2020 Pre-Draft RSO Writer’s League Rookie Mock

Updated: April 19th 2020

The NFL Rookie draft is less than a week away.  Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a normal 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 usually 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.

The RSO Writer’s League crew produced a 1QB PPR 10-team mock draft recently to help demonstrate some of these concepts and how we viewed players pre-draft.   Writers Matt Goodwin (also Co-host of the All About Reality Podcast), Nick Andrews, Bob Cowper, and myself also give takes on our selections in the mock.  The article notes a few interesting items from this mock and differences from what you might see in other dynasty mocks and rankings:

  1. The top-5 is a tier similar to other mocks and unlikely to change much after the draft. It consists of strong wide receiver prospects and running backs with 2nd round or earlier NFL draft projection plus early big volume potential.  Perhaps the fabled high draft-pick Kansas City running back changes this somewhat but I do not see a lot of difference post-draft.
  2. The shorter window of RSO contracts, earlier production of running backs, and depth of wide receiver this year moved running backs up the board in our mock relative to other mocks. A lackluster tight end group and the long development window almost pushed TEs completely off the board.
  3. The projected depth at wide receiver in the NFL draft will give a lot of variation in how fantasy drafts play out. There are many players who did not even make it into this mock who I would have a lot of interest in putting on my RSO rosters.  2nd and 3rd round picks, in particular, gain value when compared to previous seasons.

1.01      Jonathan Taylor  RB

1.02      DeAndre Swift  RB

1.03      Ceedee Lamb  WR

1.04      JK Dobbins  RB  (Matt)

I’ve started to highlight my love for Dobbins on the All About Reality podcast and it’s all in the family as even my 10 year old son Jory came on the podcast to sing Dobbins’ praises. I love the strength and burst that Dobbins provides as an every-down back and his ability to get to the second level quickly is a differentiator. Additionally, he’s the best pass-blocking back in the class which will keep him on the field. Lastly, he had over 20 receptions in each of his three seasons at Ohio State, which is what you look for in a complete back. He was dominant against Clemson with 174 yards rushing a TD and 6 for 47 receiving, in spite of getting injured that game.

This tweet sums up Dobbins best:

https://twitter.com/BallBlastEm/status/1250291529232437251

While he weighed in one pound short of this at the combine, he meets all the other markers in pretty select company. If Dobbins lands in a place like Kansas City, he may be RB1 in the draft. Other landing spots that would be favorable include Tampa Bay, and much to my chagrin, Pittsburgh.

1.05      Jerry Jeudy  WR  (Nick)

Standard 1QB leagues will be more routine than their Superflex counterparts, and will likely figure to have the same five (5) players go off the board in various combinations. If you are drafting in any of these spots you can sit back and feel good about taking any of these players. That is what I did when selecting Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama without hesitation. What should be one of the safest picks in this year’s draft, Jeudy has the tools to be a day one NFL starter for all but the deepest of teams at receiver. Everyone notes how strong of a route runner he is and it shows. When he gets space off the line he can put the defender on skates if they commit to an early move in the route. My only concern at the present is that Jeudy is lighter (193lbs) than what I usually am looking for in a receiver and coupling that with his average shuttle time (4.53) means that if defenders get physical at the line he could struggle to get deep enough in the route tree to use his long speed. I don’t see his weight being an issue though, most guys put on 5-15lbs of muscle with the increase in professional training so select Jerry Jeudy at 1.05, chomp on your cigar like Iron Mike, and leave the draft knowing you got a solid talent at the mid-point of your first round.

1.06      Henry Ruggs  WR  (Bob)

To me it feels like there’s a tier break between picks 1.05 and 1.06 this year in standard leagues. The order of Dobbins, Jeudy, Lamb, Swift and Taylor will likely be contested all Summer long but I think the more interesting question is who comes next. It seems that consensus is settling on RB Cam Akers as the sixth player off the board but I decided to swing for the fences and went with Henry Ruggs instead.  Ruggs has elite speed, his 4.27 40 time was the best at the combine, and will be a home run threat from Day One in the NFL. He’s not without question marks – namely his size and ability to play against more physical pro corners – but I don’t mind taking a risk if there isn’t a no-brainer pick on the board.

1.07      Cam Akers  RB  (Bernard)

This is the stage of drafts where opinions really vary.  I decided on a potential three-down back in Cam Akers.  He generally shows good patience, taking a slower pace, as a runner and adds a second-level gear when openings appear.  His feet move in a nice quick motion to make cuts.  Florida State’s much-talked-about struggles on the offensive line led to Akers taking a bad approach sometimes bailing outside.  Akers displays plus feel for routes as a receiver against man and zone with reliable hands.  Akers is also extremely young at 20 years old which provides upside with more development.  Plus size, plus athleticism, plus receiving ability, and scheme diversity give Akers the chance of a huge running back role on Sundays.

