The Maniacal Professor’s Fantasy Football Draft Rankings 2014

[Author’s Note—I’ve been playing fantasy football for about two decades now. I traditionally make a list of my draft preferences in order by position. One of the first websites I ever created was a fantasy football website. I remember the season I designated Drew Brees as the 32nd pick at quarterback, worst possible fantasy starter in the league, after his miserable 2003 season with the San Diego Chargers, his third season in the NFL. The Chargers were ready to abandon Brees and had drafted Eli Manning first in the draft, but ended up with Philip Rivers. Mind you, I’m a Purdue alum, and I love me some Drew Brees…one of the best games I saw live at Ross-Ade Stadium was Drew Brees vs. Maurice Clarett…still have my grudge against Ohio State because of that game. However, I apologetically wrote in my draft recommendations for 2004 that Brees seemed to be a bust in the NFL, and he wasn’t worth drafting for your fantasy team. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but there might have been other forces at work that year…

…the guys in my league know about something called the “Grampa Guff” curse, which means my draft selections and NFL wagers can actually alter the fine cosmic balance of the NFL universe at any time. The ghost of Grampa Guff sits on my shoulder as I watch football games or read NFL rosters, and he often whispers in my ear, suggesting perfectly logical assumptions about players, games, and outcomes. I haven’t learned to resist his slick, smooth tongue. I’ll follow ol’ Grampa Guff’s advice, and BAM! An injury. BAM! A sure-fire win becomes an upset loss. BAM! A once promising prospect slumps and ends his career unceremoniously. BAM! The disaster that is David Wilson happens (yep, he and Shane Vereen were my RBs after the draft last year). I’ve even seen Grampa Guff possess NFL coaches, as he has done with Mike Shanahan with both the Broncos (Mike Anderson or Olandis Gary ring a bell?) AND the Redskins last season (He handed the ball to Darrel Young THREE times at the goal line the very week I traded for Alfred Morris!). Some of my buddies actually contend that I caused the infamous Music City Miracle way back in the day (it’s a long story). Grampa Guff gets a great laugh from my football misery, slapping his little leprechaun-like knee and swinging from my elbow, as I watch the unfolding events of the NFL, year-after-year, slack-jawed and slump-shouldered.

Keep this factor in mind while reviewing my draft rankings. I usually hit more than I miss, but when I miss, it’s a doozy. It’s been many years since I won a fantasy championship (Daunte Culpepper with the Vikings was my QB), even though I made it to the championship two out of the last three years…not last year, though…last year Grampa Guff conspired to keep me out of the playoffs. Hopefully, he’ll lighten up after having his way with me last season.—SG]

