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With the NFL draft approaching quickly, it’s time to look at some of the new faces getting ready to enter the NFL and how they will impact not only their new teams but Fantasy owners as well. In no particular order, here are some of the rookies that will end up being the top draft picks.
Deshaun Watson– Quarterback- Clemson- After winning a National title with Clemson, Watson is ready to go pro and could be drafted by any one of several teams with a Top 3 pick in need of a quarterback. The Browns have the first overall pick and need a quarterback desperately. Even though there aren’t many weapons on the offensive side of the ball in Cleveland, Watson would become an instant late-round draft pick in Fantasy as a proven playmaker at the college level. Watson finished his three years at Clemson with over 10,000 passing yards and 90 touchdowns. The 49ers and Bears also have Top 3 picks in the draft and could choose Watson if he’s available.
Mitchell Trubisky– Quarterback- North Carolina- If the Browns select Watson with the first overall pick, there is a good chance that the former Tar Heel could be the next player drafted. Trubisky would be in a similar situation as Watson as the Browns, 49ers and Bears all are lacking talent on the offensive side of the ball. Trubisky probably wouldn’t make a Fantasy impact right away, but he has the tools to get the job done in the NFL and for Fantasy owners. He finished his college career at North Carolina with almost 5,000 passing yards and 41 touchdowns, including 30 in his Senior year. Without the talent to help him out in Cleveland, San Francisco or Chicago he will have a hard time gaining the trust of Fantasy owners in his rookie season.
Dalvin Cook– Running Back- Florida- When the Jaguars pick at number four, Cook could be the first running back off the board since the Jaguars don’t seem to have a back they can trust. In the three years Cook played at Florida, he amassed almost 5,000 yards on the ground and made 79 catches for almost 1,000 yards while scoring 48 total touchdowns. His presence would help Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense immensely, as Bortles would have a ground game to complement the passing attack. Cook would take the pressure off their pass-only offense and he would immediately win over Fantasy owners with his ability.
Leonard Fournette- Running Back- LSU- Fournette finished his college career with almost 4,000 yards on the ground and 41 total touchdowns. The former LSU product could be selected over Cook and head to Jacksonville, where he too would make an immediate impact for Fantasy owners. If the Jaguars don’t take Fournette with the fourth pick, he could slide down to ninth overall for Cincinnati, or another team may trade up to acquire him since none of the teams after the Jaguars really need a running back (Titans, Jets, Chargers, Panthers). Regardless of where Fournette ends up, Fantasy owners can be sure he will make a difference right out of the gate.
Christian McCaffrey– Running Back- Stanford- McCaffrey could end up in the same position as Fournette and slip down in the draft with so few teams in the Top 10 looking for a running back. It may not matter where he ends up for Fantasy purposes, as he doesn’t seem to be as popular as Cook and Fournette. McCaffrey is just as decorated as either of the running backs that may be drafted ahead of him, as he finished his career at Stanford with almost 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns along with 99 receptions, proving he can hang in the passing game as well. NFL teams that pass on him (if they do) may regret it, and McCaffrey could produce for Fantasy owners right away depending on which team drafts him.
Mike Williams– Wide Receiver- Clemson- Right now, Williams could be the first wide receiver off the draft board in late April, and he could be the biggest Fantasy contributor right away in his rookie season. He finished his Clemson career with 177 receptions for over 2,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. Listed at 6’3" and 225 lbs., Williams could end up with the Bears drafting third and in need of a receiver after losing Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles in free agency. If that happens, it may be difficult for him to produce for Fantasy owners given the current quarterback situation in Chicago. If a team with a stable quarterback situation moves up to grab Williams, Fantasy owners should expect his value to be sky high from Week 1.
Joe Mixon– Running Back- Oklahoma- With all the legal troubles Mixon seems to have, he may cost himself a shot at being a first round pick. He will eventually be drafted at some point, as his talent seems too good to pass up forever. During his final year as a Sooner, Mixon rushed for 1,274 yards with double-digit touchdowns, so any team that drafts him can easily solve their issues at running back right away. Again, not many teams with picks inside the Top 10 need a running back. Between the lack of need and his issues off the field, he may easily drop later in the draft, but he should make an immediate impact with his new team in 2017.
O.J. Howard- Tight End- Alabama- The former Crimson Tide may very well be the first tight end drafted in late April, but he probably won’t go in the Top 10, even though every team selecting in the Top 10 could use a tight end of his caliber. His senior year at Alabama saw him finish with 45 catches for 495 yards and three touchdowns. His new team could benefit greatly from a tight end that can make plays and cause mismatches for defenses. Fantasy owners should expect Howard to be a starter from Week 1 and to make an immediate impact even if it isn’t Rob Gronkowski like.