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- Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans was part of a tremendous rookie class of wide receivers, probably the best the NFL has ever seen. I have a feeling Evans will get a bunch of targets this year. Jameis Winston has some learning to go through, but the Bucs don’t really have a running game they can rely on quite yet. The defense is improving, but still years away from being considered a knockout”. In short, the Buccaneers will pass a lot, and Evans will be on the plus side of most of those attempts.
- Mark Ingram, RB New Orleans Saints: The third round this year is the reason why even new, or inexperienced players have a chance to get both a really nice running back and receiver. Typically, I tell new or inexperienced players to go RB, RB, because the lack of talent depth compared to other positions. This year some options open the playbook for new players with guys like Mark Ingram helping them out. The Saints are slowly transitioning to a run first team. They still have Drew Brees under center who will certainly throw the ball a fair share, but these guys can take control of games and start running the ball. With the lack of top notch talent at wide receiver, look for Brees to make quite a few dump offs to Ingram this year as well.
- T.Y. Hilton, WR Indianapolis Colts: Hilton has something to prove this year, which is to prove that he’s worth the five-year $65 million dollar extension he just signed last week. Before free agency, I had Hilton higher on my list, but since then the Colts signed Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. The Colts have one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, but they hurt each others fantasy value based on the fact that a lot of the targets can and will be split up. Regardless, Hilton will still have more good games than bad ones, I’m looking for him early third round.
- Frank Gore, RB Indianapolis Colts: He’s not done yet, I really thought Frank Gore would retire as a 49er. He’s certainly on a better offense this year. Gore’s time left in the NFL is very limited. Despite his age, Gore is still a top 15 fantasy running back. If I was making a list for dynasty, I would probably have him lower, but this is for re-draft leagues. Frank Gore will benefit from teams playing the pass. Gore has one more year in him I think, look for him at 26th overall.
- Lamar Miller, RB Miami Dolphins: I wrote a player profile on him earlier this summer, and I still like this guy. Miller isn’t exactly a workhorse for Dolphins like Marshawn Lynch is in Seattle, but Miller still gets a decent amount of looks. The Dolphins are starting to build a good team. Miller will benefit when the passing game does well, and will have his games where he bails out the passing game. Look for a decent year from Miller, he’ll struggle at times, but not very often. I think middle third round is a fair spot to take Lamar Miller.
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR Houston Texans: If you started moving Texan wide receivers up on your rankings list, you’re probably paying close attention to their troubles at running back. The Texans are going to be in a lot of close games this year, forcing them to throw. I would put Hopkins higher, but I don’t have a clue who is going to win the quarterback job in Houston and I’m not crazy about either candidate. Hopkins however has the talent to help whoever does win the job, which is why I’m not dropping him way down. He’s easily the first option in Houston and it’ll be a decent year for him, I have him at 28th overall.
- Alfred Morris, RB Washington Redskins: Personally, I’m avoiding Morris this year, but I have him ranked as the 15th best running back. Personal feelings set aside, Morris is a good back. He broke the 1,000 yard mark last year and scored eight touchdowns. There isn’t a whole of competition at running back in the nation’s capital either. I think the Redskins will be awful this year, and Morris will let you down some games. I’m not criticizing people for taking Morris, but I’m staying away from Redskins players this year. If I was going to take Morris, it would be middle third round or later.
- Melvin Gordon, RB San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon is another one of those guys I want to put higher on my list, but for the obvious unknown I can’t. Will he be a consistent threat? I think yes, but only time will tell. Also, we don’t know what kind of workload the Chargers have planned for Gordon. Danny Woodhead could certainly steal some time from Gordon, but that remains a huge question mark. I’m usually not big on rookies so I may look for other options, but I could certainly see myself rolling the dice on this guy in the middle-late third round.
- Jimmy Graham, TE Seattle Seahawks: Finally, signal caller Russell Wilson gets a decent target to throw to. It was kind of an off year for Graham last year, but he was still the third best tight end last year. I’ve been hearing that Drew Brees made Jimmy Graham great, and that may be the case, but Russell Wilson has been doing the same with some of the guys he’s had to throw to over his short career. I think Graham does really well this year, and I have zero issues taking him around the tail end of the third round.
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR Denver Broncos: I think Emmanuel Sanders will have decent numbers most weeks, but he’s going to sprinkle in some really nice games too. Peyton Manning is still a great quarterback that can manipulate defenses better than anyone playing. Demaryius Thomas is the number one option in Denver, but Sanders is going to have games where he’s covered by a less talented defensive back. I also have Sanders as one of my sleepers for a top ten receiver. I am all over this guy in the late third round, but don’t be surprised if he’s taken earlier.
- Brandin Cooks, WR New Orleans: Brandin Cooks is a bright, young receiver. He’s the number one option for Drew Brees, and I know that sounds all fine and dandy, but we all know Brees spreads the love around. It’s tough to say who’s going to be Brees’ main target each week. I don’t see that trend being bucked this year either. Some weeks Cooks will be man, some weeks Marques Colston, maybe even some weeks Josh Hill. Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham both left, and because of how Brees is, Cooks’ value didn’t exactly skyrocket. It’ll be a decent year for Cooks. I’m taking him no higher than 35th overall.
- Jordan Matthews, WR Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles will have a good offense once again this year. They were the third highest scoring offense last year. This year will be Maclin’s first year as the number one wide receiver in Philly. With the new rule for extra points, look for Chip Kelly to gamble a little bit more. I think we’ll see Matthews get a few of those cheap two point plays. I believe the potential is there for Matthews, but I have him as the last pick in the third round because I know there is some more proven guys ahead of him. Still, I like Matthews at the last pick of the third round in 12 team leagues.
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