16 Fantasy Football Veterans Negatively Impacted By Their Team’s Draft
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones
The NFL draft always shifts the league to some degree — that includes the fantasy football landscape.
Note: Players ordered by position then alphabetically.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Rodgers averaged 5.9 yards per attempt in Weeks 9-17 with Davante Adams in the lineup and saw 35% (9-of-26) of his touchdown passes come in two games against the bottom-feeding pass defenses of the Raiders and Giants. So what did the Packers do in the draft? Traded up for Rodgers’ potential successor in Jordan Love (Utah State) at No. 26, grabbed inside runner A.J. Dillon (Boston College) in Round 2, and bypassed the historically-deep WR class altogether.
But hey, at least they drafted an H-back with plus receiving skills (Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara) and signed plodding journeyman wideout Devin Won’t-Be-No Funchess in free agency, right? — Raybon
Nick Foles/Mitch Trubisky, Bears
The Bears failed to address their offensive line until Round 7. It’ll be a problem for whoever starts at quarterback as it was a significant weakness for them in 2019.
Also, the only offensive player they drafted who should see snaps in 2020 is tight end Cole Kmet, which was a bit of a head-scratching pick considering they just signed Jimmy Graham to a two-year deal. I would have preferred to see them select K.J. Hamler — who was still available — to take over the Taylor Gabriel role. Instead, they will enter 2020 with the O-line a significant concern and no real No. 3 WR behind Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. — Koerner
Aaron Jones, Packers
The A.J. Dillon pick concerns me. For starters, the Packers always seem to want a backup RB who will see enough touches to prevent Jones from being a true workhorse. Jamaal Williams has been that guy the past few seasons, but Dillion is much more of a power back and could end up stealing goal-line touches.
Jones tied for the most rushing TDs last season with 16. He was likely due for massive regression there already, but with Dillion — a threat to vulture Jones around the goal-line — it could be even more difficult for Jones to match his 2019 numbers. — Koerner
Damien Williams, Chiefs
Any hope of Williams reassuming his postseason dominance with a full season as the featured role took a major hit when the Chiefs made the surprise selection of LSU dynamo Clyde Edwards-Helaire to close out Round 1.
I still expect Andy Reid to defer the lead role to Williams, but while LeSean McCoy is gone, Reid’s frustrating regular-season committee backfield approach is seemingly here to stay. — Raybon
Darrell Henderson, Rams
Expectations were lower for Malcolm Brown, so the Rams’ selection of Cam Akers in Round 2 hurts Henderson far more. There’s even a scenario in which Akers — who specialized in producing amid shoddy offensive line play at FSU — beats out Henderson by Week 1 while Brown is used in a short-yardage role, leaving Henderson completely on the outside looking in.
Henderson could still emerge as the lead back, of course, but “the next John Kelly” has officially become an uncomfortable part of his range of outcomes. — Raybon
Derrius Guice, Redskins
Selected at the top of Round 3, Antonio Gibson (No. 66) is the guy she’s telling Guice not to worry about.
An explosive Tony Pollard-esque offensive weapon in his senior season at Memphis, Gibson was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. With just 33 carries and 38 receptions last year, Gibson had 1,104 scrimmage yards and 13 all-purpose touchdowns in 2020. He’s both a bigger and faster Guice, and unlike the third-year veteran, Gibson hasn’t missed 27 of his past 32 games.
If Gibson gets even a little bit of work early in the season, he could force his way into a timeshare and then eventually run away with Guice’s job. — Freedman
Kerryon Johnson, Lions
After averaging 15.4 touches per game last season, Johnson was staring at top-20 fantasy value before the Lions spent the 35th overall pick on the consensus top running back in the draft, Georgia’s DeAndre Swift.
Now Johnson’s best case scenario is narrowly leading a committee. Barring a major flop by Swift, Kerryon just got Kerry-offed. — Raybon
Marlon Mack, Colts
Mack averaged 17.0 carries per game as Indy’s lead back over the past two seasons, but will face scorching heat for that role from 41st overall selection Jonathan Taylor, who is fresh off back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons as a sophomore and junior for Wisconsin. — Raybon
Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
After the Bucs didn’t draft a back in Rounds 1-2, Jones looked like he might be in the clear as the locked-in lead back — but then they drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in Round 3.
