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Fantasy football: Value of the 2016 NFL Draftees

As one draft ends, another one is only a few months away. Which rookies from the 2016 NFL Draft should be on your radar come this August?

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Whether or not Bob Quinn addressed all of your perceived needs the Lions have in the draft is irrelevant.

2016's Mr. Irrelevant himself, Kalan Reed, will remain irrelevant... unless you play in IDP leagues.

What is relevant, however, is the fact that the 2016 NFL Draft is officially in the books. Free agency is largely over with, outside of a few stragglers, but soon enough, people will start to formulate predictions of what players will make each team's 53-man roster come August. Those rosters mean the season is almost here. And if the NFL season is almost here, that means another draft is even sooner. Oh, yes, people, as one draft has ended it's time to turn your attention towards the most important fake draft of your life: the 2016 fantasy football draft.

This piece is the beginning of a series in which I offer to you, the loyal Pride Of Detroit reader of fantasy articles, players that I "like, love, and loathe" from the 2016 NFL Draft. After I've exhausted the rookie options the draft has presented, I'll be more than willing to listen to suggestions you offer in the comments for me to take a closer look at. For instance, someone chimes in with: "Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr and Joe Flacco" in the comments. I would tell you then the player that I "love" in the group, the one I "like" and the one I "loathe." But for now, before we get ahead of ourselves with any mock drafts, let's simply take a peek at what the 2016 NFL Draft rookie class has to offer you in both redraft and keeper leagues.


WR - Michael Thomas, Saints

First of all, the Saints got a great value selecting Thomas where they got him -- 47th overall and the sixth wide receiver to come off of the board -- and the situation in which he was drafted into bodes well for the statistics he could potentially put up. The Saints threw the ball around last year... A lot. This should come as little surprise to you, the reader, considering the prolific passing offense the Saints have had in previous years with Drew Brees at the helm and the likes of Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Pierre Thomas tallying up receptions. Graham and Pierre Thomas weren't a part of the 2015 Saints, and the receiver Michael Thomas figures to replace Colston who's no longer on the Saints' roster heading into 2016. Still, the Saints threw the ball 667 times last season, good for the second most amount of pass attempts in the league. Brandin Cooks will still get a ton of looks, as will last year's rookie and late-season breakout performer Willie Snead, but considering Thomas' 6-foot-3 frame, his terrific body control and strong hands in 50/50 situations, he certainly could figure in as a red-zone threat for the Saints this season.

Monitor Thomas' progress early on in the season in an effort to claim him while he's still available.

Redraft round projection: UDFA.

Keeper round projection: late third, early fourth.


RB - Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

I don't know if this was the right pick for a team looking to compete for an NFC Championship next year, but the Cowboys selecting Elliott at No. 4 overall makes him not only one of the most interesting rookies heading into the 2016 season, but from a fantasy standpoint, Elliott running behind that Dallas' offensive Line is going to be an option worth considering early in your draft. That aforementioned offensive line is not to be overlooked or understated when it comes to projecting the potential production Zeke could provide. Over the past three seasons, the Cowboys have had a string of 1,000 yard rushers, including DeMarco Murray's season in 2014 where he amassed a league leading 1,845 yards on the ground. Even Darren McFadden was able to rush for 1,089 yards, breaking the century mark for only the second time in his career. Forget about the acquisition of Alfred Morris, forget about him splitting the work with McFadden, this is Ezekiel Elliott's job to lose...which he won't.

I'm expecting more production out of Zeke than either of the rookie running backs -- Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon -- taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, whether it's catching it out of the backfield or in the rushing game. As long as Zeke remains healthy, since Gurley did miss the first three games of the 2015 season, Elliott will have the leg up on putting up better numbers; he'll have more opportunities and better weapons surrounding him than Gurley did a season ago in St. Louis.

Redraft round projection: mid-second, early-third.

Keeper round projection: early first.


WR - Corey Coleman, Cleveland

Not feeling it this year for Corey Coleman in Cleveland. For starters, I'm not a big fan of trusting rookie receivers to shoulder the load for their team. From the looks of it, Coleman has a clear path to being a starting receiver, as little resistance stands in his way in terms of competition. I don't think I'm as wary as others of what Gary Barnidge will be able to do this year, but I don't think he'll come anywhere close to the numbers he put up in 2015, but he will probably still garner a good chunk of the targets in Cleveland in 2016. Regardless of who ends up winning the starting job at quarterback for the Browns, both Barnidge and Duke Johnson Jr. -- one of the most prolific receiving backs in the league not named Theo Riddick --  will certainly be safe, efficient check-down options as the team tries to limit the amount of turnovers they have this season after finishing tied for the third-most in the NFL (30).

What I'm trying to get around to saying is that while the Browns have an opening for a No. 1 wide receiver, and Coleman could claim that spot as early as Week 1, nothing about this team excites me much from a personnel standpoint on the offensive side of the ball. Robert Griffin III is a stop-gap, as much as I'd like him to see him succeed, and I'm not sure how the offense will adjust to Hue Jackson's vertical offense and power run game.

Redraft round projection: UDFA.

Keeper round projection: late-third, early-fourth.