The NFL Draft kicked off last night and we now know who the first 32 players off the board are and where they will be playing.
It's never too early to speculate on how those selections will effect your fantasy team next season, especially if you are in a keeper league. These young guys will have a major impact on how your 2011 season goes, so lets jump right in and find out which 10 players will have the biggest impact out of the first round, starting with 6-10:
10. Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Biggest Impact: NFC West Offenses
This is an interesting pick for the Cardinals. They clearly drafted the best player available (Some say the best player in the draft) over some other very pressing needs.
The Cards were 23rd in the league against the pass last year, which isn't good. But they were 31st in throwing the ball on offense, 30th against the rush, and dead last in rushing the ball. Still, the fantasy impact will be felt around the division, where the top wide recievers not on the Cardinals are Mike Williams, Michael Crabtree, and Danny Amendola. With Peterson teaming up to cover them alongside Antonio Cromartie, where are the passes going to go?
Perhaps Vernon Davis and John Carlson will benefit the most.
9. Christian Ponder, Minnesota
Biggest Impact: Tavaris Jackson/Joe Webb
I'm still a little dumbfounded that Christian Ponder wound up as the 12th pick in the draft. I still don't know how he wound up in the 1st round. No offense to Ponder, but it just feels like a couple of days I go I went to bed and Ponder was a 2nd rounder, and then I woke up and he's a "lottery pick"
Last season the Viking sucked at QB. Favre threw 11 TD's and 19 INT's. Frankly, I don't see that changing much next year with the 3 QB's they now have on the roster. Sidney Rice should be available all year, barring injury, which will make things easier, but none of these 3 guys appear to be ready to be a fantasy-level QB in 2011. Though there's a chance that with all the talent around them, that they could be.
I don't expect Ponder to start 2011 as the starter, so Jackson and Webb get new life.
8. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City
Biggest Impact: Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe
Last season Matt Cassel matured into the player people had seen in New England. There was always going to be question about how much of his success in New England was himself, and how much of it was Moss/Welker/Belicheck. He answered that last season with a 27 TD, 7 INT season and a trip to the playoffs. Despite that, the Chiefs were 30th in the league in passing yards (also because they were 1st in the league in rushing yards)
Also breaking out for the Chiefs and in fantasy last year was Dwayne Bowe. Owners kept expecting him to follow up his sophomore year with a big campaign, but 2009 was considered a big failure. He stepped up to catch 15 TD's last season. It's a big difference that he won't be alone anymore, as the 2nd leading reciever was TE Tony Maoki, and the 3rd leading reciever was Jamaal Charles. Chris Chambers 213 yards were 2nd most on the team by a WR.
Wide recievers rarely come into the league and perform up to expectations in year one, and I don't expect that out of Baldwin. However, just his presence should open up things for the rest of the offense, and the Chiefs could go from 14th in the league in scoring, to a top 10 unit.
7. Nick Fairley, Detroit
Biggest Impact: NFL Running Backs
It's funny. One of the best NFL DT seasons I felt like I've ever seen came from Ndamukong Suh with the Lions last year. In my opinion, he's already the best in the league. He can impact the outcome of a game just by himself, and that is what he did last year. Coincidentally, one of the best NCAA DT seasons I've ever seen came last year from Nick Fairley at Auburn. He wasn't quite Suh-like, but when I watched Auburn play, I felt like Fairley impacted the game on defense as much as Newton did it on offense.
So my first reaction to the Lions pick was "buuuhhh?!" And then my immediate reaction after that was "WOW"
There are questions about Fairley's work ethic, but my gut tells me that Suh won't allow his new buddy next door to slack off. There are questions about his "one year wonder" but I have a feeling that playing nexts to the leagues best will open holes for Fairley to do what he does best and get into the backfield and create havoc.
Watch out NFC North RB's. Matt Forte and whoever is running for the Packers will now have to face Suh/Fairley twice a year and the Williams "brothers" twice a year. Also, Adrian Petersons schedule just got a little tougher.
6. Jake Locker, Tennessee
Biggest Impact: Jake Locker
Young out, Locker in.
The Titans were looking for the next quarterback of the future and again went with a dual-threat QB with questionable accuracy. You'd think Jeff Fisher was still the coach, but maybe its just something about the franchise that loves the "flashy" guy behind center.
I grew up a Huskies fan (which I am now ashamed of) and have seen Locker play a considerable amount in 4 years. It's impressive to watch him take over games. It's crazy to see a quarterback outrun defensive players. It's awesome to see him make the "wow" play.
You know that fortune cookie game where you add "in bed" to the end of everything? Here's another version:
It's impressive to watch him take over games in college. It's crazy to see a quarterback outrun defensive players in college. It's awesome to see him make the "wow" play in college.
Locker is a great athlete and a fine quarterback. The Brett Favre comparisons are a little ridiculous. But I do see Locker starting from day one.
Kerry Collins had a fine season last year, but is turning 39 and a new coach means a new QB. Plus there's room to have a crappy season in your first year as coach, so it's nice to know what you have in a young quarterback.
Locker will do a lot of handing off to Chris Johnson, a lot of scrambling, make some great throws, and miss a lot. I could see him being a rosterable fantasy QB at some point in the season because of his ability to score touchdowns. He may put up 3-4 TD games some weeks.
I have my doubts about him in real life football, but fantasywise, he could be good already.
The top 5 will be up soon enough, while the first round is still fresh in our minds.