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Post Draft Fantasy Implications – AFC

by Ryan Skolrud

The NFL Draft is finally over. The teams have made their picks. Now it is time for the season to get underway. Like every draft, there were plenty surprises. This year even included a record number of trades. Now we have a little clearer picture of what to expect in the 2017 season as far as fantasy football goes.

AFC East

Buffalo – The biggest fantasy impact for the Buffalo Bills was second round draft pick, WR Zay Jones. Zay is the all time leader in receptions in the NCAA. He also comes from a football family as Zay’s father is Robert Jones who won 3 Super Bowls with the Cowboys as a linebacker in the 90s. With Sammy Watkins injury history, Zay will start the season as the team’s second WR but could find himself as Tyrod Taylor‘s main target sooner than expected.

Miami – The only real fantasy impact from the Dolphins draft picks was adding offensive line help in Isaac Asiata. The Dolphins also draft a WR in Isaiah Ford, but he is currently buried behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills

New England – The Patriots only had 4 actual picks, two of which were used to solidify offensive line depth. They also gave up picks to get Brandin Cooks from New Orleans and Mike Gillislee from Buffalo. Both of which could be major producers for the Patriots offense.

New York – The Jets grabbed a couple of WRs in ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen who could be forced into early action if Eric Decker is not healthy and with Devon Smith tearing his ACL for the second time in two years. The Jets also grabbed Clemson TE Jordan Leggett but he has been known to take plays off (earning the nickname “Lazy Leggett”) and the Jets have had issues involving TEs in their offense anyways.

AFC North

Baltimore – The only significant fantasy impact from the Ravens’ draft picks were adding to the offensive line to help protect Joe Flacco and open running lanes for Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon – once he comes off suspension.

Cincinnati – The Bengals made Andy Dalton a happy man. Speedster John Ross will be added to a group of receivers that includes AJ Green, second year receiver Tyler Boyd and TE Tyler Eifert. If playing in leagues with return yards, Ross’ value could move him up draft boards more than expected. The Bengals also brought in the talented RB Joe Mixon to fight for playing time with Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill (rumors are Hill may not be retained once his contract is up due to inconsistent play the last couple years).

Cleveland – The Browns had a ton of picks to work with but used many of them to rebuild their defense. TE David Njoku is an extremely athletic player who will be thrust into action right away with the Browns releasing veteran Gary Barnidge. The Browns also drafted an offensive lineman to help bolster the line. DeShone Kizer is a project pick that is more of a long term investment but could make for a DFS play if Cody Kessler gets injured and the matchup is right.

Pittsburgh – Injury and suspension could provide sooner than expected fantasy value from a couple of Steelers’ draft picks. JuJu Smith-Schuster will be battling Sammy Coates for the third WR spot and could move farther up the ladder if Martavis Bryant can’t stay out of trouble. Big Ben has been fighting off injuries every year but don’t look to Josh Dobbs to be the immediate backup QB quite yet. Le’Veon Bell is a freak of an athlete that will be on the top of many draft boards this fall. However, due to injuries and a suspension, Bell has only had one season in which he has played 16 games. Power runner and third round pick James Conner could find himself in a position to carry the load if Le’Veon goes down.

AFC South

Houston – The Texans were one of three teams in this year’s draft to trade up for a quarterback, netting them Deshaun Watson, who is already better than Brock Osweiler. Watson may not be an immediate fantasy play with Tom Savage still slated to be the starter (for now) but could be starting mid season and contribute in 2QB leagues. The absence of Big Brock will also drastically improve DeAndre Hopkins value. The Texans also drafted D’Onte Foreman out of Texas to spell Lamar Miller. Foreman should be an immediate upgrade over Alfred Blue and could become a nice handcuff should Miller get hurt.

Indianapolis – The Colts may have drafted their RB of the future in Marlon Mack out of South Florida. He shouldn’t be behind Robert Turbin for very long and with Frank Gore approaching 80-something years old, Mack could find work early in the season. Indy also drafted an offensive lineman to help protect Andrew Luck and keep him upright.

Jacksonville – The Jaguars made an effort to improve their offense with their first two picks. Leonard Fournette should take pressure off of Blake Bortles, providing a solid RB that Jacksonville has not had in years. They also added offensive line help with the pick of Cam Robinson, who could be used at either tackle or guard. The Jags added another receiving weapon for Bortles in Dede Westbrook. Westbrook fell to the 4th round due to some off the field issues but is an electric playmaker to go with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee.

Tennessee – Marcus Mariota finally has a top shelf WR to throw to in Corey Davis. The Titans also added another solid receiver in Taywan Taylor who has great speed and could get work as the third WR behind Davis and Rishard Matthews. Delanie Walker is in his mid-30s so getting younger at TE was a need and Jonnu Smith can cause matchup issues with his size. Tennessee also bolstered their offensive line depth.

AFC West

Denver – The Broncos drafted a much needed left tackle in Garrett Bolles to replace free agent Russell Okung. They also added a solid WR in Carlos Henderson who could work in as the number 3 WR. Denver also drafted at TE in Jake Butt from Michigan. It will be interesting to see how Butt plays out, as Denver has had trouble getting consistent tight end play since the departure of Julius Thomas (who is looking for consistency himself).

Kansas City – The Chiefs’ big splash in the draft was trading from pick 27 to pick 10 to take Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes in nothing more than a development project behind Alex Smith for 2-3 years. The most fantasy relevant pick from the Chiefs is RB Kareem Hunt out of Toledo. Hunt has the ability to be an all around back and to start over both Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West by the end of the season.

Los Angeles – The Chargers needed to find a way to keep Philip Rivers from getting hit every other play. After taking a physical WR in Mike Williams to give Rivers another weapon to throw to, the Chargers drafted what many considered the top two offensive guards in the draft in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. These to should not only help Rivers, but open up running lanes for Melvin Gordon as well.

Oakland – Most of the Raiders’ needs were on defense. The offense did get a little bit of a boost though in offensive lineman David Sharpe and a big banging RB in Elijah Hood.

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