After months of analysis and projections leading up to the April 25-26 NFL draft followed by days of draft recap and team grades, we focus on what really matters to us; how the draft affects our fantasy football leagues. While we may have thoughts on the absurdity of the contracts signed by high draft picks, it has no effect on our fantasy football team’s payroll. Players may have been drafted higher or lower than projected, but that has no impact on where they will be drafted in our leagues. What matters most to us is if the player will play and if it will be this year or in upcoming years. Let’s take a quick spin through the league and look at each team’s new additions that could factor into our fantasy football drafts.
Baltimore – Baltimore’s best pick was on the offensive line with G Michael Oher. I cannot see this changing the draft position of any of the Ravens’ three-headed backfield. DE Paul Kruger was a nice addition to an aging defense.
Buffalo – Buffalo added players across the board, except for the offensive skill positions (Terrell Owens was added via free agency). DE Aaron Maybin will be a stud on defense, bumping the defense up a few positions. They did add TE Shawn Nelson who could have a sneaky year catching passes underneath. Hopefully, Owens won’t catch him conspiring with QB Trent Edwards on individual plays.
Cincinnati – The Bengals had a great overall draft, but their improvements on the offensive line OT Andre Smith and defense with LB Rey Maualuga and DE Michael Johnson does little to make their defense draftable or increase the draftability of any offensive players. I do love TE Chase Coffman and will take my chances on him with a late round pick.
Cleveland – Rookie wide receivers rarely do much in the NFL, but the Browns added two that I would recommend taking as a late round pick; Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.
Denver – The Broncos addressed their biggest weakness; their defense. However, their defense should only be rostered when facing Kansas City and Oakland. RB Knowshon Moreno is worth drafting, but I would not draft him too high as Denver signed 4 free agent RBs so I don’t see Moreno as their primary back.
Houston – The Texans added a few starters on defense to help out Mario Williams. The jury is out on whether or not it makes the position draftable or not cuz they were the 27th-ranked fantasy defense in 2008.
Indianapolis – DT Fili Moala helps the defense immediately, but the player to focus on is RB Donald Brown. Brown quietly lead the NCAA in rushing yards in 2008 and will step in right away for the Colts. Joseph Addai is still the number 1 running back, but has proven to be injury-prone, so Brown will get reps right away to minimize Addai’s touches. He should be selected in middle rounds and a few rounds higher in Keeper Leagues.
Jacksonville – The Jags grabbed a pair of offensive tackles to help restore their running game. This should keep Maurice Jones-Drew as a second round pick. WR Mike Thomas is worth a late-round flier.
Kansas City – The Chiefs signed a few good players on defense in DT Alex Magee and LB Tyson Jackson, but they will not make their defense worth drafting.
Miami – You will read a lot about how well QB Patrick White will fit into the Fins’ Wildcat offense, but how many touches can you realistically expect? They grabbed 6′ 5″ WR Patrick Thomas outta USC to help their passing game, but if their offense does not make Ted Ginn Jr an every week starter, Thomas has no chance.
New England – Much like Dallas, New England worked multiple trades to fill multiple holes, but none of them will help us in the fantasy world. No offensive players to note and their D will not change draft perception with the new additions.
New York Jets – The Jets were the most daring team during the draft and landed two draftable players out of their three picks in QB Mark Sanchez and RB Shonn Green. Many people questioned the Green pick, but I love this kid. He is as tough and powerful as they get. Thomas Jones is in his early 30s and threatening to hold out if he doesn’t get more cash and Leon Washington may become too expensive, so Green is not a bench warmer. Sanchez had a short starting career at USC, but excelled in a pro style offense and seems polished and ready to tackle the New York media. I would recommend Sanchez as a mid-round pick and can see taking Green as a double digit round pick. Bump Sanchez up considerably in Keeper leagues and bump Green up a few rounds in Keeper leagues as well.
Oakland – Oakland would receive much more ridicule for its draft choices if Detroit wasn’t in the league. However, in fantasy football, who cares if Oakland drafted a guy a round too early and bypassed a much better receiver to do it. WR Darius Heyward-Bey is a burner and can put up some serious numbers if JaMarcus Russell can get him the ball. A good mid-round pick.
Pittsburgh – The Steelers didn’t really do much to change fantasy football except add another solid DT to its defense in Evander Hood. They should still be the first or second defense drafted.
San Diego – The Chargers added DE Larry English, but will probably move him to LB, especially if Merriman is slowed from his knee surgery and Shaun Phillips can’t stay out of trouble. No impact on fantasy in the least.
