Slicing ’17 Rookie Class into 12 Tiers

Updated: July 23rd 2017

According to a recent poll on our RSO Twitter feed, about 50% of RSO leagues have not yet conducted their rookie drafts.  As you’re continuing your preparation, I’m here to provide my tiered rankings of the top 50 rookies.  Navigating three to four rounds of a rookie draft isn’t easy.  My tiers are designed to help you know when to buy or sell so you can accumulate the best possible rookie class, at great value!

So let’s begin…

Tier 1

1. Corey Davis WR TEN

While Corey Davis may not be quite the same level of prospect as recent 1.01/1.02 picks Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Todd Gurley, he’s undoubtedly the best prospect in this class and the only receiver I’m willing to bet will be a true NFL #1.  Putting my money where my mouth is, I already have 3 shares and am aiming for more.

Tier 2

2. Joe Mixon RB CIN
3. Christian McCaffrey RB CAR
4. Leonard Fournette RB JAX

To say you can’t go wrong with picks 2, 3, and 4 would be inaccurate. In a few years, all three will have differing values. But at this point, the margins between each are razor-thin.

Consistent with my general strategy, I’m going to often choose the most talented player regardless of their potential non-talent-related downfalls such as injury history, off-the-field issues, etc. I’ll take Joe Mixon at 2.  He’s the only RB in this class that I believe truly has an elite RB1 ceiling. My rankings 3rd and 4th ranked players differ depending on your scoring system. PPR -> Christian McCaffrey. Standard -> Leonard Fournette.

Tier 3

5. Dalvin Cook RB MIN

While a sub-10th percentile SPARQ score terrifies me, Dalvin Cook‘s college tape tells a different story. I firmly believe that he’s the most talented back on the Minnesota Vikings and it isn’t remotely close. How soon he will earn playing time may be another story. He will need to improve drastically in pass-protection and ball security to earn playing time.

After the 1.05 pick, this draft class falls off a cliff. If you’re slated to pick 6th or later in the first round of a rookie draft this year, I’d advise shopping that pick for help now or 2018/2019 picks.

Tier 4

6. Mike Williams WR LAC

Back injuries are scary. Back injuries are especially scary when learning a NFL playbook for this first time, getting acclimated to a NFL playbook, and completing for playing time among a crowded group of talented receivers. Even if he fully recovers from this injury in time for the season, he’s unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way this season. Still my 1.06, I’d only make that pick if I’ve exhausted every trade possible without coming to an agreement. If Mike Williams struggles for playing time, but appears healthy when on the field, he might be a buy-low target at the trade deadline or during the 2018 off-season

For more info on his injury and the potential need for surgery if the non-surgical route doesn’t work, I’d recommend listening to the AUDIBLE LIVE! Podcast from June 8th as Jene Bramel (@JeneBramel on Twitter) provides great insight.

Tier 5

7. Alvin Kamara RB NO
8. John Ross WR CIN
9. David Njoku TE CLE
10. Evan Engram TE NYG
11. Samaje Perine RB WAS
12. O.J. Howard TE TB
13. Kareem Hunt RB KC

Even if he doesn’t develop as an inside runner, Alvin Kamara will still be a very productive pass-catching back in the NFL. The Saints offense is very RB friendly and neither Adrian Peterson or Mark Ingram are locks for the Saints’ 2018 roster.

Love John Ross‘ talent, but hate the landing spot. Andy Dalton isn’t the ideal QB for him, especially behind a poor offensive line that may force them to focus on getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

My tight end rankings are based on my belief in their long-term upside. Love David Njoku‘s talent and his situation isn’t as bad as many believe, especially with the release of Gary Barnidge. Evan Engram should settle in as a big slot receiver, though classified as a TE, for the Giants once they release he can’t handle the typical blocking duties of an in-line TE.

O.J. Howard likely will end up as the best NFL TE, but I’m worried that his talent as a blocker may limit his fantasy potential.

Samaje Perine doesn’t feel like a 1st rounder to me.  I would do everything possible to trade the 1.11 pick for a random 2018 1st. He was graded by many as a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick dynasty rookie pick, but has catapulted into the 1st round due to his promising landing spot in Washington. Betting on him to the next Jordan Howard is dangerous. Barring that type of breakout, I expect Washington to be in play for signing a free agent or drafting a top RB prospect in 2018.

Rounding out this tier is Kareem Hunt – a running back who dazzled on tape, but disappointed at the NFL combine. Joining a Spencer Ware in the Kansas City backfield, many believe Hunt will overtake Ware for the majority of carries by mid-season. I believe this is far from a lock and would expect Ware to lead KC in carries this year, by a 2:1 ratio.

