This is the second of three articles discussing each day of the draft and how some players are going to have more fantasy impact than others. The first round of the NFL draft gets a lot of attention, which why it gets its own day during the process. Though much of the hype goes to round one, rounds two and three are where teams can get solid starters without having to cost the team a high draft pick to do it.
In this year’s draft, we saw a lot of players that fell to day two that had first-round grades on them. The following five players did not get the glory of going in the first round, but they are worth keeping an eye on as the fantasy season draws closer.
2018 NFL Draft: Day 2 Fantasy Analysis
Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
The kid from Scottsdale will get to play for his hometown Cardinals. Kirk has first-round talent but slipped into the second because of his size. Viewed primarily as a slot receiver, Kirk will be able to come in and carve out a pretty good role in the Arizona offense.
The Cardinals lost both John Brown and Jaron Brown in free agency and Kirk will be asked to replace those targets immediately. He has a superior work ethic, so the task may not be as daunting as it seems.
Being in the receiver room with future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t hurt either. Kirk will be a guy to watch as a possible bench filler or an early-season waiver wire pickup. Either way, Kirk will be a guy to keep an eye on as he may be a contributor early on.
Derrius Guice, Running Back, Washington Redskins
The fall of Guice into the second round was puzzling. He had a first-round grade by some analysts but rumors started circulating that he was immature in meetings with some teams during the draft process and will need a lot of structure to be successful in the NFL.
Where other teams stayed away, the Redskins gambled and drafted Guice late in the second round. If everything works as the Redskins hope and he stays out of trouble, Guice could be a star in the NFL.
He is an absolute beast on the field and can really transform an offense with his abilities. A really physical runner, Guice is able to assess the situation quickly and make the right decision to gain big yards on the ground. He was barely used in the passing game at LSU, but at his pro day he showed some ability to catch the ball and this may keep him on the field all three downs in Washington.
If Guice dispels the rumors and turns into a consummate pro for the Redskins, he will go down as one of the biggest steals in this draft.
Tre’Quan Smith, Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints
Besides Michael Thomas, the New Orleans wide receiving corps is not too intimidating. With the emergence of Alvin Kamara complementing Mark Ingram in the backfield, defenses will be looking to stack the box to stop this duo. This may force Drew Brees to rely more on his receivers and tight ends to move the chains.
Enter Smith, who was one of the more underrated receivers going through the draft process. He showed great skills in the Senior Bowl and continued to see his stock climb at the combine. Smith has a great downfield ability and is proficient at pulling down 50-50 balls. The best thing about Smith is his willingness to set blocks in the run game, which certainly became a more focal point of the Saints offense.
Like most receivers from smaller schools, he will need some coaching on his route running and his physicality with bigger NFL defenders. Smith should still get some targets quickly in this offense and can become one of the fantasy surprises of the year.
James Washington, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington comes out of Oklahoma State as one of the most decorated wideouts in the draft. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, he was a unanimous first-team All-American, and he finished the season with 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns.
To have the Steelers grab him in the second round is almost criminal. Regarded as more of a deep threat in college, Washington has a chance to grab a slot role with the Pittsburgh offense and play alongside Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Washington needs some work on his route tree and playing with a great like Brown, he can develop those skills quickly. With Martavis Bryant was shipped off to Oakland for a third-round pick, Washington could ascend to becoming a dynamic weapon for Ben Roethlisberger right away.
The chances of Washington garnering some snaps in the offense early in the season are pretty high. Fantasy owners should get him onto their watchlists as he should be an in-demand waiver option at some point this season.
Royce Freeman, Running Back, Denver Broncos
C.J. Anderson is no longer the lead back in Denver and that role is up for grabs between Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson, and Freeman. Booker is currently at the top of the depth chart but Freeman brings a bruising running style that will earn him a good amount of snaps.
Hailing from the spread style offense of Oregon, Freeman is the school’s all-time leader in rushing and holds the Pac-12 Conference record for rushing touchdowns. A workhorse in college, there are a lot of questions as to whether there is enough tread on the tires coming into the pros.
Early on he will split carries with Booker to preserve both players through the 16-game season but Freeman can earn more of the carries with his punishing style of running. He may be limited in fantasy leagues because of his inexperience in the passing game but his number of opportunities near the red zone will make him a great touchdown vulture and a good flex option as the season progresses.