Reality Sports Writers’ League Rookie Draft


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Today’s post shares our recent rookie draft. The rookie draft takes place at the same time as the free agent auction in RSO Leagues, but due to the schedules of these writers, we’ve held an email draft for the rookies. My thoughts about each teams’ selections:

1.01 Matt Harmon,


  • 1.01 –  WR Amari Cooper, Raiders:
  • 2.01 – QB Marcus Mariota, Titans
  • 3.01 – WR Tre McBride, Titans
  • 4.01 – WR Devante Davis Eagles
  • 5.01 – RB Malcolm Brown, Rams

I anticipated that Harmon would take a receiver in the first round and he didn’t disappoint with the selection of Cooper. It makes his depth chart with A.J. Green, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton formidable and deep with big-play options. The McBride and Davis selections are classic, developmental picks with high-upside. And I like the Malcolm Brown pick, which has the potential to be the next C.J. Anderson-like, late-round find.

Franchising Eli Manning was a smart move, which gives him a chance to see if Marcus Mariota shows any promise. I think “Peaches” team could really make a quick turnaround this year. Evan Silva had to leave this team just as he set the stage for its success. It will depend a lot on Joseph Randle and C.J. Anderson. Harmon executed a logical draft even if his selections of McBride and Davis seem like long shots on paper.

Best Pick: Amari Cooper – He could be an 85-catch player this year.

Most Intriguing Pick: Tre McBride – Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham aren’t making great impressions at the top of training camp and Hakeem Nicks is creaky. McBride has the skills to turn heads early and develop later.

Least Favorite Pick: Marcus Mariota – I prefer paying the premium for proven quarterbacks and spending my draft picks on other positions.

1.02 Matt Papson, Reality Sports Online

Gurley Vandy Cassie IV

  • 1.02 – RB Todd Gurley, Rams
  • 2.02 – WR Devin Funchess, Panthers
  • 3.02 – RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers
  • 3.13 – TE Clive Walford, Raiders (Via trade with Mike MacGregor)*
  • 4.02 – WR Ty Montgomery, Packers
  • 4.13 – WR Vince Mayle, Browns
  • 5.02 – TE A.J. Derby, Patriots

*Trade: MacGregor gives 3.13, 4.13 to Papson for Jimmy Garoppolo.

*Post-Rookie Draft Trade: Papson traded Devin Funchess, Anquan Boldin, and Christine Michael to Rivers McCown for Jeremy Maclin.

*Post-Rookie Draft Trade: Papson traded Vernon Davis to Matt Harmon for Markus Wheaton.

Papson loves to wheel and deal in this league. He’s the most active trader of the bunch and it’s not surprising since, A) He developed this game and B) He probably developed this game because he enjoyed the work centered around trades in the NFL. Papson’s running backs need a ton of help and I think he’s finally taking a step in the right direction with the choices of Gurley and Artis-Payne. Gurley should become a RB1 by 2016 and Artis-Payne could offer temporary success if (and many believe “when”) Jonathan Stewart gets hurt.  Papson veered away from his past tendency of taking gadget guys like Dri Archer and De’Anthony Thomas and stuck to the template of runners with feature back size.

The addition of Devin Funchess gives Papson at least three starters on his receiving corps despite the fact that Percy Harvin is struggling to learn routes and Markus Wheaton is, at best, the third option on his own team. Ty Mongtomery could be a value for the Packers long-term, but it might not happen until Papson’s contract has expired. The same is true of Derby at tight end. I’ve never been a fan of Mayle and he’ll likely get leapfrogged by Taylor Gabriel and Terrelle Pryor before his first training camp ends.

My favorite selection after Gurley might be Clive Walford. It isn’t because I love Walford’s talent, although he should develop into a valuable contributor in Oakland. I like the confidence Papson had to trade for a player he believed in and Walford has the potential.

Expect Papson to target a quarterback and tight end as top priorities for his free agent auction this week.

Davis seem like long shots on paper.

