The goal in fantasy is to minimize risk. Sure, you can swing for the fences in the later rounds, hoping to land a sleeper that will be a weekly starter. But in the beginning of the draft, it’s important not to try to get too cute. Why swing for the fences with an unproven player in the first or second round, when you can safely land a stud. So far, from ESPN’s live draft results, there are several players who are being taken too early. Some of the guys are unproven, high upside picks, and other guys are not huge risks, as much as they are bets that the player will mirror his production from last year.
This is a case of a guy who will surely produce this year and is worthy of a high pick, but he is being taken too early. Manning is definitely worth a first round pick. But the problem is that he’s being taken in the top five. If you really expect him to throw for 5500 yards and 55 TDs again, then go ahead and taken him in the top five. Chances are, he won’t replicate what he did last year. He lost one of his top wide receivers Eric Decker to the Jets. Emmanuel Sanders is not the player that Decker is. Sanders will see his stats increase, but he’s a mediocre receiver in the NFL. And the running game has some questions. Knowshon Moreno benefitted from Peyton’s arrival more than anyone, but losing Moreno is still a loss for the Broncos. He was the starter because of his blocking ability, not because he’s a good runner. Those two losses aren’t lethal by any stretch. The Broncos will still have one of the best offenses in the league, but if Manning regresses back to being amazing, and not superhuman, then he shouldn’t be taken in the top five.
Bell was the best rookie running back last season. By ESPN’s standard scoring, he was 15th best running back last season, and is being drafted in the second round in most drafts right now. But take a closer look at his stats last season. They’re not that impressive. He didn’t even crack 900 rushing yards last year. He reeled in a little over 1250 total yards, nothing out of this world. He excelled because of the quantity of touches he got. And he may not get as many touches this season, especially in the goal line. Bell said he’ll probably lose the goal line carries to LeGarrette Blount, who the Steelers signed this offseason. Even more troubling, Bell may find himself in a 50-50 timeshare with Blount this year. Drafting Bell probably requires passing on Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Julio Jones, or Jordy Nelson. Those guys are high-end WR1’s, who will probably end up with more yardage than Bell. I’d pass on Bell.
Thomas should not be a borderline 2nd round pick, and that is exactly where he’s being taken right now. Per ESPN draft results, he’s currently being taken 25th, way too early for a guy who didn’t even notch 800 yards last season. He scored 12 TDs last year, third most of any tight end, trailing only Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis. Touchdowns fluctuate much more than yardage does from year to year. If he catches around 750 yards like last season, but only scores six touchdowns, he probably isn’t taken by most people until the sixth or seventh round. He only had two games last year over 100 yards! You only take Thomas late 2nd/early 3rd round if you think he fills a lot of the void left by Decker. If you think he brings in around 1200 yards and scores double digit touchdowns, then take him in the mid 20’s. He probably doesn’t have those types of numbers though.
To get Bush, you have to spend at least a 3rd round pick. With new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi calling plays though, there’s a good chance Bush will have less of a role in the offense. Lombardi comes from the Saints, and he plans to use Bush like the Saints used Darren Sproles. Joique Bell will get at least as many carries as Bush this year, if not more. Bell is a better, tougher runner than Bush, and might get the goal line carries. There’s a good chance Bush and Bell will be in a timeshare that saps each other’s value. Let someone else spend a 3rd round pick on Bush. Get Bell in the 6th round instead.
I know Tate is a starting running back, but getting him in the fourth round?? Nice try. He’s never been able to stay healthy in his career and he hasn’t even ever started! Not to mention he’s on the Browns, a team who doesn’t even have a starting quarterback yet and will probably lose its best player for considerable time. And the Browns also spent a 3rd round pick in last April’s draft on another running back, Terrance West. Tate might be decent, but picking him in the fourth or fifth round only pans out if he fulfills his best case scenario.
Did anyone watch him play last season? Or the season before? I mean, his rookie season was fine fantasy-wise, but if you dig just a little bit, you see his 3.6 yards per carry. That’s below average. And last year, notwithstanding the difficulties of learning a new offense in the middle of the season, his yards per carry was only 2.9! You saw that right. 2.9!!!! One year could make a big difference for Richardson, but based on his production, he should be taken in the 10th round at the earliest. I don’t care if he’s a starting running back. If his production is anything even close to last season, he’ll be out of the job within a month.