No time’s going to be wasted here! Let’s jump right into it starting with Round 3? Please refer to 2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Insights: Rounds 1 and 2 for scoring and roster information.
3.01 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans - I like the choice here. Hopkins sits on the cusp of the WR1/WR2 line in my rankings so 29th overall is a fine spot for him. He’s the clear cut lead receiver for the Texans and although that isn’t saying much, it guarantees targets which typically end in receptions.
Cecil Shorts, Jaelen Strong and Nate Washington will all be fighting for second place. Hopkins managed to grab 76 balls last season despite Andre Johnson looking like the favorite target. That number should improve this year despite a questionable QB situation. I ultimately believe Ryan Mallet will earn the starting job which can make for some long balls heading DeAndre’s way. His SoS looks a bit rough on paper but he has the hands and the athleticism to be a solid WR2 or WR1 if you opted for RBs early.
3.02 – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins - You’ll find that I’m higher on Miller than most others. I believe he has the potential to end the season as a top 10 RB in both Standard and PPR. He bulked up this season, adding 15 pounds to his frame. This is good news for a guy that seemed to get tossed around a bit. He’s in the last season of his rookie contract and the Dolphins brought in a rookie contender. He has a lot of pressure on him, all the more reason to ball out. Philbin isn’t afraid to give him more carries and that’s exactly what will happen with Moreno out of the picture. Miami’s defense looks promising this year so their offense won’t be looking to air it out and score as quickly, as often.
I’m expecting upwards of 300 touches with ~1600 all-purpose yards and 10-12 touchdowns. Those are phenomenal numbers considering his ADP and I was very disappointed to see him go a pick in front of me.
3.03 – Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos - I’ll begin by giving a bit of context and explaining the single downside of e-mail/slow drafts. I made this pick about two weeks ago. A lot happens in that amount of time, including hours and hours of worrying yourself over a draft pick. For that reason I think I’ve convinced myself that this wasn’t the best possible choice at the spot, but I’ll try and give an unbiased opinion regardless.
The Denver offense, despite having an aging QB and losing a great pass-catching TE, is still poised to be one of the scariest this season. We saw last year how potent Sanders could be even with guys like Demaryius and Julius Thomas on the field. 101 receptions and 1400 yards is nothing to scoff at. We even saw a bit of versatility when Denver let him run the ball, something I want to see more of this season. However, new HC Kubiak will likely stir things up. As we all know he loves his TEs and running the ball is more his style. With this in mind, Sanders may become an afterthought.
However, even with less targets and likely fewer TDs than last season, Sanders should still be a serviceable WR2. In hindsight I believe it may have been a better decision to take a RB here, someone like Ingram or Morris, and wait for the value at WR in the middle rounds.
3.04 – Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals - I’m not a fan of this pick as I don’t believe ½ PPR changes Ellington’s projections enough to merit a pick this early. I think he belongs closer to the 3-4 turn in larger leagues like these. There are quite a few concerns surrounding him. The first being his durability which heavily determines reliability, something you look for in early rounds. Luckily he didn’t require surgery which means less probability for re-injury, but let’s look at his performance regardless.
Ellington, on 201 carries last season, only managed an average of 3.3 yards on each attempt, one of the worst averages in the NFL. He made up for it, however, in his receiving; 46 receptions for 395 isn’t too shabby. So what can we expect this year? The slate is still pretty rough considering the division he’s in, the offense looks to pass the ball more with Palmer and co. healthy, and there’s a new rookie, David Johnson, in town that looks awfully appealing. Bruce Arians said “…but the nice thing David can do is he can do everything Andre does, so you don't have to change if there was an injury." That tells me they’re not afraid to pull one in favor of the other.
I don’t think his starting job is guaranteed, I don’t see much value on the ground and I don’t expect the scoring of this league to make him a good RB. I’m getting more of a FLEX play vibe here with limited upside.
3.05 – Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks - I’m anxious to see the dynamic created between Wilson and Graham. The Seahawks are notorious for methodically moving the ball down field, mostly utilizing Marshawn Lynch and Wilson’s ability to scramble, so a star-studded TE can mix it up. He’s likely to see a drop in receptions but I project him to be one of the most targeted players in the red zone this season. For that reason alone I think this is a good pick as the positional scarcity at TE is high and double-digit TDs is always a good thing to have on your side.
