Early 2019 Value Targets

Updated: May 30th 2019

Sometimes the fantasy community is slow to catch on.  Maybe fantasy footballers have not had the time to evaluate new coaches, rookies, and players in different situations.  That makes early season auctions some of the most potentially profitable for those willing to do the homework.  Below you will find a number of players with secure roles and ability to easily outperform their cost.  The FantasyPros ADP at time of this writing is listed to give the reader an idea of relative price point.  The reader should make an attempt to acquire these players if valued by owners near the market worth before the consensus catches on.


Kyler Murray, QB22

There is a lot to like about Murray’s fantasy prospect, even as a rookie.  The overall number one pick should start immediately.  Arizona invested heavily at wide receiver in the NFL draft with two receivers in the first four rounds.  David Johnson provides a strong presence in both the run and passing game.  The Kliff Kingsbury spread offense will likely feature one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL.  The big question is whether the offense works in the NFL against top-level athletes and if the offensive line can do enough to make it possible.

Why the consensus is too low:  People underestimate his rushing upside and the general uncertainty of this offense at the NFL level scares some.  The consensus projection puts Murray around 460 rushing yards at 4.6 yards per carry.  Those numbers should be closer to his floor than his projection.  Murray reportedly runs the forty-yard dash in the 4.4 second range and rushed for 1,000 yards last year at Oklahoma.  The Arizona offensive line should be better on the injury front however no major investment was made in the draft or free agency for the worst offensive line in football.  Murray will be scrambling a lot and his physical tools should ensure efficiency.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB21

Oh how the fantasy community darlings have fallen.  Just a year ago, Garoppolo was a low-end QB1 for many fantasy gamers.  You can now buy him as a borderline QB2/3 after an ACL-tear finished his season in his third game with some commentators deeming him injury-prone.  The 49ers invested heavily in skill players this offseason taking two wide receivers in the first 67 picks.  They also signed speedster running back Tevin Coleman to bolster a solid backfield.  We have not even talked about how George Kittle broke the receiving yardage record for tight ends yet.

Why the consensus is too low:  Shanahan cures many ills.  San Francisco racked up a respectable 3,867 passing yards (15th) at an impressive 8.0 yards per attempt (9th) despite playing with backup quarterbacks most of the season, losing top running back Jerick McKinnon before the year started, with speedster wide receiver Marquise Goodwin in and out of the lineup.   The defense also gave up the fifth most points in the league in 2018.  Garappolo is going to throw the ball a lot in 2019 with a vastly improved skill-player core and he is going to be efficient doing it.  Don’t be surprised if he ends up top-5 in passing yardage.

Others to consider:  Lamar Jackson (QB17) and Josh Allen (QB21) racked up big rushing totals last season in different ways which led to some big fantasy production.  Baltimore designed many rushing plays for Jackson where Allen mainly scrambled on passing plays for his rushing.  Jackson provides the higher weekly floor and additional injury-risk due to the amount of carries and relatively lean frame.  Allen is the more volatile play but one with far more upside as a passer and further developed than Jackson.

Running Back

Kalen Ballage, RB55

The situation in Miami looks bleak on its surface with a new quarterback and an offensive line among the worst last season.  Looks can be deceiving.  The Dolphins spent significant capital upgrading the offensive line in the draft and Rosen or Fitzpatrick could easily be an upgrade over Tannehill.  Ballage is a size-speed specimen who will be the big-back part of the committee to Kenyan Drake.  Backs priced similarly to Ballage include receiving specialists, backups, and guys hoping to make the roster, not players who reasonably might lead a committee.

Why the consensus is too low:  Many believe Drake will be a workhorse back.  This idea goes back to when Drake filled the primary back for part of a season after trades and injuries forced him into the role.  He is a rail thin (6th percentile BMI) back built more like a receiver.  Ballage, at almost 230 pounds, is far better equipped to handle the rigors of heavy workloads.  Gore led the backfield in carries last year.  Don’t be surprised if Ballage does this season.

Latavius Murray, RB40

I will keep this short.  Murray takes over for Ingram as the compliment to Kamara in New Orleans.  Ingram just had his worst fantasy season in the last five years and ended as the PPR RB29 in per game scoring.  Murray comes with a rock hard floor and elite handcuff potential in one of the league’s top offenses.  His NFL contract likely ensures he will be with the Saints at least the next two years.

Why the consensus is too low:  Do we think undrafted free agent Devine Ozigbo or former Lions 7th round pick Dwayne Washington are threats to Murray’s workload?  Is New Orleans planning to change a top-4 scoring offense each of the last two seasons to dump more bodies into the backfield or increase Kamara’s touches even more?  I can’t come up with a legitimate reason that Murray is this low.  He is one of the best values for teams in need of cheap running back help.

Others to consider:  Tampa Bay’s offensive line is an absolute mess.  However, the price point of Peyton Barber (RB42) and Ronald Jones (RB52) make the Bucs’ tandem an intriguing gamble.  It is rare locking up a backfield this cheap on a team projected for plenty of scoring chances and high yardage.

Wide Receiver

Curtis Samuel, WR51

Samuel showed well as the season progressed after returning to health and Devin Funchess being relegated to a more minor role.  He displayed above average route running and tremendous after-the-catch ability.  The receiving options are rapidly dwindling in Carolina.  Funchess left in free agency while Greg Olsen proved a shell of his former-self last year.

Why the consensus is too low:  Injuries prevented Samuel from developing quickly.  Remember he converted from a hybrid receiver/running back in college so Samuel was always going to take some time to transition to a full time receiver.  Samuel should attain top-three target status in Carolina along with D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey.

Marvin Jones, WR39

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong last year in Detroit.  Matt Stafford lost his two top receivers, Jones and Tate, to trade and injury.  Matt Patricia’s offensive philosophy proved nearly unwatchable as the attempted transition to more running decimated the passing attack which never saw consistency throughout the season.   New offensive coordinator likely continues the transition to a more run-based offense.  So what’s to like?

Why the consensus is too low: There’s just not much left in terms of reliable receivers in Detroit.  Kenny Golladay and Jones are it.  The next best options are probably new slot receiver Danny Amendola and a rookie tight end.  We also expect positive regression from Stafford who performed at his worst level in a long time.  Jones did not connect as well with Stafford last year but still registered one of the highest percentages of air yards before his injury.  He will be targeted for big plays throughout the season and command a fairly large chunk of Stafford’s targets.

Others to consider: The most expensive receivers from the Buffalo and Miami are currently John Brown (WR59) and Kenny Stills (WR66), respectively.  You don’t necessarily have to prefer these receivers.  The likes of Robert Foster, DeVante Parker, and others are even cheaper on the Bills and Dolphins.  If you expect Josh Allen making a second year jump and Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick playing competently, then someone on these receiver cores is going to be a solid value.

Tight End

Jordan Reed, TE21

Washington was a mess last year.  Alex Smith performed at his lowest level in many years coming off of a breakout campaign in Kansas City.  That weak production carried over to Reed who had his worst catch percentage of his career by almost 10%.  Whoever wins the starting quarterback is very unlikely to be much worse for the fantasy receiver prospects than Smith.  Injuries remain an issue for Reed who has not played a full season in his career.

Why the consensus is too low: A tight end typically must be one of the focal points of an offense or have high touchdown upside from playing with a top quarterback.  Reed is one of the only tight ends in the league who is the top receiving threat on their own team.   He averaged at least six targets per game over the last four years.  Reed does not have to play a full season to be worth this price.

