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Veteran fantasy winners and losers in 2018 NFL Draft

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The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, so we now have a much clearer picture of how all 32 rosters are going to look heading into training camp and the preseason. And while the rookies now need to be evaluated for their individual fantasy value, owners also have to consider which veterans have been affected by their team's selections ... good or bad. Here's a look at the winners and losers after the draft.

Winner: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are all in on McCaffrey having a bigger role in the offense next season, and proved it in the draft. The team did not add a running back into the mix to replace Jonathan Stewart, and coach Ron Rivera has said that Cameron Artis-Payne will "get the first crack" at a bigger role in his absence. A PPR machine, McCaffrey could wind up seeing more carries and in turn ... more chances to score points.

Loser: Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns

Hyde lost value when he left San Francisco for Cleveland, and his targets were destined to drop with Duke Johnson on the roster. Now he's not even guaranteed a prominent role on the ground after the team drafted Georgia's Nick Chubb in the second round. In fact, I'd consider Chubb the favorite for early-down and goal-line work. The RB9 in PPR leagues last year, Hyde is now just a late-round pick.

Winner: Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

The fantasy community has been waiting for the Colts to add a running back to replace Frank Gore, but so far the team has picked up fourth-rounder Nyheim Hines and fifth-rounder Jordan Wilkins. While the latter is someone to watch, it looks like new coach Frank Reich is willing to use Mack as his starter to open the 2018 campaign. That puts him squarely on the re-draft radar as a potential flex starter.

Loser: Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Burkhead looked good when he was on the gridiron a season ago, but injuries limited his totals and rise to fantasy stardom. And while it seemed like he'd have another chance to reach that level after the loss of Dion Lewis, Burkhead now has to contend with Sony Michel. The Patriots haven't taken a back in Round 1 since 2006, so look for Michel to be their featured runner.

Winner: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Luck, whose status remains a bit cloudy due to a bum shoulder, will return to the field (hopefully soon) with a far better line in front of him. The Colts added the top offensive lineman in the draft in OG Quenton Nelson, and then added Auburn OG Braden Smith in Round 2. With OT Anthony Castonzo and C Ryan Kelly already in the mix, Luck should be much better protected in the pocket upon his return to action.

Loser: Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Carson turned heads in limited time as a rookie, but it wasn't enough to keep the Seahawks from grabbing their running back of the future (and present) in Rashaad Penny. A potential three-down back at the next level, the former Aztecs star will be put into a featured role in an offense whose leading rusher last season was ... quarterback Russell Wilson. Carson now projects only as a late pick as a handcuff.

Winner: Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

The departure of LeGarrette Blount had already moved Ajayi up the fantasy ranks, but Philadelphia's decision not to draft a back makes him even more valuable. While the Eagles did re-sign veteran Darren Sproles, Ajayi still projects as the early-down option who should see most of the goal-line opportunities. While Corey Clement is also in the mix, I still like Ajayi as a potential No. 2 fantasy runner.

Loser: Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos

For a moment, it looked like the Broncos were going to hand the top spot on the depth chart to Booker after the release of C.J. Anderson. Well, that moment was short lived. Denver grabbed Oregon's Royce Freeman in Round 3 of the draft, and GM John Elway is already gushing over his potential at the next level. A three-down runner, Freeman could be this season's version of Kareem Hunt. Believe all the hype.

Winner: Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

Drake was one of the best running backs in fantasy football in the second half of last season, but would the Dolphins allow him to retain a featured role for 2018? That appears to be the case, as the biggest addition to their backfield has been Frank Gore. (He'll be 35 when the 2018 campaign starts). The team also drafted Kalen Ballage out of Arizona State, but Drake is projected to be their best fantasy back.

Loser: Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins

Perine had some sleeper appeal during his rookie campaign, but his 3.4 yards-per-attempt average was far less than stellar. As a result, the Redskins targeted a new running back and stole Derrius Guice in the second round of the NFL draft. The LSU product should come right in and take the top spot on the depth chart, leaving both Perine and Rob Kelley with far less value when it comes time for fantasy drafts.

Winner: Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Collins is coming off a breakout campaign that saw him rush for 973 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games (12 starts), and it looks like the Ravens believe in him as their top runner. Despite the retirement of Danny Woodhead, the position has been ignored in the offseason. While Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen should see some burn, it looks like Collins will be the top fantasy runner for the new-look Ravens offense.

Loser: Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers

Funchess is coming off his best statistical season as a pro, and he still projects to be the first Panthers wideout picked in a lot of re-drafts. However, the addition of D.J. Moore does take at least some of the bloom off the rose. The Maryland product was considered one of the top three wideout prospects in the 2108 draft, and he could end up with more value than Funchess at the end of his rookie season.

Winner: Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans

Davis had a disappointing rookie campaign, but he finished strong and figures to be a popular breakout candidate in fantasy land next season. The Titans didn't draft a wideout to replace Eric Decker, only Michael Campanaro has been added at the position this offseason. That will mean a lot of scoring opportunities for Davis, who should make a push towards a 1,000 yards in his second year in the pros.

Loser: Jonathan Stewart, RB, New York Giants

Stewart's spot atop the Giants depth chart was short lived, as the team landed the best player in the entire 2018 draft in Saquon Barkley. The Penn State product should dominate the backfield touches during his rookie campaign, leaving the likes of Stewart and Wayne Gallman to battle for scraps. The veteran out of Oregon now figures to be no more than a late-round pick or handcuff for owners who land Barkley.

Winner: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan's numbers took a monumental tumble last season compared to his 2016 totals, but he did get a nice gift in the draft. That gift is Calvin Ridley, who many scouts believed was the top wide receiver in the 2018 class. A playmaker who should make a nice impact for the Falcons, Ridley joins Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in what figures to be an improved pass attack. That makes Ryan a more attractive choice.

Loser: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions

It's time to put the idea that Abdullah is going to make a fantasy impact to rest. The Lions appeared to do that with the signing of LeGarrette Blount, and the selection of Kerryon Johnson in the NFL draft puts another nail in Double A's fantasy coffin. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Abdullah is either not on the roster this summer or a regular inactive during the season. He's no longer worth a draft selection.

Winner: Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos

Coming off a career season, could Keenum be in an even better position to succeed? The Broncos already had Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the pass attack, and the additions of rookies Royce Freeman, Courtland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton give him even more weapons. The Broncos also passed on drafting a quarterback, so Keenum's spot atop the team's depth chart is very secure heading into camps.

Loser: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

I don't consider Prescott a "big" loser, but he's a loser nonetheless. The loss of veterans Dez Bryant and Jason Witten (?) leave him without a true No. 1 in the pass attack, unless you believe rookie Michael Gallup can fill the role. What's more, the addition of OG Connor Williams in the draft and OT Cameron Fleming and OG Marcus Martin in free agency signals an offense that is going to run the ball a lot.

Winner: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

Whether Manning still has anything left is up for debate, but he's a winner as a result of the draft. The G-Men were able to land a future superstar in Saquon Barkley, not to mention a stud offensive guard in Will Hernandez to go along with free-agent addition OT Nate Solder. With a better line in front of him and ridiculously good weapons around him, Manning could be fantasy relevant again.

Loser: Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Barber showed some flashes of potential last season, but he'll be hard pressed to take a move up fantasy rank lists after the team added Ronald Jones II out of Southern California. In fact, Barber is barely draftable at this point in a backfield that also has Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. Unless he's drafted as a handcuff for the talented rookie, Barber could be an afterthought in most fantasy leagues.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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