Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings 2016

Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 250 | Top 250 PPRQB | RB | WR | TE | Flex | Rookies | IDP

Quick Links: Members DashboardNeed Help?  Terms and Meanings

Rookie Quarterbacks
[wlm_nonmember]

QB Jared Goff

Picked 1.1 | Height 6-4 | Weight: 215 | California

Of the three first-round quarterbacks drafted in 2016, Jared Goff is easily considered the most pro-ready prospect. With the Rams having very little in front of Goff and looking to make a splash with a local kid in a new market, we should see the 21 year-old take the opening snap for Los Angeles. Goff (6-4 215) has good size, mobility and a quality arm that’s been proven to be accurate on deep balls with good touch on short and medium throws.

At Cal, Goff spent a lot of time under duress behind a poor offensive line, leading to sacks and turnovers. He also spent most of his time in the shotgun and will have to work extensively in the preseason on taking snaps under center and footwork with five and seven-step drop backs. Goff has the look and pedigree of a quality NFL-starter, but enters a less-than-ideal situation with a Rams offense that will feature the running game and has one of the worst group of wide receivers in the league. With the league loaded with proven, quality signal-callers, including several with one or two years’ experience, Goff might be available later than expected in dynasty formats. For redraft leagues, Goff projects as a fringe QB2 whose value should be boosted with plus rushing production.

Written By: Jody Smith

QB Carson Wentz

Picked 1.2| Height 6-5 |Weight 237 | North Dakota State

The Philadelphia Eagles mortgaged the farm to move up and get their franchise quarterback. Carson Wentz will need thick skin if he wishes to survive in a city with fans and sports writers that feed on the weak. Luckily, Wentz is an intelligent young man that seems extremely down to earth. On the field, Wentz 6-5, 237lbs, has the frame to withstand hits at the pro level. He is very light on his feet with the athleticism and coordination in the pocket to buy time to extend plays. Wentz has also been known to take off and run if needed, which is a very familiar Eagle quarterback trait that the fans have learned to love from QB predecessors (Vick, McNabb, Cunningham).

Carson Wentz can make every throw and has a strong arm to stretch the field. Despite not facing top competition at the FCS level, the North Dakota State quarterback was Mike Mayock’s top rookie prospect for 2016. The Eagles ultimate goal is not to throw their franchise QB into the fire year one. They plan to have him learn from a veteran in his rookie season and slowly work his way into the offense. Wentz has little value in re-draft leagues, and is looked at as a late round investment player in dynasty leagues.

Written By: Mike Rigz

QB Paxton Lynch

Picked: 1.26 | Height 6-7 | Weight 244 | Memphis

According to John Elway, the Broncos had Lynch ranked as highly as they did Jared Goff, who went with the draft’s first overall selection to the Rams. Lynch is huge (just under 6-7 244) with a strong arm and excellent mobility for a man of his size. Those are traits that generally fit a Gary Kubiak-coached offense well, and drew favorable comparisons for Lynch to Blake Bortles and John Elway himself. In three years at Memphis utilizing a spread offense, Lynch improved his numbers annually. Starting in 2013, his accuracy, yards-per-attempt, touchdowns and qb-rating improved, while his turnovers dropped each season. Owing to his physical athleticism, Lynch rushed for 13 scores as a sophomore. He can be a dangerous option on bootlegs and qb-sneaks- an interesting wrinkle to Denver’s offense after Peyton Manning won a Super bowl. Landing in Denver affords Lynch the time to adjust to the pro game. Mark Sanchez has proven to be capable of starting in the league and is expected to hold down the fort. It wouldn’t be shocking to have Lynch start Week 1, but the plan seems to be to have Sanchez begin the season under-center while Lynch is groomed to take over in the season’s second half. Expect Lynch to see 6-10 starts this year, with Kubiak hot hesitating to go to the rookie if Sanchez turns the ball over too frequently. Lynch should be the third quarterback from this class drafted in dynasty leagues, but is likely to go undrafted in redraft leagues unless he is named the clear-cut starter before the season opener.

Written By: Jody Smith

QB Christian Hackenberg

Picked 2.20 | Height 6-4 | Weight 223 | Penn State

Christian Hackenberg has all the physical and intangible attributes that NFL scouts are looking for: 6’4” frame, strong arm, leadership, and toughness. However, he lacks many of the actual skills necessary to become a successful NFL quarterback. His passes are inconsistent; he’ll make a fantastic throw on one play then follow it up with a check down thrown into the dirt. His pocket awareness is nonexistent, evidenced by his 82 sacks he’s taken over the last two seasons. But if we learned anything last season, it’s that it doesn’t take a competent quarterback to post decent fantasy numbers in the Jets’ offensive system. Ryan Fitzpatrick, career journeyman who has received no interest from teams this offseason, managed to throw a career high 31 TDs last year. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey puts his quarterback in a position to succeed, and it certainly helps having two Pro Bowl wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside. For dynasty leagues, Hackenberg is a waste of a pick, even in 2 QB formats. But if Hackenberg wins the starting QB job in 2016, he’s worth a late shot in 2-QB leagues or as a contrarian DFS play some weeks due to his offensive system.

Written By: Brian Jester

Rookie Quarterback Rankings 2016

See More Rookie Rankings

Already a member? Click Here

[/wlm_nonmember] [wlm_ismember]

QB Jared Goff

Picked 1.1 | Height 6-4 | Weight: 215 | California

Of the three first-round quarterbacks drafted in 2016, Goff is easily considered the most pro-ready prospect. With the Rams having very little in front of Goff and looking to make a splash with a local kid in a new market, we should see the 21 year-old take the opening snap for Los Angeles. Goff (6-4 215) has good size, mobility and a quality arm that’s been proven to be accurate on deep balls with good touch on short and medium throws. At Cal, Goff spent a lot of time under duress behind a poor offensive line, leading to sacks and turnovers. He also spent most of his time in the shotgun and will have to work extensively in the preseason on taking snaps under center and footwork with five and seven-step drop backs. Goff has the look and pedigree of a quality NFL-starter, but enters a less-than-ideal situation with a Rams offense that will feature the running game and has one of the worst group of wide receivers in the league. With the league loaded with proven, quality signal-callers, including several with one or two years’ experience, Goff might be available later than expected in dynasty formats. For redraft leagues, Goff projects as a fringe QB2 whose value should be boosted with plus rushing production.

Written By: Jody Smith

QB Carson Wentz

Picked 1.2| Height 6-5 |Weight 237 | North Dakota State

The Philadelphia Eagles mortgaged the farm to move up and get their franchise quarterback. Carson Wentz will need thick skin if he wishes to survive in a city with fans and sports writers that feed on the weak. Luckily, Wentz is an intelligent young man that seems extremely down to earth. On the field, Wentz 6-5, 237lbs, has the frame to withstand hits at the pro level. He is very light on his feet with the athleticism and coordination in the pocket to buy time to extend plays. Wentz has also been known to take off and run if needed, which is a very familiar Eagle quarterback trait that the fans have learned to love from QB predecessors (Vick, McNabb, Cunningham).

Carson Wentz can make every throw and has a strong arm to stretch the field. Despite not facing top competition at the FCS level, the North Dakota State quarterback was Mike Mayock’s top rookie prospect for 2016. The Eagles ultimate goal is not to throw their franchise QB into the fire year one. They plan to have him learn from a veteran in his rookie season and slowly work his way into the offense. Wentz has little value in re-draft leagues, and is looked at as a late round investment player in dynasty leagues.

Written By: Mike Rigz

QB Cardale Jones

Picked 4.41 | Height 6-5 | Weight 253 | Ohio State

After one of the most improbable runs from a college QB during his national championship season in 2014 with Ohio State, Cardale Jones lost the starting job last year and saw his draft stock fall along the way. Jones has massive size – 6’5” and 253 pounds – and with his off-the-charts arm strength, his physical traits compares favorably to Cam Newton. Like Newton, Jones is capable of being an integral part of a running game with his size and athleticism. Where the comparisons stop, however, lies in the rawness of Jones’ passing game. Jones unbelievably attempted less than 300 passes in his college career, yet was still drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 4th round. He needs plenty of work in refining his accuracy and pocket awareness, but his running ability will make him a fantasy asset if he starts. He will sit behind Tyrod Taylor this season, but the future is wide open as the Bills have shown zero interest in extending Taylor long-term. Jones is worth a flier in dynasty leagues, and perhaps should be ranked higher than the handful of Day 2 and Day 3 QBs drafted ahead of him due to his immense fantasy upside.

Written By: Brian Jester

QB Dak Prescott

Picked 4.37 | Height 6-2 | Weight 226 | Mississippi State

Dak Prescott is similar to most of the quarterback prospects in this draft – he’s a physical specimen and has all the athletic traits that the NFL desires, but his quarterbacking ability is questionable at best. Prescott set countless passing and rushing records at Mississippi State, drawing comparisons to Tim Tebow albeit with slightly better passing skills. We saw the fantasy impact that Tebow had when he took the league by storm, so Prescott could press for top-12 fantasy numbers if he’s ever thrust into action. The Dallas Cowboys took a flier on Prescott in round 4 this year with the idea of grooming him into Tony Romo’s heir. Romo is 36 years old and with multiple collarbone and back injuries, the future will be sooner rather than later. And with this injury history, there’s a decent chance we see Prescott start a game this season. While he’s not draftable in redraft leagues, he would become an immediate pick-up should Romo go down if not just for the fact that he can do damage with his legs. Similar to Cardale Jones, Prescott is in the long-term, high upside tier of this QB class and is worthy of a third or fourth round pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

QB Jeff Driskel

Picked 6.32 | Height 6-4 | Weight 234 | Louisiana Tech

A former Florida High School Player of the Year, Jeff Driskel has taken an interesting path to get to the NFL. After starting for the Florida Gators off an on for three seasons, he transferred to Louisiana Tech where he was named the Conference Newcomer of the Year in his final collegiate season. Driskel has the size and athleticism that scouts are looking for with his 6’4” 235-pound frame. He took great care of the ball in college, throwing just seven interceptions last year, and was even a threat to do damage with his legs when he escaped the pocket. But because of deep ball inaccuracies and his jittery nature in the pocket, Driskel fell all the way to the 6th round of the draft. For fantasy purposes, Driskel probably couldn’t have landed in a better situation. He will move to San Francisco with only Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert in his way to run a Chip Kelly offense. Kelly has praised Gabbert so far this off-season, but by no means is this a closed competition. Depending on how he progresses in camp, Driskel has a legitimate chance to start some games this season. He can read defenses and make plays on zone read options, making him a great fit for Kelly’s system. Driskel will be overlooked because of his draft position, but quarterbacks with lesser skill-sets have been fantasy relevant in this offense before. Driskel is a true sleeper in both redraft and dynasty leagues.

Written By: Brian Jester

QB Vernon Adams Jr.

Undreafted| Height 5-11 | Weight 200 | Oregon

It’s a shame that the NFL values size at the QB position so much. Vernon Adams was a legitimate playmaker throughout his college career, both early on at Eastern Washington and in his final year at Oregon. With 136 passing TDs over his career, and throwing just six interceptions in his first season in the PAC-12 last year, Adams showed he’s a pass-first QB despite his stature. It’s because of his height and weight (he checks in at just 5’11” 200 pounds) that Adams went undrafted and received little interest in the UDFA market. He opted to workout with the Seahawks, albeit on a tryout-only basis. It’s interesting that he looked to Seattle, as Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson is the ultimate comparison for Adams and not just because of their diminutive stature. Wilson’s tape shows that he will occasionally miss short, easy reads, will unnecessarily scramble out of a clean pocket, but has the capability of making huge completions when outside of the play design. All of these traits are listed on Adams’ scouting report. Will he get a legitimate shot in the NFL? Probably not. But know the name, follow his career closely, and pick him up in dynasty leagues the moment an NFL organization believes in him.

