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First 50 prospects with commentary, all other listed in ranked order. ‘Player’s we’re not touching’–additional commentary being added for release tomorrow.
*There were some slight changes in rank between #20-#50 from yesterday, but not anything too radical.
1) RB Todd Gurley, St. Louis
I can find something ‘situationally’ to worry about with every name that comes after Gurley on this list, but I have no worries about Gurley’s situation—he will be the primary workload RB. With other rookies, I could worry about some of the other guys on their team’s depth chart, and/or be nervous about the particular QB throwing them the ball, etc.
There is no issue like that with Gurley.
When Todd Gurley is ready to go, he’s walking in and taking 15-20+ carries per game. Jeff Fisher is in a one-and-done situation, and looks to be prepping for a ‘heavy run game and nasty defense’ approach. You can fear the ACL, and that’s not crazy to do so, but if you want the one rookie who is the most likely to have an instant impact, and is the most talented at his craft—here you go.
I’m not sure anyone will disagree. Outside of a few rogue scenarios, most every Dynasty Rookie Draft (DRD) is going to see Gurley go #1.
2) WR Amari Cooper, Oakland
I know. I should be more scared of the ‘Oakland’ label. It’s a legit fear, as Oakland is a place where Fantasy players go to die. I think three things work in Cooper’s favor here (besides the fact that he is awesome):
— Derek Carr is used to a short passing game from his puffed-up college career. He has great velocity and a quick release. He is not as good down-field. He can play pitch & catch with Cooper, which should lead to a nice PPR combo.
— Oakland still stinks, but Derek Carr never gives up. He’ll be throwing the ball to the bitter end. Cooper could see a ton of junk time stats.
— Oakland is likely to turn over the GM after this season, and start anew…maybe, better days lie ahead in Oakland?
Cooper’s so good. I hate to pass up such a ‘lock’ of a player to chase hopes on a Kevin White or Breshad Perriman type who have an obvious upside, but are not as ‘sure’ as Cooper.
From this point on, this Dynasty Rookie Draft is very shaky. Guys at #10 could be argued as the #3, and vice-versa. There’s a lot of ‘educated guessing’/praying with the next group. Some guys I really like, but are in wobbly depth chart/team/QB situations. Most of the guys in the rest of my top-12, are not in the world’s top-12…which means your 1.03 to 1.10 picks are likely more valuable to trade away today. Trade them for great players who aren’t rookies…and try to get a 2nd or 3rd-round pick back to take lottery tickets out on a few not-as-well-loved names to follow here.
Some of the talents we like-love (like David Johnson and Tyler Lockett) might sneak up into the late top-12 in a Dynasty Rookie Draft, but that’s likely to happen in a few months. If your draft is soon—you could trade your 1.03 to 1.10 pick ‘hot’, and look to grab ‘our’ guys in the early/mid-2nd-round. Honestly, after Gurley-Cooper, I could make a case on the names to follow which would leave you in absolute lust for those players, and I could also make an equally convincing argument as to why to be afraid of all of them. It’s a cloudy picture from here on in…
Love some of these following guys, but realize the world doesn’t love most of them…nor their coaches in some instances. They may take half a season or a full season to materialize—and you can acquire them at half-price later this year. Love them, but don’t overvalue them today.
3) RB Melvin Gordon, San Diego
This is just like 2013 with Tavon Austin…I suggested this same strategy back then with Austin (and was beyond ‘right’), and I am going to propose it with Melvin Gordon now. I am not as brazen about doing this with Gordon (because of the workload differential between a WR and RB on an NFL team), but this is the way I would play it…
I’m not a Melvin Gordon fan. I realize he is ‘good’. I just think he’s ‘good’ at best, and a possible let down most likely. People see him as an ‘A’ grade RB on par with Todd Gurley, and occasionally some will take Gordon at #1 in a Dynasty Rookie Draft. He has that kind of heat. You take Gordon here, if Gurley-Cooper are gone, and then you trade him before the preseason. I think Gordon could struggle quickly, and he has a returning Danny Woodhead, and sometimes impressive, experiencedDonald Brown in the same backfield. Gordon may not be the 15-20+ carry a game guy people think right away. I don’t think he’d hold up well with that kind of workload anyway.
Gordon has more value in a societal sense than any other player after Gurley-Cooper…and that’s an asset for you to use. Re-read his scouting report on CFM to be sure you agree.
Drafting and holding Gordon is not insane, because unlike the obvious issues Tavon Austin was going to encounter—Gordon is a good/solid player, and may get force-fed 15-20+ carries immediately…a be great for FF quickly. You should trade him on ‘a high’ then as well.
4) RB David Johnson, Arizona
This is a gamble. I might, and you might, see this as an easy choice for Arizona. Johnson is superior in every way to Andre Ellington. He’s bigger, stronger, faster, better hands, etc. He’s the obvious choice…except this is the Arizona Cardinals withBruce Arians. A group that decided to ride a tiny-RB with a foot problem right from the get-go last season, and when it started going off the rails they did almost nothing for insurance. The guys Arizona had on the depth chart to begin the season were awful, and they were eventually forced to pick up and use Kerwynn Williams—who looked terrific for a moment…and then they stopped using him.
You would think David Johnson as a workhorse right away is a given…it isn’t.
I’m excited…thrilled…because I believe Andre Ellington is an incredibly soft target to be taken out this year. We’ll see if Bruce Arians agrees…and agrees right away. It’s possible that Johnson could be a workhorse back, and the 2015 Rookie of the Year…if Arians lets him. 1,000+ yards rushing, 500+ receiving, and 40-50+ catches. He’s that kind of talent.
