Upside is what I foremost seek in a Dynasty rookie quarterback, because opportunity is limited. There are only 32 starters in the league, and teams don't use more than one at once. (That isn't the case for running backs, receivers, and to a lesser extent tight ends.) This is fantasy's most replaceable week-to-week position. I either want someone who gives me a high-scoring ceiling every week, or I'm playing game-by-game matchups. In-place "weapons" are factored in, though truly good quarterbacks tend to elevate players around them.
1. Jameis Winston, No. 1, Buccaneers.
Most of the rhetoric concerning Winston has focused on "off-field" concerns. On the field, he possesses ideal pocket-passer tools and is a fantastic fit for new Bucs OC Dirk Koetter's vertical passing game. The "on-field" discussion has focused on Winston's 18 interceptions last year. My bet is Winston's aggressiveness will have considerably better results throwing to Vincent Jackson (6'5/241), Mike Evans (6'5/231), and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6'6/262) than he had targeting Rashad Greene (5'11/182) and Nick O'Leary (29-inch arms). Winston showed the capability of elevating players around him in college. Once he hits his peak, I see Winston as a quarterback capable of flirting with 27-33 touchdown passes on an annual basis. Winston is a far more-stable Dynasty rookie target than Marcus Mariota with a plenty-high ceiling.
2. Marcus Mariota, No. 2, Titans.
In both real life and fantasy, the argument can be made that Mariota offers a higher ceiling than Winston. When approaching him as a Dynasty prospect, I think you have to gauge your own confidence in Ken Whisenhunt's ability to groom a quarterback and build an offense that suits Mariota's strengths. The supporting cast is still sub-par in Tennessee, and Mariota likely does not project as a high-volume NFL passer. The recent failures of dual-threat quarterbacks around the league are another worry for Mariota. With all that said, I would begin considering taking a chance on Mariota's upside in the second round of 12-team Dynasty rookie drafts.
3. Brett Hundley, No. 147, Packers.
Hundley showed an alarming lack of feel for pocket quarterbacking at UCLA, but is big and highly athletic with a strong arm. In Mike McCarthy's talent-loaded offense, Hundley would become an interesting fantasy commodity if something happened to Aaron Rodgers.
4. Bryce Petty, No. 103, Jets.
A plus athlete with ideal size and a strong arm. Petty is a total project coming from Baylor's one-read Pistol Spread offense, but checks a lot of the required boxes. He'll be brought along slowly by new Jets OC Chan Gailey, who uses spread concepts and has a history of maximizing quarterback production (e.g. Tyler Thigpen, Ryan Fitzpatrick).
5. Garrett Grayson, No. 75. Saints.
Grayson has an average arm, but is a good athlete and played in a pro-style system at Colorado State. He has an outside chance to become 36-year-old Drew Brees' heir apparent. Owed $20 million in 2016 salary and bonuses, Brees quietly may be entering a make-or-break season in New Orleans.
6. Sean Mannion, No. 89, Rams.
A gangly 6-foot-6 and short on athleticism, Mannion is a smart (40 Wonderlic) but turnover-prone prospect with sub-par arm strength and a tendency for tanking under duress. Nick Foles is in a contract year and far from established as St. Louis' long-term solution, so Mannion may be in position to compete for the Rams' starting job by as soon as 2016.
7. Trevor Siemian, No. 250, Broncos.
8. Shane Carden, UDFA, Bears.
9. Connor Halliday, UDFA, Redskins.
10. Brandon Bridge, UDFA, Cowboys.
A big, strong-armed developmental project with athleticism.
Running backs have short shelf lives, so I factor expected early impact into these rankings just as much -- and in some cases more -- than long-term bankable talent. Regardless of scoring format, I also want running backs who are either already good at catching passes, or have shown some potential to become assets in the passing game. I shy away from running backs I project as situational role players or "scatbacks." I am targeting potential lead runners.
