NFL Draft – Day 1 Fantasy Reaction

By James Fotheringham – @NFLhypetrain

So round 1 is in the books and while there wasn’t a flurry of trades, there were a lot of significant picks and a lot of changed fantasy outlooks. To save you flicking between tabs here’s the shakedown of round 1 (On the night trades in Yellow and previous trades in Orange).

1-3 Early QBs:

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson went #1 and #2 which was of no surprise to anyone. Both will be the franchise QBs for their team and while the Jets may need a year to settle in all their new pieces (including 14th overall pick Alijah Vera-Tucker on the O-Line) the Jags are possibly in a position to contend for a playoff berth right away. Laviska Shenault becomes a major buy in fantasy and for redraft DJ Chark and Marvin Jones will also have value. They may look at TE on day 2 but there are other areas of interest that we will come back to later. At pick 3 we finally got the answer as to who the 49ers were aiming for and that answer was Trey Lance. Lance was the player in mind when they made the trade with the Dolphins and to me it’s the right pick for the team and great for fantasy. Samuel, Aiyuk, Kittle and to a lesser degree the RBs are all getting healthy upticks and while Jimmy G will start the season, I think Lance takes over before the season ends. Of the 3 picks, only Lawrence is really worth considering in redraft but in Dynasty all 5 QBs chosen will go early in 2QB and Superflex formats.


3-6 Skill Players:

Many people expected trades here with Fields still in play but teams had zeroed in on players and they took them. The new regime in Atlanta wanted to make a statement and taking Kyle Pitts certainly did that. Hayden Hurst drops right out of the top 24 while Matt Ryan, Julio and Ridley all should see upticks. There is a chance that Julio gets traded to help the Falcons cap situation and Pitts now makes that slightly more palatable. I don’t see him moving thought as they are a few good defensive draft picks away from being a challenger. The Bengals couldn’t resist pairing up Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase in an LSU reunion. They still need help on the O-Line but the draft has fallen well for them in that regard. If they sort the line out, Chase, Higgins and Boyd could all be top 30 fantasy Wide Receivers which feels crazy to say with it being the Bengals but times are changing. The Dolphins were then left essentially choosing which one of Tua’s old Alabama team-mates to reunite him with. They went with the speedier Waddle which surprised me but him and Will Fuller is scary. Tua is going to be underrated in fantasy drafts due to how many good QBs there are but he’s an excellent QB2 for Superflex now. Waddle on the other hand will have to share work with Fuller on the outside but does have the chemistry from college which Fuller (who is coming in on a 1yr deal) doesn’t.


7-9 Not fantasy picks but huge implications:

The Lions took Penei Sewell to help with their rebuild which is going to take a few years but he’s a great start. Carolina and Denver both had Fields available, both had Rashawn Slater there too but they went for Cornerbacks. It was a position of need for the Panthers but a position of strength for the Broncos… I thought they may have been trying to formulate a deal for Aaron Rodgers as the Packers need CB help, but their pick of Eric Stokes ends that hope. It caused chaos down the chain though as Dallas, Philly and Arizona were all eyeing Surtain and Horn.

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10-12 Two trades, one changed franchise:

Well… The Cowboys were so stunned they traded IN DIVISION with the Eagles! Of all teams! The Eagles jumped the Giants to grab Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith to help Jalen Hurts. Both have serious fantasy value in my eyes and Hurts running upside means he will be taken as a top 10 QB and he’s probably worth it. Then the big move happened. The Giants don’t often trade down, especially in round 1 and they managed to get a 2022 first from the Bears and some later round picks to move down 9 places to 20. Twitter was panicked that Justin Fields was falling to the Patriots but this move ensured he went to Chicago and gave Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace a chance as saving their jobs. This looks like a potential franchise changer and while he won’t start week 1, by the end of the year he should be feeding a resurgent Allen Robinson, huge rising Darnell Mooney and any receiver they draft later on. I’d temper expectations on David Montgomery but really, Bears fans are getting a rare chance of being big winners. To complete this set Dallas came out of their shocked state to pick Micah Parsons to replace the retired Sean Lee at LB.


13-19 One trade and a non-trade:

The Chargers were big winners as Rashawn Slater fell to them at 13 which is a major win for Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler. The Jets traded up to pick 14 to grab some previously mentioned O-Line help while the big call came at 15. The Patriots were left deciding whether to make Mac Jones their QB of the future or a defensive piece and kick the QB issue down the road. They went for Jones and after the 49ers, the Patriots may have been the next best fit. He might not even start this year but will take over from Cam next season and if there’s a team who can create a successful system QB out of Jones, it’s probably New England. Elsewhere, the Cardinals take a Linebacker in Zaven Collins, the Raiders continue to be the Raiders and reached a long way down to grab “their guy” at tackle in Alex Leatherwood. Miami had the chance to grab Najee Harris but instead (perhaps wisely) addressed the Edge with Jaelen Phillips and Washington chose Jamin Davis at LB.


20-23 Worth the wait? :

Giants fans waited patiently for their pick, they then had to wait a bit longer due to the trade down and when the pick came in, the looks of disbelief and anguish were clear to see. They wanted Devonta Smith but were sniped by the Eagles and at 20 they went for Kadarious Toney… With Linebackers and tackles still on the board they reached a long way to pick the 4th WR off the board and not the one people expected. It’s arguably good news for Kenny Golladay shares and probably Daniel Jones too, but Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton now look to be staying on the waiver wire. The Colts got Edge help with Kwity Paye, the Titans took the risk on Caleb Farley after his surgery, while the Vikings waited out and still got O-Line help in Christian Darrisaw.


24-25 Was that the rush you expected? :

The Steelers have a lot of needs, especially on the O-Line, but with James Conner gone and a team that usually likes a power run game they wanted their power back and with Najee Harris being there, they took what they wanted. If they address the O-Line then he really should be excellent in fantasy with the lack of major opposition. The fact that no offensive linemen went off the board for the rest of the round will make the Steelers feel like they made the right call; and the very next pick by the Jags must have made them feel even better about it. The Jags doubled down on offense by taking Trevor Lawrence’s Clemson team mate and Running Back Travis Etienne. This is maybe the biggest move when it comes to fantasy value as a tandem of Robinson and Etienne is great for the Jags but iffy for fantasy. They could become a Chubb/Hunt, but similarly they could become a Singletary/Moss. I expect both will be drafted highly but taking them will be a gamble. If they drop enough though it’ll be a much discussed risk/reward situation.


26-27 Playing Catch-up:

The Browns might have caught themselves out here as I don’t think Cornerback was their biggest need but they went for Greg Newsome and other defensive talent remained on the board. The Ravens have struggled to get receivers to sign for them so they’ve drafted one instead in Rashod Bateman. Bateman should become the #1 option for Lamar Jackson ahead of Marquise Brown and while it’s not the best fit, he still has value, more than Brown had last season. Mark Andrews is in the same situation as before, he needs a bounce back year and there’s enough distractions in the passing game for him to have opportunities but he needs Lamar to use him better.

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28-32 Things get very Edgey:

Amazingly no trades happened after the mid-round flurry and the draft somewhat petered out with the Saints, Bills, Ravens and Bucs all taking edge rushers. The only exception to the edge rush in this segment was the Packers who should really have been trying to please a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers by getting him either some protection or a weapon. Instead they take a cornerback and leave their relationship very much in Jeopardy.


Some things to look for in rounds 2 & 3:

O-Lines:

Teams like the Bengals and Steelers need help on the O-Line and the earlier they take someone, the better the outlook is for their B and Running backs in fantasy.

Running Back Run:

With Harris and Etienne gone Javonte Williams is the one marquee option left and with the dolphins, Jets and Falcons all in need, two of them are going to be looking at alternative options like Chuba Hubbard, Trey Sermon and so on.

On the receiving end:

Elijah and Rondale Moore, Terrence Marshall, Amon-Ra St.Brown and Dyami Brown may all find new homes on day 2 with the Bears, Titans, Colts, Packers, Chiefs, Saints and Lions all certainly in the hunt.

Tight on Tight Ends:

There’s a few options at Tight End with Pat Freiermuth being the big name remaining but not end of potential suitors. The Jags, Titans and Panthers would be the best fits and I expect one of them might go down that route.

The “other” QBs:

Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond and Davis Mills could become projects for teams preparing for a transition (Washington, Atlanta or Tampa Bay for example) or those unconvinced of their options and wanting some competition (like Detroit).

Trades:

There’s a few players who might get moved as a part of deals for picks in the 2nd or 3rd round. Namely QB’s like Drew Lock and Nick Foles and I still feel the Patriots are open to trading CB Stephon Gilmore for picks. I’d also wonder if the likes of Zach Ertz and Evan Engram will find new teams once Freirmuth is off the board.

There’s a lot of big questions which have been answered but there’s many more left to be answered and some new ones to be asked. Let’s do it all again tonight shall we!

Featured Image credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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