NFL draft/Fantasy Impact.
Quarterbacks traditionally are not big fantasy impact players in year one of their careers, but with the emergence of players such as Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III making an early leap onto fantasy football teams, more is expected from rookie signal callers than ever before.
Blake Bortles, UCF – Bortles is a tall, athletic quarterback with an above average arm who has experienced a dramatic rise up draft boards over the past few months. Bortles will be one of, if not the, first quarterback off the board on May 8th, and no matter where he goes, Houston, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, or anywhere else, he’ll be counted on as a top ten pick to start immediately and to produce.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – Manziel is quite possibly the polar opposite of Bortles as a prospect, but the enigmatic and fiery quarterback who has gained the moniker “Johnny Football” is an elite prospect nonetheless. Despite being undersized, Manziel has a good NFL arm and elite improvisational skills.
Running backs traditionally make the quickest fantasy impact. Fresh legs seem to mean more broken tackles, increasing their early fantasy returns over other positions. However, with a short shelf life at the position, backs are falling down draft boards, making it harder to spot the instant impact guys based solely on draft position.
Bishop Sankey, Washington – Sankey is a do-it-all back that lit up the combine after a very productive career at Washington. He’s thickly built with enough pop to take it the distance and can do some damage on the second level. Sankey may go in the second round, but he’ll be drafted to contribute, and he’s a name that fantasy owners should take note of now.
Receivers traditionally struggle as rookies, but much like quarterbacks have enjoyed early success in recent seasons, we’ve seen valuable players such as Julio Jones and Keenan Allen make big strides early on. This year, the draft presents perhaps the deepest crop of pass catchers in nearly two decades, with as many as seven players who may hear their names called on day one.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson – An elite talent with breakaway speed as well as the ability to go up and fight for the ball in traffic. At a hair under 6’1, Watkins doesn’t have the physically intimidating presence of a typical number one receiver, but his body control and ability to locate and come down with the ball in traffic separates him from other players with his kind of explosive speed.
Mike Evans, Texas A&M – Evans is a big, physical receiver who compares favorably to Vincent Jackson as a player, except his route running and hands are light years ahead of where Jackson was as a college prospect. Evans has the explosiveness you look for in a big receiver to get off of press coverage without disrupting offensive timing, and he made a name for himself getting open on extended plays in college.