1. Todd Gurley, No. 10, Rams.
You can make a good case for taking Melvin Gordon over Gurley, as Rich Hribar recently did on The Fake Football podcast. The immediate impact is likely to be greater for Gordon, and he offers plenty of ceiling. I personally side with Gurley because I think he's still a good bet to be a fantasy RB1 by the halfway point in his rookie year, and projects as a superior and more versatile three-down back over the course of his career. Gurley can grind, hit home runs, turn short passes into long gains, and run over defenders with vicious tackle-breaking ability.
2. Melvin Gordon, No. 15, Chargers.
Gordon is a big-play runner who enters the NFL with some passing-down limitations and the bad habit of stopping and/or shuffling his feet behind the line of scrimmage when the blocking doesn't give him a clear alley. His straight-line burst is highly impressive and he had the good fortune of entering a productive offense that will create scoring chances. Gordon is my No. 1 rookie running back in re-draft leagues, and a close No. 2 to Gurley in Dynasty.
3. Ameer Abdullah, No. 54, Lions.
A cross between Ray Rice and C.J. Spiller at their best, Abdullah is an extremely competitive and energetic back with explosive shake and a decisive running mentality. He enters the NFL with fumbling and pass-protection flaws, but many college backs have the same issues. Lions incumbent starter Joique Bell is going on age 29 after averaging under 4.0 YPC in back-to-back years. Bell required knee surgery last offseason, and is currently recovering from operations on both his Achilles' and knee. Theo Riddick is a role-player only. Abdullah will emerge as Detroit's lead back sooner rather than later. I suspect it happens by no later than Week 6.
4. T.J. Yeldon, No. 36, Jaguars.
Yeldon is a silky-smooth inside runner with plus receiving and pass-protection skills. He stands 6-foot-1, 226 and "runs tall" in space, but lowers his pad level appropriately on contact. An Arian Foster- or Matt Forte-like "glider" with incredible foot quickness for a big man, Yeldon is elusive and darting despite a shortage of truly explosive moves. The big question mark on Yeldon is his touchdown potential in what projects as a low-scoring offense. Yeldon will immediately be counted on as a "foundation back" on a Jaguars team that will try to win games with an underrated defense and run game keyed by Yeldon and an improving offensive line.
5. Tevin Coleman, No. 73, Falcons.
Coleman is a tight-hipped, straight-line burner who struggles to beat contact. He shredded the Big Ten winning open-field sprints, plays that rarely happen in the NFL. With all that said, Coleman's plus pass-protection chops increase his chances of earning an early role, and Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan is one of the NFL's top running-game minds. Coleman is a boom-or-bust back and a boom-or-bust Dynasty pick. Based entirely on his ceiling in an already-good offense, I think Coleman is best targeted in the 1.08-1.12 range of Dynasty rookie drafts. I don't see 2014 fourth-rounder Devonta Freeman as imposing competition for Coleman.
6. Jay Ajayi, No. 149, Dolphins.
I thought Ajayi was a top-three running back talent in this class. He fell in the draft due to "long-term" knee concerns, which aren't expected to cause Ajayi problems for 4-5 years. Running backs shouldn't be counted on as "long-term" commodities, anyway, in real life or fantasy. In Miami, Ajayi's biggest hurdle is contract-year starter Lamar Miller, whom the Dolphins played behind Knowshon Moreno when Moreno was healthy last season and is an inferior receiver to Ajayi. I might have ranked Ajayi in the Gurley-Gordon tier had he not plummeted to round five.
7. David Johnson, No. 86, Cardinals.
Johnson is an excellent receiver and athlete, but his sub-par inside running is a concern for his pro transition. The Cardinals initially characterized Johnson as a "bigger Andre Ellington," although GM Steve Keim more recently labeled Johnson a potential "three-down back." Whatever the case, Johnson is another Ellington breakdown away from playing a significant role in Bruce Arians' backfield.
