Fantasy files: Rookie draft time

While I think that grading each team’s NFL draft results is dumb, I can’t help but read. I don’t take the thoughts seriously but I want experts to like the Titans’ picks. Most of these guys can’t even get a playbook.

The NFL draft means nothing compared to my upcoming rookie draft in Zealots 34. As a primer for the draft I started looking at every team’s roster and their possible needs. The 1.06 spot feels like a weak place. Before the NFL draft I was convinced that AJ Green, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams and Mikel LeShoure would be the first five picks, leaving me taking a second-tier guy like Randall Cobb. Since LeShoure went to the Lions, a team that drafted Jahvid Best early next year and will expect him to get the majority of touches, he might drop.

This year’s Julius Jones could be Daniel Thomas. I speak ill of Jones who has done me no harm save destroying a few of my fantasy teams. Daniel Thomas will jump in rookie rankings because he could be the starter in Miami. In fantasy football it’s a dangerous move to take the guy who has a better chance of starting immediately over the better talent who will need more time. After all, you’re getting these guys for the duration of their career, even if that career turns into a Kenny Irons, Chris Henry (the RB), Artose Pinner or Tony Hunt.

The running backs get a lot more context after the draft than before. Unlike the wideouts, who can be second options but still valuable fantasy performers, it’s hard to get excited about a committee guy or obvious backup. LeShoure went to the Lions. Let us not forget that while Best was the only RB in my dynasty league to have a 50-point game, he’s going to get nicked up. Daniel Thomas and Roy Helu, Jr. moved up in a big way by going to teams with starting spots that are open. The Patriots had two fantasy-worthy running backs last year. What does the addition of Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley mean? Alex Green was the man in Hawaii’s spread offense. Now he could be the eventual starter in Green Bay. The Packers alone intrigued by picking up a RB, WR, and TE, all who could light it up.

The Cowboys had three running backs who have posted 100-yard games, yet they drafted Demarco Murray. The 49ers have Frank Gore but took Kendall Hunter. Darren McFadden had a great 2010, yet the Raiders took the fastest RB in the draft in Taiwan Jones. Delone Carter is an interesting long-term prospect for the Colts. Jamie Harper could become the new LenDale White for the Titans, only with actual athleticism. Bilal Powell can hang around and be Shonn Greene’s backup. Dion Lewis followed LeSean McCoy and now could back him up. Jordan Todman goes to the Chargers, and the history of Chargers’ RBs makes him intriguing. Jacquizz Rodgers can be everything Jerious Norwood was not. Can Johnny White get any touches with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in town?

The receivers are the usual grab-bag of talent versus opportunity. Is Julio Jones worthy of a top-five pick since he might be the third option in Atlanta? What about A.J. Green going to a team that might start a rookie QB? Jonathan Baldwin was the surprise third guy taken. Most experts think he had a poor senior season. Titus Young is fast but he’s no DeSean Jackson. Greg Little plays for the Browns and was suspended all of last season. Randall Cobb might be the #6 guy on the depth chart for the Packers, but we are talking about the Packers. There are the small-school guys like Jerrel Jernigan, Edmond Gates, and Cecil Shorts. There are the sleepers like Denarius Moore and Niles Paul.

At least in dynasty we know that the rookie QBs have time to develop. I still think Gabbert is the best bet. Maybe Cam Newton will have a Tebow-like impact since he’s destined to start. Ponder, Locker, Dalton, and Kaepernick are all lottery tickets. Ryan Mallet might slip and is worth a look. Later round guys like Ricky Stanzi, Nathan Enderle, T.J. Yates, Tyrod Taylor, and Greg McElroy are free agents at best.
The tight end class is weak. Henery the kicker for the Eagles could be a top-five guy as a rookie, but like in the NFL, drafting a kicker always seems like a waste.

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