Melvin Gordon NFL Draft  Todd Gurley NFL Draft
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2015 NFL rookie running back class.
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1.Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon ran for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns last year for Wisconsin. He caught 19 passes for an additional 153 yards and three touchdowns. Gordon dominated Nebraska last year for 408 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013 Gordon had 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’ll tote the rock immediate for the Bolts and should have the biggest impact among rookie running backs.
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2. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley is an amazing talent when healthy. His health is his weakness though. Gurley was limited to six games last year, but he managed 911 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 989 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013 despite missing three games. Gurley played the full season as a rookie, which resulted in 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6’1″, 222 pound Gurley shouldn’t have much trouble supplanting Tre Mason as the lead back. I prefer Gurley to Gordon in dynasty leagues.
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3. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
Tevin Coleman has a solid shot of the feature back role for the Falcons. He ran for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for Indiana. Devonta Freeman figures to be more of a third down back.
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4. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
T.J. Yeldon has to earn carries away from Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson, but clearly he’s the future of the Jaguars’ running game. He ranks third in dynasty leagues. Yeldon 1,272 total yards and 13 touchdowns over the past three years at Alabama. At 6’1″, 226 pounds he should be a force.
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5. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
Ameer Abdullah lands in a talented offense, but has to share the load with Joique Bell. He ran for 1,611 yards and 19 touchdowns last year and 1,690 and nine scores in 2013. Abdullah averaged 24 catches over the past three years, but Bell will likely handle third down duties.
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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Press Conference
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2015 NFL rookie quarterback class.
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1. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston threw for 3,907 yards and 25 touchdowns, which was a step back from the 4,057 yard and 40 touchdowns he produced as a freshman. He should hit the ground running with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson in his arsenal.
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2. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota will have more of an adjustment to the NFL game. He threw for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2012, 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2013 and 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns last year while averaging 745.7 yards and 9.7 touchdowns on the ground. Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas and Delanie Walker give him some decent options.
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3. Bryce Petty, New York Jets
Bryce Petty averaged 4,027.5 yards and 30.5 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He ran for 14 touchdowns in 2013. Petty likely won’t get a look this season for the Jets.
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4. Sean Mannion, St. Louis Rams
Sean Mannion threw for 4.662 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2013, but dipped to 3,164 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. He also isn’t likely to get any run in 2015. Garrett Grayson and Brett Hundley are better dynasty options.
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Johnny Manziel NFL Draft
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie quarterback class.
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1. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles was not only the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he’s also the one most likely to play meaningful snaps in the 2014 NFL season. The third overall pick is 6’5″ and 232 pounds. He threw for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns at Central Florida. Bortles should be able to get a shot with Chad Henne holding down the starting job in Jacksonville. Not having Justin Blackmon at his disposal hurts, but the Jags did a nice job of adding Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round.
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2. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Despite the talk surrounding Johnny Football, don’t expect him to be Johnny Backup all year long. Brian Hoyer is the top man on the depth chart, but with 192 career pass attempts and a big game against a bad Minnesota Vikings defense shouldn’t give him a very firm grip on the job as he recovers from a knee injury. Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns to win the 2012 Heisman. He responded to offseason criticism with 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns last year. Manziel ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman and “just” 759 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last year. At 6’0″ and 210 pounds that trend should continue against the bigger, faster NFL players. Like Bortles, Manziel will have to get by without a star player. In Manziel’s case it is Josh Gordon.
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3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr will get to learn behind the newly-acquired Matt Schaub, who has been pretty average the past few seasons despite having Andre Johnson to throw to. Neither Schaub nor Carr have good talent to work with in Oakland, but that could lead to an earlier look at Carr. He threw for 3,544 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore, 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior and 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior. He has the pedigree. Hopefully he has more success than his big brother David.
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4.  Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy will get to learn behind Matt Cassel, who will form a bridge to the Bridgewater era. Cassel will likely miss a couple of games during the year, which will give Bridgewater a chance to get his feet wet. If he runs with the job he will never look back. Over the past two seasons the 6’2″, 205 pound Bridgewater averaged 3,844 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He’ll have to add to his frame, but Bridgewater isn’t a running quarterback that you have to worry about getting put in harm’s way.
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5. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans
Zach Mettenberger rounds out the top five only because of Jake Locker’s injury history and a general lack of immediate impact players at the position in this year’s draft crop. Mettenberger is 6’5″ and 235 pounds, but lacks any sort of mobility. He also has character concerns. Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns. If Locker goes down again, Mettenberger could see some action.