Quarterbacks

1. Drew Brees—Reliable fantasy champ churns out the same great numbers year after year…yep, ever since that 2004 Maniacal Professor snub.
2. Aaron Rodgers—Cheesehead quarterbacks are always better fantasy picks than Bear QBs…and Rodgers might be the best Packer QB of all time. Solid fantasy QB.
3. Peyton Manning—I can’t argue with 55 passing touchdowns. I worry, though, that Manning might fizzle out at any time because of the wear and tear. The Super Bowl soured me. Sorry.
4. Andrew Luck—I’ve started Luck for the past two years. I have no problem plugging him in as my starter in his third season, where he might reach his full potential.
5. Nick Foles—Chip Kelly’s offense is designed for fantasy success, no matter the QB. It doesn’t hurt that Foles is turning out to be pretty darn good, even without DeSean Jackson on the roster.
6. Tom Brady—Sure, Brady had his worst year in a while last season, but tough-as-nails Brady will rebound. He’s likely to be a bargain pick in later rounds.
7. Colin Kaepernick—I know most people are more impressed by his quickness, but I can’t help but notice he can be rather accurate with a strong arm. A healthy Crabtree is necessary, though.
8. Cam Newton—He might have lost all of his receivers, but an argument can be made that he didn’t really have much at receiver last year. He’s an electric fantasy QB option.
9. Matt Ryan—He slipped big time last year, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to roar back this season. Julio Jones needs to be healthy and Roddy White needs to play for Ryan to return to form.
10. Matthew Stafford—I’ve never really liked Stafford’s game. Sure, he’s hurling to Megatron, but that’s never proved to me that Stafford can be all-around effective. I’ll avoid him as much as possible, but I’d take him if the previous nine happened to go before I had a starter.
11. Philip Rivers—I have a love-hate relationship with Rivers. I know he can be a reliable fantasy QB, so I’m willing to take him as first choice for a back-up option.
12. Russell Wilson—I think Wilson can be an effective fantasy quarterback, but the system the Seahawks have favors the running back on offense. I’d like to hide him on my bench just in case he explodes without anybody realizing he’s that good.
13. Andy Dalton—I root for the Red Rifle, and he’s actually quite serviceable as a fantasy quarterback. I’m just not confident enough to make him my starter…yet.
14. Robert Griffen III—I made no secret last season about how I didn’t trust Griffen, mostly because of what I perceive to be a bad attitude. I know he’s got high potential. I’m going to pass; you can take him.
15. Tony Romo—I could see myself bumping Romo up a bit on my board at the draft (still a back-up, not a starter). I’ve had Romo as a starter in the past, and I don’t want to have to rely on the Cowboys…or have to watch them every week.
16. Jay Cutler—I’m rooting for Cutler, but I have no faith in him. He always has his bad games, and he’s never proven to be a decent fantasy option. However, he’s got a strong O-line for a change, three giants and a scatback catching the ball, and a fairly smart coach…hmmm.
17. Johnny Manziel—I’m a fan of Johnny Football. I’ll be watching the Browns whether I draft Manziel or not. If Brian Hoyer starts, so be it…Hoyer looked pretty good last season for a game and a half.
18. Josh McCown—I might take a flyer on McCown, since I watched every second of his brilliance on the Bears last season. He also has some decent receivers. However, Lovie Smith has a way of killing an offense as coach…
19. Ben Roethlisberger—Big Ben is still the magic man, even if he’s getting a little long in the tooth. If I wait ‘til the end of the draft for my back-up QB and he’s still there, I’m swiping him up.
20. Teddy Bridgewater—I rolled the dice here. Literally. {1=Eli Manning 2=Carson Palmer 3=Joe Flacco 4=E.J. Manuel 5=Sam Bradford 6=Teddy Bridgewater } Six it was.

