By Cory J. Bonini on April 30, 2011
The third and forth rounds offered a wealth of fantasy football potential at the skilled positions. A lot will change between now and the conventional draft season, but it's never to early to take a stab at their projected fantasy value.
Helu is the classic one-cut-and-go back that Mike Shanahan loves. At 219 pounds, he has some size to him, even though he could throw it around better. Look for the former Nebraska Cornhusker to compete in training camp for touches and possibly the starting job. Tuck away this name for a time closer to your draft.
What a shock ... Al Davis drafted a burner. I am not sure what to make of this pick after the emergence of Darren McFadden, who has speed to burn. The Raiders' return game is set, so this is a curious pick in terms of where Jones will fit in. As for his fantasy value, Jones may need a DMC injury to get a chance at meaningful playing time as a rookie.
The Packers closed out the third round with this Hawaii product. He catches as well as any running back in this year's class, and he has some thickness to him. The rookie will probably challenge for playing time against James Starks and Ryan Grant in camp but shouldn't see enough touches to garner fantasy attention in 2011.
Brown is a quality route runner and has pretty good hands. His size (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) allows him to play on the outside as well as in the slot. He should compete for playing time, but San Diego will potentially have enough depth that Brown can be groomed.
Stevan Ridley, running back, New England Patriots
The Patriots added Shane Vereen a round earlier, and the two backs have contrasting styles. Ridley may be worked in slowly and could have productive games at times, but consistency issues could drive fantasy owners mad. He is unlikely to have a large role in a likely committee approach.
St. Louis needed to address their receiver position, and Pettis adds a large frame with sure hands. Sam Bradford could take a liking to him early, but Pettis' role will be determined in the offseason. The Rams have Donnie Avery returning from injury, as well as Mark Clayton, assuming he is re-signed. Pettis may offer fantasy value as a late-round flier with sleeper potential if he wins a job in camp.
Jernigan is likely an insurance pick for the Giants because of Steve E. Smith's knee. The talented Troy receiver has upside and can move from inside to outside without a problem. It's hard to imagine there will be enough balls to go around in this offense to warrant much fantasy consideration, but Jernigan has the skills to contribute.
The former Georgia receiver has quite the wingspan and catching radius. He could work his way through the mess that is Seattle's receiving corps to earn significant playing time, but let that play out before you think of him on draft day.
Gates is an intriguing prospect, but Miami has a lot of weapons that he would have to surpass to see enough touches to warrant fantasy attention this season. The long-term value for Gates is excellent, though.
The highly productive Hawaii wideout will be added to the mix for the Rams and should have an equal chance to compete for a starting job. Most rookie receivers don't warrant fantasy attention, but Salas's fantastic hands could help him buck that trend. Stay tuned throughout the offseason...
Shorts will likely battle for a starting job this offseason, and he has a great chance of winning one. The Jaguars could move Mike Thomas to the slot and start Shorts next to Jason Hill. While all of that is speculative at this point, make sure you pencil Shorts into your draft plays this offseason.
The Niners have Frank Gore coming off a fracture hip and lost Glen Coffee to retirement last year. Hunter's skill set makes for a dynamic fantasy option in point-per-reception leagues, but that doesn't mean he'll be a first-year contributor. San Fran's newest offensive toy has a good deal of long-term keeper value, however.
Indy could work in Carter as a rookie if Joseph Addai doesn't return, but I'm not counting on that. Look for Carter to be utilized sporadically as a rookie. Don't completely write him off just yet, but fantasy owners probably shouldn't expect much from him this season.
Baltimore added another rookie wideout in Doss. He is a methodical player and should compete for the fourth spot, depending what the team does with free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth. Doss has far more future value than he does as a rookie for fantasy owners.
The Jets are looking at life after LaDainian Tomlinson here, and they are making preparations for Shonn Greene not living up to his potential to a degree, as well. Running back committees are the way of the league these days, but Powell shouldn't see significant action in 2011 without an injury to one of the two aforementioned rushers. Avoid him on draft day.