Now that the 2018 rookie class is set in stone, it’s time to look at where these new fantasy stars might wind up in upcoming rookie drafts. We took three of our writers and created our first look at a potential mock draft scenario based on theoretical landing spots determined from an NFL mock draft put together by DraftWire.
The rules were simple: using the projected landing spots of the incoming rookie skill position class, make your selection based on a standard PPR dynasty league. The writers taking part (listed in the order they drafted):
Pick 1.01: Saquon Barkley, RB – Colts
TT: The consensus first pick for the past year, this landing spot does nothing to sway my opinion of Saquon Barkley’s value. Assuming Josh McDaniels is the Colts head coach next season, Barkley will be entering an offense with a creative play caller and some explosive weapons to draw opponents out of the box in T.Y. Hilton and (presumably) Andrew Luck. Barkley might be one of the most clear-cut consensus 1.01 picks in a long time if he tests well and is drafted as predicted. The talented RB would need to see a significant stock decrease in the form of either injury or off-field matters to begin considering alternatives like Derrius Guice or a wide receiver. Some have called into question Barkley’s vision and desire to break a big play rather than take what’s given, but the potential for greatness is too great to pass up. I’d expect him to contest for RB1 status regardless of landing spot immediately.
1.02: Derrius Guice, RB – Ravens
RB: With Barkley being officially taken off the board, the selection at number two is not a difficult one. Should Derrius Guice land with the Ravens’ power zone blocking run scheme, expect him to start over 2017 breakout Alex Collins and dominate immediately. Guice’s unique combination of power and agility will allow him to find immediate success with Baltimore’s run-to-pass offensive goal. He will almost certainly produce RB1 numbers in 2018 and easily find himself amongst the top 10 running backs in the dynasty landscape. Because the number two pick in rookie drafts will likely always be a two-man board consisting of Barkley and Guice, the new Baltimore Raven running back makes this selection a simple one.
1.03: Calvin Ridley, WR – Bears
MV: There are a few teams that could go wide receiver before the Bears pick at eight. However, I think those teams (Jets/Broncos) go in different directions. Therefore, the neediest team is Chicago. Kevin White is practically done, while Markus Wheaton and Josh Bellamy are below average. Dontrelle Inman did some good things when he arrived from San Diego but will need to be resigned. Kendall Wright also had one of his better seasons. Since Mitchell Trubisky will need weapons to throw to, it might as well be the number one receiver off the board in Calvin Ridley. The receiver from Alabama is one tough playmaking dude. He runs great routes and breaks in and out while exploding through cuts. He is a YAC monster with a quick release off the line. Even though Ridley needs to enlarge his frame and could be taller, his body control combined with his outstanding leaping ability is off the charts.
1.04: Courtland Sutton, WR – Browns
TT: This pick had me torn between three players all selected at the top of the second round, and it ultimately came down to the player I think has the best chance to evolve into a big play #1 WR in this class. Courtland Sutton played at a smaller school, but his combination of size, speed, and ability to make the contested catch has been on display over the past few years. Going to a place like Cleveland would offer Sutton the ability to operate as a secondary weapon in the early stages of his career before taking over as the #1. New OC Todd Haley should be able to involve Sutton, Josh Gordon, and Sony Michel (drafted by Browns three picks later in the DraftWire mock draft) creatively and develop an exciting young offense in Cleveland. Michel and fellow RB Ronald Jones were in the debate for me at this stage in the draft, but the possibility of picking up a future stud at WR was too much to pass up.
1.05: Sony Michel, RB – Browns
RB: When is the last time two Cleveland Brown rookies were both selected in the top five of a dynasty rookie draft? Should Sony Michel land in Cleveland, he would without a doubt slide into the lead role with Isaiah Crowell likely leaving in free agency. Though Duke Johnson is still an intricate part of the passing offense, a permanent move to slot receiver may be imminent. Michel has an all-around ability and can contribute on all three downs with excellent explosiveness and agility. Michel was an easy selection for me at 1.05, so do not hesitate to take him inside the top five if he’s offered a chance to handle the workload.