If you assured me Johnson would get 250+ carries this season, I would have him #1 on this board…because I know he’s also going to catch 50 passes.
I’m excited, but this may take a half a season (or more) before we see signs of life.
5) RB Ameer Abdullah, Detroit
You get added rocket fuel here on the dot-connections: We (and others) have compared Abdullah to a Darren Sproles-ish type entity. A guy who cannot really be a long-term, work horse ballcarrier between the tackles, but get him 7-12 touches out in space, and it could be terrific. The Saints, obviously, would have been a great landing spot for him. However, the Lions are not a bad runner up.
Lions Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi comes from the Saints during the Darren Sproles heyday. He has professed, constantly, a desire to replicate the old Saints offense. Abdullah, with Reggie Bush gone, and because Theo Riddick is marginal, is the ‘next Darren Sproles’…instantly.
I rate Abdullah a little higher here than we really believe in his talent because the fit is nice, and the buzz will generate, and in a PPR-league you have an asset here you many want to sell high on…or just keep. He seriously could be catching 4-7 passes a game right out of the gates.
On the downside, there are issues with fumbles and ball security…and that could halt a rapid ascension towards a top PPR-god status.
6) WR Kevin White, Chicago
I can go one of two ways here:
— Will White get mostly ignored by Jay Cutler, like Alshon Jeffery did initially by Cutler…preferring to always targetBrandon Marshall? With Jeffery as the ‘new Marshall’…does White have a choppy start to his career? How much does Cutler scare me in this equation?
— Alshon Jeffery is such a presence that it could open things up for White drawing lesser coverage and going to work right away.
I’d like to say that I know the answer, but I don’t. My heart says, “Option-B, because of course they’ll take advantage of Jeffery double-teams.” My head says, “Option-A”, because Jay Cutler never changes script. If White is not in Cutler’s script…he’s dead; early on. Cutler will throw to Jeffery’s 15+ times a game, whether he is covered or not.
Chicago didn’t add a QB to challenge the incumbent, so it’s Cutler’s ball game again in 2015…yikes. In 2016, there could a disastrous rookie QB taking over, and then we’re all really screwed. Cutler is gone after this year, I believe, so how confident are you in the Bears ability to replace him with something good for White?
7) RB Tevin Coleman, Atlanta
I like Tevin Coleman, but I don’t fully trust how he’ll be used in Atlanta. It’s not as if the Falcons chased him…he fell to them.Devonta Freeman is a similar-ish RB (only less talented), and Antone Smith lurks with the new coaching staff. You’d think Coleman is the new staff’s ‘guy’, but he may have just lucked his way into getting picked as ‘best available’ in the early third. I like the situation here, because I don’t think Freeman is very good, but I don’t love it yet for fear there is a revolving door.
I could see a cluster here in 2015—and I still believe Dan Quinn wants to find a power runner to be a Marshawn Lynch for him at some point. The Falcons don’t have anything like Lynch now, and didn’t bite on any in the draft, which makes my theory look stupid, but if they make that move later into 2015 or in the 2016 NFL Draft…then it could be a split back field of touches for Coleman(which will be the problem with most all 200-205-pound RBs).
8) WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle
I love Tyler Lockett as a next Antonio Brown. I am scared to death Seattle is the wrong place to hope for it to happen…on two-fronts:
— Russell Wilson has shown no desire to make one WR his go-to guy. He didn’t do so with Golden Tate, nor with Doug Baldwin…nor with Percy Harvin.
— Seattle isn’t a high-volume passing game as it is. They can play conservative and rely on their defense more than other teams. That’s not good for Lockett becoming a next Antonio Brown, and becoming the next Golden Tate circa-his Seattle years doesn’t cut it for me for Fantasy.
You want a great QB to find one guy to make his Welker, Edelman, Brown, Hilton, Wayne, Dem. Thomas, Dez, Calvin, Cobb, etc.–and then you want that WR. Russell Wilson has not shown himself to be that kind of QB. He is, to some degree, smarter than that. He doesn’t tip his hand by relying heavy on one target. It’s great for the NFL, bad for FF.
Wilson might break out as an elite passer in the months or years to come—so there is the hope Lockett is ‘his guy’ on a Wilson-ascension. So far, all we’ve seen are lower passing attempt levels spread around by Wilson—so we have to be a little pessimistic on Lockett’s immediate Fantasy ROI.
9) LB Eric Kendricks, Minnesota
Most IDP formats are more ‘tackle count friendly’ for scoring, and Kendricks could be the main linebacker roaming around to clean up a majority of the work/tackles right away for the Vikings. Minnesota has a rapidly improving defense, one of the best in the NFL—and you knew it was coming with Mike Zimmer. He now adds one of the best defenders in the draft.
We think Kendricks beats out Audie Cole, and Chad Greenway goes away, and Anthony Barr moves to more of a backfield rusher role. Kendricks is a talent, and lands in a great spot for him.
10) WR Breshad Perriman, Baltimore
I know. I know…’drops’. It’s a broken record. I think the issue is a little overheated with Perriman. They blasted Torrey Smithover ‘drops’ his rookie preseason, and they tarred and feathered Jordan Matthews on ‘drops’ last pre-draft period. Perriman actually makes some spectacular catches. His drops seem to come on easier passes…mostly over the middle. Devin Smithdoesn’t have a lot of drops because he only runs one route…and it’s not over the middle into trouble. Don’t over-fear the ‘drops’ issue here, and be thankful because of it…it actually helps create RDR value a little as others stay away on him.
