NFL Draft Wrap - Round 1Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III going first and second, the first round of the 2012 NFL draft changed the landscape of fantasy football right off the bat. This year's version could not have been more different. It took over an hour, and eight picks, before anyone was chosen who would make even a small impact in 2013 fantasy football, with speedy receiver Tavon Austin going to the Rams. It was nearly another hour before a quarterback was drafted, with E.J. Manuel going to the Bills. Manuel was the only quarterback taken, and no running backs were chosen. Let's assess.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills: Manuel is raw and lacks polish, but he's big, athletic, and goes to a Bills team that's desperate for a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, you'd probably have to share that same desperation to draft Manuel in standard formats in 2013. That said, we've seen rookie quarterbacks earn fantasy profits two straight years (Cam Newton in 2011 and Luck, Griffin, and Russell Wilson in 2012), and the Bills have some talent on offense - C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson, and a top-five offensive line. It's unlikely Manuel makes a fantasy impact in standard formats this year, but the upside will force you to keep an eye on western New York this fall, particularly with Manuel's rushing ability.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: Austin is small - 5-8 and 173 lbs - but he's versatile, shifty, and has elite speed, qualities that should be accentuated by the turf in St. Louis. Austin can't jump - his 32" vertical is ridiculously subpar for an elite athlete, but the Rams weren't likely to send him on those types of routes anyway. Jeff Fisher's plan is clearly to get the ball to Austin in space, an area where he excelled at West Virginia. Expect Austin to be Sam Bradford's top option in 2013 out of the slot, replacing the departed Danny Amendola. There's WR3 upside here.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: The Texans have had a gaping hole at their second receiver position for a few years now. They're hoping Hopkins fills that hole. Even if he does, Houston loves to run inside the ten and Andre Johnson should dominate the targets again in 2013. I like Hopkins more than Patterson for sure, and I suppose there's upside with Matt Schaub at QB, particularly if Andre Johnson gets hurt. It's just hard to get too excited about a rookie receiver on a run-first team.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings: Greg Jennings is the only Vikings receiver most casual fans have ever heard of (remember, Percy Harvin is in Seattle), so obviously they needed help here. Patterson may be the long-term answer, but he's raw and with an unsettled quarterback situation, I struggle to see Patterson making much of a fantasy impact in 2013.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: The Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham in the first round in 2010, so it was more than a mild surprise to see them go back to this position in the first round in 2013. The comparisons to the Patriots two-TE system are inevitable, but even if you think the Bengals tight ends are comparable to those in New England, we all know Andy Dalton is no Tom Brady. It's hard to see two tight ends having a lot of fantasy value in Cincy, especially with A.J. Green dominating the targets.