The first round of the NFL Draft is one of the most extravagant and drawn out processes in professional sports, but it’s perfect. We spend the evening glued to the television waiting for Roger Goodell to say a name every 10 minutes, it couldn’t get any more exciting than that. It’s huge not only for the team you root for, but perhaps the most impactful evening for dynasty fantasy football. Player outlooks are turned on their heads and we’re stuck trying to piece together the potential scenarios for the following months leading up to the season. The speculation is over, and the first round did not disappoint. Let’s break down every fantasy football pick in the first round.
1.01 Trevor Lawrence – Jaguars ($9,198,372)
I don’t think there’s too much to talk about here, we’ve already beat this dead horse for the past three months. Lawrence is the top prospect in the entire draft and will immediately setup a turnaround for the Jaguars. He’s got some weapons around him and will have plenty of catching up to do as that defense develops. I expect a high QB2 finish in his rookie year.
1.02 Zach Wilson – Jets ($8,787,670)
Another pick that we knew was coming for a while. Wilson is a fun prospect who is great off platform and fits into a sneaky offense. With three good receivers and two solid running backs, the Jets offense might be one to keep an eye on this year. Wilson has the ability to attack all areas of the field and has some rushing upside as well, I like his instant impact ability for fantasy football but believe his NFL impact might come a bit slower.
1.03 Trey Lance – 49ers ($8,526,319)
The first “surprise” pick of the draft. I was expecting Lance to go here for the past couple weeks. Lance has too much upside for Shanahan to pass on and the offense that they can put together now over in San Fran should be absolutely electric. Lance is less of a project than many have made him out to be and he’s another guy that can make an instant fantasy impact with his legs. There may be a bit of a learning curve for Lance, but I think the 49ers will ease him into things before they unleash his full arsenal of talents.
1.04 Kyle Pitts – Falcons ($8,227,623)
This is about the best landing spot for Pitts. Matt Ryan may be a bit on the older side, but he’s coming off one of his better years passing the ball and there isn’t any reason to believe that he’s over the hill. The team will have a different looking offense this year as the new coaching staff comes in, but Pitts is going to be heavily involved. Rookie TEs usually take a while to “hit” but I don’t think that should be a problem in this instance.
1.05 Ja’Marr Chase – Bengals ($7,547,410)
Reunited with Joe Burrow, this one was a controversial pick as the Bengals offensive line needed as much help as they can get. The chemistry is going to be there from Week 1 though and Chase has the chance to immediately be the WR1 on the team surpassing Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who are studs in their own right. It’s a great offense to grab a part of, but I just hope Burrow can stay upright and get the ball out to these playmakers.
1.06 Jaylen Waddle – Dolphins ($6,771,497)
We’ve all heard about Tua’s ability to push the ball down the field. We saw it in college but haven’t really seen it in the NFL yet. It’s early in his career though and the Dolphins didn’t have a guy like Jaylen Waddle. He’s a field stretcher and a playmaker and can be used all over the field. The Dolphins were in absolute need of a guy like this on the offense and I believe that Waddle will be the focus of this team’s passing game in 2021.
1.10 DeVonta Smith – Eagles ($5,035,347)
Are the Eagles a great landing spot? Maybe. Smith comes into the team as the bona fide WR1, and Hurts is a developing asset who he’s played with before. The jury is out on if Hurts can lead a high-octane offense, but for Smith it doesn’t much matter. He’s a guy that is always open and can do so much after the catch. I think Smith is going to have the best rookie season out of all of the receivers this year and is going to be funneled a ton of touches.
1.11 Justin Fields – Bears ($4,717,988)
The slide stops with the Bears trading up to grab Fields and I love it. The Bears have a good enough defense to let Fields develop without having to play hero ball every week, and Dalton will probably start at least the first 4 or 5 games as Fields gets more comfortable with the speed of the pros. While the offense isn’t going to be mirroring the Kansas City Chiefs anytime soon, I think the weapons in Chicago fit what Fields brings to the table and I expect him to develop into a consistent top quarterback play by the end of the season.
1.15 Mac Jones – Patriots ($3,896,588)
Welcome to New England Mac Jones. Currently sitting behind Cam Newton, I think Mac Jones rides the bench for most of this upcoming season. The team is set up to fit Cam’s abilities right now and he’s their best chance to make a playoff run if he can stay healthy. Jones meanwhile can take his time and study the offense and learn from McDaniels and Belichick. This is a great landing spot for Jones, but don’t expect any immediate fireworks.
1.20 Kadarius Toney – Giants ($3,429,877)
One of the bigger surprises in the first round, many doubt if Toney is a Day 1 talent. While his production history doesn’t scream elite, his athleticism and 2020 tape is incredible and shows that his upside could be huge. He’ll be working out of the slot for the Giants, sandwiched between Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton. This should lead to lots of easy targets in the middle of the field, and I like this move for Daniel Jones. Toney won’t be the WR1 on the team, so limit your expectations for this first round receiver.
1.24 Najee Harris – Steelers ($3,261,861)
Talk about a perfect landing spot. We had been talking about this marriage for months and it actually happened! Harris is ready to be an NFL workhorse and the Steelers are likely to give him that opportunity. The line might be a little iffy, but Harris offers pass-catching upside and creates a ton of yards after contact. I’m not worried about it and neither should you.
1.25 Travis Etienne – Jaguars ($3,224,526)
This one caught me off-guard. From a team-building perspective I question the value of taking a 1st round RB when you already have a cheap productive running back on a rookie deal. But I’m not Urban Meyer, and he wants to bring his college offense to the pros. Etienne is extremely talented and will be seeing plenty of passing down snaps, meaning that his upside in Dynasty Owner is going to be there from the get-go. Best case scenario is that this looks like 2017 Ingram/Kamara.
1.27 Rashod Bateman – Ravens ($3,149,853)
I’m biased as a Ravens fan, but I love this pick. This pick helps out Lamar Jackson and the entire Ravens offense as they can work towards a better balance between the run and pass, but also makes Bateman a great value in rookie drafts. Many will drop him down because of this landing spot, but he is immediately the top receiver on the team and will likely lead the team in targets and yards. He’s an efficient receiver who is better after the catch than advertised and offers solid touchdown upside in this offense. Don’t fade the talent.