C.J. Spiller has "Chris Johnson-type" speed, but don't expect Johnson's rookie numbers.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Thursday night's first round of the 2010 NFL draft saw eight offensive players selected by seven teams. For some of them, it will be the perfect situation and they will thrive and become viable fantasy options in their first season. But for others, the process of fighting their way onto the field for playing time, the most important factor in a rookie's fantasy value, will be much more difficult.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis - For Bradford, who will be paid many millions of dollars as the No.1 overall draft choice, getting the starting job shouldn't be much of a problem. The quarterbacks currently on the Rams' roster are; A.J. Feeley, Keith Null and Mike Reilly. Given those choices and no expectations of winning in 2010, Bradford should start from Day 1. Unfortunately from a fantasy point of view, his best option is going to be handing the ball off to the team's best weapon - Steven Jackson. With the Rams' receiving corps consisting of Donnie Avery, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola and Keenan Burton, I wouldn't expect much first-year value from Bradford. Keeper league owners might want to use a late pick for him for a couple of years down the road, but certainly not for 2010. His current ADP (Average Draft Position) leaves him as a 14th-round selection.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo - With the selection of Spiller, it would seem that Marshawn Lynch's days in Buffalo are dwindling to just a few and the value of Fred Jackson will take a huge hit. Spiller has "Chris Johnson-type" breakaway speed (21 career touchdowns at Clemson of 50 yards-or-more), but don't expect Johnson's rookie numbers (1,228 yards and nine touchdowns). Buffalo's offensive line needs plenty of work before they can create holes for Spiller or Jackson. Spiller is also a very good return man making him more valuable in leagues where punt and kickoff return yardage is included in an individual player's totals. In early mock drafts he's already being selected around the fifth round.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego - The Chargers traded up from 28th to get their running back. Although he will share time with Darren Sproles, Mathews should have immediate fantasy impact. San Diego has become a "throwing-first team" but Mathews should get plenty of opportunities, particularly around the goal line. He's being picked around the seventh round, but might end up being a fifth- sixth round fantasy selection by August.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati - Gresham is just what the Bengals needed, a strong, physically imposing body at tight end. He should immediately become the team's No.1 tight end over the likes of Daniel Coats and Chase Coffman. However, there are a lot of good tight ends around the league and Gresham probably won't be a fantasy starter in his first season.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver - After trading the very talented Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos filled the gaping hole with Georgia Tech wideout Demaryius Thomas. Thomas has the physical skills to do the job, but will have to learn an entirely new offense. He'll likely have to be worked into the game plan slowly and I'd expect him to be much better by the second half of his rookie season. He's currently being selected around the 12th round in early mock drafts.
Dez Bryant, Dallas - He's the most talented wide receiver in the draft, but because he was suspended by the NCAA in the middle of his season at Oklahoma State, fell to the Cowboys at No.24. If he's ready to play football and not be distracted by outside factors, he could be the No.1 rookie fantasy value. With Miles Austin getting double coverage and Jason Witten getting his share of attention, Bryant could be a primary target for Tony Romo. He won't put up Randy Moss rookie numbers, the Cowboys have too many other weapons, but he could give you "DeSean Jackson-type" stats, who in his first year posted 62 receptions for 912 yards and a couple of scores. He's currently going in the eighth round, but that could climb if the team were to trade Roy Williams.
Tim Tebow, Denver - Tebow is the quintessential "character guy," but he's likely a two-year project before he's ready to start in the NFL - at least in my opinion. Apparently, fantasy owners like him more than I do, because his early mock draft selection is around the ninth round.
Jahvid Best, Detroit - In a weak running back class (just three selected in the first round), Best went No.30 to the Detroit Lions. Given the injury situation to starting tailback Kevin Smith (recovering from a torn ACL), and limited abilities of backup Maurice Morris, Best should get opportunities to shine. Best was a Heisman Trophy candidate at the beginning of last season, but an inconsistent offensive line and then a concussion caused his stock to drop. He'll still be dealing with an inconsistent offensive line in Detroit. He's currently being selected around the ninth round.