- Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy had his third 100-yard effort with 110 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. He also added six catches for 48 yards. He’ll continue to succeed in the high-powered Green Bay offense.
- Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted 11 times and hauled in eight of them for 54 yards. Hopefully the targets continue and Patterson can get more work in before the 2014 campaign.
- Packers safety Morgan Burnett had another 12-tackle game to give him 62 in his injury-shortened year. He still might get to 100 tackles while missing almost 1/3 of the season.
- While the Cleveland running game appears to be a wreck in the wake of the Trent Richardson trade, the passing game had no problems. Brian Hoyer had 321 yards and three touchdowns (with three interceptions) on the day. Hoyer will be a hot waiver wire pickup. At the moment, I couldn’t imagine the Browns sticking with Hoyer past this year (hello Kelly Holcomb) but stranger things have happened.
- On the receiving end for Cleveland, receiver Josh Gordon led the way with 10 catches for 146 yards with tight end Jordan Cameron hauling in three touchdowns.
- Just avoid the Cleveland running game. Please.
- On the Vikings side, quarterback Christian Ponder had a good day on the ground with two touchdowns and 46 yards. Through the air, he averaged 5.4 YPA, had one interception and was sacked six times. Yikes.
- Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had his best receiving game so far with 49 yards. He’ll only get better as the season progresses if you can snag him.
We kicked off the series looking at the potential first round of rookies drafted in dynasty leagues here. Next, we look at the next set of picks in a 12-team, PPR league.
Round 2, Pick 1 – WR-Cordarelle Patterson (MIN) – In his first NFL game, first round pick Patterson exhibited exactly what scouts were drooling over at the draft which was his play-making ability. He totaled 104 yards and had a beautiful 50-yard catch after catching the crease. Patterson is still extremely raw but talent will win out over time in dynasty leagues. The only draw back will continue to be Christian Ponder and the quarterback situation in Minnesota. Not to mention, the current NFL MVP dominates the playbook (as he should). Patterson won’t be in a position to get big numbers early in his career but he’s got the talent to do some special things.
Round 2, Pick 2 – WR-Aaron Dobson (NE) – As with fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, the opportunity for Aaron Dobson is the better than any other in the league. Massive turnover has opened up the opportunity for anyone to be the starting X receiver. He’s played well and is making plays in camp but he’s also getting into shoving matches and not exactly setting the world on fire in-game action. He’ll move on from that but he may not be able to beat out Thompkins for first crack. The talent is there, and the competition is bare, so Dobson is an excellent value pick in the second. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady lobbing passes either.
Round 2, Pick 3 – TE-Travis Kelce (KC) – The first pick of the third round, Kelce is a physical specimen at the tight end position at 6′ 5″ and 260 pounds. He’s also a great receiver and athletic and can block. His only major downfall was character concerns. He was suspended the whole 2010 season which, in this day and age of leniency, means he majorly messed up. The hope is he’s moved on since then and seemingly has since he hasn’t had any issues since. Looking at his situation, he’s got a pass-happy coach who has committed to throwing more. Alex Smith will have the first shot of getting Kelce the ball. Smith didn’t have a problem getting Vernon Davis the ball so there is hope. He’ll have to battle Anthony Fasano and Tony Moeaki for snaps but his sheer athleticism should take care of that. Kansas City does plan to line him up in a variety of positions. Giddy up.
Round 2, Pick 4 -QB-Geno Smith (NYJ) – Drafted in the second round, Smith was drafted to inject some life into the abysmal Jets offense. Originally graded to be the first quarterback taken, Smith slid to the second after several off-field issues regarding agents and attitude. But the football skills are all there and Smith looks like the real deal. With little competition ahead of him (see: Sanchez, Mark), Smith has a golden opportunity to join E.J. Manuel as the only starting rookie quarterbacks. He did trip a little leading up to his first pre-season game but turned in a solid performance. The supporting cast is a different story. With zero legitimate targets to throw to, it’s hard to imagine Smith putting up even decent numbers his first year. The hope is he takes his rookie year to sort things out and be ready to utilize whatever new targets the Jets bring in. He’s a taxi-squad candidate at this point.
Round 2, Pick 5 -WR-Robert Woods (BUF) – Second rounder Woods is already stated to start in Buffalo. Like Spider-Man, that can be a gift and curse. Woods was the most NFL-ready coming in to the draft and has impressed so far in camp. He’s a part of the renaissance in Buffalo with rookie E.J. Manuel quarterbacking. But he’ll be tied to Manuel’s growing pains which will prohibit huge numbers from any Buffalo receiver for the foreseeable future. Not huge upside but has the chance to be a steady contributor for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 6 – WR-Keenan Allen (SD) – Unlike Robert Woods, Allen is a project. Drafted in the third round, the skill is there as he set the Cal record for receptions. The injury bug also has afforded Allen the opportunity to use those skills early on. However, Allen has had an up-and-down camp so far and everyone agrees that Allen has ways to go. Originally projected as a first round pick, he’s not immune from injuries either after missing the last couple games of his college career. The path is certainly clear for Allen to take over but it’ll remain to be seen if he can stay healthy.
