The Draft is in the books and now we can start to focus on Fantasy Football once again. We hope you have all be listening to our podcasts in the interim to get the latest news and analysis from around the league, but if you haven’t, you can find 5 Yard Rush in all good podcasting places. This week, we will be deep diving all the rookies from the NFL Draft in offensive skill positions from rounds 3 and 4 to give you a profile of what to draft and where. If you prefer audio, you can download our Wednesday 22nd May episode to listen to this in full.
3rd Round Selections
66th Pick- Diontae Johnson- So now we get into some of the more interesting selections of the draft. We will start off by saying that if Johnson was not drafted by the Steelers, we probably would have just said avoid at all costs. Most players like him that get drafted by other teams very often become a bust. And when I say most players like him, We mean undersized, not the quickest but can run good routes and execute plays. We say this, because most teams don’t know how to use a receiver like this well. Johnson comes from the MAC and last year he caught 49 balls for 761 yards and 8 TDs, a regression of 500 yards and 5 TDs from the year before, in a conference that rarely has elite, NFL ready talent to defend him. However, because the Steelers took him, and they have done this before with another small school kid who was undersized, undervalued and unwanted in the draft, and made him a Pro-baller and one of the best in the game, they are the team most likely to fulfil Johnson’s potential. That player we were just talking about by the way, was Antonio Brown. We aren’t saying Johnson is Brown, but if they get 80% of Brown’s numbers out of him, sign me up. Johnson is available in the second rounds of Rookie Drafts, and around the 11-15th round of Dynasty Drafts, and similar in re-draft. Sign him up as your WR5/WR6 unless massive value is available. He is one of the few rookies we believe can, and will contribute this season. They won’t be elite numbers, but it could be the start of something very good.
67th Pick- Jalen Hurd- Our award for the most interesting prospect in this class is Jalen Hurd. This guy started his college career with Tennessee in the SEC as a Running Back. As a Freshman he rushed for 899 yard off 190 attempts, an average of 4.7 YPA and 5 TDs, before being the bell cow for Tennessee in 2015 with 1285 yards off 277 attempts at an average of 4.6 and 12 TD. His Junior year was hampered with just 7 games, but still put up another 451 yards and 3 TDs. It was then Hurd decided to transfer to Baylor and sit-out a year, meaning he did 5 years of university. It was here at Baylor he became a WR and despite being a raw guy with little knowledge of the position, he still caught 69 passes for 946 yards and 4 TDs whilst also rushing in 3 as a swiss army knife player. The big gains to his game are YAC and having long strides and good feet. He also has good hands. The trouble is he needs to work on technique and routes. As raw as a prospect can be but has so much upside for his size and lack of experience at the position. He will see a lot of action at the 49ers and was taken with significant draft capital. Expect Hurd to go tail end of the second round, maybe 3rd round in rookie drafts and around the 12-15th round range in Dynasty drafts, maybe later. He shouldn’t be a redraft draft candidate in 2019.
69th Pick- Josh Oliver- a player that was a 2 star High School recruit and only really produced 1 year of production, Oliver is a difficult player to project. Oliver caught 56 passes for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns. It does show he is progressing and getting better and better. He has all the athletic traits to be a successful NFL player, but he is raw, especially when it comes to blocking in the running game. However, the real benefit of Oliver is his landing spot. Jacksonville signed Geoff Swaim for only $1.25 mil guaranteed at signing, so Oliver can compete for the starting job day one. That is why Oliver is the TE4 in this class. He’s worth a 3rd-4th round rookie draft pick, and a 14-18th round dynasty startup pick. He is worth a late desperation add in redraft if there is no one else.
70th Pick- Darrell Henderson- A surprise pick in the 3rd round as the Rams selected Darrell Henderson, despite having the two time reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year in Todd Gurley. By matching a Tender offer for Malcom Brown worth a 2nd round pick, and now using the 70th pick (their second of the draft) to select Darrell Henderson. Henderson had a terrific year in 2018 by rushing 214 times for 1909 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, as well as adding 295 yards in the air and 3 more touchdowns. He has proven he can carry the workload. He does struggle with pass protection, but he has every chance now to be a success in the NFL. I don’t think Henderson has been brought in to replace Gurley, but it shows the beginning of the end of Gurley. Will Henderson take over? He will have every chance to. Henderson, based on this, is a late 1st to beginning of the second round for rookie drafts, Rounds 8-12 in a dynasty start-up and rounds 10-13 in redraft. If you own Gurley, take Henderson higher and secure him.
