Now that the draft is complete the 2017 NFL season has officially gotten underway. There are a lot of takes floating around right now about which rookies will be fantasy relevant, but the impact of the draft on NFL veterans is relatively lacking attention.
That said, here are some of the winners and losers among veterans based on the 2017 NFL Draft results.
Jerick McKinnon: Minnesota Vikings
The Jerick McKinnon truthers will have a new challenge to find a way to positively spin the investment the Vikings’ made with offseason signings and the draft. Before the 2017 NFL draft, McKinnon had his role in question thanks to the signing of Latavius Murray. After the team spent a second-round pick on Dalvin Cook, the role for McKinnon will be minimal. It shouldn’t be hard for the Vikings to shove McKinnon aside, as he averaged just 3.4 yards in a disappointing 2016 season.
T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory: Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette was taken by the Jaguars as the fourth overall pick, and that signals the beginning of the end for Chris Ivory. There has been speculation and argument over whether Fournette is a two or three down back, but no matter which turns out to be the case, Ivory’s role with the team is all but gone barring an injury. This becomes even more clear when considering Ivory’s lack of contributions in the passing game, making he and Fournette overlapping in skill-set.
Yeldon could remain in place as the team’s third-down running back, especially given that he excelled in that role last year, posting 50 receptions and 68 targets. If he receives a similar workload in 2017, he could still be a draftable commodity, especially in a PPR league. However, for those hoping that he would deliver on his promise as the former 36th overall pick, time appears to have run out.
Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard: Cincinnati Bengals
Unlike the situation for Ivory, the downfall of Jeremy Hill may not be as imminent due to potential off-field concerns for Joe Mixon, the Bengals’ second-round pick. Despite the constant scrutiny, Hill has also done a good job of finding his way into the end zone, which is enough to give him fantasy value. Even given that, however, it’s hard to imagine why the Bengals would spend a pick early on a public relations headache to not give him carries. That will almost certainly jeopardize Hill’s role.
Bernard faces his own challenges due to the torn ACL he suffered last season, though current reports suggest that he will avoid the PUP list to start the season. That’s not the only concern for Bernard, as Mixon showed the ability to catch passes throughout his college career, which does endanger Bernard’s role. At this point in the offseason, it should be expected that he lose both some carries and receptions, but his receiving ability should give him a floor that keeps him relevant in some league formats.
Tyrell Williams: Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen is returning from another season ending injury, which was going to crowd the Chargers’ wide receiver even before the draft got underway. Then the Chargers made the surprising pick of Mike Williams at number seven overall, only further muddying the roles of the receivers on the roster.
Allen has proven himself to be a very productive receiver when healthy, and one that will command well over 100 targets. Mike Williams, though, maybe not performing to his ceiling immediately, should also command plenty of targets. Add in two viable tight ends in the passing game in Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates, in addition to Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman, and there just aren’t enough targets to go around to make Tyrell Williams a consistent fantasy option.
Cam Newton: Caroline Panthers
Cam Newton has already proven himself to be an elite NFL and fantasy quarterback. However, the Panthers have often proved hesitant to surround Newton with elite offensive weapons, which has been somewhat perplexing. After a down season last year, the team may have learned its lesson as it invested its first two picks in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Regardless of opinions on the individual players, there can be little double that they will improve the arsenal around Newton, making him a big winner from the weekend.
Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers were already well on their way to having a fully loaded offense with the likes of DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. That only increased throughout the draft as the Buccaneers landed both O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin. While Mike Evans and Cameron Brate could be deemed losers, Jameis Winston would have to be considered a winner. He now has several viable weapons in the passing game, something that couldn’t be said in years past. These investments signal that the team is comfortable revolving their offense around Winston, which should increase the volume across his stat-line.
Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans
Similarly, Marcus Mariota received an upgrade in his weapons with the Titans investment in Corey Davis as the fifth overall pick. Though the Titans offense will still run through DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, extra offensive options are never a bad thing. Having a young wide receiver who can pair with him for years to come should be beneficial to both Mariota and Davis this season and moving forward.
Cameron Meredith: Chicago Bears
Cameron Meredith drew some buzz during the 2016 season, as he had a few standout performances. Consistency was an issue for the young wideout, which is to be expected. Given that, Meredith is not necessarily a winner because the Bears invested in Mitchell Trubisky. Instead, he is a winner because the Bears failed to invest in a wide receiver in the draft. That should leave him with a good number of targets in 2017 and the chance to solidify himself as a key to the Bears offense moving forward.
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