This guest post is provided by Paul Gabrail of DynastyOwner.com
This draft was quite unique. Often the first round of drafts are top-loaded with offensive talent, especially franchise QBs, that teams target with the hopes of putting points on the board in bunches. This year, however, was just the opposite. For our fantasy players, the first offensive skill player to go was at the #8 pick – WR Tavon Austin and the first QB wasn’t picked until the middle of the round Bills picked up EJ Manuel at #16!
The highlights of the first round:
– Only 4 of 32 first round picks were offensive Skill Players
– 0 RB in the first round (first time in the last 49 years)
– First time ever the top two picks were offensive Tackles
– The last time the first quarterback lasted to the 16th pick was in 2000 when the New York Jets drafted Chad Pennington with the 18th selection.
We broke down each fantasy football position player picked and gave our opinion on them. Luckily for Dynasty Owners, there was plenty of offensive talent to get excited about in the 2nd round of the draft. Here is our breakdown of how those picks slot for the near future. All contract estimates are based on the contract of the player who was drafted in the same slot in last year’s draft.
Round #1, Pick #8: Tavon Austin – WR to St. Louis Rams
Immediate target in Dynasty Owner because he is a dynamic slot WR who figures to be targeted by Sam Bradford early and often. With Sam Bradford on the clock to show he can win in this league, he could use this young and aggressive WR to help solidify him in St. Louis as their future. Draft Expert Mike Mayock called him the most explosive player in the draft. Not only could Tavon be a great WR, but he is also very dangerous in the return game as well so leagues rewarding return yardage or TDs should slot him even higher.
From a contract standpoint, last year’s #8 pick signed a $3.172MM per year contract for 4 years, so expect this to go up slightly for Austin. This is VERY reasonable for a player who can get some big playing time at the start. Last year, the average of the top 64 WRs in the league earned their FF teams 125 points, which would put Austin’s cost per point at $25K, which is 20% below last year’s average for the top 64 of $32,400.
Round #1, Pick #16: EJ Manuel – QB to Buffalo Bills
A highly controversial 1st round selection, Manual has a strong arm and very good mobility. He has physical tools to be a very good NFL quarterback, but was not close to being a consensus top QB in this draft due to his at times erratic play and propensity to be turnover prone and skiddish in the pocket. The turnovers are always a concern with a young QB, and how much of a leash or learning curve he’ll be on before the Bills turn him loose remains to be seen, and will dictate if and when he should be targeted in fantasy drafts.
He isn’t guaranteed the starting job, but be aware of him at all times. If he wins the starting job, and looks good in camp and preseason, this could be a GREAT pick for our Dynasty Owners. Even if he ends up losing the job later on in the season or next year, he would be a good bench QB at a very reasonable pay. Even if you had to cut him, paying the 30% DO penalty for unused contract would only be a few million Dynasty Dollars. Low downside and high upside with a salary to be in the neighborhood of $2.2MM per year for 4 years.
Round #1, Pick #21: Tyler Eifert – TE to Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert has a WR like build and pass catching ability, which makes him a top 10 fantasy TE in the league right away with incredible upside. Future fantasy owners had to be a little disappointed that he went to a team with an established TE, at least for next year, as Gresham might steal some targets from the TE position. That said, 2 TEs can flourish in the right offense (see NE) so Dynasty Owner’s need to think longer term and target Eifert as one of the first TEs off the board on draft day.
With a potential salary of around $2.05MM per year, he is well below the average salary of our top 23 performing TEs last year. Last year, the average of our top 23 TEs cost about $37K per fantasy point, averaging about 100 points for the year. For Eifert to fall in that same cost per point, he would only need 55 points, which makes him a great risk at the TE position on a team with an established TE. This could be one of the better TEs to have on your roster.
Round #1, Pick #27: DeAndre Hopkins – WR to Houston Texans
Hopkins profiles as a very complete reciever who should grow into being the number 1 option in Houston when Andre Johnson retires (or is sidelined with injury). Not as explosive as other WRs in this draft, but possibly the most complete in terms of hands, route running and play-making capability. We think he’s set up to be a top 60 WR next year but jump much higher than that when if/when he becomes the number 1 recieving option in HOU.
At the #27 spot, you can expect a contract at around $1.9MM per year and for a Wide Receiver with potential of being #1 option, this is a FANTASTIC value. Better from a value standpoint than Tavon Austin at the #8 pick. Very high on DeAndre Hopkins but with that great potential comes the big contract four years from now…but for the next 4 years just enjoy his high end production at a low salary cost.
