Now that the draft is over, the NFL offseason has just about run its course, which means it is now time to really focus on fantasy football! The hype of the draft was fun, watching it was a blast, but now it is time to think about how those picks will affect our “fake” rosters in the fall. Rookies can be hard to predict at times in the world of fantasy football, as some years they make a great impact, and others they do not. With that in mind, I am taking a look at who I think the top ten fantasy contributors will be in 2015.
10. Duke Johnson, RB | Cleveland Browns
This is a crowded backfield with no clear front-runner for starting RB job. Keep an eye on this one as Johnson has the ability to win this job.
9. DeVante Parker, WR | Miami Dolphins
There are a lot of mouths to feed all of a sudden in this passing game. For fantasy purposes Parker may struggle early to be a consistent contributor, but he will be a constant threat in red zone opportunities with his size. He will not start the year as a fantasy starter, but has the ability to become one if he carve a niche for himself in the offense, and be a red zone threat.
8. Nelson Agholor, WR | Philadelphia Eagles
There will be balls to go around in this offense, and Agholor should get looks right away with Jeremy Maclin gone. This team obviously wants to run the ball first, and with the stable of RBs that they have, they will certainly try. With only Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper as the other receivers, Agholor should take on Maclin’s role in the offense. I would not trust him to start on my fantasy teams to begin the year, but he should get looks. If he can buck the USC WR trend and contribute, he may be able to carve out a niche as a bye week replacement or WR3.
7. Breshad Perriman, WR | Baltimore Ravens
Perriman is my boom or bust pick of this draft. I am not personally sold on his route running and hands, but for fantasy purposes he has landed in a very good spot. There is no one else that will take playing time away from him so he will get targets. He will be a big play threat, and will hit on some long touchdowns, but he is not trustworthy enough to start in fantasy at the start of the year. Expect inconsistent games from Perriman if you are plugging him in right away.
6. Kevin White, WR | Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte will draw a ton of coverage in this offense, which should lead to White having a chance to contribute right away. Eddie Royal will steal some receptions too, but White has a chance to put up decent numbers right away. White should take on the role that Brandon Marshall has played the last couple of years, and will get a lot of looks. Another guy that I would not start to begin the year as even a WR2, but has a real chance to finish year in that territory.
5. TJ Yeldon, RB | Jacksonville Jaguars
On a team in need of a RB, Yeldon should get a chance right away to contribute. He should be the starter from week one, which makes him someone who will be drafted. I would prefer to see him as a RB3 to start the year as it is hard to know what the Jags offense will do. If you are relying on him on as your RB2, try to temper expectations at the beginning of the year until we know for sure what he is capable of in the NFL. At this time, he is worth drafting as your third RB.
4. Amari Cooper, WR | Oakland Raiders
I love this pick for fantasy purposes. Cooper should be fantasy gold in PPR leagues, as I expect that Derek Carr is going to throw his way a ton. Also helping the cause is the fact that the Raiders should be playing from behind in a lot of their games, which means they will have to pass, getting Cooper even more opportunities. He will be a threat near the goal line, and is someone who I feel, at this time, would start the year as a WR2 in deeper leagues. Fantasy is all about opportunity, and Cooper should have a LOT of those this year.
3. Tevin Coleman, RB | Atlanta Falcons
There is something about this situation that I really like for Coleman. No other RBs on the roster necessarily have dibs on the starting RB position and the Falcons know that they need to run the ball. Should Coleman look good in camp and run with this job, I can see a really good year for him. This will need to be monitored through the pre-season and camp, but if he is named starter, he has definite RB2 potential. Coleman needs to be drafted as a RB3 and bye week replacement in all leagues.
2. Todd Gurley, RB | St. Louis Rams
This is a hard one to predict. All the talent is there to be great, but questions remain for fantasy purposes in 2015. Gurley is no lock to start the year on the active roster, and even if he is, I cannot see Fisher throwing him as unquestioned starter with full workload from the beginning. Tre Mason will steal carries at the beginning of the year, but I would expect Gurley to finish the year as the starter. He is a must draft in ALL leagues, but it may be too much to expect a lot out of him early in the year. Potential is there for him to be a RB1, but to start the year, make sure you have a back-up plan in case he is not active or sharing carries early.
1. Melvin Gordon, RB | San Diego Chargers
Gordon is in a situation that I love for fantasy purposes. He is on a team with an established QB and will be the feature back from day one. Gordon will get a ton of touches in both the running game and passing game, and with his big play potential is a threat to score on every play. I am drafting Gordon as a RB2 to start they year, and have no trouble starting him from week one. Remember, this offense made Branden Oliver worth starting last year, and Gordon has more upside than Oliver. If he becomes a real threat in the pass game, he will have a very good rookie campaign for fantasy owners.
Sleeper: David Cobb/Dorial Green-Beckham, RB and WR | Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have no established RBs, no established WRs, and will be starting a rookie QB this year. Add in Cobb and DGB as rookies, and this team may struggle to score TDS. But DGB has size that is needed in the red zone, and Cobb has the power to vulture a number of touchdowns. Do not expect a lot of yardage early from either of these two, but the touchdown potential is there with their power and size.
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahD05