It's never too early to talk fantasy football is it? With the NBA season winding down and the dog days of summer coming for baseball, it's time to start strategically planning your draft. Luckily we have the World Cup to bridge us for a while.
There's 89 days left til the NFL kicks off, so I'll try and give you a little head start on some rooks to look after. It wasn't easy to find them last year, as the rookies had only one 3,000 yd passer (Geno Smith), one 1,000 yd rusher (Eddie Lacy) & one 1,000 yd receiver (Keenan Allen). Here's a look at some rookie stats from last year: http://draftseason.com/nfl-rookie-info/ds-nfl-rookie-stats/
Moving forward, some candidates you may want to consider in the mid to late rounds of your fantasy draft.
Quarterbacks: If your looking for an RG III or an Andrew Luck, it probably won't happen this year. Three QB's were taken in the first round (Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater), and none of them will probably start Week one. Jacksonville has already stated they want to bring Bortles along slowly, Cleveland keeps reiterating that Brian Hoyer is the starter and Minnesota has faith in veteran Matt Cassell. Derek Carr, taken in round two, would have to impress a lot of people to beat out Matt Schaub in the preseason.
This is the position I would avoid drafting any rookies at, but keep an eye on the waiver wire as the season progresses, I'd imagine one or two of these guys will get the nod towards mid to late season.
Running backs: the stock on an NFL running back is dropping faster than Vince McMahon's bank account. No RB was taken in the first round for the second straight year, and this year's draft was the latest a back was taken off the board at #54.
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans- First RB taken off the board this year. Shonn Greene is currently listed as the #1, but he's been a disappointment for years. The Titans revamped their offensive line a little bit by getting Andy Levitre from Buffalo to play right guard and drafted Taylor Lewan in the first round to play right tackle. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt works wonders for offenses and I wouldn't be surprised to see Sankey get the load sooner rather than later.
Tre' Mason, St Louis Rams- Rumors have been swirling that Mason can beat out Zac Stacy for the starting job. Stacy only averaged 3.9 yards per carry last year and surpassed the 100 yd mark in just four games. The Rams o-line was pretty questionable and in the NFC West, you just can't have that. They addressed it in the draft by getting Greg Robinson, Mason's teammate. Mason ran for over 1,800 yds in college last year which is pretty damn impressive.
Carlos Hyde, San Fransisco 49ers- Frank Gore can't keep going, can he? He's entering his 10th season and has over 2,100 NFL carries. This could be the year the Niners finally start to pass the torch, and although it may not be a heavy workload for Hyde, he'll warrant some carries with his play, in my eyes, Hyde is the best RB in this draft class.
Storm Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars- Free agent Toby Gerhart is the starting RB now with the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew, and Jordan Todman with Denard Robinson are the other backup RB's. I can see Johnson leap frogging them and being right there with Gerhart. Toby has never had to carry the load in a season as he's backed up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, the most carries he's had in a season is 109 in 2011.
Andre Williams, New York Giants- I'm not 100% sold on free agent pickup Rashad Jennings and David Wilson can't seem to stay healthy. Yeah there's guys like Da'rel Scott and Peyton Hillis in the mix, but Williams might have the starting job halfway through the season. Williams can flat out run the football as he ran for 2,177 yards in college last year.
James White, New England Patriots- The Patriots lost a lot of faith in Stevan Ridley towards the end of the year with his fumbling issues. Legarrette Blount was given the majority of the workload in the latter part of the season. It's usually a RB-by-committee for the Pats, but don't be surprised if White is thrown into the mix at some point this year. He only fumbled twice in college with 754 carries, so ball security is not an issue for him. Ridley fumbled four times just last year.
Ka'Deem Carey, Chicago Bears- Loved this guy in college. Stock dropped due to some bad 40 times, but looks to have landed the backup role in Chicago. Matt Forte is a beast and a fantasy stud, but may start to wear down a bit as he's carried the ball over 1,500 times the last six years.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals- All depends on how much Benjarvus Green-Ellis is relied on. Giovanni Bernard will get his 15-20 touches a game, and not so sure the Bengals are ready to give up on the law firm just yet. They have one year left on his contract, so I'd expect the Bengals to give Green-Ellis a heavy load this year, with Hill waiting in the wings for next year, while getting a good grasp of the offense.
Dri' Archer, Pittsburgh Steelers- I threw Archer in strictly if your league puts a priority on special teams. Archer will be dangerous in the return game. He probably won't see much on offense, as he's behind La'veon Bell and Blount, but could be thrown in on special third down packages. I'd only draft him if special teams return yards can gain you some points.
Wide Receivers: Some really good opportunities here, as the league has move to more pass first oriented offenses. 12 WR's were taken in the first two rounds.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints- I'm personally going to reach for him in my fantasy draft. A speedy slot receiver in the Saints system? Count me in. I honestly think Cooks can catch 80 balls next year with the Saints. Kenny Stills was a fifth round pick in last year's draft, and totaled 640 yds with 5 TD's for the Saints in 2013.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- My favorite receiver out of the bunch. The Bucs' can form a Chicago Bears like duo (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey) with Vincent Jackson on the other side. Tampa Bay just needs to figure out who's going to throw the football to them, Mike Glennon or Josh McCown, if last season is any indicator, i'd roll with McCown, was sensational in just a short timeframe of work with the Bears, so he knows how to throw to big receivers.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills- The Bills liked this guy enough to trade up to get him while giving up next year's first round pick in doing so. Watkins should get plenty of looks as the team traded away #1 option Stevie Johnson to the 49ers. E.J. Manuel needs to have a healthier year, as he missed six games last season due to injury.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton's other options consist of Jerrico Cotchery, Jason Avant & Tiquan Underwood. Benjamin should see the first team and the most targets right away. A very big target in the red zone, as Benjamin is listed at 6'5".
Odell Beckham, New York Giants- Can he be Hakeem Nicks' replacement? They already have another LSU guy in Rueben Randle, and Beckham should be able to start on the outside with him, as Victor Cruz is primarily a slot receiver.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers- James Jones left via free agency, and he caught 59 passes last year, which was good for second on the team. Can Adams fill that void?
Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos- Peyton Manning does just of good of a job as any spreading the wealth around, as five guys had at least 60 receptions last year. Someone needs to get Eric Decker's 87 receptions, and the big target out of Indiana is a prime candidate.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles- Jeremy Maclin is coming off the knee injury, they released DeSean Jackson, and Riley Cooper is your #2 receiver, Matthews could be a nice sleeper in Chip Kelly's system. The Eagles threw 32 TD passes last season, someone has to get them.
Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars- One of these two will emerge as the #2 receiver alongside Cecil Shorts. Only two Jags receivers caught over 50 passes last year, an upgrade at the position was necessary.
Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks- Golden Tate is gone and no telling if Percy Harvin can stay healthy.
Keep these guys in mind the next few months when your fantasy draft or draft's take place...
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