Fantasy Implications: The Draft’s Immediate Producer Candidates – by Gabriel Cabistani

Finally, the 2018 NFL Draft is done! Obviously, many fantasy questions come with that such as: Who will be the most productive rookie? Who will be the most productive QB? Who can I plug and play? Those sorts of questions can come in abundance, so this article will aim to give you some perspective about who will produce right away, who can be a steady scorer but is not ‘hyped’ and also which defenses can get a good fantasy boost after their draft additions. In a mini-series consisting of three artices exclusively for Across The Fantasy Pond- I will aim to answer all these questions. 

Immediate Producers

Saquon BarkleyFirst round, 2nd overall  pick – New York Giants

Perhaps the most obvious choice in this article, Barkley is a one-of-a-kind talent, who had arguably the greatest combine in NFL history. A very fast, strong and hard working player, Barkley will be the 3DRB the Giants have been looking for.

The Giants have not had an undisputed RB since Tiki Barber, Barkley’s stats in college justify that this is what he can be – he amassed 1,856 total yards and 31 total TDs in his Senior year, this franchise needs a player that can deliver these numbers in the big time. 

On top of that, if his teammates keep healthy – he may be part of a very explosive offense alongside superstars like Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and also behind a vastly improved o-line. That smells like at least RB2 production even in PPR formats as he proved for Penn St. he can also be utilized in the passing game.

 

Josh Rosen – First round, 10th overall pick  Arizona Cardinals

Assuming that he will win the QB battle at some point before week 1 – which should’t be too hard considering Sam Bradford’s health issues – Rosen is probably the most production-ready rookie QB in this class. The UCLA standout had a good Junior year, throwing for 3,756 yards and 26 touchdowns, but his tape was the most impressive aspect of his game. Poise, accuracy and intelligence are his best qualities, and the Cardinals’ offensive pieces may help him tremendously to amass fantasy points. Watch for David Johnson produce incredible receiving numbers again and Larry Fitzgerald to keep his amazing hall-of-fame production going.

jrosen
Photo Credit: Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire

If Rosen can overcome the doubts that some skeptics have about his leadership skills, off-the-field issues and passion for the game concerns, he could become a very viable QB streamer for your fantasy teams.

 

D.J. MooreFirst round, 24th  overall pickCarolina Panthers

The scenario is almost perfect for Moore. Drafted by a team with a so-so WR1 in Devin Funchess, an often-injured TE in Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey more likely to be more involved in the running game since Jonathan Stewart’s departure- he is probably be the most talented WR for the Panthers this season.

Moore is often compared to Stefon Diggs who also came out of the Maryland collegiate program- but is a little bigger and probably not so creative. Nevertheless, he was named the 2017 Big Ten Receiver of the Year, catching 80 balls for 1,033 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Strong and fast, Moore will be a very solid option for Cam Newton to throw to. There are some concerns about deficiencies in his route-running, but his ability to break away after the catch might make him an elite big-play threat. Look for Moore to be a perennial WR2/Flex in your fantasy teams this season, especially as he’s likely going to be available in the mid to late rounds of re-draft league drafts. 

 

Sony MichelFirst round, 31st overall pickNew England Patriots

As Dion Lewis left in free agency, the Patriots needed a convincing, dynamic running back to take Lewis’ place in the offense. Sony Michel fits this description very well– a smart, strong and explosive RB who can also pass protect. 

He’s not the best pass catcher though but Rex Burkhead and James White are still there to are likely to fill that gap – so I think it’s advisable not to expect a hefty PPR production out of Michel.

Michel made a very prolific partnership with Nick Chubb in Georgia where he ran for 1,227 yards in 156 carries (with a superb 7.9 yds/attempt) and 16 rushing TDs. This player has a very good opportunity to be the bruising, relentless, unforgiving RB that the Patriots have been missing since releasing LeGarrette Blount.

If used properly – which he likely will as he will play for arguably the greatest coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick – Michel can be the starting RB for the Patriots, and give fantasy GMs a solid RB2 option. 

 

Mike Gesicki  – Second round, 41st overall pickMiami Dolphins

This is my largest gamble as the Dolphins offense can be very hard to predict. Everyone knows that Ryan Tannehill is a bit of a gunslinger, but it is hard to ignore the physical talent that Gesicki is- 6’6”, 247 pound TE who ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and also played high school basketball at a good level.

mgesicki
Photo Credit: Chris Knight/AP

He’s a receiving tight end with very good hands, size, athleticism and route running. Gesicki can prove almost impossible to cover at times and has drawn similarities to none other than Jimmy Graham, including the unwillingness to block. For fantasy instances he might be a PPR weapon with Jarvis Landry leaving 112 receptions and 9 TD’s up for grabs in Miami.

I expect the former Nittany Lion superstar to strike up and early rapport with Tannehill which could see him become a favourite target in the redzone. Watch him be a TE2 or a very viable streamer this fantasy season.

 

Christian KirkSecond round, 47th overall pickArizona Cardinals

Kirk is perhaps the most pro-ready receiver in this class, as his work ethic, mentality, intelligence and play-making ability may give him a cut above the rest in this draft class.

A second team SEC WR in 2017, Kirk had 71 receptions for 919 yards and 10 TDs, with two returning TDs to add to his impressive college resume. His career at Texas A&M consisted of more than 3,000 all-purpose yards and 40 TDs – a remarkable feat.

His skill set screams slot WR, and he may make a great duo with the aforementioned legend Larry Fitzgerald. He can also contribute in special teams, so that’s something to watch if your fantasy leagues reward players for returning kick offs and punts.

In PPR formats especially, Kirk can be a very solid WR3/Flex option in your re-draft leagues this season. He’ll find himself likely paired with fellow rookie Josh Rosen and this could be the start of a long and fruitful NFL partnership for years to come. When is your dynasty draft?!

 

Thank you for reading this article- make sure you have your say by commenting. With the next article in this mini-series I will be addressing this seasons’ fantasy sleepers from the 2018 NFL Draft.

By Gabriel Cabistani – @GC_Titans

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