Royce Freeman: The Denver Broncos may
have picked up their starting running back in the 3rd round.
3.07 – RB Royce Freeman, Broncos
If Denver is getting the 2015 pre-injury version of Freeman,
meet the Week 1 starter at running back for the Broncos. He suffered
a knee injury early in 2016 and hasn't really displayed the same
level of explosiveness since. If he can ever get back to the way
he looked as a sophomore, he will be a steal. Freeman piled up
over 1,000 offensive touches (947 carries) at Oregon, so wear-and-tear
could be a concern and it may be a good idea for Denver to ease
him as a rookie. At the very least, Freeman should be the clear
top option at the goal line for what should be a much better offense
in 2018. Expect a running-back-by-committee attack to begin the
season with Devontae Booker leading the way, but Freeman could
take over the job at any point. For that reason, he is well worth
a later-round pick (think Rounds 7-10) in redraft and late first-round
pick in rookie drafts.
3.12 - QB Mason Rudolph, Steelers
Rudolph throws the best deep ball of any quarterback in this
class. For that reason alone, he makes a ton of sense for the
Steelers as the potential heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.
The Oklahoma State product was considered a borderline first-round
pick by some, so this pick checks a lot of boxes. Unfortunately,
Rudolph's value in fantasy is limited as long as Big Ben is still
employed by the Steelers, so he can pretty much be ignored in
all formats for the time being.
3.17 – WR Michael Gallup, Cowboys
The Cowboys got lucky on this one without question, getting a
player I believe is the last potential lead receiver left on the
board in the middle of the third round. Gallup has a bit of Michael
Crabtree in his game, but I believe he is a more advanced version
of Davante Adams at the same time in their respective careers.
While Gallup isn't where Adams was (or is) in terms of high-pointing
the ball and will drop a few he should haul in, he has nice burst
off the line of scrimmage and shows the ability to get open at
all three levels. Better yet, he turns into a running back after
the catch. Because of this, he's probably going to be used more
in the short-to-intermediate passing game in the NFL. Consider
the departure of Dez Bryant and the utter lack of potential lead
receiver candidates on the roster, Gallup should be considered
a high-end WR3 in redraft. He may not have the highest upside
at receiver for dynasty purposes, but he should be considered
the favorite to lead his position group in fantasy scoring as
3.22 – TE Mark Andrews, Ravens
After drafting Hayden Hurst in the first, Baltimore does a double
dip at tight end with this pick. Given how much Baltimore likes
using tight ends, there figures to be room for both to produce.
Despite the fact they play tight end in theory, Andrews is more
of an oversized slot who the Ravens will to mold into the new
Dennis Pitta. Unsurprisingly, one of Baker Mayfield's favorite
targets is a limited athlete, so he figures to be more of a chain-move
than red zone maven or seam-stretcher. Andrews can be ignored
in most redraft leagues, and he figures to be worth no more than
a third-round rookie draft pick.
3.27 – WR Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
Smith dramatically improved his stock at the NFL Combine by running
a 4.49 and exploding for a 130-inch broad jump after leading UCF
in receiving in 2017. The 6-2, 203-pounder has very long arms
(33 3/8 inches) for a receiver and a good vertical jump (37.5
inches), which makes him yet another weapon in New Orleans' wide
receiving corps. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine him bypassing
Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr. or Cameron Meredith on the depth
chart anytime soon, making him worth avoiding for redraft fantasy
purposes. He is also not worth anything more than a third-round
pick in rookie drafts.
3.34 – TE Jordan Akins, Texans
Houston's need for a tight end wasn't a huge one, but given its
current depth chart (Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson) there
isn't particularly awe-inspiring options following the retirement
of C.J. Fiedorowicz. Akins moves well for 250 pounds and is an
above-average athlete overall, but he's mostly a bigger and older
(he's already 26) version of Anderson and not the traditional
in-line tight end the Texans would have preferred. Akins' only
shot at carving out an offensive niche is beating out the injury-prone
Anderson, whose ceiling is usually serving as a part-time detached
tight end/slot. As such, Akins is a longshot to be worth a selection
in a rookie draft, much less redraft formats.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.