A fantasy perspective of the 2014 draft - Part II
By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's a little over a week until the 2014 NFL selection process gets underway and in the second part of our series on the draft, we evaluate the needs of 16 AFC teams and how that might effect fantasy owners.
Buffalo Bills - The Bills might be tempted to pick a wide receiver if a top option falls to them at No. 9, but more likely they will choose to strengthen their offensive line to keep young quarterback E.J. Manuel upright and healthy. The addition of a player such as Jake Matthews would certainly increase Manuel and running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson's fantasy value.
Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 58 times and the lack of protection killed any chance of the quarterback and his receivers to produce fantasy-worthy numbers. Therefore we expect the Dolphins to address that issue more than once in the draft. Any hope of Mike Wallace rebounding will be tied to Tannehill's ability to stay upright as the speedy receiver needs time to go deep. Newcomer Knowshon Moreno would probably appreciate a stronger O-line as well, though fantasy owners should be prepared for a significant drop in the running back's value from last season in Denver.
New England Patriots - The Patriots' first few selections probably won't excite fantasy owners as the team has important holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. At some point, however, they could choose to pick up a pass- catching tight end as insurance for the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski or a running back to replace LeGarrette Blount.
New York Jets - Just because the Jets paid a king's ransom to sign Eric Decker away from Denver doesn't mean they are done at wide receiver. It could easily be argued that they need a speed receiver opposite Decker, and both LSU's Odell Beckham and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks fit nicely. Either could be a WR2 with defenses rolling toward Decker and away from the rookie.
Baltimore Ravens - We don't expect much in the way of skill position selections in this year's draft for the Ravens, who need to bolster their offensive line and secondary. They could use a late-round select at wideout to eventually replace 34-year-old Steve Smith, but that project probably wouldn't have any fantasy value next season.
Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are solid in the backfield, wideout and at quarterback, so fantasy owners shouldn't expect many changes on offense as Cincinnati is expected to use most of its draft selections for the other side of the ball.
Cleveland Browns - The Browns have one sure-fire fantasy stud on offense and question marks everywhere else. Cleveland needs someone to get rising star receiver Josh Gordon the ball on a reliable basis and someone to line up across from Gordon. And while we suspect former Houston backup Ben Tate can carry the ground game, we aren't sure he can take the 16-game pounding of an RB1.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Darrius Heyward-Bey and Lance Moore won't solve the team's receiver problem, so expect a wideout from one of their top picks. They also might be tempted by North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron as a replacement for aging Heath Miller. Pittsburgh will likely spend their top pick on a cornerback and then look to help out Ben Roethlisberger. Any pass- catcher they select likely won't make much of a fantasy impact in his first season.
Houston Texans - The Texans need to find their quarterback of the future, but may not select him with the first overall pick. Even if they choose Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, they will likely begin the season with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, lessening the rookie's first-year fantasy value. They are fine at all the other skill positions, so the draft's fantasy impact will be minimal.
Indianapolis Colts - Indianapolis will look to bolster their defense in the draft, particularly the secondary and at outside linebacker, and don't figure to add any fantasy-worthy players on offense. Remember, they traded for Trent Richardson during the season last year and added free agent Hakeem Nicks in the offseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars must add a receiver in the draft because of the suspension and unreliability of Justin Blackmon. It may not come in the first round, however, as the team needs to rebuild most of the offensive line to keep quarterback Chad Henne safe. They also may look to add depth behind newly acquired running back Toby Gerhart, but barring injury, that back wouldn't have much fantasy value in his first season.
Tennessee Titans - The Titans certainly need to add a running back with the departure of Chris Johnson and indications are they could be interested in Auburn's Tre Mason. His big-play ability would fit well with a grinder like Shonn Greene. The team is set at wide receiver and doesn't seem likely to add talent on the outside with youngsters Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter and the offseason addition of the multi-positional Dexter McCluster.
Denver Broncos - Though the Broncos lost Decker to free agency, they have plenty of receiving targets for Peyton Manning. More likely they will address the defense and the offensive line. They aren't expected to select any fantasy- worthy players.
Kansas City Chiefs - Dwayne Bowe isn't getting any younger and the Chiefs lost the multi-purpose weapon McCluster to free agency. They didn't have much salary cap space to make free agent moves, but their need at wide receiver should be addressed in the first round of this year's deep receiver class. Whoever they choose, perhaps Brandin Cooks of Oregon State, could be a viable WR3.
Oakland Raiders - The Raiders need help everywhere. Though they signed Matt Schaub, they need to groom a future signal caller. They also signed veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but both he and starter Darren McFadden haven't been able to stay healthy, so they need a long-term plan in the backfield. James Jones was added to strengthen the receiving corps, so they aren't likely to spend a pick there. The team's immediate needs are on defense and they far outweigh the offense, so unless they surprise us with a first- round quarterback pick, their selections likely won't add any fantasy-worthy players on offense for the 2014-15 season.
San Diego Chargers - The Chargers need a receiver opposite last year's rookie sensation Keenan Allen, as questions surround Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown, but it likely won't be addressed early in the draft. Their more pressing needs are on defense (cornerback, pass rusher, nose tackle), so the draft is unlikely to change any fantasy values this season.
04/28 11:42:26 ET