RSO Journal: Writers’ League Rookie Draft Analysis – The First Seven Teams
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Five-Round Rookie Draft
I profiled the first round last week. This week, I look at each team’s draft.
Evan Silva’s Draft and Roster:Players with Rs next to their names for the rosters below are the rookies each owner selected in 2014.
Silva went big at wide receiver, selecting Mike Evans and Allen Robinson. Evans could provide quality WR3 production and potential WR2 upside this year as a complement to A.J. Green and T.Y. Hilton in his lineup. Long-term Evans and Robinson could buffer the loss of Green when Silva has to part ways. I’m not a huge fan of Robinson’s game, but I see how he fits in Jacksonville and good, old-fashioned hard work from the Penn State star could help him become a reliable fantasy starter. That said, I would not be surprised if Robert Woods and Markus Wheaton have better careers than Robinson long-term.
Silva tried to address his need for a tight end with his picks of Jace Amaro and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Both players have their fans in the draftnik community. I love Amaro’s style of play, but his skill versus tight, physical coverage is inconsistent right now and it might be showing up with his drops in practice. Fiedorowicz looks like a better football prospect than fantasy prospect to me, but I know a scout who believes that the former Iowa tight end has more in the tank as a receiver than what the Hawkeyes let him do.
I get how Logan Thomas can improve, but it’s asking a lot to expect Thomas to go from a mediocre college quarterback to a good pro. I think this is a swing for the fences at a lower price.
Overall, I think Silva drafted for talent in the first two rounds and addressed needs in the final three rounds. It’s not to say that Silva didn’t like these players, but I don’t think they were his favorites regardless of position. Me? I’m more of a draft for talent a little later while mixing talent and need earlier in a league with these contracts. Evan is also new to this league and a late addition for an owner withdrawing from the league. He’ll see soon enough.
Players I Covet: Aside from A.J. Green, Woods’ routes and hands are good enough that it makes me wonder what he has or hasn’t shown in training camp to be behind Mike Williams thus far. It could be a size thing. Markus Wheaton will also have to contend with Martavis Bryant’s size and red zone potential, but he was another one of my faves from last year with the skill to potentially take over for Antonio Brown if he grows up fast enough.
MacGregor made his trade with Rivers McCown, acquired Sammy Watkins and Carlos Hyde, took a shot on Derek Carr, and promptly traded the rest of his picks for 2015 selections. When you get Watkins and Hyde early, mission accomplished.
If Watkins was in New Orleans, Philadelphia, or even Carolina, I’d expect low-end WR2 production from him as a rookie, but Buffalo’s situation is far more iffy. So you know, MacGregor is a Bills’ fan, so the Clemson star is a super-convenient, talent-plus-homer pick. I think Buffalo will be cautious with Watkins for the first couple of preseason games, so don’t be surprised if you see little from him until the first half of the third preseason game.
His team has the talent to thrive, but rebounds and fulfillment of potential are the ongoing themes of his roster. If MacGregor has the money to acquire a few impact free agents he’ll compete for a playoff spot. Otherwise, I think he’ll be a competitive also-ran in 2014 if Tom Brady fails to rebound.
Players I Covet:Watkins is an easy choice and the rest of the squad is filled with players I’d love to have individually, but hate to own as a nucleus of a team. Next year, we could say MacGregor has 20 percent of the fantasy starters and he’s four-deep. Jackson, Watkins, and Stills could be a fine WR1-WR2-WR3 trio. I see upside in all of these players, but the cliff is steep and rockyfor at least have of them.
Stafford also traded away picks, and he too acquired three players with upside. Cooks is the immediate impact option. Lee might be make that list, too, but I’m skeptical that he’ll be consistent enough as a rookie not to drive fantasy owners crazy by the midpoint of the season. I know Brian Billick was on NFL Network on Sunday afternoon telling his audience that he doesn’t believe that the Jaguars will sit Bortles all year.
I believe it. Stafford will likely bid for a fantasy backup to Romo this year regardless of who’s right about Bortles. Stafford’s duo of Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller is exciting, but I think he needs help at wide receiver. Patton hasn’t taken that next step, Welker could be entering the twilight of his career, and while Randall Cobb could turn in a WR1 season, he’s not the guy most want to rely on in that role.
