A few quick rules on these rankings - First, they're for dynasty leagues, not one-year only leagues. Rookies don’t tend to matter that much in one year leagues, and especially this year because you don’t really have too many of the immediate impact kind of guys you need in those leagues. But, if you're a serious fantasy football player and haven’t yet found a good dynasty league, do so, they're about ten to a billion times better than a regular league. In fact, if you need help finding or starting one, just get at me.
Second, they're for standard scoring and lineup leagues. That means no PPR (Points per Reception). Yeah, I know, lame, PPR leagues are way better, but alas most reading this don’t play in them, so no PPR.
Ok, enough with the rules, here we go.
1. Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos - Fantasy value comes down to a combination of skill and opportunity, and no player in this year's class has both like Ball does. He was one of the most productive backs in college football history and lands in place where they need young legs. Ball will get the chance to play early and often, and his high workload in college doesn’t mean he won't have a good start to his NFL career, it most likely means that he won't have a long NFL career. The Broncos didn’t draft him for his long term potential, they drafted him because they think he can help them win now.
2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers made Bell the second back taken in the draft while Eddy Lacy and Montee Ball were still on the board, so you know they think highly of him. They let Mendenhall go to Arizona in free agency, and they only signed Dwyer and Redman to one year deals, so you know they're going to give Bell every chance to become the number one back in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.
3. Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams - The most talented skill position player in the draft, Austin brings speed and agility to an offense that is in dire need of a playmaker for Sam Bradford. The Rams will find ways to get him into the offense early and often, and he will rack up the yardage points. Time will tell if he can get into the end zone enough to be a top tier fantasy wideout, but his touches alone will be enough to make him a solid option, especially in the PPR leagues.
4. Eddy Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers - Lacy had a stellar career at Alabama, and comes into the league on a team that doesn't have much talent already on it's running back depth chart. Lacy will get the chance to show the world what he has at the NFL level, but he does come with some injury concerns, nursing a recurring turf toe injury he suffered in college. He ran behind one of the best offensive lines in college football history, and that may have inflated his draft stock. Plus, it says something that the Packers took another running back just two rounds later.
5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans - The Texans have been searching for a receiver to take advantage of the single coverage that defenses will give to whoever happens to be lining up on the other side of Andre Johnson, and they may have just found they’re guy in Hopkins. Where others have failed, Hopkins is only the second receiver taken in the first round by the Texans. The other? Andre Johnson. The pick shows Houston is committed to improving their passing game, and Hopkins is talented enough to capitolize.
6. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals - The first running back taken in the draft, Bernard has everything you want in a third down, speed type of back. He has what it take for a good NFL career, but his fantasy value is hurt by the Law Firm lingering around on the Bengals roster. Green-Ellis has always been undervalued, but the never-fumbling back will be hard to overtake on the roster. Also, it tends to take third down type backs a little longer to get a footing in the pros, so expect to see more from Bernard in years three or four than you will get from him in years one and two.
7. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings - With apologies to Tavon Austin, Patterson is the most naturally talented player in this draft class. He had a monster combine, stands 6'2" at 216 lbs with leaping ability. If he can learn to harness his talents, which is yet to be seen, he could be the steal of any rookie draft this year. That, and as long as the Vikings find a quarterback.
8. Jonathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers - The Packers must have known something when they used a fourth round pick on Franklin, even after they used a second rounder on Eddy Lacy. The two of them will be forever linked, and most likely will end up in a two back rotation for the next few years. Good value at this point of your draft, but it will be frustrating watching him fight for carries.
9. Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers have transformed themselves from a running offense to a modern passing one in the last few years, and have had success drafting receivers. Wheaton is a burner who, with the departure of Mike Wallace, will get a chance to see the field early.
