The fantasy football season is more than halfway over and that means early waves of mocks for the 2018 NFL draft are beginning to surface. As dynasty players, we must constantly plan ahead for the future, and the preceding season’s halfway mark is a worthy time to focus on and consider the potential landing spots for next season’s top prospects.
Talent is a huge part of the equation for fantasy football success, but opportunity still plays a vital role in nearly every situation. A prospect’s landing spot in the NFL Draft can boost not only their NFL stock but their dynasty football stock as well. Below, we’ve scanned the latest mock drafts of six different sources to get an idea for some practical early player-team fits and ultimately start getting a feel for what colors our favorite college players might be donning next year.
The sources used for the potential landing spots, and their reference abbreviations for the purpose of this article, are:
WF: Walter Football
FS: Fanrag Sports
Sam Darnold – USC
Potential Landing Spots: Cleveland Browns* (WF, FR, SI) New York Giants (DT, DW), San Francisco 49ers (MM)
Sam Darnold has reportedly stated that he would return to school if the Browns end up with the top pick, so many of these early mocks may not be realistic. Walter Football even has him as the top quarterback yet going back to school. If Darnold does come out, and Cleveland is the destination, all is not lost. The Browns still have good players on the line and some explosive potential at the other skill positions. The potential is there, but it’s hard to believe in anything Cleveland.
Josh Rosen – UCLA
Potential Landing Spots: Cleveland Browns (DW), New York Giants (FR, MM, SI, WF) New York Jets (DT)
Despite a coaching situation as tumultuous as the Browns, the New York Giants situation is much more quarterback friendly and Josh Rosen benefits in these mocks. Going to a big time market like New York with expectations of being a franchise savior is always worrisome for a rookie quarterback. Being paired with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram would be a big boost for the learning curve though. The Giants would need to upgrade their line in free agency or face the possibility of breaking their new signal-caller’s confidence.
Josh Allen – Wyoming
Potential Landing Spots: Arizona Cardinals (SI), Buffalo Bills (FR), Jacksonville Jaguars (WF), Los Angeles Chargers (DT, DW))
At one point garnering the hype of a number one quarterback, Josh Allen very well could have played himself out of the first round should he enter the draft this year. The Los Angeles Chargers fit is a good one, as Allen would have the chance to learn behind a very good quarterback in Philip Rivers. In that scenario, he would get at least a year before taking over an offense with a good running game and a team with an emerging defense. Both of those are both great tools for any young quarterback trying to adjust to the NFL.
Lamar Jackson – Louisville
Potential Landing Spots: Cleveland Browns* (WF), Denver Broncos (FR), Miami Dolphins (MM), New York Jets (DW)
Lamar Jackson’s status as a quarterback at the next level is somehow still in question. He has a chance to be an incredible fantasy player for years to come if everything goes as planned however. As with every prospect, a team where he’s not immediately needed to be the focal point would be ideal. In that regard, Denver would be a nice fit. That said, the potential of Jackson leading an offense in Miami or even bringing all of the potential in Cleveland together is tantalizing. Jackson could wind up as the best fantasy player of this bunch regardless of landing spot.
Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State
Potential Landing Spots: Arizona Cardinals (DT), Jacksonville Jaguars (DW, MM)
Like Jackson, Mason Rudolph has his share of fans and doubters at the next level. Pittsburgh and Arizona make sense for the Oklahoma State product, where he could learn behind Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Palmer, respectively, before taking the reins of an already established offense.
Saquon Barkley – Penn State
Potential Landing Spots: Cleveland Browns (MM, DT), Indianapolis Colts (FR), San Francisco 49ers (WF, SI, DW)
The hype surrounding Saquon Barkley, and the talent he possesses to back up the hype, is likely to be enough for him to remain the consensus 1.01 regardless of which team drafts him. Going to a Cleveland team with as much turmoil in the front office as it has on the field would seem to be a worst-case scenario for the wunderkid. This could potentially cause bold fantasy owners to take a chance on a less talented player in a more favorable landing spot, a la Melvin Gordon over Todd Gurley in 2015. Nearly any other team would cement Barkley as the clear leader in rookie ADP, but perhaps none would be more exciting as getting paired with running back guru Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.
Derrius Guice – LSU
Potential Landing Spots: Baltimore Ravens (MM), Detroit Lions (WF, FR), Pittsburgh Steelers (SI), Seattle Seahawks (DT), Washington Redskins (DW)
Derrius Guice is likely the only player capable of challenging for the top spot in rookie drafts, but it will likely have to be a case of going to a much more favorable landing spot. It’s not clear if a spot like that exists this early on though. The early suggestions have Guice going to teams that currently have established, if uninspiring, starters and questionable run-blocking lines like Seattle and Washington. Perhaps the most interesting destination is Pittsburgh where, if the stars align just right, the LSU running back would take over as the heir to Le’Veon Bell for a team with a history of great runners.
