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14 NFL Draft Winners and Losers (Fantasy Football)

May 3, 2021

The fantasy landscape was heavily shaken up recently thanks to the NFL Draft. Typically, fantasy managers want every team to only focus on their needs and leave their stronger positions alone, especially when it comes to skill positions. This is not a realistic desire though, since it usually doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes, teams will even neglect skill positions of need in the draft for reasons unknown.

The unpredictable results of the draft can nuke the value of players who many would’ve tried to acquire beforehand, while other skill guys that fantasy managers expected to lose value somehow escape unscathed. After having a little time to digest the three-day affair and contemplate how it impacts our beloved game, our featured experts are here to share who they believe were the biggest winners and losers from this year’s draft.

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Q1. Who is one rookie whose stock is on the rise the most by virtue of the situation he walks into (team/depth/etc) and why? Also, how early should he go in a rookie draft?

Michael Carter (RB – NYJ) 
“I think most thought that Carter would be a timeshare back and be taken in the late-second round in rookie drafts, but once the Jets selected him at the top of the fourth round, the tune changed. Looking at the depth chart under Mike LaFleur, you have Tevin Coleman (a career backup who’s failed with starting opportunities), La’Mical Perine (last year’s fourth-round pick who didn’t impress), and Ty Johnson. It’s likely that Carter’s the team’s best back and nets at least 12 touches per game right out of the gate. He should be considered a late-first-rounder in rookie drafts.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Trey Sermon (RB – SF) 
“Sermon absolutely has to be the answer here, right? He was someone whose stock could drastically differ coming out of the NFL Draft. He had the potential to fall into a fantastic landing spot for fantasy football or he could end up as a depth piece on an NFL roster. He lands in San Francisco now — after a trade-up — and he should see a significant workload in this offense that’s about to go nuclear with Trey Lance at QB. Sermon saw his stock dramatically increase and he’s now in the conversation for a back-end first-round dynasty rookie pick.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Najee Harris (RB – PIT) 
“There has been a lot of banter about which rookie running back will be best over the long term, with some in the NFL (and fantasy) believing Javonte Williams sat atop the list. But following the NFL Draft, it’s Najee Harris who will now be selected first in nearly every draft. The combination of his NFL skill set and situation over the apparent role-share of both Travis Etienne and Javonte Williams has clearly solidified his fantasy stock.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Amari Rodgers (WR – GB) 
“Rodgers was my biggest winner from the draft. I had him as a late-second/early-third-round rookie pick pre-draft, but with his landing spot in Green Bay, he made the biggest jump of any player. With Davante Adams on the outside and Aaron Rodgers under center, assuming he doesn’t get traded or retire, Amari Rodgers is now a mid-to-late first-rounder and my WR4 behind Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith.”
– Geoff Lambert (Going For 2)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET) 
“I don’t like to change a player’s rankings much based on situation, but I loved St. Brown quite a bit going into the draft, and landing in Detroit is an amazing situation for him. Right off of the rip, he will likely be one of the highest-targeted rookies and even have an outside shot to lead all rookies in that category. In rookie drafts, I’d be looking at early-to-mid second-round draft capital in Superflex formats.”
– Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds)

Q2. Last season, James Robinson offered great value despite flying under the radar and being virtually undrafted in all leagues. Who is one rookie that has the best shot to be a surprise stud this season and why?

Javian Hawkins (RB – ATL) 
“I’ll take the low-hanging fruit and say the most interesting undrafted rookie has to be Javian Hawkins for the Atlanta Falcons. Everyone expected the Falcons to draft a running back, but round-after-round and pick-after-pick, they passed on the position. Hawkins was added to their roster almost immediately after the draft, meaning they had likely considered drafting him and wasted no time scooping him up. With only Mike Davis in front of him, Hawkins has the clearest path to fantasy relevance of all the undrafted rookies, and he will likely have a role in this offense despite Davis ending up as the lead back.”
– Geoff Lambert (Going For 2)

