Since most of us are in the middle of rookie drafts or we have just completed them, I wanted to write a weekly article about the trends that are occurring on myfantasyleague.com fantasy football rookie drafts. This will be a three-part series, because most leagues complete their rookie drafts before those long summer days that get filled with vacations, outside chores and activities. As always, my thoughts get based on dynasty PPR leagues with sacks being worth 2.5 times that a tackle is worth.
The easy trend to predict was Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins and Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans get drafted one and two in almost every single draft. These receivers seem to be the safest bets based on talent and situation. I don’t feel there is much of a difference in value between them, so if you receive an offer to more from the 1.01 to the 1.02 for something that could improve your team, make the move. If there is any thing as a sure thing, it is those two this year.
So much for the Saints changing into a run-first offense or so fantasy owners are hoping with the selection of Brandin Cooks in the fourth spot. The value is there if the Saints use him in a hybrid Darren Sproles/Lance Moore role. Cooks is maintaining his worth, but is not a value where he gets picked in rookie fantasy drafts.
Despite my ranking of Detroit’s tight end Eric Ebron in my top six rookies, it surprises me to see him there according to fantasy drafts. Rookie tight ends are notoriously known to take time developing. Ebron is more of a big wide out than a tight end, but should find a lot of success with Calvin Johnson drawing two or three defenders. The majority of my leagues use 1.5 PPR scoring that pushes him to this spot.
Jordan Matthews has been the eighth rookie off the board in most rookie drafts. This is extremely high in my view. Sure DeSean Jackson is now in Washington leaving Cooper and Maclin there as Eagles starters. Matthews doesn’t have the athletic skills to take over the D-Jax role. I see Sproles and Huff used in the Black Mamba role, because of their lateral quickness. Jordan Matthews needs space created for him, and is more of a straight line runner than an agile, quick footed play maker.
On the other hand, one of my favorite running backs of this draft, Devonta Freeman, became an Atlanta Falcon and is on average getting drafted 15th overall. Steven Jackson is a year older, and Jacquizz Rodgers has not shown enough durability and strength to be considered a long-term option. Grab him in the second round when you can. I drafted him at the 2.10 spot in a twelve team league rookie draft and am quite happy.
There is another receiver that is climbing up the charts, new Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. He is usually the 30th player selected in dynasty rookie drafts. Pittsburgh let Cotchery and Sanders go in free agency so there are available spots; however second year Marcus Wheaton is a better route runner and more dynamic than Bryant. Sure Wheaton got banged up and didn’t play for most of his rookie season, but it takes time to learn the system and I expect Wheaton, not Bryant to be the starter opposite Antonio Brown. I would draft Bryant, just a round later than average draft position of 30th.
Now we move on to the pesky Browns runners! Small school sensation Terrance West averages as the 20th player overall, while his undrafted, troublesome, more athletically gifted counter-part Isaiah Crowell gets drafted 31st overall. Early reports out of Cleveland show a lot of West hype, but this is rookie mini-camp. Let’s see how they perform on the field. I’m a big believer in talent over situation, which makes Crowell the value, not West.
The best defensive end in your rookie drafts is Cowboy’s Demarcus Lawrence. His draft position of 44th overall is good value for someone who can produce in an every down role in a 4-3 defense. I know it’s not a glamorous position, but most of the Dallas defensive line had good success last season. I expect that trend to continue with the more athletic Lawrence, who the Cowboys traded up to get.
Two of the forgotten about running backs, Patriots James White and Chargers Marion Grice, are falling to the 52nd and 53rd players selected in rookie fantasy drafts. Both runners look buried on the depth chart, while this might be true in 2014, both could find themselves their respective team’s top option next summer. Because you can get them so late, take advantage and snag one or both of them. It might only coast you a 2015th 4th round pick, those are easy to acquire.
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