By Chris Oertle & Joe Pollock
Welcome to our 2018 NFL Mock Draft for Fantasy Football purposes! I’ve joined together with writers from a handful of other Fantasy websites to preview the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, from the viewpoint of how these picks will affect Fantasy Football owners. The mock draft is a slow draft, and we’ll be updating all of the picks here.
I (Chris) will be making selections for the Detroit Lions at pick 20 and the New England Patriots at picks 23 and 31. Joe will also be giving his takeaway for all of the other selections in this first round mock. Big thanks to all the other writers taking part. This is where you can find them:
- Kevin Huo: Fantasy Sixpack
- Keith Lott: We Talk Fantasy Sports
- David Gonos: DavidGonos.com
- Shane Manila: Dynasty Football Factory
- Tony Reimer, FLAFFLHouse.com
- Craig Talley, FLAFFLHouse.com
- And of course, Joe Pollock & Chris Oertle TheFantasyTakeaway.com
1.01 Browns – Keith Lott – Sam Darnold QB (USC) – Keith’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: I like this selection significantly more than I’d have liked Josh Allen. I think Darnold has enormous upside and he’s much closer to being NFL ready. With Tyrod Taylor there serving as a veteran bridge, the Browns wouldn’t be desperate for Darnold to start right away. That said, I hope Cleveland, and specifically their coaching staff, don’t ruin yet another talented quarterback prospect. They’ve shown little in the way of quarterback development since the re-boot started in ’99
1.02 Giants – Michael Tomlin – Saquon Barkley RB (Penn State) – Michael’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: I’m not thrilled with this pick, but considering that this mock doesn’t allow for trades I think it was the best decision Michael had available. I think the Giants should trade this pick. In addition to newly acquired Nate Solder, they need copious amounts of offensive line help. This draft is thick at the guard position, and a trade back to one of the quarterback-needy teams could allow this team to build a foundation up front on the offensive side of the football that can thrive for years to come.
1.03 Jets – David Gonos – Baker Mayfield QB (Oklahoma) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: This is way too early for Baker Mayfield. I love his intermediate passing ability, and against Big 12 competition Mayfield thrived, but his deep ball ability is going to get him in trouble at the next level. He has upside, don’t get me wrong. I’m not in the camp that thinks just because a quarterback is less than 6’2” tall he can’t succeed in the NFL. Mayfield could have a great career. I just don’t see that happening at this stage in his development with the New York Jets.
1.04 Browns – Keith Lott – Bradley Chubb DE (Georgia) – Keith’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: This is a great pick. A lot of people will criticize it due to the selection of Myles Garrett at the same position last year, but you can never have too many pass rushers. Chubb is a plug-and-play starter at the NFL level. He isn’t the same physical specimen as some other guys taken this high in past seasons, but Chubb is a solid character guy with plenty of athleticism to make it in the NFL and a work ethic that stands out in this class.
1.05 Broncos – Kevin Huo – Josh Rosen QB (UCLA) – Kevin’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: I make no secret of the fact that I’m a born and raised orange and blue-blooded Broncos fan. This pick has been the center of my attention since the draft order was finalized in February–and well before that if I’m honest. Josh Rosen is the most NFL ready passer in this draft. He’s the most natural thrower of the football. I love the fit in Denver. This is my ideal pick for the team I care about from a non-fantasy standpoint. Don’t overthink it, Elway. Josh Rosen is the future.
1.06 Colts – Shane Manila – Quentin Nelson G (Notre Dame) – Shane’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Slam dunk. As close to a sure thing at the NFL level as there has been at the guard position in years. The Colts need help protecting their franchise quarterback–if Luck ever ends up throwing a Duke again that is. Nelson is a perfect scheme fit, a perfect chemistry fit, and a prospect with perennial All-Pro upside. You nailed it, Shane.
1.07 Buccaneers – David Gonos – Derwin James S (Florida State) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Florida State has been a powerhouse when it comes to producing talent in the defensive secondary for decades. This feels like more of the same. James is a solid safety. The Bucs have a need at the position. It’s not a sexy pick, but it’s a good one. James could be an IDP relevant rookie depending on how the Bucs would choose to use him.
1.08 Bears – Michael Tomlin – Roquan Smith LB (Georgia) – Michael’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: If this happens, Roquan Smith could be an IDP superstar. He’s the most talented linebacker in this class. My only worry is his size. The fit with the Bears is fantastic. They have a definite need at the position so Smith would be expected to contribute, possibly on all three downs, from day one. I’ll be targetting this kid in my IDP dynasty rookie draft if he ends up with Chicago.