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Jadeveon Clowney Gamecocks
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In 2006 the Houston Texan shocked the world by selecting Mario Williams over the likes of Reggie Bush and Vince Young. Reggie Bush has had a nice career as did Williams. Vince Young was an amazing college quarterback, but his game just didn’t translate at the pro level.
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This year the Texans again have the first pick in the NFL Draft. They could choose quarterback Blake Bortles, offensive lineman Greg Robinson or the speedy Sammy Watkins. I think they would be best served going with defensive lineman in this draft by selecting Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina.
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Williams is 6’6″ and 292 pounds. Clowney is 6’5″ and 266 pounds. Clowney has impressive speed and athleticism. Williams has 76.5 sacks in eight season, including four double-digit sack seasons. Playing opposite of J.J. Watt could lead to even impressive numbers for Clowney.
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It would be different if a talent like Andrew Luck was available. Unfortunately for the Texans, Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater aren’t surefire prospects. This is a quarterback driven league. If you can’t have a top passer, go after the talent to try to slow the elite ones down. Having Watt and Clowney as bookends would be a great start.
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Sammy Watkins Clemson
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By Jared Smola, Draft Sharks
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The NFL spotlight has shifted to the incoming rookie class.  And most of the top prospects will be in Indianapolis for the upcoming Scouting Combine.
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The Combine gives NFL teams and fantasy owners an opportunity to get an up-close look at the rookies.  Like, really close.
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Often referred to as the Underwear Olympics, the Combine’s actual value is debatable.  How these prospects perform on the field is much more important than their results in the 40-yard dash or bench press.
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Still, it’s helpful to know just how big, strong and fast these guys really are (or aren’t) – especially at the skill positions we care about in fantasy football.
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Here are 10 players fantasy owners should be keeping a close eye on at the Combine.
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Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
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He’s the only QB on this list … because he might not stick as a QB at the next level.  (Don’t put much stock into QB performances at the Combine.  They’re throwing without a pass rush to receivers they’ve never worked with.)
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Thomas arrived at Va. Tech as a raw project.  And he hasn’t shown much growth over the past 3 seasons, with his completion percentage vacillating from 59.8 to 51.3 to 56.5.
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Perhaps Thomas will resuscitate his QB stock by displaying refined mechanics at the Combine.  ESPN’s Mel Kiper still believes a team will gamble on Thomas as a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round.
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What’s equally likely, though, is that Thomas’ Combine performance has teams thinking about a position change.  The 6’5, 254-pounder is a freak athlete.  He rushed for 1,337 yards and 24 TDs over his final 3 college seasons, and some scouts believe he’ll record a sub-4.6 40 time.  That type of speed could turn Thomas from a disappointing QB to an intriguing TE.
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Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
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Hyde heads to Indianapolis as the favorite to be the 1st RB off the board.  He enjoyed a breakout senior season, ripping off 1,521 yards and 15 TDs on 208 carries — a sizzling 7.3-yard average.
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Scouts love Hyde’s sturdy 6’0, 235-pound frame, tackle-breaking ability and balance.  The concerns are with his speed, quickness and agility.  Those traits will be under close examination at the Combine.  Keep an eye on Hyde’s times in the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill and shuttle run.
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Hyde’s performance in those drills will help determine whether he’s a potential feature back or more of an early-down pounder.
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De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
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Thomas figures to light up the 40-yard dash and the other speed and agility tests.  He should show well in pass-catching drills, too.  That doesn’t figure to impact his draft stock much, though, because we know this is an explosive player.  He averaged a gaudy 7.8 yards per carry and 11.5 yards per catch in 3 college seasons.
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Thomas’ stock will rise or fall based on his measurements and strength.  Oregon lists him at 5’9 and 169 pounds.  That might be generous.  If Thomas comes in much lighter, it’ll be tough for teams to justify spending more than a late-round pick on him.  Teams will also be keeping a close eye on Thomas’ performance on the bench.
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Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
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Watkins is almost unanimously regarded as the top WR in the 2014 draft class.  He’s also the early favorite to be the 1st rookie off the board in dynasty drafts.  Fantasy owners should be glued to this guy’s workout.
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Watkins is expected to take part in all the drills at the Combine.  The 40-yard dash will be the main event.  Watkins’ agent claims he’ll be pushing for the Combine record, which stands at 4.24.  Even something in the 4.3s would propel his draft stock.
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It’ll also be interesting to see just how big Watkins is.  Clemson lists him at 6’1, 205 pounds.  If that’s confirmed in Indianapolis, teams will have no problem making him a top 10 pick.  But Watkins’ profile will take a hit if he measures in much shorter or lighter.
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Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
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We know that Evans is big and physical.  But is he just a #2 possession receiver, or can he develop into a dominant #1?
