Current ADP: 74 (77.73)
This is Lynch’s situation on steroids. Now 31, Gore is slowing down. There’s no two ways about it. He’s also still the lead back for one of the league’s run-heaviest teams, and hasn’t missed a game since 2010. We know Gore is going to lose work. His slow finish last season (3.65 YPC over his final 10 games) and the 49ers’ second-round selection of Carlos Hyde make that a given. But barring injury, Gore should easily lead his team in carries, and is a strong bet for 6-8 touchdowns. That kind of floor is foolish to pass up at this stage of the draft.
Current ADP: 96 (98.00)
There are no guarantees with Shorts, a player who has missed time with head, calf, shoulder and groin injuries over the past two seasons. A concussion ended his 2012 campaign, while his 2013 was cut short by sports-hernia surgery. Shorts is a brittle guy. He’s also still only 27, and just two years removed from a 55/979/7 breakout where he averaged 17.8 yards per catch. Yes, second-rounders Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee are going to siphon targets. But their presence is arguably a positive after the absence of Justin Blackmon allowed opposing defenses to key in on Shorts as Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiver last season. That’s a role Shorts is unsuited for, but he can be an electrifying YAC dynamo when given space. He should have much more of it in 2014 with Robinson and Lee drawing defenders of their own.
Current ADP: 105 (110.22)
It’s too early to write Austin’s NFL obituary, but this is an absurd reach. Austin’s rookie tape was that of a player who had to be given space instead of creating it. That’s a major problem, as Austin’s college reputation — and subsequent selection at No. 8 overall — was built on the fact that he could explode for big plays out of small areas. It’s true that he had a lot working against him as a rookie, particularly OC Brian Schottenheimer’s uncreative play-calling and Sam Bradford’s injury. But there’s been nothing to suggest he’ll flip the switch as a sophomore. There are many more reasons to believe Austin is ready to settle in as a gadget player instead of a fantasy WR3/4. From DeAndre Hopkins to Marvin Jones to even James Jones, there is no shortage of safer and more appealing wideout options falling farther down the ranks than Austin.
Current ADP: 116 (118.47)
There are a host of bargains in the 108-120 range, but Miller takes the cake. An extremely-talented player poised to get a second chance in an offense that’s expected to recommit to the run under new OC Bill Lazor, Miller spent the entire offseason ahead of Knowshon Moreno on the depth chart. Now Moreno is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, leaving the door open for Miller to run away with No. 1 duties in camp. Miller’s 2013 was a major disappointment, but film review revealed a player let down more by his coaching and offensive line than own running ability. A young back with three-down upside, Miller is perhaps this summer’s most under-drafted player.
Current ADP: 129 (132.67)
You could argue Green is being over-drafted after catching just 17 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns last season, but that would be to ignore both his ability and opportunity. Antonio Gates has been one of the standard bearers at tight end for over a decade, but is in the twilight of his career. Green is in the dawn of his, and in position to emerge as the Bolts’ No. 2 pass catcher behind Keenan Allen. Standing in at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds with 4.45 wheels, Green has LeBron James-like athleticism, and it shows up on film when he’s utilized as a pass catcher instead of a blocker. Particularly with tight end riddled with question marks beyond Jimmy Graham, Green is the kind of player you should pounce on if he somehow falls into your lap at No. 129.
Current ADP: 141 (148.00)
Miller has given more to fantasy than his limited physical skill-set would have suggested, but his time has come and gone. Now 32 (in October) and coming off his worst statistical season since 2008, there is no reason for Miller to be going ahead of players like Dwayne Allen or Tyler Eifert. It’s true that Miller is now a full year and a half removed from blowing out his knee, while the departures of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders will free up targets, particularly in the red zone. But why bet on a 30-something tight end rediscovering his low-end TE1 form when there’s still so much upside to be found in Round 12? Miller is a reach, and an uninspiring one at that.