Veteran Market Report: Post-Draft


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Veteran Market Report: Post-Draft

The NFL’s first-ever virtual draft is officially in the books, and it went off with relatively few glitches. The 2020 rookie class is obviously getting most of the spotlight, but this year’s freshmen will also have a huge impact on their new teammates for the upcoming season. Let’s dive in to see which veteran players are looking better and which veteran players are looking worse for fantasy for the 2020 season at the conclusion of the NFL Draft.


Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on the selections and trades coming out of the 2020 Draft.


Dak Prescott (Dal) — Prescott had a brutal first day of the 2020 draft as the Cowboys announced his 31-year-old brother Jace passed away. Prescott at least got a bit of positive news in his professional life with the Cowboys snagging the best player available with the 17th overall pick in Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb. The Cowboys now have the league’s most formidable trio at WR between Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. The rookie WR led this year’s draft class in yards per target (15.1), and he finished behind only Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk in yards after the catch with 10.7. Prescott is in search of a long-term contract this off-season, and he’s threatened to sit out their virtual off-season program. However, it’s pretty clear the two sides will work something out after the team made another big commitment to him by drafting Lamb. It’s hard to believe but this Cowboys offense under new HC Mike McCarthy could be even better than last year’s edition. The Cowboys led the league in total offense (431.5 yards per game), and they finished sixth in scoring offense (27.1 points per game). Prescott finished last season as the QB3 by averaging 21.1 FPG, and he’s in the same spot for me as we head into the summer. (TB)

Tom Brady (TB) — Brady is loving his new life in Tampa Bay. They traded for his old pal Rob Gronkowski two days before the draft and then selected one of the top tackles in the draft at 13th overall in Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. The Bucs then added a potential backfield weapon for Brady with Ke’Shawn Vaughn of Vanderbilt in Day 2, and then gave him a productive slot receiver with Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson on Day 3. The Giants took a long, hard look at Wirfs at #4 before going with Andrew Thomas, which sent Wirfs on a mini-freefall before the Bucs traded up one spot to grab him. Our guy Greg Cosell compared Wirfs to another Iowa lineman and current Redskins guard Brandon Scherff, and Cosell projected Wirfs as a Day One starter at either RT or at guard. PFF rated the Buccaneers O-line as a top-10 unit last season, and they could be even better this year if Wirfs can come in and make an impact right away. Brady’s cast in Tampa is already significantly better than his 2019 cast in New England, and he’s firmly in the low-end QB1 conversation. (TB)

Carson Wentz (Phi) — Wentz desperately needed WR help for basically the entire 2019 season after DeSean Jackson missed the final 15 games last year with a core injury. Wentz will get the lid lifter back this season, and the Eagles gave him another explosive vertical weapon by drafting TCU WR Jalen Reagor 21st overall, then followed that up by adding three on Day 3, including veteran Marquise Goodwin. Reagor is a bit on the smaller side (5’11”, 206 pounds), but he makes up for it with 4.47-speed and a 42-inch vertical. Reagor’s production plummeted from the 2018 season (72/1061/9 receiving) to the 2019 season (43/611/5) because of a disastrous quarterback situation as a junior. According to our guy Graham Barfield, Reagor saw a catchable pass just 31% of the time last time — K.J. Hamler was the next closest receiver in the class at 42%. GM Howie Roseman turned around and hurt Wentz’s value a bit by drafting Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, who HC Doug Pederson said could play a Taysom Hill type role next season. Wentz willed his way to a QB15 finish (17.2 FPG) last season with a shell of a receiving corps. He’s back in the low-end QB1 conversation with DJax returning from injury and the Day 3 speedsters — Goodwin, John Hightower, Quez Watkins — in the mix, but I now have to bake in Hurts potentially stealing a couple TDs as a red-zone threat. The Hurts pick will remain the most perplexing of perhaps the entire draft. But it’s hard to argue that the Eagles didn’t otherwise help Wentz with the massive speed infusion. (TB)

Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) — It’s interesting to watch how two organizations treat their two aging and declining franchise quarterbacks. The Packers are throwing Aaron Rodgers to the wolves by not getting involved in the WR market in free agency or during the draft. Meanwhile, the Steelers continued to add the huge receivers that Big Ben loves throwing to in TE Eric Ebron and WR Chase Claypool. The Steelers surprised many by selecting the Notre Dame WR 49th overall, but Pittsburgh has one of the best track records picking WRs so they get some benefit of the doubt. Claypool is an absolute physical freak with his combination of size (6’4”, 238 pounds), speed (4.42), and athleticism (40.5-inch vertical), but those measurables didn’t always show up on tape, which led some to believe he may transition to the league as a tight end. Claypool could be more of a role player this season as a mismatch piece, especially in the red zone, but he could have a chance to overtake disappointing third-year WR James Washington. The Steelers appear ready to air it out with a healthy Big Ben back in the fold and a backfield that added intriguing Maryland scatback Anthony McFarland behind him. The Steelers did lead the league in pass attempts/game in 2018 (43.1), and Big Ben is trending into the high-end QB2 territory because of Pittsburgh’s off-season so far. (TB)