Tier 6

14. JuJu Smith-Schuster WR PIT
15. Chris Godwin WR TB
16. Carlos Henderson WR DEN
17. James Conner RB PIT
18. Zay Jones WR BUF
19. Curtis Samuel WR CAR

Higher on Carlos Henderson than most, I love his ability after the catch. It’s also worth mentioning that aging receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t long-term barriers to playing time in Denver.

Tier 7

20. Taywan Taylor WR TEN
21. D’Onte Foreman RB HOU
22. Jeremy McNichols RB TB

Loved Taywan Taylor pre-draft and couldn’t have hoped for a much better landing spot.  Great target in the late 2nd or early 3rd round of your draft.

Tier 8

23. Melvin Mack RB IND
24. Kenny Galladay WR DET
25. ArDarius Stewart WR NYJ
26. Gerald Everett TE LAR
27. Joe Williams RB SF
28. Josh Reynolds WR LAR
29. Chad Williams WR ARI

This group includes several recent ADP risers: Kenny Galladay, ArDarius Stewart, Joe Williams, and Chad Williams. In each of my drafts, I want to land several players from this tier.

Tier 10

30. Jamaal Williams RB GB
31. Aaron Jones RB GB
32. Patrick Mahomes QB KC

In both redraft and dynasty, Ty Montgomery is the back I want in Green Bay though it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Packers drafted 3 running backs. If everything breaks right for either rookie back, Williams and Jones could be featured in one of the NFL’s best offenses. That alone makes them solid values in the 3rd round.

If early rookie drafts are any indication, I’m going to be heavily invested in Patrick Mahomes. While he’ll need to be more consistent to succeed at the next level, I can’t help but drool at his raw ability. His landing spot, under Andy Reid’s tutelage, could not be better. Let’s not forget that Andy Reid used to be criticized during his Eagles days for passing too much.  Mahomes will be put into position to not only succeed, but also develop into a QB1 in fantasy.

Tier 11

33. Cooper Kupp WR LAR
34. Wayne Gallman RB NYG
35. Amara Dorboh WR SEA
36. Deshaun Watson QB HOU
37. Adam Shaheen TE CHI
38. DeShone Kizer QB CLE
39. Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI

Tier 12

40. Ishmael Zamora WR OAK
41. Jonnu Smith TE TEN
42. Josh Malone WR CIN
43. Jehu Chessen WR KC
44. Chad Kelly QB DEN
45. Dede Westbrook WR JAX

Tier 13

46. Shelton Gibson WR PHI
47. Jake Butt TE DEN

48. Elijah McGuire RB NYJ
49. Brian Hill RB ATL
50. Donnel Pumphrey RB PHI


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers dynasty and keeper leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

Top 100: RSO Rookie Rankings

Updated: July 23rd 2017

To answer the question right at the top… Yes, I still have Leonard Fournette as my 1.01.  I’m sure we’ll spill much digital ink over the coming months debating the pick but I think he will be dominant and with so much draft capital invested, the Jaguars will have to stay dedicated.

The lifeblood of every dynasty team are it’s incoming rookies, like Fournette.  The only problem is that few rookies are as well-known as Fournette and so many owners don’t have the time to devote to doing research on who the rookies are and how their landing spot impacts their RSO outlook.  Throughout the last three months, I have done the research for you and have come up with what you will see below: RSO’s top 100 rookies.

This was a fascinating exercise for me because after I started, I realized there were still a number of players even I needed to do more research on.  For example, at one point I realized I was getting the two RB Elijahs mixed up (Hood: UNC and McGuire: LA-Lafayette) despite having opposite skill sets because I had them listed consecutively on my RB ranking (for the record: even though I prefer Hood for his bigger frame and the way he always fights forward, I pushed McGuire above him because of his fit with the Jets and path to touches).  I first started making rankings for each position so I could easily compare players and develop tiers within each position.  Next, I decided how I would value positions based on my league assumptions (see below).  Then, I massaged the positional rankings together using my tiers and positional values to help determine the overall rankings.  Finally, I fine tuned throughout the draft to adjust positional and overall rankings based on team fit.  It was a time consuming exercise for sure, but one I would recommend for RSO owners, just on a smaller scale (I would suggest however many rookie picks your league has + 5).

