NFL Draft 2014: Fantasy Football Impact Analysis Through Day 2
Being a second-day pick used to be a fantasy death sentence—at least in your first year. Now, it is where we find some of the best fantasy rookies.
(No, we are not referring to you, Jimmy Garoppolo, new New England Patriots clipboard holder.)
We dio finally see some running backs come off the board Friday night of Day 2, which is always a point of anticipation in fantasy. Also, we saw a former 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown wide receiver go to a Super Bowl contender (Stevie Johnson), while arguably the No. 1 wideout in fantasy, Josh Gordon, might face a 2014 suspension, according to ESPN.com's T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr.
It was an eventful couple of days and nights in the NFL and fantasy, and we recap it all by position in this slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel's Value Takes Hit; Blake Bortles Gets Weaponry
- Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (1.3)
- Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (1.22)
- Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (1.32)
Johnny Manziel sweated through most of the first round last night. Now, he needs to sweat through the news star wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a season-long substance-abuse policy suspension, per ESPN.com.
Gordon's news trumped any on Day 2 of the draft, but here's a look at how the quarterback position was impacted in fantasy:
Day 1 Quarterbacks Selected
Day 2 Quarterbacks Selected
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (2.36)
The Raiders don't have a great supporting cast, but Carr only has to beat out Matt Schaub or Matt McGloin to start next season. Still, Carr is a project for fantasy purposes. James Jones, Denarius Moore and Rod Streater just are not enough to make any of the Raiders' quarterback options outside of the deepest of two-quarterback formats.
Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots (2.62)
Well, you can kiss any near-term fantasy value for Garoppolo goodbye. He will serve as a caddy to Tom Brady and perhaps Ryan Mallett, too. Long term, Garoppolo can be the Patriots' quarterback of the future, but doesn't Brady still have a few years left? Pats fans have to hope so. Ignore Garoppolo in non-dynasty leagues.
Day 2 Gainer
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
We labeled Jacksonville as a bad place for a rookie quarterback, but it got a little better with two second-round receivers added to the Jags' fold. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are not polished targets, but they can be two to build around if Justin Blackmon doesn't return to football amid his own suspension. Bortles still isn't a draft-day fantasy option, but Day 2 did make him more intriguing long term.
Day 2 Decliner
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
The potential loss of Gordon is heartbreaking for Browns fans and Manziel fantasy hopefuls. We wouldn't give Manziel much of a chance to perform like a fantasy starter there without Gordon, particularly since the Browns failed to pick a receiver replacement for Gordon on Day 2. Manziel backers have to hope the Browns are confident Gordon will be available next year.
Running Backs: Bishop Sankey, Tre Mason Have Best Paths to Starting Jobs
This was the latest the first running back went off the board, breaking the record set last year when Giovani Bernard was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals. Just because running backs are going later in drafts every year doesn't mean we care less in fantasy.
Heck, we have to care more because of the amount of time we have to study their circumstances. It makes projecting them a bit more difficult, because they are less likely to start. In fact, it is possible none of them do out of training camp.
Let's see what shook out among running backs when they finally started tumbling from the shelves:
Day 2 Running Backs Selected
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (2.54)
You had to figure the Titans would be the first team to take a running back after they released Chris Johnson, and they got a good one Friday night. More of a shorter Ray Rice-type, Sankey can take over the feature-back duties by the end of next season. Shonn Greene might start, but Sankey will outproduce him over the fantasy haul—a la Bernard vs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis a year ago.
Sankey should challenge Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins to be the first fantasy rookie off the board this August.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (2.55)
The selection of Hill fits a power-running game mold the Bengals want to go with. Bernard is a smaller, shifty back, but Hill is a downhill runner who can pound it between the tackles.
Hill can steal BGE's thunder before training camp is out—earlier if BGE is a June 1 cut—but he tops out as a short-yardage back for fantasy purposes. Hill is a Bernard handcuff, but perhaps only after Green-Ellis is off fantasy boards.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (2.57)
The 49ers collect running backs like they are nuts. Frank Gore, who will be 31 next week, is past his prime, but they already had smaller backs Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James on the roster and Marcus Lattimore coming off his second major knee reconstruction. This is not a great destination for Hyde, because there are a lot of players in his way to start.
The good news is, if Hyde eventually does start, this is one of the best running teams in football. You have to consider him a mere late-round pick, along with all of Gore's backups.