Baker Mayfield (Cle) — Mayfield has received major reinforcements for the second straight off-season, but the buzz has certainly died down after he crushed his fantasy owners after drafting him as the QB4 last summer. The Browns added fantasy’s TE3 from last season in Austin Hooper at the start of free agency, before they reshaped their tackle position. They nabbed the best linemen on the FA market in former Titans RT Jack Conklin before landing Greg Cosell’s favorite tackle prospect in this year’s class in Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Greg believed Wills could step into the starting lineup at left tackle immediately because of his high-level athleticism and competitiveness. Wills and Conklin will help in protection after Mayfield was sacked at the seventh-highest rate among QBs with 300+ dropbacks (per PFF). The Browns then added some Day 3 weapons in WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and TE Harrison Bryant. Mayfield should also feel comfortable in new HC Kevin Stefanski’s play-action-heavy offense. Stefanski’s offense could cut down on the passing volume, but Mayfield should play at a more efficient level, giving him a chance to bounce back this year as a high-to-mid range QB2 pick. (TB)

Philip Rivers (Ind) — The Colts are making their new quarterback quite comfortable in his new setting, and they’re clearly gunning for the Super Bowl this season after they drafted two pro-ready offensive prospects to start Day Two. Rivers got his new Keenan Allen with the Colts drafting USC WR Michael Pittman 34th overall. Our guy Greg Cosell compared his size (6’4”, 220 pounds) to Mike Evans and his competitiveness to Michael Thomas. That’s not too bad of company to be included with. The Colts then added our favorite RB prospect seven picks later when they selected Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who should take this running game to another level after an underwhelming last two seasons with Marlon Mack leading the backfield. Pittman and Taylor certainly raise the potential of this offense, but Rivers is still a low-end QB2 in his new home. His fantasy ceiling will ultimately still rest on the availability and production of #1 WR T.Y. Hilton. (TB)

Kirk Cousins (Min) — Cousins is still at a net loss for the off-season since they traded away Stefon Diggs, but Vikings did at least draft his replacement in LSU’s Justin Jefferson with the 22nd overall pick. Cousins relied on Diggs more than ever before in 2019 with Adam Thielen invisible in the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury. Diggs successfully forced his way out of Minnesota this off-season, leaving behind a massive hole, taking 30% of the receiving yards and 20% of the receptions with him to Buffalo. The Vikings had just Olabisi Johnson and Tajae Sharpe behind Thielen this off-season before they added Jefferson on Day One of the draft. Our Greg Cosell said Jefferson is effective in the middle of the field in the short and intermediate levels, but he also has excellent timed-speed (4.41) and he led the nation with 38 catches of 15+ yards last season (per PFF). The Vikings then added Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland at 58th overall, which was a steal since many pundits had him going in the first round. Cousins is setting up to be a mid- to low-end QB2 with a thin receiving corps. He’ll need a healthy Thielen and productive rookie season from a pro-ready prospect in Jefferson to finish above his QB19 finish from last season. (TB)

Drew Lock (Den) — Lock wasn’t exactly moving fantasy needle much heading into the 2020 draft, but he’s likely to pick up a little bit of a steam after the draft. Lock already had two ascending young receivers in WR Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant before the Broncos snatched Greg Cosell’s favorite WR prospect in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy with the 15th overall pick. Cosell saw similarities between Jeudy and the likes of Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham because of his route running and his complete skill set. The Raiders bungled their pick by taking the second-best Alabama receiver in the draft at #12 overall in Henry Ruggs, which allowed the Broncos to take the receiver they were reportedly interested in trading up for. A couple teams expressed concern about Jeudy’s knee before the draft, which may have enabled him to slide to the Broncos. The Broncos then used their next pick on yet another WR, drafting Penn State’s K.J. Hamler 46th overall. Hamler brings blazing speed and big-play ability with the ball in his hands, which gives Lock four playmakers at receiver now. For good measure, they drafted Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round, who ran a ridiculous 4.49 at the Combine. The Broncos will be expecting Lock to take a big step forward in his sophomore season. Lock topped 210+ passing yards and 6.5 YPA in just one of his five starts to close out last season, but his production should be on the rise this year to consider him as a low-end QB2. (TB)

Sam Darnold (NYJ) — GM Joe Douglas nailed his first draft with the Jets, and he’s put his franchise QB Darnold in a great position heading into his pivotal third season. The Jets landed a high-upside player in Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick, and they snagged sliding Baylor WR Denzel Mims with the 59th overall pick. New York spent the off-season revamping their entire offensive line by signing C Connor McGovern, OT George Fant, OG Greg Van Roten, and OG Alex Lewis before drafting Becton. The Jets let WR Robby Anderson walk to Carolina during free agency, but they brought in Breshad Perriman to be his downfield replacement before drafting Mims. The 22-year-old WR blew up the Combine with his athletic testing — he ran a 4.38 and had a WR-best three cone drill (6.66 seconds) — but he fell to the final picks of the second round because of the depth of this year’s WR class. Darnold is a candidate for a potential leap year after a disastrous 2019, which was thrown into turmoil when he started the season with mononucleosis. Unfortunately, Darnold has to deal with Adam Gase’s shenanigans and his receiving corps is still below league average, so he’s still in the low-end QB2 range. (TB)

Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) — The 49ers clearly have a player type they’re looking for when they draft receivers. They had two of the nastiest receivers after the catch in WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle last season. Deebo ranked second (8.5 YAC per reception) and Kittle ranked fourth (7.3) among all receivers with 50+ targets last season. Somehow the 49ers receiving corps got even nastier after the catch when they selected Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk 25th overall. According to our guy Graham Barfield, Aiyuk led this year’s WR class in yards after the catch with 10.9 per reception. Greg Cosell’s described Aiyuk as a well-built, explosive receiver who can line up all over the formation and be deployed in multiple ways, which sounds eerily similar to Deebo’s profile coming out of South Carolina last season. To top it all off, the 49ers lost LT Joe Staley to retirement, but they were able to find a quick replacement by trading for former Redskins LT Trent Williams on Day 3. Jimmy G will be getting the ball out of his hands quickly next season to let his dynamic cast of receivers do the rest of the work after the catch. (TB)

