It wasn’t that long ago that the dynasty forums were buzzing with talk of the weak draft class talk. These rumors seem to pop up once every few years but they are rarely legitimate. Once the off-season begins, the picture clears itself up and the under the radar players become more obvious. If owners went out of their way to rid themselves of 2013 draft picks, they will be disappointed come rookie draft time. What this class lacks in elite talent, it makes up for in quality depth. Player situation will play a significant factor obviously but judging purely on talent, this class has plenty of impact players. This article will focus on a few of them and what they bring to your fantasy team.
Tavon Austin WR West Virginia
Height – 5’9”
Weight – 174 lbs
The first thing that pops out to everyone when looking at Tavon Austin is his weight. He isn’t exactly the ideal wide receiver size but when looking at Austin you have to be looking at everything he does. He isn’t the prototypical player and will be used as an offensive weapon. While at West Virginia, he lined up at running back and wide receiver as well as being a huge part of the return game. Each of the last two seasons, Austin has topped 100 receptions. In 2012, he had an eye-popping 118 receptions, 1289 receiving yards, 643 rushing yards, and 17 total touchdowns (including returns). He held up very well with this workload and seems durable despite the small frame. He is so fast and angles his body well so he rarely takes a very hard direct hit. The guy is a pure play-maker so an NFL team will find a way to get the ball in his hands.
Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 205 lbs
Patterson can do many of the things Tavon Austin can but he also has prototypical wide receiver size. A junior college transfer, Patterson is still somewhat of a mystery and a projection. He is very raw but everything he has done has been impressive. In one year’s time, he has went from being totally off the radar to being a potential top 10 NFL pick and top 5 rookie draft pick. In his one year at Tennessee, Cordarrelle had 46 receptions, 778 receiving yards, 308 rushing (at over 12 yards per attempt) and 10 total touchdowns (including one punt return and one kickoff return). When drafting Patterson, you are going the risk/reward route. He is likely going to come at a high price but the potential rewards are worth that price. His upside is probably the highest in this class. He will likely require a little patience as well though.
Andre Ellington RB Clemson
Height – 5’9”
Weight – 197 lbs
Andre Ellington is a unique running back that brings out some Jamaal Charles comparisons. His ability to accelerate is unmatched by any other running back in this class. He gets up to top speed very quickly. He is also an effective runner between the tackles which isn’t always the case for running backs with a slender build. Despite said slender build, Ellington has the frame to carry more weight and in fact gained seven pounds from his list weight at his senior bowl weigh-in. During his college career he averaged over five yards per carry in each season. Despite being a very productive player he was part of a committee of running backs. This can be viewed as a positive in fantasy circles because he has relatively low mileage on his legs. Ellington does everything very well: runs tough, makes people miss, catches the ball, and has big play ability. He has the most upside of any running back in this class.
Ray Graham RB Pittsburgh
Height – 5’9”
Weight – 192 lbs
Ray Graham is a little small. People will pass around the “change of pace back” or “third down back” tags too easily. The bigger concern with Graham is he is one year removed from a torn ACL. He did show improvement and a return to his old self as the season progressed though. Despite recovering from a torn ACL, Graham still possessed the best lateral movement and jump cuts of any running back in this class. He has the ability to cut on a dime and make defenders look foolish. Graham is also a very good receiver averaging 30 receptions per season over the last three years. Like Ellington, Ray Graham also has low mileage on his legs. He is a very good all round running back that could be great in the right situation.
These are just a few examples of potential impact guys in this year’s class. Any pick in the first two rounds should provide value to your fantasy teams. They are all lottery tickets though so you have to play the odds. There are very few safe/high upside guys in any draft class so you have weigh the importance of playing it safe versus going for the home run.