It’s kind of crazy to believe but the NFL Draft starts tonight. Like, tonight tonight. Am I the only one who feels like we’re heading into this draft with a whole lot less hoopla than in years past? Maybe it’s because there are other cultural things going down this weekend—and between Avengers Endgame and the Battle of Winterfell on Game of Thrones, likely a whole lot of death—and I just don’t have the bandwidth to care about a third thing that doesn’t directly involve the fate of our planet or Westeros.
Nevertheless, in less than 24 hours we will be through the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, every mock draft will be torn to smithereens and the fantasy community will be spinning how Washington was really the perfect spot for D.K. Metcalf (it’s not).
But for now, we still live in that beautiful time of uncertainty and I’m going to take full advantage of it to speak certain pairings into existence. Here are my ideal landing spots for this draft’s top offensive prospects to maximize their fantasy potential in 2019.
Kyler Murray to the Buccaneers
This would never happen, the Bucs have Jameis Winston. Right, and the Cardinals didn’t just trade up in last year’s draft to select a quarterback in the top 10. If we’re ok with the idea that the Cards or Raiders could draft Murray despite having an established quarterback, then get comfy with the idea of the Bucs making the same move.
Murray goes to an offense featuring Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate with Bruce Arians calling the shots. How can you say no to all that? Arians’ “sit in the pocket and hurl the ball deep” mentality would work well with Murray who’d be able to utilize his athleticism to hang in the pocket and take the shots downfield. Will this happen? No. But if it did, and Winston was moved, I’d have a hard time not buying a lot of Murray stock this year.
D.K. Metcalf to the Ravens
Through most of the pre-draft process, I’ve been reluctant to mock Metcalf to the Ravens. I’ve tended to pick explosive offenses like the Colts, Packers or Steelers because in my head those teams have the explosive offenses that I trust and giving them a talent like Metcalf makes me feel like I’m maximizing his fantasy potential.
However in Baltimore, Metcalf would enter the season as the obvious number one receiver and offensive weapon 1B to Lamar Jackson’s 1A. The offense would be built around getting Metcalf open and getting him the ball with space for him to show off his speed. Think Odell Beckham Jr running slants over and over again until he breaks one for a 50-yard touchdown. Basically, Baltimore gives Metcalf the best chance at receiving just a boat load of targets and letting his game changing ability do the rest.
T.J. Hockenson to the Jaguars
Right off the bat, Hockenson would give Nick Foles someone to actually throw the football to. The Jaguars’ receiving core is currently made up of the guys who you take a flier on in the 12th round of fantasy drafts; that is to say, they don’t currently have a big name guy who’s going to be Foles’ obvious go-to man. Hockenson can at the very least be a security blanket for the Jaguars and be a beast in the play action game. Added bonus: Hockenson is by far and away the best run blocking tight end to come into the NFL in some time and would help bolster the Jaguars’ run game. Yes, I am talking myself back into Leonard Fournette in fantasy, why do you ask?
Marquise Brown to the Steelers
Nothing would be more fun than the Steelers trading away Antonio Brown just to take his cousin to replace him. Matias wrote about the Steelers as a landing spot for Marquise and ever since reading that, I’ve been a big fan of the fit. Marquise Brown is not the receiver Antonio Brown is but they do share a lot of similarities: both win off the line with quickness and utilize their speed and route running ability to gain separation from defensive backs. Brown’s speed would also be devastating in the screen game, something that became a key part of Pittsburgh’s offense with AB. Brown would keep defenses honest and force them to worry about the big play threat, keeping the underneath space open for JuJu Smith-Schuster to continue to feast.
Noah Fant to the Packers
If the Packers end up drafting Fant, I can promise you I will be drafting him in every fantasy league I’m in as my starting tight end. I know tight ends typically have a steep learning curve upon entering the NFL and normally it’s a couple of years before they reach their full potential but I’m certain Fant can come in to the right system and be a menace from day one. Just imagining Fant lining up as a big slot receiver next to Davante Adams with Aaron Rodgers under center in Matt LaFleur’s play action system makes me all kinds of giddy inside.
Josh Jacobs to the Texans
We’ve all been waiting for the Texans to have a true fantasy stud running back and now I’m finally giving them one. Jacobs can run effectively between the tackles, shows great patience picking out holes and then has the strength and agility to exploit them. He’s also a reliable pass catcher and has demonstrated his effectiveness running routes and catching the ball out of the backfield. Giving Deshaun Watson a reliable ground game would help keep the pressure—both metaphorically and literally since the guy gets sacked five times a game—off his shoulders. Plus I would love to see Jacobs work in all the space that DeAndre Hopkins and hopefully a healthy Will Fuller would open up for him.
A.J. Brown to the Patriots
I may be a broken record, but this broken record is speaking this into existence. Brown is a big slot receiver who also has the versatility to play on the outside. Tell me, which team loves slot receivers who are versatile, happens to have a need at the position, just lost their number one target, and has a Hall of Fame quarterback? I know the Patriots are a hard team to predict when it comes to fantasy production but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown step in and from day one have an impact on the offense and become a vital part of the post-Gronk era.