Written By: Brian Jester

QB Paxton Lynch

Picked: 1.26 | Height 6-7 | Weight 244 | Memphis

According to John Elway, the Broncos had Lynch ranked as highly as they did Jared Goff, who went with the draft’s first overall selection to the Rams. Lynch is huge (just under 6-7 244) with a strong arm and excellent mobility for a man of his size. Those are traits that generally fit a Gary Kubiak-coached offense well, and drew favorable comparisons for Lynch to Blake Bortles and John Elway himself. In three years at Memphis utilizing a spread offense, Lynch improved his numbers annually. Starting in 2013, his accuracy, yards-per-attempt, touchdowns and qb-rating improved, while his turnovers dropped each season. Owing to his physical athleticism, Lynch rushed for 13 scores as a sophomore. He can be a dangerous option on bootlegs and qb-sneaks- an interesting wrinkle to Denver’s offense after Peyton Manning won a Super bowl. Landing in Denver affords Lynch the time to adjust to the pro game. Mark Sanchez has proven to be capable of starting in the league and is expected to hold down the fort. It wouldn’t be shocking to have Lynch start Week 1, but the plan seems to be to have Sanchez begin the season under-center while Lynch is groomed to take over in the season’s second half. Expect Lynch to see 6-10 starts this year, with Kubiak hot hesitating to go to the rookie if Sanchez turns the ball over too frequently. Lynch should be the third quarterback from this class drafted in dynasty leagues, but is likely to go undrafted in redraft leagues unless he is named the clear-cut starter before the season opener.

Written By: Jody Smith

QB Christian Hackenberg

Picked 2.20 | Height 6-4 | Weight 223 | Penn State

Christian Hackenberg has all the physical and intangible attributes that NFL scouts are looking for: 6’4” frame, strong arm, leadership, and toughness. However, he lacks many of the actual skills necessary to become a successful NFL quarterback. His passes are inconsistent; he’ll make a fantastic throw on one play then follow it up with a check down thrown into the dirt. His pocket awareness is nonexistent, evidenced by his 82 sacks he’s taken over the last two seasons. But if we learned anything last season, it’s that it doesn’t take a competent quarterback to post decent fantasy numbers in the Jets’ offensive system. Ryan Fitzpatrick, career journeyman who has received no interest from teams this offseason, managed to throw a career high 31 TDs last year. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey puts his quarterback in a position to succeed, and it certainly helps having two Pro Bowl wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside. For dynasty leagues, Hackenberg is a waste of a pick, even in 2 QB formats. But if Hackenberg wins the starting QB job in 2016, he’s worth a late shot in 2-QB leagues or as a contrarian DFS play some weeks due to his offensive system.

Written By: Brian Jester

QB Connor Cook

Picked 4.02 | Height 6-4 | Weight 217 | Michigan State

The Oakland Raiders surprised the NFL by trading up to the second pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft to draft former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

As Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has already stated, 2014 second-round pick Derek Carr is the Raiders’ starting quarterback. After putting together a promising rookie year, Carr earned Pro Bowl honors in 2015 with a stellar sophomore season where he completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns.

With that being said, Cook’s chances of seeing the field are minimal. Even if Carr goes down with an injury, he still needs to work past the Raiders’ current backup quarterback Matt McGloin. Oakland placed a second-round tender on McGloin when he was a restricted free agent this offseason, and he hasn’t played poorly enough in his limited role to warrant a demotion on the depth chart.

Cook, a three-year starter at Michigan State, is a confident, proven winner at the collegiate level, as he finished his career with the Spartans as the winningest coach in school history. At 6’4”, 218 pounds, Cook has tremendous size for the position, while his competitive fire should force the Raiders’ coaching staff into finding him reps in practice. Head coach Jack Del Rio and company will put a significant amount of effort into developing Cook behind Carr, but unless he can earn fantasy points while holding a clipboard, he’s a late-round insurance pick at best. Also, given that Carr is projected to start in Oakland for quite some time, Cook should go undrafted both dynasty and re-draft leagues.

Written By: Austin Gayle

QB Kevin Hogan

Picked 5.25 | Height 6-3 | Weight 218 | Stanford

Kevin Hogan, the QB from Stanford was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round. Hogan had the unenviable task of following Andrew Luck at Stanford, but the 6’4” QB threw for 2,867 yards, 27 TDs and 8 interceptions in his last collegiate season. Hogan has a windup that seems to take forever and he seems to revel in throwing into double, triple and quadruple coverage. I want to not like him, but there’s a fine line between genius and fool. Mike Mayock said of Hogan “He can carry a clipboard for 10 years in this league.” Mayock will probably be right for a while until Hogan sweeps in and leads a team to the greatest comeback in history like Frank Reich, wins a Super Bowl like Jeff Hostettler or navigates a team through the playoffs like Kurt Warner. Hogan may never be fantasy relevant, but there’s a cerebral quality to his game. Take an interest if he climbs the depth chart in Kansas City. He is Alex Smith’s antithesis brother who always seems to come up smelling like roses after taking risks. Here’s a quote from Top Gun that kept running through my mind “I see some real genius in your flying, Maverick, but I can’t say that in there.” Hogan is Maverick. He has very little value in redraft or dynasty leagues, but keep him in the back of your mind if he creeps up the depth chart.

Written By: Eric Ludwig

QB Cody Kessler

Picked 3.31 | Height 6-1 | Weight 220 | Southern California

The Cleveland Browns and their analytics (it is apparently now required to add the phrase “and their analytics” any time the Browns’ front office is mentioned) surprised everyone by selecting USC’s Cody Kessler in the third round of the draft. Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson, who has been successful working with QBs in the past, showed support for the Kessler selection after the draft saying, “You have to trust me on this one.” Kessler flashed above-average athleticism during his time at USC and took care of the football – he threw just 12 interceptions over his final two seasons. NFL scouts are worried about his physical stature, as he stands just 6’1”, and his lack of elite arm strength, but those deficiencies didn’t stop him from setting the USC school record for career completion percentage. His footwork is a mess in the pocket when he’s under pressure, and that’s the area where Jackson believes he can help Kessler improve. It’s public news that Kessler will compete for the starting job in camp, but Robert Griffin III is certainly the favorite to be under center in week 1. We all know Griffin isn’t a beacon of health, however, so there’s a great chance we see Kessler start a game for the Browns this season. Kessler will likely be a better NFL quarterback than fantasy quarterback, but if you trust the Browns “and their analytics,” he’s worth a flier late in dynasty rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester
[/wlm_ismember]

 

[wlm_ismember]
Rookie Running Backs

RB Ezekiel Elliott

Picked 1.4 | Height 6-0 | Weight 225 | Ohio State

Dynasty owners holding the first overall pick are celebrating immensely after Ezekiel Elliott found himself going to the perfect landing spot, fourth overall in this years NFL Draft. With rumors of the Dallas Cowboys looking to improve their defense adding the likes of shut down corner Jalen Ramsey, it came as a bit of a surprise when Commissioner Rodger Goodell announced Elliot’s name to the Cowboys.

Jerry Jones has always been attracted to the star power of an offensive skilled player in the first round, yet his staff has done an excellent job keeping his hand off the button in years past to steer clear from players like Jonny Manziel for more reliable talent. This year though, the Cowboys got their guy adding an immediate impact player.

Elliott’s presence not only drastically improves the run game in all areas possible, he adds a dependability quality that takes the pressure off Tony Romo‘s brittle body to not only be the only focal point for offensive output for the team, but allow the Cowboys to call plays differently.

Elliott is an early favorite for offensive rookie of the year playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football.

Written By: Mike Rigz

RB Devontae Booker

Picked 4.38 | Height 5-11 | Weight 219 | Utah

From my seat at Reser Stadium, I had the privilege of watching Davontae Booker gouge the Oregon State Beavers in 2014, rushing 32 times for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. I quickly became a fan. At 5′ 11.5″ and 219 lbs., Davontae has prototypical size for an NFL running back. Perhaps his best attribute is his vision. He almost always makes the right decision in reading his blocks and choosing the right lane. He runs with decisiveness and power, finishing most runs falling forward. These traits are ideal for the zone blocking scheme that Denver employs. Booker looks natural as a pass catcher, plucking the ball with his hands away from his body. He is also a very willing pass blocker. This should help him find the field more quickly than typical 4th round rookie backs. Unfortunately, the knee injury (meniscus) that cut his senior season short kept him from participating in running drills during the combine and his pro-day. Video of his game performances, however, shows a back who lacks ideal top-end speed to consistently break big chunk yardage at the next level. Despite the power that Booker runs with, he needs to slip tackles more frequently, as too often the first defender brings him down (even if it’s several yards beyond contact). Davontae has a similar skill set to that of current Broncos teammate Ronnie Hillman, but I think Davontae is better. I could see Booker securing the 3rd down back role in Denver as early as this season, with a chance to earn significant playing time should CJ Anderson suffer an injury or prove otherwise ineffective. Booker offers appeal as a deep bench stash in redraft leagues, and he’s a guy I would pursue probably more aggressively than most in dynasty formats.

Written By: Rich Thomas

RB Jordan Howard

Picked 5.11 | Height 6-0 | Weight 230 | Indiana

Former Indiana running back Jordan Howard is entering the NFL with the Chicago Bears behind two young backs, as sophomore Jeremy Langford (24) and third-year back Ka’Deem Carey (23) both project as the top two backs in the Windy City. With Forte now in New York, Langford is expected to take over as the premier back, but head coach John Fox has previously stated that Langford and Carey will be given a fair opportunity to determine their workload. Howard, a former UAB transfer, took over as Indiana’s lead back after the departure of Tevin Coleman, and with his new opportunity, he put up together a productive season despite struggling with injury. In nine games, Howard rushed for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns.

At 6’0”, 230 pounds, Howard has ideal size to take on a significant workload, and because of his inexperience as a pass-catcher (just 24 receptions in three years), Howard best projects as a lead back on first and second downs. Though he doesn’t have elite breakaway speed, Howard is a violent, decisive runner that is capable of chunking his way down the field. He possesses great vision and patience, but he will punish defenders once he starts gaining momentum in the hole. Also, though he shouldn’t be limited to short-yardage situations, Howard’s downhill, physical running style could have him seeing his fair share of carries near the goal line. With that being said, Howard has an opportunity to steal carries away from Langford and Carey because he will likely be absent in the passing game. Langford, a former receiver at Michigan State, has already proven that he can make a significant impact as a third-down back (22 receptions for 279 yards and one touchdown in 2015).

Regardless of how Chicago uses Howard, his fantasy value isn’t significant because he will lose carries within a three-headed monster. There is some upside to Howard because of has the build and ability to be a bell-cow in the NFL, but he isn’t worth much more than a late-round pick as long as Langford and Carey are still healthy. In re-draft leagues, Howard could draw some interest as a free agent if he becomes the feature back in the red zone or has a few big games, but he should remain undrafted in both dynasty and re-draft leagues because the overall youth of the Bears’ backfield.

Written By: Austin Gayle

RB Jonathan Williams

Picked 5.18 | Height 5-11 | Weight 220 | Arkansas

Jonathan Williams is an interesting prospect, as he sat out the entire 2015 season recovering from foot surgery, yet was still drafted in the 5th round by the Buffalo Bills. In 2014, Williams was second-team All SEC despite splitting carries with fellow RB draftee Alex Collins. Williams has prototypical size at 5’11” 220 pounds, but it’s his quick feet and lateral agility that NFL scouts loved. His vision is still questionable at this point and when combined with his injury, it resulted in him being only a Day 3 draft pick. There’s no path to immediate playing time for Williams; LeSean McCoy tops the depth chart and second-year RB Karlos Williams showed major ability last year when McCoy left the field. It’s for this reason that Williams will likely have zero value in redraft leagues unless disaster strikes the Bills’ backfield. But in dynasty leagues, it’s wise to hold talent regardless of the situation. McCoy still has four years left on his deal, so it could be a while before Williams is given a legitimate shot at carrying the ball in Buffalo. But Williams is a high-upside option worthy of consideration late in rookie drafts if you have the luxury of holding him for a few seasons.

