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WR Mike Evans Draft Profile


By: — April 3, 2014 @ 10:04 am
Filed under: NFL Draft

As we begin the countdown to the NFL Draft starting on May 8, I will spend anywhere from 4-8 hours to break down the strengths and weaknesses of at least the top 20 or so offensive skill-position prospects available in this draft.

Mike Evans

Mike Evans: Vincent Jackson’s frame and Brandon Marshall’s game.

Vitals
College: Texas A&M
Height/Weight: 6’5”/232
Hands: 9 1/2”

Important NFL Combine Numbers
40-Yard Dash: 4.53
Vertical Jump: 37”
Broad Jump: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.26
3-Cone: 7.08

Background (College Stats)
Evans was a bit more of a basketball phenom in his high-school days, only playing football in his senior year. However, he proved to be a quick study in the Aggies’ spread attack in 2012 after taking a redshirt year, leading Texas A&M with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards (both school freshman records) and five touchdowns. Evans’ catch numbers dropped in 2013, but spiked almost everywhere else, posting a 69-1,394-12 line (breaking former teammate Ryan Swope’s single-season record for receiving yardage) in an offense that saw four receivers record at least 51 catches. Although the first-team All-SEC receiver tore apart Alabama for 279 yards earlier in the year, his finest game came against national champion runner-up Auburn, which he burned for 11 receptions, a school-record 287 yards and four touchdowns. Those games allowed Evans to become the first player in school history to register two 200-yard receiving games in his career. Unfortunately, the Biletnikoff Award finalist ended his college career on a bit of a mixed note. Evans picked up two 15-yard penalties in the first quarter of the Aggies’ thrilling comeback win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after getting on officials for a lack of a pass interference call in the end zone against Duke CB (and fellow 2014 draft classmate) Ross Cockrell. The second infraction likely was a carryover from the first no-call (as well as continued physical play from Cockrell), suggesting the mean streak Evans uses to his advantage so often can also manifest itself in a negative way as well.

NFL Player Comp(s): Vincent Jackson’s frame and Brandon Marshall’s game

Strengths

  • Highly physical receiver that uses his size and strength well; challenges defenders to tackle him but displays enough elusiveness in the open field to make the first man miss.
  • Large catch radius given his size and wingspan, shows exceptional hands on 50/50 balls and is perhaps the best combination red-zone/deep threat in this draft.
  • Master at the fade-stop and displays great body control as well as an innate ability to time “high-point” throws.
  • Stacks the defender well on deep throws and can catch over either shoulder.
  • Is not the best run-after-catch threat in his class, but has a good stiff-arm and more than enough power to run through or drag tacklers.
  • Gives consistent effort on pass plays whether or not he is the target and is also a willing run blocker who can flatten his defender on occasion.
  • Was often the target for QB Johnny Manziel when plays broke down, making himself an inviting option by using “scramble-drill” techniques and boxing out the defender when necessary.

Weaknesses

  • Could face a long learning curve in learning a NFL offense since Texas A&M did not use a pro-style offense; most of his production came on jump balls, screens, fade-stops or go routes.
  • Rides a fine line between pushing off defender while ball is in the air and creating separation with his size; earned a reputation among SEC coaches that he grabbed cornerbacks during a route to get an extra “boost”.
  • Final college game displayed a bit of an uneven temperament and that a defender (or referee) can rattle him.
  • Allows the ball get into his body a bit too often, mostly on short and intermediate throws.
  • Ends up near the sideline too often before he can make a play on the ball, thereby making a difficult downfield throw even more so for his quarterback.
  • A bit of long-strider and a bit slow coming out of breaks (common for a receiver of his size), which may lend itself to a lot of contested catches in the NFL.

Bottom Line
Some bigger receivers act as if they have been told not to be overly physical because they have always been bigger than all the other kids; Evans has no such problem and actually plays with a bit of mean streak. He should make an immediate impact as a red-zone threat given the pro game’s love for the fade pattern in the scoring area as well as the deep passing game with his size and leaping ability. That’s the good news. The glass-half-empty view would suggest that his college offense may have stunted his growth as a student of the game because so much of the Aggies’ attack was based on Manziel’s ability to create something out of nothing. It’s hardly a fatal flaw, however, since just about any position coach would prefer having a receiver with Evans’ measurables and competitive drive (and teach him how to be a pro receiver) as opposed to taking on a refined route-runner without his unique qualities. Evans is going to be an instant starter in the NFL for the simple fact he is a matchup nightmare all over the field. It is scary to think Evans is a relatively raw 20-year-old who didn’t begin playing football until his senior year of high school. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins may be the better draft prospect in the short term, but no one should be surprised if Evans ends up being every bit as good – if not better – than his esteemed draft classmate once he becomes a more polished receiver.



WR Sammy Watkins Draft Profile


By: — April 1, 2014 @ 6:43 pm
Filed under: NFL Draft

As we begin the countdown to the NFL Draft starting on May 8, I will spend anywhere from 4-8 hours to break down the strengths and weaknesses of at least the top 20 or so offensive skill-position prospects available in this draft.

Sammy Watkins

Watkins leads a pack of talented receivers in the 2014 draft class.