Running Backs

1. LeSean McCoy—No brainer number one. He’s at his peak age, in the middle of the Chip Kelly scoring machine. Defenses will not know where to go, pass or run. McCoy will chew up the field. Hopefully, there will be another freak snow game like last year.
2. Jamaal Charles—On second thought, Jamaal Charles is a no-brainer number one, also. The only thing that gives me pause is the memory of an injury-prone past. It’d be foolish to pass on Charles because of fear; he’s too damn good.
3. Adrian Peterson—He’s still my favorite running back of the modern era, since he’s Walter Payton reincarnated. He proved that he’s not only physically tough, but he’s also emotionally tough, as he went through some tragedy last season…and he just kept playing. Respect.
4. Marshawn Lynch—He runs like he’s got the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder, and the first guy to him usually gets dragged five yards…or whiffs. He doesn’t have as much wear on his body as you’d think…check his career stats.
5. Giovani Bernard—I’m reaching up and grabbing the dynamite with this pick. To say I was impressed with Bernard’s game is an understatement.
6. Eddie Lacy—I shake my head every single time the Packers outdo the Bears. I knew Lacy was going to do some damage as soon as the Pack snatched him from Alabama. I begrudgingly take him ahead of…
7. Matt Forte—Not that Forte is chopped liver. I said a long time ago that Forte is the modern-day Marshall Faulk…in fact, a few guys chuckled at my “idiocy”…until Faulk started comparing Forte to himself regularly on the NFL network. Duh.
8. C.J. Spiller—It seems like a lot of people have given up on 26-year-old Spiller. He did play through injury last season, and prior to that, he was a reasonable facsimile of Jamaal Charles. I’ll overdraft for him probably, but there’s a high reward to be had if he’s healthy.
9. Alfred Morris—I hesitate to draft Morris, only because of the nightmares I had last season with him on my roster. I just have to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t his fault. Morris might become the best running back in the league in his third year, and Mike Shanahan is long gone!
10. Le’Veon Bell—It was strange to me that a Steelers running back wasn’t a fantasy stud last season…probably because the Steelers always have a stud running back. Last season was an aberration. Bell was too good at Michigan State to be a bust in the NFL.
11. Arian Foster—You can’t fall in love with running backs. Arian Foster proves this. He fell off a cliff last season. However, considering how bad the passing game might be in Houston, Foster makes a reasonable choice for a second starting running back.
12. Montee Ball—Former Wisconsin star takes the reins of the Broncos running game. I think Knowshon Moreno was the beneficiary of the Peyton Manning pass machine last season, and there’s no reason to think that Montee Ball cannot do the same. There’s a chance Ball could do better!
13. DeMarco Murray—When Murray is healthy, he’s a fairly good quarterback. The offense is going to have to carry the Cowboys, so Murray’s got a good chance of being a fantasy producer. He’s gotta stay healthy though.
14. Doug Martin—People are leaping off the Martin hamster wheel as quickly as they leaped onto it in his rookie season. I saw way too much talent from this guy in 2012 to fall off the bandwagon just yet.
15. Bishop Sankey—There’s quite a few rookies who might make decent fantasy starters this season. Sankey makes the most sense, since Shonn Greene is likely to lose the starting gig in the preseason.
16. Andre Ellington—I made a waiver move for Ellington on my bench last season, so I watched him closely. He has a lot of potential, especially catching the ball out of the backfield. The only question will be if he can make any progress in the tough NFC West.
17. Zac Stacy—Same problem for Stacy, playing against the tough defenses of the NFC West. Tre Mason might cut into Stacy’s work, too. It’s a shame because Stacy looked like he could be the workhorse for the Rams if he could get some decent QB play to help him.
18. Frank Gore—A long-time Frank Gore fan, I keep waiting for Father Time to catch up to him…and he just keeps putting up the same numbers season after season. God bless him. I’d be fine with Gore as my number two back, but I’d probably look for a quality back-up quickly.
19. Reggie Bush—Reggie Bush has lightning moves and plays at least one game every season where you’re glad you drafted him. He’s not the most consistent scorer however. If Joique Bell keeps splitting carries with Bush, then I don’t know if I want to play Reggie every week in the RB2 slot.
20. Toby Gerhart—Gerhart’s not a bad running back. He reminds me of Mike Alstott at times. I have a notion that the Jags are going to surprise a lot of people this season. If that happens, it means that Gerhart is raking in touchdowns. Hmmm.