1.09 49ers – Ron Rigney – Tremaine Edmunds LB (Virginia Tech) – Ron’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: I love Edmunds, and the fit is excellent. The only question is what position he’ll play if he falls in San Francisco. He’s got the athleticism and cover skills to play at any linebacker spot. If Edmunds ends up on the outside, he could be a sack machine. If he slides inside, he could be a tackling machine. Either way, I think there’s value.
1.10 Raiders – Kevin Huo – Denzel Ward CB (Ohio State University) – Kevin’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: This pick seemed like the obvious one. I have Ward as my top cornerback, and the Raiders need a cornerback badly. They selected Gareon Conley last year in the first round, and it would be wise to select Ward this year. Seattle and Denver have proven that elite secondaries can win championships with the right pieces up front and a decent offense.
1.11 Dolphins – David Gonos – Minkah Fitzpatrick DB (Alabama) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: There could be significant IDP implications here. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s teammates gave him the nickname “Coach Saban’s Son” because of his preparation and film study. His versatility makes him an appealing player at the NFL level. The nickel package has become the base defense for most NFL teams. Fitzpatrick gives a team like the Dolphins the flexibility to line him up at slot corner or off the ball at either safety position. Great pick.
1.12 Bills – David Gonos – Josh Allen QB (Wyoming) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Murphy and Chris might both kill me for this one, but I hate this pick. I don’t think Allen will be ready to lead Buffalo from the quarterback position for at least a year, if not two, and I don’t think A.J. McCarron is good enough to lead that talent-barren offense in the meantime. I will say, though, that I’ve doubted this team before and it’s come back to bite me. I wouldn’t be astonished if this is the pick and the outcomes are excellent. The Bills are full of surprises. For dynasty, I’d take a flier on Josh Allen in Buffalo if the league was deep enough. For redraft, it’s going to take some time.Joe
1.13 Redskins – Michael Tomlin – Vita Vea DT (Washington) – Michael’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Washington was terrible against the run in 2017. They need a big body to clog up the middle of the field and keep opposing offensive linemen from opening up gaping holes in the interior. Vea is 6’5” and 340 pounds, and he plays just as big as he’s listed. This is a perfect fit. If Vea is still there at 13, I’d be surprised if this prediction isn’t spot-on.
1.14 Packers – Ron Rigney – Josh Jackson CB (Iowa) – Ron’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Josh Jackson has all the tape I’d need to convince me of his talent. He’s a marvelous corner with more than adequate speed and great ball skills. The only thing I’m worried about is that combine performance. His 40 time was fine. It was the fluidity of his hips and the clunky transitions that stood out to me. We’ve seen guys with underwhelming combine performances go on to be superstars at the NFL level before. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case again. I just worry. For the Packers, Jackson would fill an immediate need on a defense that needs help everywhere. As long as the combine was an aberration, this looks like a solid pick.
1.15 Cardinals – David Gonos – Lamar Jackson QB (Louisville) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Lamar Jackson doesn’t currently have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. His pocket presence isn’t there yet. His footwork makes him miss throws. He spends a lot of time in bad position and uses his arm talent to make up for it. All of these things are fixable. His raw ability is among the best to come into the league in years. With good development, Jackson could be amazing. He’s going to be a great fantasy option as soon as he’s a starter; guys with speed like his always are.
1.16 Ravens – Kevin Huo – Calvin Ridley WR (Alabama) – Kevin’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Calvin Ridley has a decently safe floor. It would be a surprise if Ridley were a complete and total bust. Ridley doesn’t have the same upside guys like D.J. Moore and Courland Sutton, but he certainly has a higher floor. If Ridley is a first-round pick, this is a great landing spot. Joe Flacco doesn’t do much well, but his deep ball has touch, and Ridley has good speed and is a precision downfield route-runner. Wide receiver is a position of need. Crabtree isn’t going to carry the whole offense, and Breshad Perriman can safely be called a bust at this point in his career. Joe Flacco has never produced a top-15 wide receiver for fantasy, so the ceiling is capped, but Ridley is still a solid dynasty flier with a safe floor and modest if not solid potential.
1.17 Chargers – Ron Rigney – Da’Ron Payne DT (Alabama) – Ron’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: This defense gets scarier by the minute. I love the fit. Payne has a great motor and strength to get off blocks against some of the best competition college football had to offer. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Da’Ron Payne? Get out of here. That’s terrifying. If you need convincing on Da’Ron Payne find some tape of the National Championship. He balled out hard.