Nick Chubb – Georgia
Potential Landing Spots: Miami Dolphins (DW), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WF, DT)
Going to either of these Florida teams would likely result in Nick Chubb taking over as the feature back sooner rather than later. Doug Martin would be a cap casualty in Tampa Bay while Miami just traded away Jay Ajayi. Each destination appears rosier than the reality though. Both have question marks at quarterback and in the coach’s ability to control the locker room. Combine that with sub-par line play and they aren’t situations ideal for rookie running backs. Still, if a heavy initial workload is on the table in either spot it would most likely be enough to keep Chubb in consideration for a top four pick in rookie drafts.
Bryce Love – Stanford
Potential Landing Spots: New York Giants (WF), New England Patriots (DT), Oakland Raiders (DW)
The best thing about being a mid-round running back prospect is the likelihood of being a luxury pick instead of a team need. This allows the player to walk into a potentially great situation for early production a la Kareem Hunt with the Kansas City Chiefs. If Bryce Love were drafted by the Oakland Raiders, the Heisman contender would be only an injury or solid preseason performance away from seizing full control of the backfield on a team with championship aspirations. If he were to go to the Giants? Well, at least the opportunity would be there.
Damien Harris – Alabama
Potential Landing Spots: Buffalo Bills (SI), Cleveland Browns (WF), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DW), Washington Redskins (MM)
Currently flying a bit under the radar, Damien Harris’ stock would fly up rookie boards if he were to be drafted in the first round, as predicted in several of these early mocks. Buffalo seems like a decent fit because Harris could team with LeSean McCoy for the next few years to form a formidable 1-2 rushing punch.
Courtland Sutton, WR – SMU
Potential Landing Spots: Arizona Cardinals (MM, DW), Atlanta Falcons (FR), Cleveland Browns (SI), Dallas Cowboys (DT), Washington Redskins (WF)
After surprisingly returning for another year in school, Courtland Sutton still possesses loads of potential to turn into a number one wide receiver for a team at the next level. The only destinations predicted above that would allow for that to occur are in Arizona, New York, and Cleveland. None of those spots are particularly intriguing, though. If Palmer returns for another season with the Cardinals with no ill effects, Sutton could offer a big, outside threat that the offense currently lacks.
Calvin Ridley, WR – Alabama
Potential Landing Spots: Baltimore Ravens (SI), Chicago Bears (WF, FR), Cleveland Browns (MM, DW, DT)
Calvin Ridley has a good chance to be the first wide receiver off the board in the NFL draft. That could vault him past Sutton as the top wide receiver in dynasty drafts as well. He may not possess the same potential as Sutton, but the Alabama wide receiver still has the talent to lead a receiving corps wherever he lands. In Chicago, he would instantly become the de facto number one option and would allow Mitchell Trubisky to continue to develop his game.
James Washington, WR – Oklahoma State
Potential Landing Spots: Atlanta Falcons (DT), Baltimore Ravens (DW), Philadelphia Eagles (SI), San Francisco 49ers (WF)
James Washington’s best fit might be as a complimentary deep threat at the next level, making Philadelphia the most intriguing option. If the Eagles are able to retain Alshon Jeffery, Washington would help open up the deep part of the field and could have a Will Fuller-like effect on defenses that choose to focus elsewhere. Atlanta is also a nice fit, where Washington could step right into Taylor Gabriel’s role if the Falcons choose to let the latter walk after this year.
Deon Cain, WR – Clemson
Potential Landing Spots: Arizona Cardinals (WF), Baltimore Ravens (FR), Chicago Bears (DW), Jacksonville Jaguars (DT)
Those teams who are in need of wide receiver help show up again here in Deon Cain’s potential destinations. Of the four predictions, Cain’s presence seems a bit redundant in Jacksonville and Arizona due to the current wide receivers already on their rosters. If drafted by either of those teams his overall expected usage could come into question leading up to rookie drafts. Chicago is a nice fit where Cain and the injured Cameron Meredith would offer good complimentary roles for the offense to grow.
Christian Kirk – Texas A&M
Potential Landing Spots: Buffalo Bills (MM), Green Bay Packers (DW), Jacksonville Jaguars (SI), Minnesota Vikings (DT), San Francisco 49ers (WF)
Christian Kirk is another player who could have a big impact as a complimentary piece in the right offense. Going to a team like Green Bay or Minnesota might cause the big-play threat to get buried on the depth chart and not see many targets. The other teams on this list offer more opportunity, albeit on less established offenses. A place like San Francisco would offer Kirk the most room to grow while still providing an avenue for early production.
* – denotes prospect who mentioned returning to school if the Cleveland Browns have the 1st overall pick in 2018.