Others to consider:  Andrew Luck targeted Jack Doyle (TE23) at a moderately high rate over the last two seasons and he played a higher snap rate than breakout Eric Ebron last season.  Tyler Eifert (TE31) carries a massive injury history.  He also must only play a handful of games to make buying him worth the cost.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

The Watch List: 2019 FCS & DII Season Preview

Updated: May 30th 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

FCS Storylines to Watch

Walter Payton Award Contender: Zerrick Cooper, QB, Jacksonville State.  Since 2002 when Tony Romo won the award, just two non-QBs have won the Walter Payton Award.  So, picking a passer was a safe bet.  Which one to pick was the tough part.  I went with Cooper because he has some name recognition―he was a 4-star recruit who transferred from Clemson after the 2017 season―and he offers some rushing upside that Jake Maier does not.  Cooper amassed 3,416 passing yards and tossed 32 TDs; he added 366 and 6 on the ground.  Jacksonville State is predicted to make another playoff appearance in 2019 so voters will have plenty of opportunity to see Cooper.

Underclassman to Watch: Josh Davis, RB, Weber State.  Davis was crowned the top freshman in the FCS last season, winning the Jerry Rice Award.  He’s an explosive running back and punt returner who has tremendous breakaway speed.  He’s shifty enough to get around defenders and can also throw a wicked stiff arm.  His 30 receptions were the cherry on the sundae.  Weber State may not be high on your watch list, admittedly I had no idea the school was was in Utah, but they are projected to be a Top 10 team this season so we should all plan to check them out at least once to see some of Davis.

Newcomer of the Year: Zeb Noland, QB, North Dakota State.  Noland is transferring in from Iowa State where he was a spot starter over the last two campaigns.  He posted a 2-3 record in the five games where he was the primary quarterback.  His career stat line for the Cyclones was 1,255 passing yards with 6 TDs and 2 INTs.  There’s been no official announcement that Noland will be the starter but I doubt you publicize bringing him in without planning to give him the job.  He’ll be filling the large void left by Easton Stick who was drafted by the Chargers this Spring.

Coaching Carousel: The last two coaches to win an FCS Championship, Mike Houston and Chris Klieman, have moved up to the FBS level and leave their blue blood programs in flux.  Mike Houston left James Madison (2016 champion) to take the job at East Carolina (9 combined since 2016).  Meanwhile, Klieman is heading to Manhattan, Kansas to take over the Wildcats.  Klieman’s Bison won four of the last five FCS titles; while he’s likely to have more early success than Houston with a more talented roster, it will certainly be an adjustment for Klieman.  Defensive coordinator Matt Entz takes the reigns in North Dakota State and the Dukes will have former Elon coach Curt Cignetti on the sidelines.

FCS Players to Watch

Jake Maier, QB, UC Davis: Maier is heading into his third season as the starting quarterback for UC Davis.  He’s topped 3,500 passing yards in each of those two seasons and has a combined 60 TDs to 20 INTs.  Maier is a pocket passer who throws a strong and driven football.  However, he can be flustered by the rush and lets his mechanics break down, often making fade-away passes.  He leads his backs well on swing passes from the backfield but his anticipation on other routes needs to improve.  In the film I watched it appeared like Maier patiently went through progressions on a number of passes.  If he can compile another big season, Maier may attract some NFL scouts with his strong arm.

AJ Hines, RB, Duquense: Hines has topped 1,000 rushing yards each of his three years with the Dukes, totaling 3,849 so far in his career. His freshman season impressed so much that he was honored with the aforementioned Jerry Rice Award. I was excited to dive in and came away from his highlights thinking that he could earn a role in the NFL as a short-yardage back. He’s stocky with a low center of gravity. He prefers to run into defenders rather than around or past them. Hines lacks the acceleration to beat faster defenders to the edge but he does pick up momentum once he starts downhill. You might assume that he’s just a two-down runner but he’s also a factor in the passing game, with a career 42-544-3 receiving line. From what I’ve seen so far, I think Hines has a chance to land on an NFL roster, probably as a priority free agent. If he does, he can stick around for a few years in a specialized role (a la Zach Zenner).

Josh Pearson, WR, Jacksonville State: Pearson’s stats and measureables drew my attention when I started my preseason research. He’s listed at 6040/205 and scored 17 TDs last season. Unfortunately, after a deeper dive, I think he may be a better story than prospect. Pearson, a redshirt senior, had a rocky start to his career at Jacksonville State after being declared academically ineligible and losing his scholarship. He fought to get his grades up and finally debuted in a game in 2017 before starring in 2018. I was able to find some highlights online and was encouraged to see his strong hands stab the ball on numerous occasions. Pearson appeared significantly smaller than his listed measurements; I’m thinking a more realistic estimate of his size would be 6020/195. If he’s able to replicate his dominance from last year, I’ll need to revisit Pearson in the Winter.

Matthew Gonzalez, TE, Robert Morris: Gonzalez is the only tight end on my shortlist who had 40+ receptions, 600+ yards and 10+ TDs in 2018.  After reviewing some Robert Morris highlight packages, it looks like Gonzalez has more of a receiver’s build than that of a tight end.  Whether you view that as a positive or a negative depends on your spin.  He’s listed at 6030/230 which puts him in line with Evan Engram, one of the smallest (albeit productive) at the position in recent history.  Gonzalez does line up in-line so he has experience as a blocker and as a route runner from that alignment.  I wasn’t able to isolate clips of him as a blocker so that aspect of his report is largely TBD.  Since the NFL trend is towards “move tight ends” I think it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on Gonzalez in 2019.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona: Cookus started his career at NAU strong with 50 TDs in his first fifteen game.  Disappointingly, his sophomore season was cut short by injury after just four games.  The same happened in 2018 after just two games.  If he can stay healthy and find his freshman production he may earn some attention because he has good size at 6040/205 and throws well on the run.
  • Jaquez Ezzard, WR, Howard: Ezzard averaged more than 26.0 yards per catch in both 2017 and 2018 so he’s a big play in waiting.  He’s compact at 5090/190 but looks like he may be strong enough to win inside at a higher level.  It was hard to judge his speed in the highlights I saw but it seems like he’s plenty quick.  Ezzard has done some kick and punt returning in his career at Howard which is a positive because that’s likely how NFL teams would try to take advantage of his explosiveness.
  • Luke Stuffel, TE, Findlay: It’s possible that Luke Stuffel is a unicorn because it’s nigh impossible to find Findlay football highlights anywhere online.  He’s listed at 6060/269 and averaged 18.9 yards per catch last season (16/302/5).  You’ve got my attention Mr. Stuffel, now just point me in the direction of your game film!

DII Players to Watch

Jayru Campbell, QB, Ferris State: Campbell looks like an FBS player when you watch his highlights online.  He’s imposing at 6050/200 and is a true dual-threat quarterback who runs with speed and elusiveness.  As I was taking notes I thought to myself, “this is too good to be true.”  Unfortunately, some further research found that Campbell has numerous off-field issues including three violent incidents (one including an opposing player, one with a school security guard and one with his girlfriend).  Campbell was a verbal commit to Michigan State but instead attended the JUCO powerhouse of Garden City Community College to start his career before transferring to Ferris State.  I hope that Campbell has sought help; it’s unfortunate that we may never get to see his true potential.

Walter Fletcher, RB, Edinboro: Fletcher has starred the last two seasons, gaining over 1,800 scrimmage yards in both 2017 and 2018, adding 38 combined TDs.  He stood out to me when combing through statistics because of how involved he is as a receiver: 30+ receptions in all three seasons.  Luckily for us, he posted a long highlight reel from the 2017 season which I dove into.  He has a fantastic juke move, cutting on a dime without losing much speed or momentum.  He has enough speed to beat DII defenders but it’s hard to get a true feel for his long speed―I’d guess about 4.60.  I’d love to see Fletcher get some postseason all-star game love if he has another successful season.

