With the first round of the draft completed and behind us we begin to absorb the aftermath and feel the effects from what was anything but a normal opening day that appeared to match the intensity of the anticipation leading up to it. With 9 picks being offensive lineman and 18 being defensive players, that leaves us with 5 picks that could be considered fantasy football relevant for 2013 and in future NFL seasons. Many of you will be unhappy with the pick your team made but we still have 6 rounds to go and there is plenty of talent in those middle rounds. If you are still upset just think about the Cowboys who took a center in the first round. Now that should make you feel better, unless you are a Cowboys fan and if so I apologize…well not really, go complain to Jerry. Lets take a look at some of the picks that could be assets to fantasy teams in 2013.
1.08 Tavon Austin St. Louis Rams: The Rams wanted Austin pretty bad and worked out a trade with Buffalo to move into the number 8 spot to get him. I couldn’t be happier for Austin landing with the Rams and actually wrote about it being the best landing spot for him in my Pre-Draft Wide Receiver Rankings. Austin is known for his explosive play making ability but there are also concerns about his size and durability. He will be joining a young group of receivers with the Rams which now includes second year receivers Chris Givens and Brian Quick. What does this mean for fantasy football? Although Tavon Austin is an exciting player to watch my concern is that he will be used mostly in return game and will have trouble competing for targets between the other receivers and tight end Jared Cook. Austin has plenty of upside but should be avoided in the early rounds of re-draft and dynasty league drafts.
1.16 EJ Manuel Buffalo Bills: One of the more shocking picks of the draft, the Bills get their choice of any quarterback and they decide to go with one that many considered to be a second or third round pick. With Kolb signed, I thought for sure that Buffalo would address other needs but it looks like Kevin might not be the answer for the long term or possibly even the short term. I wrote about Manuel in my Pre-Draft Quarterback Rankings post and said that it wouldn’t be impossible if we saw him drafted higher than we thought. With him performing at a high level at the Senior Bowl, Combine and the FSU Pro-Day, Manuel did everything he could to boost his draft stock and can best be described as the quarterback with the highest ceiling. Even with the high potential and athletic ability, I do have some concerns with Manuel mostly because of his lack of developed fundamentals due to running a simplistic offense at FSU during his years there. What does this mean for fantasy football? It seems the Bills could be looking to go the route of a read option type offense and if they add talent in the later rounds of the draft at wide receiver and build the offense around Manuel to play to his strengths he could have an immediate impact, in a very explosive offense. That said, I want to see how the quarterback competition plays out before saying Manuel is a lock to start in most formats with such a deep quarterback pool for 2013.
1.21 Tyler Eifert Cincinnati Bengals: Wow so you like Jermaine Gresham as your tight end for 2013? The Bengals, who I thought had more important needs than tight end took a pick here that was a bit of a surprise. I really can’t blame them for this pick, though. Dalton desperately needs another solid big target and as seen in the 2012 season at Notre Dame, Eifert is a versatile tight end that can line up nearly anywhere and is excellent in the open field. The pick here looked to be based mostly on value to a team that didn’t have any particularly glaring first round needs. What does this mean for fantasy football? Although Eifert is a great player, this wasn’t a particularly good landing spot for him. With AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham, Andrew Hawkins and an emerging Mohamed Sanu, Eifert will most likely struggle to find the needed targets to make him a legitimate number one tight end option, especially with the depth of talent at the position this year. If anything, this should help to improve the production of Dalton and should free up some space for AJ Green.
1.27 DeAndre Hopkins Houston Texans: Really not a surprising pick here and was actually one of the few picks I guessed right in the mess of what was my attempt at an NFL mock draft. I wrote about the Texans needing a wide receiver threat opposite of Andre Johnson and Hopkins is an excellent choice. He doesn’t have amazing athletic ability or flashy play making ability but he is a polished route runner and is one of the few ‘ready to start now’ wide receivers in this years draft. With a major injury to Devire Posey at the end of last year and Kevin Walter being their only other option, this was a smart pick and I would guess Hopkins will be starting week 1 for the Texans. What does this mean for fantasy football? As of right now this is my favorite player to make a fantasy impact in 2013 because he has the skill but I do have some concerns about Kubiak’s play calling. Believing he will open up the playbook and allow Schaub to throw down field is a reach to say the least.
1.29 Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings ended their impressive first round draft by taking a player they hope to replace the now Seahawk Percy Harvin. Patterson is the prototype wide receiver and has a tremendous ceiling but there are concerns with his fundamentals and there are questions as to if he has the ability to become an immediate starter. There is no doubting Patterson’s ability in the open field but when you match that with a questionable quarterback like Ponder who struggled mightily in 2012 there is reason to worry; this is far from the best landing spot for Patterson, in my opinion. What does this mean for fantasy football? I think Patterson will be used mostly in the return game and my hope is the Vikings don’t expect him to be able to line up immediately across form Greg Jennings to be an every down number two receiver. If the Vikings find ways to creatively get Patterson involved like they did with Harvin on screen passes and reverses we could see a very productive year for him but if not it’s going to be a long season full of drops. I think Patterson’s weaknesses can be corrected over time but be advised when drafting this particular receiver you are taking a tremendous risk but a the same time could be rewarded in a big way.