Sports Illustrated‘s Kevin Hanson released his latest seven-round mock draft on Thursday, which you can find here. Please check that out before continuing below.
Let’s step into a hypothetical world for a moment and imagine that the actual 2020 NFL Draft plays out precisely like Hanson’s mock. What would that mean for fantasy football managers?
Let’s examine the potential fantasy value of the top running backs off the board in the second round of SI’s latest mock.
Jonathan Taylor to Los Angeles Chargers (No. 37 overall)
Hanson has frequently mocked Taylor as his first running back off the board, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a true workhorse back who can easily step into a timeshare role alongside Austin Ekeler with Melvin Gordon in Denver. Ekeler was a fantasy superstar last season, and many are hoping to see him in a feature role for 16 games in 2020. However, the Chargers may prefer to have some insurance beyond Justin Jackson.
Los Angeles is a great immediate fit for Taylor. He won’t be asked to catch the ball a ton, nor will he be asked to carry the ball 20-plus times per game out of the gate—there are some concerns with Taylor’s break-down potential after getting more than 300 touches in each of his three years at Wisconsin. Still, he’ll get plenty of work, and both Ekeler and Gordon were fantasy relevant in this offense last season. Look at Taylor as a second flex or high-end bench option. Ekeler would fall to mid-RB2 territory.
D’Andre Swift to Miami Dolphins (No. 39 overall)
I love the idea of Swift slipping to the Dolphins here instead of Miami using a first-round pick on him. Swift can step in right away and have a significant role in sharing the workload with Jordan Howard. I expect a timeshare, a la what happened with Miles Sanders and Howard in Philadelphia early last season. As long as you don’t overdraft Swift, there’s plenty of upside.
I don’t expect Swift to get a lot of goal-line work when Howard is healthy, but he’s an underrated pass-catcher that can play on third downs and be the safety blanket Ryan Fitzpatrick lacked last season. Swift would be my top-ranked rookie running back and in flex territory to begin the 2020 season, but I fear he’ll shoot up draft boards into RB2 territory and force fantasy managers to reach for him.
J.K. Dobbins to Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 45 overall)
Dobbins’ fantasy value is tough to pinpoint because it varies widely. Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians has publicly stated his support and optimism for Ronald Jones. That’s not just lip service. The Buccaneers are going to give Jones every chance to succeed this season. However, Arians’ M.O. is to pivot when things just aren’t working after multiple attempts, and that’s where Dobbins’ upside lies.
Jones isn’t a strong third-down back, and Dobbins can step into that role quickly. However, Arians tends to bring rookie running backs along slowly (think David Johnson’s rookie season in Arizona). Does Dobbins have to be as immediately explosive as Johnson was to earn double-digit touches? If you can get Dobbins after drafting your starting WRs, RBs, and flex(s), it’s worth the risk. Be hopeful, don’t blindly expect Dobbins to carry your team in the second half of the season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire to Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 49 overall)
The Steelers probably hoped Taylor would fall to them here but go with a 5-foot-7 back-up plan out of LSU. Edwards-Helaire is a little more of a project because he isn’t the workhorse, three-down back Taylor is. However, with James Conner, Benny Snell, and Jaylen Samuels already in the fold, the Steelers can afford to bring Edwards-Helaire along slowly.
If Edwards-Helaire can improve in pass protection, he could become a fantasy darling in PPR formats because he’s a strong route-runner, and Pittsburgh’s RBs are walking injury risks. However, he’s just a fantasy flier for 2020. I can see fantasy managers spending a large portion of their FAAB budget on Edwards-Helaire when Conner inevitably misses time at some point in the season.
Round 3 Notable: Cam Akers to Detroit Lions
One other back to note is Akers to Detroit to add to a backfield that includes the talented and oft-injured Kerryon Johnson. Akers would start the season as a back-up, providing value off the waiver wire should Johnson get injured. Here’s what SI Lions Maven John Maakaron had to say about Akers:
He won’t be ready to be a bell-cow back come Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. However, if given time to refine his skills and with the proper coaching, he could one day grow into a No. 1 back.
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What Fantasy Owners Want: Tee Higgins to Baltimore Ravens