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Far too often in the NFL, we see a player’s stock rise or fall within seconds. A lot of veterans sit around watching the NFL Draft not only because they want to see how their team improves, but they are watching for which young rookie will be next in line to take a shot at their job. The NFL is ruthless that way, one minute you are an essential cog in you team’s plan and the next you are tossed out to the street.

The 2018 NFL Draft was full of twists and turns. Even the draft experts couldn’t predict the way this one played out. From a fantasy football standpoint, we spend time getting excited or disappointed in the rookies landing spots, but don’t talk about the veterans enough.

This edition of #TrendingNow is aimed at the veterans who were affected by the NFL Draft and what their stock looks like moving forward.

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#TrendingUp

Michael Thomas (WR, NO)

This may seem like an odd name to find on this list, but wanted to include it because I seem to get a lot of questions about Michael Thomas. Not questions on his talent, because we all know where he lands there, but questions about him in dynasty because of Drew Brees. It is an excellent sign that the New Orleans Saints did not select a QB during the 2018 Draft. This tells me they are confident Brees is committed to at least two more years with the club, if not more.

I figure the Saints will take a QB when they believe Brees is two or three years away from hanging it up. This is plenty of time to draft a QB and have him learn behind Brees. Thomas owners should be confident knowing Brees will be around to help Thomas continue his climb up the leaderboard of top receivers. This selection wasn’t about who the Saints picked in the draft, but more of who they didn’t pick.

David Johnson (RB, ARI)

I have some concerns with David Johnson, but not enough to leave him off this list. For a majority of the off-season, there were questions about whether Johnson would have to carry this whole offense on his own. Johnson had one of the best fantasy seasons ever in 2016, but he’s coming off a year lost to injury and has a history of nagging injuries dating back to his college days. Expecting a running back to carry the whole offense is lot to ask of anyone.

Johnson though gets a ton of help with the addition of Christian Kirk and Josh Rosen from the draft. Rosen was believed to be the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft and the Cardinals desperately needed that. He will compete with Sam Bradford for snaps, but there is a good chance Rosen is starting by the end of the season.

Kirk adds some much-needed help at receiver. The only notable returning starters were Larry Fitzgerald and J.J. Nelson. It sounds like Kirk will spend a lot of his time on the outside this year, but don’t be surprised if you find him in the slot after that. Both moves are significant in taking pressure of Johnson not just in 2018 but moving forward as this team will need to secure a future beyond Fitzgerald.

Alex Collins (RB, BAL)

Boy, the love for Alex Collins just isn’t where I think it deserves to be. All Collins did last season was run for 973 yards and six touchdowns. He also averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season, which was fourth among running backs with at least 200 rushing attempts. He was solid for owners who were able to scoop him up off waivers.

The Baltimore Ravens did a lot to address the offense in this draft. The only offensive position they chose not to focus on? Running back. The Ravens added a quarterback, reinforced their receivers, tight ends and added to the offensive line. If Collins can show us he is the real deal with another valuable season in 2018, then he is set up perfectly in that offense for the next several years. Imagine how much fun it will be to watch Lamar Jackson use run-pass-options with Collins.

New York Giants Offense

So if you are a true New York Giants fan, you probably didn’t love the pick of Saquon Barkley in the first round. From a fantasy football perspective, what isn’t there to love? Adding a game changing back and guard Will Hernandez in the first two rounds guarantees this offense will be much better in 2018 than it was last season. Say what you want to about Eli Manning, but even he will be able to get the ball to all these weapons.

Defenses will now need to give respect to the run and pass in an offense that will be very balanced. More defenders in the box means more room for Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram to roam. More defenders out of the box means more room for Barkley to run. There are just too many playmakers to cover every one efficiently. No matter who you own, you won’t be disappointed this season.

 

#TrendingDown

Devin Funchess (WR, CAR)

One of the most difficult players to read this off-season was Devin Funchess. Fantasy owners didn’t really know what type of value to place on him. Was he really going to step forward as a WR1? Coming off a career year, it’s been easy to think so but if you paid up for Funchess prior to the draft, you may be disappointed.

First round pick D.J. Moore may have something to say about whether Funchess is the Carolina Panthers WR1 moving forward. Moore is much more talented than Funchess and will take away targets, but this may be the most weapons Cam Newton has ever had on offense. Funchess and Christian McCaffrey accounted for well over 200 of the teams targets last season, but that was with injured Greg Olsen missing considerable time and Curtis Samuel making no impact. The Panthers have also added free agent Torrey Smith. The volume just won’t be there for Funchess in 2018.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR, BUF)

After putting in a huge year for the Carolina Panthers in 2014, grabbing 73 catches for 1008 yards and 9 touchdowns, it’s all been downhill for Kelvin Benjamin. The mid-season trade to the Buffalo Bills may not have helped much either. Outside of the Bills first pick in the draft and taking two receivers late, they spent a majority of the draft loading up on defense. Taking Josh Allen first is the biggest reason why Benjamin is #TrendingDown for me.

I don’t anticipate Allen being a good NFL QB. He has a strong arm, yes, I get it. That somehow overshadowed his deficiencies in accuracy, footwork, metrics and everything else I read that tells me Allen is not ready. Maybe in a few years, but not now. I don’t doubt that Benjamin has the tools to be at least a WR2 for fantasy owners, but until he can land on a team with a proven quarterback and a game plan that utilizes his strengths, he will continue to underperform. If only the Bills drafted Rosen instead.

Mohamed Sanu (WR, ATL)

Mohamed Sanu should never be your WR1 or even WR2, but he is such a good player to stash on your bench for weeks you are short or if dealing with an injury. Sanu jumped all the way to WR29 during his second full season as an Atlanta Falcon. Taking a year to get up to speed with your offense is nothing new, so it was possible Sanu could take another small step in 2018. That was until Calvin Ridley ended up in Atlanta.

Now let me say, the landing spot for Ridley was excellent, but it’s Sanu I am now worried about. For Ridley to be very successful in the NFL, he needs to move to the slot. I don’t know what the Falcons plan on doing with Sanu, but either way, he will need to fight to take targets away from Ridley. If Ridley ends up on the outside and Sanu is in the slot, a bump to Sanu. If Ridley ends up in the slot and Sanu on the outside, then a bump to Ridley. Until all of this shakes out though, I am fading Sanu and finding another player that could make a bigger impact going forward.

Patriots Running Backs

I had my mind made up about this New England Patriots backfield before the draft. Rex Burkhead was a high RB2 in PPR leagues, James White was a flex option and Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill would be in the background. Then the Patriots had to screw all of that up with a curveball and take Sony Michel in the first round. We have always had headaches trying to decide who the top options were for the Patriots, but this will be the most difficult year to predict yet.

You have to anticipate that Michel will get a large workload, but he had some fumble issues in college. We have seen those same issues haunt Patriots running backs for a full season. White will be severely limited because both Michel and Burkhead can help in that aspect. Burkhead had some injury issues last season, but when healthy, he was a playmaker. I have to suspect one of Hill or Gillislee will not be on the roster come Week 1. Even if we think we know what the Patriots will do, they will always be one step ahead.

 

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