2015 Rookie Re-Draft: Round Three

Jacob Feldman

crowderThe 2015 fantasy season is in the books, which means some owners are sitting back and binge watching their favorite show. While that might be enjoyable, it isn’t going to help them win the title next year. The smart owners are spending some time looking at current player values and trying to figure out where the deals are. Who are the players who are overvalued and who are the ones on the other end of the spectrum. Those lists are often dominated by young players, especially rookies.

In order to help you get a feel for the current value of last year’s crop, I joined eleven other writers and conducted a redraft of the 2015 rookie class. The rules were simple. Draft the player you feel is the best available for a team with no glaring holes. We assumed PPR scoring and a normal starting lineup (not superflex or 2QB). We went three rounds deep, and each writer was asked to supply some thoughts on the player they drafted. To give an extra perspective, I’ll also be commenting on each pick. Hopefully the pair of perspectives will help you with your own evaluations of the 2015 class, and you’ll be able to use the market to your advantage this off-season.

If you want to look back at either of the first two rounds, here are round one and round two. On to round three!

3.01 – Clive Walford, TE OAK

Typical draft range last year – After third round

Bruce’s thoughts – Walford has the ability to stretch the seam and blow by the defense with his run after the catch ability. He’s paired with Derek Carr, who has an affinity for targeting his tight ends. He has the potential to develop into a top five player at his position. My second choice for this pick would have been Jaelen Strong. His size and speed makes him difficult to cover. By drafting him in the third round, the Houston Texans spent enough capital to consider him as one of their premier prospects, which means they should give him enough mentoring to maximize his potential.

My thoughts – As is normally the case with the third round, at this point people are basically just looking to their favorite lottery tickets. To me, the third round is and should be all about the upside, because we all know the majority of these players are very unlikely to amount to anything. With that said, I do have some issues with Walford being the first tight end off the board. Yes, he does have upside, but he really didn’t do enough as a rookie to push him up my draft board. He certainly wasn’t good enough to make him my top player at the position.

3.02 – Javorius Allen, RB BAL

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Typical draft range last year – Late second to middle third

Izzy’s thoughts – I was really hoping Matt Jones would somehow fall to me at this pick, but Austan took him at 2.12, which is a steal. Had Buck been off the board, I would have been left with a very difficult decision. I love Chris Conley’s upside, but hate his landing spot in KC. Jaelen Strong would have been the other option, but his work ethic and desire have been questioned. Not to mention there’s not a long-term solution at quarterback within sight in Houston. Based on my options, Buck was the obvious choice since he’s done enough with his opportunity to at least be relevant in the Ravens backfield for the 2016 season.

My thoughts – Personally I don’t think Allen is the running back of the future in Baltimore, but I do think he did enough to be in the mix for the 2016 season. He showed well as a pass-catcher towards the end of the season, which will help his cause for some kind of role quite a bit. As for the actually rushing, he was a little inconsistent. He had a lot of runs where he lost yardage or had no gain, but he also had some nice carries for 10+ yards. To me he still looks like a committee back instead of a bell cow, but he is definitely worth a shot at a position where almost anything can stronghappen.

3.03 – Jaelen Strong, WR HOU

Typical draft range last year – Early to middle second

Adam’s thoughts – I was stoked to get Strong at the start of the third round. Prior to being drafted by the Texans, he was a consensus first round rookie player. Now that he has fallen out of favor, he is one of my favorite buys out there. The 6’2’ 213 pound receiver reminds me of Alshon Jeffery, not entirely in size, but in the ability to high point the ball and win contested catches. You can see that on display when he caught a huge hail mary to cap off a two touchdown game versus the Colts in week five. He should easily win the number two job in Houston, and play opposite the coverage-taking mega monster known as Nuk. Jamison Crowder and Maxx Williams were next on my list.

My thoughts – Strong has and continues to be one of my favorite later round receivers in this draft class. His game definitely has some holes, but he has enough strengths in his game to be a very effective complementary receiver in the NFL. His ceiling is slightly limited by the quarterback play and the fact that he’s opposite from a target monster, but he has enough talent to be in the WR2 mix should the Texans ever work out their quarterback issues. You’re going to need to be a little patient with him, but I think he’ll be worth the investment, especially at this price.

3.04 – Maxx Williams, TE BAL

Typical draft range last year – Late first to middle second

My thoughts – Heading into the draft, I had every expectation of needing to decide between David Cobb and Chris Conley with my third round pick. I figured both of them would still be on the board, which they were, and I really like what they bring to the table at this price point. Between the two, I think I would have gone with Conley because of the higher upside. Then as the draft progressed, I watch with no small amount of surprise as drafter after drafter kept passing on Williams. If this were a real draft, I would have been trying to trade up into the late second to grab him. I’m a little shocked he fell to this spot.

