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First-Round Recap: Fantasy fallout from the first 32

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

With the first round in the books, it's time to look over what the new names and faces mean for our fantasy leagues in 2012 and beyond.

Here are the basics on the first 32 picks: Four quarterbacks, three running backs, four receivers, zero tight ends, four offensive linemen, seven defensive linemen, five linebackers and five defensive backs.

Below I'll list each of the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers selected in descending order of fantasy value, along with a judgment on whether they will be a fantasy factor in 2012. I'll also list all of the defensive players that should be on IDP league radars, also in descending order of value.

Offense

Quarterbacks


Robert Griffin, Baylor (Second overall, Washington)

Yes, Griffin is very fast and can throw a great deep ball, but something should be made very clear: he is not Cam Newton. Newton is better at standing in and navigating through the pocket, and Griffin doesn't have the build or power to match Newton as a rushing threat, especially in the red zone. With that said, Griffin should be a fantasy factor right away as a rookie and even brings some starting fantasy potential to the table. Only four teams threw more passes than Washington in 2011, and the Redskins obviously plan to run a lot of spread-out looks in 2012 with all of Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson around. Griffin is very comfortable in and very adept at orchestrating the spread shotgun formation, so pass attempt volume isn't the only reason to expect good numbers from Griffin.

Verdict: RELEVANT

Andrew Luck, Stanford (First overall, Indianapolis)

Luck might be a more efficient passer than Griffin in 2012, but his more conservative and less talented offense figures to keep him from matching Griffin's fantasy utility. The Indianapolis receivers are slow, Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme are long gone, and it's possible that no team in the league has a more depressing one-two punch at running back than Donald Brown and Delone Carter. Landing a player like Stephen Hill or Coby Fleener would certainly be a nice boost for Luck's fantasy prospects, though, and his ability to be a standout runner makes him a matchup-based consideration at the least.

Verdict: SOMEWHAT RELEVANT

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (22nd overall, Cleveland)

There's no doubt about it: Cleveland drafted Weeden in the first round with every intention of seeing him displace Colt McCoy as the Browns starting quarterback. There a couple problems, though. The first is that Cleveland still has no talent at receiver. If the Browns weren't so desperate for wideout talent, not even Greg Little would be held in as high of a regard as he is. The other problem is that Weeden could be unpolished as far as pocket presence goes, because he rarely saw NFL-style pressure in Oklahoma State's lightning-fast spread offense. McCoy, in that case, could fend surprisingly well for himself in a training camp competition. Even if McCoy does win the Week 1 starting spot, however, the Browns figure to struggle, the result being that Weeden would likely start no later than Week 8 or so.

Verdict: FRINGE

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (Eighth overall, Miami)

Tannehill is in Luck's league when it comes to arm strength and athleticism, but serving two years as Texas A&M's best wide receiver stunted his growth. For that reason, it's not especially easy to see Tannehill beating out Matt Moore for the Week 1 starting role. Moore was surprisingly good in 2011, completing 60.5 percent of his passes and throwing 16 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions (six lost fumbles were a major flaw, on the other hand). Tannehill has the running ability to be a fantasy factor whenever he does see the field, in any case, and Joe Philbin figures to call plenty of pass plays, so he's a justifiable roster stash in two-QB leagues even if he's a backup to start the season.

Verdict: FRINGE


Running Backs


Trent Richardson, Alabama (Third overall, Cleveland)

Even with the Pittsburgh and Baltimore defenses raining on his parade, Richardson is such a significant talent with such a huge workload in store for him that he possesses RB1 upside as a rookie, and should be drafted as no less than an RB2 in almost all cases. He's not a burner, but Richardson's exceedingly rare power and balance will allow him to break into the secondary often, and he's fast enough to pull away once he gets there. A skilled blocker and pass-catcher as well, Richardson will play all three downs and serve as Cleveland's goal-line back.

Verdict: FANTASY STAR

Doug Martin, Boise State (31st overall, Tampa Bay

LeGarrette Blount can run and jump over tacklers, but his lack of reliability in terms of ball security, pass protection and pass-catching makes him a liability as a three-down player. The arrival of Martin, in that case, is very bad news for Blount. What Blount can't do Martin does very well, and it's not as if Martin isn't a dangerous runner. Martin is faster and quicker than Blount, shows better vision and balance, and boasts plenty of power. Blount should remain a factor in Tampa Bay since Greg Schiano is a throwback coach who figures to run the ball often, but Martin is the better fantasy option between the two, both in 2012 and beyond.

Verdict: RELEVANT

David Wilson, Virginia Tech (32nd overall, New York Giants)

Ahmad Bradshaw's toughness and effectiveness are not to be questioned, but when it takes bone marrow transplants to heal a foot injury, that foot is semi-officially a ticking time bomb. And the thing is, Wilson is too dynamic of a runner to keep off the field. Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and D.J. Ware combined for 369 carries last year, which is an average of roughly 23 per game. Something like a 15/8 split between Bradshaw and Wilson would not surprise, with Wilson getting more work as game situations become less competitive. Wilson will be a significant handcuff consideration, in any case, due to Bradshaw's injury history.

