It’s easy to say that we’re into the area where the picks don’t really matter, that they have minimal or even negative roster value, but I don’t think that’s the case for several reasons. First, the likely direct backup to Jonathan Stewart went in this round. Stewart’s backup always has value. Second, several intriguing IDPs came off the board in this stanza. Adding excitement to your rookie draft is one of the best reasons for including IDP in your league.
You can also increase the importance of your draft by de-emphasizing waivers. The RDL has 14 teams and 55-man rosters, so if you hope to find a lot of mid-season value on waivers, you’re going to be disappointed. (I bid 603 of my 1000 FAAB units on Top 10 Sleeper candidate Chris Matthews in our first 2015 waiver session.) I think having what amounts to a non-free agency league is a lot of fun. It forces you to use your draft picks wisely and to manage your roster without access to the FA free lunch.
I’ve added size, age, position, and team info for these players as it’s always helpful to have that in one place. In order to keep age consistent with earlier pieces, it represents age at the conclusion of the player’s final college season. Players will be approximately one year older at the conclusion of their rookie seasons.
Fleaflicker RDL – Round 5
No. 49 Paul Dawson, LB, Bengals, 6-0, 235
If Maxx Williams was the Jarvis Landry of tight ends, then Dawson gets that designation for linebackers. His Combine was so poor that he finished in the 13th percentile in SPARQ, but as bad as his timed athleticism may have been, his on-field performance was that good and more. He ranked No. 1 in CFF’s run stop percentage and was nearly twice as good as his nearest competitor. Not done there, he ranked No. 2 among non-edge linebackers in pass rush productivity. You can make a case for Dawson as the fourth IDP after Stephone Anthony, Eric Kendricks, and Vic Beasley are off the board.
No. 50 Preston Smith, OLB, Washington, 6-5, 271
A second round pick with a strong SPARQ (84th percentile), Smith will see immediate starting opportunity in Washington. Saddled with the LB label, he may have a difficult time ever ascending to LB1 status in most scoring formats.
No. 51 Kenny Bell, WR, Buccaneers, 22.8, 6-1, 197
James Todd names Bell one of his five deep sleeper receivers, and a look at his heatmap tells you why. Fifth-round receivers with poor age-adjusted production face very long odds to NFL relevance, but when a guy blazes a 4.37 forty, leaps 41 inches, and then goes video game style in the three cone (6.66), it catches your attention. Bell finished with a combined 133 in FD’s look at scaled speed and agility. That’s tied with the much larger Devin Funchess and one point better than Phillip Dorsett.
You can see that athleticism on display in one of the best plays in all of CFB last season.
No. 52 Vince Mayle, WR, Browns, 23.6, 6-2, 224
Mayle’s raw production has drawn attention in some quarters, but from an age-adjusted market share perspective he looks like a priority UDFA. Combine that with poor tested athleticism and a roster spot on the league’s most woebegone offense, and you can understand why he falls out of the Top 50 selections. Mayle was picked here by Matthew Freedman, who, in his role as Dissenting Costanzan, is contractually obligated to like prospects who are either tiny or old and slow.1 Freedman forecast this pick with an optimistic and compelling profile in our Late Round Sleeper article.
No. 53 Bud Sasser, WR, Rams, 22.6, 6-3, 219
For a player who seems likely to go undrafted in all but the deepest leagues, we actually wrote quite a bit about Sasser in the draft run-up, including a piece from Rich Hribar offering him as an arbitrage play on Jaelen Strong. Max Mulitz takes a closer look at Sasser’s athleticism and production profile and explains why he’s a better prospect than Mayle and DeVante Davis. Max likes him in the same range with players like Justin Hardy and Ty Montgomery. The Costanzan ranks him No. 1 on his list of 12 Super Sleeper Receivers for the 2015 Draft and says he might have been the second best receiver in the SEC last year.
No. 54 Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Panthers, 24.5, 5-10, 212
Artis-Payne’s RB Prospect Lab score of 44 puts him in the same range with players like Kenjon Barner and Joseph Randle, and the latter may be a particularly good comp. The elderly Auburn star’s best hope for fantasy value was landing on a team with an injury-prone starter and yet somehow no other real competition for touches. Now backing up Stewart in Carolina, that’s exactly how the scenario unfolded. In that context, Artis-Payne looks better than many of the RBs who went in Round 3.
No. 55 Kwon Alexander, OLB, Buccaneers, 6-1, 227
Alexander was a Combine winner (4.55 forty) who should battle Danny Lansanah for a starting position in Tampa. The 29-year-old put up an out-of-nowhere LB2 season a year ago and may not concede the job easily.
No. 56 Karlos Williams, RB, Bills, 21.7, 6-1, 230
Kevin Cole recently demonstrated why Williams is the most undervalued RB relative to reality draft position. Make sure to check out the full article.
The RB Prospect Lab loved his size/speed combination enough that his score bested Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson, and T.J. Yeldon despite the minimal on-field production. This was a great value for Renee Miller as she handcuffed LeSean McCoy.
No. 57 Shaq Thompson, OLB, Panthers, 20.7, 6-1, 228
Thompson is such a young and intriguing prospect that I had him going at 46 in my original rookie mock. Since then we’ve received mixed messages as he was one of the Combine’s bigger disappointments with a 4.64 forty and 33-inch vertical at 228 pounds. He did post a better Agility Score than Melvin Gordon (11.07), and Carolina showed great confidence in his future by selecting him at No. 25, a pick that was considered one of the draft’s biggest reaches. Carolina is already loaded at linebacker with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, but their scheme has also churned out big IDP stats for multiple LBs.
No. 58 Bryce Petty, QB, Jets, 23.6, 6-3, 230
Petty was my pick as a late round rookie pick to win your league. From the article:
He led the nation in deep passing TDs with a 20-1 ratio and featured one of CFB’s quickest releases (2.38 seconds to throw) which resulted in one of the lowest pressure percentages (22.1).
I’m more concerned with Petty’s age- and schedule-adjusted results than the fact they were accumulated in a “system.”
No. 59 Leonard Williams, DL, Jets, 20.5, 6-5, 302
Landing on a team with elite young defensive linemen like Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson makes Williams one of the draft’s biggest losers from a fantasy perspective. The Jets currently list him as “DL,” which means early drafters may have to guess at his positional eligibility in leagues that differentiate between DE and DT.
No. 60 Ben Heeney, LB, Raiders, 6-0, 231
Heeney is one of those fun sleepers you learn a lot more about when researching the IDP portion of your rookie draft. The Raiders fifth-round pick surprised at the Combine with a 4.59 forty and an absolutely ridiculous 6.68 three-cone. That athleticism may help explain why the Kansas star bested bigger names like Denzel Perryman and Benardrick McKinney in run stop percentage. There’s no immediate opportunity in Oakland with Khalil Mack, Curtis Loft0n, and Sio Moore the projected starters, but Lofton may be almost finished despite the new 3-year, $18 million contract.
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