May marks a return to "fantasy football mode" for a lot of us, and that starts with getting up to speed on what you need to know about the results of the NFL Draft. Rookie minicamps, OTAs, training camp, and the preseason will help us get a better handle on the fit and development for the newest crop of rookies, but for now we can still have a pretty good idea what teams were thinking when made their selections, and how that will affect our fantasy teams.
The Patriots went back to the well at wide receiver twice despite repeated failings. Second-rounder Aaron Dobson from Marshall can make the highlight catch but drop the routine one. Fourth-rounder Josh Boyce is faster, but shorter and sidelined with a broken foot. I'll put my chips on Boyce a round later in rookie drafts.
The biggest move of the weekend in the division as far as fantasy is concerned was the Jets' acquisition of Chris Ivory for a fourth-round pick. He should get first crack at a role that Shonn Greene turned into RB2 numbers last year. Ivory has looked much more talented than Greene in small doses during his time in New Orleans.
Not only did Buffalo take the first quarterback off of the board at No. 16 - dual threat EJ Manuel from Florida State - they added speedy passing game weapons like Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Chris Gragg later in the draft. Much like the Colts draft in 2012, this is a clear statement of purpose and direction in the offense. We could see Manuel become an instant fantasy hit if new coach Doug Marrone installs an uptempo read option/spread offense.
Geno Smith fell to the second round, but he still landed in a spot with instant opportunity. There's a lot of negative buzz around his NFL prospects, but if the Jets decide to harness his running ability and let him learn on the field in 2013, he could be an excellent bye week/injury quarterback to pick up during the season.
Odds and Ends: Miami took former Florida back Mike Gilleslee in the fifth round. He could have surprising value this year if Lamar Miller flops. Look for him to beat out Daniel Thomas to back up the second year starting running back...They also took two-way tight end Dion Sims in the fourth round. He should have a clear path to start soon enough and potentially have Alge Crumpler/Dwayne Allen value down the line...The Jets didn't take a wide receiver or tight end in the draft, so players like Jeff Cumberland and Stephen Hill should have every opportunity to win large roles in the passing game... New England made a minor deal to acquire LeGarrette Blount during the draft. He should push Brandon Bolden for the right to back up Stevan Ridley... The Bills picked up former Tennessee receiver Da'Rick Rogers as an undrafted free agent. His marijuana use got him kicked off of the Volunteers' team and dropped this top 100 talent out of the draft. If he makes the team, he could start early in his career and play a big role in the red zone.
If the countless off the field incidents didn't put Kenny Britt on notice, then the Titans giving up a 2014 third-round pick to trade up to No. 34 to get Justin Hunter surely got his attention. Hunter is a size/speed threat who can play Britt's role in the offense in the future, but he has his own questions about his slight frame, inconsistent hands, and need to regain his pre-ACL tear.
Hunter wasn't even the first wideout taken by an AFC South team. Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins went to the Texans at No. 27, and he should start from day one, giving Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson a legit No. 2 receiver for the first time.
The Titans joined the Arizona Cardinals as the first teams to take a guard in the top ten in over 15 years. Drafting Chance Warmack, combined with the free agent signing of top guard Andy Levitre, should give the Titans running game a big shot in the arm. Chris Johnson has no excuses this year.
As some expected, Jacksonville took a star college quarterback to boost their offense, except that he won't play quarterback for them. Fifth-round pick Denard Robinson knows what to do in the open field, but he has a long way to go before he can be a quality NFL running back (or wide receiver). There is excellent long-term opportunity in the Jaguars' backfield, so this is a situation to monitor.
Odds and Ends: Seventh-round pick Kerwynn Williams is a speedy and tough little back who could earn touches in a Colts that is lacking talent... The Texans didn't draft a running back, but they brought in four of the best undrafted backs: Ray Graham (Pitt), Dennis Johnson (Arkansas), George Winn (Cincinnati), and Cierre Wood (Notre Dame). With Ben Tate a free agent next year, the winner of this battle royale could be backing up Arian Foster in 2014... Houston used their last selection of the draft, a compensatory sixth-rounder, to take a big, athletic tight end, Ryan Griffin (Connecticut). Owen Daniels is 30, so remember Griffin's name if he makes the team... Blaine Gabbert has no excuses to be skittish in the pocket with No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel instantly becoming one of the best in the league at his position.
