the starter for them in 2018. Still, we’d expect Rosen to take over sooner rather than later, whether that be due to performance or injury with the brittle Bradford. Playing behind the Cardinals offensive line won’t do him any favors, but he’s now there for the long haul. This is good news for the Cardinals pass-catchers, though we don’t know who will be starting alongside Larry Fitzgerald in 2018.

No. 11 – Miami Dolphins – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S)

This is the best pick the Dolphins could have made, as they simply need playmakers and/or long-time NFL starters. While some have said Fitzpatrick may never be “elite,” he’s already extremely good and will start opposite Reshad Jones as the free safety. This pick also gives them versatility, as Fitzpatrick can play cornerback if necessary. The rebuilding process can be a long one, but not when you start adding players like Fitzpatrick who is pro-ready.

No. 12 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Buffalo Bills) – Vita Vea (DT)

It was shocking to see the Bucs pass on Derwin James with this pick, but it’s hard to fault the pick of Vea, who appears to be Haloti Ngata reincarnated. He’s going to create a cog in the middle of the field alongside Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vinny Curry. After struggling to get pressure on quarterbacks last year, they shouldn’t struggle anymore. The Bucs have spent a lot of equity on their offense in previous drafts, so it’s good to see them take care of their defense with a high pick. Vea is one of the players who everyone would love to have on their team.

No. 13 – Washington Redskins – Da’Ron Payne (DT)

Considering Vita Vea went off the board immediately before their pick, the Redskins took the last of the dominant defensive tackles. Playing in a division with the Cowboys and the Eagles, they are going to need to generate pressure up the middle. While some will discount Payne’s ability because he played in Alabama’s defense, but we’d argue that he made everyone around him better. He’s going to start from Week 1 and will be alongside his former teammate Jonathan Allen. While the Redskins need cornerback help, Payne will help mask that quite a bit.

No. 14 – New Orleans Saints (via Green Bay Packers) – Marcus Davenport (DE)

After trading up to No. 14, most expected the Saints to go after a quarterback. That never made much sense mortgaging their future when they have a clear two-year window to win with Drew Brees right now. Remember, the Saints do not have a second-round pick in this year’s draft, so they were already shorthanded. By taking Davenport, the Saints are saying they are “all-in” in 2018. He’s a reckless pass-rusher and one who I’d describe as “violent,” in a good way. Saints fans will come to love this pick very soon.

No. 15 – Oakland Raiders (via Arizona Cardinals) – Kolton Miller (OT)

This is one of the biggest shocks of the draft so far, as most didn’t see Miller going inside the top-20 picks, let alone in front of Connor Williams. The Raiders have a hole at right tackle, but Miller was always projected to play left tackle in the NFL. This could be a move of the future as Donald Penn isn’t getting any younger. Whatever the case, Miller feels like a reach at this point in the draft. Maybe the Raiders should’ve moved back with the Bills, who just moved up in the draft right behind them.

No. 16 – Buffalo Bills (via Baltimore Ravens) – Tremaine Edmunds (LB)

Most weren’t expecting Edmunds to fall outside of the top-10, so the Bills trade up to get a perceived “steal” in the draft. Truth be told, this is the area of the draft where someone like Edmunds should go, as he’s not quite ready to be an every-down player. He’s just 19 years old and is oozing with athleticism, so the Bills continue to go with the high-ceiling pick mentality in this draft.

No. 17 – Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James (S)

This is likely the steal of the draft to this point, as some wondered if James would go inside the top-five. He’s someone who is likely best suited to be a strong safety, though some think he’ll be able to play both safety positions. The Chargers already have Jahleel Addae at strong safety, so they’re likely to start James at free safety. Surrounded by playmakers, James should have no issues adapting. Landing on the defense that allowed the fewest points per game in 2017, the Chargers defense just got better and should be considered one of the better fantasy defenses as a unit in 2018.

