Top 20 fantasy prospects to watch at the draft

The NFL Draft is almost here! That means it's time for fantasy fans to beef up on their knowledge of the players most likely to make an immediate impact. If you slacked off last year, you missed out on a whole lot of valuable assets. While a true determination on value can't be made until after the draft, it's never too soon to grade talent.

Here are my top 20 fantasy rookies to watch for this weekend.

1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: Gurley's stock has risen in recent weeks, so much so that he's now in the discussion as a top-10 pick. The former Bulldog has drawn comparisons to Marshawn Lynch for his tough running style, and it looks like he'll have a shot to be back in time for Week 1 after a November ACL operation. He'd be a good fit with Atlanta at No. 8.

2. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: Gordon ran for a ridiculous 2,587 yards and averaged a bonkers 7.6 yards per carry in his final collegiate season. While the specter of failed Wisconsin runners at the NFL level looms, it's hard to ignore Gordon's skills. If he lasts until the end of the first round, he would become a tremendous option for the Cowboys at No. 27.

3. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: NFL Digital Media scout Daniel Jeremiah told me he sees Cooper as the next great wideout to come out of Alabama (Julio Jones, anyone?) In his final collegiate campaign, he led all wideouts in targets (174) and receptions (124). Cooper will be a top-10 pick, and it's looking like he'll land with the Oakland Raiders at No. 4.

4. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia: White is a big, strong wideout who is considered the best prospect at the position by NFL Digital Media's Mike Mayock. He also possesses great speed (4.35 at the Combine) and could be a nice red-zone target at the pro level. White could end up landing in the Windy City at No. 7 overall as the replacement for Brandon Marshall (Jets).

5. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: A potential top-10 pick in the draft, Parker comes in at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds ... good size for an NFL wideout. He also ran a solid 4.40 at the Combine, so his playmaking skills are evident. He'll be an intriguing option for St. Louis (No. 10), Minnesota (No. 11) and Cleveland (No. 12), all of which need help at wide receiver.

6. Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State: NFL Films' Greg Cosell loves what Ajayi brings to the table, at least on tape, but there are growing concerns about his right knee. In fact, reports suggest he could be a candidate to require a microfracture procedure later in his career. A team like the Jaguars, Falcons or Ravens could take a chance on him in either Round 2 or 3.

7. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska: Abdullah made a name for himself in his two final collegiate campaigns, rushing for a combined 3,301 yards with 33 total touchdowns. He doesn't have great size (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) and needs to improve as a pass blocker, but Abdullah had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and should be a surefire second- or third-rounder this weekend.

8. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: Green-Beckham is a huge target at 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, making him a potential red-zone threat at the pro level. However, he was dismissed from the Missouri program in 2014 due to a rash of off-the-field problems. DGB has first-round talent overall, but he could fall into Round 2 because of his questionable behavior.

9. Breshad Perriman, Central Florida: Perriman ran a sub-4.3 at his pro day, and his size (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) will make him a possible first-round selection. In his final collegiate season, he averaged a ridiculous 20.9 yards per catch and found the end zone nine times. Perriman could be a target of Houston (No. 16) or Cleveland (No. 19) in Round 1.

10. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL): I like runners who come from a school that produces solid players at the position. Enter Johnson, who follows a long line of Miami (FL) backs to thrive in the NFL. He's not big at 5-foot-9 and 207 pounds, though, so some scouts see him as more of a scat back at the pro level. Still, the right team could give him a chance for more.

Prospects 11-20

11. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Most quarterbacks don't make a huge impact as rookies, so Mariota will have minimal seasonal appeal in fantasy leagues.
12. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana: Coleman, who rushed for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014, grades out as a potential second- or third-round talent.
13. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: I'm never keen on Trojan wide receivers, but Agholor could come off the board as high as the late first round in the draft.
14. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama: Yeldon isn't a fast back, but he's big with a nose for the end zone (37 TDs at Alabama). He could be a nice fit for the Jags.
15. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: Winston will be the likely No. 1 overall pick, but he's not going to be selected in most 2015 fantasy re-draft leagues.
16. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: Strong recorded 82 catches for 1,165 yards with 10 touchdowns in his final season at ASU. Likely a second rounder.
17. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: Smith is a burner with the skills to take the top off a defense with ease. The Chiefs could target him in the second round.
18. David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa: Posted the fourth-best 40 time among backs at the NFL Scouting Combine, which is impressive for a 224-pounder.
19. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota: Williams has good size at 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds and is likely to be the first tight end taken off the board (Round 2-3).
20. David Cobb, RB, Minnesota: Cobb isn't the fastest runner, but he is elusive and can pass block. He's a good bet to be picked in the third or fourth round.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.