Patrick Daugherty: We’ll start with an easy one — who are you most excited about drafting this season? I think I might go with a pair of Cardinals, Andre Ellington and Michael Floyd.
I know there are obvious issues with both. Ellington is literally my size, and Floyd is lining up alongside a generational talent in Larry Fitzgerald while catching passes from a generational interception thrower in Carson Palmer. I just can’t overlook the home-run hitting ability. No one averaged more yards per carry than Ellington last season, while Floyd looked every bit the ball-hawking beast the Cardinals thought they were getting when they made him the No. 13 overall pick in 2012.
Do you agree? Disagree? And who’s your Ellington and Floyd?
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Nick Mensio: I agree for the most part on Ellington and Floyd. Both are ultra-exciting, but I'm not liking Ellington's price tag. It's been on a steady rise the past month, and doesn't appear to be losing steam. There's no doubt that I'd love to have him on my squad, but he's currently going in the early-to-mid third-round range and Bruce Arians' history with RBs catching passes has been sketchy. This offense is still going to go through Fitzgerald and Floyd, IMO. It's impossible not to love Floyd. He can run and has the size to box out defensive backs. Should flirt with double-digit scores as Fitzgerald's career starts winding down.
My Ellington would have to be C.J. Spiller. I can't get myself off this train. He was my No. 1 overall running back heading into last season, and while I'm obviously not that high on him this time around, I still think he has the best chance at RB1 numbers among the RBs currently being drafted outside the top-12. The Bills offense is built for him to succeed, and OC Nathaniel Hackett should have a much better idea how to use him in year two on the job. Plus, Spiller is finally healthy. We'll see how long it lasts, though.
Jeff Ratcliffe: Ellington is very interesting, but I'm not sure I'd say his price tag is that outrageous. He has a very similar fantasy profile to Giovani Bernard, yet you can get him a round and a half later. I'm sure we’ll see that ADP creep up a little, but his value is fair where he's going. As for Floyd, there's a lot to like. He has the size/speed to be a strong fantasy option. I often equate him to a poor man's Dez Bryant.
At the running back position, I'm going to go a little bit deeper than you guys with Devonta Freeman. There's a little bit of the unknown that intrigues me with this guy. However, what we do know is that Steven Jackson is really coming to the end of the road, and fantasy titles typically aren't won with aging running backs. Outside of Carlos Hyde, Freeman was my favorite back in this year's class, and he landed in a much better spot than Hyde. Freeman has the ability to run between the tackles, and he's a capable pass catcher. Freeman is the guy I'm targeting as a later-round player with the upside to be this year's Zac Stacy.
Adam Levitan: Size does not bother me at all with Ellington. We can comfortably compare his stature to Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy — three guys who are among the most durable feature backs of this generation. I'm on Ellington, and Floyd is a no-brainer breakout, too. Targeting special pass catchers in a Bruce Arians scheme can't be wrong.
The guy I'll end up with most often this season will probably be Tony Romo. I am a late-round QB proponent, but not a streamer. Why would I stream when I can get a Scott Linehan quarterback playing with arguably the most talented WR and offensive line in the league? And when his defense is so bad that weekly shootouts will be necessary? And when he's available in the 10th round or later of most drafts? Romo is a layup.
Daugherty: Levitan, I want to start a draft right now for the sole purpose of drafting Romo.
Mike Clay: Romo is a mid-round target of mine, as well, but I think there is a chance this team makes a real effort to run the ball more. After operating the league's pass-heaviest offense the previous two years, the Lions were actually balanced under Linehan last season. Cowboys management doesn't appear to be ignorant to the fact that they throw way too often and Stephen Jones has already suggested they'll try to run more this season. The Dallas defense wasn't very good in 2013 (Editor’s note: To put it mildly.), but they still managed to play with a lead more often than all but five teams. I do expect them to remain on the pass-heavy side of the league as a result of game flow, but I also expect a real effort to run more early in games.
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Clay: Switching topics, Justin Hunter and Ladarius Green are two guys I love drafting this year. Both have roadblocks to breakout 2014 seasons, but the upside here is massive. And that's exactly what we're looking for in the middle rounds. Hunter absolutely jumps off the screen on tape. At 6'4/203, he reminds you of the late Chris Henry, and looks like A.J. Green on good days. He's the best bet to be this year's Alshon Jeffery. Green, meanwhile, remains stuck behind Antonio Gates, but the latter just turned 34 and San Diego's wide receiver depth is weak. Mike McCoy and new offensive coordinator Frank Reich know Green has the tools to be a top-five receiving tight end in this league and he's sure to force plenty of two-tight end sets. This time next year, we'll be talking about Hunter as a Top 15 dynasty wideout and Green a Top 5 dynasty tight end. Put it on the board!
