Through three rounds of the NFL Draft, we’ve seen plenty of fantasy relevant names come off the board and land in great situations for their 2019 value. On the flip side, there were also some prospects that have star potential, but were drafted into situations that could cap their fantasy value.
Let’s look at a few of the players drafted into each situation.
BEST FANTASY LANDING SPOTS
David Montgomery, RB — Chicago Bears (No. 73 overall)
2018 stats at Iowa State: 257 carries, 1,216 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns
Josh Jacobs, a first-round pick by the Raiders out of Alabama, will likely be considered the top rookie RB in 2019. I think it’s a close call, but I like the spot for Montgomery more. Mitchell Trubisky is still growing at the QB position, which keeps Chicago as a defensive team that prefers to run the ball.
Tarik Cohen is a spectacular talent, but his size keeps him in primarily a third-down/pass-catching role. With Jordan Howard on the Eagles, this feature RB1 role could easily belong to Montgomery. Howard posted a 250-935-9 line in 2018, which made him fantasy relevant, but the 3.7 yards per carry weren’t effective. Some fresh legs in the backfield could make all the difference, just look at what Montgomery was able to do last season in college with nearly an identical number of carries.
Mecole Hardman, WR — Kansas City Chiefs (No. 56 overall)
2018 stats at Georgia: 35 receptions, 543 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns
The Chiefs may not have seen themselves reaching on a WR early in the draft, but that’s the situation Tyreek Hill’s left them in. I’m operating under the assumption we don’t see Hill on a football field in 2019, which leaves Kansas City extremely thin at WR. Sammy Watkins has taken a giant step backward, so the team may count on Hardman for production earlier than it would like to.
Hardman’s profile fits exactly that of Hill — and undersized speedster that can break big plays. While Hill took time to develop in the NFL, he was a pretty strong contributor his rookie season, and that was with Alex Smith under center. If Hardman can produce half of the 87-1,479-12 line that Hill posted through the air in 2018, he’d be a huge fantasy asset. Again, there are at least five WR I prefer in this draft from a talent perspective, but as for a fantasy landing spot, this is as strong as it gets.
N’Keal Harry, WR — New England Patriots (No. 32 overall)
2018 stats at Arizona State: 73 receptions, 1,088 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns
We all know Bill Belichick is known for using up his first-rounders on fantasy studs! On a serious note, the Patriots’ draft strategy has been unrecognizable the past two years. Sony Michel was their first-rounder last season and wound up with a lot of fantasy value as the season went on, and now Harry’s become the first WR that Belichick’s ever selected with a first-round pick in New England.
Like Michel, I don’t think Harry will catch on right away. But I also can’t envision Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas being the long-term solutions for an outside receiver. Harry’s an elite playmaker all over the field, and many had him as the top WR talent in this draft class. This is a perfect situation for the rookie to become Tom Brady’s top target behind Julian Edelman by October.
Interestingly enough, the Patriots even selected another talented RB at No. 87 overall in Damien Harris. The Alabama product actually may limit Michel’s value in 2019, but would become a spectacular fantasy option if Michel were to miss any games.
WORST FANTASY LANDING SPOTS
Marquise Brown, WR — Baltimore Ravens (No. 25 overall)
2018 stats at Oklahoma: 75 receptions, 1,318 receiving yards, 10 receiving touchdowns
Personally, Brown was my favorite WR prospect in this draft and I believe he deserves being the first one off the board. “Hollywood” Brown was fortunate enough to play his last two college seasons with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray throwing him the ball, as you can tell from the stats he was putting up.
Had Brown landed with a veteran QB, he’d probably be in the other section of this article. However, Lamar Jackson has a long way to go as a passer in the NFL. To make matters worse, Jackson and Brown’s styles don’t completely mesh. Jackson bombs the ball downfield when he’s not scrambling for his life, and Brown’s more of a possession receiver that runs solid routes and then breaks himself free. These two could take some time to come together, and projecting big weeks from “Hollywood” should be tough to do.
A.J. Brown, WR — Tennessee Titans (No. 51 overall)
2018 stats at Ole Miss: 85 receptions, 1,320 receiving yards, six receiving touchdowns
A.J. Brown was my third favorite WR prospect in this class behind “Hollywood” and Harry. I think this is a spectacular pick for the Titans from a football perspective — they get an awesome player that slid in the draft and he fills a huge positional need. The Titans just haven’t been able to make a WR really pop from a fantasy perspective.
It’s a double-edged sword in some ways — Mariota’s struggles haven’t been made any easier with a lack of pass-catchers. But Mariota hasn’t been anything close to the QB prospect he was projected to be coming out of Oregon. Brown should develop into the WR2 in Tennessee, which would leave a couple of big games on the board. But Corey Davis, who was a No. 5 overall pick, only posted a 65-891-4 line as the WR1 in this system last season (the only player to even reach 500 receiving yards). The upside is unfortunately limited for a very talented player.
Irv Smith, TE — Minnesota Vikings (No. 50 overall)
2018 stats at Alabama: 44 receptions, 710 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns
Smith is another player I’d love in the right situation. He’s a big TE with a lot of talent as a pass-catcher, which should still give him some upside in the red zone with the Vikings. However, look at the competition he has to face for targets in Minnesota.
Kyle Rudolph is the TE1 for the Vikings, and saw a solid target share in 2018 with 82. He was able to turn that into a 64-634-4 line. If Smith was stepping into this role, he’d be a really attractive fantasy option. Now he’ll likely split most of that workload with Rudolph. The Vikings will try and get both players as involved as they can, but Kirk Cousins’ first two options will always be Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs. That duo combined for 215 catches, 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2018 — and did so on a whopping 302 targets, which was half of Cousins’ pass attempts. They have no reason to go away from one of the best WR combinations in the NFL, which will further hinder Smith’s role, already splitting time as a TE.
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