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Fri, April 26, 2013

Draft Day One Fantasy Fallout

I'm not a big fan of guessing.  That's why the NCAA office bracket challenges have never really been my thing.  The "experts" are mostly wrong, so what chance do I have?  Same goes for "mock drafts" when it comes to the NFL draft, especially this year when so much of the talent was nearly even and the only difference was either team need or a hunch that separated one guy from another.  Well, now that the guessing is over, we can take a look at the landscape of a few teams that helped their cause in last night's draft with an eye towards keeper leagues.

Of the guys drafted last night, the fit I liked best was DeAndre Hopkins to the Texans.  It has been a known need that they have half-heartedly attempted to fill, but I think THIS is finally a guy to even out the defensive attention given to Andre Johnson and the running game led by Arian Foster.  Hopkins is a solid route runner with good hands and has some red-zone dynamism to him.  He'll have a couple of years to thrive under single coverage until Andre Johnson's slow down is a reality, and comparisons to Roddy White have my ears perked!  In his rookie season I like his chances of a Justin Blackmon-like 900 yds with 5-7 scores, and after that, look for 1200 yds and 9 or 10 td's in years to come.

Tavon Austin has strong potential for NFL stardom, and over the last couple of weeks, NFL teams were falling over themselves for a chance to add his versatility to their offense and special teams.  People compared his skill set to Percy Harvin, but his body type is more like Darren Sproles.  So reality is probably somewhere in between when it comes to his strength/speed combo.  Look for him to make an impact in his first year contributing in the run and pass game for maybe a total of 1100 yards and a handful of scores, and eventually to post stat lines boasting in excess of 1500 total yards.  The real bummer here is the St. Louis Rams offense as a whole, but look for all of these young players to come into form together in two or three years. 

Cordarelle Patterson was all the rage after the combine, showing up in some top-5 overall talent lists.  But the shine came off the star as people went back to the tape and saw better in-game performance from his Tennessee counterpart Justin Hunter.  Patterson has a good frame with great football instincts with the ball in his hands, but is rough on routes and may be diva-ish in the brain department.  Still, the raw skills had teams going ga-ga in Indy, so maybe the Vikings were correct in risking their middle round picks to add him to balance their pass threats opposive Jennings.  He's not worth drafting immediately, but someone to keep an eye on.  He seems like a prototypical "third year breakout" or a bust if the Vikings QB progresses proportionally.  His return ability is nice for real football in replacing Harvin, but doesn't do much for fantasy purposes.

Finally, E.J. Manuel seems like another guy we'll be talking about eventually, but right now at the deepest position in fantasy football, there just isn't much here in the immediate future.  His prospects into his college career were high, he was solid at Florida State and had higher stock then Christian Ponder in most scouts' minds, but that isn't really saying much.  He has a good arm, makes good decisions with the ball, but he will be watching Kevin Kolb play football for his first year or two while he develops.  Expect the Bills to be picking high again in next years draft as they continue to infuse young talent around their key skill players like Manuel and Spiller.

Tyler Eifert was the top TE in this draft, a mammoth from what has become a hotbed for TE's in Notre Dame.  He was too good for the Bengals to pass up, and he will be a sneaky option given Jermaine Gresham's benign contributions to the Bengals offense.  He'll be a bye-week fill in this year similar to how Coby Fleener was this year, but will be draftable next year on a potentially powerful offense.  Look for the Bengals to draft an impact RB in day two.

Other teams that invested first round picks in offensive line could help the case of their offense as well.  The Chiefs, Jacksonville, Philly, and Arizona all had HUGE needs on the offensive line, and their investment in the picks will help keep their QB's healthier and their running games more potent.  Don't sleep on Jones Drew, Mccoy, and the Arizona and Chiefs passing games next year, they should all improve.

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