Written By: Brian Jester

RB Kenyan Drake

Picked 3.10 | Height 6-1 | Weight 210 | Alabama

An energetic runner with good size and outstanding pass-catching ability. Drake played behind Derrick Henry at Alabama last season, but many people feel that Drake is the overall better NFL prospect. While Henry is a one-dimensional power runner, Drake is the exact opposite compliment, a Charles Sims-like receiving back who is adept at bouncing it outside and struggles between the tackles. Drake should make a good compliment in Miami to Jay Ajayi, a much bigger back who is likely to thrive inside, while Drake plays a change-of-pace role and occasionally lines up as a slot receiver. At 12.5 yards-per-catch, Drake proved adept at exploiting mismatches in coverage as a pass-catcher. Despite the fantasy community having interest in Jay Ajayi, new head coach Adam Gase was always rumored to be looking for a compliment for the Dolphins (the club tried to sign CJ Anderson) this offseason. With Kenyan Drake, Gase acquired an underrated rusher who compliments Ajayi well. This could be a situation where Ajayi plays first and second downs, or it could develop into a full blown committee, something Gase toyed with in Denver. It’s not inconceivable to think that Drake could develop into an all-around NFL running back, but his short term value is as a high-ceiling, change-of-pace runner who excels in PPR formats.

Written By: Jody Smith

RB Tyler Ervin

Picked 4.21 | Height 5-10 | Weight 192 | San Jose State

Clearly the Houston Texans main focus in the 2016 draft was to improve offensive team speed. Tyler Ervin can certainly help in that department. Undersized at 5-10, 192, Ervin is a jack-of-all trades weapon out of the backfield that delivers explosive speed (4.34 short shuttle) and excellent change-of-direction cutting ability. At San Jose State, Ervin honed his versatility, first playing in a slot-receiver role before moving over to tailback, where he led the Spartans in rushing in each of the last two seasons. He also caught 73 balls for 642 yards in that time, showing he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield or as a slot receiver. With an innovative offensive coach like Bill O’Brien, Ervin can be utilized as both a dangerous change-of-pace option out of the backfield, or on gadget plays. Ervin had 17 bench press reps at the combine, a good figure for a back under 200 lbs. Expect Ervin to be used creatively by O’Brien and possibly as a returner- think of a larger Darren Sproles. Houston views itself as a team with a two or three year window, so they won’t hesitate to get the ball into the hands of their most capable offensive weapons, even if that means taking some touches away from newly-signed Lamar Miller. Because he has tremendous upside and explosive, big-play potential, Ervin is an intriguing dynasty selection this year, but nothing more than a late-round hand-cuff to Lamar Miller owners in redraft leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

RB Kelvin Taylor

Picked 6.36 | Height 5-10 | Weight 207 | Florida

The son of the former Jacksonville Jaguars star running back Fred Taylor, Kelvin Taylor was the 2012 Florida High School Player of the Year and finished his high school career as the state’s all-time leading rusher. There were high expectations for Taylor when he enrolled at the University of Florida, but he didn’t get a chance to be the featured back until his final season when he rushed for just 1,035 yards. As the son of a former NFLer, he understands all of the duties required of the position and has excellent vision to pair with his lateral agility. However, he was indecisive at times and he lacks the power to finish through contact. His combine numbers were miserable – he finished in the 33rd percentile or worse in 8 of 9 categories, with his 55th percentile 10-yard dash being the most respectable score. Taylor fell to the sixth round of the draft to the San Francisco 49ers, where he will compete with Mike Davis for backup duties behind Carlos Hyde.

We’ve seen the success that running backs can have in Chip Kelly’s offensive system, so if Taylor earns a role, he could be productive. If he’s named the back-up in camp, grab him as a late round flier in redraft leagues. In dynasty leagues, he’s worth a late round pick solely for the fact that you could sell high if he ever gets a shot to start. If he’s on your dynasty roster, plan to flip him when the opportunity arises before he’s out of the league in a few seasons due to his middling athleticism.

Written By: Brian Jester

RB Wendell Smallwood

Picked 5.14 |Height 5-10 |Weight 208 | West Virginia

If you were asked who the leading rusher in the Big 12 was a season ago, would you know the answer is Wendell Smallwood? At 5’10” 208 pounds, Smallwood is an aggressive finisher and runs with great pad level. What makes him an interesting prospect, however, is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his willingness to pass protect. As a well-rounded RB, Smallwood has the ability to play all three downs in the NFL. He even showed off his speed and agility at the combine, with a 94th percentile 60-yard shuttle time and 82nd percentile 3 cone drill performance. Despite his resume, Smallwood fell to the 5th round of the draft due to off-field issues. After his freshman year, charges were dropped in a witness tampering incident, which was enough to spook most NFL front offices.

Now in Philadelphia, Smallwood is in a great position to get significant action. Ahead of him is Ryan Mathews, who hasn’t been a beacon of health so far in his football career. With passing down back Darren Sproles not getting any younger, it’s conceivable that Smallwood could be in a feature role if an injury strikes. In deep redraft leagues, he’s a worthwhile late round pick in the event that Mathews goes down. In dynasty rookie drafts, an argument can be made for taking Smallwood as early as the second round.

Written By: Brian Jester

RB Derrick Henry

Picked 2.14 | Height 6-3 | Weight 247 | Alabama

With their third pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans selected former Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Despite already having DeMarco Murray, the Titans continued to add to their backfield in an effort to create a two-headed monster, as Henry’s downhill, thumper mentality will add a great change-of-pace to Murray’s dynamic running style.

At Alabama, Henry took home the Heisman Trophy in 2015, as he carried the ball a whopping 395 times for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns in his final year with the Crimson Tide.

Though he is most recognized for his ability to lower his shoulder in between the tackles and carry defenders for extra yards, Henry has above-average speed for his size, as he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at 6’3”, 247 pounds. He will surprise the NFL with his speed at times, but NFL defenses will get used to bouncing off his pads.

With that being said, Henry will likely pull a great deal of goal line carries at the next level because of his powerful running style, which in turn, could have Murray missing out on a significant amount of touchdowns in 2016. Though Murray also brings some power behind his pads, Henry is a brick wall when he gets downhill in between the tackles.

The Titans have previously invested a bulk of their carries to some of the younger backs on their roster (i.e. Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey, David Cobb), but Henry should cement himself as the No. 2 back due to his Heisman ability and his value in short-yardage situations. Because of his upside as a touchdown thief, Henry could put up RB3 numbers behind Murray as a rookie.

Written By: Austin Gayle

RB C.J. Prosise

Picked 3.27 | 6-0 | Weight 220 | Notre Dame

C.J. Prosise became the fourth RB off the board selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 90th overall pick. Prosise initially redshirted for the Fighting Irish as a safety, but converted to WR. To meet a need on offense, Prosise made another conversion to RB last year and averaged 6.6 ypc on 156 carries for 1,032 yards. At 6’0” and 220 lbs, he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash which puts him in the 87th percentile for weight-adjusted speed score, but his 3-cone time put him the 15th percentile for qualifying RBs since 1999. Prosise’s size/speed and exceptional abilities as a pass-catching back and ability to break big plays in the open field offer loads of upside, but he comes with several warts heading into his rookie year that will keep his fantasy stock low in the near-term. He struggles in pass protection, fumbled 5 times on only 156 carries and hesitates making the read to the hole leading to lost yardage. He has some very enticing physical traits for success leading to David Johnson comparisons, but his lack of experience shows in his fundamentals and instincts as a runner, which makes him more of a project than a short-term asset. He will need to work himself in as a third down back and will compete for a backup role on the Seahawks depth chart. Prosise offers little immediate fantasy value for redraft leagues, but he should be able to climb the depth chart and could become a waiver wire darling if he gets an opportunity for double-digit touches later in 2016. Prosise has all the physical tools to be a three down back and comes with upside for dynasty teams.

Written By: Eric Ludwig

RB Kenneth Dixon

Picked 4.36 | Height 5-10 | Weight 215 | Louisiana Tech

Kenneth Dixon was one of the most productive running backs in NCAA history, totaling 87 touchdowns during his time at Louisiana Tech. He owns legitimate three-down ability with prototypical size and great lateral agility but despite his size, Dixon struggled through knee and ankle injuries the last two seasons. It’s these durability issues, along with questionable long speed and his fumbling problem (13 fumbles over his last three college seasons), that kept Dixon from being an elite running back prospect. As a result, he fell to the 4th round to the Baltimore Ravens. Dixon will join last year’s 4th round pick Buck Allen and 30-year old Justin Forsett.

Forsett was great in 2014, but his season ended prematurely due to a broken forearm last year. Allen filled in for Forsett after the injury and showed well in the passing game, but was inefficient running the football. Dixon has a real opportunity to be the three-down back of the future for the Ravens. Follow the news throughout training camp to see how Forsett looks coming back from his injury in his age-31 season. It’s likely that Dixon will have to wait a year to be fantasy relevant, but he becomes an immediate waiver wire option should he start earning snaps in this backfield. Looking at the future of this backfield combined with Dixon’s talent, he’s a great option in the end of round 1 in dynasty rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

RB Paul Perkins

Picked 5.10 | Height 5-10 | Weight 208 | UCLA

Paul Perkins is one of the most elusive running backs in this year’s class with the ability to make defenders look silly in the open field. Perkins also has great hands, showing the skills to be a great receiver out of the backfield after recording 80 receptions during his college career. It’s for these reasons that one of his closest NFL comparisons is Duke Johnson. On the downside, Perkins possesses just an average size/speed combo and he hasn’t shown the ability to drive through defenders upon contact. Perkins was drafted by the New York Giants in the 5th round and will join the crowded backfield of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams. With those three backs receiving 80-plus touches each a year ago, it was a frustrating situation for fantasy owners. But now that Ben McAdoo has full control of the team, will he use one RB and feature him? Perkins has the talent to lead this backfield, so monitor him closely throughout camp to see if he can leapfrog these veterans. In dynasty leagues, Perkins is deserving of a second-round rookie pick with his all-around skillset and the lack of a true feature back ahead of him on the depth chart.

Written By: Brian Jester

RB Alex Collins

Picked 5.34 | Height 5-10 | Weight 217 | Arkansas

Though former undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls performed well in Marshawn Lynch’s absence as a rookie in 2015, the Seattle Seahawks added two running backs in the 2016 NFL draft, Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise and former Arkansas back Alex Collins. With Rawls expected to take over as the premier back in wake of Marshawn Lynch’s retirement, both Prosise and Collins will have to battle with four-year back Christine Michael for touches, but Collins’ skill set could force Carroll to consider pushing him into a significant role.

Collins, a three-year back with the Razorbacks, earned over 1,000 rushing yards in the SEC despite having to split carries with now Buffalo Bills running back Jonathan Williams during his first two years. At 5’10, 217 pounds, Collins uses his compact frame to bully his way in between the tackles, while he also possesses above-average lateral quickness and foot speed to make defenders miss in space. He should see a lot of short-yardage opportunities because of his powerful, downhill running style, which in turn, should have Collins seeing a number of touches near the goal line early in his career.