8. Javorius Allen, No. 125, Ravens.
Allen is old for a rookie and didn't run with ideal toughness or physicality on college tape, but he is a smooth receiver who will pass block and an excellent fit for a Marc Trestman offense that prioritizes feeding running back passing-game targets. Allen is basically the anti-Lorenzo Taliaferro, whose roster security is in doubt. A heavy favorite to open 2015 as Baltimore's No. 2 back, Allen's biggest obstacle is Justin Forsett. Forsett turns 30 in October and bounced around the league before last season's unlikely career year under outgoing Gary Kubiak.
9. Duke Johnson, No. 77, Browns.
The Browns have a good offensive line. That's about all that went right for Johnson during draft weekend, landing in a dysfunctional organization with a poor short- and long-term offensive outlook, and potential RBBC alongside talented early-down runner Isaiah Crowell and versatile-if-pedestrian Terrance West. Browns GM Ray Farmer has compared Johnson to Giovani Bernard, which bodes poorly for Johnson's chances of becoming a true feature back in Cleveland. My pre-draft take on Johnson was more upbeat. His situation is bleak.
10. David Cobb, No. 138, Titans.
Essentially a rich man's Shonn Greene, Cobb is a between-the-tackles grinder. He is a sub-par pass blocker at this stage of his career, but an average to above-average pass catcher. Cobb has a shot at a meaningful role right away in Tennessee, where incumbent Bishop Sankey was wholly ineffective in 2014 and demonstrates no obvious strengths as a tailback. Cobb isn't a flashy talent and lacks a high ceiling, but immediate opportunity vaults him into my top eight.
11. Jeremy Langford, No. 108, Bears.
Langford is an underwhelming prospect on tape, but the Bears invested an early fourth-round pick on him, and starter Matt Forte's contract expires after this season. It's also worth noting that Forte's rushing efficiency dipped sharply in 2014, and he turns 30 late this season. Somewhat begrudgingly, I recently selected Langford at the 2.11 pick in the Rotoworld Dynasty League Rookie Draft, the results of which can be found here.
12. Matt Jones, No. 95, Redskins.
My personal pre-draft evaluations led me to believe Jones would be a late third-day pick or go undrafted. Although billed as a plus pass protector, Jones earned decidedly negative marks in College Football Focus' pass-pro grades. Jones was a relatively inefficient college grinder whose athletic measurables don't stand out. I'm skeptical of his future in the pros. I'm also aware my own evaluations are imperfect. Jones was deemed worthy of a day-two pick by respected Redskins GM Scot McCloughan, and current starter Alfred Morris is entering the final year of his deal. Those factors are significant, and make Jones an intriguing late second- or third-round Dynasty rookie pick.
13. Josh Robinson, No. 205, Colts.
Though athletically limited, Robinson is a violent runner and functional in the passing game. He'll battle Dan Herron, Vick Ballard, and Zurlon Tipton to back up Frank Gore, who turned 32 this month. I think Robinson is a strong target in the third round of Dynasty rookie drafts.
14. Mike Davis, No. 126, 49ers.
A straight-linish grinder, Davis runs with some violence and is functional in the passing game. I suspect he will be Carlos Hyde's primary backup, with Kendall Hunter behind "space back" Reggie Bush. Coming off a disappointing rookie season, Hyde is far from a sure thing. He was no match for 31-year-old Frank Gore in 2014, earning only six touches per game.
15. Cameron Artis-Payne, No. 174, Panthers.
Artis-Payne is an overaged prospect with mediocre physical attributes, but he did lead the SEC in rushing last season and landed in a rather favorable situation. His competition to back up injury-riddled Jonathan Stewart is Fozzy Whittaker, Darrin Reaves, and Jordan Todman.
16. Zach Zenner, UDFA, Lions.
Zenner is a physical, downhill one-cut runner who can hold his own in the passing game. He had the second-highest SPARQ score in this year's running back class, behind only new teammate Ameer Abdullah. Detroit doesn't seem like an ideal landing spot at first glance, but Joique Bell is aging, injured, and ineffective, and Theo Riddick is a situational passing-down back only. The fact that Zenner went undrafted is an obvious red flag, but I prefer his talent to the running backs ranked lower on this list.
