Posted May 6, 2017
The NFL Draft has come and gone. Months of guessing where players would land and hours watching film of kids you think might get drafted are a thing of the past. Now starts the fun part; ranking these rookies now that we have the missing pieces to the puzzle we’ve all been trying to put together for months.
Consider this series one of those multiple course meals you would enjoy at a fancy restaurant or at a wedding; where the servers keep brining out small portions throughout the evening, and the food is very tasty and very well presented, with much attention to detail.
For me there are three players worth a spot in this first tier. We will start with Tier 1: The Top 3.
1.01 Christian McCaffrey RB: Drafted by CAR at 1.08
I know, shocker! No, it’s not Corey Davis…
Cam Newton is coming off a disappointing season and just had surgery on his throwing arm. CAR will want to get the ball out of Cam’s hands as quickly as possible. How better to make that happen then by drafting the explosive Christian McCaffrey. Just two seasons removed from taking one of the best offenses to the Superbowl, Shula certainly drafted McCaffrey knowing how he will make use of his many strengths. It would only make sense for the 19th ranked offense of 2016 to want to add a new dimension and some new weapons to Newton’s army. The 7th year QB has been taking a beating since he came into the NFL, so it’s about time the team starts taking measures to preserve their star quarterback for as many years as possible. Short passes to the backfield and the slot will certainly help alleviate some of that defensive pressure, and CMC is certainly the perfect running back to do it with.
The concern with McCaffrey, aside from his size, is about his landing spot. Many point out the relatively low number of passes to the running back in Carolina over the course of this regime. My response to that is who exactly has been there to catch these passes? Initially, I must admit I wasn’t thrilled about this landing spot, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like it. This is exactly what this offense needed. The fact that they spent two high draft picks, following up CMC at 1.08 with Curtis Samuel in the second round, on high flying explosive weapons, gives the fantasy community a good idea of where this offense is headed.
Some might disagree with McCaffrey at 1.01, but I strongly believe in a PPR dynasty, this is the closest thing to a guaranteed return on your investment as you’re going to find in this draft. He has a high floor, thanks to his pass catching ability and out of the slot capabilities. He also has a high ceiling playing in Shula’s offense , with that quarterback and with his versatility & talent. CMC fits the new NFL to a tee; speed, shiftiness, great pass catcher, versatility, confident between the tackles…I believe he has all the talent necessary to be successful, and his playing style will allow him to produce consistently on the field for years to come, making him a true RB1 for your dynasty team. McCaffrey is the ideal running back for the new NFL and should shine in Carolina paired up with Cam Newton, quickly becoming his favorite target . I see him as a PPR Monster.
1.02 Leonard Fournette RB: Drafted by JAX at 1.04
Prior to the draft, many believed that Fournette was for sure going to be the 1.01 in all rookie drafts this offseason. Then the draft happened, and even though he went exactly where everyone thought he would, he seems to have dropped down to as low as #3 on some rookie rankings. Like CMC, I don’t feel that his landing spot will hurt him that much. Yes, JAX had a regression offensively in 2016, especially their quarterback Blake Bortles. However, Bortles is well aware that his job is on the line, and I believe he will come back into 2017 with the same fire and work ethic he came into the league with before a successful 2015. And in case he doesn’t, Fournette himself played for a below average quarterback at LSU, forcing him agains 8+ in the box very frequently. He still posted over 6 yards per carry for two straight seasons. This, along with JAX’s solid defense, should help a runner like Fournette get 25-30 touches a game and produce like a true RB1, while grinding out 17-13 victorie for the Jags.
The concern with the 6-foot-1, 240lbs running back is he’s a very physical runner, and doesn’t avoid hits much. This could take a toll on him & his body over the years. If he can learn a bit of patient and show that he does in fact have pass catching abilities, LF should be a beast for the Jags and for your fantasy team. I wouldn’t knock anyone for drafting him anywhere in the top 3 picks of their rookie draft. No, he’s no Ezekiel Elliot, but he should be an elite RB1 in the NFL and a fantasy beast on your dynasty teams…if you’re lucky enough to get him.
1.03 Corey Davis WR: Drafted by TEN at 1.03
Davis seems to be the consensus #1 rookie coming into the 2017 season. He skipped the combine and ended up benefiting greatly or at least not hurting his value… unlike someone else on this list, Dalvin Cook. He lands in a very nice situation in TEN as the potential WR1 for the Titans, receiving the ball from Marcus Mariota, who when on the field is a fantasy stud himself. The only competition this small school receiver has coming into the league are Rashad Mathiews and Tajae Sharpe. Mathiews is a better WR2, and Tajae flamed out last year after a promising start. If Mariota can stay healthy and this duo can build some rapport, this could be the beginning of something special.
One question I have with Davis is how will he respond to being NFL defense’s #1 target every Sunday? The only other real threat in the air attack is Walker the TE, who is closing in on 34 years old. The Titans hope Davis can become their true WR1, however if we look at who he produced against in College, his numbers taper against better defenses. In fact, he only had one 100 yard game and 3 touchdowns in 6 games vs top level conference defenses. Can he become a leader at the wide receiver position for TEN? or is he simply an over-hyped WR2? Only time will tell, but certainly some food for thought.
It’s hard to argue with those that put Davis 1.01, but I have my questions; ones I don’t have with McCaffrey or Fournette. Hopefully for fantasy and the game itself, Corey Davis can deliver. I believe it might take him a bit longer then most expect, but he should certainly shine in the city of Titans once he and Mariota catch their groove. Don’t hesitate to get yourself a future WR1 by drafting Davis in the top 3 picks of your rookie draft. In some cases, you might be able to trade down a couple spots to maybe 1.02 or 1.03 and still get him if you know for sure the person moving ahead of you is like myself and has their eye on McCaffrey or Fournette.