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2018 NFL Draft first round fantasy grades and early ADPs

Handing out better than letter grades to the first round of the draft.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is over and while it might not have felt it in the moment, it was pretty insane. Sure Baker Mayfield at No. 1 wasn’t all thaaaaat surprising as the pick had kinda been tipped earlier in the day, but really the only picks that went along anyone’s mock drafts where Saquon Barkley to the Giants and Quenton Nelson to the Colts. Outside of that? CHAOS!

Heath did a great job giving his knee-jerk reactions of each pick but I’m here to hand out some meaningless grades, but in a different manner. Look, letter grading a pick is stupid in my mind because who knows who these players will play and if a team really thinks that they just got their guy, then of course they’d be willing to give up whatever to get him. (That all being said, win for the Cardinals trading peanuts to get Josh Rosen and BIG loss to the Saints for trading next year’s first for a raw pass rusher.)

So instead of letter grades I’ve decided to give my early ADP/I guess more like fantasy ranking for each of these players now that they have a team. This way it’s kind of a grade because if I loved the landing spot for one of these rooks, they’ll likely get a high ranking; and if I don’t... well, you can use Josh Allen as an example of that.

Here we go! (Oh and for the record, using Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADPs)

Baker Mayfield to the Browns

Fantasy Grade: QB16

Despite all my “if the Browns don’t take Sam Darnold they’re idiots” talk, I’m really onboard with this pick. Mayfield was extremely efficient and accurate in college and comes into an offense that will likely take advantage of those talents perfectly with weapons like Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Duke Johnson. Throw in some Josh Gordon for the deep balls and things are looking rather nice. It took me a while to settle on a spot for Mayfield but eventually, I think I’d take him over Dak Prescott. Sure Dez Bryant wasn’t killing it in Dallas, but that’s still a loss for Dak and for the Cowboy’s offense and I think Dak’s fantasy numbers might take a hit because of it.

Saquon Barkley to the Giants

Fantasy Grade: RB10

I am going to be very interested to see how fantasy drafts go this year as there are a TON of running backs that could push elite wide receivers and more good running backs down into later rounds. Unlike rookie wide receivers—and rookie quarterbacks to a certain extent (though I’m sure this trend will be bucked this season)—rookie running backs have shown they can have an immediate impact in the fantasy world. I’d rather draft Barkley than Jordan Howard and possibly even Dalvin Cook (which would really put him at RB9). There were three rookie running backs top 10 in fantasy last year. I feel confident that Barkley will finish there as well.

Sam Darnold to the Jets

Fantasy Grade: QB21

Here’s a recap of the Jets’ draft last night:

I don’t know if they ever expected to have Darnold sitting there for them at No. 3 but you can bet they rushed to get their card in. I like Darnold and what he brings to the Jets, and the weapons he’ll be playing with in New York. He has a little mechanic work to figure out but I don’t think that’ll impact his play too too much. At QB21, he’s taking Alex Smith’s spot right behind Pat Mahomes. I trust Andy Reid to have an offense built for Mahomes after a year on the bench.

Josh Allen to the Bills

Fantasy Grade: QBTheLastOne

Sorry #BillsMafia. Maybe I’ll be wrong and Josh Allen will develop into the spittin image of Carson Wentz and the Bills will win the Super Bowl in two seasons. Or maybe I’ll be right, Allen’s college tape that really left a lot to be desired—other than his cannon arm—will be his ceiling and the highest high he’ll ever reach is Jay Cutler but with a lower completion percentage. College tape has to count for something here and I really saw nothing in Allen’s.

Josh Rosen to the Cardinals

Fantasy Grade: QB18

My fantasy grade doesn’t show it (because I tried not to be to too excited) but this might have been the steal of the night. Arizona needed a quarterback badly and they got the best pure passer in this draft; a guy who easily could’ve gone 1st overall. That’s an excellent get at No. 10. While Sam Bradford is technically on the team and technically the starter, I wouldn’t be shocked if that lasted one preseason game. At QB18, Rosen falls right below Dak Prescott (who’s now bumped down to QB17) and above Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Sorry Mariota lovers—myself included—he’s scorned me one too many times for me to trust him. Time for a new scorned lover.

D.J. Moore to the Panthers

Fantasy Grade: WR28

I love Moore, but let me just tell you that I’ve bumped Moore and Calvin Ridley down a little simply because rookie wide receivers haven’t produced fantasy wise in recent years. That’s not to say I don’t love these picks (I’ll save my Ridley praise for his blurb). Carolina was one of my favorite landing spots for Moore and I think he’ll come in and have an immediate impact. He gives Cam Newton an explosive guy who can take any catch to the house. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in terms of Christian McCaffrey’s usage in the passing game.

Hayden Hurst to the Ravens

Fantasy Grade: TE17

Heath is the real tight end guy and he’s been banging the Hurst drum all offseason so I gotta think this is a great get for the Ravens. At 17, Hurst is pretty far down the list of fantasy tight ends but still above George Kittle and David Njoku (who I don’t think should be that low but we’re working with FFC’s rankings so there you go).

Calvin Ridley to the Falcons

Fantasy Grade: WR24

I know I said that I wouldn’t overrate these rookie wide receivers but it was reeeaaallly hard not to have Ridley higher on this list. I don’t know if I could have picked a better landing spot for him in both fantasy and actual football. Ridley is headed to an explosive offense with arguably the best wide receiver in the game, an above average quarterback and a strong running game. Defenses are going to be so preoccupied with Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, they won’t have the brainspace to care about Ridley and he’ll quietly dominate. You just wait and see.

Rashaad Penny to the Seahawks

Fantasy Grade: RB47

Please let this end the confusing, unpredictable Seahawks’ backfield. Please let the Hawks have found their guy so that we as a fantasy community can settle down and not have to worry about which running back will be playing on Sunday. This was easily one of the biggest shocks of the first round given that no mocks I saw had Penny sniffing the first round and no analyst I saw had a first round grade on Penny. Yet clearly the Seahawks thought he was worth it. He’s a three down guy so if he plays well, he can lock up every role out of the backfield which will certainly help his fantasy value. Still, I’m not coming into things with the wildest of expectations.

Sony Michel to the Patriots

Fantasy Grade: RB32

I was a big fan of Sony Michel throughout the draft process and as a Patriots fan love the pick. Michel is a north-south runner who can make people miss but get’s downhill quickly and gains yards. However, as a fantasy owner, I would’ve much prefer it if Michel didn’t go to a backfield that already contains Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill AND Mike Gillislee and a head coach that famously doesn’t give an eff about your fantasy team and will play any or all four of those running backs any given Sunday. That all being said, Dion Lewis finished RB12 in standard leagues RB15 in PPR. So you can certainly get fantasy production out of the Patriots top running back. Fingers crossed Michel claims that role.

Lamar Jackson to the Ravens

Fantasy Grade: QB23

The dream is dead. Long live the dream. The Patriots aren’t going to draft Jackson to be their heir-replacement to Brady and the Patriots dynasty is about to coming crashing to a halt. But for Baltimore, this is a GET! Bye bye Joe Flacco, hello Lamaaaaa! I don’t think Jackson will play this season but if you’re in dynasty leagues, get yourself some Lamar. You can bet whenever he takes the field, he’s going to dominate the fantasy world.


Which rookie are you most excited for in fantasy this year?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Saquon Barkley
    (34 votes)
  • 7%
    Baker Mayfield
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Sam Darnold
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Josh Rosen
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Calvin Ridley
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    D.J. Moore
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Josh Allen
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Sony Michel
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    I play IDP and you missed a whole bunch of defenders....
    (5 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now