Derek Carr (LV) — I didn’t want any part of Carr this season after the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal with $7.5 million guaranteed. I still don’t want any part of Carr after the draft, but there’s no denying GM Mike Mayock and HC Jon Gruden went out of their way to improve their offensive cast by drafting three skill players in the first three rounds. They selected Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs as the first WR in the draft with 12th overall spot pick before landing Kentucky athlete Lynn Bowden and South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards with consecutive picks at 80th and 81st overall. The Raiders sorely lacked impact WR play last season after Antonio Brown went off the deep end before the start of the 2019 season. The combination of Ruggs, Edwards, and Bowden will bring more playmaking to the current Raiders WR corps of Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow, but it’s still not enough to invest in Carr as anything more than a QB2 late in drafts. (TB)


Saquon Barkley (NYG) — GM Dave Gettleman is calling the shots in New York, and he was the one leading the charge to select an offensive lineman to protect his two franchise players, Barkley and Daniel Jones. Gettleman said on April 17, “It’s very very difficult for Saquon to run the ball if the holes aren’t there, and it’s difficult for Daniel Jones to throw the ball when he’s on his back…Is it a pressure point? To a degree.” Gettleman and the Giants addressed that pressure point by selecting Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas in a mild surprise with the fourth overall pick. Our guy Greg Cosell projects Thomas as a Week One starter at either tackle spots, and he called Thomas a higher-level prospect as both a run blocker and pass protector. According to PFF, the Giants had a middle-of-the-pack O-line last season and, if Thomas can come in and make an impact right away, the group should rank in the top of the league. The Giants added another offensive tackle in UConn’s Matt Peart in the third round, as well. Barkley’s biggest issue last season was actually his health. He missed three games (Weeks 4-6) with an ankle injury, and he averaged just 2.8 YPC in his first five games back from the injury before exploding for 5.5 YPC in his final five games. With a potentially improved O-line and good health, I’m locking Barkley in as the second overall pick behind Christian McCaffrey in fantasy drafts this summer. (TB)

Nick Chubb (Cle) — Chubb has quietly had one of the more exciting off-seasons for fantasy at the position, and the help kept coming on the first day of the draft. He had to be ecstatic when he learned he’d be playing under Kevin Stefanski after watching Dalvin Cook dominate on outside zone runs last season. His excitement grew in March when the Browns landed the best tackle and tight end on the market in Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper, who will help him execute those runs even better than last season. Chubb reached full euphoria on Day One when the Browns selected Greg Cosell’s favorite tackle prospect in this year’s class in Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Greg believed Wills could step into the starting lineup at left tackle immediately because of his high-level athleticism and competitiveness. Obviously, the big thorn in Chubb’s upside this season will be the return of Kareem Hunt, but Chubb still had a special season even with Hunt in the fold for the final eight games. Even with shaky offensive tackles last season, he finished behind only Derrick Henry in total rushing yards (1494) and in average yards after first contact (3.77, per PFF). Hunt’s presence is going to knock Chubb into the second round in drafts this summer, but significant run-blocking improvements and more two-TE sets will make him one of the favorites to lead the league in rushing. (TB)

Alvin Kamara (NO) — The Saints had a top-five offensive line last season (per PFF), but they addressed the group with their first pick for the second straight season. A year after taking C Erik McCoy with the 48th overall pick, they selected another center with their first pick, drafting Michigan C Cesar Ruiz 24th overall. Larry Warford has officially been put on notice as either Ruiz or McCoy is likely to kick over to right guard. Ruiz ran a 5.08 40-time at 6’3”, 307 pounds, and HC Sean Payton is going to love using him as a pulling interior lineman in front of Alvin Kamara on the perimeter. The fourth-year RB said earlier this off-season that he played the end of last season at 75% after he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 6, which cost him two games. Kamara still averaged 4.7 YPC and he caught exactly 81 passes for the third straight season to start his career, but he scored just six touchdowns to finish as the RB8 (17.8 FPG). Behind a still improving offensive line, I have a healthy Kamara battling with Dalvin Cook to be the RB3 in fantasy drafts this summer. (TB)

Derrick Henry (Ten) — The Titans had to make some difficult decisions this off-season with Henry, QB Ryan Tannehill, and RT Jack Conklin each heading toward massive paydays in free agency. In the end, Tennessee decided to bring Tannehill (four-year deal) and Henry (franchise tag) while letting Conklin walk to Cleveland in free agency. Henry stormed his way to the league’s rushing title (1540 yards), and he powered the Titans to the AFC title game. However, his outlook for this season was looking a little worse without Conklin, who PFF graded as the 10th-best tackle last season. The Titans addressed Conklin’ loss in the first round by selecting massive Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson with the 29th overall pick. Wilson has elite size (6’6”, 350 pounds) and length (84-inch wingspan), but our guy Greg Cosell said he stills fires off the LOS low and he can get to the second level in the run game. Wilson isn’t guaranteed to beat out current RT Dennis Kelly at the start of the season, but he’s an upside prospect who could start helping Henry maul opponents when the weather turns cold in the final months of the year. For those who draft Henry, he also has a clear handcuff in intriguing 3rd-round rookie Darrynton Evans. While that’s pretty hefty draft capital, make no mistake: this is Henry’s offense, and the Titans needed to invest in a capable backup. (TB)

