NFL Draft: Risers & Fallers (2019 Fantasy Football)
Rankings leading up to rookie drafts, even more so this year, are dynamic. Until the day of your draft, prospect lists will continue to evolve. Without a consensus 1.01 player in this year’s rookie crop, and with so much variance in rankings among experts, we may have to rely on our personal valuations as much as secondary research.
Let’s review: The quarterback situation pales in comparison to last year’s bumper crop of franchise players. The talent at WR is deep, and many will go undrafted just based on the NFL numbers game. Tight end quality and depth are better than average. Although we don’t have Saquon Barkley this year, there are many NFL-worthy running backs in this class. No consensus at the top means even more fun and greater values to be had.
While it’s early, I put together offensive risers and fallers for the 2019 NFL Draft. These are players that are recently either trending upward or downward. The list may help demonstrate the dynamic nature of dynasty rookie rankings.
Kyler Murray (QB – Oklahoma)
As soon as he announced he was forsaking baseball to focus on the NFL, Murray’s stock immediately rose. He joined the upper echelon of the shallow 2019 QB class. In fact, many scouts have him graded as the best overall QB in this group, and by most accounts, he’s in the top three. Murray is expected to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft as a future franchise signal-caller. Concerns about his slight stature remain, but he has an amazing ability to play the position. His propensity to make plays outside the pocket and scramble for yards when plays break down is unparalleled in this class. His composure under pressure sets him apart from other passers in this class and points to likely success as a pro QB.
Deebo Samuel (WR – South Carolina)
While it may seem odd to call Samuel a “riser” in this early NFL Draft process, his Senior Bowl week performance solidified his spot as the top senior receiver. According to many reports, Samuel was the most dominant WR during the week. DBs could not cover him, and he made catch after dramatic catch. He was able to get open, showing short-area quickness and YAC ability. While tape grinders love him, metrics analysts seem to feel less strongly about his transition to the pros. However, Samuel looks to be an early-to-mid-second-round pick in the NFL Draft—which would give him a great chance to succeed in the NFL and subsequently for your dynasty squads. Additional foreshadowing: Nike already sponsored him.
Andy Isabella (WR – UMass)
In 2018, Isabella was a First-Team All American and a Biletnikoff candidate with close to a 49% Dominator Rating! After leading the nation in receiving, Isabella showed his stuff during the Senior Bowl as the North Squad’s MVP. The NFL is sending slot WRs into the heart of defenses at an increasingly high rate and to much success. Though small of stature, Isabella should join that group by the end of the fourth round. Isabella was a state champion sprinter in high school, so speed should be no problem for this prospect. He also revealed the NFL player he patterns his game after; it’s the similarly sized Tyreek Hill.
Josh Jacobs (RB – Alabama)
Not usually the first RB mentioned when we talked about Alabama’s stockpile at the position, Jacobs seemingly came out of nowhere to be considered one of the class’ top-ranked RBs. At this rate, he may very well become the 1.01 in most of our rookie drafts. Jacobs is a big RB who runs with both power and balance in addition to having receiving chops. As a versatile back, he could fit any offensive scheme.
T.J. Hockenson (TE – Iowa)
Recent chatter suggests Hockenson will be a first-round draft pick. His receiving chops are nice, but it’s his ability as an inline blocker that will get him on the field soon. The interesting thing is how many in dynasty and devy leagues have expressed excitement about fellow Hawkeye Noah Fant bringing his athleticism to the NFL for the past two years. Now, Hockenson overshadows Fant, though both can be great players.
Will Grier (QB – WVU)
Grier has suffered a significant fall from grace since the start of his senior season. His time in Mobile for Senior Bowl week did not go as well as expected. There is still time to raise his stock with the NFL Scouting Combine, pro days, and media days ahead. At this point, however, he has trended downward and is not ranked among this draft class’ top-three QBs. Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock will likely be drafted earlier, and even Jarrett Stidham and Daniel Jones have shots to overtake Grier. Few would have expected this at the start of the 2018 college football season. If this trend continues, Grier will offer a nice value in dynasty rookie drafts. He plays well under pressure and does not have many balls batted down. While Grier has only played in the shotgun and may be best suited for a West Coast offense, he can still become a very good pro QB.
Marquise Brown (WR – Oklahoma)
“Hollywood” Brown used to be considered one of the top five WRs in this class. Possessing the type of speed coveted by the NFL, he may still be among the top-10 WRs based on recent rankings. However, the overall tone has softened. Then Adam Schefter dropped this bombshell on Monday:
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown, a projected top 15 pick in April’s NFL Draft, underwent surgery for a LisFranc injury last month that will prevent him from participating in the combine and his Pro Day, but he still is expected to be ready for summer training camp, per league sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2019
This is not a great thing for any WR, but it will especially drop the stock of a player who relies heavily on speed. If Brown still becomes a first- or second-round pick, the draft capital alone would mean he should be looked upon early as a starting asset. At that point, dynasty owners could look to him as a value. However, he may be a slightly better version of Tavon Austin. Proceed with caution.
Noah Fant (TE – Iowa)
Once thought of as an elite pro-TE prospect, particularly among the devy crowd, Fant has seemingly lost steam over the past month. This fall correlates with Hockenson’s rise. Nothing about Fant has changed whatsoever. He remains an athletic specimen and a great move TE. Fant didn’t start to play poorly at the end of the season or directly do anything different to fall out of favor. There are rumors in NFL circles that Hockenson is the Iowa TE pro scouts are after and could possibly be a first-round draft pick-maybe even in the top 10! So, Fant is just collateral damage in his teammate’s rise to prominence. Just don’t forget about him. In a deep TE class, Dynasty owners need not worry about Fant’s perceived “fall” as it likely creates more value in rookie drafts. If Fant ends up in New England (or another great landing spot), this could be a blessing in disguise for dynasty owners who get him at a lower cost.