2014 Fantasy Football: Perfect Landing Spots for the Top 10 Prospects
We're just days away from the NFL draft and the anticipation of where the top prospects (Sammy Watkins, Carlos Hyde, Eric Ebron, etc.) will land has NFL fans and, of course, fans of fantasy football giddy with excitement.
Where the top prospects land will finally give fantasy owners some basis for the impact they will have in 2014 and the years ahead. The draft is sure to have its many twists and turns and what follows in this slideshow, is where the top 10 players (from a fantasy perspective) would ideally fit. Granted, the chances of these players landing in their “perfect landing spot” are both very slim and unrealistic on a lot of fronts.
Many teams have other glaring needs instead of skill-position players. After all, in the NFL, fantasy does not exist. That doesn't mean it's not fun to speculate and romanticize about where the top running backs, receivers, etc. should go!
So, here are the top 10 prospects (listed alphabetically) and what team would be best for them to succeed.
Disclaimer: The players and the team they are matched up with are reasonable expectations. So, you won't be reading why Sammy Watkins would be a great fit in Denver with Peyton Manning.
Odell Beckham Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers: Pick No. 15
While the Steelers need help on defense, and specifically at cornerback, the temptation may be too big to pass up on one of the draft's most coveted receivers in Odell Beckham Jr.
The uber-athletically-gifted Beckham would give Ben Roethlisberger a true game-changer at wide receiver. It's something the Steelers have not had since Mike Wallace left Pittsburgh. With Emmanuel Sanders in Denver, the Steelers will need to beef up its receiving corps.
If drafted by the Steelers, Beckham could conceivably step into the No. 2 receiver role opposite Antonio Brown and be in line for a ton of targets.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers: Pick No. 28 or No. 60
With the departures of Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr., the Panthers' wide-receiving unit is in dire need of some new playmakers and that is where selecting the polished Kelvin Benjamin makes a whole lot of sense.
It's pretty evident, given the turnover at the position, that the Panthers will use one of their early picks on a receiver and Benjamin is as good as they come. Benjamin has the size (6'5”, 240 pounds) and athleticism to separate from defenders and be a threat in the red zone. He should make an immediate splash.
He would easily become Cam Newton's No. 1 weapon and become a worthy fantasy player right off the bat.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints: Pick No. 27
With the Saints rostering an aging, yet effective, Marques Colston and relatively unproven Kenny Stills at wide receiver among others, this is a team that could use the services of an exciting, young wide receiver prospect. Enter Brandin Cooks.
For a receiver who is elusive and so quick in the open field, he's a natural fit in the Saints' high-octane offense. Receiving passes from Drew Brees, would do wonders for his fantasy value.
Eric Ebron, New York Giants: Pick No. 12
Perhaps the team with the biggest need at tight end is the Giants (the unproven Adrien Robinson tops the depth chart at the moment) and with Eric Ebron targeted to go within the top 20 picks, per CBS Sports, this surely looks like natural fit.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning loves big-bodied athletic tight ends and Ebron could shine in the Giants' offense. With Hakeem Nicks gone, the Giants need more offensive playmakers at tight end and at wide receiver and adding Ebron would ease the loss of Nicks.
This pairing perhaps makes the most sense on this list. If he goes to the Giants, Ebron could become a No. 1 tight end in 12-team leagues. He's that good.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Pick No. 7
Mike Evans' stock keeps soaring and a lot of pundits have him going in the top 10 (Rob Rang, Dane Brugler, Pete Prisco, Will Brinson and Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports all have him going in the top 10). Among the teams targeting him, Tampa Bay make the most sense.
With an adequate quarterback in Josh McCown throwing him the ball and Vincent Jackson opposite him, Evans can come in and complement the Bucs' offense wonderfully. In fact, many compare Evans to Jackson and both of them on the same team would be very appealing.
Remember how good McCown looked last year in Chicago when he had Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to throw to? Well, combine Evans with Jackson and this duo comes awfully close to resembling that.
In a few years, Evans will have No. 1 WR appeal.
Jeremy Hill, Atlanta Falcons: Pick No. 68
Sooner or later the Falcons have to start thinking of upgrading their running back corps and the thought of taking a promising running back like Jeremy Hill has to be enticing to the franchise.
With Steven Jackson (30-years old) no spring chicken and Jacquizz Rodgers having done nothing to stand out, the Falcons could use some youth at running back. Hill is a great north-south runner and he would immediately contend for carries in Atlanta while keeping Jackson fresh.
There is a good chance the Falcons will use some pick on a running back and this is a marriage that could work out great for both parties.
It may take some time for Hill to receive the bulk of the carries but in due time he could be a breakout running back in the NFL.
Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars: Pick No. 39
Currently, the Jaguars depth chart at running back consists of Toby Gerhart, Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson. As you can see, Jacksonville could use an infusion of new talent at the position and that's where Carlos Hyde can help.
Obviously, the Jaguars need help in a lot of areas, but if Hyde went to Jacksonville, he can jump-start a stagnant offense and likely get the bulk of carries right away. Yeah, the Jaguars spent some free-agent bucks on Gerhart, but he is not an elite talent at running back. Hyde would be a huge upgrade after losing Maurice Jones-Drew in the offseason.
If drafted by Jacksonville, Hyde could make for a No. 2 running back next year.
Tre Mason, Tennessee Titans: Pick No. 42
With the departure of Chris Johnson, the Titans have a glaring need at running back, as they probably can't rely on Shonn Greene or Dexter McCluster to be their the primary back. If Tre Mason is available with one of their early-round picks, the Titans should pounce on him.
The 42nd pick might too high to nab Mason, but coming off a fantastic season at Auburn (he was a Heisman Trophy finalist), Mason should have little trouble transitioning to the NFL. He has a pro-ready body.
Mason would have a great chance to gain a lot of carries in this offense and Tennessee will almost assuredly address the position at some point in the draft.
Bishop Sankey, New Orleans Saints: Pick No. 58
It should be out with the old (Darren Sproles) and in with the new with Bishop Sankey in New Orleans.
Sankey would be a great fit in the Saints' uptempo offense and he has the athleticism and size to make an impact from day one. While he would still have to contend with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson for carries, Sankey would offer the most upside in this unit.
This could be match made in heaven.
Sammy Watkins, Cleveland Browns: Pick No. 4
With the odds of Watkins not lasting past the fifth pick, the best place for Sammy Watkins to shine is probably in Cleveland.
While the quarterback situation in Cleveland (Brian Hoyer tops the depth chart at the moment) is not ideal, that could all change with a trade or the Browns picking one with their 26th pick. Nevertheless, having a mediocre quarterback hasn't stopped Josh Gordon from shining in Cleveland.
If Watkins joins the Browns, it would give Cleveland an elite wide-receiving duo. With Gordon on the other side of him, Watkins would feel less pressure and could initially face more single-coverage.
Watkins ending up with the Browns could be the start of something special. As it is, Watkins could potentially make for a No. 2 wide receiver as soon as next year.
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