2019 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Strategy (Picks 1.09-1.12)
Geoff Lambert takes a look at a few players that could be available for you at the bottom of the first round of dynasty rookie drafts.
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It’s rookie draft season, one of my favorite times of the year. This year is especially interesting because of the lack of top-end talent in this draft class. Now, that’s not to say there is no talent. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
This is a very deep draft class. You could do 100 mock drafts and get 100 completely different outcomes. From about 1.05 till about 2.03, every player is interchangeable. I’ve seen guys like Parris Campbell go as high as third overall and have also seen him fall to the second round, and you can say that about a lot of these guys. I’m going to take a look at a few players that should be available at the end of the first round, so if you own picks 1.09-to-1.12, then pay attention.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)/T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET)
The two players that are the safest in the late first round are the two TEs from Iowa. Both landed in promising situations and have the upside to be “the next big thing” at the tight end position.
Fant landed on a team with a QB that has made a career out of throwing to his tight ends. Throughout Joe Flacco’s career, be it Dennis Pitta or Todd Heap, he has consistently thrown a huge target share to his tight ends. Even Ben Watson and Ed Dickson were fantasy relevant players when Flacco was their QB, and Fant might be the most physically talented TE he has ever had. At six-foot-four, 250 pounds, he has 4.5 40 speed and is 96th percentile in every relevant physical metric (via PlayerProfiler.com), but he also has college production to go along with it, catching 39 passes for 519 yards and seven TDs as a junior last year at Iowa.
His teammate on that Iowa team, Hockenson, is a more traditional TE in the sense that he is an elite blocker — a place that Fant struggles. The Lions want to move to a more run-based offense, and Hockenson fits right into that mold. Hockenson will play the “Gronkowski” role in Matt Patricia’s scheme, and, while he is no Rob Gronkowski, his skill set is very similar. The biggest red flag is that Matt Stafford has never been the type of QB to look to the TE often in the passing game, but a six-foot-five, 250-pound TE with 4.7 40 speed and a college stat line of 49 receptions for 760 yards and six TDs might change his mind.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR – PHI)
Arcega-Whiteside, or JAWS as he is known, landed in a perfect spot for his skill set. Alshon Jeffery is likely to be a cap casualty at the end of 2019 since his contract — as it’s currently constructed — would pay him a shade under $16M, but his dead cap drops from $21.6M in 2019 to $6.9M in 2020, making him an expensive, but viable cut candidate. JAWS is basically the same receiver type as Jeffery in terms of size, speed, and their uncanny jump ball abilities. If you draft JAWS, be prepared to sit on him for at least a year, but with a young QB like Carson Wentz, the wait will be well worth it.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC)
Hardman has already been unfairly dubbed the “next Tyreek Hill*,” but while I don’t think he will be the next Hill, there are reasons to like him. The biggest reason to like him has nothing to do with him at all. It’s his QB. Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm in 2018, and if Hardman is inserted into the starting lineup, he instantly becomes a valuable fantasy commodity by sheer association.
His physical traits are very similar to Hill’s as they are both five-foot-10, 185-ish pounds, both ran 40 times of 4.33, and both played multiple positions in college. Hardman, however, has better draft capital then Hill did as Hardman was a second round pick, where Hill was not drafted until the fifth. Hardman is not Hill, but if you were going to pick one player from this year’s draft class that at least fits that mold, Hardman is the one.
*I chose not to discuss the Tyreek Hill situation, this narrative assumes Hill isn’t playing football in 2019.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)
The biggest fantasy relevant question coming out of San Francisco is which RB is going to be the one to own in fantasy — but a close second is, “Who is the No. 1 WR in this offense?” Conventional wisdom says that it should be Dante Pettis coming into his second year, but let’s face it, he isn’t exactly a seasoned vet with his role locked in. Could a healthy Marquise Goodwin retake the No. 1 role? While I don’t think Samuel will step in and be the No. 1, I do think the starting receivers for this team have yet to be decided and Samuel could end up with a large role in what should be a much-improved offense.
A big knock on Samuel is that he didn’t break out until his senior year at South Carolina, posting 62 catches for 882 and eight TDs. Samuel isn’t fast enough to play on the outside and he isn’t tall enough to compensate for his lack of top-end speed, however, he is built like a running back at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds and he will fit nicely in the slot for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. In fact, if you watch some of his tape and didn’t pay attention to where he lined up pre-snap, you might think he is a running back. He even finished catch and run plays like a running back, often lowering his shoulder pads to deliver the hit instead of trying to avoid it. He is worth a late first-round pick based simply on his opportunity, but if he is as advertised, you could end up with a fantasy WR2 for years to come.
Devin Singletary (RB – BUF)
Singletary may be a bit of a reach for the bottom of the first — he is going early second in most of my mock drafts — but if you are a running back needy team, and who isn’t, Singletary could be the next best RB after the big three (Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, and Josh Jacobs). Yes, he is buried on the depth chart behind Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy, and maybe even T.J. Yeldon, but do we really think any of those RBs are the future of the Bills’ backfield? Frank Gore will be 172 by the time the season starts, McCoy dealt with injuries last year and is starting to slow down, and T.J. Yeldon was allowed to walk from a Jaguars team that literally had no one behind Leonard Fournette…and then it took months of free agency before he finally landed with the Bills.
Singeltary’s draft stock took a hit after the combine since he tested poorly in the 40 (4.66 seconds), but anyone who watched him in college knew he wasn’t going to be fast. His skill set is hard to quantify by physical metrics, it’s hard to judge a player’s patience when setting up blocks or vision to ensure they see the hole before it opens up. Before the draft, I comp’ed Singletary to a poor man’s Le’Veon Bell, who coincidentally also ran a 4.6 40 time at the combine. Nothing has happened since the draft to change my mind about him.
You put him in the backfield with QB Josh Allen and the defense won’t know what to do. Either they defend the deep ball with Allen’s big arm and speedy WRs, defend Singletary’s running ability, or defend Allen’s ability to take off and run. All-in-all, Singletary could end up as the RB to own in Buffalo sooner rather than later.