Fantasy football — Where Mitchell Trubisky, Leonard Fournette, Mike … – ESPN

The 2017 NFL draft is right around the corner, which means mock drafts are as prevalent as ever.

My futile attempt at projecting the first round is below, but the real purpose of this piece is to identify which fantasy-relevant positions each team could be looking to address on Thursday night.

1. Cleveland Browns
Best bet: QB Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: Trubisky

The Browns are not only considering Trubisky, but I’m told he’s the likely first pick overall. Head coach Hue Jackson may want Myles Garrett, but expect the front office to instead bring in competition for Cody Kessler and a potential long-term answer to the franchise’s quarterback woes. Trubisky is a raw prospect and unlikely to have much rookie-season fantasy appeal.

2. San Francisco 49ers
Best bet: Edge Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB

The 49ers will be ecstatic if Garrett falls to second overall. The former Aggie would provide them with much-needed help on the edge opposite 33-year-old Ahmad Brooks. If Cleveland switches gears and goes with Garrett, my guess is the pick here would be Trubisky. Brian Hoyer simply can’t be asked to hold down the fort for long. Cornerback is also a major need, so Marshon Lattimore is a name to watch.

3. Chicago Bears
Best bet: DL Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB, TE

The Bears have several holes, but were aggressive about adding cornerback competition during the offseason, including Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and B.W. Webb. I don’t necessarily think that’s enough to stop them from going with Lattimore, but Thomas is likely to be the top player on nearly every team’s board at this point. I’m leaning “BPA” (best player available) over fit here, as Chicago has a lot of talent in the front seven, including 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd. Zach Miller turns 33 this year, so TE O.J. Howard makes sense as a target if they trade down. I don’t believe they’ll take a quarterback after signing Mike Glennon.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Best bet: RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: Fournette, TE O.J. Howard

The Jaguars are absolutely loaded defensively, but the offense remains a major concern. It would be hard to fault them for picking potential superstar Fournette in order to lean heavily on their defense and running game, while also limiting Blake Bortles’ impact. Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon would steal the occasional touch, but wouldn’t be a threat a massive rookie-season workload for Fournette. The Jaguars traded Julius Thomas to Miami, so Howard is a sneaky option here, too.

5. Tennessee Titans
Best bet: CB Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR

Wide receiver is a big need for the Titans, which absolutely puts Mike Williams, Corey Davis and even John Ross in play here. Of course, with Jason McCourty gone, last year’s fifth-round pick LeShaun Sims is penciled in as the team’s second perimeter corner opposite Logan Ryan. This is a team on the rise and the draft’s best corner would provide the secondary with a big boost. I expect the Titans to go wide receiver either here or at 18th overall.

6. New York Jets
Best bet: QB DeShaun Watson (Clemson)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB, TE

The Jets are clearly in rebuilding mode, but what better position to start at than quarterback? Watson could be in play as early as second overall if the Browns take Garrett. Jets NFL Nation reporter Rich Cimini told me on Friday he doesn’t think the Jets will take a quarterback here, so it’s also possible another team trades up into this spot for Watson. The former Clemson star doesn’t figure to fall far on Thursday night.

7. Los Angeles Chargers
Best bet: FS Malik Hooker (Ohio State)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: None

The Chargers are my pick for breakout team of 2017. They’re in terrific shape defensively and their only clear offensive needs are on the line and a passing-down complement to Melvin Gordon. Wide receiver could be an option later in the draft, but Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin are serviceable. A trade down in order to acquire a lineman and additional picks is possible, but if not, Hooker has been oft-connected to L.A. as a terrific fit in center field in Gus Bradley’s defense.

8. Carolina Panthers
Best bet: DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB or WR John Ross

Carolina is in rough shape at wide receiver, especially following the departures of Corey Brown and Ted Ginn Jr. The Panthers’ offense was better when lid-lifter Ginn was heavily involved, so Ross has to be considered a sleeper to go at this spot. Carolina also has been connected to Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, but keep in mind that Jonathan Stewart’s contract was recently extended through 2018. I ultimately expect them to take the best player on the board. Allen would provide youth to an aging, albeit quality, group of pass-rushers in Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Julius Peppers.

