2015 NFL Draft: Round 1 Fantasy Rankings

Mike Clay ranks the 10 fantasy-relevant players selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft.

| 2 years ago
Amari Cooper

2015 NFL Draft: Round 1 Fantasy Rankings

CFF-all-american-cooperOf the 32 players selected in the first round yesterday, 10 play an offensive skill position. For us fantasy nerds, that makes them the most-relevant picks of the day. It’s only May, but here’s an early look of how these Day 1 picks will rank come August. Updated notes and projections from yesterday’s live blog are also included.

Note that these are redraft (not dynasty) rankings and assume a 12-team, non-PPR format.

Be sure to check our updated offensive player projections through Round 1.

  1. Todd Gurley – RB – Rams

The biggest shocker of the first round came when the Rams selected Todd Gurley 10th overall. A third rounder last year, Tre Mason was terrific for St. Louis as a rookie, but Jeff Fisher has a long history of run heavy football. The Rams will look to lean heavily on their defense and running game in 2015 and beyond. Gurley has elite upside and the landing spot certainly will allow plenty of opportunity. The real question for 2015 is his health. Off a torn ACL, Gurley’s status for Week 1 is in doubt. Early indications suggest he’s on track to play, but Fisher already admitted that they will bring him along slowly. With a Week 6 bye, it’s possible he ends up on the PUP list to start the season. Gurley is a good pass-catcher, but needs work as a blocker, which suggests Benny Cunningham will remain busy on passing downs. Gurley is my top-ranked rookie despite the fact that I’m projecting five missed games. Combine a few games of replacement level production with Gurley’s probable borderline RB1 production during the second half and you’re left with mid-pack RB2 value and a great shot at a league title. Josh Gordon (2013) and Odell Beckham (2014) have shown that playing 16 games isn’t as important as producing when active.

Projection: 11 games, 178 carries, 815 yards, 6 TD, 21 receptions, 171 yards, 1 TD

  1. Amari Cooper – WR – Raiders

No surprise here, but the Raiders went with Amari Cooper with the fourth overall pick. This is a team that will lean heavily on the run (Cooper is not a good blocker, which could hurt his snap count early on) and won’t score a ton of touchdowns barring a large step forward from second-year quarterback Derek Carr. Still, Cooper is as pro-ready as they come and already No. 1 on the depth chart in what is a mediocre wide receiver corps. With Michael Crabtree, Mychal Rivera, Rod Streater, James Jones and Andre Holmes his only competition for targets, Cooper figures to flirt with one quarter of the looks. He’ll be a borderline WR3 fantasy wide receiver in 2015.

Projection: 76 receptions, 1015 yards, 5 touchdowns

  1. Kevin White – WR – Bears

With the seventh overall pick, Chicago replaced Brandon Marshall (traded to Jets) with Kevin White. Standing 6’3”/215 and with 4.35 wheels, the sky is the limit for White. He has quality hands and is already a decent blocker. He slots in opposite Alshon Jeffery and it won’t be long before he’s Jay Cutler’s No. 2 target. Eddie Royal slides into the slot and Marquess Wilson heads back to the bench. Like Cooper, White immediately enters the WR3 conversation. He’s a candidate for 6-8 touchdowns. Cooper and White are very close in rookie-season value. Cooper is the better all-around talent and his team’s clear top target. White is in the better offense with a superior quarterback.

Projection: 68 receptions, 926 yards, 7 touchdowns

  1. Melvin Gordon – RB – Chargers

The Chargers have found their replacement for Ryan Mathews. San Diego sent two late-round picks to San Francisco in order to move up to 15th overall and select Melvin Gordon. Gordon combines 4.52 wheels and impressive acceleration with his 6’1/215 frame. He’s a poor receiver and needs work as a blocker, however, which may limit his early-season workload. He’ll need to improve in those departments before taking on a three-down role, but it’s not a big issue for HC Mike McCoy. He has third-down specialist Danny Woodhead and 2014 undrafted sensation Branden Oliver around to help out on passing downs in the meantime. Gordon averaged an absurd 7.6 YPC (3.6 after contact) and ran for 29 touchdowns at Wisconsin last year. Locked into a two-down role in a good offense right out of the gate, Gordon is a back-end RB2 in standard and a borderline RB2 in PPR.

Projection: 15 games, 253 carries, 1118 yards, 5 TD, 21 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD

  1. DeVante Parker – WR – Dolphins

A favorite of our colleagues at CFF, Parker joins a wide receiver unit that was completely overhauled during the offseason. Out are Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. In are Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Parker. All four will be busy, as the Dolphins had a third wideout on the field on 80 percent of pass plays last year – fourth highest. Parker has a ton of ability and will do a lot of damage deep down field (replacing Wallace in that regard). Playing in sunny Miami with a good quarterback in a wideout-friendly offense, and in position to start from Day 1, Parker will provide borderline WR3 numbers during his rookie campaign.

