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The 2018 Free Agency Mock Draft of Glory – Round One

As part of our ongoing effort to make you the World’s Best Fantasy Football Manager, we’ve been providing a lot of free agency coverage this offseason. We’ve studied each team and identified their needs. The next logical step at this time of year? A mock draft of course.

Similar to last year’s exercise, we tried to be realistic, but let’s be honest. We’ve already turned free agency into a draft, and we’re not considering defensive needs. The goal is just to think critically about team and player fits. We might nail a few predictions, but much more importantly, we’ll have a better understanding of what type of player a given team could pursue in free agency or the draft. And, it might inform our understanding about which free agents have more or less fantasy value than expected. If nothing else, it should set fire to our mentions.

We ran the draft in order of most available cap space, so the Browns got the first pick, then the Colts, etc. A group of RotoViz writers acted as GMs, making picks for each team. Our player pool was all the players that are free agents as well as those with a good chance of being released. Here’s how the draft unfolded, with some commentary from those who made the picks. Stay tuned for more in-depth discussion.

Free Agency Mock Draft – Round 1

Each analyst served as GM for one division. Matt Wispe has the AFC North, and Neil Dutton represents the AFC South. Kevin Zatloukal and Hasan Rahim represent the AFC East and West respectively. On the NFC side, Giana Pacinelli has the NFC East, Tod Burros the NFC South, Joe Paeno the NFC North, and FF Ghost handles the NFC West.