When it comes to tight ends, myself and several others have been preaching the mantra of patience. Tight ends have potentially the hardest transition from college to the pros of any position in the game. This is of course due to the hybrid nature of the position in today’s NFL. For that reason, I think it is extremely important that people keep tight ends at their preseason level in almost all cases. Yes, Williams disappointed as a rookie, but pretty much all tight ends do. It is what happens at the position. So if I valued him as a top 15 pick prior to the season, he isn’t going to move much at all due to a bad rookie season. A lot of people do though, which makes buying top drafted tight ends prior to their second year in the league one of the best buy lows each and every year.

3.05 – David Cobb, RB TEN

Typical draft range last year – Middle to late second

Brian’s thoughts – I considered Jamison Crowder here as well but ultimately decided on Cobb because the Titans backfield is still up for grabs and we have not seen the best of him yet. Cobb appeared to be the front-runner as the lead back in Tennessee, then missed a big chunk of the season with injury. I still think the opportunity is there. I am not a huge fan of his, but right now the potential reward in the third outweighs the risk.

My thoughts – I liked Cobb as a solid sleeper heading into the 2015 season. I felt he was more talented than most gave him credit for, and I disliked Bishop Sankey more than most as well. I was right about Sankey, but Cobb didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, partially due to injury. So here we are one year later with the position still up in the air. Cobb could be a Shonn Greene type of rusher for a few years, which isn’t spectacular but will get you solid RB2 numbers for an offense which should be trending up over the next few years.

3.06 – DeAndre Smelter, WR SF

Typical draft range last year – Late third or later

Scott’s thoughts – I took Smelter as a pure speculative pick. He has all the tools to develop into a WR1 in the NFL, and his pedigree from Georgia Tech gives him a shot. He should get on the field, given his blocking prowess. Blocking doesn’t score in fantasy, but if it gets him snaps, that gives him a chance to make plays. Given his physical dimensions and hand size, he should be an effective red-zone option. Anquan Boldin may be gone, and Smelter has a legitimate shot to ascend the Niners depth chart. Quarterback is a problem, but if the Niners get that solved, Smelter has upside. At 3.06, I’ll take the shot. If Smelter were gone, I’d have probably taken Jamison Crowder, based on his production (600+ yards, two touchdowns) and future opportunity (Pierre Garcon is a free agent after 2016 and DeSean Jackson is no lock to stay beyond next season).

My thoughts – This pick was made just prior to the coaching change and Chip Kelly finding his way to San Fran. Honestly, I’m not sure if Kelly’s arrival in the bay area helps or hurts Smelter. The depth chart is definitely wide open and assuming Smelter gets healthy, which might not be the case, he has the talent to climb up the ranks. I’m just not sure the system and Chip Kelly will help him become fantasy relevant. I think the chances for fantasy relevance are better for a few of the guys drafted after Smelter.

3.07 – Chris Conley, WR KC

Typical draft range last year – Late second to middle third

Trevor’s thoughts – Chris Conley checks all of the right boxes for athleticism and character. His system fit, especially with Alex Smith at the helm in Kansas City, is questionable, but at this point of the draft I’m looking for upside rather than floor.  Jeremy Maclin is the unquestioned WR1, but he has a checkered injury history.  Albert Wilson is an adequate but underwhelming WR2 option.  Only time will tell where Conley ends up in the fantasy landscape, but I like his chances of becoming relevant and making a real splash if he does. Crowder, who went next, was the other player I considered.

My thoughts – If we are talking about upside, which we should be in the third round of a rookie draft, it is hard to argue against Conley. From an athletic standpoint, he is one of the most talented players in the entire league at his position. The question is if he can turn all of that raw athleticism into receiver skills. He flashed at times as a rookie, and I think he will take over as the full time starter opposite of Maclin for the 2016 season. The sky is the limit for him, but he’ll need to refine his game and overcome system issues to be truly exceptional. He does have a chance though, which makes him one of my favorite high upside players.

3.08 – Jamison Crowder, WR WAS

Typical draft range last year – After third round

Matt’s thoughts – Washington has found their new Santana Moss. While not nearly as fast as Moss was in his prime, Crowder has all the necessary skills to be productive as Washington’s slot receiver. The undersized (5’8”, 174lbs) Crowder makes his living underneath with above average short area quickness, above average route running and good hands. In his rookie season he was productive in this role hauling in 59 of his of his 78 targets for 604 yards and two touchdowns. With DeSean Jackson stretching defenses and Jordan Reed dominating the middle of the field, Crowder should continue to thrive underneath in 2016 and beyond. My second choice was Ty Montgomery.