I think Stafford needs a good free agent auction and some career years from Romo, Spiller, and Cobb to compete at a high level in 2014.
Players I Covet: Beast Mode, Romo, Cooks, and Cobb do it for me. Mostly Lynch and Cobb — these two are my kind of football players: versatile, smart, and gritty. I think Bortles has a shot to evolve into this kind of NFL player, but it’s a risk. Everyone likes to say Jacksonville is heading in the right direction and it looks that way, but will Bortles survive the growth period mentally/emtionally and will one of the rookie receivers evolve with him? Seems like the Jaguars hope they can build with a youth movement all at once. Difficult work ahead.
I like McDowell’s picks, but he’s been on the wrong side of the law with Blackmon and Gordon. Those two players are the difference between McDowell offering strong competition in the playoffs and picking in the first half of the rookie draft. If Hakeem Nicks and Stevan Ridley rebound, McDowell has a shot to advance deep into the playoff bracket.
McDowell traded back in this draft and made two smart “futures” picks with Jordan Matthews and Tre Mason. Both could have good rookie years if called upon, but I’m thinking next year is when expectations will see fulfillment. I’m not a Hill man, but the situation is good enough and McDowell’s ownership of Bernard makes this a logical addition.
I also like the late pick of A.C. Leonard. Good risk-reward even with Kyle Rudolph as the starter. If Gordon can turn it around next year, McDowell could have one of those “swan song” contract years, but it’s most likely that he’s building to be competitive 2-3 years from now.
Players I Covet: Luck, Bernard, Lee, Nicks and Gordon. Bernard was so close to earning my top spot over Lacy as the best rookie runner in 2013’s draft class. I don’t know whether it’s based on his skills or that I’m not fond of the Bengals’ drafting Jeremy Hill, but I have this lingering image of Bernard closing the door on Hill’s future in Cincinnati this year.
The Reggie Wayne Miraculous Return From Injury Tour is in full swing at Colts camp. I hope it’s true; I picked him up in a dynasty league last fall. Until Wayne makes me look like Doubting Thomas exposed, I’m leaning on a Hakeem Nicks rebound.
Honestly, I just wish both of then would rebound at the same time, alternate Hilton and Wayne inside outside, and use Dwayne Allen all over the formation. Fun times ahead with those day dreams.
Speaking of dreamers, Josh Gordon is worth hanging onto. When teammates past and present go public to support a player and say that he needs help, it means Gordon is a at his core a good guy who is struggling. I’ll risk a year of nothing for his incredible talent that jumped off the page since he arrived Baylor.
I think Rivers made the most of his draft with his acquisition of Alfred Morris via trade, Johnny Manziel, and following up with Paul Richardson. As most of you know, I highly covet Richardson and tried to negotiate a deal, but McCown was only interested if Bears RB Ka’Deem Carey fell to me later in the second round. Matt Deustch snapped up Carey the pick before mine and the deal fell through.
I expect Martin to rebound, Morris to thrive, and Andre Johnson to keep on keeping on. But Cam Newton and Justin Hunter are wildcards who could elevate this team to a serious contender or ground him.
Long-term, keep an eye on McKinnon and Campanaro. I actually feel a little sorry for McKinnon because if he gets to start he’ll have to follow one of the all-time greats, which is very hard to do. Campanaro looks like a potential high-producer from the slot, but it’s hard to say that Joe Flacco and the Ravens are a great fit. Good players, tough fits.
Josh Huff has the opposite issue. He’s a good fit in Philadelphia, but I think he’s an inconsistent talent. I think he’s a contributor capable of good moments, but not a long-term starter.
Players I Covet: Richardson is my No.6 rookie, but he wasn’t far from being top-three overall. Yes, that’s the depths of my admiration for his game. I don’t think Doug Martin’s rookie year was a mirage.
I am concerned about Cam Newton. This season will be his greatest test because of the loss of Steve Smith’s skills and veteran leadership. Jerricho Cotchery and Greg Olsen are good players, but not options that will put the passing game on their backs. How well that Newton can make plays without a true primary receiver — and yes, it means I don’t believe Kelvin Benjamin is a true primary option at this point — may determine just how great he can be.