1.18 Seahawks – Shane Manila – Derrius Guice – RB (LSU) – Shane’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: In our Rookie Running Back Breakdown Episode we took an in-depth look at Derrius Guice. He’s a powerful runner with a violent running style that never shies away from contact. He’s got surprisingly good hands for a guy of his build. All of that said, if the Seahawks use another premium pick on a running back with the offensive line they have, I quit. There is no good fit at running back on that team. Until they’ve filled their holes on the offensive line and fixed the problems this offseason has created on defense taking a running back would be futile.
1.19 Cowboys – Michael Tomlin – Rashaan Evans LB (Alabama) – Michael’s Analysis
Chris’ Take: Rashaan Evans going to the Cowboys makes a lot of sense. The Cowboys have a need at linebacker. Between Sean Lee’s injury history and Jaylon Smith’s post-injury explosiveness in question, depth at the position is a must. Evans brings explosiveness and good instincts to whichever team drafts him. He could walk onto the field as a day one starter if he proves to be the better LB over Smith, which would make Rashaan Evans a top-tier candidate in Individual Defensive Players (IDP) leagues. Alabama has an established history of producing quality LB talent in recent memory with C.J. Mosley and Reuben Foster. Evans seems cut from the same cloth and could thrive in any system at the NFL level.
1.20 Lions – Chris Oertle – Taven Bryan DT (Florida)
Chris’ Pick: The Lions are going into this draft with three big needs: RB, CB, and Interior DL. Ranked 18th against the run and 27th against the pass for the 2017 season, the Lions brought in new head coach Matt Patricia from the New England Patriots. During his time with New England, Patricia was known for his stout defensive lines that produced some of the league’s top run defenses. Using a similar method to the one the Eagles used in winning the 2017 Super Bowl, expect the Lions to address the defensive line–specifically rotational depth–in the draft.
The depth of the running back and cornerback classes in this draft should allow them to wait at those positions and address their defensive interior with pick 20. With Payne and Vea off the board, the Detroit Lions will Taven Bryan defensive lineman out of Florida. Bryan showed great burst and natural athleticism at Florida that would earn him an immediate roll on early downs. He won’t be a starter immediately with concerns about his size and technique. But as a rotational player, Bryan will make plays and improve that interior DL.
Fantasy Impact: Last year in most formats the Lions D/ST ranked top ten at the position for fantasy. The addition of Taven Bryan would do nothing but help them when it comes to stopping the run. With a better run defense, teams facing Detroit would be forced to throw more. More passes typically mean more turnovers. Turnovers are fantasy gold. The most significant impact, though, would likely be the loss of the Lions as a must-stream-against defense when it comes to running backs. A presence like Taven Bryan wouldn’t alone be able to reverse the trend of defensive mediocrity against the running back position, but it couldn’t hurt.
1.21 Bengals – Tony Reimer – James Daniels C (Iowa)
Joe’s Take: Nailed it! The Bengals are desperate for help up front on the offensive side of the football. Andy Dalton took a massive step back after the losses of James Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in 2017’s free agency class. Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals offensive line 28th in the league in 2017; down from 13th in 2016. Barring another injury, the Cordy Glenn trade in early March should fill the hole at left tackle. That leaves massive holes at center and guard.
Daniels is a rare early-draft talent at the center position. His presence would improve the Bengals offense from day one. Joe Mixon and Andy Dalton would see immediate boosts regardless of format, and A.J. Green along with the other options at wide receiver should see an associated boost if Dalton regresses back to his career mean production levels. Don’t forget; Andy Dalton was a QB1 as recently as 2016 and a top-five fantasy QB in 2013.
1.22 Bills – David Gonos – Leighton Vander Esch LB (Boise State) – David’s Analysis
Joe’s Take: It always scares me when players only have one year of solid production coming into the NFL. Vander Esch fits into that category. He was all but irrelevant in his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2017, as a Junior, Vander Esch compiled 141 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four passes broken up, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. This is a kid that wasn’t on anyone’s radar a year ago today. Now he’s become a scheme proof linebacker that can play inside and outside with the speed for man coverage and the athleticism for zone. It doesn’t matter where Leighton Vander Esch lands; he will be successful. He’ll be a three-down starter out of the gate with massive IDP implications and the kind of ability that will translate into increased productivity for the Bills D/ST for years to come. Great pick.
1.23 Patriots – Chris Oertle – Mike McGlinchey OT (Notre Dame)
Chris’ Pick: The Patriots have many needs to address in this draft, offensive tackle at the top of this list. With a recent Super Bowl loss to the Eagles that saw Tom Brady fumble the ball on a late sack, they know the importance of the offensive line. The resulting fumble ended the Patriots dreams to tie the Steelers’ record of six Super Bowl titles. World Championships are won in the trenches with a stout offensive or defensive line. After losing LT Nate Solder in free agency to the Giants, it’s time for the Patriots to bolster their offense at the point of attack. The window is quickly closing on the dynasty that has dominated the AFC over the last fifteen years. A lot of people expect New England to use its four picks in the first two rounds of the draft to trade up…but I’d be surprised if such a trade happens.
