On the Clock: Round 3

The third round is, in my opinion, the last round of building a solid foundation for your team. It’s also the last round that you can seriously mess up your season. Make it through these next twelve picks, and beyond that the rest of the draft is about finding value, balancing your team, and making picks off of research and personal preference. In this round, and all rounds moving forward, worry less about rankings and more about balancing your team out; even if a running back is the best player available your first four rounds, you’d be foolish to take one each time. It’s also vital to balance safety and upside, as I usually like to have one safe and one risky player per position for my top two receivers and running backs. Hopefully this guide has done you well in helping you not lose your draft in the first three rounds.

3.01: T.Y. Hilton tops the third round for me. After quite the breakout season last year, Hilton is still the top receiving threat in a dynamic offense led by Andrew Luck. The Colts let go underwhelming veteran receiver Reggie Wayne and brought in slightly less underwhelming veteran receiver Andre Johnson, but I don’t predict Hilton’s targets to drop notably because of this. Furthermore, Hilton posted great numbers last year with less than 20% of Andrew Luck’s targets, so those aren’t a big need for him. No matter the personnel changes made over the off season, Hilton is still the top receiver in a pass-first offense and has Andrew Luck throwing him the ball, and that’s security. Just don’t expect Hilton to break into the top seven receivers anytime soon.

Safety: 4/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.02: Frank Gore is another safe pick with limited upside in Indianapolis. Let’s go down the checklist with Gore: he’s played all 16 games in four straight seasons, has had over 1,100 yards on the ground each of those seasons, managed a “disappointing” 9.5 points per game last season in a mediocre offense, and is now the goal line back for the Colts. He probably won’t get the touches to be an incredible back, but he’s a great RB2 candidate. Snag him if you can, because I see running backs dropping off soon after Gore is taken.

Safety: 3.5/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.03: Mike Evans posted quite the rookie season last year, with 12 touchdowns and 11.8 points per game. He’s got great upside for where he’s being drafted, but that’s because he’s got a new, unproven quarterback in Jameis Winston and Evans failed to score more than 8 points in games that he didn’t score a touchdown. It will be hard for Evans to match last year’s touchdown totals, so it will hard for him not to regress. However, if he even gets 10 touchdowns he could be great value for your team.

Safety: 2.5/5

Upside: 3.5/5

3.04: Jordan Matthews looks primed and ready for a great season. Shed the “sleeper” label, Matthews is ready to break into the top 12 receiver scene. He’s the top receiver in a fast Philadelphia offense, and has great size playing in the slot. Great on paper, but he’s been doing solid this pre-season so far too. Matthews showed great signs of potential last season, with 6 games over 10 points, and now he looks like he could live up to it.

Safety: 2.5/5

Upside: 3/5

3.05: Brandin Cooks is similar to Matthews and could also be in for a breakout year. After three games of 15+ points last season, Cooks is the top wide receiver in a heavily reshuffled Saints offense with Drew Brees at the helm.

Safety: 2.5/5

Upside: 3/5

3.06: Alfred Morris is never a sexy pick, but you can likely count on him to produce. However, he’s been on a three season decline and his performance is directly related to the presence of quarterback Robert Griffin III, who isn’t easy to rely on. Morris is known for a low ceiling, but his floor seems to be dropping as well.

Safety: 3/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.07: Joseph Randle has a higher upside but bigger risk than the running backs surrounding him. While preseason performance easily favors him over teammate Darren McFadden, he still hasn’t posted great numbers in the few high-volume games he’s had, and has had a lingering oblique injury. There’s also always the possibility that the Cowboys look for a free agent running back. However, he has a real opportunity to be the bell-cow back behind a solid offense and an elite offensive line in Dallas, and could easily end up as a top 10 running back if things fall into place for him.

Safety: 2/5

Upside: 3.5/5

3.08: Mark Ingram is an underwhelming pick to say the least, but never a bad one here. The top back behind a good offensive line and a great offense looks appealing, but he’ll also be competing for touches with the likes of CJ Spiller and even Khiry Robinson. While it won’t be a committee, it’ll be enough to annoy fantasy owners.

Safety: 3/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.09: Emmanuel Sanders will likely be drafted well before this, but I don’t think he should be. The new offense may be less pass-oriented thanks to Kubiak entering the system, this could be the year that Peyton Manning starts regressing, and Sanders still has to live behind Demaryius Thomas for targets. Expect Sanders to put up WR2 numbers most weeks, without much to look forward to.

Safety: 3/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.10: DeAndre Hopkins has all the workings to be a great receiver, except for his situation. After finishing as the #15 wide receiver last season, he’s still in a bad offense led by a bad quarterback and will now have to spend a good chunk of the season without Arian Foster to take some of the heat off. With all this said, Hopkins offers an unappealing combination of poor ceiling and poor floor compared to those around him.

Safety: 2.5/5

Upside: 2.5/5

3.11: Jonathan Stewart will be a great running back this season for every game that he’s healthy, that’s the only question. While he put up quality numbers his whole career competing with DeAngelo Williams for touches, he’s finally ready to be the top back in Carolina. You just have to worry about the fact that he’s missed 20 games in the past three seasons. Rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne may be worth the handcuff in deeper leagues, but you’re probably more likely to find a suitable player in the waiver wire if Stewart goes down.

Safety: 1.5/5

Upside: 3.5/5

3.12: Latavius Murray was a high-ceiling player once he hit the field last year, and still posted a respectable floor. Murray still has health concerns though, as he missed his entire rookie season due to an ankle injury, and he’s running behind a poor offensive line. After being quite the waiver gem from last season, I see Murray as slightly safer than Stewart, but not much.

Safety: 2/5

Upside: 3/5

 

fantasyreaList Writer: Blake LaBathe

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