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2014 NFL Draft Impact on the NFC

The NFL draft is now complete, but how do the selections by the teams in the NFC, affect the values of the veterans already on those rosters?

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Being able to take a look at what a team does during a draft, and deciphering what those picks mean towards the values of veterans on those respective teams, can give you an advantage over your league mates. With The 2014 NFL Draft all wrapped up, let’s take a look at which veterans were affected in the NFC by the three days of the draft. On Friday I recapped all of the first round picks that had an impact on a veteran, which can be found here.

Arizona Cardinals: No one is affected by the selections during the draft. Logan Thomas will not unseat Carson Palmer because he is a raw prospect at QB, who needs to take a few years to improve his game, something he couldn’t do after his sophomore year at Virginia Tech. For dynasty leagues, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have a small hit to their values, since the Cardinals were expected to pick a QB in the first two rounds like Derrick Carr. Currently there is not a quarterback on the roster who is capable enough to sustain the fantasy value for both Fitzgerald and Floyd, and without knowing which would take the hit, both have to be slightly downgraded.

Atlanta Falcons: With the pick of Devonta Freeman, He alters the values of the other two main Falcon runners. Jacquizz Rodgers is the Atlanta running back who lost the most with this pick. From his time at Florida State, Freeman looks like the person the Falcons expected Rodgers to be the last two years. By drafting Devonta Freeman, the Falcons show they have lost their faith in Rodgers to become an impact player on their roster. Jacquizz Rodgers should not be drafted unless in the deepest of leagues. The numbers he may put up this season, will easily be available on the waiver wire if you desperately need a RB to fill in for a week. Steven Jackson is only slightly downgraded from his previous value. I do not see Freeman cutting into any rushes from Jackson, but he will cut into the targets he will receive. Instead of having the opportunity for 44 catches, like his 16 game pace was last year, to somewhere around 30 for 2014. Freeman will gets his targets, as well as Rodgers.

Carolina Panthers: The Carolina Panthers did nothing in the draft that will change the fantasy values for any of the veterans on the roster. The big pick in the first round, Kelvin Benjamin, may appear on the surface as a pick that will change the value of a veteran WR, but with the Panthers losing Brandon LaFell, and releasing Steve Smith, he steps right in to a role on the offense, and does not displace a former option. Cam Newton is a QB who in my opinion, will perform at the same level for a fantasy owner no matter who he is throwing the ball to. The part of Newton’s game that people love is the running ability on top of the passing production he has. Still view Cam Newton as the #4 QB.

Chicago Bears: The Chicago Bears spent most of the picks in the draft trying to work on the defensive side of the ball or offensive line. Ka’Deem Carey was the one position player that was selected by the Chicago Bears, but this pick doesn’t affect any of the fantasy relevant players values. Carey is vaulted into the handcuff role for Matt Forte, the role Michael Bush had the last two years.

Dallas Cowboys: The 2014 draft brought about little changes to the fantasy relevant positions for the Cowboys, and in doing so, the fantasy values stayed the same. Devin Street is an intriguing option as an athletic guy coming out of Pitt who gets to play with the free throwing Tony Romo. He will not affect the fantasy values of any WR going into the 2014 season, but for dynasty leagues, Terrence Williams losses some value. A tandem of Street and Bryant is a scary future for defenses to think about, and one that may be realistic by 2016, or even 2015. With that in mind, Terrence Williams does not have the upside of top 15 option in his future, like he may have had before.

Detroit Lions: An interesting draft approach by the Detroit Lions, has left myself wondering what the thought process was. The first pick they had at number 10, they took yet another offensive weapon, even though the team has been getting burned on defense for the last few years. No matter how you feel about the pick, Eric Ebron is now a member of the Lions, but this addition does not help or hurt he fantasy values of any other Detroit player. Calvin Johnson will get his numbers as arguably the top wide receiver in the NFL, and new addition Golden Tate will have the same value as a guy you can draft as #4 WR who has upside to accumulate some big stats. The whole that was the TE position last year had Joseph Fauria as the top guy in the Detroit offense solely off of his ability to score redzone TDs, so his role will not be expanding by the addition of Ebron.