Round 2, Pick 7 – RB-Marcus Lattimore (SF) – The ultimate taxi squad player in dynasty drafts this year, Lattimore was a legit first round talent before shredding both knees in college. Drafted in the 4th round, neither fantasy owners or San Francisco has any hope that he’ll contribute this year as he hopes to follow in the foot steps of fellow knee-injury victims Willis McGahee and, you guessed it, Frank Gore. He enters a delicious situation with Gore’s contract ballooning to $6.5 million in 2014 (at age 31), Kendall Hunter with just 184 carrie to his name, and LaMichael James as nothing more than a passing situation back. With San Francisco’s power running scheme, Lattimore is sure to be in the mix. Draft him and stash him.
Round 2, Pick 8 – TE-Zach Sudfeld (NE) – Another undrafted rookie for New England, Sudfeld has rapidly found himself playing with the first string unit. At 6′ 7″ and 255 pounds, he’s being compared to that other New England tight end (who’s still on the team) and could get work as the injures dictate. Jake Ballard was originally supposed to take over Aaron Hernandez’s production but that now appears to go to Sudfeld, who’s catching everything in sight. He’s a huge unknown but New England seems to trust him. Don’t be afraid to draft him in the second round and look like a genius.
Round 2, Pick 9 – RB-Johnathan Franklin (GB) – Franklin steps into an ideal situation for a pass-catching back. The Green Bay offense, and Aaron Rodgers in particular, will continue to pass the ball despite the presence of Eddie Lacy. He won’t be an every down back but if Franklin can establish himself as a passing-down back, he could be in for a bunch of catches. Of course, he’ll have to shore up his pass protection to even see the field. Assuming he can work those issues out, he’ll be an intriguing change of pace back.
Round 2, Pick 10 – WR-Stedman Bailey (STL) – While Bailey only sits at #4 on the depth chart, he’s had a good camp so far. St. Louis claims to be opening up the offense more which would mean more opportunities to spread the wealth. Of course, it remains to be seen if Sam Bradford can handle that load. If so, Bailey stands to gain in the long-term. If not, Bailey wouldn’t be worth a taxi squad spot.
Round 2, Pick 11 – QB-Tyler Bray (KC) – Signed as an undrafted free agent, Bray already has the strongest arm in Kansas City camp (which isn’t saying a whole lot). His lack of maturity was what set him back in the draft but he seems to have overcome those. Setting behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel, Bray doesn’t have a clear shot to starters minutes but could develop into a tradable asset. He’s not a bad pick to stash on taxi squads especially with other rookie quarterbacks struggling.
Round 2, Pick 12 – WR-Kenny Stills (NO) – Drafted in the fifth round, there was not clear spot for Stills until Joe Morgan went down with an injury and smaller injuries allowed him to play with the first string. Now entrenched as the 3rd down receiver, Stills has put together a quietly good camp and could receive considerable attention from Drew Brees and co. He should man the slot between Marques Colston and Lance Moore. If Sean Payton works his magic upon his return, they’ll be plenty of targets to go around including ones to Stills.
- Vernon Davis has taken snaps in the slot. This bodes well for everyone involved and firmly puts in Davis among the top five tight ends in dynasty rankings.
- Pittsburgh is instituting a zone-blocking scheme in the run game which should pump up Le’Veon Bell’s numbers. Alfred Morris racked up 1,600 yards in the same scheme last year. Bell’s current 23rd dynasty ranking seems low and should shoot up soon. Grab him if you can.
- Jamaal Charles is getting more looks in the passing game. As the story notes, under Andy Reid, his best running back, Brian Westbrook, had 50 catches for five straight years. Hopefully, Charles can hold off Father Time for a few years as he’s already at 27.
- Julio Jones is getting better? Yikes.
- E.J. Manual is looking good in camp as well. He should be the first rookie quarterback taken off your dynasty board due to the weapons, the opportunity, and the skill.
- DeAndre Hopkins is projected to get 52-60 catches his rookie season. That’s a great floor to have as a dynasty prospect in his rookie year. Hopkins should be the second rookie receiver on your dynasty board.
- The hope is St. Louis is Jared Cook finally becomes the receiving tight end stud he was supposed to be in Tennessee. In a tight end starved situation as dynasty fantasy football, Cook is a top-10 pick.
- Colin McCarthy is practicing with the first unit again. McCarthy was supposed to be a dynasty linebacker stud last year but injuries cut that short. He currently sits at #24, due to those injuries, in our dynasty rankings with room for potential.
- Patrick Willis will have an x-ray on his hand today. Willis has had similar injuries without missing any meaningful time but it gets amplified due to his age (28). Willis is currently at 5 in our dynasty rankings.
