The 2015 draft just wrapped up, and although we are months away from NFL contests popping up in our fantasy lobbies, the talk goes year-round. Jumping back a year, we saw a lot of rookies make a significant impact in our daily contests. The 2014 draft had a major impact on the wide receiver position with guys like Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, and Donte Moncrief. Beckham, Benjamin, and Evans turned into great cash game options, while the others were GPP hopefuls who hit on their fair share of weekends. So what happened in this year's draft? Six quality wide receivers were drafted in the first round, and three followed shortly after in the second round. I believe we are in for another great year in wide receiver performances. Wide receiver is not the only position that made a splash in this year's draft, a pair of quarterbacks went one-two in the draft, and four running backs went in the first two rounds. A lot of very talented skill position rookies will make an impact on our daily fantasy lives this season.
Kevin White - WR - Chicago Bears - 7th Overall - Projection: 65 REC, 950 YDS, 7 TDS
I have White and Cooper very closely ranked, but the advantage goes to White, simply because he has a more established quarterback throwing to him with other weapons around him. You may have your opinion about Jay Cutler, but I rather have him throwing to my wide receiver than Derek Carr. I think Carr has a shot at being an established quarterback, but for this year I will still lean Cutler's way. The Bears shipped off Brandon Marshall this off-season, but still hold Alshon Jefferey, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte to round out their lethal offensive targets. That is another reason to like White this season, there are multiple targets for a defense to worry about. At West Virginia, White had 1,447 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. At 6'3, 215 lbs, he is a talented deep ball threat, but will need to work on his release when facing physical corners. He recorded a 4.35 forty time at the combine, and an elusive receiver after the catch. He is not one to go down without a fight, and is great in 50/50 ball scenarios. He is good underneath, as well as a deep threat down field. What I like most about White, is that he will be a threat in the red zone. Receivers that are 6'3 or taller are more efficient in the red zone.. His only clear weakness is route running, but that is something that can be cleaned up. If John Fox sticks to his guns, Chicago will throw less than they did last season, ranking 7th in attempts. He should jump right into the mix of things in Chicago, 800 yards and six touchdowns is very doable for White. I will be lining him up in GPP's from the start.
Amari Cooper - WR - Oakland Raiders - 4th Overall - Projection: 70 REC, 900 YDS, 5 TDS
Cooper is without a doubt the best wide receiver taken in the draft, but the fact he went to Oakland will stall his fantasy production a little bit. He is 6'1 and really plays like he is 6'4, Carr is going to love having a target like Cooper to throw too. He is an exceptional route runner, and is a reliable pass catcher. Oakland just had vertical route receivers last season, adding Cooper will diversify their passing game. He had 124 receptions last season, 1727 yards, and 16 touchdowns. The difference between him and White is that Cooper is better against press coverage, as you can see below. Cooper will see plenty of targets in Oakland, and there is some upside with Carr throwing to him. He will line up in a number of spots, inside and out. Oakland also added Michael Crabtree, which will take a little focus off Cooper from opposing defenses. Due to Oakland's growing pains, the production from Cooper will be sporadic throughout the year, much like Sammy Watkins last season. Cooper should have similar numbers to Watkin's 2014 season (65 REC, 982 YDS, 6 TD). If Carr and Cooper develop quick chemistry, I can see Cooper making an immediate impact in the daily fantasy game, especially if the Raiders are behind in games and are throwing 24/7 like last season.
Melvin Gordon - RB - San Diego Chargers - 15th Overall - Projection: 1,050 YDS, 6 TDS
There is a reason San Diego traded up to get this guy, and that is to make him their premier back. Ryan Mathews didn't pan out, and the Chargers were entering 2015 without a true running back. He is an electric back, and packs that home run threat. He had 32 total touchdowns last season, and took down Barry Sander's rushing yards in a game record. He nearly broke Sander's yards in a season record.Three out of five NFL executives compared him to Jamaal Charles, which is a pretty good comparison when trying to predict fantasy worth. Looking at San Diego's schedule, they rank 14th in running back strength of schedule, meaning Gordon will have his share of matchups to exploit. The downside of Gordon's situation is him only being featured on first and second down, which cuts into his production a little bit. Gordon is the real deal, a thousand yard season is very possible, I don't believe we will see him fall short of the hype. With the right matchup, Gordon will make for a solid RB2, or flex play on certain weeks.
Nelson Agholor - WR - Philadelphia Eagles - 20th Overall - Projection: 65 REC, 750 YDS, 5 TDS
Like everyone has said, the Eagles replaced Jeremy Maclin with this pick. Agholor's combine numbers were almost identical to Maclin's, and is a similar style of producer. He is a shiny new toy for Chip Kelly to play with, and him and Jordan Matthews will be the go-to guys in Philly. He had 104 receptions for 1,313 yards, and 12 touchdowns at USC last season. He is an excellent route runner, and very quick. In 2015 expect Agholor to be used out of the slot a ton, and in the screen game. In this system he should see a ton of targets, and many of those leading to receptions. I don't expect him to score a ton of touchdowns, but the home run threat is there with Agholor. If he was in another system, I would compare him to have a rookie season like Brandin Cook's (53 REC, 550 YDS, 3 TD) with upside, but with Philly he should hit that upside fairly easily. He daily leagues he will be a tournament play for most of the season, unless he is consistently catching 6+ balls a game. At USC in 2014, he only fell short of five receptions twice in 13 games. Eagles scored the third most points per game last season, so expect him to jump in and be a part of that.
