What We Saw: Rounds 2 & 3 of the NFL Draft

 

De’Andre Swift, RB, Lions

 

Player Profile

Swift clocks in at a stocky 5’8” 212 pounds but that does not limit his explosiveness or ability. Although he was never a workhorse running back (which may be beneficial) he was extremely productive whenever he touched the ball. He averaged 6.5 ypc in his career at Georgia and is probably the most complete route runner at the running back position. In over 90 targets Swift dropped only three balls. He is a complete running back capable of contributing in any situation.

Fantasy Outlook

This pick was definitely a head-scratcher for me. Kerryon Johnson seemed more than capable of shouldering the load in Detroit, but nonetheless the Lions decided to invest heavily in the position again. Kerryon’s checkered health history might be an explanation, either way, the Lions are likely headed for fantasy running back purgatory where both backs split the load. Perhaps the situation will clarify itself as we move closer to the season, but for now, both Kerryon and Swift are likely reduced to flex options. Both backs are young which makes their dynasty value just as questionable.

Effect on New Team

For real football, this pick does not really make any sense. Regardless of what you feel about a running back’s value to an offense, the Lions had enough at the position to avoid taking one so early. Swift will be able to contribute more in the passing game, however, part of Matt Stafford’s resurgence last year was his return to throwing down the field. If the utilization of Swift means more targets behind the line of scrimmage this will not be a good thing for the Lions offense.

 

-Stephen Dudas

 

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts

 

Player Profile

Jonathan Taylor was a true workhorse at Wisconsin, and at 5’10” 226 pounds should have no trouble holding up in the pros. Taylor’s 40-yard dash stole the show at the combine coming in at 4.39 seconds, best among all running backs. Some may have concerns about his long-term outlook with a massive 926 carries in college, but Taylor was arguably the best back in the draft and goes off the board second at his position. Some have questions about his pass-catching ability, as he didn’t contribute much there until his 2019 season and had a number of drops. But he looked capable at the combine and the Colts will likely look to develop his receiving game.

Fantasy Outlook

Taylor finds himself in a good offensive system in Indianapolis, running behind a good offensive line, so this qualifies as a good landing spot in my book. His early second-round selection shows a commitment to him from the Colts, so he should have no trouble demanding a big workload. The big question for me will be his passing game ceiling and floor. This is a dream spot if he can become a solid receiving back, as Philip Rivers loves checking down to his running backs, supporting both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler in the passing game and making them both fantasy starters simultaneously. You could make an argument for Taylor as the first pick in a rookie dynasty draft, and will be in consideration as an RB1 in redraft leagues.

Effect on New Team

This crushes Marlon Mack‘s fantasy value, and as a free agent after this season, Mack’s future is very much up in the air. Nyheim Hines is under contract through 2021, and it will be interesting to see if he can carve out a poor-mans Ekeler role behind Taylor, or if Mack will be the primary backup and Taylor will become a three-down back. This draft pick also could be a signal that the Colts would like to make Rivers’ life easier than it was in the past, relying on a strong running game and making his transition to a new team an easier one.

 

-Erik Smith

 

Cam Akers, RB, Rams

 

Player Profile

Cam Akers earned the respect of Seminole fans, running hard behind bad offensive lines at Florida State, and showed some versatility catching 69 passes across 36 games. Akers fought through a sprained ankle during his sophomore year, which explains his struggles during that season, but he finished his career on a positive note with 1,369 total yards and 18 touchdowns on 261 touches in 2019. At 5’10” and 217 pounds, Akers has the size to hold up to a heavy workload, and profiles as a potential three-down running back. He flashed at the combine and separated himself from the pack at his position, running a 4.47 40-yard dash and displaying quick feet.

Fantasy Outlook

As the 52nd player selected in the draft, the Rams are showing a commitment to Akers that instantly launches him into fantasy-relevance. Darrell Henderson was a third-round pick last year, and on a Rams offense that was struggling to find a spark for much of the year, Henderson’s 39 attempts and lack of passing game involvement should be a major red flag. Malcolm Brown is a career backup and shouldn’t be a concern for Akers, who the Rams just used a premium pick on for a reason. While this Rams’ offense isn’t what it once was, Todd Gurley racked up over 1,000 yards and 14 total touchdowns last year while battling an arthritic knee, and with Gurley in Atlanta now, Akers has a chance to be a starting fantasy running back. I have Akers as the RB3 in this rookie class behind only Jonathan Taylor and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Effect on New Team

The selection of Akers is a pretty big hit on the value of Henderson, in both redraft and dynasty. While we shouldn’t give up on Henderson in just his second year, and he certainly could carve out a fantasy-relevant role here in 2020, it is hard to spin this any way other than a huge negative for his stock. Akers has the better draft stock, and after seeing Henderson for a year the team obviously decided that they needed more at the position. Anyone considering drafting Brown in the later rounds can move on from that idea as well.

