Possibly even more than free agency, the draft gives us an honest look into how NFL teams view themselves- their strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between. I decided to take a look at how NFL teams addressed those concerns, and how those draft choices will affect veteran players with a fantasy football lens. Will their ADP rise or fall? Have they increased or decreased in value? Without further ado, my predictions:
*Author’s Note: All ADPs are taken from FantasyFootballCalculator.com
Doug Martin- Prediction: ADP Falls, Value Slightly Decreases
After a scintillating rookie season, Doug Martin experienced a classic sophomore slump: struggling on the field, then a season-ending injury. He is a decent post-hype bounce back candidate, but has limited upside in PPR leagues due to Jeff Tedford’s previous running back usage. I don’t think it was a coincidence the Buccaneers drafted the draft’s best receiving/pass protection combo back- last year showed how much they need a viable body behind Martin.
I do think Charles Sims will take away the occasional 3rd down away from Martin, but make no mistake- this is Doug Martin’s backfield. Sims just lives in it. Ultimately, I see a very small decrease in Martin’s projection while Sims adds just another worry to a suddenly shaky running back- something that will equal lower ADP and better value.
Giovani Bernard- Prediction: ADP Falls, Value Unchanged
Want to know a dirty little secret? Giovani Bernard was never going to be a true workhorse back in Cincinnati. There are two separate running back roles on the Bengals- the receiving, outside running “space” back, and the between-the-tackles grinder. The drafting of Jeremy Hill may scare some owners, but those owners had unfairly high expectations of Bernard before the draft, as evidenced by his late second-round ADP- ahead of proven studs like Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffrey and Randall Cobb. Read this or this article by Mike Braude and this one by Shawn Siegele from Rotoviz, and you will see why that is an incredibly unnecessary risk.
It seems like every year, a large portion of the fantasy community falls for a young, exciting but ultimately unproven running back (see Mathews, Ryan in 2012 or Wilson, David in 2013) thrust into a starting position, and Bernard was a prime candidate to be 2014’s running back heartbreaker. His true value has not changed at all since the draft, but I promise you his ADP will drop closer to a point where he becomes a value, not a liability.
Cordarrelle Patterson- Prediction: ADP Rises, Value Unchanged
Size. Speed. Explosive with the ball in his hands. At first glance, it seems like Cordarrelle Patterson is set for a breakout year. But as I take a closer look, I become more skeptical. Many say he will take over the “Josh Gordon” downfield threat role that produced fantasy’s top receiver in 2014, but that is certainly not even close to a given. Patterson simply has yet to develop a downfield game, struggling with route-running and drops as evidenced by two thirds of his rookie season targets coming within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and about one third coming behind the line of scrimmage entirely.
The Vikings had one of the most pathetic quarterback situations in the league before May 8th, and I happen to be a fan of Teddy Bridgewater. Before the draft, Patterson’s ADP was in the mid-5th round- it’s already jumping into the end of the 4th, near names like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree, and Victor Cruz. I have a hard time believing that Matt Cassel would have such a hard time with targeting Patterson within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and I don’t see how Bridgewater’s presence vastly improves his outlook on what will be an Adrian Peterson-focused offense. I think his hype is starting to get out of control.
Vincent Jackson- Prediction: ADP Falls, Value Increases
It was looking really, really bleak for Vincent Jackson for a while. With Tim Wright and Chris Owusu as the other receiving “threats”, Jackson may well have been quadruple covered if a game were played on May 7th. But the Buccaneers made it very clear what they want to do on offense- play basketball. By drafting Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, they show that they realized how desperate their passing game would have been with Jackson as the lone viable option. Throw in Josh McCown (who proved he could move an offense manned by giant receivers in Chicago) and the coverage Seferian-Jenkins and Evans will command, and I think Vincent Jackson just became a value in drafts.
I can see his perceived value going down because of a couple fewer targets, but the improved efficiency resulting from less defensive attention will more than make up for that. I truly believe he just became a better fantasy football asset and got cheaper at the same time.
Rueben Randle- Prediction: ADP Falls Heavily, Value Decreases Slightly
It has been long hinted that Rueben Randle has had questions surrounding his expanded 2014 role. With comments from ex-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to teammate Victor Cruz, it became clearer and clearer the Giants were not done looking for wide receiver help. This was confirmed when Odell Beckham became the Giants’ top 2014 draft choice. Without a doubt, Randle’s ADP is going to take a tumble. But I’m here to tell you this makes him a bargain.
New offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo hails from Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers and Co. featured the three-wide receiver set very frequently. It has been confirmed that Cruz will man the slot, leaving the rookie Beckham and Randle on the outside. We forget that even as the 3rd/4th receiving option in Green Bay, James Jones had a few very productive WR3 seasons. I’m not saying Randle is going to score 14 touchdowns, but it would be a large mistake to write him off as a fantasy afterthought just because there’s a hot new young receiver in town. His current ADP of 10.06 (behind FOUR defenses!) is not going to rise and while the addition of Beckham will divert some targets, some defensive (and probably offensive) pressure will be taken off first-time starter Randle’s shoulders. He’s well worth a flier.