2018 Fantasy Football: Third Round Draft Picks
With another open day on my schedule, while I wait for the upcoming NFL draft before I do all the team research for all NFL teams in 2018, I will continue to look at another round of possible players for the 2018 NFL Fantasy draft season. My juices are flowing, and I can’t wait to see the opportunities and failure is the upcoming rounds. I won’t include any other rookie RBs or WRs until I see where they land after the draft. Also, I’ll avoid adding QBs until I see the draft.
25. TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
In his eighth season in the NFL, Gronkowski posted his fourth year with over 1,000 yards receiving (1,084) despite missing a couple of games. He continues to gain plus yards per catch (15.7) while offering scoring ability (8 TDs). He draws a ton of attention from defenses, which leads to fewer targets (7.5 per game) than Fantasy owners expect. In 2017, Rob caught 65.7 percent of his targets with 18 of his 69 catches going for 20 yards or more. Gronkowski had five impact games (6/116/1, 8/89/1, 6/83/2, 9/147, and 9/168) in his 14 starts with three disaster games (2/33, 3/37, and 0/0 – in Week 17 when the Patriots used him as a decoy). New England doesn’t have the same luster on offense based on the RB and WR combos in 2018. Rob is expected to be the second receiving option in this offense behind Julian Edelman while drawing plenty of double and triple teams. With talks of retirement and Tom Brady being at the end of his career, Gronkowski could ride off into the wrestling sunset leading to a disaster season. Great talent who will never repeat his 2011 season (90/1327/17), but Rob is still one of the top scoring receiving options in the game. Possible 80/1100/10 with a full season of playing time while understanding his injury risk and boom or bust value.
26. WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
The health of the right arm of Andrew Luck remains cloudy, which is a surprise considering the length of his recovery from his shoulder injury. In 2016 with Luck tossing the ball, Hilton had the best season of his career (91/1448/6) with a career-high 155 targets (9.7 per game). Last year his opportunity dropped by almost 30 percent in targets with a much weaker catch rate (52.3 – 58.7 in 2016). Over his six seasons in the NFL, T.Y. has missed only two games with his best value coming in the deep passing game (30 catches over forty yards in his career). Hilton won’t offer impact TDs (34 TDs in 94 games). He has four seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving while setting a floor in catches. If Luck shows that he’s healthy enough to regain his previous form, T.Y. looks poised to make a run at 100+ catches with plenty of yards and about seven TDs.
27. WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Last season the Browns struggled to get league average QB play leading to Gordon producing below expected value in his five games. Josh finished with 42 targets (8.4 per game) with a weak catch rate (42.9 percent), which more falls on the QB play. In 2013, Gordon was one of the best WRs in the game when he caught 87 of his 159 targets for 1,646 yards and nine TDs. Over his last nine games in 2013, Josh was the best WR in the game when he caught 60 balls for 1,196 yards and seven TDs on 110 targets highlighted by back-to-back 200 yards receiving games (14/237/1 and 10/261/2). The Browns brought in a veteran ball QB who tends to make minimal mistakes while also playing with a weak receiving core in Buffalo. Cleveland now has three threats at WR with Jarvis Landry added to the roster and hopefully a healthy Corey Coleman. When you add in a high-volume pass-catching back in Duke Johnson and a developing TE in David Njoku, the Browns should be an explosive scoring offense this year. Defenses will be forced to defend the whole field in 2018, which is a big win for Gordon. I’ll set his floor at 80 catches for 1,200 yards and double TDs while understanding he has the talent to be a top-five WR in the game. His previous baggage will keep plenty of Fantasy owners away, which is only a win for those who believe the future is here for Cleveland.
