The NFL Draft has come and gone and a lot of teams did well, a few did ... not so well. A lot of you are super-duper excited that your team drafted that offensive guard from that one school in that one conference and BOY! did you get a steal getting him in at the end of the fourth round instead of at the top of the third where he was projected to go!!!
Stop pretending like you watched game tape on the Texas A&M offensive lineman. You didn't. But what you DID watch was Tevin Coleman rack up home run after home run. You DID watch Buck Allen run roughshod on a bunch of Pac-12 teams. And if you're anything like me (read: fantasy junkie) you projected those guys in the NFL.
So, like at every draft, a BUNCH of you were thinking about the fantasy impacts that the picks could have. Will Jameis Winston improve the production of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans? Will Jaelen Strong provide the perfect complement to DeAndre Hopkins in H-Town? All very good, and very positive questions. This space, unfortunately, is not meant for you happy-go-lucky, everything-is-roses fantasy fans. Every positive action has a negative reaction. That's how my dark heart works.
Welcome to the post-draft Panic Room.
The dynamo back was widely regarded as a solid second-round selection in fantasy drafts last year. Ellington battled a nagging foot injury all season, and his production showed it, missing three full games, parts of many others and limping (literally) to a disappointing campaign. He compiled 1,055 scrimmage yards (660 rush, 395 rec yards) to go along with five total touchdowns.
Johnson's measureables were legit. A big back, Johnson is 6-1 and weighed in at 224 pounds. But he shot up draft boards after the combine where he ran a super-impressive 4.50 40-yard dash and had an insane 41.5-inch vertical. Athletically he's a beast and the highlights on YouTube (as always) look amazing. Mike Mayock likes him, which means I like him.
Panic Level: Tom Cruise running in The Firm ... or I guess any movie really. Run, baby, run. That's what I see Arizona wanting to do with a pair of pretty good backs. The chances of Ellington being a stud fantasy asset next year are slim, barring injury of course, but he's still a good player with great upside.
Advice: I see this as being VERY similar to the Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard situation in Cincy where both guys have value because both are pretty talented, but given his size and speed combination, Johnson is the back to own. I see Ellington having good value in the ninth round or later. Expect Johnson to go in the fifth or even earlier depending on how the carries get split up in the preseason.
Dallas running backs
Now we're supposed to run Joseph Randle or the oft-injured, oft-ineffective Darren McFadden out there? Despite having an already great offensive line, the Boys decided to beef up again in the third round instead of taking one of the multitude of young, exciting running backs still left on the board.
Panic Level: You when you find out Michael Bay is involved in the reboot of your favorite childhood cartoon movie. Transformers was ok but holy hell did the following movies collapse like a high-rise on Dark of the Moon.
Storylines that made no sense, action scenes that were so ADHD you couldn't understand what in the blue hell was happening and characters that were FAR departures from their originals. I mean for Pete's sake, if you took out Optimus and Bumblebee and then lined up 10 other robot characters from the movie and I told you to tell me their names or even whether they were Autobots or Decepticons, do you honestly think you could do it????
I'm not sure where I was going with this, but keep Michael Bay away from the Thundercats reboot that is inevitably coming.
Advice: I think the point I was making before being sidetracked was that like a Transformers movie or like a Wookie on Endor, Dallas not drafting a running back DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I guess if I had to, I would think Randle has value in the seventh round or later while McFadden in the ninth would be an okay price. And that's based SOLELY off of their offensive line. On any other team, those guys are 13th, 14th, 15th-round flyers. Dallas homers (there are many of you) will disagree vehemently and draft either or both in the fifth or higher. If that's the price, you can have them.
Standing at 5-11 and weighing 205 pounds, he's not the biggest back in the world but at his pro day, Coleman ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. The dude is fast and he has the moves to turn something typical into something spectacular. Video evidence here.
Coleman is not a guy that nets positive yards on every carry, concerning a great number of scouts, but for fantasy purposes his real-life effectiveness is almost moot. If he gets stuffed 15 times but hits one run for 70 and a touch, you'll take that every week.
Given that Coleman basically does everything Freeman does but better, I don't know where Freeman fits in with Atlanta next year.
Advice: My apologies to Adam Rank, but Freeman is done. The FSU back was an okay sleeper prospect last year, but this year his value is next to nil. I question whether Freeman is even worth a handcuff. He's a 15th-round flyer at best.
As for Coleman, he's a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan's one-cut run scheme and with Matt Ryan/Julio Jones/Roddy White in the pass game, defenses won't be able to stack the box. Coleman can't possibly get more hype from me, and his upside is gargantuan. I think in most drafts he'll go in the fifth or sixth but I would seriously be okay with drafting him earlier if you're worried someone will snake him.
I like him A LOT and I know a lot of draft experts were REALLY high on this pick by Seattle. And while it might very well be a great real-life pick, from a fake-game perspective, I thought it was terrible.
