With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, many football fans are eagerly waiting in anticipation to see how the draft can upgrade their favorite teams.
The same sentiment can be said for fantasy owners. We are all looking for the next best thing. We'll be scoping out prospects in search of the next Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson or Doug Martin.
While this year’s prospects will have a hard time duplicating the success the 2012 class, they are no slouches either.
When you add Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris to the aforementioned list above, the 2012 class had six primary fantasy contributors with guys like Justin Blackmon and T.Y. Hilton serving as solid, complementary players. The 2013 class has its work cut out for it.
All that said, there should only be a handful of impact players available in this year’s draft. So, here then are the five (ranking down from five to one) prospects who should make the biggest splash in 2013.
In a league that values speed and an increasing reliance on possession receivers, Austin is about as good as it gets on those fronts.
The speedy and diminutive Austin is ascending draft boards and could perhaps be the first receiver taken on draft day. While Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson has more upside and all-around athleticism, it may take him more time to get acclimated to the NFL. Austin, on the other hand, could come in right away and provide the team that drafts him with an explosive playmaker.
Austin could mirror the season that the Colts’ T.Y. Hilton just had. Austin may have some trouble adapting to the nuances of the NFL, but come the end of the year, he could take off like Hilton. The Rams could make a play at drafting Austin with the 16th pick to replace the recently departed Danny Amendola.
Draft Austin as late-round flier and enjoy the benefits.
After impressing at the NFL combine, Randle could be a hot commodity come draft day.
Randle combines speed with a good set of skills. Last year at Oklahoma State, Randle rushed for a staggering 1,417 yards on 274 carries while also scoring 14 touchdowns.
The talent and potential is certainly there with Randle and some team will draft him to be a major playmaker. Expect him to get enough carries to matter in fantasy circles and be sure to take a flier on Randle in the later rounds of your drafts.
There are differing opinions on how much value Smith possesses, but in a league in love with big-bodied signal-callers who are athletic, Smith should fit right in.
Smith can sling it with the best of them and can make plays with both his arm and feet. While he may not live up to the standards set by RGII and Cam Newton, Smith should find himself in a position to start right away (granted he’s drafted by the right team, say Jacksonville, New York Jets, Buffalo?).
Don’t reach for Smith in your fantasy draft. Think of him as a solid backup quarterback with upside worthy of being drafted in the 10th or 11th round of fantasy drafts.
When looking for prospects in fantasy football, one’s eyes always turns to running backs, as they are always in high demand.
Bernard has the skills, explosiveness, strength and pedigree to come into the league and make an impact from day one. Last year while at North Carolina, Bernard amassed 1,228 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging a whopping 6.7 yards per carry.
Bernard should be drafted early (late-first round or early-second round) in the NFL draft and as such he should be expected to come in and contend for immediate carries. Bernard makes for an excellent middle-round pick.
Lacy is probably the most ready-made running back available in the draft, which coming from a football factory (Alabama University) makes total sense seeing how high Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were drafted.
Lacy uses a great combination of power and speed to break tackles and hits holes fast. At 5’11”, 231 pounds, Lacy is a load to handle.
Depending on where he is drafted, Lacy should compete for carries right away and perhaps a starting gig as well. Be confident in snatching up Lacy in Rounds 3 or 4 in fantasy drafts.