NFL Draft: Round One Fantasy Football Impact

by Mike Randle ·

An exciting 2017 NFL Draft is officially complete, and round one saw a bevy of high end offensive weapons go off the board. There were 11 offensive players taken in the opening 32 selections, and many will have a chance to contribute immediately.

Which ones, however, will have a fantasy football impact this season?  Let’s take a look at each player and see which ones can be expected to produce for our fantasy teams come September.

No. 2 Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Team: Chicago Bears

Summary: In the most bizarre move of the first round of the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears traded up one spot from the third to second overall pick with the San Francisco 49ers to draft the North Carolina quarterback. In addition, San Francisco received the Bears’ third and fourth round picks (No. 67 and 111) and a third round pick in 2018. The question remains, will Mitchell Trubisky be worth it?

Mitchell Trubisky Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

With a 55 mph (45th percentile) Throw Velocity and a 25 (27th percentile) Wonderlic Score, Mitchell Trubisky’s workout metrics are underwhelming. His 21.0 Breakout Age is also well below average. It makes little sense that Chicago would give up so much to move up just one selection for a quarterback with only 13 career starts at North Carolina. Will he really be a significantly better NFL quarterback than Pat Mahones of Texas Tech?

Physically Mitchell Trubisky looks the part at 6-2, 222-pounds. However, even his hand size (9 ½) at the 43rd percentile, is below average. Trubisky will learn behind Mike Glennon, and will need time to learn the playbook and adjust to the speed of the NFL.

Fantasy Impact: For a quarterback who couldn’t beat out Marquise Williams for two years at North Carolina, it is virtually impossible to see him as an immediate fantasy contributor in the NFL. Mitchell Trubisky is at least a year away from being fantasy relevant as a potential option in even two quarterback leagues.

No. 4 Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB LSU

Team:  Jacksonville Jaguars

Summary: The Jaguars need to keep the ball on the ground and out of the turnover prone hands of quarterback Blake Bortles (51 interceptions in three seasons). Leonard Fournette  brings a downhill running style to a backfield that was treading water with the oft-injured Chris Ivory and the disappointing T.J. Yeldon.

Leonard Fournette posted a 116.0 (96th percentile) Speed Score and averaged 6.5 yards per carry over his career at LSU.  At 6-0, 240-pounds, he already possesses an NFL body. If Jacksonville can just improve their poor run blocking offensive line (ranked No. 25), Fournette could make an immediate contribution in 2017. With Chris Ivory’s status unknown, it is not a reach to envision Fournette as the starting Jacksonville running back in September.

Leonard Fournette Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Fantasy Impact:  As the top running back selected in this year’s draft, Leonard Fournette is hoping to reproduce just half of what Ezekiel Elliott did last season. If Chris Ivory stays, Fournette will probably only be a waiver wire pickup late in the year. If Ivory is cut, Fournette immediately becomes a legit RB2 in all formats.

No. 5 PickCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Team:  Tennessee Titans

Summary: Fantastic selection by Tennessee, grabbing the top wide receiver in the draft at the fifth overall pick. Corey Davis has been productive ever since he stepped foot on the field for Western Michigan. He has an 18.7 (95th percentile) Breakout Age and averaged 16.8 yards per reception over his college career. Davis also posted an astounding 51.6-percent College Dominator Rating Western Michigan, which means he accounted for over half of the receiving yards and touchdowns for Western Michigan during his college career.

There are concerns with Corey Davis, especially since he missed the NFL combine with two torn ligaments in his ankle.  His workout metrics are only average, including a 4.53 40-yard dash time (55th percentile).  There are also questions about the caliber of Davis’ competition in the Mid-American Conference. Don’t forget, however, that Randy Moss of Marshall came from the same conference.

Fantasy Impact:  Location, location, location. Corey Davis landed in the perfect fantasy football situation. A young franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, a starting position opposite wide receiver Rishard Matthews, and a strong offensive line to provide pass protection. He projects as a legitimate fantasy WR3 in all formats.

No. 7 PickMike Williams, WR, Clemson

Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Summary: This is a clear signal that the Chargers have concerns over the health of Keenan Allen. With rookie wide receivers like Zay Jones and Ju Ju Smith-Schuster available in the second round, Los Angeles could have selected a much needed offensive or defensive lineman with this pick. They already have a strong receiving core of Allen, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, and Tyrell Williams to compliment tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.  Clearly, Mike Williams will have to fight for receptions in a crowded receiving house.

