The 2017 NFL Draft begins April 27th and runs through that weekend. Over the course of the seven rounds, hundreds of high-quality football players will join new teams. Of those, very few will become immediate fantasy football known entities. It is hard to find a useful rookie in fantasy. They have so much to learn about the league and their team. Nevertheless, if some of the top guys get taken by the proper franchises, big fantasy seasons could be in their future.
At the running back position, the top draft prospects are Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey. All three have tremendous upside but weaknesses as well. They also possess vastly different skill sets for the pro level.
Fournette is the likeliest to be drafted as an every-down back. If he gets taken in the top 10, Jacksonville and the New York Jets are intriguing teams with a starting job up for grabs. He could find himself in a similar situation to Ezekiel Elliott as a rookie: starting 20 carries a game in the face and down the road commanding a higher salary than most of us could dream of.
Cook and McCaffrey are more likely to enter timeshares in their first years. They could be valuable fantasy assets nonetheless. In the mold of a Danny Woodhead or Darren Sproles, even guys who barely carry the ball have major fantasy roles in leagues these days. When you take a look at Christian McCaffrey’s fantasy football outlook, the case can be made that he will be the most reliable running back, especially in dynasty leagues.
On the receiver side of things, the top guys are Mike Williams, John Ross, and Corey Davis. All three could be starters in fantasy lineups by week 1 of this coming season. Near the top of the draft again, places like Tennessee, Carolina, and Buffalo offer incredible opportunities. All three teams have dire needs for playmakers on the outside. Not surprisingly, all three are very run-oriented offenses, but that doesn’t mean receiver opportunities are not there. Instead, it just comes down to making oneself open and available when the formations call for it. It’s why Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins can excel in the same systems, and Robert Woods broke out. With Woods now gone from the Bills, there is an obvious hole to fill there.
In 2017, more than most other years, there isn’t an obvious fantasy quarterback being added to the player pool, but tight end is extremely deep. There could be multiple fantasy tight ends who get drafted in round one and are options in fantasy leagues by September.
The top two players at the position are O.J. Howard and David Njoku. So many teams around the league need tight end help that neither one will be limited by a specific organization selecting them. As we saw with someone like Hunter Henry last year, even a team that already has a good tight end can get the most out of another good one. Both Howard and Njoku are special talents in the passing game. They may struggle to get on the field in definitive running downs at first, but the fantasy ceiling is high regardless of early snap counts.