What If the 2019 Rookie Draft Happened Today: Round 2
Image Credit: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Diontae Johnson.

Last week we examined what the first round of the 2019 rookie draft would look like if we made the selections now. Big risers like A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel shook up the top of the draft. Meanwhile, one high-profile running back fell into Round 2. In today’s exercise, we learn just how far he falls after a miserable rookie season. After some clear choices at the top, the second round becomes more controversial.

The 2019 Rookie Draft If It Happened Today – Round 2

Dynasty ADP taken from the Dynasty ADP tool where you can explore the trajectories of fantasy stars through the years.

2.01 Diontae Johnson

Rookie ADP: 25.8

Despite playing in an offense that ranked No. 27 in PPG to the wide receiver position, Johnson emerged with the type of rookie season that makes him an excellent breakout candidate in 2020. He wasn’t used much deep but excelled at the types of routes the Steelers quarterbacks had a chance to complete.

Johnson was targeted 45 times on a pass that traveled less than five yards. That underneath volume helped him to a 19% target rate, impressive numbers when competing for looks with JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington.

2.02 Kyler Murray

Rookie ADP: 9.6

Murray would be the No. 1 pick in Superflex, but taking a QB becomes a more need-based proposition in regular formats. If you have a need, you could make an argument for him as soon as A.J. Brown is off the board. If you don’t, you wait until all of the studs are gone.

Arizona’s franchise cornerstone already finished as QB9 in his debut season, but those numbers become less impressive on a per game basis where Murray scored only 20.4 and slotted behind fellow rookie Daniel Jones.

I expect Murray to make a big jump in 2020. History backs that sentiment, but even if he makes a Lamar Jackson-type move – and Murray’s passing ability and offensive volume suggest he might have advantages Jackson did not – how much surplus value would he sustain over the long run? I like to roster high-upside QBs, but Curtis Patrick argues for a more pragmatic approach to the position in dynasty.

2.03 David Montgomery

Rookie ADP: 3.3

RotoViz drafters were more skeptical of Montgomery than the general population. Box Score Scout users noted his poor historical comps and athleticism that doesn’t translate well to the NFL.

These concerns played out painfully during a rookie year where he accumulated -25.7 rushing fantasy points over expectation (ruFPOE), last among rookies by a wide margin.

Montgomery’s inability to turn touches into fantasy points hurt his owners in 2019, but it’s also a bad sign for a bounceback.

ppr chart

Positive rookie-year FPOE has historically meant more points and opportunities going forward, not to mention better efficiency.

Montgomery was also drafted into a tricky scenario. Despite finishing No. 12 in opportunities, Montgomery ranked only 23rd in Expected Points (EP) per game. With Tarik Cohen in place, Montgomery lost many of the crucial high-value touches.

Josh Jacobs was the only player with a higher rookie ADP than Montgomery last season. Could Montgomery turn it around and still be worthy of the pick? A more optimistic take would point out that the Bears grinder was a low-end RB2 during a disastrous rookie season. Until Chicago decides to stop burning valuable plays in this fashion, Montgomery is a high-floor player.

Owners can also look to the presence of Mark Ingram on his list of comps. While Ingram was a better player and also a much more costly acquisition for New Orleans, there are plenty of stylist similarities. Ingram struggled through three awful seasons before breaking out in Year 4 and going onto a strong fantasy career.

2.04 Preston Williams

Rookie ADP: 42.5

If you missed DeVante Parker’s breakout, there’s a less expensive way to buy into the Miami passing game. In fact, Parker’s blistering finish owes a lot to Williams’ mid-season injury. When they were on the field together for the first nine games, the undrafted rookie held a slim advantage.

Williams wasn’t invited to the NFL combine due to character issues and eventually fell out of the draft on those same concerns. Despite this, Neil Dutton profiled him as a deep sleeper to monitor due to his strong camp and fantastic final season at Colorado State. Not many prospects entered their rookie seasons fresh off a 96-1345-14 campaign with a 45% Dominator Rating.

2.05 Darrell Henderson

Rookie ADP: 10.7

There’s a big tier break after Williams where we transition from production to potential.

Henderson was billed as the Rams answer to Alvin Kamara. The results were different to say the least.

Henderson went from 2,204 yards in his final season at Memphis to 182 yards as a rookie with Los Angeles. When the Rams eventually move on from Todd Gurley, will Henderson even be in their plans?

As was the case for Montgomery, owners can take solace from a high-profile name on Henderson’s comp list. In a scenario that resembled Henderson’s situation with the Rams, Jamaal Charles spent his rookie season buried behind Larry Johnson.