My greater fear is Torrey Smith was wasted for years by the Ravens system. The whole Ravens’ machine that did that to Torrey are pretty much still in place. They can plug in Perriman for Torrey, and send him deep every play (like Torrey), which means 4-7 targets in a game, and a great play/game every so often for Fantasy. A star was not born here…it was suppressed, most likely.
His talent is so special, that you have to look past some of the negatives and go for a ride with him.
11) WR DeVante Parker, Miami
I can’t help it. I like DeVante Parker’s data in our computer models, but I am just not a fan of Ryan Tannehill working downfield. Last season Tannehill threw one TD pass over 25-yards (a 32-yarder). For a little context (and these are the first/only two I looked at for an example–and they fit), Andy Dalton had five TD passes over 25+ yards last season…and three of them were over 70+ yards. Nick Foles had four 25+ yards TDs thrown in 2014, in a half a season…and all of them were over 50+ yards. I think Tannehill works close/short, and Jarvis Landry is his kind of receiver, and not so much DaVante Parker.
I fear Parker becomes too Brian Hartline-ish here…solid, but FF-boring.
12) LB Ben Heeney, Oakland
Arguably the best Linebacker prospect in the draft—a tackle machine, a 4.59 runner with sensational agility. He is a nice 4-3 LB for Oakland, but I’m not sure if he’ll start for the Raiders quickly enough to rank him any higher. Sio Moore and Khalil Mackare at the top of the depth charts along with Curtis Lofton in the middle. Things are congested at LB for Oakland. Heeney was not a high pick for the Raiders who needs to be forced into action.
However, Sio Moore is not Jack Del Rio’s guy…and Heeney probably is. If Heeney starts, he’ll lead Oakland in tackles right away. Heeney is on par with Luke Kuechly and Paul Worrilow—high effort, smart players, high athleticism.
If I knew Heeney would be named a starter for 2015, I’d place him in the top 6-10 on this list potentially—and ahead of Eric Kendricks. The Oakland ‘thing’ scares me a touch…and that may be overshot a little with a new, decent defensive coach taking over.
13) WR Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia
You get a Chip Kelly Offense bounce here, for sure. If I knew for sure that Agholor was starting in the Maclin spot, I’d have to move him higher. However, this is suddenly Jordan Matthews’ offense from a WR standpoint, so everyone else is a second-fiddle. I do not rule out that Josh Huff could defeat or hold back Agholor for a few weeks…or even all season. Huff has experience and the ‘Oregon’ advantage. Recall last year, how many weeks it took Matthews to make a bigger impact. Recall how the Green Bay Packers pushed Jared Boykin over Devante Adams for weeks. In a close race, experienced WRs tend to get the early nudge.
Agholor is not a ‘god’. He’s just a ‘good’ WR in a great system.
14) WR Chris Conley, Kansas City
This is your call. Scratch him from the list if you like. He had a boring Georgia career, followed by a stunning NFL Combine that put him on the NFL Draft map. Is he just a workout warrior?
It’s one thing to have a terrific NFL Combine–it’s another to have an ‘all-time’ one. Conley has a combination of measurables we’ve never seen before. We don’t really know how to classify him. He’s a true ‘freak’.
We also think the Georgia offense/QB was what held him back in college, not his skills. He was used a lot like Torrey Smith orCordarrelle Patterson have been in the NFL—always sent deep, and you have to hope the QB connects on a long ball…which is rare. When Conley did see the ball at Georgia, he was fantastic.
Conley has a sensational educational background, and is an award winning humanitarian with his off-field time. He’s also may be the best athlete in this draft. Here’s the exciting part, for me: I see Alex Smith unafraid to throw the ball deep, up for grabs, when he gets a mismatch—he has lacked WRs to do such things with in KC. Donnie Avery was awful, and Dwayne Bowe gave up a while ago. Conley + A. Smith, with Maclin and Charles drawing primary attention, may make a huge splash right away.
I think I see ‘it’ signs on tape. I’d love to hold a lottery ticket to see how it turns out. Conley could be ‘special’.
15) WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee
It’s a gamble. Gun to my head, I bet against DGB…that he flames out within a few years by some self-inflicted stupidity. However, there is another side to this—he trims 10-pounds, adds muscle, and becomes a freakazoid athlete who finally puts his life in order…and then we’re talking one of the greats. Nelson Agholor’s (example) maximum performance is nowhere near what DGB’s ‘max’ is.
At a certain place in this DRD…you bet on DGB. For some, it could be #5 overall…for others he’s not on their board. I cannot argue with someone taking him #5, #10, #15, or just skipping him. It doesn’t matter whether it is Mettenberger or Mariota…if DGB is at the top of his game, he’s a stud. Pure and simple. I just don’t think he’ll get there…but in case he does, you have to take the bet seriously.
16) OLB Vic Beasley, Atlanta
If your IDP scoring system is more ‘sack friendly’, then Beasley might be ranked closer towards the top-12…because Beasley could be off-the-charts as an NFL talent. We know he can get into the backfield, but his physical metrics suggests he could be a great run pursuer and can drop into pass coverage.
His college experience/data says, “sacks only” with limited interest in the other aspects (run stopping, pass coverage). I think that bum-rushing the backfield was more the role that he was asked to produce at Clemson, and that we should not write off him becoming a freak/star DE/OLB who does it all. Arguably, Beasley is the most gifted player in this draft…and he goes to a team desperate for a pass rusher—there should be some instant impact.
17) WR Justin Hardy, Atlanta
This could be a perfect situation for Hardy. If Atlanta locks up Julio Jones long-term, then any talented 2nd-WR is in a great spot to produce as most of the defensive attention goes on to Julio. Roddy White is in his final days as a star (he might be getting ready to turn into Greg Jennings—guy who was awesome, and then quickly got mediocre). Hardy starts as a #3, but could be a #2 quickly.