Vitals
College: Clemson
Height/Weight: 6’1”/211
Hands: 9 1/2”

Important NFL Combine Numbers
40-Yard Dash: 4.43
Vertical Jump: 34”
Broad Jump: 10’ 6”
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.34
3-Cone: 6.95

Background (College Stats)
A five-star recruit out of Fort Myers, Fla., Watkins had already broken 11 school freshman records seven games into his college career, including the all-purpose yardage mark previously held by C.J. Spiller. He finished the 2011 season with 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, numbers that helped him become only the fourth true freshman to be named an AP first-team All-American, joining Herschel Walker, Marshall Faulk and Adrian Peterson in that select group. In 2012, Watkins was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and simple possession of marijuana – two misdemeanors that were later expunged from his record after he completed pre-trial intervention. Nevertheless, he still served a two-game suspension to open the season as a result. With defenses keying on him following his return, Watkins took a backseat to teammate DeAndre Hopkins (an eventual first-round pick of the Houston Texans) with 57 receptions for 708 yards and three TDs. It proved to be the only significant bump in the road for Watkins, however, as he posted a 101-1,464-12 line in his final season with the Tigers, including an Orange Bowl-record 16 receptions and 227 receiving yards in a 40-35 win over Ohio State. Perhaps the most telling statistic from that game: he gained 202 yards after the catch.

NFL Player Comp(s): Andre Johnson

Strengths

  • Fearless hands-catcher with elite run-after-catch ability.
  • Explosive playmaker in the open field that rarely gets tackled by the first defender.
  • Possesses the initial burst to quickly eliminate cushion, the speed to run by a defender and the power to run him over.
  • Shows exceptional field awareness and has a good sense of when to come back to help out his quarterback.
  • Is able to track the ball well on over-the-shoulder catches and wins the majority of high-point battles with defenders on jump balls.
  • Natural separation skills are enhanced by his ability to change his tempo and manipulate stems.

Weaknesses

  • May struggle as a route-runner initially since Clemson did not employ a pro-style offense and used him primarily as an extension of the running game (on screens and quick hitters) or as a deep threat.
  • Cornerbacks rarely lined up within five yards of line of scrimmage against him, making his ability to consistently defeat physical coverage a bit of an unknown.
  • Charged with a couple of drug-related misdemeanors in 2012 and served a two-game suspension as a result; minor durability concerns.
  • Solid overall build, but average height for a receiver in today’s NFL.
  • Ball security (two fumbles in 2013 and lost four of seven throughout his three-year career).

Bottom Line
Although it doesn’t sound like a big deal, receivers that can actually be called “hands-catchers” are in short supply and those that can create offense with the ball in his hands the way Watkins does are truly a rare breed. Most running backs – much less receivers – don’t read their blocks or make the first defender miss as well as he does, which adds yet another set of unique skills to a prospect that is the clear top option in a draft year in which the receiver position is as loaded as it has been in recent memory. Much like many of the other high-profile receivers to enter the draft since the spread offense took over college football, Watkins may face a bit of a speed bump on his path to superstardom because the Tigers’ offense is based more on tempo and getting players in space and less on systematically breaking down a defense. However, NFL play-callers have gotten better about allowing their new players to do what they do best initially while spoon-feeding them the rest of the offense, so an instant impact cannot be ruled out. Even without factoring his potential impact as a kick and/or punt returner, Watkins will be a very good player in the NFL right away assuming his new team does everything it can to get him out into space. The first-team All-ACC selection isn’t quite the prospect that A.J. Green or Julio Jones was a few years ago, but there are parts of his game that are every bit as good – if not better – than Green or Jones when they declared for the draft (such as his run-after-catch ability).



2014 NFL Mock Draft – Version 1.0


By: — March 11, 2014 @ 9:03 am
Filed under: NFL Draft

NFL DraftAs free agency kicks off, here is my first shot at a mock draft. I always tell people that no one knows anything this time of year, myself included. Even reporters close to teams who get information are likely being fed smokescreens. However, mock drafts are fun and people enjoy them, so here is my best educated guess as of March 11. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @thepigskinguy.

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville – Unless the Texans simply don’t like any of the top quarterbacks, this pick will be used to take one. Bridgewater is criticized a lot because he has been pegged as one of the top two picks in this draft for two years. However, there is also a lot to like about him. I have followed Bill O’Brien for a while and Bridgewater has everything he looks for in a quarterback. History suggests teams with the first pick that need a quarterback usually go with the safe choice over upside, so I think when the smoke settles, Houston will opt for Bridgewater over Blake Bortles.

2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT Auburn – The Rams would probably like to trade out of this spot but if they stay, Robinson is a logical selection. He fills a need for St. Louis and Robinson is now the top offensive tackle on many draft boards following his impressive combine.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina – Gus Bradley is a defensive minded coach and unless the Jaguars absolutely love one of the quarterbacks in this draft, it will be hard for them to pass up on a prospect like Clowney if he’s still on the board at three.

4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida – Everyone on the planet appears to love Brian Hoyer but an organization needs more than him at quarterback if they want to end decades of losing. Bortles still needs some work but he is smart with a big arm. I describe Bortles as a poor man’s Andrew Luck coming out of college and I say that as a compliment considering I expect Luck to be a Top 3 NFL quarterback very soon.

