PFF Mock Draft: Fantasy Impact
Draft day is finally here, meaning we’ve finally reached the bottom of the deep mock draft pit. But let’s take one last look at a mock draft — courtesy of Pro Football Focus’ newly launched division, College Football Focus — and see what the fantasy implications would be.
As you peruse these comments, you’ll notice a lot of them are positive by nature. Maybe that’s the influence of the draft day optimism Kool-Aid we all sip this time of year. Do I think every player taken in the first round of this year’s draft will lead your fantasy football team to glory? No. In fact, odds are none of them will. Odell Beckham Jr.’s are rare commodities.
But that shouldn’t stop us from looking at the potential upside nonetheless. (Or downside where it exists, but most players taken in the first round have immediate upside because they are filling a position of need for the team that drafted them.)
Let’s get to it:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston would step into a mixed bag in Tampa (why else would the team have the first overall pick?) — but there would certainly be things to like in year one. Mike Evans emerged as a bonafide No. 1 wideout for the Buccaneers, and Vincent Jackson remains a solid No. 2. The talent at wide receiver should help buoy Winston’s fantasy value.
Our projections say that in his rookie season with the Bucs, Winston will throw for just shy of 4,300 yards. Andrew Luck set the record for most passing yards by a rookie with 4,374 in 2012.
2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
No matter where he lands, Mariota will be an enticing fantasy option right off the bat. A dual-threat quarterback, Mariota’s legs should help make him fantasy relevant as a rookie. If he lands with the Titans, he might find himself running for his life more often than he’s running for touchdowns, however. The team had a -61.6 pass block rating in 2014, fifth worst in the league.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Vic Beasley, Edge, Clemson
Linebackers can often make an immediate impact even as rookies, and Beasley would have a chance to do just that coming off the edge for the Jags. Would have more value in IDP leagues that give bonuses for sacks or tackles for losses.
4. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Derek Carr showed more than a little promise in his rookie season last year, so a talented wideout landing in Oakland does not appear to be the death knell it once was. Cooper’s strictest competition for targets as a rookie would likely be Michael Crabtree. Even if he started as the team’s No. 2 behind Crabtree, there’s a good chance Cooper would finish the season as Carr’s favorite option.
5. Washington Redskins – Dante Fowler JR, Edge, Florida
Generated pressure on 16.4 percent of his pass rush snaps last year — a rate that boosted to 22.7 percent on third downs. He would fit as an edge rusher in Washington’s 3-4 defense.
6. New York Jets – Randy Gregory, Edge, Nebraska
This would be a good landing spot for Gregory. He would be able to play to his strengths (edge rushing) in New York’s 3-4 defense. Plus he would have the opportunity for a few additional “coverage sacks” because of the Jets’ loaded secondary led by Darrelle Revis.
7. Chicago Bears – Leonard Williams, Defensive Interior, USC
Viewed by many as the best overall player in this year’s draft, Williams figures to make an impact no matter where he lands. With that said, there are definitely worse places he could land than Chicago. The Bears had an average D-line last year when it came to rushing the passer and stopping the run. Williams can do both. According to our own Jeff Ratcliffe, Williams recorded 51 QB pressures and 55 defensive stops in 2014.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Shane Ray, Edge, Missouri
Ray would land in a good spot by virtue of being coached by Dan Quinn, Atlanta’s new head coach and former defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Quinn rolled with a 4-3 defense in Seattle, while Atlanta had no clear-cut identity on defense last year. Either way, the Falcons should look to get Ray rushing off the edge, otherwise his IDP stock (buoyed largely by sack potential) takes a hit.
9. New York Giants – La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Unless you play in some underground offensive tackle league, you probably aren’t too excited when you see an O-lineman go in the draft. Collins specializes in run-blocking, so it makes Rashad Jennings’ 2014 outlook a little brighter. But the Giants also signed Shane Vereen the offseason, indicating that they may employ more swing passes in 2014.
10. St. Louis Rams – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Rams whiffed on Tavon Austin a few years back (I’m still desperately, pathetically holding out hope that he turns it around), but Parker is a much more well-rounded player, at least physically. He give Nick Foles a big target in a new-look Rams offense, and would be in line to be an immediate contributor.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
This would be an excellent landing spot for White. Teddy Bridgewater appears to be the real deal, and the team is desperate for some help at wide receiver. White would have a chance to play a key role for the Vikings from Week 1.
12. Cleveland Browns – Danny Shelton, Defensive Interior, Washington
The Browns cycled between Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Ahtyba Rubin as their NT/DT last season. Both Kitchen and Rubin finished near the bottom in terms of PFF grades last year, meaning Shelton would have a good chance to see playing time in Cleveland right away. However, as Ratcliffe notes, Shelton’s IDP value would be limited if he plays nose.