Atlanta has the home/dome advantage for the passing game, plus plays in an NFL South with garbage secondaries…it is a perfect storm. Hardy could be an 80+ catch a season guy quickly.
18) QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee
There is FF-value in a highly-mobile QB like Mariota, but it would have been a lot more valuable on the Philadelphia Eagles than on the Tennessee Titans. Mariota joins a team with an offense not built for him, and that fact is going to stunt the speed of any FF-viability he might have…if he ever really has any.
Don’t buy the “offense is going to be built for him” talk. That con really means: “We’ll put a couple of plays in the playbook where he does a read-option, but then will use or once or twice, and when it doesn’t lead to a long TD every time–then we give up.” Coaches like Ken Whisenhunt do not change what got them where they are. If he reassigns his offensive coordinator Jason Michel, and hires a spread offense expert—then we’ll reevaluate. It’s not going to happen. They will force Mariota into becoming something he has little experience in—a pocket passer…a la Robert Griffin III.
‘They’ will also be fired in 2016 for this massive mistake of not trading him to Philly.
This will take years for Mariota to acclimate to a traditional pocket passing game, if he ever does. It’s a horrible scene to wind up in for Mariota’s future. Sure, he’ll have games where he escapes the pocket and gets 30-40-50 yards rushing in a game and has Jake Locker like viability for a few FF-games. The likely scenario out of the gates: Mariota struggles, has up and down performances…and people start forgetting about him within a year or two.
I could see an Alex Smith career trajectory coming: Smart, athletic kid with the skills to make it, but is thrown into the fire too quickly on a bad team coming from a gimmicky college offense…and is proclaimed a bust after 2-3 seasons, only to rise again by sheer determination years later—after everyone already had written him off. It’s not the kind of story you want to buy heavily into in the 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft.
On the plus side: He’s a QB, and this draft just gave you 0.0% hope of landing an FF-viable QB, so Mariota having skill, but in a bad spot, still has some value because of the scarcity at the position from the 2015 NFL Draft. At least, Mariota can run…and will play.
In the end, if you like Mariota, buy him at .50 on the dollar in October/November. Don’t over-invest now…unless you are QB desperate. If you are, then Mariota is all you got from this draft with Hundley screwed in Green Bay.
19) WR Darren Waller, Baltimore
If the Ravens were secretly tickled with my notion that Darren Waller could be a nice weapon as a transition to TE—then they wouldn’t have drafted two other TEs in this draft (Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle) to go along with last year’s drafted TECrockett Gilmore…and to go along with ‘nearly done for good’ TE Dennis Pitta.
Waller is much more interesting as a TE than as a WR, but he is an interesting WR as well…a possible Kelvin Benjamin-type option on a team where the WR depth chart is swelling, and getting more muddied. I like the gamble here. I just think it may take 2-3 years before it starts making sense…if it ever does.
20) DT Marcus Hardison, Cincinnati
At his best, Hardison is the best DT in this draft—the most gifted, and disruptive. However, Hardison has never been ultra-reliable or consistent in his life—until late in 2014. After a quiet year as a junior (JUCO transfer), Hardison posted 10.0 sacks in his final 10 games for Arizona State, and then went to the Senior Bowl and was nearly unblockable.
You could fall flat on your face here with Hardison…or cheaply snatch one of the most talented IDPs in this draft.
21) RB Mike Davis, San Francisco
Davis is one of my favorite RBs in this draft, if his head is screwed on straight. Davis runs for power, has nice speed for his size, and has fantastic hands in the passing game. If I could only have one RB between Davis and Carlos Hyde…I take Davis.
Hyde was not ultra-impressive in his debut season in 2014, and might be a little issue off the field…there was enough doubt by the 49ers that they drafted Davis. Don’t be surprised if Davis wrestles away the starting job by opening-day.
22) WR Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis
Why this NFL Draft pick makes no sense, may be why it makes a ton of sense in a Dynasty Rookie Draft…
Why take Dorsett with T.Y. Hilton already in that role? Because Hilton will command $10M a year with a repeat of his 2014 efforts (TYH is an unrestricted free agent in 2016), and maybe Indy is wise enough to know Hilton is terrific, but not worth $10M+…especially if Phillip Dorsett does similar things…cheaper.
This won’t be a 2015 story. If there is fire with this smoke—you hold on to see if Dorsett takes over for Hilton in 2016. That’s a lot of waiting and ‘ifs’ on a guy who is fast, but not as fast as everyone thought…and a WR who is a solid, but not special. Look at his last two seasons in college—just a deep-threat, not an all-around WR. His value as a potential #1 or #2 WR is very much in question, and would need development.
This is strictly a bet on 2016–that he would be the replacement for Hilton.
23) CB Byron Jones, Dallas
Jones is 50/50 to start day-one as a corner, but worse case by mid-season 2015…and he’s likely a rookie to get picked on by opposing QBs right away—which means plenty of PDs headed his way. He also is a former Safety, so he’ll get his fair share of tackles. Things should be FF-good with Jones instantly. The one minor risk is he is so good in 2-3 years, that like a Richard Sherman, etc.—teams stay away from him, and it cuts down his FF-numbers…but that will take a few years.
24) LB Jake Ryan, Green Bay
One of the best, most underappreciated Linebacker prospects in the draft. 112 tackles last season, and 10+ TFLs in three of his four college campaigns. He’s above average athletic, and a decent OLB prospect…but we think a move to ILB could be an awesome fit. He plays like an old-school ILB, and would be considered a very athletic one…more so at ILB than at OLB. Don’t be shocked to see him starting right away.
