Johnny Manziel Fantasy
Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing player in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Win or lose, he’s sure to put asses in the seats and at the end of the day, coed asses in the sheets. Johnny Football took the world by storm back in 2012, when he single-handedly took down national powerhouse, Alabama in Tuscaloosa. One Heisman trophy and two bowl victories later, the Texans are flirting with the idea of drafting college football’s bad boy with the first overall pick this May. At the same time we wonder if we should take a chance on Johnny in our fantasy drafts.
I am a firm believer that NFL success for any college quarterback, no matter the hype, has a lot to do with the situation he’s drafted into. The David Carr’s and Sam Bradford’s of the world weren’t exactly surrounded with elite talent when they stepped into the franchise quarterback role. Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick on the other hand, came into some pretty favorable situations. They were drafted later, but they benefited from solid mentors, great coaching staffs and tremendous talent on both sides of the ball supporting them. Which leads me to Johnny’s first and most ideal potential destination.
The Texans are in a better position than any #1 pick I can ever remember. This team is a year removed from a first round playoff bye. With Arian Foster healthy (we hope) and a defense with talent that made it ranked top 5 in 2012, this franchise could instantly be revitalized with a talent like Manziel. The foundation is there for immediate rookie impact/success. From a fantasy perspective, the stars seem to be even more aligned. Paired with Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Deandre Hopkins, the stage is set for Manziel to light up the scoreboard and dazzle us with fantasy statistics. But let’s be honest. Jadaveon Clowney is making a STRONG case to be drafted #1 overall. And Johhny’s not the only quarterback draft scouts are hyping either. There’s a very good chance Houston decides Johnny’s upside is not worth passing on somebody else. So let’s examine some other potential destinations.
The Jags are the one team fantasy owners should be a little wary about. When we talk about bad situations, Jacksonville wins in a landslide. Coming off a 4-12 season (which we could argue was a successful season for that team), the Jaguars are short on fans, short on talent and short on luck. Paired with Toby Gerhart and Cecil Shorts, Johnny could provide an offensive spark, but with Justin Blackmon’s status uncertain, it’s hard to call Jacksonville an ideal landing spot for Manziel from a fantasy outlook. The good news: the Jags are more likely to take local product, Blake Bortles, if given the chance.
From a fantasy perspective, nothing would make me happier than seeing Manziel land in Cleveland. Not just for his fantasy sake, but for the fantasy sake of Josh Gordon as well. Playing the quarterback shuffle in 2013, Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards with just 14 games of action. If Jabriandon Campweeder can help Josh accumulate the numbers he had, imagine what Johnny could do at the helm? He’d be playing in a declining division with a young, underrated offense full of talent. Fantasy points could come aplenty.
Another likely suitor of Manziel would be Minnesota. The Vikings have been searching for a quarterback since Brett Favre left, relying heavily on Adrian Peterson in the meantime. Favre’s successors have been so lackluster that teams have been able to stack the box and still hold Minnesota QBs to below average numbers. If defenses treat the Vikings the same way with Johnny under center, he couldn’t ask for better defensive looks. He’s got some talent at wide receiver too. It wasn’t too long ago we considered Greg Jennings an All-Pro receiver and Cordarelle Patterson is arguably the most explosive player in the NFL right now.
The fact of the matter is, we don’t know where Johnny Football will land on Draft Day, but the fantasy possibilities look promising. Ideally, Houston, Cleveland or Minnesota grabs him and we immediately feel his fantasy impact. If it’s not meant to be, perhaps Johnny surprises us elsewhere.
Take a look at this blind combine comparison:[column size=”one-half”]
- 204 lbs
- 31″ arm length
- 10 1/4″ hands
- 4.55 40-yard run
- 34″ vertical
- 118″ broad jump
- 6.97 3-cone
- 4.09 shuttle
- 207 lbs
- 31 2/8″ arm length
- 9 7/8″ hands
- 4.68 40-yard run
- 31.5″ vertical
- 113″ broad jump
- 6.75 3-cone
- 4.03 shuttle
Minor discrepancies in favor of each here and there, but for the most part, these guys are pretty comparable. You might even give the edge to Player B, given the fact he appears to be quicker – a trait that probably means more for a QB than speed and jumping ability would. So who is Player B? That’s Manziel. No surprise I included included him in this analysis. Player A? That’s Russell Wilson – the second year quarterback that took full advantage of the favorable situation he was drafted into.
I’m not saying Johnny Football is hoisting the Lombardi trophy in two years, but it’s not entirely improbable. Young quarterbacks are quickly taking control of the NFL. Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck and Newton all had legitimate shots at a Super Bowl title this season. All four are age 26 or younger. Rookie QB contracts give teams tremendous spending power in free agency. The Seahawks, Niners, Colts and Panthers situation is almost unfair.
Will Jadaveon Clowney be a dominant defensive end? Yes. Can he single-handedly win your team a Super Bowl? No. A franchise QB on a rookie contract certainly can. Put Johnny in the right situation and he’s got a chance to do so himself. At the very least he could be fantasy gold in the right situation.
We can only hope he falls into the best situation possible. If he falls into a situation half as good as the one with his girlfriend, he’ll have a very successful career.
What are your thoughts on Johnny Football? Where do you see him being drafted? Would you want him in the first round? Leave us a comment at the bottom