Another year, another Bloom 100. Last year’s bumper crop of WR made late first round picks more valuable, and this year a rare alignment of RB talents enhances the value of those picks yet again. There are enough top-end talents that top five picks will have the premium return that we have come to expect. Vacant RB situations threaten to add some surprise names to the first-round mix. An excellent group of EDGE players will have a lot of value hinge on their eventual position designation in a fantasy development that is mirroring the evolution of defense in the NFL. A wide receiver class that would otherwise be seen as plentiful only seems less overwhelming because of last year's "this one goes to 11" WR group. All in all, there is more than enough variety in configurations of ability/traits and range of outcomes to get the adrenaline flowing when it comes time to put your money where your mouth is.
A note on situation: The pre-draft Bloom 100 is a snapshot of how this year’s rookie class sorts itself out without destination and draft position factored in, but remember that destination and draft position end up being a very large influence on a player’s dynasty outlook (even if in hindsight they were given too much weight for some players). Every year it becomes more difficult to rank the players pre-draft because experience shows that destination narrows the wide range of success/failure outcomes and can amplify or mute talent's manifestation as productivity. So, take the pre-draft rankings with a grain of salt with an exception for tiered talent evaluation.
The Bloom 100 is ranked with the following type of dynasty fantasy football league in mind:
- Full IDP lineups including DT and CB
- PPR, start 3 WR
- Deep lineups and rosters
Of course, depending on your league scoring and settings, the placement of some positions can change, but the tier breaks and rankings within position should be good to use across all league formats.
Elite Fantasy Potential
1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - A true foundation back with power, speed, attitude, and good hands out of the backfield as a receiver. He’s coming off of an ACL tear, which injects some doubt that will be addressed in part by his draft position. A healthy Gurley is a top 10 pick, so as long as he doesn’t fall out of the first round, he’ll remain high in this tier after the draft. Dynasty philosophy that emphasizes WR as cornerstones could push Gurley out of this spot in some drafts. Far from perfect durability record raises some worries, but Gurley has exactly what we're looking for in a fantasy running back.
2. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia - White only really burst on the scene last year, but wow what a finale rack. Like Gurley, White possesses some physical gifts and wields them with a warrior’s mentality. One-year wonder risk is hard to quantify and White's talent was overwhelming enough on the field last year to overlook it. White seems like the kind of WR talent that even a poor QB can take advantage of.
3. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - Cooper should appeal to the dynasty owner that likes safe, known investments. He’s a technician with a precociousness that could indicate hidden upside beyond a less gaudy physical profile than his peers. Cooper is the type of receiver whose production could be hurt more by subpar QB play that tends to come with a top 10 selection, but if he falls to the Giants at #9 or Vikings at #11, watch out.
4. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - Parker’s ceiling could be scary high if he becomes a student of the game, but his natural ability at the moment of the truth when the ball arrives will be enough to make him very relevant in fantasy leagues even if he doesn’t. As the likely #3 wide receiver off of the board, he has a better chance of landing with a good quarterback than White and Cooper, so the gap could tighten.
5. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma - Green-Beckham has a history that would make an implosion at the pro level no surprise and a size/athleticism/aggressiveness/skill constellation that would make an explosion at the pro level no surprise. Not for the faint of heart. As long as he is drafted in the top 50 or so, I won’t move him down, but we could also learn that the NFL’s collective concerns about him are severe indeed if he falls farther in the draft. That being said, the wake up call of disappointment on draft weekend could trigger a rehabilitation, so he’ll be a fantasy rookie first-round consideration in almost any event.
Very Good Future Starting RBs
6. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - Gordon’s wattage as an overall talent at running back isn’t quite as bright as Gurley’s but he could easily outproduce him. I’m a little worried Gordon won’t necessarily be the best passing down back on his team, and generally see him in the range of Ryan Mathews as a player. We would see Ryan Mathews in a pretty positive light if he could just stay healthy, so that’s not really a knock on Gordon. Possibly #1 overall post-draft if he goes to Dallas.
7. Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State - I have Ajayi roughly in Gordon’s neighborhood as a running back talent, although I am prepared to move him down out of the first round mix if his draft position confirms the reports of worries about his knee in the Combine re-check. This could also be an Eddie Lacy overreaction situation, so there will be a fine line to tread when re-ranking after the draft. Ajayi plays with reckless abandon and more than good enough size/tools to hang in the NFL.
Boom/Bust Fantasy Commodities
8. Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida - Perriman sneaks up on you on film. He’s not a flashy talent by any means, but his long-striding speed, ability to hang in the air and thick build are reminiscent of Demaryius Thomas at times. Perriman can be plagued by concentration drops and has some risk. Like Parker, Perriman being a little lower than the top WR options on the NFL draft board could enhance his position on the fantasy draft board because of the potential increase in QB/offense quality.
9. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami-Fl - Johnson will be dogged by worries about size and injuries limiting his workload at the next level and that’s fair. We’ve seen Giovani Bernard and likely soon Andre Ellington have their fantasy stock succumb (at least temporarily) to size-related role confinements. Johnson, however, has more juice in his legs and fight/attack in his running style than those two, and he’s every bit the receiver that they are. I’d love his fit in Atlanta’s Kyle Shanahan running game.
10. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC - Agholor is a silky smooth route runner who can change speeds and create separation with terrific coordination and balance in the athleticism he displays on a regular basis. His size and speed aren’t truly imposing, but he’ll make hay after the catch and get open on time for his QB. He might not have fantasy WR1 upside and line up in the slot more than he does outside, but Agholor can be very productive in the NFL - as long he lands in a vibrant pass offense.
11. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - There’s a sharpness to Duke Johnson’s running style that Abdullah can’t match, but otherwise, they are similarly situated backs on the talent spectrum. Abdullah is dynamic and combative, leaving everything on the field on every touch, and projecting to be a threat in the passing game as long as his pass protection woes don’t limit his role and fantasy ceiling.
12. TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama - Backs like Yeldon that lack upside in the passing game are harder to love in PPR leagues, but Yeldon can hang in the big boy running game of the NFL, and he might end up with the Jeremy Hill part of a RBBC. RBBC looms over his stock like it does the rest of the second tier RBs, but Yeldon should be the best inside runner on his team soon enough.
13. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State - Strong is one of those prospects that look better on paper than they do on tape. His speed does show on double moves and after the catch, but it’s build up speed, and it doesn’t result in him getting a lot of separation on short and intermediate routes. I can’t quite tell how he’ll translate, so I’m lower on him than most.
14. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana - Like many others, I see a lot of Darren McFadden when I watch Coleman. Coleman has more nuance and less grit than McFadden, but like McFadden, his ability to leave opponents in the dust if he has a lane is the main thing he brings to the table. That could be a dud in a poor environment and very productive in a good one. Coleman is the most situation-dependent back in this class.
15. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State - Just because Smith wasn’t asked to work in the short/intermediate game often at Ohio State doesn’t mean that we should assume he can’t contribute there in the NFL. We know he will go get the deep ball with the best of the them. That is an underrated foundation for fantasy, although man can not live on deep balls alone. Pair him up with someone like Joe Flacco or Russell Wilson and I’m buying.
16. Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn - I want to love Coates but his game has hiccups too often at the moment of truth to completely buy in. As opposed to Perriman, who is plagued by more tolerable concentration drops, Coates' technique at the catch point and reactions on quick passes reveal a more fundamental issue behind his drops. Still, Coates is a dominant athlete at his best, and the splash plays will obviously come as long as his confidence isn’t too shaken by lapses.
Swinging for a Double
17. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota - I like Williams, I really do. He’s tough, a natural receiver and young enough to have latent upside. Problem is that he’s not in the Gronk/Graham/Kelce level of projection no matter how you cut it. The right situation (Baltimore!) could vault him into the late first, but that’s about as high as I can see him going.
18. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina - We wouldn’t see 2013 Mike Davis as that far off of the top seven RBs in this class, if at all. 2014 Mike Davis didn’t have quite the same burst, but post-draft Mike Davis tested like 2013 Mike Davis. If Davis lands in one of the plum situations, be ready to make him a second-round priority.
19. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State - I just can’t justify taking a quarterback high in rookie drafts. The position is plentiful and an option must offer top five upside to justify a pick in the top 15. Winston could inherit a great set of big receiver in Tampa, albeit with a very poor offensive line. He could/should level off on the low QB1 mix eventually if he stays on track.
20. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - Mariota has the runner profile, which always enhances fantasy upside, but I’m not sure he’ll project as a prolific passer. I can also see his running ability put aside a la Ryan Tannehill or Alex Smith, muting its addition to his fantasy value. The ranking of both top QBs is basically a recommendation to pass early unless there's no RB/WR that you like left on the board.
21. Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA - There is no Luke Kuechly or Patrick Willis in this draft. Kendricks is a three-down linebacker with a great range of influence and awareness. He’s the best option if you want to break the seal on the IDPs because Kendricks has a relatively high floor from a productivity standpoint.
Not Sure What To Think
22. David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa - Johnson is the best receiving back in this class, and this is an uncontroversial view. He looks like a wide receiver going up for the ball and his top-end speed plays more in the open field as a receiver than it does behind the line of scrimmage as a runner. As a runner, Johnson is a bit muddled and I’m not sure he’ll ever be a primary asset on typical running plays, but his athletic profile may get him a shot.
23. Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan - Funchess moves so well for a big man that his tape can be breathtaking at times. He also shrinks at the catch point in a way that is a gut punch to his draft stock. His range of outcomes is as big as his wingspan. I’m not ruling out success, but I’m not betting on it either. I'll paying close attention to the post-draft press conference when his team talks about how they envision using Funchess.
24. DeAndre Smelter, WR, Georgia Tech - Smelter is not *that* different from Perriman, but he’s probably not as fast in a straight line and the “slack” in his game at the point of attack is a little more pronounced. He’s also coming off of an ACL tear. Like Gurley, we'll discern a bit about what the NFL thinks of the condition of his knee via his draft stock.
25. Chris Conley, WR, Georgia - I can see some Chris Chambers in Conley’s game. It’s not always the prettiest, but he can make his explosive athleticism and speed matter on Sundays. He's more of a projection based on athletic ability than a refined prospect, so there could be a wait to see what you have here.