This article is part of our Dynasty Watch series.
While I think many of the players in this draft class are fascinating, especially at wide receiver, I have to admit that the draft largely damaged the NFL dynasty value of many of its most talented assets. With the short-term outlooks of players like D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and Marquise Brown worsening due to their landing spots, I felt compelled to do the unusual and rank Kyler Murray as the top overall dynasty asset of this class.
1. Kyler Murray, QB, ARZ (Round 1, 1st overall)
I know it's the most dispensable skill position in fantasy and Murray still carries the substantial risk of poor performance despite his stable opportunity projection, but the prospect of high-volume dual-threat usage means Murray could be excellent in fantasy even if real-life football pundits issue bust declarations anytime soon. If it goes right for Murray then he could be a faster Russell Wilson in an anti-Schottenheimer offense. If only for the kind of scale it would require to reach the point in question, Murray would be my first guess if any quarterback ends up taking the QB1 distinction from Patrick Mahomes in the next three years.
2. Mecole Hardman, WR, KC (Round 2, Pick 56th overall)
There's a case to make for ranking Hardman this high just on the basis of opportunity, but there's also a strong chance he's a standout talent. I know the sentiment wasn't shared by many in sports media – though John and me have advised otherwise since January – but I think Hardman was an excellent pick and I have no noteworthy concerns with him. I think he might be raw due to the fact that last year was his second year playing receiver (he played cornerback and quarterback prior to then), but he's already learned quickly and it's again difficult to overstate how favorable this setting is.
Tyreek Hill is done. I love Sammy Watkins' talent, but that foot is not right and you can't take a whole lot for granted with him on any particular basis. Demarcus Robinson may match or exceed Hardman's snap count in 2019, but I wouldn't quite want to bet on that given Robinson's relatively weak prospect profile and the fact that his only advantage over Hardman (size) is not practically useful since Robinson isn't a jumpball target or any similar thing himself. If that's true, then Hardman can do anything Robinson can, though there are numerous things Hardman can do that Robinson can't. Short targets or deep, Robinson projects as the worse option. Robinson's numbers from last year are solid (66.7 percent catch rate, 8.7 YPT), but that YPT drops to 6.2 if not for a fluky 89-yard touchdown catch last year. Robinson averaged 5.4 YPT in 2017.
Anyway, as someone who has faith in Mahomes and Hardman but not Watkins' foot, this is a ranking I'm very comfortable with even if it's contrarian.
3. N'Keal Harry, WR, NE (Round 1, Pick 32)
If Tom Brady were 30 I would rank Harry ahead of Hardman. But whereas Hardman could benefit from Mahomes' transcendent talent for the duration of his career, Harry presumably has a 3-to-4 year max on Tom Brady's presence. At least one and potentially all of those years will include the obstacle of Julian Edelman, furthermore, and it's not as if Rob Gronkowski's subtraction from the target rotation at just over five targets per game will create enough alone for Harry to realize the hopes of his fantasy investors. But Harry is talented, and if Edelman should get hurt (plausible if not probable) then Harry should immediately become Brady's WR1. If Edelman should retire after 2019, then Harry could replace him as Brady's primary slot target, in which case production is nearly automatic.
4. Deebo Samuel, WR, SF (Round 2, Pick 4)
Both Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin have dealt with recent injuries, and neither is nearly as dense of a target as Samuel is. At 5-foot-11, 214 pounds he's a threat to emerge as a yards-after-catch red-zone target while Pettis presumably handles most of the fades. Samuel has a long history of creating yards from scrimmage on his own, so he should thrive in a Kyle Shanahan offense that exploits space effectively.
