Fantasy winners and losers of Round 1
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft saw a number of players selected who could have a fantasy impact immediately, including Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Eric Ebron, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Johnny Manziel.
But what about the players who were already in the NFL prior to the draft? The influx of highly skilled rookies will surely affect them.
Here are the NFL players who gained fantasy value and those who lost it in the first round Thursday night.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams - NFL.com said prior to the draft that offensive lineman Greg Robinson is an "outstanding run blocker with the strength and power to wash down half the line." Robinson will be creating lanes for Stacy in 2014 after the Rams selected him No. 2 overall.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns - Gordon had 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns on 87 catches with Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer throwing him the football last season. Cleveland selected electric QB Manziel 22nd overall.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles' release of DeSean Jackson left Maclin as the team's No. 1 receiver. We saw five receivers -- Watkins, Evans, Beckham Jr., Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin -- go in the first round, but none to Philadelphia. Even if the Eagles take a wideout in Rounds 2-7, he won't be as much of a ready-made starter as the five players who went in Round 1.
Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - McCown enjoyed the benefits of throwing to receivers Brandon Marshall, 6-4, and Alshon Jeffery, 6-3, with the Chicago Bears last season, and he'll get to take aim at two 6-foot-5 behemoths in Vincent Jackson and Evans this season.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan's sack total has increased in each of the last five seasons and he was taken down 44 times in 2013. Atlanta drafted OT Jake Matthews to make sure that doesn't happen again.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings - Now 29 years old, Peterson's days as a top-five fantasy back and his chances to win a Super Bowl are dwindling. However, he could receive a shot of life from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was a consensus top-10 pick before his lackluster pro day and Minnesota ended up nabbing him with the final pick of the first round.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants - In 2013, Manning had his worst completion percentage since 2005 and led the NFL with 27 interceptions. Part of the problem was Hakeem Nicks, who had trouble getting open and finished with 56 catches, 896 yards and zero touchdowns in 15 games. New York picked up receiver Beckham Jr., a polished route runner, excellent leaper and explosive runner, with the 12th overall pick to replace Nicks, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys - Not only did the Cowboys avoid the Twitter- breaking controversy of picking Manziel to succeed Romo, they selected offensive tackle Zack Martin to protect their well-paid QB, who is coming off back surgery.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers - Newton went into the draft facing the possibility that he would begin the season with a starting receiver tandem of Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, but he left the first round with Benjamin. In Newton's first three seasons, his top receivers were 5-foot-9 Steve Smith, 6-2 Brandon LaFell, 5-11 Ted Ginn, 6-2 Legedu Naanee and 6-2 Louis Murphy. The 6-5 Benjamin will present a whole new quarterbacking experience for Newton.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills - After the Bills traded for Mike Williams and drafted Watkins fourth overall, the writing was on the wall for Johnson, who had just 597 yards in 12 games last year following three straight 1,000- yard seasons. Buffalo dealt Johnson to San Francisco for a draft pick Friday afternoon. He'll be the fourth receiving option in 2014 for an offense that has been a run-first operation under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints - Colston probably won't be traded, but he joined Stevie Johnson in the "Why Doesn't My Team Like Me Anymore?" club Thursday night. Colston declined to 943 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 after averaging 1,099 yards and 8.5 TDs in the previous four years, and New Orleans traded up to take Cooks, the fastest receiver in the draft, at No. 20.
Matt Schaub, QB, Oakland Raiders - The Raiders had a number of different options available to them with the fifth overall pick, the product of having one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL. They could have taken a tackle with Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Martin all available, or grabbed Evans. Any of those guys would have helped Schaub. Instead, Oakland went with outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles released Jackson, Foles' top weapon, and failed to replace him with one of the alluring wideouts available Thursday night. Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Cody Latimer are still available going into Round 2, but none will make as big of an impact in 2014 as Watkins, Evans, Beckham Jr. or Cooks.
Matt Cassel, QB, Minnesota Vikings - For 31 picks Thursday night, Cassel could claim he was the starting quarterback of the Vikings, a team with Adrian Peterson at running back and Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph as receiving options. But Minnesota traded up to pick 32 to take Teddy Bridgewater, essentially making Cassel a backup, albeit a well-paid one.
Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions - The Lions signed Tate to a five-year, $31 million contract with $13.25 million guaranteed in March. It appeared to be a great spot for the 25-year-old, as he joined a pass-heavy offense to be a complement to Calvin Johnson after playing with the run-heavy, defensive- minded Seattle Seahawks for four years. But Detroit took tight end Eric Ebron 10th overall Thursday night. Tate will likely still get plenty of targets, but he was just bumped to third in Matthew Stafford's progressions.
Reuben Randle, WR, New York Giants - Randle was all set to serve as Eli Manning's No. 2 target following the departure of Nicks, but New York picked up Beckham Jr. Thursday night to keep Randle in the same spot he occupied last year.
Brian Hoyer, QB, Cleveland Browns - Hoyer went 3-0 with a 5-3 TD-to-INT ratio as a starter last season before tearing his ACL. New Browns coach Mike Pettine reiterated that he'll hold a competition between Hoyer and Manziel for the starting job, but even if Hoyer wins the gig it won't be long before Browns fans are clamoring for Manziel. Cleveland experienced a surge in season-ticket sales after it picked Manziel.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans - Houston has the No. 1 pick in the second round so they may get Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr, but for now the Texans' have Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates at quarterback.
05/09 17:31:32 ET