The 2014 NFL draft was what we expected and then some. It drew record ratings and the buzz around many of the picks was incredible. Now that all of the fantasy experts have had a chance to digest the impact of the draft on fantasy values, it's time to share our thoughts.
A total of 256 names were called over the course of three days and many of them are already on their way to signing contracts if they haven't already. As they join their new homes, for the time being, others will be losing the roster spots they secured earlier this year. It's an ugly reality of the business, but it's a business none-the-less.
We all know that fantasy football is a fickle beast, which is why we want you to temper you expectations for potential breakout rookies and other impacts. However, we believe we have identified some of the teams that were best impacted by their real life decisions.
The Fantasy Football Winners
1. The Detroit Lions Offense
It would be an understatement to say that the Lions surprised everyone by going offense with their first round pick in 2014. What the pick did do however was put a huge smile on the faces of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, or at least it should have. Adding Eric Ebron, of UNC, gives Matthew Stafford something he has never had before, a true seam threat.
It's understandable to be concerned about Brandon Pettigrew, I mean he's been crushing fantasy owners hopes and dreams for years. He signed a $16 million dollar deal during the 2014 offseason which meant they originally had a plan to use him. I'm thinking that plan may have just shifted Eric Ebrons way.
Calvin Johnson will always be an absolute monster, and with the addition of Golden Tate and Ebron, you have to like the weapons that are being put around Stafford. Oh, and don't forget about Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. They've still got a ton of value as well. Their defense should at least have nice leads to give up, because this offense is going to be piling on the points.
The Lions offense got a ton better on paper following the 2014 NFL Draft. Let's see if it translates to the fantasy the way may experts believe.
2. The Tennessee Running Back Situation
Running back just isn't valued the way it used to be. Over the past two years not one running back was drafted in the first round and many teams are now using committees. As the position has been devalued and many teams didn't have a huge need for running back, the Titans had the chance to grab their guy, Bishop Sankey. He's been compared to both Gio Bernard and Ray Rice by many, and Footballguys.com had this nice chart showing the similarities of each guy as they headed into their rookie seasons.
We're not worried about any knocks on his size. Just take a look at his tape and what these other two backs, whom were similar coming out, have performed. In fact, I believe he's the best rookie running back that has a shot to make a fantasy football impact. Keep your eye on him this fantasy offseason. I think he's almost a lock to take the starting job from Shonn Greene, although he may share some carries due to Greene's pass blocking ability.
3. The Tampa Bay Offense
When the Bucs got rid of Mike Williams I don't think many fantasy football fans minded. Williams made an impact at some point in time, but he certainly wasn't at the top of any of our wish lists. It appears he wasn't at the top of the Bucs list either. After shipping him away they got the apple of their eye in Mike Evans. They guy is a beast, and he's only going to help the Tampa Bay offense.
Although we don't know who the starting quarterback will be, they now have two huge weapons to play with. They also went and got a 6'6" tight end who could add another large element to the offense. Coupled with a healthy Doug Martin the Tampa Bay Bucs could be a fun team to watch in 2014, I'm pretty sure they'll be fun to own in fantasy.
4. Montee Ball
Sometimes no pick at a certain position is all you need. The Denver Broncos didn't go out and draft a running back in 2014, which means John Fox and John Elway must be sold on Ball as their starting back.
Peyton Manning has been saying all the right things about Ball this offseason, which means if Ball can step up, as his bosses believe, we could be looking at another fantasy star in the making. He just needs to hold onto that ball extra tight, we don't need him destroying fantasy owners dreams once again.
5. The Miami Dolphins
Let's be honest with each other right off the bat, no one has Ryan Tannehill or any other Dolphins extremely high up their fantasy rankings. But should they?
The Dolphins went out and completely revamped their offensive line after the 2013 season. They threw bags of cash at Brandon Albert to woo him away from Kansas City and then added Ju'Wuan James to fix the right side in the draft. Lets not forget they also went and added Billy Turner from North Dakota State to fill the hole at left guard.
Now I've never played professional football, but I sure would much rather be standing behind that line than the one they had in 2013. The line improvements could mean better production from Knowshown Moreno because I personally believe the job is his at the running back position. I also think it's time to say goodbye to Lamar Miller in the starting role.
The Dolphins also grabbed a WR in the draft that will be a nice complement on offense. He'll be a nice target underneath and he'll help keep defenses from putting all their efforts into Mike Wallace. That's a win for everyone.
I'm not saying Tannehill should be rising up your draft board, but keep your eye on him. He could make some noise if things go according to plan.
Fantasy Football and The NFL Draft
The NFL Draft and fantasy football will always be intertwined. Fantasy experts will try to create hype out of things that don't exist and they'll miss things that are right in front of their face. Take the time to look into some things on your own and then combine that with what the experts have to say.
Everyone has their own view of these rookies impacts, which means you may think I'm dead wrong. I might be, but you'll never know if you don't keep looking at other experts views.
The above image is an original and is courtesy of the NY Times.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.