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson – I actually have Watkins as the top overall prospect in this draft. I think he is the one can’t-miss prospect given all the physical attributes Watkins brings to the receiver position. That theory will be tested if he goes to Oakland but Watkins certainly fills a need for the Raiders. Oakland has some decent receivers but no one close to being in Watkins’ class. He will be a game-changer from Day 1.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE Buffalo – Mack dominated in college and while some will point to the fact that he played in the MAC, he had some of his biggest games against top-level competition. I saw Mack play a couple of times against bigger schools and he was a terror coming off the edge. He will instantly help a dormant Falcons’ pass rush.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M – The Bucs could go in many different directions but Matthews would be tough to pass up here. Matthews is a devastating run blocker and he has quick feet for a guy his size. The Bucs want to run the football and Matthews will help them solidify their line.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M – The Vikings re-signed Matt Cassel but they want to add a young quarterback in the draft and Manziel makes sense for Minnesota. A polarizing figure, Manziel will be an easy sell to a fan base that idolizes the quarterback he is often compared to: Fran Tarkenton. While Manziel does run a lot, when he threw from pocket last season he did a much better job of going through his progressions than the year before. Also, like him or not, Manziel ripped Nick Saban’s defense twice and that doesn’t happen often.

9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M – The Bills are set on building around EJ Manuel and giving the young quarterback a 6’5 receiver is a great way to help him. Stevie Johnson is slowing down and there aren’t many receivers that can make plays with corners draped all over him like Evans can. Evans, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin would make an intriguing young trio of receivers in Buffalo.

10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan State – A lot of people like Justin Gilbert as the top corner because of his speed but I don’t think it’s close. Dennard was the best cover corner in college football last year. Denard is tough, smart and he would make a great addition to Detroit’s secondary.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, LB UCLA – Barr could easily be a Top 10 selection given his ability and production in college. However, if Barr slips to 11, the Titans will have to strongly consider him. Tennessee can go in a lot of different directions but the Titans are in need of an explosive pass rusher and Barr fits the bill.

12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan – Linebacker is a popular pick for the Giants and they certainly need to upgrade at that position. However, the Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season and protecting Eli Manning is the team’s top priority. Lewan was one of the few bright spots on the worst coached team in college football last year once Lane Kiffin was fired.

13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S Alabama – When your name is “Ha Ha” you should be drafted in the Top 15 by law. Dix is all over the field. I actually think he is one of the 10 best players in the draft at any position. The Rams safeties are dreadful. Dix would come in and be a huge upgrade to a defense that already has a nasty front seven.

14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State – How bad was the Bears’ rush defense last year? Ray Rice gained 131 yards on them. Chicago is one of the easiest teams to project. They badly need a defensive tackle or safety. If the talented Jernigan is on the board, he will be a strong possibility for the Bears.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh – Like Chicago, the Steelers could go safety or defensive tackle here. Receiver is also a possibility but Donald is flying up draft boards. He also represents both value and fills a need for Pittsburgh. The Steelers often take the best player available and at 15, Donald would be that guy on a lot of boards.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix, DT Notre Dame – The run on defensive tackles continues. The Cowboys’ defensive line is likely to take another hit when they lose DE Jason Hatcher to free agency, as Jerry Jones’ mismanagement of the salary cap continues to put the team in a bind. Dallas desperately needs a nose tackle and Nix is one of the top ones in this draft. He would be an excellent pick for the Cowboys, which means you can cross him off the list.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Odell Beckham, WR LSU – The Ravens badly need another receiver to complement Torrey Smith and help Joe Flacco. Beckham is a tough receiver that can go inside similar to Anquan Boldin, only with more speed. Beckham is one of the most underrated players in the draft. He has all the skills to be a star NFL receiver.

18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE North Carolina – Geno Smith took a lot of criticism in his first season and much of it was deserved. Still, the Jets had the worst group of receivers and tight ends in the NFL. New York has to go offense with this pick to help its young quarterback. They could take a receiver but Ebron is the top tight end prospect available and would represent great value if he is still on the board at 18.

19. Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin, OT Notre Dame – Martin was excellent during his career at Notre Dame. He dominated as a left tackle and Martin has the versatility to play multiple positions on the line early in his career. Given all the problems the Dolphins have with their offensive line right now, Martin would be an excellent selection for them.

20. Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosley, LB Alabama – We are getting to the point in the draft where value matters and while Arizona does need an outside linebacker, Mosley is too good to pass up here even if the position may not be the team’s most pressing need. Mosley would fit in nicely with one of the emerging defensive units in the NFL.

21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S Louisville – The Packers had some of the worst safety play in the NFL last year. If either Pryor or Clinton Dix are on the board at 21, Green Bay will have to strongly consider them to address a major weakness.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Gilbert, CB Oklahoma State – Gilbert probably won’t last this long but I’m not as high on him as some people. When it comes to corners I think it’s Dennard and everyone else. The Eagles’ secondary was awful last season. They could address it in free agency but either way, corner and safety are both options for Philadelphia at 22.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR USC – The Chiefs need more gamebreakers on offense and Lee would be a steal this low. Lee is slipping among draftniks but they need to look at his college situation. When you still put up numbers despite playing for the worst coach on the planet, it says a lot. I think Lee is one of the top offensive threats in the draft.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE Missouri – The Bengals will likely lose Michael Johnson, so Ealy will help Cincinnati upgrade at a vital position. Ealy is a quick edge rusher who is also strong against the run. He can step in and rotate with Carlos Dunlap and Margus Hunt as a rookie.

25. San Diego Chargers: David Yankey, G Stanford – The Chargers showed at the end of last season their offense is at its best when they can run the ball effectively. Yankey is a piledriving run blocker who will instantly upgrade San Diego’s line at a position of need.

