Day 3 stocked with sleepers
There has never been a single fantasy-relevant player selected on Day 3 of the NFL draft.
That, of course, is because until 2010 there had never been a Day 3 of the NFL draft. There have, in fact, been plenty of fantasy-relevant players taken in Rounds 4 through 7 of the draft, including in the past five years: Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Owen Daniels, Brandon Marshall, Jerome Harrison, Marques Colston, Steve Breaston, Brent Celek, Ahmad Bradshaw, Tim Hightower, Pierre Garcon and a bunch more. Last year, Louis Murphy, Austin Collie, Johnny Knox, Bernard Scott, Julian Edelman, Sammie Stroughter and Rashad Jennings all came out of the late rounds to find their names on the lips of fantasy owners, too.
Let's take a look at Saturday's draft action, and find some names you might want to remember this summer.
107. Buffalo Bills: Marcus Easley, WR. Easley is known as having occasionally spotty hands, but running 4.46 at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds at the combine is impressive. He fits the mold of the big and fast wide receiver that can be a fantasy star sooner than you expect, and he lands with a Bills team that has no proven talent opposite Lee Evans. James Hardy is coming back from his knee injury and hasn't shown anything in his first two NFL seasons, and the other options are Steve Johnson and Roscoe Parrish. Easley probably needs a year to get his feet under him in pro football, but he's someone to watch in camp and the exhibition season.
112. New York Jets: Joe McKnight, RB. The Jets' selection of McKnight signaled the end of Leon Washington's time in New York. McKnight is the same kind of quick player Washington is, and can be a third-down back right now; he's got good hands and real explosiveness. However, with LaDainian Tomlinson on hand to back up Shonn Greene, there doesn't figure to be a ton of work for McKnight right away. In fact, that was going to be Washington's problem had he stayed with the Jets: he was going to focus on special teams and only occasionally work his way into the backfield. That might not have played well for an outspoken guy in a contract year, so the Jets dumped him to the Seahawks, under the assumption that the rookie McKnight will be much quieter.
113. New England Patriots: Aaron Hernandez, TE. If he's healthy, we like Rob Gronkowski more in fantasy leagues this year than Hernandez. They'll both labor for the Patriots, but whereas Gronkowski can be an in-line blocker, Hernandez can't, and in New England that doesn't fly. I won't be shocked to see Hernandez work his way into multi-receiver packages at some point this year, but honestly, the Pats need to show they're ready to throw to their tight ends much at all before you go drafting either of these guys.
114. Baltimore Ravens: Dennis Pitta, TE. I think Pitta has a better chance at unseating fellow rookie Ed Dickson than Hernandez does of toppling Gronkowski, but of course, Todd Heap is also in Baltimore, so you're probably not drafting either of the Ravens' first-year tight ends. Pitta is older (he did his BYU mission), but has Dickson's same field-stretching talent. The selections of Pitta and Dickson most likely mean this will be Heap's last season as a Raven.
177. Cleveland Browns: Carlton Mitchell, WR. Mitchell and Marcus Easley have extremely similar measurables, meaning each of them has the body to be a No. 1 NFL receiver. This kid is 6-3, 215 pounds and ran a 4.49 40 at the combine. Whether or not Mitchell (or Easley or Mike Williams or several other big receivers drafted this weekend) can develop into a Miles Austin or Brandon Marshall comes down to passion and willingness to work, and that's something no scout can be sure about when the money starts flowing. Mitchell's landing spot, Cleveland, isn't exactly rife with proven receiving options (Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey, Josh Cribbs), but Mitchell is really raw. He's a better sleeper for 2011.
180. Jacksonville Jaguars: Deji Karim, RB. The Jaguars did well to draft Rashad Jennings in the seventh round last year, as Jennings became Maurice Jones-Drew's backup and could be a bigger factor if MJD's touches are somewhat limited in '10. Now they'll try Southern Illinois' Karim, a 210-pound back who ran a 4.37 at his pro day (he wasn't invited to the combine). Karim and Jennings aren't the same kind of runner; Jennings is a much bigger man, and a pounder, so I expect him to keep his "MJD handcuff" status. But let's see how things develop in camp. Karim did suffer a torn patellar tendon in '08.
188. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jonathan Dwyer, RB. I know some "insiders" who had Dwyer rated as high as No. 4 among running backs coming into this draft, so the fact he lasted until halfway through the sixth round was a shocking development. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported after the draft that several teams had removed Dwyer from their boards because of an undisclosed medical condition, but finally the Steelers bit, and if the kid is healthy, this could be one we're talking about in a couple of years. Seriously, he was in Ryan Mathews territory just a couple of months ago. Obviously, Rashard Mendenhall is the main guy in Pittsburgh, and Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman are also on hand. But Dwyer is already a better player than both of those backups. I wouldn't say this affects Mendenhall's fantasy value yet, but I'd love to see Dwyer work his way onto the field soon and prove his detractors wrong. There's an outside shot he could be Mendenhall's handcuff.
193. Green Bay Packers: James Starks, RB. Starks isn't a threat to Ryan Grant just yet, but I love the guy's potential to be an NFL starter in the next few years. He's a big man, at 6-2 and somewhere in the 220-pound range, and fell this far in the draft because he missed the entire '09 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Starks ran a 4.50 at the combine, is a good blocker and pass-catcher, and is one of those big men who somehow regularly find their way through the hole with good burst and make people miss in small spaces. He's not a burner, won't get around the corner very often, and of course, we can't be guaranteed the shoulder is right. But I nominate him as a potential No. 2 rusher in Green Bay in Week 1. Brandon Jackson has a challenger.
200. Philadelphia Eagles: Charles Scott, RB. Scott raised red flags during the scouting season when tests revealed a fractured collarbone. He's a power inside rusher who can get through the hole when one is there. I don't think NFL teams view him as an eventual starter, and he'll never be a big-play guy, but given how the Eagles have struggled to find short-yardage runners over the past few seasons, there's a chance Scott could get into the mix with bangers like Mike Bell and Leonard Weaver this year.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.
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2010 Fantasy Football Offseason
ESPN.comkeeps you connected to fantasy football all offseason long with updated rankings, mock drafts and analysis of all the important moves.
NFL Draft• Day 1: Ryan Mathews the big winner
• Day 2: Toby Gerhart now a handcuff
• Day 3: Rounds 4-7 can yield sleepers
• Matthew Berry's Top 150, updated June 4
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated May 11
• Fantasy Staff Top 200, updated April 30
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated April 19
• Matthew Berry's Top 100, April 8
Analysis from Christopher Harris
• Don't expect much from T.O. in Cincinnati
• Vincent Jackson no longer a top 25 receiver
• Jason Campbell is still bland in Oakland
• LenDale White, Leon Washington in Seattle
• Brandon Marshall deal to Miami boosts Henne
• Santonio Holmes' value falls with trade to Jets
• Donovan McNabb's stock drops with Redskins
• Willie Parker joins Redskins veteran RBBC
• Browns wheeling and dealing potential options
• LDT signing with Jets muddies Greene's value
• Larry Johnson still irrelevant with Redskins
• Derrick Mason's re-signing helps Flacco
• Antonio Bryant decent fit with Bengals
• Thomas Jones loses lots of value with Chiefs
• Reggie Brown intriguing with Tampa Bay
• Boldin trade doesn't do much for his value
• Taylor, Burleson open free-agency season
• NFL scouting combine fantasy review