Todd Gurley (Atl) — This was a bit of a surprise. Gurley felt like a PR move — after all, the Falcons signed him after casting off their own oft-injured, highly paid RB in Devonta Freeman. They signed him to only a one-year deal, bringing him back close to his University of Georgia stomping grounds. It was a pretty good, though maybe a bit top-heavy, RB class. And the only offensive player Atlanta drafted was C Matt Hennessy out of Temple, in the 3rd round. Gurley currently fronts an underwhelming backfield that includes Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, and Ito Smith. Gurley looked like a shell of himself last season, but he doesn’t have any really threatening competition right now. (JD)

Austin Ekeler (LAC) — I listed Ekeler as a slight downgrade after free agency because he lost Philip Rivers, but I’m changing course after several positive developments this off-season. Ekeler’s receiving production is going to be hurt since Rivers threw to his RBs more than any other quarterback last season (31.5%). Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert will be much more likely to scramble and to have designed runs to take away targets from Ekeler. On the positive side, Melvin Gordon is no longer in town to take opportunities away from him. The Chargers also could have the best line they’ve had in years after adding OG Trai Turner and OT Bryan Bulaga to create a formidable right side of the line. The Chargers then traded away both their second- and third-round picks to move up to draft LB Kenneth Murray, which means they didn’t spend any significant draft capital at running back. HC Anthony Lynn is moving the Chargers toward a ground-and-pound approach with their formidable defense and their shaky QB situation. The Chargers did draft UCLA’s Joshua Kelley in the fourth round, but he’ll likely make a bigger impact on Justin Jackson’s potential role as a complement in this backfield. Ekeler would be a low-end RB1 with a better QB situation, but he’s still a high-end RB2 since he has a chance to see 175+ carries for the first time in his career. (TB)

Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) — The Jets foolishly ponied up to bring Bell in last season, and he averaged a miserable 3.2 YPC last season — he topped 4.0 YPC in just three of 15 games. However, New York spent the off-season revamping their entire offensive line for the benefit of Bell and franchise QB Sam Darnold, and 4th-round RB La’Mical Perine feels more like a capable backup than a true threat to Bell. New York GM Joe Douglas inked C Connor McGovern, OT George Fant, OG Greg Van Roten, and OG Alex Lewis at the start of free agency, and they completed the process when they drafted Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton 11th overall. Our guy Greg Cosell compared Becton’s profile to that of Bryant McKinnie because of his rare combination of size (6’7”, 364 pounds), length (83-inch wingspan), and functional athleticism (5.1-speed). Bell looked pedestrian, at best, last season for the first time since his 2013 rookie season. Bell and his patient running style no doubt benefitted from playing behind one of the best O-lines in football with the Steelers from 2014-17. The Jets O-line isn’t quite to that level after one off-season, but Bell at least has some hope for a bounce-back campaign heading into the summer. (TB)

Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman (SF) — The 49ers had the league’s second-best rushing attack last season behind only the Ravens, but they still had a frustrating backfield to navigate for fantasy. The 49ers did the fantasy community a small favor by shedding fantasy thorn Matt Breida to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick. Breida didn’t do nearly enough to be a fantasy asset last season, but his 11.2 opportunities per game took just enough work away from Mostert and Coleman to lower their weekly fantasy output. HC Kyle Shanahan is unlikely to just split up Breida’s work between his top two backs, but Jeff Wilson and an always-injured Jerick McKinnon are the next backs up, and they’re unlikely to combine for the same size role that Breida had in 2019. Mostert and Coleman did suffer a big loss during the draft with LT Joe Staley retiring, but the 49ers were able to offset his departure by being the team to finally pry LT Trent Williams from the Redskins. The 49ers will still have one of the league’s best rushing attacks next season, and Mostert and Coleman are trending in the right direction with Breida cleared out of this backfield. (TB)

Jordan Howard (Mia) — One of the sneakiest winners of draft weekend is Howard, who signed a not-insignificant two-year, $10 million deal with the Dolphins, and watched as Miami — deemed a near lock to draft a Day 1 or 2 RB — instead passed on the position and took three offensive linemen within its first seven picks (including a 1st and 2nd-round pick) before acquiring Matt Breida in a trade with the 49ers (for a 5th-round pick). While the explosive Breida can come in and take some third-down snaps, he’s often battled injuries and has rarely generated fantasy value for himself. The opportunity in Miami is massive, as Ryan F’n Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins with 243 yards rushing. Howard is boring, but he had a good season in Philly before getting hurt last year, and he’s going to get carries behind a much improved offensive line. (JD)


A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd (Cin) — LSU QB Joe Burrow has essentially been slotted into the #1 draft pick ever since Tua Tagovailoa injured his hip on Nov. 16 last fall. The only question was what team would be making the pick. The Bengals wrapped up the Burrow’s sweepstakes with an overtime loss to the Dolphins with one week left in the 2019 regular season. Cincinnati made it official on Thursday night, selecting the fifth-year senior QB first overall off his record-breaking 2019 season. Burrow is coming off arguably the best single-season quarterback performance in college football history. He completed a ludicrous 76.3% of his passes, and he averaged a silly 10.8 YPA for 5671 yards, which helped him throw for an FBS record 60 TDs with just six INTs. Burrow should provide an immediate upgrade for this WR corps over Andy Dalton, who has been on a downhill slide since he hit his 30s in 2017. He averaged 6.8 YPA with a 1.68 TD-to-INT ratio (62 to 37) in the last three years after averaging 7.5 YPA with a 1.83 TD-to-INT ratio (95 to 52) in 2013-16. The Bengals drafted Tee Higgins with the 33rd overall pick, which hurts John Ross and crowds this WR corps. Green and Boyd are still looking better and are WR3s with Burrow in place. Boyd is the safer option and Green has the much wider range of outcomes given his age and recent injury history. (TB)