GM Team Cap Space Needs PICK COMMENT
Wispe Browns $110,113,737 QB Kirk Cousins Other teams may be more likely to sign Cousins, but the Browns can give him all the money in the world and they would still have two top-five draft picks that could be used to acquire a couple of top assets or, more ideally, as valuable trade bait. While Cousins ending up in Cleveland isn’t the most likely scenario, it would be a massive win for the Browns to sign a QB prior to the draft. If this happens, Josh Gordon immediately jumps into the WR1 discussion.
Neil Colts $74,194,402 RB Carlos Hyde The Colts have decided to move on from Frank Gore, which is probably the end of the line for him. And who better to replace Gore than the man who originally replaced him with the 49ers, namely Carlos Hyde? Hyde fell below 4.0 yards per carry in 2017 for the first time in his career, but did show something as a receiver, finishing with 59 catches for 350 yards. This isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing. The Colts have Marlon Mack, whom they drafted last year, but he didn’t exactly deliver when entrusted with a heavy workload. In the two games in which he had at least 10 carries, he averaged 2.4 and 2.45 yards per carry. Hyde and Mack could make for a nice one-two punch, taking the pressure off the returning Andrew Luck…if he actually returns, that is.
Kevin Jets $73,196,618 WR Sammy Watkins The Jets will want to make sure their rookie QB has weapons to throw to, especially after Robby Anderson’s recent legal troubles. The best fit here might be to trade for Jarvis Landry, giving him an easy quick target. Barring that, the Jets have the cap space to out-bid the Rams for Watkins.
Tod Buccaneers $71,196,463 RB Jerick McKinnon The Bucs main needs are on defense where as a GM I would spend most of my FA money and early draft picks. I like McKinnon more than a higher profile back because it leaves more money to be spent on the defensive side of the ball. In a deep RB draft I could see them pairing McKinnon with someone like Rashad Penny, limiting the fantasy value of both.
Ghost 49ers $69,608,582 WR Allen Robinson The 49ers usually don’t make big moves at RB and appear content to fill the need through the draft. What they do have is a young, newly-signed quarterback who needs weapons around him. Allen Robinson will be an excellent weapon with reliable hands and the ability to present a consistently open target. The value of Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin would plummet.
Neil Texans $63,802,267 RB Dion Lewis The Texans need to do the honourable thing and admit they wasted their money on Lamar Miller. They have D’Onta Foreman returning from injury, but a player like Dion Lewis would give them a genuine playmaker in both the ground and receiving games. Lewis has been a star in New England despite having to share time and snaps with a host of players. The Texans offense is similar to that of the Patriots, meaning that Lewis won’t have too much learning to do. A jettisoned Miller would have dubious fantasy value, whereas the perceived timeshare would keep both Lewis and Foreman affordable.
Neil Titans $49,488,268 WR Taylor Gabriel This isn’t exactly a big name signing, but Taylor Gabriel is familiar with new Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur from their days together in Atlanta. He offers something that the likes of Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor, and Corey Davis don’t have in abundance – speed. If the Titans want to give Marcus Mariota as varied an offense as possible, a downfield burner could certainly help.
Giana Redskins $49,150,517 WR Willie Snead A restricted free agent, but one that seems to have dropped out of favor with his quarterback and the coaching staff. After bursting onto the scene in New Orleans in 2015, posting back-to-back seasons of 69+ catches in a crowded WR room, Snead would be a nice addition to the mediocrity that is the Washington receiving corps. The perfect fit for Alex Smith and his underneath routes, Snead can add a much-needed threat at a reasonable price. Snead would be back on the fantasy radar, without much potential impact to Washington’s other WRs, given the availability of over 100 targets from last year.
Paeno Vikings $49,053,643 QB Case Keenum Somehow, the Browns weaselly GM, Matt Wispe, lured Kirk Cousins away from his best potential landing spot in Minnesota. As a result, the Vikings were forced to go with “plan B” — re-signing Case Keenum. Keenum exceeded all expectations in ’17 after nearly leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl. He threw for 3,500 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions with a 67 percent completion rate. The Vikings would likely sign him to a multi-year contract but would be wise to front-load his guarantees. Note: Although highly unlikely, if the Saints allowed Drew Brees to test the market, he would fit seamlessly into Minnesota’s Super Bowl plans.
Paeno Lions $44,744,205 RB Isaiah Crowell At 5-11 and 225 pounds, Isaiah Crowell adds much-needed power to the Lions backfield. Although it muddies the depth chart for fantasy purposes, it could go a long way to preserving the oft-injured Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