21. Chris Johnson—If there is one player that I think needs a big stage in order to produce, then it’s Chris Johnson…and the stage doesn’t get much bigger than New York. I don’t think he’ll run for 2,000 yards again, but he wasn’t as bad as we’ve become accustomed to last season.
22. Shane Vereen—I took a chance on Vereen last season, and he injured his wrist after game one. Thing is, he was rather good in the first game, and he was serviceable when he returned at the end of the season. It’s hard to gauge who’s running the ball with the Patriots, but I think that Vereen is Belicheck’s workhorse over Stevan Ridley.
23. Ben Tate—I thought Tate might supplant Arian Foster at one point of his Texans career. Now he’s only got a rookie to beat for the starting spot. He needs to stay healthy, but I can see Ben Tate electrifying Cleveland’s offense with Johnny Football leading the way.
24. Ryan Mathews—Mathews defines frustration. He didn’t have a terrible season, but he’s always an injury risk…plus, he’s competing for carries with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. I’d probably skip on Mathews because I’ve had him too many times in the past. Purely personal.
25. Darren Sproles—I wouldn’t skip on Sproles, though. I wonder if Sproles will be the man who replaces DeSean Jackson in the Eagles passing offense. Sproles looked like he might be losing a step or two on the Saints last season.
26. Pierre Thomas—I love the Illinois alum. I had him on my roster last season, and I forgot a cardinal rule: Always play Pierre Thomas when he’s playing against the Bears. He’s playing the Bears this season right around fantasy playoff time.
27. Ray Rice—Ignoring all the off-season drama, people seem to have forgotten that Rice was largely ineffective last season. I’m not sure he can recapture his glory days. I’ll draft him as a back-up, but not a starter.
28. Trent Richardson—I would have never predicted Richardson would be an NFL bust after watching his tremendous Alabama career. I’m reminded of Curtis Enis. Here’s hoping he lives up to the promise in his third year, this time after a full year with a playoff contender.
29. Devonta Freeman—After learning that Steven Jackson was already injured this season, I give the nod to the rookie here. Watching Hard Knocks, I think Freeman might be worth the pick here.
30. Danny Woodhead—Woodhead almost acts as Philip Rivers’ slot receiver when he’s in the game. He’s a threat to catch touchdowns, and he gets his fair share of carries.
31. Maurice Jones-Drew—I’m a fan of MJD, but it’s tough to see how the Oakland backfield is going to play out. I’m sure that Drew still has some tread left on his tires, so I lean towards him as the starter…
32. Darren McFadden—…McFadden, however, can be a beast when he’s healthy. The problem is that he’s going to be injured at some point in the season. It’s as reliable as Chicago snow in January.
33. Mark Ingram—I think Ingram has gotten a bum rap in his first three seasons in New Orleans. He runs pretty tough, and he’s had some good games when given the ball reliably. The problem has been the Saints RB rotation system, where Ingram doesn’t get consistent carries. I don’t think that will change (with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson), but if they give Ingram the ball enough, I see good things.
34. Jeremy Hill—Let the onslaught of rookies begin! Hill has a good shot of taking carries away from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so I lean towards taking him ahead of the other rookies.
35. Tre Mason—There are already rumblings out of St. Louis that they will run a RB-by-committee system. Mason is good enough to steal the starting job.
36. Christine Michael—I don’t think Marshaun Lynch’s job is in jeopardy, but I do think Pete Carroll prefers to run the ball instead of throw the ball. He might have dreams of a three-headed monster with Lynch and Russell Wilson running all over the joint.
37. Carlos Hyde—Hyde’s got a chance to take carries just because Frank Gore needs a blow every now and then. Plus, they might want to copy the three-headed monster concept of the rival Seattle Seahawks.
38. Ka’Deem Carey—This is a homer pick, but Carey has a body built for goal-line carries, which has been a weak part of Matt Forte’s game in the past.
39. Ahmad Bradshaw—End of the rookies here, especially since many assume Bradshaw has reached the end of his run in the NFL. I don’t think he’s quite ready to hang it up, especially considering Trent Richardson’s inability to break tackles. Bradshaw, when healthy, is a bruiser who refuses to go down. Might be worth a look.
40. DeAngelo Williams—I’ve made it a rule to avoid Carolina running backs because of the infuriating fantasy potential that NEVER pays off. If I had to choose between Williams and Jonathan Stewart, I’ll take Williams since he seems to get more carries.