1.06: Ronald Jones II, RB – Jets
MV: The Jets have Matt Forte and Bilal Powell both under contract for just one more season. More than likely, Forte will be cut this offseason and Powell is on his way out at the end of 2019. Elijah McGuire is a 2017 sixth-round rookie draft selection, but he has a limited skill set. Therefore, a running back is in order. Getting Ronald Jones in the second round would be optimal. Standing at 6’1 and weighing 200+ pounds, he has a good one-cut and runs with good speed. He can take it the distance at a moment’s notice. Jones has fluid hips and can get around the corner. He has solid balance and vision and can absorb contact. Due to his smallish size, his pass protection is limited. No significant injuries to note either.
1.07: Nick Chubb, RB – Redskins
TT: Nick Chubb may not be as hot a commodity now as the backs taken ahead of him, but at least at one point in his career he had every bit the talent and upside as the other two. After a devastating knee injury, Chubb has slowly begun to regain the form that made him a devy darling a few years ago. Heading to the Redskins offers an immediate path to early down work, with Chris Thompson still likely to come in on 3rd downs. Chubb’s power and balance seem to be close to back to normal and those attributes should allow him to bring stability to a position that has been in flux for the past few years in Washington. Someone like Auden Tate offers a lot of upside in Dallas, but Chubb seems like the safer pick here, and if he can fully regain his explosion, he has a chance to be a special RB in the NFL.
1.08: D.J. Moore, WR – 49ers
RB: D.J. Moore is a name that has consistently risen over the final couple months of the college season. Because of his explosiveness and ability to get off press coverage, he reminds me of a slightly thicker and stronger Golden Tate. If Moore does land in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan will have a field day with the endless possibilities of what he can do with the versatile Maryland product. In an actual rookie draft, trading down would be a preferred option at this pick due to the number of available players with similar values such as Auden Tate and James Washington.
1.09: Christian Kirk, WR – Jets
MV: The Jets have a long future at the slot position. New York went with ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen in the 2017 draft but still lack weapons. Kirk can fill that void due to his speed and aggression. When looking at Kirk, you will notice he has a big frame and can produce plenty of YAC. Good comparisons are Golden Tate with speed and Julian Edelman. Kirk can also play the wing, just like Tate. He may even start there if Robby Anderson is released. Look for Kirk to move around the sidelines in various positions to get him in the open field. The Jets were also middle of the pack when it came to returns, so Kirk should be able to boost that as well.
1.10: James Washington, WR – Packers
TT: Any time the Packers draft a WR you must take notice. The Packers WR corps could look quite different in 2018 – the contract given out to Davante Adams pretty much guarantees either Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb will be gone, and it’s possible that both are. That leaves an opportunity for the 2017 Biletnikoff award winner to step in and start producing right away. Washington is on the smaller side but has shown a knack for getting open deep during his college years that would serve as a nice compliment to a more physical intermediate game like Adams possesses. A trade down is still looking like a smart move in this range, but Washington gets the call here over Auden Tate based on the QB situation and over Rashaad Penny based on potential.
1.11: Dallas Goedert, TE – Jaguars
RB: The Jacksonville offense was surprisingly somewhat efficient despite Blake Bortles being under center. Assuming the team will place the franchise tag on superstar wide receiver Allen Robinson, the only real missing piece to the offense is a reliable pass-catching tight end, and there is no doubt Dallas Goedert would bring that to the team. He is a hard-nosed kid who will fight for contested catches and shows no fear when playing across the middle. He is most comfortable when splitting the seam, so expect him to have an immediate, Jordan Reed-type impact on both the Jaguars and all dynasty landscapes. Because he has top-12 dynasty tight end potential, the selection is a no-brainer over other receiver options such as Auden Tate and Anthony Miller.
