Now that the draft is over; it’s time to fill in the long, excruciating wait until the NFL season begins. And somewhere between rookie mini camps and the pre-season, dudes and females alike, will be scouting prospects for their impending fantasy drafts. While I am absolutely no expert, I have won a couple of fantasy leagues over the past few seasons. With the draft coming to an end after what seemed like years to get here, it’s time to look forward to the impact these rookies will have in 2015 and beyond.
Jameis Winston - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s no surprise that his name is on this list, after-all, he was the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jameis will inherit play-makers all over the field. This is what makes me intrigued by him as a fantasy quarterback. When you take a look at what he did in college, it gives you a pretty good idea of what Jameis is capable of at the next level.
Source: Washington Post
So what do you say? Winston will be chucking balls to Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans primarily, with a heavy side of tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In 2014, Vincent Jackson averaged 7 points a game. He accumulated 1,022 yards and 2 touchdowns; this should change now that Jameis Winston is the quarterback. And that’s just Jackson, Mike Evans put up even better numbers, catching 68 balls for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns. Woo-wee Winston is going to have a nice season. That is assuming he can take the next step and become a man, no more stealing crab legs or yelling that some girl’s a thot. You’re better than that thot and hell, I would’ve bought you some crab legs.
I don’t envision Jameis Winston as a QB1 in ’15, given that he is a rookie, his off the field problems are troubling and let’s be honest, they were the worst team in the league with a quarterback that some teams
actually coveted in the off-season. Not being a QB1 doesn’t mean he has no fantasy value. The potential is there, and I’d take a guy like Winston over any of the QBs in Houston, New York or even Washington; but that’s just my opinion.
Fantasy Prediction: Passing - 3,350 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Marcus Mariota - Tennessee Titans
Super mf’n Mario is his name and throwing touchdown passes to Dorial Green-Beckham is going to be his game. This duo is poised to take the NFL by storm. Many thought DGB was physically one of the best wide receivers in the NFL draft, it was his off the field issues that scared teams off. He and Mariota are going to do big things, and while the Titan’s overall record may not change, they will definitely be more competitive than they would with say, a viral disease named Zack Mettenberger behind center.
Wisenhunt is a
horrible head coach decent offensive mind. He will adapt his offense to better suit Mariota’s strengths. Yes, this likely means Mariota has more value in fantasy next season than, let’s say, King Crab. Mariota can use his legs to beat opposing defenses, Winston can not. Running the read-option means Mariota will see more than enough opportunities to make plays with his feet. Much like RG3, Russell Wilson, and RT-17, defenses must always be prepared for the quarterback keeper. (Please note: I do understand RG3 is dog shit)
Tennessee already has a running back in place and added another in the draft. Using Mariota and Sankey/Cobb in the run game, while trusting Mariota to use his weapons on the outside, the Titans might have a pretty good year. Mariota won the Heisman trophy in 2014, and his ability to move around and make plays with his legs had A LOT to do with it. He’s also very smart with the football, it wasn’t until the National Championship game v.s the Ohio State Buckeyes where he would finally fuck up and throw an interception.
Looking over the numbers he put up in college, I expect Mariota to do big things in 2015 and beyond.
Source: Washington Post
Fantasy Prediction: Passing - 3,153 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Rushing - 752 yards and 4 touchdowns.
While Garrett Grayson and Bryce Petty will have a combined 0 fantasy points in 2015, both quarterbacks may have some value in dynasty leagues. With Drew Brees declining, there’s little doubt Grayson will get his chance sooner rather than later. However, it’s Bryce Petty that holds the most fantasy value out of the two. A product of Art Briles’ high octane spread offense, Petty will be competing with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith. While he will definitely need a year or two to get accustomed to the NFL game, I expect Petty to have success when finally given his opportunity.
Fantasy Projections - Pro Bowl clipboard holders.
Toddy Gurley - St. Louis Rams
Many were uncertain where Todd Gurley would land in the 2015 NFL draft, but one thing was unanimous, Todd Gurley would be a play-maker at the next level. After being selected 10th overall by the St. Louis Rams, it was obvious Jeff Fisher found his modern-day Eddie George. All of this, despite how well Trae Mason looked at times in 2014. Bringing an electrifying player like Gurley into the back field, makes the Rams offense a force to be reckoned with.
In the off-season, St.Louis traded away injured quarterback Sam Bradford, in exchange for some draft picks and Nick Foles. Scanning the depth chart, the Rams have some solid
play-makers guys who can catch on the outside. Kenny Britt, Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick, to name a few. Add in the potential upgrade at quarterback and the passing game should be a real threat for the Rams. This will spread defenses out allowing Gurley to pick his way through the opposition.