25) LB/SS Shaq Thompson, Carolina
I might have a little too much bias here, because I just believe in Shaq Thompson. One of those guys who just always comes up with a fumble recovery…and has 5-7+ tackles in a game…and 1-2 PDs, etc. I’m not sure whether all this will manifest itself with him as a Safety or an OLB…or whether he will get any touches at RB on occasion. I just think good things will happen with Shaq.
What you want to hear is that he is slimming down to play Safety, but he keeps claiming he wants to be an OLB. I’m hedging he’s a hybrid OLB/SS right out of the gates…even if that means by scheme, or he bounces back and forth playing them straight up.
26) DB Quinten Rollins, Green Bay
The bet here would be that Rollins moves to Safety, and becomes a 100+ tackle a year threat with nice ball skills to pick-off passes. He might be a ‘holy grail’ kind of Safety for FF-purposes. I believe that Rollins is destined to be a Free Safety in the NFL, and could be a very good/great one.
There are risks:
— Rollins is raw, as he played just the one year of college football (albeit he was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year). The learning curve may push this 1-2 years out.
— The Packers have nice talent in the Defensive backfield already. Rollins has others to fight off for prominent playing time.
— The Packers could push him as a CB, and then it drags on his FF-stats a bit. He’s a better FS than CB for NFL-purposes, and that’s also better for IDP-scoring to rack up more tackles.
27) RB Synjyn Days, Dallas
A few days prior to this publishing, Days was in my top 12-15, but the more I re-researched and thought about it, I am pouring some cold water on my initial enthusiasm. At first, I saw the Dallas depth chart as ‘easy pickings’ for a RB like Days to step in and shock everyone. Now, I think, I realize:
(1) The Cowboys cannot go into the season with DMC-Randle-Days…they could have had Zac Stacy for nothing. They could get Doug Martin or Adrian Peterson fairly easily today…and after that type pf deal–valuing Days highly turns out to be stupid.
(2) Days is pretty good and interesting, but he’s not ‘great’. He has a role in the NFL as a 5-10 carry a game, Shonn Greene-type power runner as needed. He’s useful, not a secret star.
What I wrote prior to the above change of heart:
The top two running backs for Dallas are Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle. McFadden hasn’t been relevant for years. Randle has looked fine, but has had off-field and locker any issues. Synjyn Days enters this competition as a 230-pound, fresh/not overused in college RB talent with upside. At a minimum, he could be a goal-line back and/or half of a ‘thunder and lightning’ duo.
On other teams, Days is not all that FF-exciting, just a deep-sleeper…but in this current, oddly empty of secure RB situation in Dallas–he’s an intriguing consideration.
28) DB Eric Rowe, Philadelphia
Arguably the best Safety, and top-3 CB prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft goes to a team in need of fresh DBs. Rowe is head and shoulders better than the group the Eagles drafted, and should be thrown right into the fire as a Safety, and maybe as a great tackling/cover corner. He should see his fair share of PDs right away as teams pick on the rookie. He should be a starter and a leader on the team for years.
29) LB Paul Dawson, Cincinnati
I am of a belief that there is serious trouble ahead with Vontaze Burfict. He was injured several times last season, and I would be worried that the nagging injuries are going to end his career…or have already ended it essentially. Last season: Two knee surgeries (one more serious), a neck injury and concussion issues. He might be done, only he and no one else knows it until we see how much he slowed down in the preseason. Dawson could be forced to play quickly. *This is just a hunch…
We’re not over the moon with Dawson, but he’s a right fit in Cincinnati…and the playing time opportunity may be there quickly.
30) WR DeAndre Smelter, San Francisco
Smelter was one of the steals of the draft, and he could not have wound up in a worse place for 2015…and maybe beyond. The 49ers have been a place where all receiving talent goes to FF-die with Colin Kaepernick. However, there is a new head coach now (and probably another new head coach in a year two), things may get a little more traditional/higher-volume in the passing game in the upcoming years. Smelter could be the new Anquan Boldin—the more athletic Anquan Boldin. A reliable pass catcher…a possible PPR star with terrific, huge (11”+) hands.
More than likely, 2015 is a learning year (and he’s coming off an ACL). If a quiet 2015 happens, then he’ll fade from Dynasty-desire in October/November and can be had cheaper…so I’m not sure you have to rush this for 2015. Someday down the line he could be one of the better WRs to come out of this draft.
Now the players in our DRD rankings are going to get a little more sketchy/dicey. There are some talented names to be listed, but they wound up in terrible situations–whether because of the team or a loaded depth chart (or both). The talent may be there with some of the following prospects, but we may not see them get a chance to display it for a few years—and by then people will have given up on them/discounted them/can be acquired for .10-.20 on the dollar.
31) RB Jeremy Langford, Chicago
Purely a valuation on being a handcuff to Matt Forte. We have him a little higher because it is quite possible this is Matt Forte’s last season in Chicago (he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season). With that, we don’t see Langford as a long-term, viable answer. However, at some point Langford will have FF-tradable ‘heat’ on the news.
I like the future tradable value more than I like the player here, but you might get to FF-use him in a pinch—Forte isn’t getting any younger.
If you already own Forte, then obviously there is the direct value picking Langford as his backup, Langford is much more talented than Ka’Deem Carey.
32) RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina
Artis-Payne is a very average, useful, straight-ahead RB…who plays on a team where always-injured Jonathan Stewart is the current #1 RB. By attrition, Artis-Payne will likely play, maybe even start, at some point in the season. There is no long-tern excitement with C.A.P.—just a nice JStew-injury bump that might (is likely to) occur.