3.06 – Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers - I’m not entirely sure what to expect from Gordon which is why I think this is a bit early. His coaches are talking him up, but that’s nothing new. He’s a small guy with a ton of athleticism that’s going to lead the Chargers in carries, although there are some downsides. Being so small, his ability to get into the endzone is in question. I don’t think we’re going to see more than 6 rushing TDs from him this season and that’s possibly a stretch. His ability to play on passing downs is up in the air as well, passing and receiving being core components of that process. Danny Woodhead is expect to fill in for him at those times.
He has the talent and potential to rush 200-250 times and accrue upwards of 1,000 yards, but he may also struggle to stay consistent and work with what he’s given. I don’t think this is necessarily a huge risk as he’s obviously the RB to own in SD, but what his game lacks leads me to believe there were better choices to be had here.
3.07 – Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins - In fact, this is one of those better options. This is how I like to explain Morris’ value to people. Think of a food that you really, really enjoy. It’s your comfort food, the one thing you always fall back on when you’re not hungry for anything else. You can rely on it to taste good every time. That’s Alfred Morris. He isn’t new or shiny or astounding by any means, but he gets the job done and he’s reliable.
This is a guy that’s posted 1k+ yards every season and a good chunk of TDs to go with it. There’s a possibility that his TD numbers increase this season with Roy Helu out of the picture. The Washington offense looks to be somewhat better as well, here’s to hoping RG3 can actually remain healthy. No gimmicks, no tricks here, just a really solid RB2 for your fantasy team.
3.08 – Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles - I see this as likely the biggest reach of the draft thus far. Chip Kelly’s offense is feeding this guy something strange, causing him to go a little insane. No, I’m only kidding, it’s not that serious. Matthews certainly has the potential and tools at his disposal to finish a high-end WR2, but again, I don’t like risky selections like this so early on.
Early training camp reports say that Matthews will remain in the slot with Huff or Agholor on the outside. This is good news in PPR formats but not so good when looking at him in standard. I do think the Kelly offense is an obvious benefit to drafting Matthews, but I would much rather own Julian Edelman or Golden Tate. His value weighs heavily on Sam Bradford’s ability to transition into this style of play.
3.09 – Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints - This is the guy that I likely should have taken over Sanders, but I’ve crossed that bridge and I can’t go back. I was quite surprised to see him fall this late as he’s my 16th overall RB off of the board. I don’t see much in the way of a change in stats from last season. I think his carries may increase slightly, possible 20-30 more, due to the Saints leaning towards a heavier run game. He may also grab another TD or two depending on opportunity, the Saints are expected to have one of the best O-lines in the league. With no Graham to target in the endzone they may very well punch it in with Ingram.
The obvious concern here is Spiller but I don’t think he’s a threat to the starting role. He’ll be a change of pace back with his obvious ability to turn a short catch into a huge gain. I like Spiller a lot in PPR leagues, but we’ll leave that for a later recap. Ingram looks to be a solid RB2 this season.
3.10 – Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers - I think this is a bit early for Hyde as well but I’m not going to fault the pick as RBs are going very quickly. The introduction of zone rune schemes look to directly benefit Hyde as he already has a solid YPC last season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain those numbers with both a larger workload and difficult schedule ahead of him.
The addition of Reggie Bush does likely mean that Hyde won’t see much passing down work. That’s fine because I fully expect Hyde to run the ball upwards of 250 times this season given the 49ers history. I project very similar numbers to Ingram’s aside from the TD count which I think will be a bit lower for Hyde.
3.11 – Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints - Great value here, I think Cooks belongs alongside Hopkins as one of the better WR2s on the board. Jimmy Graham’s exit obviously opens up a pile of targets to be claimed. Cooks, before the injury to his thumb, was on pace for about 85 receptions for 900 yards and 5 TDs last season. That’s very impressive for a rookie on a team that looked lost at times.
Cooks should easily pull down 80 catches which, we can project, nets him around 1,000 yards receiving. As far as TDs go it’s largely speculation at this point. Ingram. Hill and Colston are poised to take most of those looks but of course the receivers can sneak a few in as well. This is a solid WR2 pick with great upside, especially in PPR formats.
3.12 – Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers - Will he stay healthy? Can he score touchdowns? Does Carolina’s abysmal offensive line cap Stewart’s potential? Find out next time on….NFL 2015! The answers to those questions, in order, are possibly, yes and probably. That’s it for Stewart, let’s move on.