Wide Receivers

1. Demaryius Thomas—I lean towards Peyton Manning’s big target over Matthew Stafford’s. Plus, Thomas had slightly better numbers than Calvin Johnson, and I don’t think Thomas has hit his ceiling, especially since Eric Decker’s out of town.
2. Calvin Johnson—This doesn’t mean that I won’t scoop up Calvin Johnson if he’s there and Thomas is not. I’m pretty sure that most people are going to draft Megatron as the first receiver off the board, so I’ll probably enjoy another season without a Detroit Lion on my fantasy roster.
3. A.J. Green—Green is only in his fourth season, yet many people think he’s hit his ceiling. I’m not sure about that. I think he’s easily capable of eclipsing 11 touchdowns, especially if Andy Dalton plays with a chip on his shoulder this season.
4. Julio Jones—My premier receiver last season, my fantasy team sunk the same way the Falcons did when Jones was injured. I’m not shying away from Julio Jones because of injury. He could be the best deep threat in the game when he’s healthy.
5. Dez Bryant—I’m not a fan of the prima donna act, but I can’t deny the rewards Bryant can reap for a fantasy team. I’ll draft Bryant, bite my tongue, and suffer through the tantrums and the garbage football that is the Dallas Cowboys (That’s right, America’s team. I called your brand of football garbage…that’s what we call in Chicago “trash talk.” Hardy-har-har).
6. **Josh Gordon**—Here’s where I would draft Gordon if he didn’t have this God-forsaken suspension hanging over his head. He smoked some weed. Who cares? Let him play with Johnny Football. God, that would be awesome. Here’s hoping that the NFL stuns the world and gives Gordon a four-game suspension instead of a year.
7. Brandon Marshall—This is a tough choice for a Bears fan. I want both of these guys, but it’s not going to happen. Oh well. If I have to pick one or the other, I suppose I’ll take Marshall since Cutler seems to favor him slightly.
8. Alshon Jeffrey—See, the problem is that I think Jeffrey is actually a better receiver…or at least capable of being better…but only by a slight margin. Ah, halcyon days in Chicago, where having a good offense just doesn’t happen often…certainly not having potentially the best pair of receivers in the league.
9. Antonio Brown—I didn’t believe in Brown last season, and my buddy scooped him up and reaped the rewards. I’m not making that mistake this year.
10. Jordy Nelson—The Packers’ veteran receiver had his best season for catches and is playing for a contract this season. We know he’s capable of catching double-digit touchdowns. No reason to believe he won’t this year.
11. Percy Harvin—I’m reaching for Harvin. I know about the injury history. I even remember the migraine issue. I don’t care. This man can play. I know there’s risk, but man, I want that high reward. Drooling over the possibilities.
12. Pierre Garcon—I prefer Garcon in a Colts uniform, but he’s still pretty good in the Washington uniform. At least he’ll have some receiver help with Desean Jackson, so Garcon might be able to stretch the field a bit more rather than catching over the middle so much.
13. Vincent Jackson—He’s a big stud with hands of glue. Tampa drafted another stud with hands of glue to play on the other side of him. If Josh McCown plays like he did when he had the two big studs with hands of glue in Chicago, then we might be on to something here. Regardless, Jackson will get his catches because he’s that good.
14. Wes Welker—He’s Peyton Manning’s solid number two with Eric Decker in New York. We know Welker is capable of 100 receptions, but he only had 73 last season. He also had double-digit touchdowns for the first time in a while (10). Is it possible he could catch 100 balls and 15 TDs? If Welker can stay healthy, maybe…
15. Randall Cobb—As a Bears fan, this kid scares me. He’s cat quick and capable of being a perfect copy of Percy Harvin…and just like Harvin, he has to stay healthy. He was dinged up last season, but I remember how good Cobb was in 2012. He’s also playing for a contract, so he has incentive.
16. T.Y. Hilton—Ah, memories. The high-point of my season was the three-touchdown second half Hilton had against the Texans on a Sunday night (I had Andrew Luck also). I’ll take Hilton again just on the promise of another night like that.
17. Keenan Allen—Allen had a fairly impressive season, especially for a rookie. He might be the reason Philip Rivers experienced a resurgence. I caught a few Charger games, and Allen looked like the real deal. He seems like a decent WR2 pick.
18. Michael Crabtree—I kinda thought Richard Sherman was in the wrong last year with Crabtree. I’m not going to call him a thug, but I will allude to an act of classlessness. I think Crabtree is capable of finding some fair compensation for the grievance. He’s the key to the 49ers passing success.
19. DeSean Jackson—I have some history with Jackson. I know he’s capable of the big game. That’s obvious. The problem is he’s just as capable of going into seclusion and producing the one reception, nine yard game. It’s feast or famine with DeSean. I don’t think that will change in Washington.
20. Andre Johnson—Man, I wish the Texans would trade Johnson. He’d be drafted in the top ten if he had any kind of reliable quarterback play. Instead, he has Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ugh.
21. Larry Fitzgerald—I might be underbidding Fitzgerald a bit, since he had a good season when Carson Palmer came to town. I guess I see him as the ideal WR3.
22. Julian Edelman—I knew Edelman was going to replace Wes Welker as Tom Brady’s preferred target. I don’t see Aaron Dobson replacing Edelman just yet. Edelman might not catch a lot of touchdowns (esp. if Gronk stays healthy), but catching 100 balls again is not out of the question.
