2018 NFL Draft fantasy football live blog, pick analysis

After months of mocks and pro days and workouts and takes, we’ve finally made it. Welcome, to the 2018 NFL Draft. It feels great to be here. The draft is one of my favorite events on the NFL calendar, and this year’s offering figures to be one of the most wild, entertaining, and potentially franchise-altering we’ve seen in quite some time. So many teams need a quarterback, and with five to six franchise caliber passers in this draft (depending on who you ask), there could be plenty of trades and moves that shake up Night 1.

With so many passers shuffling around the draft board, there will be wide-ranging fantasy implications. And that’s before we even get to where Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore and the other top skill position players land. The fantasy football landscape will look a lot different after the next few days, and we’ll finally have (most of) the information we need to start preparing in earnest for fantasy football drafts this fall.

All weekend long I’ll be updating this page live during the draft with analysis of the fantasy relevant picks. I won’t be commenting on defensive selections, so apologies to you true IDP degenerates who were hoping for that insight. Bookmark this page and keep coming back, or just catch all of my thoughts once this thing wraps up on Saturday.

And with that, let’s get to it.

1. Cleveland BrownsBaker Mayfield, QB: As expected, the Browns get their quarterback. But is it the QB everyone expected? Mayfield has the arm, accuracy, mobility and big-game experience to thrive in the spotlight. He also may not be pressed into starting immediately with Tyrod Taylor joining the Browns this offseason. However, Mayfield carved up nearly every defense he faced in college, and will get to attempt to do the same in the pros with an enviable amount of talent around him. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, David Njoku and Seth DeValve will make life easy for Mayfield once he gets under center. When that is, remains to be seen.

2. New York GiantsSaquon Barkley, RB: Widely regarded as the best overall prospect in this draft class, Barkley is headed to the Big Apple. He immediately becomes the workhorse, featured back in the Giants offense, whose depth chart is, well, abysmal. The big question for ultimately determining Barkley’s value will be how much Eli Manning has left in the tank. If Manning, finally with a running game, can keep his arm strength beyond Week 6 Barkley will have ample scoring opportunities. Last year in Minnesota, Pat Shurmur’s quarterbacks targeted the running backs on 17 percent of their throws, but with a talent like Barkley that number could rise in New York. Right now, Barkley looks like a first-round fantasy pick, probably going in the second half of the draft though after the true elites like Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and Antonio Brown.

3. New York JetsSam Darnold, QB: The consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft goes No. 3 overall, and Jets fans couldn’t be happier. Darnold was viewed as one of the most pro-ready prospects in this class and will get to learn from Josh McCown, who has frequently been praised as an excellent mentor/teacher. Darnold probably won’t light up the fantasy world as a rookie, but in time he could have yearly late-round appeal.

6. Indianapolis ColtsQuenton Nelson, G: Normally I wouldn’t put lineman in here, but let’s all just thank the football gods Andrew Luck got some more protection. Of course, this all hinges on whether or not Luck ever plays again, but the eternal optimist in me likes this pick a lot. The Colts offensive line has been a disaster for years and Nelson is unanimously viewed as an absolute stud.

7. Buffalo Bills (via trade) – Josh Allen, QB: Our first trade came later than expected in the draft, but it was from the team we all expected. Allen going to Buffalo basically gets a “nah wave” from my fantasy-wise. An inaccurate passer goes to a team lacking any semblance of meaningful playmakers outside of LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay. I’m hoping for the best for all of Bills Mafia out there, but right now, I’m indifferent.

10. Arizona Cardinals (via trade) – Josh Rosen, QB: Following in the Bills‘ foot steps, the Cardinals jump up for the quarterback they desperately needed. Rosen lands in a better situation than Allen, in that he gets to throw to future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and hand the football off to David Johnson. Rosen might have some late-round, 2QB intrigue, but right now this looks like a better long-term move than an immediate one for fantasy purposes. To this point, Rosen would probably be my QB1 in dynasty rookie drafts.

PLAYER TRADE: Raiders give up a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant: This move makes all the sense in the world for the Steelers. They get a higher draft pick (third-round) than they originally spent on Bryant back in 2014 (fourth-round), and with JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s emergence last year, Bryant (nearing the end of his contract) became expendable. The Raiders also needed some juice in their passing game, and Bryant will provide that in spades. He joins a crowded group with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson already in tow, though.

24. Carolina PanthersD.J. Moore, WR: All-time great Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith called Moore his “spirit animal” earlier in the night on NFL Network, and now Moore will attempt to fill Smith’s massive shoes for the Panthers. This is a perfect pick for the Panthers, pairing Moore’s speed and route-running with Devin Funchess‘ size. The Panthers offense is set to sizzle now, and Moore will absolutely have late-round appeal. He’ll have to battle Torrey Smith early for looks, but their roles will be different and I’d expect Moore to make his presence known in this offense sooner rather than later.

25. Baltimore RavensHayden Hurst, TE: Hurst is viewed by most draft analysts as one of, if not the most, complete tight ends in the draft, and the Ravens desperately needed one. The reason Hurst is so complete, however, is that he’s 24 years old (and will turn 25 before the season starts). That certainly dings his dynasty prospects, but he might be one of the rare rookie tight ends who can come in and make an instant impact. At 6-foot-4, he’ll be an instant factor in the red zone. Plus, Joe Flacco has a history of heavily targeting his tight ends. Husrt will be one to watch on the waiver-wire or in late rounds of deeper leagues.

26. Atlanta FalconsCalvin Ridley, WR: Fantastic fit for player and team here. Ridley was among the best wideouts in this class, but few viewed him as anything close to a No. 1. Good news for him, he now gets to run all his routes opposite Julio Jones. Not too shabby. Plus Matt Ryan gets an excellent route-runner who can create separation at all levels, especially on the fast track in Atlanta’s dome. Ridley will have to battle Mohamed Sanu for looks early, but his dynasty stock rises with this picture perfect landing spot. Great fit all around.

27. Seattle Seahawks – Rashad Penny, RB: Well, Seattle was in desperate need of a workhorse running back and Penny certainly fits that bill. He went for 2,248 rushing yards and scored 25 total touchdowns in his final year at San Diego State. Penny isn’t a burner and isn’t the most elusive back in the class, but he’s a very capable back who can play all three downs and handle a heavy workload. He’s an early fantasy stud if he gets ahold of the lead job early for the Seahawks, which shouldn’t be too hard given what their depth chart currently looks like.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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