Shane Zylstra, WR, Minnesota State: Zylstra has dominated Northern Sun opponents for the last two seasons.  In 2017 he went for 51-861-15; then he improved those numbers last year with 66-1,261-14.  He has a big frame, 6050/220, that appears ready for the rigors of the NFL.  I underestimated his speed, thinking he’d be a plodding runner at his size.  A change to tight end could be a possibility for the NFL because in my short study it appears that he’s at least an average blocker.  His combination of attributes would make him a versatile addition to an offense.  Zylstra is big, powerful and racks up numbers―that’s what I want to see from my under-the-radar  prospects.

Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When studying a player I rely on game film “cuts” which are most frequently found on Youtube. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels.  Keep in mind these highlight reels are the best plays of that player. When I have the option, I will choose to watch a game versus the better defense. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2020 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The Watch List: 2020 Rookie Mock Draft v1.0

Updated: May 21st 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday April 23rd. So, why am I bothering to create a mock draft so far in advance? I’ve found that creating mock drafts forces me to create both my positional rankings and my overall rankings. It would certainly be easier to ride the fence but I’d rather start thinking critically about these players now and edit as I go. The usual caveats apply here. This mock draft is a snapshot of my thinking at this moment. We have yet to see the best that many of these players are capable of producing so this list is very much a living document. A number of these underclassmen will decide to return to school and will create a gaping hole in my rankings. Some will be injured or lose their starting role for myriad reasons. Some will grow and mature physically, while others will do so mentally. There’s a lot we don’t know yet about this draft class but there is one thing I am sure of: I have never been so excited to study and write about a group of players!

1.01 | D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Swift appears to be the full package. He is a combination back who combines effortless cutting ability with a desire to fight through contact. He is a natural receiver who has great hands and adjusts well to the ball. He has long speed to outrun chasing defenders even if he does take an extra beat to get up to top speed. Jerry Jeudy will give Swift a run for his money so I doubt he’s an unanimous 1.01 but he has my vote right now.

1.02 | Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Jeudy is an A+ route runner who also utilizes that change of direction to be a handful after the catch. He’s explosive and can create big plays seemingly out of nothing. He can stop on a dime which helps him feint defensive backs both on a route and with the ball in his hands. As of today, we haven’t seen a glaring weakness in his game. Jeudy could be a Top 10 NFL Draft target after two years without a can’t miss wide receiver prospect.

1.03 | JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

Dobbins has ascended to RB2 in my 2020 rankings. He’s an old school style player who will appeal to NFL scouts. He’s short and compact with a sturdy base. That base and his play strength help him excel in pass protection. He’s a decisive runner who plays with more power than speed. Although, that’s not to say he’s slow, he’s probably 4.45-4.50 quick. Dobbins is also a good pass catcher. I expect him to project as a three-down back at the next level.

1.04 | Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Etienne has the speed to outrun just about any defender to the boundary before he cuts up field and jets to pay dirt. He’s a fun guy to watch because he’s a seventy yarder just waiting to happen. He has not yet been a factor as a receiver (17 career receptions) but I don’t think he’s incapable, just under utilized. If he shows as a pass catcher this year he’ll solidify his spot in the top tier of backs.

1.05 | CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Lamb’s upside is immense so I pushed him all the way up to 1.05. I originally had him in the 2.01 range but decided I’d rather bet on his potential, now that he’ll be the Sooners’ top target. He has elite body control, easily tight-roping or toe-tapping the sideline. He is a one-hander extraordinaire with hands that are strong yet soft. His long speed is bettered by his long stride. Even though he weighs in at just 189lb he blocks with a tenacity and effectiveness that surprised me. Lamb has an alpha male attitude on the field that I loved. He has the rare combination of opportunity and talent that will help him blossom in 2019.

1.06 | Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Shenault is a versatile playmaker who lines up all over the field. In fact, he often lines up in an h-back role and serves as an energetic blocker. He has a thick lower body that drives a powerful running style that can kick into an extra gear in the open field. He fights for extra yardage with above average play strength. Shenault catches the ball with his hands, utilizing great hand placement. Two injuries sidelined a promising 2018 campaign so I’m excited to see what we can do with a full season.

1.07 | Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Taylor leads my second tier of running backs right now. He’s an effective one-cut runner with power back wallop. He rarely goes down on first contact. I did observe that Taylor sometimes stutters too long at the line of scrimmage, so I’d like to see him more decisively select his lane. Like Etienne, he will need to get more involved as a receiver to avoid being type cast as a two-down back. As a Rutgers fan, Taylor is the one that got away. Instead, I have to watch him dominating Big Ten defenses in a different shade of red.

1.08 | Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri

Okwuegbunam surprised me in that he plays as an in-line tight end more than I anticipated. He lacks suddenness and explosion in his blocks but at least he has that experience. Okwuegbunam has good body control and tracks the ball well over his shoulder. He’s a hands catcher who uses his fingertips to snag the ball which is a great trait to have so early in a career. Okwuegbunam will start the season as the prohibitive favorite to be the first TE off the board next April, as such he should be atop our fantasy boards too.

1.09 | Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma

Sermon is a running back well suited for the zone read offense. He slashes through holes, sells his fakes and gets upfield to block for the quarterback. I think Sermon’s “Football IQ” is very high too. He knows his pass blocking assignments, understands the game situation and runs a variety of routes from the backfield. He has a great stiff arm and doesn’t shy from contact. Sermon should get the lion’s share of the carries in the Sooner backfield this season and if he does he has first round rookie draft potential pending scheme fit.

1.10 | Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Herbert was my QB1 last season before he decided to return for his senior year. He retains that mantle to start the 2020 NFL Draft campaign. Herbert has the size that NFL teams covet (6060/233). He has enough athleticism to pick up short yardage conversions and keep the defense honest but he’s certainly not a high volume runner. The biggest knock right now would be his accuracy (59.4% completion percentage last year was a career low). In 1QB RSO leagues, I believe it’s a good strategy to grab your preferred passer here because you get that fifth year option. If you’re playing Superflex/2QB, you’ll need to target him much earlier in the round.

2.01 | Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

Johnson is the biggest of the top receivers in the class at 6060/220. Whether he’s high-pointing the ball or making a full extension diving catch, he uses that long and lean frame to get to balls that others couldn’t. Johnson releases well with quick feet and is an adept hand fighter to get the corner’s hands off of him. He also has excellent situational awareness, I noted many times when he made a smart decision about how deep to run a route or when to protect the ball instead of fight for yardage. If he can add a few pounds without sacrificing his quickness, Johnson will be the best prototypical X receiver in this class.

2.02 | Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

Johnson, one of the rare seniors in this mock draft, can win from both outside and slot alignments. He has explosive feet off the snap and out of his route breaks. He uncovers well which helps make him a target for the quarterback on most plays, even when the defender is closely trailing him. Johnson shines after the catch where he pairs elusiveness with elite breakaway speed. I may be lower on Johnson than other writers so I owe him a thorough study this offseason.

2.03 | Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Reagor is a literal track star: he excelled in the long jump and relay races in high school. He brought those talents with him to Fort Worth where he’s shown off his elite speed and athleticism for Horned Frog fans. What surprised me was how well he wins in the air despite being just 5110/195. He’s nearly impossible to cover, especially against Cover 2 when he can split the safeties on a deep post and leave his man in the dust. He also wins after the catch where his strength and contact balance help him rack up yards. Unfortunately there was no game film to watch so my exposure was limited to highlight reels. Reagor will be a first round consideration if his full game films live up to the expectations his highlights set.