Unfortunately, even that’s a stretch. Charles was explosive in his limited opportunities, foreshadowing a career that was unprecedented from an efficiency perspective.1

2.06 Irv Smith

Rookie ADP: 22.9

Tight end guru John Lapinski featured Smith in last year’s 3 TEs I’m Targeting After the Draft, and it’s a must read. Smith didn’t go on to make a big fantasy impact as a rookie, but he played quite a few snaps in an offense that featured Kyle Rudolph in addition to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

Smith’s comps include Austin Hooper and Mark Andrews. The latter just emphasized the key takeaway from The Wrong Read: No. 56: Top-100 picks at TE have a sky-high breakout rate in Year 2.

2.07 Parris Campbell

Rookie ADP: 10.1

We don’t have a lot of new information about Campbell after a rookie season wiped out by injuries. Active in seven games, the Ohio State product was targeted 24 times, only nine of which came more than five yards down the field.

Heading into 2019, Campbell looked like a reality and fantasy reach by our metrics, posting unimpressive career (17%) and final season (21%) receiving yardage shares. He also averaged only 11.8 yards per reception in his final campaign, another red flag and a stark contrast to college teammate Terry McLaurin (20.0).

With Andrew Luck gone and the Indianapolis offense emphasizing the run, we’re also looking at a lower ceiling.

2.08 Justice Hill

Rookie ADP: 20.0

Hill barely played behind Ingram and Gus Edwards. When he did play, he was awful, right up until the last two weeks.

Why draft Hill in the same range after such a nondescript season? My RB philosophy is to always buy low on prolific college backs with speed. The Oklahoma State product began his career with two 1,000-yard seasons, pushing Chris Carson aside to do so. He touched the ball 299 times as a sophomore, including 31 receptions. He was also the most athletic back in this class.

 

The BSS also spits out some intriguing names. We can be fairly certain that Hill isn’t Jamaal Charles, but would you take Jahvid Best as your starter in an offense led by Lamar Jackson?

2.09 Andy Isabella

Rookie ADP: 18.5

Isabella might be the biggest disappointment for RotoViz owners. He came into the league with excellent advanced numbers. He was one of the leaders in both market share and yards per team attempt. That gave him the top score in Travis May’s Adjusted Production Index.

The Wrong Read: No 60 is hot off the presses this week and again tells us that those metrics are very relevant in projecting receivers to the NFL. So what went wrong?

In investigating possible red flags for Isabella, I frequently mentioned his late development and that seniors are outscored by early declares selected a full round later.

 

Isabella could become our latest cautionary tale about using a rookie pick on a four-year college player, but he could also explode if given more opportunity with Kyler Murray. On the rare occasions he did play, he demonstrated another one of his positive traits – elite speed – in generating 11.5 reFPOE.

2.10 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Rookie ADP: 16.9

Even though the Eagles lost all of their relevant receivers to injury, you could be forgiven for not realizing Arcega-Whiteside played more than 90% of the snaps on three different occasions. He commanded only a 4% target share in an offense desperate for playmakers.

Arcega-Whiteside remains in this range because of his draft slot and the gaudy market share numbers he posted from 2016 to 2018. Despite being a solid post-hype option, comps like James Hardy and Leonte Carroo remind us that even impressive college producers occasionally bust.

2.11 Tony Pollard

Rookie ADP: 37.2

Pollard was a Zero RB favorite and flashed that ability with three week-winning performances.

Unfortunately, any sort of consistent floor would require the absence of Ezekiel Elliott.

2.12 Hunter Renfrow

Rookie ADP: 42.3

Renfrow averaged 10.3 PPG, numbers that rose to 15.4 starting in Week 8. As hot as he was down the stretch, we might be talking about him as a borderline top-10 rookie if not for an injury that wiped out Weeks 13 through 15.

The possession threat isn’t going to stretch the field, but his after-the-catch prowess is a perfect fit for the Raiders offense.

Renfrow’s prospect resume and receiving profile don’t offer the highest of ceilings, but he could be the next underneath receiver to quietly generate WR3 results while never commanding elite prices on the trade market.

Doing these types of articles is always fun. Any exercise that combines rankings, what-if scenarios, and future predictions is a blast to write. This one was equally fun to research due to the tools created by our apps team. To do your own prospect research, locate 2020 buy-lows, or search for ways to rejuvenate your dynasty roster, make sure to check out some of the tools I used in this article.

Ready to explore 2020 rookie mocks? Be sure to pre-order our Dynasty Command Center Rookie Guide today.

Image Credit: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Diontae Johnson.
  1. Charles also brought serious speed to the table. Henderson’s combine 4.49 was a disappointment after all of his breakaway runs in college.  (back)

Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.
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