(Note: all Average Draft Position (ADP) data and 2015 stats provided by MyFantasyLeague.com)
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders (ADP: 20.90)
This is nothing against Cooper, as he had a great year and looks to be set for an outstanding future. The issue here is with his price point. He’s being drafted as the 12th wide receiver, ahead of Brandin Cooks, Brandon Marshall, T.Y. Hilton, and others. Second-year wideouts seem to have a high hit-or-miss percentage in duplicating success, presumably due to several factors. Fellow Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree actually finished ahead of Cooper in fantasy points last year, delivering consistent performances throughout the year. I get betting on the upside in the rising star, but there are safer (and even higher upside) options than Cooper at that range in the draft.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 35.18)
The idea of a large, slow receiver coming off an ACL tear usually brings about caution. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Benjamin, as he’s been coming off the board as the 22nd receiver. His rookie year was very impressive; a year in which he topped 1,000 yards and hauled in nine touchdowns. The potential is there, but the risk appears to be too high considering his price point. Devin Funchess developed quickly and the Panthers drafted another big receiver in Keyarris Garrett. It’s possible they choose to bring Benjamin along slowly, which could negatively impact his early-season production and thus his overall fantasy production.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 39.53)
I have no idea why drafters are buying into the Hyde hype again. It made some sense last year, although I avoided it as best I could. This year, the second coming of Chip Kelly must be swaying fantasy football drafters. It really doesn’t make sense, considering Kelly’s Eagles had all sorts of commotion in its backfield while the offense stagnated for most of last year. Surely, Kelly’s arrival will spark an offense commanded by Blaine Gabbert and supported by Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton (what?). The need to hit on running backs is understandable, but drafters will be much better off taking a chance on LeSean McCoy or Matt Forte around the same position.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 158.71)
I know there was some hype around Wright last year. That hype crashed and burned, as both Marcus Mariota and Wright himself struggled with staying healthy. He’s currently being drafted as the 62nd receiver, which would be just eight spots higher than where he finished stat-wise last year (despite missing five of 16 games). Let’s not beat around the bush, last year was a disaster for anyone who might’ve taken a chance on him and drafted early. This year provides a new and exciting opportunity, as he heads into the year healthy and with more surrounding talent (a second-year Dorial Green-Beckham and free agent acquisition Rishard Matthews). I would bet on Wright outperforming his two teammates, mainly because his style of receiver fits Mariota the best. We weren’t able to witness that partnership flourish last year for several reasons. But Wright is only two years removed from a 94 catch, 1079 yard season. The talent is there, and the delivery should be there now.
Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 74.07)
No, really, I swear Gore is still in the league. The man built of iron has been going strong for over 10 years. You’d think he had a pretty terrible 2015 season considering his current price, but that’s far from the case. He was a popular third-to-fourth round pick this time last year because of the situation he was thrust to, but that wound up for naught as the Colts struggled mightily both with and without Andrew Luck. So how did Gore’s season even turn out? He finished as the 13th-best running back. I know he’s old and I know his averages dipped, but there is still plenty left in the tank for Gore to produce another top-12 season with the Colts bound to bounce back in a good way. Might as well take that risk as he’s going off the board as the 29th running back.
Rueben Randle, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 187.48)
That ADP is correct. Randle is being drafted as the 70th (!!!) receiver. It’s easy to understand the frustration with Randle. He was tabbed as a potential star in the making for the last few years in New York. While he hadn’t lived up to those expectations, he still delivered a respectable fantasy season in 2015. He finished as the 38th best receiver, scoring double digit points in half of his games and scoring above eight in four other ones. Granted, he was in a better offense with more scoring capability, but his situation now isn’t all that bad. The pace will be slow, volume will be hard to come by, but with Jordan Matthews manning the slot and Nelson Agholor showing next to nothing up until this point, Randle will get plenty of chances to prove his worth.