Analyzing Rookie Fantasy Values
By Guest Writer John Concannon:
Last month’s NFL Draft had many offensive weapons being taken into the NFL and selecting the right ones to your fantasy team could be the ticket to a championship. So which ones are going to have an impact? I am going to look at all of the big name players to get drafted and give my thoughts on their potential fantasy impact.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars surprised almost everyone when they took Bortles third overall. While I think this may be a good spot for him career-wise this wasn’t good for his fantasy value. I like the long-term potential of him throwing to Cecil Shorts, Marquise Lee, and Allen Robinson but considering that two of his main wide receivers are untested rookies and his running back is the relatively unimpressive Toby Gerhart I’d stay away from him in non-dynasty formats. If you do play in a dynasty league he might be worth picking up late but even then I’m not sure if I like his value. There will probably someone else available to you late in the draft more deserving of that roster spot.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Everyone really loves to talk about Manziel but that surprisingly hasn’t translated into fantasy expectations. ESPN has Manziel has the twenty-third ranked fantasy quarterback! I can’t believe I’m saying this (not the biggest Johnny Football fan myself) but he is absolutely worth picking up as a QB2 in one-year leagues. There’s a chance that things don’t pan out for him but he has some solid weapons out in Cleveland and the potential to be a fantasy standout. If you can get him in the late rounds of your draft go for it. Don’t draft him to be your starter but if he is successful he could turn into your starter or become some nice trade bait.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
When I talked about Manziel I didn’t even bother discussing whether he is going to start or not because I would be shocked if Brian Hoyer actually does start week one. Teddy Bridgewater is another story. I expect Matt Cassel to start week one here and even if Teddy Bridgewater is starting he plays on a team with a serious lack of receivers and a running back that will get the ball twenty to twenty-five times week in week out. If you play in a dynasty league I guess he might have some sleeper value but if you play in a regular league definitely don’t bother.
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
A lot of being valuable as a fantasy running back is how many times per game you get the football. I expect Sankey to start over Shonn Greene week one and get a large workload all season long. I love rookies that get drafted to be unquestioned starters. Look at last year with Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell having large workloads, little competition, and most importantly big breakout years. Both of those guys are being drafted significantly higher this year than they were last year. If you are in a keeper/dynasty league this guy should absolutely be on your mind on draft night and if you’re in a single season league I’d target him in the late fourth/early fifth round. He’s being drafted as a RB2/Flex kind of guy but he could easily emerge as RB1. He is undervalued. Draft him. You will not regret it.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Again a lot assessing a running back’s value is workload and unfortunately for Carlos Hyde he isn’t going to get the ball very much. I think Carlos Hyde is a more skilled running back than Bishop Sankey but Hyde is in a bad fantasy situation. The 49ers already have Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore crowding up their backfield and they now add Carlos Hyde into the mix. There’s only so many carries to go around. The only reason I feel like Hyde might be worth stashing is that the Niners used a second-round pick on him so they may have some kind of plan to either cut one of the guys I just mentioned or have Carlos Hyde jump up on the depth chart into some kind of feature back role. Even if one of these scenarios I just mentioned plays out there’s not much value here as long as Frank Gore is in town. If you’re in a dynasty league he’s worth a bench spot but in a regular league pass on him.
Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
Mason’s value is going to depend on Zac Stacy’s performance. If Stacy plays well Mason isn’t going to have a whole lot of value. If Stacy struggles and Mason is given a chance to play then he’s worth picking up. Keep an eye on Mason and be ready to make a waiver move if he gets put into a larger role but if he stays as a backup there’s no reason to keep him on your team except as a handcuff to Stacy.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
Sammy Watkins was the first wide receiver off the board in the draft although I definitely prefer Mike Evans from a fantasy perspective. Watkins certainly does have some value as a flex or bench receiver but I would be a bit weary of him considering Buffalo’s quarterback play and the fact that he is on a team with a run first mentality. If he slips in your draft and you can get him on your bench that would be a good move but don’t reach for him.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vincent Jackson is thirty-one years old now. It is time for a new number one receiver in Tampa. Cue Mike Evans. With Josh McCown coming in fresh off of an excellent half season in relief of the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago the sky is the limit for Evans. I expect him to emerge as Tampa’s number one receiver by the end of the year and he should be drafted in one-year leagues and dynasty leagues accordingly.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
There is only one football in New Orleans and unfortunately for Brandin that ball is going to go to Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas, Kenny Stills, and Marques Colston before it goes to him. There are a lot of ball catching players in New Orleans and because of this Cooks is going to have a limited role in that passing attack. He’s worth a late look in dynasty formats but pass on him in standard leagues.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
I’m in the middle on Ebron for this season. While he is going to have an important role as their number one tight end he is also going to have to compete with a lot of athletic pass catchers for the ball. Ebron is a low level TE1 or a solid TE2 for this season but keep an eye on him in the trade market if you don’t get one of the six or seven valuable tight ends on draft day. There is a chance that they use him in a Vernon Davis or Jason Witten like role and if they do make the trade for him early while his value is low.
Jace Amaro, New York Jets
The Jets’ second round pickup has little competition for the starting tight end role this year and that is great for his fantasy value. Unlike Eric Ebron, there really aren’t a whole lot of guys for him to compete with for targets on the Jets outside of newly acquired Eric Decker. I expect him to be a high TE2 this year but keep an eye on him because he could have a breakout year if Geno Smith’s play improves.