28. WR Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
The move to add Landry to the Browns’ receiving core should be a big win over the next five seasons. Jarvis is a great possession type WR with the ability to beat a defense deep if given the opportunity. He has two seasons with over 110 catches and two years with over 1,100 yards receiving. In his first four seasons in the NFL, Landry has 400 catches for 4.028 yards and 22 TDs on 570 targets. His yards per catch (8.8 in 2017 and 10.1 in his career) fall more into a game plan issue than his true skill set. Last year Jarvis scored a career-high nine TDs, which shows his value as a receiver in the red zone if given scoring chances. For Landry and Gordon to offer productive seasons, the Browns will need to be committed to passing the ball. If Cleveland’s coaching staff plays now to lose with a ball control approach, there won’t be enough passing chance to fill all the receiving buckets in the Fantasy world. Talent dictates opportunity, and Landry has the talent and skill set to catch 100+ passes. I’ll lower his bar to 90 catches for 1,100+ yards with a handful of TDs while understanding his catch opportunity may be brighter than my narrow-minded vision.
29. RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
After chasing Henry around for the last two seasons, he finally has a chance to be the lead runner for the Titans with DeMarco Murray no longer on the roster. Unfortunately, Derrick won’t have a clean ride on passing downs with Dion Lewis added to the roster. Henry has stud upside, but his skill set points more to a workhorse back who needs touches to deliver on his expected value. Last season he finished 880 combined yards with six TDs and 11 catches. Derrick had two games with over 100 yards rushing (19/131/1 and 11/109/1). In 2017, the Titans’ RBs has 383 rushes for 1,521 and 13 TDs with 50 catches for 402 yards and two TDs on 66 targets. I expect Henry to see about 70 percent of the early down action, which works out to 280 to 300 carries leading to 1,400+ rushing yards with double-digit TDs. His talent should command 30+ catches for another 300+ yards with a couple of scores. At the minimum, a 250 Fantasy point back in PPR leagues with the talent to reach another level with growth in the Titans’ offense.
30. WR Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams
Even with a nice season in New England (65/1082/7 on 114 targets), Cooks still fell short of expectations. He crushed Fantasy owners during the most important time of the year in 2017 (Week 13 – 2/17, Week 14 – 1/38, Week 15 – 4/60/1, and Week 16 – 2/19). Before his poor finish, Brandon was on pace to deliver a top ten Fantasy value at WR in PPR leagues. With the Patriots, Cooks only had two games with over 100 yards receiving (5/131/2 and 6/149/1). He has three straight seasons with over 1,000 yards while scoring a TD in half of his last 24 games. In 2017, the Rams completed 197 passes to their WRs for 2,580 yards and 19 TDs on 317 targets. I’m torn on his value and opportunity based on the play of Cooper Kupp in his rookie seasons and the surprising success of Robert Woods. Cooks will be the big play WR, but LA will be creative getting him the ball. More of the same (80/1100/7) in the developing Rams’ offense, but Brandin will be severely discounted in 2018 due to the change in teams.
31. RB Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
Over the last three seasons, Freeman has 35 TDs in his 45 games played while rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2015 (1,056) and 2016 (1,079). For some reason, the Falcons lowered his opportunity in the passing game (36/317/1) despite gaining more yards per catch (7.9 in 2015, 8.6 in 2016, and 8.8 in 2017) in each year in the leagues. Last season Devonta missed a pair of games with a concussion issue. On the year, he only had two games with over 100 yards rushing (21/106/1 and 22/126/1) while averaging 16.6 touches per game. The Falcons’ RB in 2017 finished with 398 rushes for 1,706 yards and 12 TDs plus 67 catches for 650 yards and four TDs on 93 targets. The rushing output was close to 2016 (384/1813) except for TDs (20) while the overall passing opportunity was much weaker (93/946/6 on 117 targets). Talented player, but he remains in a split role with Tevin Coleman.
32. RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Over the last three seasons, Ingram has 154 combined catches for 1,140 yards and four TDs on 189 targets showing he’s more than a one-trick pony. Mark played in 16 games in each of the last two years leading to back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing (205/1043 and 230/1124). Ingram scored a career-high 12 rushing TDs in 2017 thanks to a much-improved run game by the Saints. Even with his great success, it easy to see that Alvin Kamara is the shining star in this backfield. New Orleans led the NFL in rushing yards (2,060) in 2017 on 408 rushes with 22 rushing TDs. Their RBs caught 144 balls for 1,254 yards and 6 TDs on 180 targets. There is a great opportunity for a RB in this offense, but Ingram’s role/opportunity may have some regression with Kamara becoming the focal points of the Saints’ run game. Great stats, but a fade in TDs and some touches will lead to him falling short of his expected ADP. I’d look elsewhere for more upside unless Ingram slides to the fourth round or so.
33. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Over the last three seasons, Fitzgerald has 325 combined catches for 3,394 yards and 21 TDs on 456 targets. He’ll enter 2018 at the age of 35, which will give Fantasy owners a reason to fade him on draft day. Larry only needs 390 yards to pass Terrell Owens for the second most all-time. He needs 102 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez for the second most catches in NFL history. With David Johnson back on the field and what looks like an upgrade at QB with addition of Sam Bradford, Fitzgerald should have more bullet in his gun. His yards per catch (9.6 in 2016 and 10.6 in 2017) will require plenty of looks to be a competitive lead WR in 2018. More steady than explosive with questionable about his upside in TDs.
34. WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
After trending up in 2015 (78/1069/14) and 2016 (94/1128/7), Baldwin failed to produce a season worthy of his ADP in 2017. He caught 75 of his 116 targets for 991 yards and eight TDs. Doug finished with only two games with over 100 yards receiving with a poor end to the year over his last seven starts (21 catches for 453 yards and five TDs on 37 targets). Over first eight games, Baldwin had four games with double-digit targets (15, 12, 10, and 12) while receiving seven targets or fewer in each of his last eight games. He plays for one of the top QBs in the games, but he’s averaged only 7.2 targets per game over the last three seasons. Not an edge, but his ability to deliver some big games and TDs gives him the best value as a WR2 in PPR leagues.
35. RB Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
The addition of Tarik Cohen and a shoulder issue deemed Howard a failed Fantasy investment in 2017 as a second-round pick. He finished with 299 touches for 1,247 combined yards with a nine TDs and 23 catches. Jordan flashed his explosiveness in four games (23/140/2, 36/167, 15/125/1, and 23/147/2) with two other games of value (121 combined yards with three catches on 26 touches and 44 yards and two TDs. Unfortunately, Howard had short production in seven other games (9/7, 21/65, 15/54, 7/6, 13/38, 10/37, and 9/9). When on his game, Jordan has beast upside. He won’t be a huge factor in the passing games, which forces Howard to earn his keep with TDs and rushing yards. Possible 1,500 combined yards with double-digit TDs and about 25 catches.
36. RB Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins
Fantasy owners will be intrigued by the finished of Drake in 2017 after JayAjayi was traded to the Eagles. Over five starts, Kenyan posted 594 combined yards with two TDs and 17 catches on 108 combined touches. He averaged 21.6 touches per game as a starter with about 119 yards per game. His best value came in Week 13 vs. the Patriots (193 combined yards with five catches). Miami did bring in Frank Gore to compete for some playing time, which will lead to Drake falling to the 3/4 turn in most 12-team PPR leagues. In his college career, Kenyan was never a full time back creat8ing a window of doubt for Fantasy owners this draft season. Upside for sure, but his final 2018 draft value will be a fluid until Fantasy owners see who the Dolphins add in this year’s draft.
The third round was much tougher to gauge, and a lot will change from late April until the live high-stakes season in Vegas in early September. I’m sure my draft order isn’t close to the expected ADP, but it does give Fantasy owners a feel of possible opportunities or pitfalls. If you have any insight that you would like to share or even add a name to the third-round conversation, feel free to do so in the forum at ScoutFantasySports.com.
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