Amari Cooper, WR Oakland Raiders: Last time the Raiders had a deep threat, Barack Obama wasn’t president. Cooper is the new deep threat and he has looked great so far in preseason. The Raiders are slowly coming back. They could use a better WR2, and possibly an upgrade at tight end, but I’m more concerned about the left side of their o-line. Despite that, it’ll be a good year for Cooper.
Julian Edelman, WR New England Patriots: This pick does seem a little low for Edelman, and I’m not hating on the whole Brady situation. The Patriots spread the ball a lot, and their best receiver was a tight end last year. Seven different players caught a receiving touchdown on the Patriots roster last year. He’ll have a few decent games, maybe a really big one or two. Because he’s on the Pats, don’t expect an average of 12-15 points per game from this guy.
Keenan Allen, WR San Diego Chargers: Another good athlete, but not exactly an explosive offense. Allen has a lot of room for his value to rise. To start, Malcom Floyd is near the end of his career at the age of 33, and is injury prone as well. Last year was also the first year Floyd played a whole season, since 2009. The Chargers are also relying on a rookie for their rushing attack. If Melvin Gordon is a bust, the Chargers may go to the air more. With Antonio Gates suspended the first four games, Allen will see an uptick in targets. Things could fall in perfect place for Allen, but that is speculation. I’m waiting until early fifth before I look for him.
Brandon Marshall, WR New York Jets: You might be thinking this is way too many receivers in a row, but these guys have more upside than the others coming up. Brandon Marshall has some upside and I actually think his value goes up with Geno Smith going down. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent back up, and the Jets will be playing catch-up. Marshall is easily the Jets best receiver. He is getting older, but Marshall has still got size and is a nice red zone target.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh Steelers: He was a top five quarterback last year and will be top five quarterback this year. He’s got the best weapon in Antonio Brown, and nice role players in Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Not to mention Le’Veon Bell taking the pressure off the passing game. There are many options to throw to in this offense, and defenses will have to choose which game to defend; the run or the pass. It’ll be a great year for Big Ben.
Golden Tate, WR Detroit Lions: One of the best second options in the NFL, Golden Tate will range from mediocre to great games. He plays second to an injury prone Calvin Johnson. When Johnson sits out, Golden Tate’s value sky rockets. The Lions throw a ton, so even being the second option in Detroit, he’ll get his fair share of targets. However, Calvin Johnson is a huge red zone target and will get more scoring targets than Tate, but given Johnson’s past, things can change.
Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints: This is unusual seeing Drew Brees this low. Over the last few years, not only has Bress’ weapons declined, so has his passing yards. In 2011 he threw for 5,400 yards, it has slowly declined down to 4,900 yards last year. His touchdowns have declined as well. He’s still a top quarterback. Brees will throw for over 30 touchdowns, and I’ll look at Brees in mid-fifth.
T.J. Yeldon, RB Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars put their trust in Yeldon, and I think he is going to emerge as the main starter in Jacksonville, but that’s not exactly a good thing. He’s going to endure some tough games. With the scoring chances the Jags do get, Yeldon has a good shot. He’s going to be decent FLEX option, but will disappoint you in some weeks. Remember he’s on the Jaguars, but could emerge as a solid player.
Ameer Abdullah, RB Detroit Lions: I’ll admit, after seeing Ameer Abdullah do well so far this preseason, he has moved up in my ranks. Abdullah has been doing great, and is a threat to Joique Bell’s top spot in the Detroit backfield. With a young guy in the backfield, the Lions could justify running more, but that’s merely speculation. It’s still a bit early to start calling for a breakout season, but if he keeps at his current pace, this could be a great value pick late in the fifth.
LeGarrette Blount, RB New England Patriots: He’s suspended the first week of the season, but after that he becomes number one man in the Patriots rushing attack. It’s crazy that the guy at the top of depth chart in New England would be this low, but Bill Belichick chooses a new favorite running back from week to week. It also seems possible that Jonas Gray could emerge as the starter. Either way, Blount will be a good filler player, a guy to plug in on good matchups. Just pay close attention to the Patriot pre-game reports.
Giovani Bernard, RB Cincinnati Bengals: Gio Bernard took a major slide. He went down in Week 8, causing Jeremy Hill to come in. Bernard might be the goal line back, but he will have a sprinkle of low scoring games. He will have a few multi-touchdown games as well. Be careful how you choose to play him, and keep an eye on the workload he receives. I’m not looking for Bernard until late in the fifth.
Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills: The Bills have a great defense. Offense, not so much. The thing that scares me about the Bills right now is that I’m convinced I know who the starting quarterback is. I believe it’s Matt Cassel, but I could be wrong. He’s still the number one option in Buffalo, but they have a nice running game to rely on as well with the addition of LeSean McCoy. He had a tough time scoring late in the year last year. Watkins will have some low games, but still will have mostly decent games. I’m not sold on Watkins enough to take him higher than late in the fifth.