Round #1, Pick #29: Cordarelle Patterson – WR to Minnesota Vikings
Figures to immediately start next to newly aquired Greg Jennings, Patterson is someone to target as a low cost potentially high source of production in Dynasty Owner for the next 3-5 years. However, Minnesota had the 31st ranked passing offense last year at a paltry 171.9 yards per game, so Christian Ponder’s continued development will determine Patterson’s ultimate value ceiling.
It’s understood and also unfortunate that he found his way into this organization because his true potential may not show BUT this could be good for fantasy owners. Even if he gets mediocre WR results for the next four years, if he decides to sign somewhere else or the Vikings are able to establish Ponder, he will be explosive for his next contract which you would get first rights to. Yes it is four years down the road, but don’t look at him as a wasted pick for this year.
Round #2, Pick #34 – Justin Hunter – WR to Tennessee Titans
The Titans need threats in the passing game, but Hunter has some questions about his ability to focus and deal with physical corners, which has led to drops in his college career. Couple that with the fact that he’s going to an offense that ranked in the bottom 3rd of the league in most passing statistics and this is a pick might not have much fantasy impact in the next 3-5 years, despite the relatively high draft slot.
Everyone loves a good deal in Dynasty Owner but at some point, we have to draw the line and say “don’t get lured in by the low dollars.” Taking him in your draft should be a late round selection for those new DO teams and maybe picked up in free agency for past year’s teams in their rookie draft.
Round #2, Pick #35 – Zach Ertz – TE to Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly loves using TE’s in the passing game so Zach Erz could be a top 15 TE option right away his rookie season. Ertz is a sure handed TE and his draft profile indicates he’s a smooth athlete with good route quickness to create some separation and sneaky speed to get behind the defense.
Love this from a cost perspective and a long term offensive production for a relatively low production position. Last year’s #35 pick cost around $1.35MM per year, so this could be a great TE in a TE friendly offense at the cost of 1/3rd the average tight end in our top tight ends from last year. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive and surprise your opponents by taking him early if you have a need to save some money in a low production position.
Round #2, Pick #37 – Giovanni Bernard – RB – Cincinnati Bengals
While Bernard might not be as well known as some of the other RBs in the draft, he’s quick and powerful, and has a similar build and style to many successful running backs in the past decade. He does have some injury history with a torn ACL that should be factored into draft decisions, but he’s going into a great situation in Cincinnati that should provide a very good offense with the opportunity to win the starting job and get the majority of the carries out of the backfield. It remains to be seen if he would be a goal-line option or if they would look to one of their bigger backs until Bernard proves capable.
Running backs are always tough to gauge because of being more injury prone and having to split a lot of time. With that said, at the low potential cost of $1.3MM per year, Bernard would make a potentially good pick up if he has proven production early on. I don’t know if he is a high round pick but if you can take him late and have a need for cost effective RB, he is low risk because of the low salary. If he does well, use him as a trade bait for future draft picks or the RB that you have your eyes on.
Round #2, Pick #39 – Geno Smith – QB to New York Jets
Geno Smith is the ultimate wildcard in this draft, as evidenced by him being slotted as early as 3rd overall to falling all the way to 39th overall. As such, there is no predicting how he or the volitale Jets Quarterback situation will play out so we’d advise a wait and observe approach for anyone thinking about Geno Smith in the fantasy sense.
His potential salary collapse from $5MM+ per year to around $1.25MM per year. Ouch. But one man’s unfortunate circumstance can become your steal. He is not guaranteed the starting spot and you still have to realize that the Jets have a lot of money committed to Sanchez, but he is coming close to the point of proving he has what it takes. We would not recommend taking Geno in the draft. Wait until he has earned the starting position. With only 2 QBs on each team, it is not worth taking him in the draft. With that said, whoever does get him if he gets the starting position, could get quite the steal in this draft. The bar is set low since Sanchez has the lowest QB rating out of any QB over the past four years.
Round #2, Pick #41 – Robert Woods – WR to Buffalo Bills
A shifty and quick route runner with a quick burst, Robert Woods should be able to start opposite Steve Johnson from opening day, especially given the lack of other quality WR options on the roster. However, as alluded to with EJ Manuel, the Bills and their offense are filled with uncertainty. Despite being a high potential player who’ll have a lot of playing time right away, we don’t foresee Woods being on a lot of fantasy draft radars in the 2013 season.
Again, just like Smith with the Jets, hang tight on Woods. No need to rush. Yes, you will want him if he does great, but there are plenty of other choices (albeit more expensive ones) that have proven track records. If Woods starts to play well and you have a need, pick him up fast because he will get gobbled up with a potential contract of $1.2MM per year.
Round #2, Pick #47 – Gavin Escobar – TE to Dallas Cowboys
Possibly the most sure-handed player in the draft, Escobar has great hands and makes for an intriguing option in a TE friendly Romo led offense. Jason Witten is still blocking him from being a serious consideration at TE on draft day, but he appears to be the heir apparent and that makes him a very appealing target in the next 3-5 years in Dynasty Owner.
