Eli Manning-The Giants used the second overall pick on Saquon Barkley. He (and Will Hernandez in the second round) should do wonders for New York’s ailing ground game and help keep Manning and company out of unmanageable down and distance situations. The Giants running backs averaged just 4.4 yards per touch last year, 27th in the NFL. But Barkley’s contributions will not stop there and his extreme value in the passing game should lead to much improved numbers for Manning. Here is the beauty of this situation: New York comes out with Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Odell Beckham and say, Rhett Ellison, a versatile tight end/fullback that can catch the ball and blocks very effectively. Does a defense play their base 4-3/3-4 front against that personnel grouping? If so, Manning, who is a master at the line of scrimmage, can quickly motion everyone into an empty formation where a linebacker is stuck mismatched against Barkley or Engram or both. Or, does a defense put a lighter defensive package on the field against the Giants in that situation? If so, New York can play power football with their new ultra-talented runner. Not only that, but New York obviously didn’t take a quarterback high in this draft to challenge for Manning’s job and oh by the way, he gets Beckham back from injury. Manning is a point guard surrounded on the court by big time scorers. This offense should rack up points.
Cam Newton-While the majority of Carolina’s haul was focused on defense, they did take their favorite wide receiver in this entire draft class in DJ Moore in the first round. Moore has some Steve Smith-like qualities and should immediately impact the Panthers passing game in a positive way. He can align inside or out, get deep or create after the catch in the short passing game. Moore looks like an excellent complement to Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen for Newton to feed targets and should quickly develop into the best separator of the three. He was highly productive at Maryland despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks last year. Another huge key here for fantasy is that Carolina really doesn’t have a big bruising runner of note right now. Not only should that result in a higher percentage of called pass plays, but more importantly, more touchdown opportunities for Newton as a runner. Curtis Samuel also returns from injury to add some big play flair to this offense. This is all good news for Newton. However, it would have been nice to add more offensive line reinforcements into this equation.
Matt Ryan-Like is the case with Newton; the Falcons were the only other team in the NFL to use a first round selection on a wide receiver, something Atlanta hasn’t done since trading up for Julio Jones in 2011. Calvin Ridley should help this passing game and Ryan’s fantasy stock a great deal. Before the draft, outside of Jones and Muhammad Sanu, the Falcons wide receivers had just combined for only 64 catches at the NFL level. A third option here was very much needed, especially when you consider Jones’ history of foot issues. Ridley is a great route runner, but not real physical. With the talent Atlanta has assembled around Ridley, he is very likely to a heavy dosage of single coverage. If the Falcons go back to incorporating their running backs more in the passing game, Ryan’s available weaponry is far greater now than it was in 2017.
Ryan Tannehill-It might not sound like much and in the end, Tannehill’s fantasy stock might not spike because of it, but the addition of a quality receiving tight end is a very long overdue addition to Adam Gase’s offense in Miami. The Dolphins used the 42nd pick overall on Mike Gesicki, who offers little as a blocker, but is extremely athletic and can quickly develop into a dangerous receiver. The reality is that Gesicki is really just an inflated slot receiver. But in Gase’s offense, his presence is very important. More than just about any offensive coach in the NFL, Gase loves using a receiving tight end to his advantage by aligning that player to one side of the field alone in 3×1 sets. Gase’s vision for this offense is beginning to take shape and that could reflect very well on Tannehill, who clearly enters the season as the undisputed top quarterback in Miami. The Dolphins got very little from their tight ends last season. For good measure, the Dolphins used their two fourth round picks on Durham Smythe, another receiving tight end, and Kalen Ballage, a huge running back with superb passing game traits. Tannehill should benefit.
Mitch Trubisky-Unlike a guy like Manning, Trubisky’s allure is more geared towards Dynasty players. But like Jared Goff a year ago, Trubisky has been greatly aided by this postseason and very well could become fantasy relevant in his second season. Most of Trubisky’s spike in value came during free agency, but even though the Bears used their first round pick on defense, they continued to supply their young signal caller with quality prospects on Day 2. James Daniels should quickly help fill the void left in the middle of Chicago’s offensive line left by Josh Sitton. But Anthony Miller is the real prize. The Bears traded up with New England to select Miller with the 51st pick overall, a trade that cost Chicago their second round selection a year from now. Clearly they were very excited to add Miller into this revamped wide receiver group. Miller is a highly efficient receiver that can attack a defense at all levels. He is an excellent route runner and should adapt quickly to the NFL. In 2017, the Bears wide receivers collectively finished the season 30th in receptions, 31st in receiving yards and dead last in receiving touchdowns with not a single Chicago wide receiver accounting for multiple touchdowns. Think about that ineptitude from this position for a minute. Trubisky’s stock is very much on the rise.