The NFL Draft injects plenty of new names into the fantasy football landscape. It is still very early in the offseason, but here is a snapshot of what you should be able to expect.
1) DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
Fantasy analysis: Clowney probably will play a mixture of defensive end and outside linebacker for the Texans' 3-4 base defense. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Clowney should immediate upgrade for a defense that was miserable a year ago. Fantasy owners should earmark this extremely gifted group as a low-end DT1, but this unit will have to stay healthy to have even an outside chance at meeting their potential under DC Romeo Crennel. Clowney's IDP value is modest at defensive end and practically nil in standard scoring formats if he plays OLB.
2) OT Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams
Fantasy football analysis: Robinson is a dancing bear who needs to improve his pass protection, but that's like saying Kate Upton needs to get hotter. Robinson's spot is unclear, however, and it may be dictated by the health of current left tackle Jake Long (knee). Robinson could begin his career at guard before taking over for Long or replacing Joseph Barksdale at right tackle. Regardless, St. Louis' run blocking immediate improves, and their pass protection cannot be worse because of this pick. Bump up Zac Stacy a hair.
3) QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fantasy football analysis: It is tough to imagine Bortles starts the year, or at least right away. QB Chad Henne can take the lumps while Bortles learns from the sidelines early in the year. Jacksonville desperately needs weapons at wide receiver. Bortles plays a lot like Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, in terms of their shared improvisational style. The rookie shouldn't be on your fantasy radar for 2014.
4) WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
Fantasy football analysis: Buffalo coveted Watkins and traded up for him, giving them a slew of capable players at the position. Look for veteran WR Stevie Johnson to be traded. Watkins is almost guaranteed to be a Week 1 starter and could grow with QB EJ Manuel. Buffalo also added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Williams this offseason. Last year's second-round pick, Robert Woods, should be in the mix, too. T.J. Graham, Ramses Barden and Marquise Goodwin should vie for the scraps. Watkins can do a little bit of everything and has impressive hands. His fantasy value is a little murky until we see more of how Buffalo uses him, but expect a lot of wide-open passing in upstate New York this season. Pencil him in as a WR3 for the time being.
5) OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Fantasy football analysis: The best player in the draft, by my evaluation, immediately upgrades the freshly defensive-minded Raiders. They have been on a mission this offseason to bolster that side of the ball, presumably to slow down their offensively potent divisional rivals. From a fantasy perspective, Mack could be the missing piece to taking this D from the doldrums to the penthouse of fantasy sleeper defenses. Oakland has a tough win-loss schedule in 2014, but they could put up fantasy points in leagues that do not penalize for points against. Mack is a quality LB2 or third fantasy linebacker in IDP leagues.
6) OT Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy football analysis: Matthews likely starts from Day 1 at right tackle and improves in both blocking fronts. He is rock-solid but not elite. It all starts upfront, which is a huge need for this offense. Matt Ryan needs better protection after taking 44 sacks last year (54 the previous two seasons combined). This smart, sound pick will permeate goodness throughout the offense and only help from a fantasy perspective.
7) WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fantasy football analysis: Standing 6-foot-5, 231 pounds, timed at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Evans should be an immediate starter opposite Vincent Jackson's 6-foot-5 frame. Yikes! Quarterback Josh McCown receives a small fantasy bump, because even though Evans' route tree is limited, his catching radius makes up for it. Defenses will have to pick their poison as long as Evans even has a pulse. He is a low-end WR3 in standard formats, perhaps slightly better in PPR leagues, and could be an erratic touchdown machine as a rookie.
8) CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns
Fantasy football analysis: Cleveland traded up a selection to get Gilbert and plan to start him right away opposite stud corner Joe Haden. A rookie corner who is a decent tackler and will see a ton of balls come his way in avoidance of Haden ... sounds like a solid IDP gamble to me. Gilbert is a versatile player and a great return man. He could immediate improve Cleveland's overall team defense, which already has considerable potential.
9) OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy football analysis: Barr, a former running back just a few years ago, has tremendous upside but may be reserved to pass-rushing situations in Minnesota. He has practically no IDP value in Year 1 and may not make a noticeable contribution to the overall team defense of blockers can focus on eliminating him from the game plan. After the loss of DE Jared Allen, Minnesota's D has no business being on your fantasy draft radar.