Before we get to the rankings, a few notes:

  1. I created these rankings assuming the following starting lineup in a 10-12 team league: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, OFLEX, DL, LB, DB, DFLEX.
  2. I assumed 0.5PPR but otherwise standard scoring (i.e. a slight bump to WR and pass catching RBs).  IDP scoring can vary quite significantly in my experience but I assumed the typical key stats of tackles, sacks and INTs.
  3. If you are in a Superflex or 2QB league, I would recommend moving the QBs up about 10-15 spots.
  4. If your IDP league uses more starters (meaning more will be drafted) you should move IDP players up about 5 spots as the value of the best IDP players will increase.
  5. I ranked at least 10 QB, TE, DL, LB and DB and at least 20 RB and WR.  I figured all but the deepest of leagues would need to go deeper than that at each position.  Determining how some DE/OLB will be listed is tough at this point but when in doubt I used NFL.com’s listed position.
  6. As you go down the list, the amount of research done on a given player admittedly decreases, so to do the strong opinions.  I feel much more strongly about Mixon over Cook than I do about Clement over Pumphrey.
  7. Keep in mind that these rankings are being finalized on Saturday, April 29.  Much can, and will, change before you draft.

Rank First Name Last Name Position Pos Rank
1 Leonard Fournette RB RB1
2 Corey Davis WR WR1
3 Christian McCaffrey RB RB2
4 Joe Mixon RB RB3
5 Mike Williams WR WR2
6 John Ross WR WR3
7 OJ Howard TE TE1
8 Chris Godwin WR WR4
9 Dalvin Cook RB RB4
10 Zay Jones WR WR5
11 Kareem Hunt RB RB5
12 David Njoku TE TE2
13 Marlon Mack RB RB6
14 Curtis Samuel RB RB7
15 D’onta Foreman RB RB8
16 Taywan Taylor WR WR6
17 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR WR7
18 Evan Engram TE TE3
19 Carlos Henderson WR WR8
20 Cooper Kupp WR WR9
21 Jeremy McNichols RB RB9
22 Samaje Perine RB RB10
23 Mitch Trubisky QB QB1
24 Myles Garrett DL DL1
25 Wayne Gallman RB RB11
26 Pat Mahomes QB QB2
27 Jake Butt TE TE4
28 Alvin Kamara RB RB12
29 Solomon Thomas DL DL2
30 KD Cannon WR WR10
31 Malik Hooker DB DB1
32 Deshaun Watson QB QB3
33 Zach Cunningham LB LB1
34 Josh Malone WR WR11
35 Taco Charlton DL DL3
36 Jonathan Allen DL DL4
37 Jonnu Smith TE TE5
38 Haason Reddick LB LB2
39 Jamal Adams DB DB2
40 Jabrill Peppers DB DB3
41 Josh Reynolds WR WR12
42 Amara Darboh WR WR13
43 Jamaal Williams RB RB13
44 James Conner RB RB14
45 Josh Dobbs QB QB4
46 Tim Williams LB LB3
47 Takkarist McKinley DL DL5
48 Malachi Dupre WR WR14
49 Reuben Foster LB LB4
50 Ardarius Stewart WR WR15
51 Charles Harris DL DL6
52 Deshone Kizer QB QB5
53 Nate Peterman QB QB6
54 Joe Williams RB RB15
55 Elijah McGuire RB RB16
56 TJ Watt LB LB5
57 Marshon Lattimore DB DB4
58 Raekwon McMillan LB LB6
59 Gerald Everett TE TE6
60 Derek Rivers DL DL7
61 Isaiah Ford WR WR16
62 Bucky Hodges TE TE7
63 Chad Hansen WR WR17
64 Obi Melifonwu DB DB5
65 Elijah Hood RB RB17
66 Derek Barnett DL DL8
67 Jarrad Davis LB LB7
68 Brad Kaaya QB QB7
69 Brian Hill RB RB18
70 Davis Webb QB QB8
71 Ryan Anderson LB LB8
72 Tyus Bowser LB LB9
73 Marlon Humphrey DB DB6
74 Adam Shaheen TE TE8
75 Jalen Robinette WR WR18
76 Donnel Pumphrey RB RB19
77 Jordan Leggett TE TE9
78 Corey Clement RB RB20
79 Duke Riley LB LB10
80 Dede Westbrook WR WR19
81 Seth Russell QB QB9
82 Aaron Jones RB RB21
83 C.J. Beathard QB QB10
84 Malik McDowell DL DL9
85 Budda Baker DB DB7
86 Carl Lawson DL DL10
87 Marcus Maye DB DB8
88 Jeremy Sprinkle TE TE10
89 Adoree’ Jackson DB DB9
90 Kevin King DB DB10
91 Gareon Conley DB DB11
92 Mack Hollins WR WR20
93 Tarik Cohen RB RB22
94 Chad Williams WR WR21
95 Jordan Willis DL DL11
96 Chad Kelly QB QB11
97 Amba Etta-Tawo WR WR22
98 Chidobee Awuzie DB DB12
99 Kenny Galloday WR WR23
100 George Kittle TE TE11

 

Post-Draft Rookie Mock Draft

Updated: May 18th 2016

As you’ve likely already heard by now, the 2016 draft class is not strong. After watching the NFL Draft unfold, I’m less optimistic than I was about this class even a week ago. Last year there was a debate between Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley for the 1.01 pick, but we expected both to be excellent players in the NFL. This year no such debate exists as Ezekiel Elliott cemented himself as the 1.01 pick by landing with the Dallas Cowboys. After Elliott, there are six players that would be worthy of a 1st round rookie pick in most years.  Calling the end of the 1st round ugly would be an understatement. The caliber of player drops off a cliff, making late 1st round picks not much more valuable than 2nd rounders.

