Fantasy Mailbag  

 

Johnny Manziel's draft future will impact fantasy

  • By Marcas Grant
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How high should I draft Johnny Manziel? -- @HotDam_ImSam (via Twitter)

Marcas Grant: The ultimate determination of Johnny Football's fantasy draft value won't be known until we're sure where he'll be playing in the fall. But based on his skill set alone, he's worth consideration as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback. That being said, unless you're in a league filled with Texas A&M fans or an owner just itching to draft Manziel, you should be able to wait until the later rounds. Every draft is a little bit different, making it hard to put a definite round number on it. But if you're thinking about picking up a second quarterback before Round 9 or 10, you're probably doing it wrong.



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Can I trust Manziel will have a productive fantasy season and get him as a QB2? -- @f2wacef (via Twitter)

M.G.: There's no doubt that Manziel will be around as a QB2 in most leagues. As enticing as he is as a fantasy prospect, there are too many other very good and very proven quarterbacks who should go off the board before Manziel's name even comes up. As for trusting if Johnny Football will be productive? Well, there are no guarantees in life, but mobile quarterbacks who can pick up yards on the ground have a greater track record for immediate success in the NFL and fantasy football. In recent seasons, players like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton have all become fantasy stars -- in large part because of their ability to run the football.

How sick would a combination of Johnny Football and Josh Gordon be? -- @jclarke1280 (via Twitter)

M.G.: The short answer: pretty sick. Gordon was arguably fantasy's best playmaker from the wide receiver position last year. If you pair him with a quarterback who excels at extending plays, that spells trouble for opposing secondaries. Just ask Mike Evans, who was on the receiving end of more than a few big Manziel throws in college. Another big key to a Manziel-Gordon pairing would be Ben Tate. If he can run the ball effectively -- as he did at times in Houston -- it not only draws defenders closer, but opens up the play-action game for the quarterback and receivers.

Is Josh Gordon worth a late first round pick? -- @Godardfan (via Twitter)

M.G.: Not quite. Gordon was amazing last year, topping all fantasy receivers while playing just 14 games with a host of lackluster quarterbacks. But part of that special season included back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. That's a feat that had never been accomplished in the history of the league! It's a tall order to expect him to do it again -- especially when opposing defenses are going to concentrate on slowing him down. If there's a receiver worthy of a first-round pick, it's Calvin Johnson. But he's probably the only one ... and that would only be at the end of the round.

Will Cleveland be a fantasy powerhouse this season? Tempted to go for Tate and Gordon early. -- @WoeDustin (via Twitter)

M.G.: Whoa, Dustin. Things are certainly looking up in Cleveland, but I'm not ready to call them a fantasy powerhouse just yet. First of all, we still don't know who the quarterback is going to be. I feel confident saying it probably won't be Brian Hoyer, but who takes his job is still unknown. As for Gordon ... see above. The addition of Tate is certainly an upgrade in the running game, but he's still a player who could slip into the third round of your draft. If by "early" you mean going Gordon-Tate in Rounds 2-3, I'm down with it. If you mean Rounds 1-2, I'd recommend you slow your roll a tad.

Who do I keep for my five? LeSean McCoy, Josh Gordon and Marshawn Lynch are locked. Then two of Le'Veon Bell, Victor Cruz, Roddy White or Julius Thomas. Tough decisions ahead. -- @maXXimusdawg (via Twitter)

M.G.: Actually, it's not that tough at all. Keeping Bell means you'll start the season with three of the projected top 10 running backs in all of fantasy. Who wouldn't want that? The other choice is to stay with Thomas, who will start the season in the top three of a position that is sorely lacking in depth. Both Cruz and White are likely to fall after disappointing 2013 seasons. You should be able to easily re-acquire one or both -- or even someone better -- in a redraft.

Any chance Gio Bernard becomes a top-10 running back? And what round would he be a valuable choice? -- @cmuss29 (via Twitter)

M.G.: There is absolutely a chance that Bernard becomes a top 10 fantasy back this year. Now that Hue Jackson has taken over as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator, you can expect a heavy dose of Bernard in both the running and passing games this season. Yes, he'll split touches with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but the Bengals haven't been shy in saying that they would like to eventually transition Bernard into being the workhorse back. As such, it's hard to imagine the second-year rusher being around past the second round of most drafts.

Will there be any depth to the running back market this year? -- @The_DanCarroll (via Twitter)

M.G.: If by "depth" you mean a slew of bell-cow runners who are going to average 25-30 carries per game, then no. Despite Marcus Allen's optimism, the featured running back has become an endangered species. However, there is a nice crop of rushers who should see very good production this season. The key is to find players who can be dual-threat options. With more teams featuring the pass, a running back needs to be a legitimate weapon catching the ball out of the backfield. It's the reason why players like Bernard, DeMarco Murray and Reggie Bush will be coveted in drafts.

Do you think Adrian Peterson is worth a high draft pick even with his disappointing season last year? -- @JLHS2014FF (via Twitter)

M.G.: First off, if 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns is disappointing, I'll learn to live with disappointment. Peterson was a victim of his own success. After the 2,000-yard season, it was going to be hard to follow up with a proper encore (just ask Chris Johnson). That said, it's hard to imagine a league where A.D. isn't one of the first three players off the board. He's rushed for 1,200-plus yards in every season except 2011, when a torn ACL limited him to 12 games. He's also scored double-digit touchdowns in every season of his career. Now Peterson will work in Norv Turner's offense, where he'll have the chance to catch the football out of the backfield. It's not only a way to potentially increase his production, but could save some wear-and-tear on a body that has had three surgeries in three years.

What player(s) that were big disappointments last season will have the biggest turn around in 2014? -- @mphilpott0220 (via Twitter)

M.G.: You can definitely look at players who missed time because of injury last season -- Julio Jones, Arian Foster and Doug Martin are a few names that come to mind. But there are some guys who played the bulk of the 2013 season, who could be in line for a rebound. Robert Griffin III is a full season removed from knee surgery, which should give him more confidence in his ability. Oh, and he has a new receiver in DeSean Jackson to frighten opposing secondaries. Hakeem Nicks gets a quarterback upgrade moving from New York and the declining Eli Manning to Indianapolis and Andrew Luck. Finally, Trent Richardson has deep sleeper appeal playing alongside Luck in the Colts' backfield. Having a full offseason to learn the playbook should certainly help him move on from an abysmal 2013.


Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who remembers where he was when Jim Druckenmiller was drafted. Let's not talk about it. But if you'd like to talk to him about fantasy football, beer or cartoons, tweet him @MarcasG.

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