Fantasy High 5: NFL Draft Fantasy Discussion

Fantasy High 5

Fantasy High 5: Post-Draft Fantasy Discussion

Fantasy High 5 is Gridiron Experts’ fantasy football group discussion article. This week our staff talk value Post-Draft. Which fantasy players have the best and worst value? Which teams walked away with the best haul? What did everyone think of Johnny Football landing in Cleveland? Also, checkout related articles: Gridiron Experts 2014 NFL Draft Grades and 2014 Fantasy Rookie Breakdown.


Question 1: Outside of the obvious, what fantasy gem your excited about?

Shae Cronin -Gridiron ExpertsJarvis Landry DolphinsThis may have everything to do with my ongoing crush on him, but Jarvis Landry in Miami is an exciting pairing. People often refer to Landry’s lowly combine 40-yard dash time and quickly write him off. This is just proof that people didn’t watch his tape at LSU. Although Landry doesn’t tote the most imposing physical attributes, he’s a heady football player with great instincts and fly traps for hands. He plays with incredible attitude and aggression. He’s a full-time baller through every play of every game. In a receiving corps led by Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, Landry has a chance to crack the lineup as a rookie and he’s the type who won’t shy away from the tough assignments in the middle of the field. Needless to say, I would’ve loved Landry regardless of his jersey color — but I like his odds in Miami.

Mike Rigz -Gridiron ExpertsI’m really curious about what RB Lorenzo Taliaferro can do for the Ravens. For five seasons starting running back Ray Rice averaged 4.5 yards per carry, but his numbers plummet in 2013 to a pedestrian 3.1 YPC. Despite being only 27 years old, Rice has endured a ton of millage over his six seasons in Baltimore. Throw in the off-season arrest for allegedly assaulting his now-wife in a New Jersey casino and you have hints of a possible change coming. Fantasy Owners have been expecting Bernard Pierce to be the eventual guy, but with his nagging shoulder injury and a disappointing 2013 season, Taliaferro will have a great opportunity to step in and impress. To add to that, judging by the interest the Ravens had in RB LeGarrette Blount during free agency, drafting a bigger back in Taliaferro could indicate that confidence in Pierce has been dwindling.

The Ravens snagged Lorenzo Taliaferro in the fourth round. The Coastal Carolina RB had a solid combine and caught my eye in the 3 cone drill. Taliaferro is a bigger RB, standing tall at 6’0, 230lbs, but was one of the top performers in the drill. He doesn’t run with a long stride, but has great balance and cuts well for his size. The small-school producer has an all-around skill set to compete for a the RB2 job.

Darren Collette

I think Martavis Bryant was a steel for the Steelers at pick 118. The guy is 6’4” with 4.42 speed and a good deep ball receiver. We know Big Ben loves to go deep and Bryant adds height that Roethlisberger has not had in the past. There are some questions about his hands and character, but this is a great fit. At Clemson he was overshadowed by Sammy Watkins and even DeAndre Hopkins in 2012. With just Antonio Brown, Lance Moore and sophomore receiver Markus Wheaton as his main competition, I think Bryant will get plenty of chances right away. He is slipping deep in many rookie drafts and can be had at a good value. He reminds me of A.J. Green, but don’t expect him to be that good.

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsI’m really excited about running back Terrance West from Towson. The Browns traded their fourth- and sixth-round picks in order to move into the back of round three and selected the former Division-IAA standout. West has drawn comparisons to Alfred Morris, whom new Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan worked with in Washington the last two years and there should be plenty of carries to go around in what is likely to be a run-heavy offense in Cleveland next season. Given his own skill set and Ben Tate’s durability concerns, I think West has a ton of upside as a rookie.

Zach Greubel -GridironExpertsBishop SankeyAs time goes on, so goes my want for Tennessee Titans second-round pick and the first running back drafted this year, Bishop Sankey. He may be an obvious big name, but he’s the rookie I’m most excited about. I think he’ll be the 2014 Rookie of the Year and Rookie MVP of fantasy leagues. He has the best opportunity to provide the most for his team with Chris Johnson out of Tennessee and Shonn Greene ailing. He’s also a good pass-catcher, which gives him even more value in PPR scoring leagues.

