We're through the first 5 rounds (assuming 12 teams) and on to my favorite part of the draft. The next forty picks will really separate the wheat from the chafe. With a few good picks here, one can set themselves on easy street for the fantasy season.
61) Joseph Randle, RB, Dal (6)
This spot is a mix of, 'if you miss on your 5th round pick you can recover', and 'RB1 in the 5th round'.
Randle looked good with limited carries last year. While DeMarco was more deliberate and (at least from what it looked like while watching tape) much bigger, Randle is quicker and hits a higher top speed, faster than Murray. Randle doesn't look as capable between the tackles as last year's rushing leader, but he is willing to hit the hole (or the backs of his offensive lineman) hard.
Dallas's offensive line is good, but it is also aided by all the weapons in Dallas. Defenses can't stack the box with Dez, Witten, Terrence Williams and the emerging Cole Beasley. The threat of the Cowboy's air attack keeps those safeties back, and that helps spring some big runs.
Randle has the speed and agility to put up a monster season. He's also knuckle headed enough to tug on superman's cape (remember his comments to Dez last year?) and shoplift. This is a scary pick, but if he's here when I draft, he'll be on my team.
62) Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (10)
The 49'ers (outside of the ageless Anquan Boldin) all looked fairly pedestrian in 2014. The rash of retirements, a new coaching staff, and shaky quarterback play out of Kaepernick don't make me feel great about the run game.
Hyde didn't look particularly impressive, but he showed he is certainly NFL worthy. With a team that may be behind a lot, and a still quite capable Reggie Bush in town, Hyde may fail to launch.
With all that being said, starting running backs are tough to come by. If you know a back is going to get 15-20 touches a game, you'll generally feel OK about starting him. Hyde fits that bill if SF can manage to hang in some games this year.
63) LeGarrette Blount, RB, NE (4)
Perhaps this rank betrays my optimistic, trusting nature. Trying to nail down what the Patriots will do week to week is tough, pegging what they'll do for the season is pure folly.
While Blount does suffer a bit in PPR, I expect the Pats to put up a ton of points. Blount seems to have Belichick and Brady's trust, and he is a capable runner. His floor is 0 from week to week, but RBs in a good offense offer too much to sleep on.
64) Giovani Bernard, RB, Cin (7)
Gio is a blast to watch, amazingly talented, and on a team that puts up points. Unfortunately, he's been relegated to the #2 RB by Jeremy Hill. Gio's highs are so high, but his floor is just above ant level.
His value is helped a bit by PPR, but I do not foresee many weeks that you'll want to start Bernard as your RB2 or flex. If Hill gets nicked up again, Gio immediately becomes a top 10 start in PPR.
65) Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (5)
If you enjoy watching football, you like watching Ivory run the rock. He runs with no fear, all out on every play. His body, unfortunately, has not been able to keep up with his mind.
There could be great opportunity this year in New Jersey with Chan Gailey, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Geno Smith. Ivory has a great skill set and enough talent to consistently post top 10 RB scores for a good offense.
The number of ifs and buts, and injury concerns are the big limiting factors here. If he can ever put together a full season, he'll be a real asset to your fantasy team.
66) Drew Brees, QB, NO (11)
The Saints had an atrocious year last year, and Brees still finished as QB3 in most formats. There is a lot of talk about how the Saints are going to run the ball more this year and the improvements they've made along their line. Pardon me if I don't believe this story the fourth time I've heard it.
Peyton loves to attack defenses through the air, and Brees is still quite capable. Even if the Saints run more this year, they're not going to abandon their best player and quarterback.
When I'm drafting and look at my options, and I do not see anyone I am comfortable starting, that is where I'll take my QB or TE.
67) Eli Manning, QB, NYG (11)
The Giants offense finally showed signs of life late least season with the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. Eli's interceptions are down, and it will be year two under Bob McAdoo. Eli is a good quarterback and he is now, for the first time in his career, in a pass oriented offense.
Defenses will have to roll coverage to Beckham, but I doubt even that can stop the WR phenom. With Larry Donnell providing a big option over the middle, Ruben Randle on the outside, and perhaps Victor Cruz out of the slot for the second half of the year, the Giants may score big.
68) Steve Smith, WR, Bal (9)
Smith finished as WR20 after a blistering start to the season. With all the turnover in Baltimore, Joe Flacco will not be spoiled for choice with his receivers. I believe in Breshad Perriman and think he will contribute early, but that still leaves Baltimore wanting for pass catchers. Someone will have to be fed targets, and I believe Smith will be that guy, at least early on.
69) Keenan Allen, WR, SDC (10)
Allen is tough for me to rank because he looked as promising as a rookie as he looked pedestrian last year. Allen has also earned a reputation for always being banged up, a headache for fantasy owners. When you mix in his injury history, and all the good options Phillip Rivers will have to throw to, it's hard to imagine Allen doing more than he did in his rookie campaign.
70) Nelson Agholor, WR, Phi (8)
Rookie wide receivers contributed big and early last year, but I still find myself struggling to fall in love with rookie wide outs. If I am a year behind the curve, Agholor may be my canary in the coal mine.
