Sometimes a team drafts a player that can spark the imagination of every fantasy fan. We must all learn to temper expectations especially when seemingly for-sure prospects suddenly turn oh-so very sour from the sweet dreams we once imagined. Sometimes there are signs a player has been over-hyped or overvalued. Subtle hints and cues that can easily be missed. Fair warning that I shall be targeting the top receivers in the draft in this article, attempting to shed some light on some NFL rookies that could bust your fantasy team for both standard, and dynasty leagues for the 2016 season. My Rookie Rankings, Rookie Sleepers list and the complete Fantasy Couch Draft Kit are always at your disposal.
Corey Coleman – Cle WR
The last time the Cleveland Browns drafted a wide receiver before the 4th round was 2011 and that player’s name was Greg Little. Enter Hue Jackson, a former NFL head coach and proven offensive coordinator capable of creating new, imaginative, and most importantly, explosive NFL offenses. Under this new regime, Coach Jackson will expect his players to make plays. Corey Coleman was touted as one of the best receivers in the draft. In an underwhelming class of rookie wide receivers, some would say the Browns reached for him with the 15th overall selection… after trading down and passing on a guy named Ezekiel Elliot. Why they would do that when Hue Jackson excels at bringing his running backs to their full potential, is unfortunately not for us to deliberate here.
So passing on clearly the best, if not most hyped, running back prospect to enter the NFL draft in the last decade, they clearly had a plan in getting the playmaker they’ve been looking for, right? Wrong. Despite being a touchdown machine in college and winning the Fred Belitnekoff award, his skills are that of an outside-the-numbers player but lacks outside-the-numbers speed and size (5’11”). His route tree is very limited, scoring most of his TDs on simple routes by beating collegiate level speed with his excellent quickness and acceleration. This will not be such an easy task in the NFL. He’s prone to being spooked when going across the middle of the field or when he sees a big hit coming. Coleman, and many receivers in this year’s draft class, biggest red flag is his hands–Coleman has an 11.9% drop rate. Can you seriously tell yourself that his percentage is going to improve as the difficulty rises? I can’t, and I definitely can’t reach for Corey Coleman on draft day.
Will Fuller – Hou WR
The Texans have one of the best receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins and they’ve been looking for a compliment for him the last few seasons going through free agents like Cecil Shorts. Looking to the draft for help this year, Houston selected the man with one of the fastest 40-yard dash times at the combine, Will Fuller, with their first round pick (21st overall). On paper this could be a good match. However, we aren’t playing fantasy paperball. Fuller does not have great hands, is not a natural hands-catcher and relies on catching with his body. His small size and hands will prevent him from finding a success across the middle. While 27% of his catches were for over 25 yards, his route running also leaves something to be desired. Here’s an anonymous quote that sums up Fuller fairly well:
“I hear the DeSean Jackson comparison and I can’t get there. DeSean was faster, tougher and more reliable than Fuller. I’m not saying Fuller can’t play, but I don’t think he’s DeSean.”
– Former NFL receiver and current scout
Kenneth Dixon – Bal RB
Many fantasy owners are high on Kenneth Dixon, the running back drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, I am not one of those people. I feel like people are raving about a guy that’s clearly going to be in one of the most crowded backfields in the NFL. Let’s start with my rankings of Raven running backs:
- Justin Forsett – A man looking to bounce back and lose the one-hit wonder tag.
- Terrance West – A journeyman after failing to catch on with several teams, yet still with NFL experience and playbook familiarity, has evidently had the best camp of all the backs in Baltimore and it showed in the first week of the preseason.
- Javorius “Buck” Allen – Took full advantage of his opportunity last year and proved himself a capable starter.
- Kenneth Dixon – A rookie with definite upside but a history of ball security issues.
- Lorenzo Taliaferro – Unfortunately dealing with a foot injury and on the PUP list, putting him at risk of even making the final roster.
That’s just too many hungry mouths to feed for the Ravens to give the starting gig to a rook. Especially a rook with ball security issues. Turnovers are a death sentence to rookies and will cement them a place on the sideline, meaning that if you started them they could give you a giant goose egg, or even negative points. He also recently suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain that set him back in camp but he looked fairly healthy in his first preseason game. This is the preseason however, and he was primarily playing against the third and fourth string defenders.
If you draft Dixon in your dynasty or keeper league, you are definitely having high hopes for the future, after Forsett retires. In the short-term, he has almost no value. Kenneth Dixon is too much risk for my taste buds for one of the highest rated fantasy rookie running backs.
Jordan Howard – Chi RB
Being one of the best pure running backs in the draft, Howard racked up huge stats when he played in college. Some of his performances and statistics were downright mouth-watering. However, if Vince Young taught us anything, huge statistical success in college does not always translate to the NFL. This man caught the injury bug so hard he became a collector. If he was a Pokémon trainer, he would be a Bug Catcher. Plagued by ankle and knee injuries, his power running style only further increases risk of re-injury.
While he is a bruising runner, he lacks the agility to make anyone miss, much less perform a successful cut without slipping sometimes. He was also a total non-factor in the passing game which nearly dooms him in PPR leagues. However the biggest reason to temper expectations with Howard? The Bears may have the worst offensive line in football right now.
Success in the NFL is hard to come by. It takes a lot for a rookie to step in and instantly make an impact. Guys like Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and the immortal Randy Moss and others have found instant success proving it is possible, but these kinds of players don’t come along often, and I don’t think many came along in this years draft. Honestly I hope each of these guys can prove me wrong but until then, I’ll have my doubts and you should too.