If we compared this draft to the 2015 class at the time they entered the NFL, only Elliott would be among the top 5 prospects. In my opinion, Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley, Kevin White, and DeVante Parker were all better prospects last year than Treadwell, Coleman, Doctson, Shepard, Henry, etc.

Without further ado, let’s kick off this 12 team, standard scoring IDP mock draft:

Round 1

1.01 – Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL

Undoubtedly the number #1 pick in all rookie drafts, he immediately slots in as my #3 RB for dynasty and is even a 1st round pick in redraft leagues.

1.02 – Laquon Treadwell WR MIN

While his stock has fallen over the past few months, Treadwell still is a very good prospect that should have plenty of opportunity in Minnesota.

1.03 – Corey Coleman WR CLE

Immediately the #1 WR on the team, Coleman should get fed the ball plenty. If everything clicks, Coleman has dynasty WR1 potential.

1.04 – Josh Doctson WR WAS

Love Doctson’s ability to go up and get the ball. He should be an immediate red-zone threat that plays frequently opposite DeSean Jackson. However, it’s important to note that Doctson is several years older than both Treadwell and Coleman.

1.05 – Sterling Shepard WR NYG

Thought of mainly as a slot receiver, Shepard has the ability to win on the outside and should make plenty of plays opposite OBJ in the Giants’ West Coast offense.

1.06 – Michael Thomas WR NO

He’s a work-in progress, but has great physical tools. Should challenge Willie Snead for the #2 WR position in New Orleans.

1.07 – Tyler Boyd WR CIN

Maybe the most polarizing player of this dynasty rookie class, Boyd lands in a nice spot and will help replace departed free agents Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.

1.08 – Derrick Henry RB TEN

I did not expect Tennessee to draft a RB early after trading for DeMarco Murray. While he may not play a ton in his rookie year, Henry has a chance to be “the guy” moving forward in a run-first offense.

1.09 – Kenneth Dixon RB BAL

My favorite running back prospect besides Elliott, Dixon is more talented than Buck Allen and could immediately threaten Justin Forsett for carries.

1.10 – Will Fuller WR HOU

I typically shy away from the big play, low volume receivers that fit the DeSean Jackson mold. That said, there’s no denying Fuller’s talent makes him a borderline 1st rounder in a weak rookie class.

1.11 – Paul Perkins RB NYG

Perkins has a chance to share carries early in the season and potentially be the Giants’ lead back by seasons end.

1.12 – Jordan Howard RB CHI

If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check out Mike Clay’s piece on Jeremy Langford’s rookie season. Upon further review, Langford really struggled in year 1. Of course there is room for improvement, but it would not be crazy to see Howard become the lead back in Chicago.

Round 2

2.01 – Leonte Carroo WR MIA

Carroo easily could have found himself as a mid-1st rounder had he landed in a better situation. In Miami, he’ll have to compete with young WRs Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker for targets. Tannehill also is not the ideal quarterback to maximize Carroo’s skill set.

2.02 – CJ Prosise RB SEA

Prosise should be an excellent 3rd down compliment to Thomas Rawls and is clearly an improvement for Seattle on the 2015 version of Fred Jackson.

2.03 – Myles Jack LB JAX

Without the injury concerns, Jack would have firmly cemented himself as a late 1st rounder.

2.04 – Devontae Booker RB DEN

Booker should quickly become the #2 RB in Denver ahead of Ronnie Hillman in Denver’s run-first offense led by Mark Sanchez/Paxton Lynch.

2.05 – Keith Marshall RB WAS

It’s not often a 7th round pick becomes a fantasy commodity, but this is the case for Marshall as the incumbent Matt Jones has done little to secure the job.

2.06 – Tajae Sharpe WR TEN

Many will question whether the sure-handed receiver from UMass can be a productive fantasy WR. In a weak class, I’m willing to take a chance on him in the 2nd round.

2.07 – DeAndre Washington RB OAK

Rumors have swirled this off-season about the Raiders’ lack of confidence in Latavius Murray. DeAndre Washington, the undersized productive running back out of Texas Tech, could immediately push for playing time.

2.08 – Jared Goff QB LA

The face of the LA Rams, Goff has potential to be a franchise QB and potentially a QB1 in fantasy someday.

