The NFL Draft is here and Day 1 is in the books, but who were the early risers and fallers following Round 1?
In this article, I'm going to give my quick early reaction to some of the picks made last night and the implications they may have in terms of their fantasy football.
Trey Lance | QB | San Francisco 49ers
Career Stats (North Dakota State)
Passing: Comp - 208 | Yards - 2,947 | TDs - 30 | INTs - 1
Rushing: Att - 192 | Yards - 1,325 | TDs - 18
With the #3 pick in the NFL Draft the 49ers selected QB Trey Lance and with it, Lance's fantasy stock rises. Lance enters the NFL as a raw prospect having been the starter for only 17 games for North Dakota State, but the upside for Lance is unquestionable. A QB with a cannon for an arm and a proven high-quality rusher of the ball in college, Lance has the potential to go down as one of the best fantasy QB from this draft class.
He may potentially sit behind current 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021 but landing on this Kyle Shanahan offense with weapons such as George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk, Trey Lance is set up for success for many years.
With this draft capital and landing spot, Lance has likely cemented himself as one of the top QBs selected in rookie drafts this offseason.
Najee Harris | RB | Pittsburgh Steelers
Career Stats (Alabama)
Rushing: Att - 638 | Yards - 3,843 | TDs - 46
Receiving: Rec - 80 | Yards - 781 | TDs - 11
Many expected, and hoped, Harris would be selected by the Steelers in Round 1 and now it has happened fantasy managers can start to get excited about the prospect of Harris suiting up in black and gold after been selected with the #24 pick.
Coming off back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons for Alabama, Pittsburgh addresses their need for a high-quality rusher by adding a true workhorse in Harris, who can also be a threat in the receiving game. HC Mike Tomlin hasn't been scared to give his starting RB a heavy workload in the past and I fully expect them to go back to running the ball more following this selection, so the future for Harris is bright in fantasy and he will be one of the top selections in rookie drafts this year.
Jaylen Waddle | WR | Miami Dolphins
Career Stats (Alabama)
Receiving: Att - 106 | Yards - 1,999 | TDs - 17
K/P Returns: Att - 48 | Yards - 947 | TDs - 3
One of the first big surprises in Round 1 was MIA selecting Jaylen Waddle at #6 over star O-Lineman Penei Sewell but also his Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith. Waddle now links up with his former Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa and can immediately become one of his top pass-catching weapons in MIA alongside DeVante Parker and Will Fuller.
Waddle is a dynamic speedy WR who can play both on the outside or in the slot and can make a big play at any moment when he steps on the field, averaging nearly 20 yards per reception in his career. The future of this MIA offense is exciting and with it, so is Jaylen Waddle's. This was a great landing spot for him.
DeVonta Smith | WR | Philedelphia Eagles
Career Stats (Alabama)
Receiving: Rec - 235 | Yards - 3,965 | TDs - 46
The Eagles move above divisional rivals New York Giants to get their WR in DeVonta Smith at pick #10. Now I get that Smith joins an Eagles WR corps that isn't loaded with talent and likely becomes their top WR option instantly, but this wasn't a great spot for an incoming WR in my opinion. The Eagles enter the 2021 season with Jelen Hurts at QB and while he's a great fantasy QB with his rushing, he isn't the QB you want under centre to give you your next fantasy WR superstar. Hurts struggled with accuracy in the few games he played in 2020 and with a potential shaky QB situation ahead, Smith's stock has to drop slightly.
Eagles fans could be looking back and wishing they selected QB Justin Fields at Pick #10 if Hurts doesn't make a hot start to the season.
Rashod Bateman | WR | Baltimore Ravens
Career Stats (Minnesota)
Receiving: Rec - 147 | Yards - 2,395 | TDs - 19
Sorry Ravens fans, but this was always going to be the case with whichever top WR they drafted in Round 1. Bateman, selected with pick #27, offers a big bodied option for QB Lamar Jackson and weapons were just what the Ravens needed but its hard to get excited about Bateman on this offense. The Ravens are constantly one of the lowest ranked teams in pass attempts per game and that lack of opportunity is what will be a killer for Bateman. He also faces competition for redzone targets with Jackson's top option in TE Mark Andrews.
Im not saying to avoid Bateman at all costs in your rookie drafts, but his ceiling has now been capped and expectations now have to be tempered.
Thank you for reading my quick reaction to the NFL Draft Day 1 action and the implications it may have on some of the players selected in Round 1.
With plenty more fantasy prospect still on the board in Day 2 & 3, the drama is just beginning... So be sure to keep an eye out for my future quick reactions or follow me on twitter @MattFFDynasty for more fantasy football content.