13. New Orleans Saints – Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Agholor would immediately become one of the most — if not the most — enticing rookie wideout in 2014 redraft leagues if he lands with Drew Brees and the Saints.
14. Miami Dolphins – Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Strong would enter a Miami receiving (and tight end) corps consisting of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, and Jordan Cameron. It’s not the strongest group in the league — no pun intended — but Strong wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed to leapfrog any of them his rookie season in terms of target volume, even with a first-round pedigree.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Henry Anderson, Defensive Interior, Stanford
A balanced player, Anderson would help IDP players generate points against both the pass and run. With all the coaching changes and unexpected retirements that hit the 49ers this offseason, San Francisco is set to look like an entirely new defense. Why not have Anderson be a part of that? With Justin Smith retiring, Anderson could be in line for snaps early.
16. Houston Texans – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
This would be a potentially good fit for Gurley in dynasty leagues, but there’s no doubt it would hurt his 2014 stock. Arian Foster may be getting older, but he’s still firmly entrenched as the team’s starter.
17. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Unlike Gurley in the above pick, Gordon would enter a clean backfield in San Diego. He would figure to lose third down snaps to Danny Woodhead, but that’s not too much to worry about. After all, when healthy, Ryan Mathews was a solid fantasy player for the Chargers. There’s no reason to think Gordon couldn’t be the same (or better).
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Ho-hum. Maybe it’ll help Alex Smith throw a touchdown to an actual wide receiver this year.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo Bills) – Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
The good news: The Browns would likely ask a lot of Smith, giving him plenty of opportunities as a rookie. The bad news: The Browns don’t really have a quarterback capable of getting receivers the ball on any consistent basis.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
A fast riser in the fantasy community, Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles would make his hype train pick up even more steam. Jordan Matthews figures to continue to command the slot, and with Maclin no longer in Philadelphia, DBG would see snaps at outside wideout from the get-go.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Trey Flowers, Edge, Arkansas
Was the most productive pass-rusher among draft-eligible 4-3 DEs in college last year, per Ratcliffe, and specializes in stuffing the run off the edge. Would compete with Carlos Dunlap and/or Wallace Gilberry for snaps, if he would be used as a DE. Not the greatest of landing spots considering there’s no clear path to starting right away.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
This could be the best potential landing spot for Collins, given Troy Polamalu’s retirement. Collins played in the box on nearly one-third of his snaps, and only missed two tackles against the pass last season, per Ratcliffe. That versatility could help Collins rack up the fantasy points a variety of ways.
23. Detroit Lions – Grady Jarrett, Defensive Interior, Clemson
Jarrett would step into the Suh-sized hole in Detroit’s D-line. DT’s do not have an abundance of fantasy value, but Jarrett could be worth a look in later rounds if he lands with the Lions.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Hau’oli Kikaha, Edge, Washington
A 3-4 edge rusher, Kikaha would fit into Arizona’s scheme. Not only that, but he could see serious snaps right away — only one Arizona OLB (Alex Okafor) saw more than 500 snaps last season, and he was the second lowest graded 3-4 OLB in the league last year, per PFF grades.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
The replacement to Torrey Smith, Perriman would give strong-armed Joe Flacco another deep threat to play with. Perriman excelled on deep passes last year — notching 525 yards and five touchdowns on passes thrown 20-plus yards, per PFF’s own Jeff Ratcliffe — and would be asked to play a similar role in Baltimore. Flacco’s deep ball accuracy was 50 percent last year, fifth best among all quarterbacks.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Corners don’t generate too much hype in IDP leagues, and Dallas wouldn’t be the greatest spot for Collins to land to boot. The Cowboys already have Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr at corner.
29. Indianapolis Colts – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
The Colts have Vontae Davis (who isn’t going anywhere), Greg Toler, and Darius Butler already on the roster. That’s not to say Peters wouldn’t see the field, but the path wouldn’t be wide open in Indy.
30. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Phillips, Defensive Interior, Oklahoma
With B.J. Raji still on the Packers, it’s unlikely Phillips would make an immediate impact. Perhaps worth a look in dynasty leagues.
31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle Seahawks) – Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Serving as Jimmy Graham’s replacement would surely boost Williams’ stock. If he does land with the Saints, he would be worthy of a second round pick in rookie dynasty drafts and a pick in later rounds in redraft leagues. Having Drew Brees throw you the ball will do that for your stock.
32. New England Patriots – Troy Hill, CB, Oregon
Could be in line to start for the Patriots, given the departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.