Lockett is pretty small, measuring at 5-10 and 185 pounds, so he doesn't have the size or, quite frankly, the game tape that indicates he will be a reliable vertical threat. He ran a quick 4.40 40-yard dash but a lot of scouts have him penciled in as a high-end slot guy.
In other words, he's about the 17th slot receiver the Seahawks have on their roster. A really, really, REALLY good slot but it's redundancy nonetheless. I have serious questions as to how many targets he's going to get given the offense and the good but not great receivers already around him. And oh yeah, Jimmy Graham is in the Pacific Northwest now, meaning a ton of underneath targets will simply not be there for Lockett.
(Seattle/K-State keyboard warriors let me save you the trouble, "James, [fill in expletive here], your a idiot!!! Don't listen to him, he doesn't know what he's talking about, I've seen every KSU game and let me tell you, Locket is a STEAL!" Yep, I got it. Calm down. Sign up for our game, work on the grammar and talk to me in December.)
Panic Level: You when you shelled out $100 U.S. dollars to watch Manny Pacquiao - Floyd Mayweather and realized in Round 2 that this was going to be a typical Mayweather hug-and-foul, hug-and-foul affair.
Advice: Similarly, Seattle seemed to shell out a hefty sum to move up a few spots to nab a receiver ... only it wasn't the big-body, athletic target they desperately need but more of the same. Another small, undersized receiver. It's too bad, I like what Lockett brings to the table but I will stay away until Round 12 or later.
After emerging in the second half as the most talented and explosive back on the St. Louis roster, Mason looked poised to bust out in a big way this year. In standard drafts, I was dead set on taking a quarterback in Round 1 or 2 and then following up with Mason or Latavius Murray or both and high-fiving myself for my bold, forward-thinking genius.
The Rams, with utter disregard for my fantasy draft strategy, took Todd Gurley in the first round. It's widely believed Mason will tote the rock early but cede carries in a big way to his SEC counterpart by Week 6, if not earlier, given how the University of Georgia product is recuperating from a November ACL tear.
Advice: Like Pillman's ankle, St. Louis blew up Mason's fantasy value. He'll be a VERY difficult player to value because we're not 100 percent sure how Gurley's rehab is going. Everyone is saying it's fine but I can't imagine the team rushing Gurley out there before he's fully and totally healthy. When that is will be the mystery.
Maybe you take Gurley in the sixth round and then snap up Mason in the eighth? It's not a bad strategy if you think the team will hand Gurley the keys in full by Week 6. But if the dreaded timeshare happens, spending two of your first eight picks on a committee situation is, as Marcas Grant would say, ungood.
As it stands, I'll take a swing at Gurley in the eighth round and then Mason much later if possible, think 11th or later. Ultimately I don't see myself drafting either because the price for both will likely be too high.
Good player, bad fit
Jeremy Langford - He needed a situation where he would complement an aging back or work as a third-down back with upside for more carries. Think Indianapolis. But now Langford, whom I loved watching run at Michigan State, is sitting behind one of the league's best backs in Matt Forte. Given his size and skill set, I fully expect the Sparty standout to be the appropriate handcuff. But even in the case of a Forte injury, Ka'Deem Carey is lurking.
Duke Johnson - Why Cleveland spent a third-round pick on yet another running back when so many other needs were still on the board, I will leave to football men smarter than I. I do know from a fantasy perspective that while I like Duke Johnson's talent, I don't love it. He's on the smallish side, just 5-9 and 207 pounds and ran a solid but unspectacular 40, posting a 4.54. His game tape was pretty darn good, but again, it just wasn't amazing.
Basically I'm telling you this because in an absolute ideal scenario, Duke beats out Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell in camp and takes home the lion's share of the carries. But in a MUCH more likely scenario, the Miami Hurricane becomes the starter but the team works in both West and Crowell a good amount, effectively destroying everyone's fantasy value.
Johnson is clearly the back to own in the Cleveland backfield but it's important to remember the team spent a third-round selection on West just last year. I would be extremely surprised if the team gives up on him this early. I wouldn't even think about Johnson until the 10th round at the earliest.
Phillip Dorsett - I know a lot of real-life fans and experts LOVED this pick but I just don't get it. He's a small speedster (5-8, 185 pounds with a 4.29 40) or in other words, basically T.Y. Hilton. I guess Indy can run streak routes on both sides? That isn't their offense in the least, so this seems like a bad match both in real life and in fantasy.
Because of his high profile, Dorsett will likely be drafted entirely too high (think Round 10 or earlier). The problem is given his skill set and role in the offense, he will produce extreme boom-or-bust numbers. I can almost guarantee you he will have a 120-yard, three touchdown game at some point in the season. But if you're pushing him into your WR3 or flex spot in standard scoring, you can expect quite a few one- or two-point games as well.
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