Fantasy Football 2018: Early Mock Draft After Top Free-Agency Deals

Richard Janvrin@@RichardJanvrinFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Jerick McKinnon #21 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the majority of free agency wrapped up, we can start formulating how we expect different offenses around the league to look in 2018.

We still have the NFL draft coming up, but there are some key free-agent acquisitions who, regardless of the draft, will have big roles this upcoming season.

So with that, it's never to early to start looking ahead to fantasy football and at which players to draft and where.

Looking at it from a PPR perspective, we will present at a first-round mock draft as well as look at the top 50 players.

After that, we will take a quick look at three notable players who jumped to new teams this offseason and analyze their potential impacts fantasy-wise.

Note: This will not include incoming rookies.

Let's get started.


2018 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

1.01: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

1.02: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

1.03: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

1.04: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

1.05: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

1.06: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

1.07: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

1.08: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

1.09: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

1.10: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

1.11: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

1.12: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs


Top 50 Fantasy Players

1. Todd Gurley

2. Le'Veon Bell

3. Antonio Brown

4. Alvin Kamara

5. David Johnson

6. DeAndre Hopkins

7. Ezekiel Elliott

8. Odell Beckham Jr.

9. Michael Thomas

10. Leonard Fournette

11. LeSean McCoy

12. Kareem Hunt

13. Melvin Gordon

16. Davante Adams

17. Mike Evans

18. Dalvin Cook

19. Adam Thielen

20. Keenan Allen

21. Doug Baldwin

22. Devonta Freeman

23. Jay Ajayi

24. Brandin Cooks

25. Jordan Howard

26. Allen Robinson

27. Zach Ertz

28. Travis Kelce

29. Tyreek Hill

30. Mark Ingram

32. Kenyan Drake

34. Dion Lewis

35. Alshon Jeffery

36. Stefon Diggs

37. T.Y. Hilton

38. Carson Wentz

39. Jerick McKinnon

41. Amari Cooper

42. Josh Gordon

43. Golden Tate

45. Christian McCaffrey

46. Robert Woods

47. Carlos Hyde

48. Joe Mixon

49. Jarvis Landry

50. Evan Engram


Same Faces in New Places

Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Although he's not among the top 50 overall players, Cousins is set to be a top-seven quarterback (at the very least) in 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings after signing a three-year, $84 million, fully guaranteed contract.

With the Washington Redskins last term, with a flop in wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, the oft-injured tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson getting hurt in Week 11 and the lack of a true running game, Cousins managed to throw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for four more.

In Minnesota, Cousins will get a great running game from Dalvin Cook and has weapons such as wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

It's not rocket science: Cousins is on a much better team that will have an offense firing on all cylinders in 2018.

Cousins has top-five quarterback upside, but the Vikings should be playing from ahead the majority the year, limiting the garbage-time stats.

If former quarterback Case Keenum can throw for nearly 3,600 yards in this offense, Cousins should be able to work wonders.

This is a boost to every skill-position player on the team fantasy-wise.


Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Speaking of the Vikings, the San Francisco 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan swooped in and snagged former Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon on a deal that will pay him $7.5 million annually over four years.

That's big money for a running back, so it's clear the 49ers plan to use McKinnon early and often.

With fellow running back Carlos Hyde now with the Cleveland Browns, McKinnon is set up to be the Niners' featured back.

However, there is some pause when it comes to McKinnon.

Over his career, McKinnon has never carried the ball more than 159 times in a season. Granted, he's only entering his fifth season, but over the past two seasons, he has averaged under four yards per carry.

The Vikings never committed to McKinnon, who once lost his role to plodder Matt Asiata, but the change of scenery could help the 2014 third-round pick.

Look at this comparison:

Player A: 5'9", 205 pounds, 4.41 40-yard dash time

Player B: 5'9", 206 pounds, 4.58 40-yard dash time

While these are only a few stats, can you guess the players?

Player A is McKinnon. Player B is Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.

Why is this important? Well, Shanahan made Freeman into a stud fantasy running back during his time with the Atlanta Falcons, and McKinnon fits that same mold.

With Jimmy Garoppolo under center and Shanahan coaching up the offense, McKinnon has a chance to shine. 

This is the best landing spot for him to tap into that all-world athleticism. If anyone can make McKinnon a featured back, it's Shanahan.


Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

After he wasn't franchise-tagged by the Jacksonville Jaguars, wide receiver Allen Robinson was locked down by the Chicago Bears on a three-year, $42 million deal, providing a promising No. 1 wide receiver for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

The team also added tight end Trey Burton and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.

In 2017, Trubisky had a makeshift receiver corps at best, featuring guys like Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman and Josh Bellamy.

Wide receivers Kevin White and Cameron Meredith were injured before Trubisky had a chance to work with them, and tight end Zach Miller suffered a gruesome injury against the New Orleans Saints, so Trubisky had a tall order in front of him.

Even with the new acquisitions, it's clear we are going to see a ton of targets headed Robinson's way in 2018.

Mike Clay of ESPN has a projected stat line for Robinson of 141 targets, 75 receptions, 1,053 yards and seven touchdowns.

That puts Robinson's catch rate at around 53 percent, which is similar to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green's in 2017, but considering we're not sure what to make of Trubisky, that's OK.

This also accounts for more than 14 yards per catch.

Using this same model Clay has, if Robinson is able to corral 60 percent of his targets—which is about 10 more catches—that adds 140 more yards to his total.

This is all speculation, but either way, Robinson is in for a stellar year with Chicago regardless of all the other weapons the Bears brought in.

More targets equate to more chances, and Robinson is used to being targeted that much—he saw 151 targets in both 2015 and 2016.

Draft Robinson, and don't worry about the ACL injury from last season.


Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference. Contract info courtesy of Over the Cap.