Dynasty involves keeping one eye on the road and one eye towards the future. While we are on the verge of the fantasy football playoffs, let’s take a look into the future with next year’s rookie class. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to assume players are declaring for the NFL Draft. I wrote an article last June, but many things have changed between now and then. I would also recommend reading Ryan McDowell’s article from last month on the 2016 rookie class. Some players have already made a decision, and we should cover those to begin this article.
Back to School
Will Fuller, WR Notre Dame
He has decided to stay at Notre Dame for another season. I was shocked by this decision because he’s a better version of Devin Smith and would easily have been selected in the top two rounds of the draft.
Leaning towards the Draft
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Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State
Pharoh Cooper, WR South Carolina
Corey Coleman, WR Baylor
Jonathan Williams, RB Arkansas
Kareem Hunt, RB Toledo
Keep on the lookout for when these players decide if they will declare or go back to school in the upcoming weeks. It will have a large impact on the depth of this class.
Laquon Treadwell, WR Ole Miss (6’2” 210)
Treadwell plays physical and brings an attitude when playing receiver. This can be seen while running routes, after the catch and mainly while blocking. I’ve been critical, but he’s stepped up his game in 2015. While he doesn’t have great speed, he’s a good possession receiver right now. His route tree is limited to mainly on the outside, and I would like to see him run more over the middle and deep. He is a ‘hands catcher’ and can be solid after the catch. Highlights
NFL Comparison = Alshon Jeffery
This draft has a clear drop off after the top three prospects in terms of safety. These top three have much higher floors than the rest of this class. Get a top three pick or attempt to trade down.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State (6’0” 225)
Elliott isn’t a superstar type talent and believe the draft community currently has him overrated. He is solid in most regards, but is aided by a good offensive line and scheme. He has a great build, is a good athlete, and shows power, vision, and hands. However, I’m not sure how many of his traits are “special” enough for him to be held in a high regard. I see him lose one-on-one battles with defenders in space, get caught from behind, not make plays, and lack burst. His 2015 season represents his worst YPC and YPR in his college career. Did he simply “peak” at the end of last season? Don’t get me wrong, I like Elliott as a fantasy RB2 and think he’s good in many regards, but I don’t think that’s how he’s being valued. One big bonus for Elliott is that he’s still only 20 years old! Highlights
NFL Comparison = Doug Martin
Tyler Boyd, WR Pittsburgh (6’2” 200)
This wasn’t really the season many expected from Boyd entering 2015. However, the team had poor quarterback play and have used Boyd almost half as much running the football. He is a playmaker, who will sacrifice his body to catch the football. While he makes the spectacular receptions, he does have the untimely drop as well. Boyd is good at making defenders miss after the catch and displays good vision. He’s not overly fast, but will play faster than he tests at the combine. I see Boyd utilized as more in a short to intermediate role in the NFL. Highlights
NFL Comparison = Keenan Allen
This is a much bigger tier and will become very fluid over the next six months, affected by landing spots and draft position, as well as whether the players declare or returns to college.
Corey Coleman, WR Baylor (5’11” 190)
One of the most athletic receivers in college football, Coleman is very fast, can make people miss, and has a good vertical. In Baylor’s spread offense (this is a negative for his NFL prospects in my opinion), they isolate Coleman and he can beat almost anyone. However, he has only run a limited route tree and body catches more than I would like. I also see a lazy player, who doesn’t always choose to put forth the most effort. Highlights
NFL Comparison = DeSean Jackson
Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan (6’3” 205)
I am Corey Davis’ biggest fan/supporter/hype train conductor. Therefore, listing him in tier three doesn’t coincide with my personal rankings, which have him as the #1 player in this class. Why? He does everything at the position well. He’s a great route runner and wins short, intermediate, deep, in the slot, screens, and on the outside of the field. He’s also a very good runner after the catch, with the burst and athletic ability to separate from defenders. He’s a hands catcher, who easily snatches the ball out of the air. Davis is young for his age and has put together phenomenal stats in college. Highlights
NFL Comparison = bigger, but not as sudden version of Amari Cooper
Josh Doctson, WR TCU (6’4” 195)
While Doctson’s height is a bonus, his weight is a negative. Not many NFL wideouts are successful with a thin frame, and I question if he will be able to hold up. He does a great job high-pointing the football and plays physical with defensive backs. Doctson is athletic and uses his amazing vertical for big plays, and is underrated after the catch and runs solid routes. His limited route tree does worry me however. Another negative is Doctson turned 23 years old this December. Highlights
NFL Comparison = Poor version of AJ Green
Michael Thomas, WR Ohio State (6’3” 210)
The nephew of former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas has certainly looked solid the past two seasons. His numbers haven’t been as good as expected in 2015, however the switching of quarterback has to be taken into consideration. Thomas uses his size to his advantage by playing big against defenders in jump ball situations and also works back to the football. He possesses good hands, but does body catch more than I’d like. He runs solid routes and displays very good sideline awareness. He also shocked me after the catch! Don’t get me wrong, Thomas isn’t a burner, but he’s smart with the ball in his hands and can make defenders miss. Highlights
NFL Comparison = Eric Decker
Part two of this series will dive deeper into prospects in the 2016 rookie class.
Nick can be found on Twitter at @_NickWhalen