Which NFL veterans had their fantasy value impacted by the draft?
A couple weeks ago, NFL teams added hundreds of new players to their rosters during the NFL draft, which means we have to readjust who we're going to put on our own fake rosters in coming fantasy football drafts.
We've discussed which rookies should have the biggest effect on fantasy drafts and where they could end up getting picked. This week, we'll look at some of the NFL veterans that have seen their own fantasy value change because of incoming rookies.
Four veterans whose fantasy value improved
Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: While it's very tough to climb into "fantasy starter" status at the quarterback position, no one saw his stock improve more than the Bucs' new quarterback. New head coach Lovie Smith drafted a huge wide receiver (Mike Evans), a pass-catching tight end (Austin Seferian-Jenkins) and a pass-catching tailback (Charles Sims) with his first three draft picks. McCown has to officially beat out Mike Glennon for the starting job, but that seems more of a formality at this point.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Entering the draft, Newton had Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant as his starting wide receivers. The Panthers took Florida State beast Kelvin Benjamin to add a more imposing vertical threat, although like Cordarrelle Patterson, he will need some time to develop. Newton will figure out ways to exploit Benjamin's matchups, as this will be the first wide receiver he has played with in the NFL with Benjamin's blend of size and talent.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons added tackle Jake Matthews to their offensive line, which should help keep Ryan upright in 2014. He was sacked 44 times last season, making it tough for him to connect with his banged-up wide receivers. The Falcons also brought in sure-handed RB Devonta Freeman, also out of FSU, to back up Steven Jackson and hopefully emerge as a poor man's Warrick Dunn.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills: Coming into camp with a year under his belt and the best wide receiver in the NFL draft running routes for him makes Manuel a popular sleeper pick in fantasy drafts as a QB2. Sammy Watkins essentially replaces Steve Johnson in the offense, and he might need a few weeks to settle in, but Manuel now has Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Scott Chandler, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, who all have above-average hands in the passing game.
Nine veterans whose fantasy value declined
Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans: The Titans were the first ones to blink in the NFL draft, taking the first running back from a weak RB class. Bishop Sankey joins Tennessee as a good all-around tailback out of Washington, and Greene will now have to battle him for carries. Just a few weeks ago, Greene had the job to himself after Chris Johnson left to fill Greene's old job with the Jets. Greene was picked in Round 16 in one mock draft I did, and he went undrafted in the SI mock.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers: While Greene ended up with a new teammate that's expected to take away most of his carries, Gore suddenly has yet another running back to try to keep behind him. The 49ers drafted the best running back prospect from the 2013 NFL draft (Marcus Lattimore), but a college knee injury kept him on the bench all season. Now, San Francisco drafts the player many believed was the best running back prospect from the 2014 NFL draft in Carlos Hyde. The rookie out of Ohio State will join Gore and Lattimore, along with Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James on the roster. Is there a better job in the NFL than Tom Rathman's gig as the Niners' running backs coach?
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Jackson turns 31 in July, and he's coming off a bad hamstring injury last season. The Falcons brought in Freeman to take away carries, and Jacquizz Rodgers is still on the roster. Atlanta retooled its offensive line from both free agency and the draft, but Jackson will be hard-pressed to get over 225 touches in 2014.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams: The Rams drafted a running back for the fourth time in three seasons, adding Auburn's Tre Mason, another workhorse back from the SEC. It looked like third-year back Isaiah Pead was going to be the odd-man out until the Rams unexpectedly cut Daryl Richardson, also from the class of 2012. Head coach Jeff Fisher said Stacy could get 70 percent of the carries in 2014, but that was before St. Louis took Mason in the third round. Mason has drawn comparisons to Ray Rice, although he's not as adept of a pass blocker just yet. In the three mock drafts I've done this past week, Stacy was picked 15th, 16th and 31st overall. It was only a few weeks ago that he was a low first-round candidate.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals added LSU's Jeremy Hill, who will join last year's rookie standout Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati's backfield. Hill is a big back with experience in a pro-style offense, and he's expected to get work immediately. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bengals plan to keep Green-Ellis on the roster as a mentor for Hill, who had off-field issues in college. This news basically hurts the 2014 fantasy value of both running backs.
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants: The Giants drafted Hill's teammate at LSU, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who went to Eli Manning's high school in New Orleans and participated in his passing camps. Randle was looking to grab Hakeem Nicks' targets, but last year's inconsistency looks like it will cost Randle in 2014. Beckham was considered one of the best route-runners in the draft, and he'll see a lot of snaps across from Victor Cruz.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints: The addition of speedy wideout Brandin Cooks takes a little shine off of Stills' prospects in his sophomore season. Cooks was one of the fastest players in the draft, and he'll be running on turf as part of one of the best offenses in the NFL. While the rookie will get some attention, Stills still looks like a good ninth-round pick, though, as the Saints are reloading a bit in the passing game, losing running back Darren Sproles and wide receiver Lance Moore.
Steve Johnson, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Moving from Buffalo's offense to San Francisco would seem to be a huge benefit for a wide receiver. Unfortunately, Johnson leaves an offense where he was the clear No. 1 receiving option to an offense where he'll be vying for targets with veterans Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Quinton Patton and Vernon Davis. Taking a flier on Johnson in the later rounds isn't a bad idea, since he could enter camp rejuvenated and ready to contribute to the best offense he has ever been a part of.
Tim Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After finishing 2013 as the best fantasy tight end among rookies (13th overall among all tight ends), Wright's prospects were looking up when the Buccaneers brought in McCown. Unfortunately, they also brought in free agent tight end Brandon Myers and then drafted Seferian-Jenkins, making Wright an afterthought in 2014 fantasy drafts.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.