TJ Yeldon – Running Back, Alabama
Selected: pick 4, Round 2 – Jacksonville Jaguars
I love this pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team in desperate need of a bell cow running back. Don’t get me wrong, Denard Robinson performed admirably when he took the reins last season but his frame simply isn’t built to handle a full season in the NFL. TJ Yeldon outplayed Eddie Lacy his freshman year at Alabama and we’ve all seen Lacy’s success. He is a complete back as is today but has room to add some bulk to aid with the weekly pounding he will take in the NFL. He did not impress in the speed department at the NFL combine posting a 4.61 - 40 yard dash. His shuttle times were nothing impressive either but his 22 reps on the bench press showed the kind of power potential he has within him. His landing spot is ideal given Jacksonville’s current roster. I’d expect him to get the lion’s share of the carries right away with Denard Robinson spelling him on 3rd downs. I prefer him in redraft leagues but he should drafted with confidence in all formats, TJ Yeldon is tough as nails and legit in every way.
Devin Smith – Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Selected: pick 5, Round 2 – New York Jets
One pick away from landing TJ Yeldon! That would have been a nice fit in the NYJ backfield! Devin Smith on the other hand is an excellent fit for this receiving corps. The Jets have a good formula in place right now with Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and now Devin Smith to add a true deep threat to 3 wide sets. I like the move a lot in that it gives Geno Smith another weapon: they can really see if he is worth anything in 2015 and determine if they need to take a quarterback in next year’s draft. What Smith lacks in size he makes up for in speed and quickness – he can really take the top off a defense. His hands aren’t perfect but he is an absolute playmaker when he does catch the ball. Smith has been likened to Desean Jackson in many circles and I tend to agree. He ran a 4.42 – 40 yard dash at the combine but he plays much faster than that. He is not strong at all but he won’t need to be, expect a few home runs from him in 2015. He’ll be 3rd fiddle at best in a historically anemic passing attack so don’t over-draft him but if you are looking for a cheap Hail Mary in weekly fantasy football leagues he could prove useful in potential shootouts. Keep an eye on him during the preseason to see how the Jets plan to use him. I'd spend a second round dynasty pick on him but I'm not touching him in redraft leagues in 2015.
Dorial Green-Beckham – Wide Receiver, Missouri / Oklahoma
Selected: pick 8, Round 2 – Tennessee Titans
A real enigma in this year’s draft. Strapped with off the field concerns Green-Beckham slipped down into the 2nd round. He didn’t actually play any football at the university of Oklahoma so he is a year removed from the game, I’ll be curious to see how he performs in pre-season action this August. Considering the investment The Titans have made with the second overall pick Marcus Mariota it only made sense to surround him with weapons. No better place to start with a young quarterback than adding 6’5” 237 pound specimen with 32.5 inch reach. He ran a sub 4.5 – 40 yard dash at the combine but displayed zero strength. On film he reminds me a lot of his counterpart on the other side of the field - Justin Hunter. One of these guys is going to draw a ton of targets from Mariota. We’ve seen what Hunter has to offer so I’d give the slight edge to DGB right now. A risky dynasty target but one you’ll have to draft early if you want to own him. I’ll be nabbing him late in redraft leagues just in case he shows up in 2015. His lack of strength concerns me but they can’t all be Calvin Johnson.
Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver/ Tight end, Michigan
Selected: Pick 9, Round 2 – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers traded up a good bit to land Funchess. The celebration in their war room tells me they plan to pepper Funchess with targets from the get go. At 6’4” 236, Funchess is a matchup nightmare all over the field. The pairing with Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t be better. He was a tight end at Michigan initially before switching to wide receiver roughly the same time Jimmy Graham was fighting to be labeled a wide receiver (hmm) he was pretty much all Michigan had at times single handedly winning games for the maize and blue but some of those situations were man against boys situations – Funchess won through sheer size. That said, I do think he needs to play more like a man, he goes down way to easily and needs to win more 50/50 jump balls. He lacks speed but the strength is there. Besides, speed really isn’t his game as an ex- tight end. He’ll need some coaching and fine tuning but the trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess is going to give defenses fits! A bit of a reach by the Panthers in my opinion but a nice fit in a weapon starved offense. You shouldn’t have to pay a ton for him in a dynasty league or redraft and should be targeted in both as a potential WR3. There is the off chance he gets labeled as a tight end which would send his value through the roof as a tight end lining up a wide out. Keep an eye on the Carolina roster this off season.
Ameer Abdullah – Running Back, Nebraska
Selected: pick 22, round 2 – Detroit Lions
Nice pick by the Lions here as they needed to add a running back after parting ways with Reggie Bush. I’ll spare all the talk of his outstanding Character and IQ (both of which are some of the best scouts have ever seen) and get straight to football skills. A strong decisive runner with great vision and respectable speed. He has the ability to bang it between the tackles but can also turn the corner keeping defenders honest. Rarely dances up to the line and makes his touches count. He’s not an ideal pass catching back but should be a good pairing with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. I’d like to see him in there as a 2 down back for the sake of his career – he lacks ideal size as a feature back and really doesn’t have any more room for growth on his frame. However I won’t be surprised to see a full blown committee in his rookie season. He has had ball security issues, fumbling 13 times in his 4 years at Nebraska, but that can be fixed. Abdullah ran a 4.6 - 40 yard dash at the combine, obviously failing to impress in that department. He did however impress with 24 reps on the bench, a 42.5 inch vertical leap (tops among running backs) as well as a 10’10” broad jump (also tops among running backs) His 6.79 - 3 cone drill was again, tops among all running backs as was is 3.95 - 20 yard shuttle. He was 3rd in the 60 yard shuttle and 7th on the bench press (some of those guys really are full backs though) the bottom line is the Lions got a steal in Abdullah. The situation isn’t perfect from fantasy perspective in 2015 so I do prefer him in a dynasty league. If he was the 3rd rookie running back off the board in any format I wouldn’t be surprised or fault the person doing it. I do prefer Yeldon in redraft due to his size and situation but lest we forget, undersized running backs with crazy athleticism have succeeded in Detroit before (let’s not get ahead of ourselves) At any rate, draft with confidence in all formats for his skillset but temper expectations until we see how that Detroit backfield shakes out.
Maxx Williams – Tight End, Minnesota
Selected: Pick 23, Round 2 – Baltimore Ravens
Interesting Pick as the Ravens look to bolster their new Marc Trestman offense with targets for Joe Flacco. Maxx Williams should prove to a good developmental tight end. He has good speed (ran a 4.78 – 40 yard dash at the combine) and playmaking ability. Possesses a strong vertical leap at 34.5 inches – tack that onto his 6’4” frame and you’ve got one tall target! He’ll need to improve his route running a bit to succeed at the next level but that shouldn’t be a problem with the coaching staff in Baltimore. Maxx is a good target in dynasty drafts especially if Trestman manages to hang around for a few years – we all saw how useful he made Martellus Bennett. His redraft value really all depends on Dennis Pitta’s health. This selection tells me the Ravens are planning for the worst. Expect a learning curve if Maxx Williams starts week 1 but he could turn into a nice sleeper with Trestman's penchant for tight end usage in the red-zone. As the first tight end off the board he’ll be on a few fantasy manager’s radars but not all of them. Maxx’s price tag should be low enough to speculate.
More 2015 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Analysis to come! Stay tuned!
David – The Trade Expert
Jameis Winston – Quarterback, Florida State
Selected: pick 1, round 1- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This selection was viewed as inevitable by most draft pundits and I find it hard to disagree with Tampa’s selection. It really came down to Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota and while I love Mariota’s overall athleticism and character it is hard to overlook Winston’s physique and intangibles. Winston can make all the throws, possesses a tremendous football IQ and brings an imposing presence inside the pocket at 6’4”, 231 lbs. His experience in a pro-style offense is likely the reason he went first overall ahead of Mariota. I will say, the fit in Tampa is certainly encouraging from a fantasy perspective given his skill set and supporting cast. Pairing Winston with an emerging star in Mike Evan’s and a savvy veteran in Vincent Jackson certainly bodes well and should be a recipe for success provided Winston takes adheres to coaching. His footwork and mechanics could use some fine tuning but a competitor like Jameis has heard all the doubters throughout the off season, expect him to rise to the occasion. If you are in a dynasty league and own Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady consider drafting Winston even if it means moving up.
