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Friday, May 9, 2014

Fantasy Impact of the NFL Draft First Round

The first round of the NFL's first round of its amateur draft is done and in the books. In theory, every team (who drafted, which was not all of them) improved their real life team. But an improvement in a real life team doesn't necessarily impact a fantasy team. Here are some fantasy impacts of the NFL Draft first round:

  • In my pre-season rankings, I ranked Tampa Bay's Josh McCown #25. It was basically a "well, who else you gonna have" pick and one I expected to drop out of the field once I added in some rookie QBs. However, with the addition of Texas A&M wide out Mike Evans plus veteran Vincent Jackson PLUS Doug Martin coming back healthy, suddenly that offense looks pretty darn good. McCown won't move past 23, but he's still suddenly ownable in deeper leagues and 2 QB leagues.
  • Gut reaction, I'd probably rank Mike Evans #40 behind Dallas sleeper Terrence Williams and above "the Mendoza line of wide outs" Stevie Johnson. As good as Evans might be, he's still a rookie in a run-first, conservative offense. 
  • I don't know if I'd rank Bills QB E.J. Manuel in the top 25 (because QB is DEEEEEEEP) but he's a sneaky guy with WR Sammy Watkins playing opposite of Stevie Johnson. I don't know where I'd rank Watkins, but I'd have him behind Evans if I had to choose a position right now.
  • Despite what you think of Blake Bortles as a prospect, he's got some decent talent around him. I think Toby Gerhart is better than people are giving him credit for, Cecil Shorts has been a #25 fantasy wide out before, Ace Sanders is there, and if the Jags bring back Justin Blackmon (although as a franchise, it's probably best to move on form him because of his off-the-field issues), that's a not-terrible wide receiver corps. 
  • When my post draft rankings get released, I'm going to have Johnny Manziel ranked #17, sandwiched between Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger. Quarterbacks 12-16 is full of solid guys like Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Jay Cutler, who probably are interchangeable. I have Manziel a tick below that tier.
  • No running backs drafted in the first round, so right now guys like Shonn Greene and Andre Ellington are safe. That being said, there are plenty of second round running backs (i.e. Matt Forte, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Shane Vereen, etc) that are legitimate NFL and fantasy starters, so they're not out of the clear yet.
  • With Teddy Bridgewater dropping so low in the first round, I just naturally assumed the Houston Texans would draft him with the first pick of the second round.. However, with the Minnesota Vikings trading up in the first round to get Bridegwater, the Texans suddenly seemingly doesn't have ANY options under center. They still might draft ANOTHER Carr, but at some point the Texans QB play has to affect the ranking of Andre Johnson. I currently have him ranked 11th, but I might have to move him behind guys like DeSean Jackson, Randall Cobb, and Roddy White. 
  • I initially dropped Cam Newton to my #5 QB because his wide receiver is more than awful, it's downright atrocious. But with the selection of 6'5" Kelvin Benjamin in the first round, I'll move him back up for #4. We saw how NO wide outs affected a guy like Tom Brady, but Newton makes so many plays with his feet, that it shouldn't affect him TOO much. 
  • With all the talk of the Browns new CB, I think Cincinnati drafting CB Darqueze Dennard went under the radar. The Bengals had the 4th best fantasy defense last year, and there's no reason to think they won't have another top 5 fantasy D. 
  • There'a been a lot of buzz surrounding Matthew Stafford as a fantasy play this off-season with the addition of WR Golden Tate. There's now been even bigger buzz since they drafted TE Eric Ebron. Even though the Lions have a great offensive system for fantasy QB numbers, I don't think Stafford is that good of a real life QB (I think he's comparable to Jay Cutler) and I think Tate is fine, but not a Golden God. I ranked Stafford #6 before the draft and I'll probabky have him #6 after the draft as well. I'll definitely drop Andrew Luck behind Cam Newton, but I'm not tempted to drop him behind Stafford.
  • I follow ESPN's Matthew Berry and 4for4's John Paulson on Twitter. They had a fantastic debate with NFL's Mike Clay and Football Guy's David Dodds about the impact of the Saints drafting WR Brandin Cooks. Almost everybody was arguing that Cooks would bleed into Kenny Stills fantasy numbers, but Paulson pointed out the Saints have 140+ targets they need to fill with the loss of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles. That means Marques Colston, Stills, and Cooks can all get their looks and be fantasy relevant. I imagine the dominant story line with be Cooks hurts Stills value, but the Saints throw so much that both can get theirs. Looks how well Denver's receivers did fantasy wide last year. I personally think Stills and Cooks are small and just not THAT good receivers which is the reason I'll rank them both so low.
  • Before the draft, I ranked Giants WR Rueben Randle 41 and I didn't rank Jerrell Jernigan. The New York Football Giants drafted WR Odell Beckham Jr. and that doesn't change a lot for me. Obviously it doesn't affect my "ranking" of Jernigan and Randle works better out of 3 wide receiver sets versus 2 wide receiver sets, so I don't know that I'll drop Randle that far, if at all.


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