2018 NFL Draft Guide: 2nd Round NFL Draft Impact
Dom Murtha breaks down the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft with regard to immediate and future fantasy football impact.
The first round of the NFL Draft is where fantasy legends are made, or so you would think. While the first round is typically reserved for ultra-athletic, high-potential players, often times first-rounders take longer to develop and therefore lack immediate impact in the fantasy realm. Looking back to last year, the first round only offered us two legitimate fantasy starters in Leonard Fournette and Evan Engram , while the second round actually provided three -- Dalvin Cook , Joe Mixon , and JuJu Smith-Schuster . In the case of 2018, after a first round dominated by defense and quarterbacks who may struggle to see the field early on, the second round contrarily was loaded with potential fantasy studs including four running backs, six wide receivers, and two tight ends.
That’s what makes this series of articles relevant for our purposes, as so much of what the fantasy community focuses on is in the first round of the draft. However, as we’ve witnessed in the past, much of the fantasy production we get actually comes from within the other rounds. Here we will discuss the second round, while analysis of the subsequent rounds will come in the weeks to follow. Included analysis will cover rookies from each round to draft, rookies to avoid, ones to track on the waiver wire, and my favorite fantasy pick from that particular round.
Second-Round Rookies to Draft
Mike Gesicki – TE, MIA
After tearing up the NFL Combine this past February, Gesicki left potential fantasy owners salivating. Until now, that is. With the fantasy football season right around the corner, fantasy owners can buy their share of Gesicki stock for what amounts to roughly a 16th round pick, or, in other words, the 20th overall tight end in standard and PPR drafts. Considering his place as the de facto starting tight end for Miami and the fact that he’s their only true red-zone threat, a 16th-round pick will be well worth it to acquire the physical freak. Double-digit touchdowns may not be out of the question.
Kerryon Johnson – RB, DET
Johnson was a tough call for me because, on the one hand, he’s stuck in a cluttered Lions backfield, mixed up in between some veterans with distinct roles -- LeGarrette Blount as the goal line vulture and Theo Riddick , the PPR machine -- but on the other, I am in love with his talent. Some draft books may be telling you to avoid Johnson this season, as he has no clear or immediate path to playing time. Our book, however, will be advising the opposite. What it comes down to is, despite his already inflated draft stock (7th round ADP) and no guarantee that he will play early on, he eventually will be the Lions starting back this season and could end up being a first-rounder in 2019 if everything goes to plan. There is no question that the talent is there and that he’s already the best back on the roster. The way I see it, he’s essentially one injury away from seeing legitimate touches and with the near-guarantee that he will be the starter by midseason, he will be worth the draft pick. Johnson’s story this season sounds like a textbook guy who you would love to track on the waiver wire, however with his current draftable ADP, it looks like fantasy owners are going to have to pay up early for a player who could end up carrying them in the second half of the season. For those playing in keeper/dynasty leagues, Johnson is obviously a must-own, while I would argue that he will be worth a draft and stash in regular leagues too.
Ronald Jones – RB, TB
Jones is a much more straightforward case, as it appears he will be starting out in a near 50-50 split-committee with Peyton Barber this season. While that sounds like a negative considering Jones’ rookie status and explosive talent, the touch split is likely to shift in his favor rather quickly. As has been proven over the years, the key to rookie running back fantasy success is a pathway to touches. Even this early in the process, Jones appears to have a foothold in that department, which will more than guarantee him decent fantasy production down the road. As it stands right now, Jones is being taken as the 25th running back off the board, usually late in the fifth round of both standard and PPR drafts.
Anthony Miller – WR, CHI
In other articles this offseason, I have gushed about the Bears and their emerging offense. While the core of that feeling stems from the new coaching staff and the ever-developing Mitchell Trubisky , rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller is not someone who can be understated. Despite the signing of Allen Robinson this offseason, Miller is the catalyst-addition who may take this offense to the next level. Based off college tape, Miller brings an explosive dynamic to both inside and outside the formation, with the ball in or out of his hands. He is also expected to be strong across the middle and on downfield routes. He’s likely to see plenty of one-on-one matchups this season with Robinson attracting most of the attention from the secondary, so don’t be surprised if Miller has one of the better rookie wideout campaigns in recent memory. As it stands, calling Miller’s 17th-round ADP a bargain is one of the understatements of the year. Take him towards the end of your drafts and thank us later.
Derrius Guice – RB, WAS
Yes, the Redskins rookie is going within the first three rounds of most drafts right now, but we believe he’s worth it. Here’s a back who’s been favorably compared to Marshawn Lynch and a prime Marion Barber. With little competition and operating in what is expected to be a run-first offense, Guice has the chance to become a fantasy star as soon as the first few weeks of this upcoming season. He will offer a rare power and speed combination, one that was made for the NFL game. Don’t be afraid to spend a third-rounder on him.