Jody Smith -Gridiron ExpertsBrandin Cooks has the opportunity to be a significant contributor for the Saints from day one. During the offseason, New Orleans traded Darren Sproles, cut Lance Moore and are at a potential contract impasse with Jimmy Graham. Marques Colston is also another year older. The Saints will remain a potent, pass-first squad, so there will be a ton of opportunities for the rookie wide out to come in and make an immediate impact. Clearly the Saints loved the kid, as they traded away picks to move up in round one to grab him. Cooks is also considered a great kid with a strong attitude and work ethic.

Question 2: In your opinion, who had the best draft?

Shae Cronin -Gridiron ExpertsJake MatthewsAlthough I like a lot of the guys who make up the draft class in Cleveland, the Atlanta Falcons deserve praise for the nine rookies they landed. Jake Matthews is a franchise anchor. Ra’shede Hageman has all the potential in the world (the question is whether or not he wants to work for it). Dezmen Southward fills a huge need. Devonta Freeman was one of my top-rated running backs in the draft. Prince Shembo has the IQ and instincts at linebacker. All that talent and that’s just through the first four rounds! The Falcons finished by landing great value in the seventh round with linebackers Yawin Smallwood (lots of natural talent) and Tyler Starr (developmental, but intriguing). They filled needs and consistently cashed in on value.

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsI think it’s the Minnesota Vikings. Some will argue that Anthony Barr was a reach for the Vikings at the number nine pick overall, but there is always a premium on pass rushing and Barr should fit nicely into new head coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme. The Vikings really needed a quarterback, so it wouldn’t have surprised people if they took one early in the first round. Minnesota showed some patience and still got the guy that I believe is the best quarterback in this year’s draft, selecting Teddy Bridgewater with the last pick of round one. After a strong first day, the Vikings also got a lot of value later in the draft with players like Scott Crichton and David Yankey, and uber-athlete Jerick McKinnon is one of the most interesting picks of the entire draft.

Jody Smith -Gridiron ExpertsSomehow, the St. Louis Rams acquired the best lineman on both sides of the ball in a single draft. OT Greg Robinson is already a fantastic run-blocker and could be eased into the NFL by starting at right tackle until he is deemed ready to protect Sam Bradford’s blind side. DT Aaron Donald is a disruptive force at the three-technique who gives the Rams already fearsome front line even more firepower. This defense is going to present some major problems for the opposition. St. Louis also did the smart thing by giving a vote of confidence to QB Sam Bradford, who deserves to keep his job after a devastating ACL injury ruined his 2013 campaign. All in all, the Rams are stuck in the NFL’s toughest division, but are making the right moves to build a young, solid nucleus and vault to contender status.

Mike Rigz -Gridiron ExpertsThe Houston Texans didn’t grab one of the big name quarterbacks, but I thought they had an excellent draft overall. Jadeveon Clowney was an easy first pick. Clowney teamed up with J.J. Watt should create havoc for offenses. The selection of Xavier Su’a-Filo in the second and Louis Nix in the 3rd really impressed me. Both were great value picks that could have been selected much higher. If Tom Savage turns out to be an eventual starter, the Texans first five picks could all be a valuable part of the teams’ starting roster.


Question 3: Thoughts on Johnny Football in Cleveland?

Johnny ManzielShae Cronin -Gridiron ExpertsNot only does John Manziel fill a glaring need in Cleveland, but he also provides a supportive and respected fan base with the excitement they deserve. That’s not to say Manziel will lead the Browns to six Super Bowls or anything (not saying he couldn’t either), but with his attitude, persona, swagger, etc., the Browns and their fans gain a little something extra with their new quarterback. Potential, marketability, hero/villain attraction — Manziel was a home run pick for the Cleveland Browns.