Verdict: RELEVANT

Wide Receivers


Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (13th overall, Arizona)

Injuries were the only thing that slowed Floyd down at Notre Dame, but it wouldn't be surprising if the work ethic example set by Larry Fitzgerald helps take Floyd to another level, in terms of all of durability, conditioning and explosiveness. Kevin Kolb conclusively demonstrated in 2011 that he's afraid to throw to Fitzgerald when he's double-covered -- which is to say, all the time. Early Doucet and Andre Roberts combined for 105 catches last year as Kolb cowered away from Fitzgerald's side of the field, and Floyd is far more talented than either player. Kolb could look Floyd's way surprisingly early and often in 2012.

Verdict: RELEVANT

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Fifth overall, Jacksonville)

Blackmon is too good to write off completely, but Jacksonville might be the absolute worst landing spot for his fantasy value. Blaine Gabbert didn't once give reason for hope as a rookie, and the Jaguars are a run-first offense to begin with. Laurent Robinson is another concern after a breakout season with the Cowboys, but history says injury will find Robinson sooner rather than later. But even if Blackmon is Jacksonville's clear No. 1 receiver for extended stretches, does it mean that much when Mike Thomas' team-leading 44 catches netted just 415 yards and one touchdown last year? It would be an upset if Blackmon totaled much more than 700 yards as a rookie.

Verdict: FRINGE

Kendall Wright, Baylor (20th overall, Tennessee)

Wright looks like a major talent, which is why Tennessee felt compelled to pick him at 20th overall, but he's unlikely to make a fantasy impact since Tennessee might have the league's deepest group of pass-catchers. Kenny Britt has arguably shown top-five potential as a receiver, while Nate Washington, Jared Cook, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins combined to total 215 receptions last year. Since he's such a dynamic talent, though, it's hard to not like Wright's long-term potential as a cheaper dynasty league investment.

Verdict: MOSTLY IRRELEVANT

A.J. Jenkins, Illinois (30th overall, San Francisco)

Jenkins is by most accounts the biggest surprise among the unexpected first-round picks. Despite that fact, there isn't much to dislike about him as a prospect -- he has good size (6-0, 190), is very fast and has reliable hands. He also produced over half of Illinois' receiving yardage and touchdowns in 2011. The problem is that San Francisco has a very run-heavy offense, and Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss combine to make a nearly insurmountable obstacle for Jenkins in the short term. He's only a dynasty league consideration.

Verdict: IRRELEVANT

IDPs


Defensive linemen


Chandler Jones, Syracuse (21st overall, New England)

Jones doesn't look like he'll be a pass-rush demon in the NFL, but his high tackle totals in college indicate that Jones could be one of the league's better IDPs surprisingly soon. He totaled 109 tackles in his first 25 college games, which projects to 70 tackles over 16 games, and he was even more productive in 2011 (38 tackles in seven games). Jones has a huge wingspan and surprising quickness, giving him rare range for a lineman and the ability to trap ballcarriers like bugs in a spider web.

Shea McClellin, Boise State (19th overall, Chicago)

McClellin's numbers at Boise State aren't terribly impressive (50 tackles and seven sacks in 2011), but that low output was largely due to the fact that the Broncos did such a good job of forcing three-and-outs. McClellin's actual effectiveness as a player gives reason to believe that his production will increase in the NFL. He's a player to monitor in all IDP leagues if he starts opposite Julius Peppers, as it will obviously not be McClellin who faces double teams in Chicago.

Quinton Coples, North Carolina (16th overall, New York Jets)

Although he'll be playing in a three-man front, there's still reason to believe that Coples could be a useful IDP in deeper leagues this year. The less talented Mike DeVito totaled 59 tackles at end in 2010 for the Jets, and Muhammad Wilkerson had 49 as a rookie last year. Coples is much more gifted than either player, so if he works hard off the field and keeps his motor running on it, Coples could go over 60 tackles in 2012.


Linebackers


Luke Kuechly, Boston College (Ninth overall, Carolina)

Even with Jon Beason and James Anderson to compete with for tackles, it would be a disappointment if Kuechly weren't one of the league's better IDPs as a rookie. His production at Boston College was jaw-dropping -- he totaled 532 tackles in three seasons with the Eagles. That's not a typo -- he averaged 177 tackles per year despite playing 12, 13 and 13 games in those three years.

Defensive backs


Mark Barron, Alabama (Seventh overall, Tampa Bay)


Barron was second on the Alabama defense last year with 66 tackles despite the fact that opponents rarely got the ball past the Crimson Tide linebackers, let alone the first down marker. Barron will almost never leave the field for Tampa, as he complements his strong safety mentality with good range and a huge wingspan that allow him to remain threatening in the passing lanes. He could be one of the league's better IDPs as a rookie.

Harrison Smith, Notre Dame (29th overall, Minnesota)

Smith is nowhere near Barron's talent level, but as a strong safety who produced in college (181 tackles between 2010 and 2011) he's still a good candidate to produce right away in the NFL. Minnesota certainly didn't draft him in the first round to leave him on the bench, and the weakness of the 2011 Vikings defense gives reason to believe that running backs and receivers will take the ball into the Minnesota secondary with good frequency, leaving Smith with plenty of tackle opportunities.