This will be the first of three articles reviewing the best and worst landing spots of this year’s draft prospects. In this installment, I’ll cover the first day of the draft, as I give my thoughts on the good the bad and the ugly. Which players’ landing spots were the best for fantasy owners and which ones will be hurt by their new homes? So let’s jump right in and start dissecting the opening round.
DT Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
What a great spot for Vea to land. The top rated DT on most draft boards goes to Tampa Bay where he will line up next to, and learn from, the great Gerald McCoy. Having someone like that to mentor and help you transition to the pros is invaluable. Vea will instantly upgrade that D-line and help shut down opponents’ run games, in a division loaded with quality RBs. In terms of fantasy, if you play in IDP leagues that require you to start defensive tackles, then Vea could easily be a top 10-15 scorer as a rookie. As long as the Bucs can keep talent around him, the sky’s the limit for this young stud. Long term, he’s easily a DT1, who should routinely be a top 10 scorer at the position.
DE Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints:
Another team in the offensively loaded NFC South looking to get some help slowing down these high octane offenses. Just like Tampa Bay, the Saints add to their D-line to help accomplish this task. Davenport is considered the 2nd best DE in draft behind Bradley Chubb. He solidified that status with a tremendous week of practice at the Senior Bowl and balling out in the game itself. Davenport is still a raw talent, albeit with very high upside. He will line up as the bookend mate to Cameron Jordan, with big man Sheldon Rankins between them at DT. In fantasy, Davenport is very intriguing and will be highly sought after in rookie drafts. His best value will come in leagues that place a premium on sacks. Early on there could be growing pains as he learns and finds his way, but could be a star for years to come. At the very least he should be a DE2 option.
LB Rashaan Evans, Tennessee Titans:
This selection makes a ton of sense and is a great fit. The Titans lost their best linebacker in Avery Williamson to free agency and new Head Coach Mike Vrabel wants his own guys in place. Evans will step in and instantly make a significant impact. He should be a tackling machine for this defense and can provide them with some pass rushing ability from the ILB spot. That alone is something the Titans haven’t had on a consistent basis. He also has much-needed experience as an OLB and situational pass rusher. This type of versatility is highly valuable to NFL defenses. I can easily see Evans being a big fantasy producer. Just the volume of playmaking opportunities he will get each week will make him a must own. I would rank him as LB2/3 for fantasy
CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns:
It’s not that I don’t like Ward, it’s that don’t like him with the 4th pick overall. How do you draft a player that isn’t even the best player at his position and pass on players like Bradley Chubb and Derwin James? Don’t get me wrong, Ward is very talented, and he fills a massive need for the Browns, but this is not maximizing value, to me. I had him ranked as CB5 on my draft board and 19th overall among IDPs. Ward will get every opportunity to prove his worth and should do well. If he proves the Browns right and performs as they think he can, he still may not be a good fantasy option. If that’s the case, he will be their best corner and teams can avoid his side of the field, limiting his playmaking chances. If you’re required to start corners in your league, I would rate him as a CB2/3.
DT Taven Bryan, Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jags strengthen a strength with this pick. They were already stacked along the D-line, so were they planning ahead with this move? He immediately upgrades their depth at the position and will play a pivotal part in a rotation. I think his worth comes long term, as there are both age and contract issues on the horizon. His two best skills are his quickness and burst off the snap. He can be an excellent interior pass rusher, but only has one year of production in college. Can he repeat that on a yearly basis? That will be the biggest concern. For fantasy owners, there isn’t a lot of demand for rotational D-lineman. However, he could be a decent taxi squad stash.
S Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers:
This a bit of a head-scratcher for me and here’s why: Pittsburgh has never really been big on measurables (height, weight, speed), as they have been more known to draft gamers. I’m not saying Edmunds isn’t a gamer or isn’t going to have a good career, but he’s a bit of a project to me. He has some CB/S versatility but struggles in man coverage. I thought that Pittsburgh should’ve looked a player like Ronnie Harrison, who fits the “Steeler mold” much better. There were also a number of more talented players still on the board here. I don’t see Edmunds being a significant factor in fantasy, especially early on.