9. Cincinnati Bengals
Best bet: DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB

Jeremy Hill has really struggled since a terrific rookie year and Giovani Bernard tore his ACL last season, so Fournette, McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook figure to be on the Bengals’ radar. Wide receiver has been discussed as an option here, but I think spending a 2016 second-round pick on Tyler Boyd and re-signing Brandon LaFell is enough to go elsewhere at this spot. Barnett would be a much-needed upgrade over Michael Johnson opposite Carlos Dunlap.

10. Buffalo Bills
Best bet: WR John Ross (Washington)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR, QB

The Bills will have a lot of options here as they try to fill one of their many needs, so this is one of the tougher calls. Currently, Corey Brown, Andre Holmes, Dezmin Lewis and Kolby Listenbee are the team’s top wide receivers behind Sammy Watkins. That’s about as bad as it gets. Speed receivers often come off the board earlier than expected, so this is where I think Buffalo makes a big splash and goes with the man who ran a record 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine. Tyrod Taylor has the arm to get it to him deep early and often. Speaking of Taylor, quarterback is a possibility, but Buffalo really should be content with Taylor and focus on other holes.

11. New Orleans Saints
Best bet: ILB Reuben Foster (Alabama)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, WR

The Saints have two first-round picks after trading Brandin Cooks to New England. I expect them to spend both on defense. That makes Foster an easy pick here, as he fills a massive need at linebacker. The team’s current projected starters are Craig Robertson, Dannell Ellerbe and A.J. Klein. If New Orleans surprises and goes offense, a complement to Mark Ingram or a Cooks replacement (Ross?) could be in the cards.

12. Cleveland Browns
Best bet: SS Jamal Adams (LSU)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB, TE, RB

Adams is widely considered a top-five (or at least top-10) prospect, so this would be a terrific find for Cleveland at 12th overall. Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds are the team’s current starting safeties, so Adams would figure to play a major role in the box as a rookie. That would mean plenty of IDP fantasy value right out of the gate. If the Browns address the offense, there are plenty of ways they can go. Trubisky will be gone by this point, but Watson very well could fall. Gary Barnidge turns 32 this year, which puts Howard in play. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. are serviceable, but a big splash for a game-changer at running back is far from impossible, albeit unlikely.

13. Arizona Cardinals
Best bet: WR Mike Williams (Clemson)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB, WR

Arizona lost a lot of defenders during free agency, but the unit is still in decent shape. Williams or Corey Davis make a lot of sense here. Larry Fitzgerald turns 34 this year, John Brown has struggled with sickle-cell issues and Michael Floyd was waived last season. Arizona loves four-wide sets (third in the category last season), which makes this position a big priority. Williams would be an upgrade over J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown and converted RB Andre Ellington, and projects as a potential No. 1 receiver down the road. Quarterback is also an option here with Carson Palmer seemingly set to retire after 2017.

14. Philadelphia Eagles
Best bet: CB Gareon Conley (Ohio State)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB

The Eagles have often been connected to McCaffrey, and even to wide receivers despite the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. I’m not buying it. Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills and Ron Brooks are the team’s current “starters” at cornerback. That’s one of the NFL’s worst units and a blemish on an otherwise terrific defense. Conley is good enough to consider here, but a trade down also makes sense considering how much borderline first-round talent is available at the position.

15. Indianapolis Colts
Best bet: RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, TE

McCaffrey seems unlikely to make it out of the first half of the first round. The Colts have major needs throughout the roster, but McCaffrey makes a lot of sense as a long-term counterpart to Andrew Luck. Frank Gore turns 34 years old this summer and is in the final year of his contract. Tight end shouldn’t be completely ruled out after Dwayne Allen was shipped to New England, leaving Jack Doyle and Erik Swoope atop the depth chart.

16. Baltimore Ravens
Best bet: G/C Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR, RB

Steve Smith (retirement) and Kamar Aiken (free agency) are gone, Mike Wallace turns 31 this year and Breshad Perriman has yet to emerge as a trustworthy starter. Wide receiver will obviously be on Baltimore’s radar, and running back may as well with Kenneth Dixon suspended for four games. Still, I have the Ravens addressing an offensive line with more question marks than answers behind Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda, who turns 33 this year.