Amari Cooper (Dal) — The steal of the first round fell into the Cowboys’ laps when Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb dropped to the 17th overall pick. The Cowboys didn’t have a glaring need at the position, especially since they signed Cooper to a five-year deal with $60 million guaranteed, but Lamb was too big of a value for the franchise to pass up. On the surface, Lamb’s presence would seem to be a slight downgrade for Cooper, but he could be heading toward more snaps out of the slot this season. Coop ran routes out of the slot just 14.2% of the time last year with Randall Cobb in town, but the former Packers WR bolted for Houston this off-season. Lamb and Cooper should see the majority of the snaps inside, and our guy Scott Barrett pointed out that Cooper has averaged 2.37 yards per route run from the slot compared to just 1.80 YPRR on the perimeter. Cooper has notoriously struggled against some of the tougher cornerbacks in the league throughout his career. He should have fewer dud performances if he plays more inside under HC Mike McCarthy this season — he fell below seven fantasy points five times last season. Cooper could be drafted at a discounted price this summer if the masses back off him just a little bit because of Lamb’s presence, but he should have a more stable weekly floor with more slot snaps. (TB)

N’Keal Harry (NE) — Harry is the one skill player in New England that’s in better shape with Tom Brady bolting for Tampa Bay as the 2019 first-round pick never got on the same page with the all-time great QB. Harry failed to top 30+ receiving yards in any game over eight contests (playoffs included) after missing the first nine games of the season to an ankle injury. The Patriots are going with a youth movement on offense with Jarrett Stidham at the helm, and they showed some trust in Harry by passing on WRs entirely during the draft. It makes sense for the Patriots to make Harry the focal point of this passing game moving forward with Julian Edelman entering his age-34 season with no Brady for the first time in his career. We’ll see if Harry is ready to be the man in this passing attack, but it’s wise to bet on highly drafted second-year WRs who are projected for huge roles and have been written off after quiet rookie years (e.g. D.J. Chark as a sophomore in 2019). (TB)

Allen Lazard (GB) — The Packers either really like Lazard as their #2 WR or they have no clue what they’re doing. I’ll take a little from column A and little from column B. The Packers did absolutely nothing to help their aging franchise QB Aaron Rodgers, signing just Devin Funchess in free agency and failing to select a WR during a very deep draft class. Lazard couldn’t break into the Packers WR rotation through the first five weeks of last season, and he still finished second on the team with 477 receiving yards. Rodgers was unable to support more than one fantasy-viable WR last season, but the 24-year-old Lazard did have a better connection with the veteran QB than the rest of the Packers receiving corps that were not named Davante Adams. Lazard is worth a late-round dart throw with the Packers showing no urgency to upgrade at WR. He has a great chance to edge out Funchess for the #2 WR role, and he could take another step forward to fantasy relevancy with a full season to play with Rodgers. (TB)

Preston Williams (Mia) — The Dolphins entered the draft with the most draft capital, which included six picks inside the top-70 picks. The organization must feel comfortable with their current cast of receivers as they selected lineman on offense on the first two days of the draft to surround new QB Tua Tagovailoa. Williams impressed as an undrafted free agent last season, stepping immediately into the lineup as a rookie and averaging 11.4 FPG in eight games. The former five-star high school recruit unfortunately tore his ACL in early November and missed the remainder of the season, but the Dolphins must be encouraged by his progress since they bypassed drafting WRs entirely. Williams showed some potential as a rookie across from DeVante Parker, and he’s an under-the-radar WR4 option in an improving offense with a good fantasy QB situation between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua. (TB)


Jace Sternberger (GB) — The Packers came into the off-season desperately needing to revamp their receiving corps after Davante Adams was the only Packers receiver to reach 500+ receiving yards last season — the Redskins were the only other team to have just one receiver reach the mark. The Packers instead spent the off-season trying to upgrade their rushing attack by drafting Boston College RB A.J. Dillon in the second round and Cincinnati H-back Josiah Deguara in the third round. Sternberger had just one target in six games as a rookie, but his time could be coming as a big-time weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Sternberger missed the first 10 games of the season because of an ankle injury but his role grew in the playoffs when he posted three catches, including a TD, in two games. The Packers moved on from Jimmy Graham this off-season, vacating his 60 targets from 2019. The Packers also whiffed on Austin Hooper in free agency, which means Sternberger is in line for a huge increase in usage next to primary blocking TE Marcedes Lewis. The last time Sternberger had a prominent role, he hung 48/832/10 receiving (17.1 YPR) for Texas A&M against SEC competition in 2018. With the Packers doing nothing of note at TE or WR, Sternberger is going to start gaining some momentum as a low-end TE2. (TB)


Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on the selections and trades coming out of the 2020 Draft.


Aaron Rodgers (GB) — The Packers put Rodgers on the clock after they moved up four spots to select Utah State Jordan Love 26th overall on Day One of the draft, much like the organization once did to Brett Favre when they picked Rodgers 24th overall in the 2005 draft. The pick alone is a major kick in the pants for Rodgers, but it hurts even more because the Packers have a screaming need at wide receiver, a position they didn’t spend a single pick on during the 2020 draft. They selected a running back and an H-back type with their next two picks, which is a clear signal they’re going to a more run-heavy approach. The Packers and the dreadful Redskins passing attack were the only two passing games to have only one receiver top 500+ receiving yards last season. This is on the heels of the Packers doing next to nothing to address their glaring weakness during free agency, signing just Devin Funchess who played just one game last season. Rodgers finished last season as the QB14 (17.4 FPG) and his prospects are looking grim again for 2020. I likely won’t be drafting Rodgers much this summer since he’ll be drafted higher than I’ll be willing to take him as a mid-range QB2. (TB)


Damien Williams (KC) — GM Brett Veach and HC Andy Reid gave defending Super Bowl champion QB Patrick Mahomes exactly what he wanted when they selected LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Veach compared CEH to former Reid standout Brian Westbrook because of his squatty build (5’7”, 207 pounds) and his multi-dimensional ability. Reid then studied Edwards-Helaire and he told Veach that he was even better than Westbrook, so CEH has some high standards to live up to. He also has some high standards to pass in Kansas City after Williams helped the Chiefs to a comeback victory in Super Bowl LIV — he totaled 133 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Williams was a fantasy force on limited opportunities since December 2018, but the Chiefs were never quite comfortable with giving him total control of this backfield. Williams’ best-case scenario is that he starts next season ahead of Edwards-Helaire, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s in a complementary role behind with CEH leading this backfield in opportunities. (TB)

Kerryon Johnson (Det) — The Lions invested a significant pick — a 2nd-rounder — in Johnson two years ago. And while he showed promise with 5.4 YPC on 118 carries as a rookie, his campaign ended early with a knee injury. He then plodded his way to 3.6 YPC in 2019, before another knee injury ended his season. With just 18 games played in two years and injury problems dating back to his time at Auburn (shoulder), the Lions have had enough, and spent a premium Day 2 pick on Georgia star RB D’Andre Swift. While Swift is an explosive player who can fit as part of a backfield stable, Johnson’s role has been — at best — reduced to the “thunder” in a “thunder and lightning” combo. Coming off a down season with serious injuries in three consecutive seasons dating back to college, Johnson has lost the Lions’ trust. (JD)

Marlon Mack (Ind) — For a player who has averaged 77 rushing yards per game over the last two seasons, with 1999 rushing yards combined over that time, the Colts have seemed reluctant to fully commit to Mack, for whatever reason. They’ve now signaled that out loud, trading up into the early 2nd round to take Wisconsin star RB Jonathan Taylor. A guy our Greg Cosell called the best pure foundation back in the 2020 NFL Draft, Taylor is not suited for a part-time role — he’s a feature back in every sense of the word. So the question for Mack becomes: “can he contribute as a receiver?” He was very good in that role in college, and showed promise as a rookie, averaging 10.7 YPR on 21 receptions. But following the emergence of Nyheim Hines the last two seasons, Mack has just 31/185/1 receiving on 43 targets over that span (6.0 YPR). If Mack isn’t going to transition into being a passing-down specialist, his value has been utterly throttled with the Taylor selection. (JD)

Mark Ingram and Justice Hill (Bal) — It stands to reason the Ravens didn’t expect Ohio State star JK Dobbins — who was getting some hype as the potential first RB off the board — to be available at the 55th overall pick. Ingram is coming off a solid season, but he turns 31 in December and has no guaranteed money on his deal next year. Meanwhile, Hill barely saw the field as a rookie, playing a total of 187 snaps on offense in 16 games. Dobbins was too good a pick for the Ravens to pass up, and 2nd-round RBs see the field as rookies. He’ll probably rotate with Ingram, and Hill might be limited to gadget work and special teams, at least until Ingram is gone next year. (JD)

Aaron Jones (GB) — If Green Bay’s draft strategy was to piss off guys named “Aaron,” they have likely succeeded. After drafting Aaron Rodgers’ successor in Jordan Love in Round 1, they spent a premium pick in Round 2 on Boston College grinder AJ Dillon, which is notable given Jones and Jamaal Williams are in the final years of their rookie contracts. This obviously cripples the value of Williams, who is the plodder of this backfield, but it’s possible Jones is now reduced to a timeshare, if Jones doesn’t hold out altogether. Jones is at least a spectacular receiver, which is a weakness of Dillon’s game, but it is scary that the man who led the NFL with 16 rushing TD — and 19 TD overall — might lose goal-line work to the massive Dillion, given regression was already inevitable from that massive number. (JD)

Ronald Jones (TB) — Jones has never really impressed us, including when he was coming out of USC, and the Buccaneers invested a high pick in Vanderbilt RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, spending their 3rd-rounder on the explosive talent. While Vaughn, like Jones, is more of a straight-line explosive player than a side-to-side eluder, he made an impact in the short pass and screen game in college, including a 61-yard TD on a screen vs. Missouri. Our own Greg Cosell offered a Sony Michel comparison to Vaughn, while also noting that he believes there’s significant untapped potential with Vaughn as a receiver. He might not be the James White type of backfield jitterbug that Tom Brady prefers (intriguing 7th-round add Raymond Calais from Louisiana-Lafayette may be more of that player), but could Vaughn still fit the pass-catching role that Bruce Arians sought out this off-season? (JD)

Darrell Henderson (LAR) — What is the Rams’ plan at RB? They clearly showed, in 2019, that they had no faith in Todd Gurley, when they traded up to select Henderson in the 3rd round. That played out, as Gurley is now gone, cut unceremoniously. But Henderson played fewer snaps than Malcolm Brown last year, and now the Rams spent an even higher pick — a 2nd-rounder, on Florida State star RB Cam Akers. Very rarely do Day 2 RBs play as little as Henderson did last season, playing just 93 snaps on offense while staying healthy all year. What did Henderson show — or, more likely, not — that made the Rams invest so heavily in the RB position two years in a row? (JD)