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsI think it was a good risk on Cleveland’s part to select Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick, but I continue to believe that he will have trouble adjusting to the NFL game and his scrambling style could lead to durability issues. With Josh Gordon likely to miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season, the Browns might have the worst receiving corp in the NFL. Even if Johnny Football earns the starting job in Cleveland, he won’t have much to work with in the passing game and the Browns figure to run the ball a ton this year. This is a situation to avoid for fantasy purposes.

Bob Talbot -Gridiron ExpertsI was driving the Johnny Football bandwagon before the Draft and after he landed in Cleveland, I made sure to renew my license. The news of Josh Gordon’s likely absence was a significant blow to my confidence. Gordon’s issues will likely deprive us of a dream match-up, which means Johnny needs more magic than ever. Miles Austin is an intriguing addition, but the Browns unfortunately acquired his hamstring as well. Expect a motivated Manziel to make the most of what he’s got; I’m just not sure he’s got enough. In my eyes, the Browns could compete for a division title with Gordon. Without him, it could be tough. The announcement of Hoyer as starter seems like a ploy to take the attention off Manziel. If he’s not starting Week 1, he will be starting shortly after that. Like any rookie quarterback, Johnny will face some adversity. With the depth at QB, his fantasy impact will likely be slim, but I still think he could be worth drafting late to stow away on your bench. It never hurts to gamble on a winner.

Jody Smith -Gridiron ExpertsA lot of people had the Browns taking Manziel with their first pick, so being able to wait and grab him later represented a nice value. The upside and excitement of Johnny Football presented the Browns a risk they needed to take. You don’t want to pass on the next superstar quarterback. Cleveland has been mired in mediocrity since 1999 because of that very reason: the failure to draft a franchise signal-caller. Only time will tell if Manziel is the guy or not, but until the Browns find that guy, the losing is likely to continue.


Question 4: Which rookie WR do you see having the biggest impact?

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsJordan MatthewsHe saw six receivers drafted ahead of him, but I like Jordan Matthews’ chances for first-year success as much as anyone. Matthews has a nice combination of size and speed that should fit into Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia. With DeSean Jackson now a former-Eagle, Matthews’ biggest competition for receiver reps consists of the chronically-injured Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Philadelphia is likely to start their second-round draft pick off as a slot receiver, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matthews working his way into a larger role pretty quickly.

Zach Greubel -GridironExpertsI’m torn between Jordan Matthews and Brandin Cooks here, but I’ll say Jordan Matthews. I love what he brings to the Eagles’ vertical, pass-happy offense. Head coach Chip Kelly has already said that Matthews will start in the slot, with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on the outside. At 6’3″, 212 lbs., he’d be a size mismatch for any defensive back, but especially in the slot. Matthews has the size and tools to eventually become a No. 1 receiver for the Eagles.

Shae Cronin -Gridiron ExpertsMy love for Brandin Cooks grows and grows and it doesn’t stop now that he’s suiting up for one of the league’s most potent offenses. Not only do I like him alongside Kenny Stills and Marques Colston, but Cooks is a speedster who is absolutely deadly in the open field. With Darren Sproles now in Philly, Saints head coach Sean Payton can get creative with Cooks, helping to make up for the lost speed and playmaking ability of Sproles. The Saints’ combination of system and quarterback has demonstrated the ability to make household names out of relative nobodies. In this case, the front office moved up to snag a coveted, play-making receiver. Cooks will be a fun piece of the show in New Orleans.

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Jody Smith -Gridiron ExpertsThe Bills will do everything they can to get the ball to Sammy Watkins and justify the steep price they paid to jump up to the No. 4 spot. Almost immediately after selecting Watkins, the Bills traded away longtime No. 1 receiver Stevie Johnson, so clearly the team sees the rookie out of Clemson as its top playmaker from day one. Look for the club to use Watkins in a variety of ways, including on special teams, out of the backfiled and on gadget plays. There shouldn’t be in shortage of opportunities for Watkins to make a big impact.

