As you may be aware the NFL Draft is over.
By now you know who your team has drafted and probably talked about the “reaches” and the “steals” many times. The dust has settled and Todd McShay has gone back to where ever he lives to hibernate, feed and then watch thousand of hours of spring practices.
That constant ringing in your ears has finally settled. You may have also realized that ringing was actually just Mel Kiper rattling off adjectives to describe college players.
While every player picked in the NFL Draft has value to NFL teams, not all of them matter to us. Defensive players? No, not important. This week we begin our breakdown of which rookies in each division are worth thinking about on fantasy draft day. What else could we do to hype you up even more for these guys? Highlight videos! But be wary. Yes rookies can be great but they probably won’t be Odell Beckham Jr. right out of the gate.
This week we look at the incoming rookies in the AFC North.
Cleveland Browns – Duke Johnson, RB
The Browns selected Duke Johnson in the third round and looks like he could be their best pick. Johnson is the all-time leading rusher at the University of Miami. That means he’s ahead of Edgerrin James, Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Lamar Miller and anyone in either of these two documentaries.
Running backs are devalued in today’s NFL, so getting taken in the third round doesn’t mean he doesn’t have talent. His new Browns team has a shaky-at-best quarterback situation. What do teams do when their QB position is weak? They run the ball. Now the Browns already have Isaiah Crowell and they seem pretty committed to him after they moved Ben Tate last season. However Crowell isn’t a pass catcher, logging only nine receptions all season. Johnson is a dynamic playmaker and guys who can make people miss tend to get playing time.
The Browns will try and make things easy for their quarterbacks which means a lot of getting the ball out of their hands quickly. Since Crowell may not be able to catch, Duke Johnson can become a nice safety blanket for whoever the Browns QB turns out to be. His value will be ever greater in a PPR league.
Baltimore Ravens – Brashad Perriman, WR
The first and most noticeable thing about this guy is his speed. He clocked a 4.24 at the NFL combine in the 40-yard dash. He then clocked a 4.27 just for good measure. You don’t want to set expectations too high right off the bat, but that speed should come in handy with Joe Flacco, who has one of the biggest arms in the NFL. I think it’s going to be hard to overthrow him. He also fills a need for the Ravens now that Torrey Smith has followed in the footsteps of past Ravens receivers and joined the 49ers.
When you combine that blinding speed with his 6’2″ frame, you’ve got the measurables of a Madden create-a-player. While I’m sure that size/speed combo has some people’s mind immediately jumping to Randy Moss, I’d caution making that leap. Perriman is a raw when it comes to route running so it’s likely there will be an adjustment period. Still last season at UCF, he averaged 20.4 per reception which clearly cements his big play threat status. If Flacco can find him on some deep routes he could return some fantasy value. May not have a lot of catches but those TDs will be nice. He’s got a little bit of DeSean Jackson boom-or-bust to him.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Sammie Coates, WR
The Steelers also added a big-play threat at wide receiver in the form of Sammie Coates. The Steelers wide receiver corps is basically Antonio Brown and some other guys. The Steelers gave a lot of chances to Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant last year and neither really cemented a hold on the job. Wheaton only managed two touchdowns all year and Bryant came out of the gate quickly scoring 6 touchdowns in his first four games but really slowed down over the remainder of the season. What does all of that mean? That the Steelers are likely to give Coates a chance to grab their #2 WR slot.
The Steelers have done pretty well taking some late-round receivers and turning them into useful NFL players and should develop Coates into another one of these. Like Periman, Coates averaged over 20 yards per catch last season at Auburn. The problem he had in college was that he didn’t turn as many deep throws into deep catches as he could have. Now that he’s in the NFL I’m sure the Steelers will do what they can to teach him up so they utilize his talents . He’ll also have Antonio Brown out on the field with him pulling coverage off him. He was one of the only pass-catching threats at Auburn and with some more space to roam in the NFL he should be able to bring in a few deep balls.
There you have it. The three rookies who are the most likely to return you some fantasy value this upcoming season. Next week I’ll break down the NFC North so be sure to check back for all your rookie projecting needs.
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