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DRAFT STEALS: Searching For Second-Round Value

The talent in this year’s draft pool is incredibly deep. Lucky for us, that means plenty of elite players are an absolute steal at their current second-round average draft position. Here are two players expected to outperform their second round average draft positions.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

As many know, Todd Gurley went down last year in a December game against Philadelphia. He was diagnosed with a Grade 1 knee sprain, which limited his fantasy impact for the remainder of the season. Every sports writer and his mother is talking about this one so I’ll keep it simple and break down the concerns over Gurley.

1) Arthritis

Gurley’s personal trainer, Travelle Gaines, has said that “Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee.” Some point to this quote as cause for concern but I think it’s just the opposite. To me, it indicates he has been dealing with his arthritic knee since his surgery in college. Why is that a good thing? Because arthritis is manageable, especially for a 24-year-old elite athlete. Gurley ran for more than 100 yards against Dallas after his injury last year. The arthritis won’t slow him down just yet, though it could be concerning in a few years.

2) Why wasn’t he used in the playoffs last year despite being healthy?

Once again, the fantasy football community over-analyzes what should be a simple answer: C.J. Anderson was playing some of the best football of his career and Todd Gurley … wasn’t. The games against Dallas and New Orleans are prime examples. Despite Gurley running for more than 100 yards against Dallas, Anderson was still a large part of the game plan. Then, against New Orleans, Gurley had a terrible first half and essentially handed Anderson the feature back role in the second half. It makes sense from coach Sean McVay’s standpoint. The Rams were in the playoffs, “win-now” mode; it isn’t crazy he chose to ride the hot hand. On that note, we should all look back on the Super Bowl as an outlier as the game script wasn’t good for either back.

“We didn’t get the amount of plays off and didn’t have the drive continuity where we’re punting more than we did,” McVay admitted. “That’s a big result of why those opportunities were limited for him and just going into the game the way we had thought.”

3) The Rams drafted running back Darrel Henderson this year.

I’ll admit this had me concerned at first glance, but take a closer look into why the Rams drafted a running back and it begins to make sense. This offseason, Rams general manager Les Snead noted that “Sean’s always felt like his offense would be, let’s call it, slightly more explosive when you have a change-of-pace-type running back.” He went on to say that the Rams also considered taking a running back in the 2018 draft!

At the very most, Henderson could be the home-run hitter in this offense. Be that as it may, Gurley will be the cleanup man whenever the Rams reach the red zone. Every single one of Todd Gurley’s rushing touchdowns last year (17) came from the red zone. Even if the Rams try to limit Gurley’s touches in 2019, I highly doubt they limit the $60 million man inside the red zone.

Long story short, Gurley is an absolute steal in the second round. I’ve seen him fall as far as Pick 20 in 12-team point per reception (PPR) mock drafts! His average draft position should rise a bit by the end of August, but for now he can be paired with an elite first-round wide receiver or running back. Come October, I think a ton of people will be kicking themselves for passing on Gurley in the second round.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay

Mike Evans finished the 2018 season with career highs of 1,524 total yards and 17.7 yards per catch. He was the overall WR8. So where’s the love for Evans? Why is he going well into the second round? The short answer is lack of consistency. Evans had a very mediocre 62.3 catch percentage likely due to erratic quarterback play.

Last year was, to put it mildly, awful for Tampa Bay. As many will remember, Ryan Fitzpatrick started seven games while Jameis Winston started nine. Sure, Fitzpatrick had some crazy weeks putting up monster numbers but overall, the quarterback play in Tampa Bay was inconsistent. Now that Fitzpatrick has taken his talents to South Beach, Winston is once again at the helm. The consistency of having the same quarterback over the entire season should see Evans safely in the WR1 conversation. I get it, Winston throwing the ball isn’t the sexiest option but his connection with Evans cannot be denied.

Another reason to get excited about Mike Evans this year is the new head coach in Tampa Bay, Bruce Arians. The two-time Coach of the Year has returned to the NFL and many are curious to see what he can do with No. 13. Hines Ward, Antonio Brown, Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald are just a few of the amazing talents to have some of their best seasons under none other than Arians. Larry Fitzgerald averaged 138.8 targets per season under Arians. The guy simply knows how to get the most out of his receivers and Mike Evans is next in line.

I’ve seen Evans mostly going towards the end of Round 2 in 12-team mocks (even in point per reception formats) and that average draft position is absolutely criminal given his talent and opportunity. I’m predicting Mike Evans finishes 2019 as a Top-5 wide receiver. Not exactly a hot take, but I’ll take Mike Evans late in the second round any day.

About Ryan Kruse

Ryan is one of our summer guest writers. We hope you enjoy his perspective.