TARGET PRACTICE: PLAYERS TO TARGET AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF THE DRAFT
In every draft, I am armed with two things: a tiered ranking sheet and a list of players I’m targeting in each round. Then as the draft plays out, I’m crossing guys off both lists as they go off the board, allowing me to have a big picture view of the draft as it unfolds, while still being able to track my guys.
This article is a compliment to my Tier Rankings. While my Tier Rankings provides you with how I view all the players, this article shows you which players I am targeting in those tiers.
Additionally, I say this every year, it is important for you to get your guys as opposed to just taking players that may fall to you. By just taking players, even using a tiered ranking sheet, you will often end up with a team consisting of Kelvin Benjamin and Matt Jones instead of Marvin Jones and C.J. Anderson. It’s okay to reach for players if they are your guys, as long as you are not reaching too much. That’s where ADP and tiered sheets come in handy. For instance, a friend recently heard the buzz about Frank Gore, so he grabbed him in the 5th round. I’m all for Gore this year, but with an ADP in the 7th, you don’t need to reach for him two whole rounds early to get him.
With that in mind, here are guys I’m targeting in each range, keeping in mind that I am not necessarily down on any player not listed here, but these are the guys that are in my sites as the draft unfolds.
Last note, these ranges are listed according to current ADP (Average Draft Position) and not as I rank them. Once again, make sure to check out my Tier Rankings to see how I actually have them ranked.
Players Removed Since Last Version:
- Ezekiel Elliott – Love the talent, but I have a feeling Alfred Morris may steal more redzone touches than many predicting behind this big offensive line. I'm fine with him late first round, but not targeting him. Great grab in the second.
- Matt Forte – Brutal opening schedule on the ground for the first six weeks, should still return decent PPR value, but not someone to overly target.
- Duke Johnson – I love the talent, but in the 5th round he’s being over drafted. Trusted beat writers have stated often that Crowell going to get a lot of work in this offense and now the looks of a solid passing game too.
- Torrey Smith – Despite increase in targets, he isn’t a receiver who truly commands the ball. Some beat writers have predicted he doesn’t catch more than 60 passes.
- Coby Fleener – Despite amazing situation, he has been floundering in camp. I still like him, but now going above guys like Delanie Walker and even Kelce sometimes.
- Ladarius Green – Ankle and possible concussion issues may land him on PUP to start the season. Hoping he returns.
- Jordan Howard – Despite opportunity for a role, having a very quiet camp. More of a deep stash to be patient with since Langford is certainly not their answer on the ground.
- Sammie Coates – Currently their WR 4 or 5. Just doesn’t track passes well. We've seen many gifted athletes like him flounder because of what's in their head.
- Blaine Gabbert – He is losing the quarterback job to Kaepernick without Kaep even practicing.
- Keith Marshall – After a strong start to camp, he is now 4th on their depth chart. Another running back to monitor but not over draft.
- Josh Ferguson – After flashing in OTA’s he’s got a ways to go. Could land on their practice squad.
- Jaelen Strong – Will Fuller and Braxton Miller have seemed to have passed him by.
- Jace Amaro – Still has a shot, but would be good to see him actually perform well in a pre-season game.
PICKS 1-12 (1.01 – 1.12)
With so much value in the first two rounds, it’s tough to really single out players to target, since you are often times at the whim of the person drafting in front of you. Nonetheless, I’m usually going Wide Receiver in the first part of the first round and only looking to Running Backs once those guys are off the board. As of now, I’m also not targeting Gronk in the first round either, but I can’t argue with anyone that wants him there.
Todd Gurley, Rams – Fully healthy and the foundation of their offense. Some worry about game script, but their Defense is solid, so they should be in most games. Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders were on bad teams for most of their careers and both put up monster numbers, that's Gurley. I also think he is a better pass catcher than he was used as last season, and he still averaged 9 yards a catch. I think it's a good bet he catches at least 2-3 passes a game with a full pre-season under his belt. People forget, he was coming off of a December knee surgery last season.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Should be their workhorse back and will see light boxes. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will still get a few touches, but even with just 60% of the team’s carries, that comes out to 250 carries based on last years numbers. He is also a former wide receiver who is one of the best route runners on the team, so add in catches, and he is pushing close to 300 touches easily. If you want a safe pick in this area of the draft, this is the guy.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – The best wide receiver in the NFL and in Fantasy as long as Big Ben stays healthy. Had an insane 193 targets last year and that could go up.
