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RISERS & FALLERS: Last Minute Fantasy Draft Observations

This year has been quite the mess. With everything going on in the world, it really doesn’t feel like a true fantasy football draft season. Interest in football seems to be at an all time low as we can’t visit training camps or throw on a Thursday Night preseason game to see how the rookies flash. There is also still lingering doubt that the NFL will be able to complete a full season with a projected spike threatening us in the fall. But with all these things in mind, it is in fact still that time of year. The time of year where two hours in a draft room will decide how things shake out for you over the next 17 weeks. Through some extensive time in mock drafts and participating in our own live draft, we’ve noticed some recurring themes. As you cram in a last minute draft with real games just a few short days away, here’s a few things to keep in the back of your mind.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that we’ve heard from a variety of drafters is how many people are out on Alvin Kamara. Yes, that Alvin Kamara. A guy who is cemented as a top five pick in the vast majority of drafts is being faded by many. The common argument is that he is too much an injury risk as he’s too young to be dealing with knee injuries. We understand the rationale as Kamara only officially started 9 games last year but the other measuring tools for production were still right where they should have been. Kamara averaged 4.7 yards per carry and had 81 receptions for the third straight year. Having just turned 25 years old, we’d personally be very happy to see Alvin slip outside of the top five and have an absolute steal in the first round.

There’s no questioning the fact that Christian McCaffrey is the top pick in the draft, and rightfully so. After that, in no real particular order go Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and then the very rapidly rising Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Now, if the next drafter decides that it’s time to grab the first wide receiver in Michael Thomas, there is going to be a lucky owner sitting at the six spot with a PPR stud landing right in their lap. Letting Kamara go any later than six will come back to haunt those who passed on him. Letting an opponent pair Kamara with the likes of Julio Jones, Josh Jacobs, or a Joe Mixon type of player would be tough to overcome. Oh and if you’re that worried about missed time, get some insurance later on by selecting Latavius Murray. Duh.

Next, as we mentioned, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has the most buzz we’ve ever seen a rookie garner. The stars are lining up for the only running back selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. He joins the highest profile offense in the entire league with elite playmakers all over the field. Defenses can’t stack the box with Patrick Mahomes airing it to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Not only is the offense perfect for CEH as a receiver but the only competition he had for carries in Damian Williams decided to sit the season out. Edwards-Helaire has more rookie buzz than Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, and Adrian Peterson ever had and it’s all very well deserved.

Another thing we’ve noticed over the last month is the ascent of Texans’ running back David Johnson. People are starting to digest the notion that fantasy production isn’t solely talent based. In cases like Le’Veon Bell and Leonard Fournette, sometimes you have to simply chase the workload. In Johnson’s case though, he joins a stellar offense that is run by one of the brightest stars in the league in DeShaun Watson. Yes, DeAndre Hopkins knocks them down a letter grade but it’s not like they’re heading into the season with nothing. Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb are a group many are discounting. However, all are very serviceable while taking nothing away from the ground game. Johnson should be a lock for over 300 touches simply based on how much Bill O’Brien gave up in order to bring him in. And unlike Bell and Fournette, Johnson has the benefit of playing for a legit offense. With all these things considered, we’re now seeing Johnson creep back into the third round of PPR formats.

Next, wide receiver is as deep as it’s ever been. To think that you can grab a player like Odell Beckham, Robert Woods, or JuJu Smith-Schuster in the 4th round is completely insane. The most common strategy we’ve seen is getting out of round four with two starting wide receivers and two starting backs. We know that’s not much of a shocking sentiment but does illustrate the fact that there are only two quarterbacks and two tight ends worth considering that early. After that, you can target someone like Dak Prescott or Zach Ertz to fill out your weekly roster. Then a few rounds later you can still pick up elite options like Stefon Diggs, Jarvis Landry, or Julian Edelman. Again, it’s worth repeating; Wide receiver is as deep as it’s ever been.

Up next, we have two former first overall picks who are going way later then they should be. And no, we’re not talking about Cam Newton. We’re talking about Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield. Yes, last season was bad for both young quarterbacks. But there were reasons behind the struggles. For Mayfield, he was dealing with one of the most inept offensive minds in head coach Freddie Kitchens. It takes an elite level of awful to muck up an offensive featuring Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb. Kitchens is now the tight end coach with the Giants as he’ll be trying his hardest to derail Evan Engram’s career. With a new more vibrant offensive scheme, there is no questioning that Mayfield is bound to bounce back.

Now, as for Goff, if there is one thing we can hang our hats on from forecasting the 2019 fantasy season it’s that we warned you all about how real the Super Bowl hangover is. It’s as consistent as gravity and should not be ignored. Not only was Goff stuck struggling through the big L, but he had nothing on the ground to help balance out the scales. Todd Gurley’s injuries and lack of use seemed to come as a surprise for the coaching staff and the entire offense paid dearly. Now he’ll be a year removed from the Super Bowl loss and the offense will feature a committee of young, fresh runners. It’s true that losing Brandin Cooks is a bit of a negative but this offensive is still stacked. With Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods on the outside and an emerging Tyler Higbee over the middle, Goff has a lot to work with. And let’s not forget that just two years ago, Sean McVay was being touted as the best offensive mind in the league. Selecting Mayfield or Goff late will pay off massively for seasoned fantasy drafters.

Moving along, rookies are being over drafted in 2020. While we do love the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a RB1 and Joe Burrow as a sleeper QB2, we really aren’t in love with many of the other rookie options. Rookies very rarely payoff; it’s well documented and frequently referenced. However we’re still seeing rookies in less than ideal offensive situations being taken early. Players like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Antonio Gibson, and Zack Moss are simply too rich for our liking. Roadblocks like Marlon Mack, Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, and Devin Singletary are more than enough for us to look elsewhere for production.

Lastly the majority of drafters in our live draft rooms have followed a new trend of not selecting a defense or a kicker on draft day. They would rather take a dart throw on a positional player and hope for a payoff versus selecting a defense or a kicker that they drop as soon as bye weeks hit. And we couldn’t agree more. When your roster is filled and your kicker has a bye, we all know what happens next. Outside of Kansas City, Baltimore, and New Orleans, there is no kicker worth giving up a positional player for. In regards to defenses, if you don’t have a top two option, there really isn’t that much a difference. The space between the number 6 defense and the number 11 defense isn’t all that great. Be smart and play your cards right.

About Patrick White

Have been with Sharks for seven years. Been printed and published. Have been copied by, faced off against, and beaten some of the fiercest competition and abbreviated outlets in football. If you read RnF and live by the old "If you're not first, you're last" mentality, you'll be just fine.