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Instant Reaction: NFL Draft Round 1 Winners/Losers

The NFL's virtual draft started on Thursday, and while there were some differences -- the virtual boos, the huge number of Zoom screens we saw, the mouths not matching up exactly with all of the words -- it was mostly just a normal NFL draft, with teams making picks and trades and analysts breaking things down.

We're through one round of the draft now, which means it's time to reflect on that first round and on the players -- rookie or veterans -- who left Thursday as winners and losers.

Note: Things could definitely happen on Friday and Saturday that change some of these choices, but for now, here are the fantasy winners and losers after the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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NFL Draft Round 1: Winners

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receivers

Well, we all knew this was coming. With the first overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow.

Burrow is coming off a record-setting 2019 season that saw him finish third all-time in single-season passing yards while throwing for a record 60 touchdown passes. He did all of that while also finishing second all-time in single-season completion percentage. Now, he joins a Bengals offense that's set to do a lot of passing under head coach Zac Taylor.

Last year, Andy Dalton averaged 44 pass attempts per game, but completed under 60 percent of them and tossed just 16 touchdowns. Burrow has the potential to be a more accurate, more touchdown-producing passer right out of the gate, which would be good news for A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Auden Tate and whoever they trot out at tight end. Green's injury concerns are still very real and push him down draft boards, but a healthy Green could have his best year since 2017.

Dwayne Haskins Jr. - Quarterback, Washington Redskins

There was a little bit of "will Washington take Tua???" smoke out there, and so the team's decision to not draft Tua Tagovailoa or another QB is at least good news in the short term for Haskins. Of course, he'll have to actually show improvement during his second year to 1) prove he's the long term solution for Washington and 2) that he's a rosterable fantasy quarterback, but at least as of Thursday, things are trending up for him.

Saquon Barkley - Running Back, New York Giants

Last year, the Giants ranked 25th in adjusted line yards. They drafted offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall, which should help the running game and help Barkley become even more effective moving forward.

Justin Herbert - Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers

Look, I'm far from sold on Justin Herbert as a long-term, upper-tier NFL quarterback, but if he's going to be successful, Los Angeles is a good place for him. Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. tight end Hunter Henry, and running back Austin Ekeler make up a nice bunch of skill players. This is a team that's perfect for someone to step in and have the tools around them to find success, which means Herbert's NFL success will come down to his readiness.

He threw for over 3,400 yards last year at Oregon, tossed 32 touchdowns, and completed 66.8 percent of his passes, a big jump from the 59.4 percent he completed as a junior. He won't give you anything in terms of rushing production, which limits his fantasy ceiling, but this is a good landing spot nonetheless.

Baker Mayfield - Quarterback, Cleveland Browns

Offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. fell to 10th and the Browns get to add a potentially elite left tackle to protect Baker Mayfield's blindside. Mayfield was sacked 40 times last year, the seventh-most in the league. A better protected Mayfield should have a much better chance of becoming the top-10 fantasy passer that we expected him to become in 2019.

Tom Brady - Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Brady won't be effective if the Bucs can't keep him upright, so they traded up a spot to take Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs, the last remaining of the four big tackles in this draft class. Wirfs is fast for a tackle and extremely strong; he should help shore up the biggest issue with Tampa's offense, allowing Brady to get every remaining bit of Tom Brady out of himself.

Drew Lock - Quarterback, Denver Broncos

Drew Lock gets to throw to Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton? Oh my. The QB of whichever team Jeudy wound up on was going to be a winner of this draft, but the Broncos getting to put this draft's best route-runner on the field with Sutton is almost unfair.

As I said above with Herbert, this young quarterback still has to prove he can be successful, but this is a really, really good position for Lock to be in. Jeudy can line up anywhere on the field, but he's especially successful in the slot, which should help shift the defense and also open up space outside for Sutton. Oh, and Noah Fant is entering his second season as well. Lock's a big winner on Thursday night.