Cornell Powell (WR – KC) 
“This question won’t be answered until we get closer to the season. Why? It took a Leonard Fournette trade and multiple injuries for Robinson to get the opportunity that he did in 2020. So, if we’re forced to predict that now, I’d avoid any running backs. The player who could get much more opportunity than most realize is Cornell Powell, the receiver the Chiefs drafted in the fifth round. Behind Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs’ wide receiver depth chart is wide open, and nothing highlights that better than seeing Demarcus Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman all finish with 55-62 targets in 2020. There’s a path to immediate opportunity.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Jonathan Adams Jr. (WR – DET) 
“It’s not at the RB position, but keep an eye on Jonathan Adams Jr. out of Arkansas State. He signed as a UDFA in Detroit and this depth chart is lacking talent. While guys like Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman will certainly get the opportunity first, they’re both not exactly the most reliable from an injury perspective. Adams has the size to win on the outside and he could work his way into a starting role sooner than later. He’s not worth looking at in redraft leagues right now, but he’s worth stashing in dynasty leagues.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Austin Watkins (WR – SF) 
“I think Watkins is an amazing value after going undrafted. I had him just inside my top 10 with his tape grade and I believe that he is as good as, if not better than, most of the receivers taken on Day 3. We also know that the 49ers have utilized many UDFAs in the past so the precedent is there. Lastly, the 49ers lack depth at the receiver position and Deebo Samuel hasn’t really been the picture of health.”
– Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds)

Chris Evans (RB – CIN) 
“The Jacksonville situation of 2020 was unique and will be difficult to repeat here in 2021 without injury playing a role. Don’t lose sight of running back Chris Evans in Cincinnati. While not a high-volume producer in his time at Michigan, that shouldn’t be held against him as the Wolverines have been largely lackluster across all skill positions in recent years. He’s pro-ready, possesses plus-level speed/agility, has the requisite size, and is very capable should Joe Mixon fall to injury yet again.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Q3. What veteran player walks away as the biggest winner based on the new addition(s) to his team and how does it affect how you value him this season?

Mike Davis (RB – ATL) 
“This one is pretty easily Davis, as the Falcons have no other competent ball-carrier on the roster. Many (myself included) thought they’d draft a running back on Day 2 of the draft, but they didn’t draft one at all. While Javian Hawkins was a solid signing as an undrafted free agent, he’s more of a complementary back. On top of that, the Falcons beefed up their offensive line when they selected Jalen Mayfield in the third round, a right tackle I had a late-first-round grade on. Davis should offer stable RB2 value in Arthur Smith’s offense.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“While not due to new additions, Falcons running back Mike Davis is a big winner following the draft. The recently-turned 28-year-old was given a huge vote of confidence when the team failed to address the position high in the draft, securing Davis’ role as the bell-cow in the offense with only Cordarrelle Patterson of note behind him. While not a long-term asset in fantasy, Davis is more than capable for a year or two and should be a solid RB2-potential back in 2021.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Salvon Ahmed (RB – MIA) 
“While people will mention Mike Davis and Myles Gaskin — which is certainly valid — another key winner from the results of the NFL Draft is Salvon Ahmed. Ahmed and Gaskin were never truly healthy at the same time last season, so it’s hard to know exactly how Miami plans to utilize them in 2021, but Ahmed performed very well in his opportunity last season. With all the additions on this roster to make this Miami offense better, Ahmed could win this job outright in training camp and be poised for a big year. Just keep an eye on the news for him heading into training camp. He’s a sneaky buy in dynasty leagues right now.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA) 
“Gaskin is the clear veteran winner, but not because of who his team added, but rather what his team did NOT add high in the draft – another running back. They eventually took a running back in the seventh round, but there is no guarantee he even makes the team. I was convinced the Dolphins would be looking to replace Gaskins this offseason and I was dead wrong. He will be a great ‘Zero RB’ selection because no one in the fantasy community can buy in to him as a starting running back.”
– Geoff Lambert (Going For 2)

Bryan Edwards (WR – LV) 
“I think Edwards is a big winner in this draft. However, this is based more on what they didn’t do versus what they did do. They beefed up their offensive line which was helpful, but they didn’t add a single pass catcher in the 2021 draft. He is expected to immediately step into that X receiver role and be the main target in this offense. To spice things up even more, now there are rumors that Aaron Rodgers could be coming to town. All signs point up for Edwards.”
– Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds)

Thank you to the experts for naming their NFL Draft winners and losers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.

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