Marcus Mariota – Quarterback, Oregon
Selected: pick 2, round 1 – Tennessee Titans
Oh what could have been! Another inevitable selection, it’s just unfortunate the Titan’s are the team that made the pick! There was so much buzz around various teams trading up to obtain Mariota with the Titan’s number 2 pick, most notably Mariota's former college coach - Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. Had Mariota landed in Philly I would consider him a top 10 fantasy quarterback from day 1. Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be and the Titan’s drafted Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He offers ridiculous athleticism and the IQ to boot (both on and off the field) Mariota is viewed as a highly coachable prospect with a very high ceiling, good arm and good wheels (4.52 - 40 yard dash time at the combine) His situation in Tennessee is an interesting work in progress and his lack of experience in a pro-style offense doesn’t help. Mariota’s supporting cast isn’t the greatest but it does have potential. He has a strong tight end in Delanie Walker and a potential new best friend in Justin Hunter (2014’s sleeper WR in many circles) Marcus has all the physical tools for success but I do not expect him to be a QB1 in 2015. He is going to be expensive in dynasty drafts, if you select him just be ready to weather the storm. His value will go up in all formats if the Titan's add talent around him. The 2015 draft class boasts a crop of talented wide outs and running backs, given the investment they have now made in Mariota I'd be shocked if they don't find him some weapons to compliment the young signal caller. On a side note – Zach Mettenberger’s agent requested a trade the moment Mariota was selected. I’d view Mettenberger as a speculative trade target in a dynasty league.
Amari Cooper – Wide Receiver, Alabama
Selected: pick 4, round 1 – Oakland Raiders
Predictable selection from Oakland but its hard to disagree with this one. Cooper was viewed as the top receiver on many draft boards and most would agree that Cooper is a nice fit for Oakland given their current receiving corps. Pairing him with a young Derek Carr is a move for years to come and should bear fruit if they can get on the same page and generate some chemistry (at Alabama Cooper showed a tendency to break off routes putting his quarterback in tough spots at times) Cooper certainly has the chops in the speed department posting a 4.42 in the 40 yard dash, 6.71 in the 3 cone and a combine best 3.98 in the 20 yard shuttle. He isn’t the best run blocker and his size is nothing impressive but the fact that he can move all around in the offense will make him a dangerous weapon in the Raider’s attack. I'm not expecting much in his first year as this offense works out the kinks. I personally won't be drafting Cooper in many redraft leagues unless he is sitting there late. The value for me would be in a dynasty league, but be prepared to pay for Cooper if you want him.
Kevin White – Wide Receiver, West Virginia
Selected: pick 7, round 1 – Chicago Bears
I absolutely love this selection by the Bears. The time was right to move on from Brandon Marshall and Kevin White is an excellent replacement. I personally had him atop my draft board among wide receivers given his combine performance (4.35 – 40 yard dash, 23 reps on the bench press) He strikes me as a bit faster than quick; his 3 cone, 20 yard shuttle and 60 yard shuttle were good but not overly impressive. What impresses me most about Kevin White is his game tape. He plays like a man, this is not a track guy in football players clothing. After the catch he looks like a tall running back out there making calculated cuts, not the jitterbug quick stuff you’d normally see out of an average speed receiver. He displays excellent ball carrier vision seeing developing holes and gaps to hit in advance. He has a decent vertical to go up and get it and the strength to win the one-on-one battles he will inevitably come up against in the NFL. His supporting cast couldn’t be better; Cutler has the arm to make all the throws in White’s growing route tree, Alshon Jeffery is a legit WR1 who will continue to command attention, Marquess Wilson is an dangerous receiver who should fit in the slot nicely, Martellus Bennett is a top tier tight end and a legit red zone threat and Matt Forte is one of the league’s top backs both on the ground and through the air. I cannot imagine a better landing spot outside of Denver, Green Bay or Foxboro. Draft with confidence in a dynasty and be sure to target him anytime after the 5th round in redraft leagues. Kevin White is going to pay out dividends.
