The NFL Draft is a time where teams get better my improving on position of needs by adding young talent. A few weeks removed from the event there isn’t much more to do than to evaluate the rosters teams have going into next season. In the fantasy football world the draft is a very important event because there is when fantasy team owners can discover positional players that can step into large roles on offense right away and get drafted or picked up off waivers at a premium value. However it is also a time to recognize which players might be taking a step back because they are being replaced by a younger player who will have a large role with the team. Here are some of those players.
Philadelphia Eagles Pass Catchers:
Coming into the season the Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to have one of the best wide receiver cores in the league headlined by Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. They also have a top three tight end in Zach Ertz and a former second-round pick in Dallas Goedert who make an elite and arguably the best tight end duo in football. But by the end of the year Carson Wentz was throwing the ball to players from the practice squad. The Eagles team as a whole was decimated by injuries. Alshon Jeffery was limited to 10 games, Desean Jackson only played three games and Nelson Agholor played in 11 games. Agholor did not play well at all last season and became the butt end of a meme about his inability to catch.
Jeffery and Jackson are now both over 30 and Agholor is no longer with the team. The Eagles are in need of some new blood in their receiving core. The Eagles shocked many by selected Jalen Reagor with the 22nd overall pick over Justin Jefferson, but Reagor will fill Agholor’s void on the offense perfectly. Like Agholor, Reagor was labeled during the draft as a fast receiver with some catching problems. Reagor will come into the year as a WR4 as far as fantasy value goes, until he proves himself to be one of the Eagles’ top receivers. This makes Reagor a Hail Mary pick at the end of the draft or a player that teams can keep an eye on during waivers until he emerges.
Not only did the Eagles select Reagor, but they also traded for Marquise Goodwin on Day 3 of the Draft. Before last season Goodwin was considered by many to be one of the 49ers top receivers and held fantasy value in expanded roles. Wentz finally has an expanded group of weapons to throw to. But now that is going to mean a dip in all of their fantasy values. Wentz is going to have spread the ball between Ertz, Jeffery, Jackson, Raegor, Goedert, Goodwin, Ward and Arcega-Whiteside. That is a lot of mouths to feed. Ertz is still a TE1, but could drop a few spots because he is more likely to be phased out of the game plan. Goedert is a TE2, possibly a TE1 in deeper leagues. Jeffery and Jackson are WR4s due to the inconsistency they will see in targets. The rest should be left on waivers.
Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs:
The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense was one of the most efficient and highest-scoring in the league. It even led them to a Super Bowl. However the Chiefs were a mess at the running back position last season. Due to injuries and a committee backfield, no running back on the team had 500 rushing yards last season. Fantasy owners rotated between Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson like the Chiefs did to figure out who was going to be the lead back. After a few weeks fantasy owners learned that they couldn’t trust any of the Chiefs’ running backs in their lineup every week. At most, Williams was a low-end RB2/Flex when he had a good matchup.
With their first-round pick rather than add to their defense they decided to get Patrick Mahomes a weapon. The Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire the running back out of LSU. Adding Edwards-Helaire to the offense will give the Chiefs a steady running back who should take a majority of the snaps at the position. Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be a low-end RB1/high RB2 and bumps Williams down to a bench player and handcuff to those who own Edwards-Helaire. This will leave most of the other running backs on roster unrosterable.
For a couple of years now the Detroit Lions have not been able to figure out the running back position. Since 2015 the Lions have drafted three running backs in the second round. The first of the group was Ameer Abdullah. Early in his career Abdullah showed promise and potential to be an explosive weapon, but after be derailed by injuries was eventually replaced and now is a special teams player for the Minnesota Vikings.
Abdullah was replaced by Kerryon Johnson. Johnson looked like the answer the Lions have been searching for. He was the first 100-yard rusher Detroit has had since November 2013. However like Abdullah, Johnson has dealt with injuries throughout the beginning of his career as well. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 games throughout the first season of his career.