Best Pick: Todd Gurley – Eddie George and Adrian Peterson got kidnapped by Young Frankenstein…

Most Intriguing Pick: Devin Funchess – He might not be the most well-rounded talent, but he could find an instant and productive fit with the Panthers.

Least Favorite Pick: Vince Mayle – I’m not confident in his speed, his savvy, or his ability to find a spot on the Browns roster.

1.03 – Ryan McDowell, Dynasty League Football

Photo by Steve Schar.
Photo by Steve Schar.
  • 1.03 – RB Melvin Gordon, Chargers
  • 2.03 – WR Jaelen Strong, Texans
  • 3.03-  RB Matt Jones, Washington
  • 4.03 – WR Stefon Diggs, Vikings
  • 5.03 – QB Sean Mannion, Rams

McDowell is a dynasty pro and the Gordon-Strong-Jones duo are solid picks with upside. I’d be surprised if any of them beyond Gordon pay dividends at a high level this year–and Gordon could be capped by Danny Woodhead’s return from injury–but they each enter a situation where they should earn an opportunity to shine within a season or two. I expected McDowell to take Gordon if the runner fell and I think it means Strong was McDowell’s consolation prize for not targeting a first-round receiver. I like it.

With Jordan Reed and Ladarius Green McDowell’s tight ends, expect him to be actively looking for a better starter in the free agent auction. I was a little surprised he took Mannion over a tight end like Blake Bell. Mannion has the prototypical size and arm, but he’s a project. Then again, so was Nick Foles. If you’re going to gamble on a passer, might as well do it late.

My favorite pick of his after Gordon was Stefon Diggs. There’s something about the way Diggs plays that leads me to think he could have a better NFL career than he did as a collegian. It might not happen for Diggs in Minnesota, but I can see how he becomes a productive second contract player through free agency.

Best Pick: Melvin Gordon – It took Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy a year to get it together, Gordon might need that time, but I’m confident he can develop into a top-25 fantasy RB.

Most Intriguing Pick: Matt Jones – I see why Washington likes his potential. If Jones develops, he could offer as much as Alfred Morris did for fantasy owners.

Least Favorite Pick: Sean Mannion – He got away with mistakes in college football that he won’t get away with in the NFL

1.04 Jim Day, Fantasy Taz

Photo by Kathy Vitulano
Photo by Kathy Vitulano
  • 1.04 – QB Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
  • 2.04 – WR Phillip Dorsett, Colts
  • 3.04 – RB Jeremy Langford, Bears
  • 4.04 – WR/TE Darren Waller, Ravens
  • 5.04 – WR Chris Harper, Patriots

I did not expect Day to take a quarterback in this draft with Russell Wilson in the fold, but I understand how E.J. Manuel, and Brock Osweiler don’t inspire confidence at this point. Day’s RB cupboard is so bare (Terrance West and Zac Stacy would be his starters at this point) that he’ll be pursuing runners hot and heavy in this auction.

I think Ameer Abdullah is the second-most talented runner in this draft, so watching Gordon and Winston go before him wasn’t necessarily puzzling, but I would have considered trading the fourth pick and moving back if possible. Winston will prove productive, I just don’t know if quarterbacks will this appealing to trade in this format because of the expense of the contract. Winston will need to start off like Andrew Luck or better to garner that appeal.

Dorsett is a nice gamble on big-play ability and the same can really be said about the rest of Day’s picks: small speedsters or big targets at receiver. Langford runs fast, but I wonder if he offers more than depth for an NFL team.

Best Pick: Jameis Winston – He has 30-touchdown upside and I think the offense is headed in the right direction with its personnel.

Most Intriguing Pick: Darren Waller – He has the athleticism and hands to become a matchup problem for defenders. He needs time learn how to run routes.

