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Sat May 16th 2020

Rookie Draft Analysis #2

Analyizing My "Good Times" Rookie Draft

My second rookie draft took place last week in my "Good Times" league. This league is my first dynasty league, and I am sad to say it has become my least active. Only 50% of the owners pay attention during the offseason. While we've removed a few owners over the years and replaced them with more active owners, the friendships have kept this league together more than the competition level has.

It's an old-school 10-team non-PPR league with 30-man rosters and 10-player line-ups, including kickers and defense. Unfortunately, in this league, I finished in the last place for the first time in my dynasty career. I fairly tanked last year by selling players and draft picks (including Michael Thomas, who carried that team to a championship) to acquire more picks in this rookie draft and younger players like A.J. Brown. Juju Smith-Schuster's injury-laden season contributed to my poor season last year. If he's back to himself this year, I think I am primed for a significant rebound after this rookie draft, though it does hurt to be without Michael Thomas.

Running back was my weakness in this league before this draft, but it is no longer!

Round #1

1. My Pick - Jonathan Taylor

2. My Pick - J.K. Dobbins

3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

4. CeeDee Lamb

5. DeAndre Swift

6. Jerry Jeudy

7. Cam Akers

8. Ke'Shawn Vaughn

9. Joe Burrow

10. Justin Jefferson

  • Best Value: It's hard to name anyone a first-round value in this loaded rookie class, but I'll name Justin Jefferson the best value. He's my #7 ranked rookie in this class, so to see him fall behind Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Joe Burrow (more on those two next) is a big surprise, in my opinion. While I do have some concerns about Minnesota's run-first offense, Kirk Cousins's efficiency has still made wide receivers valuable. Jefferson is likely to start from day one, and he'll likely surpass the aging Adam Thielen as the #1 target in Minnesota within the next 2-3 years.
  • Biggest Reach: I already wrote about Ke'Shawn Vaughn as a first-round reach last week and suspect I could with every upcoming draft, so I will choose Joe Burrow as my first-round reach, instead. I like Burrow and have him as my #1 ranked quarterback in this class, but drafting him in the first round in a one-quarterback league is a bit of a reach for me. For context, the owner only has Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Tannehill as his quarterbacks, so I can see why he would make this pick. I would have rather made a low-level trade with another team during the offseason to get a quarterback, but this is one of those inactive teams in this league. They paid the price for it by having to reach for a quarterback in the first round.
  • My Picks: On my running back needy team, I could not have been more thrilled t draft Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins, the top two rookies on my draft board. I am one of the only analysts to have Edwards-Helaire as my 5th ranked rookie running back in this class, and 8th overall. I believe in college productivity, and few players have proven it year-in and year-out in their college careers like J.T. and J.K. Both players will take time to emerge as the lead back on their teams, but I am not concerned about that. It is a dynasty league after all. Taylor lands behind one of the best offensive lines in the league - one that made Marlon Mack look great last year. Plus, the Colts traded up to get him. Baltimore's offense under Lamar Jackson has made every running back average more than 5 yards per carry because the defenses have to account for Jackson. Dobbins is more ready than any running back in this class to play in their RPO-shotgun offense since he did the same throughout his college career. Last year, I finished last in this league because of my poor running back play, but that will be the case for years to come.

Round #2

11. Jalen Reagor

12. Denzel Mims

13. Michael Pittman

14. Henry Ruggs

15. Brandon Aiyuk 

16. Zack Moss

17. Tee Higgins

18. Tua Tagovailoa

19. Antonio Gibson

20. Bryan Edwards

  • Best Value: Tee Higgins is my #10 ranked rookie, but he fell in this draft to #17. I know there is some concern about his competition with Green and Boyd already locked in as starters, but Zac Taylor runs a lot of three-wide receiver sets, and beat reporters speculate that Higgins will already be a starter in three-receiver sets. Plus, there is the narrative that Burrow and Higgins trained together leading up to the draft, so they already have chemistry together. The fact is that Higgins was a top high-school recruit, broke out in his sophomore and junior seasons at Clemson while they were loaded with other talented receivers, and was drafted with the first pick of the second round prove that he is in the long-term plans for the Bengals and has a long future with the team and their rookie quarterback.
  • Biggest Reach: Antonio Gibson was drafted by one of the astute owners in this league, and he drafted Gibson in the draft I reported on last week. Clearly, he believes in him, which makes me second guess myself a bit here, but I still consider this a significant reach. While there are plenty of big plays that stand out in him on film, his career productivity and positional uncertainty made him fall considerably in my rankings. I have ranked as rookie #33, while here he was drafted at #19. This owner must see something like Ron Rivera saw in him, which is why he was drafted as the second pick of the third round in the NFL draft, and Washington coaches have been comparing him to Christian McCaffrey. I find it funny comparing a guy that had a 2000 yard season in college to a guy that never had more than 1000 yards in college. I don't buy it.
  • My Pick: Not much to say here since I traded my second-round pick as a part of the trade for Michael Thomas last year.

