Odell Beckham Jr
When it comes to choosing the best choice in the front end of the draft, you should be zeroed in on Odell Beckham Jr. In his first 25 games in the league, OBJ’s stats already have him ahead of NFL god Jerry Rice and where his stats were 25 games in, which is insane considering the fact that Rice is hands down the best wide receiver to EVER play the game.
Even though Eli Manning has his moments and Victor Cruz returning from a two year injury hiatus and the G-men drafting another stud wide receiver in Sterling Shepherd for head coach Ben McAdoo’s gun slinger style system. Beckham is the catalyst to this offense and he will be the premium fuel that makes this motor continue to hum in 2016.
A potential first round bust this year that no one is talking about is Ezekiel Elliot. I know, I know, everyone is saying that he is bullet proof and will be the next Emmitt Smith running behind this Cowboy O-line which IS by far the best O-line in football. Although, if the facts of history tell us anything it tells us that by taking a running back in the top 5 of the NFL draft is a MAJOR risk.
Since 1995 only TWO running backs taken there have gone on to have hall of fame careers (LaDanian Tomlinson and Jamal Lewis), who both were drafted 15 plus years ago.
The only back to have a good career since then as a starter was Edgerrin James, he also had the luxory of playing with one of the best QB’s in history during the prime of his career in Peyton Manning. The rest includes big time busts, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden, and Trent Richardson.
The NFL is a different game than college, every single one of these running backs dominated college football and every one of the “experts” hyped them up just as much as they are hyping up Elliot now. Not to mention, the Cowboys have a very crafty veteran on the roster named Alfred Morris, if Elliot struggles early this could evolve into a by committee rotation for Elliots rookie season as the Cowboys RB situation was last year.
In Washington last year, Matt Jones was supposed to be the guy because his talent dwarfed Morris’ but the smart veteran back managed to steal the job away from the overconfident rookie and take back his starting role.
However, he is a must own in Keeper/Dynasty leagues just based on the potential of what his future may hold in Dallas if he can evolve into what everyone believes he can be, a top 5 back in fantasy for years to come barring injury of course. Proceed with caution in non keeper based leagues and maybe go with a more proven running back situation elsewhere early on in your draft.
Littered with underrated talent in the top 100, a little luck can provide borderline elite talent. In some cases, you can find top 20 values in the fourth and fifth rounds with the right selections on draft day. Kelvin Benjamin could be that guy this year and is averaging in the mid 40’s to mid-50’s, depending on whose rankings you look at.
Benjamin’s sophomore season was lost when he blew out his knee in training camp and no one seemed to notice because of how well Cam Newton played last year leading the team to the Superbowl. The uber talented wide out was a close second place for rookie of the year the season before, behind none other than Odell Beckham Jr. In any other year with the 1,000 plus yards receiving and 10 plus TD’s he put up in his rookie campaign, he would have won that award.
With Cam, who loves throwing up the jump ball to his receivers (tallest average height in the league) and is one of the more accurate passers in the league Benjamin’s elite athleticism and huge hands allow for him to make spectacular catches for big gains. During his rookie season he was Cam Newton’s favorite red zone target by far and he was a beast between the 20’s so mark him up on your draft board a round and enjoy first round talent at a discount.
Every year someone who is highly touted coming into the season falls flat on their face the following season, Eddie Lacy and CJ Anderson are prime examples of this last year. NFL football is constantly changing colors and if guys dont keep their game up they can fall and burn fantasy owners in the top of their drafts. A potential candidate to free fall in 2016 is Devonte Freeman, a guy who took 2015 by storm scoring seemingly at will in the beginning of the season and was the highest scoring fantasy football player in most formats through week 8 (4.7 YPC and 9 TD) but after week 8 (3.1 YPC and 2 TD) tells a much different story about his progression coming into the 2016 season. His season splits for 2015 provide a very alarming possibility of what may come with Freeman in the top of drafts with “experts” having him going as early as the 8th pick overall, yikes!
The culprit? Tevin Coleman, Atlanta has a 3rd round draft pick invested in the young running back and he was hand-picked by the coaching staff to be the running back of the future. Do you honestly think that the Falcons are going to have a long leash with Freeman who is not in the immediate future plans of the offense?
If Coleman can stay healthy and continue to perform at his 4.5 yards per carry average on 80 plus carries in 2015 he is going to win the starting job, which he held coming into the season before breaking his ribs. Freeman at best will be a committee fill in when Coleman needs a breather but for now he is the main man in a Kyle Shanahan led offense that loves to feature a power run game inside the 20’s but the writting is on the wall here and Freeman’s starter status is in serious jeopardy and would even advise trading him while his value is still high.