In today’s edition of the Dynasty Workshop, Shawn Siegele redrafts the 2019 and 2020 rookie classes against each other, provides television and book recommendations, and more.
Each week in this space, I like to look at new developments through the lens of rankings or trades. We’re forced to update our state of play constantly, often with limited information. Last week’s dynasty trade article and Overtime pod received a lot of positive feedback, so today we’re going to take the next step and jump further into the unknown.
We’ve had so little chance to evaluate the 2020 rookie class, yet some of them already look like stars. Trades are happening constantly in dynasty. You can’t afford to sit back and wait for complete answers. By the time you act, the exploitable opportunities will already be gone.
The Mega-Draft: 2019 Versus 2020 – Where Do the Players Fit Now?
Our draft exercise features Superflex valuations. For traditional formats, just remove the quarterbacks.
1. Kyler Murray
Murray was the 1.06 in Superflex startups and hasn’t disappointed with a 28.9 average through five weeks. DeAndre Hopkins provides a new element, and Murray finally got Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella involved in recent weeks. The young QB has increased the all-important rushing numbers from 34 yards per game in 2019 to 59 in 2020, with the attempts jumping as well.
He’ll now settle in for the battle with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson to decide the long-term 1.01.
2. CeeDee Lamb
In one of the deepest WR draft’s in memory, Lamb was the one clear star. Among top prospects, he easily ranked No. 1 in Adjusted Production Index. For owners who ignored the traffic jam in Dallas and emphasized talent, he’s paid immediate dividends and sits right at the WR1 borderline with 17 PPG.
Lamb’s production hasn’t come from stealing touchdowns from Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. He ranks fifth in receiving yards and has dominated the deep middle, catching all eight of his targets for 214 yards.
3. D.K. Metcalf
Metcalf was Jack Miller’s My Guy for 2020, and the second-year player has responded by averaging over 20 PPG. The heir to Julio Jones has been the biggest beneficiary of the Seahawks’ seismic play-calling shift. Although he ranks just 14th in target share, Metcalf trails only Hopkins in yards (496). As the deep target in a Russell Wilson passing attack,1 we can expect his efficiency numbers to stay off the charts.
4. Miles Sanders
Sanders started 2020 with two games that featured 10-plus Expected Points as a receiver, threatening to push him into that rarefied air of the double-double guys. Those numbers have ticked down over the last two weeks, and he’s now averaging 18 total EP on the season.
In searching for those unique RBs who can tilt the field for you in weekly matchups and also hold their value for multiple seasons, you want a workhorse with the athleticism to create the occasional big play. Sanders possesses that explosiveness, and he provided another example with the 74-yard TD run against the Steelers. You can’t count on these types of plays every week, but a handful of them during the course of a season offer the extra punctuation on a league-winning campaign.
5. A.J. Brown
Brown has been consistently better than Metcalf through the years, including last year when he posted the 12th-best rookie finish (217 points) in the last 20 years. Ryan Tannehill averaged only 13 paEP a game last year, but those numbers jumped to 16.7 over the first three games of 2020. He’s quickly consolidating his status as a reliable starting QB, removing much of the volume and passer-related risk from Brown’s profile.
6. Joe Burrow
In the last 20 years, no rookie QB has attempted more passes through five weeks.2 Although he struggled against Baltimore’s elite defense on Sunday, his overall numbers compare favorably to the best of the best.
The list offers a reminder of how Gardner Minshew won his job. Burrow ranks just above Andrew Luck.
7. Justin Jefferson
Over that same time span, here’s the list of rookie receivers with more yards through Week 5 than Jefferson.
Moving Jefferson here may feel like an overreaction after he was a borderline first-round pick just among 2020 prospects, but that stemmed from a misunderstanding of risk and reward as it relates to the RB and WR positions. Jefferson was the most well-rounded of the elite WR prospects, checking boxes that not even Lamb hit. He was selected earlier in the reality draft than all of the RBs who went ahead of him in fantasy.
As Peter Overzet noted on the Bold Predictions episode of RotoViz Overtime, if you’re drafting RBs ahead of WRs in your rookie draft, you have to be completely sure they’re either far better prospects or will make a more immediate impact. This wasn’t the case in 2020, and it’s part of a trend of RBs being overdrafted in rookie drafts.
8. Jonathan Taylor
Frequent readers know all about Taylor as a generational prospect. True believers received another jolt of adrenaline after Week 1, as it looked like Taylor might immediately join the group of bell-cow backs with elite receiving usage. This was either a perfectly timed bait-and-switch by the Colts or an example of seeing what I wanted to see. The Philip Rivers who has repeatedly targeted RBs in the passing game disappeared after that upset loss to the Jags.
If you can find a disgruntled Taylor owner3 and have a big piece to offer in return, this isn’t a bad time to buy. After a mediocre stretch from Weeks 2 through 4, the schedule opens up again going forward. He should still be a big piece of 2020 titles in all formats.
9. Justin Herbert
In the Blitz, Sam Wallace details Herbert’s rise from fill-in to star.
10. Terry McLaurin
After a stunning rookie season where McLaurin overcame draft position and quarterback play to average 13.7 PPG, the former Buckeye’s peripherals suggested a secondary breakout during his sophomore campaign. To a certain extent, that’s come to fruition. McLaurin ranks seventh in targets, eighth in yards, and 16th in points on the back of two 20-point games.
Unfortunately, QB play is limiting his ability to generate a Metcalf-like jump. In contrast to a receiver like Lamb, he’s caught only two of his nine deep targets. Washington also doesn’t create a lot of red-zone opportunities. To this point, that’s turned McLaurin into a boom-or-bust question mark.
Over his last 16 games, McLaurin’s posted 11 finishes of WR3 or worse, including Sunday’s Kyle Allen/Alex Smith debacle. The peripherals are still good – only Adam Thielen has a larger share of team air yards than McLaurin’s 44% – and eventually Washington’s incompetency should help them back into a star QB.
11. Marquise Brown
Brown actually has more targets than Mike Evans and Tyreek Hill, and with a target depth of 16.8, he ranks No. 5 in air yards. Concerns about volume in the run-first, play-from-ahead Ravens offense continue to be more or less unfounded. Brown just hasn’t been converting, lassoing only six of 17 deep targets.
12. Josh Jacobs
Jacobs was the darling of the fantasy community after a 36-point game in Week 1. We argued on RotoViz Overtime that Jacobs was going to be a solid RB1 in 2020, but that it was a good time to sell.
He’s returned to earth following that performance, and Week 5 illustrated both the positive and negative elements of his medium-term outlook. Jacobs hadn’t scored since Week 1, but the emergence of Derek Carr as a reality QB increases the likelihood for multi-TD games. If the Raiders are an emerging juggernaut, it significantly alters the relative importance of his receiving profile.
Follow along with Zachary Krueger’s weekly Red Zone Report to find out who’s benefiting from these high-value touches.
Unfortunately, that receiving profile continues to be a source of concern. Starting in Week 2, his 14 targets merely tie the volume of his understudy duo, and the trend was negative against Kansas City. Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker played more than expected and out-targeted him 6-3.4
Rounds 2 and 3