Examining the recent draft, we are always looking for that next diamond in the rough. We will comb through each skill player selected attempting to predict who will become fantasy Rookie of the Year. And while a handful of rookies will find themselves in the fantasy headlines, the impact can also touch the NFL veterans. Listed below are players trending upward, and a few veterans we are likely to avoid on draft day.
– Of course, much of Vick’s upside will be connected to the hiring of offensive juggernaut Chip Kelly as Philadelphia’s coach. And the return of Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters also gains recognition. But examining the NFL draft, the Eagles added two key pieces to thrust Vick’s fantasy projections. First was the drafting of Lane Johnson with the fourth overall selection to bookend with Peters. The second was adding powerhouse tight end Zach Ertz. A prolific playmaker at Stanford, Ertz has all the measurable to be great in future years. My guess is the preseason will skyrocket Vick’s value. But a projected average draft position in the eighth round is solid value considering the upside.
– Over the past two seasons, Dalton has developed into a proficient NFL quarterback. He’s led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs each season with good decision-making and solid arm talent. The limiting factor for Dalton’s fantasy development has been the Bengals dumbed-down version of the West Coast Offense. However, if the drafting of top tight end Tyler Eifert is any indication, the passing game will be expanded in 2013. Dalton exited last season as a mid QB2, but the addition of Eifert will propel his stock into the low QB1 range, meaning an excellent spot starter in a plus matchup.
– Since his breakout season in 2009, Schaub has been touted as a mid-QB1. But, over the past two years, Schaub has failed to meet expectations. Poor production has him tumbling down the pre-draft rankings. A major downfall has been the lack of talent opposite Andre Johnson. The Texans finally made provisions selecting DeAndre Hopkins in the first round. With the healthy return of Johnson and Owen Daniels, Schuab should have enough team talent to become a low-end QB1. Again, a solid spot starter, and possibly trade bait should he open the season on fire. Be warned that Schaub is a yellow flag injury risk, but solid value with a projected average draft position in the 10th round.
– There is a lot to like about Freeman this year – the return of his Pro Bowl left tackle and left guard, and another year to work with Vincent Jackson along with the continued emergence of Doug Martin and Mike Williams. Now entering his contract year, the writing is on the wall for Freemen. Either challenge for the playoffs or find a new home. Adding fuel to the fire was the drafting of Mike Glennon in the third round. With everything on the line, I expect Freeman to meet the challenge producing low-end QB1 numbers. Like the quarterbacks mentioned above, Freeman should not be relied upon to conquer your league, but gives us excellent sleeper value somewhere in Round 11.
– In Bradford’s rookie season, we saw moments of brilliance with incredible arm talent and swift decisions making. But an already suspect offensive line riddled by injuries and lack of wide receiver depth have limited Bradford the past two seasons. The Rams have attempted to reconcile their wide receiver woes by trading up to draft dynamic playmaker Tavon Austin. Let’s not forget the free agent acquisition of Jared Cook and selection of Brian Quick No. 33 overall in 2012. On the downside, the offensive line is still shaky, while Bradford plays in a revamped NFC West. I’m still drafting Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman and Matt Schaub ahead of Bradford, but there are worst ways to spend a last-round flyer.