We’re a little over two months removed from my first two round mock,
which you can find here. As I
indicated in the introduction, the collection of names in the top
24 was unlikely to change much. You can tell below that rings true
as although many of the players have shuffled around - 21 of the
24 players from the March mock remain in the top 24.
While still early in the process, the NFL Draft has come and
gone; the last significant offseason event until the preseason.
Team rosters are mostly set outside of a handful of unsigned veterans
(Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray) and while depth charts will shift,
we have a general idea of the roles players will have.
Today, we will look at my top 24 picks as I would make them.
I will also indicate any changes from my pre-draft mock. Afterwards,
I will again post a quick top 24 overall of what I think the consensus
will look like when it’s time to draft for real.
The freak: David Johnson is still setting
his sights on 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards receiving.
- RB Le’Veon
Bell, PIT: My top four picks will remain running backs.
Bell has been elite the longest and is in the best offense. When
forced to choose between the big three, I’m going with the
guy with the best track record.
1.2 – RB David
Johnson, ARI (+1): DJ jumps over Gurley. Although the
Rams have the better offense, they also have more talented players.
DJ has no competition for touches and is also the team’s de facto
No.2 wide receiver. Johnson is somewhat immune to game script
because if the Cardinals need to throw, they’ll throw to him,
too. The Josh Rosen pick also assuages my fear of what would happen
to this offense when (read: when) Sam Bradford inevitably gets
1.3 – RB Todd
Gurley, LAR (-1): Gurley certainly has a better supporting
cast than DJ, which means more competition for touches. Gurley
benefited last season from a couple long touchdown receptions.
Three or four receiving scores is more likely compared to his
six from last season. Gurley is an elite three-down back and well
worth a top three pick. Where you take any of the big three comes
down to personal preference.
1.4 – RB Saquon
Barkley, NYG (+3): I will go into greater detail on
my annual RB article (which will publish sometime in July), but
the crux of my position is Barkley, despite being a rookie, has
one of the highest floors at the position. He is locked into a
three down role given the lack of talented competition and we
know he can catch passes. The Giants still have offensive line
problems, but they did draft Will Hernandez and should be a good
enough offense to put Barkley in scoring position. Anything less
than 250 touches and 50 receptions would be a shock to me.
1.5 – WR Antonio
Brown, PIT: He’s been the No.1 wide receiver in fantasy
for so long now that wherever you take AB, it’s a good pick. He’s
the second best WR of all time and has a skill set that will translate
very well into his 30s. He’s nowhere near done and still the focal
point of the Steelers’ passing game. In PPR, you can justify him
ahead of any of the running backs.
1.6 – RB Ezekiel
Elliott, DAL (-1): He’s a slight notch below the big
three because of his lower reception totals and I dropped him
below AB because of what the Cowboys did, or rather, didn’t do,
at the NFL Draft. Dallas has one of the worst offenses in football.
They have a franchise QB and a franchise RB…and that’s it. The
offense revolves around Elliott, which is great for his floor.
He’s a near lock for 300 touches and will handle all of the goal
line work. I am a bit concerned with the lack of wide receiver
options as it will allow teams to stack the box and potentially
cap Zeke’s touchdown upside.
1.7 – RB Alvin
Kamara, NO (+2): This may be too low for Kamara, but
I do believe Sean Payton when he says he is not looking to significantly
increase Kamara’s touches. The reason Kamara is so efficient is
because of the way the Saints use him. I don’t want that to change.
Regardless of the Mark Ingram suspension, I expected Kamara to
see an improvement upon his 38.5% opportunity share. With Ingram
out, Kamara can seize full control of the job and relegate Ingram
to change of pace duties. Kamara will never touch the ball like
Bell, DJ, or Gurley, but a jump to 60% is certainly reasonable
and more than enough to offset the efficiency regression we know
1.8 – WR DeAndre
Hopkins, HOU (-2): Last season’s leader in targets
and target share is worthy of being the second WR off the board.
I don’t see any way Hopkins can maintain a 35.2% target share,
but that doesn’t mean he’s not still elite at his position. Deshaun
Watson is also due for some serious efficiency regression, but
DHop can still be worthy of this selection as long as his quarterback
isn’t Brock Osweiler.
1.9 – WR Odell
Beckham Jr., NYG (-1): This man is unstoppable. Barring
another freak injury, I still expect him to usurp Hopkins and
take his rightful spot as the second best wide receiver in the
NFL. The Giants offense has improved so while Beckham’s target
count may drop a bit, he should become more efficient. We are
at the point in the draft where the RB you can get in the next
round is just as good as the one you’d be taking now. Early in
the process, it appears the late first round WR is the way to
1.10 – WR Michael
Thomas, NO: The logic here is the same as Beckham.
I love Thomas’ position as Drew Brees’ go-to-guy. The addition
of Cameron Meredith doesn’t really impact my feelings much. The
Saints have no TE of consequence so it’s really just Thomas, Kamara,
and Meredith. I would like to see an improvement on Thomas’ meager
20% redzone target share, though.
1.11 – RB Kareem
Hunt, KC: Hunt has concerns that the running backs
in front of him don’t have (Spencer Ware and Andy Reid’s affinity
for using literally any other back on passing downs). After a
hot start, he was borderline unstartable for a stretch in 2017.