5. Josh Jacobs, RB, OAK (Round 1, Pick 24)
I don't see much in the way of objective upside indicators with Jacobs, but as a first-round running back in an unstable dynasty rookie class he holds a lot of currency just from the opportunity for playing time. Jacobs (5-foot-10, 220 pounds) certainly has a strong build and produced at an encouraging level at Alabama, running for 1,491 yards (5.9 YPC) and 16 touchdowns while adding 48 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns. That pass-catching production is especially encouraging, because the elite fantasy running backs of today are the ones that can do their ground damage and then chip in another 60-plus catches. Jacobs seemingly has the skill to address the second part, though the hyper-efficient Jalen Richard could be an obstacle on that front. There's reason to project further physical development given that he just turned 21 in February, but it's concerning to me that Jacobs, previously sold as a toolsy running back, showed only high 4.5 speed with otherwise sluggish numbers at his pro day. Even if he works out, Jacobs' first-round valuation seems like one of the more arbitrary draft markets I can remember. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden certainly have an interest in seeing to it, but the leaps of faith in the pro-Jacobs sales pitch make me worry about Richard and
Jacobs update: With Crowell (Achilles) out, things are looking much better for Jacobs' 2019 prospects. If the Raiders don't sign some Jay Ajayi type otherwise, then I would probably move Jacobs ahead of Murray at the top spot.
6. D.K. Metcalf, WR, SEA (Round 2, 64th overall)
I still absolutely believe in Metcalf's talent and think his draft placement would have turned out more favorably in more typical draft markets. But in Seattle he could become the top outside wide receiver if Doug Baldwin steps away, as Tyler Lockett would presumably step into the primary slot wideout role in that case. Metcalf can burn like almost no one else and he was productive when he played. I think the NFL was guilty of overthinking when it let Metcalf fall this far.
7. Parris Campbell, WR, IND (Round 2, 59th overall)
Devin Funchess will get a healthy target count this year, which affords Campbell time to develop his downfield game after primarily working as an after-the-catch demon at Ohio State. But Funchess only has a one-year contract.
8. Andy Isabella, WR, ARZ (Round 2, 62nd overall)
That 4.31 speed and dynamite college production makes it easy for me to look past Isabella's 5-foot-9 frame and small catch radius. Isabella is a guy you can't chase, be it before or after the catch. He'll keep running away from people.
9. Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR (Round 3, 70th overall)
I don't expect Todd Gurley to disappear anytime soon, but I'm a huge Henderson fan and I like the idea of betting on McVay's playcalling schemes. I just think a smart coach can use a player like Henderson, even if he's an off-the-bench running back. That's two straight years of 8.9 yards per carry – don't overthink it.
10. A.J. Brown, WR, TEN (Round 2, 51st overall)
Love the talent, hate the landing spot. Adam Humphries and Corey Davis will get the first chances, and Delanie Walker might be the third-leading target on a team that doesn't have much passing production to go around. Brown would make me nervous as a Davis owner, however.
11. Marquise Brown, WR, BAL (Round 1, 25th overall)
If Greg Roman runs a Louisville or Chip Kelly offense instead of that Rich Rodriguez nonsense Marty Mornhinweg ran last year, then there's an obvious avenue for Brown to produce. If this year's offense looks like last year's, on the other hand, then Brown is all but doomed. I'm optimistic that Roman will give Lamar Jackson a chance to demonstrate the passing ability he did routinely at Louisville, in which case the run-pass read could make Brown a poison dart on deep routes.
12. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, PHI (Round 2, 57th overall)
Killer player, ambiguous playing time. Alshon Jeffery gets hurt and Nelson Agholor is on the way out, but the tight end duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert isn't going anywhere, presenting potential obstacles for the otherwise skilled JJAW.
13. David Montgomery, RB, CHI (Round 3, 73rd overall)
Montgomery is slippery and maneuvers through contact well, and his otherwise questionable elusiveness is accounted for by the potential for a big workload in Chicago. Even if you fear Tarik Cohen, there's room for Montgomery to make a top-24 RB impact particularly if Mitch Trubisky improves.
