Some players stand out because
they are special athletes, while others thrive simply because
they do everything well that is required out of their position.
The latter applies to Perkins, whose lack of long speed is about
the only thing that kept him from being a second-round pick. The
UCLA product is very competitive and very comfortable out of the
backfield while displaying a nice mix of physicality and elusiveness
as a runner. Even better: he fumbled only twice in over 700 college
carries and brings it as a blocker in the passing game as well.
In New York, he doesn't face a lot of competition for modest Year
1 contributions, although he may be limited to committee duties.
Perkins automatically becomes the best dynasty prospect of the
current Giants' running backs, however, and a strong case can
be made for him to come off the board in rookie drafts in the
early second round.
5.11 - RB Jordan Howard, Bears
Howard isn't going to excite the masses with breakaway speed
and only amassed 24 catches during his college career, but he
is an efficient runner with good vision who is kind of a bull
in a china shop, meaning he is a good complement to new lead back
Jeremy Langford. In fact, his biggest positive my actually be
his biggest negative: the refusal to avoid hits. However, that
kind of style - plus his plus-ball security skills (0.8 percent
career fumble percentage) - makes him a great fit in a short-yardage
role under HC John Fox, who has a long history of utilizing a
committee at running back. Howard figures to be Langford's handcuff
for fantasy purposes, so he's worth a late-round selection in
redraft leagues. Langford figures to be the lead back for a while
in Chicago, however, meaning he is probably worth no more than
a third-round pick in rookie drafts.
5.15 - WR Jordan Payton, Browns
Labeled as a possession receiver throughout his record-breaking
career at UCLA, Peyton blew the minds of personnel executives
by running a sub-4.5 in the 40 at the NFL Combine, although that
didn't do much to enhance his draft stock. Part of the reason
for that is because his play speed doesn't seem to reflect his
timed speed. Be that as it may, Payton is a physical route-runner
with some of the best hands in this class and great size for his
position (6-1, 207). He'll arrive at camp as the No. 4 receiver
in all likelihood, but I like his chances of emerging as a starter
opposite fellow rookie Corey Coleman before the end of the season.
The quarterback situation in Cleveland limits his upside in fantasy
upside, although I like him as a potential late second-round pick
in rookie drafts.
5.18 - RB Jonathan Williams, Bills
Williams missed all last season with a foot injury and faces long
odds of overtaking LeSean McCoy or Karlos Williams anytime soon,
but it would be a mistake to write him off because he does possess
feature-back potential as a physical runner with better-than-expected
lateral agility for a 220-pounder. As a likely third-string running
back, he offers no redraft value, but he is still worthy of a
long-term stash and an early third-round pick in rookie drafts.
5.34 - RB Alex Collins, Seahawks
Only three SEC running backs have eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards
in each of their first three seasons. They are Herschel Walker,
Darren McFadden and Collins. This selection likely means the end
of Christine Michael in Seattle (again?) as teams usually don't
carry four backs on the game day roster. Thomas Rawls and Day
2 pick C.J. Prosise figure to be locks. Collins compares very
favorably to Chris Ivory, who has carved out a very nice career
in the NFL as a pounder with the ability to accelerate quickly.
He has a realistic shot of giving Rawls a run for his money and
could steal some goal-line carries from him.
5.35 - WR Rashard Higgins, Browns
Get the sense the new regime in Cleveland believed the cupboard
was a bit bare at receiver? "Hollywood" Higgins is the
fifth wideout the Browns have drafted and was arguably the most
accomplished at the college level, leading FBS in receiving yards
in 2014 with 1,750 at Colorado State. The school's all-time leader
in receptions (239), receiving yards (3,649) and receiving touchdowns
(31) actually had the worst season of his college career with
a new quarterback in a new offense last year. Higgins profiles
as a possession receiver in the NFL and figures to do battle with
Jordan Payton for the right to serve as Corey Coleman's long-term
complement at receiver. Payton has more upside, but Higgins isn't
too far behind. There's no redraft to speak of here, but he should
come off the board a few picks after Payton in rookie drafts.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.