As noted previously, Rawls will earn a bulk of the carries in Seattle’s offense, and given that he averaged over 5.6 yards per carry in games that he ran the ball at least 16 times, it might be best if Rawls continues to play in a lead back role. Collins will still pull some goal line carries and could have a couple big weeks if he gets into the end zone often, but he will lack the necessary consistency to warrant him being drafted in either a dynasty or re-draft league. Even if Rawls goes down with injury, Collins would still have to battle with Michaels and Prosise to earn more than 6-8 carries per game.

Written By: Austin Gayle

RB Daniel Lasco

Picked 7.16 | Height 6-0 | Weight 209 | California

With the 16th pick in the 7th round, the New Orleans Saints took a low risk/high upside shot on running back Daniel Lasco out of Cal. Jared Goff was the Cal product that stole the spotlight as the first overall selection in the draft, but Daniel Lasco was the one named team MVP after the 2014 season with 1,115 rushing yards, 12 TDs and 356 receiving yards on 33 receptions. Injuries to his hip and ankle derailed his final season where he played 9 games and only managed 331 yards on 65 carries. Tape on Lasco between 2014 and 2015 look like two different running backs. In 2014, Lasco had a tough gritty quality to his runs with enough jerkiness and quickness to create missed tackles and steal extra yardage. Lasco looked slowed and hesitant in 2015, which may be the result of the injuries, lost confidence or a combination of both. Lasco performed well at the combine with a 4.46 40-yard dash and a combine best 135” broad jump for running backs.

It should be noted that broad jump is one of the more predictive measurables for running back success in the NFL, however injuries are likely the culprit for his slide from a 4th-5th round projection to round 7. If Lasco can be what he was in 2014, his athleticism and solid abilities as a pass-catcher may allow him to jump Tim Hightower on the depth chart. His contribution to the team will most likely be on special teams now that he joins a crowded backfield well behind Mark Ingram, CJ Spiller and Tim Hightower. He shouldn’t be on the redraft radar yet, but him closely in the preseason to see if he moves up the depth chart especially in dynasty leagues.

Written By: Eric Ludwig

RB Keith Marshall

Picked 7.21| Height 5-11 | Weight 219 | Georgia

On a Georgia Bulldogs team that featured RBs Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley, it was actually Keith Marshall who was the hottest recruit coming out of high school. Ranked the number one RB high school prospect in 2012, Marshall was lost in the shuffle at UGA after a myriad of injuries. He missed most of 2013 and all of 2014 after tearing his ACL, then struggled with a knee aggravation and ankle ailments in 2015, limiting his ball-carrying opportunities. But when he was healthy, Marshall was electric – he owned a career 5.5 YPC and scored 15 touchdowns on 277 touches. Marshall’s ability was brought back into the spotlight at the combine, where he ran a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash. The Redskins took a shot on Marshall in the 7th round of the draft and it’s a great situation for him from a depth chart perspective. Just second-year RB Matt Jones sits in front of him, who’s had injury concerns of his own over the past few years. With prototypical size and home run speed, Marshall has massive upside in fantasy leagues. He’s worth a late round flier in deep redraft leagues as a handcuff to Jones, and it’s even justifiable taking him as high as the late second round of rookie drafts because of his incredible ceiling.

Written By: Brain Jester

RB DeAndre Washington

Picked 5.04 | Height 5-8 | Weight 204 | Texas Tech

The Oakland Raiders added some competition in their backfield by taking DeAndre Washington in the 5th round of the draft. At only 5’8” and 204 lbs, Washington can squeak through tiny holes created by the offensive line and uses his small, but muscular frame to brush off arm tackles. He has some good chops as a receiver, but his size becomes prohibitive when pass-blocking and his catch radius is fairly small. He doesn’t quite have the receiving talents or quickness of Darren Sproles, but he will probably play a Sproles-like role on the Raiders squad and could become fantasy relevant if he gets the opportunity for extra touches. Even if the Raiders aren’t thrilled with the production out of Latavius Murray, Washington will not be the guy to overtake him on the depth chart. Washington will be most effective where he can get the ball in the open field and use the speed and elusiveness that made him valuable as a kick returner for Texas Tech. There are very few NFL running backs who succeeded with Washington’s size and those players were exceptional in some way. Unless the cards fall just right for Washington, there are better flyers to take in redraft and dynasty leagues.

Written By: Eric Ludwig
[/wlm_ismember] [wlm_nonmember]

Members only 1

 

RB Ezekiel Elliott

Picked 1.4 | Height 6-0 | Weight 225 | Ohio State

Dynasty owners holding the first overall pick are celebrating immensely after Ezekiel Elliott found himself going to the perfect landing spot, fourth overall in this years NFL Draft. With rumors of the Dallas Cowboys looking to improve their defense adding the likes of shut down corner Jalen Ramsey, it came as a bit of a surprise when Commissioner Rodger Goodell announced Elliot’s name to the Cowboys.

Jerry Jones has always been attracted to the star power of an offensive skilled player in the first round, yet his staff has done an excellent job keeping his hand off the button in years past to steer clear from players like Jonny Manziel for more reliable talent. This year though, the Cowboys got their guy adding an immediate impact player.

Elliott’s presence not only drastically improves the run game in all areas possible, he adds a dependability quality that takes the pressure off Tony Romo’s brittle body to not only be the only focal point for offensive output for the team, but allow the Cowboys to call plays differently.

Elliott is an early favorite for offensive rookie of the year playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football.

Written By: Mike Rigz

RB Devontae Booker

Picked 4.38 | Height 5-11 | Weight 219 | Utah

From my seat at Reser Stadium, I had the privilege of watching Davontae Booker gouge the Oregon State Beavers in 2014, rushing 32 times for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. I quickly became a fan. At 5′ 11.5″ and 219 lbs., Davontae has prototypical size for an NFL running back. Perhaps his best attribute is his vision. He almost always makes the right decision in reading his blocks and choosing the right lane. He runs with decisiveness and power, finishing most runs falling forward. These traits are ideal for the zone blocking scheme that Denver employs. Booker looks natural as a pass catcher, plucking the ball with his hands away from his body. He is also a very willing pass blocker. This should help him find the field more quickly than typical 4th round rookie backs.

Unfortunately, the knee injury (meniscus) that cut his senior season short kept him from participating in running drills during the combine and his pro-day. Video of his game performances, however, shows a back who lacks ideal top-end speed to consistently break big chunk yardage at the next level. Despite the power that Booker runs with, he needs to slip tackles more frequently, as too often the first defender brings him down (even if it’s several yards beyond contact). Davontae has a similar skill set to that of current Broncos teammate Ronnie Hillman, but I think Davontae is better. I could see Booker securing the 3rd down back role in Denver as early as this season, with a chance to earn significant playing time should CJ Anderson suffer an injury or prove otherwise ineffective. Booker offers appeal as a deep bench stash in redraft leagues, and he’s a guy I would pursue probably more aggressively than most in dynasty formats.

Written By: Rich Thomas

RB Derrick Henry

Picked 2.14 | Height 6-3 | Weight 247 | Alabama

With their third pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans selected former Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Despite already having DeMarco Murray, the Titans continued to add to their backfield in an effort to create a two-headed monster, as Henry’s downhill, thumper mentality will add a great change-of-pace to Murray’s dynamic running style.

At Alabama, Henry took home the Heisman Trophy in 2015, as he carried the ball a whopping 395 times for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns in his final year with the Crimson Tide.

Though he is most recognized for his ability to lower his shoulder in between the tackles and carry defenders for extra yards, Henry has above-average speed for his size, as he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at 6’3”, 247 pounds. He will surprise the NFL with his speed at times, but NFL defenses will get used to bouncing off his pads.

With that being said, Henry will likely pull a great deal of goal line carries at the next level because of his powerful running style, which in turn, could have Murray missing out on a significant amount of touchdowns in 2016. Though Murray also brings some power behind his pads, Henry is a brick wall when he gets downhill in between the tackles.

The Titans have previously invested a bulk of their carries to some of the younger backs on their roster (i.e. Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey, David Cobb), but Henry should cement himself as the No. 2 back due to his Heisman ability and his value in short-yardage situations. Because of his upside as a touchdown thief, Henry could put up RB3 numbers behind Murray as a rookie.

Written By: Austin Gayle

RB Paul Perkins

Picked 5.10 | Height 5-10 | Weight 208 | UCLA

Paul Perkins is one of the most elusive running backs in this year’s class with the ability to make defenders look silly in the open field. Perkins also has great hands, showing the skills to be a great receiver out of the backfield after recording 80 receptions during his college career. It’s for these reasons that one of his closest NFL comparisons is Duke Johnson. On the downside, Perkins possesses just an average size/speed combo and he hasn’t shown the ability to drive through defenders upon contact. Perkins was drafted by the New York Giants in the 5th round and will join the crowded backfield of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams. With those three backs receiving 80-plus touches each a year ago, it was a frustrating situation for fantasy owners. But now that Ben McAdoo has full control of the team, will he use one RB and feature him? Perkins has the talent to lead this backfield, so monitor him closely throughout camp to see if he can leapfrog these veterans. In dynasty leagues, Perkins is deserving of a second-round rookie pick with his all-around skillset and the lack of a true feature back ahead of him on the depth chart.

Written By: Brian Jester

Rookie Running Back Rankings 2016

See More Rookie Rankings

Already a member? Click Here

[/wlm_nonmember]
[wlm_ismember]
Rookie Wide Receivers

WR Laquon Treadwell

Picked 1.23 | Height 6-2 | Weight 221 | Ole Miss

Throughout the offseason Treadwell was scouted as the top wide receiver prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. He ended up sliding further than anticipated, mainly due to running a 4.62-second 40 at the Ole Miss pro day. But Treadwell projects to be the type of receiver who runs faster than he appears to move on film, and has all the physical tools needed to be a red zone ball-hawk in the pros. Treadwell is adept at using his size (6-2, 221lbs) to shield himself away from smaller defenders and has the strong ability to catch jump balls at the height of the pass. Being drafted by Minnesota appears to be a favorable landing spot for Treadwell, as the Z-receiver in Norv Turner’s vertical offense.

The Vikings have struggled to find a big-bodied receiver to fill that role recently and Treadwell possess all the same traits that made bigger wideouts like Michael Irvin and Vincent Jackson successful in this offense. With Stefon Diggs starting on the other side, Laquon Treadwell could surprise many people as a potential redzone passing weapon for an offense that has sorely been lacking one. He’s a top-5 dynasty draft pick and on the fringe WR3 radar in redraft leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Josh Doctson

Picked 1.22 | Height 6-2 | Weight 202 | TCU

Doctson delivers something that Washington’s current starting wideouts, Pierre Garçon and Desean Jackson, can’t- size. At 6-2 and over 200 lbs, Doctson is a considerable target who many draftniks had rated as the top wide receiver in this class. The Redskins thought enough of his potential that they made Doctson the first wide receiver that the franchise has selected in the first round in 15 seasons. Along with size, Doctson tied for the highest vertical jump (41 inches) in the 2016 draft class and has the speed to pull away from defenders. According to PFF, Doctson led the nation in yards-per-route run (4.07), while dropping only seven percent of the catchable balls thrown his way.

