The eighth pick in the draft isn’t my least favorite but it may well be one of the most difficult, at least in the first round. I feel pretty confident in my top seven, but there’s a clear drop after A.J. Green and Mike Evans , and it largely comes down to personal preference. In this particular draft I chose to go with Devonta Freeman and Doug Baldwin in the first two rounds, who both offer plenty of safety.
Freeman is in a timeshare (as most running backs are, to be fair) but if you’re going to share carries, you might as well do it on one of the best offenses in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a small amount of touchdown regression coming his way in 2017, but most top ten running backs do from one year to the next. If he plays 16 games he’s a near lock to finish as a top eight running back in this offense.
Baldwin is perpetually underrated. He broke out in a big way two years ago, hauling in 14 touchdowns. Heading into 2016 everyone was concerned about volume and touchdown regression, and he caught 94 passes. Baldwin is a safe, low-end No. 1 wide receiver on a team that doesn’t look like it has the offensive line to run as often as they’d like to.
When I start with this type of “safe” approach, I’m willing to take some bigger swings later, and I did just that with my third and fifth round picks especially. More about them below.
Here’s the rest of my team from No. 8 overall:
1.8 Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
2.5 Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA
3.8 Leonard Fournette , RB, JAC
4.5 Greg Olsen , TE, CAR
5.8 Allen Robinson , WR, JAC
6.5 Emmanuel Sanders , WR, DEN
7.8 Marcus Mariota , QB, TEN
8.5 Duke Johnson , RB, CLE
9.8 Kenny Britt , WR, CLE
10.5 Randall Cobb , WR, GB
11.8 Chris Thompson , RB, WAS
12.5 Tyler Lockett , WR, SEA
13.8 Tim Hightower , RB, SF
14.5 Houston Texans DST
Favorite pick: Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb WR / Packers (2016 stats (13 games))
TGT: 84 REC: 60 YDS: 610 TD: 4
In 2016 Cobb set three-year lows in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns. A big part of that had to do with injuries. He only played 13 games and he was 100 percent healthy for fewer still. Cobb is still just 27 years old and there’s no reason to think he’s done. If he just bounces back to his 2015 form and stays healthy, he’s a huge value in the 10th round.
People are awfully excited about Davante Adams and his 12 touchdowns from 2016, but they shouldn’t be expecting Adams to repeat that feat. I see a few of those touchdowns (and targets) going Cobb’s way in a bounceback campaign. It’s worth noting, in six games before missing Week 8 with a hamstring injury last season, Cobb averaged 15.0 PPR points per game.
Pick I might regret: Leonard Fournette
I believe this is the first time I’ve drafted Fournette all offseason. It’s also the first time he’s fallen to pick 3.8 in a draft I’ve taken part in. This is the third year in a row we’ve heard reports about the Jacksonville Jaguars being “competitive” and improving their offensive line and defense. I believe in the talent they’ve added on defense, but the offensive line has me concerned.
Fournette has huge upside, because a competitive Jaguars team would likely give him 300-plus touches. He’s also an injury risk — he’s hurt right now — on a bad team. If he falters in Jacksonville I’ll feel like I should have seen it coming because, well, I did.
Player who could make or break my team: Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson WR / Jaguars (2016 stats)
TGT: 151 REC: 73 YDS: 883 TD: 6
I know this Jacksonville situation is bad (and I don’t love being so heavily invested in them), but could Robinson at the end of the fifth round really be a problem? Robinson had a dreadful year in 2016 but he was still the 24th best receiver in PPR scoring. It’s hard to imagine he’ll be worse than he was last year, mostly because no one with that many targets is expected to be that bad.
Sure, the ceiling on 2015 is likely no longer in reach. There was some smoke and mirrors to that anyway. But a top-12 season is still possible, and a top-20 season is likely, assuming he stays healthy. If the bottom falls out and this Jaguars team can’t move the ball at all? This team may be toast.