1.12 Equanimeous St. Brown, WR – Browns
MV: The Cleveland Browns are going to need a wingman opposite Josh Gordon. Brown is a tough match-up problem and will cause havoc in the red zone. Whoever is at quarterback will love his fade and ability to wall off defenders. He didn’t produce as well as many expected in 2017, but it’s hard to ignore his route running, hands, speed, and body control.
2.01: Auden Tate, WR – Cowboys
TT: At this point in the draft, upside becomes more and more desirable and Auden Tate offers plenty in his 6’5” 220 lb. frame. A sneaky good route runner for his size, Tate was seemingly held back in college due to subpar QB play, but he was still able to display a penchant for scoring touchdowns. Despite rumblings to the contrary, it doesn’t appear as though Dez Bryant is leaving in 2018, which works to Tate’s advantage. Spending a year working under and playing with a superstar like Bryant would help Tate refine some technique and learn how to use his size to win matchups most effectively. He may not produce instant results, but Tate landing in Dallas would set up nicely for his long-term prospects.
2.02: Anthony Miller, WR – Bills
RB: Once upon a time in 2014, the Buffalo Bills’ receiver corps consisted of Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, and Marquise Goodwin. Fast forward to the present, and all of them are playing significant roles for other teams. Despite a trade for left tack– I mean tight en– I mean wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills need a pass-catcher who can release quickly off the line of scrimmage and create separation on all levels of the field. Anthony Miller meets all criteria and would immediately produce as the team’s go-to target. I would feel comfortable taking Miller as early as 1.09, but in the early second round, he provides great value across all formats.
2.03: Kerryon Johnson, RB – Raiders
MV: The Oakland Raiders will be looking for a full-time running back, and Kerryon Johnson is exactly that. A 5’11” 210 lb back that reminds scouts of Le’Veon Bell, Johnson has great patience with sudden burst. Johnson sees the field well which allows him to make great decisions quickly. He is average in pass protection and injured his shoulder in 2017. Johnson also dealt with other minor injuries. He must feel good to enter the draft, as he is only a junior. A big gamble considering the talent at the running back for the class of 2018.
2.04: Rashaad Penny, RB – Buccaneers
TT: ‘Incumbent’ Peyton Barber had some decent games towards the end of the year, but Rashaad Penny heading to Tampa Bay would be an instant upgrade to the running game on a young offense. Penny is built solidly and has flashed the ability to break long runs during his time at SDSU. Those qualities, particularly the big plays, should allow him to take over early downs and give him a chance to stay on the field for passing downs over the disappointing Charles Sims. Penny on the Bucs offers an intriguing combination of talent and opportunity that results in solid value at this point in the draft.
2.05: Mark Andrews, TE – Bengals
RB: At this point in the second round, it is time to begin throwing darts in hopes of landing major upside. In the right system, Mark Andrews could most definitely produce low-end TE1 numbers. With a skill set like that of current Bengal and often-injured tight end Tyler Eifert, Andrews could slide right into the offense and provide Andy Dalton with a reliable and healthy option at the position. Mike Gesicki was another option here, but Andrews is without a doubt the better all-around tight end and would likely see more targets than Gesicki would in the projected Green Bay situation.
2.06 Royce Freeman, RB – Lions
MV: Royce Freeman won’t blow you away in any department, but what he will do is get the job done at a successful level. He has good vision to go along with strong redirection skills and balance. He will not explode off the screen, but he could be one of the better blockers in this running back class. Freeman left Oregon leading as the leading back in school history (5,621 yards), which is second in Pac-12 history behind Charles White, and sixth in FBS history. The one concern is how Freeman will produce in a tighter box and against more athletic athletes in the NFL. At Oregon, they use more of a spread formation which as a result, offered Freeman less of a stack. However, he is a full-time runner with size (5’11, 231 lbs.) that can catch.
