The NFL draft hosted in Chicago takes place April 30 – May 2nd. Celebrating the return of the draft after 50 years, Chicago is pulling out all the stops including free admission to “Draft Town.” Covering more than 15 football fields, the fan festival in Grant Park will offer live music, player appearances and a Super Bowl museum, while Buckingham Fountain lights up at night with team colors – no ticket required.
NFL Fantasy Live’s staff recently had a Round 1 mock draft. Here’s how their panel of experts picked.
1. LeSean McCoy – by Jason Smith
2. Adrian Peterson – by Michael Fabiano
3. Jamal Charles – by Adam Rank
4. Matt Forte – by Marcas Grant
5. Marshawn Lynch – by Michael Fabiano
6. Alfred Morris – by Adam Rank
7. Aaron Rodgers – by Marcas Grant
8. Eddie Lacy – by Michael Fabiano
9. Le’Veon Bell – by Adam Rank
10. Calvin Johnson – by Marcas Grant
Of the ten offensive players (offensive lineman aside) draft in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, there are only three I would consider possibly playing in 2014 fantasy football. In order, they would be Eric Ebron (Detroit Lions), Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills) and Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Ebron has to be considered a starter next year in fantasy. The Lions sure as heck didn’t draft him to be a blocker, which is what he is weakest at. The Lions have brought in former Saint’s quarterback coach, Joe Lombardi, as their offensive coordinator. So bank of the Lions to try and use Ebron like Jimmy Graham. He is definitely worthy of the top 10 in fantasy rankings for tight ends. Stafford throws a ton of pass attempts (over 600 plus in 2013), and the Lions had nobody to throw to except Calvin Johnson. Now they have Ebron and Golden Tate in the mix.
Sammy Watkins is going to be an amazing wideout in the NFL. Mathew Berry said “Watkins is as polished as Julio Jones and A.J. Green coming into the NFL.” Look out for Watkins down the road. I am always skeptical starting rookie wide receivers in fantasy, but I wouldn’t mind having this rookie on my roster this time.
I have to believe that Mike Evans is going to be better than Mike Williams as the receiver across from Vincent Jackson and Williams was roster worthy in any league the last two years. So grab him late if you need to fill a spot.
As for the rest of the offensive players drafted in the first round, I wouldn’t get too excited to play any of them next year. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota Vikings) could be playable down the road but not this year. It’s possible with the way Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns) runs, that he could be a spot start for your fantasy team in 2014. They have a lot of offensive fire power with Josh Gordon, Cameron Jordan, and Ben Tate. Odell Beckham (New York Giants) and Brandin Cooks (New Orleans Saints) are good fits for the teams who drafted them, but aren’t going to wow next year for fantasy purposes. Especially Cooks in New Orleans as they spread the ball around way too much with their receivers. And Kelvin Benjamin has bust written all over him. He might get the occasional jump ball in the red zone but don’t get too excited for this guy.
In August, Michael Sam revealed to his Missouri Tiger football teammates that he was gay. This April, he will be heading into the NFL draft and this announcement comes before the combine as well. Mel Kiper has him projected as a fourth round talent that could possibly go in the third round. He has been compared to Seattle’s Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett both whom are very solid NFL defensive ends. Will the Bears be a good fit for this young man as Julius Pepper’s contract may be too rich as he will cost $18.2 million against the salary cap in 2014? It sounds like the 49ers and Patriots have a good foundation in their organization to take on something that could be as distracting as this.
I wish this kid all the luck in the world. As the seventh of eight siblings, he has lived a tough life growing up and that’s an understatement. Three of his siblings have died. He never got to meet a baby sister who passed away. His second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and he and his little sister were the last one’s to see him. He was pronounced dead two years later. He had to see his oldest brother die of a gunshot wound. And two of his brother’s have spent time in and out jail. They are both currently in jail.
It’s safe to say that if there was someone who can handle being the first openly gay athlete in the NFL, it would be Michael Sam. It also should be noted that his Missouri teammates deserve some props in their acceptance over the past year.
Please respond in comments as to what you expect these rookies to produce in year one of their NFL careers. Most rookies I stay clear of in fantasy drafts. Rarely have I ever drafted or played one, but I do like Watkins and Ebron. As for the rest, I’m not too excited for their rookie season fantasy-wise. The following pictures, in order, are Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Eric Ebron (North Carolina), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Mike Evans (Texas A&M), and Greg Robinson (Penn State). Again, please respond.
The following are players I would not draft at all as they simply don’t provide the winning formula for any fantasy teams.
Eli Manning – Giants: Too inconsistent each year.
Darren McFadden – Raiders: Bad offensive line this year and we know about the durability.
Eddie Lacy – Packers: Hurt offensive line, they are pass happy, and make him prove something first. Too much unknown.
