NFL Draft 2014: Fantasy Football Impact & Stock Report from Day 1

Eric MackFantasy Football Lead WriterMay 9, 2014

NFL Draft 2014: Fantasy Football Impact & Stock Report from Day 1

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    It is never too early to analyze the real reason we care so much about the NFL and its drawn-out draft process...why, fantasy, of course.

    That statement might be a bit of a stretch, but we would be remiss if we didn't take an early in-depth look at the fantasy implications of Thursday's first round. We break down the impact of all the picks and the stock risers and fallers from Day 1, doing it by the fantasy positions in this slideshow.

    Before we get on to the fantastic fantasies, here is a quick recap of the college stars that have flown off the board thus far: 

    1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans (1.1)
    2. OG Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams (1.2)
    3. QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (1.3)
    4. WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (1.4)
    5. OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders (1.5)
    6. LT Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons (1.6)
    7. WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.7)
    8. CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns (1.8)
    9. OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings (1.9)
    10. TE Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (1.10)
    11. RT Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans (1.11)
    12. WR Odell Beckham, New York Giants (1.12)
    13. DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams (1.13)
    14. CB Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears (1.14)
    15. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (1.15)
    16. OG Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (1.16)
    17. ILB C.J. Moseley, Baltimore Ravens (1.17)
    18. FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets (1.18)
    19. RT Ja'Wuan James, Miami Dolphins (1.19)
    20. WR Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (1.20)
    21. FS HaSean Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers (1.21)
    22. QB Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (1.22)
    23. DE Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs (1.23)
    24. CB Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals (1.24)
    25. CB Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers (1.25)
    26. OLB Marcus Smith, Phildelphia Eagles (1.26)
    27. S Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals (1.27)
    28. WR Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (1.28)
    29. DT Dominique Easley, New England Patriots (1.29)
    30. S Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers (1.30)
    31. CB Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos (1.31)
    32. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (1.32)

Quarterback: Johnny Manziel, Matt Ryan Up, Blake Bortles Down

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    Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel wasn't the first quarterback selected Thursday night, but he was the most important one.

     

    Quarterbacks Selected

    Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (1.3)

    The Jags need a lot of things to compete, and quarterback is No. 1 on that priority list, but this is not a great place for Central Florida's Bortles to wind up. First, the Jags' running game is sketchy, and No. 2, Justin Blackmon (indefinite suspension) is not someone they're counting on for next season, according to a tweet by the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran.

    Bortles is a talent, and he can run, but he won't have a whole lot to work with right away. He is not going to be a draftable in standard fantasy leagues. Heck, he shouldn't be drafted in two-quarterback formats. Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders just are not enough weapons to make Bortles fantasy-worthy.

     

    Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (1.22)

    He had to wait longer than he might have liked, but he has to love about where he wound up. With an elite wide receiver in Josh Gordon and a budding star at tight end in Jordan Cameron, Manziel has elite weapons a rookie quarterback usually doesn't get to work with.

    Manziel shouldn't be drafted before the late rounds in standard leagues, but he certainly has the supporting cast and potential to perform like a fantasy starter immediately. Beating out Brian Hoyer in training camp shouldn't be a problem.

     

    Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (1.32)

    His stock fell from No. 1, but he remained a No. 1 pick and lands in a pretty good spot. The Vikings still has one of the best running games in football with Adrian Peterson, which will help take the pressure off the rookie quarterback once he does play. Also, there are some decent targets in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

    Beating out Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel shouldn't prove difficult. Bridgewater should be the second rookie quarterback selected in fantasy, even if he is off the standard fantasy league radar. He is a viable reserve in two-quarterback formats.

     

    Stock Up

    Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (due to Jake Matthews at 1.6)

    The Falcons got it right with the sixth overall pick. If you cannot get a game-changer, you draft the next best thing: A complement for the face of your franchise.

    Matt Ryan gets a premium pass-protecting left tackle in Matthews. The addition shouldn't dramatically change your opinion of Ryan—he is a still a great mid-round sleeper—but you should cement Ryan as a fantasy starter in all leagues, no matter the health of wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) at the start of next season.

    Matthews was the most polished pass protecting tackle in this draft and he will be doing the bulk of his blocking in the passing game. The Falcons just don't run the ball that well, and when Ryan is your quarterback with targets like Jones and Roddy White, you should throw the football a lot.

     

    EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills (due to WR Sammy Watkins at 1.4)

    Suddenly the Bills have a threatening offense, whether or not you can lay trust in Manuel as a second-year quarterback. The running game is in explosive hands and Manuel scored the clear No. 1 wide receiver in this draft class in Watkins.

    Assuming Stevie Johnson sticks around, Manuel has three legit fantasy targets in Johnson, Mike Williams and Watkins. It won't take long for Watkins to be the best of that set and he just might be enough to move Manuel into the top 24 quarterbacks in fantasy. That would make Manuel a starter in two-quarterback formats. He is a late-round sleeper in standard leagues now.