17. Karlos Williams, No. 155, Bills.
A converted safety with poor running instincts, Williams is slightly intriguing only because he runs 4.48 at 230 pounds and landed on a depth chart where he could climb surprisingly quickly. LeSean McCoy showed signs of decline in 2014, while Fred Jackson is 34 years old and in a contract season. After investing a fifth-round draft pick into Williams, the Bills' new coaching staff may view Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown as expendable.
18. Terrence Magee, UDFA, Ravens.
Magee's tape reminds of Knowshon Moreno. While athletically limited, Magee maximizes his god-given ability and might have been the best pass-protecting back in this class. Particularly if new Ravens OC Marc Trestman finds no use for Lorenzo Taliaferro, I think Magee would stand a realistic chance at making Baltimore's roster behind aging Justin Forsett and fourth-round pick Javorius Allen. Magee plays the game in a way that will appeal to NFL coaches.
19. John Crockett, UDFA, Packers.
Crockett was a workhorse in the Missouri Valley Conference, piling up 1,994 yards and 21 TDs on 368 carries (5.42 YPC) as a senior, also catching 30 passes. A better athlete than his 4.62 forty suggests, Crockett aced the explosion tests at the Combine with a 40-inch vertical and 10-foot-5 broad jump. 29-year-old James Starks is entering a contract season. 2014 UDFA Rajion Neal and fellow 2015 UDFA Malcolm Agnew will be Crockett's primary competition for a roster spot behind Starks and Eddie Lacy, whose college injury concerns have yet to catch up to him.
20. Gus Johnson, UDFA Raiders.
Quietly fell into a good situation behind unproven Latavius Murray, third-down back Roy Helu, and draft bust Trent Richardson. Johnson dominated at Stephen F. Austin and posted above-average workout numbers at his Pro Day.
Others: Kenny Hilliard, No. 235, Texans; Rasheed Williams, UDFA, Lions; Dreamius Smith, UDFA, Chargers; Malcolm Brown, UDFA, Rams; Jahwan Edwards, UDFA, Chargers; Terrell Watson, UDFA, Bengals; Thomas Rawls, UDFA, Seahawks; Marcus Murphy, No. 230, Saints.
I like fantasy receivers who score touchdowns. I prefer them big and fast. The NFL is increasingly a man-coverage/Cover 3 league, where pass catchers constantly have to deal with defensive backs in their "hip pocket." I want wideouts who win 50:50 balls and in the red zone. I downgrade receivers I believe are one-trick-pony deep threats, and project as complementary pieces. I like volume. For the most part, I bank on forward-looking talent at receiver more than situation and perceived opportunity, although I certainly don't ignore those latter factors.
1. Amari Cooper, No. 4, Raiders.
Cooper projects as a short- and long-term high-volume ball catcher in Oakland, where the wide receiver depth chart is essentially barren behind him. Although Cooper lacks ideal vertical ability with a sub-par 33-inch vertical and inconsistency in 50-50 situations, his short-area quicks and explosion are similar to Odell Beckham's. It wouldn't surprise me if Cooper is a 90-plus-reception wideout for his entire career. His game also effectively complements Derek Carr's, who looked most comfortable targeting the short and intermediate passing games both at Fresno State and as a rookie. That's where Cooper wins.
2. Breshad Perriman, No. 26, Ravens.
Kevin White will be slotted ahead of Perriman in virtually every Dynasty ranking you read elsewhere. There's a fair case to be made for White offering a higher floor. I think Perriman offers a higher ceiling, in both the short and long runs. Whereas White profiles as a long-term No. 2 receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery in an organization with major quarterback concerns, Perriman will have a chance to immediately ascend to No. 1 wideout status in Baltimore, where 30-year-old franchise QB Joe Flacco is signed through 2018 and will very likely receive another extension in the near future. Although much was made of Perriman's drops before the draft, my own evaluation of him wasn't far off White's. I obviously wouldn't have a problem with anyone taking White or even Nelson Agholor ahead of Perriman in Dynasty. At very least, this gives you an anti-groupthink idea to consider before your rookie draft.
