Sheer 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 also 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 to some extent, though truly good quarterbacks tend to elevate players around them.
1. Johnny Manziel, No. 22, Browns.
Manziel is teaming with former Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan, who coached Robert Griffin III to a top-five fantasy season as a rookie. Shanahan has worked with a dual-threat quarterback before. The Browns need weapons after Josh Gordon's suspension, but Manziel's aggressive passing approach and rushing potential give him the highest fantasy quarterback ceiling in this class.
2. Blake Bortles, No. 3, Jaguars.
Bortles looked like Andrew Luck on college tape at times. At others, he resembled Jake Locker. He's even drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger. I love what the Jaguars did at receiver, pairing Allen Robinson with Marqise Lee. Bortles won't help fantasy teams before 2015, but offers a reasonable amount of upside as the Jags’ franchise quarterback with an ascending supporting cast.
3. Teddy Bridgewater, No. 32, Vikings.
Although Bridgewater is a limited talent with a smallish frame and hands, his composure in the pocket and short to intermediate accuracy give him a chance to become an early-career starter for the QB-desperate Vikings. Teddy's fantasy outlook is curbed by modest rushing potential, but he could become an Alex Smith or Andy Dalton type under quarterback-friendly OC Norv Turner.
4. Logan Thomas, No. 120, Cardinals.
Thomas is the wild card in this class. Quarterbacks with 55.5 college completion rates don't pan out often in the pros, but Bruce Arians is one of the NFL's premier offensive minds and expressed confidence after the draft that Thomas' deficient accuracy can be fixed by improved footwork. He's a boom-or-bust prospect, but I am intrigued by the ceiling. Thomas has Cam Newton tools. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd at wideout, and Carson Palmer is nearing age 35.
5. Derek Carr, No. 36, Raiders.
Carr isn't slated to play much in 2014, but he's positioned behind a starter entering his age-33 season (Matt Schaub) and could ascend fairly quickly. Carr has outstanding arm talent, and is a plus athlete. He had a college tendency to tank under duress -- a huge red flag -- and doesn't have a great supporting cast in Oakland. Carr lacks Bridgewater's floor and Thomas' ceiling.
6. Tom Savage, No. 135, Texans.
A big-armed, well-built, and well-traveled college journeyman, Savage can rip downfield throws and is long on opportunity behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick in Houston. I suspect the odds are against Savage becoming the Texans' franchise quarterback, but I wouldn't rule it out. The Texans are loaded at wide receiver and tight end. Bill O'Brien also has an impressive history of QB tutoring.
7. Brett Smith, UDFA, Buccaneers.
Smith was not drafted, but meets the upside criteria. Essentially a poor man's Manziel, Smith is a playmaking athlete with a decent arm. In Tampa Bay, Smith is stationed behind only 35-year-old Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, a holdover from the old Bucs front office. I'm also very intrigued by new GM Jason Licht's offseason. He's constructing a basketball team at wideout and tight end.
8. Jimmy Garoppolo, No. 62, Patriots.
Second-round reach. I don't think Garoppolo will become an NFL starter.
9. Tajh Boyd, No. 213, Jets.
Big arm, athletic, mechanical flaws. Long shot, but Rex Ryan loves him.
10. David Fales, No. 183, Bears.
His skill set isn't appealing. Landing with QB Whisperer Marc Trestman is.
11. Aaron Murray, No. 163, Chiefs.
Smallish, mild-armed passer with a quick release but limited athleticism.
12. Zach Mettenberger, No. 178, Titans.
Big arm with cement feet. The Titans will likely draft a QB high next year.
13. A.J. McCarron, No. 164, Bengals.
Can't drive the ball, limited athlete. Almost certainly a long-term backup.
14. Keith Wenning, No. 194, Ravens.
Dink and dunker. Perhaps will "develop" into Joe Flacco's clipboard holder.
15. Stephen Morris, UDFA, Jaguars.
Strong arm, athletic, big hands. Looked promising early in college career.
More QBs: Connor Shaw, UDFA, Browns; Garrett Gilbert, No. 214, Rams; Bryn Renner, UDFA, Broncos; Dustin Vaughan, UDFA, Cowboys; Jeff Mathews, UDFA, Falcons.
Running backs have short shelf lives, so I factor expected immediate 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. And I typically shy away from running backs I project as situational role players or "scatbacks." I am targeting potential workhorses.
1. Bishop Sankey, No. 54, Titans.
I wasn't thrilled when I watched Sankey on college tape. He reminded me of Vick Ballard with underwhelming burst and tackle-breaking ability. The fact that Sankey was the first running back drafted says much more about this running back class than the devaluation of the position. But Sankey can block and catch, and his measurables and opportunity can't be ignored. My hope is an NFL conditioning program and position coach can get Sankey to maximize his physical tools. As Tennessee is very likely to play run-first offense in what will likely prove Jake Locker's final season with the team, Sankey has a chance to be a 17-22 touch-per-game runner as a rookie.