With the 23rd overall pick, I expect the Patriots to draft offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey out of Notre Dame. This would not be a sexy pick by anyone’s standards; Bill Belichick doesn’t care about popular picks. McGlinchey would be a slam dunk for the Patriots as they try to find a suitable replacement to protect Brady’s blindside. Almost universally considered this draft’s best offensive tackle, McGlinchey is a day one starter. The ability to play both tackle positions and his ability as a technician will go a long way with Bill Belichick. McGlinchey has the football IQ to succeed in any offensive scheme.
Fantasy Impact: The Patriots have always used a committee approach with their running backs, so an improved offensive line doesn’t help owners much in that sense. If there are a plethora of injuries to the RB position, then owners of the Patriot’s featured back would be rewarded. The most prominent difference would be for Tom Brady and the wide receivers. In 2017 the tight ends were used more in protection for Brady and improving the line on paper would free them up. Brady declined midway through the season after appearing on the injury report with shoulder and lower body injuries. The Patriots need a healthy Brady to win games, and fantasy owners would love to see him protected better.
1.24 Panthers – Keith Lott – Isaiah Oliver CB (Colorado) – Keith’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Since cutting ties with Josh Norman in 2016, the Panthers have struggled to get things going in the defensive secondary. Their struggles, though nowhere near those the Packers and Colts have faced of late, have been well documented.
Being from Colorado, I have a unique perspective on Isaiah Oliver. A viewpoint made even more unique by the fact that I don’t watch college football with a horse in the race. I’m not a fan of the format. I am a fan of scouting the players. No rose-colored glasses here, just honest analysis. Oliver is a solid NFL prospect with massive upside as a potential lock-down outside corner. He’s got sufficient size, speed, and length to excel as the number one for Carolina or any team that drafts him. He may, however, need to spend some time improving his technique and bulking up a bit to live up to his potential.
Oliver may be better suited to fill a part-time role as he learns to be an NFL corner. Whether he’s a day-one 3-down contributor or a role-player in year one, he would undoubtedly improve Carolina’s defensive backfield. If the Panthers improve on the back end, they could slip into the top five as a D/ST for fantasy. They finished eighth in a 2017 season that most would consider a down year. Excellent fit at a position of need with a top end talent. Great pick.
1.25 Titans – Kevin Huo – Will Hernandez G (UTEP) – Kevin’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: I have a different evaluation of the guard position in this draft than Kevin does. If I were going guard, it would’ve been Isaiah Wynn, not Will Hernandez. That said, I have late first/early second round grades on both of these guys so that may be quibbling. Hernandez and Wynn are both NFL caliber guards with all-pro upside and should be viewed as safe picks. The only reason I have Hernandez behind Wynn is his lack of size. These guys aren’t playing tackle, so size isn’t quite the same consideration for them. The running game for these teams will improve because of these picks, and we may see an overall uptick in offensive production.
1.26 Falcons – Craig Talley – Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
Joe’s Takeaway: The Will Hernandez takeaway is effectively an Isaiah Wynn takeaway as well. Both are excellent. Georgia is quickly becoming a first-round powerhouse in this draft. If any of these analysts are in love with Sony Michel or Nick Chubb, it could mean another Bulldog or two off the board before this thing concludes.
1.27 Saints – Tony Reimer – Dallas Goedert TE (South Dakota State) – Michael’s Analysis
Chris’ Takeaway: Joe has been dropping knowledge for the picks I haven’t been involved in, but Dallas Goedert is my guy coming out at the tight end position this year, so this takeaway is all mine. Since the departure of Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, Drew Brees has been working with Ben Watson, Coby Fleener, and Josh Hill at tight end. These guys have been average at best, and the Saints need to upgrade the position. Insert Dallas Goedert here, and you have a player that meets a Zach Ertz profile. Goedert played at South Dakota State and excelled in a weak conference with little to no NFL caliber talent. Elite tight ends with names like Gronkowski, Ertz, Gates, and Gonzales came from an upbringing playing high school basketball. We could be adding Dallas Goedert’s name to that list in the not-so-distant future. Only time will tell if his elite measurements and FCS dominance will translate to the NFL.