14. Damien Harris, RB, NE (Round 3, 87th overall)
I'm not convinced Harris is less talented than Josh Jacobs – Alabama's coaches seemed to think similarly – but Sony Michel is locked into the lead running role and James White is uniquely adept at his receiving tasks. Rex Burkhead lurks yet as well, so Harris is at an experience disadvantage against a group of totally competent runners. I can imagine Harris complicating the picture if Michel should ever get nicked up, though, and that's something that's happened from time to time.
15. Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS (Round 3, 76th overall)
Paul Richardson might be damaged goods, Josh Doctson almost certainly is, and who knows what category Jordan Reed even qualifies for. Trey Quinn can only do so much, and McLaurin is unique in this Washington group for his athleticism. It can't hurt that he's Dwayne Haskins' former teammate.
16. Jalen Hurd, WR, SF (Round 3, 67th overall)
I really like Hurd as a prospect and think San Francisco is a close to ideal landing spot, but I'm also impressed by the trio of Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, and the previously mentioned Samuel. As much as I like Hurd as a prospect, I can't see him as a threat to any of those three for the indefinite future. But there is a ton of talent here, and if any of the previously mentioned three receivers stumble then Hurd could run away with the opportunity.
17. Gary Jennings, WR, SEA (Round 4, 112th overall)
Jennings' picture worsens significantly if Doug Baldwin's status turns for the better, but based on recent rumblings there's a chance Jennings will be competing with D.K. Metcalf and David Moore for Seattle's WR2 distinction behind Tyler Lockett. Jennings can play outside or slot, so he could get more early playing time than Metcalf if he can contribute to a wider range of personnel groupings.
18. Hakeem Butler, WR, ARZ (Round 4, 103rd overall)
While I was lower on Butler than most before the draft, I think he's a nice value at the first pick in the fourth round, and Arizona is perhaps the best landing spot for him. Larry Fitzgerald isn't going anywhere for 2019 and I'm high on all of Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and even Trent Sherfield, but Butler's skill set is unique among a wide receiver rotation that will need to carry an Air Raid offense, and he has an upside scenario that can't be ignored.
19. Devin Singletary, RB, BUF (Round 3, 74th overall)
I liked Singletary a lot before the combine, though his workout numbers there rattled me from that point. While I didn't at all expect him to go in the third round, he's firmly on the radar again given Buffalo's substantial investment in him. Singletary was extremely productive at Florida Atlantic, and as an overachiever type he might benefit more than most from whatever wisdom Frank Gore has to offer.
20. T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET (Round 1, 8th overall)
I think Hockenson is very good and Detroit has reason to feature him early, but Jesse James is already there and it's generally tough for any rookie tight end to start fast. Hockenson could prove an exception, or the early entrant might play 550 snaps and average less than seven yards per target. I would probably rather draft other positions in any given draft and then try to trade for the tight ends once their original owners get bored with them.
21. Noah Fant, TE, DEN (Round 1, 20th overall)
While I'm sold on Hockenson's skills, I can't quite say the same for Fant. Fant is definitely faster and uniquely explosive for a tight end, however, so there's quite a lot of upside here. The players in his way are Jeff Heuerman and the injury-cursed Jake Butt, both of whom could be frustrating obstacles if Fant struggles at all initially.
22. Miles Sanders, RB, PHI (Round 2, 53rd overall)
It was vindicating for Sanders' pre-draft advocates when Philadelphia selected him in the second round, but the landing spot probably isn't great. Jordan Howard will likely stick around a year, while any of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams are candidates to pop up for whatever reason. Sanders is the most athletically talented of the three and projects as the eventual lead back among this group, but Philadelphia tends to run a three-back rotation in any given game.
23. Justice Hill, RB, BAL (Round 4, 113th overall)
There's a case to make for ranking Hill ahead of Sanders given Baltimore's potentially run-heavy offense, but Mark Ingram is locked in for now and both of Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon look formidable at various tasks.
24. Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN (Round 3, 102nd overall)
I don't think he's particularly good, but any time a team spends a third-round pick on a guy to back up a runner as injury prone as Dalvin Cook, the opportunity potential is worth noting. Mattison has a workhorse build to take advantage if an opportunity presents itself.