Vaughn is older for a rookie. In fact, he’s older than Jones, who already has two years of NFL experience and a 1,000-yard season to his name. But Vaughn is built more like a between-the-tackles grinder and touchdown scorer, and he’s probably the superior receiver and pass blocker.
Vaughn is currently being overvalued in rookie drafts, but Jones now looks extremely unlikely to dominate touches in what could be a high-scoring offense. — Freedman
Dante Pettis, 49ers
The 49ers selected Pettis with the 44th overall pick in 2018, and when he broke into the starting lineup in his six final games as a rookie, he flashed with 371 yards and four touchdowns on 24 receptions. But then the team drafted wide receivers Deebo Samuel (No. 36) and Jalen Hurd (No. 67) last year, and Pettis sat on the bench for the second half of the season.
If Pettis had any hope of returning to the starting lineup in 2020, it was dashed to pieces when the 49ers selected Brandon Aiyuk (No. 25) in Round 1 of this draft. Buried on the depth chart behind Samuel, Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne and probably Hurd and Trent Taylor, the once-favored Pettis might not even make the 2020 roster. — Freedman
Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
As talented as Westbrook is, it’s probably never going to happen for him.
With the disgusting duo of quarterbacks Black Bortles and Cody Kessler throwing him the ball, Westbrook led the Jags in 2018 with 101 targets, 66 receptions, 717 yards receiving and five touchdown receptions, and he seemed poised to break out in 2019, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he stagnated: 101 targets, 66 receptions, 660 yards receiving and three touchdowns receiving. And now the Jags have selected Laviska Shenault Jr., who has a chance to start right away and will compete with Westbrook for snaps and targets.
Entering the final year of his contract, Westbrook now looks like an afterthought instead of a potential up-and-comer. — Freedman
DeSean Jackson, Eagles
The Eagles were decimated at WR for much of the 2019 season. It was apparent they were going to select a WR with their first pick. They ended up choosing Jalen Reagor, whose playing style is very similar to Jackson.
It’s worth noting that the Eagles also brought in veteran speedster Marquise Goodwin. The Eagles seem likely to scale back DJax’s snaps this season to keep him healthy in his age 34 season.
He likely won’t be a late-round flier I target in this drafts this year. — Koerner
John Ross, Bengals
It looked like Ross finally broke out last season when he was the No. 1 overall WR in fantasy after Week 2, but things quickly went south for the speedster as he suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him out for eight games.
I was hoping to target Ross late in 2020 drafts given people were likely sleeping on him, and the addition of Joe Burrow should help this offense overall. But the Bengals decided to draft Tee Higgins in the second round, which puts a damper on Ross’ outlook. — Koerner
Josh Reynolds, Rams
After Brandin Cooks was dealt time Houston, Reynolds looked primed to inherit the No. 3 WR role for a team that finished top-three in pass attempts in 2019 (632). Then the Rams drafted Van Jefferson (Florida) in Round 2.
Absent pristine blocking, Jared Goff has struggled to get the ball downfield to the likes of Sammy Watkins, Cooks and Reynolds — so why else would the Rams overlook the offensive line to nab a pro-ready 24-year-old receiver regarded by many as the class’ second-best route runner after Jerry Jeudy if they didn’t intend to use him as another short-to-intermediate option for Goff?
The ill-suited Reynolds caught only 21-of-43 (48.8%) targets in 2019. He’s now a situational deep threat without a situation. — Raybon
Tyrell Williams, Raiders
If last season’s futile Antonio Brown acquisition wasn’t a clear indication that Jon Gruden didn’t see Williams as anything more than a complimentary piece, the Raiders’ selection of not one, not two, but three (!) wide receivers in the first three rounds — Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), and Bryan Edwards (South Carolina) — sure is.
Despite nominal WR1 duties, Williams barely sustained top-50 value, and did so largely due to an unsustainable five TDs in his first five games before managing only one more for the rest of the year. After grading out as just Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best wide receiver of 2019, Williams no longer has much fantasy relevance. — Raybon
Zach Pascal, Colts
Pascal was a pleasant surprise in 2019 and stepped up for the Colts when injuries forced him into the starting lineup. He was a wideout I was going to keep an eye on later in drafts given the QB upgrade in Philip Rivers and Eric Ebron’s departure.
I felt Pascal could be a sneaky red-zone threat this season. But with the Colts selecting Michael Pittman Jr. in Round 2, Pascal’s path to fantasy value has been derailed, and he’ll likely need injuries above him to become fantasy relevant again this season. — Koerner