Only kidding folks. I think Stewart is an interesting pick that deserves some recognition. He stayed healthy for a large part of last season and played rather well down the stretch the Panthers, even against some difficult playoff matchups. So let’s outline the pros and cons here.
CONS: Durability in question, poor O-line, potential carries cap and TD vultures.
PROS: Good when healthy, fantastic schedule (particularly come playoff time) and reasonable ADP.
I think taking JStew as an RB2 is a fine choice, I’ve done it many a time, but you need to prepare for the worst. Draft Cameron Artis-Payne as your handcuff or go heavy RB early. This is certainly a pick that could pay off, but there is definitely risk involved.
3.13 – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers - Benjamin is quite honestly one of the few WR2s I see with a potential to break the threshold and become a top receiver. There is a lot seemingly working against him, but the talent and opportunity are certainly there. Let’s take a look at both sides of the Kelvin argument and see where we land.
He reported to OTAs overweight, the Panthers drafted yet another WR who is poised to play a role immediately, their O-line is still absolutely horrible and KB disappeared last season post-BYE up until the Seahawks game. He seems to be rid of his hamstring injury for now but that’s still a concern. His work ethic and consistency are two of the largest factors working against him.
Had he continued his Week 1 through Week 11 performance for the entirety of the season, he would have finished with around 80 receptions, 1200 yards and 12 TDs. Those are ludicrous numbers for a rookie receiver and it would’ve landed him among the best. The team hasn’t made any groundbreaking changes to lead us to believe he can’t reach those numbers this season. He has the highest floor of any WR2 in my opinion, so draft accordingly.
3.14 – Julian Edelman, WR New England Patriots - It’s difficult to judge this pick now before we know the final status of NE QB Tom Brady. However, it’s still likely that Edelman leads the team in receptions even if Brady doesn’t get to take the field every single game this season. Let’s play devil’s advocate and say Brady and his henchmen discover a loophole through the NFL’s process, so he plays.
Edelman, even while missing two games last season, quietly made his way into the top 10 in receptions. For this reason he’s far more valuable in PPR formats than standard. He isn’t a great scorer, in fact he’s unlikely to score more than 5 times this season. But he is a fantastic possession receiver and that should remain true regardless of who is at QB.
There is solid WR2 value here with Brady at the helm, low-end WR2/high-end FLEX play otherwise.
4.01 – Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders - I really like this guy. I, among others, called his huge game against KC last season. Admittedly he got a huge break and not a ton else but it made for a good fantasy night. I fully expected him to run with it from there, but he failed to end the season on a high note. However, he didn’t play poorly by any means considering the opponents he had in front of him.
I’m optimistic for Murray this season and that’s why I actually like this pick. The pool of RB2s is dwindling but Murray should be one of the better ones. I really only have two concerns, one of them being the team that he plays for. The Raiders, I believe, may surprise a few people defensively but their offense still leaves plenty to be desired. The other issue I have is the addition of Roy Helu. We saw how heavily he cut into Alfred Morris’ production in Washington, 3rd down and goal line duties were largely his. Murray is a better receiver than Morris but he may not visit the endzone as much as we like. This is a battle you’ll need to keep an eye on.
Ultimately I think we’ll see around 240 carries for 1,100 yards and 7 TDs. I think he pulls in 20-30 receptions on the season, but that particular statistic has become increasingly difficult to project now that Helu is in the mix.
4.02 – Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins - What a reach. This guy doesn’t belong here, he belongs in the late 5th. I understand some of the hype behind this guy but we need to be a bit more realistic. Why are you choosing Landry before guys like Golden Tate, Keenan Allen, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson or Larry Fitzgerald? (Nearly all of which we’ll cover later in this round.) I mean heck, Spiller and Gurley are still available and you need a RB. Just a bad pick in general but let’s talk about Landry’s upside.
He’s the only receiver for the Dolphins with a second year under Philbin or with Tannehill. That’s got to be a bonus if nothing else. He’s listed as #1 on the depth charts and I believe that will remain the same throughout the season although DeVante Parker is no joke. Miami is likely going to run the ball a bit more now with an improved defense and, hopefully, better attitude towards their backfield. I don’t think Landry finishes as a WR2 but he’s definitely a good FLEX pick. Considering this guy already drafted Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin, I guess it’s not that terrible. Moving on…
4.03 – DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins - I like this guy, but you HAVE to be mindful of his matchups when you play him. If RG3 can stay healthy that consistency and chemistry will help DJax immensely, but he’s not likely someone you will be able to rely on for steady points every week. He scores his points in chunks and he can win you matchups, but he’s also prone to flopping thus losing you matchups.