2.09 – Carson Wentz QB PHI

Wentz should be given the keys to open the 2017 season. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Wentz starts the final few games of 2016 to give him some experience in meaningless games for the Eagles. With experience in a pro-style offense, the Eagles hope he can quickly adapt to the NFL game.

2.10 – Wendell Smallwood RB PHI

I’ll admit that I’m higher on Smallwood than most. I strongly believe he’ll see work behind Ryan Mathews from Week 1. Smallwood’s abilities as a pass blocker and receiver should get him plenty of 2nd and 3rd down work to start the season. Even while playing through an ankle injury, Smallwood carried the ball 238 times for WVU’s run heavy offense. He also showed big play ability as over 30 percent of his carries went for 15+ yards.

2.11 – Darron Lee LB NYJ

Lee is a great fit in Todd Bowles’ scheme. The speedy pass rusher has tons of upside.

2.12 – Kenyan Drake RB MIA

I expected Miami to add a more versatile back to challenge Jay Ajayi for the starting job. Drake projects to be passing down back in Miami, but I wouldn’t expect him to carry the full load if Ajayi gets injured.

Round 3

3.01 – Jonathan Williams RB BUF

Williams could have been a late 1st/early 2nd rookie pick if he landed in a better situation….say Miami for instance. Even in Buffalo, I’ll bet on his talent and take a chance on him.

3.02 – Paxton Lynch QB DEN

Lynch may not be ready to start in 2016, but has a unique combination of size and athleticism. If he puts it all together, he has a chance to be the best fantasy QB of this class.

3.03 – Pharoh Cooper WR LA

Cooper has an opportunity to earn playing time among the Rams’ thin wide receiver core.

3.04 – Braxton Miller WR HOU

At the very least, Miller should be a gadget player who creates mismatches for Bill O’Brien’s offense.

3.05 – Joey Bosa DE SD

Bosa is the best pure pass rusher in this draft and should immediately make an impact in fantasy.

3.06 – Hunter Henry TE SD

The most talented TE in this draft, Henry is a great long-term prospect but don’t expect much in year 1.

3.07 – Malcolm Mitchell WR NE

The Patriots haven’t had much success when drafting receivers lately, but his 2015 season forces me to take notice, especially considering the offense he’s joining.

3.08 – Rashard Higgins WR CLE

One of the best route runners in this draft, Higgins has a great opportunity for early playing time.

3.09 – Jaylon Smith LB DAL

Like Jack, Smith’s value is greatly deflated due to massive injury concerns. I’m slightly more optimistic than I was heading into the draft after Dallas took him early in the 2nd round. It’s also important to note that the Cowboys’ team doctor performed Smith’s surgery. Dallas must feel he’s worth the risk so I’ll take the gamble as well. If you’re a bit more bullish than me, you may need to target him in the 2nd round of rookie drafts to be sure to get him.

3.10 – DeForest Buckner DL SF

San Francisco’s roster severely lacks talent. Destined for a high draft pick again in 2017, DeForest Buckner is a nice building block for the 49ers.

3.11 – Leonard Floyd LB CHI

Floyd needs to be coached up, but the raw talent is intriguing.

3.12 – Mike Thomas WR LA

With an excellent ability to reel in the ball in contested situations, Thomas has a chance to earn playing time with LA in year 1.

Round 4

4.01 – Tyler Ervin RB HOU

4.02 – Reggie Ragland LB BUF

4.03 – Austin Hooper TE ATL

4.04 – Cardale Jones QB BUF

4.05 – Noah Spence DL TB

4.06 – Karl Joseph DB OAK

4.07 – Keanu Neal DB ATL

4.08 – Danny Lasco RB NO

4.09 – Keyarris Garrett WR CAR

4.10 – Shaq Lawson DL BUF

4.11 – Kevin Dodd LB TEN

4.12 – Alex Collins RB SEA

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 4: Cardale Jones – Rumors are swirling that the Bills are lacking confidence in Tyrod Taylor as the long-term solution at QB.  Jones has all the physical tools, but is strictly a developmental prospect that needs a great deal of coaching.

Round 5

5.01 – Robert Nkemdiche DL ARI

5.02 – Deion Jones LB ATL

5.03 – Charone Peake WR NYJ

5.04 – Tyler Higbee TE ATL

5.05 – Jalen Ramsey DB JAX

5.06 – Christian Hackenberg QB NYJ

5.07 – Su’a Cravens DB WAS

5.08 – Chris Moore WR BAL

5.09 – Josh Perry LB SD

5.10 – Kenny Lawler WR SEA

5.11 – Darian Thompson DB NYG

5.12 – Sheldon Rankins DL NO

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 5: Christian Hackenberg – His inclusion in the top 60 is strictly due to the confidence the Jets have placed in him.  When it comes to Christian Hackenberg, I don’t see it.  After a promising freshman year, where he fed now NFL superstar Allen Robinson, he regressed greatly…showing poor accuracy and bad footwork.  The arm talent is there, but he needs to be completely rebuilt by this coaching staff.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts – reply in the comments section or tweet me @DaveSanders_RSO!

Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Picks 13-24

Updated: April 28th 2016

In my previous article I put together a list of the top 12 rookie that could come off your board starting next week. If you didn’t read the first part I am looking at Chad Reuter’s 7 round mock that he put together and from this I am making my own rookie mock draft of the first two rounds for a 12 team league. The first 12 selection are here for you to read. Let’s move on to the second round now.

Paul Perkins, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 13         Proj: R4 Pick 114, Oakland Raiders

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Perkins has all the traits you want to see out of a RB. He’s quick and agile, has good vision, isn’t afraid of contact and runs to the whistle. Watch his first half against Stanford last year to see each of these traits. In Oakland he would fit perfectly with a young budding offense and would be able to compete with Latty Murray for the starting role. At worst he’s a solid change of pace RB who excels in the passing game.

Pharoh Cooper, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 14         Proj: R5 Pick 140, Tennessee Titans

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Cooper is a great Swiss Army knife player. He can run and catch the ball as well as return punts. He will likely need to start training camp as a WR4/Special Teams returner but we’ve seen that pay off for rookies before (hello Tyler Lockett). With Tennessee already having Kendall Wright, DGB and signing Rishard Matthews in free agency it would not be an ideal situation for him to ascent to the top of the depth chart but I am a believer that talent usually trumps situation. His time would come.

Tajae Sharpe, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 15         Proj: Undrafted

Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMASS

Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMASS

It’s hard to get excited about picking a guy that is likely a late day three or undrafted prospect. However, once you get past this fact you can see the kind of athlete that Sharpe is. His hand size (8 ⅜ inch) has left many to think that he will have a hard time holding onto the ball at the next level. If you watch his tape though you will see he must be sweating “Stick-Um” because he just doesn’t drop the ball, EVER! For those who follow RotoViz you will also know that he is one of their lovable sleepers in terms of his metric’s scores.

Jonathan Williams, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 16         Proj: R4 Pick 134, Baltimore Ravens

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Another powerful runner, I like Williams here more than fellow RB Devontae Parker by the slimmest of margins. With the expectation that Justin Forsett is in his last year with the team and Javorius “Buck” Allen is a good but not great RB I believe there would be a clearer path to the starting role. While OC Marc Tresman may favor backs that can catch passes Williams would fit the tough, grind it out running style of the AFC North.

Devontae Booker, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 17         Proj: R2 Pick 63, Denver Broncos

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Age has been a big knock on Booker (23) at a position that seems to expire faster than fruit on the counter. But with age comes wisdom and Booker has shown he has the vision and patience to be a successful back in the NFL. To land in Denver would be a question mark with the resigning of both Anderson and Hillman but stranger things have happened. If he landed with a team that had a more direct route to being the starting RB, I could see Booker moving closer to the top of the second or even back of first rounds.

Mike Thomas, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 18         Proj: R7 Pick 233, Philadelphia Eagles

Mike Thomas, WR, SMU

Mike Thomas, WR, SMU

With another Mike Thomas in the draft, there is sure to be some confusion come draft time as to which is being selected. I really like this Mike Thomas as an under the radar player that could compete for a WR2 or WR3 spot despite being a day three selection. Going to the Eagles would dump a cold bucket of water on his upside as the Eagles already have a large collection of WRs and new head coach Doug Pederson comes from KC where other than Maclin, usable fantasy WRs were scarce.

Braxton Miller, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 19         Proj: R3 Pick 70, Baltimore Ravens

Braxton Miller, WR, OSU

Braxton Miller, WR, OSU

The converted QB showed flashes with his one year at WR in 2015. It will be interesting to see which team can mold his raw athletic skills at WR. Because of this he might be limited in his role his rookie season. With Baltimore having Steve Smith coming back for one more year and Perriman healthy and ready to go this season this could be a perfect situation for Miller to learn the position before stepping into a starting role in 2017.

Jordan Howard, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 20         Proj: R4 Pick 120, Washington Redskins

Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Call me a skeptic but I’m not sold on Matt Jones as a starting RB in the NFL. His fumble issues should open the door for another back to come in and share the load in 2016. Enter Howard, who follows the theme of this round by being another big (6’0” 230lbs) runner that can push through the middle. Ironically this is the same style of runner that they let walk this offseason, Alfred Morris.