The AFC North took the first two running backs off of the board, and neither of them was named Eddie Lacy. Cincinnati selected North Carolina's Giovani Bernard with the 37th pick. He's an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and he should split work with Benjarvus Green-Ellis, if not relegate him to a change of pace role very soon. Since the Bengals already had a banger between the tackles, it made sense for them to pass on Lacy.
The Steelers, on the other hand, coveted a power back, and took Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell instead of Lacy. Bell is projected as a three-down back with very few obstacles between him and a starting job. He should be the first rookie running back taken in redraft leagues.
The Bengals' first-round pick was a bit of surprise, as they decided to go best player available and take tight end Tyler Eifert. This probably spells the end of Jermaine Gresham's days as a fantasy TE1, which is probably deserved after he failed the team on numerous occasions in their playoff loss to the Texans. Eifert should become the number two target behind A.J. Green very soon, and his presence is a big threat to Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins getting snaps in the slot.
One third-round wide receiver hit (Mike Wallace) left in free agency, so the Steelers replace him with another speedy third-round pick, Oregon State's Markus Wheaton. Wheaton could start as soon as 2014 with Emmanuel Sanders an unrestricted free agent next year.
Odds and Ends: The Ravens took small-school stud receiver Aaron Mellette in the seventh round, but he could be on track to become their No. 2 wide receiver down the line if he develops well behind Jacoby Jones... The Steelers also took a bigger wide receiver, Oklahoma's Justin Brown, in the sixth round. Antonio Brown was their sixth-round pick in 2010, when they also selected Emmanuel Sanders in the third... The Bengals took a second running back in the sixth round, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead. He's similar to Peyton Hillis and could fill the third-down back role vacated by Brian Leonard... The Browns did not select a quarterback at any point in the draft and appear to be relegated to hoping 2012 first-rounder Brandon Weeden works out, or taking his replacement next year.
Another year, another rookie running back for a John Fox-coached team. Montee Ball became the third back to go ahead of Eddie Lacy when the Broncos selected him with the 58th pick. The fantasy potential is immense when a back lines up next to Peyton Manning, but Ball will have to prove his pass blocking meddle and endear himself to a head coach that rarely leans on rookie runners.
Rearrange the letters in Celek and you get Kelce. That is, Travis Kelce, Kansas City's third-round pick, and a good bet to put up Brent Celek-like numbers (or better) under head coach Andy Reid. Kelce has some character concerns after he was suspended for the 2010 season, but he also has shades of Rob Gronkowski in his game.
2012 late-season sensation Danario Alexander was curiously left unprotected by the San Diego Chargers in restricted free agency. No teams bit, probably because of the shoddy state of his Alexander's knees. The Chargers then used their third-round pick on another big receiver with questions about a knee injury - California's Keenan Allen. The Chargers non-committal approach to retaining Alexander means that the door is open for Allen to be the team's No. 1 receiver in the future.
Matt Flynn has to be getting tired of being pushed by rookie quarterbacks named Wilson. The Raiders ended Tyler Wilson's slide in the fourth round, giving the hard-nosed Arkansas passer a legitimate chance to beat out Flynn this summer. Wilson won't have great fantasy potential as a rookie, but he could convince the team that he is their quarterback of the future.
Odds and Ends: Raiders' sixth-round running back Latavius Murray is a size/speed wonder at 6'3" and 223 pounds with a 4.4 40. If he beats out veteran Rashad Jennings to back up oft-injured starter Darren McFadden, Murray will be a relevant player in redraft leagues this year... The Chiefs took their own size/speed freak at running back with a third-round pick in Knile Davis, and he could be the handcuff to Jamaal Charles with a good summer... Tight end Mychal Rivera got lost at times at Tennessee because he was surrounded by great talent at wide receiver, but the Raiders' sixth-round pick (along with Murray, one of four) has little in his way to become the team's receiving tight end... Alex Smith has one of the best sets of pass-blocking tackles in the league after Kansas City took Eric Fisher number one overall and failed to trade current left tackle Branden Albert during the draft... Broncos fifth-round wide receiver Tavarres King has underrated speed, and he could be next man up in 2014 if Eric Decker leaves in free agency... It's going to be a long process, but the Chargers rebuild of their offensive line has to start somewhere. In this case, it begins with man-mountain right tackle D.J. Fluker, their pick at No. 11 in the first round.