2018 NFL Draft Guide: NFL Draft Losers
Dom Murtha breaks down who the true losers were following the 2018 NFL Draft
Most “NFL Draft Winners/Losers” articles that you read are going to sound the same. They’re going to dole out 10 or so teams, mentioning five draft classes they liked and five that they didn’t. Equally monotonous has become the same letter grading system that every “NFL Draft Winners/Losers” article author uses to codify their analysis. This isn’t middle school, people! Lucky for you, Fantasy Alarm does not produce the typical. Instead, here we will look at the losers of the NFL Draft and will do it through a fantasy lens. Instead of just listing teams, there will be players names, rookie or not, and how April’s draft most negatively affected their fantasy stock. Pay attention.
After hiring John Dorsey as their new GM in early January, the Browns made it clear that they were “going for it.” Towards the end of the winter, on the same day in mid-March mind you, Cleveland not only acquired all-world slot receiver, Jarvis Landry , but they also doubled-down and traded for dual-threat quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. In a 24-hour span, the Browns went from a winless franchise to having a vastly improved offense. These moves had the draft and fantasy communities buzzing that, with the first overall pick, Cleveland would logically go running back and take Penn State sensation, Saquon Barkley . Adding the best back in the class would complete their offensive overhaul and potentially make Tyrod Taylor a top fantasy quarterback option in 2018. By late April, that narrative suddenly shifted, as the Browns and their front office instead fell in love with Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield . Just in that moment, Taylor’s fantasy fate had changed, as he went from a guy with a chance for a career rebirth, to a lame-duck starting quarterback. While he still may retain the starting job out of camp, unless the Browns are playoff bound, Taylor is going to cede the starting job to Mayfield at some point during the season. That hamstrings his fantasy potential in 2018, a potential that, at one point, seemed sky-high prior to draft day.
2017 was a Ravens season at the tight end position dominated by Benjamin Watson and his 79 targets. Once he departed, however, it appeared that both Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle – two former selections from the 2015 draft – would be poised to take over the position going forward. Not that either necessarily was slated for a monster campaign, but after a good training camp, either player could very well have had their shot at near 80 targets for this upcoming season. Instead of either lurking as a top sleeper tight end pick in 2018 however, the Ravens decided to not only take a tight end with their first pick in April’s draft, but they doubled-down at the position in the third round as well. With the additions of rookies Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews , the potential breakout seasons for Boyle and Williams all but went down the drain. Investments at the position have clearly been made elsewhere, leaving Boyle and Williams fighting each other in camp for a roster spot. What a change of fortune.
He’s 6-foot-3, runs well, has reliable hands, and is an athletic high-pointer with the ball in the air. Sutton seemingly has all of the tools to be an elite wide receiver eventually, so what could be wrong with his fantasy potential going forward?
Despite being arguably the only prospect in the class with true #1 WR traits, Sutton was drafted into an offense with no established passing game, offensive line, or running game, and is stuck behind two Pro Bowlers at the starting receiver spots -- Bummer!
While Sutton appears to be the future for the Broncos at the wide receiver position, traditional fantasy owners only really care about the “now.” There are several landing spots that Sutton could have ended up in that would have given him immediate fantasy potential, but unfortunately he arrives in Denver, within a rebuilding offense, with little chance for early playing time. Outside of a great training camp from Sutton, resulting in the Broncos starting him on the outside and kicking Emmanuel Sanders inside to the slot, Sutton should remain a dormant fantasy option for 2018. Just imagine what could have been if he had landed in Dallas instead.
It’s been six years since Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory and was named the game’s MVP. It’s been five years since Flacco was signed as the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. It’s been four years since Flacco last threw for over 25 touchdowns in a season, three years since he turned 30, and two years since he last threw for over 4,000 yards in a season.
Bottoming out last season with under 3,200 passing yards, under 20 touchdowns, and a measly 5.3 yards per attempt, Flacco’s career seemingly hit rock bottom -- say it ain’t so, Joe!
As demonstrated, since winning the Super Bowl in 2013, Joe Flacco ’s career has been in a downward tailspin. With his leash finally running short of slack, the Ravens decided to take a quarterback in the first round of this past April’s draft. The team drafted Lamar Jackson – one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the history of college football. Not that Flacco was a guy anyone was really targeting in their fantasy drafts this summer anyway, but the arrival of Jackson only makes the inevitable even more imminent. The writing is on the wall; Flacco’s days are numbered.
Calling all non-Denver AFC West quarterbacks – WATCH OUT!
It’s not often that IDP leagues get a shout out, but after the Broncos took Bradley Chubb in the first round of this past April’s draft, both he and Von Miller have to be near the top of your pre-draft rankings, don’t they?
Now that they will be bookending each other on Sundays, take a second and think of a more dynamic edge rushing duo; go ahead, we’ll wait.
As if Miller wasn’t enough for the rest of the division to worry about twice a year, the presence of Chubb makes preparation doubly imperative. For Philip Rivers , Derek Carr , and Patrick Mahomes , they now have two games a year that fantasy owners will think twice about starting them. Is it worth it seeing your starting quarterback potentially littering the box score with fumbles lost, rushed interceptions, or even worse, not finishing the game due to injury? Just something to think about.
According to our pre-rookie draft rankings, Dallas Goedert was the top tight end available. With plenty of teams needing starting tight end help (the Cowboys immediately come to mind) it only makes sense that Goedert would instead end up on a roster already boasting a Pro Bowl tight end in the Eagles. Sarcasm aside, Goedert goes from potentially making an immediate fantasy impact to a guy who is going to have to fight a Pro Bowler in Zach Ertz and an established veteran in Richard Rodgers for reps. This was a worst case scenario for his fantasy prospects.
As if Derek Carr wasn’t worried enough by the presence of the aforementioned, in-division, edge duo – Von Miller and Bradley Chubb – he’s also entering 2018 coming off of a down year statistically. Furthermore, he’s without his former top receiver in Michael Crabtree and also saw his starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse leave in free agency. With all of this being considered, new coach/quasi-GM Jon Gruden decidedly heightened his potential anxiety through moves, or lack thereof, in the NFL Draft. Gruden not only spent the Raiders first round draft pick on a raw-as-sushi offensive tackle who struggled to protect Josh Rosen throughout his career, but he also neglected to invest in a single skill position player until the seventh round. Rather than using the draft to invest in his young franchise quarterback, Gruden instead flipped him the proverbial bird.
Carr gets a rare double mention in this article, which should tell you all you need to know about his fantasy fate this season.