Prior to his injury, Gurley was one of the best players in the nation.
Source: Washington Post
Jeff Fisher loves to pound the rock, it’s something he did with Eddie George and again with Chris Johnson. While Eddie George is a legend and Johnson a play-maker in his own right, Todd Gurley has the potential to be a once in a decade kind of back. The injury issues as well as the lack luster offensive line may be troublesome, but Gurley will be one of the top running backs selected in standard drafts. I see the Rams giving Gurley a heavy work load throughout the season, with his injury concerns being the only thing capable of slowing him down. He is a complete running back whom has the ability to make big plays in the passing game. Gurley possesses both power and speed, something that should help him strive in the NFL. Barring any setbacks from the torn ACL, it would be hard to pass on Todd Gurley.
Fantasy Prediction: Rushing - 1,115 yards and 9 touchdowns. Receiving - 422 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon - San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have been in desperate need of a legit running back for quite sometime. Ryan Matthews couldn’t stay healthy, so his time with the Chargers came to an end. After the Chargers informed Matthews he was no longer a part of the occasion, they were left with a backfield of; Danny Woodhead, Brandon Oliver and Donald Brown. With a play-maker like Gordon available when the Chargers were on the clock at #15, the decision was easy. Go get yourself one of the best running backs in the nation, and that’s exactly what they did.
Gordon, for lack of a better term, tore shit up at the University of Wisconsin; finding himself among the finalists for the Heisman trophy.
Source: Washington Post
While Gordon might not make a huge impact in the passing game, he averaged a jaw dropping, 7.8 yards a carry during his career at Wisconsin. Obviously, numbers like that are nearly impossible in the NFL, but the talent is there. Gordon will be blessed running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, in Mike McCoy’s high-octane offense. McCoy and co. believe he’s the missing piece in a Chargers offense in desperate need of making the playoffs.
Fantasy Prediction: Rushing - 1,449 yards and 12 touchdowns. Receiving - 333 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Ameer Abdullah - Detroit Lions
Please tell me the last Lions’ running back to have any worth in fantasy football? Reggie Bush and his horrid knees? What about Joique Bell or Theo Riddick? There is no right answer because let’s face it, the last great Lions’ running back was Barry Sanders; way back when Gameboy was relevant. To my knowledge, fantasy football wasn’t much of a thing at this time; however, it is now, and now, the Lions finally have their running back of the future. Ameer Abdullah possesses the speed and decisiveness to have success at the next level. Given Detroit’s lack of a true #1 in the back field, Abdullah has the ability to make an immediate impact in 2015. With the Matt Stafford and the weapons he has on the outside, Abdullah should get plenty of chances to show off his play-making ability.
Let’s take a look at the success he had while at Nebraska
Source: Washington Post
The success Ameer Abdullah had in college needs to translate to the NFL if the Lions are going to take the next step in the NFC North. Everyone in the division got better, adding an upper echelon prospect should give the Lions a well-rounded offense. This is assuming of course Abdullah is able to carry the work load, something no one has been able to do since Barry. Although he’s only a rookie, the Lions should put faith in Ameer’s hands. This may be the best running back they’ve had since Sanders and that’s saying a lot. I fully expect him to be taken high in most standard drafts. Ameer Abdullah is the missing piece the Lions so desperately needed. Now all they have to do is hope Aaron Rodgers breaks up with Olivia Munn and John Fox forgets how to coach. Let’s not forget, the Vikings also improved, setting the NFC North up to be one of the most intriguing divisions in all of football.
Fantasy Prediction - Rushing - 943 yards and 6 touchdowns. Receiving - 333 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Best of the Rest
Here are some of the other rookie running backs, destined to make an impact in 2015.
T.J Yeldon - Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s hard to say what kind of impact T.J Yeldon will have in 2015. In 2014, Dennard Robinson looked great at times; Storm Johnson looked solid too. And still, the Jaguars drafted T.J Yeldon for a reason. Gus Bradley saw first hand what a play-making running back could do with a great defense. He’s starting to mold the Jaguars into his vision, a hard-nosed defense that wont be afraid to pound the rock down your throat. T.J Yeldon will have more than his fair share of opportunities, thus making him worth a look in all fantasy formats.