17. Washington Redskins
Best bet: Edge/LB Haason Reddick (Temple)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB

I’m a fan of Robert Kelley, but the 2016 undrafted free-agent gem offers very little as a receiver and doesn’t have near the athletic ceiling of many of this year’s top prospects at the position. Cook figures to be in play, as it’s unlikely that McCaffrey and Fournette fall this far. Considering the draft’s depth at tailback, I instead expect Washington to address defense at this spot. The Redskins have a lot of bodies at linebacker, but Reddick injects youth and versatility. Cornerback also could be the play here.

18. Tennessee Titans
Best bet: WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR

As noted earlier, adding a wideout is a priority for this team. If Tennessee is able to go elsewhere at fifth overall and still come away with a potential stud in Davis at pick 18, that’d be a big win. Yes, Delanie Walker turns 33 this year, but he’s signed through 2018 and the team has more pressing needs.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best bet: OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB

The Bucs very well could make a leap into the wild-card mix this year, but an unimposing offensive line could hold them back if not addressed. Ramczyk would be an immediate candidate to start over former second-rounder Donovan Smith. Running back is absolutely in play here, as well, especially with Doug Martin facing a three-game suspension and coming off a rough 2016 season. Cook will have significant rookie-season fantasy value if he moves south from Tallahassee to Tampa. Howard and David Njoku have been mentioned as options for Tampa Bay, but Cameron Brate is a solid, young pass-catching tight end and NFL teams simply don’t use two-tight end sets when passing very often (20 percent was the NFL average last season).

20. Denver Broncos
Best bet: TE O.J. Howard (Alabama)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: TE, WR

John Elway and company should be ecstatic if the top prospect in a loaded tight end class is available at 20th overall. With only A.J. Derby, Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman atop the depth chart, Denver has one of the league’s biggest needs at the position. Wide receiver is an underrated need for a team relying a ton on 29-year-old Demaryius Thomas and 30-year-old Emmanuel Sanders and with little additional depth at the position. If Davis, Williams or Ross fall, the Broncos could pounce.

21. Detroit Lions
Best bet: Edge Charles Harris (Missouri)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR

Detroit made the playoffs last season, but this is a bottom-third-of-the-league roster on paper. There are major voids all over the defense and Harris would provide a big boost on the edge opposite Ezekiel Ansah. Anquan Boldin remains a free agent, so wide receiver is the fantasy-relevant position to monitor. TJ Jones and Jace Billingsley make up the team’s primary depth behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. I’m not buying into the tight end dot-connecting here, as there’s still plenty of hope for 24-year-old Eric Ebron.

22. Miami Dolphins
Best bet: Edge Jordan Willis (Kansas State)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: None

Miami follows Detroit in the draft and, as the second team, I think will underperform expectations in 2017. The offensive skill positions are actually in very good shape, especially if you expect Julius Thomas to bounce back, but holes remain on the defensive side. Willis would quickly step into a rotation with 35-year-old Cameron Wake and 32-year-old William Hayes.

23. New York Giants
Best bet: TE David Njoku (Miami)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: TE, RB

The Giants have struggled badly at tight end since Martellus Bennett left for Chicago in 2013. Rhett Ellison was signed during free agency, but he’s not an ideal every-down player and doesn’t have near the upside of Howard or Njoku. From a fantasy perspective, the Giants landing one of the top tight end prospects would be a dream scenario, as there’s a fairly easy path to snaps. Running back is also in play after the release of Rashad Jennings. This is another potential landing spot for Cook.

24. Oakland Raiders
Best bet: LB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, WR

If Marshawn Lynch ends up with Oakland prior to the draft, you can cross running back off this list. With Lynch and intriguing second-year backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, the Raiders would be positioned to address other needs. Wide receiver could be under consideration, but the team seems to like Seth Roberts in the slot and Cordarrelle Patterson was signed during free agency. The Raiders’ defense needs a lot of work, especially at linebacker. Davis would immediately step into a major role, with Ben Heeney, Cory James and Jelani Jenkins his top competition for snaps.

