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Fri Apr 30th 2021

First Round Draft Analysis

Hey Fantasy Freeks! It's finally here! It's the NFL draft weekend!

I'll write short in-time reports about my thoughts on each dynasty-relevant pick in the draft and give my ideas about how each pick affects the dynasty value of other players on their new teams.

1.1 - Travis Lawrence

  • Lawrence should be the first draft pick in superflex leagues and a first-round pick in 1-QB leagues. He's a can't-miss prospect like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. He's proved it on every level. Jacksonville wide receivers D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones will benefit from his presence and get an immediate boost in their dynasty value, especially the younger Chark and Shenault. Jacksonville may draft a running back in the second round, leaving James Robinson's status in limbo during day two of the draft. I've moved him up to my #7 dynasty quarterback between Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow. He's an immediate top-10 dynasty quarterback.

1.2 - Zack Wilson

  • Zack Wilson rode the wave of an incredible 2020 COVID season to an unexpected #2 pick in the NFL draft. I initially had him ranked as my fourth-ranked rookie quarterback prospect but slowly moved him up my rankings after hearing more about his work ethic and the Jets' plans to draft him #2. His draft capital demands a rise in his value, but he's still my third-ranked quarterback behind Lawrence and Justin Fields. I have questions about his pedigree and don't trust the Jets organization and new coaching staff as much as other teams. He's going to have to prove it to me on the field. For now, I have moved him up to #16 in my dynasty rankings between one proven player, Ryan Tannehill, and a player with much to prove, Daniel Jones.  He has to establish a report between the diverse wide recerivers in New York, including the veteran Jameis Crowder, the first-round free agent Corey Davis, and second year Denzel Mims.  All receivers should rise in dynasty value slightly, but it will take time to establish  a connection with these middle-tier wide receivers.

1.3 - Trey Lance

  • The 49ers finally revealed the mystery. San Francisco kept their pick a secret from everyone, including Lance. I had Lance ranked ahead of Wilson and behind Lawrence and Fields in my early rookie rankings but moved Wilson up as he'd draft capital rose. Now that Lance was drafted at 1.3, Lance is ahead of Wilson again. I have Lance ranked #13 in my dynasty ranking now, just behind Tua Tagovailoa. Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to get traded during draft weekend. Even if he is not, Lance will be the starter sooner than later. Lance immediately bumps up the value of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, while Kittle's value remains the same since his value can't rise much higher.

1.4 - Kyle Pitts

  • Pitts is a generational talent based on every NFL scout's analysis, as evidenced by him being drafted #4. I've already moved Pitts up to my #6 dynasty tight end. He is an immediate boost to Matt Ryan's dynasty value, even at his age. I moved Ryan up from #16 to #11 just based solely on the addition of Pitts. Julio Jones dynasty value has slowly been declining, and this adds to his decline. Jones always suffered from a lack of red-zone targets. He will even more now. He'll still end his career scoring fantasy points with catches and a ton of yards receiving when he plays, but Pitts will keep Jones's value on the decline. Calvin Ridley, however, should hold his dynasty value while defenses have to pay attention to three top-tier weapons.

1.5 - Ja'Marr Chase

  • Joe Burrow is now reunited with Chase. Cincinnati decided to work on their offensive line later in the draft, much to the dismay of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd managers. Chase's addition is excellent for Burrow's dynasty value, but Boyd stands to lose the most as Higgins and Chase will be the 1A and 1B in Cincinnati for the next decade, just as I wrote about last week. The Bengals offense now rivals the Cowboys with one of the best wide receiver corps in the league. Chase is one of the best prospects I've ever evaluated, and I have already moved him to #7 in my dynasty rankings, five spots ahead of Tee Higgins at #12.

1.6 - Jaylen Waddle

  • Tua Tagovailoa is now reunited with Jaylen Waddle. I've been notably less high on Waddle than most analysts. I am concerned about his injury history and believe that the fastest and most explosive athletes do not usually make for the best NFL wide receivers or dynasty values. Such players often help NFL teams but not fantasy teams. His draft capital will move him up in my rookie rankings, but not as high as other analysts. I moved him up to #26 overall in my dynasty wide receiver rankings between Chase Claypool and Brandin Cooks. As I wrote about last week, I believe the addition of Waddle kills Preston Williams's value but not DeVante Parker, who will start alongside Waddle. Will Fuller only signed a one-year contract, so he will not factor in the dynasty value of pass-catchers beyond this year. Waddle is their new Will Fuller. Tua has the most to gain by this pick and remains my #13 ranked dynasty quarterback. 

1.10 - DeVonta Smith

  • Philadelphia traded up to draft the Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. He's reunited with his former quarterback, Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia was a team whose scouts I trusted the most, but in recent years they have disappointed. J.J. Arcega Whiteside was a bust drafted ahead of D.K. Metcalf and Jalen Reagor, though injured for some of the season, was drafted ahead of Justin Jefferson last year. That makes me nervous for Smith. I tentatively moved him up to #23 in my dynasty wide receiver rankings, four spots ahead of Waddle. I have Jalen Reagor ranked #35 and will not move him down. Smith and Reagor should compete for the WR-1 position in Philadelphia, and I would not count out Reagor for becoming a better receiver than Smith. Both will help each other, but only one will win the WR-1 job. Jalen Hurts benefits most from this, as Philadelphia had the opportunity to draft Justin Fields but did not. It's Hurts' job now, and I have him ranked #16 in my dynasty quarterback rankings only because the three rookie quarterbacks drafted this year have already moved ahead of him.

