On Monday, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar released his latest mock draft, mocking the first round now that the picks up through 24 are locked in. If you’re just a humble football fan and/or a casual supporter of one or more of the 32 teams in the league, I’d highly recommend checking it out. But if you’re a true American, a man or woman who may love but more fear, one who partakes in the far more real game of fantasy football, well, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a look at the offensive picks Kadar made in the first round (because who in their right mind plays IDP?) and my fantasy spin on each one.
Can you guess what position will be taken first overall?
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold
A shock pick for everyone I’m sure. Of course the Browns are going to go quarterback here and according to Kadar, that QB will be Sam Darnold:
The key to drafting Darnold is making sure there is a good bridge quarterback in place. Although Darnold is obviously talented, the redshirt sophomore needs to learn how to read defenses better and rework his mechanics. So that means Cleveland will either have to trade for Alex Smith, or go after a free agent like Chase Daniel or A.J. McCarron.
Knowing Cleveland, they’ll probably draft Darnold and throw him into the fire and then wonder how and why his rookie season went poorly. There’s a reason Bill Belichick wanted to make sure Jimmy Garoppolo stayed far away from the Browns.
Anyways, fantasy wise, obviously Cleveland needs a quarterback. On paper, the offense actually has plenty of talent and could be pretty explosive with a competent man under center. Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, David Njoku and Duke Johnson makes up a pretty decent receiving core and all their fantasy stock would certainly experience a bump with a good quarterback. Will Darnold be that guy? Who knows. Maybe it’ll be Smith finishing out his career in Cleveland. Man, pour some out for this guy’s career.
2. New York Giants: QB Josh Rosen
Now Kadar notes here that the Giants could go any number of ways with this pick if they feel for whatever reason Eli Manning still has some gas left in the tank. He doesn’t. So they’ll be taking a quarterback here. Unless their new head coach is a sadistic maniac and wants to be the guy to turn Geno Smith into a starting quarterback.
Rosen is probably the most natural passer of the top quarterbacks in the draft this year and he’d be stepping into an offense with Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Not a bad trio for a rookie to have. The Giants have to get a new face of the franchise soon so this pick makes all the sense from both a fantasy and real football perspective.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): RB Saquon Barkley
In earlier mocks, Kadar had the Colts at number three take Barkley which I was all for. The Colts have been missing a game changing back since Edgerrin James and have had only one 1,000 yard rusher in the last ten years (Frank Gore literally doesn’t age). However, in this rendition, Kadar has the Colts doing the smart thing and addressing their defense, so that means Barkley gets to play in the Dawg Pound:
He can do for Cleveland what Leonard Fournette did for Jacksonville this season and force defenses to play closer to the line, which should open up the passing game.
Remember all the hype that I had around Isaiah Crowell this year in fantasy? Yea none of that paid off but the fact remains that Cleveland has a good offensive line, one that with 14th in run blocking and fourth in the NFL in power runs (per Football Outsiders). I’m a big fan of this pick and given how well rookie running backs performed this year, I would be very intrigued by Barkley regardless of being in Cleveland next year. Fournette turned the Jaguars into a playoff team. People forget that.
5. Denver Broncos: QB Baker Mayfield
Mayfield would bring excellent timing throws and a gunslinger mentality to an offense that seriously needs it. The Paxton Lynch experiment has been an utter failure and Brock Osweiler isn’t rekindling his career anytime soon. Hopefully Mayfield would be able to return Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to fantasy relevance and make the Broncos’ offense once again potent.
6. New York Jets: QB Lamar Jackson
As a Patriots fan, Jackson to the Jets would terrify me. Sure there are some questions surrounding him but my god if he’s able to put it all together, he could be a force for years to come. The Jets managed to wring almost 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns out of Josh McCown and turn Robby Anderson into a top 20 fantasy wide receiver. Just imagine what could happen with Jackson at the helm. The Jets could very easily Jets this up, but Jackson could be the best fantasy quarterback of the class and New York would be a pretty good spot for him.
9. San Francisco 49ers: WR Calvin Ridley
With his stellar route running and short area explosiveness, Ridley is the draft’s best receiver. Some will quibble about his age – he’ll turn 24 in December – but his talent shouldn’t be overlooked.
Getting a receiver compared to Amari Cooper for Garoppolo seems like a no-brainer to me. Hopefully this year’s class of rookie receivers while experience a little more success than last years (HOW DID COREY DAVIS NOT SCORE A TOUCHDOWN?!?!?!?)
13. Washington: QB Josh Allen
This is built upon Kirk Cousins leaving in free agency which is almost 100% certain. Washington’s reluctance to give Cousins a long term deal I think has all but sealed the two parties fates as Captain Kirk will be heavily pursued by every quarterback needy team on the market.
I understand this pick but do I love it from a fantasy perspective? Not really. I’d rather Washington not have botched the whole QB situation, kept Cousins (assuming he leaves) and addresses their dismal run game. Or maybe get a tight end who can play an entire season. Just spitballing here.
24. Carolina Panthers: WR James Washington
Looks like someone read my Wild-Card losers article. I’m kidding. I didn’t really go out on a limb saying the Panthers need to address their receiver position as anyone with eyes could see that Sunday against the Saints. Here’s what Kadar had to say on the pick:
Someone get the Panthers a wide receiver who can separate and beat defensive backs with speed. This high the options are a little bit limited. Washington, with his 20.9 yards per catch average, is a fit. He can make plays over the top or beat defenders after the catch.
Sign me up. Given the fantasy success the Panthers last first round pick had his rookie year, I’d trust that another skill player taken in the first round would get his fair share of targets. Now speedsters don’t traditionally garner that much fantasy buzz, but don’t forget that during the Panthers 15-1 season, Ted Ginn managed to rack up 10 touchdowns and finished WR26 in fantasy.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Mark Andrews
Rookie tight ends rarely have legit fantasy relevance in their first season but that’s not to say that Andrews would have zero fantasy impact. If the Jags did draft Andrews, it’s clear they are building an offense to keep Blake Bortles as comfortable as possible, all while trying to mitigate his mistakes. Giving him a legit weapon at the tight end position would certainly help boost Bortles’ value.
28. New Orleans Saints: QB Mason Rudolph
This is a pick for the future, unless Drew Brees is magically traded or release or retires this offseason. So no fantasy value here.
Which player mocked in the first round do you think would have the biggest fantasy impact? Who’d you be willing to draft onto your team? Let me know in the comments!