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NFL Draft: What’s the Fantasy Impact?

NFL Draft: What’s the Fantasy Impact?
Corey Coleman has little in his way to seeing WR1 playing time and targets

Corey Coleman has little in his way to seeing a whole lot of playing time and targets in 2016

Do you remember when Odell Beckham showed up and became one of the most dominant WRs in both real life and fantasy purposes? Or how about when Karlos Williams became a must-own back last season. Every year rookies come in and shift the fantasy landscape of the NFL and here at FantasyPros, we understand that fully.

For that very reason, we reached out to experts around the fantasy football industry to give us their thoughts on a few questions that could help you out come your draft day.

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Q1. Give us the rookie (besides Ezekiel Elliot) whose stock is on the rise the most by virtue of the situation he walks into (team/depth/etc). How early should he go in a rookie draft?

Corey Coleman (WR – CLE)
“I’m super stoked on what Corey Coleman could do next year, especially given his price tag on draft day. The dude is crazy explosive and he’s entering a situation where there is literally no one to take targets from him. Brian Hartline? Andrew Hawkins? I get that the quarterback situation is about as appetizing as a plate of week-old queso dip, but Coleman could be in line for 120-130 targets and given his talent level, he has every-week flex appeal with strong WR2 upside. Today, right now, as unappealing as the Browns are, Coleman could be had in round 10 or later in standard 10-team leagues.”
James Koh (NFL.com)

Corey Coleman was the biggest immediate winner for 2016 fantasy purposes as he goes into a situation in Cleveland where it’s highly probable he sees at least 20 percent of the team’s total targets, if not more. Even if they’re in bad spot, targets are the lifeblood for fantasy production at the receiver position. Plus, Hue Jackson has shown to be consistently creative at getting lead receiver production as he’s been tied to the breakout of Roddy White, the best season of Darius Heyward-Bey’s career, and Laveranues Coles’ second highest scoring fantasy season outside of A.J. Green. I still wouldn’t want to draft him as anything more than a WR4 on my roster, but Coleman has the upside to be a seasonal WR3 or more.”
Rich Hribar (The Fake Football)

Kenneth Dixon (RB – BAL)
“I was highly impressed with Dixon on tape as I was writing my draft profiles and I believe he could be the second-best running back this class has to offer, so it goes without saying that I like his chances of being relevant in Baltimore. Justin Forsett is nearing the end of the line, Buck Allen may be best as a long-term backup and I’m not sure Trent Richardson is anything more than a flyer. All that competition may put a bit of a cap on his Year 1 value, but it should also keep his price down going into fantasy drafts. Dixon is a three-down back who can do it all and headed to a team that embraces the running game, so I feel pretty bullish about his chances of having an impact in 2016.”
Doug Orth (FFToday)

C.J. Prosise (RB – SEA)
“There has been much speculation as to whether Thomas Rawls would be ready for Week 1. I think Seattle’s 2016 NFL Draft gives us some insight that the Seahawks are worried… very worried. And it doesn’t look like they believe Christine Michael is the answer either. Seattle took three running backs in the NFL Draft — C.J. Prosise (3rd), Alex Collins (late 5th), and Zac Brooks (7th). We think Prosise is the definitive play over Collins or Brooks. Prosise is taller, thicker, faster, more athletic, and built better than Collins in every way. Plus, Prosise is a former WR making him a great receiving threat out of the backfield. If Rawls is ruled out for a few weeks to start the 2016 season, then Prosise is the best three-down option for Seattle. If today we found out Rawls was going to miss all of 2016, Prosise races into an RB1 discussion for 2016 in PPR formats. He is fantasy-viable as a pass-catcher working with a healthy Rawls. It’s also not out of the question that he could push past Rawls as the starter, even if Rawls is healthy. In a weak rookie draft class, Prosise is making a case as a first-rounder.”
R.C. Fischer (Fantasy Football Metrics)

Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
“Outside of superstar receiver Odell Beckham, the Giants came into the draft with major question marks at wide receiver. New York found the answer to their wide receiver problem in the second round with the selection of Sterling Shepard. Shepard is generally regarded as the best route runner of the draft class and the smooth, sure-handed slot receiver should have little trouble getting open against defenses focused on limiting Beckham. He has an ADP near the sixteenth round of early best-ball drafts, but I expect that to rise into the single-digit rounds by August with a strong preseason.”
Matthew Hill (DataForceFF)

Q2. Last season, Thomas Rawls offered good value despite flying under the radar as an undrafted player. Name 1 rookie that has the best shot to be a surprise stud this season.

Kenneth Dixon (RB – BAL)
“Dixon is an animal but because he played at Louisiana Tech, most drafters will have no idea who he is.  Dixon has legit measurables (5-10, 215 pounds, 4.58 40-time) to go along with awesome game tape. He’s a powerful, angry runner that fights hard for extra yards but what sets him apart is that he is a special talent catching the ball. Now he’s playing for a Marc Trestman offense in Baltimore??? Dixon could be in line for a MONSTER season especially in PPR formats.”
James Koh (NFL.com)

Marshaun Coprich (RB – NYG)
“Staying with undrafted players, I choose Illinois State standout Marshaun Coprich, who fell 33 yards short of rushing for 2,000 yards over his final two seasons with the Redbirds. With over 900 career carries at the college level, Coprich proved he can be much more than the change-of-pace back his size (5-8, 207) would indicate he is, and I’ve been a fan of his since I watched Illinois State’s run to the FCS Championship game at the end of the 2014 season. With the New York Giants, Coprich and fifth-round pick Paul Perkins must overtake only Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams in order to make a splash. Ironically, the biggest roadblock to his fantasy success in 2016 could be Perkins, who is a pretty complete back himself (but lacks Coprich’s long speed).”
Doug Orth (FFToday)