26. Cleveland Browns: Brandin Cooks, WR Oregon State – The Browns are picking here because the Colts thought they said “sixth round” pick instead of “first round” pick for Trent Richardson. Cleveland obviously has many needs but Josh Gordon is really the only threat the Browns have at receiver. The explosive Cooks would change that, along with giving Cleveland a dangerous return man.

27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE Auburn – I have Ford as a Top 15 player in this draft and will probably move him up as we go along. However, right now this is the area he is projected to go in. Ford dominated last year in the SEC and if he goes to the right team like the Saints, I think he will be a stud in the NFL. I won’t be surprised if someone like the Steelers grab him higher in the draft but if Ford lasts this long, Rob Ryan will love him.

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR Florida State – If a top receiver is on the board at 28, I have to think the Panthers will pull the trigger. Carolina has the pieces in place to make another Super Bowl run, they just need more weapons in the passing game and help at offensive tackle. The 6’5 Benjamin would give Cam Newton a huge target, especially in the red zone.

29. New England Patriots: Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech – If New England loses Aqib Talib, I like this pick for the Patriots. Fuller is the kind of smart, versatile corner Bill Belichick likes. Watching him in college, I could see Fuller playing for New England, so I’m projecting him to go there over the more popular Jace Amaro pick.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB Ohio State – The 49ers don’t have many weaknesses but one area where they could stand to upgrade is at cornerback, especially after releasing Carlos Rogers. Roby was inconsistent last season but he still possesses a ton of physical ability. Under the right coaching staff, Roby has the tools to be a top-tier NFL corner.

31. Denver Broncos: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL Minnesota – The Broncos could grab an OT here to protect Peyton Manning but with Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips’ futures both in doubt, defensive line is an area of need as well. Besides, if Hageman lasts this long, the versatile lineman will be one of the top players left on the board.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech – Seattle likes Luke Wilson but Amaro would add another dimension to the Seahawks’ offense. Amaro creates a lot of mismatches with opposing defenses and would give Russell Wilson a legitimate threat at the tight end position. Amaro is coming off a season where he caught 106 passes at Texas Tech.



Top Ten Rookie Running Backs for 2013


By: — April 29, 2013 @ 11:44 am

After a scan of the runners taken during the 2013 draft this past weekend, here are my early top ten rookie running backs for re-draft leagues. Keep in mind; a number of rookies had a fantasy impact last year – Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and David Wilson. Martin, Morris and Richardson finished among the top ten fantasy running backs in 2012.

Le'Veon Bell

The new workhorse in Pittsburgh.

1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT – With Mendenhall moving on to Arizona the Steelers have a void at the RB position. Bell is projected to be an every-down back and rumors of Jonathan Dwyer being shopped in a potential trade have begun to surface.

2. Eddie Lacy, GB – Lacy was a shoe-in to be top on the list until the Packers selected Johnathan Franklin later in the draft. Lacy’s likely use around the goaline gives him the early leg up over the smaller Franklin.

3. Montee Ball, DEN – The Broncos have a crowded backfield at the moment but with one pick slip handed to Willis McGahee, Ball’s fantasy value will shoot up the charts. He has the potential to be the focus of the Broncos running game.

4. Giovani Bernard, CIN – Bernard is a much better receiver than the LawFirm but is a bit on the smallish side (5-foot-9) to be a workhorse. He’s got a chance to fill the role Bernard Scott has yet to fulfill.

5. Johnathan Franklin, GB – Franklin is a perfect compliment to Lacy and could become a fantasy force if Lacy’s injury concerns become a reality in 2013. He’ll likely compete with DuJuan Harris for carries.

6. Zac Stacy, STL – Stacy lands in St. Louis in a prime situation. Gone is Steven Jackson and left behind are second-year players Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead with Stacy the more likely to receive goaline carries.

7. Stepfan Taylor, ARI – Mendenahll will get his chance this year to be the workhorse in Arizona but he is on a one-year contract and prone to injury. Coaches are typically reluctant to put rookie running backs on the field due to their lack of prowess in pass-blocking but Taylor does have above-average ability in that department. At the very least, he should fill a complementary role to Mendy in 2013.

8. Knile Davis, KC – Davis is known as injury-prone and a fumbler but does have immense talent. He’ll have to shake the former if he wants a steady role as Jamaal Charles’ backup and with Shaun Draughn currently holding down the job, the opportunity is there.

9. Andre Ellington, ARI – Bruce Arians is definitely trying to revamp his running back group. Ellington will likely spend most of time on special teams this season but he’s someone to keep an eye on if the Mendenhall experiment fails.

10. Joseph Randle, DAL – DeMarco Murray is the unquestioned started in Big-D but behind him is a vacancy. Jerry Jones already projects him to be the backup behind Murray making him very fantasy relevant given Murray’s injury history.


NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 6 & 7


By: — April 28, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

NFL Draft 6.03 – Lions: WR Corey Fuller
Nothing wrong with taking a flyer on this speedy, athletic receiver. Fuller is raw and won’t threaten Nate Burleson this season, but could be the deep threat the Lions wanted Titus Young to be. Fuller is worth a third-round rookie pick in dynasty leagues.

