The following post has some of my thoughts for the first three rounds of the draft. You can catch Jay’s thoughts on Round one here. I will be covering the players (either drafted or the players affected by the new draftees) that weren’t covered in-depth by Jay, and what this does to their value for the upcoming season in redraft leagues. All of my views will be for that of a standard (Non-PPR) scoring.
In the last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars have expressed that they do not expect to have Justin Blackmon for the upcoming season. This left Cecil Shorts as the WR1, and a candidate to see a high volume of targets. The Jags did add a couple of wide receivers (Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson) in the second and third round. With the addition of these two, I don’t expect him to see that high volume of targets. But he should be the WR1 in Jacksonville and see a good amount of targets. Right now, I see good value with him and like him in that WR30 range (even with his current QBs).
The Detroit Lions resigned Brandon Pettigrew in the off-season, and have the red zone beast in Joseph Fauria at tight end. That Lions added to this position by selecting Eric Ebron with the number 10 pick. The Lions have a new OC (Joe Lomardi) who was the QBs coach for the Saints (last five years). According to Ebron, they are planning to use him like Jimmy Graham. Now, it does need to be said that Lombardi has come out and said that they are not exactly the same players. I still find myself seeing the possibility of drafting Ebron as a TE2, with his upside in this offense.
In New Orleans, they no longer have Lance Moore (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Darren Sproles (traded to the Philadelphia Eagles). With the subtractions of these two players, I really liked the value/upside of Kenny Stills as the WR2 in this offense. The Saints, however, went ahead and traded up in the first round to draft Brandin Cooks. A lot of targets are on the table with the two above players not part of the offense. This will be a competition that I believe fantasy owners will want to track over the summer. Whoever comes out of the summer with the WR2 spot has the opportunity to bring top-36 (WR3) value with the upside for more in this offense.
The New York Giants have a new offensive coordinator (Ben McAdoo), and they let Hakeem Nicks walk in free agency. I was excited for Rueben Randle and his outlook in the upcoming season… then the Giants drafted Odell Beckham with the 12th pick in the draft. After this selection, the GM (Jerry Reese) said that Beckham will play on the outside and Victor Cruz will man the slot. I would expect, with the addition of Beckham, a bit of deflation will come for Randle on draft day. I actually like the idea of being able to still draft Randle, but at a discounted price. We have to remember that the Giants will be primarily based out of three wide receiver sets under McAdoo. That should lead to plenty of opportunity for Randle to be productive in the upcoming season.
The Cleveland Browns traded for the third time (in the first round) to move up and select Johnny Manziel. He joins Brian Hoyer in what is shaping up to be an open quarterback competition. Whoever wins this gig was (not looking good now) going to have some big time weapons in the passing game (Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron). I do have to caution that news broke Friday that a year-long suspension could be handed down to Gordon. The Browns also did not add any wide receiver’s in the first three rounds. If this news is true, and the Browns do not have Gordon, it will really have a negative effect on the upside for whoever is the starting quarterback in Cleveland. I do have to point out that if Manziel is the quarterback, he at least can add production (fantasy-wise) with his legs.
With the last pick in the first round, the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first to draft Teddy Bridgewater. I am hoping that the Vikings will have an open competition with Matt Cassel for the starting quarterback spot. From a fantasy perspective (that is short for me being selfish), I really hope that it is Cassel under center for the Vikings. I want Cassel at quarterback because of Greg Jennings and his ability to represent a lot of fantasy value. You will know why I feel this way by reading this. One last note, and it has to do with Norv Turner (new offensive coordinator) and the weapons in this offense (Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson & Kyle Rudolph). I can see the opportunity (value) of drafting the starter (either Cassel or Bridgewater) as your QB2.
Coming into the off-season, I was hoping to see a domino effect that would lead to Doug Baldwin as the Seattle Seahawks WR2 this year. Why Doug Baldwin you ask? Well, in the final eight games of last year, with Sidney Rice hurt (a shocker), he (Baldwin) produced a stat line of 3.4 catches, 50.8 yards, .5 touchdowns & 5.4 targets per game. It sure seemed like my wish was going to come true with the release of Rice and Golden Tate signing with the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, that did not last long as the Seahawks brought back Rice (which is okay due to his injury history), but then they drafted Paul Richardson (ugh!). I don’t like the idea of him having to compete with two players for targets as the WR2 in this passing attack.