Second-Round Rookies to Avoid
Courtland Sutton – WR, DEN
Allow me to rattle off the names of some of the recent wide receivers taken in the top two rounds of the NFL Draft -- Corey Davis , Mike Williams , John Ross , Curtis Samuel , Zay Jones , Corey Coleman , Josh Doctson , Laquon Treadwell , Kevin White , Breshad Perriman , Phillip Dorsett , Devin Smith , Dorial Green-Beckham. Had enough? Sure, mixed in there is your occasional Amari Cooper , JuJu Smith-Schuster or Michael Thomas , but home runs like that are far less frequent in the early rounds. Keep in mind, this extensive list of underwhelming fantasy receivers is only going back over the last three drafts and within the first two rounds. That alone should be a reason enough to stay clear of Courtland Sutton but add to it his noted limited route tree and lack of a guaranteed path to early playing time and you’ve got yourself a prospect placed squarely on the “Do Not Draft” list. To be clear, the talent is there for him to eventually become a No. 1 in this league – and quite frankly he’s being heavily underrated in this regard – but for 2018, you can count me out on his services.
Dallas Goedert – TE, PHI
Goedert is another guy whose talent I love but, unfortunately, he happens to be stuck behind one of the game’s best tight ends. He was close to landing on the “Waivers to Watch” list below, but instead of copping out by saying that he’s just an Ertz injury away from relevancy, I am making it clear here that I will not be drafting Goedert in 2018.
James Washington – WR, PIT
Washington, like Sutton, is another Big 12 receiver devoid of an NFL route tree. Beyond that, at the NFL level, he’s undersized for his physical skill-set, too slow for his deep threat skill-set, and is stuck behind two Pro Bowlers as well as a better deep threat on the Steelers depth chart. I’m not buying the hype; this was an easy one for me.
D.J. Chark – WR, JAX
Chark is a prospect with elite, deep speed and, while that bodes well for his future, right now he’s as raw as sushi with regard to the rest of the necessary requirements for the position at the NFL level. Because of his untapped potential, chances are he will see a limited role early on in his Jaguars tenure as he still needs to learn the nuances of the position. Expectations are that he will be stuck behind four, potentially five, other wideouts on the depth chart when camp breaks. His future is bright, we don’t love Chark’s chances in 2018.
Nick Chubb – RB, CLEHold the collective gasp. Chubb is a prospect who everyone needs to pump the brakes on. We like the kid and the player, but let’s not get it confused with what we need here in fantasy. Chubb is not the same explosive guy he was three years ago when he was averaging a gaudy 8.1 yards per carry. The reality is that, while healed, his surgically-repaired knee isn’t going to allow him to do everything he used to be able to do at the collegiate level. Beyond the knee, he struggled through a series of ankle injuries as well, hampering some of his 2016 season. As it stands, I’m not sure he’s anything more than a really good back in a committee situation, and while that would be fine for a rookie, he’s likely to be buried on the Browns depth chart behind two talented backs entering their primes. Carlos Hyde is expected to handle the lion’s share of the work, while Duke Johnson will continue to be the premier PPR darling of the NFL. Chubb will get his chance if either is injured, but that is not something to bank on this season. Second-Round Waivers to Watch
Dante Pettis – WR, SF
Who doesn’t love Jimmy Garoppolo , am I right? That being said, accepted, and understood, wouldn’t it make sense to give his talented rookie wide receiver some love this fantasy season? Of course, but unfortunately it looks like Pettis is going undrafted in most formats at this time. Shrewd fantasy owners can turn this into good fortune if they monitor Pettis’ status on the waiver wire throughout the season, as he has the potential to be a No. 1 target sooner rather than later. For a brief rundown of his skill-set -- while considered more of an underneath/slot receiver/return-man, Pettis actually boasts a near 6-foot-2 build and is a proud owner of 22 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons. Combine that with a 41-inch vertical, and Pettis may actually be the Niners’ most competent red-zone threat. As noted, he also boasts the skills needed for underneath routes as his hands are both reliable and impressive. His prowess as a punt returner cannot be undersold either, as he is the NCAA record-holder for most return touchdowns in a career (9). This do-it-all wideout will quickly win favor with the coaching staff both through his special teams effort and with his reliability as a receiver. He will be starting before you know it. I would personally draft him this year, but according to ADP, you can track his progress on the waiver wire.
Christian Kirk – WR, ARI
Kirk is another wideout in a good situation with a young quarterback, after Sam Bradford is inevitably injured, that is. He’s lightning-quick, incredibly shifty, and explosive with the ball in his hands. Think of a poor man’s Odell Beckham Jr. Oh, and did I mention that he will be gifted the opportunity to learn the finer points of the slot position from one of the best to ever do it in Larry Fitzgerald ? As it stands now, according to ADP data, Kirk is still going undrafted, so it will be important to keep an eye on him on the waiver wire throughout the season.
Derrius Guice – RB, WAS
I kept things brief for Guice earlier because I knew I would be talking about him twice. Guice is the class of this second round and his standard league ADP of 44th overall only further proves that. Of the skill position rookies in this round, Guice is not only one of the most talented, but he also has the clearest path to consistent touches. Yes his price is steep, but there is little concern that he will bust. A good bill of health provided, and Guice should finish as a top-15 running back in 2018.