For 1.6% of college football players, the NFL draft is a culmination of the hours of hard work both on and off the field each of them put in to realize their dream. It is also where some of the most important decisions of the upcoming fantasy football season are made.
When the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints selected a pair of running backs in the third round, although many people didn’t think it when it happened, they changed the course of the NFL season. It’s not just the individual player’s production, but how they elevate those around them.
With the addition of Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith was able to find his deep ball as defenses crowded the line to stop the run. Meanwhile, Drew Brees saw his fantasy numbers decrease with a heavier emphasis on the run game with two pro bowlers, including rookie Alvin Kamara, in the backfield.
With a new crop of rookies finding their homes, which quarterbacks’ stock rose and fell based on their team’s selections?
Post draft stock report: UP
2017 Stats: Missed entire season
It’s no secret that Andrew Luck has been in desperate need of some protection up front to keep him off the turf his entire career. In 2016, his last full season of play, Luck was sacked 7% of dropbacks and 41 times in total, which was third in the NFL. With Luck out for the entire 2017 season, backup Jacoby Brissett didn’t fare much better as he was sacked the most times in the NFL with 52 on the year, five more than any other player.
The Colts addressed this need with the selection of Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, an All-Pro caliber talent that should be a staple along this offense for 10+ years and Andrew Luck’s best friend. Despite the porous supporting cast that Luck has had to deal with through his first five full seasons in Indianapolis, he still has the fourth highest average amongst active players in fantasy points-per-game played with 19.42. That total is higher than the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger since Luck entered the league.
Nelson will provide day one impact and the subsequent increase in production for Luck (if he’s able to play) will be very noticeable for his fantasy owners. Luck has all the tools to be the top quarterback in fantasy, but he comes with serious risk as no one has seen him throw a football in over a year. He’s not in the Brady, Rodgers and Brees tier of fantasy quarterbacks, but after that isn’t out of the question.
2017 Stats (15 GP): 61.6 Comp. %, 3,468 yards, 19 TD, 13 INT
Much like Luck, Eli Manning has faced the short end of the stick when having to deal with a poor offensive line. New GM Dave Gettleman prides his teams on dominating the trenches and he set the foundation to do so in this year’s draft. With the second overall pick, the selection of Saquon Barkley will provide an immediate boost in the run and pass game as well as helping keep Eli off the turf. Taking Barkley and pairing him with UTEP guard Will Hernandez might be the point where New York Giants fans see their team turn the corner.
Hernandez is a big body that loves to wreak havoc and, like Barkley, he brings a positive presence in the locker room no matter what the team’s performance is (his team last season went 0-13 and he didn’t allow a sack all season).
#UTEP G Will Hernandez allowed 0 sacks, 0 QB hits and 1 QB hurry in 380 passing blocking snaps last season.
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) July 12, 2017
As we’ve seen from Tony Romo’s MVP caliber campaign in 2014, when given a semblance of a running game, talented veteran quarterbacks have shown the ability to flourish despite their older age. With a generational talent in Barkley paired with Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard on the perimeter, Eli Manning has the chance to be a top 10 if not a top-7 quarterback this fantasy season.
2017 Stats (12 GP): 59.4 Comp. %, 2193 yards, 7 TD, 7 Int, 2 rush TD
After his first season in the NFL, Mitch Trubisky will look to improve on his average rookie campaign with new head coach Matt Nagy. One of the prominent problems was the absence of any form of a number one receiver for this developing quarterback. For Bears pass catchers in 2017, the team leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns recorded 59, 614 and three are, respectively, the bottom three in the NFL for each category. In 2018 though, the Bears secure one of the top wide receivers on the free agent market in Allen Robinson, who has proven he can produce in the WR1 role.
They didn’t stop there though as they acquired the services of Trey Burton, an athletic/versatile tight end and selected Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller in the second round of the NFL draft. Miller has received comparisons to All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown due to his route running, ability to drag his feet near the sidelines and ability to create yards after catch.
Trubisky has the potential to be a special quarterback in the NFL and showed promise to do so in his rookie season. With the moves that the front office made to put the pieces around him it wouldn’t be out of the question for Trubisky to be a QB1 this season.
Post draft stock report: Down
2017 Stats (2 GP): 74.4 Comp. %, 382 yards, 3 TD
After opening the 2017 season as the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback, Sam Bradford will be remembered as the backup to Case Keenum, the guy that took the Vikings to its first Conference Championship game since 2009.
Now, after hitting the free agent market, Bradford hopes to have found a home with the Arizona Cardinals. This will be his fourth team in five years and if he thought he was going to be handed the starting job, he’s very mistaken.
With the tenth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Cardinals selected UCLA QB, Josh Rosen. For me, this was a steal of a pick and the perfect scenario for the Cardinals, but the worst for Bradford.
Rosen is looked at as the most NFL-ready QB of the crop of players in the draft this year and the future of the franchise. Early reports are that he’s been very impressive and the prospect of him starting week one isn’t out of the discussion.
With a hungry rookie waiting in the wings and Bradford’s lengthy injury history, I’m staying away from the journeyman in this upcoming fantasy season.
Despite his talented supporting cast that includes future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and All-Pro running back David Johnson, Bradford provides too much of a risk (zero full seasons played since 2012) with marginal returns for a position that is very deep this year.
2017 stats (16 GP): 61.3 Comp. %, 3,983 yards, 34 TD, 11 Int, 586 rush yards, 3 rush TD
No one player had to shoulder more of the burden for his team last year than Russell Wilson did for this Seattle Seahawks offense. Wilson wasn’t only the leading passer for his team; he was also the team’s leader in rushing.
Let’s not forget this guy is a QUARTERBACK, that’s incredible.
There was only one touchdown that Wilson didn’t account for this season, whether he threw the ball or ran it. Not to mention that he was running for his life from defenders that got past the Seahawks soft offensive line while he was carrying the team on his back.
In 2017, Wilson was sacked the fourth highest total in the NFL, 43 times. The sacks total doesn’t truly illustrate the dysfunction that Wilson was under because his supreme athleticism allows him to evade incoming defenders better than anyone else in the league.
With the complete disarray in front of a franchise quarterback, one would think that the Seahawks would use a first-round pick on to improve the team’s most glaring hole.
They didn’t. Instead, they selected San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny; who is a solid player, but with a deep draft class at that position and the return of Chris Carson (208 yards and 4.2 ypc in 4 games last season), a physical runner that showed promise before going down with an injury, this didn’t feel like the right pick to me.
The team also released veteran tight end Jimmy Graham who led them in touchdowns (10) and came in second for receptions (57) last year to further hamstring Wilson’s potential production both on the field as well as in fantasy. With the mess of an offensive line that will make it difficult to run the ball as well as provide ample time in the pocket to go along with the lack of weapons at his disposal, Wilson is looking more like a top 10 to 15 quarterback this year as opposed to the top five talent he possesses.