1.08 – St. Louis: WR Tavon Austin
Austin essentially fills the void left behind by Danny Amendola. It also suggests the team has plenty of confidence in Brian Quick. Austin’s incredible speed and sharp cuts should play incredibly well indoors in the Edward Jones Dome. I recognize he is of slight build and most of us that own him in fantasy at some point will cringe whenever he takes a hit. But the fact of the matter is that he rarely ever takes a big-enough hit to jar him. It was eye-opening to watch Austin and Patterson throughout this process; I have a hard time remembering the last time I saw two WRs in the same draft so elusive. Austin should contend for the team lead in receptions, receiving yards and TDs in his rookie season while also giving the Rams a big boost in the return game. Fantasy-wise, Austin’s floor should be a WR4 in all leagues, with definite WR3 upside (in 12-team leagues).
1.16 – Buffalo: QB EJ Manuel
I’m very surprised the Bills ignored “conventional” wisdom, but I think they made the right QB choice in the end. Putting Spiller and Manuel in the same backfield gives Buffalo a shot to do some read-option and the Bills their first strong-armed QB in recent memory. Given his draft status, Manuel is almost certain to be starting no later than the bye week (Wk 12). The Bills were smart to give themselves a “buffer” in Kevin Kolb. I doubt Manuel has significant fantasy impact in 2013 with the Bills’ current WR corps, but his running ability will make him a passable QB2 option in 2013. I do like Manuel from a dynasty perspective so long as they surround him with more receiving talent than Steve Johnson.
1.21 – Cincinnati: TE Tyler Eifert
Mike Brown‘s fascination with big-school players continues. The Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham a few years ago thinking he was a vertical threat, but he has since evolved into a short to intermediate threat. From that perspective, this pick makes sense as Cincinnati continues to try to emulate the Patriots’ dynamic TE duo. And the value is very good as well, but the Bengals are not one TE away from winning football games. This is also an indictment on Orson Charles, who is likely on the roster bubble (already) with Gresham, Eifert and Alex Smith in front of him. Fantasy-wise, this is a terrible landing spot initially as Gresham isn’t a free agent until 2015 and his arrival certainly doesn’t figure to help Mohamed Sanu or Marvin Jones become more fantasy relevant. Add in the fact that Cincinnati wants to remain a running team and I hope for Eifert’s sake he doesn’t remain in the Queen City.
1.27 – Houston: WR DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins doesn’t bring the “wow” factor of a Cordarrelle Patterson, but the risk-reward is much more manageable with Hopkins. The Clemson standout should step in as an instant starter in Houston and give the Texans 40-50 receptions in his rookie year, but should be much more productive than Kevin Walter. Hopkins’ feistiness (as a blocker and after the catch) should also endear him to the Texans. He fills the one gaping hole in Houston’s offense and should be considered a WR4 in redraft leagues. He has been compared to Roddy White and the comparison is appropriate, although he isn’t the burner White was coming out of UAB. Considering his solid long-term job security and talent, he should be the second rookie WR to come off the board in dynasty league rookie drafts.
1.29 – Minnesota: WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Whereas the Texans likely guaranteed themselves a steady, solid WR in Hopkins, the Vikings complete their first-round haul with arguably the best big-receiver playmaker to come out in recent drafts. At the very least, it’s a risk worth taking when the draft allows a team to pick up three first-rounders. Patterson’s upside – real and fantasy – will most likely hinge on the quality of coaching he receives from his position coach. He isn’t getting the greatest QB to work with, but Minnesota has quickly rounded out its receiving corps after dealing Harvin last month. Patterson isn’t likely to be the PPR goldmine Tavon Austin is, but he’ll deserve the same kind of WR4 respect in fantasy that Austin does.