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Mon, April 29, 2013

Final Fantasy Thoughts from the Draft

Rounds two and beyond appear to have held alot more of the fantasy fireworks people were hoping for.  I expect some immediate impact from a number of picks. Just like last year where Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris were all extremely strong in their rookie season, this year we saw some blockbuster talent landing on loaded rosters, meaning another potentially strong rookie class of running backs to fill out your fantasy roster.

We start in Wisconsin with our favorite two picks of the draft:  one player arriving, and another leaving...

Packers fans, say hello to a running game!  And I don't mean the stranglehold Aaron Rodgers has had on leading rushing yards and TD's for the green and gold...Obviously, Eddie Lacy is a top talent at the position, and was rated #1 on most people's boards.  Given the devaluing of the running back in the draft, he fell to the end of the second round.  He has a big frame, but according to Mike Mccarthy, has quick enough feet to be elusive and dangerous in the open field.  Given the potency of the Packers' passing attack, their frequent visits to the red zone, as well as the likelihood that they will be in the lead late in games and handing the ball off, Lacey will be worth selecting as high as round five (round two in Packerland).  There are some negatives here. He comes with built in rookie competition from UCLA's Jonathon Franklin.  Anyone who watched how the Rams rookies Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead battle it out last year know that the higher pick doesn't always win.  And then there's the fact that the Packers sometimes just don't run the ball.  There are games he will disappear, which is why I devalue him to a low RB2 or a high flex option.  Finally, there is the injury concern which is perhaps why he fell this low. 

Montee Ball heads west, and there is gold in them there hills!  Ball's versatility and his nose for the endzone could mean big things.  This is going to be seen as a committee heading into the season given the presence of veteran McGahee, the emergence of Knowshon Moreno last year, and the second year back Ronnie Hillman.  But alot can happen here.  McGahee is old, and perhaps a release is imminent.  Moreno was strong down the stretch, but is just one injury away from the PUP list.  And Hillman appears to have taken on the third-down back role.  All Ball has to do is show some pop early and prove his nose for the end-zone in college translates to the NFL.  This has Alred Morris upside if he establishes himself, and given his pass-catching ability, possibly more if he proves he can protect Peyton Manning on third down.  I'd draft him as high as the 6th round if the cards fall just right, 8th round if there is enough potential, and as low as the 12th round if the backfield is still a mess heading into week 1.  That said, he should be drafted in every league for the TD potential alone.

I like the Bengals to be on a run in the NFL for the next 3 years, they have invested wisely with talent at the skill positions, the division is weakened, they have an underrated defense, and they just added a versatile and dangerous back to their offensive mix.  Giovani Bernard posses David Wilson type talent, and will see the field mostly on third down in his rookie year.  He won't necessarily light up the scoreboard, but he'll get enough action early on to be worth a flex option and even a starting back on your bye-weeks.  He'll be a late round pick, but worth owning.  Keeper leagues will want to invest here as well as Green Ellis's time as an effective running back are probably coming to a close within two years.

Pittsburgh drafted another Pittsburgh-style running back, and I don't mean that in a good way.  The good thing about Le'Veon Bell is he is drafted into a situation where he could be the every down back.  That said, he is pretty large, but so are Redman and Dwyer.  He's not overly quick, but neither are Redman and Dwyer.  He's not overly powerful, but neither are Redman and Dwyer.  In other words, I really don't know why they took this guy, except to replace the underwhelming Rashard Mendenhall with a replica of...Rashard Mendenhall.  This situation will be murky, and unless something big happens I'd be nervous taking Bell unless the price is right. 

Of the receivers drafted on days 2 and 3, I'm of a wait-and see approach mostly, but I like the potential of Robert Woods in Buffalo.  They did nothing to help their defense, so their passing offense is going to have to open up, and Woods with his end-zone ability will have some good rookie games.  I also see potential for Aaron Dobson.  He has some circus catch athleticism, but he'll have to take some time and get on the same page with Brady, and he's behind a strong frontline, meaning he'll be in on 4 receiver sets which I guess isn't that unusual in New England.  Two years we'll be looking his way to carry the Patriots passing game torch.  One other to note is Keenan Williams who stays in southern California joining the Chargers.  He has a quick route to playing time with a weak roster at WR and has good route running and hands.  If Rivers can sort out some accuracy issues, the comparisons to Reggie Wayne will have fantasy owners taking a chance here.  Kendall Wright numbers could be in store in season one, with potential for stardom in the future.

Other notes:  How did the Panthers not draft a WR????  Marcus Lattimore to the 49'ers is so freaking scary for the rest of the league.  Gore is getting old, they already took the explosive Lamichael James who showed flashes in the playoffs, 2014 will the year of Marcus Lattimore.  And finally, what the heck are the Cowboys thinking?

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