No. 18 – Green Bay Packers (via Seattle Seahawks) – Jaire Alexander (CB)

Now in a division with Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, and Mitch Trubisky, the Packers feel the need to boast their secondary. Alexander isn’t your prototypical “big” cornerback, but he plays with a certain edge that you love to see out of cornerbacks. He’ll be asked to start opposite last year’s early-round draft pick Kevin King. This was solid work by the Packers front office to walk away with a first-round pick in next year’s draft while snagging a top-three cornerback in the draft.

No. 19 – Dallas Cowboys – Leighton Vander Esch (LB)

This is somewhat surprising considering there’s still yet to be a wide receiver taken in the draft, leaving the Cowboys with their pick of the litter. Whatever the case, Vander Esch is going to walk into a defense that already has Sean Lee in place, so he may be asked to start in place of Anthony Hitchens, who the Cowboys lost in free agency. It’s clear that the Cowboys understand their defense was a problem in 2017, and some have compared Vander Esch to Brian Urlacher, though we are not one of them. This is the area he was expected to go, so it should be considered a solid overall pick.

No. 20 – Detroit Lions – Frank Ragnow (C)

It was shocking to see the Lions pass on Harold Landry, who continues to fall down the board, but Lions fans should learn to love this pick. Ragnow was our No. 1 center in the draft and the Lions haven’t been able to run the ball in years. Under Matt Patricia, they are attempting to change that. He’ll move Travis Swanson out of the starting lineup and will be an immediate upgrade for both the run-game and the pass-game.

No. 21 – Cincinnati Bengals – Billy Price (C)

It’s shocking to see the Bengals pass on Connor Williams who plays a more important position, but at least the Bengals realize they need to upgrade the offensive line. After trading for Cordy Glenn this offseason and now drafting Price, they should have a bit more freedom in their play-calling. It wouldn’t shock us to see them continue to add to the offensive line throughout the draft. Price did tear his pectoral muscle at the NFL Combine, but after a successful surgery, he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp. At the very least, this pick should help boost Joe Mixon’s value in fantasy drafts.

No. 22 – Tennessee Titans (via Baltimore Ravens) – Rashaan Evans (LB)

This is a pick that we had mocked to the Titans countless times, though we didn’t think they’d have to trade up for it. It’s clear the Titans were concerned about the Patriots who were sitting there at pick No. 23. Evans comes from Alabama, where most players are considered pro-ready, though there were a lot of playmakers surrounding Evans while there. Still, he’s going to fill a void left by Avery Williamson in free agency at inside linebacker for them. This was clearly a pick based on team need, and that’s something that the Titans don’t have much of.

No. 23 – New England Patriots – Isaiah Wynn (OG)

So much for the Patriots interest in Lamar Jackson, eh? This pick is a little puzzling, though, as Wynn projects to play the guard position in the NFL after playing left tackle at Georgia. At just 6-foot-2, it’s going to be extremely tough to sell him as Nate Solder’s replacement at left tackle. Wynn should be a phenomenal guard in the NFL, but it appears the Patriots will ask him to stay on the outside. It’s going to be tough to grade this pick until we know the Patriots’ full plan.

No. 24 – Carolina Panthers – D.J. Moore (WR)

After what was a meteoric rise during the pre-draft process, Moore is the first wide receiver taken off the board. Some have touted him as a No. 1 wide receiver on a team, though we have some concerns with him being “the guy.” From a fantasy standpoint, he landed in an ideal spot, as Devin Funchess was never meant to see 120-plus targets. He’s going to walk into the possession receiver role for the Panthers, which should net him 6-8 targets per game, or 95-120 targets on the season. That should be more than enough to get him into the WR4 conversation, though with Cam Newton as his quarterback, expect some inconsistencies in his numbers.

No. 25 – Baltimore Ravens (via Tennessee Titans) – Hayden Hurst (TE)

After trading back twice, it seemed all but certain that the Ravens would be taking a wide receiver here, though tight end was one of their biggest needs coming in. Hurst is the most pro-ready tight end in the draft and will walk in as the starter immediately. After signing Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead, the Ravens have surrounded Joe Flacco with some solid options. It’s clear that this is make-or-break time for Flacco. While some have wondered about Hurst’s age (he’ll be 25 when the season starts), most tight ends aren’t a movable chess piece or athletic as he is. Knowing how often Flacco targets tight ends, Hurst could have top-10 upside in his rookie season, though you’ll be best-suited if he’s the No. 2 tight end on your team with some upside.