33) LB Eli Harold, San Francisco
Harold has the physical tools to be a sneaky good pass rusher, and a decent run stopper as well as coverage guy in the passing game. He is not likely an ‘A’ in any facet, but because he is a solid ‘B’ or ‘C+’ in everything. He might play right away and produce surprising numbers for a rookie.
34) DT Malcom Brown, New England
Brown is a very talented player who might be more respected in the NFL than for Fantasy. He might be just a really nice player added to a talented overall defense, part of a great ensemble cast—not a statistical standout.
On the flip side, all the surrounding talent may afford him an advantage to push some numbers right away.
He’s a tough one to call.
35) TE Blake Bell, San Francisco
We see Bell with some interesting value as a surprise stud receiving TE in the NFL…maybe. He’s only played the position for a year. So we are cautiously optimistic. However, the main reason Blake Bell has a little bump in what you might expect on his FF-value is his ability to play a Tim Tebow-role. Within the five-yard line, Bell might see some time as a shotgun QB who can keep it himself or toss a TD.
As strictly a TE, on a team with a logjam of nice TE talent, Bell is virtually ‘dead to me’ on the 49ers.
In a year or two, in my fantasyland, with 4-5-6 rushing TDs in a season who also sees some receiving action as a TE…it could get interesting.
36) LB Jordan Hicks, Philadelphia
There is a real sleeper possibility here. Hicks is a solid OLB prospect at 6’1”, 236 with 4.6+ speed and terrific agility. However, as an ILB he might be eye-catching with that athleticism. After mostly a quiet career at Texas, Hicks posted 107 tackles last season.
With Mychal Kendricks involved in trades as a looming free agent, and Demeco Ryans on his last run…Hicks could see a push into playing time faster than expected.
37) TE Maxx Williams, Baltimore
How is this going to be super-exciting? I get that the Ravens ‘love a TE’, and Maxx Williams is a ‘name’ TE, but consider three things here:
— Maxx Williams isn’t that great of a TE prospect, thus his draft fall in the draft
— The Ravens love a TE? When was Dennis Pitta ever that FF-good, except about a three-game stretch to start a season a few years ago? Williams is no Pitta, not even close.
— The Ravens do ‘LOVE a TE’…and they have like 3-4 decent ones on the depth chart. It’s a crowded pool.
— Rookie TEs usually stink, and Williams is a rookie…and isn’t all that great anyway.
Williams is going to be a spotty performer at best. One who might string 2-3 games together to get people FF-excited, and that’s it. There is not a long-term FF-Tight End answer here.
He is a TE, so we do have to overvalue him on a hedge we are wrong…because the TE-market is so depressed.
38) QB Brett Hundley, Green Bay
Arguably, Hundley is the best QB in this draft, and he is likely to go unheard from for the next four years. However, there are two scenarios that give him some FF-value/hope.
— I could argue Aaron Rodgers is the single most valuable asset in Fantasy Football now. If you already own him, and you carry deep Dynasty rosters…you want Hundley as a ‘handcuff’. Rodgers goes down, and Hundley is not going to be a massive drop-off. This is not like Drew Brees to Garrett Grayson in an emergency—which is a joke.
— If Hundley shows off in the next preseason or two, he should generate NFL trade interest. I know, I’m laughing as I type it because we know the NFL has zero vision on ‘underground’ QBs to gamble on. They prefer re-treading the Josh McCown andMatt Flynn’s of the world. However, this is the Green Bay Packers. The Pack have been the single smartest franchise on QBs in the past few decades. Hundley is even more valuable with that stamp of approval—if he performs well in the preseason, then teams should beg for him.
The mainstream hates Hundley, so the masses will as well. You don’t have to hurry this pick if you want to make it.
Had Hundley been selected by the Cleveland Browns, he’d be in our top-5 overall. On the Packers, you can argue he’s a wasted DRD pick today. This is such a shame.
39) LB Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh
Dupree was a very underwhelming player at Kentucky, considering his physical tools. There is some talent here, and a really solid human. If the Steelers can make something out of him—it will probably take a year or two. There’s a reason for hope, but also a lot of skepticism. There is a reason he fell from top-10 projections to pick #20+ in the actual draft—NFL people watched the tape. Not a lot of heart out of Dupree, but the skills flash every so often.
40) DB James Sample, Jacksonville
Sample is one of the quiet ‘sleeper’ Safety prospects from this draft. Physically big at 6’2”/210, and a hitter with 90 tackles last season (74 solo), but he can also cover the pass—4 picks and 8 PDs for Louisville in 2014.
Jacksonville provides ample opportunity for DBs to rack up tackle totals—Sample could start opening day or soon after, and be a shock success in Fantasy for 2015.
41) CB Darryl Roberts, New England
A supremely gifted athlete…a steal by the Pats. Given the issues New England has at CB going into 2015, don’t be shocked if Roberts is playing pretty quickly, and possibly starting by year’s end. Worst case he starts in 2016. He has the potential to be a true shutdown corner. As a rookie, he’ll be under attack right away—which means plenty of PD opportunities. He was one of the leaders in the NCAA in PDs last season.
New England is unlike most franchises, they won’t bury players or push them based on draft status. If Roberts is as good as we think—he’ll play right away.
42) DT Danny Shelton, Cleveland
A gifted DT/NT, who will be active enough to get you above-average tackle totals…maybe even the best among DT tackle totals. What you won’t get is a lot of sacks. He’s not backfield destroyer, but is great controlling the line of scrimmage. He’ll be better than average IDP DT, but does not a massive DT-upside like with Aaron Donald last year or Marcus Hardison this year.