Julio Jones, Falcons – An absolute beast and he’s the only game in town. Had over 200 targets last year.
Odell Beckham Jr, Giants – Sterling Shepard and the return of Victor Cruz should actually help him. Should see another 150 targets this year and the Giants have one of the easiest schedules in the league.
A.J. Green, Bengals – The focal point of their offense that will probably get force-fed the ball even more with Eifert injured and Jones and Sanu gone. He should push for over 150 targets like he did in 2012 and 2013.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Lack of truly being featured the past two years have kept his ceiling down but there is no more talented a wide receiver in the league and addition of new OC Scott Linehan has a history of force feeding WR1's (see Calvin Johnson). Recency bias may allow you to grab him in the 2nd round of drafts, the best red zone receiver outside of Gronk.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texas – Brock not much of an upgrade over Hoyer, if at all, but Fuller, Strong, Shorts and Lamar Miller should help open up some space for him while J.J. Watt’s injury should also ensure that this teams is throwing the ball a lot with a weaker defense.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Still getting better and I wouldn't bet against him catching another 14 TDs. He's an ascending talent, don't pay attention to people that throw around the word regression when it comes to Allen. Like Gurley, his baseline has yet to be set.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – The most dominant player at any position for fantasy. In 80 games, he’s scored 65 times and averages 70 yards a game over his career.
PICKS 13 – 30 (2.01 – 3.06)
Lamar Miller, Texans – Rock solid RB1 who could finish in the top 3 easily. If picking towards the end of round 1, smart move may be going wide receiver in the first and Miller in the second despite the presence of the other running backs listed above.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Betting against him is never good and only converted 4 of 14 goal line carries, which is fluky. While he may be slowing down a little, there is no safer second round selection at running back.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Steady option that was the third overall running back before he went down in Week 13. Although he has also not played more than 13 games since 2012. But he's their foundation back and once considered a passing down liability, last year he went 50/405 on 59 targets (85% catch rate) with 8.1 YPR in only 12 games. That's upside.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Don’t ever count this guy out, but goal line looks could go to Ware to keep him fresh coming off second ACL injury. He has looked like his old self in camp and has X-Men type healing powers.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Fat Eddie is now Phat Eddie after jacking up in the off-season. Has the talent and situation to put up solid RB1 numbers. All signs positive from camp so far.
Keenan Allen, Chargers – Was on pace for a 134/1,450/8 line before he went down in Week 8 last season with a lacerated kidney. I preached last pre-season that he had Antonio Brown upside and he was proving me right. With Stevie Johnson injured with a knee injury, Allen will see over 150 targets.
Alshon Jeffery Bears – If only the guy could just stretch properly before he played. As Rotoworld's Evan Silva pointed out, 95/1,314/11 over last 16 games … too bad they came over two years. Kevin White is the real deal though, and each pass catcher can expect around 140 targets this year like they did back in the Alshon/Marshall days.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – Will this be the year he finally slows down? I doubt it. No reason he doesn’t have another 109/1,502/14 line this season with Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the fold in an offense headed by Chan Gailey. On a fantasy point per game basis last year, he was tied with Beckham and just below Brown and Julio Jones. In fact, there really is no reason for me or anyone not to rank him with the top three guys.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Foot injury is a concern, but he's back practicing already. He's a second round talent that you can get in the third. Per PFF, he ranked fourth in average depth of target (18.3) with 34 targets over 20 yards and he also led the league in touchdowns on deep passes (8) and second in deep play yards (606).
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Luck’s go to guy stymied last year by bad quarterback play. Despite the rise of Moncrief, beat reporter’s say that Hilton will still see the most targets.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Faltered being the focal point of their offense last season when he played hurt and teams just filled the middle of the field. With Jordy Nelson back, he’ll be back to being an every week high end WR2 in PPR leagues, putting up numbers closer to his 2014 line of 91/1,287/12.
