The odds of correctly predicting all 32 picks in the first round of the NFL draft are longer than those of winning the lottery on back-to-back days. For the record, the odds of winning the Powerball are around 1 in 175,000,000 and that’s just once! Don’t go heading to your local gas station trying to test my theory because it just isn’t happening. You may think you know exactly what is going to happen on May 8, but let me let you in a little secret: you don’t. While I like gambling as much as the next guy, I don’t claim for a second to be an ultra-prodigy. All I have is my own intuition guiding my belief of what will eventually prove true.
Though the odds are way against it, correctly predicting the landing spots of all the top Fantasy talent is the goal of this article. To the delight of the average NFL fan, many inept offenses sit at the top of the draft, waiting patiently for the time they find themselves on the clock. The bottom three offenses in terms of points per game all pick in the top seven (Jacksonville, Houston and Tampa Bay). Therefore, the odds of offensive difference makers being taken early in the draft are relatively high. Drastic changes are coming in the NFL, led by Houston, which owns the number one overall pick.
Strap in your seat belt because here comes speculation mania as to where the top Fantasy talents at each skill position may land when all the draft smoke clears. Defensive players are excluded in this article, as it is focused on the upcoming decisions dynasty league owners will face in their rookie drafts. It may surprise you to hear, but leading the quarterbacks section is the player I believe may be the most Fantasy relevant from this whole class.
Players are listed in descending order according to predicted Fantasy value for the 2014 season. The player at the top of the list for his position is expected to be the best Fantasy producer. Here are the top three at each position:
Johnny Manziel – Jacksonville Jaguars, third overall selection – That’s right, the controversial ex-Texas A&M QB could be the guy to own in this draft class. While his game doesn’t resemble Cam Newton’s, his numbers may. At the combine, Manziel’s 4.56 40-yard dash was unsurprisingly the fastest of any QB in the class. He doesn’t have the world’s greatest arm but his legs will make up for a lot. Newton and Terrelle Pryor don’t exactly possess incredibly accurate arms, yet they succeeded in the Fantasy realm in 2013 because rushing yards can turn an average QB into an above average one. Now, if Manziel happens to score a TD in a given week, you have well above average QB Fantasy production. He may not make it look pretty, but I think Manziel can be a consistent Fantasy producer at the pro level as long as he can hang onto the job. Considering the Jaguars QB situation, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Blake Bortles – Houston Texans, first overall selection – To be fair, Bortles is the most classically talented signal caller in the class. Bortles possesses the size (6’5, 232 lbs.), big arm and model-quality girlfriend of your average elite NFL QB (okay so maybe his girlfriend is even better). His ceiling is higher than Manziel’s but his floor is also much higher. Manziel’s arm inconsistency may quickly wear thin on a coaching staff. When the Houston Texans select Bortles number one overall, they will give him all the time he needs to develop into their franchise QB. Andrew Luck’s rookie season is probably his upside in year one with Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal.
Teddy Bridgewater – Oakland Raiders, fifth overall selection – The hype train came to a crashing halt after Bridgewater’s disappointing pro day. Who better to take the shot on a disappointing player than the Oakland Raiders? Probably the best attribute Bridgewater will bring to the NFL is his ability to throw accurately on the run.
Tre Mason – Atlanta Falcons, 37th overall selection – Although it seems like Steven Jackson has been around forever, he’s not going to last forever. Jackson is nearing the end of a long, productive career and the Falcons should start looking for a replacement. Mason was nothing short of a human bowling ball last season at Auburn. Easily leading the SEC in rushing yards with 1,816, Mason’s 2013 workload is the only concern teams should have when looking at him. Atlanta would be smart to select this star running back to eventually take old man Jackson’s place.
Carlos Hyde – Jacksonville Jaguars, 39th overall selection – It’s rebranding time in Jacksonville for a team that lost their long-time best offensive player this offseason (Maurice Jones-Drew). Not only should the Jaguars start fresh at QB, but the RB situation needs to be addressed as well. If they don’t want to constantly be playing catch-up this season, they’re going to need to score points early in games. Building around such players as Manziel and Hyde wouldn’t make their situation any worse, let’s put it that way.
Ka’Deem Carey – New York Jets, 69th overall selection – It’s probably a stretch to assume the Jets select a running back this early but dang, do they need one. Chris Ivory is beyond injury prone and Bilal Powell belongs as a third stringer. Carey’s 40-yard dash was a bit slow but he fits Rex Ryan’s game plan. If he ends up falling any further because of his poor time, some team is going to get a steal. However, an above average pass-blocking, bruising type back seems destined for the Jets. His style of play resembles Le’Veon Bell.
Sammy Watkins – Cleveland Browns, fourth overall selection – Wouldn’t the Browns look nice with Josh Gordon on one side and Watkins on the other? If both of the top two QBs are taken by the time the Browns pick, odds are they decide to pass on Bridgewater. If Brian Hoyer can come back healthy, he proved he can be pretty effective last season. Relying on an unproven QB coming off ACL surgery is risky, but these are the Browns. Also, who could blame them for surrounding any QB with that arsenal of weapons?
Mike Evans – St. Louis Rams, 13th overall selection – Jordan Matthews may be the better pro player but Evans will almost certainly be the one with his name called first. Fantasy owners still holding out optimism for Sam Bradford would love to see Evans join Tavon Austin in St. Louis. Jeff Fisher is really putting all his eggs in the Bradford basket too, so he will probably look to put him in the best position to succeed. If Bradford ends up with this duo and still doesn’t produce, he will be all out of excuses.
Jordan Matthews – Kansas City Chiefs, 23rd overall selection – Why not Marqise Lee as the third rated Fantasy prospect? Matthews may be the most underrated player in this entire draft. Lee’s injury last season may have his stock on the decline. Kansas City would be wise to just reach for the player they want, and Andy Reid would certainly enjoy a solid, pro-ready receiver like Matthews. In the past, Reid has preferred the dynamic, 4.4 speed type receiver so this would definitely be a change in M.O. Matthews’ skill set is just so pro-ready that a first round reach doesn’t seem so farfetched.
Eric Ebron – Buffalo Bills, ninth overall selection – By far the best tight end prospect in the class, someone is going to use an early pick on this 21-year-old phenom. To give you an idea of his college success, Ebron set the ACC single-season receiving yards record previously held by Vernon Davis. Ebron isn’t incredibly tall (6’4”) but poses matchup problems against anyone who dares go one-on-one with him. He will outsize a cornerback and outrun your average linebacker. From day one in the NFL, Ebron will possess Fantasy TE1 upside. E.J. Manuel can also use all the playmakers he can get.
Jace Amaro – New York Giants, 43rd overall selection – Right now, the Giants are relying on Brandon Myers as their starting tight end. Needless to say, Myers ranks well below league average. By default, the Giants will want to upgrade the position and Amaro fits the bill. By no means is he a flashy player but rather the kind that will be a rock solid NFL TE with a high floor.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins — Arizona Cardinals 53rd overall selection – Again, Arizona is another team suffering from what my doctor calls “mediocre tightitis.” The symptoms include poor tight end play and a passing game that, in tune, ends up lacking. Rob Housler missed most of last year with an injury and there is reason for optimism around him. A good competition never hurt anybody. Seferian-Jenkins’ size presents a big target for Carson Palmer despite non-elite athletic ability. Still, just imagine having the red zone options of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Seferian-Jenkins. If he falls this far, Arizona would be foolish to pass.