Tennessee – WR Kenny Britt was their best pick, but he will be a third option in a run first, second and third offense. They replaced Albert Haynesworth with DT Sen’Derrick Marks (no misspelling on the name). He is a slight step back, but won’t change the location in the draft for the Tennessee D.
Arizona – The Cards happily grabbed RB Chris “Beanie” Wells with the first pick in the second round. He will play immediately as Edgerrin James was released and Tim Hightower appears to be best suited as a goal-line back. Beanie should be drafted in one-season in rounds 4-5 in standard 12-team leagues and rounds 3-4 in Keeper leagues.
Atlanta – Eight picks, all on defense. So, obviously, the Falcons D is the only position that improved. They have some solid additions to support their corners as well as help John Abraham, especially DT Peria Jerry, S William Moore and DE Lawrence Sidbury. This will propel them into the top half of draftable defenses.
Carolina – DE Everette Brown and S Sherrod Martin will help the defense a bit, though not near as much as keeping Julius Peppers will. Their defense should remain in the same draft position.
Chicago – The Bears did pretty well considering they only drafted on Day 2. WR Juaquin Iglesias is a nice addition to a weak receiving core and could be a productive late round pick on draft day. DT Jarron Gilbert will help the Bears D out a bit, though not altering their draft position.
Dallas – The Cowboys traded their way into a lot of worthless picks. Even though the Cowboys had no draftable backup QB last year, I do not believe that QB Stephen McGee is in that category this year. If you draft QB Tony Romo, your backup should be a starting QB on another team.
Detroit – QB Matthew Stafford is giddy knowing that he will be given the reigns to a winless team, so the bar for success in worm-high. It also brings a rare smile to his face when he envisions WR Calvin Johnson in his huddle. However, he is still a rookie QB on a winless team, so don’t pick him as your number 1 QB. He should be drafted higher in Keeper leagues. TE Brandon Pettigrew is a must-draft TE in later rounds.
Green Bay – Green Bay’s D was productive in the TD category last season, but was a bit of a sieve. Adding DT B.J. Raji and LB Clay Matthews enhances this position a few rounds.
Minnesota – The Vikings grabbed WR Percy Harvin to add a new dimension to their offense. The kid can flat-out play, if he adjusts to life in the Twin Cities. I would definitely recommend picking him up in early double-digit rounds.
New Orleans – The Saints’ D was startable at certain times last season coming off the waiver wire. That will change a bit this year with the additions of CB Malcolm Jenkins and S Chip Vaughn. I feel good recommending drafting them in the last round.
New York Giants – The G-Men addressed their biggest need right away by drafting WR Hakeem Nicks. He should be drafted in early double digit rounds. I would recommend a late round handcuff of RB Andre Brown if you draft Brandon Jacobs. RB Derrick Ward is now on Tampa so Brown will be taking over for him.
Philadelphia – Philly will have the most rookies drafted this year. They landed WR Jeremy Maclin, TE Cornelius Ingram and RB LeSean McCoy. Maclin may be a DeSean Jackson clone in playmaking ability, which is good if he waits until he crosses the goal line to celebrate his scores. Ingram will be a favorite target of McNabb when he needs a tough catch across the middle and McCoy is a must-draft handcuff to Westbrook.
Seattle – LB Aaron Curry will definitely help Seattle on defense, but makes no difference in fantasyland. WR Deon Butler was drafted to replace Bobby Engram, but I see no reason to draft him unless you are in a really deep league.
San Francisco – The Niners get a gift in picking up WR Michael Crabtree with the 10th pick. He is the class of the receiving group and will be a flat-out receiving stud in the NFL. I don’t think you’ll get him if you wait until the middle rounds of your draft. You especially want to grab him early in your Keeper Leagues. In addition to Crabtree, the Niners picked up RB Glen Coffey who should be your handcuff to Frank Gore.
St. Louis – The Rams picked up T Jason Smith to replace Orlando Pace and will show immediate dividends in the passing and running game as Pace is vastly overrated and almost stationary nowadays. That being said, Marc Bulger is a late draft pick and Steven Jackson is still a first round pick. As much as I love LB James Laurinaitis, he doesn’t make the Rams D draftable in any format.
Tampa Bay – Good luck with QB Josh Freeman. If he only played as well as he talks. He has the size for an NFL QB (6′ 6″), but I don’t even recommend drafting him in a Keeper League.
Washington – The Skins further enhanced their defensive front by drafting DE Brian Orakpo. In addition to line help, they also grabbed two LBs and CB Kevin Barnes. This greatly enhances the attraction of the Washington D and moves them into the top 8-10 defenses to draft.