How’s it going everyone, Joe Colonna here, and today I’m going to be talking to you about the fantasy football impact of the NFL Draft. I’ll be listing players at each position who had their fantasy value increase and players who had their value decrease. Without any further ado, let’s get into it.
QB Lamar Jackson, BAL
The Baltimore Ravens selected WR Rashod Bateman in the first round of the NFL draft this year. Baltimore desperately needed WR help, because beyond Marquise Brown, there really was not a whole lot of talent there. Bateman was one of the top receivers in the draft and Ravens’ fans should be thrilled to see that he was available at pick #27. Part of why I didn’t like Lamar Jackson in fantasy last year was the lack of passing attempts from the Ravens as a whole, but perhaps the reason for that was the lack of receiving talent in the offense. Not only did Baltimore grab Bateman, but they also selected Tylan Wallace, another top wideout, in the fourth round. Between Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, and Tylan Wallace, Lamar Jackson has no more excuses. It’s time for him to put up elite numbers from a passing perspective as well as the running game which he has done time after time. We need to see more than 44.96 percent of passing plays next season. I still won’t be drafting Lamar Jackson in fantasy drafts personally because he goes earlier than I’d like to take a QB in general, but I’m not totally against the idea like I was last year. Lamar Jackson might be a better DFS play than a season-long play for fantasy purposes.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, MIA
Another team that needed to add talent to their WR room was the Dolphins. Miami addressed this by signing WR Will Fuller this offseason and drafting a former top receiver of Tua from his Alabama days in Jaylen Waddle. It can be argued that Waddle at six was a bit aggressive, but Miami really wanted to get their guy and couldn’t risk not getting him. The Dolphins also improved their offensive line with selection of Jevon Holland in round two. I’d expect a nice bounce-back season from Tua, he should be a solid QB2 in fantasy with some weeks where he’s a top-12 option.
RB D’Andre Swift, DET
The NFL draft could not have gone much better for D’Andre Swift of the Lions. Somehow, the top offensive line prospect in the draft (Penei Sewell) fell to the Lions at pick seven. Not only that, but backup RB Kerryon Johnson is now in Philadelphia. It’s a new era in Detroit, with long-time QB Matthew Stafford gone to Los Angeles. I’d expect Detroit to lean on the run game this season. Don’t be surprised if Swift is a top-12 RB this year.
RB Myles Gaskin, MIA
Perhaps the biggest winner of the draft that not too many people are talking about is Myles Gaskin. Miami was one of the teams who could have potentially drafted an RB with one of their early picks, but they chose to address other needs. With the attention that will be put on the receivers by opposing defenses, Gaskin should see more openings in the ground game. I’d expect Gaskin to be a mid-range RB2 this season.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI
This might be a cop out here, but Allen Robinson has been a clear top receiver in the league for several years now. How could he possibly see his value increase? Well, Chicago traded up to get Justin Fields, arguably the second-best quarterback in this draft class. Fields, on paper is the best quarterback Allen Robinson has EVER Played with in his career. Chicago also did not add any notable receivers in the draft. Even Andy Dalton is one of the better QBs ARob has played with, should Dalton start more games than expected this offseason. I’d expect top-12 numbers from Robinson this season.
WR D.J. Chark, JAX
The Jaguars drafted one of the best quarterback prospects of the last decade, and that bodes well for everyone in the offense, specifically top receiver D.J. Chark. Chark dealt with Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles over the years and still managed to be a productive wideout. Now he gets to grow with Lawrence on his side, and that is a positive thing. Chark is a high-end WR2 in fantasy with more upside than usual.
TE T.J. Hockenson, DET
Detroit failed to address their need of receivers this offseason, only bringing in Breshad Perriman and Amon-Ra St. Brown. The departure of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones vacates tons of targets in Detroit. Hockenson should be the number one receiving option for the Lions this year.
TE Irv Smith Jr, MIN
I’ll be honest, I did not see too many TE’s who had a significant increase in value this season. However, with Kyle Rudolph gone to the Giants, Irv Smith will see a significant increase in opportunity this season. This Vikings’ offense runs through Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, but Thielen and Irv Smith should get enough targets to be useful in the fantasy game.
