NFL Draft 2013 – the Fantasy Football Impact, Team by Team
For 32 NFL teams, the draft has always been about rebuilding and replenishing aging units with potently questionable young talent. Yet Radio City Music Hall’s annual gridiron banquet has become far more than just a college lottery. Sure it’s a spectacle; perhaps a sporting event in the broadway-show mold. However, when picked apart, the draft is simply your truest guide to fantasy football victory.
Here we’ll take a look at a wild first round that began with two franchise-altering offensive tackles clogging the top two spots and ended with an unknown crop of potential stars. Throughout it all, one question remained – how did the 2013 first round change your fantasy draft strategy next season? Let’s take a look….
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
With tackle Brandon Albert on the move (no more?), repairing a porous offensive line was undoubtedly top priority. Central Michigan’s 6’7″ Eric Fisher fit that bill. Expect RB Jamaal Charles to dash past another 1,400 yards, Alex Smith to paint a solid 20-touchdown offensive masterpiece, and Dexter McCluster to score, score, score. Oh, and prepare yourself for plenty of smiles beneath that Andy Reid ‘stache.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M
An offense ranked 29th last year knew it couldn’t improve without adding bulk in the trenches…and add bulk they did. Standing powerfully at 6’6″ and 306 pounds, Joeckel’s strong run-blocking is sure to toss MJD back into the MVP talks. However, unless he can play quarterback, expect the Jaguars to be a league-worst passing offense.
3. Miami Dolphins (Trade with Oakland) – Dion Jordan, LB Oregon
With Miami transitioning to the 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, the Dolphins may be a fantasy defense primed for a flashy 2013 campaign. They certainly aren’t lacking in athletic presence. However, beware of Jordan, who only played 418 snaps last season. That’s 38 per game for all you statisticians out there…
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
Another 6’6″ mammoth doubling as an offensive tackle, fleet-footed Lane Johnson is an ideal candidate for the right side of Chip Kelly’s high-flying offense. A former high school quarterback, Johnson transitioned from backup QB at his junior college (for one season) to tight end, defensive end and finally right tackle during his first three seasons at Oklahoma. Prepare for a plethora of explosive screens.
5. Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU
Three years after being introduced to the game of football, BYU end Ziggy Ansah seems ready to hoist the Lions franchise on his shoulders. After losing Avril and Vanden Bosch, Ansah’s all-or-nothing potential was unquestionably worth the risk.
6. Cleveland Browns – Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU
Simply put, you cannot teach a 4.5 40-yard dash at the linebacker position. Mingo and Kruger off the edges of Ray Horton’s blitz-happy 3-4 defense should prove a powerful tandem from the first snap of Week 1.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Jonathan Cooper, G North Carolina
Considering this unit rushed for a league-worst 1,204 yards last season, they essentially penciled Jonathan Cooper in at guard long before his name was called. Arizona expects the UNC product to keep Carson Palmer off crutches (and hopefully couches) and pave the way for forgotten tailback Rashard Mendenhall, who we predict may enjoy a comeback, 1,000-yard year.
8. St. Louis Rams (Trade with Buffalo) – Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia
With Chris Givens listed as their top target, the Rams were focused solely on a hands-man. For those who believe Sam Bradford can be a legend when surrounded by proper talent, the test is now. 5’8″ whirling dervish Tavon Austin goes from the draft’s only playmaker to the Rams’ most legitimate threat. Adding Jared Cook via free agency and Stedman Bailey in the third round (Austin’s teammate at WVU) will only improve the depth. Although keep in mind, Bradford finished with 6.7 YPA last season. He’ll need to stretch the field before we can expect top-tier production. Also, facing the Niners, Seahawks and Cardinals defenses six times may not help. Expect seven targets a game for Austin.
9. New York Jets – Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
Milliner island (too soon?) seems ready to step in and make Jets fans forget about (wait for it…) Kyle Wilson. Huh? That’s right! Forget losing Revis; having inept nickel-bound Wilson manning the No. 2 spot would’ve been nearly as nightmarish as giving Sanchez another shot at starting.
10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, G Alabama
Warmack, Andy Levitre, Rob Turner, Shonn Greene, 268-pound tight end Craig Stevens. New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is clearly looking for a heavy ground-and-pound with unpredictable jumbo packages. While it should be a bruising year in Tennessee, avoid Jake Locker (or perhaps Ryan Fitzpatrick?) at all costs!
11. San Diego Chargers – D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama
Even with Norv Turner gone, a once-prolific offense seems to be going nowhere as usual. Although while enormous D.J. Fluker may keep Philip Rivers peeling grass off his helmet all year long, it’s unlikely he can keep Ryan Matthews from marinating on injured reserve (as per usual). Choose San Diego’s unit at your own risk!
12. Oakland Raiders (Trade with Miami) – D.J. Hayden, CB Houston
Great player. No help. No pass rush. Can Terrelle Pryor play safety?
