Pink Zone Coverage: How Will Rookies Affect The 2013-14 NFL Season?
We take a closer look at some rookies that were drafted and how that affects the value of veteran players on the team. We’ll also examine any Fantasy-relevant news that affects teams as OTAs start.
San Francisco 49ers
In the draft, the 49ers picked tight end Vance McDonald, running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receivers A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton. McDonald will be behind Vernon Davis on the depth chart and will play the role that Delanie Walker played last year. McDonald doesn’t appear to challenge Davis for the starting role. He’s more of a blocking tight end as the criticism is that his hands aren’t as good as a top pass-catching tight end. As for Lattimore, it is likely that he won’t play in 2013 as he heals from the gruesome knee injury he suffered last season. The biggest news for the 49ers is the injury to Michael Crabtree in practice. He tore his Achilles’ tendon and underwent surgery already. The timetable on the injury is at least six months, so don’t look for Crabtree to make much of an impact, if any, this year. His injury boosts Anquan Boldin’s value and makes the rookie WRs slightly more intriguing. Colin Kaepernick’s value takes a hit and it does help Frank Gore and the running game a bit as well. With Mario Manningham coming off ACL surgery as well, the wide receiver corps needs some work. Both rookies were not expected to make much of an impact, but one of them will likely see plenty of playing time. Look at Jenkins over Patton as a late-round pick.
With the addition of rookie DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Johnson gains Fantasy value. Photo Credit: AJ Guel Photography
One of the top RB picks, Christine Michael, went to Seattle in the draft this year. This says more about Robert Turbin than Marshawn Lynch. Don’t downgrade Lynch at all based on this move. Rather, it is possible that the Seahawks weren’t thrilled with Lynch’s backup and wanted a stronger reliever for Lynch. Michael is arguably a better runner than Turbin, although it will see if that translates to the NFL. Turbin did look good last year, and the job is his to lose for now. Chris Harper was also drafted as a wide receiver that will sit on the depth chart behind Golden Tate. Tate is already the No. 3 receiver behind Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, so don’t look for Harper to make a Fantasy impact this season.
Behind Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen on the depth chart is now Jordan Reed, the tight end the Redskins drafted in the third round. Davis tore his Achilles’ in Week 7 of last season and has been recovering since. He may begin the season on the PUP list, but he will eventually play. With 325 receiving yards in just seven games, he was on pace to exceed his 2011 numbers. The Redskins are still sticking with him, giving him another chance to prove that he can stay healthy and not get suspended. Reed is likely someone that will make a difference in two years or so. Remember the name in standard leagues, and dynasty leagues may want to take a chance on him in a late round.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have come out and said that the tight end they drafted, Travis Kelce, will be competing for the starting job. Whether that says something about Kelce or about the poor tight ends on the roster is the question. Tony Moeaki hasn’t been able to stay healthy and will likely be playing his last season for Kansas City. The Chiefs would rather see what they have in Kelce as they know what they have in Moeaki. The only other tight end is newly acquired Anthony Fasano. Fasano was known for his blocking ability and his red zone receptions. If Kelce can prove that he can block as well as Fasano, the job just might be his. If you were thinking of drafting Fasano as your tight end (for some reason), rethink that. Watch to see how Kelce develops and he might be an option for teams that use two tight ends.
New England Patriots
When the Patriots decided to cut all of their receivers, they realized they needed to fill that spot in the draft. They selected Aaron Dobson in the second round. Dobson will likely be the starting “X” receiver in the Patriots offense. He’s fast and if he can win Tom Brady’s trust, he’ll succeed as a receiver. The Patriots throw the ball often, so there are receptions to go around. With the health of their tight ends in question, someone will need to catch the ball. Danny Amendola will be the top guy, but with double coverage or an injury, the field needs to be open for someone else. Dynasty leagues certainly want to draft Dobson, but standard leagues might be considering him as well. He doesn’t hurt Amendola’s value, but he does have value himself.
He doesn’t pose a threat to Andre Johnson, rather, the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins actually helps Johnson. There is no other strong receiver on Houston’s roster, so they needed someone to help Matt Schaub and Johnson. Hopkins has been practicing opposite Johnson and it is likely that’s where he’ll end up playing. Hopkins may end up with some Fantasy value this year, but Houston’s offense revolves around Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, so anyone else isn’t likely to put up a lot of points. Hopkins may end up hurting the value of Owen Daniels more than anyone else.
The running quarterback from the University of Michigan, Denard Robinson, entered the draft as a running back. The Jaguars took him and he may end up being an intriguing Fantasy play. He’ll line up in the wildcat. He may line up in the slot, and he’ll be a change-of-pace running back behind Maurice Jones-Drew. Dynasty leagues should keep an eye on him, but depending on what kind of eligibility he has, standard leagues may want to consider him as well. Watch to see what kind of role Robinson ends up playing as OTAs continue.
While the impact of tight end Nick Kasa may not be much for current Oakland players, it may not be much for Fantasy owners. Kasa will likely be the starting tight end, but that’s because there isn’t much other talent on the roster. With Matt Flynn as the quarterback, the entire receiving corps is downgraded. The addition of Tyler Wilson may not help for this year. The Raiders as a whole are going to be lacking in Fantasy value this year outside of Darren McFadden (for the five games he plays in before he’s injured).
Photo via AJ Guel Photography