Fantasy football impact: NFL combine top performers

The NFL combine wrapped up over the weekend and there were results that you should definitely take note of as fantasy football owners.

NFL rookies have recently made big splashes when it comes to fantasy football production. Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard and Tyreek Hill all come to mind when thinking back on 2016. Elliott and Howard were 1-2 in rushing yards last season while Hill, despite getting very little playing time, ended up in the top-15 of wide receiver fantasy production.

NFL combine results can give us a clue as to who has the talent, if not the fanfare, to possibly make an impact early in their careers.

Let’s take a look at the fastest rookies at the combine first.

John Ross, a wide receiver out of Washington, broke Chris Johnson’s record (4.24 seconds) in the 40-yard dash, finishing in 4.22.

Ross previously recovered from a torn ACL two years ago. He’s expected to be the third wideout taken in the draft. His speed makes him an interesting fantasy prospect, but he’s not just a speed demon. He can get open and if he ends up with a team that knows how to utilize him, he could pay off for owners willing to draft him.

The second-fastest skill player at the combine was Curtis Samuel, a player who can line up in multiple positions but can be considered a project as a wide receiver. As they say, however, you can’t teach speed. If he ends up going to a team with a bonafide offensive guru calling plays, he could end up contributing early. Don’t use a high pick on him no matter where he goes, but remember his speed later in your draft.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Wide receiver Curtis Samuel of Ohio State runs after catching a pass during day four of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Curtis Samuel of Ohio State runs after catching a pass during day four of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The fastest running back at the combine was T.J. Logan out of North Carolina. His 4.37 was more than a tenth of a second faster than Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a better prospect than those running backs, but you can’t forget about him when you get to later rounds of the draft.

Another name you should remember is tight end Evan Engram. He finished his 40 in 4.42, faster than a lot of wideouts, and is an athletic option that can catch passes in all areas of the field. His biggest weaknesses are in technique, things that can be corrected with proper guidance. He could start early and that means he could be a steal in late rounds as your backup tight end.

Josh Malone also posted a great time at the combine. The receiver’s 4.40 time can make some forget that he was a late bloomer in terms of production in college. He had one good season, his junior year, before declaring for the 2017 draft. He’s got good size and his route running is better than average for a receiver as big as he is. He’s another one to look for late in your draft when you’ve got your WR1 and WR2 already set.

One more receiver worth mentioning is Taywan Taylor, the receiver out of Western Kentucky who didn’t blaze an amazing time in the 40 (4.50), but posted the top time in the three-cone drill alongside McCaffrey. He’ll play in the slot most likely and he’ll have opportunities to break open plays, utilizing his quickness. Again, no need to reach on a player like him, but remember his potential after you’ve got your starters in place.

Trevor Knight, Joshua Dobbs and Patrick Mahomes put up interesting numbers in the 40 and the three-cone drill over the weekend. Of all the positions going through timing drills at the combine, however, you learn the least about quarterbacks based off those results. So much more is involved in finding a signal caller that will excel at the next level. Base your rankings of rookie QBs on their body of work instead of combine times.

Road to the Draft: NFL Combine Forces

With the NFL Combine over we thought it’d be a good time to have a look at some of the top performers at the annual showcase of talent. Some of these players will make immediate impact on your fantasy team while others still have a ways to go. Monday we looked at running backs and quarterbacks. Today we’ll look at the wide receivers and tight ends who impressed at the combine.

Wide receivers

Will Fuller could turn into the kind of player that is a tough call week to week. He’s got speed, he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, and could end up being a big-play type player if he can consistently make catches.

Kolby Listenbee ran a 4.39, second-fastest among wide receivers, and could serve well if he fills out and keeps showing he has a good set of hands. The product out of TCU isn’t the prospect his teammate Josh Doctson is, but his performance at the combine could get him some attention.

Texas Christian receiver Kolby Listenbee runs the 40 yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Texas Christian receiver Kolby Listenbee runs the 40 yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Someone who doesn’t seem like he’ll be ready to contribute early is Trevor Davis out of Cal. His 4.42 40 and good performances in the vertical, 3-cone drill and the 60-yard shuttle drill could help him land a spot as a returner, though.

Ricardo Louis out of Auburn ran a 4.43 and was a top performer in the bench press, vertical jump and broad jump. The results help, but he’s lacking a lot of the things you look for in a consistently good receiver. If he finds a way to catch the ball consistently and run better routes, he could make something of himself in terms of fantasy. Don’t take a risk on him at this point.

Tight ends

Ben Braunecker, the tight end out of Harvard, scored in the top-5 among tight ends in every drill at the combine. He’s a real interesting prospect in that he has size to be a matchup problem but is a little rough around the edges. He needed to do well in the 40, but his 4.73 probably won’t turn many heads. The jury will be out on him until he makes a camp.

 

Road to the Draft: NFL Combine Forces

With the NFL Combine winding down we thought it’d be a good time to have a look at some of the top performers at the annual showcase of talent eligible for the NFL draft. Some of these players will make immediate impact on your fantasy team while others still have a ways to go. Today we’ll look at the running backs and quarterbacks who impressed at the combine and you can check back here tomorrow when we look at wide receivers and tight ends.

Running backs

Keith Marshall was a highly touted recruit when he showed up at Georgia. He impressed early as a freshman, rushing for 759 yards and eight touchdowns. A torn ACL the next season led him to play in just eight games over two years. He only rushed for 350 yards in relief as a senior, but his showing at the combine could boast him up some draft boards. He posted the top 40-yard dash time among running backs and had the most bench press reps among non-fullback running backs with 25. He isn’t the known commodity that Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry are, but his performance at the combine has turned some heads.

Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Tyler Ervin was the second-fastest running back at the combine, clocking a 4.41 40-yard dash time. He also had the second-best broad jump and vertical jump. He lacks size and doesn’t look like an every down back, but he’s not afraid to run between the tackles. He has potential as a kick returner and could contribute as a versatile player on a team that uses multiple backs.

Kenyan Drake, the second fiddle to Derrick Henry at Alabama, ran a 4.45 40 and performed well in both the broad jump and the 20-yard shuttle drill. He broke a couple of bones during his college career but out of the shadow of his Heisman trophy winning teammate he has the opportunity to be a versatile back in the NFL. He had 29 receptions as a senior and rushed for 408 yards. His 95-yard return for a touchdown in the national championship proved he puts the “all” in “all-purpose.” If he finds a role in a good offense, he could turn into quite the sleeper pick.

Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Daniel Lasco is a name we may, or may not, become familiar with in terms of fantasy football. The product out of Cal ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and then had the best vertical and broad jumps. He was second in the 60-yard shuttle drill. His best season was two years ago when he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 33 receptions for 356 yards. He injured his hip and ankle as a senior and failed to reproduce the numbers he had in 2014. He doesn’t seem to be an instinctual runner and that could keep him from having a fantasy impact.

Quarterback

Dak Prescott ran a 4.79 and also performed well in the vertical and broad jumps. He really helped himself in passing drills and could possibly emerge as the top quarterback option after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, both of whom performed as well as expected.