With minicamps and OTA’s starting up, that can only mean one thing. Fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and you need to start preparing now. After analyzing everything that happened at the NFL Draft, I think it is a good time to discuss some of the rookies and their potential fantasy impacts this season. To get you started with your draft preparations, here is what I have to say about some QB’s and RB’s who you may think about drafting:
E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith
Although I am not feeling it right now to say either one of these guys will make an impact this season, I do think they both have a good chance to start. Regarding Manuel, I like the Bills coaching staff and weapons he has to work with. However, he is still raw with his mechanics and footwork, but no doubt has an intriguing skillset. Moving on to Smith, the Jets acquisition of Chris Ivory tells me they want to run the ball. With Santonio Holmes back healthy and a new OC in town (Marty Mornhinwheg), it will be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can retain the starting QB job in New York. Overall, I just don’t see either of these QB’s making an impact, especially considering the impacts that some recent rookie QB’s have had (RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton).
After watching film on him, I was not exactly thrilled at what I saw. For a big RB (6’1”, 230 LBS), he is somewhat soft. Nonetheless, he is getting a ton of hype, with Steelers OC Todd Haley saying he can be a workhorse, 3 down back. From everything I have seen, he has a similar skillset to that of Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas. Like Thomas, Bell is a big guy, but more of a finesse runner. After two years, Thomas’s skillset has yet to translate into being a productive RB. The way I see it, Pittsburgh did not focus on getting the best player available in the draft and just wanted to get a big RB. With all the hype he is receiving and a subpar offensive line blocking for him, I think Bell could disappoint as a rookie.
While he is talented and had a very productive college career, I never fell in love with his play at Wisconsin. He had the pleasure of running behind a huge OL, which helped him compile over 5,000 yards and 77 TDs in his 4 years as a Badger. As he transitions to the NFL, the good news for him is that opposing defenses will not be keying on him, thanks to Peyton Manning and company. He is going to get running room and could end up having a productive rookie season. I’m interested to see what happens with Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee. McGahee might be done altogether, while Moreno seems to be injured just about every year. Along the same lines, Denver drafting Ball shows that they view Ronnie Hillman as nothing more than a change of pace back. Another factor in whether Ball will see a good chunk of playing time as a rookie will be his pass protection skills. Rookies often struggle in this aspect of the game, and Broncos HC John Fox has never been a huge fan of rookies to begin with. If Ball can earn the trust of the coaching staff and protect Peyton Manning, that will definitely help his case of getting on the field early and often.
The Eddie Lacy hype machine began in January after his demolition of the Notre Dame defense in the BCS National Championship game. Personally, I didn’t see the hype on film. Alabama was the best team in college football and like Montee Ball, he ran behind a great OL, which featured two first round picks (D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack) and one fourth round pick (Barrett Jones). He dropped some in the draft due to concern over his surgically repaired right toe, which allowed the Packers to pick him up with the 61st pick. People have fallen in love with the situation in Green Bay, a team that has been looking for a physical RB the past few seasons. One problem that many are overlooking is the Packers not so great OL. Their offense was heavily pass oriented last season due to the fact that they couldn’t run block. Couple that with having one of the best QB’s in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of weapons at WR and TE, and it makes sense as to why they didn’t run the ball much. Let’s not forget that they also drafted Johnathan Franklin in the 4th round. Some people thought he would be the first RB taken in the draft, so Lacy doesn’t necessarily have the starting job already locked up. Basically, you should temper your expectations when it comes to Lacy.
I am a big fan of Bernard and believe he is the best RB that was selected in the 2013 draft. If you read my mock drafts, you would have seen that I had him going to the Bengals in the first round. It turns out I was partially right as he did end up getting drafted by Cincinnati in the 2nd round. Although he didn’t end up going in the 1st round, he did end up being the first RB selected. With some writers saying BenJarvus Green-Ellis is going to get more touches and Bengals OC Jay Gruden referring to Bernard as “complementary,” I find this to be nothing but good news for fantasy owners. Headlines like this will cause him to fall in drafts and further increase his value. With regards to Gruden’s comments, I view this as nothing more than coach talk. He doesn’t want Bernard’s ego to get too big and wants to make sure he comes in ready to work hard and learn the playbook.
Personally, I think he is in a perfect situation in Cincinnati. They have a solid D, a very good OL, a stud WR in A.J. Green and other solid players on offense including Andy Dalton and Jermaine Gresham. Despite these positives, they need playmakers and explosiveness out of the backfield. While Green-Ellis works hard and gets the most out of his talent, he is not explosive. When people think of Green-Ellis, they see a guy who can be productive and compete with Bernard for snaps. Comparing this to other rookie RBs such as Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy, they don’t currently have any veterans that have produced in the past to compete with. By the time August rolls around, I think everything said up to this point will be forgotten. If you go back to last season, many writers were saying LeGarrette Blount was still the starter in Tampa Bay, despite the fact that they drafted Doug Martin in the 1st round (Look how that turned out). Maybe I’m stubborn, but I believe Bernard is going to get early and 3rd down work if he does indeed work hard in camp and learn the playbook. Green-Ellis will still get short yardage work and vulture some TD’s, but he is the RB of the future in Cincinnati and will fit in well in their dynamic offense, which will incorporate more 2 TE sets with fellow rookie Tyler Eifert. Bernard should also factor into the passing game, as they want to get him in space with swing passes and create 1 on 1 matchups for Green on the outside.
When I was analyzing the draft, I thought Pittsburgh would be a good fit for Michael. As you know, they ended up going with Le’Veon Bell, who is a much less physical runner than Michael. It was a downer than he went to Seattle as they already have Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin at RB, but at the same time I was shocked. With the Seahawks drafting him in the 2nd round, it’s not like they are taking a flyer on someone in the 6th or 7th round. Overall, the entire situation is a bit of a head scratcher. Prior to the draft, I said in a blog post that Michael had some Marshawn Lynch like abilities. Seahawks GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll have also seconded that notion. As you may or may not know, Lynch got a DUI back in July of 2012. His case is scheduled to go to trial in June of this year. While it remains to be seen how this case will play out, this could be one reason as to why Seattle decided to draft Michael. If Lynch ends up getting suspended or even worse serves jail time, Michael could end starting for one of the best team’s in the NFL. This could all be a moot point and he could end up being nothing more than a handcuff, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on this summer.
When I think of Stepfan Taylor, I see some Ray Rice qualities. He is short and compact, has good hands and is good in pass protection. Overall, Taylor is the most pro-ready rookie RB when it comes to the passing game. When you have a skill set like that and can protect the QB, coaches will trust you and you will get on the field. Arizona HC Bruce Arians recognizes this and knows Taylor won’t be a liability when it comes to protecting the not so mobile Carson Palmer. It won’t be easy to get on the field, with a crowded backfield in Arizona that consists of Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and fellow rookie Andre Ellington. Taylor is worth keeping on your radar because all of these guys are injury prone. Furthermore, Mendenhall didn’t look good last year when he was healthy, averaging 3.6 YPC in the 6 games he played in. It won’t take much for Taylor to become the starter, so make sure to keep him on your radar.
I will be updating the blog weekly all summer long, so make sure to come back for all the fantasy advice you need to dominate your league. Don’t forget to follow me (@The_Franchise12) and scoutPRO (@CSAscoutPRO) on Twitter!