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The Worst Picks in the Early Rounds of Your 2019 Fantasy Football Draft

You’ve read up on draft strategy, roster construction, sleepers, deep sleepers, and league-winners — by now, you definitely know who you want to draft — but knowing who not to draft is equally important. You need to know both the best and the worst picks in every round of 2019 fantasy football drafts to come out with the best team.

After showing you my favorite targets in each of the first round rounds of 2019 fantasy drafts, I’m now going to run through the worst pick in each of the first four rounds1 to help you avoid some bad picks.

Oh, and, to be clear, I’m not saying every player on the list below is going to be a bad fantasy player in 2019. They are being drafted in the top 60, after all. I’m just saying they shouldn’t be drafted where they are being drafted.

Let’s get to the list:

Round 1: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Chubb is being drafted in the late-first, which, to me, seems like his absolute ceiling. Players going after Chubb include Julio JonesMichael ThomasJames ConnerOdell Beckham Jr.Tyreek HillJuJu Smith-SchusterTodd GurleyDalvin CookJoe Mixon, among others.

Chubb is good: As a rookie, he had 212 touches, 1,145 total yards, and 10 total touchdowns — and he’s in position to improve on all of those figures with the departure of Duke Johnson and the overall improvement to Cleveland’s offense.

This list of all RBs since 2010 that have had similar rookie seasons to Chubb has some solid comps — including Todd Gurley — but it also has some worrisome names, like Jeremy Hill and Ryan Mathews.

Nick Chubb rookie comps

Philip Linsday is an interesting rookie comp just from last season. Lindsay was better than Chubb across the board, but he’s not heralded nearly as much leading into 2019 for two reasons:

  1. His team is objectively worse than the Browns
  2. He’s facing stiff competition from Royce Freeman

If we’re worried about Freeman in relation to Lindsay, why are we not talking more about Kareem Hunt in relation to Chubb?

Chubb will be the workhorse back for the Browns … at least until Week 10, when Hunt returns. Chubb can, of course, remain the full bellcow even when Hunt returns, but there’s a non-zero chance that Hunt sees significant touches down the stretch with fresh legs.

Hunt is probably the best backup RB in the entire NFL; it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he barely sees the field. And that looming risk is too much for me to invest a first-round pick in Chubb.

Round 2: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

Our rankers have Johnson as the No. 29 overall player, and No. 14 RB overall. None of our rankers have Johnson in the top 24 overall, which means none of our rankers think he’s worth a second-round pick.

For starters, there’s the risk that head coach Matt Patricia massively misuses Johnson in 2019, like he did at times in 2018. There’s an entire article on the Detroit Lions official website titled: “Lions impressed by Johnson, but won’t overwork him.” They seem keen on limiting Johnson’s touches, regardless of how good he is.

When the Lions released Theo Riddick this offseason, Johnson’s stock seemed to skyrocket. In the two games Riddick didn’t play in 2018, Johnson was phenomenal:

But then they added C.J. Anderson, who rumbled his way to an elite finish for the Rams in 2018 while filling in for Gurley. Anderson is clearly a capable backup RB, and now there are questions as to how much he’ll spell Kerryon this season.

Johnson is really freaking good, with a similar skill set to fantasy league-winners Gurley and Melvin Gordon, and the sky is the limit for Johnson this season … if the Lions don’t stink, and if Patricia uses his as a workhorse.

The way the team talks about Johnson (both last year and this offseason), combined with their roster moves, makes it hard to fully trust that Johnson will pay off his second-round price.

Round 3: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Here’s the thing: I wouldn’t hate Mahomes as a fourth-round pick, even though I’m definitely a fan of the late-round QB strategy in 2019. He’s that good, and so are his weapons.

But the third round is one round too rich for a player that we have projected to score only 28 more points all year than the No. 5-projected quarterback (Cam Newton), who is currently going in the ninth round.

We currently have Mahomes projected for 32 touchdowns — down from 50 a year ago — even though he’s already made 2018-esque splash plays this preseason:

Here’s what RotoViz’s Monty Phan said of Mahomes in a recent article examining draft strategy:

The advice here is pretty easy: Wait. You don’t need Patrick Mahomes. Actually, let me clarify: You don’t need the 2019 version of Mahomes, who’s being drafted as if he’s a lock to repeat his 2018 performance. All you really want is a decent portion of his production, which you can find much, much later than his current third-round FFPC best-ball ADP.

Round 4: Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Collectively, RotoViz rankers have Ingram as the RB38 and No. 94 overall player (seventh-round value). 

It’s not that running backs in Baltimore can’t succeed. They definitely can, thanks to the team’s run-first and run-second mentality. The problem for Ingram that Justice Hill is also on the roster, and Hill is #better.

Here’s what Cort Smith said of Ingram and Hill in his piece on fantasy discount plays: 

Ingram has nowhere to go but down — a soon-to-be-30 back who is about the hit the age cliff and has one of RotoViz’s favorite rookie RBs in Justice Hill lurking behind him.

We have an entire article dedicated to why you shouldn’t draft Mark Ingram when other, better RBs are cheaper, so you should definitely check that piece out before pressing “draft” on Ingram’s name in the fourth-round.

Limit risk in the early rounds of your draft

With your early-round picks, you should be aiming for players that have minimal risk. Some risk is obviously OK — it’s inherent in every player — but you have to weigh each risk relative to your other options on draft day. Here are my primary concerns about each player:

  • Chubb is being drafted at his ceiling and has the looming threat of Hunt’s return, which is a total wild card at this moment
  • Johnson’s coaches have displayed a desire for him to not touch the ball that much, and they just added a capable backup
  • Mahomes does not have any red flags, other than his position; drafting him in the third-round is a net loss in opportunity cost
  • Ingram is aging and has a better player waiting behind him on the roster

The primary takeaway is to look at a player’s pros and cons before deciding to draft them, and weigh them against the other players being drafted in about the same range. In the early rounds, I typically give more weight to my “cons” list, because the “pros” list is usually pretty solid for everyone going in the first 50 picks.

Image Credit: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Nick Chubb.

  1. ADP figures mentioned in this article come from our FPPC ADP tool.  (back)

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