No. 26 – Atlanta Falcons – Calvin Ridley (WR)

Welcome to what is likely a top-five wide receiver duo in the league. After losing Taylor Gabriel in free agency, the Falcons and Matt Ryan gain an even better weapon in Ridley. Playing opposite Julio Jones will have its benefits and Ridley is the most pro-ready wide receiver in the draft. While seeing single-man coverage, Ridley should be able to burn No. 2 cornerbacks all day. The only thing we need to figure out now is the nickname for the two Alabama wide receivers playing alongside each other. Ridley is going to be a boom/bust fantasy option in his rookie year.

No. 27 – Seattle Seahawks (via Green Bay Packers) – Rashaad Penny (RB)

This is shocking. It’s tough to completely hate a draft pick who you like as a prospect, but this is that situation. The Seahawks do not have the offensive line to support a strong run-game, and on top of that, they have a ton of holes on the defensive side of the ball. Penny is most definitely a workhorse, and one that we liked as a prospect, but this is a head-scratcher, as he’s also not quite ready as a pass-blocker. But hey, at least the Seahawks acquired another two draft picks to move back, right? Penny will be deserving of a fantasy pick because of the volume he’ll receive, but this was not a good draft pick from a franchise standpoint with so much talent left on the board.

No. 28 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Terrell Edmunds (S)

We all knew the Steelers were going to be looking for a safety, though Edmunds is a questionable pick as someone who was expected to be taken late in Day 2 or early Day 3. He’s an incredible athlete, just like his brother, but isn’t a great tackler in the open-field. It’s really odd that the Steelers had the chance to take Mason Rudolph and passed, as he seemed like the ideal replacement for Ben Roethlisberger when he retires.

No. 29 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Taven Bryan (DT)

It was a shocking pick with Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson still on the board, as they seemed like low-risk Blake Bortles insurance policies. Between Marcel Dareus, Malik Jackson, and Abry Jones, the Jaguars didn’t really need a defensive tackle, though it never hurts to have depth at the position. They continue to add to their dominant defense which is the latest version of the 2000’s Ravens.

No. 30 – Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes (CB)

It was clear that the Vikings wanted to land a cornerback by the end of Day 2, so to see them land Mike Hughes is solid. He’s widely considered as the No. 2 cornerback in this class and someone who should be able to walk in and start Week 1. It seems as if Mackenzie Alexander is a mediocre talent and knowing they needed to replace Terence Newman, the Vikings boost their talent opposite Xavier Rhodes. Similar to the Packers, the Vikings realize that they play in a QB-heavy division and can use some more firepower to combat some big-name wide receivers. With offensive lineman coming off the board fast and furious, the Vikings zigged while everyone else zagged.

No. 31 – New England Patriots – Sony Michel (RB)

Whew. If you’re looking for the best landing spot among the running backs selected in the first-round, look no further than Michel. He’s walking onto what is likely a top-five scoring offense without a true No. 1 wide receiver. Michel is a true three-down back who can pass-block with the best of them, so expect him to be heavily utilized in the old Dion Lewis role. You don’t take a running back in the first-round if you don’t plan on giving him a lot of work, so as of right now, we’d confidently approach Michel as a low-end RB2 in fantasy drafts.

No. 32 – Baltimore Ravens (via Philadelphia Eagles) – Lamar Jackson (QB)

And there it is. Everyone was expecting teams to trade-up for Jackson, but he fell to the point where the Ravens traded up to snag their insurance policy to Joe Flacco. It had been rumored that the Ravens were looking into quarterbacks a bit more than expected, so to see them take one shouldn’t be shocking. He’s not going to walk into the starting job any time soon, but the Ravens clearly have a plan for the future of their offense, signing Robert Griffin in free agency and drafting Jackson. He’s unlikely to make any starts in 2018 without an injury to Flacco.

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