We are exactly one month away from the NFL Draft — a day that will likely change the fortunes of both your favorite team and your fantasy team.
We’ve all seen endless amounts of mock drafts over the past few months, but let’s be honest — none of them are going to be right. For that reason, it’s difficult to project what rookies will go where and what their fantasy value will be as a result.
I’ve gone ahead and taken the guesswork out of the equation and come up with a handful of players who — regardless of where they end up — need to be on your radar when your fantasy league drafts. Whether you are in a traditional or keeper/dynasty league, these soon-to-be NFL rookies will play a role in who takes home that fantasy hardware in 2014.
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Current Player Comparison: Julio Jones
Though slightly smaller than Jones, Watkins has the same abilty to take the top off the defense by going deep or turn a quick screen into an 80-yard score. He’ll be the No. 1 receiver within two seasons on any team but maybe two or three who draft him. For 2014, he’s a guy with 60-catch, 1000 yard potential wherever he goes.
Best fits: Browns, Raiders, Bucs, Jets
Carlos Hyde, Running Back, Ohio State
Current Player Comparison: Eddie Lacy
Hyde is a big, traditional three-down back with deceptive open field speed. He is everything you want in an old-school back who can tote the rock 20-25 times a game if needed. In the right situation, he should end up in the top half of the league in rushing in 2014.
Best fits: Falcons, Cardinals, Jaguars
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Current Player Comparison: Alshon Jeffery
Evans is a little bigger than Jeffery, but similar in that he uses his size to gain position and win balls. He is a guy who is still developing as a player and could become one of the top wideouts in the league. For now, he’s a solid No. 2 receiver on pretty much any team in the league and an invalueable red zone target wherever he ends up. He’s not going to gain separation on many corners in the NFL, but with his big frame, he’ll rarely not be open in the eyes of his quarterback.
Best fits: Raiders, Giants, Panthers
Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State
Current Player Comparison: Vincent Jackson
A lot of people are comparing him to Calvin Johnson. I’m not that brave. Benjamin is a monster, but he doesn’t have the same kind of game speed that Johnson has. He does have great hands and a knack for making tough catches in the clutch. If he’s on the field in the red zone, opposing defenses better know where he is, as he’ll likely be the quarterback’s first option.
Best fits: Rams, Jets, Patriots
Brandin Cooks, Wide Reciever, Oregon State
Current Player Comparison: Steve Smith
Cooks is an undersized wideout who plays bigger than he is, often winning jump balls you wouldn’t think he would. He has impressive enough speed to be a consistent deep threat and is accustomed to a high number of targets. He has the ability to excel on the outside or in the slot and will have immediate impact in PPR leagues.
Best fits: Patriots, Eagles, Panthers
Bishop Sankey, Running Back, Washington
Current Player Comparison: Doug Martin
I have Sankey as the best all-around back in the draft and a potential fantasy beast for years to come. He has a rare tendency for a guy his size to always be running downhill, looking for the extra yard. He excels as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and breaks arms tackles fairly easily for a guy his size.
Best fits: Ravens, Jets, Saints