PICKS 31 – 60 (3.07 – 5.12)
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Injuries to his wide receivers and Fat Eddie killed him. “Fat Eddie” is now “In Shape Eddie” plus Jordy Nelson is back. The addition of Jared Cook could possibly help as well. Remember, in 2014 he threw for 4,381 yards and 38 TDs, adding 269 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. He put up even bigger numbers in 2012 and 2011. If he falls to the 5th round, he’s worth every penny.
C.J. Anderson, Broncos – Was the foundation of their offense during last season’s playoff run. Rookie Booker more of a compliment back that should keep Anderson fresh rather than steal his job and all signs point to the Broncos having the run be their foundation this year, the way Kubiak usually likes to play.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Chip likes to run as much as to pass and Hyde has experience running his inside zone running scheme and he thrives running out of the shotgun, averaging almost 2 yards per carry more (5.1). He's one of the league's true feature backs that will push 20 touches every game due to the 49ers up-tempo style of play even if game flow restricts his touches in the 4th quarter. He also finished last season as the top rated running back in PFF's elusive rating.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – He wasn’t the passing down back last season and still put up monster numbers. Marshawn Lynch was never the team’s passing down back either and he did just fine. Finally activated from their PUP list and I’m not concerned by the presence of Alex Collins, although Christine Michael seems to have finally gotten it and will steal touches and passing down work. I still like Rawls as the team’s best early down runner and his current ADP makes him a value at the moment.
DeMarco Murray, Titans – I’ll admit, it has taken me a while to get here on Murray. Derrick Henry will steal touches, and maybe the ones that count, but all reports have stated that Murray will be their lead back … at least this year. It's also worth mentioning, as Rotoworld's Rich Hribar pointed out, while Murray averaged only 2.8 yards per carry on runs behind or off tackle, he averaged 4.6 yards on runs between the guards, something that suits his power running style better. After new Titans HC Mike Mularkey took over mid-season last year, 56% of the Titans' running back runs were run between the guards. Additionally, when Murray played in Dallas, 90% of his runs came when the QB was under center, while with the Eagles, only 15% came when the QB was under center. Last season, 75% of the Titans runs came when the QB was under center ... you do the math.
Danny Woodhead, Chargers – PPR gold that finished as the RB3 in PPR leagues last year. Usually catches at least three passes a game, received more redzone touches than Melvin Gordon last year and game script should be on his side with a porous Defense.
Golden Tate, Lions – Stafford loves to throw and Tate is going to be his go to guy. He put up big time numbers in the past when Calvin Johnson missed time and now will have a full off-season preparing for that role. Without a true foundation running back this team will be pass happy once again, throwing on 66% of their plays last season.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – Fought through some injuries and still put up 87/1,088/8. He dominated 26.8% of the team's target share last season, seeing 124 targets, and accounted for 40% of the teams passing touchdowns. While this offense will never be prolific, Maclin is one of the steadier wide receiver two options.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Big time talent that is only 22 years old. Should be locked and loaded as a solid WR2 if Luck stays healthy and he may be the breakout receiver of this season.
Eric Decker, Jets – Put up 80/1,027/12 last season. Should see a similar line this season even if a slight touchdown regression. But with no true foundation back, the Chan Gailey offense should be pass happy once again
Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Floyd, Brown and Fitzgerald are all extremely talented, you just don’t know which one will go off each week, capping their upside. If you can work it, all make for great WR3's (as opposed to WR2's) on your fantasy team with my bet on Floyd having the most upside in a contract year. I've also listed him here because John Brown is dealing with a concussion issue all camp, if Brown is out, Floyd a rock solid WR2.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – He’s a baller and put up a crazy 2.35 fantasy point per target last year. Hit talent isn't a question and is 20 picks cheaper than Baldwin but offers the same type of value. The problem is that this team will still have the run as its foundation and Russell Wilson may not have much more than 500 pass attempts, if that. He’s someone to target now, but if his ADP rises too much, back off.
Jordan Reed, Redskins – I prefer him in the 4th or 5th round. Love the talent and put up a monster 87/952/11 last season. Although DJax missed 7 games and with Doctson in town and Crowder coming on, those numbers will most likely go down a bit. Concussion history also a major concern. If you use a high pick on him, I would handcuff with Niles Paul or at least keep Paul on the waiver wire speed dial.
