It’ll takes years of player development and performance before we can accurately judge the 2017 NFL Draft but what good has patience ever done anyone? You’ve got a fantasy draft coming up in a few months! Let’s take a look at some of the big rookie names that’ll be in play come August.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
As you’ve no doubt heard, the 2017 NFL Draft was not a strong one for quarterbacks. Apparently, that little tidbit didn’t make its way to the Chicago Bears who went full Leeroy Jenkins and barreled headfirst into an insane trade for the 2nd overall pick in order to snag Mitchell Trubisky. It’s entirely possible that, before he’s even snapped the ball once, Trubisky is already more hated in Chicago than Jay Cutler ever was. Read that sentence again. It doesn’t seem possible and yet, after signing Mike Glennon to a preposterously lucrative free agent contract, the Bears went all in on Trubisky and, well, here we are. This is what self-combustion looks like in the NFL. There is no fantasy value here. Trubisky likely won’t start until mid-season and has no one to throw the ball to. Apologies to the Kevin White truthers out there.
Verdict: Expect confusion, conflict and chaos in the Windy City. Hard pass.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
The one QB that warrants a late round flyer for this upcoming season resides in Houston. After the Brock Osweiler debacle, the Texans moved up to select Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. Watson comes to the NFL as seasoned as any college quarterback in recent memory, having guided Clemson to a National Championship in 2016 only a year after finishing as the runners up. He’ll have to supplant Tom Savage for the starting role this summer but that’s not exactly an insurmountable task. Sorry, Tom, if you’re reading this. It’s tempting to draw comparisons to Dak Prescott and his 2016 rampage through the league – the Texans do have a plethora of weapons to support Watson in Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller – but Houston’s offensive line is a far cry from Dallas’ earth-shattering unit. While Watson has upside, it won’t be realized for some time, so drafting him is likely to be a poor use of your draft assets, especially with several other proven QB2 options at your disposal.
Verdict: Avoid Watson in your draft but keep an eye on the waiver wire after a few weeks.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Like the Bears, the Kansas City Chiefs decided that all the “no good quarterbacks here” talk was nonsense and traded up to grab their quarterback of the future, Patrick Mahomes, with the tenth pick. But unlike Chicago, Kansas City actually has a proven (if uninspiring) quarterback under center in Alex Smith so we’ll likely have to wait a few years before we get to see whether or not Mahomes can realize any of his Favre-ian potential. In the meantime, Smith figures to command the Chiefs for at least one or two more seasons and probably won’t be on your fantasy board anyway.
Verdict: Barring a Smith injury, Mahomes won’t see any meaningful playing time this year. Don’t even think about it.
Leaonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Unlike the disastrous quarterback spot, the 2017 draft class offers a few viable fantasy options at running back. The Jacksonville Jaguars seem set on creating a new identity for themselves after drafting LSU standout Leonard Fournette whose physically imposing running style is contradictory to the fling and sling offense that Gus Bradley built around Blake Bortles. With Bradley fired, new head coach Doug Marrone is looking to rebuild the ground game and Fournette easily provides the punch he’s looking for. The Jags envision Fournette carrying the ball 20-25 times a game, with T.J. Yeldon spelling him on 3rd downs. Fournette should handle the rock at the goal line as well, so don’t expect any vultures here. There’s potential for a quality RB2 pick with Fournette, however, if Jacksonville’s putrid offensive line cannot deliver, the Jags will be doomed to another air show from Bortles.
Verdict: Draft Fournette at a decent price or in the mid-rounds and slate him as an RB2 or Flex.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey’s playing style might be the exact opposite of Fournette’s. McCaffrey’s game – based on his speed, agility and soft hands – should make him a fantasy delight. Carolina has long been associated with a boring and plodding offense and McCaffrey adds a much-needed bit of juice to the lineup. He should be an excellent complimentary back for veteran Jonathan Stewart out of the backfield while providing extra punch as a receiver. Cam Newton will seek McCaffrey on a multitude of screens and swing routes since the Panthers see McCaffrey as a Reggie Bush or Theo Riddick type. Although he’ll likely only see 10-15 carries a game, his contributions in the passing game add significant value, especially for PPR owners. Something to keep an eye on in the preseason: will the backfield be too crowded with rookie RB/WR Curtis Samuel also in the mix?
Verdict: Draft McCaffrey as a Flex play or as the first RB on your bench.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
The post-Adrian Peterson era has begun in Minnesota. The Vikings snagged Latavius Murray in free agency and doubled down on their new backfield by drafting Dalvin Cook in the 2nd round. Cook has power, speed and a knack for finding the end zone. He’ll compete with Murray for carries and could get the nod if Murray gets hurt or can’t produce early on. Cooks passing catching ability should challenge 3rd Down back Jerick McKinnon in the passing game as well.
Verdict: Cook’s value should increase over time but, for now, stash him deep in your bench in the late stages of your draft.