Mark Ingram – Saints: Despite talks of him breaking out finally, still fighting for carries with Sproles and Thomas. Until he is 3-down back getting 20+ carries, this Heisman isn’t worth it.
Mike Wallace – Dolphins: Bad quarterback and a one pattern receiver.
DeSean Jackson – Eagles: He makes this list every year. Even with Chip Kelly I don’t want him.
James Jones – Packers: All or nothing wide receiver. Not enough yardage for me.
Jared Cook – St. Louis: Overhyped every year. New offense and still overhyped.
Broncos Defense – Von Miller out six games plus other injuries causing them to shif linebackers around. They are not stacked like some other teams.
The point of the following is to ask yourself if the following players are undervalued this season going into your 2013 fantasy draft. I heard that they were, but I will tell you what I think.
Tony Romo: Is he undervalued? Yes. He is going somewhere around the #11 quarterback. In a 10-man league, that is past round 10. He could easily hit 4,000 yards and maybe 4,500 with 35 touchdowns especially with Dez Bryant and his new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan who has a few good notches in his belt.
Giovanni Bernard: Is he undervalued? No. You cannot be undervalued with this much uncertainty around him and when you aren’t even the starter. He is still in a 50/50 timeshare, and people are still drafting him before the later rounds. Yes, he is the best back on that team. He was the first running back chosen in this draft. He is really good, don’t get me wrong. He could have a huge season, but that doesn’t mean he is undervalued. He is relatively unknown, but he will still get drafted in about the sixth round.
He has speed. He is good out of the backfield. He definitely still needs to prove to his coaches that he can block. So he has some proving to do still before he can become a full-time 3-down back. Eventually, this guy is going to be the man. It should depend on your team, if you can wait for that to happen.
Vincent Brown: Is he undervalued? YES! Nobody is talking about him. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this guy last year, then right before the season he goes down after finally proving his worth. Denario Alexander stepped up in his place and looked like a superstar. So he will be getting all the attention from fantasy owners and defenses for awhile. You can get him round 12 or later. In fact, he is going about pick 115 in mock drafts and about the number 42 wideout. Great guy to scout for 12-team leagues in particular. They also have a new coach with a more dink and dunk attack, and he will be the guy catching more of the underneath balls while Alexander goes deep. So bump him in PPR formats as well. He was ready to breakout last year until he broke his ankle. He currently is fighting off some hamstring issues, but keep an eye on this guy.
**BREAKING NEWS: Danario Alexander suffered a torn ACL August 6, 2013**
Matthew Berry is my top fantasy football experts to watch, listen to, or get advice from. Don’t bash me for it. But I do have some questions for him regarding his Top 200. Hopefully, by the time the season starts, he can explain some of these:
1) How is Ray Rice #3 overall? There are a lot of great running backs going heading into the 2013 season, and he has Rice ahead of a lot of them. Yes, Rice has been a stud, but he 1) no longer has Vontae Leach as his fullback 2) and people keep giving Bernard Pierce a lot of love lately. That has to mean something.
2) Are we at the point where we trust Stevan Ridley at #9 overall? The next 5 players are Trent Richardson, LeSean McCoy, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Calvin Johnson. Not to mention, there are some studs after that. I plan on targeting Ridley much later.
3) No QB’s until 16? He has Rodgers at #16 and Brees at #17. I just need to hear the explanation again. I know I will have 3 quarterbacks probably taken in round one in my favorite league I play in with standard scoring.
4) Reggie Bush at 34? And here’s the kicker…he is followed up by these players in consecutive order: DeMarco Murray, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe and Tom Brady! Something’s got to give here! Crazy talk. Can’t wait to hear the reasoning on this one.
5) Are we talking tremendous value with Ryan Mathews at #86? In no way am I saying Ryan Mathews is the man. But are we slightly underestimating him here? He still has zero competition pushing him for carries.
There are a variety of reasons players don’t end up on your team. Maybe you waited too long to draft them. Or you just like one guy a little better at the time of your pick. But for this article, these are the guys that probably won’t make my team on draft day due to three reasons. One, they peaked a little last year, and their draft stock is a little too high for me to go after them when they might be picked. So I will pass on those guys. Secondly, I plainly want someone else to have that problem on their hands, not mine. For example, this player may have a big name but just doesn’t produce like you would expect alla Steven Jackson in PAST years. Or maybe these players just seem to get hurt a little too much for my liking. Third, I just don’t want them on my team as I’m “not feeling it.” So I will be happy to have someone else take these guys as I look for guys I think will be playing 16 games and popping the ball in the end zone.
PLAYERS THAT POPPED LAST YEAR :
VINCENT JACKSON (He isn’t going to surprise any defenses this year. I can’t give up a 3rd rounder here.)