Tevin Coleman - Atlanta Falcons
The Stephen Jackson experiment in Atlanta has come to an end. Uncertain of how productive Davonte Freeman will be in year two, Dan Quinn and Co. decided to take it upon themselves to find the Falcons a true #1 running back. Blessed with 4.4 speed, Coleman has the ability to change direction on a dime. His patience and ability to make defenders miss, should result in plenty of big plays at the next level. Despite his game breaking speed, Coleman isn’t scared to lower the boom on defenders. Atlanta should be happy with their selection, as should anyone that takes Tevin Coleman in fantasy this year.
Jay Ajayi - Miami Dolphins
Miami happily drafted Jay Ajayi in the 5th round after concerns with his knee caused him to free-fall. Miami used their own version of a “running back by committee” in ’14, allowing Daniel Thomas and Damian Williams to snipe carries from Lamar Miller. Unusual in football, the Dolphins seem to have Miller on some kind of “pitch count”. Miller rarely rushed more than 15 times a game last season, which will surely benefit the rookie Ajayi in 2015. Jay Ajay is a complete running back who will undoubtedly have a role in both the passing game and short yardage situations. He’s worth a pick up in all fantasy leagues, but has more value in dynasty leagues as long as Miller remains the starter.
Duke Johnson - Cleveland Browns
In 2014, the Browns selected Terrance West in the second round of the NFL draft. Although West didn’t make the kind of impact many expected, Isiah Crowell blossomed and showed the world his potential. And yet, despite all this, the Browns still decided to select Duke Johnson in the third round of this year’s draft. Johnson has the ability to be an every down back in the NFL and should get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth throughout OTAs. One of the best natural backs in the entire draft, it shouldn’t be long before Duke Johnson finds his way into the starting line up.
Amari Cooper - Oakland Raiders
When you look at what Derek Carr did in 2014, you can’t help but be impressed given the lack of play-makers on offense. I mean let’s be honest, Andre Holmes led the team with 693 yards receiving and probably wouldn’t start for a majority of the teams in the NFL. So when Oakland had the chance to take Amari Cooper with the 4th pick in the 2015 draft, I anxiously awaited for Mark Davis to fuck things up, the same way the Crypt Keeper would have done. To my surprise, he did not. Despite being the BPA, the Raiders passed on defensive tackle Leonard Williams, selecting the play-making wide receiver from Alabama.
Source: Washington Post
Funny, those stats are with the likes of Blake Sims and A.J McCarron. That means in 2015, Amari Cooper will have the best quarterback of his entire career. Carr2Cooper could go down in history as one of the best tandems, then again, they are the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders probably wont make the playoffs in 2015, but Amari Cooper will be a 1,000 yard receiver with 10+ touchdowns, that I can promise. Oakland finally has a quarterback, their defense is stellar and now they have an upper echelon pass catcher. Amari Cooper is a great route runner, with the ability to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Cooper isn’t scared to go up and get the ball and should have plenty of opportunities in Bill Musgrave’s offense. I look forward to seeing this tandem grow over the next several years.
Fantasy Predictions - 1,256 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Kevin White - Chicago Bears
I was a huge fan of Kevin White heading into the draft. Some would say I was hypnotized by the adorable gap between his two front teeth; in all actuality, it was his big play ability and 4.3 speed that really made me a fan of his. After the Bears traded Brandon Marshall to the New York Jests, they had a pretty big hole to fill at wide receiver. So when White fell to the Bears at #7, Jay Cutler stood up
with his needle in his leg and fist pumped to the lord above.
Source: Washington Post
Cutler was dog shit in 2014, beg to differ? Jimmy Clausen managed to make a cameo in 1/4 of the Bears games. That little snippet immediately backs my argument. If the Bears or White look to have any success in 2015, Cutler has to change his ways. He’s an asshole, who at times, has no care in the world. The addition of Adam Gase should help Cutler regain his previous form, making the Bears a potential dark horse in 2015 Adding White opposite of Alshon Jeffery gives the Bears one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL.
Kevin White burst onto the scene in 2014 after having a mediocre year in 2013, so his potential is still unknown. White could turn out to be even better than the 1,447 yards he produced at WVU in 2014. I expect him to make an impact in a Bears offense in desperate need of turning things around. Matt Forte is almost 30, the Bears are married to Cutler for a few more years, and the NFC North isn’t getting any easier. John Fox has some work to do, but with Kevin White and his ability to break the top off defenses, I like their odds.
Fantasy Prediction - 857 yards and 9 touchdowns.
