You can find all 60-plus skill position rookie breakdowns here for the deeper analysis on each pick.
2018 NFL Draft First Round
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB – After all the buzz, the best talent (as of today) for quarterbacks goes first despite “being short.” Well, 80 percent of passing plays come from the shotgun these days, and Mayfield rates near or at the top in every metric, PFF or otherwise. Tyrod Taylor is the quarterback Week 1… for now, but Mayfield is the future and a great talent. He’s the Odell Beckham of quarterbacks – all the skills, questions only for size. With Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and the rest, Mayfield could be a QB1 as early as next year. Heck, if he ends up starting at any point this season, Mayfield can put up mid-QB2 production.
I couldn’t do it, sorry. Okay, #FantasyFootball wise… Barkley is a once-in-a-decade talent, and he’s my No. 7 running back no matter what team he’s on, even the Giants and questionable offensive line. Just read up on how amazing he is, and remember all of the people that said Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette weren’t worthy of a first-round pick… and Barkley is more talented than both. In the end, 1,400-1,500 total yards and around 10 touchdowns is well within reach.
New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB – The Jets had the draft fall right into their lap with Darnold still there thanks to surprises at No. 1 and 2. Good for them. Darnold should be the starter immediately in my opinion – no need to waste time. Unfortunately, they don’t have a real No. 1 receiver and questionable options for their No. 2. Darnold also has the aforementioned turnover issues. He’s a mid-level QB2. Bright future and high ceiling, but in Fantasy, don’t get too excited yet.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB – And there goes the most overrated quarterback. As I’ve said, and will do so again, people talk about tight windows… well, Allen can fit it into a peephole but can’t hit the door.
Sorry Bills fans. Allen should be the starter from day one, but expect poor numbers, especially since the Bills are severely lacking in receiver talent, and good luck Zay Jones given your volume reception need. Allen isn’t Fantasy relevant this year, and Kelvin Benjamin isn’t starter worthy. Here’s hoping Benjamin can connect for 7-8 touchdowns and salvage some value.
Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB – Rosen arguably has the best passing skills in the draft. We know Sam Bradford is easy money to hit the IR at some point, and then Rosen takes over and never looks back. Pairing him with David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald puts Rosen in a great spot with mid-to-high QB2 potential once he’s under center. The clock is ticking until that happens given Darnold’s history (now watch him play 16 games).
— TRADE: Martavis Bryant, WR to the Raiders – Bryant slides into the No. 3 role for the Raiders behind Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson. Bryant is a deep threat, sure, but he never built off his rookie campaign the way people hoped. Plus, he goes from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr, and that’s a drop in quarterback production. He’s a Fantasy bench receiver with upside and prayers that the Raiders can maximize his talent, but the real news here is that JuJu Smith-Schuster is again locked into WR2 value for 2018.
Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR – Similar to Michael Thomas, Moore to the Panthers is the perfect landing spot and mix of need and talent. Moore has the athleticism, the speed, the danger after the catch. He needs refinement but Moore has immediate WR4 potential behind Devin Funchess and in front of Torrey Smith.
Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE – Hurst has peaked, after all, the kid… no, man… will be 25 at the start of the season. He doesn’t have the receiving upside of Mike Gesicki or Dallas Goedert. Fantasy owners will go overboard with the “Ravens tight end” and hope of Joe Flacco targeting him heavily. Don’t get caught up in that. He’s a TE2, as Hurst is more of a Dwayne Allen type in Fantasy. Sure, he could flirt with TE1 value in PPR, but I can see him being overdrafted.
Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR – Ridley’s slide ends with a terrific landing spot. Ridley has his flaws similar to Amari Cooper, but playing alongside Julio Jones will help him immensely, as with seeing passes from Matt Ryan and soft coverage given the offense. Ridley is a threat to near WR3 value if he doesn’t miss any steps along the way and passes by Mohamed Sanu before Week 1.
He’s better in the passing game than the numbers will show, similar to Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette at LSU. He has the potential to be this year’s Kareem Hunt and RB2 potential, despite the Seahawks’ offensive line issues.
New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB – Michel is a great talent with three-down ability and the body to match. There is a bit of a “knee-on-knee” concern, but obviously the Patriots aren’t worried if they are taking him in the first round. Don’t make the same mistake people make every year and overdraft a Patriots running back. It’s a backfield of Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee. Even if the Pats cut Gillislee, they have too many weapons, as the Patriots always do at running back. Michel has RB2 talent and should be in the RB3 discussion. If the Patriots drop down to 2-3 running backs, Michel could be a RB2 and more if he’s the goal line choice, but remember… it’s the Patriots.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB – As said, Jackson is a better passing version of Michael Vick, and as soon as the Ravens signed Robert Griffin, I knew this was coming – learn from his mistakes. Jackson is taking over by next season, and if Joe Flacco plays like he did last year and/or the Ravens start 1-4 or 2-5, Jackson could find his way onto the field this year. Once he does, we’re talking QB1 Fantasy production, as while Jackson needs to read the field better, the legs are going to boost his value tremendously.