     

    Little Change

    Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (due to Brandin Cooks at 1.20)

    He will be a top three fantasy quarterback no matter who he throws to but drafting a downfield burner certainly adds a new dimension to the Saints' offense. Cooks can stretch the field and help make Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Brees more productive.

     

    Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (due to TE Eric Ebron at 1.10)

    Stafford didn't need another target, but he gets a pass-catching tight end in Ebron out of North Carolina. You can consider Stafford among the top five fantasy quarterbacks, with or without Ebron, but the added talent cannot hurt.

     

    Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (due to WR Kelvin Benjamin at 1.28)

    Newton needs polished veteran receivers to in order to remain a top-five fantasy quarterback. Benjamin isn't polished in any aspect, but he is big at 6'5". The large target won't be a starter right away, but he can be a factor in the red zone, which is really what a fantasy quarterback needs...a finisher for touchdowns. Benjamin can post a handful of those as a rookie project.

     

    Eli Manning, New York Giants (due to WR Odell Beckham at 1.12)

    Beckham will help replace the loss of free-agent wideout Hakeem Nicks, but it is unlikely Beckham has Nicks-like potential right away. He is more of a long-term project. Still, any added receiving target is enough to consider Manning a viable fantasy backup in the late rounds.

     

    Stock Down

    Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

    Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron make Hoyer a potential late-round sleeper, particularly in two-quarterback formats, but the drafting of Manziel makes any value Hoyer might have will be short-lived.

     

    Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Regardless if he starts Week 1, he won't be draftable in most fantasy leagues.

     

    Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

    No one should have hoped these guys would start next season. Now, we can write them off in fantasy. Even if they start, they will be out of the realm of viable options.

Running Back: Zac Stacy, DeMarco Murray Stock Up

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Yeah, NFL equipment people are treated better than running backs. It is a second consecutive year no back is selected in Round 1. There were some picks that make current running backs more intriguing, though.

     

    Running Backs Selected

    None.

     

    Stock Up

    Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (due to OG Greg Robinson at 1.2)

    Adam Schefter said on ESPN's broadcast the Rams plan on playing Robinson at left guard. Regardless of where he lines up, the Rams and ground-pounding running back Stacy get a run-game mauler to run behind. Robinson might have work to do in pass protection, but he fits nicely at guard for a team that figures to feature a power running game.

    Stacy is a top-10 running back and a potential fantasy first-rounder. The drafting of Robinson might have sealed that latter fate.

     

    DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (due to OG Zack Martin at 1.16)

    The Cowboys needed defense and might have considered Johnny Manziel as a Tony Romo heir, but they drafted a run-blocking beast in Martin. Murray owners should like seeing that. Like Stacy, Murray belongs among the top 10 running backs and in the fantasy first round.

     

    RB TBD, Tennessee Titans (due to RT Taylor Lewan at 1.11)

    Shonn Greene is currently the Titans' starter, but we still see them drafting a running back this weekend, perhaps as soon as Round 2. Whoever picks up the Chris Johnson slack is going to enjoy running behind Lewan, a physical tackle with a mean streak.

     

    Stock Down

    Rashad Jennings and David Wilson, New York Giants

    It wasn't who the Giants picked in Round 1, but who they didn't. In going with a speed receiver over a running-game mauler like the Cowboys' Martin, it is yet another signal the Giants won't be returning to a power running game with their new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, a West Coast offense disciple. This is a passing team. Jennings and Wilson are long shots to be 1,000-yard rushers next season.

Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins Stock Down, Marques Colston Up

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    This was considered a deep draft for wide receivers, and it showed in Round 1 with five wideouts flying off the board. Of that handful, though, only one makes his way into an elite passing offense.

     

    Wide Receivers Selected

    WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (1.4)

    If the Bills don't rid themselves of Stevie Johnson, Watkins might start as the Bills' third-best fantasy wide receiver behind Johnson and Mike Williams. This was the 28th passing offense a year ago. Trading up to pick Watkins will help improve that, but Watkins' fantasy value will be tied to second-year progress of quarterback EJ Manuel.

    Draft Watkins as a top 40 fantasy receiver because of his immense talents, but you cannot like this destination if you're hoping for immediate or consistent production.

     

    WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.7)

    Speaking of receivers drafted to a precarious place: The Bucs had the worst pass offense in football last season. Evans is very likely to start opposite Vincent Jackson, though, so you have to rank him just after Watkins. Beating out Louis Murphy won't be an issue at all. The problem will be the quarterback and a likely conservative offense.

     

    WR Odell Beckham, New York Giants (1.12)

    Beckham had something significant working in his favor: He is from the Manning family high school alma mater, Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, according to Newsday's Tom Rock. GM Jerry Reese told Rock Beckham is more than a Manning connection: 

    You're talking about a quarterback who needs help. This guy is a weapon. He needs a weapon on the outside. ... You've got to have some weapons in this league, and we think this guy is a weapon.