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Evans can start to answer that question at the Combine, where he’ll reportedly take part in all drills.  Scouts will keep a close eye on his 40 time.  Something in the 4.4s would have Evans pushing Sammy Watkins for top WR honors.  Low 4.5s would be just fine for the 6’5, 225-pound Evans.  If he slips into the 4.6s, though, we could see a Keenan Allen-like slide into the middle rounds.
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Click here to see the remaining five players to watch at the NFL Combine.

Click here to enter the 2013 Lester’s Legends Fantasy Football Team Name Contest!
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Montee Ball Combine
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Now that the NFL Draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2013 NFL rookie running back class.
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1. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Ball should assume the starting role in a very potent offense. Peyton Manning has plenty of weapons in the passing game, but he knows the value of a strong running game. Ball ran for a ridiculous 73 touchdowns over the past three seasons. He had 39 combined touchdowns in 2011. Ball should handle the early downs and the goal line work. He should be a solid RB2 with some upside.
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2. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Bernard gives the Bengals a dynamic running back. In two years at North Carolina he averaged 1,240.5 rushing yards, 426 receiving yards, 16.5 total touchdowns and 46 receptions. He’ll have to share the load with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which limits his 2013 value, but he gives Cincinnati more explosiveness. His versatility should keep Bernard on the field.
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3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Lacy was expected to be the first running back to come off the board, but some concerns caused him to slide. Green Bay should be a great landing place. He should see plenty of early down carries and in the red zone. He’d likely be ranked higher if the Packers didn’t add Jonathan Franklin as well.
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4. Le’veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell should see plenty of opportunities as Pittsburgh struggled to find an answer at running back last year. Bell isn’t an elite talent, but he’s a big back with solid hands. Bell gets a little bump in PPR leagues.
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5. Johnathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers
The Packers all but ensured they will have a better running attack next year by drafting Lacy and Franklin. Lacy’s presence hurts Franklin’s value, but he should still get his touches. If Lacy’s toe becomes an issue, suddenly Franklin has a ton of appeal.
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The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was dominated by players on either side of the trenches. There were nine offensive linemen among the first 32 picks. Four defensive tackles and six edge rushers were taken. Outside of the trenches, seven defensive backs and one middle linebacker went off the board. There wasn’t a single running back to come off the board. That leaves five first round players that could find themselves being snatched up by fantasy owners, particularly in dynasty leagues.
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The Quarterback
The Buffalo Bills shocked the world a bit by taking Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and passing up both Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib, a player that Doug Marrone coached at Syracuse. A lot of analysts are suggesting that there must be something wrong with Nassib since Marrone bypassed him. Personally, I don’t buy into that school of thought. They think that Manuel has more upside. Coming on the heels of the success that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had last year, it’s not surprising that an athletic quarterback like Manuel was a hot commodity on draft day. Pairing Manuel’s ability with C.J. Spiller has the makings of an exciting brand of football.
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So what are Manuel’s fantasy prospects? He has plenty of appeal in dynasty leagues, but won’t like make his mark this year. The Bills brought in Kevin Kolb to be the short-term answer. Manuel could get a shot if towards the end of the year as the Bills fall out of contention. He could get a look sooner if Kolb is injured or completely ineffective. Regardless, there is no reason to concern yourself with E.J. Manuel in redraft leagues.
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The Wide Receivers
West Virginia’s Tavon Austin has the opportunity to be a dynamic playmaker in the St. Louis Rams’ offense. He combined for 215 receptions over the past two seasons for 2,475 yards and 20 touchdowns. He should be a nightmare in the slot with his explosiveness. He could also produce in the return game. Austin is most valuable in PPR leagues. His size (5-foot-8, 172 pounds) could be an issue, but his blazing speed makes him worth the risk.
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Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins gives the Houston Texans a potential threat opposite of Andre Johnson. He exploded last year for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns on 82 receptions. He has good size (6-foot-1, 214 pounds) and should benefit from all the attention that Johnson and Arian Foster command. It’s possible that he’s the most productive rookie wide receiver in standard fantasy leagues.
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Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson could take some time to develop for the Minnesota Vikings. He is explosive and powerful, looking like a running back in the open field. He’s a bit raw having played just one year of Division I football. Patterson should make an immediate impact in the return game, but it could take some time to develop into a reliable option in the passing game. Patterson can likely be overlooked in redraft leagues.
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The Tight End
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, along with incumbent Jermaine Gresham, give the Cincinnati Bengals a nice 1-2 punch at tight end. Eifert has the size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds), speed, body control and hands to become a solid NFL tight end. It will likely take him some time to develop into a fantasy option, particularly due to Gresham’s presence.
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