Devin Singletary (Buf) — If things broke right in the NFL Draft, Singletary could have been a massive winner and have been in the mix for a top-25 pick in fantasy drafts come August. Instead, the Bills spent a relatively premium pick — a 3rd rounder — on Utah RB Zack Moss. Fascinatingly, our guy Greg Cosell saw “elements of Frank Gore” in Moss’ game, and Moss will be replacing Gore — who had 179 touches for Buffalo last season. Singletary was spectacular as a rookie last year, averaging 5.1 YPC and showing explosive traits, but he scored just 4 TD, and could be back in a timeshare in 2020. (JD)

Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny (Sea) — Both Carson (hip) and Penny (ACL) couldn’t finish the season for the Seahawks, which led to Seattle rolling with a backfield combo of 2019 rookie Travis Homer and prodigal son Marshawn Lynch in the playoffs. Carson has now had serious injuries in two of three NFL seasons, and Penny might not be fully ready for the 2020 campaign. As such, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Seahawks use one of their three Day 1 and 2 picks on a back, especially given how much Pete Carroll loves to run the football. Though Seattle spent its first two picks on defense and then took offensive lineman Damien Lewis from LSU in the third round, before selecting Miami RB DeeJay Dallas in Round 4. Dallas is a very Seahawks pick, with an aggressive playing personality and exceptional contact balance out of the backfield. Carson himself has proven the Seahawks can get big-time production from a non-premium RB pick, and Dallas could well have a chance to prove himself with the right opportunity. Health will be a big factor in valuing this Seattle backfield for fantasy in 2020. (JD)


Michael Gallup (Dal) — The Cowboys didn’t have a glaring need at wide receiver before the 2020 draft because of Gallup’s breakout season in his second year. But when Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb began falling in the draft, the Cowboys had no choice but to draft the old “best player available” in Lamb. The Cowboys now have the most formidable trio of WRs in the league between Amari Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb heading into the 2020 season. Gallup actually led the Cowboys in both target share (21%) and air yards share (28%) last season, but Lamb figures to hurt Gallup the most next season. Gallup will likely be glued to the perimeter against tougher cornerback play with Lamb and Cooper gobbling up most of the slot snaps. Gallup initially looked like an upside WR3 option with Randall Cobb leaving town, but he’ll fall to the WR4 after a rough draft for his stock. (TB)

Keenan Allen (LAC) — Allen has quietly stacked together three consecutive seasons with 16 games, 136+ targets, 97+ catches, 1100+ yards, and six TDs. Not too bad for a guy once labeled as injury-prone after he missed 23 games in 2015-16. Allen’s chances of reaching the heights he’s maintained the last three seasons will be difficult in 2020 with Philip Rivers leaving for Indianapolis. Even if Allen is able to maintain his healthy 25% target share from last season, the quality and quantity of targets will go down with Tyrod Taylor and scattershot rookie Justin Herbert leading the offense. The Chargers attempted the 10th-most passes/game last season (37.3) with Rivers at QB. That rate will go down this season with their quarterback change and because of their formidable defense they built this off-season — they added LB Kenneth Murray in the first round, as well. Sammy Watkins was the only receiver to top 60+ catches and 650+ receiving yards in a season during Tyrod’s three seasons as a starter with the Bills in 2015-17. I’m concerned Allen won’t have the stranglehold on the targets he had with Rivers at the helm, and I’m already expecting the overall passing volume to dip this season. Allen has been a pretty steady low-end WR1 option the last three seasons, but he’s now a WR2 because both his floor and ceiling have been lowered with Rivers gone. (TB)

Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow (LV) — The Raiders WR depth chart quickly turned into a disaster last season after Antonio Brown went bonkers before the season. Their WR situation got even worse with Williams struggling through plantar fasciitis for most of the season, leaving 2019 fifth-round slot WR Renfrow to lead the team in targets. YIKES. GM Mike Mayock and HC Jon Gruden went out of their way to improve their offensive cast by drafting three skill players in the first three rounds. The Raiders selected Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs as the first WR in the draft with 12th overall spot pick before landing Kentucky athlete Lynn Bowden and South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards with consecutive picks at 80th and 81st overall. Williams and Renfrow are likely to see their roles reduced because of the influx of wide receiver talent, and this passing attack isn’t exactly one to invest in outside of TE Darren Waller to begin with. (TB)

John Ross} (Cin) — Ross is going to get a major upgrade at quarterback this season with the Bengals selecting LSU Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. The problem is they drafted Ross’ potential replacement in Clemson’s Tee Higgins with the first pick of the second round. It made a lot of sense for the Bengals to draft Higgins since they’re unlikely to extend Ross’ rookie contract to a fifth season, and they could also lose A.J. Green at the conclusion of the season. Ross had the chance to be a sneaky late-round pick in best-ball drafts this summer, but he’s no longer worth the investment with Higgins potentially reducing his opportunities. (TB)

James Washington (Pit) — The Steelers surprised many by selecting Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool 49th overall, but Pittsburgh has one of the best track records picking WRs so they get some benefit of the doubt. The Steelers don’t miss very often at WR in the draft, but the Claypool selection was also an indictment on 2018 second-round pick Washington. JuJu Smith-Schuster figures to play mostly from the slot next season, and second-year WR Diontae Johnson impressed as the top outside option last season despite terrible QB play. Claypool and Washington will be competing for the #3 WR snaps, and Claypool could have the upper hand since they invested their first pick in the 2020 draft on him. Washington could be reduced to a rotational role as a primary deep threat, and he should be off the radar in drafts this summer. (TB)

