The NFL Draft is drawing to a close and most of the fantasy-relevant players have come off the board after three rounds. In the fallout of those rounds, questions remain about which players are now safe in their workloads and what teams may still be looking for upgrades.
In the run-up to the draft, there were few teams as consistently linked to Bijan Robinson as the Falcons and the Eagles. Robinson was viewed as a potential cherry on top for Philadelphia, an elite option they didn’t necessarily need, but one who’d make them even tougher to defend than they currently are. Instead, the Falcons selected Robinson and the Eagles stuck to their board, leaving them with four running backs on their roster heading into the final day of the draft. The Eagles though did not let the occasion pass them by and traded a 2025 4th-round pick for D'Andre Swift on the third day of the draft. Swift has been stuck in timeshares in Detroit in recent years, seemingly untrusted by the coaching staff as well as struggling to always be available. Now Swift will duke it out with Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott for touches. Penny can be a tough between-the-tackles runner when healthy and a good compliment to Swift, who shines in other areas that often bring with them high-value touches. If Swift is able to secure a large amount of touches, in this potent offense, he has a chance to pay off his ADP.
The Ravens said at the NFL Combine that they had to rebuild their receiver room and with the additions of Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham and Nelson Agholor they certainly have more depth than they did down the stretch of 2022 when Demarcus Robinson was their WR1. When the Ravens made Todd Monken their new offensive coordinator it was clear that the passing game would be more interesting for fantasy purposes than it was under Greg Roman and it is clear that Baltimore isn’t the wide receiver graveyard it once was. The question remains though, how does the target share get divided between all of these options? Andrews will remain a safe bet thanks to years of building a relationship and connection with Jackson, but does Zay Flowers surpass Rashod Bateman who has played just 13 games with Jackson in the last two years?
When the Panthers traded DJ Moore to secure the number one overall pick they left the pass-catching cupboard bare in his wake. Since then the Panthers have added Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Hayden Hurst and then selected Jonathan Mingo with the 39th pick in the draft. In a draft class full to the brim with undersized receivers, Mingo stands out at 6ft1 and 220lbs and looks likely to have plenty of targets if he gets on the same page as Bryce Young early. Thielen is likely the safest bet for who will lead the team in targets, but it’s fair to question his ceiling and ability to turn targets into production at this point in his career. Mingo will be an exciting player, but it’s very possible the hype train sweeps him aboard early and sends his ADP climbing.
We can debate all day whether the Falcons needed to use the eighth overall pick on a running back but now that they have done so, it’s time to consider what it means for fantasy purposes. Bijan Robinson is a truly elite prospect who according to many evaluators could hold his own as a slot receiver, never mind the rushing workload. With Robinson’s only backfield competition Tyler Allgeier and Arthur Smith being firmly in favor of establishing the run, it’s easy to project Robinson for 15-20 touches a game. With Jonathan Taylor likely to see less dump-off passes from his new dual-threat quarterback, Anthony Richardson, his ceiling seems lowered somewhat and there is an argument to be had that with Elijah Mitchell healthy and Christian McCaffrey another year older that maybe there is no clear RB1 and it won’t be surprising to see Robinson start making his way higher up the first round as best ball drafts open.
The Lions caught plenty of flack for taking Jahmyr Gibbs with the twelfth pick of the draft and seemed to be working hard in the aftermath to make the public think they had to or Gibbs would have been selected before the Lions’ next pick at 18. One of the most commonly reported whispers was that the Jets were targeting Gibbs with Dane Brugler among others to report it. The question that needs answering is are the Jets worried about Breece Hall’s recovery from a torn ACL, or was this simply about acquiring more top-tier talent to surround Aaron Rodgers with? If it’s the latter then it’s a good indication of how the Jets see Michael Carter after his second-year regression but if it’s the former then it’s worth considering how heavily exposed we want to be to Hall in the early days of best ball drafts.
When free agency opened the Saints bolstered their running back room by upgrading Mark Ingram to Jamaal Williams, fresh off a 17-touchdown season, and then with the 71st pick of the draft selected Kendre Miller. Kamara’s continuing legal troubles combined with the fact he will be 28 years old when the season starts, points towards the end of his time in New Orleans coming sooner rather than later. Cutting Kamara would cost the Saints $7m in dead cap, but there is little difference in waiting till next year to do so when the cost would be $4m. Due to the way the Saints kick the can down the road with contracts, there will always be dead cap to deal with, and now at least they have options behind Kamara. Miller is 215lb and rushed for 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season at TCU.
The Lions traded TJ Hockenson mid-season in 2022 and ever since have had a need for a player to take on Hockenson’s role in the offense. In four seasons at Iowa, LaPorta had 153 catches and 1,786 yards, ranking first and second, respectively, in both categories at Iowa, which has been a fantastic college for tight ends with Hockenson, George Kittle and Noah Fant all learning their trade as Hawkeyes. Laporta is a former wide receiver and it shows in his pass-catching ability. While Laporta isn’t an elite athlete Detroit clearly saw enough in him to choose him as the second tight end of the draft ahead of many peoples TE1, Michael Mayer.
Through three days of the draft, the Browns have had only two picks as they pay off the debt incurred by trading for Deshaun Watson. Neither of those picks have been spent on a running back and with Kareem Hunt a free agent perhaps we’re getting closer to seeing Nick Chubb finally unleashed with a three-down workload. Over the last two seasons, Chubb has averaged 55% of snaps, which pales in comparison to some of the other running backs that see similar amounts of touches. When Chubb was on the field, he was touching the ball, but he still came off the field plenty. Chubb is 27 years old and it’s unlikely he gets over 20 touches a game, but if the Browns don’t add anyone of note, is he going to be undervalued in Best Ball Mania IV?