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Fantasy Files - Impact of the Draft Part 1

First look at the new names on your cheatsheet to consider during fantasy draft season and what they could mean for your championship run. This week - QBs and WRs.

Don't let your fake football team be like the Rams
Don't let your fake football team be like the Rams
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With the dust settled from the 2016 NFL Draft, let’s take a quick look at the new names and how to file them away for your fantasy football drafts in August. This week we’ll take a look at QBs and WRs. Next week, we’ll finish up with RBs and TEs.


Generally, I would never advocate for drafting a rookie signal caller. This year, I’m yelling at you emphatically to take anyone else but a rookie. Not only is this year’s crop underwhelming, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path to snaps for many of them. This is hardly surprising, but we’ll recap quickly.

Jared Goff (LAR) will most certainly start on opening day, but do you really trust a rookie throwing to Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, and rookie Pharoh Cooper? Exactly. Carson Wentz (PHI) would have a more dynamic group of pass catchers to throw to if he didn’t project to be dressed in street clothes for 2016 as resident pouter Sam Bradford and highly paid backup Chase Daniel will likely man the offense and clipboard respectively.

After the top 2 guys, we’re looking at Paxton Lynch (DEN), a raw talent that scouting reports all agree needs 1-2 years of seasoning before he’s ready, and Christian Hackenberg (NYJ), who was terrible the last 2 seasons sans Bill O’Brien for the Nittany Lions. Both of these guys might start some games with Mark Sanchez in Denver and Geno Smith in New York currently sitting in the top spot, but neither of these guys should sniff your fake football roster.

Third rounders Jacoby Brissett (NE) and Cody Kessler (CLE) are interesting for very different reasons. If New England was willing to sink a 3rd rounder into Brissett, that could indicate a willingness to move Jimmy Garapolo or reveal a low level of confidence in his ability to get the job done. Someone will start the first 4 games in place of Tom Brady this fall and if you’re looking to make a discounted Tom Brady investment, you can make a case for stacking the New England backup. Kessler’s arrival in Cleveland means that if Robert Griffin III really is broken and the Browns are enduring another lost season, Kessler might get a few starts late in the year to air it out.

The fourth rounders would all need injuries to see the field – Conner Cook (OAK) will backup rising star Derek Carr, Dak Prescott (DAL) will backup (falling?) star Tony Romo, and Cardale Jones will learn behind the underrated Tyrod Taylor. Injuries happen frequently in this league and at the QB position. Prescott would be the most intriguing given the offensive line and premiere wideout in Dez Bryant.

In summary – know the names, but please don’t draft anyone outside of deep keeper leagues.


We’ve been spoiled the last few seasons with rookie wide receivers making an immediate impact and blowing up the notion that a WR needs at least a year in the NFL to contribute. Whether that’s clustering of elite talent, the rise of the spread offense in college, or a combination of the two, it does mean that sitting on your hands could cost you with the WR position. We’ll run through the top 10 names in descending order of excitement for fantasy purposes.

10. Daniel Braverman – Bears – Let’s get the homer-pick out of the way first. Braverman was rated as a mid-round pick by some outlets but slipped to the Bears in the 7th round due to his diminutive size and small-school pedigree. The road for Braverman is a long one, given that Eddie Royal and Marc Mariani will start the year clearly ahead of the Western Michigan product. However, if it shakes out that Braverman can run out of the slot with a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White on the outside, Cutler may enjoy targeting someone with high YAC potential.

9. Malcolm Mitchell – Patriots – Anytime Bill Belichick drafts a wideout, there are incredibly high hopes that they can capture a significant percentage of the Tom Brady workload. Mitchell is listed at 6’0", 198 lbs. and enters a room with some uninspiring names behind Julian Edelman (Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson). Mitchell was, at one point in his collegiate career, thought of as a potential first rounder before a torn ACL. If he can pick up the Pats offense, he could be a sneaky end of the roster guy to consider.

8. Braxton Miller – Texans – After DeAndre Hopkins, there’s not a lot to target in this passing game (helps explain why Hopkins looked like he was getting ALL the targets last year). Miller is one of two receivers the Texans drafted (see Will Fuller below) but don’t sleep on Miller’s path to snaps. A dynamic playmaker for the Buckeyes, Miller could press for time competing with last year’s 3rd rounder Jaelen Strong and former Jaguar Cecil Shorts.

7. Corey Coleman – Browns – This might seem low for the #1 WR off the board in the NFL Draft, but I’m not sure Coleman was the best receiver in this class nor do I like the situation Coleman is walking into with RG3 throwing the ball. Coleman will almost certainly be a starter but he might even be asked to act as a WR1, drawing the better corners in man coverage.

6. Tyler Boyd – Bengals – Cincinnati signed two former New England castoffs (Brandon LaFell and Brandon Tate) to help replace the departures of Mohammad Sanu and Marvin Jones. I don’t think either will stand in Boyd’s way to earn the WR2 slot in the Bengals offense, which has been a useful position at times over the past few seasons. The Bengals lost Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson to the Brown’s head coaching gig so we don’t know exactly what the offense will look like but Boyd is a second tier talent that could win a starters role in a good offense.

5. Laquon Treadwell – Vikings – Treadwell has a clear path to a starting gig as Stephon Diggs and Jarius Wright are the only names that are worthy of the role. The question is, what do you think about Teddy Bridgewater and how often will the Vikings ask him to throw? Treadwell might have a shot at redzone targets, but this is a team built on defense and running the football. Don’t be surprised if Treadwell gets lost in the gameflow more often than not.

4. Will Fuller – Texans – Similar to above with Treadwell, what do we think about Brock Osweiler? It’s very possible this Texans unit gets back to running the ball effectively with Lamar Miller and company and relies on JJ Watt and whatever 10 humans he plays with to carry the game. However, Miller will have every chance to start opposite Hopkins and brings a different skillset to the offense.

3. Josh Doctson – Washington – The final 3 are all guys I can see myself buying into once training camp starts to reveal depth charts. The path to snaps isn’t quite as clear for Doctson as some of the lower rated guys on this list with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson established starters and Jamison Crowder coming on in the slot last year. Doctson was my favorite receiver in this class and has too much ability to sit the sidelines. Washington and Kirk Cousins could be a fun watch this season and Doctson figures to be a red zone threat that only Jordan Reed can currently offer.

2. Sterling Shepard – GiantsEli Manning takes a lot of heat in fantasy circles but he started to really take off in the new offensive scheme in the second half of the year and he’s always had the ability to keep more than one receiver viable. It’s less about Shepard competing directly with Victor Cruz as this team will likely run all 3 receivers out there if Cruz is healthy, and more about Shepard getting a significant number of targets to be viable. With the Giants defense still broken and no discernable improvements to the running game, I can see Shepard emerging as a solid WR2 on your fake rosters this fall.

1. Michael ThomasSaints –Thomas was an interesting pick by the Saints as he projects to start opposite Brandin Cooks. You may remember that Willie Snead provided some quality starts on this offense last year and while he still lurks on the depth chart, Thomas outpaces Snead’s talent. The worst defense in the league lives in New Orleans. One of the best quarterbacks in the league lives in New Orleans. Talent meets opportunity and no one ever lost money betting on Drew Brees in fantasy.