Post-Draft Fantasy Stock Watch
Once the draft is complete, it's important to reassess each team's depth chart at the skill positions. There will be veterans who will have to face new competition in camp and there will be rookies who will go to great situations and become early round picks on draft day. Below you'll find a list of situations along with players whose fantasy stock is rising (and falling).
Prior to the trade, Ivory was only projected to be a late-round flier in fantasy drafts, as he was slated to be the fourth running back in New Orleans. Now that he's in New York, he's likely to be a third- or fourth-round pick as the likely starter ahead of Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell. Like Michael Turner, Lamont Jordan and Chester Taylor before him, the 25-year-old Ivory is one of those RBs that the fantasy community has been hoping would get an opportunity to start, and now he'll get his chance. He was limited to 27 games in four college seasons due to injury, and was signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He has averaged 5.1 YPC in his career, though he has struggled with injuries in the NFL as well. In his rookie season, due to injuries to Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, Ivory got a few starts and had some success. In 13 career games where he has received at least 10 touches, he's averaged 78 total yards, 0.38 TD and an impressive 5.2 YPC. That production equates to #16 RB-type numbers. New Orleans did not throw the ball his way very often -- he has just three catches in his career -- but he did score on a 76-yard swing pass in preseason of his rookie year so he has some pass-catching ability. Goodson is pretty good in the passing game, so we're expecting Ivory to be a two-down back in New York, which will limit his upside. If he continues to make big plays running the ball, the team may try to get him the ball more often in the passing game as well. Consider him a low-end RB2 until we know who is going to be the third-down back in 2013. Ivory's arrival kills most of Goodson's sleeper potential.
Bell is a power back that fits Pittsburgh’s style. He’s not a burner, but has shown good patience and can turn the corner. He’s pretty solid in the passing game as well, though pass protection is an issue. Assuming he wins the RB1 job, he’ll hold third- or fourth-round fantasy value as the lead back in Pittsburgh. He’ll have to beat out Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman for that privilege, but that shouldn't be too hard. HC Todd Haley said that Bell is a “three-down back," although the team signed LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has been pretty good in that role. The Steelers are obviously high on Bell and they reportedly aren't all that high on Dwyer or Redman, so the rookie should have every chance to start in 2013. That leaves Dwyer and Redman likely fighting for scraps. Redman is a bit better in the passing game so he may have the edge.
Austin will replace the departed Danny Amendola in the slot and immediately becomes the most intriguing fantasy receiver in St. Louis. He’s a couple of inches shorter than Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb, but has the same type of skill set. The Rams have already told him that he'll be lining up all over the field, so expect a few carries as well. Look for him to hold mid-round (5th-7th round) value in standard formats come August. He should be especially good in PPR formats, however. The Rams also drafted Stedman Bailey, Austin's very productive teammate at West Virginia, so the Rams' WR corps is suddenly crowded. The duo's arrival may put the pinch on Givens and/or Quick.
Lacy slipped mightily in the draft due to injury concerns. He was out of shape at his pro day due to a hamstring injury and went into a free fall because of it. I love this pick as a Packer fan and as a fantasy football owner; Green Bay finally has a power running back who can move the chains and get Aaron Rodgers into third-and-short situations. Lacy will likely have fourth-round value in fantasy drafts this summer. It would be higher, but the team also selected Johnathan Franklin, who figures to be in the mix on third downs and could see some early-down work as well. Had the Packers held form and basically ignored the RB position as they have in years past, Harris may have gone into the season atop the depth chart, but now he'll likely be relegated to change-of-pace duties behind Lacy.
Bernard may not take over the RB1 job in 2013, but the team has been looking for a change-of-pace back for a few years now and Bernard figures to fill that role behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis, at least for now. The Law Firm probably isn't a long-term solution at running back, so there is some opportunity for Bernard to emerge in the next 2-3 years as the team's feature back.
Prior to the draft, GM John Elway said that McGahee "is our big back right now." The "right now" is/was key, because the team took Ball in the 2nd round of the draft, and as a result the Broncos' depth chart is unsettled. With McGahee at 31 years-old and coming off an injury, Ball seems like a logical option as the team's main ballcarrier, but HC John Fox has always favored veterans over rookies when given the choice, so this may become a muddled RBBC with Ball, McGahee, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno all in the mix. Still, given the pick, Ball has landed in a good situation long term, while the writing seems to be on the wall for McGahee and Moreno.
WRs who landed in good situations (i.e. good opportunity): DeAndre Hopkins, Texans; Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, Patriots; Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings; Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, Bills; Stedman Bailey, Rams; Corey Fuller, Lions