With the first round of the NFL Draft over, we take a look at the fantasy appeal of the offensive skill players for 2016.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Of the quarterbacks taken in the first round, my instinct tells me that Goff has the best chance of being a day one starter. This doesn’t mean that he’s immediately worthy of fantasy consideration. The Los Angeles Rams (it’s going to be a while before I don’t find myself typing St Louis) are bereft of talent at pass catchers, and have one of the best young running backs in the game in second year back Todd Gurley. If the Rams are going to win in 2016, they’ll do so on the back of their ground attack. They had the 7th most team rushing yards in 2015 with 1956, while finishing dead last in terms of pass completions (273), passing yards (2805) and passing touchdowns (11). Goff should top these modest totals, but even this achievement would not make him worth more than bye week starter consideration.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
After bringing in Chase Daniel to join Sam Bradford in the QB room, the Eagles looked to the future beyond 2017 by selecting Wentz out of North Dakota. Their plan is for Wentz to sit behind Bradford and learn the ropes, before making the reigns in 2017. These plans may be thrown for a loop by the incredibly commendable team first attitude adopted by Bradford (terribly sorry, I can’t find a sarcasm font), but it’s still highly likely that Wentz won’t see the field often enough to be on anyone’s fantasy radar just yet.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
As a fantasy player, this move excites me so much. As an Eagles fan, and divisional rival of the Cowboys, it makes me say “Aw, crap….”. Behind an offensive line that made DeMarco Murray a star in 2014, and still helped Darren McFadden to finish as the 4th leading rusher in the NFL last season with 1089 yards, there is no reason at all why Zeke shouldn’t be a first round pick in all redraft leagues. His rushing talents are obvious, but when you factor in his skills as a pass blocker and receiver (he caught 58 passes in his last two seasons for Ohio State), it’s easy to see that the Cowboys have locked onto a true three down workhorse. You should, too.
Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
The Browns have not exactly proven to be fertile ground for fantasy production of late, but Coleman is immediately the best wide receiver on the roster, and the most talented player at the position for them since Josh Gordon’s breakout 2013 season. A playmaker in the Percy Harvin mould, head coach Hue Jackson will have to be creative in his use of Coleman, who ran a somewhat limited route tree in college, using him on screens, short routes and maybe even occasionally as a rusher out of the backfield. It’s hard to bang the table for any Browns player in fantasy, but if Coleman sees high volume he could force his way into the WR2 conversation.
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
The Texans think Fuller can be a foil to stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins, giving them two legitimate threats at receiver. Blessed with blistering speed, Fuller has the ability to “take the top off” a defense, and has big play potential. He will put his share of balls on the ground, and this added to his somewhat limited skillset makes him a boom or bust option. One week, his four catches for 110 yards and a score will put you over in your matchup, while the one catch from five targets for 10 yards that he drops the next week will kill you. He’s no more than a WR3 in very deep leagues.
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
If Kirk Cousins is going to command a long term deal with the team from the nation’s capital, he’s going to need help in doing so. Doctson should be able to help him, and could signal the end of the Redskins career of either Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson. At 24, he’s an older rookie but he excelled at the collegiate level and is an athletic freak. Head coach Jay Gruden’s last three offenses have finished 8th, 11th and 11th in terms of passing yards, so Doctson is entering a very helpful situation, volume wise. His floor should be as a WR2.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
By all accounts the best overall prospect among wide receivers of this class, Treadwell has fallen to a perfect spot for his NFL career. The Vikings offense still runs through Adrian Peterson, plus Teddy Bridgewater is not blessed with a cannon for an arm. A receiver like Treadwell who is prepared to fight for contested catches, and put his body on the line for the team as a blocker, is a gift from the footballing gods for Teddy. Sadly, it will put a hard cap on his fantasy appeal. Bridgewater has attempted fewer passes than 20 other quarterbacks since the beginning of the 2014 season, and 24 have thrown more touchdown passes. Treadwell could have a darned fine NFL career, but he’s no more than a WR3 at the very best at present.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
In 2014, the 6’6 tall, big armed Joe Flacco threw for career highs in yards with 3986 and touchdowns with 27, playing in an offense run by first year Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Now, in his second year as the Denver head coach, Kubiak has a 6’7 quarterback, also blessed with big time arm talent, in Lynch. This is great news for Lynch, and fantasy owners…if you play in a Dynasty league. Lynch is a long way away from being an NFL starting quarterback, and is a good bet to redshirt in 2016 behind Mark Sanchez. He’s one to ignore in the short term, but in the long term? Look out.