Rashad Higgins, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 21         Proj: R5 Pick149, New York Giants

Rashad Higgins, WR, Colorado St.

Rashad Higgins, WR, Colorado St.

An easy way to hide your flaws is to be part of a great system. Getting to play next to one of the elite young WRs in Odell Beckham Jr. would definitely take some of that pressure off. While he under performed at the combine, there’s no doubt watching Higgins that he can be a great complimentary WR in a pass first offense. With strong hands, he knows how to trap the ball in his 9 ¾ inch mitts.

Tyler Ervin, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 22         Proj: R3 Pick 90, Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose St.

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose St.

My same logic applies here that it did with Matt Jones and Washington. While I believe Thomas Rawls is a better and more rounded back than Jones, his short resume and the ankle injury that ended his year will always leave a concern with fantasy owners. Whichever team Ervin ends up with he showed that he can explode out of the backfield with a 4.32 40 time and 130” broad jump, which tested in the 89th and 96th percentile respectively.

Jared Goff or Carson Wentz

Mock: R2 Pick 23

Proj: R1 Picks 1&2, Los Angeles Rams/Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz, QB,NDSU

Carson Wentz, QB,NDSU

Jared Goff, QB, Cal

Jared Goff, QB, Cal

I know this seems like a cop out picking both but at the end of the second round seems like the place for owners to select the first QB in rookie drafts. Depending on who goes to the Rams first will likely dictate the value of these two players also. Neither is likely to be QB1s in their first season, and whichever goes to Philly may sit part or all of their rookie season out. Wentz will offer more running upside but temper your expectations as you should expect more Winston/Luck in terms of rushing attempts than a Newton or Wilson.

Daniel Lasco, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 24         Proj: R3 Pick79, Philadelphia Eagles

Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

The last pick of the second round might be a reach for some but for the reasons I wouldn’t like a WR to Philly I would LOVE a RB to fall there. Ryan Matthews is on the training table more than the field and Darren Sproles is well into his 30’s and more of a specialty player at this point. Pederson used the run game heavily in KC and made fantasy relevancy of both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware last year. Lasco has the same explosiveness that Ervin possesses and would thrive in a similar role as Jamaal Charles was for Pederson’s system.

That’s it for the first two rounds of my pre-draft mock. Other players that missed the cut are Alex Collins to Detroit, Hunter Henry to Chicago and Kenyan Drake to Dallas. It will be exciting to see where the chips actually fall over the weekend. Watch for Dave Sanders and his official rankings once the draft is completed. Look for me @naandrews19 to suggest who you think has the best value in rookie drafts. Happy Drafting!

Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Picks 1-12

Updated: April 28th 2016

The NFL draft is nearing and everyone is getting anxious about which players will end up with which teams. There are always a couple of players that rise, or fall down, fantasy draft boards based on their landing spot over the weekend. As a “what if” scenario I have taken the latest 7 round mock from NFL writer Chad Reuter and created a two round rookie mock draft based on the landing spots laid out in his article. This hypothetical draft will consist of the standard PPR, 1QB league. Let us begin!

Ezekiel Elliot, RB

Mock: R1 Pick 1            Proj: R1 Pick 13, Miami Dolphins

Ezekiel Elliot, RB, OSU

Elliot will likely be the first player off every board this offseason regardless of team need. With the ability to be a three down back that already has arguably the best pass blocking skills in this year’s class it won’t be hard for him to find the field as a rookie. Adding him to Adam Gase’s Dolphin offense would only strengthen his case for going #1.

Laquon Treadwell, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 2            Proj: R1 Pick 23, Minnesota Vikings

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

After Elliot there is a clear tier gap that features 3-4 WRs. The order of their selections in the real draft may also affect their selections in fantasy drafts. While many may be quick to judge the slow 40 time Treadwell posted during his pro day, I am sticking with the player that this time last year was considered the locked in first pick.

Josh Doctson, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 3            Proj: R1 Pick 22, Houston Texans

Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Doctson did nothing to hurt his chances of being the first selected WR off the board this year by showing off at the combine in February. At worst Brock Osweiler offers the same level of quarterback play as Teddy Bridgewater would to Treadwell in Minnesota.  If he landed with Houston however, Doctson’s target numbers would be capped being opposite Hopkins as the WR2, whereas Treadwell would likely step in as Minnesota’s week 1 starter.

Leonte Carroo, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 4            Proj: R2 Pick 61, New England

Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

Here’s where things get spicy. Many have Carroo projected as mid to late first round selection in rookie mocks. With off field issues being as taboo as they are right now it’s likely that some will drop him down even further. But should he land in New England with a coach who’s known for polishing up troubled players, Carroo could offer the Patriots an outside, sure handed WR that the likes of LaFell, Lloyd, and Dobson never could live up to.

