The first round of the 2013 NFL draft was dominated by players on either side of the trenches. There were nine offensive linemen among the first 32 picks. Four defensive tackles and six edge-rushers were also selected.
Outside of the trenches, seven defensive backs and one middle linebacker went off the board. There wasn’t a single running back selected in the first round.
That leaves five first-round players that could find themselves being snatched up by fantasy owners, particularly in dynasty leagues.
The Buffalo Bills shocked the world a bit by taking Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and passing up on both Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib, a player that Doug Marrone coached at Syracuse.
A lot of analysts are suggesting that there must be something wrong with Nassib since Marrone bypassed him.
Personally, I don’t buy into that school of thought. They think that Manuel has more upside. Coming on the heels of the success that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had last year, it’s not surprising that an athletic quarterback like Manuel was a hot commodity on draft day.
Pairing Manuel’s ability with C.J. Spiller has the makings of an exciting brand of football.
So what are Manuel’s fantasy prospects?
He has plenty of appeal in dynasty leagues but won’t like make his mark this year. The Bills brought in Kevin Kolb to be the short-term answer.
Manuel could get a shot toward the end of the year as the Bills fall out of contention. He could get a look sooner if Kolb is injured or completely ineffective. Regardless, there is no reason to concern yourself with E.J. Manuel in redraft leagues.
The Wide Receivers
West Virginia’s Tavon Austin has the opportunity to be a dynamic playmaker in the St. Louis Rams offense. He combined for 215 receptions over the past two seasons for 2,475 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He should be a nightmare in the slot with his explosiveness. He could also produce in the return game. Austin is most valuable in PPR leagues. His size (5'8", 172 pounds) could be an issue, but his blazing speed makes him worth the risk.
Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins gives the Houston Texans a potential threat opposite of Andre Johnson. He exploded last year for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns on 82 receptions.
He has good size (6'1", 214 pounds) and should benefit from all the attention that Johnson and Arian Foster command. It’s possible that he’s the most productive rookie wide receiver in standard fantasy leagues.
Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson could take some time to develop for the Minnesota Vikings. He is explosive and powerful, looking like a running back in the open field.
He’s a bit raw having played just one year of Division I football. Patterson should make an immediate impact in the return game, but it could take some time to develop into a reliable option in the passing game. Patterson can likely be overlooked in redraft leagues.
The Tight End
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, along with incumbent Jermaine Gresham, give the Cincinnati Bengals a nice one-two punch at tight end.
Eifert has the size (6'5", 250 pounds), speed, body control and hands to become a solid NFL tight end. It will likely take him some time to develop into a fantasy option, particularly due to Gresham’s presence.
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