23. Victor Cruz—Cruz was an ascendant fantasy prospect as recently as 2012, when Eli Manning forgot how to throw the football to players in blue uniforms. I suppose I’d love Cruz in the three slot, especially if Eli Manning remembers how to play quarterback.
24. Cordarelle Patterson—I’m overbidding on this Viking, even if the QB situation is in limbo. Potential lightning-in-a-bottle. I detect fantasy gold.
25. Marques Colston—Ah, I still remember the 2006 fantasy draft…I watched all of the Saints preseason games. I waited ‘til the last pick of the draft to take the impressive Marques Colston, of whom no one at the table was familiar, and declared it to be my best pick in the draft. Seldom do my declarations come true, but it sure did that year. Unfortunately, that was eight years ago, and Colston is slowing down a bit. I think Brees still trusts him, but…ya know, Jimmy Graham’s in the lineup.
26. Torrey Smith—I still have an emotional soft spot for Smith because of his losing his brother and playing with heart and passion through the emotional pain. If only Joe Flacco played every regular season game like he does when he’s in the playoffs…
27. Eric Decker—I know it’s fashionable to assume that Decker will suck because he left the Broncos to play for the Jets. I’m not so sure that will be the case. Decker proved himself to be a fairly impressive receiver. It wasn’t all Peyton Manning on those pass plays…and Michael Vick isn’t chopped liver when he’s got some decent protection (NEVER the case in Philly). The Jets are in the business of surprising NFL experts. I’ll try Decker if he’s there.
28. Reggie Wayne—Boy, I hope Wayne comes back healthy and ends his stunning legacy with a playoff run. If Andrew Luck has a healthy Hilton, Wayne, and Hakeem Nicks all season, then the sky’s the limit.
29. Terrance Williams—Terrance Williams was a pleasant discovery last season, especially after I lost Julio Jones for the season. He doesn’t have to worry about Miles Austin taking his fieldwork away from him either. I trust Williams to have a good fantasy season. He might be the only Cowboy I tolerate on my fantasy roster.
30. Michael Floyd—The Notre Dame product came into his own in his second season with the Cardinals, esp. with avg. yards per catch. He can catch the long ball. If Larry Fitzgerald becomes a Cris Carter-type possession receiver, then maybe Floyd can become the Randy Moss- type deep threat. Stranger things have happened.
31. Emmanuel Sanders—The number three option for Peyton Manning might be a starter for some fantasy squads. Sanders has some good speed and might be a deep threat. However, I’m not sure Manning can still throw the deep ball as reliably.
32. Sammy Watkins—We know Watkins will be a stud, but the question is, will it be in his rookie season? I admit I like E.J. Manuel’s game. It’s conceivable that the young QB with the strong arm develops a rapport and trust with his new receiver. Rookie records are meant to be broken.
33. Tavon Austin—I don’t think Austin will consistently do well, week-to-week, but rest assured, there will be an occasional game where Austin cuts loose for big numbers. I’d store him on my bench and look for weak defenses out of the NFC West to plug Austin in.
34. Brandin Cooks—This speedy rookie has the chance to be the surprise of the fantasy draft if Brees decides to chuck it deep, which you know he will do.
35. Kenny Stills—Based off of last season, I’d say Stills would be the ideal deep threat, if not for Cooks presence on the Saints.
36. Riley Cooper—It seems like Riley Cooper has a good rapport with Nick Foles. I’m not sure if he’s capable of being the number one receiver on the Eagles, but it is entirely possible.
37. Anquan Boldin—Boldin will have at least one extraordinary game for the Niners, but you can’t rely on him to perform every week.
38. Mike Evans—He’s going to be awesome in the NFL. If the Bucs had a better offensive line, I’d draft him higher, but McCown might not have enough time to throw.
39. Roddy White—Heard on Hard Knocks how Matt Ryan plans to use White like Tony Gonzalez this season. That’d mean good numbers if White can play the underneath routes.
40. Kendall Wright—If I had to take a Titans receiver, it’d be Wright. He’s got talent, but I’m not confident in the Titans’ QB play.
41. Mike Wallace—He should have stayed in Pittsburgh. His fantasy value took a big hit when he put on the Dolphins uniform.
42. Cecil Shorts—A good receiver on a team where there are low expectations. If Blake Bortles hits the big time, Shorts has a decent chance of being a quality fantasy WR.
43. Golden Tate—Maybe he’ll be the number two option that Detroit is looking for, except Stafford is still throwing the ball. I don’t see Tate’s numbers exploding over last season. Expect the same, which isn’t that stunning.
44. Greg Jennings—I like his chutzpah, but his days of being a fantasy stud are behind him.
45. Jeremy Maclin—Staying healthy has been the biggest problem for Maclin. If he stays healthy, then he could shine in the Chip Kelly fantasy machine.
46. Kelvin Benjamin—He’s a big target for Cam Newton. A lot of promise if Benjamin creates a rapport with his stud QB.
47. Hakeem Nicks—Maybe a change of scenery is what is needed to reinvigorate Nicks. He landed in a darn good spot for a comeback.
48. James Jones—I love me some James Jones in Wisconsin. Not so sure about James Jones in Oakland.
49. Steve Smith—He’ll be serviceable in Baltimore, but I wouldn’t count on too many touchdowns.
50. Malcom Floyd—He and Philip Rivers had a nice rapport before his injury. I’m hoping he’ll return to form for the Chargers.