Bob Talbot -Gridiron ExpertsI’m going to come across as a homer, but I’m going with Odell Beckham, Jr. Jerry Reese wouldn’t have passed on Aaron Donald unless he saw ODB playing a key role for the Giants in the near future. With Nicks gone, the Giants have a huge void at the position. Some believe Rueben Randle can shoulder the load, but I have my doubts. He produced in the WR3 role, but challenging the league’s top corners would be a tall task for him. Beckham has the physical gifts to take on that role. His size, speed, aggression and hands are top of the line. It may take a few weeks for him to build rapport with Eli, as Manning is currently sidelined after surgery, but give it a few weeks. Many saw Beckham as a top rookie prospect when they thought he could fall to the Rams or Jets. Well, instead of Bradford, Smith or Vick, Beckham has a Manning throwing him the pigskin. His ceiling should be pretty high.


Question 5: In your opinion, which fantasy rookie could disappoint the most?

Shae Cronin -Gridiron ExpertsSammy WatkinsBecause I think he’s an incredible player with more than enough potential to be a beast in the NFL, I don’t like to throw his name out there, but Sammy Watkins is a guy who could have fantasy owners boiling with excitement and turn out a rookie season with disappointing return on investment. In dynasty leagues, by all means, pull up a chair in dig in. In redrafts, with what appears to be a shaky situation at quarterback in Buffalo, combined with the overall excitement surrounding Watkins and his presence in the league, there just feels like a hefty margin for let-down. The other speed options on Buffalo’s roster could help open things up for Watkins, but it’s not something I’d push all my chips on in year one. Gut feeling perhaps, but one I plan on following it.

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsI expect Sammy Watkins to disappoint fantasy owners in 2014. Buffalo clearly loves the guy, since they gave away a king’s ransom for the opportunity to select him at the #4 pick overall and then subsequently traded away Stevie Johnson. That will only serve to drive up fantasy expectations and ultimately Watkins’ ADP. The Bills ranked 28th in passing yards last season and only the Jets threw fewer touchdown passes, so it’s hard for me to get too excited about anyone in Buffalo’s passing game.

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Zach Greubel -GridironExpertsThis may be going upstream, but I just don’t see Johnny Manziel having the success that a lot of people think he’s going to have. I understand his dual threat ability, but he’s still just a rookie. Keep in mind that the Browns receiving corps has been virtually depleted at this point, though Josh Gordon’s status isn’t set in stone. If Gordon misses a significant amount of time, it will be up to the likes of Earl Bennett and Miles Austin to be Manziel’s saving grace. I don’t necessarily think Manziel will have a bad year, I just think expectations should be tempered. It’s a defensive-minded team and Manziel will be thrown to the wolves if he does indeed end up being the starter.

Darren Collette

A lot of owners are using high first round picks on Eric Ebron in rookie drafts and I think he’s a risk or at least not a sure-fire “elite” TE in 2014. Calvin Johnson will always be the top target for Matthew Stafford and with Golden Tate in the mix, there is another mouth to feed. Ebron is not a great blocker and will not be in all the formations a TE should be in on. Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria are still around to take downs and red zone targets away from him. There is no doubt that he has talent, but don’t expect him to be Jimmy Graham this year. Think more of Tyler Eifert when you consider Ebron and hope for a top 20 TE season, rather than expecting a top 10 showing.

Jody Smith -Gridiron ExpertsA lot of people assume that 6’5″ Kelvin Benjamin has the physical tools to make an immediate impact and be the Panther’s top playmaker from day one, but there are a lot red flags that say Benjamin might take a while to develop. First, Benjamin had a tendency to just out-leap and overpower people in college, but often showed questionable hands and his route running wasn’t as developed as it should be. Secondly, the rookie really only had one season of significant output in college and the recent track record for one-and-done college wide outs isn’t good. Finally, the Panthers traded Steve Smith, meaning Benjamin could see constant double teams from NFL cornerbacks and safeties, who are much more likely to shut him down than over-matched ACC defenders were.

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