Doctson has an intriguing blend of size, speed, hands and athleticism to warrant a first round pick. The expectation is that Jackson and Doctson will lineup outside, while Garçon will man the slot. Jamison Crowder will move into a reserve role for Washington. Doctson’s size assure he could take some red-zone targets away from TE Jordan Reed, giving him WR3/4 potential in 2016. The real value for Doctson could lie next season, with Jackson and Garçon enter free agency, making Doctson a potential WR1 and worthy of a top three dynasty pick this season.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Tyler Boyd

Picked 2.24 | Height 6-1 | Weight 197 | Pittsburgh

The Cincinnati Bengals selected former Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd in the second round of the NFL draft, and though doesn’t have the elite quickness or burst to create separation out of his cuts, Boyd gets the job done as a physical possession receiver. Because of his lack of sudden athleticism, Boyd has had to develop into an elite route runner that can catch the ball in small windows and through contact. He possesses strong, reliable hands regardless of where he is on the field, as he consistently put up strong numbers despite the inconsistent quarterback play he experienced at Pittsburgh. According to Pro Football Focus, Boyd dropped just 10 of the 182 catchable passes thrown his way over the last two years. In his three years with the Panthers, Boyd brought in 254 receptions for 3,361 yards and 21 touchdowns. At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Boyd ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at 6’1”, 197 pounds, while he also put up 225 pounds 11 times on the bench press. Now with Cincinnati, Boyd should significantly benefit from having a consistent, proven passer like Andy Dalton under center and a true No. 1 receiver opposite of him in A.J. Green.

With Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones both gone, Boyd should easily assert himself as Dalton’s No. 3 option behind Green and tight end Tyler Eifert, and in turn, he should pull a great deal of targets in such a high octane offense. Also, with Green drawing double coverage for majority of the game, Boyd should benefit from seeing a lot of one-on-one opportunities. Given that he is a proven volume catcher, Boyd should turn the vast amount of targets he sees into serious production with the Bengals. He should put up WR3 numbers easily as a rookie, but he has sneaky WR2 potential in both in PPR and standard leagues because of his ability to get open on key downs and reliable hands.

Written By: Austin Gayle

WR Sterling Shepard

Picked 2.09 | Height 5-10 | Weight 194 | Oklahoma

Even after four wide receivers were selected in the first round of the draft, Sterling Shepard is among the favorites to lead rookie receivers in fantasy production this season. Shepard is an elite athlete – his 41 inch vertical and 20 bench press reps were massive for his size. While he doesn’t have a huge catch radius, he catches everything thrown within that radius- he only had eight drops in his college career. Shephard also lays claim to being the best route runner in this class and can create separation out of his breaks with ease. Shepard couldn’t have been drafted in a more perfect scenario, as he will slot in nicely across from Odell Beckham, Jr. in Ben McAdoo’s system.

With Victor Cruz’s health an uncertainty and Rueben Randle gone in free agency, Shepard will immediately fill a void where he could approach 100 targets in his rookie season. With no real options at tight end, Shepard is now the de facto No. two WR for the Giants. In PPR leagues, Shepard could push for WR2 status. Don’t underestimate this selection for Eli Manning’s 2016 prospects either; a legitimate second weapon could facilitate a return to a top-5 fantasy finish at his position.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Braxton Miller

Picked 3.22 | Height 6-1 | Weight 201 | Ohio State

Following the first-round selection of former Notre Dame WR Will Fuller, the Houston Texans paired their new vertical threat with another big-play receiver in Braxton Miller with their third-round choice in the 2016 NFL draft. Miller, a former quarterback at Ohio State, started just one year at the wide receiver position before entering the NFL draft, where he brought in just 26 receptions for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Of his 26 receptions, Miller caught just 12 passes beyond the line of scrimmage, as he was primarily used on screen passes and in the flats, per PFF.com. Given his limited experience, Miller is an overwhelmingly raw prospect with an extremely low floor contrasted by a high ceiling. At 6-1, 201 lbs., Miller has the potential to play on the outside, but because he still needs time to develop his route tree and hands, Miller will have an easier time transitioning to the NFL against No. 3 corners as a slot receiver. Miller has proven that once he does get the ball in space, he can make defenders look silly in the open field, as his elusiveness is relatively unmatched with the ball in his hands. Though he will likely command more passes across the line of scrimmage within Bill O’Brien’s offense, Miller will see a majority of his snaps on screen passes and potentially receive some carries out of the backfield. At the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Miller put on a show against some of the top defensive backs in the country in one-on-one drills, but he will need to continue to work on his routes to prove he can be consistent.

In Houston, Miller will have to battle his way up the depth chart behind DeAndre Hopkins, Cecil Shorts, Jaelen Strong, Keith Mumphery, and Fuller before he begins to see a significant amount of targets each week, but he has some upside given that he likely will have special plays drawn up for him due to his versatility. Because of his potential, Miller is worth a late-round flyer in some larger leagues, but he should be looked at as a priority free agent pickup if one of Houston’s receivers doesn’t pan out early or goes down with an injury.

Written By: Austin Gayle

WR Leonte Carroo

Picked 3.23 | Height 6-0 | Weight 211 | Rutgers

Leonte Carroo showcased his toughness during his last season at Rutgers, where he recorded 10 touchdowns on just 39 catches, all while battling a high ankle sprain during the second half of the season. NFL scouts were impressed with Carroo’s natural, reliable hands and his stout 6 foot, 211-pound frame. Despite his gaudy yard-per-reception numbers, Carroo possess questionable long speed and isn’t a route running technician. Given the holes on Miami’s roster, it was interesting to see the team select another WR on Day 2 of the draft. Rishard Matthews left in free agency to the Titans, which leaves the door open for last year’s first round pick, DeVante Parker, to step into a starting role. The Dolphins traded for Kenny Stills last season and he is a better deep threat than Carroo is at this point in his career. Jarvis Landry will obviously run from the slot, so it’s tough to envision a situation where Carroo receives meaningful targets in 2016. In dynasty leagues, Carroo has the talent to be a first round pick that should blossom in a few seasons. But in redraft leagues, he’s undraftable. Keep him on your waiver wire speed dial should injuries strike the Dolphins’ receiving corps.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Kenny Lawler

Picked 7.22 | Height 6-2 | Weight 203 | California

Kenny Lawler was a touchdown machine during his time in college, averaging a TD every 5.3 receptions. He won’t wow you athletically, but Lawler has great footwork and impressive hands that allowed him to become one of Jared Goff’s favorite red zone targets at Cal. Lawler is somewhat limited, however, because he doesn’t have speed to beat you deep, evidenced by his 4.64 forty time at the combine. He’ll join a crowded receiving corps in Seattle as a seventh-round pick, so it’s conceivable that he doesn’t even make the roster. With Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, and Paul Richardson currently ahead of him, it’s not an easy path to playing time. However, if Lawler is used correctly, he could be an asset to the Seahawks. With his 6-2 frame and extensive catch radius, he could be an excellent, big-bodied slot WR similar to Anquan Boldin. In redraft leagues, he’s undraftable unless he makes a Marques Colston-type leap to playing time. In dynasty leagues, though, many will disregard Lawler because of his middling athleticism. Don’t make that mistake — Lawler has the potential to be a PPR factor in the right situation. Stash him late in your rookie drafts and watch him throughout camp.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Keyarris Garrett

Not Pick: UDFA  | Height 6-3 | Weight 220 | Tulsa

When you think of Keyarris Garrett, here’s the best way to visualize him in the NFL: a skinny, worse route-running Kelvin Benjamin who can’t win in contested situations. The Carolina Panthers hope Garrett will be much more, obviously, when they decided to sign him as an undrafted free agent. Many draft analysts were surprised when Garrett went undrafted, especially considering he’s 6-3 220-pounds and can run a 4.53 40. Garrett was productive in college, too; he led the nation in receiving yards in his final season while hauling in 96 catches. If you watch tape of Garrett, though, you’ll notice the overwhelming majority of his “wins” are blowing past defenders deep. If he’s used situationally, he could be effective in the NFL. But in fantasy football, we need WRs who will be used more than just situationally. He’ll likely struggle with drops throughout his career, but if he can expand his route tree and become just an average route runner, he could get significant targets in Carolina given their current WR depth chart. He’s a very high-risk dynasty play, but the upside may be worth it if you’re in a deep enough league where you can hold onto him for a couple seasons.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Malcolm Mitchell

Picked 4.14 |  Height 6-0 | Weight 198 | Georgia

The New England Patriots have not had a good track record of drafting starting wide receivers, but they will once again try to obtain that elusive outside receiving threat, this time with fourth-round Georgia rookie Malcolm Mitchell. At 6-0 198, Mitchell has adequate size but struggled with injuries for the Bulldogs. When healthy, Mitchell improved throughout his college career and became a solid downfield play-maker. Mitchell used his body well, had reliable hands and a knack for hauling in jump balls- a trait lacking from most of New England’s receiving corps for several seasons. Mitchell ran a 4.45 40, faster than anticipated from film. At Georgia, he often had difficulties running by cornerbacks, who tended to sit on his routes rather than fear getting beat deep. The 4.45 time bodes well for Mitchell in an offense that is devoid of that type of weapon. If Mitchell shows well in training camp, we may have finally seen the last of Aaron Dobson in a Patriots uniform. Mitchell has some potential value in this offense if he somehow overcomes the odds and wins a starting job- which isn’t very likely. Until that happens, he should remain off the redraft radar entirely and should be treated as nothing more than a mid-to-late round dynasty pick.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Trevor Davis

Picked 5.26 | Height 6-1 | Weight 188 | California

When Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending injury during the 2015 preseason, the Packers knew they would be challenged to find anything close to a replacement for him. What they didn’t know is that for the 2015 season only two wide receivers would play every game, Cobb and Janis. What they also didn’t know was how much Randall Cobb would struggle to get open consistently on the short-to-mid range routes without Nelson there to stretch the field. It was clear the Packers needed to get faster at the wide receiver position. Enter Trevor Davis. Davis ran the third-fastest WR forty time at the combine this year (4.42) and can run deep routes with the best of them. He is a bit undersized at just 188 lbs., but again this guy is being brought in for one reason and that is to take the top off of opposing defenses. Davis also excels in the kick return game and could conceivably make the roster as a return guy first and then work his way into a role in the passing game. It is more likely that he will fight with Janis and Abbrederis for the sixth WR roster spot and will serve as deep threat insurance in case Nelson goes down again. All in all not on anyone’s redraft radar and nor should he be but if injuries begin to pile up in Green Bay again, keep this guy on your watch list.

Written By: Josh Daniels

WR Demarcus Robinson

Picked 4.28 | Height 6-1 |  Weight 203 | Florida

If there is a Day 3 wide receiver from this draft class that turns into a legitimate stud, it could be Demarcus Robinson. Robinson owns the athleticism to be a top-tier receiver, it’s just a (huge) question of whether he can harness that talent to become a disciplined pro. During his time at the University of Florida, Robinson experienced a litany of off-the-field issues as he was suspended four times and benched twice. But when he was on the field, his natural talent popped. He shows effortless acceleration and an excellent catch radius, but his route running is unrefined and he shows little attention to the details that make a receiver great. Despite all of these downfalls, Robinson was drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Chiefs. His combination of skillset and mental issues give him a wide range of outcomes in the NFL. If he puts in the effort, he could conceivably be the Chiefs’ No. two WR in 2016 and their star wideout in a couple of seasons. He could also be out of the league within a year. He has similarities with former Colts’ WR Da’Rick Rogers – can he refine his craft and take the game seriously enough to use his elite natural talent? In dynasty the leagues, the ceiling is sky-high, making him worth a boom-or-bust selection in rounds three or four of rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Mike Thomas

Picked 6.31 | Height 6-1 | Weight 193 | Southern Mississippi

Despite getting snubbed for the combine, the “other” Mike Thomas was still selected in the sixth round of the draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Thomas did get to perform for NFL teams at his pro day, as he showed off his explosiveness with a 95th percentile broad jump score. Combining his explosiveness with his “my ball” mentality, it’s easy to see how Mike Thomas played much bigger than his 6-1 200 lbs. frame would suggest en route to a 14 touchdown senior season. Scouts believe he will struggle to separate at the next level, but his excellent body control and dominance in contested catch situations may allow him to overcome that issue. The Rams depth chart is wide open; despite fellow

Ram WR Pharoh Cooper being selected ahead of him, Thomas has a surprisingly easy path to becoming rookie Jared Goff’s top target. From high school to JUCO to the Conference USA, Thomas has outperformed expectations at every level, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him surpass his sixth-round pedigree. Thomas is worth a late round flier in redraft leagues and given the hodgepodge of second-tier rookie WRs, it’s justifiable selecting him in the second round of rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Tajae Sharpe

Picked 5.01 | Height 6-2 | Weight 194 | Massachusetts

Talk about production. Sharpe was a target hog through his years at UMass, catching a pass in every game of his college career, including a nation-leading 9.3 receptions-per-game in 2015. Sharpe can run the full route tree, from the slot or on the outside, and can create great separation with his footwork and ability to sink his hips out of breaks. But it’s his small hands (measuring just 8 ⅜” at the combine) and slight frame (just 194 pounds at 6-2) that caused him to fall to the fifth round of the draft.