Paeno Bears $41,217,467 WR Paul Richardson The Bears are in desperate need of an explosive receiver who can take the top off of a defense. Richardson is finally healthy and reminded everyone why he was a second-round pick in 2014. In 2017, Richardson’s ADOT (15) was just below elite deep threats Brandin Cooks (15.4) and Marvin Jones (15.2) That will go a long way to lightening the box for Jordan Howard and giving rifle-armed Mitch Trubisky a big-time playmaker.
Ghost Rams $40,563,316 TE Jimmy Graham This would be a highly intriguing move. If Sammy Watkins isn’t retained the Rams will have a noticeable hole at wide receiver, but Watkins might not be missed as much as one would imagine with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods outperforming him in receptions and receiving yards. The one area Watkins had the edge over the duo was receiving touchdowns. So why a tight end? Signing Graham hurts a divisional rival. Also, Sean McVay is widely known to desire productive tight ends, something the Rams current tight end corps is clearly lacking. Third, what better way to make up for Watkins’ lost touchdowns than with Graham, who led all NFL tight ends in scores. While the Rams have spent some draft capital on the position in recent years, the upgrade may be too tantilizing to pass up.
Wispe Bengals $35,228,993 WR Donte Moncrief With the likely departure of Tyler Eifert this offseason and the lack of a true WR2 alongside A.J. Green, Moncrief is an ideal option that can be an improvement on Boyd, LaFell, and whatever is happening with John Ross. Additionally, he brings red zone prowess to offset the loss of Eifert. He should bring some stability for Andy Dalton who struggled to score without the oft-injured Eifert.
Tod Saints $31,779,554 QB Drew Brees The Saints look likely to keep Brees and you cannot do an accurate Saints cap without Brees included. He hasn’t given them a discount in the past so it will be interesting to see both the length and terms of this contract.
Neil Jaguars $30,467,610 TE Trey Burton The Jaguars got the grand total of 43 receptions from their tight ends in 2017. A lack of playmakers, as well as a perceived lack of faith in Blake Bortles, contributed mightily to their offensive shutdown against the Patriots in the AFC title game, and Trey Burton could help. It would be something of a homecoming for Burton, who played his college ball with the Florida Gators. In games in which Burton has played without Zach Ertz in the lineup, he averaged more than three receptions for 46 yards, posting nearly 13 PPR points per contest. Spotrac believe Burton should be looking for around $7M a year, a figure that the Jaguars can easily manage. This move would put Burton squarely in the TE-streaming conversation.
Kevin Bills $29,578,581 QB Teddy Bridgewater The Bills need to figure out what they are doing at QB. They seem to dislike Tyrod Taylor, perhaps because they want more of a pocket passer. The options at No. 21 in the draft may not be great. (Lamar Jackson might still be there, but he’s so athletic, I’d expect his game to include some running elements, so perhaps their dislike of Taylor will extend to Jackson as well.) I’m going out on a limb here, particularly given the questions surrounding his health, but Bridgewater could be what the Bills are looking for… a little less running, a higher Y/A. He’s also still young. If he can return to where he was in 2015, this could be a good match. Such a signing would depress Taylor’s value. Bridgewater would also remain inexpensive given his injury history and the Bills lack of playmakers.
Hasan Broncos $26,848,245 QB Sam Bradford The Broncos appear to have lost the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, and as a result, they will spend their first-round draft pick on a QB. After spending significant draft capital to acquire their hopeful franchise QB, signing a talented veteran QB like Sam Bradford appears to be counter-productive. Bradford’s knee was described as degenerative in a recent interview with Mike Zimmer, and it’s likely he can be signed quite cheaply. Bradford will be a significant upgrade over the other QBs on the depth chart, despite his knee issues. The values of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should stabilize and maybe increase marginally.
Giana Giants $24,535,434 QB AJ McCarron The Giants may not take a QB with the No. 2 pick in the draft. While we know McCarron is adamant about getting playing time, it is advantageous for the Giants to acquire him for relatively low risk and high reward. Best case scenario, he’s their franchise QB. Worst case, he’s a competent backup they could release next year.
Hasan Chargers $23,762,546 RB Alfred Morris The Chargers are set up quite well on offense for next season. They return all of their key offensive players and only need minor depth upgrades. Although Anthony Lynn remains committed to Melvin Gordon as their bell-cow RB, he has expressed interest in finding additional RB help. Enter Alfred Morris. By signing Morris for the veteran’s minimum, the Chargers get a player who is capable of spelling Gordon in the run game. Additionally, Morris has shown the ability to handle a bell-cow workload in the past. At Washington, Morris rushed for 1,000 yards or greater three years in a row (2012-2014). In the event Gordon misses time due to injury, the Chargers can count on Morris to take over as a starter, leaving Austin Ekeler to handle the change-of-pace duties.