2.04 | Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers is a tough study because of how poor his offensive line play has been both years in Tallahassee. The film I watched of Akers showed that he has a balanced running style with 4.50 speed and more power than I expected. He’s adept at submarining for additional yardage by getting lower than the defender. The Akers I see in my mind’s eye, perhaps from expectations in his freshman season, has more wiggle than I saw. He runs a ton of routes out of the backfield but I didn’t get to see him pass protect much. I’m hopeful that the Seminoles are a better team in 2019 so we get to see how well Akers plays when his team is competing.

2.05 | Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma

Brooks plays larger than his 5110/205 frame, running with an upright and downhill style. He’s a patient runner who waits for his blocks and follows them through the hole. Brooks is not a flashy runner but he’ll get every yard that’s available by powering through defenders and falling forward. He keeps his feet well and can break low tackles. I didn’t get much exposure to his pass blocking and catching ability but what I did see appeared average, at worst. Brooks, a redshirt sophomore, will continue to split touches with Trey Sermon so who knows if he’ll come out early with a small sample size. If he does, keep an eye on him.

2.06 | Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is a big back at 6020/230 and it’s hard not to see Derrick Henry when watching him (the 2s on the jersey and hairs poking out of his helmet certainly help make the connection). He’s a former top recruit but has not had many carries yet in his career due to the depth at the position for the Tide. He shows excellent vision, seeing cut back lanes and hitting them strongly. His size and strength lend some power to his evasive moves. He’s largely a projection at this point but Harris should have plenty of opportunity to show us his skills in 2019 and is likely to creep up my draft board.

2.07 | Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State

Benjamin is fun to watch because of his elusiveness. He has a Swiss army knife’s worth of moves at his disposal: spins, jukes, cuts, hurdles. His feet are dynamic and never stop moving. Benjamin is susceptible to getting tripped up or being caught by his jersey so I would like to see him improve his strength and balance. It could be a one game coincidence but ball security could be a concern as well. Where Benjamin excels is as a pass catcher, he has good hands and knows how to get open. His receiving upside will help increase his value early in his NFL career.

2.08 | Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

Edwards is a powerfully built outside receiver who started his Gamecock career strong in 2016. His numbers have failed to bloom like draft fans had hoped though. He’s still a solid prospect whose floor projects as a reliable possession receiver in the NFL. He has strong hands which he uses to consistently catch the ball away from his body. There was only one game film available, and that from 2017, so I still have a lot to learn about Edwards. I am comfortable putting him here though because I feel that he has a high floor as a prospect.

2.09 | Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tagovailoa is undeniably talented and his name has been on everybody’s lips for a year. So, why do I have him as my QB2 and so low in my overall rankings? I think we first need to see that Tua can make it through a full season unscathed. He loves to improvise and takes a lot of hits which lead to some wear and tear as the season progressed. As much as we remember his game-winning relief performance in the championship game as a freshman, let’s not forget that he himself was pulled in this year’s championship. He’s now the unquestioned starter and will contend for QB1 if he puts together a complete and successful season. Tua has first overall potential: he is athletic, throws a beautiful deep ball and has impeccable character.

3.10 | Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Higgins uses his length to box-out defenders and win at the catch point. He’s a curl and comeback king, running smart routes and making sure-handed catches for first downs. He attacks the ball with his hands when he comes out of his breaks, not wasting precious moments for the ball to come to him. He has elite separation for somebody of his height (6040). Chances are that you saw a few of Higgins circus catch highlights last year because his concentration helps him snag batted or tipped balls with regularity. Higgins will be catching passes from one of the country’s most ballyhooed quarterbacks, sophomore Trevor Lawrence, so it’s inevitable that we see his highlights all season long.

Honorable Mentions

AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College

Dillon is a big and powerful back, likely the best thumper in the class. He’s rarely brought down on first contact and often dishes out more punishment than he receives. He doesn’t have top end speed (4.60?) but he doesn’t need it for his playing style. Dillon ran more routes than I anticipated based on his number of receptions so I think there is room for growth in that area. Similarly, he needs to improve as a pass blocker. He was hampered by an ankle injury for much of 2018 so I’m excited to see Dillon bounce back and show us he has every down potential.

Grant Calcaterra, TE, Oklahoma

Calcaterra is the lightest TE on my watch list at 221 so we’re likely looking more at a “big slot” than an in-line tight end for the purposes of his NFL Draft evaluation. Regardless, he’s a playmaker with soft hands and is a big play threat up the seam. Oklahoma does have a lot of mouths to feed and is losing another Heisman winning quarterback, so it’s possible we see Calc’s numbers dip this year. Even if that’s the case, I don’t think his draft stock should.


Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When studying a player I rely on game film “cuts” which are most frequently found on Youtube. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels.  Keep in mind these highlight reels are the best plays of that player. When I have the option, I will choose to watch a game versus the better defense. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2020 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The All About Reality Podcast League Rookie Draft Results

Updated: May 17th 2019

Hey Folks, Matt Goodwin here coming out of writing retirement to compile this article summarizing our All About Reality first rookie draft in our second season of the league.

Here GMs will divulge their strategy and picks in our 2 round, 16 team, 32 pick rookie draft which started almost a week after the draft on May 1st and concluded on May 2nd. Please note that our world-class Chief Technology Officer Kyle English has developed a slick new slow rookie draft interface which enables trades during the draft and removes the pesky 3 day no trading window prior to league rookie drafts. A big collective shout-out from the rooftops to Kyle for that enhancement.

First item of note was that there were a whopping seven draft day trades as noted in the table below. For context for all Reality Sports Online GM’s who want intel for their upcoming rookie drafts, here were the exact trades that went down with my podcast co-host Luke Patrick O’Connell making several trades including trading 1.02 and 1.03 to stock up on what many believe is a super-talented and deep 2020 class (our own Bob Cowper included as he’s already starting scouting the 2020 potential rookie class.  Feel free to reach out on Twitter with thoughts on who won trades, if picks went down as expected, etc.

