Which rookies will be the biggest fantasy winners in their first season remains to be seen, but in all the excitement let’s not forget about the veterans. Everywhere you turn there are projections and rankings being made for the NFL’s newest stars, but how will the addition of these players impact the established values of our beloved veterans?
Let’s review some of the veteran winners from the NFL draft.
Dynasty Winners From The NFL Draft: Veterans
Winner: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
The addition of arguably the best receiver in the draft to play across from Julio Jones is a huge win for Ryan. While 2017 was a down year for him, don’t forget that in 2016 Ryan was the league MVP and had one of the best quarterback seasons of all time.
The weapons Ryan has at his disposal are among the best in the league, and Calvin Ridley can contribute right away. As long as Julio Jones is healthy, Ridley will never see double coverage. Matt Ryan is a quarterback you can draft in rounds 10+ who has the capacity to finish in the top three.
Winner: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
I know this is not the Manning you’re used to drafting. Eli still has decision-making problems and this late in his career that’s not going to change. The offensive line is still an issue but the drafting if Will Hernandez in the second round is a huge step in the right direction.
Oh, and his weapons are insane. Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley. Who are defenses going to focus on? Barkley will run all over defenses who don’t dedicate to stop the run, and Odell will shred any defense whose number one game plan isn’t shutting him down. Did I mention Barkley can catch? Don’t be surprised if Eli sneaks into the top ten by the time the season is over.
Winner: Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore drafted multiple offensive skill positions in this draft, none of which were running backs. There have been rumors that the coaching staff isn’t sold on Collins, but there’s no one to replace him on the roster and not adding depth to the position is a strong signal that they are coming around.
Kenneth Dixon is a talented back that may take some work away from Collins, but he can never seem to stay healthy and hasn’t had the explosiveness Collins showed last season.
The Ravens finally got into a rhythm once they committed to the run last season and I expect them to start this season off the way they finished 2017. While its unlikely that he will crack the top five at his position, Collins has the upside to be a solid starter every week.
Winner: Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Many are wondering how Jordan Howard will fit in a Matt Nagy offense. These concerns have led to rumors of Howard being traded or replaced by a rookie. The Bears, however, did not add a single running back in the draft. Tarik Cohen will handle the passing downs, but if Mitch Trubisky is the real deal then the Bears look like they could be a high scoring offense moving forward. Howard is positioned for 15-20 touches a game and that’s easily an every week starter, just as he has been during his first two seasons.
Winner: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts picked the best offensive lineman in the draft and when he got the call, Jim Irsay specifically said the words “Andrew needs protection”. Now that sounds like Andrew Luck would be the winner here, but no one knows if he will even play. If Luck plays, Hilton will likely pick up right where he left off in 2016.
The Colts did not address the running back position in a meaningful way, and I don’t imagine Marlon Mack is a 20-touch a game type of player. If the Colts will have any success it will be through the air. People have a short memory and T.Y. was a huge disappointment last season. He’s been a top 10 wideout before, and with a healthy Andrew Luck, he should do it again.
Winner: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald was always expected to return this season despite his age starting to catch up with him. Whether it’s Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen under center, Fitzgerald will still be the top target on Arizona.
With a healthy David Johnson returning, defenses will have to respect the run game. Fitzgerald makes his money based on volume, and if Rosen is under center (which he should be) the volume will be there. Fitzgerald and Rosen are good for each other. He will help out Rosen by catching poorly thrown balls other receivers would miss, and Rosen will provide Fitzgerald the volume needed to be a successful fantasy option. Fitz can be taken as a WR3 or even a bench player due to his age, but if Rosen works out or Bradford steps his game up to fend off the rookie, his ceiling is as high as any receiver in the game.
Winner: Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Hunter Henry will be a popular name as the season grows closer. With a beefed-up defense, the Chargers should be a playoff contending team this year, but they will have to fight for it. I don’t expect them to let up on the gas at any point down the stretch and Philip Rivers has traditionally relied on his tight end as a safety valve as well as in the red zone. The retirement of Antonio Gates pushes the value of Henry up further. We’ve seen what Henry can do in spurts but now that he is the exclusive tight end on this squad the sky is the limit.
This is part one of a two-part article. What do you think of these winners? Stay tuned for the losers article coming soon!