At USC he looked capable but not amazing. Now he goes to a very fruitful offense where they need to replace some receptions. The Eagles got a very nice rookie performance from Jordan Matthews, if they can repeat that with Agholor, the outcry from the losses of Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson may become even more muted.
71) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Ari (9)
If any HOF wide receiver had a worse run of luck at quarterback than Larry Fitzgerald, it'd be news to me. Fitzgerald still has more than enough to put up elite fantasy numbers, the question is: does Carson Palmer's knee have what it takes to help out?
Betting on talented, older wide receivers with a highly questionable QB situation is tough, but I'll take my shot on Fitz at this position.
72) Kenny Stills, WR, Mia (5)
In one of the more baffling moves early in 2015, the ‘rebuilding' Saints shipped Stills off to Miami. Stills isn't a game changer but he is talented. I wonder if there is more to this move than meets the eye.
Stills has speed and can do more than just run fast in a straight line. This year, Stills may show if the problems with Miami's deep passing game were more of a Wallace or Tannehill issue. Under Bill Lazor, the Dolphins do a good job moving the ball and putting up points. With Stills's skill set, we could see a great season, or we'll see another speedy deep threat that just can't hook up with Tannehill.
73) Anquan Boldin, WR, SF (10)
Perhaps the one stable force still in San Francisco this year is Anquan Boldin. All he does is catch everything thrown his way regardless of the coverage. Anquan is aging, but last year proved he is one of Kaep's favorite targets. He is one of the toughest men in the NFL and I do not give that compliment lightly.
I still think Boldin has something to offer, especially in PPR leagues. While his ceiling is not spectacularly high, his floor is nice and safe. You could do a lot worse at this point in the draft.
74) Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (5)
Decker showed the Jets that he was a reliable target in 2014. On a team that was historically inept on offense, he caught 74 passes and 5 touchdowns. With Brandon Marshall in town, Decker slides back to his more familiar WR2 role. The Jets can't do any worse on offense, and I have hope for them under Gailey. Decker isn't a sizzling starter but if you're in a pinch, he can end up being a nice gap-filler for you.
75) Allen Robinson, WR, Jax (8)
Robinson got off to a great start considering he was a rookie wide receiver and played in Jacksonville. He's expected to be fully recovered from his broken foot by the start of the 2015 season, and while the Jags are a long shot to even sniff the playoffs, they do seem to be turning things around.
Robinson looked good working with Bortles, but it is just so hard to trust this offense. If the Jags continue to take baby steps forward, Robinson could be in for a big year. If the Jags do what the Jags have done for the past decade, this pick may not pan out how we want it.
76) Todd Gurley, RB, Stl (6)
It's tough to tell when Gurley will get the nod at RB for the Rams, but we know it is going to happen. Gurley was the first running back drafted, and drafted 10th overall for good reason. Gurley looked great running in the SEC, and he goes to a coach that has no qualms with pounding his running backs in to the ground.
While I don't expect much out of the Rams offense again this year, Gurley, at some point, will likely inherit the bell cow role. Clear running back 1's are hard to come by in today's NFL. Even though I expect Gurley to miss the first 6 games, I'll still draft and stash if he is available to me here.
77) Martellus Bennett, TE, Chi (7)
Number 1 in my nic-name rankings, The Black Unicorn is a fairly consistent, fairly valued TE. The odds of a season that will rival Gronk or Jimmy are slim, but he'll consistently outscore most opposing TEs. Brandon Marshall leaves the windy city, leaving a lot of production out there for someone. While rookie wide-out Kevin White will likely pick up some slack, Bennett brings experience and rapport with Cutler. I like Bennett as the first of my ‘meh' tight ends.
78) Julius Thomas, TE, Jax (8)
Thomas had other-worldly touchdown numbers in Denver, with Peyton Manning. Now, he moves to Blake Bortlesand Jacksonville. While Thomas's ceiling was certainly lifted by playing Peyton in that productive Denver system, Thomas is not just a guy.
Thomas is either too big or too athletic to be stopped in the red zone. What really hurts him this year is, how many times do we expect the Jags to get in to the red zone? Thomas hasn't really shown seam ripping ability, of course he was not really asked to do that much in Denver.
I'm a believer in Julius's talent, but he is not a transformational player. He will need the Jags to move the ball for him to capitalize on those talents. I'll take a shot on him here and not worry about my TE slot other than his bye week.
79) Larry Donnell, TE, NYG (11)
It took a while for the Giants to get going last year, but once they did, there was production a-plenty. Donnell showed that he is capable and reliable, and Eli rewarded him. I expect big points coming from the Giants this year as Eli gets more comfortable under Ben McAdoo. Defenses will, and should be, rolling coverage to Odell Beckham Jr. This will leave plenty of room for Donnell to get loose.
This is another TE that I will draft, set and forget for 2015.
80) Antonio Gates, TE, SDC (10)
Gates was written off last year by many, but he ended up rewarding those that trusted him with another solid year. Gates is another year older but still has game. Phillip Rivers seems to hate throwing to anyone in the end zone other than Gates, and Antonio has a skillset that is just about impossible to shut down.
The only thing that can stop Gates, it seems, is father time and the injury bug. I'll take my chances on Gates again this year at this price.