By now, you’ve likely read about rookies and the potential fantasy impact they might have. However, let’s look at the other side of the coin: some players who may be affected negatively immediately or down the road now that the 2014 draft is in the books. These players will be for deeper leagues as well, since many of you out there either participate in dynasties or 14+ team leagues.
Rueben Randle, WR, NYG – There were murmurs that the Giants front office didn’t trust Randle to fill Hakeem Nicks’ shoes as a long-term No. 2 option in the passing game, playing the X position to complement Victor Cruz. Enter 12th overall pick Odell Beckham, an explosive athlete who already has route running chops even as a rookie. Faced with all the opportunity in the world last year, one-sixth of Randle’s yards came in Week 1. He had a decent stretch of touchdowns in the middle of the season, but his peripheral numbers such as targets, receptions, and yards left a lot to be desired. One can also argue that in addition to Beckham entering the fray, Eli Manning has shown signs of decline as a passer. Consider that in 2011, Manning graded out +45.3. In 2012, Manning graded out +31.7. In 2013, Manning’s number was -7.4, including a whopping 27 interceptions to 18 touchdowns. While Randle is still draftable, don’t bank on anything close to fantasy starter caliber production, barring injury.
Isaiah Pead, RB, STL – In case it wasn’t clear last season, Pead has a great shot to get cut by the Rams before the season starts. Leapfrogged by Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham in 2013 (some would argue Daryl Richardson pre-injury as well), the Rams then drafted Tre Mason with the 75th pick this year. While Pead has some pedigree as he was picked in the second round in the 2012 draft, he hasn’t really had a chance to display anything due to injuries and the coaching doghouse, rushing for 17 attempts and 75 yards in the last two seasons combined. Not too draftable regardless of format.
Tim Wright, TE, TB – While he graded out negatively on the whole in 2013, Tim Wright actually proved to be a fantasy asset, hauling in 54 catches and 571 yards along with five touchdowns, seemingly out of nowhere. In fact, Wright was top 12 in receptions and touchdowns for TEs, and proved to be a reliable target, catching 75% of the passes thrown his way. On the down side, the Bucs picked up Brandon Myers, added Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Mike Evans in the draft. It’s clear the offense is being built like a basketball team with height, and though Wright has that, he doesn’t have the explosion of any of those guys listed, and we haven’t even touched on Vincent Jackson or Doug Martin yet. As it stands right now, Wright suddenly goes from second or third in the passing game pecking order to sixth at best. On his own team, he’s the third tight end option. I wouldn’t draft him in any format.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET – Pettigrew was already on the brink of being a fantasy afterthought based on his 2013 performance. Pettigrew compiled a 41/416/2 line despite playing 925 snaps. For perspective, for all tight ends above 800 snaps, Pettigrew had the lowest reception count, lowest yardage count, and second lowest touchdown count. Then, the Lions went and added Golden Tate in free agency (sorry, Kris Durham) and Eric Ebron as the 10th pick in the draft. Even with Stafford’s volume of attempts, Pettigrew now has Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, and Reggie Bush in front of him in the pecking order. Joseph Fauria is also a preferred red zone target, and Joique Bell caught more passes than Pettigrew did last year despite being the backup running back. Many people considered Pettigrew a TE2 with upside during fantasy drafts last year thanks to his pedigree. This year, his pedigree from college means nothing, as his sample during his tenure in the NFL has shown he can’t be relied on in fantasy circles.
David Wilson, RB, NYG – First fumbles. Then a serious injury. Then the addition of Rashad Jennings, who the coaching staff really seems to like. Then the addition of Andre Williams in the draft, a back who was designed for short yardage and goal line work (read: touchdowns). While Wilson has more explosion than anyone on the team, with Jennings having a track record in all phases of the game and Williams being known for being a bruiser, Wilson’s niche would seem to be as a third down type back. However, Wilson graded out slightly negative in pass blocking in 2012 and negative in 2013 despite limited game counts. If a back can’t pass block, he’s not a third down back. Wilson can still be considered a lottery ticket, but he’s no better than an RB6 or so at this point, if that.
Cecil Shorts, WR, JAX – While things may look good on the surface, there are a couple things going against Shorts. One, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson will likely siphon some of Shorts’ targets. Shorts was 12th in the NFL on a target per snap basis, being targeted on 15% of all his snaps. Two, if the Jaguars get their way, Blake Bortles won’t be starting at all in 2014, which means Chad Henne will still be chucking the ball. Even though Bortles is a rookie, some might argue the quality of target couldn’t be much worse than Henne, especially as Shorts’ aDoT was 11.1, which puts him in the back half of the league. Shorts is certainly draftable, especially in PPR leagues, but the luster he had pre-draft as a value pick has shrunk.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, GB – 49/681/3 isn’t exactly a bad line for someone who didn’t play a snap until Week 6 last year. With James Jones out of town, Boykin had all the opportunity in the world, operating as the third option behind Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Enter Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. These three rookie wide receivers were brought in to compete with Boykin, and even though rookie wide receivers rarely make a big impact, there might be enough there to depress Boykin more than we originally thought. No surprise if Green Bay starts running four wide sets as they don’t have a solid tight end as of yet, but I’d be surprised if Boykin replicated last year’s pace.