Todd Gurley – Running back, Georgia
Selected: pick 10, round 1 – St. Louis Rams
For starters, this pick instantly kills the long term value of Tre Mason who was among the best values in weekly fantasy football leagues last season. Secondly Zach Stacy (remember him?) officially wants out of St. Louis and I don’t blame him. Todd Gurley is the definition of a complete running back when healthy. He has an excellent combination of speed and power, good pass catching skills, a nose for the end zone (36 rushing touchdowns in his time at Georgia) and is viewed as the draft's top back in pass protection. His experience in a pro-style offense would make him a no brainer week one starter on just about any NFL team were it not for his knee injury. The good news for Gurley’s prospects in this situation is the fact that he won’t be rushed into duty. Tre Mason will be able to fill in just fine for the first few weeks if need be. Even if Gurley is ready go for week one I’d expect a bit of a time share before Gurley runs off with the job - pun intended. This is a great pick with an eye towards the future. The Rams are up and coming and can now build the support around Gurley as their feature back for years to come. I love him as a dynasty pick and would be comfortable taking him in the 5th-8th round in redraft leagues. Just be sure to handcuff him with Tre Mason - he should be cheap after this draft pick.
DeVante Parker – Wide Receiver, Louisville
Selected: pick 14, round 1 – Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins wanted him and they knew they had to take him at 14 or not at all. It was good to see DeVante run a 4.45 – 40 yard dash at the combine given his noticeable decrease in overall speed upon return from his foot injury in 2014. That said, during that return he posted impressive numbers in the final 6 games of the season (855 yards, 5 touchdowns) earning second team all ACC honors. He has a good bit of football intelligence about him displaying a good feel for spaces in the defense. If he can sharpen up his routes he has the tools to do some serious damage. DeVante knows how to use his wingspan to his advantage (33 ¼ inch arm length) and has shown repeated ability to go up and get it using his 6’3” frame to his advantage. His foot held up well over the back end of the 2014 season but if he starts to show durability issues he could be the next Kenny Britt. But let’s be fair a broken bone is bad luck, it doesn’t necessarily point to a lack of durability. He strikes me as a receiver who appears to be wise beyond his years and the fit works from a team needs stand point. He’ll start right away and should draw plenty of attention. If he works on his route running he could turn into an outstanding red-zone threat with a knack for moving the chains. Given the lack of options in Miami a 700 yard, 8 touchdown campaign isn’t out of the question. As a mid to late round dart he could prove a useful WR3 with upside. He'll be a nice value in dynasty leagues with Kevin White and Amari Cooper commanding higher draft day prices.
Melvin Gordon – Running Back, Wisconsin
Selected: pick 15, round 1 – San Diego Chargers
The second Running back off the board lands in an excellent spot for success in San Diego. Melvin has all the skills and speed to succeed in the NFL. The fact that he won’t be expected to be the Bell cow right off the bat will certainly help him grow throughout his career. I expect him to be a 2 down back initially with Danny Woodhead and Brandon Oliver spelling Gordon on 3rd downs. The potential to be a full on bell cow is there but Gordon will have to improve his football instincts and ball carrier vision first. In college he sometimes showed a tendency to tip toe to the line waiting to see a bigger crease rather than taking what was blocked for him already. He ran into walls at times and bounced outside more often than is acceptable at the NFL level. He is fast enough to get away with it in college but that won’t fly much in the NFL. Much like his predecessor Montee Ball, Gordon benefited from one of college football’s most imposing offensive lines which likely contributed to his absurd 7.6 yards per carry average over his final two seasons in Wisconsin. From a fantasy football standpoint I fully expect Melvin Gordon to be way overvalued and drafted far too high much like Ryan Mathews was. His dynasty value should be secure. After all, he is a strong all around running back with more impressive combine numbers including a 4.52 – 40 yard dash, 11 second 6 yard shuttle and 126 inch broad jump. You’ll need to take him in the top 5 to get him in dynasty drafts, this should pay off as he has the skills to be the eventual lead back. In redraft leagues I’d target him in the 5-6 round if he’s still available, just be sure to have some extra hooks in the water in case a full blown committee develops in his first year in San Diego.