3. Kevin White, No. 7, Bears.
White is a monster. He will make an instant impact as a post-catch tackle breaker in the NFL, and improved route running will allow White to maximize his 4.35 stopwatch speed after his separation skills left something to be desired on college tape. Big, explosive, powerful, and extremely competitive, White's forward-thinking floor should be high. He will be a top-four rookie pick in the vast majority of Dynasty drafts. I wonder about White's long-range ceiling behind established fantasy WR1 Alshon Jeffery, who is only two years older than White. It's worth noting that White is 15 months older than Perriman and two years older than Cooper.
4. Nelson Agholor, No. 20, Eagles.
In the same role Agholor will play this season, Jeremy Maclin hung a career-best 85-1,318-10 receiving line with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Pre-draft, Agholor projected as a volume receiver with big-play ability, particularly after the catch. He's entered a situation where he will be immediately asked to handle volume and run high-percentage routes on a team that plays up tempo and fires off plays. Agholor is my No. 1 rookie receiver in re-draft leagues and should be locked into the top-four wideout picks in Dynasty rookie drafts.
5. DeVante Parker, No. 14, Dolphins.
I thought Parker was a bit overrated during the pre-draft phase, seeing him more along the lines of Brandon LaFell than A.J. Green. I like his ability to win contested catches, but I didn't view Parker as an "explosive" prospect and believe he projects better as a high-end No. 2 than No. 1 NFL wideout. He enters a crowded situation in Miami, where Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron are both under contract for the next two years, and target-hog Jarvis Landry is signed for the next three. In fantasy terms, I envision Cooper, Perriman, White, and Agholor in a wide receiver tier unto themselves. Parker is atop the second Dynasty rookie tier.
6. Dorial Green-Beckham, No. 40, Titans.
Green-Beckham is a monster talent entering one of the most dysfunctional organizations in pro sports, one that has shown little or no ability to develop young players. It's a scary recipe for a player of DGB's track record. There's a point in rookie drafts where Green-Beckham's ceiling is simply too much to pass. But I'd fault no one for approaching their Dynasty draft planning to avoid the potential headache that is Green-Beckham on the Titans.
7. Devin Funchess, No. 41, Panthers.
A maddeningly inconsistent player on college film, Funchess has obvious maturing to do. That's more understandable when you consider Funchess is one of the youngest players in this draft class. Carolina is a good-not-great landing spot, where Funchess will be shoehorned into a day-one starting role opposite Kelvin Benjamin, who despite great counting stats had a very inefficient rookie year. Although they are only one draft class apart, Funchess is 39 months younger than Benjamin. I think Funchess can flirt with WR3 value as a rookie, and has an outside shot at emerging as the Panthers' No. 1 receiver within a few years.
8. Jaelen Strong, No. 70, Texans.
Essentially a poor man's DeVante Parker, Strong is a plus-sized wideout with a knack for winning 50:50 balls. A combination of excellent measurables and domination of the Pac 12 at ages 19 and 20 bode well for Strong's chances of becoming an impact NFL wide receiver. It may take some time, however. Unlike Parker's, Strong's quarterback situation is a major concern, and his team invested significantly less draft capital on Strong than Miami did with Parker. Long term, Strong projects as the No. 2 to DeAndre Hopkins' No. 1 in Houston.
9. Phillip Dorsett, No. 29, Colts.
Entering a great offense, but starts out buried on the depth chart and limited skill wise. More straight-line lid lifter than potential high-volume target. I'm also very skeptical the Colts have plans to move on from contract-year T.Y. Hilton, who is an offensive building block and has a far more diverse route repertoire. I'd probably just let someone else draft Dorsett.