Round #3

21. A.J. Dillon

22. Laviska Shenault

23. My Pick - Joshua Kelley

24. K.J. Hamler

25. Anthony McFarland

26. Cole Kmet

27. Devin Duvernay

28. Chase Claypool

29. Darrynton Evans

30. Antonio Gandy-Golden

  • Best Value: Laviska Shenault is my #14 ranked rookie, but he fell to #22. I tried to trade up to get him, but the owner knew who I wanted, and I could only offer him the next pick and 4.1. Shenault's injury history does concern me, but his draft capital (2.10) shows that Jacksonville has plans for him. If there is an offseason, he should be able to beat Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook out to each a starting role right away to become the #2 target behind D.J. Chark. Even if he has to sit behind them for a short time, his versatile skills and explosiveness will be used on gadget plays to get him some touches as he gets acclimated to the offense and the NFL. If he can stay healthy, this was a third-round steal.
  • Biggest Reach: Cole Kmet was my # 2 ranked tight end, and my #34 ranked rookie overall, but he was drafted here at #26 to a team that needed a tight end. I would never draft tight end based on need, especially in this very weak tight end class. There are plenty of proven middle-of-the-pack tight ends on teams that he could have traded for instead. I made many tight end offers to this owner this offseason and during the draft, but he still shoe to try to rebuild via the draft, which does not usually work at the slow-to-develop tight end position.
  • My Pick: Joshua Kelly was my #23 ranked rookie, and I drafted him here at #23. He was a target for me in this draft because I own Justin Jackson, and I would like to have whichever back becomes the #2 in LA behind Austin Ekeler. That was not the only reason, however. I believe he is bigger and better than Justin Jackson and will win the #2 role in LA and even the short-yardage and goalline role. He does not excel in anything, but he is good at everything. He's bigger and better balanced than any of the other Charger running backs. He has been moving up my draft board all offseasons as he checked boxes at every measuring point.

Round #4

31. My Pick - Justin Herbert

32. Tyler Johnson

33. Van Jefferson

34. DeeJay Dallas

35. Eno Benjamin

36. My Pick - James Proche

37. La'Mical Perine

38. Quintez Cephus

39. Raymond Calais

40. Salvon Ahmed

  • Best Value: Tyler Johnson is my #22 ranked rookie, but he went ten picks later at #32. He was the player I was deciding between at my #31 pick when I drafted Justin Herbert. Johnson landed with a crowded wide receiver group in Tampa Bay behind Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but if he could solidify himself as the WR-3, he could move into a WR-2 role if Tampa Bay moves on from Mike Evans or if someone was to get injured. I love Johnson because of his productivity in college in Minnesota. My love for him likely led me to keep him more highly ranked than he ought to be given his competitive landing spot, but I still love him in the fourth round.
  • Biggest Stretch: Raymond Calais was drafted by an owner whose talent evaluation I trust. Perhaps he is down on Ke'Shawn Vaughn like I am and suspects that Calais is the running back that will become the James White for Tom Brady. I've heard that comparison since the draft, but the fact that Calais was not ranked among my top 72 rookies means this was a huge stretch, or I seriously missed something.
  • My Picks: In this league, like many of my leagues, unfortunately, I have Jameis Winston, which means I'm holding a quarterback for a year. I do have Russell Wilson as a starter but only had Teddy Bridgewater behind him for this year. Justin Herbert seemed like a smart investment at pick #31 since he was my #21 ranked rookie. I'll have time to wait for him to develop, and I am happy to draft him in the fourth round while I wait to see what he can prove. He has great weapons to throw to and an incredible defense to keep him in games. I like what he can do with his legs too, adding some cheap fantasy points on the ground. He could become my quarterback of the future if Winston does not become a starter in New Orleans after this year. James Proche was one of my favorite wide receivers in the pre-draft process, but his landing spot in Baltimore was less than ideal from a competition standpoint. It's a crowded wide receiver room in Baltimore, but everyone is young and relatively unproven. Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin are in their second years, while Proche and a third-round draft pick, Devin Duvernay, come in this year to compete with them. As a sixth-round draft pick, he'll have his work cut out for him, but Baltimore drafts well and gives the best players a chance. They value college production as I do. They have it in Duvernay and Proche, who each had more than 100 catches last year on their college teams. Proche has as good of a chance as anyone at becoming a starter in Baltimore.

