The NFL Draft is officially in the books…Now can we talk fantasy football? Top rookie fantasy storylines Round 3 edition.
Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins
The forgotten running back in the Crimson Tide backfield Kenyan Drake picked up steam throughout the NFL Draft process with some evaluators asserting that he will be a better NFL pro than former teammate Derrick Henry. While I’m not going that far, Drake does have a niche and a potential opportunity to get touches for an inexperienced Dolphins backfield. I’m on record stating that I am a big Jay Ajayi believer but he is a second year player who has a question mark about his durability due to tearing his ACL in college. I believe if you are willing to take a shot on the Dolphins backfield in your draft you might as well select both Ajayi and Drake in the later rounds.
Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
It’s been a long time coming but the Falcons finally get a replacement for Tony Gonzalez. Matt Ryan hasn’t been the same quarterback since losing his security blanket TE while depending on Julio Jones each and every play. The offense took a step back last season in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s first year. What does this all mean? Austin Hooper will be relied on heavily in his rookie season. Yes, it is tremendous pressure on a first year tight end to come into the NFL, learn the offense, and translate it on the field against grown men but the team needs him and will target Hooper often. Jacob Tamme flashed last season having some nice games but Tamme is an aging player who cannot stretch the field vertically anymore. Hooper has the potential to be a TE1 in his first season and should be a name to target in your fantasy drafts. He should outperform the first tight end off the NFL Draft board Hunter Henry due to his fast track to opportunity in Atlanta. Hopefully he will not disappoint his team and fantasy owners.
Braxton Miller – Houston Texans
Braxton Miller, the former college quarterback, transitioned last season at The Ohio State to an electrifying game breaking wide receiver. The transition was smooth and makes you wonder why he didn’t play the position all along; oh yea he was in Urban Meyer’s system winning college football games at a rapid pace. The Texans saw the potential in Miller and snagged him in the third round to go alongside Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, and the beast they call DeAndre Hopkins aka Nuk. There is a lot of excitement in Houston right now with their newly signed $75 million quarterback Brock Osweiler but temper your expectations on the rookie wide out Miller. He will definitely make exciting highlight reel catches and moves in the open field but he is still raw and will be playing with an inexperienced quarterback with a lot of mouths to feed.
Leonte Carroo – Miami Dolphins
The 2016 receiving class does not get the pub like the 2014 class (understandably) or even the 2015 class. But I like a lot of the receivers in this group including I’m calling it “my guy” Leonte Caroo. Jarvis Landry and Carroo make for an interesting hard-nosed combination between the hashes. Carroo is a very productive receiver who has the ability to catch short, intermediate, and deep passes with reliable hands. He carried the Rutgers team last season with his strong hands and the ability to catch passes in traffic even though he commanded double teams often. In terms of fantasy football I would take a wait and see approach before drafting Carroo, just like all other rookies there will be an adjustment period that can torpedo his fantasy stock early. But keep an eye out for him as a free agent waiver wire addition that can change the complexion of your team.
C.J. Prosise – Seattle Seahawks
After losing Marshawn Lynch this offseason to retirement the Seahawks took the Carolina Panthers approach (drafted 3 CBs after losing Josh Norman) and drafted a bunch of bodies to replace their former workhorse. The first of those guys was C.J. Prosise of Notre Dame who was a former wide receiver in college that can come in and become a third down compliment to the offense. With Thomas Rawls in the fold to go along with their other 2 RB selections, I certainly would be hard pressed to draft Prosise in yearly fantasy legaues. There has been talk about moving him to receiver but I believe Pete Carroll will use him everywhere in the formation to gain a mismatch in the open field. Whether it be as a slot receiver or third down back, Prosise will have an immediate role in the offence but I don’t believe he is fantasy worthy just yet.
Jacoby Brissett – New England Patriots
You can pass on Brissett in fantasy drafts even with Tom Brady possibly suspended for the first 4 games. The Patriots will develop this kid and either trade him or keep him unitl Brady’s eventual retirement 5 years from now. No signifant fantasy value here.
Cody Kessler – Cleveland Browns
Although I believe Brissett is the better prospect, Cody Kessler has an opportunity to play earlier in his career than the Patriots rookie quarterback. Robert Griffin and Josh McCown are the quarterbacks currently blocking Kessler’s path to playing time, so in reality RGIII is the only guy he will need to beat out. Although I have been hard on Griffin, I am rooting for him to take hold of the offense in Cleveland which leaves Kessler as pretty much irrelevant in fantasy. Even if Kessler wins the starting job I am not high on him producing any gaudy fantasy numbers as he is a dink and dunk type of quarterback who doesn’t stretch the field.
Nick Vannett – Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks used their 2nd of 3rd round picks to select TE Nick Vannett. His combination of athleticism and size makes for an interesting prospect that can help the Seahawks in the passing game. I don’t believe Vannett is deserving of a fantasy draft pick as he is more of a desperation bye week addition to your roster. The biggest news from this selection is the health of star TE Jimmy Graham. The injury to Graham’s patella tendon is one of the most serious injuries a player can have on the field with players like Victor Cruz and Ryan Williams unable to regain their form. Expect Graham to be placed on the PUP/injured reserve list which can free up opportunities for Vannett early on.