10. E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo - Yes, finally a quarterback makes the list. Manuel gets ranked this high not because I think he's the best quarterback in the draft, but because I think he will get the best chance to develop. He has a new coaching staff in Buffalo, and new coaches like to develop their own guy at quarterback. The fan base in Buffalo is forgiving, so if he struggles early on he should get a fair chance to be productive by years three or four.
11. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers - Allen was a productive, talented player at Cal who has the stuff to be a number one receiver in the NFL. His stocked dropped because of injury concerns and an under whelming junior season, but if Phillip Rivers can ever regain his pre-2011 form Allen could be a really productive player.
12. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans - The second of the talented University of Tennessee wide receivers to come off the board, Hunter stays in the Volunteer State with the Titans. His value would be higher if the Titans had a better quarterback, or a more stable depth chart at wideout. He could be a steal or a bust at this spot, but his talent is worth it at this point in your draft.
13. Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets - What can I say about the consensus most talented signal caller going into the draft? Well, for one, he went to the absolute worst case situation for him. The Jets are always a train wreck, and the media frenzy around Smith will be intense. If he is anything short of Broadway Geno, he'll get chewed up and spit out in the Big Apple.
14. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams - Not the most talented back, but with the loss of feature back Stephen Jackson the carries for the Rams will be up for grabs this year. At this point, take the chance that he will beat out second year man Isiah Pead for those carries and get some good value.
15. Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo - I would have liked Woods had he gone to a better situation. But, with a rookie quarterback and first year coach, the talented possession receiver won't have many chances to get his hands on the ball.
16. Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys - Just draft him here and wait for the inevitable DeMarco Murray injury to deliver you carries for Randle.
17. Matt Barkley, QB, Philadelphia - A talented, but possible undersized, quarterback, Barkley needed to land in a spot where his lack of height wouldn’t be a problem. Chip Kelly's offense, or whatever version of it he brings to the NFL, values moving the defense around to create passing lanes, so Barkley shouldn’t have to worry much about passing over taller defensive lineman. After Vick reminds the league that he isn't very good anymore, which may take a year or so, Barkley will get the chance to win the job in Philly.
18. Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots - A talented guy who goes to a great offense with a chance to play early, so why is his draft stock so low? Well, for good reason. The Patriots run one of the most complicated offensive systems in the league, and many receivers have failed to pick up the reads quickly enough to be productive. Time will tell if Dobson can, but if he does he'll be a steal at this slot.
19. Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Another of the backup quarterbacks with a chance to start in the next couple of years, Glennon has a strong arm and good size. He'll have at least a large part of this year, and most likely all of it, to improve his decision making and decrease his interceptions. If Freeman doesn’t have a bounce back year, he'll get the chance to start heading into 2014.
20. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals - I'm not a big fan of drafting tight ends, I think you can find value in plenty of places at the position, but the pickings get pretty slim this year at this point, so taking Eifert here isn't a bad idea. Cincinnati will likely use him in two tight end sets with Jermaine Gresham, and you could see him get a lot of work lined up at wideout too. He could end up like a poor man's Gronk.
Alright, well that will get most leagues through the second round, for you in leagues that go deeper than that here are the next 20 players -
21. Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks
22. Terrance Wilson, WR, Dallas Cowboys
23. Stedman Bailey, WR, St. Louis Rams
24. Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
25. Knile Davis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
26. Denard Robinson, OW, Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Kenjon Barner, RB, Carolina Panthers
28. Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals
29. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
30. Tyler Wilson, QB, Oakland Raiders
31. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts
32. Tyler Bray, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
33. Quinton Patton, WR, San Francisco 49ers
34. Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago Bears
35. Mike Gillislee, RB, Miami Dolphins
36. Landry Jones, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
37. Ryan Swope, WR, Arizona Cardinals
38. Matt Scott, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
39. Da'Rick Rodgers, WR, Buffalo Bills
40. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Thanks for reading, good luck in your drafts!
Check out the new ebook by Ben Sullivan, Point Guards, Playoffs and the Future of Football on Amazon, Itunes and Smashwords.com.