6.04 – Raiders: TE Nick Kasa
Not much should be expected from the converted DE early on, but given the lack of talent at TE in Oakland, Kasa will likely play early due to his run-blocking ability. He does a fine job of getting down the field, which could help him land on the dynasty radar at some point down the road.

6.09 – Bills: K Dustin Hopkins
With Rian Lindell turning 36, his time in the NFL is likely coming to an end. Hopkins was one of the country’s top kickers in high school and became the NCAA FBS all-time kick scorer with 459 points. Hopkins will almost certainly be the kicker Week 1, but Buffalo’s offense might hold him back a bit in 2013.

6.14 – Panthers: RB Kenjon Barner
I understand the need to stock up at RB, but Carolina seems to always have a RB surplus while being short at so many other positions. Either way, they get their young speed back to complement the long-term duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Barner makes for an interesting chess piece on an offense that has used as much zone-read as it has with Cam Newton. No redraft value here, but he could work himself into the dynasty conversation once Williams moves on.

6.19 Cardinals: RB Andre Ellington
New HC Bruce Arians obviously did not like what he saw at RB when he arrived. A late second-round RB pick puts Ryan Williams on notice and suggests the team will have no problem moving on from Rashard Mendenhall after this year if he doesn’t perform well on his one-year deal. I think Ellington is a bit more exciting for fantasy purposes than Taylor, but both backs are among the best blockers at the position. Like Taylor, Ellington has a decent shot at dynasty league value in 2014, but a committee (w/o Mendy) is possible.

6.22 – Bengals: RB Rex Burkhead
It’s hard not to love Burkhead, who reminds me a lot of Jacob Hester. Burkhead probably isn’t going to push BJGE out of a job in 2013, but he has enough red-zone chops to allow Cincinnati to move on from the Law Firm at the end of the 2014 season and work in tandem with Gio Bernard.

6.29 Bengals: WR Cobi Hamilton
On a field that featured future pros Jarius Wright and Greg Childs (pre-injury), Hamilton stood out the most to me in the games I watched of his in 2011. As I’ve said before with Arkansas, I’m willing to write off a good part of 2012 for all Razorbacks in what was just a chaotic situation. Hamilton struck me as a second- or third-round prospect before 2012, so he should stick with Cincy. He’ll compete with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu for outside duties. Unless injuries hit the WR corps like they did last season, Hamilton probably is off the redraft radar. However, I like his 2011 tape enough to believe he could be the WR2 in Cincy down the road.

7.24 Colts: RB Kerwynn Williams
Most people are going to write him off due to his size (5-8, 195), but Williams enters Indy as a very good bet to steal a few touches from Vick Ballard. Williams found his way into playing time in 2011 despite the fact that he was sharing time with Robert Turbin and Michael Smith (TB). Williams isn’t a threat to Ballard’s rushing workload in all likelihood, but he is a solid complement that has a great shot to be the third-down back for the next few years. I personally like him more than Donald Brown and wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being Ballard’s best handcuff.

7.30 Bears: WR Marquess Wilson
College fans with good memories might recall Wilson was the player unafraid to tell the world what he thought of coach Mike Leach. At 6-3 and 195 pounds, Wilson has more than enough length to play in the league, but he needs a bit more bulk. Wilson has drawn comparisons to Jonathan Baldwin, but ironically plays a bit like future teammate Alshon Jeffery in the sense that he uses his size (rather than speed) to beat defenses on jump balls. In reality, he shouldn’t push Jeffery anytime soon, but a WR3 in new HC Marc Trestman’s offense could easily have redraft fantasy value (and Wilson will have a shot to do that).



NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Rounds 4 & 5


By: — @ 8:24 pm

NFL Draft4.01 – Eagles: QB Matt Barkley
Hard to argue the value of the pick, although Barkley seems an odd fit in Chip Kelly’s high-speed, read-option offense. With that said, Kelly doesn’t get enough credit for adapting to his talent. Barkley makes sense, however, as a quick decision-maker in an offense that requires it and is as pro-ready as any QB in this draft. Redraft value is minimal, but he needs to be on the radar of dynasty league owners as the likely backup for injury-prone Michael Vick.

4.04 – Jaguars: WR Ace Sanders
Jacksonville is truly doing everything it can to help its QBs. Sanders should have a long career in the slot, but make an instant impact in the return game. Sanders doesn’t have great speed upside, but he is dependable. He’ll go undrafted in redraft leagues and likely warrants only a third-round selection in dynasty rookie drafts.

4.05 – Patriots: WR Josh Boyce
After grabbing their big WR last night, the Pats hope Boyce is the burner they hope will give them the vertical threat they have lacked since Randy Moss‘ departure. Injuries and an unknown training camp status pushed his stock down a bit, but any receiver in the NE offense with Tom Brady under center is on the fantasy radar. He’ll likely go undrafted in redraft leagues, but Boyce has a shot at more dynasty value than we typically expect from a fourth-rounder.

4.09 – Dolphins: TE Dion Sims
Sims rivals Travis Kelce in terms of being the draft’s most complete TE, but lacks Kelce’s upside. Initially, he should be a solid complement to Dustin Keller. He’ll start out as a player who helps the running game more than the passing game, but he has soft-enough hands to be a reliable option in the passing game. Very little redraft appeal here. Keller is on a one-year deal, so there is some dynasty value here down the road.