Trade # Headline Team Names Traded Received Player Contracts Pick Made
1 Luke Trades Down 1.02 for Players/Picks Pontifex Minimus (Luke) 2019 Pick 1.02 Hunter Henry
2019 Pick 1.07
2020 Mistress of Mayhem Jenna (1st)
Hunter Henry 2 yrs, $7.21MM N’Keal Harry, WR
1 Luke Trades Down 1.02 for Players/Picks Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) 2019 Pick 1.02 Josh Jacobs, RB
2 Luke Trades Down 1.03, Hunter Henry for 2019/2020 Picks Pontifex Minimus (Luke) 2019 Pick 1.03
Hunter Henry
2019 Pick 1.08
2020 Pickyouoff24 (1st)
2 Luke Trades Down 1.03 for 2019/2020 Picks Pickyouoff24 (Stacy) 2019 Pick 1.03
Hunter Henry
Hunter Henry 2 yrs, $7.21MM Dwayne Haskins, QB
3 Ryan N Trades Up to get his guy Miles Sanders The Teal Curtain (Curtis) 2019 Pick 1.05 2019 Pick 1.09
2019 Pick 2.06
3 Ryan N Trades Up to get Miles Sanders Karl Hungus and the Nihilists (Ryan N) 2019 Pick 1.09
2019 Pick 2.06
2019 Pick 1.05 Miles Sanders, RB
4 Bubble Boy Gets a QB (Drew Lock), Luke gets his first RB Pontifex Minimus (Luke) 2019 Pick 1.08 Derrick Henry
2020 McAfee’s Canal Swimmers (1st)
Derrick Henry 2 yrs, $26.78MM
4 Bubble Boy Gets a QB (Drew Lock), Luke gets his first RB Bubble Boy and The Moops (Pat) Derrick Henry
2020 McAfee’s Canal Swimmers (1st)
2019 Pick 1.08 Drew Lock, QB
5 Ashley Gets Her Coveted Darnold/Robby Anderson stack, Jenna Gets 1.16 House Stark (Ashley) 2019 Pick 1.16 Robby Anderson
2019 Pick 2.07
Robby Anderson 1 year, $7.14MM
5 Ashley Gets Her Coveted Darnold/Robby Anderson stack, Jenna Gets 1.16 Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) Robby Anderson
2019 Pick 2.07
2019 Pick 1.16 Irv Smith Jr., TE
6 Bobby Trades 2020 1st with Devonte to pick Hockenson RSO PodFather (Devonte) 2019 Pick 1.13
2019 Pick 2.13
2020 RSOooo Super Chargers (1st)
2019 Pick 2.09
6 Bobby Trades 2020 1st with Devonte to pick Hockenson The New Hampshire Waterboys (Bobby) 2020 RSOooo Super Chargers (1st)
2019 Pick 2.09
2019 Pick 1.13
2019 Pick 2.13
T.J. Hockenson, TE
7 Ryan N Trades Up in 2nd The Teal Curtain (Curtis) 2019 Pick 2.05 2019 Pick 2.08
2021 Karl Hungus (2nd)
7 Ryan N Trades Up in 2nd Karl Hungus and the Nihilists (Ryan N) 2019 Pick 2.08
2021 Karl Hungus (2nd)
2019 Pick 2.05 Andy Isabella, WR

Following, here are picks 1-16 of each of our two rounds in the All About Reality Podcast league rookie draft with context and commentary from the GMs who made these moves.

Round 1 Teams Picks POS Round 2 Teams Picks POS
1.01 Teal Curtain (Curtis) Kyler Murray QB 2.01 Teal Curtain(Curtis) Kelvin Harmon WR
1.02 Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) Josh Jacobs RB 2.02 Bubble Boy and The Moops (Pat) Noah Fant TE
1.03 Pickyouoff24 (Stacy) Dwayne Haskins QB 2.03 Lucha Vikings (Ryan S) Deebo Samuel WR
1.04 Brian Brennan’s Stadium Shakers (Goody) David Montgomery RB 2.04 Barkley Owner (Ashley) Darrell Henderson RB
1.05 Karl Hungus (Ryan N.) Miles Sanders RB 2.05 Karl Hungus(Ryan N) Andy Isabella WR
1.06 Waterboys (Bobby) Daniel Jones QB 2.06 Teal Curtain (Curtis) Josh Oliver TE
1.07 Pontifex Minimus (Luke) N’Keal Harry WR 2.07 House Stark (Ashley) – from Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) Devin Singletary RB
1.08 Bubble Boy & The Moops (Pat) Drew Lock QB 2.08 Teal Curtain (Curtis ) Will Grier QB
1.09 Teal curtain (Curtis ) Parris Campbell WR 2.09 RSO PodFather (Devonte) JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR
1.1 The Fantasy Affliction (Tim) D.K. Metcalf WR 2.1 Brian Brennan’s Stadium Shakers (Goody) Jace Sternberger TE
1.11 Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) A.J. Brown WR 2.11 House Stark (Ashley) Ryan Finley QB
1.12 The New Hampshire Waterboys(Bobby) Hakeem Butler WR 2.12 RSO PodFather (Devonte) Damien Harris RB
1.13 The New Hampshire Waterboys(Bobby) TJ Hockenson TE 2.13 The New Hampshire Waterboys (Bobby) Justice Hill RB
1.14 House Stark (Ashley) Mecole Hardman WR 2.14 RSOooo Super Chargers (Marcus) Alexander Mattison RB
1.15 Bubble Boy (Pat) Marquise Brown WR 2.15 Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) Preston Williams WR
1.16 Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna) Irv Smith Jr. TE 2.16 Waterboys(Bobby) Riley Ridley WR


Team name: The Teal Curtain (Curtis Burleson)

Team needs: RB,WR,TE,Flex

Team picks: 1.01, Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

1.09, Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts

                          2.01, Kelvin Harmon, WR, Washington Redskins
                          2.06, Josh Oliver, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
                          2.08, Will Grier, QB, Carolina Panthers
With so many holes to feel I wanted to get a player of every skill position and max out my QB’s with the position  being so important in this league. So with no trade partners for the 1.01, Kyler Murray was my no-brainer pick. At 1.09 Parris Campbell was the top wide receiver on my board and again no trade partners to be found to keep me in range of my target players. 2.01 Kelvin Harmon was one of my favorite receivers pre-draft and landed in a great situation/fit. I felt I could not risk losing him after missing on Irv Smith going off the board one pick ahead of me. With my favorite and last target at RB, Darrell Henderson, again going off the board one pick ahead of me, I chose to finish my draft taking the last two players on my shortlist. At 2.06 I took Josh Oliver my 4th and last TE on my board and at 2.08 I took Will Grier, my top QB in the class.

Team Name: Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna Davis)

Team Needs: RB, 2nd QB, depth

Team Picks: 1.02, Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

                           1.11, AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

                           1.16, Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings

                           2.15, Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins

I set two separate strategies up heading into the draft (Murray first or Jacobs first).  When Murray went first, it was go time. I knew I had to make a play for Jacobs. I hated trading away my future, but I had to make a play for him given my RB situation, what is left in free agency, and the contracts other RBs had.  There was no way to afford 2 RB’s in free agency even with my cap situation.  My 1.11 pick was the stuff of dreams.  I got way too excited about all the talent that was left on the board, and I made a play for the 1.16 because Ashley had already shown interest in Robby Anderson on my roster.  I went with Irv Smith for the simple reason that his quarterback Kirk Cousins loves TE’s.  Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, and even Niles Paul were fantasy relevant with him under center.  I should have taken Miles Boykin with the 2.15 pick, but I was driving and thought he went off the board already. I ended up taking Preston Williams.  He would have been in the top prospect conversation if not for off-field issues.  If he can keep himself in check, he could end up being my favorite pick in this draft.

Team Name:  Pickyouoff24 (Stacy Hess)
Team Needs: QB, Flex, RB
Team Pick:  1.03, Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington

I went into the rookie draft with only 1.08.  I Knew I needed a QB as first priority or I was grabbing Miles Sanders or N’Keal Harry.  Luke had sent out several offers about trading down leading up to the draft.  I was not sure how the draft was going to play out and did not want to make any moves until after the NFL Draft commenced.  During the draft, Luke hit me up again about trading down.  Having already been a part of two separate rookie drafts before our listener league, I had a solid feel that Murray, Haskins, Sanders and Harry would all be gone.  I assumed I would be sitting on Daniel Jones at 8.  I felt the opportunity cost of trading up to 1.03 could not be avoided.  I ended up trading Luke 1.08 + my 20 1st to move up to 1.03.  Having a young QB on a rookie contract is a huge advantage both in reality and Reality Sports Online leagues.  Haskins becomes an immediate starter, assuming he plays majority of games in 2019.  I tend to err on the side that future picks are typically bad because I expect to compete at a high level every year. Hunter Henry at 3.5 was also a very welcoming throw in.

