On The Clock: Rueben Randle vs. Tavon Austin vs. DeAndre Hopkins (PREMIUM PREVIEW)
You're ON THE CLOCK! You want to fill that last flex spot in the middle of the eighth round. Do you draft the New York Giants' Rueben Randle, St. Louis' Tavon Austin or Houston's DeAndre Hopkins? Our Fantasy Football Expert Larry Gold makes the case for each.
It is the middle of the eighth round, and your draft is coming together nicely. You have already locked up three bell-cow running backs, three dynamic receivers and a strong tight end. There are only four quarterbacks off the board, so you make the decision to wait as there will be plenty of quality signal-callers available a few rounds from now.
Your balanced roster allows for flexibility with the next selection, but you recognize there are only three wide receivers left before a tier fall-off that are worthy of your last flex spot. None of the running back options available are locks for heavy snap counts initially, and you are looking for immediate gratification with this pick. You settle on taking a wide receiver, but which way to go is the question. All three receivers have high ceilings but low floors that worry you. What to do?
Fortunately, we are in a slow draft, so our clock reads eight hours. The other drafters will just have to wait while we examine the pros and cons of our three options. Sorry, guys.
Randle enters his third season with the Giants and will be given every opportunity to seize the role vacated by Hakeem Nicks. Randle has already shown progression as his year-two production dwarfed his rookie-year totals. With Nicks gone, Randle is in line for a significant uptick in offensive snaps. Randle saw 556 offensive snaps last season while Nicks lined up on offense 800 times. Randle, sporting a 6-foot-2 frame, figures to be the favorite red-zone target of Eli Manning, particularly since the Giants are void of an imposing tight end.
Out is Kevin Gilbride, the Giants' offensive coordinator for the past seven seasons. In steps Ben McAdoo and his West Coast offense. Randle is now forced to absorb a new system, a process that should take some time. Manning and Randle already have issues being on the same page. In 2013, Randle ranked among the bottom in the league with a 51.9 percent target efficiency. While that figures to improve with a more efficient passing game, the lack of chemistry is a concern. The Giants will look to be a run-first team, potentially capping the targets for all receivers. Randle is the No. 2 receiving option on a middle-of- the-road offense. He will additionally face stronger corner coverage than he did in previous years with Nicks present. Even back in his days at LSU, Randle has never been a high-volume receiver. He could be too reliant on touchdowns to be an every-week WR3 or WR4.
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