2.07: Sam Darnold, QB – Giants
TT: There are a couple more intriguing skill players to think about here, but the second half of round two is where I’d start targeting this quarterback class, and I think Sam Darnold lands in the best spot. Darnold’s final year at USC didn’t meet the lofty expectations placed on him after tearing up the Rose Bowl in 2016, but he still flashed the potential that had pro scouts in a tizzy entering the year. Heading to New York offers the young QB a chance to sit and learn behind one of the more cerebral QBs in the game, which is exactly the type of tutelage that can help Darnold become an exceptional starting QB for years to come. Entering the league with that learning opportunity, along with the plethora of receiving weapons and new HC Pat Shurmur, I like Darnold’s odds of developing into a QB1 in the near future.
2.08: John Kelly, RB – N/A
RB: Though he was not selected in the DraftWire mock draft in which we’re referencing, John Kelly has all the talent to compete for an immediate role in a team’s offense. The Tennessee product runs with an extremely low pad level to go along with his unique combination of power and agility. Despite the lack of long speed, Kelly wins in other ways and will most definitely be taken somewhere in the third or fourth round when the draft rolls around in April. Should they choose to address bigger needs such as linebacker and offensive line in the early rounds, the Raiders would be a prime landing spot for the early-down runner. I expect his stock to rise from now till spring continually, so this selection was an easy one as I did not consider anyone else.
2.09: Baker Mayfield, QB – Jets
MV: The collective group of Josh McCown (free agent), Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg doesn’t include a quarterback that any team would be willing to build their franchise around. Baker Mayfield is exactly what these quarterbacks are not. He is undersized (6’2” 214 lbs.) and can be erratic with reading the field properly, but he can make all the throws and can fit passes into tight windows. Mayfield has great mobility and is difficult to sack, plus he has the leadership qualities teams covet. However, sometimes he mixes up being a leader with being a mature one. He will need to learn how to transition from a college style offense to a pro system, but he has all the skills necessary to be a respected playmaker in the NFL, especially if you love those gunslingers.
2.10: Josh Adams, RB – 49ers
TT: There a few more recognizable names on the list at this point, but it’s tough to pass up the chance to grab the next back to get a crack at lead duties in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Josh Adams crushed it last year at Notre Dame from an efficiency standpoint (6.9 yards per carry) while showing off a powerful running style to go with his 6’2” 225 lb. frame. An understandable criticism for a back this size is a tendency to run upright, and this combined with an injury dating back to high school (ACL) are slight causes for concern. Additionally, Adams was rarely utilized as a receiver at Norte Dame, so that’s a part of his game that’s a big unknown and critical to develop if he’s going to become a true three-down back. At this point in the draft, most prospects are going to have flaws to their game, so whether it’s Adams or a guy like Kalen Ballage with minimal production in college, it becomes more important to consider landing spot. With that in mind, Adams holds the trump card of going to an emerging offense with a head coach known to produce quality RBs.
2.11: Michael Gallup, WR – Chiefs
RB: Michael Gallup is an advanced receiver coming out of Colorado State who attacks the set-up leverages of opposing corners, thus creating separation on desired route combinations. Standing at 6’0” 198 lbs., Gallup has a viable frame to play against NFL defensive backs and win on a consistent basis. His draft stock will likely reach the mid-3rd round after the Combine and his pro day. He would be a fantastic value for Kansas City, who desperately needs another reliable target opposite speedster Tyreek Hill. Gallup is another player whose stock has a good chance of rising throughout the entire draft process, making this selection relatively easy.
2.12: Kalen Ballage, RB – N/A
MV: This freak athlete is not in DraftWire, but he should be. Kalen Ballage received several positive reports during Senior Bowl week, and his stock should begin to climb. It may rise even higher when he completes the Combine in Indianapolis. Ballage is great in pass protection and has solid receiving skills. He is a 6’3” 230 lb wrecking ball that has some thinking Le’Veon Bell. Ballage has great speed for his size (23.3 mph), but he needs to make quicker decisions and lower his pad level when trucking over defenders. Even still, Ballage’s ceiling is huge. I see him moving up the boards quickly, and he could be the surprise star in the draft.