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2014 NFL Draft: Round 1 Fantasy Impact

The first round of the NFL draft has now been completed, but how do some of the draft picks affect the values of the veterans on those teams?

Jason Miller

Each year the NFL draft is highly anticipated, and as the draft is going on, the fantasy values for the draftee's new teammates start to change.  Some of the players that are taken in the draft will enhance the fantasy value of a few teammates, while in other cases, they will hurt some player's values. Think about the values that will be altered for not only the rookies, but also the veterans on those teams from the following selections.

Pick 3: Jacksonville Jaguars select QB Blake Bortles

With Blake Bortles now a member of the Jaguars, Cecil Shorts has now seen a slight drop in his value.  The drop in his value comes from having a QB who has arm strength and accuracy questions, so his ability to get Cecil Shorts the ball may not be as effective as it would be if Chad Henne was the QB.  One thing that Bortles can do is extend plays in the pocket, but that may not be enough to help the value of Shorts with the questionable mechanics and arm strength.  The value of Justin Blackmon would also hurt a little, if he is eligible to play this year.  Cecil Shorts drops from being a borderline WR3 and Flex option in 10 and 12 team leagues, to a guy who you can take a flier on as your 4th or 5thWR, hoping Bortles fixes his mechanics.

Pick 4: Buffalo Bills select WR Sammy Watkins

Sammy Watkins was taken by the Buffalo Bills, who traded with the Cleveland Browns to move up in the draft.  By taking Sammy Watkins, the fantasy values of E.J. Manuel and Steve Johnson are affected.  Manuel now has a legitimate number one target on the outside he can use.  Manuel now becomes an interesting late round flier in fantasy drafts, with the combination of a top wideout, and his rushing abilities.  Steve Johnson has been able to make himself fantasy relevant in the past years because of the volume of targets he has received.  The targets are now going to diminish with the addition of Watkins, so there will be higher upside options that will be available in your fantasy drafts for the late rounds, like DeAndre Hopkins and Justin Hunter.

Pick 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers select WR Mike Evans

As Tampa Bay selects Mike Evans, they have now improved the fantasy values of Josh McCown, and Vincent Jackson, while hurting the fantasy upside of Timothy Wright.  For Josh McCown, he now has another big target for him to throw the ball up to.  Last year he was very successful with having two top WRs in Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery.  Mike Evans may need some time to develop into a star receiver, but regardless his size will help McCown have more options.  For Vincent Jackson, he now will not see as many double coverage situations, allowing him to stretch the field with less safety help over the top.  He is big and great at getting the ball at the high point. He goes from being a top 15 WR for 2014, to a borderline top 10 option.  Timothy Wright was already doomed with the addition of Josh McCown, since he did not look at his TE that often in Chicago, so with more mouths to feed in that offense, his upside is severely limited.  He is one who should not be drafted, but whose performance can be monitored during the season.

Pick 10: Detroit Lions select TE Eric Ebron

With the selection of TE Eric Ebron, the Lions have now negatively affected the fantasy value ofJoseph Fauria.  For the other top players on this offense, there values will stay the same.  Calvin Johnson will continue to see the same amount of targets from Matthew Stafford.  Golden Tate's value is still the same as before, for now, unless they are taking one of the WR later in the draft with round 2 or 3.  For Joseph Fauria, his value as a top redzone target for Stafford last season, will not be expanded with the Lions picking Ebron.  Fauria is now someone who should not be selected in fantasy drafts, and not picked up during the season, unless there is an injury to Ebron.

Pick 12: New York Giants select WR Odell Beckham Jr.

One player on the New York Giants roster is affected by the selection of Odell Beckham Jr., and that man is Eli Manning.  Manning had an abysmal year in 2013, but with Beckham Jr. now a member of the giants, he will immediately fill in the void that was left by Hakeem Nicks.  Manning was looking barely like a top 20 option at QB before the draft, and now he is able to move himself up into the conversation as a top 15 guy for fantasy drafts.  Odell Beckham Jr. gives Victor Cruz the freedom to continue running routes out of the slot, while Rueben Randle and Beckham Jr. play on the outside in three receiver sets.  Randle's value is still what it was before because he is still the guy in the game for 2 WR sets with Cruz

Pick 20: New Orleans Saints select WR Brandin Cooks

The New Orleans Saints are known for having an explosive offense with Drew Brees running the show.  Cooks fills right into the voided role left by Lance Moore, and the only player that had his fantasy value affected by this selection is Kenny Stills.  Stills was looking like a sleeper in the Saints offense, as a guy who can blow the top off of any defense.  The problem that Cooks brings, is that he is just as, if not more, explosive than Kenny Stills is.  With Brandin Cooks the newest member of the Saints, Stills has now fallen into the undrafted territory at WR.  In 12+ team leagues, he can still be the last WR you take as a flier, but temper expectations.

Pick 22: Cleveland Browns select QB Johnny Manziel

It took the Cleveland Browns trading themselves around in the first round to finally end up with the guy most people projected them taking at the number 4 pick in Johnny Manziel.  What Manziel does for the value of Ben Tate and Josh Gordon is a boost to both of their fantasy values.  For Ben Tate, he now has a mobile QB running the offense, which will help keep defenses from over committing to Ben Tate.  In the NFL, mobile QBs have helped the value of RBs, like Robert Griffin III has done with Alfred Morris.  Josh Gordon's value has now slightly improved from what it looked like before the draft.  Finishing as the top WR last year, he still was not viewed as a top five WR going into 2014 because of the QB issues.  That is now fixed with Johnny Manziel taking over at QB, as he will continue where the last QBs of the Browns left off, getting Gordon the ball.  Ben Tate has become an interesting guy in the conversation as being a top 15 RB, while Josh Gordon has cemented his value as a top 5 WR going into the 2014 season.  All of this is assuming that Johnny Manziel will be the starting QB over Brian Hoyer.

Pick 28: Carolina Panthers select WR Kelvin Benjamin

The Carolina Panthers'  focus on selecting a WR seemed inevitable with the Panthers releasing Steve Smith in the offseason.  This pick does not change the fantasy values of any player currently on the roster.  Cam Newton is going to perform how he was going to before, expecially with Kelvin Benjamin being a raw prospect, and potentially not receiving too many snaps in his first year in the NFL as he learns the game and running crisp routes.

Pick 32: Minnesota Vikings select QB Teddy Bridgewater

For the last pick in the first round of the NFL draft, the Vikings traded with the Seahawks to draft Teddy Bridgewater.  He may not be the starting QB right away with Matt Cassel still on the roster through the next season, so Bridgewater may need his year to learn the Vikings offense and get ready for the 2015 season.  With that said, if Teddy Bridgewater is named the starter before the season, it will result in a bump in value for Kyle Rudolph.  The reason that Rudolph would see an increase to his value is because a rookie QB's best friend is the checkdown option.  The checkdown option on the Vikings will be Kyle Rudolph, and in the Norv Turner offense, he may finally live up to that top 5 TE potential he had coming out of Notre Dame.  It is unlikely, in my opinion, that Bridgewater will be named the starting QB for week one, but if he is, Rudolph goes from being a top 12 TE, to a borderline top 7 to top 5 option on draft day.

With the first round of the draft done, remember that there are still six rounds remaining, that will help or hurt the fantasy values of players on their new teams.  Take to the comments section, and let me know what your take is on some of the picks that occurred in the first round of the NFL draft, or if you want a further explanation on something I wrote.