Here’s a look at 10 players we believe could come at an excellent price on draft day this month.
1. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins: Averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 51 rushing attempts as a rookie last season and enters 2013 atop Miami’s depth chart, thanks to the departure of former feature back Reggie Bush. Miller was a stud in his final season at The U (2011), amassing 1,357 total yards and 10 scores (5.56 yards per touch average) for the 6-6 Hurricanes. The additions of WR Mike Wallace and TE Dustin Keller should help open running lanes underneath now that the Dolphins have a legitimate passing attack.
Note: Don’t be shocked if Miller’s stock begins to rise this summer when the halfway crook fantasy owners realize he’s the new starting RB in Miami.
2. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Averaged 16.1 yards per reception (50 catches for 805 yards) as a rookie wideout in 2012 playing with a first-year QB. Gordon will be the primary beneficiary of Norv Turner’s years of experience as an offensive coordinator. We’ve taken to calling the 22-year-old from Baylor “Mike Wallace Light,” so don’t be shocked when you see Gordon scoring from downtown this fall.
Note: Gordon ranked fourth in the NFL in YPR average last season for receivers with a minimum of 50 grabs.
3. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chiacgo Bears: Caught just 24 passes in 10 appearances as a rookie in 2012, but enters the fall ready to take the next big step. Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett provide an excellent support system. At 6-3, 216 pounds, the former South Carolina playmaker makes for an excellent red zone target in Marc Trestman’s new offense.
Note: Will spend the first few weeks of the 2013 fantasy season on your bench until he can demonstrate the ability to consistently produce reliable fantasy numbers.
4. Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams: Found the end zone only eight times in 59 games with Tennessee, but there’s a reason why Jeff Fisher and the Rams awarded Cook with a five-year, $35 million contract this past offseason. St. Louis plans on turning Cook into a full time blocker. The 26-year-old is going to record a career-high in the targets category this season.
Note: Now that youngsters Tavon Austin and Brian Quick have been tasked with leading the receiving unit, thanks to Danny Amendola’s defection to New England, Cook’s experience will function as a security blanket for QB Sam Bradford.
5. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnatti Bengals: The first running back selected in the 2013 NFL draft by a team that dished out a three-year, $9 million contract to veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis during the 2012 offseason. The Bengals wouldn’t have spent a second-round pick on Bernard had they thought the Law Firm was capable of making a significant impact. In 26 games with North Carolina, Bernard rolled up 3,446 total yards, 6.69 ypc and 31 TDs. The 21-year-old’s ability to contribute in the passing game could get him significant field time a lot quicker than some expect.
Note: Patience will be a virtue with Bernard, who could begin the season seeing limited action as Cincinnati’s third down RB.
6. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins: Completed 58.3% of his passes as a rookie and threw just one INT in Miami’s final five regular season games last season. Laugh if you want, but Tannehill is going to record bumps in every major statistical passing category this season. Tannehill makes sense as a late-round QB who could be used as trade bait later in the season.
Note: Tannehill amassed more fantasy points than Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford and Christian Ponder last season.
7. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Produced so little during his four seasons with the Raiders many a fantasy owner will be quick to pass on DHB. That means a dip in stock price and a plummet toward the later rounds of the draft. Good. More for me and you. Heyward-Bey traded the revolving door at the QB position in Oakland this past offseason for a spot on the field with Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne and up-and-comer Andrew Luck.
Note: We don’t envision a hefty reception total for DHB in 2013, but we think he’ll post a career-high in the TD department.
8. Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers: Second-round pick Eddie Lacy will likely begin the season as the starter for the Green Bay offense, but don’t be surprised if the underrated Franklin finds a way to take more playing time from the Alabama bruiser. The 23-year-old from UCLA averaged 6.1 ypc for the Bruins last fall (282 carries for 1,734 yards) and possesses the hands and speed to make plays in the passing game. With every NFL defense focusing on Aaron Rodgers and the aerial attack, the starting RB could be in for a surprisingly productive season.
Note: Rushed for 100 or more yards in nine of UCLA’s 14 games last season.
9. Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers: Posted a career-high stat line with the Bolts last season (37 rec, 658 yds, 7 TD) despite appearing in only 10 games. Robert Meachem was a complete bust in 2012 after leaving New Orleans, while youngsters Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen will have to prove themselves before earning a shot at the starting lineup. That leaves Alexander with a chance to solidify himself as one of Philip Rivers’ top targets.
Note: Averaged 17.8 yards per reception in Turner’s vertical passing attack last season, but could struggle in the transition to new head coach Mike McCoy’s offense.
10. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams: A fifth-round selection out of Vanderbilt who amassed 2,465 rushing yards and 24 TDs over his final two seasons, Stacy will have the opportunity to compete with Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead for the job vacated by Steven Jackson.
Note: Stacy could fall through the cracks on draft day, which would make him a hot waiver wire acquisition, should the rookie crack the starting lineup.
Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com . You can reach him at [email protected] om.