Team Name: Brian Brennan’s Stadium Shakers (Matt Goodwin)
Team Needs: Tight End, Flex Talent, Salary Cap Relief
Team Picks: 1.04, David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
                           2.10, Jace Sternberger, TE, Green Bay Packers
Coming into the rookie draft with most of my starting lineup intact, my philosophy kind of mimicked a Phife Dawg lyric on Midnight Marauders as my goal is to win “not now, but RIGHT now!”. I was hoping to either trade down to land a starting TE and save cap space or that Dwayne Haskins would fall to me at 1.04 so I had a Tom Brady succession plan, as Brady’s large contract expires after this season. My podcast co-host Luke appropriated good trade value with 1.02 and 1.03 ahead of me, so I figured someone would snipe and take a quarterback. While Harry was on the board, I didn’t feel he addressed a large team need and his lack of separation speed makes me fear that he is Josh Doctson 2.0. So, fresh off watching film of Montgomery, I went with traits I usually bank on–elusiveness and pass catching ability, as well as liking the signaling when a team trades up to get their guy. Enter Montgomery, who I think can contribute this season and take the reins next season, which essentially is when I need him to be a fantasy starter for me. After some more obscure TEs went in the second round, I went with Sternberger as a flier as a hopeful future key cog in Aaron Rodgers aerial attack. Lastly, post draft, I traded Keenan Allen and his 3 years remaining around $100 million for T.Y. Hilton and his 2 years, $41 million remaining and a 2021 2nd rounder to get out of my 2019 cap issues and then traded Devonta Freeman on a 1 year, $25 million deal for Jameis Winston on a two year, $34 million deal to complete my Brady succession plan. While I’m now carrying three starting QBs in this Superflex league (Jared Goff is my other), I’m confident I can get solid value for Brady for a QB needy team either now or after a league QB gets injured.
Team Name: Karl Hungus and the Nihilists (Ryan Nicholson)
Team needs: RB, WR depth
Team Picks: 1.05, Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

                          2.05, Andy Isabella, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Going into the draft, I evaluated my team as a strong contender this coming season. My core lineup containing quarterbacks Jimmy G and Mitchell Trubisky, Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chris Godwin and then George Kittle at TE, gave me some urgency to get players that would have the talent, draft capital, and landing spot to be instant contributors. With Miles Sanders available at 1.05 (as the RB1 on my own board) and with there being no viable RBs left after 2 had already gone off the board, I traded from 1.09 to 1.05 by way of including the 2.06.  Depth was not the hallmark of this draft so getting specific players when they fell within trading range was key. I anticipate Sanders gaining an increasing share of the backfield, in a proficient offense, as the season progresses.  Watching the rest of the draft unfold, Andy Isabella continued to slide to the point where I felt there was a massive gap between him and the remainder of the players on the board, so trading up to 2.05 by packaging the 2.9 and 2021 first to get my WR5 made perfect sense. In the end, I was able to acquire two players in my top 10 and feel good about their ability to put up points this season.  I look forward to drafting at pick 16 in 2020!

Team Name: New Hampshire Waterboys (Bobby Hoyt)

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Tight End, Flex talent, and a QB succession plan.

Team Picks: 1.06, Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

                           1.12, Hakeem Butler, WR, Arizona Cardinals

                           1.13, TJ Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions

                           2.13, Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens

                           2.16, Riley Ridley, WR, Chicago Bears

Coming off of a 9-win season last year (just missing the playoffs) I began to feel a sense of overwhelming dread coming into this year with a team that was possibly destined for the “middle of the pack purgatory,” that many dynasty players fall into. Therefore, I pre-emptively traded many of my big-name, big-salary players that helped me compete last year for a culmination of some younger talent and a lot of draft picks. Some trades were decent, others I regret entirely – but what’s done is done. On draft day, everyone kind of knew who my target would be at 1.06 as I wore my Giants fandom firmly on my sleeve. This knowledge culminated many trade talks to move up in the draft allowing me to secure Daniel Jones, knowing the other top two QBs would probably go in the first three picks. After some agonizing debate – I decided to stay put and Jones ultimately fell to me at 1.06 (which I had a feeling might happen anyway because everyone but me seemed to be hating the pick for the Giants).  That said, I still took him with great consternation, because fantasy darling Harry was also on the board. However, I also knew Jones wouldn’t last to 1.12. Having Eli Manning on a one-year deal, Jones made sense for me in case Eli got injured or the team was not in contention due to poor team play. It ensured I would have his successor in place. Plus, I love having guys I can root for on my team – so, Haskins was out for me anyway. Suck it Washington. Working the overnight shift proved a bit problematic as I woke in a sleepy haze and perhaps mistakenly picked Butler over Hollywood Brown (who would have a more secure role in the Ravens offense) but, I still believed in the reverence of experts like Evan Silva, Matt Harmon and Matt Waldman, plus I enjoyed watching Butler’s tape – so, you know, no ragrets…not one letter. Devonte (Podfather) was next on the clock and he messaged me as I was about to fall back asleep with an offer to move out of my next 2.09 pick back up to the 1.13. I haggled for a bit and settled for maybe a little too much to climb back into the first round. I had a TE need and one of my favorite players in the draft, TJ Hockenson, had not been picked yet. I loved the kid’s game and I think the landing spot is just fine despite the critics balking. I rested easy until I had to return to work that night. When the next morning broke, I still had 2 second round picks left to go and I went onto make my next two selections at 2.13 and 2.16. I went with Justice Hill first, envisioning the speed demon as having a poor man’s Alvin Kamara type role in the Ravens backfield with Mark Ingram (those other guys on the roster don’t scare or concern me). My Mr. Irrelevant pick, I felt was a massive steal as I grabbed Riley Ridley and exited the draft room guns blazing. Personally, I thought the younger Ridley brother was one of the best route runners in the class (a trait I value very highly) and his competition on the Bears roster is not something I’m afraid of. I think he will be lining up opposite Allen Robinson week one with second year guy Anthony Miller running the slot. I think he’s got potential to make some big plays this year. Really happy with my overall draft haul, and while I don’t anticipate making a huge run this year – I’m hoping next year I will be primed to push for the playoffs and contend with the big boys. Providing I don’t sabotage myself before them, which I am want to do from time to time.

