Nelson had 8 games with Aaron Rodgers last season. If you prorate Nelson's numbers in those games over a full season, Nelson finishes as the #1 WR in all of fantasy football with a good margin to spare. Currently just the 7th highest drafted WR in fantasy.
Thanks in large part to the aftermath of the NFCCG, Crabtree's reputation is not on par with his fantasy production. When Crabtree returned in 2013, the 49ers offense immediately took off. When he was paired with Kaepernick in 2012, his production over those starts would have ranked 3rd in the league at WR that year if prorated over 16 games.
Crabtree is not an amazing talent, but you know how Kaep loves his first read, and Crabtree is usually the first guy Kaep looks to. I think he has a real shot at 1300 yards and 10 TDs, and could be a sixth or seventh round pick.
Very good receiver with WAY more targets, while drawing #2 CBs. Now playing indoors on turf in his home games. Great red zone target. Feels like a safe bet to finish in the top 20 for fantasy, and should be a mid rounder.
The #1 WR in fantasy over the last 4 weeks of 2013, as a rookie. He got an upgrade at QB, coached by Norv Turner. WRs tend to make big strides in year two. Lots of room for improvement from a scouting perspective despite production. Not saying he's the next Josh Gordon but he's following the same recipe.
Of course, Patterson has bust potential but as a mid-5th round pick it's something that can be easily survived especially if you go deep at WR in your draft. Just make sure those depth WRs are high percentage players (like say Michael Crabtree or Larry Fitzgerald) and not players you liked in college and hope will break out this year. It's okay to take a hack swing with Patterson and it's kinda okay to take a hack swing with random haven't-done-anything-yet young WRs, just don't do both or you'll end up magnifying your risk.
Take him with a 10th rounder if you have to, maybe even a little earlier depending on where he's going. There is serious talk that he might have his suspension reduced to 8 games, which means you'll have him on your team for almost half the fantasy season. It also means you'll have one of the elite WRs in the game for the fantasy playoffs. Think of this pick as the equivalent of an elite baseball team trading for an ace at the July 31st trade deadline. It's not just about value, it's about playoff value.
Lynch is falling into the late 1st or early 2nd currently. Even with terrible run blocking and playing half the season with maybe the league's least effective fullback (Coleman), Lynch still finished as the #4 RB in fantasy last season. With Harvin opening up the offense and Seattle's line being healthy, I think Lynch's arrow is pointing up, not down.
Another thing I love about Lynch in fantasy, he's consistent. Every year he gets his TDs, every year he gets his carries, every year he looks faster and more agile than before in spite of some extremely high workloads, which is incredible considering the punishing style Lynch has. Most top RBs are inconsistent year to year so to me this gives Lynch a bit of extra value because he's less likely to sink your draft than a guy like Jamaal Charles or DeMarco Murray.
When Murray is healthy he is one of the best backs in the game. As mentioned before, this is a very risky pick but is worth considering in maybe the early 3rd round if you already have a low risk RB locked in as your #1 back. Load up on bench RBs and the odds are that even if Murray busts, you might still have a top 25 RB to plug into his spot if you use your bench to maximum effect. Similar to Patterson, if you take Murray as a starter then you would need to run your bench is a relatively risk averse way to compensate.
Everyone knows how good he is when healthy, and Brady's alternative targets still suck. He's risky but in the 4th round this is a pick that could win your league. Just make sure you draft another TE in the mid rounds somewhere as insurance.
Nobody expects Manning to repeat last year's numbers. But that said, if you did a redraft today for the 2013 season based on how much value each player had above baseline, Peyton Manning would have been the #3 overall pick, just barely behind 2013 LeSean McCoy. Even though the "average" fantasy QB is really good, Manning is such an incredible point Machine that he still rose above that bench mark with the same potency as an uber-elite RB.
Will he do that again? Probably not. But remember, you aren't drafting Manning 3rd overall. You're probably drafting him 13th overall, maybe a little earlier. And as said before, if you are picking a player really early, it's better to take a player worth 9/10ths as much if he's twice as safe.
The only way you shouldn't take Manning this early is if you think he will revert to his 2012 numbers. But remember, 2012 was his first year in Denver's offense, the first year with his weapons, he had less arm strength that year, and he was also without Wes Welker and Julius Thomas that year.
55 TDs is outrageous, but 5500 yards is less so in the current league environment. He will regress some on TDs, but I could see him more or less maintaining his yardage.
The best argument against Manning is the schedule. He goes from the NFC East to the NFC West. That's a huge swing, even if it's only four games on the schedule. But considering the emphasis on defensive backfield penalties this year which is expected to be quite severe, don't be surprised if Manning goes through his NFC West schedule while still putting up fairly good production. And then when he faces the other 12 opponents, he'll be facing much weaker defenses while still benefiting from the rule changes. There probably isn't a player in the NFL who benefits from this new emphasis more than Peyton Manning.
Even with "regression to the mean" with touchdowns, I would not be shocked at all if Manning finished top 10 in value above baseline, while being one of the very safest top picks in the draft. If he's there in the late 1st or early 2nd and your best alternatives are guys like Montee Ball or Giovanni Bernard, draft Manning.