4.15 – Raiders: QB Tyler Wilson
Entered 2013 as a potential top 10 pick, but the Bobby Petrino fiasco led to a big fallout, which included Wilson getting treated like a punching bag. No one will likely question his toughness anymore. Ideally, Wilson will have a year to lick his wounds while Oakland adds more talent before he takes the field as the starter in 2014. No redraft value here, but Wilson could end up being this draft’s best QB if he returns to the QB he was in 2011.

4.28 – Packers: RB Johnathan Franklin
Eddie Lacy’s stock just took a huge hit. Franklin is perhaps the best all-purpose RB in this draft and fits the Packers’ current offense better than Lacy. With Franklin now on board, the GB backfield likely goes right back to a committee attack. I like Franklin to emerge as the best PPR back from this offense while Lacy get the honors in standard leagues. I believe that will hold up in redraft as well as in dynasty. Both players are still first-round rookie picks in dynasty and probably high-end RB3s in redraft due to the likelihood they will have inconsistent workloads.

4.31 – 49ers:WR Quinton Patton
Patton was insanely productive in the Bulldogs’ uptempo spread attack, but he’s not simply a product of the system. He has a good shot at giving AJ Jenkins a run for his playing time in 2013 and could be the next in line when Anquan Boldin can no longer hold up.

4.34 – 49ers: RB Marcus Lattimore
Lattimore is a luxury pick in the same way “Tank” Carradine and Patton were. The difference here is that despite his devastating knee injuries, Lattimore was the No. 1 talent at his position before he got hurt. SF will likely (hopefully) give him a “redshirt” year and groom him as Frank Gore‘s successor in 2014. No redraft value here barring a miraculous recovery this summer, but his long-term dynasty stock is very high given his supporting cast and talent.

5.07 – Cardinals: RB Stepfan Taylor
New HC Bruce Arians likely had his hand in Indy selecting Vick Ballard last season and Taylor is the same kind of pick. Mendenhall will almost certainly get his 300 touches, but Taylor is a reliable sustainer who could become the RB2 in Arizona if Ryan Williams continues to struggle with injuries. The Cards don’t figure to be a huge source of fantasy points for RBs in 2013 and Taylor won’t likely see enough time to be relevant in redraft. However, Mendy’s one-year contract gives Taylor an opportunity for 2014 production, meaning he could warrant a late-first/early-second pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

5.11 – Saints: WR Kenny Stills
Stills has a bit of Lance Moore in him in the sense that he is a better receiver than what he initially appears. Fantasy receivers (beyond Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham) for the Saints can be a frustrating lot and don’t expect Stills to be any different. Stills will likely have a productive game or two in 2013 that will cause fantasy buzz – because of the offense he’ll be in – but his redraft and dynasty value figures to be a rollercoaster given the number of options in New Orleans.

5.18 – Cowboys: RB Joseph Randle
Randle is about everything you’d expect from a fifth-round RB. He’s a solid, steady producer who doesn’t have a second gear to consistently produce the big play. More importantly, however, is that Randle has shown something that Felix Jones (and DeMarco Murray) have yet to show – durability. There’s a good shot Randle comes across redraft value this year given Murray’s injury history, but he’s not a threat in any way to Murray. Good insurance for Murray in redraft and dynasty leagues, but he doesn’t figure to hold any sustained value.

5.27 – Rams: RB Zac Stacy
This isn’t a high-upside pick by any stretch of the imagination, but neither Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Pead have the kind of size teams like from their short-yardage backs nowadays. It would come as little surprise if Stacy finds himself scoring 4-5 short-yardage scores while Richardson/Pead do their work in between the 20s. Stacy has more value than you’d expect from a player drafted at this spot (No. 160 overall).

5.31 – Dolphins: RB Mike Gillislee
Time to watch some Gillislee game tape. While not a big back (5-11, 208), Gillislee lands in a favorable situation for his fantasy value. Daniel Thomas has failed to improve as a pro runner and Lamar Miller – while talented – is certainly far from proven. Gillislee has an outside shot at stealing about a third of the reps from Miller if comes along a bit more, but he’s more of a fantasy property to keep an eye on for 2014.

5.33 – Dolphins: K Caleb Sturgis
Kickers drafted in the fifth round or higher usually stick on the roster while their veteran counterparts typically do not. In Miami’s vastly improved offense, that will mean something. Sturgis stands a very good shot at being a top 12-15 kicker in redraft leagues this season, assuming he doesn’t fall on his face in training camp.



NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 3


By: — April 27, 2013 @ 10:19 am

NFL Draft 3.01 – Chiefs: TE Travis Kelce
Tony Moeaki is a very good talent, but his durability is almost always in question. Kelce is as good as all-around TE as there is in this draft. He is a nasty blocker, which ensures he will see the field right away. Off-field concerns dragged down his stock a bit, but Kelce is almost the Robert Woods of the TE position among the rookies in that he has a smooth path to playing time and should be consistently productive, even if he’s not an elite talent. There is low-end TE2 redraft upside here and second-round value in dynasty rookie drafts.

3.11 – Buccaneers: QB Mike Glennon
The Bucs do it right here by sending a message with a first-round arm talent with third-round consistency to “challenge” Josh Freeman. Glennon needs time to add muscle to even think about challenging Freeman, but is enough of an investment to make sure Freeman puts together a full season that is more like his first half of 2012 rather than his second half. Glennon has no redraft value, but any unexpected hiccup by Freeman means Glennon could have the keys to a pretty high-powered offense. In short, dynasty owners could do a lot worse than invest in Glennon for a year or two to see if Freeman fails or not.