- Michael Vick has taken the lead in Eagles camp with Nick Foles looking average. This will put a dent in Foles dynasty value and maybe increase Barkley’s.
- Cordarrelle Patterson has yet to practice with the first team in Minnesota. With one year of big-time college football under his belt, that’s to be expected. Patterson still has a lot of upside but don’t expect a lot, if anything, in year one.
That seems like a lot of ground covered. We’ll see what today has in store.
The latest wide receiver dynasty rankings show only three rookies in the top 40. These three were also, not coincidentally, drafted in the first round. The logic is if real NFL teams thought this highly of them, dynasty leagues should too. Let’s take a look.
- Tavon Austin (STL) – The eight overall pick from West Virginia comes in with the most hype and the most intrigue. After Austin ran a 4.34 40 at the combine and St. Louis trading their 1st, 2nd, 3rd (getting a 3rd in return), and 7th round pick in a Madden-like move, reports indicated coach Jeff Fisher planned to use Austin all over the place. Even in the backfield a la Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb! He’s got a good, young quarterback throwing him the ball in Sam Bradford and, at the moment, is the man. On paper, it looked like everything was coming up Milhouse. But look a little closer and there are some concerns. First, the height. Of the top 20 receivers in yardage last year, none were the same as Austin’s 5′ 8″ and only two were 5′ 9″. The rest were 5′ 10″ and above with more than half 6′ or more. It’s extremely difficult to win match ups if you’re the shortest guy on the field. Secondly, the latest reports has St. Louis using a ‘spread the wealth‘ system a la the New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees has averaged 620 pass attempts while completing 67% of his passes since getting to New Orleans in 2007. To date, the most passes Bradford has attempted has been 590 and the best percentage he had was 60%. By Brees’ third full season in the league, he was up to 65%. Furthermore, the best receiving season that was a product of the ‘spread the wealth’ system in New Orleans was Jimmy Graham and his ridiculous 99/1310/11 2012 season which, one could argue, is a result of his freakish 6′ 7″ frame and the matchup problems that ensue. For the record, 1,310 yards would have been good for 11th in the league last year. And this is the ceiling. The bottom line is Austin will be a good pick and has tremendous upside potential (TUP – it’s a thing, look it up). But exercise caution at Austin’s limitations. If you’re able to draft him early in your rookie dynasty drafts, I think you should. He’s definitely worth more than any of the quarterbacks and possibly most of the running backs out there simply because he’s a receiver in an offense that’s committed to him. But don’t mortgage the farm and give up proven assets. Austin is currently ranked 24th in our dynasty wide receiver ranks.
- DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – My personal favorite from this first batch is Hopkins who was drafted 27th overall by Houston. Hopkins is just the 4th offense player drafted in the first round by the Texans and the first receiver since the man he’s been groomed to replace, Andre Johnson. At 32, Johnson seemed to be on the downslope of his career but bounced back with a 112/1598/4 line last year. Houston surely doesn’t expect Johnson to keep that up heading into his mid-30’s so neither should dynasty leaguers. Thus the pick of Hopkins. It’s hard to find a negative report about Hopkins after running with the first team in OTA’s, being compared to Rod Smith (and his 8-1,000 yard seasons), and being labeled as ‘special. The only drawback is the level of passing we can expect from Houston. Per TeamRankings.com, they ranked 24th last year in percentage of pass plays and 31st the year before. Of course, those could change on a dime as evidenced by Houston ranking 11th in pass plays percentage in 2010 and 9th in 2009. Worst-case scenario is Hopkins finally gives Houston a second option in the pass game while they tap the break on the run plays. Best case is he develops into the next Andre Johnson and learns from the man himself. While Austin may edge Hopkins out because of the immediate impact, I wouldn’t lose sleep if I ended up with Hopkins. Hopkins is 30th in our wide receiver ranks.
- Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN) – Patterson is the most raw of the bunch after spending one season in D-1. Minnesota ended up trading a Tavon Austin-style package (2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th) to New England to get him. Build-wise he stands at 6′ 2″ and 220 pounds and put on quite a show at the combine with a 4.42 40-time and 37″ vertical. The potential is sky high but that’s all we have at this point. Luckily, Minnesota does plan on easing Patterson into the system so there’s time for Patterson to pick it up. He also gets to learn from one of the game’s best route runners in Greg Jennings and have the best running back in the game to take the attention off. It’s a great situation for such a raw talent like Patterson. Now the downside. His quarterback is Christian Ponder who might, or might not, be around for the long term will need to step it up for Minnesota to get Patterson’s full potential. No more 18/12 TD:INT seasons. Either Ponder improves or Minnesota drafts or signs an upgrade but the status quo won’t work. Of course, this could all be for not and Patterson could be a giant bust. For dynasty purposes, I wouldn’t spend a first round pick on Patterson but would much rather get a runner or even a tight end like Tyler Eifert. I might even consider linebackers if you’re in a dynasty IDP league. But don’t sleep on Patterson if he starts to slip. He sits at 32 in our rankings.