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2016 NFL Draft: Fantasy Football Winners and Losers

Alessandro Miglio looks at winners and losers from the NFL draft.


Draftmas is over, and the fantasy football landscape has been rearranged yet again. Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers in the fantasy football realm at the conclusion of the NFL draft.

 

Winners

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

This is Jerruh’s team and he’ll be damned if you think taking a running back at No. 4 is bad juju.

The last running back to go inside the top 10 of the draft was none other than Trent Richardson. That was no deterrent for the Dallas Cowboys, who took Elliott despite having signed Alfred Morris and needing a cement truck to fill some of the holes on defense.

From a fantasy perspective, though, Elliott couldn’t have landed in a better situation. It wasn’t long ago that DeMarco Murray was the rushing champion in Dallas, and the offensive line has only gotten better since then. It helped rejuvenate Darren McFadden, who had been left for dead after three awful seasons to end his tenure in Oakland. Morris and McFadden shouldn’t pose major threats to Elliott’s playing time given the Cowboys invested so much in him and he is a far superior running back.

 

Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans

The funny thing about Brock Osweiler is that he might have been just as fantasy-relevant in Denver as he will be in Houston. It just took a little offseason makeover to get the Texans on that level.

The draft was huge for Osweiler and that passing offense as a whole. Though the receivers Houston took weren’t as highly touted as other prospects, there is no denying the Texans added speed with Will Fuller and explosive versatility in Braxton Miller. The fact Miller might be the best quarterback in Houston is an added bonus.

Along with DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller out of the backfield, Osweiler has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Just like he did in Denver last season.

 

Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins

We have a double whammy of goodness for Jay Ajayi, who currently sits atop the Dolphins depth chart as a potential three-down back. Not only did the Dolphins forego an early-round running back--Miami’s selection of oft-injured change-of-pace back from Running Back Bust U Kenyon Drake notwithstanding--after letting Lamar Miller walk, but the offensive line might actually be halfway decent in South Florida this year. (Say that last sentence three times fast.)

That’s because stud offensive tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil smoked his way into Miami’s lap at No. 13. The reprehensibility of whoever tried to blackmail Tunsil aside, the Dolphins took advantage of a timid league to take arguably the best offensive line prospect since Joe Thomas. If he can stay out of trouble--something we should be confident in, if we are being honest--and the unit can actually stay healthy, Ajayi could find himself touching the ball 250 times behind a great line.

 

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

Michael Thomas was one of the most polarizing receiver prospects of draft season. He’s going to get a good chance to prove his doubters wrong in Year One.

That’s because he landed in New Orleans, where Drew Brees still has some mojo left in the tank. Thomas is going to have to fight his way into a starting role, but he could wind up being the X receiver with Brandin Cooks playing out of the slot or elsewhere on the field. Marques Colston is gone and the Saints don’t have much in the way of receiver talent. Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman have shown flashes of potential, but are either of them that much further ahead of Thomas today?

 

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Marvin Jones is gone. Mohamed Sanu is gone. Brandon LaFell is perennially overrated. Brandon Tate is… Brandon Tate.

As No. 2 receivers go, Tyler Boyd found the perfect landing spot. He will have a great shot to win the starting job opposite A.J. Green, who alongside tight end Tyler Eifert should command much of the attention from opposing defenses. Jones and Sanu were never able to tap into a consistent production in that role, but a healthy Boyd may well be a viable fantasy starter right away.

 

Matt Jones, RB, Washington

Like Miami, Washington didn’t do much to address the running back position this offseason after letting Alfred Morris go. Unlike the Dolphins, though, there was no mid-round running back pick in Washington.

On the contrary, head coach Jay Gruden--or at the very least general manager Scot McCloughlan--seems content with Matt Jones at the top of the depth chart with Chris Thompson providing third-down relief. Jones flashed brilliance as a rookie, and Washington’s offensive line should be halfway decent.

 

Robert Griffin III, QB, Cleveland Browns

After years of ignoring wide receivers in loaded the drafts, the Browns finally dove into the position. And boy did they overcompensate. Cleveland went a bit draft-happy, amassing 14 picks in an attempted youngblood roster transfusion. Five of those picks were wide receivers.

Not only did Robert Griffin III get a whole new receiver corps, but he solidified his starting gig when the Browns decided to forego a quarterback with a top pick. They did select Cody Kessler, but he shouldn’t pose a threat to Griffin as long as the latter plays reasonably well.

 

Losers

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

DeMarco Murray groused his way out of Philadelphia just one year after signing a big free-agent deal. He wasn’t a good fit for the offense, but the fact Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles got so many touches ground his gears enough to complain to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. That tactic didn’t work out so well for him.

Lurie had him exiled to the NFL wasteland, trading him to the Tennessee Titans. It was a good move for Murray’s fantasy stock, as he was head and shoulders above Bishop Sankey and Antonio Andrews on the Titans depth chart. Then Tennessee drafted Derrick Henry.

To be fair, Murray immediately tweeted out support for the pick, perhaps in an attempt to rehabilitate his image.

Here is an exclusive picture of Murray at the time of his tweet.

Henry is definitely going to see playing time as a rookie, though Murray might still wind up starting and touching the ball 250-plus times. But what once was a top-10 possibility for the former Cowboy and Eagle has suddenly turned into a potential quagmire.

 

The New York Jets Offense

Geno Smith. Bryce Petty. Christian Hackenberg. A paper bag. Some week old borscht. A repossessed storage container full of empty soup cans. Mona Lisa’s sister. The New York Jets.

 

Mark Sanchez, QB, Denver Broncos

Speaking of terrible offenses, how is Mark Sanchez taking the Paxton Lynch news? After reports that Sanchez is unencumbered vanity life in Denver--ready to focus and finally be that quality starter some USC fans still think he can be--the Broncos decided to move up and take their man, Paxton Lynch. Incidentally, John Elway loves his tall quarterbacks.

Lynch probably won’t start right away, but who can count Sanchez out in a race to the bottom of the depth chart?

 

Jared Goff, QB, St. Louis Rams

Jared Goff may have landed in Los Angeles, but it’s hardly going to be the land of angels for him.

I mean, come on--this is Jeff Fisher’s team we are talking about here. The man reeks of mediocrity, and there is little reason to believe Goff is going to change things. The Rams did wrong by Sam Bradford after they took him No. 1 overall six years ago, and Goff isn’t headed for a much better situation in 2016.

Todd Gurley and Tre Mason figure to combine for 400-plus carries next season as Goff is eased into the NFL. Los Angeles did take receiver Pharoh Cooper and risky-but-talented tight end Tyler Higbee in the fourth round, but those two probably won’t see the field much as rookies.

Not that you should be drafting rookie quarterbacks in redraft leagues to begin with, but Goff’s status as the starter in Los Angeles should be no temptation for you, even as your second quarterback.

 

Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott’s gain is Alfred Morris’ loss.

His production may have declined precipitously in recent years, but Morris had landed in the perfect situation--a zone-blocking scheme behind an amazing offensive line. Now he will play second fiddle to the rookie.