NFL Draft: O-Linemen Such as Raiders’ Kolton Miller Will Help Fantasy Outlooks
The Fantasy Impacts Of Top Non-Skill Position Picks From Round One of the NFL Draft
The Colts Bolster the Offensive Line
After missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck’s status for Week One of 2018 is still uncertain. Luck did report to Colts minicamp this week, but was not reported as throwing a football just yet. The Colts are hopeful that the three-time Pro Bowler will be the starter by September. Regardless of who is under center, they hit a home run selecting guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick. The Colts’ offense was painful to watch at times as they had weapons that were unable to reach their ceiling with Jacoby Brissett lining up behind an unstable offensive line. Nelson was the highest-graded offensive linemen by most analysts going into the draft and was at the top of some boards as the best player available prior to Thursday night. He brings instant impact to the Colts offense and will provide Luck with perhaps the best pass-blocking guard he has had in his career.
Luck has taken 40-plus sacks twice in his career- 2012 (his rookie season) and 2016- and giving him an added boost to the offensive line will make a difference when (or if) he straps up in 2018. Keeping Luck vertical and upright will be the key for the Fantasy options for the Colts. The former Stanford Cardinal threw 31 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions and was the QB4 in standard quarterback scoring Fantasy leagues in 2016, but he suffered 41 sacks for 268 lost yards.
Nelson should help keep Luck healthy, which would be everything T.Y. Hilton needs to return to WR1 status. Hilton and Ryan Grant, who the Colts signed this offseason, can both be viable options in Fantasy. Grant will serve as a WR3, but has big-play potential with Luck. Marlon Mack is the number one running back on the depth chart and has the ability to take it to the house on any given play. Nelson should give Mack, or whomever is taking the bulk of the workload out of the backfield, a boost in yards per carry as the former Notre Dame star will limit penetration up front, and allow for more explosive plays.
Broncos Are Stacked on Defense
John Elway finally got it right. He demonstrated the discipline it takes to be a successful General Manager on draft day. Rumors circulated before the draft that Denver wanted to move up to the number two overall pick, but when the smoke cleared the Broncos stayed put and ended up with perhaps the best defensive prospect entering the NFL in 2018- Bradley Chubb out of North Carolina State. Chubb will be lined up opposite Von Miller up front and instantly makes the duo one of the best edge rushing duos in the league.
Chubb runs a 4.65 40-yard dash, which is silly for his size at 6’4”/270 pounds. Adding this piece is reminiscent of the Broncos’ Super Bowl run in 2015 when their defense was elite. The formula for the Super Bowl team in 2015 that had Peyton Manning in his final season was to control the clock running the ball and suffocate the quarterback on defense. That season, Ronnie Hillman led the Broncos with 207 carries for 863 yards with seven touchdowns and C.J. Anderson had 152 totes for 720 yards with five touchdowns.
The 2018 Broncos have the pieces to be a great defense with Chubb and Miller up front and Chris Harris and Bradley Roby serving as a lethal cornerback combo. This bodes well for Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson and now Royce Freeman, who may surpass them both. Denver looks to be a run-first team as Case Keenum is best suited as a game manager who can light teams up with play action. Keep an eye on the Broncos’ depth chart at the running back position, as this is a team that wants to run often.
Jimmy G on the Rise
The 49ers most likely would have taken Roquan Smith if the Bears did not scoop him up with the eighth overall pick. This worked out for Fantasy purposes because San Francisco selected the best left tackle in the draft, another Notre Dame prospect, Matt McGlinchey. McGlinchey is massive at 6’8” at 309 pounds and has the ability to play on either side of the line. Adding a first-round prospect to protect Jimmy Garoppolo was the best thing this team could do for their offense. Garoppolo was excellent last season with a small sample size and threw seven touchdowns in six games and was 5-0 in games he started. Jimmy G had Top 10 potential before the selection of McGlinchey, and this pick solidifies that outcome. The 49ers will be facing the Rams twice, and they roster one of the best defensive lines in the league - this is an A-plus pick for San Francisco and Garoppolo’s Fantasy stock.
Jerick McKinnon signed a four-year $36.9 million contract with the 49ers this offseason which was the best-case scenario for the soon-to-be 26-year old running back. He was paid more than he would have received somewhere else and he is the projected starter. Running behind a solid offensive line will be important in 2018 as McKinnon is known as a guy who can make plays in space, but has struggled in between the tackles. While Kyle Shanahan will find ways to get McKinnon the ball in the flats and on screens, if the former Viking is the lead back he will see at least 200 carries. That sort of volume will produce RB2 numbers, especially if he can manage 40-plus receptions. Adding the best tackle in the draft could boost McKinnon into the RB1 conversation if McGlinchey is able to open things in the trenches.
Don’t Sleep on Derek Carr and the Raiders
Kolton Miller of UCLA was projected by many to drop to 23 to the New England Patriots, but the Oakland Raiders moved back from 10 to 15 as they knew the left tackle would be there. While that is a lofty position in the draft to live up to, Miller has the measurables to meet expectations. At 6’9” and 309 pounds the former Bruin is athletic and has great feet for his size. There will be a learning curve for the rookie, but he has the ability to play the left tackle position in 2018. The Raiders will be paying 35-year old left tackle Donald Penn $6 million in 2018, and he looks to be a focal point on the offensive line. If Jon Gruden and the Raiders can coach Miller up and get him acclimated to pro-speed by Week One, a viable option for Oakland could be putting Miller on Derek Carr’s blind side while allowing Penn to provide protection on the strong side.
From a Fantasy perspective, this could be beneficial for all of the Raiders’ skill positions. Carr needs time in the pocket to produce, as he is not known for being accurate under pressure or on the move. There is not much Fantasy love for Carr as he is a mid-tier QB2 as of now. This could be advantageous for Fantasy players in redraft leagues who want to wait until the later rounds to select a QB. Carr has Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and newly acquired deep-threat Martavis Bryant to work with in 2018. The first line of thought would presume that this move places Nelson in the slot, as he will be 33 next month. This not only adds value to him as a guy who can rack up receptions, but gives Carr stability underneath.
Adding Miller and trading for Bryant says that this team wants to pass the ball. Do not sleep on Derek Carr in redraft leagues and pay attention to the draft stock of his receivers as they can certainly return value in a passing offense combined with a defense that will give up lots of points in 2018.
Featured Image Info: Oakland Raiders draft pick Kolton Miller stands between coach Jon Gruden, left, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie after an NFL football media conference Friday, April 26, 2018, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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