 

-Erik Smith

 

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens

 

Player Profile

Dobbins ran for over 2,000 yards a year ago at Ohio State. He excels in the passing game and can be a workhorse back if given the chance. He needs some work in his pass blocking to be a true all-around running back. He avoided most of the workouts at the combine so we didn’t get those types of measurables on him.

Fantasy Outlook

I like Dobbins’s outlook beyond this year more so than in 2020. The Ravens have three other running backs on their roster. They return starter Mark Ingram, often-used backup Gus Edwards, and intriguing second-year running back Justice Hill. Dobbins will for sure have a roll, but it is hard to envision him just taking over this backfield and if he doesn’t improve his pass blocking he will not be playing on many third downs. In redraft, I will initially be looking at him in the 5th-7th round just because of how dynamic this offense is. I think he is a top-three pick in a rookie only draft.

Effect On New Team

This hurts all of the other running backs for the Ravens because Dobbins will surely carve out a role for himself and there is even a path for him taking over the majority. It helps the Ravens offense in general though as they now have another dynamic weapon at their disposal. Ingram should also get bumped down some as he is in danger of losing that lead back role.

 

  • Kevin Taylor

 

A.J. Dillon, RB, Packers

 

Player Profile

At 6’0″ 247 pounds, A.J. Dillon is a physical specimen, and after running a 4.53 40-yard dash at the combine, Dillon will likely draw Derrick Henry comparisons. His pass-catching ability is a question mark, but he’s a big back that rushed 845 times for 4,382 yards across three years at Boston College. His combine performance shot him up the running back rankings, and as the 6th running back off the board Dillon demands our attention. Dillon profiles as a between the tackles goalline back at the very least.

Fantasy Outlook

Dillon’s dynasty outlook is much rosier than his redraft outlook. For 2020 purposes, Dillon will be fighting for scraps in the backfield with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, two more than capable backs. Jones looks like the starter, with Williams likely holding down the third-down work, so Dillon looks like a backup for now that could potentially find his way into a timeshare and some goalline work. For dynasty purposes, Dillon likely represents a very sneaky value if you can wait on him for a year. Both Jones and Williams are free agents after this year, so Dillon could lead a run-heavy offense in 2021, one that has shown great fantasy potential after last year’s performance.

Effect on New Team

On top of not doing much to help out Aaron Rodgers win a championship in 2020, this move also likely angers the fantasy community. This has to drop Jones down the rankings, and the Packers have now invested a second-round pick to compete with touches. A nightmare scenario would be Dillon developing a goalline role stealing touchdowns from Jones. Jones was already in too much of a timeshare for fantasy owners to feel great about but broke out last year on the back of his excellent touchdown scoring ability. If Dillon threatens that, while also reducing Jones’ workload, Jones could be in for a massively disappointing season. For now, I am very wary to invest in this backfield for 2020, though I would be willing to take Dillon in dynasty if he falls in drafts.

 

-Erik Smith

 

Antonio Gibson, RB/ WR, Redskins

 

Player Profile

Antonio Gibson was a jack-of-all-trades at Memphis, taking snaps at wide receiver, running back, and punt/ kick returner. This versatility should earn him a role right away, as well as some roster security. He is quick, and skilled at following his block as a running back. As a receiver, he mostly played in the slot. His biggest weakness was fighting press coverage, though action in the slot would minimize this weakness early.

Fantasy Outlook

Gibson should see early playing time as a kick and punt returner, but it might take longer for his running/ receiving impact to be felt. Still, Washington is uncertain at running back and lacking depth at the receiver position. Keep an eye on how Washington chooses to use Gibson and monitor his playing time to see how well he’s sticking. There are plenty of receptions to be had if he is led down the wide receiver path.

Effect on New Team

Antonio Gibson’s biggest impact would be putting his team in good field positions. I don’t expect him to challenge the top dogs at RB (Guice, Peterson, Love) right away. I also don’t see him hurting Terry McLaurin’s numbers. There is room, though, to carve out space in this offense for himself.

 

Erik Smith

Head of QB List. Writer at numberFire and Pitcher List. Ohio University graduate. Now lives in Asheville, NC, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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