3.12 – Cowboys: WR Terrance Williams
The Cowboys stay in-state and find another weapon on offense (while continuing to ignore the defense). Williams steps in to fill the void of the departed Kevin Ogletree and is a much more dangerous receiver that could potentially replace Miles Austin at some point down the line. His redraft fantasy value will likely be similar to that of Ogletree’s (an occasional big game followed by long bouts of 1-2 catch games), but his dynasty value is such that he could be worth a late second-rounder for an owner willing to wait for 2-3 years while Austin begins his decline.

3.14 – Chargers: WR Keenan Allen
Allen’s knee injury and subsequent slow 40-time did him no favors, but speed was never his game to begin with. The Cal product has been compared favorably to Anquan Boldin and rightfully so. Don’t expect Allen to catch passes at Boldin’s history-making pace, but he is a precise route runner and steady performer that can obviously create yards after the catch. He’ll start out behind three receivers on the depth chart (meaning his redraft stock is very low), but I’d be surprised if he isn’t starting and a fantasy WR4 at worst in 2014.

3.16 – Bills: WR Marquise Goodwin
Underutilized at Texas despite world-class speed, Goodwin immediately steps into the fray as a player who could be Buffalo’s WR3. This pick is likely an indictment of what the new staff thinks of TJ Graham, who was drafted by the previous regime as the speed WR. He’ll need some time to develop, but Graham is definitely on notice. Yet another player that will have minimal redraft value in 2013, but there is a potential for a poor man’s Mike Wallace here if he is able to pick up the system and his coaching quickly.

3.17 – Steelers: WR Markus Wheaton
The Steelers have hit on most of their recent WR picks and they do their best to replace Mike Wallace by grabbing a receiver that has a lot of the same qualities as Wallace and Antonio Brown. Wheaton was a big-time producer at Oregon State and certainly more developed than the player that went right before him (Marquise Goodwin). Given Emmanuel Sanders‘ durability issues and Jerricho Cotchery‘s age, Wheaton stands a great chance of being productive sooner than later. Sanders will likely be drafted higher in redrafts (and rightfully so), but Wheaton could bypass him by season’s end and should be a clear starter by 2014 if/when Sanders leaves as a free agent. He’s likely a WR5 in redraft, but worthy of a late first or early second round in dynasty rookie drafts.

3.23 – Redskins: TE Jordan Reed
For those fantasy owners that like to chances on rookie TEs, this is your draft. Reed profiles similarly to Dustin Keller (will get compared to Aaron Hernandez partly because they both came from Florida). Reed is likely to be used exclusively out of the slot as he is a liability as a blocker. HC Mike Shanahan has a long history of using his TEs, but will need to be used creatively because his snaps will be limited due to his poor blocking. His redraft value is minimal, but slightly higher in dynasty. Still, he’s got a chance at some dynasty value if Shanny is willing to think outside the box.

3.30 – Rams: WR Stedman Bailey
There’s going to be a day in the near future where fans will forget how bad the Rams’ WRs were two years ago. Bailey was more productive than his college (and now pro) teammate Tavon Austin and was Geno Smith’s preferred red-zone option. Bailey is a technically sound receiver that will stick in the league because he will be where he is supposed to be on every play and has reliable hands. He doesn’t have the upside of any Rams receiver that will be ahead of him on the depth chart (Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick), so his fantasy potential is negligible. He’ll go undrafted in redraft leagues and is probably a late-second/early-third dynasty rookie draft option at the moment.

3.34 – Chiefs: RB Knile Davis
Davis was actually one of my favorite backs in 2010 (although I saw only two games), but Davis has injuries and a coaching change conspired to make him a shell of himself in 2011 and 2012. Davis showed athleticism at the Combine to give his stock a boost, but he will likely be relegated to a 2012 Peyton Hillis-like role (at best) this season. He should go undrafted in redraft and it will take an owner willing to turn a blind eye on his long injury history and fumblitits to accept the risk he carries as a dynasty option. His talent warrants a selection in the third round of dynasty rookie drafts, but don’t expect any kind of durability.



NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 2


By: — @ 9:47 am

NFL Draft2.02 – Titans: WR Justin Hunter
Goodbye Nate Washington…or Kenny Britt? Hunter was the most productive receiver for the Vols this past season and should further help the Titans get more “chunk” plays. It really could be either one or both, but it cements the Titans’ philosophy as a big-play, deep-ball offense now. The amount of receiver talent Tennessee has now is scary, but given the fact that Washington’s status with the team was already in question and Britt’s status is almost always in question, the roadblocks aren’t’ what they appear to be at first look. His redraft stock is low at the moment, but could skyrocket at a moment’s notice. His dynasty value is much higher.

2.03 – Eagles: TE Zach Ertz
It’s becoming clear that Chip Kelly is looking for size mismatches in the passing game with James Casey‘s signing and this pick. Kelly loved to use his TEs down the seam at Oregon and it is safe to say those seams will get a workout in Philly. Kelly’s offense may very well be a two-TE offense in theory, but I’d be shocked if Casey/Ertz aren’t working out of the slot 60% of the time. I’m not thrilled about his redraft value with so many TEs on the roster, but the team will likely move on from Brent Celek in the next year or two, making him a very solid dynasty league option in Kelly’s warp-speed offense

2.05 – Bengals: RB Giovani Bernard
The Bengals grab Law Firm’s complement, not his eventual successor. The Bengals land a prospect that has drawn comparisons to LeSean McCoy and rightfully so. While not at that level, the Bengals are definitely sending a message they want to give Andy Dalton every opportunity to be successful. Whichever RB landed in Cincinnati was going to be a good bet to be the best redraft rookie available and Bernard has that honor (along with Tavon Austin). Bernard has a legit shot at becoming 1A/1B with BJGE in short order, making him a solid dynasty option as well.

