Projecting What 2016 NFL Draftees Will Have Year One Fantasy Value
In an extremely defensive-heavy NFL draft, there are still several players on the offensive side of the ball that will instantly impact the fantasy football universe. Let’s go through each round and look at the players we expect to provide the biggest year one impact. Keep in mind we are talking specifically about the 2016-2017 season, so players that may need a year or two to develop won’t find their way onto this list (quarterback class).
Round One Picks
Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
We have high year one expectations for Elliott in year one… He’s instantly, at very worst, the third down back. I expect McFadden or Dunbar to be released, leaving some sort of Morris/Elliott time share with Elliott getting all of the work on passing downs. Anytime a guy this explosive is on the field for three downs, it’s fantasy gold.
Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns
We know the two routes Coleman can run right now: a zero yard screen, and a big play go… Can this translate into a PPR guy that doubles as a Travis Benjamin-esquebig pay threat? Only time will tell, but we are willing to bet on a guy that was super-human in college football over the last two seasons. Keep in mind Coleman put up mind-blowing numbers on an offense that had Jay Lee (now with Lions), Anwan Goodley (now with Seahawks), Levi Norwood (now with Steelers), and KD Cannon (still at Baylor soon to be playing on Sundays).
Laquon Treadwell – Minnesota Vikings
I have to admit I was disappointed when the Vikings ended up getting Treadwell, who I thought was the most NFL-ready receiver in this class. However, when you compare the situation he’s walking into with the other teams that drafted receivers in the first round, I am warming up to the idea of Treadwell as a Viking. Doctson wound up on a Redskins roster that is fairly loaded at the pass-catcher positions, and I’m not sold Osweiler is good enough to make Will Fuller fantasy relevant next season. Treadwell will start day one, and should be the primary red zone target for a playoff team with an accurate QB and top running game.
Round Two Picks
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
In a fast-paced, pass-heavy offense, we have been dying for the Giants to find a #2 receiver for the past two seasons. Shepard is a perfect fit here… He has the perfect mindset, makeup to be a number 2 receiver… runs great routes, plays hard every down, has good hands, good speed, and is consistent enough to punish teams that double team OBJ.
Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals
See above… Boyd is NFL-ready… Great ball skills, great hands, adequate size and speed, can run the complete route tree, and gets to play in a proven system with a guy that demands double-teams on the other side of the field.
Round Three Picks
Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons needed a tight end… Kyle Shanahan and Matt Ryan needed a tight end… They got a great one. I like Henry a little more, but I don’t think we can trust a rookie number 2 tight end in the Charger offense that spreads the ball all over. Hooper isn’t a Y… he’s a pass catcher with great speed, who runs perfect routes. We expect him to start over Tamme right away and be a force on this high-power Falcons offense.
C.J. Prosise – Seattle Seahawks
Prosise will step in and be the third down back for the Seahawks… In fact, Carroll has said he expect Prosise to spell Rawls on the occasional drive. So we are looking at a guy that should play around 25 snaps, get 6-10 carries per game, catch 3+ balls, and have some impact as a value play for the Seahawks.
Cody Kessler – Cleveland Browns
Cody Kessler may not be 6’6″ with a huge arm, but we agree with Hue Jackson that behind Goff, he was the most NFL-ready QB in this draft. Kessler is athletic (ran a 4.8), is durable, and is an NFL-QB level decision maker. In three years as a starter at USC, Kessler had 88 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while running a pro-style offense. In just three season, he put up top 10 all time Pac 12 numbers in nearly every statistical category. Kessler will start day one and could be a matchup play on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Round Four Picks
Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams
There is a group of daily fantasy players that will tell you Higbee is the most talented pass-catching tight end in this draft and it’s hard to argue. He’s an ex-receiver that dropped only one ball last season. Higbee is 6’6″ – 250 lbs and runs a 4.6 50 time… Not quite Eric Ebron, but borderline 1st round TE numbers. He’s instantly not only a starter, but one of the primary weapons in an offense that should improve with better QB play this season.
Pharoh Cooper – Los Angeles Rams
Safe to say we love what the Rams did in the third round… Good luck keeping this guy off the field. He’s Randall Cobb, and we think the Rams will use him similarly. He can run the ball out of the backfield, has great hands, can break big plays, and shredded SEC defenses the past three seasons.
Round Five Picks
Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles
When Ryan Matthews gets hurt, we could see Smallwood step in as a change-of-pace and 3rd down back behind Kenjon Barner who also has durability concerns given his size and running style. He had the combine’s best 3-cone time and 60 yard time, and ran a 4.47 40 yard dash. Combined with the production at West Virginia last season, Smallwood may end up being a steal in round 5.
Rashard Higgins – Cleveland Browns
It was hard for NFL execs to get too excited about Rashard Higgins coming out of Colorado State… He’s not blazing fast (4.64 40 time) and his production dipped last season when the system changed. That being said he’s arguably the best route runner in the entire draft, has great hands, and off the chart confidence. Combine that with opportunity in an offense that is guaranteed to start two rookie receivers next season, and Higgins should be fantasy relevant week one.
Round Six Picks
Round Seven Picks
Keith Marshall – Washington Redskins
The fastest RB in the draft (4.31 40 time), as a 7th round pick, Marshall has an uphill climb to even make the roster for Washington. That being said, he’s currently the 3rd back behind Chris Thompson who is coming back from shoulder surgery, and Matt Jones who has never been able to stay healthy. If Thompson isn’t back for the start of the season, and Marshall flashes in the preseason, he could become a household name in a hurry.