5 big fantasy winners from the NFL Draft

Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers

Fantasy football players will have been keenly observing the impact of the NFL Draft on veteran skill position players, and there are a bunch of guys set to benefit from their team's selections, or lack thereof heading into the 2018 season. 

Here are five of the biggest fantasy winners from the 2018 Draft. 

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey will have been overjoyed to see the draft pass by without the Panthers taking a running back. Jonathan Stewart is gone, so McCaffrey stands to be the RB1 in 2018 and see a huge spike in his carries and production. 

The former Stanford star averaged just 3.7 yards per carry last season, but his work in the receiving game made him a valuable flex selection for many fantasy players. His workload in both areas of the offense will likely increase this season, especially considering his only backfield mates are Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne. 

2. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Post-week 10 last season, Collins averaged 19.8 touches per game and posted the 10th highest fantasy score of all backs. 

The third-year pro ended the year with 973 rushing yards and six TD's on 4.6 yards per carry. The Ravens haven't added any new faces to their backfield this offseason, so Collins' stellar ending to the 2017 campaign should see him start the year as the RB1 over Kenneth Dixon. 

The former Razorback starred in goal line situations over the season-ending 7 game stretch, running in six touchdowns which was tied for the most in the NFL. He should get the bulk of the workload in an offense that could become increasingly run-heavy due to Joe Flacco's mediocre play in the passing game. 

3. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson was Aaron Rodgers' favourite target for a decade; that mantle will now most likely be passed to Cobb and that's enough to see his production go through the roof. 

The Packers didn't draft or add any plug and play starters at the receiver position and thus Cobb will be a huge part of their success in the passing game. Additionally, Green Bay hasn't had a rookie wideout catch more than 38 passes in a season since Rodgers has been the starter. 

The pair have years of chemistry behind them, and proved that their partnership was still strong in the five full games they shared the field in 2017 as Cobb hauled in 30 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns on 45 targets. 

Jimmy Graham and Davante Adams will demand a lot of targets too, but Cobb's production will certainly see an upturn and he presents excellent value to fantasy players. 

4. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Mack quietly had an impressive rookie year on a bad team in 2017, showing his versatility as a dynamic threat on the ground and catching balls out of the backfield. The former USF standout rushed for 358 yards and three scores, whilst adding 225 yards and one touchdown in the receiving game. 

Considering he was a first-year player, and sat firmly behind Frank Gore all year, Mack performed well and clearly gave the Colts enough on film to suggest he can go into the 2018 season as the number one guy on the depth chart. So far Indy has steered clear of free agent additions, though former Broncos back CJ Anderson could be a late signing, and they waited until day three to add two rotational players in Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. 

Hines will certainly contribute in the receiving game, but projects as more of Darren Sproles-type gadget back than an every-down workhorse. 

Wilkins is a boom or bust prospect, and a real finesse runner who may take some time to adjust to the pace of the league, so Mack should really see the majority of the between-the-tackles workload come his way. 

To add to his value, the Colts drafted outstanding interior protectors Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith to pair with Ryan Kelly at center, so their run-blocking will be hugely upgraded in 2018. If he can hold off the competition in camp, Mack could have a breakout year and presents excellent value as a mid-round fantasy pick.

5. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

Drake is almost certain to take over full-time RB1 duties in 2018. The Dolphins only added the ageing Frank Gore, and drafted Kalen Ballage out of Arizona State but neither has it in them to be an every-down back at the drastically contrasting stages of their careers. 

Drake stepped up last season after Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles, notching the ninth highest Points per Reception (PPR) score over the final six weeks of the year. The former Alabama back averaged 106.8 yards from scrimmage over those weeks on 20 touches and his 4.8 yards per carry were tied for third best in the NFL across the whole season. 

Drake's production projects to increase for a second straight season and he could end up being a reliable scorer due to his ability to gain yards in the passing game too. 

Other beneficiaries of their team's draft include: Kelvin Benjamin, Jay Ajayi and Andrew Luck.

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