Nelson Agholor – Wide Receiver, USC
Selected: pick 20, round 1 – Philadelphia Eagles
Another Weapon for Chip Kelly’s mad house. By the way, how great is it having Chip Kelly in the league? It’s like having a buddy from your fantasy football league controlling an actual NFL team! But back to Nelson - Great route runner with good quickness and speed. He ran a 4.42 – 40 yard dash at the combine and should be an instant contributor on special teams. Viewed as a replacement for Jeremy Maclin but I see him more as a delayed replacement for Desean Jackson. Has good run after the catch ability and should prove dangerous in one of the league’s most explosive offenses. Will likely be overvalued due to the Philly hype train but if he is sitting there in the 9th round he’s worth a shot as a WR3 with WR2 upside. After whiffing on the Mariota trade option, I’m sure Chip Kelly will feed him the ball for a few games to prove the kid’s value. I’m usually not a fan of “slot receivers” outside of PPR leagues but in the right offense (like this one) I see no reason to avoid him. Just look at what Brandin Cooks did last season before he got hurt. I do prefer him in a redraft leagues simply because Philly is in a crazy place this offseason. If the eagles fall flat this season I won't be surprised to see Kelly get the boot after dealing Lesean McCoy and Nick Foles. A regime change could kill his long term value but if the value is right in a dynasty snatch him up, just don't overpay.
Breshad Perriman – Wide Receiver, UCF
Selected: pick 26, round 1 – Baltimore Ravens
Good landing place for a raw talent. Perriman blazed a 4.24 – 40 yard dash in his pro day which has really been the engine of his late arriving hype train. He should slot in nicely across from Steve Smith who should prove to be an excellent mentor for the talented young receiver. He has the size and speed to be a special talent in the league but his route running and hands leave something to be desired. These are areas Steve Smith excels at and at this stage in his career, I’m sure he’s happy to mentor an unpolished diamond like Perriman. With Marc Trestman running the Baltimore offense and a strong arm quarterback in Joe Flacco the situation is prime for success if Perriman can build on the hype. The jury is still out on Breshad but he landed in a good spot to produce right away given the Baltimore receiving corps. He is a late round dart with tremendous upside in redraft leagues and a late first round / early second round selection in dynasty leagues due his potential. With all the hype surrounding Perriman you may need to reach to get him, just understand the risks involved in drafting such a raw talent early on. You may need to miss his first big game before you feel comfortable starting him.
Phillip Dorsett – Wide Receiver, Miami
Selected: pick 29, round 1 – Indianapolis Colts
Viewed as a luxury pick by the Colts and I couldn’t agree more. The Colts receiving corps is already pretty full with TY Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Frank Gore -one of the leagues best pass catching back. Dorsett may have a tough time finding targets early on making him a less that reliable fantasy play on a weekly basis. Phillip Dorsett might as well be TY Hilton clone from a size and speed stand point. If he can learn to run routes like TY Hilton he will truly be a force to be reckoned with in this dynamic Colts passing attack. Dorsett ran a 4.33 – 40 yard dash at the combine (even faster on his pro day) and showed off his quickness posting a 6.7 second 3 cone drill and 4.11 second 20 yard shuttle. Right now I view him as a TY Hilton Handcuff which is pretty valuable should TY go down at any point. Lets not forget, TY Hilton is in a contract year and he'll likely be looking for cash north of what Randal Cobb got from Green Bay this past offseason. Mark my words, if Dorsett shows any promise it will be a factor in Hilton's negotiations next year. Due to his pecking order in the current Colts offense, I wouldn’t draft him as anything more than a stash in Redraft leagues but he could be quite valuable in dynasty leagues a year from now. Phillip Dorsett is a name to keep on your radar throughout the summer and pre-season. If anything happens to TY Hilton expect his draft day price to skyrocket.
More 2015 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Analysis to come! Stay Tuned!
David – The Trade Expert