Josh Reynolds (LAR) — Reynolds had a brief moment of fantasy relevance this off-season after the Rams traded Brandin Cooks to the Texans for a second-round pick in mid-April. Unfortunately, the Rams used the pick from the Texans on Cooks’ potential replacement and Reynolds’ future camp competition in Florida’s Van Jefferson at 57th overall. The Rams are likely to go with more two-TE sets this season anyway so the #3 WR position in Los Angeles was going to be a long shot to be a productive fantasy spot. (TB)


Fantasy TEs vs. Arizona Cardinals — Fantasy owners will no longer have the luxury of streaming TEs against the Cardinals as they did throughout the 2019 season after Arizona selected Clemson’s hybrid LB/S Isaiah Simmons eighth overall. The Cardinals allowed 19.3 FPG to TEs last season, or four whole points more PER GAME than the next closest team last year — the Seahawks allowed 15.2 FPG. For perspective, the Cards allowed 3.4 more FPG than TE1s Travis Kelce and George Kittle averaged last season at 15.9 FPG. Simmons has the size (6’4”, 238 pounds), the speed (4.39), and the coverage skills to frustrate and take out opposing TEs next season. I guess we’ll have to find another team to pick on when we need to stream tight ends. (TB)

Hunter Henry (LAC) — Henry is coming off a career-best season in 2019, despite playing in just 12 games, but it won’t be easy for him to better his TE8 finish from last season in FPG (12.5). Hunter should sit around his 17% target share and 21% air yards share from last season with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler each back this season. The problem is the quality and the quantity of targets will go down with Tyrod Taylor and scattershot rookie Justin Herbert manning the position after Philip River’s departure. The Chargers also attempted the 10th-most passes/game last season (37.3) with Rivers, a rate which will go down this season with their quarterback change and because of the formidable defense they built this off-season — they added LB Kenneth Murray in the first round, as well. Henry is clearly loaded with talent at just 25 years old, but he has some downside as mid-range TE1. He’s had a major QB-situation downgrade, HC Anthony Lynn is moving toward a ground-and-pound approach with his defense and QBs, and Henry’s durability concerns have to be taken into account. (TB)

Noah Fant (Den) — We really like Fant, and after his promising rookie season there’s little reason to believe the Broncos are down on him, but this was not a good draft weekend for him. The Broncos spent the entire draft surrounding young QB Drew Lock with weapons, with WRs Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. But perhaps most notable is 4th-round pick Albert Okwuegbunam, Lock’s freakshow TE when both were at Missouri. “Albert O” is a project, but he’s yet another weapon for Denver, and frankly we don’t have a large enough sample size on Lock — just five NFL starts — to know if Lock can get the ball to sustain fantasy production for all his new weapons, third-year WR Courtland Sutton, and Fant. (JD)

David Njoku (Cle) — When the Browns signed Austin Hooper in free agency, it was obviously a blow to Njoku, even though coach Kevin Stefanski loves his double-TE sets. What continued to confirm the Browns are lukewarm on Njoku is the fact that they drafted 2019 Mackey Award winner Harrison Bryant from Florida Atlantic in the 4th round during draft weekend. Coming off a season in which he played just four games and caught 5 passes, Njoku is beyond being on notice. (JD)

Eric Ebron (Pit) — The Steelers are listing new freakshow WR Chase Claypool as a WR, but it’s worth pointing out that some felt Claypool — all 6’4”, 238 pounds of him — would translate better to the NFL as a move tight end. Ebron weighed in at 6’4”, 250 pounds at the Combine, and it’s possible Claypool plays some sort of role similar to that of Ebron. At the least, this really crushes Vance McDonald, who never could stay on the field anyway. (JD)

Jimmy Graham (Chi) — Bear GM Ryan Pace was roasted for giving Graham $8 million AAV over two years — the 7th-highest number at his position. But the Bears have also not stopped adding TEs to their roster — they currently have ten. That includes 2nd-round pick Cole Kmet from Notre Dame, the first TE taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. Graham has looked cooked for a couple of years, even if Pace doesn’t think so, and with Kmet, Demetrius Harris, Adam Shaheen, Jesper Horsted, and others, we doubt he’s going to make a significant fantasy impact. (JD)

Jared Cook (NO) — We’re not sure how much we should downgrade Cook, given he still looks like a viable contributor to a team with Super Bowl aspirations, but it’s worth noting that he’s entering his age-33 season, and has absolutely no money left on his contract — beyond a prorated bonus — due following the 2020 season. That’s notable considering the Saints traded their entire Day 3 arsenal of picks to move into the back end of the 3rd round to select Dayton TE Adam Trautman, a small-school favorite of the scouting community. Trautman may not be ready to contribute right away, but if he shows anything early on, Cook’s time could be running out. (JD)

Will Dissly (Sea) — Dissly has flashed in his brief NFL career, but each of his first two seasons have ended with horrifying injuries — a patellar tendon tear in 2018 and an Achilles tear in 2019. The Seahawks signed vet Greg Olsen and drafted the talented Colby Parkinson out of Stanford in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft, which obviously shows they know they can’t count on Dissly. (JD) writers Tom Brolley (TB) and Joe Dolan (JD) compiled this report.