With the NFL Draft over after months of anticipation, we have a much better idea of how teams view incumbent players. All of the focus has been on the rookie’s right now, so I wanted to examine the veterans whose fantasy stock was most affected by the incoming draft picks.
Phillip Rivers moving to Indy may finally give him a ring. Real sports feel good story aside, Rivers should easily improve on his 2019 numbers. He finished as the QB18 with 4615 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. Yet, he managed to support the following players:
- Two 1,000 yard receivers in Keenan Allen (WR5) and Mike Williams (WR40).
- 92 catches for 993 yards for Austin Ekeler (RB5).
- Hunter Henry finished as the 8th highest scoring tight end despite only playing in 12 games.
The Colts feature one of the best offensive lines in the league while arguably having more weapons and a better overall team. The three headed monster running back room of Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, and Nyheim Hines will catch plenty of passes. 2nd round pick Michael Pittman could be the sleeper of the year and be the top rookie receiver this year. Throw in speedster T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, and Jack Doyle and Rivers has no shortage of options. If that wasn’t enough, Head Coach Frank Reich led Rivers to two of his three best fantasy seasons as Chargers QBCoach/Offensive Coordinator from 2013-2015. River should easily hit QB1 numbers this year.
The Broncos are all in on Drew Lock. They added Melvin Gordon in free agency, then drafted Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the draft. This is on top of Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay, and Noah Fant. Elway is committed to making this offense more explosive. “We knew offensively we had to step it up,” said Elway. “We had to get more explosive on the offensive side, so it was our game plan, and our goal was to go in this year and give Drew Lock some help and get some people around him to get more explosive.” Lock’s fantasy stock is higher than ever before and deservedly so.
The Packers used this draft to let Aaron Rodgers who was running the show. They drafted his incumbent in the first round of the draft (Jordan Love) and left with no help at receiver or tight end. Rodgers efficiency has been declining for the past few years and the Packers lack adequate options outside of Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. There are too many better options at this point to consider him a QB1. The only thing that can save Rodger’s fantasy stock is a move to New England, a move that would scare every fanbase outside of Boston.
Sanders is set to be the undisputed #1 back in Philly and a popular breakout candidate for 2020. The Eagles opted not to draft a running back, leaving Boston Scott and Corey Clement as backups. Despite playing behind Jordan Howard for much of the season, he still finished as the 15th best running back with 818 rushing yards, 50 catches, and 6 total touchdowns. All signs point to an increased workload and Sanders pushing for RB1 status.
Fournette has been involved in trade talks for over a month now. The Jaguars were expected to draft his heir apparent this year but have only added Chris Thompson to the running back room. Thompson may take away some targets, but he should see the bulk of the early down and goal line carries. Expect him to show out this year in hopes of impressing other teams with his expected departure from Duval.
Breida is an extremely gifted running back who has been in the fantasy nightmare 49er’s backfield the past few years. He has flashed immense upside when on the field, but he has struggled with injury and the revolving door known as the starter in SF. He comes to Miami as the perfect complement to the bruising Jordan Howard, and should be an important part of the offense right away.
With Melvin Gordon out of the picture, Ekeler exploded for over 1500 all purpose yards and 11 touchdowns which earned him a 4 year, $28 million contract. While the Chargers drafted Joshua Kelley in the 4th round, he is not much of a threat to Ekeler due to his lack of receiving ability. With Rivers off to Indy, Ekeler should be the star of the show until Herbert is ready.
While Kerryon has shown flashes when on the field, he is rarely on the field. with little depth behind him the Lions added Georgia back D’Andre Swift. Johnson will have to show up in a big way in training camp to keep his job and then have to stay healthy if he earns it. He isn’t dead in the water yet, and needs everything to go his way to be usable this year. His dynasty outlook is even bleaker and should be avoided in all formats.
Mack has had issues with injuries throughout his career, and while a decent between the pads runner never flashed much as a receiver. The Colts added the most talented back in this class in Jonathan Taylor (TimeSkew’s #2 rookie) who is expected to be a workhorse for this team sooner rather than later. His fantasy stock has never been lower as Taylor should cut into his workload and relegate him to a backup role.
With Todd Gurley shipped to Atlanta there was hope Henderson would have a chance to step into the starting lineup. The Rams selected Cam Akers in the 2nd round and he is immediately the front runner to be Gurley’s replacement. Sell Henderson while you can as he only has value as a handcuff for now.
Williams will end up going down as a much better real life player than fantasy asset. He is shifty, hard nosed, more than willing to block, and is an alpha every team wants in their locker room. Even with the additions of Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson last year he still lead the team in production, capping off his season with 104 rushing yard and two total touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
The end is here for Williams as Andy Reid handpicked TimeSkew’s consensus #1 rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They may split carries to begin the year, but Reid is known to favor using a feature back more than any other coach. Reid mentioned he thinks CEH is a better Brian Westbrook, which should spell doom for Williams. His only value right now is as a handcuff.
The emergence of Josh Reynolds is what made Brandin Cooks expendable in LA. Even with the addition of Van Jefferson in the draft, Reynolds’ fantasy stock has never been higher. He often replaced Cooper Kupp in 12 personnel towards the end of the season, and is in line to be a starter this year. The Ram’s offense will look to rebound this year and Reynolds should reap the benefits as an upside late round target.
What hurts Rodgers benefits Lazard it seems. Lazard debuted in Week 5 against Detroit with 4 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. He totaled 35/477/3 in 11 games last year. Extrapolated to a full season thats good for 50/693/4 which is in the WR3, high WR4 range. Lazard is incredibly talented and could be a sneaky steal in dynasty leagues as well with Jordan Love in the wings. His fantasy stock should only go up from here.
As I mentioned above with Drew Lock, the Bronco’s added a plethora of receiving talent in Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Albert Okwuegbunam to go along with the addition of Melvin Gordon. He was the de facto #1 target last year due to the dearth of talent on offense, and should struggle to maintain his targets and efficiency this year. Jeudy surprisingly fell to them at 15 and he is considered an elite talent who could end up being the #1 in Denver.
Check out the Broncos draft recap here.
With Philip Rivers coming to town, the Colts should have a significantly more pass happy team this year. JaCoby Brissett was in the bottom third of the league in pass attempts but Doyle still managed a team leading 72 targets. Rivers has been in the top 10 in pass attempts the past 3 years and keeps TE’s heavily involved with an average of 100 targets per season.
The Colts selected a player at every offensive position but tight end after letting Eric Ebron walk in free agency. The only flag from 2019 was a 20% drop in catch rate, but his 78% career average through 2018 suggests this may be an outlier. The combination of increased targets, new QB, and likely lack of attention from defenses sets Doyle up to regain TE1 status.
Speaking of Eric Ebron, his arrival in Pittsburgh is a shot to the heart for Vance McDonald truthers. With Big Ben set to return this year many hoped Vance would finally break out. The additions of Ebron and 2nd round receiver Chase Claypool will take away targets from McDonald and may leave him on the outside looking in.