43) DT Leonard Williams, NY Jets
I discounted Leonard Williams a little too much to start this DRD process—scared of his likely 2015 playing time (or lack thereof). After re-examination, Williams should be a nice IDP for Fantasy. He’ll have so-so FF-impact working on the Jets this year with the stacked D-Line they have. His FF-upside is tied to the Jets moving on from Muhammad Wilkerson, or not this year or next.
44) RB Javorius Allen, Baltimore
I know, I saw all the roto-blurbs on how Allen fits the Marc Trestman offense as a terrific pass catching RB. Here’s the problem: so does Justin Forsett, and he’s the incumbent. Worse than that…so does Lorenzo Taliaferro…and Taliaferro is far superior talent compared to Allen or Forsett. I like Allen OK enough, but not more than Taliaferro…so I don’t buy Allen’s quick ascension to the throne the media is pushing.
45) SS Landon Collins, NY Giants
The Giants will force Landon Collins into the lineup as a Strong Safety right away, which means he will deliver some nice tackle totals right away. He might get scorched in pass coverage, but that’s not my FF-problem. I’ll take the tackles. Collins is not ‘special’, but could transform his body in time to be a better NFL player (needs to cut some bulk…or move to Linebacker).
46) WR Tre McBride, Tennessee
Physically, Tre McBride is better ‘on paper’ than his fallen draft stock revealed. I think what scouts see is a WR who doesn’t go at 100% all the time, and wasn’t all that special a producer in the FCS…despite being physically superior. His measurables foretell of a possible PPR star. His play at William & Mary, and his draft status plunge suggests trouble. He’s worth a gamble at a certain point.
Tennessee is not loaded at WR, so McBride could stumble into a starting role as a 3rd-WR if he has his head screwed on straight.
47) RB Matt Jones, Washington
If you own Alfred Morris, you have to take Jones seriously. Jones is a talented, physical runner with the red-flag of a torn meniscus issues in his past. The new Redskins’ GM may be getting ready to let Morris go in free agency ahead, because Washington stinks with or without him, and Morris is a very generically good RB that some team will pay $5M+ a year to next season. Matt Jones is an intriguing part of a future RB duo…where Jones is ‘the heavy’.
A quick clip from a scouting report I did on Jones: “Productive when given a heavy workload. In four career games with 20+ carries in the game, Jones is averaging: 159.5 rushing yards with 1.2 TDs per game. *Ran for 192 yards and 2 TDs on 25 carries in a defeat of Georgia this season.”
48) DT Henry Anderson, Indianapolis
A sleeper at DT out of the draft—Anderson has poor speed for a DE, but as a DT he is considered very athletic. However, the Colts run a 3-4 system…which means Anderson goes out as a DE, and solid but not special. I would have loved to see Anderson as a 4-3 DT, but as a 3-4 DE he’s less FF-exciting. He’s not going to give you huge sack or tackle totals as a 3-4 DE.
If the Colts move to, or run more 4-3 schemes…bump Anderson up 5-10+ spots on this board.
49) WR Bud Sasser, St. Louis
This could get interesting. Sasser is a poor man’s Jordan Matthews (very poor man’s). He joins a team with Brian Quickand Kenny Britt as the incumbent, physically ‘big’ WRs on the Rams. Quick has been up and down, and is coming off an ACL. Britt is the definition of up and down. Sasser may stumble into key playing time right away and be a decent WR for Nick Foles.
Most likely, he will sit behind Quick-Britt this season.
50) WR Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh
If not for his poor hands, just based on everything else, Sammie Coates is a top-12 Dynasty prospect based on his physical prowess. At some point, you have to take a dart throw on his physical gifts. I’m not a fan of what I’ve seen on tape in 2014, nor up-close at the Senior Bowl. There is a jaw-dropping play, followed by 10+ head scratchers. I’m not a fan of the fit/opportunity in Pittsburgh, nor Coates’ upside…but at a certain point you take a cheap look to see if he steps up.
51) QB Bryce Petty, NY Jets
Obviously, given the depth chart, Petty could start right away. However, he’s not ready for that. Most likely, Geno Smith will start, and bomb again…and Petty will be rushed. Petty has a ton of flaws, but some tools too. The Jets are a bad place to try to figure it all out. He’s a QB, and one who may be starting by October, so he has some inflated DRD/Fantasy value on the lack of viable Fantasy QBs from this NFL Draft class.