Mike Williams greatest asset is his size (6-4 218-pounds) as a potential red zone target. He rates highly in a handful of metrics: 102.3 Speed Score (74th percentile) and 33 7/8” arm length (87th percentile). In addition, he had to endure catching passes at Clemson from a quarterback with below average arm strength.

Fantasy Impact:  Barring an injury, it is difficult to project a meaningful fantasy season for Mike Williams. In fact, the reception distribution is difficult to project for any specific Chargers receiver. Williams is a simply a waiver wire pickup after the first few weeks of the season. The biggest fantasy impact from this selection is may just be for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

No. 8 PickChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Team: Carolina Panthers

Summary: The best pass catching running back in the entire draft goes to the Carolina Panthers. Christian McCaffrey was one of the few players to perform very well at the combine. His workout metrics are superior: 4.48 40-Yard Dash (81st percentile), 10.79 Agility Score (97th percentile), and 124.3 Burst Score (78th percentile).

Christian McCaffrey Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The only concerns about Christian McCaffrey are his poor bench press performance (only 10 repetitions of 225-pounds), and whether his size (5-11, 202-pounds) will prevent him from becoming an every down NFL running back. The good news is he will run behind a strong offensive line (ranked 11th in run blocking efficiency), and catch passes from an All Pro quarterback in Cam Newton.

Fantasy Impact:  This is an ideal landing spot for Christian McCaffrey. He is potentially the second best running back on the team, and 30 year old Jonathan Stewart provides minimal competition for the top spot. The leading receiver out of the backfield last season was Fozzy Whittaker with just 25 receptions. This could be a sign that Carolina is changing their offense to include more short route passes, and McCaffrey would feast in that satellite back role. He is a superb “draft and stash” in PPR formats for the upcoming fantasy season.

No. 9 PickJohn Ross, WR, Washington

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

SummaryJohn Ross brings a speed burner profile to a team that is desperately looking for a second wide receiver option besides A.J. Green. A workout metric fiend, Ross has an 129.4 (87th percentile) Burst Score, 115.3 (95th percentile) Speed Score, and of course, clocked the fastest combine time ever at 4.22 seconds.

John-Ross-Fantasy-Football

John Ross Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The biggest concern for John Ross is injuries. In fact, he even cramped up at the end of that blazing 40 yard dash time. Ross torn his ACL and was forced to redshirt his third season at Washington. However, he produced a fantastic 2016 stat line with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Fantasy Impact: John Ross goes to a Cincinnati team that lacks a prolific passing offense. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was only No. 18 last season in deep ball attempts (67), while ranking a pedestrian 14th in completion percentage (64.7-percent). Ross is a poor man’s Tyreek Hill and is likely to make more of an impact for Cincinnati’s special teams that as a fantasy wide receiver. He is nothing more than a late round flier (literally) in all fantasy formats.

No. 10 PickPat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Summary: This is the exact type of draft pick fans will always support. A young, fearless quarterback with a big arm. Pat Mahomes 60 mph (98th percentile) Throw Velocity and fearlessness to throw into traffic make him a fascinating draft pick with a huge upside. He has good size at 6-2, 225-pounds, and was productive at a young age as proven by his 19 year old 95th percentile Breakout Age.

Patrick Mahomes Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Pat Mahomes goes to a perfect situation in Kansas City, where incumbent quarterback Alex Smith is 33 years old and has the completely opposite profile. Smith protects the football, doesn’t take chances, and manages the game perfectly. Mahomes can learn behind Smith, yet bring a new dimension to the offense when he inherits the starting job.

Fantasy Impact: This is one rookie to definitely keep an eye on, as it only takes one injury to put Pat Mahomes in a fantastic situation. Kansas City has a solid pass blocking offensive line (ranked 11th), and have strong offensive weapons with wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill, as well as tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes is not draftable, but if thrust into the starting role could serve as a fine bye week replacement in 2017.

No. 12 PickDeshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Team: Houston Texans

Skinny:  The third quarterback taken in the first twelve picks, just incredible given the pre-draft thoughts of a weak quarterback class. Deshaun Watson goes to the ideal rookie situation in Houston, where there are legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. His workout metrics are strong in every category, except Throw Velocity (3rd percentile). Watson led Clemson a national championship win over Alabama, throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns.