13. New York Jets – Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri
Rumor has it Sheldon Richardson was a 275-pound punt returner in high school. He should provoke some intriguing fronts in New York this year.
14. Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
The real winners here are tackling machines Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Kuechly should pile another dozen tackles to his 164-tackle rookie season, while Davis will have room to show off his elite speed in space. Lotulelei is known for clogging the middle and eating up blockers, something Carolina desperately needs.
15. New Orleans Saints – Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas
Turnovers, sacks, wreckage. Introducing Rob Ryan’s next experiment.
16. Buffalo Bills (Trade with Rams) – E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
Very raw. However, expect to see him in Week 2 (after Kevin Kolb is steam-rolled by the Patriots in the season opener). It’ll be a bit too soon, as Manuel will finish with 2,100 pass yards; 325 rushing yards; 10:16 TD-to-INT split (but 6 rushing TDs as well).
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones, DE Georgia
With James Harrison bolting for Cincinnati, the Steelers needed an infusion of youth. While questions about Jarvis Jones’ true potential and his ability to disengage from blockers remain, he and Lamarr Woodley (beware of only 4 sacks last year) could form quite the gritty tandem.
18. San Francisco 49ers (Trade with Dallas) – Eric Reid, S LSU
Dashon Goldson gone, Eric Reid in. Expect plenty of hard hits from the Niners already dominant defensive backfield. The LSU center fielder had 14 passes defended in the last two seasons, and has been compared to another hard-hitting LSU alum; safety Laron Landry.
19. New York Giants – Justin Pugh, G Syracuse
The big blue offense is pleased to have this versatile lineman Manning their front (pun intended). Coughlin loves versatility, and Pugh brings plenty of that to an already potent offense. David Wilson could be a fantasy legend this year.
20. Chicago Bears – Kyle Long, G Oregon
After signing Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson in free agency and drafting Howie Long’s youngest/heaviest son, the Bears finally seem ready to focus on offense. A healthy Forte should prove deadly for opposing defenses.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
Mimicking New England’s two tight-end set, Cincinnati now has Eiffert, Jermaine Gresham, A.J. Green, and a realistic chance.
22. Atlanta Falcons (Trade with St. Louis) – Desmond Trufant, CB Washington
A quick cornerback with solid technique, the youngest Trufant brother may end up being the most talented of the Trufant crop. The Washington product should be thrust into a starting role from the get go. Expect the pick-six to become an integral part of his game. IDP sleeper.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida
From projected third-overall pick to forgotten freefaller, 6’3″ Shariff Floyd should have no problem learning the gap-filling ropes from fellow linemen Kevin Williams and Jared Allen.
23. Indianapolis Colts – Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State The perfect transition to a 3-4, this German end is relentless in every facet of the game. Compares similarly to Browns hybrid Paul Kruger, who was interestingly drafted by the Ravens and, you guessed it, current Colts coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano in 2009.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State After losing veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield to the Seahawks in free agency, the Vikings needed a young stud at the position. While this 6’1″ Seminole is powerful enough to match up with any NFL receiver, he is frustratingly inept when it comes to playing zone coverage. Beware!
26. Green Bay Packers – Datone Jones, DE UCLA
Adaptability is the name of the game, and this explosive lineman is the perfect fit for Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. Expect five sacks and a nonstop motor.
27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
A physical specimen at 214 pounds, Tajh Boyd’s No. 1 weapon (sorry Sammy Watkins!) rewrote the record books during his time at Clemson. A quality route-runner who attacks the ball at its highest point, Hopkins should flourish immediately starting Week 1.
28. Denver Broncos – Sylvester Williams, DT North Carolina
At 313 pounds, Williams projects as a nose/rotational tackle in Denver’s heavy interior line. The rich keep getting richer, as Denver may have the heaviest line on the planet.
29. Minnesota Vikings (Trade with New England) – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
While still very raw, Cordarrelle (that’s fun to say) should have a stat-filled rookie season returning kicks and breaking quick slants for inhuman touchdowns. Expect to see Harvin-esque production from Day 1, before the league catches on.
30. St. Louis Rams (Trade with Atlanta) – Alec Ogletree, LB Georgia
Another sleeper D is infused with young potential. Scouts have never questioned Ogletree’s athleticism, nor his top-tier coverage skills. Though they have questioned his tendency to overrun plays and inability to break off blocks. In the end, he should find himself with 80-tackle production playing the weakside alongside James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Though beware, as this was a defense that gave up a 19th-best 342.6 YPG last year. That being said, it looks like GM Les Snead is almost finished building quite the defensive product in St. Louis.
31. Dallas Cowboys (Trade with San Francisco) – Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
Nasty, relentless, a typical Wisconsin lineman. Oh and by the way, the 31st pick had a third-round grade.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Elam, S Florida
After losing both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard in free agency, safety was a dire need for Baltimore. Florida’s 5’10″ bullet plays like a Raven and should have no problem starting from day 1 in Dean Pees’ aggressive defense.
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