DEZ BRYANT (Can you trust who Romo will throw to? Really though, I need to see one more year before I start giving up a prime draft slot for him.)
JOSH FREEMAN (See above. Not surprising anyone this year.)
OWEN DANIELS (He played great last year, but that was LAST year.)
FRANK GORE (I didn’t think Frank would make this list going in until I saw Mathew Berry has Gore #20 player OVERALL! Don’t think I’m going that high for him even though I love his Hurricane background. He is 30 this year.)
PLAYERS THAT JUST DON’T PRODUCE LIKE YOU WOULD EXPECT THE VALUE OF THEIR NAME TO PRODUCE:
CHRIS JOHNSON (There’s nothing I hate worse than 30 yard rushing games.)
HAKEEM NICKS (Hakeem could be the dream, but it’s more like an injury machine.
AHMAD BRADSHAW (Ahmad is basically DONE.)
DARREN MCFADDEN (This guy just can’t get it together.)
MIKE WALLACE (WithTannehill throwing to him, I will be glad for someone else to draft him.)
RYAN MATHEWS (Depends on how far he fall though. If he’s there in the 8th….STEAL!)
MATHEW STAFFORD (Borderline BUM! Or maybe it’s the shotgun system where everyone knows he’s throwing.)
PLAYERS I WILL SIMPLY STAY AWAY FROM THIS YEAR. I’M “NOT FEELING IT”:
MAURICE JONES-DREW (He is kind of a knucklehead lately.)
BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS (He just seems dull to me, and Giovani Bernard will push him.)
GREG JENNINGS (Definitely think he doesn’t live up to his name without a QB named Rodgers.)
PERCY HARVIN (Need a year to see how he adjusts in Seattle.)
JEREMY MACLIN & DESEAN JACKSON (I never feel it with these two.)
Tyler Bray (QB) Tennessee 6’6″ 232 lbs
Chase Thomas (OLB) Stanford 6’3″ 240 lbs. (Signed with Saints)
Tracy Howard (CB) Ohio State 6’1″ 200 lbs.
Xavier Nixon (OT) Florida 6’5″ 321 lbs.
Cierre Woods (RB) Notre Dame 5’11” 213 lbs.
Which NFL teams drafted the best this weekend? In no particular order, I give a grade of an ‘A’ to each of these NFL teams for how they drafted this weekend at the 2013 NFL draft: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings.
A+ Arizona Cardinals: Wow! Jonathan Cooper might be the best player in this year’s draft and will be a Pro Bowl Guard for year to come. Enough said about him. Third round pick, Tyrann Mathieu, is a great fit. Pairing up “Honey Badger” with Patrick Patterson, teams are going to find it tough to throw on them. Their first 4th round pick, Alex Oakafor from Texas, was a steal at defensive end. I see him becoming a Pro Bowler down the line too. 2nd round pick, Kevin Minter, is a solid “B” grade pick. And finally, the Cardinals got a steal in the 6th round in Ryan Swope. He was my favorite value pick in the draft and will be comparable to Welker and Amendola.
A+ 49ers: The 49ers entered the draft with 13 draft choices. So filling the need and trading up for Safety Eric Reid was understandable, and he is a fantastic player by the way. If you haven’t been paying attention, the 49ers have been adding to their already loaded roster since the season ended. This weekend they drafted well throughout, but in particular I love the Corey Lemonier and Marcus Lattimore picks. The future if bright for this organization.
A+ Baltimore Ravens: After losing defensive players Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Cary Williams and Bernard Pollard, I am extremely impressed how quickly they have built that defense back up. After adding, Elvis Dummervil, Michael Huff, Rolando McClain and Marcus Spears, they also added from the draft three players that can play right away in Safety Matt Elam, Linebacker Arthur Brown, and Defensive Tackle Brandon Williams.
A St. Louis Rams: The Rams added to both sides of the ball getting an electric water bug in Wide Receiver Tavon Auston from West Virginia and sideline to sideline Linebacker Alec Ogletree from Georgia. And grabbing Alabama’s Center Barrett Jones in the fourth round was a fantastic pick as well.
A- The Vikings: The Vikes would have earned a solid A grade if they took one of the remaining top tier linebackers instead of unpolished receiver Cordarrelle Patterson out of Tennessee with their third 1st-round pick. In any case, he will be a fantastic return man as he is big, fearless, runs hard, and changes directions without slowing down. Despite the uncertainty with Patterson, getting defensive tackle Shariff Floyd from Florida with the 23rd pick was great value. He was the number one defensive tackle on the board that slipped after some thought he might be a top five pick. And adding cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round sealed an excellent grade for the Vikings. Again, it would have been great to see the Vikings improve every level of their defense with first round talent if they had taken a linebacker instead of Patterson, but, regardless, they did well.