Green Bay Packers: The Packers have been racking up more weapons for Aaron Rodgers to utilize on the offense side of the ball. Enter a new second round pick to the fold in Davante Adams, a sure handed, agile receiver who looks like the ideal guy Green Bay usually likes. Randall Cobb is of the same elk, and if Adams is like Cobb, then Jarrett Boykin has his value drop precipitously. The Packers may choose to do many zero TE sets with Jermichael Finley no longer a member of the team, but expect a lot of 3 WR sets like usual, and that will leave one of the guys on the outside looking in. This guy appears to be Boykin, and he should be left alone in ten team and even 12 team leagues, but for deeper leagues, take a shot on him keeping the number three role, or an injury happening to the oft injured Packer receiving corps.

Minnesota Vikings: In my column about the impact of the first round, I mentioned how the pick of Teddy Bridgewater would help the value of Kyle Rudolph slightly more than Matt Cassel, however I do not see any chance Bridgewater is starting over Matt Cassel until week 12 at the earliest in 2014. The Vikings needed to draft another RB with Toby Gerhart departing to become the lead back in Jacksonville, so in comes Jerick McKinnon. Adrian Peterson clearly is not affected by this selection as arguably the best running back in the NFL, and he will get as many touches as he can handle.

New Orleans Saints: With the Saints taking WR Brandin Cooks in the first round, a message is being sent to Kenny Stills that he is not looked at as the guy to automatically walk into the void left by Lance Moore’s departure. New Orleans now has a few options for Drew Brees to try and get the most out of, but Kenny Stills will be a frustrating guy to own this year out of the Saints receivers. One week Stills will put up a four catch 140 yard two TD game, and then the next three he will combine for 6 catches for 89 yards with no TD’s. That is not the kind of guy that is worth a roster spot on a ten or twelve team league fantasy team. If you did own him in those leagues, you may be tempted to start him after that one big week, but then end up disappointed when that good fortune doesn’t last. The end of year production may look fine, but the week to week inconsistency is not going to be worth it.

New York Giants: I previously wrote that I saw the Odell Beckham Jr. draft pick as one that is interesting for Eli Manning, but after spending more time taking a look at Eli Manning, I will have to change that thought. Eli Manning appears to be cashing in on a fantasy owners mind with his one great season where he almost threw for 5,000 yards, but as the last two years show, 2011 looks like an outlier season. The fantasy value of Eli Manning may be overrated by others because of that 2011 season and the addition of Beckham Jr., but don’t be fooled. He is not the guy who looks to chuck the ball deep down the field, which is why he won’t return to starting QB level again, and is outside of my personal top 20. Andre Williams was also picked by the Giants, but he does not have any effect on the other two running backs already there. David Wilson has to show that he is healthy and recovered from his injury before any real evaluation of his value can take place. Rashad Jennings was brought in this offseason to replace Andre Brown, if he stays healthy, which is a big if, then his value won’t be hurt by the addition of Williams. With that in mind, Andre Williams is an interesting backup running back option because of the chances Rashad Jennings does get hurt.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Matthews was picked by the Eagles in the second round of the draft, and he immediately hurts the value of one Riley Cooper. Last year for Riley Cooper looks like the peak of his career, and that thought holds more bearing with Matthews now on the roster. Matthews is a more elite talent than Cooper, which is not a slight at Cooper because he is also fairly athletic, but Matthews is the superior talent. Chip Kelly likes to get the ball in his playmakers hands, and Jordan Matthews is now one of those playmakers for him. Only so many balls can go around from Nick Foles, and with DeSean Jackson being released, and Jeremy Maclin coming back from a torn ACL, and Darren Sproles now in town, less balls will go around for Riley Cooper. No longer is he going to be that #3 WR you can take as a safety option to plug and play each week at a flex option or emergency WR if something goes wrong. The draft selections wasn’t the only thing Philadelphia did during the draft, they also traded away Bryce Brown to the Buffalo Bills, Chris Polk now sees a bump in his value up towards the top end of the handcuff class. Chip Kelly likes to run multiple RB sets, and Bryce Brown was a part of that last year splitting with Polk, but now Polk can see an increase to his workload, and if anything happens to LeSean McCoy, he gets vaulted into the top 15 RB discussion.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers made a selection that left me a little befuddled with Carlos Hyde being their second round pick. I remember back to a year ago when Marcus Lattimore was selected as the heir to the RB spot when Frank Gore was done, but now that thought has to be in question. The impact that the San Francisco draft had is not in the 2014 values for the running backs, but more for dynasty league purposes. Marcus Lattimore was looked upon last year in dynasty leagues as a pick that would pay dividends starting in 2015, but now those owners should worry. Are the knee injuries that he had in college not going to let him perform at a level that the 49ers and dynasty league owners previously thought? That is the question with Carlos Hyde being added to the already crowded backfield. Temper your Lattimore expectations now for the future, and see if any owner still feels he can become a very good RB in the future. The other wrinkle that San Francisco threw to fantasy owners was trading for Steve Johnson. Steve Johnson is a very solid slot receiver who will give you exactly what you will expect out of him. This causes problems for Anquan Boldin, because he also a middle of the field guy, thriving on the number of targets he can receive from the already limited number of pass attempts from Colin Kaepernick. View Boldin now as a #4 WR, and one who doesn’t offer the upside he did just a season ago.

