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, which are available now and which will be updated, as we get further along into camp. 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 Jr and Duke Johnson Jr. 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.
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.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Unreal landing spot and he can do it all: run the rock through people, around people and no problem lining up outside to catch passes. The Cowboys will want to limit the wear and tear on Romo as well. My only fear is Alfred Morris stealing goal-line work behind this dominant offensive line. Domestic violence charge against him looks to be debunked for now.
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. Can Big Ben stay healthy?
Julio Jones, Falcons – An absolute beast and he’s the only game in town. Unlike Brown, it is Julio who needs to stay healthy.
Odell Beckham Jr 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.
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.
Mark Ingram II, 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.
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.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Foot injury is a concern, but reports are that he should be cleared to practice next week. Major steal right now because of the injury who is 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. I still like Rawls as the team’s best early down runner and his current ADP makes him a value at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the league in touchdowns and he is a steal at his current 4th round ADP.
Matt Forte, Jets – The presence of Powell is keeping Forte’s value depressed, but he will end up being a solid PPR value in drafts. Powell will steal some touches and Forte may not put up big numbers on the ground, especially the first six weeks of the season, so while he is an avoid in standard leagues, he should easily catch over 75 passes in this vertical four pass offense.
Duke Johnson Jr, Browns – Could be a major sleeper and move up the board as the season gets closer. He will be a PPR beast, pushing 75+ catches after catching 61 as a rookie. While Crowell may handle early down and goal-line work, negative game script could mean a whole lot more of Johnson. Hue Jackson also had the fourth highest rushing percentage in the redzone last season. If you want to own just one Browns RB, Crowell the better value, but the Duke should have a safe PPR floor.
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 III 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
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.
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.
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.
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 IV will help ensure Brees is a top option once again.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – The loss of Martavis Bryant, and now Bell for the first four games hurts, but Sammie Coates Jr and Ladarius Green should provide sufficient firepower to make up for this loss of Bryant and DeAngelo Williams for the loss of Bell. He averaged a league leading 328 passing yards per game and also led the league in 40+ yard completions last year. Look for that to continue this year.
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.
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. For those using the 2-2-1 RB Strategy, it is looking like Josh Ferguson could be his handcuff.
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 Jr, 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.
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.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Even though Chip is great at scheming wide receivers open, Smith still has to play with Kaepernick or Gabbert. I’m not buying a huge bounce back to where he can regularly be relied on in fantasy beyond your WR3, bye week replacement or flex starter. Will have some big weeks.
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 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 IV, 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.
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.
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.
Coby Fleener, Saints – Couldn’t have landed in a better spot. The 125 targets Watson leaves behind are all his. Snead and Cooks are also both under six feet, while Fleener stands 6'6" with 4.51 jets. His hands an issue, but Brees will take full advantage.
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 wide receivers stay healthy. Loss of Stevie Johnson hurts a bit, but James Jones should hopefully be able to limit the impact until he returns. They were starting third stringers at both positions by mid-season last year. If all goes well, he's a steal. If you are one of those people betting against Melvin Gordon III, you should be betting on this teams passing game, which includes Danny Woodhead.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Will form a RBBC with Duke Johnson Jr. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. If you don’t agree with me, noted analyst Greg Cosell stated as such on many occasions last year. Stafford came on big time after new OC Jim Bob Cooter (I mean, his name is Jim Bob) took over (19tds and only 2ints) and they 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 despite being a limited quarterback in a contract year.
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.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – Has solid weapons and has dedicated the off-season to getting into shape and fine-tuning his craft. But while he three for more than 4,000 yards as a rookie, even when the team was losing they stuck the run far more than most teams. Will that change in year 2?
Jordan Howard, Bears – Has a bit of an injury history, but a big and powerful running back that should easily assume early down and goal-line work for the Bears. John Fox wants the run game to be the teams’ foundation of this offense, as he did in Carolina.
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.
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.
Josh Doctson, Washington – Love the player, but lots of mouths to feed. And while Cousins is a limited player, the Gruden/Dalton connection did okay for AJ Green. 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.
Sammie Coates Jr, Steelers – An athletic clone of Martavis Bryant who showed up to camp in excellent shape. He has been running with the 1’s in camp and just has to show he can hold onto the ball. Could be a major steal if things click.
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.
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.
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.
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers – HC Chip Kelly likes to play fast and run a ton of plays, which has led to Kelly coached quarterbacks seeing an uptick in both their yards per attempt and completion percentages. Gabbert is also a plus athlete who can run, clocking a 4.61 forty at the combine. If he wins the job, and either Eric Rogers or DeAndre Smelter can emerge as a compliment to Torrey Smith and Bruce Ellington, he just may surprise as the teams plays catch-up all year. If Colin Kaepernick wins the job, you can then swap these guys out as they are being drafted for free right now.
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 hestiancy since we have been here before, but later in drafts, only upside.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs – Won’t get many touches as 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. Wouldn’t be shocked if he scored 8+ TDs and he should be involved even when Charles is healthy.
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.
Keith Marshall, Washington – He’s big (5’11” 219lbs) and fast (4.31 forty). He’s no sure thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones in the doghouse again and Marshall shine when given a chance. A flier only right now but he has been getting some first team reps in practices.
Josh Ferguson, Colts – UDFA who has been making noise since OTAs. It looks like he is emerging as the handcuff to Gore and possibly the future starter on this team. He excels in the passing game and Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer reported that he has "flashed consistently" in training camp.
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. Great late round snag since 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.
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.
Jaelen Strong, Texans – Earned raves from HC Bill O'Brien during this off-season and beat writers alike. He’s a big body receiver who has the inside track to their second receiver role opposite Hopkins. Beat reporters have been hyping him up over Fuller all off-season and with J.J. Watt injured, this team may have to pass a lot to start the season. Could be a great redzone threat too with no legit tight end on the team.
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.
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 Jr, 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.
Jace Amaro, Jets – Could move up if plays well during pre-season after missing all of his sophomore year, he also could be cut. So far so good though in camp.
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.