Breshad Perriman - WR - Baltimore Ravens - 26th Overall - Projection: 55 REC, 800 YDS, 5 TDS
I am ecstatic about this pick for Baltimore, he blew everyone away by running a 4.24 forty. The fact he is 6'2 and 212 is what makes that 40 time unbelievable. He only caught 50 balls in 2014, but had 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns. The physique and speed is there for Perriman to have breakout weeks from time to time, but he will need to sure up his hands and football IQ. He dropped 14% of his passes, and lacks in the ball tracking department. With Torrey Smith off to San Francisco, there are some targets up for grabs. Perriman will fill in his spot. Last season we saw a lot of young wide receivers benefit from having a decent quarterback, as one expects. I am glad to see a lot of these wide receivers go to teams with a distinguished quarterback in place. Joe Flacco should flash that arm strength on a few deep balls to Perriman this season. I am going to use Perriman exactly how I used Martavis Bryant last season, and that is in a lot of tournaments.
Jameis Winston - QB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 1st Overall - Projection: 4,100 YDS, 24 TDS, 16 INT
You can question his character all you want, but Winston is ready to rock in the NFL. At 6'4 it is good to see some height come into the league after a few of these smaller quarterbacks got some run. He has an NFL ready arm, played in a pro-style offense at Florida State, and is praised for his football intelligence. The 28 interceptions over two years may have you rethink that intelligence, but it is more of him being a risk taker and trusting that arm a little too much. He threw close to 8,000 yards and 65 touchdowns at Florida State, and will be traveling south to throw to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. He also will have a big tight end target in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, not a bad trio of guys to throw to in your rookie season. The Bucs have the easiest fantasy schedule for quarterbacks and wide receivers this season, but Winston be will inconsistent week to week. Every quarterback has their week, and Winston should have quite a few standout performances this season. With studs like Evans and Jackson, they should all make popular GPP pairings this season.
DeVante Parker - WR - Miami Dolphins - 14th Overall - Projection: 65 REC, 900 YDS, 6 TDS
The Dolphins drafting Parker is going to give Ryan Tannehill a great target to throw to. He has yet to truly have consistent receiver to team up with. He is a very reliable pass catcher, only has three dropped passes since 2012. Parker missed the first seven games of his senior season before setting the world on fire in his final six. He had 855 yards and six touchdowns in that span. He has shown the ability to work against press and zone coverage at an efficient level.What stands out to me about Parker is his ability to go and get the ball in the air, he uses every bit of his length to get the ball at its highest point. Miami ranked in the middle of the league last season in passing offense, but this season they should take a step up. Parker is likely to lineup up with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and Greg Jennings. He will likely get the nod over Jennings though. I am very high on Parker making a fantasy impact this season, especially with Tannehill taking a big step last season. I would not be shocked at all if he comes out to be this year's Odell Beckam.
Todd Gurley - RB - St. Louis Rams - 10th Overall - Projection: 1,000 Total YDS, 7 TDS
It is not a matter of if Gurley will have fantasy value, but when. The Rams will take it slow with Gurley, after he tore his ACL in October. Gurley is simply a freak of nature, a mix of speed and power has him projected for an Adrian Peterson style future. In six games he rushed for 911 yards (7.4 YPC), and nine touchdowns before going down with the injury. In 2013 he caught 37 passes for 441 yards and 6 TD. He is a true three down back, and will break any arm tackle you try and give him. In Gurley's career, he averaged 46 YAC per SEC game (2.8 YAC per carry). The cloud hanging over him is the ACL tear he suffered. The latest news is he will be ready for week two of training camp, which is a great sign.St. Louis will not rush him into the NFL, but once he is unleashed, he will be a top back to pick week to week. Zac Stacy in 2013, Tre Mason in 2014, and now it should be Todd Gurley 2015+. Once we all know he is healthy and getting carries, he will be a cash game option when he is not playing Seattle.
Ameer Abdullah - RB - Detroit Lions - 54th Overall Projection: 900 Total YDS, 6 TDS
This kid is a true play maker, he accumulated over 5,000 yards of offense in three years at Nebraska, and totaled for 43 touchdowns. He is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, and also has shown the ability to shoulder the load and be an all down back. At the combine he had the highest SPARQ score among running backs, despite his 4.6 forty time. His weakness is ball security, and that is the biggest issue that he will need to clean up if he wants to be and stay a starter. He is expected to win the starting job in Detroit, and the Lions were high on adding a play maker before the draft. The Lions are a big believer in the screen play (562 screen yards), Abdullah will benefit from the screen being heavily called upon in Detroit. He has tremendous upside in a system that scores a ton of points, and provides a similar fantasy style of Giovani Benard. I am curious to see if Joique Bell gets the goal line carries, which is something that relates to Bernard there as well. He is in a division that has been awful at stopping the run game, that is six matchups for him to build upon. I really like him as a GPP play this season, and if he meshes with this offense quickly, he may make for a nice cash game RB2, or flex.