Corey Coleman, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 5            Proj. R2 Pick 34, Dallas Cowboys

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

The Coleman hype train has been gaining steam since the end of the college season when the Baylor product put up a mind boggling 20TDs! When your comparisons are to that of Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., you immediately draw the eyes of readers as well. In Dallas he would likely be the WR2 behind Dez Bryant and play a majority of his snaps out of the slot. In a scheme that values a strong running game and already has a slot receiver in Cole Beasley it would be interesting to see how Coleman would fit in big D’s playbook.

Derrik Henry, RB

Mock: R1 Pick 6            Proj: R1 Pick 30, Carolina Panthers

Derrik Henry, RB, Alabama

Skeptics have pointed to two holes that suggest Henry is one of the most overvalued players in this year’s rookie draft: his size and the school he attended. While some may be able to argue that Alabama has dangled some rotten carrots over the NFL’s head in recent years (*cough* Richardson *cough*), Henry showed at the combine that despite being a freakish 6’3” 247lbs he could still run a respectable 4.54 40 time. Rumors have suggested that he could go anywhere from Seattle at 26 to Dallas at 34 in the second round. Henry would bring a familiar smash mouth running style that has been a staple to these franchises in recent years.

Kenneth Dixon, RB

Mock: R1 Pick 7            Proj: R3 Pick 96, New England Patriots

Kenneth Dixon, RB, LA Tech

While Belitricks has left a bad taste with fantasy owners in the last half decade, Dixon would present a nice ying to Dion Lewis’ yang. His ability to both hit the hole and go, while also catching passes out of the backfield make him a late day two, early day three option for any team that needs an RB.  After abandoning the running game altogether during the playoffs last year, it seems apparent that the Patriots will address the running game in this year’s draft to better balance their offense in 2016.

Tyler Boyd, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 8            Proj: R3 Pick 65, Cleveland Browns

Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

I like to think of Corey Coleman as the MonStars from Space Jam with Tyler Boyd playing the role of Charles Barkley and friends. When the offseason started Boyd was being talked about with Treadwell in the WR1 conversation. Since his poor showing at the combine however, his upside has been zapped out of him by the likes of combine stars Coleman and Doctson. This has resulted in him falling out of the first round in several rookie mocks recently. While being mocked to the Browns wouldn’t add any incentive to reaching for Boyd in drafts, it wouldn’t be the first time that a star player who under performed at the combine turned out to be a draft day steal.

C.J. Prosise, RB

Mock: R1 Pick 9            Proj: R3 Pick 72, Chicago Bears

C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

For converting from a WR to RB, Prosise had a pretty spectacular year. While it will be interesting to see how his skill set translates to the NFL level his value will ultimately come down to which team he falls to. If he can play the Danny Woodhead role on a pass oriented offense he could easily see 50 to 60 catches out of the backfield.

Michael Thomas OSU, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 10         Proj: R1 Pick 28, Kansas City Chiefs

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas, WR, OSU

It would fit perfectly that Michael Thomas, who is criticized for being simply a piece of a great Ohio State team would be lining up opposite to Jeremy Maclin who was one of 2015’s most underappreciated WRs. While Thomas didn’t have the typical offensive market share that many fantasy analysts look for in a top-tier pick, it would have been hard to fault him when your team’s first, second and third options are hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliot. You just can’t know exactly what his ceiling will be and therefore he offers those at the end of the first round a serious risk-reward option.

Sterling Shepard, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 11         Proj: R2 Pick 49, Buffalo Bills

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

Fantasy enthusiasts have a serious love-hate relationship with Shepard. His 5’10” 197lbs frame makes him an ideal candidate for becoming a slot receiver in the NFL. The problem is that there haven’t been many elite slot WR seasons since Wes Welker in 2013. That was on the most productive passing offense in NFL history and he still finished third on his team! Shepard may become another PPR targets hog, but we will need to see how he can separate with agility and strong route running before he can be compared to a Cobb, Landry or Edelman in terms of superstars in the slot.

Will Fuller, WR

Mock: R1 Pick 12         Proj: R1 Pick 24, Cincinnati Bengals

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

Unlike Shepard, Fuller can and will take the top off a defense with his blazing 4.32 in the 40 time. Still, his small frame (6’0” 186lbs) will make it hard for him to break the stigma of being just another speed dependent DeSean Jackson receiver type. Going to a team like Cincinnati would definitely keep opposition safeties and corners honest by having to additionally cover the likes of Green and Eifert on any given play. Much of Fuller’s value will be determined by the receiving core around him.

That’s the first 12 picks for my pre-draft RSO rookie mock. Look for part two that will include picks 13 through 24 before Thursday’s NFL Draft.