    Beckham will have to beat out fellow LSU Tiger Rueben Randle, but once he does he can be a factor in fantasy. For now, consider him a late-round sleeper.

     

    WR Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (1.20)

    Cooks gets the best quarterback of this receiver class, so he will have to be considered among the better reserve wideouts in fantasy. The burner can stretch the field and make all of the Saints' weapons for Drew Brees better. Heck, that might be Cooks' biggest impact right away.

     

    WR Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (1.28)

    No team needed a position in this draft more than the Panthers needed a wideout. They got one in Benjamin, but the 6'5" target seems to be more of a project than a finished product.

    We cannot project him to start yet, even if the Panthers need him to, but he can be a factor in the red zone and scoring fantasy touchdowns, because of his size. Draft Benjamin as a late-rounder and consider him the best candidate for eight touchdowns as a rookie among these first-rounders.

     

    Stock Up

    Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints

    Colston is heading on the downswing of his career, perhaps, but the addition of Cooks should take some of the safety coverage off the top of the defense. Cooks is going to be a deep threat that should free up Colston to be a top 25 fantasy wideout again.

     

    Stock Down

    None. It is too early to tell, because there is so much that goes into being an NFL receiver right away. It is not a certainty any of these talents start over veterans in two-receiver sets right away.

Tight End: Eric Ebron Up, Brandon Pettigrew Down

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    There are some real tight end needy teams in the NFL. The lone first-round tight end went to a team that might not have needed one.

     

    Tight Ends Selected

    TE Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (1.10)

    You can argue North Carolina's Ebron would be a larger fantasy factor with the New York Giants or the New England Patriots, but he gets one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL to play for as a rookie. The Lions had the third-best passing offense a year ago. Ebron will be able to run the seam one-on-one with Calvin Johnson drawing so much attention on the outside.

    Ebron might not start right away for the Lions, but he can be picked as a viable fantasy backup tight end...so among the top 15 at the position. Before a running back is picked, Ebron ranks as the highest-ranked rookie at his fantasy position.

     

    Stock Up

    Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (due to WR Brandin Cooks at 1.20)

    Graham's stock cannot get higher at tight end, but those placing him in Round 1 are more justified now. Cooks adds a dimension Drew Brees hasn't had in New Orleans—a downfield burner. That is a scary thought, considering the records Brees has set. Cooks attention deep should allow Graham to crack the seam even more than he already does.

     

    Stock Down

    Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions (due to Ebron at 1.10)

    His numbers have already slipped each of the past three seasons. Red-zone target Joseph Fauria was already a monkey wrench in Pettigrew's value, now Ebron's selection all but clinches Pettigrew as undraftable in fantasy.

Defense/Special Teams: Houston Texans', Denver Broncos' Stock Up

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    The Houston Texans had a bad year, no doubt. That is why they drafted first overall. They held on to the No. 1 overall pick and picked Jadeveon Clowney to join a defense that already had J.J. Watt as a bookend.

    Clowney was tops in a defense-heavy draft, as 18 of 32 first-rounders were on the defensive side of the ball.

     

    Defensive Players Selected

    1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans (1.1)
    2. OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders (1.5)
    3. CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns (1.8)
    4. OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings (1.9)
    5. DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams (1.13)
    6. CB Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears (1.14)
    7. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (1.15)
    8. ILB C.J. Moseley, Baltimore Ravens (1.17)
    9. FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets (1.18)
    10. FS HaSean Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers (1.21)
    11. DE Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs (1.23)
    12. CB Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals (1.24)
    13. CB Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers (1.25)
    14. OLB Marcus Smith, Phildelphia Eagles (1.26)
    15. S Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals (1.27)
    16. DT Dominique Easley, New England Patriots (1.29)
    17. S Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers (1.30)
    18. CB Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos (1.31)

     

    Stock Up

    Houston Texans D/ST

    The Texans are going to try to make life in the AFC South difficult for quarterbacks, attacking both sides with Watt and Clowney. You might have been frustrated with this D/ST last year, but it is due for a rebound. It is going to be a steady starting unit by season's end, even if no one drafts it.

     

    Denver Broncos D/ST

    This was already going to be a starting fantasy unit after the free-agent additions—Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware—but the drafting of Roby gives it another quality back-end defender. It is conceivable this is the first unit off the board after the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers.

     

    Cincinnati Bengals D/ST

    They needed another corner, and they got arguably the best one in Dennard. If you don't pick Denver as an alternative to the stud D/STs, you should pick Cincy.

     

    Stock Down

    None. No team improved that much on offense to be more wary of a defense after Round 1 Thursday night. There are still two days to go, though.

     

     

    Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.