Ben Tate finally gets a chance to be the big man in an NFL backfield. (USAT)
So here's how this works. Each Monday, the Yahoo fantasy crew jumps on a conference call to discuss the week that was/will be. As part of this process, we've decided to include a short mock draft - roughly, one-eighth the size of a normal draft, I shall call it mini mock. This week's mini mock draft (four rounds) deals with NFL veterans that signed with new teams in the offseason. These players were drafted based on their upside fantasy football potential for the upcoming '14 season. Take a look. ...
Round 1 Pick 1 — Ben Tate, CLE, RB (Scott Pianowski)
Pianowman says – We've all been eager to see what Tate might do as a featured runner, and we finally get the chance now that he's in Cleveland. Tate averaged 4.7 yards a carry during his Houston days, and the Browns should have reasonable blocking for him. Sure, teammate Terrance West could push his way into the mix, but how many tailbacks have the job to themselves these days? Cleveland's offense is on the way up, and the solid defense also helps the cause — I don't expect the Browns to be a punching bag this year.
Round 1 Pick 2 — Rashad Jennings, NYG, RB (Dalton Del Don)
3D says – During eight starts last year, Jennings put up a season’s pace of 1,306 total yards with 10 touchdowns while playing for a Oakland team that finished tied with the third fewest wins in the NFL. He now joins a Giants team that’s typically much better at run blocking as the clear favorite to be the lead back. Coach Tom Coughlin hates fumblers, so it’s good to know Jennings has lost just one throughout his career. Among all backs who saw at least 160 rushing attempts last season, only Chris Ivory and Adrian Peterson had a higher YPC after contact than Jennings’ 2.8.
Round 1 Pick 3 — Toby Gerhart, JAC, RB (Brad Evans)
Big Noise says – Perceptions about the ex-Viking are misconstrued. He’s too slow, not athletic enough, built more for a secondary role … Blah, blah, blah. Explain this then, in six career starts he’s averaged 4.5 yards per carry and 91.3 total yards per game. He’ll greatly outperform his 56.0 ADP (from Fantasy Football Calculator) as the Jags’ bell cow.
Round 1 Pick 4 — DeSean Jackson, WAS, WR (Andy Behrens)
Behrens says – Whatever else you think of D-Jax, he remains one of the league's most dangerous vertical threats. It's tough not to love the pairing with RG3, a quarterback with plenty of arm. It's easy to imagine Jackson finishing with 1,200 yards and 7-9 scores.
Round 1 Pick 5 — Chris Johnson, NYJ, RB (Brandon Funston)
Funston says – CJ's decline from 2K status has been much discussed in fantasy circles over the past couple years, but the fact remains that he's returned an RB1 value (top 12) in five of his six NFL seasons, including each of the past two years. He's proven durable (250-plus carries in every season) and versatile (average of 45 catches per season). And now he heads to a team in the Jets that has been among the top 12 in rush attempts in each of the past five seasons. I'm betting Johnson gets written off more than he should. There's another 1,200-1,300 total yard season left in him.
Round 2 Pick 1 — Golden Tate, DET, WR (Funston)
Funston says – The run-heavy system in Seattle wasn't the best place to showcase Tate's impressive all-around skills. With former New Orleans offensive assistant coach Joe Lombardi running the offense in Detroit, Tate's fantastic after-the-catch ability will be flaunted, and he won't have to worry about dealing with a crowd on the defensive side with Calvin Johnson hogging much of the attention.
Round 2 Pick 2 — Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, WR (Behrens)
Behrens says – As a high-volume target in a Peyton Manning-led offense, Sanders clearly has the potential for 1,000-plus yards and a significant touchdown total. There's no obvious reason to think the Broncos' offense will nosedive this season. Eric Decker's departure left 137 targets up for grabs in Denver.
Round 2 Pick 3 — Josh McCown, TB, QB (Evans)
Big Noise says – Minus the guys calling the shots, McCown's situation practically mirrors what he had in Chicago – aggressive vertical offense loaded with skyscrapers to throw to (Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Tim Wright, Austin Seferian-Jenkins). It would be no shocker if he occasionally cranked out QB1 production in 12-team leagues.
Round 2 Pick 4 — Knowshon Moreno, MIA, RB (DDD)
3D says – He enters 2014 as once again a clear lead back, but the downgrade of being one for Denver compared to Miami is huge. Moreno is well rounded, but he’s been injury prone in the past and quite obviously benefited from playing for such a dominant offense in 2013.