25. Dwayne Haskins, QB, WAS (Round 1, 15th overall)
Haskins carries a wide range of outcomes and poses no rushing threat, but if he emerges as a 16-game starter in a Jay Gruden offense then there's a good chance he'll produce as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in that scenario.
26. Bryce Love, RB, WAS (Round 4, 112th overall)
I don't know what to make of Love's chances of making a full recovery from his torn ACL, but if he does he'll be a uniquely athletic player in a well-schemed offense. Chris Thompson is skilled but can't seem to stay healthy, and Derrius Guice is making a return from an ACL tear of his own.
27. Ryquell Armstead, RB, JAC (Round 5, 140th overall)
Jacksonville will presumably try to justify Alfred Blue's contract by giving him the first and second shot to back up Leonard Fournette, but Armstead is the better player and could pose a Chris Ivory-type nuisance to this running back rotation.
28. Darwin Thompson, RB, KC (Round 6, 214th overall)
Carlos Hyde runs well but his skills don't translate as well to the passing game. Thompson is a natural pass catcher and that could be a way for him to get his foot into the door at Hyde or even Damien Williams' expense.
29. Miles Boykin, WR, BAL (Round 3, 93rd overall)
Boykin's legendary combine showing at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds is certainly worth keeping in mind, but I rank him this far down because of the targets that figure to go to Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews, and the various returning Baltimore wideouts in what could be a limited passing offense.
30. Scott Miller, WR, TB (Round 6, 208th overall)
Adam Humphries was very productive in a system that might look vaguely similar to the one Bruce Arians will run. Miller was dominant at Bowling Green and possesses real speed – by any measure he's a better prospect than Humphries was out of Clemson.
31. Hunter Renfrow, WR, OAK (Round 5, 149th overall)
Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams are the big names of course, but Oakland's wideout rotation otherwise is rather thin, and in three-wide sets it's easy to imagine a scenario where Renfrow is in the slot while Brown and Williams line up outside. Renfrow's only slot competition at the moment seems to be Ryan Grant.
32. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh (Round 3, 66th overall)
I'm listing Johnson low for a receiver drafted as high as he was, but his prospect profile is a tad uneven and his slot-specific skill set is highly redundant with Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer already in Pittsburgh. I just don't think it's a given that Johnson outplays those veterans given his underwhelming athleticism (4.53-second 40 at 5-foot-11, 183 pounds). He was very productive at Toledo, though, to be fair.
33. Drew Lock, QB, DEN (Round 2, 42nd overall)
Joe Flacco will start this year and will likely get substantial leash as he does so, but there's nothing in Flacco's past that should make us think that will last more than ¾ of a season or so. If Lock gets into the starting lineup, his arm and athleticism could at least result in the sort of utility Bortles provided in his glory days.
34. Jace Sternberger, TE, GB (Round 3, 75th overall)
I don't see reason to consider Sternberger a better prospect than someone like Maxx Williams, but Jimmy Graham is probably gone after this year and Sternberger should thrive if he starts in an Aaron Rodgers offense.
35. Ty Johnson, RB, DET (Round 6, 186th overall)
Kerryon Johnson should be fine in his recovery from last year's knee injury, but if he misses time for whatever reason then Ty might pick up most of Kerryon's role. C.J. Anderson and Zach Zenner are obstacles in the meantime, but Ty's explosiveness is unique in this offense, even relative to Kerryon.
36. KeeSean Johnson, WR, ARZ (Round 6, 174th overall)
Johnson is a long shot to come through as a sixth-round pick, but the Arizona roster might carry more receivers than most, and for as discouraging as Johnson's workout numbers were (4.6-second 40 at 6-foot-1, 201 pounds), one can only hold so much skepticism toward Johnson's skill set. He was super efficient at Fresno State last year, catching 70.9 percent of his targets at 10.0 yards per target. He might have the most polished slot skill set among Arizona wideouts after Fitzgerald and Kirk.