NFL scouts may care about hand size, but it didn’t affect Sharpe in college as he caught everything thrown his way when he was open. The Tennessee Titans took a shot on Sharpe and he has the ability to be productive right out of the gate. He should have no trouble supplanting Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter, but he’ll likely be the third wideout behind Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham. He’s a waiver wire watch in redraft leagues, but in PPR dynasty formats, he’s worth a late second or early third round pick as he owns legit potential to be a high-volume WR.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Ricardo Louis

Picked 4.16 | Height 6-2 | Weight 215 | Auburn

The Cleveland Browns had an interesting combination of draft picks under their new regime this year, mixing players who were extremely productive in college with players who excelled at the combine. Ricardo Louis falls in the latter category – while he totaled just 46 receptions and four touchdowns for Auburn last season, he ran a 4.43 forty, a 38 inch vertical, and an impressive 11’0” broad jump. Despite not producing in college, the 6’2” 215-pound Louis has the athleticism, physicality, and catch radius to make an impact in the NFL. But because of his hands and raw route running, Louis fell to the fourth round of the draft. Even with the lack of experience, he has the physical talent and hip flexibility to become a reliable route runner.

Watching the Browns’ WR depth chart shake out during training camp will be one of the more interesting pre-season stories to follow, as Louis was one of four WRs drafted by Cleveland in April (Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, Jordan Payton). Unless Louis completely surprises, it would be unexpected if he received significant targets in 2016. However, his metric profile is intriguing, making him an excellent high-upside selection in the fourth round or later of dynasty rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Corey Coleman

Picked 1.15 | Height 5-11 | Weight 194 | Baylor

The Browns planted their stake and ended the ‘first wide receiver drafted’ debate taking the 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman.

Coleman’s 40.5” vertical jump and 129” broad jump at the combine both top the 90th percentile and he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day. The knocks on Coleman are his size (5’11”), dropped passes (10 out of 116 targets), and limited route tree (four routes accounted for over 80% of the routes he ran at Baylor). The positives are his straight line speed, athleticism, quickness, and elusiveness in the open field. Coleman will enjoy a new offensive brain trust with Hue Jackson (Head Coach and play-caller), Pep Hamilton (Associate Head Coach), and Al Saunders (Wide Receivers Coach). Coleman has TY Hilton/Percy Harvin like qualities which should make him a regular on “Top Plays of the Week.” Hue Jackson and company will manufacture touches for Coleman who can hit a homerun on any given play. Pairing with another Baylor product in Robert Griffin III, Coleman is the #1 receiving threat on the Browns offense and warrants redraft WR3 value, with WR2 upside.

Written By: Eric Ludwig

WR Will Fuller

Picked 1.21 | Height 6-0 |  Weight 186 | Notre Dame

Houston had long been linked to Notre Dame WR Will Fuller in the weeks leading up to the draft. Fuller ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was fastest among the wide receivers. Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien has coveted a deep-threat to stretch the field and take some pressure off of Pro bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins. While Fuller can certainly blaze down the field, there are questions about his overall skillset. Fuller (6-0 186) has good size, but doesn’t have great explosiveness. He also isn’t the cleanest route runner and could have issues in press coverage. And despite an excellent showing in the combine’s gauntlet drill, the biggest knock on Fuller has been his questionable hands. In the finals days leading to the draft, local “keyed-in” experts indicated that Houston was in fact, not on Fuller, but would rather draft pass rush, secondary or even another wideout like Laquon Treadwell or Josh Doctson. A report after the draft said Houston coveted West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, but he was selected earlier than anticipated at No. 14 by the Oakland Raiders. Obviously the Texans brass was indeed high on Fuller, as the team- which is not known for trading up or making bold moves- traded a 2017 sixth round selection to swap picks with Washington at No. 21. The Texans and Redskins had similar team needs, so clearly Houston wanted the right to choose Fuller over Docton or Treadwell, who would go back-to-back at 22 and 23 to Washington and Minnesota respectively.

With Nate Washington now plying his trade in New England, there is an opening as the starter opposite of Hopkins in Houston’s new-look offense- which should play much faster than it ever has. That leaves Fuller as the favorite to start for Houston as a field-stretching, downfield threat. In theory, Fuller’s speed will take pressure off of Hopkins and also set up successful matchups for new starting running back Lamar Miller. As long as Fuller can run an NFL route tree and improve as a pass-catcher, he should be considered the favorite to be the Texans’ WR2 and his big-play ability make him an intriguing high-ceiling option to consider late in redraft leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Michael Thomas

Picked 2.16 | Height 6-3 | Weight 212 | Ohio State

Of all the rookie wideouts, Michael Thomas is the darkhorse candidate to be the most productive fantasy asset right out of the gate. With longtime Saints’ veteran Marques Colston released in the offseason, Thomas is expected to man the ‘big slot’ role that has been occupied by Colston for the past decade. Colston went from small-college unknown to setting franchise records by excelling in the slot and acting as the main red zone option for Drew Brees. Now Thomas (6-3 212) brings a similar size to that role, but with much more after-the-catch ability. Thomas is an excellent, high-upside mid-round pick in redraft leagues and worthy of a top-5 selection in dynasty formats.

As long as he can learn the playbook, Michael Thomas should be in the running for offensive rookie of the year honors, and can be a big difference maker in fantasy football.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Pharoh Cooper

Picked: 4.19 | Height 5-11 Weight| 203 | South Carolina

After selecting their franchise quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams made an effort to add to his arsenal by bringing in former South Carolina receiver Pharoh Cooper in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. Cooper brought in 135 receptions for 2,073 yards and 17 touchdowns throughout his final two years as the Gamecocks’ primary slot receiver. Coming from a military family, Cooper is a disciplined, hard-working player that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done both on and off the field. At 5’11”, 203 pounds, Cooper lacks the necessary size and speed (4.63-second 40-yard dash at Pro Day) to have success outside the hashes, but from within the slot, Cooper is a strong route runner with above-average short-area quickness. He should step into a safety blanket role for Goff given his ability to break open both in man and zone coverage, but his production will be negatively affected if he continues to struggle with drops at the next level. With Los Angeles, Cooper will likely see a great deal of snaps from the slot while Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt/Brian Quick play on the outside. Given the poor quarterback play the Rams experienced in 2015, it’s tough to predict how many targets Cooper will see with Goff under center, but given the loss of Jared Cook this offseason,

Cooper has an opportunity to pull a significant percentage of the targets as a rookie. Look for Cooper to have some success in PPR leagues given his experience as a volume catcher, but in standard leagues he should be considered a late-round pick for depth. Even if Cooper plays in every game, his ceiling sits near W3 production in Los Angeles’ rebuilt offense.

Written By: Austin Gayle

WR Rashard Higgins

Picked 5.35 | Height 6-1 | Weight 196 | Colorado State

Rashard Higgins finished an impressive collegiate career while mostly flying under the radar due to playing at lowly Colorado State. But if you watch tape of Higgins, you’ll quickly see he belongs in the NFL. Higgins is a natural hands-catcher and his ball skills are off the chart; watching him high point passes on deep routes are a thing of beauty. However, he lacks the strength to effectively free himself from press coverage, which could prove to be an issue during his early years as a pro. After being selected by the Cleveland Browns, Higgins may not have time to work on his craft before stepping into a legitimate role. The future of Josh Gordon is up in the air, so the favorites to start at WR will be Higgins and the other three rookie WRs the Browns drafted. First round pick Corey Coleman will likely lock up one spot, but with Travis Benjamin gone in free agency to San Diego, the number two spot is wide open. Likely starter at QB Robert Griffin III has an excellent deep ball which plays well into Higgins’ skill-set. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Cleveland produces more than one fantasy relevant WR, but Higgins could be a flex option in plus-matchups throughout the season. In DFS, he has the potential to be a low-floor, high-ceiling tournament option. And despite his fifth-round NFL draft status, he’s an excellent upside pick in the second round of rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Kolby Listenbee

Picked 6.17 | Height 6-0 | Weight 197 | TCU

You may look at Kolby Listenbee’s college reception numbers and come away underwhelmed. He totaled just 71 receptions overs his final two seasons, but his yard-per-reception numbers were eye-popping. Averaging more than 19 yards-per-catch each of the last two years, Listenbee showed off his deep speed and excellent hands as a deep threat for TCU . However, Listenbee has a slight frame at just 6-0 197 lbs. and doesn’t run the full route tree, which may limit his snaps in the pros. The Buffalo Bills decided to overlook his limitations and infuse some speed into their roster by drafting Listenbee in the sixth round this year. As a four-time All-American track star at TCU, Listenbee can be an excellent situational deep threat for the Bills. It’s unlikely Listenbee makes his presence felt in 2016, but he’s a worthwhile stash in dynasty leagues because of his big-play ability. There isn’t exactly a log-jam at the WR position in Buffalo- with some development, it’s conceivable he becomes Sammy Watkins’ running mate within a year or two. His floor is certainly low but at his ceiling, Kolby Listenbee could become DeSean Jackson. And in non-PPR leagues, that’s pretty good for a sixth-rounder.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Jordan Payton

Picked 5.15 | Height 6-1 | Weight 207 | UCLA

Jordan Payton is just one of the examples of the Cleveland Browns’ new drafting strategy that focuses on college production (innovative, eh?). Over his last two college seasons, Payton caught 145 passes as a reliable No. one option for UCLA’s passing game. With his 6-1 207-pound frame, Payton was consistently able to box out cornerbacks and win in contested situations. Scouts were low on Payton because of his lack of acceleration and inability to defeat press coverage, although draft expert Matt Waldman believes he has enough skills to improve the latter. If he can’t improve, can he make a living in the NFL not creating separation and just winning on contested catches? It’s a road less traveled, that’s for sure. He’ll compete with fellow rookies Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis for targets in 2016, so monitor his progress in camp. One thing that could help him get on the field early in his career is his size and run-blocking ability. Payton is worth a late round rookie pick if you have the luxury of holding onto him for a couple of years with hopes of him improving his release through press coverage. At his ceiling, Payton has the makings of a possession receiver, but those types have some value in dynasty leagues, too.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Charone Peake

Picked 7.20 | Height 6-2 | Height 209 | Clemson

To say Charone Peake has been overshadowed by other talented receivers would be a major understatement. Throughout his time at Clemson, he’s played with DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant. Peake was a top recruit coming out of high school, but a series of injuries and a stacked WR depth chart didn’t give him a chance to shine until his final year. He only totaled 50 receptions and five touchdowns last season, but that was more than his previous four college seasons combined. He has the acceleration, speed, and quickness to be a stud. But his injuries, inconsistent release off the line, and his lack of college production (just 1172 receiving yards in his entire career) caused him to drop to the 7th round of the draft to the New York Jets. Peake is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn behind two of the game’s best receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker for a couple of seasons. However barring a catastrophe, Peake likely won’t contribute in 2016. In your rookie draft, he has the talent to follow the paths of his Clemson WR brethren, so he’s worthy of a late-round selection. Just be aware that it may take a couple of years to see some return on your investment.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Trevor Davis

Picked 5.26 | Height 6-1 |  Weight 188 | California

When Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending injury during the 2015 preseason, the Packers knew they would be challenged to find anything close to a replacement for him. What they didn’t know is that for the 2015 season only two wide receivers would play every game, Cobb and Janis. What they also didn’t know was how much Randall Cobb would struggle to get open consistently on the short-to-mid range routes without Nelson there to stretch the field. It was clear the Packers needed to get faster at the wide receiver position. Enter Trevor Davis. Davis ran the third-fastest WR forty time at the combine this year (4.42) and can run deep routes with the best of them. He is a bit undersized at just 188 lbs., but again this guy is being brought in for one reason and that is to take the top off of opposing defenses. Davis also excels in the kick return game and could conceivably make the roster as a return guy first and then work his way into a role in the passing game. It is more likely that he will fight with Janis and Abbrederis for the sixth WR roster spot and will serve as deep threat insurance in case Nelson goes down again. All in all not on anyone’s redraft radar and nor should he be but if injuries begin to pile up in Green Bay again, keep this guy on your watch list.

