2014 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Round 1)

2014 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Round 1)

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Apr 29, 2015

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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The 2014 NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 8th with the first round. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday (beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET), while the remainder of the draft will finish up on Saturday (12 p.m. ET). Coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network.

Throughout the first round, I'll be updating this page with live analysis of the fantasy implications of each skill position pick. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second and third rounds. Brandon Niles will be checking in on Saturday to summarize the mid- to late-round picks. Since opportunity is crucial for a rookie, we'll give a grade for each early pick given the player's opportunity for playing time.


1.03 - Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

At 6’5”, Bortles has prototypical size for an NFL passer but his arm strength is nothing special. He can buy time in the pocket and take off and run when necessary. Bortles is likely to start sooner or later over journeyman Chad Henne. With Justin Blackmon’s availability uncertain, the only proven receiver on the roster is Cecil Shorts. Bortles doesn’t project to be much of a fantasy option in one-QB leagues in his rookie season. He could turn into a low-end fantasy QB2 if Blackmon becomes available. Update: Beat writer Ryan O'Halloran doesn't expect Bortles to start immediately. Opportunity: A+


1.04 - Buffalo Bills - WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

At not quite 6’1”, Watkins lacks ideal height, but his speed, acceleration and big-play ability make him a consensus first round pick among scouts. The Bills paid a big price (including a 2015 first round pick), so they will no doubt use Watkins heavily as a rookie. Look for the team to trade or release Steve Johnson after acquiring Mike Williams via trade. The Bills were very run heavy last year and they have E.J. Manuel under center, so it’s hard to love Watkins’ situation as a rookie. Still he has the talent to make an immediate impact and the team may open up the passing game since Manuel has a year of experience and a talent like Watkins to throw to. Opportunity: A


1.07 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

At nearly 6’5”, he has prototypical size, arm length and hands for the position, giving him an advantage in contested catches. With Mike Williams in Buffalo, Evans will step in as the Bucs’ WR2 opposite Vincent Jackson. He has Josh McCown and/or Mike Glennon throwing to him in what may be a conservative offense under OC Jeff Tedford, who ran a run-heavy offense while at Cal. Evans will be fantasy relevant this year, but he’ll be more of a late-round pick than a fantasy starter to start the season. Opportunity: A


1.10 - Detroit Lions - TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

He possesses great speed (4.60 40-yard dash) for a tight end and has a terrific catch radius. The Lions re-signed Brandon Pettigrew (they're probably regretting that now) and also have TD-machine Joseph Fauria on the roster. Ebron is very capable of helping immediately, but isn’t a shoo-in to start right away with Pettigrew still hanging around. Once he wins the job, however, watch out. He could see snaps immediately as a 'move' tight end in the slot or out wide. Update: Beat writer Tim Twentyman reported that the Lions intend to use Ebron in the Jimmy Graham role in Joe Lombardi's offense. (Lombardi last coached with the Saints.) For more on Ebron, click here. Opportunity: B


1.12 - New York Giants - WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

At 5’11”, he’s small for today’s NFL, but he’s a great athlete with good acceleration and top-end speed. His hands are big for his size. His arrival brings uncertainty for Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan, who were looking like breakout candidates with Hakeem Nicks out of the way. This is obviously good for Eli Manning, but there’s no telling who will be the WR2 after Victor Cruz. Stay tuned. Opportunity: B


1.20 - New Orleans Saints - WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

He had a ridiculous Combine (including a 4.33 40-yard dash), but at under 5’10” he lacks the prototypical size for an NFL receiver. The arrival of Cooks puts a dent in the upside of Kenny Stills, who was looking like a breakout candidate in the later rounds. He’s still intriguing, but teams don’t usually trade up in the first round to draft a guy they don’t expect to play right away. Whoever is getting the WR2 snaps and targets in that offense is going to hold at least fantasy WR3/WR4 value in 2014. Don't forget that the team has to replace both Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, who saw a combined 143 targets, so there may be room for both players to produce. Opportunity: B+


1.22 - Cleveland Browns - QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Perhaps this draft’s most divisive prospect, Manziel lacks prototypical size for a quarterback, but has terrific speed, agility and play-making ability. His hand size is big for his height, so his small stature may not be as big of a problem as some scouts believe. His decision-making and durability are in question. With Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to throw to, he enters a good situation, though he’ll have to beat out Brian Hoyer first. HC Mike Pettine recently said that he didn’t see any of the rookie QBs outplaying Hoyer this season, but that may have been a smokescreen. If Manziel is the starter, he’ll be an intriguing fantasy QB2 with those weapons. There's also the chance that he holds a clipboard for a year or two, depending on how Hoyer plays. Update: After the pick, HC Mike Pettine said he still plans to start Hoyer this year. Opportunity: A


1.28 - Carolina Panthers - WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Lacks even average speed for the position, but has incredible size (6’5”) and will be a threat in the redzone. He joins a receiving corps of Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood, so the opportunity is there. Unfortunately, Benjamin isn’t a polished, NFL-ready prospect. Opportunity: A+


1.32 - Minnesota Vikings - QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

A bit thin (214 lbs, if that) for his height (6’2”), there are concerns about his durability, but his accuracy is good on short to medium throws. He didn’t have a great pro day throwing the deep ball. He joins a good situation under new OC Norv Turner with the up-and-coming Cordarrelle Patterson and savvy Greg Jennings at wideout and Kyle Rudolph at tight end. (Not to mention Adrian Peterson at running back.) Bridgewater will have to contend with incumbent Matt Cassel, but if he’s the immediate starter, he’ll be an intriguing low-end fantasy QB2. Update: The Vikings were the only team to diagnose Bridgewater with an irregular heartbeat, but obviously they aren't too concerned about it after trading back into the 1st round to snipe him from the Texans. Opportunity: A

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