Team Name: Pontifex Minimus (Luke Patrick O’Connell)
Team Needs: Running Back, Flex
Team Picks:  1.07, N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots (after many trades)
There are few things that prompt more unadulterated fun than a fantasy football draft, trading in fantasy football, and the esteemed luminary of 90s rap – Coolio.  So, like the aforementioned lyrical master I entered the “All About Reality” Podcast League with a newly minted doctorate, feeling like “an educated fool with money on my mind/Got a 10 in my hand and a gleam in my eye.”  In this case the “money” was 2019 draft picks and the 10 in hand were the 1.02 and 1.03. My partner Goody was prescient enough to know that such assets would change hands a few times and so they did. 1.02 went the way of Mayhem making moves to net a starting RB in Josh Jacobs.   For her efforts I landed the 1.07, a 2020 1stand Hunter Henry.   The 1.03 was also a person of interest with Haskins still on the board for a 16 team superflex league.   So I flipped that and the 1.03 to Pickyouoff24 for the 1.08 and a 2020 1st and he promptly landed Washington’s presumptive starter.   The picks broke right for arguably the top overall dynasty asset to fall to 1.07 so I took the inestimable N’Keal Harry before QB thirst drove another trade up for Drew Lock at 1.08.  Moops offered Derrick Henry and a 2020 1st in what is likely a winnable bet against the “elite” Joe Flacco’s tenure in Denver.  My draft began with a team largely devoid of RBs but set at all the other starting spots and ended with Derrick Henry for $13 million per year for two years.  Harry on a rookie deal at 1.07 and 3 newly minted 2020 1sts.   The new draft features on RSO will make all future drafts painless as we witnessed in the Writer’s League, and much credit goes to our tireless listeners that made fearless offers and kept the action going across 32 picks.  As Coolio would say…a gangsta’s paradise.
Team Name: The Fantasy Affliction (Tim Aylesworth)
Team Needs: Tight End, Wide Receiver
Team Picks:  1.10, DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Due to some serious salary cap concerns, the off-season saw the Affliction trading away future Hall Of Famer Julio Jones and unable to retain the services of Tight End Eric Ebron.  And with only one draft pick to their name, it was going to be difficult (ie impossible) to fill all the team’s needs.  The expectation was that the top 5 players on my Draft Board would be long gone but pick 1.10, and serious consideration would have to be given to trading down to acquire more picks.  The TFA roster is a contender, with star power at the top, but absolutely zero depth behind it. As the draft began to get through the first round, we began to feel that maybe we might be able to get a top WR after all.  The major run on QBs and RBs meant that our top 2 choices at WR fell all the way to pick 1.09, and we knew we would get one of them at 1.10.  DK Metcalf, The Fantasy Affliction’s #1 rated WR brought Christmas early to Coach Aylesworth and the Afflicted Fans.  It was only one pick, but it was better than we dared hope for. Some people have asked if consideration was given to outstanding TE Noah Fant, but Tight Ends take longer to develop than Wide Receivers and the Affliction believe we are ready to compete now.
Team Name: Lucha Vikings (Ryan Svenson)
Team Needs: Starting WR, More FLEX Depth
Team Picks: 2.03, Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Unfortunately, I came into the draft with very little draft capital.  I traded my 1st round pick pre-draft in a deal to acquire Julio Jones.  But with a high 2nd round pick I had hopes that somebody I liked would fall to me.  And thankfully, I was correct.  I had a bevy of options available to me when I was on the clock at 2.03 (19 overall), which can be attributed to the cut-throat nature of a 16-team Superflex league (4 QBs were taken in the first 8 picks) allowing positional players to fall further than they would in a different type of league.  I considered 3 players at the pick, which also made me explore trade-back options.  There were no trades to be made, so I had to make a choice between the 3 guys on my board; Andy Isabella, Deebo Samuel, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside.  Now I know rookie WRs don’t typically make a big impact, but I need SOME impact from mine at the least.  And I like Isabella but feel like he’s got a slightly longer road to success than the other 2 guys.  Ultimately, I just like Deebo better as a prospect over JJ, and I think he has a legitimate chance of carving out a big role in the SF offense in year 1.  It didn’t hurt that Deebo was the #5 WR on my board heading into the draft and I got him as the 9th WR drafted.
Team name: House Stark (Ashley Bowling)
Team needs: WR/RB (Flex)
Team Picks: 1.14 Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
                          2.04 Darrell Henderson, RB,  Los Angeles Rams
                          2.07 Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

                           2.11 Ryan Finley, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

My goal coming into the rookie draft was finding a player I felt could possibly start for me throughout the year. Based on where my picks were, I felt I had a handful of darts and hoped someone would hit. My first order of business was getting Robby Anderson via trade with Jenna, Mistress of Mayhem. He’s had a special place in my heart the last couple years and I felt like he could start for me on a weekly basis. I moved the 1.16 for Robby and 2.07. I had in my mind if Mecole Hardman was there at 1.14 that’s who I planned on taking. There were a couple other WRs here I was looking at, but the possibility of Hardman being on the field with Mahomes and that KC offense was one I didn’t want to pass up. I had pretty much the same mindset at the 2.04 with Darrell Henderson. I’m not sure any of us know what is going on with Todd Gurley, so just the possibility of Henderson getting carries in the Rams offense was intriguing. I’ve got very little cap space, so I was thrilled getting those two in hopes one of their situations worked in my favor. Now at the 2.07 I was still torn between taking a RB or WR. Being the RB lover that I’ve always been, I had to go with Singletary here and his running behind a couple of old men in Buffalo. I finished my draft off with the 2.11 pick of Ryan Finley. I live in the greater Cincinnati area, and a couple of the radio personalities kind of talked me into this pick here. With this being a superflex league, I felt he was a solid grab, and if things don’t go well for the Bengals and Dalton, maybe he will make some starts.

Team Name: The RSO PodFather (Devonte Cleveland)
Team Needs: Starting RB, WR depth, and picks for depth/upside
Team Picks: 2.09, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
                           2.12, Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
Before the draft started, The RSO PodFather possessed the 1.13, 2.12, and 2.13. Going into the draft I figured I would be trading the 1.13, to either move up, move back, or move out. As the draft moved forward, I didn’t start actively trade talking until 1.10 when I noticed DK Metcalf dropping. There was an agreed trade that I backed out of last minute that involved all 3 of my picks for the 1.10. Though DK would have been a great addition to my team as I start my 2019 rebuild, I couldn’t get myself to go all in on him. Finally, the 1.13 came and at this point had 5 different way I could have gone… I debated on taking (in this order) Noah Fant, Samuel, Hollywood Brown, or JJAW. I was completely indecisive and felt so overwhelmed, I looked to trade out. Once again, being in a rebuild mindset, and already having (4) 2020 1st, why not make it five and moving up a tad in this years 2nd? 2.09 finally came around the next morning and I SCREAMED!!! The guy I was genuinely considered taking at 1.13 is now here at 2.09!!!! (do not ask me how or why….) One of my major needs is WR, though, Arcega-Whiteside may not get a ton of targets this year, next year I hope he sees a ton of red zone catches. When 2.12 came around, I saw plenty of upside WRs that would be a great pick ups, but I understand RBs are much more valuable, so I took the guy I had pretty high on my board. I know better not to draft Alabama RBs, but I trust New England to do this man right, if not this year, than next. Post draft: I have a couple expiring contracts that (if I’m not a playoff contender) I’ll sell for picks in 2020 to teams that are contenders.
Team Name: RSOooo Super Chargers (Marcus Corbould)
Team Needs: Starting RB, TE, WR depth
Team Picks: 2.14, Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
I had traded my 2019 and 2020 1st rounders along with Russell Wilson and Leonard Fournette for Aaron Rodgers/OBJ earlier in the offseason. Steep price, but it gave me a then-elite core of OBJ/Tyreek (highest scoring WR in our format) and Rodgers/Rivers. That left me with just the 2.14 for this draft. Once JJAW miraculously fell into the 2nd, I tried to trade up to the 2.03 onwards but no one wanted to trade as far back as the 2.14. It didn’t help that one person ended up holding the majority of the picks at one time or another from 2.03-2.09. Once JJAW went, I was content to just take the player with the highest chance at a return on investment. RB Alexander Mattison was my choice because he has good draft capital and went to a landing spot where the primary backup has had a fair amount of opportunity in Minnesota. He is also being pegged as a better Latavius Murray. It also helped that there are 2 Vikings fans in our league who were both interested in picking him. I expect him to have some flex value in a league this deep and be a bargaining chip in future trade talks.
More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

2019 Post-Draft RSO Rookie Tiers

Updated: May 8th 2019

Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a typical dynasty league.  Selected rookies are typically given three or four year contracts at, hopefully, a below market contract.  RSO GMs then have the option of extending a player with franchise tags, extensions, or final year options (depending on the chosen settings in your league) which typically are near or above market value for a given player.  This makes the initial rookie contract years potentially extremely valuable and the real measure of worth for a rookie contract.  It is nice to be able to hit on your rookie and keep them on your team in later years, however, your team does not typically gain much by keeping those players at top-of-market costs.  This leads to a number of areas which should be emphasized more highly with regards to rookie values in RSO leagues.