The WR1 role is basically his. Garcon is a thing of the past and rightfully so, Jackson is a speedster with great hands. If only his attitude and behavior off of the field complimented his talents. If you prepare yourself for the flukes and guess which games he’ll flop in, you just might have yourself one of the highest upside picks of the draft. Don’t let him screw you over. Easy right?
4.04 – Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys - The starting job is his to lose. DMC is nothing more than paper mache with a ton of potential. The O-line in Dallas is still one of the best in the NFL and their receiving corps are among the best as well. If Romo can stay healthy we’ll see a lot of high scoring affairs with this Cowboys team. That’s good news in most part for Randle as it means more carries in runaway scenarios and more opportunities to score the ball.
The only concern here is Randle’s consistency and ability to hold his own when given 15+ carries a game. He only rushed the ball more than 7 times in one game last season against the Colts. He fumbled the ball and averaged 2.8 YPC in that outing on 13 carries. If that’s what we’re to expect, he doesn’t belong here at all. I don’t foresee that happening though.
Randle is a low-end RB2 with RB1 potential if he can get into a groove with that O-line the same way Murray did. He doesn’t have the same explosiveness that DeMarco did, but he’s certainly capable of being a surprise stud on your team.
4.05 – T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars - There is a lot of potential here. Yeldon is the full package, or so it seems. He can run well, pass block and catch. That’s something that isn’t often found in rookie backs out of college. It must be that Alabama blood helping him along. There’s just one thing that I don’t like about T.J. and that’s the team he’s playing for.
The Jaguars have been bad for a while now and that doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. Their offensive line is still pretty sketchy. Julius Thomas isn’t a very good run blocker and they didn’t add any new talent to the receiving corps. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee make for a less than intimidating trio.
I think he’s the bellcow back for the majority of the season, but that isn’t likely to mean much. His projections are rather low considering the situation he’s found himself in. Had he gone to someone like the Eagles or Cowboys we’d have seen him in the first couple of rounds. ~210 carries for 850 yards and 6 TDs. Nothing phenomenal, but it’s not bad for your RB2 or FLEX play.
4.06 – Andre Johnson, WR, Indianapolis Colts - What’s this? Andre finally gets a good QB? Well, it’s about time we get to see the true nature of the beast. This is a pick I really like and a lot of people are looking past him because of Hilton. I think that’s a huge mistake as Johnson and Hilton could work similarly to the Nelson/Cobb duo.
The Colts are poised to be the best offense in the AFC alongside the obvious answers of Denver and New England. Hilton has shown streaks of inconsistency at times so Andre can be the reliable possession receiver that Andrew Luck needs.
Ultimately I think AJ is incredibly undervalued and I was targeting him later in this round. He could very well finish among the top 10 WRs by the season’s end if he remains healthy.
4.07 – Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills - Similar to Landry I think this is a reach that lands about a full round too soon. I’m not high on Watkins at all and have been avoiding him until the 60-70 range. I don’t see a ton of opportunity here and his inconsistency/lack of durability concern me.
In 9 games last season, Watkins managed to net less than 40 yards. After the BYE he only had one game of over 100 yards receiving and only 1 TD as well. He had surgery on his hip early in the offseason which I do believe will affect him a bit. The additions of Percy Harvin and LeSean McCoy means that he is no longer the most talented player on this team.
The Bills defense, their new RB and versatile weapon in Harvin all make for limited value for Watkins. He scores big at times, but that inconsistency doesn’t merit a pick as a WR2. There are still much better selections remaining on the board.
4.08 – Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers - This is one of them. Allen is being heavily undervalued right now because of his sophomore slump last season. The Chargers didn’t utilize him as often as people expected they would, instead they relied heavily on their backfield and guys like Eddie Royal.
Royal is no longer a member of the team and their best receiver, aside from Allen, in Antonio Gates will miss the first 4 games of the season. This places Allen in the perfect position to end the season with upwards of 90 receptions, ~1,000 receiving yards and 7 TDs. In PPR formats he’s definitely worth taking in the early/mid 4th as a reliable WR2.