DeVante Parker - Miami Dolphins
When DeVante Parker was available for the Miami Dolphins at #14, fans everywhere rejoiced. Parker possesses 4.5 speed and has the ability to bring down those 50/50 balls. Basically, he’s everything Wallace, Hartline and Gibson were not. DeVante will be Miami’s #1 wide receiver for the next several years, however, don’t get that confused with #1 target. Miami improved all of their weapons around Tannehill this off-season. While Parker is indeed a dynamic play-maker,he may not have the same kind of impact as some of the other rookie wide receivers. This isn’t a knock against Parker, the Dolphins just have plenty of mouths to feed on the offensive side of the ball.
Source: Washington Post
I expect Parker to be a perfect fit for Bill Lazor’s spread offense. Miami likes wide receivers that can play all over the field, Parker is that . With so many weapons on offense, Parker should get plenty of one on one opportunities on the outside. Defenses must plan for Lamar miller and his 5.1 yards a carry, while worrying about Tannehill running the ball. Oh yeah, did I mention they also have Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings and Cameron Jordan? Parker will see plenty of opportunities in 2015 and would be the perfect WR2 or Flex, in any league.
Fantasy Prediction - 856 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Nelson Agholor - Philadelphia Eagles
After letting Jeremy Maclin reunite with Reid in Kansas City, the Eagles had a pretty large void at wide receiver. Despite Breshad Perriman still being available, Chip Kelly pulled the trigger and added the play-maker out of USC. After the draft, Kelly admitted Agholor was the best available player on his draft board. Although I was shocked, I trust Chip Kelly a lot more than my stupid ass. Agholor will fit nicely into Chip Kelly’s innovative offense. Kelly will use Agholor to his advantage, lining him up all over the field.
Source: Washington Post
With the lack of a true #1 wide receiver, Agholor should be a favorite target for Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez, whomever wins the starting job. Agholor is a crisp route runner with 4.4 speed. In a spread offense like Philly’s, he should get plenty of opportunities to turn a short reception into a big gain. Most of his damage will come from the slot, where Agholor made a living at USC. His speed, route running, and willingness to succeed at the next level, makes Agholor a possibility to have the biggest impact of any of the rookie wide receivers.
Fantasy Prediction - 1,266 and 11 touchdowns.
Other Notable Pass Catchers
Breshad Perriman - Baltimore Ravens
When the Ravens let Torrey Smith walk in free agency it was apparent they had to find a suitable pass catcher to replace him. In doing so, Baltimore found themselves a 6’2, 212 pound wide receiver capable of running a blazing 4.24 forty; pretty damn impressive if you ask me. Joe Flacco is one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, giving him a weapon like Perriman is deadly. Perriman isn’t the most reliable pass catcher, but his size and speed makes him a legit play-maker in Baltimore’s offense.
Phillip Dorsett - Indianapolis Colts
Dorsett is another speedster for fantasy owners to salivate over. Much like Perriman, Dorsett is blessed with game changing speed. Indy already had one of the best offenses in the NFL, they now add a 4.27 wide receiver with the ability to blow the doors off opposing defenses. With T.Y Hilton on one side and Dorsett on the other, opposing defenses will have fits trying to figure out which of the two is more lethal. Look for “Luck to Dorsett” to be one of the best tandems for years to come.
Devin Smith - Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton signed a $100 million contract earlier this afternoon; which means he and Smith will be teammates for the next several years. Devin Smith brings elite speed, something the Panthers have not had since Ted Ginn Jr. The only difference is Devin Smith isn’t scared to get hit, he also has the ability to go up and high point the football. Adding a play-maker like Smith opposite of Kelvin Benjamin, should allow Cam Newton to have one of the best years of his career. Devin Smith should be highly considered in all fantasy leagues.
Dorial Green-Beckham - Tennessee Titans
See Marcus Mariota
Maxx Williams - Baltimore Ravens
With the 55th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens drafted, ginger Jeremy Shockey. Baltimore desperately needed a play-making tight end, after losing Dennis Pita to free agency. At 6’4, 249 pounds, Maxx Williams possesses the skill and size to be a difference maker at the next level. While at Minnesota, Maxx Williams put up less than stellar numbers. However, his size, route running and ability to make plays in the red zone, should make him a legit play-maker in the NFL.
Clive Walford - Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders selected tight end Clive Walford with the 68th overall pick in the 2015 draft. From the University of Miami, Walford managed to drop a total of two passes while at Miami. His sure hands mixed with his size and big play ability. Should give quarterback Derek Carr a weapon to utilize in the red zone. Look for Walford to battle Rivera for the starting job and have a key role in 2015. Walford could turn into the best tight end in the draft class, but much of that depends on Bill Musgrave and his style of offense. One things for sure, adding Amari Cooper and Clive Walford, the Raiders wont have any excuses in 2015.