25. Houston Texans
Best bet: QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: QB

Had the Texans managed to land Tony Romo, I would view them as the clear favorite in the AFC South. Instead, they’re stuck with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden and very well could finish dead last in an improved division. Mahomes is a potential long-term answer at the position and could immediately compete with Savage for the 2017 Week 1 job. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller investors should be praying to the football gods that the Texans aggressively try to improve at quarterback.

26. Seattle Seahawks
Best bet: OT Garett Bolles (Utah)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: TE

It’s no secret that Seattle’s offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. Plain and simple, the Seahawks need to aggressively address it on draft day. Bolles would be a logical starting point and could immediately improve the team’s offensive prospects, good news for those looking to draft Russell Wilson and Eddie Lacy this year. Tight end is a fantasy-relevant possibility, as 30-year-old Jimmy Graham enters a contract year.

27. Kansas City Chiefs
Best bet: DE Taco Charlton (Michigan)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, QB, WR

Interestingly enough, the Chiefs could conceivably address any of the “big four” fantasy positions with the 27th pick. The Chiefs have been connected to Mahomes with game manager Alex Smith entering his age-33 season. Running back is shaky with Jamaal Charles gone. Wide receiver is unlikely, but a sneaky possibility if Davis or Williams fall. Depth behind Travis Kelce is also an issue, but more likely to be addressed later in the draft. Despite all that, I still have them going with defense. Charlton adds another pass-rusher behind Justin Houston, 33-year-old Tamba Hali and Dee Ford. Cornerback and interior defensive line are also big needs that could be addressed here.

28. Dallas Cowboys
Best bet: CB Kevin King (Washington)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR, TE

The Cowboys lost both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne (not to mention safety Barry Church) during free agency, which leaves them with Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown at corner. That’s one of the league’s worst units. The Cowboys will have a ton of options at the position at this point in the draft, so it should be a matter of which they like the most. Terrance Williams was signed to a four-year extension to work opposite Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley, so wide receiver would be a mild surprise. With the likes of Evan Engram and Gerald Everett likely to be available, Dallas also could target 35-year-old Jason Witten’s eventual replacement.

29. Green Bay Packers
Best bet: CB Tre’Davious White (LSU)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, WR

Speaking of the league’s worst cornerback units, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins were Green Bay’s first two picks in the 2015 draft, but neither played very well last season. Ladarius Gunter and Davon House are no better than pedestrian depth, leaving the position as a major need. Same as with Dallas, the Packers figure to have plenty of intriguing corners to choose from.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Best bet: Edge T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: WR, QB

Ben Roethlisberger’s flirtations with retirement have to be concerning for a team built around its offense. Mahomes (if somehow still available), DeShone Kizer, Davis Webb and Nathan Peterman could all be in play with the future in mind. Wide receiver is a possibility, especially if Martavis Bryant isn’t reinstated before draft day. Ladarius Green’s durability is a concern, but I don’t think Pittsburgh will spend a first-rounder on the position with Green seemingly healthy and Jesse James on the roster. The Steelers’ defense has several holes, especially on the edge where Bud Dupree, Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo top the depth chart. “J.J.’s brother” would provide a much-needed upgrade.

31. Atlanta Falcons
Best bet: Edge Tyus Bowser (Houston)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: TE

Austin Hooper was a third-rounder last year and figures to lead Atlanta’s tight ends in 2017, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Falcons pounce on one of the position’s top prospects here. Nevertheless, defense is a bigger need. I thought about going with S/CB Obi Melifonwu here as a reaction to Kemal Ishmael moving full time to linebacker, but Atlanta is in terrific shape at corner and has Keanu Neal locking down strong safety. Instead, I went with Bowser, who fills a bigger need as a pass-rushing complement to Vic Beasley Jr., but admittedly is not the best choice in Mario Kart.

32. New Orleans Saints
Best bet: CB Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
Potential fantasy-relevant targets: RB, WR

As noted earlier, I expect the Saints to use both of their first-rounders on defense. Of course, the selection of a back or wideout is more reasonable here than it is at 11. If Cook or one of the top-three wide receivers remain on the board, New Orleans may pounce. Also, a trade for Malcolm Butler remains possible and, if that happens, a Butler-Delvin Breaux duo figures to be enough to allow the Saints to address another position here. Edge Carl Lawson, DL Malik McDowell and ILB Zach Cunningham are among those who could be available and fill a need.

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