Fantasy Impact: I wish I could come out and say that Goedert will be the next Evan Engram or Hunter Henry. But those players over the last two years have been an exception, not the standard for rookie tight ends coming into the NFL. Goedert will be on a Saint’s roster with too many mouths to feed. As a second-year player and in deep dynasty leagues I would be a buyer in fantasy. But for the 2018 redraft season, Goedert would only be a streaming option, or a waiver wire pick up due to injuries. Firmly fixed as the #4 scoring option behind Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas he shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar in 2018.
1.28 Steelers – Tony Reimer – Mason Rudolph QB (Oklahoma State)
Joe’s Takeaway: It’s tough to say whether Mason Rudolph’s incredible production at OSU was a product of the scheme he was playing in or the scheme was a product of Rudolph’s talent. The Oklahoma State intermediate passing game was virtually nonexistent. Rudolph, however, excels in the downfield passing game. I think this is too early for Rudolph, but I do like the pick. That 5th-year option on quarterbacks is invaluable. With no real impact players available at this point in the draft, taking a QB that needs a year or two to sit and learn makes sense. Taking him at the back of the first round makes even more sense. Fantasy impact? Nah, not this year. Probably not even next year. Rudolph could be great for fantasy a few years down the road if things fall right for him though.
1.29 Jaguars – Kevin Huo – D.J. Moore WR (Maryland) – Kevin’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: D.J. Moore has the most upside of any receiver in this draft. His measurables, analytics, and tape suggest he could be one of the best wide receivers to come out in the last three seasons; right up there with Tyreek Hill and Michael Thomas. I don’t love the fit in Jacksonville. They paid up for Marquise Lee and Donte Moncrief. They’ve got 2nd-year guys with potential in Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. They signed Austin Sefarian-Jenkins as a pass receiving option at tight end. Fournette and Yeldon are still there. That’s a lot of options in a Bortles-run offense. I’ve always been a bit of a Bortles apologist, but there’s no way he can support yet another option in this offense. I see more significant needs on this team than wide receiver and in a championship window–yeah, I said it–it’s time to make win-now picks, not draft for the future.
1.30 Vikings – Keith Lott – Billy Price G/C (Ohio State) – Keith’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Great pick, Keith! Price tore his pectoral at the combine; sounds like he’s going to be okay for the start of the season. Nobody’s in the conversation with Quentin Nelson as the #1 guard in this draft. He’s in a league of his own. Billy Price is most definitely a part of the discussion, however, for #2. Having just drafted Pat Elflein in 2017, one would assume that Price would slide to Guard if the Vikings drafted him; this would mean an immediate impact for Dalvin Cook–or Latavius Murray if the Vikings try to take some of the strain off Cook’s surgically repaired knee early in the 2018 season.
1.31 Patriots – Chris Oertle – Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
Chris’ Pick: The Patriots addressed the offensive line with their first pick in this mock draft, now they address their need at pass rusher by selecting defensive end Marcus Davenport. Last year, when DE Rob Ninkovich retired and OLB Dont’a Hightower ended up injured the Patriots lost all ability to generate a pass rush. Adding Davenport would provide a solid starter with scheme versatility that would allow him to fit into nearly every defensive configuration Bill Belichick likes to throw out there on Sundays. While Marcus Davenport is raw in most parts of his game, he is a solid run defender that has the upside to play in a 3-down role. As Joe put it, “Small school kid with a chip on his shoulder looking to prove himself at a position of value in the NFL? Sounds like a Belichick move to me.”
Fantasy Impact: Marcus Davenport is likely to slide through unnoticed in most IDP drafts. This makes him a prime candidate to be a late-round flier pick. Belichick’s entire defensive scheme is based on exploiting matchups making Davenport a volatile play most weeks. But should he go in and earn a significant role on defense, Davenport could be a steal. In 12-man full IDP dynasty leagues with 25-man rosters, I wouldn’t be afraid to take Marcus Davenport in the 3rd round.
1.32 Eagles – Michael Tomlin – Jaire Alexander CB (Louisville) – Michael’s Analysis
Joe’s Takeaway: Jaire Alexander was considered by most to be a second-day draft prospect after missing four games in 2017 with a knee injury. Then Alexander showed up and the combine and knocked everyone’s socks off. His 40 time was more than adequate for a starting CB at the NFL level, but it was the on-field drills that showcased Alexanders’ loose hips and elite ability to transition smoothly in coverage. Like Michael said in his analysis, Alexander is the best player on the board with this pick and would help to bolster that Eagles secondary both in terms of real-life football and fantasy D/ST stats.
Thanks to everyone involved that made this first-round mock a reality. The analysis from all of these writers is incredible. Stick around for more colaborative content like this all offseason!