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NFL Draft 2017 First Round Fantasy Football Analysis

Brandon Murchison Staff Writer April 28, 2017 12:03PM EDT

 NFL DRAFT 2017 FIRST ROUND Fantasy Football ANALYSIS

  1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE Texas A&M– Garrett will come in and be an immediate upgrade for this defense, but the Browns will remain one of the league’s worst units.
  1. Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky, QB North Carolina- In a shocking move, the Bears selected Trubisky. He has 13 collegiate starts but shows some potential to play in this league. Arm strength is a plus, adequate size, but accuracy and ability to read pro defenses will be a problem early on. As he joins the Bears, he is not expected to be the starter right away, as he sits behind Mike Glennon, so his re-draft league value will be zero. His only value for 2017 will come in dynasty drafts.
  1. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford- This is a no-brainer pick for a team in need of defensive help. Thomas helps this pass rush long-term, but the Niners’ defense has no Fantasy value.
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB LSU- The Jaguars’ selection of Fournette is a huge improvement for this offense. His running style will find success in the NFL and immediately help out the passing game behind Bortles. If the offensive line becomes more consistent, don’t be shocked to see Fournette push to finish as a fringe RB1 in Fantasy for 2017. I doubt you will see him provide much help in the passing game, which hurts his PPR value. Expect for him to finish anywhere from 13-15 on the RB board in standard leagues. He could be selected in the third round during drafts.

  1. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan- Although the selection of Davis could be considered a reach, the Titans add to their receiving corps. Davis is the top WR in the draft for me as he combines size and strength in a prototype body at the position. He can get off the line against press coverage, and his route running is exceptional. However, selection by the Titans could present a problem for Davis, as he is now on a team that is still growing in the passing game. To me, it seems that Davis and Rishard Matthews could vulture each other for targets, as they have very similar skill sets. Davis will definitely take away some of the TDs that Matthews racked up and could potentially finish as a WR3 in his rookie season. Davis will likely be taken in most drafts in the low-end WR4 range.
  1. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S LSU- Adams is a special talent at safety, and will start immediately for the Jets. This pick gives the Jets defense a bump in rankings, but Gang Green will largely go undrafted.
  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR Clemson- Williams joins the Chargers and should slot into the WR2 role right away in this offense. Keenan Allen will continue to be the top target, but with the health concerns, Williams is one injury away from being a big-time name in Fantasy as a rookie. Philip Rivers will shoot up draft boards with this selection, but this receiving group could become very crowded in the stat column. Williams has all the potential for a 1,000 yard, eight TD rookie campaign and should be drafted as a solid WR3.
  1. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford- In a much-speculated selection, McCaffrey heads to Carolina to try and improve the Panthers’ running game. To begin the season, expect to see him split time on the field with Jonathan Stewart in the running game, but his value will come in the passing game. He will make a big impact in PPR leagues in a Danny Woodhead type of way. His patience in the running game is special, and the Panthers should look to get him the ball in space and allow his athleticism to take over. We could see an 800-yard rushing, 800-yard receiving type of rookie season from him with multiple trips to the end zone. In drafts, look for him to be selected in the fourth round, and he could finish the season as a fringe RB2.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR Washington- The combine speedster is now a Bengal and will complement A.J. Green in the passing attack. Ross can get down the field in a hurry, but the knock on him will be his health. Running with his type of speed leads to plenty of soft-tissue injuries like hamstring pulls. He will be a question mark all season long, but if healthy, the Bengals have a Tyreek Hill type of player. Ross will not wow you with targets and catches in his rookie season, and he will be hard to project in weekly Fantasy lineups. Ross will be a big name in DFS as a longshot play week to week. I’ll likely stay away in drafts, as I see him as no higher than a WR4 in 2017.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB Texas Tech- Kansas City fell in love with Mahomes in the draft process, but will he start ahead of Alex Smith right away? Not a chance. He has a chance to sit back and learn from a coach who worked with Brett Favre, but in Fantasy this selection provides little to no excitement. He has long-term potential but will go undrafted in season-long leagues. Mahomes’ only value in 2017 will be in dynasty formats.
  1. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State- The top cornerback in this draft, Lattimore will start right away on a defense in dire need of stops in the passing game. The pick does not help the production of the defense in Fantasy, though.
  1. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson- The Texans selected the quarterback that many believe they badly need. Watson was great in college, playing in a spread formation offense; but can he quickly learn how to go under center? Watson has above average arm strength and shows poise in the pocket but tends to lock onto his first read, which will present a problem in the NFL. He should beat out Tom Savage in training camp and will have weapons to exploit in this offense. Expect the Texans to bring him along slowly and lean more on Lamar Miller early. I can see Watson being a sleeper pick with run-pass potential much like Dak Prescott. Look for Watson in the later rounds of drafts for seasonal leagues as a QB2, but his value will be high in dynasty drafts for 2017.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, LB Temple- Reddick is a relentless player with a high motor who will improve an already good Cardinals defense, which will definitely be a high-end Fantasy unit.
  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee- Barnett is an exceptional all-around edge player who can get after the quarterback and play the run. There are still too many holes to fill on this defense to make them a starting unit in Fantasy.
  1. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S Ohio State- Hooker is ball-hawking safety who is not afraid to tackle an opposing player. He’s a definite upgrade for a very poor defense.
  1. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama- Humphrey has great coverage skills that will fit in with the Ravens’ scheme. He still needs work on eyeing the ball. The Ravens defense gets an upgrade that could make them a matchup-type play for Fantasy owners.
  1. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DE Alabama- Allen is an amazing pass rusher who gets off the ball quickly. He’ll wreak havoc on QBs in his rookie year. The Redskins defense has sleeper potential for 2017.
  1. Tennessee Titans: Adoree' Jackson, CB USC- Jackson comes in and will start right away for the Titans. Plays the ball well, but may get outplayed by more physical receivers at the NFL level. Still, the Titans need more help on this defense to make a dent in Fantasy circles.
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: J. Howard, TE- Howard will help Winston and the passing game. He is hard to defend in the middle of the field against linebackers and will overpower defensive backs. Look for the Bucs to use a lot of two tight end sets with Brate. With Brate being in a contract year, expect Howard to overtake him in the offense as the year progresses and be a good streaming TE. He has the potential to finish 2017 as a fringe TE1 if used as a red zone threat.
  1. Denver Broncos: Garrett Bolles, OT Utah- This was a very predictable pick for the Broncos who will look to employ a very ground heavy attack behind C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. This move only improves their offensive line more, and should tilt the ADP value of both backs a round or so in drafts. Look for Anderson in the third round because if he stays healthy, he will become a solid RB1 in 2017.
  1. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB Florida- Davis will start for the Lions right away. I think he makes too many mistakes on the field, but he fits a need for the team. The Lions are probably not a Fantasy starting unit.
  1. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE Missouri- Harris likely only plays on passing down situations, as he’s not very skilled in the run game. He won’t provide much impact on a defense that needs help elsewhere. The Dolphins D will be a matchup play only in Fantasy.
  1. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE Ole Miss- Engram is wide receiver in a tight-end’s body. He gets down the seam, can high point a ball and has great hands. Eli Manning loves to utilize this position and Engram has all the potential to score eight TDs in his rookie season. That potential alone makes him a sleeper pick if you wait on TE in the draft; he could be a great late grab.
  1. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB Ohio State- With the news that came out on Conley, he fell way down the draft board. If he gets out of his trouble, this is a steal for the Raiders this late in the round. He fills a need for this team in a division that likes to throw the ball. In 2016, the Raiders were a sleeper defense, and could be the same in 2017.
  1. Cleveland Browns: Jabrill Peppers, S Michigan- Peppers has great long-term potential as an Eric Weddle type of player. No change in value for this Browns’ defense for Fantasy this year, but they have pieces to build on going forward.