Projection: 64 receptions, 889 yards, 5 touchdowns

  1. Breshad Perriman – WR – Ravens

Several voids were filled during the first round of the 2015 draft. With the 26th overall pick, wide receiver-needy Baltimore selected Breshad Perriman. Brett’s son immediately becomes the favorite to replace Torrey Smith opposite 36-year-old Steve Smith. Perriman has absurd wheels, having ran a 4.26 40 yard dash. That’s especially intriguing when you consider he stands 6’3”/212. Perriman dropped too many passes last season and needs work as a route runner, but the ceiling here is high and the targets are there for the taking in Baltimore. Consider that new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman coached Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery over the past two seasons. The duo sits one-two in the NFL in end zone targets during the span. Perriman is a mid-pack WR4, but also a sleeper for eight-plus touchdowns.

Projection: 56 receptions, 792 yards, 6 touchdowns

  1. Nelson Agholor – WR – Eagles

Speaking of filled voids, the Eagles found their replacement for Jeremy Maclin, selecting Nelson Agholor with the 20th overall pick last night. Having lined up in the slot 53 percent of the time at USC last year, Agholor is one of only a few incoming rookie wideouts who has a lot of experience playing inside. Of course, Jordan Matthews was glued to the slot last season, so he may actually play outside more often at the pro level. Like Maclin, Agholor isn’t very big (6’0/198), but he’s an exceptional route runner and shifty in the open field. Wide receiver is a major need for the high-scoring Eagles and Agholor immediately slides in as a near every-down player. Of course, this is a team that likes to spread out the targets and will lean more on the run. Agholor also won’t be a primary target near the goal line at his size. He’s a borderline WR4.

Projection: 57 receptions, 737 yards, 5 touchdowns

  1. Marcus Mariota – QB – Titans

Trade rumors were rampant throughout the day, but the Titans were wise to pass up all offers in favor of selecting Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick. Where No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston struggled in 2013, Mariota was exceptional. But he won’t produce the same way Winston will. Mariota has 4.52 wheels and isn’t quite as accurate through the air. Especially considering Tennessee’s underwhelming supporting cast – at least for now, his top weapons are Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker, Justin Hunter and Bishop Sankey – Mariota’s rookie-season ceiling is a bit underwhelming. Of course, because he’s a candidate for 90-plus carries over 16 games, his floor is much higher than Winston’s. Expect plenty of growing pains, but Mariota will do enough with his legs to provide QB2 numbers.

Projection: 315/521, 3579 yards, 20 TD, 15 INT, 91 carries, 549 yards, 3 TD

  1. Jameis Winston – QB – Buccaneers

No surprise here, but Jameis Winston was selected first overall by Tampa Bay. Winston shouldn’t have much trouble disposing of Mike Glennon and is the heavy favorite to start Week 1. With 6’5” superstars Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans at wide receiver, emerging Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end and Charles Sims at tailback, Winston has the ammunition he’ll need to approach 4,000 passing yards and 20-plus touchdowns. There’s obviously plenty of bust risk here after Winston’s rough 2014 campaign, but the upside makes him a mid-pack QB2 option in 2015. Comparing the top-two picks, go with Mariota in four-point pass touchdown leagues and Winston when it’s six points.

Projection: 334/568, 4297 yards, 22 TD, 18 INT, 35 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD

  1. Phillip Dorsett – WR – Colts

The Colts surprised the masses by selecting Phillip Dorsett with the 29th pick of the first round. Dorsett is your prototypical undersized, speedster/returner. He ran a 4.33 40 and stands at 5’10/185. Dorsett has good hands and held his own as a blocker at Miami despite his small frame. Of course, the landing spot here is terrible in the short term. The Colts operate the league’s pass-heaviest offense and are led by Andrew Luck, but are overloaded at wide receiver and prefer two tight end sets. Dorsett definitely slots in behind TY Hilton and Andre Johnson, and will need to fend off Donte’ Moncrief and Duron Carter for snaps. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener will soak up reps, as well. Barring an injury or two, Dorsett will struggle to find the field as a rookie and instead do most of his damage as a returner. On the flip side, this is an outstanding landing spot for Dorsett’s dynasty value. Eventually, he’ll be one of Luck’s top-two targets and thus a WR2/3 fantasy option.

Projection: 37 receptions, 446 yards, 3 touchdowns

Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL

  • Matthew Carter Johnson

    Bold Prediction……. T. J. Yeldon is the #1 rookie RB in 2015. Draft him later in fantasy than the top 2 rookie RBs and be rewarded. Let the others in your leagues over draft Gurley and Gordon.