Josh Ferguson (RB – IND)
“Ferguson (undrafted) is arguably the best receiving running back in the 2016 NFL Draft. In his sophomore and junior seasons for Illinois, Ferguson caught 50 passes each year – an incredible amount of catches for a running back (especially on a non-pass-happy offense). He was on pace for 53 catches in 2015, but missed his final few games with a shoulder injury. By comparison, notorious ‘great hands’ running back Kenneth Dixon’s top season in college for catches was 33. Kenyan Drake’s best – 29 receptions. David Johnson’s season high for receptions at Northern Iowa – 38 grabs. When I scouted Ferguson for the NFL Draft, I marveled at how adept he is at moving into position for swings and screen passes. He’s NFL-ready for the short passing game. He’s a 4.48 runner, and benched 21 reps at the NFL Combine, not bad for a 198-pound running back. All Ferguson has in front of him on the depth chart for a pass-game specialist’s role is Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, and Trey Williams. In the era of the RB as a huge pass-game weapon, Ferguson may be a PPR shock out of nowhere in 2016 getting to work with Andrew Luck.”
R.C. Fischer (Fantasy Football Metrics)

Devon Johnson (RB – CAR)
“Chasing the next Josh Gordon, the next Odell Beckham, the next Devonta Freeman a year later is always a slippery slope to tread on, but as far as a late round or undrafted longshot that could find himself running into production, I’ll say Devon Johnson. He’s big, fast and was a workhorse at Marshall. Jonathan Stewart was largely inefficient in a great rushing climate last year, Cameron Artis-Payne is yet to be proven and the offense is still going to roll over being strong.”
Rich Hribar (The Fake Football)

Paul Perkins (RB – NYG)
“Shepard is not the only rookie position player poised to make an immediate impact for the Giants. Paul Perkins, selected with the 149 overall pick, is one of the draft’s most elusive running backs (forced a missed tackle every 3.2 carries), a force in the passing game (80 receptions past two seasons), and is strong in the red zone (29 touchdowns). With his primary competition for touches coming from a 31-year-old veteran who has never rushed for more than 863 yards in a season, don’t be surprised to see Perkins assume feature back status early in 2016.”
Matthew Hill (DataForceFF)

Q3. What veteran player walks away as the biggest winner based on the new addition(s) to his team and how does it affect how you value him this season?

DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)
“Is there an answer other than DeAndre Hopkins?  The team got an upgrade, theoretically anyway, with Brock Osweiler and added tremendous speed on the outsides with Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.  Plus with Lamar Miller in the backfield, defenses will be stretched thin and it should allow D-Hop an opportunity to operate which in turn could lead to some humongous games next year.”
James Koh (NFL.com)

Ryan Mathews (RB – PHI)
“There will probably be several folks that go with Jay Ajayi (and I am on board with that), so I’ll go another direction and select Ryan Mathews. The oft-injured ex-Charger watched DeMarco Murray get traded in March and only saw Philadelphia bring in Wendell Smallwood during the draft, leaving Mathews as the only player on the roster big enough to be considered a lead back. The Eagles upgraded the offensive line a bit in free agency and new coach Doug Pederson figures to run a conservative offense this season as well, so it wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see Mathews enjoy a heavy workload and relatively productive year this season if he can stay healthy long enough to do so.”
Doug Orth (FFToday)

Jay Ajayi (RB – MIA)
“Despite sitting atop the depth chart of an ascending offense, recent memories of Miami’s failed courtship of C.J. Anderson, combined with rampant rumors of the Dolphins eyeing Ezekiel Elliot, have kept talented Jay Ajayi’s ADP in the seventh round. Miami did add a back in the draft but not an every-down back like Elliot. Instead, the Dolphins selected game-breaking, situational runner, Kenyan Drake as a complementary piece to Ajayi, whom head coach Adam Gase referred to as “the starter” at the combine. Expect Ajayi’s ADP to climb from the seventh to the early fourth in the coming weeks.”
Matthew Hill (DataForceFF)

Kirk Cousins (QB – WAS)
“Cousins is still really flying low in early fantasy drafts and Washington added arguably the best wide receiver in the draft in Josh Doctson. Even if Doctson doesn’t push the 2016 depth chart enough to make himself a viable week to week fantasy option, it adds another big weapon to go along with the instant splash play production from DeSean Jackson and the underneath and red zone juice from Jordan Reed. I definitely buy Cousins rolling over the back half of 2015 into 2016 and is a current target for those who wait on the position for fantasy as I see him as a top-10 fantasy QB this year.”
Rich Hribar (The Fake Football)

Brandin Cooks (WR – NO)
“April was a great month for Cooks’s 2016 fantasy value. First, Josh Norman took an abrupt exit from the NFC South… switching what would’ve been his key Week 6 and Week 11 battles with Norman in 2016, to one of the three rookie corners the Panthers just took in the draft, I guess? Then the NFL Draft continued to aid him. The Bucs (Week 14 and Week 16 for Cooks) took mediocre cover corner Vernon Hargreaves, not bolstering their struggling secondary. And the Saints drafted the wildly overrated, high-bust probability wide receiver Michael Thomas, who is no serious threat to Cooks’ 2016 targets or production. Everything has gone Cooks’ way of late and he is going to be a WR1 this season.”
R.C. Fischer (Fantasy Football Metrics)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their post-draft fantasy impact analysis. For more advice, be sure to give them a follow on Twitter.

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