If you take Escobar anywhere in the draft, please check your temperature. Witten is the sure pick here, even at a much higher salary, but production is a key component to TEs since you don’t have a plethora on your roster and they still cost, on average, a pretty penny. Keep your eye on him for the next few years, but wait for him to prove he is worth it and pay him the new contract he will get if he is able to prove it.
Round #2, Pick #48 – Le’Veon Bell – RB to Pittsburgh Steelers
Big, powerful back that fits perfectly with the type of RB the Steelers like to use, especially in goal line and short yardage situations. If one thing was clear last year, it’s that no RB is entrenched at the position in Pittsburgh, which opens the door for Bell to take the RB1 job and be the primary back in that offense. He has the quickness in his feet to do so, but must improve in the passing game to make that leap. Keep an eye on him in the preseason
If he is able to prove what we think may happen, at a potential salary of a little over $1MM per year, you are getting a steal for a lot of big goal line potential points. If you are running out of cap space and need a running back, this is a GREAT option to generate some points at a very low cost.
Round #2, Pick #55 – Vance McDonald – TE to San Francisco 49ers
McDonald has a nice combination of size and pass catching ability, however he’s going to a situation in SF where the TE is established with Vernon Davis and they don’t run enough two TE sets to make McDonald a target unless something happens to Davis.
Gotta feel for McDonald in that he is playing the waiting game. And even if he gets that chance, Davis has a big contract and SF will be committed to him for the near future. This is another example of leaving a guy on Waivers until he has to be picked up because of an obvious starting position opportunity.
Round #2, Pick #58 – Montee Ball – RB to Denver Broncos
Montee Ball figures to step right into the starting RB role with Denver and that usually spells high production for feature running backs out of that system. Ball of course has to sieze the opportunity, but his ability to find holes and catch the ball out of the backfield make him a very intriguing option in a strong albeit pass first Denver offense.
With a potential cost of only $900K per year and a starting RB role, you need to put him higher up on your draft position. If you are in your second DO year, this could easily be a high first round pick up due to his low cost and starting position ability. Last year’s average RB (out of our top 45 producing RBs) scored 143 fantasy points which would put Ball at a cost per point of $6300 per point! If he does well in the preseason and shows he will definitely be the starting RB, you have to jump on him and jump on him early. For those DO owners who are doing their first full draft, Ball could be a high draft choice in those leagues too.
Round #2, Pick #59 – Aaron Dobson – WR to New England Patriots
Unlike other WRs drafted in this round that need to become number 1 or 2 options to have fantasy potential, Dobson gets the luxury of going to the top passing offense in 2012. Dobson is a tall (6’3) and physical WR that provides NE with an option they don’t have in their WR corps right now. If he can get consistent targets, and there are plenty to go around, he could be in line to make a big impact right away. If he ends up winning a starting job, he’s a must target in Dynasty Leagues.
Dobson is drafted at a $850K per year, or so, spot so his output, if picked up, would be at a fraction of the cost of other WRs in the league. As you have seen, second round NFL draft picks can be highly productive with low cost, but with that low cost comes a lower commitment from their teams. That’s just a matter of business, so proceed with Dobson the way we have recommended from other non-guaranteed starting positions.
Round #2, Pick #61 – Eddie Lacy – RB to Green Bay Packers
Although he’s going to a pass-heavy offense, Lacy slots as someone who could be contributing to fantasy leagues right away, especially as a goal-line option for GB. They have already made James Starks available for trade, meaning plan to lean on Lacy (and possibly 4th round pick Jonathan Franklin) to handle the carries next year. If productive, Lacy will have a shot to be a 3 down back right away, which makes him a serious sleeper candidate in Dynasty Owner.
If Lacy does end up being the sleeper candidate we think he may be, he will go quickly in Free Agency (probably not a high potential draft pick). With that, you may want to even pay another owner a nice premium in order to secure him once he is picked up. At a cost of around $850K per year, he is a great value for a team that may look for him to punch in the touchdowns. You don’t need large production out of him to ensure a good value. Ride that small contract as long as you can with Lacy.
Round #2, Pick #62 – Christine Michael – RB to Seattle Seahawks
An explosive RB with homerun potential, we were both surprised and a little disappointed to see Michael go to one of the more stable and established teams at RB in Seattle with Lynch and Turbin already in the mix. Michael has been called the most explosive RB in the draft, however off the field troubles and character issues caused him to slip. Keep an eye on him in training camp and preseason, and if you need to draft a handcuff for Lynch, Michael is the guy. He’s a great Dynasty stash if you have the roster spot and the patience.