For prospects coming out of the NFL Draft, Fantasy value is all about where you landed. End up somewhere you'll be the Day 1 starter with weapons around you, and you can be a viable Fantasy option immediately. It should come as no surprise then that Joe Burrow is one of the biggest winners coming out of the draft, although he's not the only rookie QB to come out of the draft in a good spot.
For veterans, on the other hand, it's often as much about who your team doesn't draft. We headed into the NFL Draft with concerns about the future of the likes of James Conner and Leonard Fournette, two potential Fantasy difference-makers due to rumors their teams would make significant investments at running back. That didn't happen, which makes both winners.
Of course, for some other vets the draft is all about who your team did walk away with. You could hardly claim Dak Prescott didn't have enough help in his breakout 2019, but now he's got an embarrassment of riches with the Cowboys investing a first-round pick in CeeDee Lamb, arguably the most talented receiver in the class. Amari Cooper was already a borderline elite Fantasy option, and the draft only solidified his standing. He's a winner.
All four of those players are among the biggest winners in the league for Fantasy coming out of the draft, but they aren't alone. Here are the 23 biggest winners for Fantasy from the draft.
Prescott took a big step forward with the addition of Cooper midway through the 2018 season, and carried it over into a career year in 2019. Regression seems less likely after the draft because the Cowboys shockingly took CeeDee Lamb, arguably the most talented receiver in the draft. Between Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb, Prescott arguably has the best receiving corps in the game. The play-action-heavy, vertical passing game Kellen Moore installed last season is still in place, and with the talent around him, Prescott figures to keep on rolling. He should be the consensus No. 3 QB in Fantasy, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
The top three quarterback prospects in the draft all landed in pretty much ideal situations, surrounded by plenty of talent and with paths to immediate playing time if they can earn it. It would be a tremendous upset if Burrow isn't starting in Week 1, and with Tee Higgins added to a corps that already featured A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross, he has everything he needs to succeed. Well, the offensive line remains a question mark, and you would've liked to have seen them make an investment in the draft there. Still, Burrow is an elite prospect with weapons, and might even be a viable Fantasy starter as a rookie.
If not for the hip injury that ended his college career, Tagovailoa would have given Burrow a legitimate challenge for the No. 1 pick. The injury is a significant question mark, and the Dolphins figure to give him plenty of time with Ryan Fitzpatrick around as a placeholder. But Fitzpatrick is no stranger to being pulled from the lineup for a younger passer, and if Tua gets healthy and shows out in practice, he'll actually have a decent group of weapons around him with DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki representing a young, athletic group to grow with. A second-half emergence as a starting Fantasy option is absolutely in the cards.
Herbert is much less of a sure thing than either Burrow or Tagovailoa, and he wasn't nearly as productive as either, but he might have landed in an even better spot. The Chargers have just Tyrod Taylor standing in his way for the starting spot, and an elite group of weapons around him. Keenan Allen is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, Mike Williams is a proven playmaker down the field and in the red zone, and Hunter Henry can hurt teams in the middle of the field; Austin Ekeler might also be the best playmaking pass catcher at the running back position. Herbert is no sure thing, but he couldn't have asked for a better group of weapons.
As Ben Gretch noted Thursday night, these four got significant help in the first-round when their teams added elite tackle prospects. Darnold also got a potential No. 1 receiver in Denzel Mims, while Brady got another intriguing weapon for the passing game in Tyler Johnson — not that he needed more. All four of these passers' lives should be easier in 2020 because of the draft, and while Brady should be drafted as a starter in every league, Darnold, Jones and Mayfield could all be positioned for breakout campaigns.
We were worried the Jaguars would invest in a quarterback to push Minshew, but their only pick was a sixth-round pick who threw for nearly 2,000 fewer yards in his senior season than Minshew did in his. That shouldn't shake whatever faith you have in Minshew, who was actually a pretty useful Fantasy option as a rookie for stretches. The Jaguars only helped Minshew's case by adding Laviska Shenault, a talented wide receiver from Colorado, early in the second round. He could make for a formidable combo with D.J. Chark, who broke out with Minshew's help in 2019, and there's still a chance the Jaguars move Leonard Fournette and put less of an emphasis on the running game. It's pretty much nothing but good news for Minshew.
This might not have much impact for Fantasy, though the Patriots do like Stidham, and they proved it by passing on the quarterback position entirely. Unless they go out and sign Cam Newton — something I'd love to see, personally — Stidham is going to battle Brian Hoyer to be the starting QB, and that's certainly a battle he can win. The Patriots aren't overflowing with talent, but they did snag a pair of athletic tight ends, and will hopefully get more from last year's first-rounder N'Keal Harry, another winner from the draft. If Harry steps up, a receiving corps with Harry, Julian Edelman, and Mohamed Sanu, plus James White out of the backfield, isn't a bad start.
