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Every year we see risers, fallers, surprises, disappointments and the out of nowhere picks that define a draft. This year’s version finally brought us some running backs taken in the first round and also featured a whole host of talented receivers being picked early. Intrigue and promise with those running backs and top notch receivers will keep excitement high much longer than normally is the case.
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The 2015 top twelve features a clearly defined top tier of four players – these four will likely be taken at the top of virtually every dynasty league draft. I can’t recall a year where it seemed the top four were so set in stone. Though the order may change based on team needs, it would be an upset for any other player to jump ahead of this group that includes Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper, Melvin Gordon and Kevin White.
After that, it gets really interesting.
The rest of the round is littered with running backs who have landed in good situations, receivers who have talent (but not elite talent) and one major shot in the dark. We can split hairs all day long on the ranking of the eight players below the top tier, but this is the list created from our consensus group of rankers and it’s hard to argue the general draft area for the individuals.
Let’s get to this year’s top twelve:
1.01 = Todd Gurley, RB STL
There is no doubt the Rams see Gurley as their “Eddie George-like” workhorse moving forward and it’s rumored he was the second player on their overall draft board. He’ll be given every opportunity to supplant incumbent Tre Mason (who will undoubtedly be relegated to only giving Gurley a breather or straight-up backup duties) and be the bellcow for the Rams to give them the running game they’ve lacked since Steven Jackson was in his prime.
There is obvious risk with taking Gurley first overall, but he could very well be the next Adrian Peterson and that’s going to be worth the gamble for a whole host of owners this Summer.
1.02 = Amari Cooper, WR OAK
If you’re risk averse, Cooper makes for the safest bet we’ve seen in years. He cruised to a 124/1,727/16 line at Alabama last season, topping 200 yards in a game on three different occasions. When you consider his competition was some of the best in the country, you can’t help but salivate over what he could be able to do in silver and black. His short area quickness is going to make him a PPR beast and make him the undisputed WR1 for Derek Carr and the Raiders. If there’s one player you can bank on being a star in this draft, it’s Cooper. While he may not put up the rookie stats of Odell Beckham, Jr. or Randy Moss, the floor for his career is probably somewhere similar to Torry Holt – we’ll take it.
1.03 = Melvin Gordon, RB SD
The only real concern with Gordon is the possibility he loses third down work to Danny Woodhead (or others in the future) because he finds it too difficult to become a better pass catcher. Still, you can see him posting great numbers as an early down back and winning you a lot of fantasy games late in the day as San Diego typically plays in the afternoon.
1.04 = Kevin White, WR CHI
Could White be the next Terrell Owens or Julio Jones? It’s unlikely, but it’s possible and that’s what make him a very intriguing pick this year. The only real concern with White (outside of Chicago traditionally not supporting two fantasy receivers unless they’re really good) is the fact he was such a late bloomer. He posted a ridiculous 109/1,447/10 line at West Virginia last season and showed some amazing athleticism along the way. He tore up the NFL Scouting Combine and certainly looks the part of a total star. White could very well have the highest ceiling of any player in this year’s draft and makes up the last of the four-man top tier in this year’s rookie draft – let’s just hope he becomes the permanent replacement for Brandon Marshall and fares better than other recent West Virginia receivers.
1.05 = DeVante Parker, WR MIA
Parker headlines the list of “the rest” as he comes it at 1.05 on our big board. Blessed with big time ability, he finds himself in a decent (though not ideal) situation with the Dolphins. Time will tell just how good Ryan Tannehill is and just how the targets will shake out, but joining a depth chart that already boasts young receivers in Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry (along with veteran Greg Jennings and new tight end Jordan Cameron) means Parker will not be force-fed the ball. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him as the best receiver in Miami in a few years – owners are likely going to have to be patient, though.
1.06 = Nelson Agholor, WR PHI
1.07 = Breshad Perriman, WR BAL
Now here’s a very interesting pick. Perriman was another of the draft’s fast risers and you could argue this was the single best fit for any one player in the entire draft. In fact, this situation reminds me a ton of the opportunity Kelvin Benjamin had last year. He is bound to catch a ton of deep balls from Joe Flacco, who excels at throwing them. With a depleted receiving corps and a spot in the starting lineup open with Torrey Smith’s departure, the sky’s the limit for Perriman. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to work on eliminating drops and proving to fantasy owners he’s not simply the next DeSean Jackson – a player with similar explosiveness who is known for posting a monster game followed by a serious clunker.
1.08 = Tevin Coleman, RB ATL
Speaking of great landing spots, Coleman found a nice one of his own in “Hotlanta.” With a depth chart featuring Devonta Freeman as the only real threat to featured carries, he should compete for snaps right away and possibly start in week one. Coleman is lightning fast and can turn just about any play into a touchdown. The only limitations for him are the fact the Falcons will still likely be a “pass first” team as long as they have Roddy White, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones around. Still, we saw what Antone Smith could do in limited opportunities and Coleman is a far superior talent, though just as explosive. This pick is pretty exciting for a fantasy team needing running backs.
1.09 = TJ Yeldon, RB JAX
The debate between Coleman and Yeldon to be the third running back off the board will likely rage all the way through the upcoming preseason. You could easily make the case for Yeldon, who will ironically find the depth chart in Jacksonville much less threatening than what he’s used to at Alabama. While not an elite talent, Yeldon’s path to playing time has him only beating out Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson. While Robinson had his moments last year, he’s more of a gadget player than a pure running back. While not as explosive as Coleman, Yeldon should be a predictable performer during most weeks of the season and is the first true candidate to replace Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville.
I love this pick for those who consider themselves “Riverboat Gamblers.” I have little doubt in my mind DGB is either going to be the steal or the bust of this draft – I just can’t decide which it’s going to be and I’m positive there won’t be any in between. Blessed with both talent and a plethora of off-the-field issues, Green-Beckham arrives in Tennessee with the potential to be the mustard to Marcus Mariota’s ketchup, but he could just as easily be that rancid Miracle Whip stuff. If you have courage, roll the dice here.
1.11 = Ameer Abdullah, RB DET
Likely in the third tier of running backs (Yeldon and Coleman likely make up the second in most leagues), Abdullah finds his way to a desirable spot in Motown. He needs to work on protecting the football (and his quarterback), but he has a ton of upside. Most believe he’s not suited to be a true featured runner, but if “most” are wrong, this could be a really good value in the late first round.
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1.12 = Jaelen Strong, WR HOU
Strong is going to battle the likes of Devin Funchess, Duke Johnson, David Cobb, both quarterbacks and a whole host of others to make it into the first round of rookie drafts this Summer. His upside is that of a WR2, but playing opposite DeAndre Hopkins should work out well for him. He needs to work on his separation ability and stop disappearing from games, but the talent is surely there.