2.08 – Jets: QB Geno Smith
This is going to be fun. Goodbye Tebow tomorrow and Sanchez next year? Smith is a smart pick from the perspective that the Jets now have an OC that can develop a quarterback, but his “fit” is questionable in the new offense. The Jets’ situation is dire right now with such a poor supporting cast, but there’s no doubt anymore that Sanchez MUST produce this season. Smith will have time to transition from the spread to the West Coast offense, but how long will it take the Jets to surround him with enough talent to allow him to succeed? He’s going to be among the lowest-ranked redraft QBs (for good reason) and his dynasty upside is also somewhat limited.

2.10 – Bills: WR Robert Woods
Woods should slot in immediately as the Bills’ solid, steady option opposite Steve Johnson right away. Woods isn’t exactly flashy, but he is very much pro-ready and will help move the chains in Buffalo. He is more than willing to go over the middle and will be a solid producer for years to come. The Bills have talked about moving Johnson into the slot more often and Woods’ presence should help them do just that. The USC standout is very likely to be a late-round option at best in redraft leagues given the uncertainty at QB in 2013, but he has a great shot at holding WR4 value at some point this season and should be a reliable WR3 in dynasty leagues (perhaps as soon as 2014).

2.17 – Cowboys: TE Gavin Escobar
One year after letting Martellus Bennett go to New York, the Cowboys take another shot at Jason Witten‘s successor. Escobar is a soft-handed, athletic TE with great ball skills. In many ways, the Cowboys have drafted a younger version of an older Witten. Escobar is not the blocker that Bennett was before he departed, but is landing in a solid situation where he can learn from one of the best. His redraft value figures to be minimal, but he has second-round upside in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.18 – Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
I want so much to like Bell, who drew some comparisons to Steven Jackson earlier this season. However, I was less than impressed by the consistent power displayed by this power-running RB. This is going to require more tape-watching on my end b/c Eddie Lacy was a superior RB (especially for the Steelers). Bell is a better option than Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, but I have a bad feeling about it. By virtue of his draft status and likely standing on the depth chart with little competition, Bell lands in a great spot for his redraft value. For the Steelers’ sake, I hope I just watched Bell in the wrong games, but any recommendation I give him now would be based more on the situation he finds himself in and less on his overall skill level.

2.25 – 49ers: TE Vance McDonald
Much like former Rice prospect James Casey, this Owl was used all over the formation in college. McDonald has little in-line experience as a blocker, which might suggest that SF will be another two-TE team in theory, but pull the Patriots’ TE trick of lining up Vernon Davis up in Rob Gronkowski‘s role while McDonald works out in space in the same fashion Aaron Hernandez does. There is considerable upside here in all fantasy formats. In redraft, he should be considered a low-end TE2 right now with his arrow pointing up. In dynasty, he is probably the most attractive TE in rookie drafts.

2.28 – Broncos: RB Montee Ball
This pick is likely to be seen as an indictment on Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno, both of which are likely correct. McGahee is probably only going to play one more year in Denver. Moreno – despite a strong finish in 2012 – has yet to capture the imagination of the Broncos’ brass. As long as Manning is around, every RB on his team has a great shot at value as soon as he learns to block and shows he can catch the ball. Ball has limited experience at both, but certainly has the capacity to do both. At this moment, Ball appears to have the best combination of skill and situation of any drafted RB in redraft leagues. I think he is a league-average talent, so I am less optimistic about his dynasty upside.

2.29 – Patriots: WR Aaron Dobson
Assuming he can build trust with Tom Brady (always an unknown), Dobson gives NE its first big receiver since Randy Moss. He’s not Moss in size, speed or skill, but he is an able and trustworthy pass catcher. Dobson probably will not start in front of Donald Jones in year 1, but he’s a better overall talent. There is minimal redraft value here, but he has second-round value in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.31 – Packers: RB Eddie Lacy
It’s about time. Lacy slide due to medical concerns, but he finds the best fantasy situation of any RB drafted so far. The Packers have played around with undersized committee back lately, but Lacy could bring that to an end in short order. Lacy is a power back with nimble feet and helps make up for Green Bay opting not to trade for Marshawn Lynch a few years ago. Lacy has low-end fantasy RB2 upside in redraft leagues and should be the top pick in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.32 – Seahawks: RB Christine Michael
Michael is easily a second-(if not a first) round talent, but character concerns and the fact he landed in coach Kevin Sumlin’s doghouse this past college season did him no favors during the draft process. In Seattle, he’ll have a difficult time seeing the field anytime soon due to the presence of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Second-round picks shouldn’t be resigned to third-string status, but the Hawks were simply taking the best player available. Michael can be ignored in redraft, but his talent is such that he warrants a pick in dynasty league rookie drafts because he could overtake Turbin at some point. (With Lynch likely to wear down soon, that’s a potential fantasy goldmine.)



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