The 2010 NFL rookie draft is in the books, our main Dynasty league draft is already entering its 4th round and fantasy coaches are readying their draft cheat sheets for their upcoming drafts. While each team will have its own individual needs, the first round often sees little variability with regard to which players come off the board.
In 2010, you can bank on the top 8 players coming off the board loosely in the following order:
1.01 Ryan Matthews, RB – SD
1.02 C.J. Spiller, RB – BUF
1.03 Jahvid Best, RB – DET
1.04 Dez Bryant, WR – DAL
1.05 Ben Tate, RB – HOU
1.06 Montario Hardesty, RB – CLE
1.07 Demaryius Thomas, WR – DEN
1.08 Sam Bradford, QB – STL
I’m willing to bet that there are few drafts that do not have this combination of eight players to leave the board first. Beyond these selections, the real work … and homework, pays off. Are you one to stay true to your pre-draft cheat sheet based on talent or rearrange based on situation?
I have always loved the 2nd round (our draft picks 11-20) as this is where I find my homework and strategy can pay the most dividends. Best yet, as you haven’t invested a first round pick, you are freer to take greater risks without the cost of a first round selection.
In this article, I am not targeting the next four picks off the board, projected to be:
1.09 Arrelious Benn, WR – TB
1.10 Jimmy Clausen, QB – CAR
2.01 Toby Gerhart, RB – MIN
2.02 Golden Tate, WR – SEA
What we are after are those players that could fall in the late 2nd round or early 3rd round that you should consider with the next 3-4 picks in the 2nd round … ahead of the curve.
Note that depending on team needs in your own league, it is very possible that coaches will be ahead of the curve as well or stay true to their pre-draft cheat sheets, meaning that you may need to trade up to bag one of these values.
Let’s take a look at the players:
Jonathan Dwyer, RB – PIT
Draft as early as: However early you want to
Dwyer’s situation is as unique as I have seen in the draft. Dwyer’s stock was extremely high ahead of the combine and he was a sure first round talent until the combine, a slow 40, a failed drug test and an epic fall to the 6th round. Dwyer plays faster than his combine 40 of 4.60 … but he did better that score to a 4.52 at his pro day. In short, the failed drug test was due to a well-known drug for ADD that Dwyer has taken since the 5th grade. For whatever reason, it appears as though the information about his drug test was not well disseminated and it ultimately caused a nose-dive in his value. So what we end up with is the fact that rarely does a 4th-7th round RB ever emerge into fantasy stardom balanced against Dwyer’s early 1st/2nd round draft grade. After watching, again, his body of work … I believe whole heartedly that Dwyer can come off the board as early as you are comfortable. My feelings are that his average draft status will be somewhere near 2.04 given the talent ahead of him that fell to more desirable situations. I could make a strong argument for taking him as high as 1.09 if you have the depth on your team to do so. Dwyer’s drafted situation could have been better, but if it had been, he would be still a first round selection. While Mendenhall is the entrenched starter, Dwyer is every bit as talented and could get meaningful touches should Mendenhall fall to the injury bug. The secret to his eventual success is that he is only 20 years old, has immense down-hill running talent and is of great character. I don’t see him as a dynamic back, but certainly capable of true RB1 potential in time.
Tim Tebow, QB – DEN
Draft as early as: 2.04
My expectation this soon after the NFL draft is that Tebow will be off the board in the late 2nd round, perhaps even as late as the early 3rd round. I could spend many paragraphs talking about the positive characteristics of Tebow, but it would be just rehashing what everyone already knows. The fact is that Tebow put the “D” in Dynamic and has a superior level of intelligence. Say what you will about Josh McDaniel selecting Tebow this high but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt when I can. Coach McDaniel would not hitch his coaching career in Denver onto Tebow’s post without there being significant evidence that he would eventually be successful. Better yet, or worse depending on your perspective, Tebow goes to a situation that is far from settled with Orton as the starter and the recently acquired Brady Quinn as the previous #2. Common thought appears to be that this is Tebow’s team as early as 2011. I have tried to bet against the kid with all available logic and I can’t honestly do it. As mentioned before, 2nd round selections are low risk vs. high reward potential picks and when you have the opportunity to do just that, you do it. There is no more interesting, feel-good and low-risk/high-reward selection than an early selection of Tebow in your second round. My gut is screaming at me that this kid will be successful given time at the NFL level. And I’ll go to bed cursing Ken Kelly every night for stealing him from me at 2.07. Should have taken him earlier I suppose.