10. Devin Smith, No. 37, Jets.
As a 196-pound vertical stretcher, Smith is an odd match for new Jets OC Chan Gailey's dink-and-dunk spread. Initially, Smith will compete with Jeremy Kerley for snaps behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Smith projects as an eventual starter, but the Jets will need a strong-armed quarterback to get him the rock. Is fourth-round pick Bryce Petty that guy? Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't, and Geno Smith's days in New York appear to be numbered.
11. Justin Hardy, No. 107, Falcons.
Not big or athletic, I thought Hardy was overhyped before the draft and the NFL seems to agree, letting him fall into round four. He certainly offers some real-life NFL value as a rugged inside-the-numbers possession receiver. Hardy's fantasy value got a boost in Atlanta, where Roddy White turns 34 in November and special teamer Devin Hester is currently the No. 3. Hardy replaces Harry Douglas in year one and could be White's heir apparent.
12. Tyler Lockett, No. 69, Seahawks.
The Seahawks say they primarily targeted Lockett for his return skills. The low-volume nature of Seattle's offense is a concern, but there's every reason to believe Lockett can become Doug Baldwin's equal -- or more -- as a Z-slot receiver. Assuming he does become a regular in the Seahawks' offense, Lockett could end up as a sneaky value pick.
13. Kenny Bell, No. 162, Buccaneers.
Comparable to Kenny Stills, Bell left Nebraska as the school's all-time leading receiver and showed plus athleticism at the Combine. He's a physical, assignment-sound player an NFL coaching staff figures to love. 32 years old and owed a $9.8 million salary in 2016, my guess is Vincent Jackson is entering his final season as a Buc. Bell should have an outside chance to develop into Mike Evans' complement for impressive pocket passer Jameis Winston.
14. Chris Conley, No. 76, Chiefs.
I absolutely loved Conley's game when I watched him before the draft. His measurables are just a cherry on top. He gets more separation than Kevin White, and catches the ball naturally with his hands. He had one drop all of last season. Unfortunately, Conley is a straight-linish lid popper whose skill set lacks nuance. I suspect he'll be employed as a situational deep threat in Andy Reid's West Coast offense, sort of like ex-Eagles WR Todd Pinkston. Alex Smith's conservative passing style is a major drain on Conley's near-term fantasy outlook.
15. Sammie Coates, No. 87, Steelers.
While impressively built and athletic, Coates is painfully short on ball skills. He's a theoretical deep threat who shows an inability to effectively track the ball in the air. Coates may cut into Markus Wheaton's snaps later on in his rookie year, but is buried behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. I don't see Coates as a threat to Bryant in the short or long term.
16. Ty Montgomery, No. 94. Packers.
A poor man's Cordarrelle Patterson, Montgomery's early-career contributions will be limited to kickoff returns. That said, he was a third-round pick and GM Ted Thompson has an excellent track record of drafting wide receivers. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Montgomery making an offensive impact in a few years.
17. Stefon Diggs, No. 146, Vikings.
Diggs is a kickoff return specialist with some slot receiver value. Vikings incumbent slot WR Jarius Wright is entering the last year of his contract.
18. DeAndre Smelter, No. 132, 49ers.
Smelter tore his ACL last December and will likely redshirt as a rookie. A 6-foot-2, 226-pound bully after the catch, Smelter has a chance to become Anquan Boldin's eventual replacement. Boldin turns 35 in October and is entering the last year of his deal.
19. Tre McBride, No. 245, Titans.
McBride's college tape and Combine measurables suggested he had a chance to be a day-two pick. His precipitous draft-day fall spells trouble. McBride will be competing for a roster spot on a perennially poor Titans team that has shown zero ability to "develop" or harness talent under its current regime. At this point, a huge leap of faith is needed to target McBride as more than a mid to late third-round Dynasty rookie pick.
20. Darren Waller, No. 204, Ravens.
Waller stands 6-foot-6, 238 with 4.46 speed, a 37-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-5 broad jump. Although he is a project like most Georgia Tech wideouts, Waller landed in a great situation where roles are undecided beyond 36-year-old Steve Smith Sr. and rookie Breshad Perriman in Baltimore.