Seattle Seahawks: Even with the addition of two WR’s in the draft in Paul Richardson, and Kevin Norwood, the fantasy implications of those picks are non-existent. The fantasy value of Percy Harvin relies on the notion of him staying healthy. For Russell Wilson, he appears to be one of those QB’s who is able to put up the same numbers, regardless of the caliber of wide receivers around him. Jermaine Kearse is the only person who loses any value, and that is in dynasty leagues. He is a person who was stashed away in deep dynasty leagues with hopes that he could one day become one of the two main WR’s on the Seahawks, if they opened up the passing game, but those chances have narrowed down to a very small chance of happening.

St. Louis Rams: One of the selections that the Rams made, made a huge impact on a returning player to the roster. The player who is affected is Zac Stacy, with Tre Mason being a new backfield mate with him. I was already on the fence about Zac Stacy and what he did last year, and this pick finally put me over the edge. Stacy averaged under 4 yards per carry last season, and going back to the 2013 draft, he was not viewed as being an elite talent. The talks about Stacy were about him being a downhill runner, who has good vision. Tre Mason is now taking carries in that same backfield, and is a better option than Darryl Richardson. If Richardson was still the only other back threatening the amount of touches Stacy would get, I wouldn’t be as worried, however Mason is a better complete back than Richardson, and may demand more and more carries as the season goes into November and December. I currently have Stacy rated on the border of the top 20 RB’s, behind those who, in my opinion, are greater talents. Zac Stacy may have had the worst outcome in the NFC after the draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There may not be a QB who was happier after the first few rounds of the draft than Josh McCown was. He goes from having to throw the ball to Vincent Jackson and Timothy Wright, to now being able to throw the ball up to two big targets in Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. These big bodied receivers may seem like a dream that came true for McCown, who loved to throw up jump balls to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery when he was the starting QB in Chicago. Lovie Smith looks like he wants to give Josh McCown all the tools for him to continue that success he had just a year ago. Before this draft he looked like a guy who could get benched for Glennon or a new QB if they drafted one by week 10, but now McCown looks like an interesting flier. His value is now around the top 15 range for QB’s because after you take a starter, you need to look for that guy who gives the best chance to vault himself into that same conversation. Josh McCown may have had the best outcome in the NFC after the draft.

Washington Redskins: No affect by the draft picks, because of what the draft picks are brought in to do. Seastruck will not factor into the pass game, so Roy Helu is still the passing down back, with Alfred Morris the top guy. For Alfred Morris owners, Lache Seastruck becomes the more important handcuff to grab out of the Redskin RBs, but for the owners whom don’t own Alfred Morris looking for a potential option late in drafts who is assured to accumulate fantasy points each week, Roy Helu is the better get. Helu will be the passing down back for his ability to block, and catch the ball out of the backfield.

That recaps all NFC teams and how the NFL draft impacted the veterans on those teams. Let me hear from you, which veteran from the NFC was affected the most by the outcome of the NFL Draft? Send in your comments, and look out for my early positional rankings to be posted next week.