10) TE Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Fantasy football analysis: The Lions will play a lot of two-tight end sets, but where exactly does the rookie fit in after Detroit re-signed Brandon Pettigrew and saw Joseph Fauria emerge as a viable option in 2013? The super-athletic rookie could be flexed into the slot, because Detroit really doesn't have a reliable receiver there, with Ryan Broyles (Achilles') on the mend once again. Ebron's role will dictate his value, but rookie tight ends rarely contribute much to fantasy rosters. He still has to contend with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Fauria, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell for catches. Ebron will be a popular fantasy choice in full-retention keeper formats and likely overdrafted in single-year setups.
11) OT Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans
Fantasy football analysis: Lewan has a nasty streak about him and may play swing tackle. He could compete with Michael Oher on the right side before likely taking over for Michael Roos at left tackle. Roos' contract expires after the year, and the team hasn't been in contact with him about a new deal.
12) WR Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Fantasy football analysis: An excellent route runner, the sure-handed Beckham is electric and dangerous playmaker. He could be a Week 1 contributor for the Giants, whose offense needs another reliable weapon. You have to presume Victor Cruz will still get his, so does Beckham cut into Rueben Randle's targets? That is debatable. Does it matter if Eli Manning cannot stay vertical long enough to complete a pass? That, too, is debatable. Beckham should be a fantasy-relevant receiver out of the gates, but knowing when to start him could create headaches for fantasy owners. Wait for his defined role to develop before making a firm valuation.
13) DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams
Fantasy football analysis: St. Louis' front seven is just nasty. Donald makes the fourth first-round defensive line selection for the Rams since 2008's pick of DE Chris Long. I expect the undersized but penetrating Donald to rotate as a rookie with Kendall Langford but have minimal fantasy value in IDP leagues. His addition won't hurt what was the No. 2 fantasy D in the league last year.
14) CB Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears
Fantasy football analysis: Year 1 fantasy value? Nah, you can look elsewhere, but Fuller is the future of Chicago's defensive backfield. He probably will see time in sub packages and as a rotational player, assuming cornerbacks Charles Tillman (33) and Tim Jennings (31 in December) can stay healthy. The Bears fantasy defense should be at or near the top of your list in all formats, regardless of Fuller entering the fray. He has no tangible IDP worth entering fantasy drafts.
15) ILB Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers
Fantasy football analysis: Super rangy, with a commonly redlined tachometer, the undersize Shazier will move to inside linebacker. He is a tackle machine and weaves through traffic with the best of them. However, being only 237 pounds could be a problem in some situations. Given his intensity, he gets the benefit of the doubt from me. I see a Week 1 starter with legitimate IDP value in his rookie season. The Steelers' fantasy defense is largely undraftable (DT2 only) and continues to live off their name value alone.
16) OT Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Fantasy football analysis: Jerry Jones must have recalled that his best Cowboys teams played behind that monster offensive line in the 1990s. Martin will compete for a starting guard spot in 2014 but move to right tackle down the line. He is an extremely gifted player and shouldn't have a problem bettering this front five when he gets a shot. An improved offensive line can only help QB Tony Romo's chances of staying healthy.
17) LB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens
Fantasy football analysis: This pick shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Mosley is a heady player with all of the potential in the world. Consider him a viable IDP pick if he earns a starting job, which is very likely. Mosley could be a stud in tackle-heavy scoring formats. Baltimore's team defense is inching closer to fantasy respectability once again and is worthy of a borderline DT1 draft pick.
18) FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets
Fantasy football analysis: New York has a good one here. Pryor is pretty much a lock to start at free safety in Week 1 and is a draftable fantasy option in IDP leagues. New York's team D is a flier in deep leagues until they can do more to take away the ball (12 total last year).
19) OT Ja'Wuan James, Miami Dolphins
Fantasy football analysis: James is penciled in as the starter at right tackle. The Dolphins expect him to combine with free-agent prize left tackle Branden Albert to improve one of the worst lines (58 sacks allowed) in the league from a year ago. This will go a long way in helping QB Ryan Tannehill turn the corner in his third season.