PICKS 61 – 90 (6.01 – 8.06)
Can’t argue with taking a quarterback in this range and this is the earliest I would be looking to take one unless Rodgers fall to the 5th round and you really just don’t love what’s on the board.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Showed last year that he can have success as a pocket passer. He will have even better weapons available to him this season and while attempts won't increase, what he does with them should be even better and has a great floor running the ball.
Drew Brees, Saints - As sure a thing as there is at the QB position and has never finished outside of the top 5 since joining the Saints. The additions of Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener, plus the development of Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead will help ensure Brees is a top option once again.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Injury riddled season and recency bias will make Luck and Rodgers steals in early drafts. Expect a major bounce back. They also don’t have much of a run game or defense, so look for them to pass early and often. Called pass plays on 62% of their plays last season and Moncrief, Hilton, Dorsett and Allen all entering their primes.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – He averaged a league leading 328 passing yards per game and also led the league in 40+ yard completions last year. However, the loss of Martavis Bryant for the season along with Ladarius Green's concussion issue and Bell's three game suspension hurts. If he can actually hold onto the ball, Sammie Coates could provide sufficient firepower to make up for the loss of Bryant with DeAngelo Williams filling in for the loss of Bell, but this all knocks Big Ben down a bit and makes him a bit shakier of a play then he would have been with all his weapons.
Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – Would have been my second rated running back if he came out this year. Similar profile to Marshawn Lynch with great hands. Went 50/535/4 through the air his final year of college, while adding another 347/1,823/28 on the ground. Arian Foster signing will steal a good chunk of his pass catching work, but I'm not counting on Foster staying healthy all year and I don't suspect he will have much juice left after years of soft tissue injuries. A great buy-low candidate who in 49 carries last year broke 12 tackles and averaged 3.3 yards after contact per attempt.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Still young and talented. I think they go to him more this season with very little receiving options outside of Green and (an injured) Eifert. The Bengals also finished last season as a top 4 team in rushing percentage in the redzone. Game script should work in his favor and keep in mind, he has 21 touchdowns in just 32 games, pretty solid for a running back at this ADP.
Frank Gore, Colts –Actually ran better than his 3.7ypc average. Great pickup at his current 7th round ADP as your 3rd or 4th running back, but best to let someone else take the 33 year old if his ADP rises too much. Looks good in camp this far, but I can't fault you if you want to stick with younger guys.
Charles Sims, Buccaneers – Underrated weekly PPR flex and bye week option. Managed 51/1,090/4 all-purpose yards. Look for those numbers to go up as he managed 4.9 yards per carry and flashed big time as a receiver. If Martin goes down, Sims value goes way up. He’s a weekly flex play in PPR leagues with the possibility for much more.
Marvin Jones, Lions – Underrated talent with a nose for the endzone, owning the 6th best touchdown to target rate in the redzone the past three seasons per Numberfire. The Lions will throw a ton with a suspect run game and Jones could possibly finish with more fantasy points than Tate.
Josh Gordon, Browns – He's baaaaccckk ... But he will miss the first four games. The good news is that he is reinstated in time for training camp and can be around the team during his four game suspension. If he can stay clean and get into game shape, he's a WR1 at a discounted price playing with his college QB RGIII and a great offensive coach in Hue Jackson. At this point in the draft you are looking for upside, and there is no player with one bigger.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – With a year under his belt and now locked in as a starter; I think we have only seen a glimpse of his talents. While depth of target a concern, he has great run after the catch ability, is playing indoors and rookie Treadwell should allow him to work against teams second or third corners. He's a great bargain in the 9th round, just monitor ADP.
Kevin White, Bears – It is entirely possible he is a Top 10 wide receiver next year, making that Allen Robinson type leap. He would have been the best wide receiver in this year’s class and ESPN beat reporter, Jeff Dickerson, recently remarked that White looked like a "beast" in OTA's.
Corey Coleman, Browns – In this range, he's not a great value, but when you are as talented as he is, you get them on your team. He’s not Odell Beckham Jr. yet, but has a chance to be ODB3 in the near future. The return of Josh Gordon helps him, it's not easy facing number one corners as a rookie.
Willie Snead, Saints – Emerged as a reliable target for Brees, but might be third on the pecking order this year behind Cooks and Fleener. He’ll probably catch 75+ passes, but touchdowns could be hard to come by. Best drafted as your WR4, but he’s a cheap way into this offense that threw 65% of the time last season and he works all over the field.
