Friday, April 28, 2017


Already the 2017 fantasy football season is taking on more clarity as the first round of the NFL Draft brought forth some names that will be of interest going into the season.  Let's take a look at those offensive players who could be draft factors before too long.

Mitch Trubisky (2nd to Chicago Bears):  Interesting move here as the Bears just gave Mike Glennon a three-year deal to be the starting QB.  Alas Trubisky will likely get a firm red-shirt year in 2017 unless Glennon falls flat on his face (not an outlandish thing by the way given what we saw from a similar story in Brock Osweiler a year ago).  So this future Matt Ryan clone has pretty much zero fantasy football value at this stage of the game.

Leonard Fournette (4th to Jacksonville Jaguars):  The bruising Fournette now moves to the head of the Jaguars running back hierarchy which almost completely ruins the fantasy football value of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.  In fact Ivory could be cut as his game is similar to Fournette and the LSU star will likely get all goal-line work,  Expect Fournette to be the primary runner for the Jags this season and thus he carries immediate RB 2 value.

Corey Davis (5th to Tennessee Titans):  Meet the instant number 1 wideout for the Titans and so Davis has the most immediate fantasy football value of the rookie receivers.  Marcus Mariota proved himself to be a high-end passer last season before breaking his leg and so Davis needs to be on all sleeper lists.

Mike Williams (7th to Los Angeles Chargers):  Close behind Davis in terms of having immediate fantasy football appeal at wideout is Mike Williams who will become instant friends with QB Philip Rivers.  Rivers has been looking for a big-play wideout for awhile but Williams has more competition for catches to deal with in terms of fellow receivers Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams; plus tight ends Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates.  Williams has some WR 3 upside in standard leagues but in PPR he is more of a backup.

Christian McCaffrey (8th to Carolina Panthers):  The multi-talented McCaffrey goes to a Carolina team in desperate need of offensive help and his setup is supreme with just the aging/fading Jonathan Stewart in front of him at running back.  Of course running the football is not the only skill McCaffrey will offer as he can really catch the football and is an excellent returner.  It will be interesting to see how high McCaffrey goes in drafts this season but the second round is not out of the question given how much he can do offensively.  In PPR formats, McCaffrey looks like an immense upside play who can easily be a top RB 2 and maybe a low-end 1 if he can hold up to NFL pounding physically.  60-plus catches seems certain and 1,000-rushing yards could be in play as well.  There is so much McCaffrey offers to his prospective owners that a second round price is not silly.

John Ross (9th to Cincinnati Bengals):  We all know that Ross has Olympic speed but his fantasy football outlook may is more DeSean Jackson which is a good but not great situation in terms of his prospective value.  Anyone who has owned Jackson over the years know how hot-and-cold he runs and Ross has the same build physically that can lead to injuries.  In fact Ross already has a pronounced injury history in college and his reception totals will likely fluctuate by the week given the fact he will have a tough time getting off jams consistently.  Still Ross is a big play waiting to happen and he has clear WR 3 status in standard formats.  In PPR though Ross should be picked as a backup with the upside to possible be a WR 3.

Patrick Mahomes (10th to Kansas City Chiefs):  Like with Mitch Trubisky in Chicago, it will likely be a red-shirt year for Pat Mahomes in Kansas City with the Chiefs this season.  Alex Smith is a very competent starter who gets the Chiefs into the postseason and so he will be the guy for 2017 unless he gets injured.  Mahomes has a huge and very powerful arm that has brought forth Brett Favre comparisons but he is unrefined and in need of some polish.  There is a bit too much gunslinger here and that could lead to turnovers like with Favre.  Again Smith is the starter here without debate and so Mahomes has little immediate value.

DeShaun Watson (12th to Houston Texans):  Out of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft, DeShaun Watson has the most immediate fantasy football value as he could start from Week 1.  Watson only has to beat out the unproven and shaky Tom Savage and so there would be no surprise if he were under center for the opener.  Watson has tremendous physical skills such as as powerful arm and very good scrambling ability.  However he threw a bunch of INT's the last two years and at 6-0 and a shade under 200 pounds, questions of whether he can hold up to NFL pounding are legit.  There are comparisons here to Robert Griffin III here and that is not what you want to hear.  However Watson should be drafted as a backup QB in single-passer setups and he could be moved up a bit higher in the rankings in leagues that go with two options there.

O.J. Howard (19th to Tampa Bay Buccaneers):  Howard fell a bit in the draft but he ends up on a potent passing offense in Tampa Bay with emerging star QB Jameis Winston.  Cameron Brate did a nice job in a breakout year at tight end for the Buc's last season which makes the pick of Howard a bit curious but count on the Buc's using a lot of two-TE formations to get both on the field.  Howard has ridiculous physical skills for a tight end and comparisons to Jordan Reed from a receiving standpoint (Howard is a much better blocker) are spot on.  While Brate's presence could impact Howard a bit negatively, he still should be drafted as a firm starter for 2017 fantasy football.  Also the stock of Winston goes up even more given his ridiculous receiving options this season.

Evan Engram (23rd to New York Giants):  While he can't block a lick, Evan Engram is a terrific pure receiver who ran a 4.42 at the Combine.  That is very rare speed for a tight end and basically Engram is a wide receiver masquerading at the position.  QB Eli Manning's best years came when he had a tight end to throw to consistently and Engram is that guy now for him.  75 catches is absolutely in play for Engram this season as he is that good of a receiver and like with O.J. Howard, he should be drafted as an every week starter.

David Njoku (29th to Cleveland Browns):  The third tight end to go in Round 1 is the raw but freakishly athletic Njoku.  The Miami Hurricanes can be known as "Tight End U" given the fact such fantasy football assets like Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow, and Jeremy Shockey have all come from there.  While Njoku has only one-year of starting experience, his upside is immense given his speed and size combination.  The receiving skills are very good here and more than make up for the fact Njoku is not a strong blocker.  Cody Kessler doesn't have a strong arm at QB for the Browns and so count on him targeting Njoku often this season.  Draft him as an every week starter.

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