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3.69)
If the Bucs only had Sims a year ago, he would have been a hot commodity in fantasy by midseason. With Doug Martin (shoulder) expected to be healthy, Sims is a mere handcuff pick. Sims is a talented back who can start in this league, but Martin was arguably a future fantasy No. 1 overall before last season.
Like Hyde, the good news is Sims' team is one that will play solid defense and stay committed to the run. You just cannot see Sims being a starter for the Bucs unless Martin succumbs to another season-ending injury.
Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (3.75)
Zac Stacy was a Day 1 winner. Now, he's a potential Day 2 loser. Mason is a game-changer who can steal Stacy's thunder, perhaps even compete to start in Week 1. Stacy is more of a power runner than Mason, another stocky Rice-type, so perhaps you shouldn't drop Stacy too far after this pick.
When you break Bo Jackson's records as Auburn, you have some serious potential. Mason might have the biggest 2014 upside in this class. He is a must-have Stacy handcuff in the middle rounds, at the very least.
Terrance West, Cleveland Browns (3.94)
West is big and fast out of Towson, giving the Browns a power runner to complement Ben Tate in the black-and-blue AFC North division. He is the right style. West won't start over Tate initially, but Tate's awful history of injury woes gives West a pretty good chance to gain serious fantasy steam during next year.
He is yet another running back handcuff you should consider after the top 35 to 45 running backs are off the board.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (1.96)
The Georgia Southern prospect is a great athlete, but he will have to bide his time behind Adrian Peterson as a rookie. Peterson is getting older and will need to surrender more touches as the games and carries wear on, but McKinnon is nothing more than a last-round handcuff pick for those that wind up with Peterson early in Round 1.
Dri Archer, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.97)
The fastest player in the draft is a potential playmaker, but he isn't a true fantasy option—unless your league values guys such as Dexter McCluster. Archer doesn't fit a power running game which the Steelers want, but he can be a shifty receiving back or slot receiver for Ben Roethlisberger. Neither role nets him much in the way of value in the near future.
Wide Receivers: Josh Gordon's Suspension Report Looms over Big Day for Wideouts
- Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (1.4)
- Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.7)
- Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (1.12)
- Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (1.20)
- Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (1.28)
- Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (2.39)—He has a very good chance to start right away.
- Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (2.42)—He gets a wide-open offense to develop with.
- Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks (2.45)—This a great team, but it's not a great place for a WR.
- Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (2.53)—He has a chance to be a solid No. 3 for the Pack.
- Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos (2.56)—The biggest winner of the second-day receivers.
- Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (2.61)—At least there is ample opportunity there.
- Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (2.63)—He is more of a project, but so is his quarterback.
- Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles (3.86)—See Richardson above.
- Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (3.90)—There are too many targets ahead of him right now.
- John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (3.91)—He can become a great replacement for Andre Roberts.
It was believed this was a deep wide receiver draft. It led to five going in Round 1 and a record 12 going through Round 2. All told, there were 15 wideouts picked on the first two days—16 if you count speedy running back Dri Archer as a receiver.
The Stevie Johnson trade was a great one for the San Francisco 49ers, because they get a legit veteran target to team with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Suddenly, that is a strong and deep group for Colin Kaepernick.
The Buffalo Bills recouped at least a 2015 fourth-rounder for Johnson, making the final "trade" for No. 4 overall pick Sammy Watkins: Johnson, the No. 9 overall pick—the Bills could have had Odell Beckham Jr.—and next year's Bills' first-rounder. That is quite a haul for the Clemson receiver.
Watkins better be good right away, and he better start over the likes of Mike Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham.
Here's a recap of what has gone down at the receiver position the past two nights:
Day 1 Wide Receivers Selected
Day 2 Wide Receivers Selected
Day 2 Gainers
Stevie Johnson, San Francisco 49ers
Sure, Johnson won't start ahead of Crabtree or Boldin, but he won't have to deal with a raw second-year quarterback either. Kaepernick is far more potent than EJ Manuel at this point, despite the fact the 49ers had the third-worst passing offense in the NFL last season.