Least Favorite Pick: Jeremy Langford – I think Langford is a career reserve with limited upside for fantasy owners

1.05 – Matt Deutsch, Sirius XM

Nebraska runner Ameer Abdullah's 43-yard touchdown vs. Illinois offers a sound example of the difficulties of judging speed without a stopwatch, but why it's still as important as the 40-time. Photo by MGoBlog.
Nebraska runner Ameer Abdullah’s 43-yard touchdown vs. Illinois offers a sound example of the difficulties of judging speed without a stopwatch, but why it’s still as important as the 40-time. Photo by MGoBlog.
  • 1.05 – RB Ameer Abdullah, Lions
  • 2.05 – RB David Johnson, Cardinals
  • 3.05 – RB Zach Zenner, Lions
  • 4.05 – WR Adrian Coxson, Packers
  • 5.05 – TE Nick O’Leary, Bills

I love the Abdullah pick, it’s both a need and a talent-based selection for a roster only sporting DeMarco Murray as a starting-caliber back. I also like the choice of Johnson in the second, because I don’t anyone in the media believes that Bruce Arians is in love with having Andre Ellington as his starter. Look for the Johnson hype train to be at full speed by this time next year. Opting for Zenner is a ice mid-round risk considering that Joique Bell is getting older and his injury rehab this summer is slow. Deutsch could wind up with a nice 1-2 punch in a few years.

The last two picks are fascinating. I love the Coxson selection although he may have less of a chance to stick with the Packers than O’Leary does with the Bills. I’m not convinced O’Leary has the athleticism or team to become a productive fantasy option, but he has enough versatility to make the team. I’m always looking for high upside picks later in my drafts, Coxson’s T.O.-like frame and, according to Qadry Ismail, game fits it perfectly.

Best Pick: Ameer Abdullah – Think of a more versatile Jahvid Best with less long speed, but more power.

Most Intriguing Pick: Adrian Coxson – Charles Johnson didn’t stick in Green Bay or Cleveland. Now look at him.

Least Favorite Pick: Nick O’Leary – No upside that I can see for this pick

1.06 Russell Clay, Dynasty League Football

Kevin White

  • 1.06 – WR Kevin White, Bears
  • 2.06 – RB Jay Ajayi, Dolphins
  • 3.06 – WR Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
  • 4.06 – RB Trey Williams, Washington
  • 5.06 – Pass

Clayt alternated picks at runner and receiver and he landed four players with high upside. It may not be the best draft by a team, but it every player has the type of talent to develop into a productive option in fantasy football. A healthy White can shine right away, dammed the John Fox naysayers.

Ajayi has to mature between the tackles. Even so, he’s closer to a finished product than Bishop Sankey remotely was. I like the risk-reward here. Tyler Lockett is earning good review just like the past two rookie receivers the Seahawks took and didn’t translate that sunshine into production immediately. I’m wary of an immediate impact, but I do like Lockett’s big play ability.

Williams is a fun high-upside pick with a better chance to stick with Washington than Lache Seastrunk. It’s possible Williams could find another home and stick with the team if it doesn’t work out for him this summer. Although third-team reps don’t sound impressive, the UDFA is getting these early in Week 2. Many UDFAs don’t progress to that level.

Best Pick: Kevin White – He could become a better fantasy option than Alshon Jeffery by 2017.

Most Intriguing Pick: Trey Williams – His elusiveness, vision, and burst are good enough to become a viable fantasy threat, even in a committee.

Least Favorite Pick: The early fifth-round pick Russell passed on using. Then again, he’s trying to save money and his team has a fair bit tied up in contracts.

1.07 – Jeff Tefertiller,

Photo by U.S. Army Recruiting.
Photo by U.S. Army Recruiting.
  • 1.07 – RB T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
  • 2.07 – RB David Cobb, Titans
  • 3.07 – Traded to Mike MacGregor
  • 4.07 – Traded to Mike MacGregor
  • 5.07 – Traded to Mike MacGregor

*Terfertiller traded 3.07, 4.07 and 5.07 to MacGregor for a 2016 3rd round pick.

These are two reliable runners. Yeldon has the true upside to become a top-15 back. Cobb will need a great team around him to reach the same heights. I expected a RB-heavy draft from Tefertiller and it turned out to be true. I’m surprised he didn’t keep Justin Forsett. RB battles in the free agent auction will be fierce this year.

