The NFL preseason is over, and teams have trimmed their rosters to 53 players. This makes now the perfect time to hold your fantasy draft.
Roster cuts and trades have changed the NFL landscape and, to some degree, the fantasy landscape. Carlos Hyde, for example, may be worth a late-round pick after being traded to the Houston Texans. The Seattle Seahawks D/ST looks a little more attractive after the team acquired pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
Houston's trade for Laremy Tunsil is great news for anyone looking to draft Deshaun Watson.
The list of players worth targeting at the top of the draft remains largely unchanged, however. How might those early picks unfold? We will examine that here as we dig into the first four rounds of a simulated mock draft run on FantasyPros' draft simulator.
This is a 12-team mock, featuring two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex slot and standard scoring.
2019 Fantasy Draft Simulation
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
6. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
8. Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets
9. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
10. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
11. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
12. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
It's now looking safe to select Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott high in the first round. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, talks between the Dallas Cowboys and Elliott have "intensified," and a deal could be coming soon:
This is great news for fantasy fans, especially those who already drafted Elliott during the early preseason. The two-time league rushing champion is one of the few true three-down backs in the NFL, and he has the potential to lead the league in fantasy scoring.
Elliott topped 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards last season.
The deal isn't done, but Elliott is again a player you can take high in Round 1 with some confidence.
1. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
2. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
4. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
6. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
8. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
9. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
10. Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
11. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
12. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Even in Round 2, running back Melvin Gordon is a gamble. He's a true three-down back when healthy and on the field, but Gordon is still holding out for a new contract. The Los Angeles Chargers are not likely to acquiesce to Gordon's demands and will instead go into 2019 with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson leading the rushing attack.
The good news for those considering drafting Gordon? He may not be on the Chargers roster at all this season.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Chargers have granted Gordon permission to seek a trade. This means that he may end up playing for a different franchise at some point in 2019. This gives him much more fantasy value than he would have if the Chargers continue to refuse to deal him.
Gordon is still a risk high in the second round, but he's less of a risk than he was before the weekend.
1. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
4. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
5. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
6. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
7. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
8. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
9. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
10. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
11. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
12. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
The trade that sent Hyde to the Texans was good news for anyone considering running back Damien Williams in their fantasy draft. The subsequent signing of former Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills back LeSean McCoy, however, was not.
The 31-year-old rejoins head coach Andy Reid and should at least be a part of the Kansas City Chiefs' backfield rotation. He knows Reid's offense from their days together with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he should be up to speed early in the season
With McCoy in the fold, the Chiefs have four running backs on their roster: McCoy, Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson. This means that while Williams may be the starter in Kansas City, he isn't likely to anything close to a three-down workload.
This is at least a round too high for Williams.
1. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
2. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
4. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
5. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
6. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
7. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
9. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
10. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
11. Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens
12. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
Do not draft Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green ahead of players like Adam Thielen, Amari Cooper and Brandin Cooks. Green underwent ankle surgery at the beginning of camp and is slated to miss regular-season games.
The only good news with Green is he won't be placed on injured reserve to start the season.
"He's somebody that we gotta make a designation on right now and feel like we're going to get him back in the first eight weeks," head coach Zac Taylor said, per ESPN's Ben Baby. "We're just going to continue to carry him on the roster."
So Green won't miss a minimum of eight games. He could still miss the first month of the season and then take several more weeks before getting back to 100 percent. Teammate Tyler Boyd is a safer option, and Green should only be considered this high if there's a serious run on receivers.