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, LB UCLA- McKinley brings excellent pass rushing ability to a defense that can already get after the quarterback; watch out. The Falcons defense is worthy of weekly starting status in Fantasy.
  1. Buffalo Bills: Tre’Davious White, CB LSU- White shows great coverage skills, and can get after the ball. He will get tested quite a bit playing in the AFC East. The Bills’ defense could be a fringe starting unit in Fantasy, but will ultimately be a streaming option for me.
  1. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DE Michigan- Charlton plays relentlessly, but doesn’t get off the ball quickly and can be overpowered by above average offensive lineman. The Cowboys have major needs in the secondary to improve this defense, and this pick does not solve that problem. It could be a long year for the Cowboys’ defense.
  1. Cleveland Browns: David Njoku, TE Miami- Njoku is a very gifted TE who plays well in both run-blocking and in the passing game. He can be a tough matchup for opposing defenses with his size and route-running ability. The only problem for his potential is the landing spot. The Browns’ passing attack could struggle mightily with either Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler under center. Expect around 500 yards and four TDs for Njoku in his rookie season. That makes him a high-end TE2 by season’s end, but he will be tough to project which weeks he’ll be worth a play in Fantasy lineups.
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: J. Watt, LB Wisconsin- Watt is a worker, much like his older brother J.J. in that he never stops while on the field. He fits the Steelers’ scheme well, and although he’s not an outstanding pass rusher, he follows a ball carrier in the running game better than most. He won’t improve this defense from a Fantasy standpoint, making them a matchup play in my eyes.
  1. San Francisco 49ers: Reuben Foster, LB Alabama- Foster is a big-time linebacker who should have a good career in the NFL. His legal issues allowed him to plummet down the draft board, making this pick a risk/reward. The Niners’ defense is still light years away from being Fantasy relevant.
  1. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Ramczyk, OT Wisconsin- What better way to make your new acquisition of Adrian Peterson happy than by drafting OT Ramczyk. He is a big, strong lineman who should be able to open up holes in the running game while also protecting Drew Brees. This pick bodes well for an already great Saints offense, but gives a bigger bump in value to Peterson and Ingram in the running game.

 

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