Tight Ends

1. Jimmy Graham—Graham might be worth a first-round pick, right around Calvin Johnson territory.
2. Julius Thomas—Thomas came out of nowhere last season. He’ll be scooped up right after Graham this year.
3. Rob Gronkowski—There’s a lot of risk picking Gronk, but he could put up big numbers. I’m not sure I’d take the chance. Guess we’ll see how the draft plays out.
4. Vernon Davis—There aren’t many tight ends that can be considered deep threats. Davis qualifies. He had an extraordinary season, but I’m not sure he’ll reproduce the same TD results.
5. Jordan Cameron—It’s reasonable to see similar results from Cameron this season, especially considering how often Manziel or Hoyer might be dumping it over the middle.
6. Martellus Bennett—The tight end gets a lot of red-zone looks in the Chicago offense. Bennett’s a great target with good hands.
7. Jason Witten—A good reliable option at tight end. He’s still a Cowboy, though.
8. Greg Olson—Another good reliable option. He was the Panthers’ leader in receiving last season.
9. Jordan Reed—There’s a lot of potential with Reed, and RG3 will utilize the tight end a lot.
10. Dennis Pitta—Joe Flacco needs a good tight end to be effective. When Pitta got hurt, Flacco looked lost.
11. Zach Ertz—Lots of potential in that speedy, pass-happy Eagles offense.
12. Charles Clay—A quality versatile player in the Dolphins offense. Asked to block a lot last season.
13. Kyle Rudolph—A potential stud that needs to stay healthy.
14. Heath Miller—He’s still Roethlisberger’s favorite target. He could catch 4 or 5 TDs this season.
15. Antonio Gates—We keep waiting for Gates to quit, but he keeps coming back and doing okay. Good for him.
16. Eric Ebron—The Lions sure drafted him high. I might draft him and keep an eye out for a rookie surprise.
17. Delanie Walker—Servicable TE on a team that likes to use the TE.
18. Jared Cook—One thing you can count on about Sam Bradford: he uses his tight end.
19. Garrett Graham—The Texans’ quarterbacks might make Graham the leading receiver.
20. Scott Chandler—The Bills have a nice tight end option for E.J. Manuel.

Kickers

1. Matt Prater
2. Justin Tucker
3. Stephen Gostowski
4. Steven Hauschka
5. Phil Dawson
6. Dan Bailey
7. Mason Crosby
8. Nick Novak
9. Adam Vinatieri
10. Matt Bryant
11. Robbie Gould
12. Blair Walsh
13. Greg Zuerlein
14. Shaun Suisham
15. Nick Folk
16. Sebastian Janikowski
17. Graham Gano
18. Dan Carpenter
19. Jay Feely
20. Josh Scobee

Defensive/Special Teams

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. St. Louis Rams
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Denver Broncos
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. New England Patriots
9. New Orleans Saints
10. Baltimore Ravens
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Cleveland Browns
13. Buffalo Bills
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
15. Chicago Bears
16. New York Jets
17. Green Bay Packers
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
19. Houston Texans
20. Minnesota Vikings

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