1.08 Jason Wood,

Photo by James Santelli.
Photo by James Santelli.
  • 1.08 – WR Nelson Agholor, Eagles
  • 2.08 – RB Buck Allen, Ravens
  • 3.08 – TE MyCole Pruitt, Vikings
  • 4.08 – QB Bryce Petty, Jets
  • 5.08 – Pass

Agholor is a potential steal here, although it speaks more to the depth of this draft than anyone truly allowing Agholor to slip past them. Wood did not franchise Peterson, which leaves him with Eddie Lacy as his only true starter. Look for Wood to seek Justin Forsett in free agency to pair with Allen.  Not that he’ll break the bank to take the Ravens starter if the price isn’t right–it’s not the conservative-minded Wood’s style to get too aggressive.

Best Pick: Nelson Agholor – He’s a combo of Jeremy Macline and Desean Jackson. He could approach 70 catches this year.

Most Intriguing Pick: MyCole Pruitt – An athletic H-Back who is already seeing reps at various positions with the first team prior to training camp.

Least Favorite Pick: Buck Allen – I actually think QB Bryce Petty has more upside than Allen 

1.09 – Rivers McCown, Three-Cone Drill Podcast

DeVante Parker can get vertical, but he has to learn to sell the vertical to win the shorter routes. Photo by Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office.
DeVante Parker can get vertical, but he has to learn to sell the vertical to win the shorter routes. Photo by Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office.
  • 1.09 – WR DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  • 2.09 – WR Devin Smith, Jets
  • 2.13 – RB Mike Davis, 49ers
  • 3.09 – RB Karlos Williams, Bills
  • 4.09 – TE Tyler Kroft, Bengals
  • 5.07 – Traded to Mike MacGregor
  • 5.09 –  WR Bud Sasser, Free Agent

I like this draft more than most. Parker, Smith, Davis, Williams and Kroft all have talent to develop into contributors with fantasy relevance–and I’m talking future starter relevance. What’s odd is all of them have a high boom-bust factor. Parker is a great physical talent, but his mental approach to the game is a question mark because he relies so much on his speed and height.

Ohio State’s staff grumbled about Smith being stubborn about learning to become effective at more than running go routes. Now he’s forced to learn all the receiver spots and he’ll be out for a while with a collapsed lung and broken rips. The Jets will need to solidify its quarterback play or it will be difficult for any receiver to produce, much less develop.

Williams can catch and he’s a fine special teams option. He should bump someone off the Bills depth chart for a final spot. If he can develop better vision between the tackles, Williams has star caliber speed and strength.

Best Pick: DeVante Parker – Great athlete in a good passing system paired with a quarterback on the rise.

Most Intriguing Pick: Mike Davis – He had scouts split in a love-hate stand-off. I love prevails, Davis could be a top-15 fantasy RB.

Least Favorite Pick: Bud Sasser – I didn’t even understand this choice before the Rams cut him.

1.10 Steve Volk, Discover 

Photo by Troy Figgins.
Photo by Troy Figgins.
  • 1.10 – WR Breshad Perriman, Ravens
  • 2.10 – RB Josh Robinson, Colts
  • 3.10 – WR DeAndre Smelter, 49ers
  • 4.10 – TE Jesse James, Steelers
  • 5.10 – Pass

Volk picked a quartet of intriguing players, two great athletes with obstacles to overcome and two intriguing skill options with more savvy than physical upside. Perriman and Smelter could develop into primary options by 2017. Smelter has the better hands of the two, but if Perriman ever figures out how to use his speed and refine his game, the Ravens could hit big. I actually think Torrey Smith was a better prospect than Perriman.

I was surprised Volk went with Robinson this early when Mike Davis was still on the board. Then again, Robinson is a fan favorite for his high effort and drafting a share of the Colts offense after Frank Gore may prove wise.

James isn’t speedy or elusive, but he’s powerful and fluid. He understands how to set up defenses with his routes and he makes tough plays in the ball. Who better to learn from than Heath Miller? Volk, a Steelers fan, is excited about James.