  1. Early Production. The limited years of cheap rookie contracts puts a premium on early potential production.  Young players sitting on your bench waiting to develop do not just cost roster spots, they also take up salary cap dollars which could be spent on veteran players contributing to your team.  The emphasis on early production gives a boost to positions like running back which typically does not take as long to develop in the NFL.
  2. Situation.    “Talent over situation” is one of the long-time mantras in fantasy football for a couple of reasons.  Many believe firstly, we can not predict the situation of a player over the long-term.  This might be correct but does not apply to RSO leagues.  RSO rookie deals apply only over a short to medium-term window due to the contract lengths.  While there will always be some fluctuations, we can reasonably predict many surrounding factors which affect the performance of a player.  Secondly, others think talent trumps situation.  The data strongly suggests this is simply incorrect.  Wide receiver fantasy value is typically a function of quarterback play.  Running backs score more on high-efficiency passing attacks and usually run more efficiently with better offensive lines.  Situation must be a significant factor in determining rookie values.

With those conditions, we examine my top rookie tiers in 2019.

Tier 1

Josh Jacobs, RB1, Pick 24, Oakland

Jacobs is an outlier for first round running backs with a part-time college resume and subpar athletic testing.  He performed well at the run and receiving game in a limited role while at Alabama however.  First round rookie running backs typically receive big workloads and Jacobs projects as the top back in Oakland with Richard taking some passing down snaps.  That is enough to put him tier 1 of this draft class.  Jacobs is a player with far more uncertainty and a wider range of outcomes than is typical of this draft spot.

N’Keal Harry, WR1, Pick 32, New England

Harry produced from the minute he stepped on the field as a freshman in college and performed over expectation at the combine.  He should slot in immediately as a starter in New England on a team which lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and Josh Gordon to yet another suspension.  Harry is the only rookie in this class without any real objective question marks with regard to talent or situation.  Draft him with confidence.

Tier 2

Miles Sanders, RB2,Pick 53, Philadelphia

Sanders was a quality producer when given the opportunity at Penn State and measured as a plus athlete at the NFL combine.  The main danger for Sanders is that the Eagles have utilized a committee-type approach to running back under head coach Doug Pederson no matter whom the running backs have been.   He should start as a main part of a committee with Howard this season and possesses the room for his role to grow next year in a good overall offense.

David Montgomery, RB3, Pick 73, Chicago

Montgomery should have the chance to take over the previous Howard role in Chicago in short order possibly putting him in the lower RB2 or flex discussion.  He does not have the athleticism desired from the position but does have many of the desired skills including contact balnce, power, and short-area movement.  His upside will always be capped with Tarik Cohen on the team taking a big chunk of the passing game work.

Tier 3

Mecole Hardman, WR2, Pick 56, Kansas City

The diminutive speedster has an extremely small college profile but is possibly the most explosive wideout in the draft.  This is a pure projection by Kansas City but Hardman apparently was coveted by many teams earlier than most thought.  Tyreek Hll is in the last year of his contract if not suspended or outright released before the 2019 season.  Hardman moves down if Hill unexpectedly remains with the Chiefs.

Parris Campbell, WR3, Pick 59, Indianapolis

Campbell gobbled up short yardage throws and turned them into big gains at Ohio State.  He is another projection with limited work on deeper and intermediate routes.  Indianapolis is ripe with opportunity and has been looking for a quality number two receiver for years in a high volume passing offense headed by Andrew Luck.

Deebo Samuel, WR4,Pick 36, San Francisco

San Francisco gets another wide receiver with experience at a variety of locations and the ability to win in a variety of ways.  Built more like a running back, Samuel offers explosive after the catch potential.  The depth chart is loaded with quality pass catching options at wide receiver, tight end, and running back which puts Samuel’s potential volume in question for the near future.

Tier 4

Diontae Johnson, WR5, Pick 66, Pittsburgh

This pick will surprise many but should not when consider his play at Toledo and Pittsburgh’s relatively high investment.  He is among the best receivers in this class getting separation both with his releases at the snap and out of breaks.  Johnson enters one of the top passing teams in the league on a wide open receiver depth chart after JuJu Smith-Shuster.

Andy Isabella, WR6, Pick 62, Arizona

Arizona will be one of the most fascinating teams to watch with how the college air-raid offense transitions to the NFL.  Isabella does not have the best hands in this class.  He is among the fastest wide receivers in this class, has experience playing both slot and boundary positions, and was one of PFF’s top-graded wide receivers in this class.  There is massive volume potential here.

Marquise Brown, WR7, Pick 25, Baltimore

Brown possesses game-breaking ability on every play in a tiny package.  Unfortunately, there is no worse landing spot than Baltimore for wide receivers.  Lamar Jackson averaged 159 yards per game as a starter, worse than any ESPN qualified passer and just 63% of the average passer.  John Brown, another very small speedster, saw his production absolutely tank in games Jackson started with zero games of at least 30 yards.  While there is hope for some progression from Jackson, the odds are firmly stacked against consistent fantasy production for Brown in the near future.

D.K. Metcalf, WR8, Pick 63, Seattle

If one could mold a receiver out of clay it would look a lot like Metcalf with incredible size seeming cut from stone.  Metcalf is among the fastest linear receivers in the draft despite his size but is also among the slowest into and out of breaks.  Will he become more than a deep vertical threat?  Seattle is also an under-the-radar below average landing spot.  Wilson ranked among the lowest in passing yardage per game, despite his superb efficiency, thanks to one of the heaviest run offenses in the league.  There simply might not be enough volume for any receiver in this offense to become a consistent fantasy option.

A.J. Brown, WR9, Pick 51, Tennessee

The true alpha from Mississippi, Brown is an extremely thick wide receiver who possesses a well rounded game before and after the catch that should transition well to the pros.  Unfortunately he landed in Tennessee, a grave yard for fantasy wide receivers.  He is stuck in a run-first offense with Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and/or a rookie quarterback in 2020 at the helm for the near future.  Brown saw my biggest decline from pre-draft rankings.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR10, Pick 57, Philadelphia

There is a lot to like about the kid from Stanford.  He was an endzone producer throughout his career bodying up smaller cornerbacks and graded out as a top receiver in this class.  While not a plus athlete, he tested faster at his pro day than most people predicted.  JJ likely redshirts at least his first year for the Eagles unless injuries take hold which decreases his value somewhat.

Kyler Murray, QB1, Pick 1, Arizona

Murray had a phenomenal 2018 season at Oklahoma which bested Baker Mayfield’s best seasons.  His extreme quickness allows for extensive rushing, scrambling, and avoiding big hits.  His dual-threat traits give top-5 quarterback upside and make him a worthy pick in this range of a relatively weak draft class.  The primary questions some people will have is if his body can handle NFL-level hits and how the new offense in Arizona will translate to the NFL.

T.J. Hockenson, TE1, Pick 8, Detroit

Many consider Hockenson the best all-around tight end prospect in years.  He is one of the only tight ends in recent memory who appear immediately ready to block in the NFL.  He runs nice tight routes, finds holes in zones, has good hands, and is strong after the catch.  He is also a strong athlete for the position.  There really is nothing to dislike.  Hockenson should start immediately for the Lions.

Noah Fant, TE2, Pick 20, Denver

The “other” Iowa tight end, Fant still garnered first round status to the Broncos.  He possesses phenomenal athleticism with upper-level tight end metrics for all combine workouts and is a better blocker than many observe.  Fant is a fairly one-dimensional speed receiver at this point with questionable hands and has not shown much ability to break tackles.  Teaming up with Joe Flacco in Denver gives Fant the possibility of rare early production at the tight end spot.  Flacco consistently peppered tight ends in Baltimore no matter the talent-level.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller