• Fantasy Football Calculator's NFL Draft Preview

    By Patrick Whelan, April 23, 2018
    Sam Darnold Usc Trojans

    This draft preview takes a look at the top incoming rookies, their likely landing spots, and which destinations present the most fantasy upside.

    Quarterbacks

    Likely to be drafted in the first two rounds

    • Sam Darnold
    • Josh Rosen
    • Baker Mayfield
    • Lamar Jackson
    • Josh Allen

     

    Teams with the highest quarterback need

    • Cleveland Browns
    • New York Giants
    • New York Jets
    • Miami Dolphins
    • Buffalo Bills

     

    The 2018 quarterback class has shaped up as the big 5, with apologies to CBSSports and their obsession with Mason Rudolph. The five main suitors for the prospects are the Browns, Giants, Jets, Dolphins, and Bills.

    Beyond these teams, there are also numerous other locations with precarious quarterback situations who could swoop in if any of these top five players that drop. Those include the teams with stop gap solutions like the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins or those with aging QBs like Baltimore, San Diego, New Orleans, and even New England.

    Of the five most likely landing spots, the best option is a bit murky. The Giants are perceived as the top spot for any of the prospects with their offensive weapons and generally well run organization. The Browns actually have the best offensive line of the group, and could be on the come up, but… it's the Browns. That will be known as quarterback purgatory until someone changes it. The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills are also all acceptable if slightly uninspiring destinations. If you are concerned with early playing time, the Bills and Jets are going to be the teams that have the fewest barriers to entry.

    Running Backs

    Likely to be drafted in the first two rounds

    • Saquon Barkley
    • Derrius Guice
    • Ronald Jones II
    • Sony Michel
    • Nick Chubb
    • Kerryon Johnson

     

    Teams with the highest running back need

    • Detroit Lions
    • New York Giants
    • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Indianapolis Colts
    • Cleveland Browns

     

    That's a pretty long list of running backs above, and it's highly unlikely that all of them go in the first two rounds. In fact, the gap from Derrius Guice to the rest of the list is pretty large when looking at mock drafts, and it's possible that teams wait until the third to grab another RB beyond Guice.

    Like quarterback, you could conceivably put half the league into the "needs a running back" category. The combination of the running back by committee revolution and aging superstars means a number of teams will end up snagging a player from this very deep class. But the teams listed above are the most likely to make the move early.

    From this list, the Lions have to be the best landing spot for a running back. While their run blocking was not great, they have the best offense on the list and a stable core. The Buccaneers also have the ability to be an above average offense and would be a decent landing spot. And don't sleep on the Browns, whose running backs averaged 1.8 yards before contact last year, good for 8th best in the league.

    Wide Receivers

    Likely to be drafted in the first two rounds

    • Calvin Ridley
    • Courtland Sutton
    • James Washington
    • Christian Kirk
    • DJ Moore

     

    Teams with the highest wide receiver need

    • Baltimore Ravens
    • Dallas Cowboys
    • Arizona Cardinals
    • Buffalo Bills
    • Chicago Bears
    • Atlanta Falcons
    • Jacksonville Jaguars
    • New Orleans Saints

     

    Most mock drafts are surprisingly consistent in having these 5 wide receivers being chosen by some combination of the teams above. In the mock draft world, solidarity can be tough to come by, so it speaks to the consensus tiering of the top 5 to the rest of the wide receivers in the draft.

    The teams that need a wide receiver present much happier destinations than the quarterback or even running back selectors. Four of the teams have above average quarterbacks, two have average quarterbacks, one has an up and coming young gun and one has Blake Bortles. The best destination would clearly be the Saints or Falcons, and any player that heads south would have a chance to contribute right away.

    Tight Ends

    Likely to be drafted in the first two rounds:

    • Mike Gesicki
    • Dallas Goedert
    • Hayden Hurst

     

    Teams with the highest tight end need:

    • Baltimore Ravens
    • New Orleans Saints
    • Seattle Seahawks
    • Miami Dolphins
    • Denver Broncos

     

    Fantasy impact for tight ends in year one is few and far between, not to mention it is a pretty thin tight end draft to begin with. It's seems probable that we will get through the first round with no tight ends taken, with the three players above falling into the second or possibly the third. Gesicki is a pure receiving target (think Jimmy Graham) while Goedert is a receiving lean with some blocking, and Hurst can do it all.

    When looking at the teams that need a tight end, I only listed the teams that are looking for receiving threats. Teams that need blocking tight ends most likely won't use an early round pick on it and those players won't be helpful from a fantasy perspective. The best landing spot here is going to be a team that features the tight end in their offense and has a low barrier to entry. Baltimore and Seattle both stand out with those qualifiers. New Orleans is also an ideal spot but would be a longer play since Coby Fleener would still command most of the snaps in 2018.

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