Best Pick: Breshad Perriman – Not in love with this pick, but I see the development path that could make Perriman’s future bright.

Most Intriguing Pick: DeAndre Smelter – There’s some Brandon Marshall-like qualities to Smelter and he could earn a shot to take over for Anquan Boldin next year. .

Least Favorite Pick: Jesse James – I don’t see the upside in this offense for James. Even so, I don’t hate the pick.

1.11 Matt Waldman, Rookie Scouting Portfolio/

Duke Johnson by Erik Drost
Duke Johnson by Erik Drost
  • 1.11 – RB Duke Johnson, Browns
  • 2.11 – WR Chris Conley, Chiefs
  • 3.11 – WR Justin Hardy, Falcons
  • 3.12 – RB Michael Dyer, Raiders (Via trade with Sigmund Bloom)*
  • 4.11 – Traded to Sigmund Bloom
  • 5.11 – TE Blake Bell, 49ers

*Trade I traded 4.11 and my 2016 4th and 5th next year for Bloom’s 3.12

There was no way I was getting Abdullah, but I was pleasantly surprised to land Johnson here. If the Browns can get the QB situation figured out, the line might stay cohesive enough for Johnson to start for a good Browns offense by 2017. I’m not holding my breath.

Conley was a reach based on value, but I didn’t think he’d get back to me in the third round. I like the big-play ability, the smarts, and the potential for him to contribute sooner than later.

I took Dyer based on his talent and the praise coming from Raiders camp. It didn’t hurt that I doubt Trent Richardson ever emerges from his career tailspin.

Bell is a high-upside player based on his athleticism and early performances at a position that he’s new at. It helps that Vernon Davis’ career isn’t going to last much longer in San Francisco.

Best Pick: Duke Johnson – Giovani Bernards’s fantasy floor with Clinton Portis’ fantasy upside.

Most Intriguing Pick: Michael Dyer – I’m not sold on Latavius Murray. Dyer could win the battle of attrition in Oakland and assume the mantle of prospect hype he once garnered at Auburn. I traded for Dyer, knowing that he probably wouldn’t make it to me in the late fourth.

Least Favorite Pick: Justin Hardy – I’m not a fan, but I thought about the possibility of him becoming a plus-version of Harry Douglas and maybe succeeding Roddy White one day. I’ll give it a spin, but I’m not optimistic because Hardy strikes me as an overrated player that analysts fell in love with for the wrong reasons.

1.12 Sigmund Bloom,

Dorial Green-Beckham might repeat history that's nearly two decades old.  Photo by Army Recruiting
Dorial Green-Beckham might repeat history that’s nearly two decades old. Photo by Army Recruiting
  • 1.12 – WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans
  • 2.12 – WR Sammie Coates, Steelers
  • 3.12 – Traded to Matt Waldman
  • 4.11 – WR DeAndre Carter, Ravens
  • 4.12 – WR Titus Davis, Chargers
  • 5.12 – Pass

I loved the Dorial Green-Beckham pick when Bloom made it. I’m not sure if I feel as strongly when the rookie reported to training camp 15 pounds overweight. Then again, resting a hamstring can do that to you if you’re young and not careful about your weight. The good thing about being 22 years-old is that 15 pounds doesn’t take long to lose and this is part of the maturing process of some rookies. I just don’t like that Green-Beckham already has one too many strikes on his resume to take anything lightly.

Coates is another high-upside pick who could eventually replace one of the Steelers’ starters during the swan song phase of Ben Roethilsberger’s career. My bet is on Wheaton being the odd-man out.

Bloom is counting on Carter becoming a Steve Smith protege and Davis is a player that Bloom takes in nearly every rookie draft that we’ve been a part of. Davis’ route skills and reliable hands are his calling cards.

Best Pick: Dorial Green-Beckham – His upside is in the realm of Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens.

Most Intriguing Pick: DeAndre Carter – the fact that Steve Smith actually talks about this guy in a positive light makes him worth monitoring.