James Starks, RB – GB
Draft as early as: 2.05
I have liked what I have seen from Starks since I first started researching him, before the end of the 2009 collegiate season. Sidelined in his last year due to labrum injury, Starks didn’t see a single game in 2009. At 6’2″ and a thinner 218 lbs., Starks has an upright, long striding, running style that allows him to appear faster than his timed 4.50 40-time. Not particularly patient nor overly strong on tape, I would expect a back of his size to show more physicality, but his numbers are far from arguable. In his final two playing years in Buffalo, Starks amassed 28 TDs behind a suspect offensive line. Better yet, and where he really shines, is in receptions … hauling in 93 (yes, that’s correct, 93) receptions in that same two year period, including 3 more TDs. Drafted by Green Bay, his situation is very good in that Ryan Grant is not getting any younger and Green Bay brass has questioned Grant’s work ethic yet again. Given Starks’s hands, it is not beyond reason that he could win the backup job to Grant in the preseason. Starks must get bigger in the lower body and lower his running style if he expects to be successful at the next level but many backs never truly learn how to lower their pad level. Working against Starks is the fact that he is already 24 years old and Brandon Jackson, Green Bay’s current #2, has looked capable of taking over as the lead back should Grant go down to injury. But Starks closely resembles the size and speed of Ryan Grant and he was drafted with a purpose in mind. As a news item today, it is said that Starks may be contributing on kick-off returns starting this year. Certainly a higher risk selection, but with a thin RB pool that 2010 offers, Starks will come off the board sooner rather than later so don’t be caught sleeping.
Brandon LaFell, WR – CAR
Draft as early as: 2.05
If you have read any of my articles or posts, you understand that I try to shy away from 2nd round WRs. Heck, I stay away from WRs almost entirely until the 3rd round unless I absolutely have to risk it. The WR position is far too difficult to project and a good 80% are busts from the onset. Beyond that, it is just too impossible to have any real level of optimism when selecting a WR in the second round. Far too frequently, speed, strength and collegiate production don’t translate to the NFL. When matched up against the best cornerbacks on the planet, suddenly a productive 1v1 college WR turns into Troy Williamson, Darrius Heyward-Bey or Charles Rogers. Most NFL corners are fast, fluid and far stronger than those encountered in college. Rookie WRs can’t get separation on the 9 route and corners will jump the 4 or 6 route due to poor route mechanics or separation skills. When the NFL route tree requires finesse, too many of the WRs just can’t grasp the footwork or the concepts needed to elevate their game. When I look for WRs, I first look for a particular dynamic. Most of the receivers in the 2010 class don’t have the “it” factor, but that is not to say that there isn’t a Greg Jennings or Marques Colston amongst them. For whatever reason, I have seen LaFell dropping in early live rookie drafts. He is going anywhere from the late 2nd round to the mid 3rd round. A quality character individual, hard working, with great NFL size and, best of all, a great route runner, LaFell is my receiver pick to outplay his avg. drafted position by a significant margin. While he had a decent college career, the Carolina situation is one that could find him starting sooner rather than later, providing the learning experience he needs to be successful and productive by year 3, perhaps earlier. If you are in need of WR depth and are looking for value and safety, give LaFell the nod and be a little patient. I think you will be well rewarded.
In summary, I know that many of these may not seem like true “sleepers” but understand that in your draft, a player coming off the board even one spot ahead of you is no different than him coming off the board a full round ahead of you. Gone is gone. So being even a pick or two ahead of the average and being aware of the team needs behind you is paramount for building your dynasty.
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I’ve managed to trade a few prospects for 3 picks in the 2nd round. I like the list, but am wondering if guys like Dixon, and Price shouldn’t be considered as 2nd round picks as well. Other notables, I believe might be McCluster how early should this hybrid go? And how early for a guy like J.McKnight? I think with 2.01 I should consider McKnight in a PPR league as the guy at 2.02 has S.Greene, and at 2.06 maybe take something like Starks, and finally with the 2.08 take Gerhart or Price, in that order if they’re available.
I’m intrigued by Tebow – he’ll be given every chance to succeed – but I’m leaning towards Colt McCoy, going to that West Coast Offense in Cleveland.
As for Dixon, Vintage – I don’t think he was ever mistaken for someone who will take the NFL by storm, and is only getting sleeper support because, as usual, people are ringing the Frank Gore Injury Knell.
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