21. Devante Davis, UDFA, Eagles.
22. Vince Mayle, No. 123, Browns.
Big, slow H-back/receiver prospect who struggles to catch the football and produced primarily on bubble screens at Washington State. Mayle does have opportunity on the surface. Dwayne Bowe, Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline, and Taylor Gabriel are the Browns' top receivers.
23. Bud Sasser, No. 201, Rams.
Highly productive senior year at Mizzou. An above-average athlete entering a muddled Rams wide receiver depth chart that lacks an established top dog.
24. Rashad Greene, No. 139, Jaguars.
25. Geremy Davis, No. 186, Giants.
Sounds like Giants envision Davis as a No. 4/5 receiver and special teamer.
Others: R.J. Harris, UDFA, Saints; J.J. Nelson, No. 159, Cardinals; DaVaris Daniels, UDFA, Vikings; Dres Anderson, UDFA, 49ers; Neal Sterling, 220, Jaguars; Austin Hill, UDFA, free agent; Andre Debose, No. 221, Raiders; Jamison Crowder, No. 105, Redskins; Dezmin Lewis, No. 234, Bills; Da'Ron Brown, No. 233, Chiefs; Kaelin Clay, No. 184, Bucs; Keith Mumphery, No. 175, Texans; Mario Alford, No. 238, Bengals; Evan Spencer, No. 187, Redskins.
My criteria for tight ends is similar to wide receivers. I want big tight ends who can run. I do weigh situation into tight end Dynasty rookie outlooks more so than for wideouts, however, because some NFL coaches use tight ends in the passing game more than others.
1. Maxx Williams, No. 55, Ravens.
On new Ravens OC Marc Trestman's watch the past two seasons, Martellus Bennett had back-to-back career years. He led all NFL tight ends in receptions in 2014. Williams is a different kind of tight end than Bennett, but is an excellent pass catcher who can win with power or finesse. Although not a freakish athlete like Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, Williams is a good enough football player to develop into a mid-range fantasy TE1. I think he will be a useful streamer at times as a rookie.
2. Tyler Kroft, No. 85, Bengals.
Kroft has experience at both slot and in-line tight end. A potential passing-game mismatch at 6-foot-6, 246, Kroft has drawn Zach Ertz comparisons and landed in a relatively good situation, where Tyler Eifert has been a near-total non-factor through two NFL seasons.
3. Clive Walford, No. 68, Raiders.
A poor man's Dwayne Allen, Walford should earn early-career snaps because he can block and contribute as a short-area pass catcher. He'll likely be utilized as an in-line complement to "flex" tight end Mychal Rivera. I suspect Walford will shake out as a better real-life than fantasy tight end.
4. Jesse James, No. 160, Steelers.
A mammoth (6'7/261) tight end prospect who doesn't turn 21 until June. James is a project, but showed growth potential at the Combine with a 37 1/2-inch vertical and 10-foot-1 broad jump, excellent clips at his size. Steelers starter Heath Miller turns 33 this season and is obviously on the downslope of his career.
5. MyCole Pruitt, No. 143, Vikings.
6. Jeff Heuerman, No. 92, Broncos.
Proficient college blocker with sneaky athleticism. Unfortunately, tore his ACL in rookie minicamp and will redshirt as a rookie. I bumped him down two spots after Saturday's news.
7. AJ Derby, No. 202, Patriots.
Highly physical and competitive converted quarterback. Would become very interesting if he got an opportunity in New England.
8. James O'Shaughnessy, No. 173, Chiefs.
Can stretch the seam and is willing to block. Could become the Chiefs' No. 2 tight end behind Travis Kelce within the next two seasons.
9. Blake Bell, No. 117, 49ers.
Converted quarterback with a pedestrian athletic profile.
10. Nick O'Leary, No. 194, Bills.
29-inch arms and 4.93 speed. A "creation" of Jameis Winston at FSU.