Jalen Reagor - Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

Honestly, whoever the Eagles took with their first-round pick was going to be a winner here, because this team desperately needed a wide receiver. The pick ended up being TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor. He's an explosive playmaker who can impact the game in a variety of ways, and while he's not the big-bodied, Alshon Jeffery replacement that Eagles fans likely wanted, he's still going to be on the field from the jump and will use his quickness to make things happen. He should shoot up fantasy rankings now that he's tied to Carson Wentz.

Justin Jefferson - Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will need to figure out how to balance having Jefferson and Adam Thielen since both excel in the slot, but with Stefon Diggs gone, someone has to step up as the team's other top receiver, and *motions to current Vikings roster* it's not going to be someone who isn't Justin Jefferson. He may not be an elite fantasy QB, but Kirk Cousins is a solid, accurate quarterback. He'll get Jefferson the ball in good spots.

Brandon Aiyuk - Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Another situation where a team with a need at receiver added one early. Aiyuk is a big-play receiver who can make plays down the field, something the Niners need. The 49ers offense under Kyle Shanahan is about to get a lot more dangerous. The positional need and the fact they traded up to secure him means Aiyuk should immediately be on the field a lot just as Deebo Samuel was in 2019.

 

NFL Draft Round 1: Losers

Josh Rosen - Quarterback, Miami Dolphins

Let's just go ahead and cross Rosen's name off the Dolphins 2020 roster, right? Tua Tagovailoa is the quarterback of the future in Miami. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the bridge until Tua is ready to start, especially physically. Rosen is probably going to be traded for a Day Three pick, assuming someone's willing to take a flyer on him, but his entire NFL future has gone from shaky ground to...whatever's shakier than shaky ground.

Tyrod Taylor - Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers

I'm a big fan of Taylor, who avoids turnovers and adds a good rushing element. Unfortunately, the Chargers took Justin Herbert, so Taylor's chances of starting more than a handful of early-season games seems low. [See the Herbert section above for more.]

Tyrell Williams - Wide Receiver, Las Vegas Raiders

We all assumed Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb would be the pick here, but instead the Raiders took Henry Ruggs III, who'll be expected to be Oakland's version of Tyreek Hill, using his speed to make big plays down the field and in the catch-and-run game. Williams was the top air yards guy in Oakland last season, but Ruggs will almost certainly be the top air yards guy in Vegas this year, leaving Williams with a much less defined role. Expect Hunter Renfrow to be the incumbent receiver to maintain his prior role as slot receiver.

CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup

I love CeeDee Lamb. I also love Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. All three are good receivers. But how do the Cowboys handle making sure all three are getting the needed targets to be effective?

I'd guess all three players have solid years, but all three also now have lower ceilings than they did coming into the night, and Gallup might be the long term loser here, as Cooper just signed an extension. Will Gallup be in Dallas for more than another two years? I don't know! This pick helps the offense, but it also makes this whole situation a bit of a disaster for us in the fantasy industry.

Jordan Love - Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

So, Jordan Love is the QB of the future for... the Packers? Green Bay, who has Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, took a QB in round one and took everyone by surprise. (Presumably Rodgers himself included).

Rodgers is probably the starter for at least a couple more years before Green Bay moves on from him or he retires, so Love's going to be sitting on the bench for a little while. Anyone who thought Love could end up starting in 2020 is probably wrong barring a Rodgers injury, and Love's fantasy value in re-draft leagues has just tanked. He's also about to be a major discount value in dynasty leagues.

Damien Williams - Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs

KC took LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the final pick of the first round, a dynamic passing-game option who also has the ability to also make things happen on early downs as well. I didn't list CEH as a re-draft fantasy winner because I don't necessarily think this landing spot is better or worse than others for him, but I do know it's bad for Williams, who many of us thought would be a solid third or fourth round option this year. Knock Williams down a little bit, and expect a two-player committee here with these two. Are there too many mouths to feed in KC? As far as Edwards-Helaire in dynasty leagues, he's a clear winner there.

More NFL Draft Analysis




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