10 NFL Draft Prospects Who Will Have Highest Keeper-League Value
Are you feeling the draft?
If not, you soon will.
We are less than two weeks away from the NFL draft, and with it comes hope. Hope that our teams can improve with an injection of youthful talent and exuberance. For fantasy purposes, we also get a look at the top players who can help us out down the line. While not all of the players listed here have immediate-impact value, the following 10 players (ranked 10 to 1) have enough promise and upside to pay off major dividends for your fantasy squad for years to come.
So, here then are the top 10 players to own in keeper leagues.
10. Zach Ertz, Stanford
As one of the more gifted and polished tight ends in the draft, Ertz will be a hot commodity come draft day.
Although not blessed with great athleticism, Ertz knows what he is doing out there and should follow Stanford tight end Coby Fleener as a high draft pick and perhaps be the first tight end taken in the draft—just as Fleener was last year.
After an excellent combine and pro day, Ertz’s potential is very tantalizing to NFL GMs. You should take notice of Ertz too when you are drafting for your keeper league.
9. Matt Barkley, USC
Barkley is one of the most polarizing prospects entering the NFL draft, but you can’t deny the talent that Barkley possesses. Some think he’ll go in the first round, with others thinking he’ll drop to the middle rounds.
For long-term keeper-league owners, you can probably get Barkley at a discount. Although he doesn’t own the biggest arm, Barkley usually makes good decisions with the ball. If surrounded with the right personnel, Barkley could break out in this league in a few years.
While his short-term value is debatable, Barkley should still provide good bang for the buck on draft day.
8. Keenan Allen, California
Allen’s size and strength are what separates himself from his peers. If Allen didn’t suffer a posterior cruciate ligament injury in November, Allen would perhaps be the top wide receiver on drafts boards.
And it is because of the injury that Allen can be a steal in both the real draft and your fantasy draft. It may take some time, but Allen could be a great lottery ticket worth drafting.
7. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Although not as gifted athletically as some in his receiver fraternity, Hopkins is one of most cerebral wideouts available on draft day.
At 6’1”, 200 pounds, Hopkins has a good combination of size and strength. Hopkins is also one of the more talented route-runners available in the draft.
Usually receivers need time to develop, and if you have patience, Hopkins can be a dynamite stealth pick in keeper leagues.
6. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
It may take some time for Eifert to adjust to the speed of the NFL, but he has the athleticism and build to make it in this league.
Eifert is as reliable as they come, as he was the Fighting Irish’s main weapon in the passing game. Heck, he was one of the few who actually showed up in the BCS title game, as he recorded six catches for 61 yards against Alabama.
If paired with a competent, veteran quarterback, Eifert could grow into a starting-caliber tight end for fantasy purposes in the not-too-distant future.
5. Andre Ellington, Clemson
Along with DeAndre Hopkins, Ellington is another Clemson Tiger who should be taken early in the draft.
Ellington is rising up draft boards after an impressive pro day. While there may be concerns about his hamstring issues, the talented running back can hit holes strong and fast, and NFL teams have taken notice.
Likely being one of the top running backs to be selected within the first three rounds, you can expect Ellington to be a hot name during fantasy draft season.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Scouts love upside, and Patterson has it in spades.
While still a bit raw, Patterson has all the tools and athleticism scouts and GMs love. After playing only one year at Tennessee, Patterson impressed scouts enough to come out early. Patterson is a bona fide deep threat with great speed.
Patterson should be the first receiver taken in the draft and as such, he should be a prime target in keeper leagues,
3. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Giovani Bernard and Alabama's Eddie Lacy should compete for the right to be the first running back taken in the draft, with some thinking Bernard possesses the most talent and promise.
Bernard was a beast in college, scoring in each of his 12 games at North Carolina last year. Just for the fact that Bernard will be challenging for a starting job for whatever team that decides to take him makes him a very enticing selection.
Bernard has appeal in all types of fantasy leagues, and expect his name to be called in the early rounds of the draft.
2. Geno Smith, West Virginia
While not nearly as polarizing as Barkley, Smith is still a divisive quarterback prospect, with many split on whether he can make a true impact in the game.
Well, I’m of the opinion that Smith’s athleticism and smarts will make him a dependable quarterback in a league that now covets big-armed, able-bodied signal-callers. Smith should be a first-round choice and depending on where he lands, he could compete for a starting job right away.
In keeper leagues, upside is thy name, and Smith certainly has that going for him.
1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Following in the footsteps of Alabama running backs like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, Lacy is ready to come into the NFL and contribute right away.
Lacy combines good psychical attributes with skills readymade for the NFL. Lacy should be a contributor for your fantasy team for years to come and is one of the sure things to bank on in this draft.