52) LB Randy Gregory, Dallas
53) TE MyCole Pruitt, Minnesota
54) DB Damarious Randall, Green Bay
55) WR Ty Montgomery, Green Bay
56) RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland
57) TE Clive Walford, Oakland
58) LB Stephone Anthony, New Orleans
59) WR Kenny Bell, Tampa Bay
60) WR DeAndre Carter, Baltimore
61) DB D’Juon Smith, Indianapolis
62) LB Bryce Hager, St. Louis
63) RB Tyler Varga, Indianapolis
64) WR Jamison Crowder, Washington
65) WR Damarr Aultman, Miami
66) SS Clayton Geathers, Indianapolis
67) DE Shaquille Riddick, Arizona
68) WR Devin Funchess, Carolina
69) LB Zach Wagenmann, Arizona
70) TE Randall Telfer, Cleveland
71) LB Nate Orchard, Cleveland
72) LB Kyle Emanuel, San Diego
73) SF Jaquiski Tartt, San Francisco
74) DL Xavier Cooper, Cleveland
75) WR Antwan Goodley, Dallas
76) LB Davis Tull, New Orleans
77) DT Tyeler Davison, New Orleans
78) DL Preston Smith, Washington
79) WR Jordan Taylor, Denver
80) LB Danielle Hunter, Minnesota
81) DT Andre Monroe, Baltimore
82) DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Kansas City
83) CB Steven Nelson, Kansas City
84) LB Jeff Luc, Miami
85) LB Zach Vigil, Miami
86) LB David Mayo, Carolina
87) LB Mark Nzeocha, Dallas
88) LB Damien Wilson, Dallas
89) WR Stefon Diggs, Minnesota
90) WR Geremy Davis, NY Giants
91) CB Senquez Goldson, Pittsburgh
92) TE Richard Ross, Minnesota
93) RB Akeem Hunt, NY Giants
94) RB Zach Zenner, Detroit
95) RB Terrell Watson, Cincinnati
96) RB John Crockett, Green Bay
97) LB Ramik Wilson, Kansas City
98) DT Christian Ringo, Green Bay
99) LB Edmond Robinson, Minnesota
100) WR Mario Alford, Cincinnati
101) LB Hayes Pullard, Cleveland
102) WR Damiere Byrd, Carolina
103) CB Kevin Johnson, Houston
104) DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, NY Giants
105) SS Jordan Richards, New England
106) CB Craig Mager, San Diego
107) WR R.J. Harris, New Orleans
108) LB Martell Spaight, Washington
109) SS Ibraheim Campbell, Cleveland
110) WR Vince Mayle, Cleveland
111) CB Doran Grant, Pittsburgh
112) WR Rasheed Bailey, Philadelphia
113) CB Josh Shaw, Cincinnati
114) DB Alex Carter, Detroit
115) DB Derron Smith, Cincinnati
116) DT Caushaud Lyons, Tampa Bay
117) RB Malcolm Agnew, Green Bay
118) TE Nick Boyle, Baltimore
119) TE Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati
PLAYERS WE ARE NOT PURSUING (in no particular order)….
RB T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville
I’m not a fan of T.J. Yeldon to begin with. He’s nimble, but he should more of a power runner—he isn’t, much like Carlos Hyde. They are not using their body as a weapon to its fullest. To me, it reveals a little lack of heart/effort. Yeldon is not overly fast, or agile, or has great hands…he’s just ‘Alabama’.
If he went to the Cowboys, I’d have to take him more seriously, but on Jacksonville…when will they ever get in scoring position? It’s what helped kill off any higher Toby Gerhart and Dennard Robinson FF-value. Blake Bortles is arguably the worst QB in the NFL, so you likely get nothing here but hope for junk-time stats.
I don’t think Yeldon is better than Gerhart or Robinson, so he may not see any touches either.
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay
I get if someone rolls the FF-dice here in QB-desperation. The QB market did not get fresh, abundant supply in 2015. Winston will start right away…so he’s something. In the end, I cannot not make this pick. I’m not a moralist on his off-field activity. It’s just every instinct I have as America’s ‘QB whisperer’ tells me this is going to be bad–based on his play. I smelled it right away with Blake Bortles, and Winston is just a different version if that. He might have a Josh Freeman blip year within the next three years, but I’ll let someone else ‘enjoy’ it.
Winston has poor mechanics and bad instincts. He has a decent arm and throws balls up for grabs—which is perfect with Tampa Bay, and specifically Mike Evans. He couldn’t have gone to a better place, but with Winston is rising up DRD boards, I could never willingly do this in the top-20 or so in a DRD—so ‘I’m out’.
WR Jaelen Strong, Houston
I don’t think Strong is a bust, but I don’t think he’s all that great either. He’s useful, and somewhat limited. There is a reason he fell in the draft.
Strong joins a Houston team that is pro-run game with whatever at QB. Honestly, I couldn’t remember which of Ryan Fitzpatrick or Matt Cassel type guys was at the top of the Texans’ QB depth chart right now. Just found it—it’s Brian Hoyer. Yeah!! No, thanks.
If/when Tom Savage takes over, I’m a little more interested, but that may not be until mid-season or 2016.
WR Devin Smith, NY Jets
Obviously, Smith is a fantastic catcher on the deep ball in college. He made some terrific, highlight reel catches…about one per game, and that’s about all he’d do in a game. By the end of the 2014-15 seasons/the playoffs, Smith was playing about 50% of the snaps.
His collection of one and two catch games (nine-times out of 14 games in 2014-15), and solid-but-not-special speed/agility somehow garnered him an early 2nd-round draft pick by the Jets. Awesome!
Whatever Smith has to offer, now gets paired with Geno Smith. You can have him. I don’t want him. I cannot believe a team made this pick so highly…I shouldn’t be surprised.
DT Eddie Goldman, Chicago
DL Arik Armstead, San Francisco
DT Carl Davis, Baltimore
TE Nick O’Leary, Buffalo
WR Dezmin Lewis, Buffalo
CB Ronald Darby, Buffalo
CB Iko Ekpre-Olomu, Cleveland
WR Rashard Greene, Jacksonville
DL Dante Fowler, Jacksonville
LB Shane Ray, Denver
TE Jeff Heuerman, Denver
LB Benardrick McKinney, Houston
RB Josh Robinson, Indianapolis
CB Marcus Peters, Kansas City
RB Karlos Williams, Buffalo
RB Jay Ajayi, Miami
WR Tony Lippett, Miami
DT Jordan Phillips, Miami
CB Trae Waynes, Minnesota
RB Marcus Murphy, New Orleans
LB Hau’oli Kikaha, New Orleans
DE Mario Edwards, Oakland
TE Jesse James, Pittsburgh
DE Frank Clark, Seattle
RB David Cobb, Minnesota