If Newton and Benjamin can do good work on the perimeter and in the red zone, and Olsen and Cotchery can cover the rest of the field with smart play calling and adjustments that involve the ground game and running backs as receivers, the Carolina quarterback will deserve a lot of credit. I think it’s possible and I’m rooting for Newton, but I’m not counting on it in fantasy leagues.
Papson inherited a team that an owner gave up early last year when the auction draft schedule didn’t work out for him. It left Papson with a massive rebuild project. There’s a nucleus of excellent talent when it comes to pass catchers — few owners can match combined skills of Brown, Crabtree, Harvin, and Rudolph. If Papson can earn quality play from Sankey this year and/or Christine Michael sees the field as a starter down the stretch, Papson might just good enough to make the playoffs if he can upgrade his quarterback during free agency or get quality starter at RB.
I’m lukewarm on Papson’s draft. I get Sankey — even if I don’t love his long-term upside, there’s a good chance Sankey earns 1100-1200 yards this year. Difficult to pass up with this receiving corps and no starters for the ground game. I’m not sold on De’Anthony Thomas or Dri Archer. I admired their all-around skill at the college level, but gadget players in the NFL better be great for their size as a receiver or interior route runner or they can get lost in the shuffle as gadget options that become too predictable and stoppable in an offense.
I am curious about Lorenzo Taliaferro. The physical dimensions and style of the Coastal Carolina remind me of Rashad Jennings. At this point he’s fourth on the Ravens depth chart — a group of runners that I’d put in the middle of the pack among the league depth charts.
Garoppolo’s issues versus pressure make it hard for me to believe in his development. I traded Alex Smith to Papson for a third round pick, which turned out to be Charles Sims. As maligned as Smith’s fantasy value is, it may be a few years before Sims earns a chance to make my deal worthwhile.
Maybe my favorite pick is Colt Lyerla. It’s a late pick and a nice low-risk investment for a talented player who might have done enough this summer to stick around this season even if he doesn’t contribute. By 2015, he might build on his talent enough to make a contribution.
Players I Covet: Brown, Harvin, and Michael easily top my list here. I think Harvin is poised for a top-15 season. Although not as rugged, Brown is a similar style of player to Harvin and both have a quarterbacks that are among the best in the league at buying time. Michael is exciting. I’m not sure I’d take a deal for him if he were dangled before me, because I think the asking price based on the hype without a season’s worth of proof is too much. Still, when I see Michael run I see flashes of Ahman Green at this best.
Does Wood personally know Les Miles? He drafted three LSU prospects and four SEC guys with his five picks. I like Beckham and Landry and I think Landry makes an impact this year. Beckham might need another year if he’s not healed and in shape by mid season — yeah, I have a feeling this hamstring issue will derail Beckham’s fantasy value. He’ll be up and down all year unless Reuben Randle or Victor Cruz get hurt.
Alfred Blue and Jalen Saunders are surprising picks to me. I think Wood is taking a chance on Blue as the guy to replace Andre Brown after Brown replaces Arian Foster and breaks something after 2-3 teams. We’ll call Wood’s choice the Samkon Gaddo selection of the draft. Blue is a downhill back with some power, but nothing special athletically or conceptually to his game.
Saunders? Talented option, but in my opinion played too small too often on targets that will require him to play big in the NFL. I’m thinking this was Wood’s overture to Jets’ fan Chase Stuart for some past transgression.
Overall, Wood’s team is in great fundamental shape for a skilled manager to turn it into a winner. Wood had trade bait/depth with three RB1-quality backs and two QB1-caliber passers. If he can build a receiving corps at our auction or a key trade, he’ll be tough to beat.
Players I Covet:How do you not want Adrian Peterson or Eddie Lacy on your team? I’ll take Peterson every year until there’s visual proof that he has lost it. Lacy supposedly looks better than ever. Sam Gash compared him to the likes of Curtis Martin. I stood next to Gash along the sidelines of the Senior Bowl practices and listened to him tell Ernest Byner that he thought Demarco Murray was a thoroughbred. Few major draftniks in the media that I knew had anything positive to say about Murray’s practices that week.
Remember, If you want to create your own RSO league, use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount and check out the auction room in action. Stay Tuned for Part II in the coming days.