My thoughts – When I look at Crowder, I see someone who is very likely to be a better NFL player than a fantasy player. Having him in the mix with the other pass catchers for Washington definitely adds a different dimension. However, I don’t think he is going to be high enough on the pecking order to ever be a startable fantasy asset. He’s going to have an awful lot of 3-4 catch games for 40-50 yards with a slim chance at a touchdown. I would hate to be counting on that for my fantasy lineup. To be a fantasy worthy receiver who plays almost exclusively from the slot takes a pretty special talent. Crowder is good, but I don’t think he’s special.greene

3.09 – Rashad Greene, WR JAC

Typical draft range last year – Middle third or later

Nathan’s thoughts – Greene didn’t have the most exciting rookie season ever, but I did like the limited amount I saw of him. The low yards per catch is a bit gross from a predictive standpoint, but we knew that’s who he was coming into the season. I still like his ability as a guy who can pick up a lot of first downs for the Jaguars as their slot receiver. If it weren’t for the MFL glitch where players on IR are impossible to find, I would have selected Devin Smith, who showed flashes in his rookie year but battled injuries. I still like Smith a lot and I think he could live up to his top 40 draft capital value as soon as next year.

My thoughts – In my mind, Greene and Crowder are going to be very similar from a fantasy perspective. Both will be assets to their NFL teams, but they will be too far down the pecking order to be PPR assets. They also lack the explosive play-making ability to make them a major homerun threat. Greene has talent and will be a quality player, but I think the ceiling for him is going to be pretty low.

3.10 – Devin Smith, WR NYJ

Typical draft range last year – Late second to middle third

Eric’s thoughts – Smith is a bit of a forgotten man. Coming out of Ohio State last year, he was viewed as one of the premier downfield receivers in the draft class. His value took a hit when he was drafted by the Jets because nobody believed in Geno Smith. Neither did the Jets when they traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets passing game was one of the better passing games in the league. Both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were weekly fantasy must-starts but the offense lacked a true deep threat. If Smith can finally get healthy and this offense takes the next step, he could be a Santonio Holmes type of fantasy asset. At this point in the draft I feel his upside is a no-brainer.

My thoughts – I love this pick because of the upside involved. Smith is one of the best deep ball receivers to come out of college in the last decade. Better yet, he isn’t just a one trick pony. While no one is going to confuse him for Antonio Brown anytime soon, he can actually run a variety of routes. It is definitely enough to help him see the field a little more often. The issues are of course his healthy and if the Jets are actually going to be more than a one hit wonder on offense. I’m not sold on that yet, but maybe they have turned a corner in the passing game.

3.11 – Ty Montgomery, WR GB

Typical draft range last year – Middle third or later

Karl’s thoughts – It’s tough to defend the second to last pick in a three round rookie draft, because at this point, everyone is throwing darts at the board. In this case I like Montgomery’s situation. I know that sounds odd to hear about a team which has Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and everyone’s favorite dynasty player, Jeff Janis. The fact is, Adams is one of the least efficient wide receivers ever, and Janis is more over-hyped than Harry Potter movies. When healthy, Montgomery should get an opportunity. If I didn’t take Montgomery, I definitely would have selected Will Tye. Tye had a decent year, and there is continuity in the coaching staff.

My thoughts – I tend to agree with Karl when it comes to the Green Bay receiver group. Yes it is crowded, but it says a lot when James Jones is called in off the street to be your number two receiver. Adams is a major disappointment, and Janis had one good drive, which everyone remembers, but they ignore every other drive where he was utterly invisible. Montgomery has some talent when the ball is in his hands, and if he can work on the finer points of the position enough to get open, the Packers are going to get him the ball. Definitely worth a shot.

3.12 – Cameron Artis-Payne, RB CAR

Typical draft range last year – Middle third or later

Austan’s thoughts – I chose Artis-Payne over Kenny Bell. I think Vincent Jackson is a cut candidate, which is what makes Bell enticing, but I opted for Artis-Payne. Jonathan Stewart just had a nice campaign, and he is signed through 2018. With that said, Stewart still hasn’t played 16 games in a season since 2011. Artis-Payne — who looked decent in very limited action this season — is a player who is good at several things, but he isn’t necessarily elite at any one thing.

My thoughts – I think Artis-Payne is exceedingly average as an NFL running back. He doesn’t have the “wow” factor you look for in long term starters, but he does just well enough to keep his roster spot. I think he’s a career backup, but when you’re backing up someone with the injury history of Stewart that just might be worth something. Not much, but something.

Players who were drafted previously but fell out of this draft (in no particular order): Mike Davis, Sammie Coates, Kenny Bell, Josh Robinson, Tre McBride, Justin Hardy, Zach Zenner, Jarryd Hayne

That’s it for our look back at the 2015 draft class. Now it is time to start getting serious about the 2016 class. After all, the combine is just around the corner!


jacob feldman