4.09 – C.J. Spiller, RB, New Orleans Saints - NO! NO! NO! I’m pretty upset…THIS was the guy I so badly wanted with my pick coming up. He’s hurt me before, I’ll admit it, but he’s going to absolutely tear it up in PPR this season. The Saints have a great O line in the works and they just lost their best receiver. Cooks, Colston and Toon won’t be strong enough to carry them to victory. Ingram won’t always be able to get a 6 yard gain behind a lead blocker. Spiller is going to have his way with every team in that division.
If it weren’t for his injury history I wouldn’t be opposed to someone drafting him in the late 2nd of a full point PPR league. I would be very, very surprised if Spiller doesn’t average at least 4 receptions a game. He’ll get his fair share of carries as well. I think this is a fine RB2 selection with upside.
4.10 – Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams - This is a very familiar scenario to what we discussed with T.J. Yeldon, just a bit worse. Gurley is still recovering from his ACL injury so he’s being limited at training camp. Initial reports expected him to start the season behind Mason and I think that will remain the case unless his recovery significantly speeds up.
The Rams have a very rough slate in front of them so I don’t expect Gurley to run over everyone’s expectations. He should be the primary ball carrier for much of the season, but that doesn’t mean much for an offense I see as being one of the worst in the league.
4.11 – Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions - I like this pick as I believe Tate is the next best WR off of the board. He had a phenomenal time this past season, being the main beneficiary of Calvin Johnson’s injury. I’m confident that even alongside a healthy Calvin, Tate can post comfortable WR2 numbers. The kicker here is that I don’t expect Calvin to play a full season.
Tate is slightly better in PPR formats as he has never been a huge redzone target, even while Megatron was out. The Lions may very well look to utilize Joique Bell and rookie Ameer Abdullah as often as they can this season, but they’ll certainly need to throw the ball as well given the schedule they find themselves with.
4.12 – Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs - So I went back and forth on this one for a while. As in hours. It was an extremely tough decision for me but I finally decided on Kelce. The thing that worried me the most was that I wouldn’t be able to get another decent RB on the turn. However, I then realized that the next 4 picks were coming from guys who had either drafting all RBs, or 2/3 RBs. So I felt comfortable with this decision.
Anyways, Travis Kelce, poised to finish alongside Graham atop the TE rankings this season, especially in PPR. The Chiefs really seem to like him and they should have less trouble moving the ball now with the signing of Jeremy Maclin. Kelce isn’t threatened for playing time like he was last season either.
Anthony Fasano took a handful of TDs and receptions from Kelce last season, for whatever reason. It was always obvious who the better talent was, Reid just liked to do weird things I suppose. Now that Fasano is elsewhere, Kelce should be able to improve upon or, at the very least, maintain his numbers from last season. That alone makes him a better TE option that Olsen, not far behind Graham.
4.13 – Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders - Cooper should be one of the better looking rookie receivers this season. He has all of the intangibles and skills to immediately make plays in the NFL. He isn’t playing for the best team, however, so temper expectations.
All of that being said, he’s still the primary receiving target on a team that will often need to be throwing the ball. Cooper is slightly favored in PPR formats as he isn’t likely to get many scoring opportunities with the Raiders, but he should be an integral part of their process in moving the ball downfield.
4.14 – Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets - This guy is intriguing for a number of reasons, yet worrisome for others. He had some injury issues last season that kept him off of the field. We didn’t get to see him a whole lot because of that and when we did, the Bears coaching and locker room scandals kept us (and very possibly the players) distracted. We know the Marshall from years past, the WR1 that we all looked to draft early. Is he still there? I think there’s a chance.
So what do we have in New York? Well, not a QB, but most would say there wasn’t one in Chicago either. Are there any contenders to the receiving throne like Alshon Jeffery? Well, yeah, Eric Decker is no pushover. Do they at least have a bad defense and poor running game so they have no option other than to throw the ball? Nope, their defense actually holds its’ own and their run game looks to be solid with the additions of Ridley and Stacy.
So let’s take Marshall at face value. He’s going to catch balls and he can break a few for a big play, but we haven’t seen the guy we really want in a while. He’s playing with a bad QB and a relatively good possession receiver on the other side of the field. He should finish a WR2, but nothing is guaranteed.
Alright, folks, that’s it for this edition! I’ll be back soon with the next two rounds. In the meantime come visit me on Twitter, @Steven_Royalty_ where I answer your fantasy questions and share our newly released articles.