Ghost Cardinals $22,159,438 QB Josh McCown With Carson Palmer heading out to pasture and a flurry of quarterback acquisitions before the Cardinals in this mock, the best option left is Josh McCown. The fit isn’t terrible — McCown is coming off a career year with a wide receiver corps far less talented than Arizona’s. He could finish his career on a high note while providing mentorship for the Cardinals’ quarterback of the future. Larry Fitzgerald would remain a viable fantasy starter.
Tod Panthers $20,005,968 WR Marqise Lee I’m shocked Lee is still available. Injuries will always be a concern but the Panthers need to give Cam Newton better options, and Lee’s skills would be a definite upgrade. There should still be plenty of work for Devin Funchess, so Newton appears to be the main fantasy beneficiary.
Hasan Raiders $19,951,213 WR Jordan Matthews The Raiders are desperate for WR help and Jordan Matthews fits the bill. Coming off a career-worst season, Matthews is likely available at a depressed price. Matthews underwent surgery on his left knee, and hopefully has finally resolved his nagging knee issues. In his last season where he played a full 16 games, Matthews posted a 85/997/8 line and proved to be a capable slot WR. He should be able to immediately displace Seth Roberts on the target totem pole. In the event the Raiders opt to part ways with Michael Crabtree, Matthews should immediately vault to WR2 status.
Giana Cowboys $18,169,447 WR Dontrelle Inman Though he had a mediocre season with the Bears, Inman is just one year removed from an 810-yard campaign in San Diego. He’s on the wrong side of Father Time by NFL standards but can cost-effectively fill a desperate need for the Cowboys – call him a poor man’s Brice Butler. Inman could have the opportunity to finally make a name for himself and give a minor boost to Dak Prescott’s fantasy forecast.
Paeno Packers $17,095,351 TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins Aaron Rodgers has not had a red zone threat at tight end since Jermichael Finley. I had my eye on Tyler Eifert here all along, but decided to go with his younger doppelganger.
Ghost Seahawks $14,062,361 TE Tyler Eifert With Jimmy Graham leaving for greener pastures, the Seahawks and Tyler Eifert appear to be a match made in heaven. Eifert needs a “prove it” contract and the Seahawks need a tight end capable of playing at a level comparable to Graham. Don’t expect a long-term contract or fantasy fireworks, but this match works for the short-term goals of both sides. His value can’t get much higher, but it’s decent news for Russell Wilson.
Kevin Patriots $12,982,489 RB Jeremy Hill The Patriots need to fill two empty RB spots on their roster. It seems clear Dion Lewis is not coming back. They could re-sign Burkhead, but the Patriots rarely do what everyone expects when it comes to RBs. Instead, they’ll probably grab some random RB no one is thinking about right now and turn him into a star. My guess: Jeremy Hill. Why they might like him: he’s done a good job of staying healthy up until last year.
Tod Falcons $12,035,622 wr Brice Butler The Falcons are on a low budget and so it makes sense that they go for a guy who has upside but won’t cost a lot. Butler could backup both starters and possibly surprise if called upon, a la Taylor Gabriel. Butler’s presence shouldn’t affect Mohamed Sanu or Julio Jones at all, nor is Butler immediately on the fantasy radar, but he could emerge as a spot starter or DFS target down the road.
Wispe Ravens $10,318,061 WR John Brown The Ravens are in need of a WR, but don’t have the cap space to bring in a guy like Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins. Brown has yet to recreate his 2015 campaign, but he’s still an attractive free agent option who will likely be affordable for teams with cap issues. He’d likely become their top WR by the start of the season. That puts him squarely on the redraft map as a potential WR2 or WR3.
Wispe Steelers $6,540,224 RB Zach Zenner The Steelers don’t have the cap space to bring in one of the high-end RB free agents, but with Le’Veon Bell’s injury history, the team needs more than James Conner as a backup option. Zenner has never broken out as a top RB despite being an incredible athlete. He’d be a great backup to Bell and if forced into action, he’d be a valuable RB behind a good Pittsburgh offensive line.
Hasan Chiefs $12,594 WR Albert Wilson Given that he already has experience in the Kansas City offense, bringing back Albert Wilson on a team-friendly deal should help the Chiefs going forward. Additionally, they bring back a player who has shown flashes of promise over the last few seasons. Most importantly, Wilson posted a career best 10/147/0 line with Patrick Mahomes under center in Week 17. Wilson will be an above average ancillary receiver in this offense.
Kevin Dolphins -$7,454,965 WR Kendall Wright With questions about their outside receivers, the Dolphins will need another target close to the line of scrimmage if they are to trade Jarvis Landry. With no cap room at all, they’ll need a discount version of Landry… enter Kendall Wright. His aDOT is under 10 yards per target, but he’s also been fairly productive.

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