Least Favorite Pick: Sammie Coates – I have doubts that Coates will do enough within the next 2-3 years to merit a franchise tag that it will cost to keep him.

1.13 Mike MacGregor, Draft Buddy/FF

Tevin Coleman's press and cut principles on display in space today. Photo by MGoBlog.
Tevin Coleman’s press and cut principles on display in space today. Photo by MGoBlog.
  • 1.13 –  RB Tevin Coleman, Falcons
  • 2.13 – Traded to Rivers McCown
  • 3.07 – WR Rashad Greene, Jaguars (Via trade with Rivers McCown)
  • 3.13 – Traded to Matt Papson
  • 4.07 – QB Brett Hundley, Packers (Via Trade with Rivers McCown)
  • 4.13 – Traded to Matt Papson
  • 5.07 – WR Jamison Crowder, Washington (Via trade with Rivers McCown)
  • 5.13 – Pass

I have doubts that any of these players will deliver on their promise, but I still like this draft. Mike made astute picks at a position in the draft where he was unlikely to get a lot out of the process. Tevin Coleman offers classic boom-bust potential. If he hits, he’ll hit big.

Rashad Greene offers sneaky upside as an outside option at some point, but it will require Marqise Lee to bust. He’ll make a solid bye-week option until his rookie contract expires.

Hundley is probably not a good pick for this format. It might take him a couple of years to even earn a backup role and it might not happen in Green Bay with Mike McCarthy loving Matt Blanchard. By the time Hundley looks like a potential fantasy option, Mike will have needed to drop him and acquire him cheaply in a free agent auction, or pay top-10 money at the position to franchise.

I like Crowder here. His tape shows the promise of a guy who seems “this close” to transcending a future as a slot option. I don’t think it happens, but I like the late investment to give that upside a shot to succeed.

Best Pick: Tevin Coleman –  Mike has depth to take the risk.

Most Intriguing Pick: Rashad Greene – At worst, Greene offers PPR patchwork depth to a decent receiving corps.

Least Favorite Pick: Brett Hundley – I like the potential long-term, but this league doesn’t reward long-term builds of Hundley’s likely requirement.

1.14 Bob Harris, Football

Do not adjust your monitors, the RSP Film Room is featuring a tight end. Photo by GoMBlog.
Do not adjust your monitors, the RSP Film Room is featuring a tight end. Photo by GoMBlog.
  • 1.14 – TE Maxx Williams, Ravens
  • 2.14 – WR Kenny Bell, Buccaneers
  • 3.14 – RB Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
  • 4.14 – QB Garrett Grayson, Saints
  • 5.14 – Pass

The champ of this league is collecting tight ends like they are neckties. Williams is the fourth tight end he’s drafted in a rookie draft in three years. Unfortunately for Harris, Jason Witten has held off Escobar, Dennis Pitta’s hips are worse than an old golden retriever, Dion Sims is looking more like a career No.2, and Richard Rodgers is in a stacked offense that may not use him as anything more than a fourth option.

I new that I was going against my own advice by taking Chris Conley over Kenny Bell, but I decided that Conley had a better chance of having an impact within the next three years as a No.2 in a mediocre passing offense than Bell as the possible No.3 in an offense hoping to become mediocre. I can’t say I feel good about that decision, but I’m sure Harris will be happy with Bell.

Rawls is a high-upside option because of his opportunity in Seattle. Anywhere else, and I’d classify Rawls as a less-talented Travis Henry. Still, not bad for the late third in this deep rookie draft.

Best Pick: Maxx Williams –  He’ll catch on by 2016 and offer the Ravens, and Harris, solid production as the starter.

Most Intriguing Pick: Thomas Rawls – He’s the type of talent who could bounce to another team and contribute.

Least Favorite Pick: Garrett Grayson – I don’t believe the hype that Grayson is an underrated prospect. He’s a career-backup with a limited arm that might not develop more and real issues throwing into the middle of the field.

Stay tuned next week for the results of the free agent auction. Remember start your own RSO league and use promo code RSP10 for 10 percent off.

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