Sterling Shepard, Giants – Great landing spot. While his route running has been heavily lauded, it’s his toughness and fight for the ball mentality that won me over. He’s a more athletic Jarvis Landry. The Giants have at least 30% of their targets available for new distribution and passed on 62% of their plays. He should easily see 100+ targets, especially if Cruz can’t return to form. That said, his ADP is on the rise, so don't reach too far.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs – The offense frustratingly caps his upside, but his ADP is down to the middle of the 6th round, which is a nice place to get him.
PICKS 91– 120 (8.07 – 10.12)
Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Weapons galore and he will always take his shots. Downside is that he is entering his age 37 season and has taken a good share of abuse over the years, yet great completion percentage (64%) and solid 8.7 yards per attempt last season. The team also has a Top 10 offensive line.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Has a chance to be a Top 5 QB and reliable starter if the offensive line and main wide receivers stay healthy. Loss of Stevie Johnson hurts a bit, but James Jones or Tyrell Williams should hopefully be able to limit the impact until he returns. If all goes well, he's a steal, especially with a weaker Defense that still hasn't signed their first round draft pick. If you are one of those people betting against Melvin Gordon, you should be betting on this teams passing game, which includes Danny Woodhead.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Talented enough to steal meaningful touches from Freeman and would be an immediate RB1 if Freeman goes down. No better handcuff and deep bench stash. Plus the team's coaches and General Manager have all stated that they intend to get Coleman more involved stating that "when it comes down to it, the one difference is the flat out long speed of Tevin Coleman." Early reports from camp have been positive about his receiving ability as well.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Crowded backfield with Vereen and the addition of Paul Perkins, but the team has stated that he will be the lead guy. Over the final 4 games of last season, once they committed to him, he averaged 21.5 touches and 5.47 yards per carry, clocking in as the #7 fantasy RB in that stretch with nearly 18FPG. He's a steal in the 9th round of drafts right now.
Tavon Austin, Rams - Last season he saw 86 targets and went 52/473/5 through the air adding an additional 52/434/4 on the ground. With teams focusing on Todd Gurley, Austin’s number could certainly improve this season making him a viable WR3 with some upside.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens – If Steve Smith can’t return to form, he is their possession receiver and Flacco loves him. Underrated talent that could easily see over 125 targets again this season on a team that passed the ball 65% of the time under OC Marc Trestman.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – Great fit and gets a bump with Stevie Johnson injured. Could easily catch 10+ TDs, but those TDs might come in bunches, so tough to rely on from week-to-week in PPR leagues.
Michael Thomas, Saints – He has already pushed Brandon Coleman to the bench as the team's slot receiver and has been receiving rave reviews in camp. Would not be surprised if he finished the year with the best rookie receiver numbers playing with Drew Brees on a team that will throw a ton with a suspect Defense.
Zach Ertz, Eagles – I'm higher on him than most since he is the team’s best receiver by far. He caught 75 passes last season but only 2 TDs. Look for those TD totals to increase this year under new HC Pederson who has a history of featuring the tight end, unlike Chip Kelly.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – The juice is gone, but will catch a ton of passes and many of the ones that count, especially with Stevie Johnson injured.
Eric Ebron, Lions – They need him to step up and I think he does. Lions beat writers seem to agree. Only concern is return after serious ankle injury in camp. If you are looking for someone to breakout at the position, he's the guy.
Martellus Bennett, Patriots – Should have at least 3 or 4 catches a game and probably many of the ones that count. ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss suggested that the Patriots will use two-tight end sets as their base offense this year, which means a whole lot of Marty B.
Dwayne Allen, Colts – With Fleener gone, the tight end targets are all his and new Colts OC Rob Chudzinski loves to feature the tight end, as a former one himself. He just needs to stay healthy, which has been a big problem for him throughout his career.