As good as Johnson has been, he has been a bust because he has missed 44 percent of his games. This why the Lions drafted D’Andre Swift early in the second round. Many viewed Swift as the best running back in the entire draft and a potential first-round pick. The Lions didn’t draft Swift with the 35th overall pick to be a role player. The Lions feel comfortable enough handing the reigns over to Swift to be the teams starting running back. At best Kerryon Johnson could split carries with Swift early in the season until he takes over a majority of the carries. That would make him a fringe RB3 and vulture. When he becomes Swift’s back up he becomes a handcuff, but not much more than that.
In 2019-20 Marlon Mack was supposed to take the next step forward and be a low-end RB1 after Andrew Luck retired during the preseason. Instead Mack ended the year as RB #21, which puts him around high RB3/flex range. Now part of that was because of injury, Mack missed two games and was injured throughout most of the year. But as he approaches a contract year he hasn’t taken the leap to the next level. Being a former fourth-round pick Mack had to earn a chance to get the starting job. Mack seemed to be the favorite to be the long term option at running back for the future. But after the draft this past year, that might not be the case.
The Indianapolis Colts traded up to select Jonathan Taylor in the second round. Taylor comes into the league with a lot of mileage from carrying Wisconsin’s offense since his freshman year. So there is a chance that Mack and Taylor could split carries early. However it won’t be long until Taylor takes over the Colts’ backfield and becomes the featured running back. The Colts wouldn’t have traded up for him, if they didn’t want him to contribute right away. It looks like it is going to be all hands on deck for all young players on a win-now Indianapolis Colts team led by 38-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers who is on a one-year deal. This leaves Mack as a talented backup. Mack will be one of the best handcuffs to own in fantasy next season, but shouldn’t be considered more than that. Mack will likely get drafted as an RB4 or lower in standard leagues.
To be fair, Jimmy Graham did not have amazing fantasy value to begin with. The past two years Graham has spent in Green Bay he finished as TE #12 & #20. But there is always one person in every Fantasy Football league that takes a chance at Graham and remembers him for what he used to be in New Orleans or Seattle. At his rate of decline, Chicago could likely be the last stop for Graham who will be 34 by the end of the year.
It shocked the league to see Graham sign a two-year, $16 million deal with the Bears for many reasons. First off, if his time in Green Bay showed anything, it is that he is not one of the league’s best tight ends anymore and is no longer an impact player, he is more of a name at this point than substance. Graham only is valuable in short yardage over the middle passing situations. Also besides the fact that this was likely the best offer Graham received, it doesn’t make sense for him to sign in Chicago. He is joining an underachieving offense who has major question marks (especially at quarterback) and likely won’t be playing any important football next season.
The most boggling part of this signing came a few months later when they drafted another tight end with the 43rd overall pick Cole Kmet. Kmet was the Bears’ first pick and the first tight end off the board. He was also the 10TH tight end on their roster. Whoever is the Bears’ number one tight end, Graham or Kmet, neither will have very good fantasy value. It is hard to trust whatever tight end could be catching passes from Mitch Trubisky on a weekly basis. It is even hard to trust Nick Foles at this point until we see him on the field. Graham and Kmet are TE2 in deeper leagues until they prove that they can play better than that on a consistent basis.
Los Angeles Rams Running Backs:
Last summer, one of the biggest stories heading into the fantasy football season was how to evaluate Todd Gurley. With his arthritis in his knee intensifying there were questions on whether he would return to the same running back he used to be. Also people questioned whether the Rams would lay off the running game and focus on Jared Goff on offense or if the Rams will use a committee. The committee idea really came into focus when the Rams selected Darrell Henderson in the third round in last year’s draft. Many expected Henderson to be Gurley’s complement, handcuff and potentially touchdown vulture. Many drafted Henderson as a high RB3. However it was Malcolm Brown who had primarily taken carries away from Gurley. Gurley started the year off slow, but after a late-season resurgence finished as RB14 and Brown finished as RB58. Brown was a thorn in the side to Gurley’s fantasy owners because of the goal line opportunities he stole from Gurley and his own owners because of the lack of consistent use in the Rams’ offense.