Round #5

41. My Pick- Isaiah Hodgins

42. Lynn Bowden

43. Adam Trautman

44. Donavan Peoples-Jones

45. Thaddeus Moss

46. Gabriel Davis

47. Collin Johnson

48. Frank Gore

49. Darnell Mooney

50. My Pick - Michael Warren

  • Best Value: Donavan Peoples-Jones is an excellent pick at #44 since he was my #39 ranked rookie. In this round, it's all about opportunity and who can prove something quick. Most players in this round will be dropped when it comes time to cut rosters. Peoples-Jones has a chance to prove in the preseason that he can become the WR-3 in Cleveland behind Beckham Jr. and Landry. While Cleveland looks to become a more run-heavy team under their new coaching staff, Baker Mayfield has made third wide receivers like Rashard Higgins look good at times. He was a highly ranked recruit coming out of high school. He's a great add here, just to see what he looks like in the preseason.
  • Biggest Stretch: Honestly, it's hard to find a stretch in the 5th round. I'd name one if I saw one, but I rather like all of the stabs people took on players in this fifth round.
  • My Picks: Isaiah Hodgins is one of my late-round targets this year. I already wrote about why I drafted him in my first rookie draft here, but to prove how much I like him, I drafted him in this draft at #41, while in the previous draft, I traded up to get him at pick #56. Michael Warren was an incredibly productive running back in Cincinnati, rushing for more than a combined 2500 yards and 36 touchdowns his sophomore and junior season. I was very surprised that he was not drafted by an NFL team, but was very happy to see the Philadelphia Eagles, whose scout team I trust, pick him up as a UDFA. The Eagles also signed Corey Clement a few weeks ago, but they already let him walk the year before that, and Boston Scott was another guy they found off the waiver wire last year and made productive near the end of the season. Warren has a good a chance as anyone to become the #2 or #3 running back on a team that loves to rotate their backs. I have Miles Sanders on my roster too, so this was an easy final pick for me in this rookie draft.

This draft will be one of my most exciting drafts this offseason, primarily because I have pick #1 and #2. It's fun to be in rebuild mode, especially with a team that had some bad breaks last year that led me to the #1 pick. I like my roster going forward for next year and especially for the new 3-5 years.

Here is how my roster looks after this rookie draft.

  • Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, and Justin Herbert.
    • I love Russell Wilson as my starter and am holding out hopes for Winston to be the starter in New Orleans next year. Wilson never gets hurt, so I don't imagine needing to start anyone else this year and can wait to see what Bridgewater and Herbert become.
  • Running Back: Miles Sanders, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Latavius Murray, Damien Williams, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Damien Harris, and Michael Warren.
    • My weak running back is now young a loaded. Sanders was my #2 ranked rookie last year, and while it took him some time to prove it, he did. Taylor and Dobbins will be on similar tracts this year. I'll have Mostert, Breida, and Williams to be my RB-2 while I wait for J.T. and J.K. to move into starting roles for me. Jackson, Kelley, Harris, and Warren all have upside for me to hold for much of the season, and Murray is one of the best handcuffs in the league. 
  • Wide Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins, Juju Smith-Schuster, A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Josh Reynolds, J.J Arcega-Whiteside, Andy Isabella, James Proche, Isaiah Hodgins, and Tajae Sharpe.
    • I'm top heavy at wide receiver with Hopkins and Juju as proven every-week starters and Deebo and Brown as second-year guys with tremendous upside. The rest of my wide receiver group is pretty unproven, minus the up-and-down Sammy Watkins. Rookies, Proche, and Hodgins will need time to prove themselves, and second-year players, Arcega-Whiteside and Isabella, need to prove themselves quickly. My back-end wide receivers could be the first to get cut from my team while I hope for some running back breakouts that could lead to trades for stronger wide receivers. 
  • Tight End: Dallas Goedert, Austin Hooper, Tyler Higbee, and Blake Jarwin.
    • Hooper was part of the trade involving Michael Thomas. I'm kicking myself for not looking into his contract situation before making the trade. If he stayed in Atlanta, I would have been happy with the trade that through other trades resulted in J.K Dobbins and A.J. Brown, but his move to Cleveland is a severe downgrade of me. I picked up Goedert early in the year when he was dropped by one team (I told you it was a less knowledgeable league) and got Higbee off the waiver wire. I added Jarwin this offseason. I'll be streaming a lot at tight end this year and prefer to have one every-week starter, but I think I can make do with these guys.
  • Kicker: Robbie Gould
    • He's super reliable and on a high-scoring offense. He signed a long-term contract with the team last year, too.
  • DST: Bills and Buccaneers.
    • The Bills are a sure top-10 defense, in my opinion. Their ground and pound offense and strong defense make for low scoring games, at least. The Bucs are an up-and-coming defense. They found their own at the end of last year, added Antoine Winfield, and are coached by an aggressive defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles.

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