20) WR Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Fantasy football analysis: Measuring only 5-foot-10, 189 pounds, Cooks is a nice complement to the taller TE Jimmy Graham and WR Marques Colston. Cooks, a blistering speedster, should see designed plays -- bubble screens, slants, etc. -- to put him in space and take advantage of his game-breaking ability. His fantasy value is modest, simply because he will have to learn Sean Payton's complex system. Think WR4/WR5 territory.
21) FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers
Fantasy football analysis: It's not a laughing matter if you're Packers FS Sean Richardson, but Clinton-Dix can be penned into the starter free safety spot and could have an immediate impact on this secondary. He has notable IDP value (No. 2 DB upside) and could help Green Bay climb from the middle of the pack in team defense leagues. They're a low-end DT1 gamble.
22) QB Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Fantasy football analysis: Johnny Football gets to compete with Brian Hoyer (knee) for the starting job. ... Let's face it, who are we kidding by saying "compete." It's Manziel's job to lose, as far as I am concerned. He is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. His ability to escape and create plays on the move could make him a legit fantasy option in 2014. Cleveland needs to add more weapons for him, however, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is experienced in getting the most out of a rookie with similar skills (Robert Griffin III). Manziel is QB2 who just might force you to make tough weekly lineup decisions.
23) OLB Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs
Fantasy football analysis: Ford is likely to convert from defensive end to outside linebacker; KC needed more depth and long-term talent on the edge. Don't count on him in single-year IDP leagues. KC's 2013 No. 1 fantasy defense returns largely intact, but you should consider them a suspect top-10 option. Big-play defenses tend to have a hard time replicating fantasy success year after year.
24) CB Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals
Fantasy football analysis: Cincy gets a great cornerback at a good price. Their defensive backfield is aging and has injury concerns. Dennard may not be a draftable fantasy commodity in IDP circles, but he has the ability to help the No. 5-ranked fantasy D of a year ago.
25) CB Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers
Fantasy football analysis: Rookie corners can offer a wealth of fantasy points in IDP leagues, although Verrett's game isn't conducive to producing high tackle totals. He could produce a few splash plays. Avoid him in IDP setups and the Chargers in standard formats.
26) OLB Marcus Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
Fantasy football analysis: Smith is a 251-pounder who will come off the edge in Philly's 3-4 alignment. He needs to learn to play standing up, and he should be a rotational player in his rookie year. Avoid him in fantasy leagues. Philly's group D is a matchup play in most formats.
27) SS Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals
Fantasy football analysis: Bucannon is an athletic strong safety who can complement free safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee). The rookie might make for a sneaky IDP pick later in your draft, provided he is the Week 1 starter. Arizona's overall defense is a solid DT1.
28) WR Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Fantasy football analysis: Cam Newton gets a 6-foot-5 receiving target, but can Benjamin make the jump to become a bona fide No. 1 receiver in the NFL? I have my doubts. The Cats aren't done yet with addressing this deep position in the draft, so I can see a scenario in which Benjamin might have serious competition for touches in a run-first offense that still has a huge hole at left tackle. Regardless, he is draftable, but we need to know more before assigning a true value here.
29) DT Dominique Easley, New England Patriots
Fantasy football analysis: Easley (knee) is coming off a torn ACL suffered last fall, so he should make it to training camp on time. There is top-30 talent here, and New England needs young blood along the interior line. He has some pass-rushing ability for a big man. Don't count on any IDP contributions in 2014, but New England is a low-end starting unit as a whole.
30) SS Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers
Fantasy football analysis: The undersized Ward (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) is expected to compete for time at safety and nickel back. He is more likely to find action as the latter, since FS Eric Reid and SS Antoine Bethea aren't going anywhere at the back end. San Fran's defense could be in for a fantasy letdown. Ward isn't draftable in individual formats.
31) CB Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos
Fantasy football analysis: Despite adding Aqib Talib this offseason, cornerback was a must-draft. Roby will battle for time and has an outside shot at being a fringe IDP contributor. Denver's defensive unit is in the same territory for standard league formats.
32) QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy football analysis: There is potential here, even though I am in no way a Bridgewater believer. I question how he'll hold up to an NFL beating, despite being tough as nails at Louisville. In best-case scenario for Bridgewater's future, he redshirts in 2014 and learns behind the relatively safe Matt Cassel. Bridgewater is likely to appear at some point this season, especially when Minnesota is officially out of the playoff hunt. It is tough to imagine he will offer anything but inconsistent flashes of potential this year.
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.