PICKS 121 – 150 (11.01 – 13.06)
Matthew Stafford, Lions – The teams early 2015 struggles weren’t his fault if you actually watched the tape. Stafford came on big time after new OC Jim Bob Cooter took over (19tds and only 2ints), finishing as the league's number five QB from Week 10 on. He was also lethal passing in the redzone, with a 75% completion percentage inside the 10. They also beefed up the offensive line this off-season. He is being severely under-drafted at the moment on a team without a foundation back, but with running backs that are adept at catching the ball.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Arguably has the best receiving core in the league with the addition of rookie Doctson to go along with DeSean Jackson, Garcon, Reed and Crowder. Threw for 4,166 yards, with 29 TDs and only 11 Ints, while also rushing for another 5 TDs. Should be even better this season in a contract year despite being a limited quarterback.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – He throws a nice deep ball and ran for 568 yards and 4 TDs, yet only 20 passing touchdowns The key is Watkins, who has a foot injury and accounted for nearly 40% of Taylor's passing yards and 44% of Taylor's touchdown throws. This is also still a run first team, which stifles his potential upside, but at least he runs as well. So far all signs point to Watkins being healthy for the season.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – Witten is older and outside of Dez Bryant, they don’t have many great receiving options. With more reliance on the run game, it should make Romo a solid but not elite option. You also have to hold your breath every time he lands on that shoulder. The saving grace here could be the insane suspensions and injuries to their Defense, necessitating the offense to put up big points.
Marcus Mariota, Titans – They’ve beefed up the run game, wide receiver core and offensive line. While the team would like to play exotic smash-mouth football, with a suspect Defense, he could end up being this years’ Bortles, the king of garbage time production. He should also have a decent running floor this year.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Will form a RBBC with Duke Johnson. A team built on analytics seems to be sold on him as their bigger back. Hopefully RG3 and a new wide receiving core can keep defenses honest and open things up for him. Has good intangibles and prominent Browns beat reporter, Mary Kay Cabot, says he is their bell cow and a lock for 1,000 yards this season. We all love the Duke, but people are sleeping on Crowell.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Short, but thick receiver in the Maurice Jones Drew mold. They would like him to be the receiving compliment to Murray, but could end up being much more.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings – Must own handcuff for Peterson with potential for stand-alone PPR flex value now that Bridgewater has command of the Norv Turner offense. The team has also hinted that they might take more snaps out of the shotgun. Out of the shotgun, McKinnon averaged 4.3 yards per attempt while Peterson averaged only 1.7.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens – If Steve Smith can’t return to form, he is their possession receiver and Flacco loves him. Underrated talent that could easily see over 125 targets again this season on a team that passed the ball 65% of the time under OC Marc Trestman.
Phillip Dorsett, Colts – Lots of mouths to feed, but Luck can take advantage of his speed and they should go three wide a ton this year. He was their first round pick last year and they will use him.
Bruce Ellington, 49ers - Chip Kelly is "intrigued" by him. Cousin to Andre, they are similar players that can both handle the slot or even handle some carries out of the backfield. Kelly is a creative offensive mind that can utilize his talents and there really is nothing on this team outside of Hyde. Ran 4.45 forty with impressive 39.5 vertical. If things click, 80 catch potential in a position that regularly sees this most targets in the Kelly offense.
PICKS 150+ (13.07+)
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Talent isn't a question, but a lack of receiving talent beyond Julio Jones still a concern. Improved offensive line and second year comfort in this complicated offense should help a lot. I think his head was swimming more than he let on trying to learn the Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Jets – The first six weeks of their season is as tough as it comes, but it gets better after that. Lots of weapons and Chan Gaily loves to throw it around.
Christine Michael, Seahawks – Seems to have had a change of attitude on his second deployment with the Seahawks. He's finally playing to his talent level and the commitment seems to be there with HC Peter Carroll stating that he makes a great 1, 2 punch with Rawls. While I expect Rawls to be the team's main ball carrier, he could easily get 8 to 10 touches a game and has the upside to produce as a RB1 if Rawls went down again. Clear hesitancy since we have been here before, but later in drafts, only upside.
Chris Thompson, Redskins - He has been working as the teams exclusive passing down back in camp. Could easily by this seasons Riddick.
Javorius Allen, Ravens – The teams best pass catching back, but Forsett and Dixon are also capable pass catchers, even if not as good as him in that role. Certainly possible for him to hold weekly flex value in PPR leagues.