Round 2 Pick 5 — Hakeem Nicks, IND, WR (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – It's damn hard to go scoreless over 56 catches and 101 targets, and Nicks wasn't exactly a pinball machine in 2012, either. But maybe he's getting out of New York at the right time. The move from Eli Manning to Andrew Luck qualifies as an upgrade, and Nicks won't miss former NYG coordinator Kevin Gilbride, that's for sure.
Round 3 Pick 1 — Darren Sproles, PHI, RB (Scott Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Obviously he won't be a featured back; he's not made for that, LeSean McCoy is. But I fully expect Chip Kelly to have a ball designing plays for his new offensive toy, much like Sean Payton did in New Orleans.
Round 3 Pick 2 — Eric Decker, NYJ, WR (Dalton Del Don)
3D says – Here's another player coming off last year’s record-setting Denver offense, but his value was (rightfully) deflated here by moving from an offense that tossed an NFL-high 55 touchdowns last season to one that tossed an NFL-low 13. Decker himself accounted for as many TD receptions in 2012 (and was just two shy last year) as the entire Jets team. There’s a good chance Decker sees more targets in 2014 yet will be lucky if his TD total only drops in half.
Round 3 Pick 3 — James Jones, OAK, WR (Brad Evans)
Big Noise says – Oakland isn’t the most ideal environment, but he should attract a healthy amount of looks from Matt Schaub. He’s as good or better than Rod Streater and offers far more consistency than Denarius Moore. Jones should deliver back-end WR3 numbers in 12-teamers.
Round 3 Pick 4 — Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK, RB (Andy Behrens)
Behrens says – MJD certainly wasn't the best back available in this mock, but he was the best of the remaining names. You don't seriously think Darren McFadden is going to run away with the lead RB role for Oakland, right? Of course you don't. Jones-Drew has a clear path to 220-plus touches.
Round 3 Pick 5 — Michael Vick, NYJ, QB (Brandon Funston)
Funston says – Say what you want about Michael Vick, but when he's healthy, he typically posts impressive fantasy numbers — he was the No. 4 fantasy QB through the first four games of '13 before injuries predictably sunk his season. The Jets added offensive help in Chris Johnson, Eric Decker and rookie TE Jace Amaro, so this team shouldn't be nearly as bleak offensively as it was last season. Vick should have fantasy value this season as a plug-n-play QB, of course this is assuming that at some point he supplants Geno Smith behind center.
Round 4 Pick 1 — Steve Smith, BAL, WR (Funston)
Funston says – It's hard to say what Smith has left at this point in his career, but I'm at least curious to see if he can revive his flatlining fantasy line playing in Baltimore with Joe Flacco's big arm and playing opposite a strong weapon in Torrey Smith.
Round 4 Pick 2 — Donald Brown, SD, RB (Behrens)
Behrens says – In the unlikely event that Ryan Mathews gets dinged, this lottery ticket will cash in a spectacular way. Mathews isn't under contract beyond the current season, so Brown may just have serious fantasy value in 2015 and beyond.
Round 4 Pick 3 — Andre Brown, HOU, RB (Evans)
Big Noise says – He’s clearly the No. 2 to a revitalized Arian Foster, but if the injury imp snacks on the incumbent yet again, Brown would be a highly desirable FLEX option even in shallow leagues. His efforts against Oakland (119 tyds, TD) and Dallas (138 tyds) last year reflect that potential.
Round 4 Pick 4 — Stevie Johnson, SF, WR (DDD)
3D says – Before last year, Johnson had a three-season run that averaged 79.0 receptions, 1,041 yards and 7.7 touchdowns while playing with extremely shaky QBs. He’ll move from being his team’s No. 1 option in the passing game to likely No. 4, but Johnson is going to be dirt cheap as a result, and he’s still just 27 years old entering his best offensive situation of his career, so he’s not a bad late round flier.
Round 4 Pick 5 — Mike Williams, BUF, WR (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Talk about a player that needs a fresh start — a hamstring injury ruined his 2013 season, and then he was stabbed in the thigh (apparently by his brother) in March. But Williams should have some plays left in his 6-foot-2, 204-pound frame, and he's not that far removed from a couple of big-touchdown seasons (11 spikes in 2010, nine two years ago). Williams and Doug Marrone spent a year together at Syracuse University, so it's no coincidence the Bills made the move. Don't close the book on Williams yet.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Brandon Funston
- Rashad Jennings
- Eric Decker