1.11 - Justin Fields

  • Chicago did an excellent job trading up to get Fields for a steal. Fields was my QB-2 in the rookie class-leading up to the draft, and he remains so now. I've moved him immediately up to my #11 dynasty quarterback ahead of Zack Wilson and Trey Lance. All those (including myself) in superflex leagues that thought they backed into a starting quarterback with Andy Dalton are now reeling. Dalton's value rose a bit after signing with Chicago, but now his dynasty value has plummeted yet again, and he's bound to be a career backup. Allen Robinson may have a top-tier quarterback for the first time in his career, leading him to sign a long-term contract with the team instead of or after his current franchise contract. Darnell Mooney sees an immediate bump in his dynasty value, too, though, as I shared last week, Chicago is very likely to add a wide receiver on day two of the draft. Now that they drafted Fields, they have even more reason to do so.

1.15 - Mac Jones

  • New England stayed pat and wound up getting their future quarterback without having to trade up. Jones was my fifth-ranked rookie quarterback throughout the process and remained so after the draft. He's behind an all-pro quarterback, Cam Newton, and will likely sit for a year unless Cam gets injured. His signing does not affect the dynasty value of any other New England players, but his first-round draft capital raised him to my #28 ranked quarterback. He'll get every chance to become the future starter for New England.

1.20 - Kadarius Toney

  • The Giants surprised me by drafting a wide receiver, which I predicted they would not. I've been way lower on Toney than most dynasty analysts. He's only had one productive year in college and seems to me to be more of a gadget player that would be good for an NFL team but not a dynasty team. I'll stand by this. I only moved him up to my #56 ranked dynasty wide receiver. Given his draft capital, I had to move him up, but that's as high as I could get him. He's another weapon for Daniel Jones who has no excuses not to improve after the Giants added Kenny Golladay, John Ross, and now Toney in the draft. Jones has yet to prove himself, so his value stays the same for me (QB #19) despite adding these play-makers. I thought Sterling Shepard was a winner after the Giants signed Golladay since he could return to a more natural position in the slot. Unfortunately, Shepard now has the most to lose with Toney joining the team. Shepard has a contract through 2023, so I am still hopeful that he will be a part of the offense, and I have him ranked #44 ahead of Toney. I liked Shepard far more than Toney when they were drafted, but his age and this signing could close the gap quickly a few weeks into the season.

1.24 - Najee Harris

  • Harris has been my #2 rookie ranked behind Ja'Marr Chase from day one of my evaluation. His landing spot in Pittsburg will keep him #2 throughout the rest of the offseason. I moved him up to my #7 ranked dynasty running back. Pittsburg has one of the worst offensive lines in the league, but they should focus the rest of their draft picks on the offensive line, and it could be that their horrific running game statistics were partly to blame on their poor running back play. As I predicted in last week's article, Harris would get drafted by Pittsburg and kill the value of Anthony McFarland and Jaylen Samuels, leaving only Benny Snell as a back-up option worth keeping on rosters.

2.25 Travis Etienne

  • I'm writing this article during the draft, and as I wrote earlier, Jacksonville may draft a running back, killing the value of James Robinson, the most traded player in all of my leagues the last year. All of the managers who sold Robinson high have won in a significant way. Robinson will be quickly replaced by Etienne and become the back-up, and Carlos Hyde's dynasty value will finally come to an end. I moved Etienne up to my #10 dynasty running back. The new coach, Urban Meyer, will know how to deploy Etienne's specific skills, which worked so well in college. Uniting him with Trevor Lawrence will help him get off to the right start immediately. The fight for Javonta Williams will get intense now that two running backs have been drafted back to back.

Rashod Bateman (1.26)

  • This pick was the most disappointing pick of the first round, in my opinion. Bateman was my second-ranked wide receiver in my rookie rankings, but he was drafted by a team and quarterback in Lamar Jackson that can not capitalize on his talent. Baltimore's offense is too run-heavy and Jackson too inaccurate to make a wide receiver great. They drafted the type of wide receiver they needed with size and catch radius, but they did the same with Miles Boykin two years ago. Bateman is far better than every receiver on the team, including the first-round pick in 2019, Marquise Brown. I'm just don't believe Jackson and the Baltimore offense can capitalize on Bateman's incredible talent. I could only move Bateman up to #35 in my dynasty rankings, 16 spots ahead of Marquise Brown at #51. I won't re-rank my rookie rankings until after the draft is complete, but there is no way Bateman will remain my #2 rookie wide receiver.

Comments

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Nice job getting all of this updated in real time!

Fri Apr 30th 2021

Dave Mugge

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate the support!

Fri Apr 30th 2021

Justin Christopher

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