2018 NFL Draft Second and Third Rounds
Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb, RB – If not for injury, Chubb would have been in the conversation with Barkley, and it’s impressive he’s even where he is now. Chubb is great after contact and even though he needs some passing game work, Chubb can be a team’s first/second down (lead) option. He’ll create stiff competition for Carlos Hyde and based on talent, should win out. If so, Chubb would be a nice RB3/Flex with high-end RB2 potential, and only not more because Hyde could still see a handful of touches each week with Duke Johnson making up for the passing game deficiencies.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones, RB – Similar to Dalvin Cook last year, don’t get hung up on the combine, as Jones wasn’t 100 percent. Jones is very explosive with good patience and the ability to develop in the passing game. He could slide into a Lamar Miller-like role, and he the answer and top option for the Bucs, making him a RB2.
Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton, WR – The Broncos go value over immediate need, but they do have an answer for when Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders is done in Denver. Both have team outs after the 2018 season, and Sutton have enviable size to be a red zone threat at the least. Landing with the Broncos lets Sutton work on his issues, which are similar to when Marqise Lee came out (lackluster routes and precision). He’s off the redraft radar but has real keeper appeal.
Don’t forget that the Dolphins only replaced Jarvis Landry with Danny Amendola, and we’re still waiting for DeVante Parker’s breakout. Gesicki will be a big boost to the passing game and could have a rookie season similar to Evan Engram. That’s lofty and rare for tight ends, but given his great work in the slot and with seam routes, TE1 value is doable.
Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson, RB – This is higher than I expected for Johnson, but for the positive side of it, he gets up to speed quickly with breakaway speed and is smooth. Johnson goes down on first contact too much and is better as a complementary running back… which the Lions have. I would have preferred Derrius Guice (stop the nonsense) or even Royce Freeman. I don’t see Fantasy starter value for Johnson in 2018, as he’s behind LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick.
San Franciso 49ers: Dante Pettis, WR – Another surprise. Pettis was in the mix of my Tier 2 receivers, as he has amazing hands, can play outside or in and finds separation. He struggles vertically, size is a concern and performed better with John Ross on the other side. Pettis could have a nice future with improvement, but a decent amount of his 2018 value will come in the return game with a Tyler Lockett-like start to his career.
Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk, WR – Kirk draws several similarities to Jarvis Landry, but I think he’s part Sterling Shepard too. I like Kirk alongside Larry Fitzgerald, and Kirk can have WR4 value in PPR as long as Bradford is walking. When Rosen steps in, I don’t think Kirk will lose too much value, and they will form a great duo for future years.
Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE – Well, this is awful for Fantasy. I called Goedert a mix of Cameron Brate and Zach Ertz… and there you go. Now, he’ll play alongside/behind Ertz. This is similar to O.J. Howard but with less upside. Whereas Howard is the superior talent, Goedert will only have value when Ertz misses time (one season with 16 games).
Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller, WR – Miller started my second tier of receivers, as his footwork is amazing and succeeds most everywhere. Miller plays bigger than his size and with cleaned up routes and catches, Miller could be a true No. 2 option and WR4 in Fantasy. For this season though, as much as I like Miller and the landing spot for opportunity, he’s an upside bench flier. There is potential to surprise in 2018 though, as Kevin White is permanently on the IR, and Taylor Gabriel is limited to the slot.
Apparently, there is still more “embarrassing” news coming. Let’s talk Fantasy. If this “news” doesn’t keep Guice off the field, he’s the top option for the Redskins, and it’s not even close. Opportunity wise, this is amazing for Guice, and he’s a guaranteed RB2… as long as whatever “this” is doesn’t keep him off the field.
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington, WR – Washington is the last of my Tier 1 receivers. I can understand the concern over his route running, but he’s a great ball tracker and immediate downfield threat. Unfortunately, while this landing spot is appealing for DFS purposes, seasonal value is out the door with Washington behind Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Chark, WR – Given his size and speed, worst case scenario for Chark is a deep-play threat. Chark actually has the upside to be a better version of Will Fuller given his better hands. Chark is more of a keeper/dynasty value given the number of receivers on the Jaguars roster, but he arguably has the highest ceiling of them all.
Denver Broncos: Royce Freeman, RB – I spent the last while making jokes on Twitter (don’t worry, they’re never funny) with the lack of skill picks. We’re back with Freeman, a running back with great build and above-average acceleration for his size. Freeman draws some Hyde comparisons, including the wear/injury concern, and he doesn’t shy from contact. Nevertheless, as I said pre-draft, on the right team, Freeman can find potential RB2 value, and he just did, as Devontae Booker has failed to capitalize on his opportunities. For now, Booker still has the talent to stay in the mix, but I doubt he dings Freeman enough to prevent RB2 numbers.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mason Rudolph, QB – Rudolph’s slide ends. Hey, I thought the quarterback craze could push him into the first round and second at the worst. In any case, you know what this means. Rudolph is the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger and off the Fantasy radar until that day. It’s nice to have Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington at his disposal, and if his Big 12 game translates, Rudolph could reach QB1 status… And yes, I purposefully left out Le’Veon Bell without a long-term contract… for now.
Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup, WR – Gallup has the three S’s (size, speed, strength) and beats press coverage regularly. One of the most well-rounded receivers in the draft, but Gallup does need to develop his route work and play intelligence. All that said, the Cowboys have a clear need for a No. 1 receiver, and even with is struggles, the opportunity is great for Gallup… plus, Cowboys… Gallup… Cowboys… Gallup… the kid has WR3 potential if he pushes Allen Hurns and is coached up between now and Week 1.
Baltimore Ravens: Mark Andrews, TE – Andrews is basically a wide receiver, and he was previously, running the majority of his routes of out the slot. I didn’t have him in my Top 3 because I thought a team would move slow with Andrews due to his inability to block (as of today). But… with Hurst being a good all-around tight end and blocker, Andrews could end up the bigger Fantasy beneficiary. This could be a Brate/Howard situation with Andrews having Brate’s 2017 numbers. Unfortunately, there’s inconsistency built into the situation and likely bumps both from the TE1 discussion.
New Orleans Saints: Tre’Quan Smith, WR – It’s the Saints, so receivers are always intriguing… except they don’t have room for Tre’Quan Smith as of now, and Drew Brees likely won’t be around by the time they do. Smith is at least a downfield weapon with a large catch radius and good speed, so maybe there is some fun DFS GPP appeal here.
Houston Texans: Jordan Akins, TE – This is probably the last tight end that will sniff Fantasy relevance, as Akins is rather similar to Andrews, but he’s also 26 years old! Can you say “peaked”? The Texans haven’t had a consistent answer at tight end, and Akins could be their passing down option and mid-TE2.
2018 NFL Draft Rounds 4-7
Carolina Panthers: Ian Thomas, TE – This is exactly what you expect this to be, the future replacement for Greg Olsen. Thomas has a NFL body and nice speed, and he’s a nice combo/move tight end. Forget him for now outside dynasty leagues, but don’t forget his name for when Olsen is done.
Houston Texans: Keke Coutee, WR – Coutee is at least a nice slot receiver, but he has more upside than that with the eighth most deep pass yards last year… but it was just on 18 targets, which points to more use in the slot. Coutee is someone to watch for the future, especially if Will Fuller becomes injury-prone.
It’s clear that the Colts are ready to roll with Mack as the lead (unless a late DeMarco Murray or C.J. Anderson signing happens). Hines is a nice complement with home run play ability but struggles to play with the big boys. If he’s the Colts No. 2, he could have deep PPR appeal.
Cleveland Browns: Antonio Callaway, WR – Wow. Kudos to the Browns because Callaway is a Tier 2 talent and if not for off-field issues (didn’t play last year and failed combine drug test), he likely would have gone in Round 2. There is all upside and no risk here for the Browns. They already have Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and a multitude of upside receivers starting with Corey Coleman. If Callaway gets it, he has the skill to be their No. 2. If he can’t, it’s only a fourth round pick on a suddenly strong team across the board.
New York Giants: Kyle Lauletta, QB – The Giants do go quarterback and get their potential Eli Manning successor. Lauletta killed it at Richmond, working in a pro-style offense with the accuracy, mechanics and footwork you want. He doesn’t have great arm strength, but that is an overrated concern, and my bet is on Lauletta jumping Davis Webb as the future. Dynasty pick for sure.
Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Walton, RB – Walton has a similar build to Ray Rice and is great at creating his own yards. Blink, and Walton could be 20 yards downfield. Unfortunately, his value is in a Theo Riddick-like role… or Giovani Bernard… which the Bengals have already in… GIO. Plus, Joe Mixon is a great all-around running back. No value here without injuries/depth chart change.
Denver Broncos: DaeSean Hamilton, WR – I wanted a better landing spot! Ugh. Stop underrating Penn State receivers! Hamilton can be early-career Jordan Matthews and keep developing into more unlike Matthews. As mentioned with Sutton, both Thomas and Sanders are over 30 and have team outs next year. Here’s hoping Hamilton lets his talent impress quickly, and he could find his way into slot work as a rookie, but for real value, we’re looking at keeper/dynasty
Atlanta Falcons: Ito Smith, RB – Smith wasn’t part of the combine and has a peek-a-boo style. Smith isn’t powerful and not extremely explosive, but he somehow forced 188 missed tackles, according to PFF. Smith is a small running back and only has a bit of intrigue with Tevin Coleman being a free agent next year.
Miami Dolphins: Kalen Ballage, RB – Tremendous athleticism, and I called him the Josh Allen of running backs. Has all the skills but lacks intelligence and performance. If the Dolphins can develop Ballage, he could push Drake for the lead role (not that he should be allowed to, but the Dolphins seem to hate The Drake).
Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds, RB – Ability of running backs much higher in the draft but from a small school with workload and injury concern. Still could be David Johnson’s immediate backup given his talent, and that has Fantasy value.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Watson, WR – Ivy Leaguer from Penn, Watson has good size and ball-catching, tracking and adjustment ability. He could be of interest down the road when DeSean Jackson is gone and if Chris Godwin doesn’t emerge, as I expect.