Daugherty: I actually think Green is being *under-drafted* despite his relatively meager résumé. He's being taken behind guys like Kelvin Benjamin and Danny Amendola. Even Josh Gordon is going higher in FantasyPros' consensus ranks. Green is the kind of guy who can make a team with his upside in the later rounds.
I'm not nearly as sure about Hunter, even though he pops on tape, like Clay said. That's just such a toxic setup they've got in Tennessee. One of the league's worst, most brittle starting quarterbacks. Quite possibly the league's worst No. 2 quarterback. A highly unproven running game. I think it could be another really up-and-down year for Hunter, even though the coaching staff seems to have come around on him, most notably WRs coach Shawn Jefferson, who treated Hunter like a first-day recruit in basic training last season.
Mensio: I'm with Pat on Hunter. I think he's gonna struggle for any real consistency in 2014 with Locker. But I've actually actively been trying to get both Hunter and Green from Fantasy Douche in the Rotoworld Dynasty League with no dice, yet. Offered up Spiller and Brandon Bostick for both, and then Cordarrelle Patterson and Bostick for both. Douche rejected, but did say he strongly considered pulling the trigger on both deals. Both Hunter and Green's upside is just massive. I love targeting Green in best ball leagues, too, because when he does pop off it can be monstrous.
Daugherty: Clay, is there anything from Hunter that excites you beyond the tape? I know that's important, buy any sort of projections or anything?
Clay: Wait, Nick, does this mean Patterson is on the trade block? Let's talk.
Mensio: Yes, C-Patt is on the block. Along with everyone else.
Clay: I don't think we have enough of a sample (41 targets) to draw many statistical conclusions about Hunter, at least from an efficiency angle. We can, however, see pretty clearly that he's doing to be a deep threat and goal-line target. His average depth of target and yards per reception marks were near the league lead. His catch rate, in turn, was fairly low, but that was expected. He did drop five balls, which is a slight concern, but drops are nearly impossible to predict/usually correctable. In addition to his tape and physical stature, there's certainly opportunity for Hunter in Tennessee, which adds to his intrigue. I expect him to end up handling near 20 percent of the team's targets. It's a generous portion, but not inconceivable when you look back at Ken Whisenhunt's history of heavily-utilizing his wide receivers. I have him at 54 receptions, 875 yards, and six scores. That puts him on the WR3 radar.
Daugherty: I knew we didn't really have enough data for Hunter, but what about anything from Locker or Whiz?
Evan Silva: I'm pretty excited about Rueben Randle. Let's just call him Roob. He's a 6-foot-3, 210-pound touchdown scorer in a wide receiver group that also consists of Victor Cruz, who's under 6-foot, and Odell Beckham, who's 5-foot-11. The Giants essentially do not have a tight end. New OC Ben McAdoo wants to get the ball out of Eli Manning's hands quickly this season in an effort to create run-after-catch opportunities for his wideouts. Randle is a post-catch playmaker. I think he could catch 80 balls this year and score 10 touchdowns. And right now, he only costs a ninth-round fantasy pick.
Clay: Locker's career aDOT is one full yard above league. He likes throwing the ball down field and we saw that plenty last year. He also showed a tendency to lean on his outside wide receivers last year, going to them 56 percent of the time, well above the 43 percent league average.
In his days with Arizona, Whisenhunt’s favorite package was your standard ‘11’. What’s interesting is his second favorite, which was the ‘10’. From 2008 through 2012, he used the ‘11’ 28 percent of the time, which was barely ahead of the 24 percent clip at while he used the ‘10’. That's some serious affection for his stable of wideouts.
Silva: Jake Locker is not good, but he has a straight CANNON. Can drive it outside the hashes for sure.
Clay: Locker delivered a handful of deep missiles right into Hunter's hands early last season. Hunter hauled in two of his first three targets for touchdowns and the third was off his fingertips in the back of the end zone. If Jason Campbell can get it to Josh Gordon and Josh McCown can get it to Alshon Jeffery, Jake Locker can get it to Hunter.
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