DeShaun Watson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Deshaun Watson is in the mold of the current mobile NFL quarterback, but struggles with accuracy. His best comparable player on PlayerProfiler is Tyrod Taylor of Buffalo. That is exactly the type of offense he will need to succeed: a strong running game with a playmaker on the outside to stretch the field.  Houston has the blueprint he needs, but Watson still needs to prove it on the field.

Fantasy Impact: The old adage in fantasy is that situation trumps talent, and there couldn’t be a better situation for a rookie quarterback than with the Houston Texans. The current starting quarterback is tenuously held by journeyman Tom Savage, and DeAndre Hopkins is an perennial All Pro wide receiver. Deshaun Watson has the best chance of any rookie quarterback to be fantasy viable this season, but it is difficult to see that actually occurring.

No. 19 Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Summary: The strongest overall position in this year’s draft is tight end, and the Buccaneers grabbed a top one in Alabama’s O.J. Howard. At 6-6, 251-pounds, Howard will serve as a monster target for Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston.  His 4.51 40-yard dash time was second best among all rookie tight ends at the combine.  Throw in his 123.9 (98th percentile) Burst Score and 11.01 (97th percentile) Agility Score, and it all adds up to an incredibly athletic offensive weapon.

Athleticism doesn’t always equal NFL production, however. Former Tampa Bay tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins has a similar profile to O.J. Howard, yet never made a major impact for the Buccaneers. There are questions about Howard’s desire to be a great player, and because he was at Alabama, his 15.2-percent College Dominator Rating (38th percentile) was much lower than his positional peers.

OJ Howard Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Fantasy Impact: Contrary to popular belief, Tampa Bay was not a good fantasy landing spot for O.J. Howard. Many people forget that incumbent tight end Cameron Brate tied for the positional lead in touchdowns with eight last season. Brate was third among all tight ends with 11 red zone receptions. Howard will make some plays and certainly stretch the field, but the Buccaneers will trust the majority of touchdown catches to Brate in 2017.

No. 23 Pick: Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi

Team: New York Giants

Summary: When you are 6-3 234-pounds tight end and run a 4.42 40 yard dash, you are definitely worthy of a first round draft pick. Evan Engram‘s workout metrics are incredible, with all five scores landing in the 84th percentile or higher. He had a great senior season at Mississippi with 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight touchdowns.

Evan Engram Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The major problem is that Evan Engram‘s greatest strength is also his biggest weakness. He really is not an NFL tight end, as his size and metrics compare favorably to Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Engram is an atrocious blocker, and therefore will need to be used properly. He is a huge weapon in the passing game, yet can’t be trusted to protect the quarterback.

Fantasy Impact:  The Giants would have been better served drafting Miami’s David Njoku, a comparable athlete but much better blocker. The Giants need a tight end, but they also need someone who can protect 36-year old quarterback Eli ManningEvan Engram has a superior situation to O.J. Howard, but isn’t well-rounded enough to produce a viable fantasy stat line next season.

No. 29 Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami

Team: Cleveland Browns

Summary: The Cleveland Browns had a fantasy overall draft, and one of the highlights was drafting David Njoku.  Similar to O.J. Howard and Evan Engram, Njoku is an incredible athlete.  However to many analysts, he was the best all around tight end prospect in the draft. Njoku is a better blocker than Engram, and produced at a higher level than Howard. His 6-4, 246-pounds frame is impressive, but his 35 1/4″ arm length (97th percentile) really makes him the quintessential red zone target.

David Njoku Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The only issue with David Njoku is his landing spot. He could have been a TE1 with even an high end QB2 (Ryan Tannehill anyone?), but is now on a Cleveland team with arguably the worst quarterback situation in the league. Njoku only started nine games in two season at Miami, which can be attributed to his raw skills and young age (still 20 years old).

Fantasy Impact: Given the poor quarterback play in Cleveland, it’s difficult to recommend drafting David Njoku. Most fantasy formats only allow for one starting tight end, and there are simply better options in 2017.  The good news is he won’t have any competition for the starting job, but probably is nothing more than a waiver wire pickup who could have a TE1 week in the right matchup.

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