I still expect Hunt to be the primary back and push 300 touches,
but Ware and Reid’s vagaries could do enough to prevent Hunt from
being truly elite. He is still capable of anchoring your backfield,
1.12 – RB Leonard
Fournette, JAX: Fournette doesn’t have any workload
concerns, but he does have a history of nagging injuries, making
him unlikely to play a full 16 games. Plus, he is on a team I
expect to be significantly worse this season. The Jaguars played
from ahead a lot last season – ranking fourth in game script,
which measures how often a team played with a lead. If the Jaguars
find themselves trailing more, Fournette isn’t a great pass catcher
and his usage and upside could be capped.
2.1 – RB Melvin
Gordon, LAC: I don’t know if I could ever bring myself
to draft Gordon, but I cannot deny his workload. Situation + opportunity
> talent. Gordon has tons of the former, not so much the latter.
He’s done it long enough to establish himself as a safe, early-round
2.2 – WR Davante
Adams, GB (+1): The Packers brought in Jimmy Graham,
which definitely impacts Adams’ redzone usage, but Adams is entrenched
as the No.1 WR in an Aaron Rodgers offense. He would certainly
drop if Dez Bryant signs with Green Bay, but for now, I’ll take
the guy who scored 10 touchdowns with a whole lot of Brett Hundley
throwing him passes.
2.3 – WR Tyreek
Hill, KC: I will forever be higher on Hill than most.
I admit this is lofty given the fact that his floor is definitely
lower with Pat Mahomes at quarterback. I happen to be a believer
in Mahomes’ talent and am approaching this glass half full and
looking at Hill’s immense ceiling with the young gunslinger under
center. I can’t imagine Hill’s usage rate will be any less than
last season and there is certainly room for growth in his mere
four red zone targets and 21.3% target share.
2.4 – WR Julio
Jones, ATL (+5): My hate for Julio went a bit too far.
This is still going to be lower than consensus, but I am sick
of hearing about the positive TD regression. Julio has been in
the league for seven years and has just one double digit touchdown
season (10 in 2012). I understand full well that he should be
scoring more touchdowns based on his yardage and overall productivity.
However, he hasn’t for seven years. It may not make sense, but
it is the reality of the situation.
2.5 – RB Dalvin
Cook, MIN (NR): ACL injuries aren’t as concerning as
they once were. Cook will be all systems go entering his second
season and with Jerick McKinnon gone, all he has is Latavius Murray
to threaten him for touches. Cook is going to be a three down
back on one of the league’s best offenses that projects to be
playing with the lead more often than not. He is also a fine pass
catcher. Cook is a safer of a pick than I think he is getting
2.6 – WR A.J.
Green, CIN (-2): Unlike his fellow 2011 draftee, Julio
Jones, Green has three double digit touchdown seasons on his resume
and likely would have a couple more if not for injuries. I am
a little worried about the Bengals offense this season, but Green’s
status as an alpha WR1 remains intact. He’s not as sexy as he
once was, but as long as he is on the field, he won’t fail you.
2.7 – WR Mike
Evans, TB (+1): Taking Evans as the ninth wide receiver
off the board seems about right. He was the WR3 in 2016 before
finishing as the WR19 in 2017. The 2018 answer likely lies somewhere
in the middle. Jameis Winston will continue to haphazardly heave
the ball up in Evans’ general direction and while it is unlikely
Evans ever reaches 2016 heights again, he should be much better
than he was last season.
2.8 – RB Christian
McCaffrey, CAR (+3): So the Panthers replaced Jonathan
Stewart with a different Jonathan Stewart. C.J. Anderson is a
replacement level back. He’s better than JStew, but McCaffrey
is going to handle the majority of the snaps. His 48.4% opportunity
share should increase to around 55-60%. McCaffrey is also a legitimate
threat to catch 100 passes. CJA will steal touchdowns, but CMac’s
receptions and overall touch floor will keep him in RB1 territory.
2.9 – RB Devonta
Freeman, ATL (+1): The Falcons are going to let Tevin
Coleman walk in 2019. They are all in on Freeman. I have no reason
to doubt their commitment to him, regardless of what I think of
the two players. Freeman will touch the ball plenty and the Falcons
offense as a whole experienced an overcorrection in 2017. The
2018 version should fall somewhere between the 2017 and 2016 versions,
which should be enough to vault Freeman back into the RB1 picture.
2.10 – WR Keenan
Allen, LAC (NR): I indicated previously in a reply
to a comment that Allen saw 36% of his season point total come
from a three-game stretch Weeks 11-13. I did some more analysis
and realized that outside of that period, he was still the WR12.
While I do think he is being overdrafted this year, he’s still
worth a top 24 pick as the target hog on a Philip Rivers offense.
2.11 – TE Rob
Gronkowski, NE (-6): I was too high on Gronk in the
last iteration of this exercise. Although Gronk provides a decisive
edge at tight end, the position is the deepest it’s been in a
long time. Spending a second round pick on Gronk is worth it with
the right team composition. This is about where I’d be willing
to take the greatest fantasy TE of all time.
2.12 – RB Jerick
McKinnon, SF (NR): The early third round looks to be
one of the toughest areas of the draft and it begins with the
last pick in the second round. I don’t necessarily like McKinnon
significantly more than, say, a player I would take late in the
third round – which is what makes this such a difficult spot.
Ultimately, I went with McKinnon because of Kyle Shanahan’s history
with how he’s used his primary backs and the lack of competition
for touches. I’m justifiably concerned about his ability to hold
up over a full season of 250+ touches, but when in doubt, chase
the touches and targets.