Early in the offseason the Los Angeles Rams made a decision to cut Gurley before they had to pay him a large amount of his guaranteed money, leaving Brown and Darrell Henderson to compete for the starting job. With their first selection in the second round, the Rams selected Cam Akers to compete with Brown and Henderson for the starting job. This makes the Rams’ backfield more confusing, arguably more confusing than last season. Now any one of the Rams three running backs can be their starter coming into 2020. The favorite to take most of the carries should be Akers considering he was is the most recent addition and the highest-drafted. But if last season is evidence enough it will be a true competition between the three. Until that is disproven, Akers should be the first of the three selected in fantasy drafts. Akers would be a risky RB2 in standard leagues, but has a lot of upside if selected as an RB3. Brown should be an RB4 and coveted by Cam Akers fantasy owners. While Darrell Henderson should start the year on waivers in standard leagues, unless he has a standout preseason.
Last offseason, the Baltimore Ravens signed Mark Ingram to a 3-year, $15 million deal. After losing his job in New Orleans, Ingram showed the league that he still can be a workhorse back in his first season in Baltimore. Ingram rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 15 total touchdowns. Ingram earned himself a Pro Bowl appearance and was RB #11 in fantasy. However if history has told us anything Ingram hitting the age of 30 could mean a decline in his play and inability to remain as the team’s workhorse back.
The Ravens had few holes to fill on their roster and an excess of early draft picks. So they had the luxury of being able to draft J.K. Dobbins in the second round. The Ravens drafted Dobbins to be the eventual replacement for Ingram to ensure there would be no drop off at running back so Baltimore can contend at its highest level. So it isn’t a matter of if, but when Dobbins will supplant Ingram. With no idea when that will be it makes it hard to be confident in Ingram for the entire season. Even if Ingram is the 16 game starter, Dobbins will have a role in the Ravens run-heavy offense. Ingram who was a fringe RB1 before the draft, drops between the range of an RB2 and flex in standard leagues with his value likely to drop over the course of the season. Also Dobbins should be an RB4 that should be prioritized by fantasy owners who own Ingram.
Green Bay Packers Offensive Players:
The most talked-about team after the NFL Draft was the Green Bay Packers. But before that the Packers were questioned whether their 13-3 season was legit or a fluke. The identity of the team changed as if transitioned from being carried by Aaron Rodgers’ arm to the running game and defense. At times last year the Packers’ offense just looked messy. However, the most important player on the Green Bay Packers offense this year was Aaron Jones. Jone carried the offense after Davante Adams got hurt by rushing for over 1,000 yards and led the league in rushing touchdowns with 16. His season overall made him the second-highest scoring running back in fantasy football last year. Complementary running back Jamaal Williams was 31st in points for the position, making him one of the only playable back up running backs in the league. Rodgers finished eighth in quarterback points after a rough start to the year. After missing four games, Adams still managed to be 21st in points at wide receiver. Adams was also the only receiver on the entire team to have consistent fantasy value, even when Adams got hurt, and with Rodgers at quarterback no one else emerged.
Many expected the Packers to draft receiving help for Aaron Rodgers early and often. But they decided to take a quarterback (Jordan Love), running back (A.J. Dillon) and fullback (Josiah Deguara) with their first three picks. They did not draft a single receiver. From the way they drafted, the Packers are going to focus on the running game more than ever which means Rodgers and Adams could be in for less production than normal. Rodgers could be on the cusp of falling out of QB1 territory because of his age, injury history, and lack of weapons. While Adams will likely still get drafted as a WR1, he could end up disappointing his owners and could put up WR2 numbers. Before the draft Jones looked like a sure first-round pick and an RB1 and Williams looked like a solid flex. But now after adding Dillon to the fold, the Packers’ backfield will be even more difficult to figure out. It could look similar to how the 49ers’ backfield looked last season. Jones drops to an RB2, while Williams and Dillon are just draftable handcuffs.
Washington Redskins Running Backs:
For the past two seasons Washington Redskins have been waiting for Derrius Guice to get healthy and take over the backfield. His rookie season was lost to an ACL tear and most of this past year was lost to a torn meniscus. Luckily for them they have had a future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson on the roster who has been able to shoulder the load as a workhorse back at age 34. Guice ran for 245 yards and two touchdowns in five games. Peterson finished as RB #30 last season. Head coach Ron Rivera stated that the backfield was going to be a committee between Guice, Peterson and now healthy Bryce Love. But the Redskins also signed Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic who have had large roles in offenses before.