Written By: Josh Daniels

WR Aaron Burbridge

Picked 6.38 |  Height 6-0 |  Weight 206 | Michigan State

Chip Kelly is the new sheriff in San Francisco which means there will be a push to get bigger at the WR position. In Philadelphia, Kelly ousted DeSean Jackson, the diminutive speedster, in favor of larger receivers like 2014 second-rounder Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper. While Aaron Burbridge isn’t an overly big WR, he was named the 2015 Big Ten wide receiver of the year and was the go to guy for Connor Cook and the Michigan State offense his senior season. Burbridge is only an average athlete with mostly average size but produced at such a high level in 2015 largely because of his ability to compete for jump balls and his above average route running. He became the most trusted target for MSU and routinely came up with big plays when the Spartans needed them the most.

As a sixth-round pick it’s hard to imagine him stepping right onto the field, but the Niners, aside from Torrey Smith, are desperately thin at the receiver position. Of all the WRs on the roster, only Jerome Simpson and Torrey Smith have more than 36 receptions in their NFL careers. The current 49ers WR depth chart reads more like a training camp invitee list than it does a professional receiving corps. Burbridge has the ability to make the most of his opportunity and earn a spot in the slot for the Niners. Chip Kelly has a penchant for the bigger, possession type of slot WRs and he loves physical wideouts who compete for the ball in the air. Burbridge is also an able and aggressive blocker which could quickly help him stand out in camp and would be an ideal fit for Kelly’s offense. All in all, Burbridge is not a guy who anyone is taking on draft day in redraft leagues, but put him on your watch list and see how the wide open WR battle shapes up in camp in SF. One thing we know for sure is that the Niners will evolve into a volume offense this season and with volume comes fantasy production.

Written By: Josh Daniels

WR Daniel Braverman

Picked 7.09 |  Height 5-10 | Weight 175 | Western Michigan

With Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson expected to line up outside the hashes as their top two wide receivers, the Chicago Bears looked to upgrade at the slot position by selecting former Central Michigan receiver Daniel Braverman in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft. At 5’10”, 177 pounds, Braverman best projects as a slot receiver at the next level because of his lack of size. At Central Michigan, Braverman lined up in the slot on 839 of his 873 snaps on offense (95.4 percent) in 2015, per Pro Football Focus. Though he doesn’t possess enough speed to stretch the field vertically, Braverman is an excellent route-runner on short and intermediate routes.

Braverman should develop into a volume catcher for the Bears given his ability to get open in limited space and overwhelmingly reliable hands (dropped just 11 of his 198 catchable passes in 2014 and 2015). In Chicago, Braverman should have an easy time taking over for the Bears’ current slot receiver Eddie Royal given Royal’s overall inconsistency, but his snap count will grow exponentially if he can remain effective as a run blocker. Look for Braverman to become Jay Cutler’s go-to-guy behind Alshon Jeffrey now that Martellus Bennett is with New England, and in turn, he should draw some interest in the later rounds as a possible W3 with the potential of putting up WR2 production if he does completely replace Royal early in the season.

Written By: Austin Gayle

WR Chris Moore

Picked 4.09 | Height 6-1 | Weight 206 | Cincinnati

Chris Moore is the definition of a big-play receiver. During his time at Cincinnati, he never caught more than 45 passes in a season, yet was top five in the nation in yards-per-reception in 2015. One-third of his receptions last year went for 25-plus yards, and he should bring that deep threat ability to the Baltimore Ravens, who selected Moore in the fourth round.

The depth chart isn’t settled in Baltimore; Steve Smith is returning from an Achilles’ injury, Breshard Perriman still isn’t fully healthy after a knee injury cost him all of his rookie season, and Mike Wallace and Kamar Aiken are better suited for complementary roles. Moore isn’t a complete receiver, though, as he only runs a limited route tree, hasn’t worked to beat press coverage, and uses his body too often to catch the ball. But it’s his acceleration and burst (94th percentile broad jump and 80th percentile 3 cone drill performances at the combine) that makes him an interesting fantasy prospect. It’s conceivable that he makes a connection with Joe Flacco as early as his season, so keep him on your redraft radars. It may take a couple of years (if ever) for Moore to develop into a complete wide receiver, but he’s worth a third or fourth round pick in rookie drafts.

Written By: Brian Jester

WR Moritz Boehringer

Picked 6.05 | Height 6-4 | Weight 227 | Germany

Moritz Boehringer is the most interesting story of this year’s draft class. Hailing from Germany, Boehringer only had YouTube highlights and a Pro Day to convince NFL teams to take a flier on him. The Vikings did just that, selecting the German receiver in sixth round. He’s an athletic freak; at 6-4 227 lbs., he recorded a 4.43 forty, 39-inch vertical, 10-11 broad jump, and a three-cone of 6.65. These numbers are ridiculous for his size and given his height/weight combo, he tested nearly identically to the Packers’ Jeff Janis. When you throw on the YouTube highlights, you can see Boehringer’s athleticism jump off the screen. And it should – the competition is likely equivalent to high schools in the United States. For that reason, it will be a huge jump to play with the best athletes in the world in the NFL. Boehringer has also only been playing football for a short time, so he’s about as raw of a prospect that’s ever been drafted. It’s unreasonable to expect him to do anything this season outside of the return game, but he’s an intriguing prospect in dynasty leagues given his athleticism. Stash him in deep bench leagues.

Written By: Brian Jester
[/wlm_ismember] [wlm_nonmember]

WR Members Only

WR Laquon Treadwell

Picked 1.23 | Height 6-2 | Weight 221 | Ole Miss

Throughout the offseason Treadwell was scouted as the top wide receiver prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. He ended up sliding further than anticipated, mainly due to running a 4.62-second 40 at the Ole Miss pro day. But Treadwell projects to be the type of receiver who runs faster than he appears to move on film, and has all the physical tools needed to be a red zone ball-hawk in the pros. Treadwell is adept at using his size (6-2, 221lbs) to shield himself away from smaller defenders and has the strong ability to catch jump balls at the height of the pass. Being drafted by Minnesota appears to be a favorable landing spot for Treadwell, as the Z-receiver in Norv Turner’s vertical offense.

The Vikings have struggled to find a big-bodied receiver to fill that role recently and Treadwell possess all the same traits that made bigger wideouts like Michael Irvin and Vincent Jackson successful in this offense. With Stefon Diggs starting on the other side, Laquon Treadwell could surprise many people as a potential redzone passing weapon for an offense that has sorely been lacking one. He’s a top-5 dynasty draft pick and on the fringe WR3 radar in redraft leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Josh Doctson

Picked 1.22 | Height 6-2 | Weight 202 | TCU

Doctson delivers something that Washington’s current starting wideouts, Pierre Garçon and Desean Jackson, can’t- size. At 6-2 and over 200 lbs, Doctson is a considerable target who many draftniks had rated as the top wide receiver in this class. The Redskins thought enough of his potential that they made Doctson the first wide receiver that the franchise has selected in the first round in 15 seasons. Along with size, Doctson tied for the highest vertical jump (41 inches) in the 2016 draft class and has the speed to pull away from defenders. According to PFF, Doctson led the nation in yards-per-route run (4.07), while dropping only seven percent of the catchable balls thrown his way.

Doctson has an intriguing blend of size, speed, hands and athleticism to warrant a first round pick. The expectation is that Jackson and Doctson will lineup outside, while Garçon will man the slot. Jamison Crowder will move into a reserve role for Washington. Doctson’s size assure he could take some red-zone targets away from TE Jordan Reed, giving him WR3/4 potential in 2016. The real value for Doctson could lie next season, with Jackson and Garçon enter free agency, making Doctson a potential WR1 and worthy of a top three dynasty pick this season.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Tyler Boyd

Picked 2.24 | Height 6-1 | Weight 197 | Pittsburgh

The Cincinnati Bengals selected former Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd in the second round of the NFL draft, and though doesn’t have the elite quickness or burst to create separation out of his cuts, Boyd gets the job done as a physical possession receiver. Because of his lack of sudden athleticism, Boyd has had to develop into an elite route runner that can catch the ball in small windows and through contact. He possesses strong, reliable hands regardless of where he is on the field, as he consistently put up strong numbers despite the inconsistent quarterback play he experienced at Pittsburgh. According to Pro Football Focus, Boyd dropped just 10 of the 182 catchable passes thrown his way over the last two years. In his three years with the Panthers, Boyd brought in 254 receptions for 3,361 yards and 21 touchdowns. At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Boyd ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at 6’1”, 197 pounds, while he also put up 225 pounds 11 times on the bench press. Now with Cincinnati, Boyd should significantly benefit from having a consistent, proven passer like Andy Dalton under center and a true No. 1 receiver opposite of him in A.J. Green.

With Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones both gone, Boyd should easily assert himself as Dalton’s No. 3 option behind Green and tight end Tyler Eifert, and in turn, he should pull a great deal of targets in such a high octane offense. Also, with Green drawing double coverage for majority of the game, Boyd should benefit from seeing a lot of one-on-one opportunities. Given that he is a proven volume catcher, Boyd should turn the vast amount of targets he sees into serious production with the Bengals. He should put up WR3 numbers easily as a rookie, but he has sneaky WR2 potential in both in PPR and standard leagues because of his ability to get open on key downs and reliable hands.

Written By: Austin Gayle

WR Corey Coleman

Picked 1.15 | Height 5-11 | Weight 194 | Baylor

The Browns planted their stake and ended the ‘first wide receiver drafted’ debate taking the 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman.

Coleman’s 40.5” vertical jump and 129” broad jump at the combine both top the 90th percentile and he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day. The knocks on Coleman are his size (5’11”), dropped passes (10 out of 116 targets), and limited route tree (four routes accounted for over 80% of the routes he ran at Baylor). The positives are his straight line speed, athleticism, quickness, and elusiveness in the open field. Coleman will enjoy a new offensive brain trust with Hue Jackson (Head Coach and play-caller), Pep Hamilton (Associate Head Coach), and Al Saunders (Wide Receivers Coach). Coleman has TY Hilton/Percy Harvin like qualities which should make him a regular on “Top Plays of the Week.” Hue Jackson and company will manufacture touches for Coleman who can hit a homerun on any given play. Pairing with another Baylor product in Robert Griffin III, Coleman is the #1 receiving threat on the Browns offense and warrants redraft WR3 value, with WR2 upside.

