Gambling is a necessary part of playing fantasy football. Sure, it's risky and many times does not work in your favor, but the potential rewards are just too tempting. NFL executives and fantasy owners alike are searching for the next big prospect, one that maybe flys under the radar or brings value in the later rounds. Then, there are those prospects with all the potential in the world, but also a great deal of downside. The gamble. As a Dynasty owner, we need to assess their unique skillsets/situations and decide whether or not we want to gamble on them as prospects. Much like we did with players like Tim Tebow and Jimmy Graham before the 2010 Draft, we look at a few of the unique prospects from this year's Draft.
QB Brandon Weeden
Everyone knows Weeden's story by now. He's going to be 29 years old in October, but otherwise profiles as a solid, above average QB prospect. Dynasty leaguers typically shy away from aging players and Weeden will enter the league in the middle of his prime years. He has likely maxed out his physical potential, but that does not mean he is without fantasy upside. While other owners chase prospects that may need significant development time (Nick Foles and Brock Osweiler, for example), taking a value pick like Weeden in the middle of your rookie draft could give you an instant impact. No, he's not going to be a QB1, but for those in 2QB and deep Dynasty leagues, he could be a solid QB2 answer for the next 3-5 years. Also, because of his age, you are likely to find out within the next season or two if Weeden is in fact the answer as an NFL QB. No one else in this Draft class is in as unique of a situation as Weeden and that makes his Dynasty value an interesting debate.
Dynasty Draft Advice: In QB heavy leagues, Weeden makes for a nice addition in the 2nd or 3rd round of your draft. His situation will dictate his immediate value, but he should wind up somewhere with a questionable starter and that means a potential early opportunity. However, if only elite QB's are at a premium in your league, you might want to pass in favor of a younger prospect with a higher ceiling.
QB Jordan Jefferson
A top QB prospect he is not, but Jordan Jefferson is a tremendous athlete. His dual threat ability makes him a very intriguing prospect if he can successfully convert to another position and harness his ability. He possesses an NFL arm, but lacks the accuracy, decision making and footwork to be anything more than a deep developmental player at the position. At 6'4" and 223 lbs. he could be a dominant wide receiver with his athletic gifts and raw talent, much like the original vision for Joe Webb when he was drafted by the Vikings (until they later converted him back to QB). Or perhaps he could be a utility player with the ability to take a few snaps under center on designed plays or line up in the backfield and take a few handoffs, a la Brad Smith. While that is not necessarily a recipe for fantasy success, his talent makes him worth tracking. There is a good chance he does not get drafted in late April, but he should find his way to an NFL camp shortly thereafter.
Dynasty Draft Advice: With Jefferson likely to go undrafted, you might want to do the same. Make sure to monitor his situation closely, though, and see what position he is going to work out at. At best, if you are in a very deep league, you may want to take a late round flier.
RB Chris Rainey
Much like Dexter McCluster two years ago, Rainey can bring a lot of different things to an NFL offense. Whether he brings points to your fantasy team is a completely different story. He is listed as a running back right now, may line up more at receiver and will probably make an initial impact as a returner. He has elusive speed and playmaking ability that teams crave, but a small build that leads to obvious durability questions. He's managed over 100 touches in a season once, last year with 171 rushes and 31 catches and over 1,200 yards. While McCluster has had limited fantasy impact thus far, Rainey may end up closer to a Darren Sproles type because of his skills as a pure receiving option. That would be the blue sky projection for Rainey, though, and he most likely is looking at a max of 8-10 touches per game.
Dynasty Draft Advice: Rainey is at risk of being overdrafted in Dynasty leagues. Should he land in an offense that will maximize his skillset, he's worth a late 2nd or early 3rd round selection. The risk is there for him to be a much more valuable NFL player than a fantasy one, especially if he's pigeon-holed into a minimal touch, gagdet type of role.
RB Bryce Brown
With only 115 career touches, you can look at Bryce Brown's collegiate career two ways - Either he has character and dedication issues that will continue to be a problem at the next level or he's got a lot of tread left on his tires. Brown is an ideal RB prospect minus the college production on his resume. After transferring from Tennessee to Kansas State and then leaving that team 3 games into the 2011 season, Brown is the definition of a risk, not unlike Syracuse's Mike Williams from two years ago. He's a raw prospect, but one with excellent size and bulk, good speed and above average athleticism. He could be a workhorse back if the opportunity presented itself, but needs to show greatly improved commitment and work ethic. He's certainly at risk to be out of the league as quickly as he entered, but his talent is enticing.
Dynasty Draft Advice: If he gets drafted it won't be until Day 3, but you are going to want to monitor his name closely. He could represent excellent late round rookie draft value, even if he's seemingly buried on an NFL depth chart this summer. If trouble follows him to the NFL, though, be prepared to cut bait and move on.
WR Stephen Hill
The hype machine started at the Combine for Stephen Hill. He's blessed with game breaking speed and a mammoth 6'4" frame. He rattled off 29 yards per catch as a junior last year. He has drawn favorable comparisons to future Beast and former Yellow Jacket Demaryius Thomas. He may get drafted in the 1st round on projection alone, but he also has a lot of things to work on. While he comes with solid hands, ball skills and acceleration, he needs to expand his route tree and hone his route running ability. At 216 lbs., Hill could also stand to add bulk as long as it did not come at the expense of his speed. If he maximizes his emense physical gifts, Hill could be an unstoppable force and go-to receiver.
Dynasty Draft Advice: If Hill falls out of the 1st round of your Draft, be prepared to pounce. He's riskier than most prospects and could be nothing more than a situational deep threat or even out of the league in a few seasons. On the other side, though, his upside is perhaps higher than any other receiver and it's that type of potential you want to fill your bench with.
TE Ladarius Green
More very large wide receiver than tight end, Louisiana-Lafayette's Ladarius Green is a dangerous pass catching threat. At 6'6" and 237 lbs. with good speed, he brings the potential to be a game changing dynamic player in the right offense. What he lacks in strength and blocking ability, he more than makes up for with his potential to stretch the field and make plays as a defensive mismatch. He'll need to polish his overall game and work specifically on route running, but he has a chance to be a special fantasy TE. His usage is going to largely depend on which NFL team rolls the dice on his talent, but he should come off the board by the beginning of Day 3 at the latest. The TE position is changing and Green has many of the characteristics of the new breed.
Dynasty Draft Advice: Potential-wise Green is right behind Coby Fleener, but he has a long way to go. If you can be patient and stash him on your bench, he's worthy of a 3rd round pick, especially with a clear path to playing time.
Check out all of our 2012 Draft coverage at BeastOrBust.com!