Now the Redskins have added another running back via the draft Antonio Gibson. Many thought Gibson would have played wide receiver at the NFL level, but the Redskins transitioned him to a running back. Rivera drafted Gibson to attempt to fill the Christian McCaffrey role that he had in his offense with the Carolina Panthers. But with all these running backs likely to receive reps throughout games it is hard for any to emerge and carry great fantasy value. Guice was at most an RB3 in deeper leagues and Peterson was an RB4. The rest of the Redskins running backs are likely to start the year on waivers, now that Gibson is in the fold and likely to be on the field during passing downs. The Redskins’ backfield is almost untouchable unless there is a clear player that emerges and comments made that one will take control. Guice is an RB4, Peterson is a bench player and Gibson is a Hail Mary bench player in 12 team leagues or deeper.
In the third round last year the Buffalo Bills selected Devin Singletary to steal from snaps away from the extremely older running backs on their roster LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore. Singletary has the potential to even eventually take over the Bills’ backfield. After the Bills cut McCoy in the preseason, it seemed that Singletary was ready to take that featured back role. But the backfield was pretty evenly split between Singletary and Gore. Gore finished the year as a top 50 RB. After Singletary missed four games, he finished the year with 775 rushing yards (969 total) and four total touchdowns. He was RB29 last year, and was in a position to take a leap forward and have a bigger role in the offense.
However for the second time in two years the Buffalo Bills selected a running back in the second round. They selected Zack Moss who is a different style running back than Singletary. Singletary is an elusive back that is effective in the passing game. Moss is a downhill runner and will likely get his playing time in goalline or short distance running situations. The two were drafted with similar picks and complement each other well. This could mean that the Bills are likely going to form a committee with Singletary and Moss. This is an upgrade over what they had last season with Singletary and Gore, but it does not bode well for Singletary’s fantasy value going forward. Before the draft, Singletary was likely to rise up to an RB2 or high-end flex, but after drafting Moss, Singletary is really solidified as a flex, but is not guaranteed to lead the team in carries or rushing yards any given week with Moss in the picture. Expectations for the running backs will have to be determined week by week until one emerges or this backfield takes shape.
Las Vegas Raiders Wide Receivers not named Henry Ruggs:
The Raiders selected Henry Ruggs, Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards in this year’s draft. Though Bowden was drafted as a running back, all three of those players will be heavily involved in the passing game and take snaps at wide receiver. There aren’t enough snaps to go around for all three plus Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow. Not to mention that the Raiders also signed Nelson Agholor this offseason. Plus with Derek Carr at quarterback it is hard to trust any wide receiver not named Henry Ruggs to be productive throughout the entire season next year. At most Williams is a WR4 and Renfrow is a WR5, but neither should be nothing more than bench depth when getting drafted.
Last season, Michael Gallup really came into his own and finished the year with over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. He was WR #22 last season above elite players like Stefon Diggs, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill. However after drafting CeeDee Lamb, Gallup might end up being Dallas’ third or maybe fourth option in the passing game. Even though the Cowboys lost Randall Cobb and Jason Witten in free agency, Lamb and Blake Jarwin are expected to fill those roles and Lamb could soon become Dallas’ number two receiver. Gallup, who could have drafted as a risky WR2 or flex player, will now range between WR3 and 4 value and could possibly even be droppable depending on if his targets drop a significant amount from last season.
Dionte Johnson & James Washington
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been known as a wide receiver factory for the better part of two decades. The number of talented receivers to get drafted and developed by the Pittsburgh Steelers is phenomenal. Chase Claypool is the latest receiver to join that list. Claypool was the Steelers’ second-round pick and first selection in this year’s draft so he is expected to have an impact early in his career. With Claypool on the outside and JuJu Smith-Schuster lining up in the slot either Diontae Johnson or James Washington will line up as the burner on the outside. Both were fairly high draft picks and have shown potential, but have not been consistent enough to solidify their role in the offense. This makes both risks to draft any higher than bottom upside players. Either way, both could be low on the totem pole as far as targets given each game.