1.08      Jalen Reagor  WR

1.09      Tee Higgins  WR

1.10      Justin Jefferson  WR

2.01      Clyde Edwards-Helaire  RB

2.02      Joe Burrow   QB

2.03      Denzel Mims  WR

2.04      Laviska Shenault  WR  (Bernard)

Perhaps no receiver embodies the “boom-bust” mantra more than Shenault.  The wide receiver in a running back’s body was Colorado’s offense breaking off big plays with breakaway speed.  He was a man among boys with the ball in his hand.  Like a lot of college receivers, he mainly ran vertical routes with quick screens limiting his route tree, but does display nice breaks for a man of his size and plus skills attacking the football.  Shenault was also used extensively in the run game, particularly around the goal line. A lengthy injury history and an injury-shortened NFL combine potentially push him down NFL and fantasy boards.

2.05      Tua Tagovailoa  QB   (Bob)

I feel less confident in this pick now in mid-April than I did back in mid-March because the most recent news surrounding Tua Tagovailoa has been more negative than positive.  However, I still think there’s a lot to love about Tua — his improvisational ability, his effortless-looking arm talent, intangible leadership qualities — and believe there will be at least one team who is enamored with him. I like to leave every rookie draft with a quarterback because if they hit the value is fantastic. Despite his injury concerns, Tua is still likely to be the second or third passer off the board and that means he’ll be a factor in your 2020 RSO league so I’d be happy to grab him in the mid-second.

2.06      Justin Herbert   QB  (Nick)

In standard leagues, I always like to grab a QB in the second round if I think a talented enough one is still on the board. While not as valuable as in Superflex, quarterbacks still seem to be overpaid in 1QB leagues due to their gaudy point totals and longevity of careers, compared to the other positions. Grabbing rookies that make <$2M per season gives a great advantage to a team over one with a costly veteran. With that being said Justin Herbert from Oregon is an ideal candidate to take if you are a team drafting in the back half of the second round. While he is not in the same tier as Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow he is likely going inside the top 15 and maybe even top 10 of the real draft if a team finds a trade partner. For a guy who is 6’6” he has surprising mobility and just enough speed (4.68-40YD) that he wouldn’t be a liability if the offensive line that he is drafted behind isn’t a superbly talented group. Landing spot will be key for his development but with many current starters nearing the final years of their careers it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Herbert as a top 15 QB in a couple of years.

2.07      Jordan Love  QB  (Matt)

Basically just going Konami Code upside for someone with raw talent at the QB position in a one-QB league. Showed poor decision making in his final year at Utah State, but if he finds the right system has the arm strength and athletic ability to be more like Patrick Mahomes than DeShone Kizer.

2.08      Zack Moss  RB

2.09      Anthony McFarland  RB

2.10      Ke’Shawn Vaughn  RB

3.01      Eno Benjamin  RB

3.02      Lamichel Perine  RB

3.03      Brandon Aiyuk  WR

3.04      Antonio Gibson  RB  (Matt)

Just a playmaker who can play both RB and WR and could be drafted as either. He’s electric and shows fantastic vision and route-running ability. Coming from Memphis, which has a recent history of producing playmakers like Darrell Henderson, Gibson feels like a nice pickup in the third round of RSO rookie drafts.

3.05      Bryan Edwards   WR  (Nick)

Bryan Edwards is a player that somehow every time I am researching who people like as a flyer in the mid-rounds his name somehow always keeps coming up. Edwards broke his foot before the combine so other than basic height/weight metrics we don’t have a lot of comparables to go off of. Watching tape on him however and I see a lot of what N’Keal Harry was at Arizona State. He is a big, physical receiver who can go up and “Moss” a defender in jump ball situations. Like Harry though he has trouble with separation which may not translate well to the pros if teams place their “Brandon Browner” type of physical corner opposite him. Nevertheless, with his injury possibly fluctuating his NFL draft value it will be interesting to see how far down the draft he falls. If he is picked before the end of day two he might be a fringe second-round selection in standard leagues but in Superflex, he’s going to fall to the third. At less than $1M/year, I will gladly take a flyer on Edwards especially if he lands in an idea receiver situation.

3.06      Antonio Gandy-Golden  WR  (Bob)

Gandy-Golden didn’t test well at the NFL Combine but I’m not deterred, I want him on at least one of my fantasy teams. AGG has a wide catch radius and the size to body smaller corners thanks to his 6’3″/223 frame. Despite playing without a star supporting cast, he still put up great numbers and averaged 6.25 receptions and 101 yards per game last year. In four games against higher level opponents in 2019 (Syracuse, Rutgers, BYU and Virginia), Gandy-Golden actually surpassed those numbers so we know he didn’t feast only against other Independents. He’s a mid-major guy who I’ll bet on making a mark at the next level.

3.07      A.J. Dillon   RB  (Bernard)

Many will see Derrick Henry comps here.  He tested very similarly athletically to Derrick Henry at the NFL combine at about the same size while also having reasonably close college production profiles.  Dillon will get drafted much later in the NFL, however.  Scheme and team fit is more important for Dillon’s fantasy prospects than most prospects.  He needs real commitment as the lead back in a run-based attack for him to have fantasy success (see Henry for most of his first three years).  I find the gamble well worth it this deep in the draft to hit on the ever-scarce running back position.

3.08      Jalen Hurts  QB

3.09      Thaddeus Moss  TE

3.10      KJ Hamler  WR


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.

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