73rd Pick- David Montgomery- This is a real blow for Mike Davis owners. His move to Chicago saw Davis have real potential, but now Montgomery will come in and not only be the starter week 1, but will also take the lion’s share of the targets. He comes into the NFL with 2 very similar years of production, 258 and 257 rushing attempts, 1146 and 1216 yards, and 11 and 13 Touchdowns respectively in 2017 and 2018. He has power, speed, and is a good pass protector. He will see the field immediately day 1. Opportunity plus talent is strong here, so he should be a mid first round rookie draft pick, be taken anywhere from round 5-8 in dynasty startups and anywhere from rounds 6-8 in redraft leagues.
74th Pick- Devin Singletary- A player that is incredibly hard to judge due to where he played his university ball. The CUSA is not a division many high calibre recruits come from, and the competition would have been playing against every week isn’t the greatest. His Junior year however was incredible. 301 carries for 1,918 yards and an amazing 32 TDs. He followed this up with a senior year of 261 carries, 1,348 yards and 22 TDs. However the landing spot makes this very difficult to judge. The Bills have Yeldon, McCoy and Gore in their backfield. Great for Singletary to learn from, but bad for his year 1 numbers. As a result, Singletary is probably a 3rd round rookie draft pick, a 10-14th round Dynasty startup pick, and a late flyer in redraft at best.
75th Pick- Jace Sternberger- Sternberger has landed a lottery win by going to Green Bay and receiving balls from future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. However I personally have found Sternberger very very difficult to evaluate. 2015-2017 he has 2 years at Kansas before sitting out before a transfer to Texas A+M yielded 1 catch for 5 yards. His 2018 year however was stellar. 48 grabs for 832 yards and 10 Touchdowns. He has good hands, can block although he will need to improve in that area and does well in all aspects of the passing game. If his last year’s production is what we will get in the NFL, he should be a 3rd round rookie draft pick, a 12-15th round dynasty start-up pick and worthy of a TE2 for you in fantasy redraft this year with upside. We’ld expect Sternberger to be a top 20 TE this year. If you don’t draft 2 TEs in redraft, then keep an eye on waivers, but don’t be shocked if he’s drafted.
76th Pick- Terry McLaurin- We’ll be honest, McLaurin wasn’t on our radar until the Senior Bowl. His season numbers didn’t flatter much, 35 receptions for 700 yards and 11TDs. That shows efficiency and great averages, but the real question is why only 35 receptions? Simply, it’s because his catching ability leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn’t extend his hands enough, and his catch radius isn’t brilliant. This will need some improvement if he is to be a solid WR2 in the NFL. However, the landing spot for McLaurin is great for him, as he will be hooking up with his college QB Dwayne Haskins. As a result, he is a 3rd round rookie draft pick, worth a pick after the 10th round in a dynasty startup, but I doubt he holds much value in redraft this year. If you are a McLaurin truther, draft him late.
86th Pick- Kahale Warring- Another hard TE prospect to evaluate. Missed most of 2016 with a foot injury and when he came back, he didn’t set the stat lines on fire. Last season saw 31 catches for 372 yards and 3 TDs. But he is 6 foot 5, 252lbs and has incredible hands, strength and speed for a guy his size. He was shooting up and up peoples mock draft boards but think this range of pick, and the team who have selected him is about spot on. It wouldn’t shock me if he became a stud, and it wouldn’t shock me if he was a bust. He’s a pure upside/talent guy. 3rd round rookie draft pick at best, and you can probably grab him around the 18-20th round of dynasty startups. Do not draft in redraft unless desperate as he will need time to adjust and get to grips with the NFL
87th Pick Damien Harris- The Robin to Josh Jacob’s Batman. Together these two ruled the SEC and were 1 game away from retaining the national title for Alabama, before Clemson destroyed them in the National Championship game. The best thing when it comes to evaluating Harris is his remarkable consistency. He averaged 144 carries in his last 3 years with ‘Bama with the low being 135 and the high being 150 carries. He averaged 971 yards over these 3 years, with a high in 2016 of 1037 and a low in 2018 of 876. If you can recall the number of defensive players being drafted from SEC schools this year, that explains the slight drop off of under 10 yards a game (he rushed for 1000 yards in 2017 and played 15 games in 2018. However one area he excelled is rushing Touchdowns, He had 11 in 2017 and 9 in 2018. Very efficient for a split back field. This move by New England shows Sony Michel is not going to be a 3 down back and I can see Harris coming in to share the workload, similar to his role at Alabama. And it is the perfect role for him, to be a 1A back instead of a bellcow. Expect him to compete for touches, but for Belichick not to rush him. He has good hands and can be a receiving threat. Harris holds more value if you draft or hold Michel, otherwise he might be a bit Touchdown or bust until we see what happens with him. Draft him in the late second to 3rd round of rookie drafts, in rounds 13-16 of dynasty drafts (especially if you have Michel) and personally, we wouldn’t draft him in redraft unless I owned Michel. Don’t be surprised if he goes undrafted in redraft.
93rd Pick- Miles Boykin- A really fun prospect and player. However there are two things that come to mind when we think of Miles Boykin, and both aren’t positive. Firstly, he’s coming from Notre Dame, a school hardly famed for their aerial attack, and that he is going to the Ravens. I think I made the point quite clear with Hollywood Brown that it’s not a dynamite landing spot, so we’ll skip this. As our mothers would say, if you have nothing positive to say, don’t say anything at all. Boykin tested in the 98th percentile in both the broad and vertical jump at the NFL Combine and has incredible hands. Last year, which was is only noteworthy year of production, he made 59 catches for 872 yards and 8 TDs, which giving the team he is coming from isn’t bad. In fact, Notre Dame are a fair comparison to Baltimore, so he should slot straight in. He will be the X for the Ravens, but the one area he must improve is his route running. He will also need to improve a contested catch rate. He has the hands, and the strength, but his positioning is a little off, making him lose more than he wins in contested catches. Add an inaccurate Quarterback still learning his trade and it will be an interesting opportunity to see if Boykin can we think he has a bumpy year 1. He’s a second round rookie draft edition right now as it stands, and will go in the 12-18 round range of startup dynasty drafts. I wouldn’t personally draft him in redraft, but like any rookie, he could show a flash or two.
96th Pick- Dawson Knox- This guy could literally be anything in the NFL. He could break out as the next George Kittle, or he could flame out of the league and be playing CFL or XFL ball in no time. How are we expected to evaluate a guy 39 career catches, with only 15 coming last year, for a career 605 yards and 0 Touchdowns! We cannot really tell you what kind of player he is going to be. He has great hands and speed, but has yet to produce. Tyler Croft will be the 1 in Buffalo this season. Knox is a gamble here, so we wouldn’t draft him before the 18th round in a dynasty draft, and we’ld personally avoid for one of the higher drafted TEs in a rookie draft. He should not be drafted in redraft leagues.
100th Pick- Will Grier- Grier is a massive faller in this draft. He was seen as a second rounder, and he falls into the 3rd round, and very late at that. Grier has a lot of upside and potential, and was compared a lot in the process to a Ryan Fitzpatrick. We know that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but Fitz’s career has spread long and far, so how can you knock it? In truth, the landing spot for Grier is horrible. He will never usurp Cam Newton, a former league MVP. We were also was really impressed with Kyle Allen, the number 2 in Carolina, when he played last year. We think Grier is a backup not just for this year but for the next few years. He should go undrafted in all fantasy football formats.
102nd Pick- Alexander Mattison- This was a fantastic value pick by the Minnesota Vikings, a team who want to run the ball more. Yes you have Dalvin Cook as your lead back, but he has such durability issues, that you need talent behind him. They let Murray go to New Orleans and replaced him with Abdullah, who didn’t inspire and confidence despite all the opportunities in Detroit. Therefore we think Mattison is a solid addition. He isn’t the quickest guy, but he has great balance and breaks through the tackles well. He can make a guy miss, and he also has solid hands and can be used well in the passing game. Last year at Boise State, he rushed 302 times for 1,415 yards, and 17 touchdowns (up from 12 TDs in 2017). He knows how to find holes, and where to get to. We can see him being a useful addition, however as a fantasy prospect, he might not hold the same value straight away. We would handcuff Cook with Mattison for sure, as the Vikings will run the ball, a lot. Mattison is a 3rd round rookie draft pick, a 16th-20th round Dynasty startup pick and is not worth a whole lot of draft capital in redraft, unless you are using him as Cook’s backup.
4th Round Selections
103rd Pick- Hakeem Butler- There were draft analysts in the early parts of the process that talked about Butler being in contention for the 1st Wide Receiver off the board. However, he ended up slipping all the way down to the 4th round, sliding to Arizona and the 103rd pick. His combine numbers weren’t outstanding, however we don’t think that is why he fell. Despite very good numbers last year of 60 receptions for 1318 yards and 9 touchdowns, he showed on tape that he is very much a developmental pick, with good upside. Butler has the potential to be a decent level X receiver in the NFL, however it will take some time to get there. Also he will face some real competition to get into that role in Arizona with Kirk, Larry Fitz and others drafted later that will provide competition. Butler will get on the field year 1, but we don’t see him being a solid year 1 producer. He should be considered in the 3rd round of rookie drafts, after round 16 in Dynasty Startups, and should not be a consideration in redraft leagues.
104th Pick- Ryan Finley- Rapsheet on draft night said that Ryan Finley “blew the doors off” on his visit and was great at reciting and reteaching plays and schemes back to the coaching staff. Finley had consistent numbers in the ACC the last couple of years, with last year throwing for just under 4,000 yards with a comp. percentage of 67.4 and a career high 25 Touchdowns, but a career high 11 Interceptions. Finley, despite these numbers, is only going to be a career backup unless things change in his development and should go undrafted in all formats and all leagues, except superflex as a handcuff to Dalton, if you are desperate.
112th Pick- Bryce Love- In 2017, there was talk for Love coming out of school after a season where he rushed 263 times for 2118 yards and 19 touchdowns. On those numbers, he would have been a 2nd round, maybe even 3rd round pick. There was a ton of buzz around him. However Love decided to come back for his senior year. This turned out to not be a good move for his career, as for the second time in 3 years he got a serious injury. In 2016 it was a serious ankle injury and last year he tore his ACL. These durability issues and nature of the injuries, led to him sliding into the 4th round. Then the other issue is his landing spot. He is going to be the 3rd back in Washington this year behind Guice and Peterson. This means for 2019, whilst Love continues to recover from his ACL, he won’t see a lot of time. He is worth a late 3rd round gamble in rookie drafts as Peterson won’t be there forever, however he isn’t worth drafting before the 20th round in dynasty startups and should not be drafted in redraft leagues.
113th Pick- Justice Hill- Another player with an injury that caused a slide is Hill. He suffered a season ending rib injury that caused him to only produce 158 carries in 10 games for 930 yards and 9 TDs. In his previous 2 seasons, he started as a Freshman and Sophomore in the Big 12 and rushed for 1,142 in 2016 and 1,467 in 2017, both with a 5.5 yard per carry average. He ended up with 31 college Touchdowns which isn’t too shabby. However sometimes he can be a bit greedy and improve his own stat line as opposed to getting the necessary yards for his team. He needs to massively improve on short yardage and mixing up his routes and change his approaches. However he does land in a decent spot with a run 1st offense, but will be the 3 behind Ingram and Edwards. He will hold some value but will need to displace one of them to be fantasy efficient. Hill is going around 15-16th round in Dynasty start-ups, in the end of second to 3rd round of rookie drafts, and should be going undrafted in redraft.
120th Pick- Gary Jennings Jr- one of our “sleepers” is this guy. Gary Jennings is versatile and after a great junior year in the slot with 97 rec for 1,096 yards but only 1 TD, he moved to the outside in 2018 and ended up with 54 rec for 917 yards and 13 Touchdowns. And now he is on a Seahawks roster without Baldwin or any real competition. We would expect Jennings to be in the slot, almost like the old Baldwin role and we see him getting targets and production. The biggest worry is him getting TDs early but we think he is a solid fantasy producer in the first few years. The funny thing is the majority of the fantasy community are sleeping on Jennings, so you can get him very late everywhere. In many leagues he’s going undrafted in all formats. You should get Jennings wherever you like, but watch out for people who listen to our podcast, who might take him as a flyer. Take him late, and be proud as we expect him to produce. Of all the 4th round guys and later, he’s the safest floor guy.
122nd Pick- Benny Snell Jr.- Divisive and contradictory is best way to describe Snell. On the plus side, 3 years of very good production from an SEC school. 3 1000+ yard seasons with a college average per year of almost 1,300 with an average of 5.3 yards per carry and 48 career touchdowns. However, where is has great vision and power, he just doesn’t have that initial burst and elusive traits to get him to be a complete back. If he has a great offensive line and great blocking, he could produce. He has that currently in Pittsburgh, which has the necessary ingredients for him to produce. But he will be the 3 there in the short term. Snell will get very little playing time unless there are injuries in 2019, meaning he is undraftable in redraft. However he is a solid 3rd round rookie draft pick and someone you can nab in the 16-20th round in dynasty startups. He has a ton of upside due to the landing spot. Had he landed in Tampa for example, whilst his route to production is shorter, he would struggle to produce and play to his strength due to not having the best blocking and offensive line play.
126th Pick- Riley Ridley- One year after his brother got drafted, it was the turn of Riley to be drafted. He is not the athlete or talent that Calvin is, so there was no surprise he was drafted with the 126th Pick by the Bears, instead of going much higher. However, having said that, he does display a lot of positive attributes on tape and does appear to have all the tools of a solid complimentary receiver. We say appear, because he never displayed it in the college game due to scheme and better talent on the roster. His final year of college, his Junior year, saw just 43 receptions for 559 yards, however he did have 9 Touchdowns. In his previous 2 years he failed to break the 250 yard mark. The Bears are known for trick plays and it is this formation where he might thrive. It’s a crowded receiver core in a run heavy offense, but there might be some signs Ridley will make it. However, like most of the these players getting drafted in this range, expect year 1 to be very minimal. Ridley is going in the 4th to 5th rounds of rookie drafts and shouldn’t be drafted before the 22nd round in Dynasty drafts, if at all. He is not to be touched in redraft leagues as mentioned.
128th Pick- Tony Pollard- Pollard is a very difficult prospect to evaluate. His biggest strength
is also why he is difficult to evaluate. In his 3 years with Memphis, he had
more kick returning yards than rushing yards. And this is what his primary role
will be in the NFL. A backup RB who will be used to give a bellcow a rest, like
Zeke, but will be on special teams a lot. Pollard might be able to forge a
career as a gadget player like Curtis Samuel with jet sweeps and wheel routes,
however it’s hard to see him be a consistent performer in the NFL. Pollard is
not to be owned except for very very deep 16-20 team leagues. Other than that
just pass on him.
133rd Pick- Jarrett Stidham- Stidham is the 6th Quarterback drafted in this class and one who didn’t have a terrible college career. His biggest problem is he likes to pass from the pocket, take his time and pass. When all this is setup for him, he can throw pretty footballs and make plays look great. However he isn’t the most mobile or the quickest QB. Being drafted by New England doesn’t really help him either. He isn’t going to be taught by Belichick and Brady, so it’s a case of seeing if he has any chance of producing at the elite level. The smart money say he does not, meaning he should go undrafted in all formats and will probably never be a fantasy football pick in any league except his cousin’s home league.
137th Pick- Foster Moreau- This Tight End has absolutely no value in fantasy football. Moreau’s Junior and Senior years were virtually identical. Junior year- 12 games, 24 receptions for 278 yards and 3 TDs. Senior Year- 10 games, 22 receptions for 272 yards and 2 TDs. He was predominantly used for short yardage and also for additional blocking. Unfortunately for fantasy football fans, it is the pass blocking that will be his role in the NFL. He will be a TE2/TE3 on the Raiders and should not be considered fantasy viable or draftable in any format.