Fantasy Football: Veteran Draft Day Winners!
There are three important steps you should take in evaluating teams after the NFL Draft. The first is to look at those players who fell into favorable positions and should be on your Fantasy Football radar. The second is to look at those players you wish ended up elsewhere. These are the players that you will likely be leaving for others to draft this season. The third way, is to look at what teams did NOT do during the draft. There are winners and losers from each draft, but they are not limited to those players being drafted. This article will focus on players who already had a home, but benefit from their teams moves – or lack there of in the draft!
2019 NFL Draft Day Winners
Damien Williams is a Big Winner
This was a running back class that did not have an elite talent (Josh Jacobs is good – but we’ve seen better in recent years) but possessed a ton of depth. Luckily the Chiefs were not one of those teams selecting a running back. The Chiefs running back core now consists of Williams, Carlos Hyde and Darrel Williams. Perhaps Hyde eats into the number of carries that Williams sees this season, but he should still eat in the passing game. A staple of the Chiefs offense is having receivers go downfield, opening up underneath for a short dump off pass to the running backs. From Weeks 15 on, including the playoffs, Williams averaged 5.6 targets per game, 4.8 receptions per game and 42 receiving yards per game. Williams is the superior pass catcher, plus Hyde’s effectiveness as a runner has really taken a hit as of late. He has averaged less than four yards per carry in two straight seasons, including just 3.3 in 2018. With no rookie running back coming to vulture his production, Williams can be valued as a high-end RB2 in fantasy drafts.
The Colts Also Didn’t Draft an RB
Damien Williams was not the only running back to win big in this NFL draft. The Colts did not select a running back, leaving them with the tandem of last year in Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines. Mack is the one to own in fantasy, as he rushed for 908 yards, nine touchdowns and added in 103 yards and one touchdown through the air in just 12 games. Hines is a PPR specialist, as he caught 63 balls for 425 yards and two TDs last season. Wilkins has some new competition for Mack’s backup, as the Colts signed Spencer Ware to a 1-year/$1.3 million contract. Ware could give Mack some comp, but I view him as more of a depth signing at least as of now. Mack should be in the low-end RB2 discussion, with the upside for more behind that O-line, while Hines is a bench back in PPR leagues and the other two are handcuffs.
Neither Did the Bucs
This one is interesting… the Bucs did not draft a running back after getting sub-optimal production from the position throughout 2018. Peyton Barber led them with 871 rushing yards on 234 carries… good for 3.7 yards per carry. Plus, last years rookie bust Ronald Jones totaled just 44 rushing yards throughout the entire season and showcased his issues in the passing game. Currently, Barber, Jones, and Andre Ellington (yes, that guy!) sit atop their depth chart. Barber is the one to target as of now. They also added undrafted free agent Bruce Anderson, who rushed for over 900 yards and nine touchdowns in two straight seasons at North Dakota State University. He could make noise this summer and earn a role in this offense. No one will be excited to draft a Bucs running back, but monitor this situation all summer as there will be value as the starting running back in a Bruce Arians offense.
Packers Didn’t Draft a Wide Receiver
The Packers possess the most consistent receiver in the entire NFL… and not a lot of proven talent outside of Davante Adams. After him on the depth chart is Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and then a bunch of even further unproven talent. Both Allison and Valdes-Scantling flashed at times last season. Allison averaged 72.3 receiving yards per game and scored two touchdowns in the first month of the season, before suffering an injury. MVS had a stretch from Weeks 5-10 where he averaged 4.2 receptions per game, 72.2 receiving yards per game and scored two touchdowns. I would expect Allison to line up opposite of Adams, with MVS in the slot. But, fantasy owners are encouraged to monitor this situation all summer as whoever gets run in an Aaron Rodgers offense not led by Mike McCarthy should be a viable fantasy option.
Patriots Didn’t Take a Tight End
Rob Gronkowski may have retired, but the Pats did not take to the NFL draft to find his replacement. Currently, Austin Seferian-Jenkins sits atop their depth chart that sports a long list of JAGs such as Matt LaCosse and Stephen Anderson. There have been rumors that the Vikings are shopping Kyle Rudolph, and the Patriots make more sense than any team in the league to get a deal done. But, in the meantime, ASJ once again finds himself with some fantasy hype. While I expect the offense to be a run-first offense, with a lot of Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, as well as the running backs, in the passing game, ASJ will get some work. He should be valued as a TE2 with upside.
A Name to Know!
We all know that Tyreek Hill is likely not going to be a part of the Chiefs offense this season. Many have gotten excited about rookie wideout Mecole Hardman as a potential Hill replacement. I get it, he has blazing speed and is the best bet to replace Hill’s role on the offense. While he will be used in a similar way to stretch the field, the knock on Hardman heading into the draft was he is raw. Plus, the Chiefs top wideout, Sammy Watkins, should not be trusted to stay healthy all year. Step in Demarcus Robinson as a great value in fantasy football draft. Hill alone leaves nearly 1,500 receiving yards up for grabs. It will not all go one way, but Robinson should see a good chunk go his way, on top of the 288 yards he put up last year. You can draft him late as a bench receiver, and would be wise to do so!
Follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!
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