Kenneth Dixon, Ravens – It’s a very crowded backfield with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen and Terrence West all capable and playing well so far in camp. But like David Johnson last year, if Dixon is given a chance, he could run away with the job. This is a high upside pick to own and be patient with.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs – Won’t get a ton of volume so long as Charles is healthy, but could get the ones that count. He's a dominant force on the ground who put up elite numbers in Joe Holka's Rushing Expectations methodology and in Lance Zierlein's IPI index. Wouldn’t be shocked if he scored 8+ TDs and he should be involved even when Charles is healthy to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He will be a RB1 if Charles goes down. He is special.
Wendell Smallwood, Eagles - He displays a nice combination of vision, lateral quickness and speed. The current handcuff for Matthews, who has a substantial injury history. Could act as their change of pace back right away if Sproles has nothing left and could explode if Matthews goes down. A lower case Jamaal Charles type.
Jonathan Williams, Bills – True three down running back who noted analyst Greg Cosell compared favorably to Ezekiel Elliot. Missed all of 2015 with injury but had a 101.9 elusive rating in 2014 that would have been good enough for second in 2015. Great dynasty hold and more talented than Karlos Williams. His DUI charge shouldn’t effect his playing time this year.
Tajae Sharp, Titans – There has been buzz about him in camp since OTAs and he listed as a starter right now. With Green-Beckham gone could he be this years Stefon Diggs? I'm starting to buy-in despite athletic limitations that he will be. He has great hands, runs good routes and makes tough catches.
Breshad Perriman, Ravens – Is he healthy yet? Bueller, Bueller. WR2 potential if he’s actually healthy. They say he's healthy.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – Seems to be carving out a role with Amendola and Edelman battling through injuries. Early reports are that he has been the go to receiver for both quarterbacks, getting open and making plays. He might just supplant one of those guys in the starting lineup and it's off to the PPR races.
Josh Doctson, Washington – Love the player, but lots of mouths to feed. A true breakout is probably a year away, but DJax, Garcon and Reed all major injury risks, so he will be viable at some time this season. If you draft him, don't drop him too quickly.
Terrelle Pryor, Browns - Rave reviews early in OTA's and currently listed as a starter. He's a gifted athlete and there is opportunity on this team. Hopefully, he is not another Cordarrelle Patterson, but at this point in the draft, that doesn't matter.
Robert Woods, Bills – Report recently came out that he played with a torn groin for most of last season. He is the unquestioned #2 wide receiver on the team and if Watkins can't go, he’s their number one.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – Back with a quarterback that can take advantage of his talents. A 2011 72/1193/8 line not out of the realm of possibility and he's starting right now.
Brandon LaFell, Bengals – His name will elicit boos and hisses from people on twitter, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable piece on your fantasy team. He played injured all season and it showed, dropping passes like they were pieces of hot coal. Expect a bounce back as their #2 wide receiver with Eifert injured and Sanu and Jones gone. Can play the slot and outside.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers - He's was an undrafted free agent last year for the Chargers and did enough in camp for them to work hard to stash him away on their team and practice squad. He stands 6'4" 210lbs and ran a 4.42 forty with a monster 39.5 vertical. Malcolm Floyd took him under his wing last season and he flashed in the pre-season. Worth monitoring especially now that Stevie Johnson is out with a knee injury.
Paul Richardson, Seahawks – Richardson has been injured his first two seasons in the league, but he’s fully healthy now and trained with Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett during the off-season. He has 4.40 forty jets and was a Matt Waldman favorite coming out of college.
Will Tye, Giants – A touchdown dependent tight end that very may well catch a lot of touchdowns. A lot more mouths to feed, but he’s a big body for Manning in the redzone and proved to be a reliable target. Could surprise as a Top 12 tight end.
Jared Cook, Packers – Whoever wins the primary receiving role between Cook and Rogers will have value. My money is on Cook despite early reports that this is Rodgers job to lose. The key to his playing time is getting over his injury and onto the practice field with Rodgers.
Virgil Green, Broncos - Freak athlete who has been used mainly as a blocker so far despite being mainly a pass catching tight end in college. Has been their number one tight end in camp and catching touchdowns regularly. The Kubiak offense loves involving the tight end. Major sleeper if they do indeed use him this year.
Troy Niklas, Cardinals - Physically gifted receiver compared to Kelce. Looks like the light could be turning on in year three. Major sleeper, keep him on the waiver wire.