2. Carlos Hyde, No. 57, 49ers.
Marcus Lattimore is struggling in his recovery from two major knee injuries, and the 49ers clearly envision Kendall Hunter as a change-of-pace back. Both Hunter and 31-year-old starter Frank Gore are entering contract years. Hyde must improve in pass protection, but offers a feature back skill set on a run-first team. He's 230 pounds with light feet and an ability to beat first contact.
3. Terrance West, No. 94, Browns.
West is a powerful zone runner with explosive open-field jump-cut ability, experience in the passing game, and a workhorse build. I'm certain he reminded Kyle Shanahan of Alfred Morris, and has superior straight-line speed. Only Ben Tate is ahead of West on Cleveland's depth chart. Tate has lacked durability throughout his NFL career, and there is no guaranteed money in Tate's contract for 2015. With a rookie QB and little at wideout, the Browns will run the ball with volume.
4. Devonta Freeman, No. 103, Falcons.
I love this fit. A rock-solid pass protector and sure-handed receiver, Freeman is a Shane Vereen-type talent entering pass-first OC Dirk Koetter's offense. Both coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff have talked up Freeman as a potential future "lead back" in Atlanta. Steven Jackson is showing every symptom of late-career breakdown in the book, while the Falcons turned the page on Jacquizz Rodgers as a lead runner some time ago. Rodgers is also entering a contract year.
5. Andre Williams, No. 113, Giants.
Williams lacks lateral movement and is a zero as a receiver, but Tom Coughlin may see him as a Michael Turner-type workhorse. He certainly has the size and north-south downhill running mentality for it, and gobbles up blocked yards. Williams' "situation" is also better than it looks.
6. Jeremy Hill, No. 55, Bengals.
Hill is billed as a two-down thumper, but ran with inconsistent physicality at LSU and is short on measurables. He does offer TD upside as the short-yardage complement to Giovani Bernard.
7. Tre Mason, No. 75, Auburn.
Mason's running ability reminds of Ray Rice, but he is deficient in the passing game at this point in time, and is joining a deep Rams running back depth chart. It's possible St. Louis only views Mason as a change-up runner. He'll need to fend off Benny Cunningham to back up Zac Stacy.
8. Jerick McKinnon, No. 96, Vikings.
McKinnon was a college quarterback-slash-running back and will have to be taught to pass protect from scratch, but he is an incredibly explosive athlete with adequate tailback size. 29 years old and owed a $12.75 million base salary in 2015, Adrian Peterson isn't going to last forever.
9. Isaiah Crowell, UDFA, Browns.
From Georgia to Alabama State, Crowell's tape was the most impressive in this running back class, and he is only 21 years old. You could argue Crowell's natural running ability is superior to third-round pick Terrance West's. He also has experience in pass protection. Whether Crowell's head is on straight will determine his Cleveland fate. He was a UDFA due to off-field concerns.
10. Ka'Deem Carey, No. 117, Bears.
Carey looked like an NFL starter to me on college tape, but was exposed as a limited athlete at the Combine. I'm still intrigued by his fit in Chicago. Carey is a plus in the passing game -- critical under Marc Trestman -- and the Bears are thin at running back behind 28-year-old Matt Forte.
11. James White, No. 130, Patriots.
White is an intelligent, ball-secure runner who can pass protect and get what's blocked. He is a somewhat low-ceiling prospect, but is entering a great offense where far worse talents have become fantasy contributors. Both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are entering contract years.
12. Storm Johnson, No. 222, Jaguars.
Johnson is a one-cut-and-go back with plus size and straight-line speed. He's a fit for the Jaguars' zone-running scheme. My expectation is Jacksonville will let Denard Robinson and Jordan Todman battle for change-of-pace duties, with Johnson stationed directly behind Toby Gerhart.
13. Lorenzo Taliaferro, No. 138, Ravens.
Zone-scheme fit behind Ray Rice (off field) and Bernard Pierce (shoulder).
14. Charles Sims, No. 69, Buccaneers.
Really smooth in passing game, but entering muddy running back picture.
15. Tyler Gaffney, No. 204, Panthers.
Both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could be gone in 2015.
16. Antonio Andrews, UDFA, Titans.
Hammer back with short-area burst. Behind Sankey and Shonn Greene.
17. Lache Seastrunk, No. 186, Redskins.
Zero in passing game, but dynamic in space. Likely change-of-pace back.
18. Alfred Blue, No. 181, Texans.
Built like Adrian Peterson, but runs like Shonn Greene. Very injury prone.
19. Marion Grice, No. 201, Chargers.
Homeless man's DeMarco Murray entering loaded running back situation.
20. Damien Williams, UDFA, Dolphins.
Elite measurables, and behind only Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller.
More RBs: De'Anthony Thomas, No. 124, Chiefs; Tim Flanders, UDFA, Saints; Tim Cornett, UDFA, Cardinals; Rajion Neal, UDFA, Packers; David Fluellen, UDFA, Eagles; Kapri Bibbs, UDFA, Broncos; Jerome Smith, UDFA, Falcons; James Wilder, Jr., UDFA, Bengals; LaDarius Perkins, UDFA, Packers; Zurlon Tipton, UDFA, Colts; Henry Josey, UDFA, Eagles.