Johnson has a shot at reaching 1,000 yards receiving again and perhaps even besting his career-high 10 touchdowns. Johnson will be a great reserve receiver available after the top 30 are off the board in fantasy drafts.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
The Bills dealt their No. 1 away, so that expedites Watkins' rise to the top of the depth chart. Williams and Woods are nice complementary receivers, but neither is the go-to man Watkins can be...err, has to be now. Consider Watkins a top-40 wideout on talent alone. The Bills need him to be a star right away more today than they did Thursday.
Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos
He had to wait through Day 1, but boy did Day 2 landed him in a great situation. The Indiana receiver landed with the best passing offense in NFL history. He is going to be behind Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and even Emmanuel Sanders in the immediate pecking order, but Peyton Manning has a way to include all of his receivers in the fun. Welker is going to miss games, too.
Latimer will have some big games for fantasy owners next season...even if they will be difficult to project on a weekly basis.
Day 2 Decliner
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Even if he avoids his suspension this go-around, fantasy owners have to be wary of some kind of in-season slip-up. This is really frustrating for fantasy owners who had designs on drafting Gordon in Round 2. Gordon's keeper owners shouldn't step to the ledge of a tall building yet, though. Gordon isn't suspended for all of 2014 yet.
But, when there is smoke—pun entirely intended—there is fire.
Tight Ends: No One Measures Up to Eric Ebron's Fantasy Status on Day 2
After Eric Ebron, there wasn't a lot to be excited about at the tight end position. We already loved Ebron's pass-happy destination. Day 2 wasn't as kind to the next set of tight ends to get picked.
We review the position here:
Day 1 Tight End Selected
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (1.10)
Day 2 Tight Ends Selected
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.38)
The Bucs are not a great passing team and already have Brandon Myers and Tim Wright on the roster. Seferian-Jenkins' value is mitigated by his limited supporting cast and the depth-chart hurdles. He is unlikely to be worthy of a pick in standard fantasy leagues.
Jace Amaro, New York Jets (2.49)
The Jets like to use the tight end, but you cannot like Amaro's quarterback. Jeff Cumberland will be easy to beat out, but Amaro doesn't figure to be a consistent fantasy threat with Geno Smith under center.
Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals (2.52)
We loved Rob Housler's potential in the passing game, but Niklas' blocking ability can earn him starts next season. It can also make him a sneaky good option in the red zone out of play-action. Still, not yet fantasy-worthy.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (3.65)
The Texans have historically been tight-end friendly, but who is their quarterback? Until that latter question is answered, we cannot grade a third-round tight end's fantasy prospects.
Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (3.98)
The Packers have a need for a starting tight end, and Rodgers is a converted receiver, so this is certainly an intriguing pick. Consider this a very important player to track this summer, if you like to punt the tight end position and take a last-round flier.
Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens (3.99)
Behind the likes of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels in a mediocre passing offense, Gillmore doesn't stand much of a chance to hold immediate fantasy value.
Defense/Special Teams: Carolina Panthers Stockpile Pass-Rushers with Kony Ealy
The Carolina Panthers let their wide receivers go. They will not stop collecting pass-rushers, though.
The pick of Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy gives them another edge-rusher to pair with franchise player Greg Hardy. It makes a top-three fantasy defense, arguably, even better.
As for the other defenses to add multiple impact players through two rounds:
St. Louis Rams—DT Aaron Donald (1.13) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (2.41)
The Rams get a interior pass-rusher and another cover guy. The NFC West is a stout defensive division, but the Rams can make a case they are closing in on the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. This is a viable late-round fantasy D/ST, particularly with Tavon Austin as a return threat.
Baltimore Ravens—ILB C.J. Mosley (1.17) and DT Timmy Jernigan (2.48)
A proud defensive franchise added two big-time names that should be instant contributors. Some had Jernigan as a first-rounder. The Ravens are a D/ST that got a lot better the past two nights.
Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB Ryan Shazier (1.15) and DT Stephon Tuitt (2.46)
The Steelers stuck to their defensive staple as well, adding two defenders to aid an aging unit. These guys might be enough to consider picking Pittsburgh D/ST again.
Chicago Bears—CB Kyle Fuller (1.14) and DT Ego Ferguson (2.51)
The Bears have nowhere to go but up defensively. These two will help, but they still are nowhere near fantasy-worthy.
San Diego Chargers—CB Jason Verrett (1.25) and OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (2.50)
The Chargers sorely needed the corner. Attaochu can contribute right away, too, but they still are too far down the fantasy pecking order to be worth picking.
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.