Written By: Eric Ludwig

WR Will Fuller

Picked 1.21 | Height 6-0 |  Weight 186 | Notre Dame

Houston had long been linked to Notre Dame WR Will Fuller in the weeks leading up to the draft. Fuller ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was fastest among the wide receivers. Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien has coveted a deep-threat to stretch the field and take some pressure off of Pro bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins. While Fuller can certainly blaze down the field, there are questions about his overall skillset. Fuller (6-0 186) has good size, but doesn’t have great explosiveness. He also isn’t the cleanest route runner and could have issues in press coverage. And despite an excellent showing in the combine’s gauntlet drill, the biggest knock on Fuller has been his questionable hands. In the finals days leading to the draft, local “keyed-in” experts indicated that Houston was in fact, not on Fuller, but would rather draft pass rush, secondary or even another wideout like Laquon Treadwell or Josh Doctson. A report after the draft said Houston coveted West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, but he was selected earlier than anticipated at No. 14 by the Oakland Raiders. Obviously the Texans brass was indeed high on Fuller, as the team- which is not known for trading up or making bold moves- traded a 2017 sixth round selection to swap picks with Washington at No. 21. The Texans and Redskins had similar team needs, so clearly Houston wanted the right to choose Fuller over Docton or Treadwell, who would go back-to-back at 22 and 23 to Washington and Minnesota respectively.

Written By: Jody Smith

WR Pharoh Cooper

Picked: 4.19 | Height 5-11 Weight| 203 | South Carolina

After selecting their franchise quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams made an effort to add to his arsenal by bringing in former South Carolina receiver Pharoh Cooper in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. Cooper brought in 135 receptions for 2,073 yards and 17 touchdowns throughout his final two years as the Gamecocks’ primary slot receiver. Coming from a military family, Cooper is a disciplined, hard-working player that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done both on and off the field. At 5’11”, 203 pounds, Cooper lacks the necessary size and speed (4.63-second 40-yard dash at Pro Day) to have success outside the hashes, but from within the slot, Cooper is a strong route runner with above-average short-area quickness. He should step into a safety blanket role for Goff given his ability to break open both in man and zone coverage, but his production will be negatively affected if he continues to struggle with drops at the next level. With Los Angeles, Cooper will likely see a great deal of snaps from the slot while Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt/Brian Quick play on the outside. Given the poor quarterback play the Rams experienced in 2015, it’s tough to predict how many targets Cooper will see with Goff under center, but given the loss of Jared Cook this offseason,

Cooper has an opportunity to pull a significant percentage of the targets as a rookie. Look for Cooper to have some success in PPR leagues given his experience as a volume catcher, but in standard leagues he should be considered a late-round pick for depth. Even if Cooper plays in every game, his ceiling sits near W3 production in Los Angeles’ rebuilt offense.

Written By: Austin Gayle

 

Rookie Wide Receivers Rankings 2016

See More Rookie Rankings

Already a member? Click Here

[/wlm_nonmember]
Rookie Tight Ends

TE Hunter Henry

Picked 2.04 | Height 6-5 | Weight 250 | Arkansas

Hunter Henry was the first tight end off the board in the 2016 NFL draft. The Chargers picked up a player with a well-developed and complete skillset at the position, finding excellent value in the second round. Henry will help all facets of the offense. His tenacity as a run blocker should help second-year running back Melvin Gordon find a few more creases and rebound from a disappointing rookie season. Henry is capable as a pass blocker. He will help provide Philip Rivers a little extra time to find receivers in the face of fierce divisional pass rushers such as Von Miller, Khalil Mack, and Justin Houston. San Diego didn’t draft Henry simply to block, however. Hunter has remarkably soft hands, as evidenced by his zero dropped passes in 2015 and only two drops on 90 catchable passes over the past two seasons. Video of Henry’s games shows that many of these catches were made either in traffic or on throws in difficult spots, testifying to his incredible concentration. From a fantasy perspective, the presence of teammate Antonio Gates keeps the ceiling low on Henry this year. It would take an injury to Gates for Hunter to be fantasy-relevant this season. The significant depth at the tight end position around the league makes Henry an afterthought in redraft leagues, and this same depth really makes him a low priority in dynasty formats as well. Hunter will likely end up being a much better football player for the Chargers than he will be a fantasy football player for the next couple of seasons.

Written By: Rich Thomas

TE Nick Vannett

Picked 3.32 | Height 6-6 | Weight 257 | Ohio State

Nick Vannett was the third tight end taken in the 2016 NFL Draft when Seattle selected him with the 32nd pick in the third round. Typically when a tight end is selected this early in the draft, he is expected to be a part of his new team’s passing attack. But that’s not the plan for Vannett. The Seahawks drafted the 6-6 257 lbs. former Ohio State Buckeye to be a lead blocker for their power run game. In his four-year college career, Vannett never topped 19 receptions in a season and finished with a total of just 55 catches in his time as a Buckeye. While he did catch five touchdowns his junior year, he lacks athletic ability to get up and down the field with any regularity in the NFL.

At the Ohio State Pro Day, Vannett ran a less than impressive 4.85 seconds 40-yard dash. Vannett will be a nice addition to the Seahawks’ run game as he is a very solid moving blocker and should be able to use his long arms (34 ¼ inches) to control the point of attack. The Seahawks’ new tight end lacks any athletic attribute that will result in him being anything more than a dump off option in the pass game for Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Even with his upside as a blocker, the tight end will not have a role in the Seattle passing game and therefore should not have much to offer in fantasy football now or in the immediate future.

Written By: Wes Anderson

TE Tyler Higbee

Picked 4.12 | Height 6-6 | Weight 249 | Western Kentucky

A converted wide receiver, Tyler Higbee is a great move TE at 6-6 250 lbs. He was an excellent receiver in his final season at Western Kentucky, totaling eight touchdowns despite missing five games with a knee injury. He has the acceleration, hands, and field-stretching verticality to be an elite fantasy tight end. However, it may take a while for him to get on the field full time as his blocking is a work in progress. He still hasn’t filled out his frame, so he’ll have to get in the Rams’ weight room and bulk up to become a two-way tight end. Higbee should have been a Day 2 selection, but an off-field issue where he allegedly knocked out a guy in a bar and put him in a coma caused him to drop to the fourth round. The Rams’ tight end depth chart is wide open, as Lance Kendricks is a mediocre option at best. It’s rare for rookie tight ends to succeed, so Higbee will be a fantasy TE2 at best this season if he’s used as a slot TE. However, he arguably has more upside than Hunter Henry in dynasty leagues, making him an excellent selection once Henry is drafted in your rookie draft.

Written By: Brian Jester

TE Austin Hooper

Picked 3.18 | Height 6-4 | Weight 254 | Stanford

Hooper becomes the latest in a long line of quality Stanford tight ends to enter the NFL. At 6-4, 254 and running a 4.68 40-yard dash, Hooper combines very good size and speed with a dependable set of hands. He also has the base and frame to become a reliable blocker, meaning he can be a three-down, in-line tight end rather than a passing specialist or “move” option restricted to passing downs. Hooper is big enough to be a problem for defensive backs and quick enough to get open against linebackers. He was a hands catcher at Stanford and projects to be above average as a downfield threat, while needing to work on route running. As for fit, landing in Atlanta was almost ideal, as the Falcons are a pass-first offense that has little competition in front of the rookie, and Atlanta is in need of secondary pass catchers to take the pressure off of Julio Jones. Should Jones continue to command double teams, Hooper could be a dangerous option in between the seams and a dependable red zone target for Matt Ryan. It would not be surprising at all for Hooper to lead rookie tight ends in receptions this season, but keep in mind that the transition for tight ends from college to the pros is often challenging, and it’s rare for a rookie to make a big fantasy impact in his first pro season. Hooper is worthy of dynasty consideration, but projects as a lower-tier TE2 in redraft leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

TE Jerell Adams

Picked 6.09 | Height 6-5 | Weight 247 | South Carolina

Jerell Adams is the athletic type of tight end that you want to stash at the end of your dynasty roster. At 6-5 247 lbs. and the ability to run 4.64 forty, Adams was a high school basketball star who didn’t provide much production in college on the football field. In his final season at South Carolina, he set career highs with just 28 catches for 421 yards and three touchdowns. But his physical profile, ability to get vertical, toughness at the catch point, and his impressive run-after-the catch prowess was enough for the Giants to take a shot on Adams in the sixth round of the draft. There’s no telling how Larry Donnell will recover from his neck injury and Will Tye isn’t a dynamic tight end, so if Adams works on his poor route running and refines his blocking, he could be the Giants’ tight end of the future. It will be tough for Adams to contribute in 2016, so you can ignore him in redraft leagues. But if you have the luxury of a deep bench or practice squad in your dynasty league, he’s a high-upside flier that’s worthy of a late rookie pick or free agent addition.

Written By: Brian Jester

TE Seth Devalve

Picked 4.40 | Height 6-4 | Weight 245 | Princeton

Similar to Tyler Higbee, Seth Devalve is a former wide receiver that has been converted to play tight end. At 6-4 225 lbs., Devalve has the body and skillset to be a matchup problem in the NFL. He has good ball skills and brings a route running technician mindset to the wideout position. Devalve actually wasn’t projected to be drafted, as he is a little light for a tight end and at Princeton he didn’t prove he’s capable of providing in-line blocking, yet the Browns took a shot on him in the fourth round. He’ll get a chance to learn behind Gary Barnidge and once he’s ready, he could be an exciting chess piece for head coach Hue Jackson to use in the passing game.

For 2016, he should be completely off your redraft radar. In dynasty leagues, there are a slew of late-round tight ends who have the pass-catching upside to be a TE1 in the future: Devalve falls in that group. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll show enough to be worth a draft pick in this year’s rookie drafts. The best advice is to keep him on your watch list and pounce on him when he’s bulked up and the coaching staff shows an interest in getting him on the field.

Written By: Brian Jester

TE Rico Gathers

Picked 6.42 | Height 6-8 | Weight 275 | Baylor

Owner Jerry Jones hopes that he’s found the next basketball prospect to transition to successful NFL tight end. At 6-8 275 lbs., Gathers more than has the size to play, but he has no college football experience. Instead, Gathers played basketball for the Baylor Bears recent NCAA tournament team, where he was a mean rebounder. Jones hopes that those skills will transition to the football field. Deep into the sixth round of the NFL Draft, it’s worth a gamble that Gathers can rekindle some of the magic he created on the gridiron as a dominant middle school wide receiver. ESPN’s Todd McShay did not have a draftable grade on Gathers, but thought he would attract attention as an undrafted free agent. Instead, Gathers will have the opportunity to earn a job in camp, learning behind one of the game’s best in veteran tight end Jason Witten. With his lack of experience and pedigree, Gathers should be considered a dynasty stash in only the deepest of leagues.

Written By: Jody Smith

Table KEY:

Terms and Meanings

 

Columns & Scoring Formats:

  • Exp- Years in the NFL
  • GM- Projected Games Played
  • PassY- Total Projected Passing Yards
  • TD- Passing Touchdowns
  • INT- Interceptions
  • RushY- Total Projected Rushing Yards
  • RushTD- Rushing Touchdowns
  • ESPN/NFL.com- Projected fantasy points using ESPN and NFL.com scoring format
  • Yahoo- Projected Fantasy points using Yahoo scoring format
  • MYFFPC- Projected fantasy points using MYFFPC scoring Format
  • AVG- Projected average fantasy points per game

Top Contributing Writers For This Piece

Follow these smart fantasy football minds on twitter:

Difference Between Scoring Formats

  • ESPN.com, NFL.com & CBS Sports: Minus 2 points for an INT
  • Yahoo.com: Minus 1 point for and INT
  • MyFFPC: 1 point for every 20 passing yards (opposed to 25)

Back to Rankings

Share This!
Fantasy Pros Approved
Follow Us: Twitter: @GridironExperts Facebook Google Plus RSS Feed Soundcloud