Others: Kennard Backman, No. 213, Packers; Rory Anderson, No. 254, 49ers; Ben Koyack, No. 229, Jaguars; Gerald Christian, No. 256, Cardinals; C.J. Uzomah, No. 157, Bengals; Nick Boyle, No. 171, Ravens; Malcolm Johnson, No. 195, Browns; Randall Telfer, No. 198, Browns; Geoff Swaim, No. 246, Cowboys.
Overall Dynasty Top 60
I value wide receivers more than any position in Dynasty, because I think you should build around them. They have longer shelf lives and can be weekly plug-and-play starters for a decade or even longer when they hit. The same can't be said for running backs, and this particular quarterback class fell off a cliff after the first two were chosen. Tight ends tend to be dependent on offensive scheme.
1. Amari Cooper, No. 4, Raiders.
2. Todd Gurley, No. 10, Rams.
3. Breshad Perriman, No. 26, Ravens.
4. Kevin White, No. 7, Bears.
5. Melvin Gordon, No. 15, Chargers.
6. Nelson Agholor, No. 20, Eagles.
7. DeVante Parker, No. 14, Dolphins.
8. Ameer Abdullah, No. 54, Lions.
9. T.J. Yeldon, No. 36, Jaguars.
10. Tevin Coleman, No. 73, Falcons.
11. Jay Ajayi, No. 149, Dolphins.
12. David Johnson, No. 86, Cardinals.
13. Dorial Green-Beckham, No. 40, Titans.
14. Devin Funchess, No. 41, Panthers.
15. Jameis Winston, No. 1, Buccaneers.
16. Marcus Mariota, No. 2, Titans.
17. Maxx Williams, No. 55, Ravens.
18. Jaelen Strong, No. 70, Texans.
19. Phillip Dorsett, No. 29, Colts.
20. Duke Johnson, No. 77, Browns.
21. Javorius Allen, No. 125, Ravens.
22. David Cobb, No. 138, Titans.
23. Jeremy Langford, No. 108, Bears.
24. Devin Smith, No. 37, Jets.
25. Justin Hardy, No. 107, Falcons.
26. Matt Jones, No. 95, Redskins.
27. Josh Robinson, No. 205, Colts.
28. Tyler Lockett, No. 69, Seahawks.
29. Mike Davis, No. 126, 49ers.
30. Kenny Bell, No. 162, Buccaneers.
31. Chris Conley, No. 76, Chiefs.
32. Cameron Artis-Payne, No. 174, Panthers.
33. Sammie Coates, No. 87, Steelers.
34. Ty Montgomery, No. 94. Packers.
35. Stefon Diggs, No. 146, Vikings.
36. Brett Hundley, No. 147, Packers.
37. Tyler Kroft, No. 85, Bengals.
38. Bryce Petty, No. 103, Jets.
39. Garrett Grayson, No. 75. Saints.
40. DeAndre Smelter, No. 132, 49ers.
41. Tre McBride, No. 245, Titans.
42. Clive Walford, No. 68, Raiders.
43. Jesse James, No. 160, Steelers.
44. Zach Zenner, UDFA, Lions.
45. Terrence Magee, UDFA, Ravens.
46. Karlos Williams, No. 155, Bills.
47. Darren Waller, No. 204, Ravens.
48. Devante Davis, UDFA, Eagles.
49. Vince Mayle, No. 123, Browns.
50. Bud Sasser, No. 201, Rams.
51. Rashad Greene, No. 139, Jaguars.
52. MyCole Pruitt, No. 143, Vikings.
53. Jeff Heuerman, No. 92, Broncos.
54. John Crockett, UDFA, Packers.
55. Geremy Davis, No. 186, Giants.
56. Gus Johnson, UDFA, Raiders.
57. AJ Derby, No. 202, Patriots.
58. James O'Shaughnessy, No. 173, Chiefs.
59. R.J. Harris, UDFA, Saints.
60. Blake Bell, No. 117, 49ers.