Another wide receiver that was on my radar was Jarrett Boykin in the Green Bay Packers passing game. They had let James Jones move on in free agency to the Oakland Raiders, along with the added boost of confidence from the head coach (Mike McCarthy) as the team’s WR3. I liked his opportunity (QB and other WRs) to be a player that out-produced his cost. Well, in the second round, the Packers drafted Davante Adams to add to the group of wide receivers. I would think that he (Adams) will have a chance to compete for the WR3 spot. This is just like the Saints situation, and I would expect the WR3 (Boykin or Adams) in this offense to hold WR3 value (ability/upside for more) in fantasy production.
After the free agency dust was settled, the only team with a glaring need for a running back was the Tennessee Titans. They have a new head coach (Ken Whisenhunt), and he wants to implement a running back by committee approach. They brought in Dexter McCluster to carry and catch the football out of the backfield. That still left them in need of a main ball carrier, and the best spot for a rookie running back to step right in and produce for fantasy owners. The Titans made Bishop Sankey from the University of Washington that running back. Not only did he average 1,653 yards (rushing) and 18 touchdowns over the last two years but he caught at least 28 passes in each of these seasons. His ability and situation has added another quality running back to the pool of backs that is looking much deeper now (thanks to free agency).
The New York Jets signed Eric Decker and the Denver Broncos brought in Emanuel Sanders to be part of the passing game. Just like Stills and Boykin, the new Bronco (Sanders) was stepping into a great situation with Peyton Manning at quarterback and the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Wes Welker. Just like the Saints and Packers, they drafted a wide receiver in Cody Latimer. And, just like those two previous situations, I would recommend that you keep a close eye on a potential (maybe) competition for the WR3 in this offense. Just like the Saints and Packers, I would expect a WR3 in terms of fantasy production (with ability/upside for more).
We know who the main running back is for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that is Doug Martin. What we don’t know is who will be the back up to Martin this upcoming football season. They have a pair of backs in Mike James and Bobby Rainey that produced when Martin missed 10 games last year. They also drafted Charles Sims to the mix of running backs to play behind Martin. In his four years between Houston and West Virginia, he averaged no less than 5.3 yards per carry and caught 50.8 passes per season. It is going to be important to handcuff (insurance) if you draft Martin and this will be a competition that you will want to keep an eye on during training camp and preseason.
Last year, we saw after the Reggie Wayne injury an awesome final nine games for T.Y. Hilton as the Indianapolis Colts WR1. His stat line was 6.1 catches, for 74.6 yards and 0.3 touchdowns with 9.3 targets. We fast forward to before the draft and you have Wayne (35 years old), trying to come back from an injury (torn ACL) and they added Hakeem Nicks from the New York Giants. The Colts also dipped into the wide receiver pool and added Donte Moncrief in the draft. It is still unclear how the Colts plan to use Hilton, Nicks, and Wayne with the rookie in the mix (maybe); I am not feeling as good about Hilton as I was, and will be lowering my expectations for the moment.
The Cleveland Browns filled the hole at running back with Ben Tate from the Houston Texans. He had been the backup to Arian Foster over the last three years. During these three years, he averaged no less than 4.3 yards per carry and in his final season, had 34 catches in 14 games (2.4 per game). He does have a couple of glaring issues, and that would be injuries (missed a total of 24 games in his first four years) and fumbles (a total of nine in last three years). I bring all this up because the Browns have added another running back through the draft. That player is Terrance West, and he had a monster final season. In his senior season, he rushed for 2,509 yards (6.1 YPC), 41 rushing touchdowns and on top of that caught 26 passes for the Towson Tigers. I still like Tate and his ability/opportunity to produce but I will make sure to draft West as his handcuff (insurance) in the later part of the draft.
Did I miss a player(s) that you feel should have been talked about? You can let me know by using the comments section or via twitter (@FwDorD).