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB
One of the biggest stories of the NFL Draft revolved around the future of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. As of this writing, Rodgers is still a member of the Packers, but he is very disgruntled and not happy. There’s reports that suggest he might not be back with the team unless something changes, and this draft did him no favors. Sure, the Packers FINALLY took a WR early in the draft in Amari Rodgers, but that doesn’t change Rodgers’ status. He’s a 37-year old all-star with hall of fame aspirations, so you’d think that the Packers would try to work this out, but no guarantees here. He’s got a future as a host of Jeopardy if he wants it, so there could be some truth to these reports. I’ll be cautious with Packers players until we see a resolution.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
Look, the writing was on the wall that Garoppolo’s time as a starter in San Francisco was running out the second the 49ers traded up to the number three pick a few months ago. The 49ers took Trey Lance with the third pick in the draft, and now it’s only a matter of when we see him take the field as the starter. I’d expect Garoppolo to be the starter to open the season, but for how many games? Does he have a short leash? I’m avoiding Garoppolo this year, as I’m expecting low-end QB2 numbers.
RB Melvin Gordon, DEN
Denver traded up to select Javonte Williams in the second round of the draft. Williams was one of the very few difference makers at the RB position available. Gordon is entering his age 28 season, and Williams is a future starter in this Denver offense. With Phillip Lindsay departing to Houston, Denver did need a backup this season, so Gordon may have a few weeks as the main option early on, but how long will it last? Gordon should be a viable RB2 for the short-term, but once Williams gets an opportunity, Williams may not look back.
RB Raheem Mostert, SF
The 49ers are re-tooling their offense and that does not bode well for the current members of the team. San Francisco drafted Trey Sermon, a top five RB in this class in round three. Sermon is not projected to be a superstar or anything of that nature, so perhaps this is an over-reaction, but I’d still rather not target Mostert in fantasy this year. I see a running-back by committee situation forming. Mostert and Sermon both have RB3 upside in fantasy this season, but I’d rather either avoid both altogether, or take Mostert at a discount if he falls and handcuff him with Sermon. Mostert is not someone I’m actively targeting like I was last year, though.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN
The selection of Ja’Marr Chase to Cincinnati was great for Joe Burrow, as he reunites with his top receiver from college, but this causes a problem for fantasy purposes. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins were not that bad last year, but the Bengals felt the need to get Burrow’s guy with the fifth pick of the draft instead of going with offensive line help. This is a situation I’m avoiding in redraft leagues all together, it just feels like a mess. Sure, Boyd could be a WR3 some weeks, but I’d rather just invest elsewhere. I like Chase from a dynasty perspective but for 2021 specifically, I’m out on all of these guys.
WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, NYG
Between the additions of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, Shepard is in real trouble to see significant targets this season. Add in the injury risk, and there’s just too many question marks here for me to be interested. As for Slayton, he had an interesting few weeks last year where he made the most of his situation, but that appears more likely to be a mirage than something real. This situation is another one I’m personally avoiding in all leagues; I don’t have an interest in any of these Giants players.
TE Hayden Hurst, ATL
The selection of Kyle Pitts basically capped any upside that Hurst may have had this season. Sure, young TEs usually take time to develop, and Pitts might not star right away, but the presence of Julio, Ridley, and Pitts just doesn’t help Hurst in the short-term. I believe Julio and Ridley are still centerpieces to target in fantasy, but I won’t be taking the Atlanta TEs in fantasy this year.
TE Eric Ebron, PIT
As previously stated, young tight ends take time to develop, but with the addition of Pat Freiermuth in Pittsburgh, Eric Ebron has been put on notice. Freiermuth was the second-best tight end prospect in the draft and profiles as a future starter in the offense. It’s only a matter of time before Freiermuth claims that role. Ebron should still be the TD machine he’s been but I’d temper expectations a bit moving forward.
There you have it. There’s my fantasy football impact article: veterans edition! Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you learned something here. I plan on doing a rookie only edition of this article in the future! Please follow me on Twitter, twitter.com/JoeyColonna for more updates.
(Cover Photo: ABC7 San Francisco/ESPN)