We pegged Edwards-Helaire as the No. 1 rookie after the Chiefs stunning decision to invest a first-round pick in him, and nothing in the subsequent rounds changed our feelings. Edwards-Helaire landed in an absolutely perfect spot for his skill set, as the Chiefs are sure to make liberal usage of him in the passing game, often in creative way that will allow him to get open down the field. Even if he doesn't dominate touches as a rookie, Edwards-Helaire will get enough to be a viable Fantasy starter, someone you can safely target in the fourth round in re-draft leagues. And he's the No. 1 pick in rookie-only drafts without much question.
The Jaguars may end up trading Fournette, but he comes out of the draft in a better place than we really could've hoped for. If he is on the Jaguars come Week 1, he's going to have no real competition for touches, because the Jaguars shockingly didn't even draft one running back in the first six rounds. His time in Jacksonville still seems closer to the end than the beginning, but for 2020, Fournette is still in a pretty good place.
James Conner, Austin Ekeler, Chris Carson
We thought all three may face competition from early-round backs, but the Steelers, Chargers and Seahawks all waited until the fourth round to take backs. Anthony McFarland Jr., Joshua Kelley, and DeeJay Dallas all have positive traits that could make them valuable contributors, but this isn't the kind of draft capital you spend if you really want to upgrade the position, even running back. Keep an eye on camp reports to see if the young guys push the incumbents for playing time, but view Conner, Ekeler, and Carson as the starters until further notice.
You can also call Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and maybe even Jerick McKinnon winners, because the trade that sent Breida to Miami cleared out one more productive back. But Breida is the real winner, as he heads to a Miami team that has just Jordan Howard as competition. Howard isn't as bad as many Fantasy players may like to think, and he isn't going to just disappear — I would bet he gets the majority of the first- and second-down work. But Breida is a more dynamic playmaker, and he should have a more significant passing-downs role right off the bat. If they split carries evenly otherwise, Breida will be the better Fantasy option, and a potential starting Fantasy running back.
I don't understand what the Packers were thinking in taking a project quarterback with their first-round pick and a third running back with their second, but this draft seems like a pretty big vote of confidence in their incumbent receivers. Well, maybe that's too strong because the Packers have shown very little interest in actually upgrading the non-Adams portions of their receiver depth chart in recent years. But the end result is still the same: There was almost no competition for targets added in the draft. Adams can be safely viewed as a borderline first-round Fantasy option given the volume he is likely to receive, and Lazard will get the chance to build on a promising debut. Devin Funchess could steal some red-zone targets, but he isn't likely to make a significant impact between the 20s, so there's a big opportunity here for Lazard and Adams.
DeVante Parker and Preston Williams
Still in the midst of a significant rebuild, the Dolphins opted to avoid the splash picks, instead focusing on rebuilding the lines and defensive backfield. That meant no significant investments in pass catchers, meaning Parker and Williams will once again lead the Dolphins passing attack. Parker broke out as a viable No. 1 receiver in 2019 after earning the bust label with his first four seasons, and can be viewed as a solid No. 2 WR for Fantasy now. Williams has to prove he's back to full speed following a torn ACL, but if he can, he'll be a fascinating late-round sleeper target after flashing really impressive skills as an undrafted rookie.
The opportunity is there for Harry, who just couldn't really get his feet under him as a rookie after dealing with an injury in training camp. Still, he was the second wide receiver taken in the 2019 draft and really only has the aging Edelman and Sanu to beat out for targets. He was a productive college receiver who ran a 4.53 40 at 6'2", 228 pounds, so the physical profile certainly plays. Now it's time for him to. He should be one of the best sleepers to target in the second half of Fantasy drafts this summer.
Like Parker and Williams, Gesicki benefited from the Dolphins emphasis on building out the less glamorous parts of the roster in the draft. Gesicki has the ideal physical profile for a playmaking tight end in the NFL, and he started to show signs of his potential in 2019, putting up a double-digit touchdown pace in the second half of the season. He's not there yet, but Gesicki has the rare physical tools that could make him a must-start Fantasy option, and he won't have much competition in his way to get there.
Of the Falcons' six picks, four were defensive players, one was a special teamer and the other was a center. Hurst has a tremendous opportunity in a Falcons offense that turned Austin Hooper into a top-flight Fantasy option, and the 26-year-old has a very similar athletic profile to Hooper — in fact, he's just a smidge faster. After Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Hurst figures to be the No. 3 target in a pass-heavy offense, and with that kind of talent on the outside, the middle of the field should be wide open for Hurst. There's big potential here.