While we sit here and debate which players tape we like the best or who sold what route better than another, there remains one more substantial factor that can change everything, the NFL Draft. Yes, there might be a prospect that we fall in love with and think he could be the next big thing based on tape and analytics, but if he doesn’t find that same love from an NFL team quickly, then it will all be for nothing. However, we know the upcoming NFL Draft will answer several of our dynasty fantasy football questions.
Now that doesn’t mean our process is wrong if we miss on a player. It just goes to show how unbelievably hard it is to be a starting player in the NFL and become fantasy football relevant. Take what we saw from the XFL, for example. A league full of some fantastic talent but was never able to carve out their role for a team.
One of the last things we get to add to our evaluations, and arguably the most important, is draft capital. If a player gets a high enough selection, then we have to assume they will be given a longer leash to make their case. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the critical questions that the 2020 NFL Draft will answer in regards to dynasty fantasy football.
Are teams concerned about Tua’s health?
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and the talk surrounding his injuries and overall health has been one of, if not the main, talking points surrounding this entire 2020 NFL Draft.
Ever since the game on November 16th against Mississippi State when the injury happened, the question was, “Can he be healthy for the NFL Draft?” All reports since the NFL Combine to now sound like a resounding yes as far as Tagovailoa’s health is concerned. Then on March 23rd, he stocked the flames again by posting a video of his movement during a footwork drill showing solid ability to move laterally. His ability to move in the pocket has always been one of his best attributes as a quarterback.
— Tua. T 🇦🇸 (@Tuaamann) March 24, 2020
Now we have the report from April 2nd by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo that Tua participated in a voluntary medical re-check that was performed using an independent NFL team doctor, and the results were “overwhelmingly positive.”
From me and @RapSheet: Today, #Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa participated voluntarily in a medical re-check facilitated by the NFL Combine with an independent doctor that was selected by NFL team physicians, per Tua’s reps. Results were “were overwhelmingly positive.”
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 2, 2020
Tagovailoa made it clear his goal was to win the NFL Combine and lead up to the draft by winning his physicals. So far, it appears he has done just that. The question remains, who will select him? Joe Burrow all but seems like a lock to the Cincinnati Bengals at number one overall with the next landing spot being the Miami Dolphins at pick five.
There have been rumors of the Dolphins either trading up for Burrow or even selecting Justin Herbert. I don’t buy any of it personally. These are all smokescreens. The only wrench that could go into the rebuilding play for the Dolphins is if the Los Angeles Chargers can move up ahead of them. This potentially could be to the number three spot as there is a growing sentiment the Detroit Lions could trade back. A situation like this has happened numerous times when doing mock drafts on the PFN Mock Draft Simulator.
For dynasty, especially in Superflex leagues, the 1.01 choice is all personal preference. Both Burrow and Tua are fantastic prospects and deserve to be top-2 selections. Burrow had the better year. Actually, he had arguably the greatest year of all-time in 2019 and showed every trail you want to see in a quarterback to build around. Then you look at Tagovailoa, and you see a better overall career and a player with unbelievable pocket presence and accuracy.
I don’t think you can go wrong with either option. For me, the injury risk of Tua does not scare me, and if I have the 1.01 in a Superflex rookie draft, it is a very tough choice to make.
Who is the QB3 off the board?
For me as well as most NFL and fantasy analysts, there is a gap between Burrow and Tagovailoa to the group of Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love.
Herbert is a big-bodied quarterback (6’6″ – 240lbs), who in his 43 games for the Ducks, threw for over 10,500 passing yards and 95 touchdowns. He also backed up his athleticism that we saw on the field in Indy at the Combine when he ran a 4.68 40-yard sprint. Herbert also possesses the strongest arm in this class. The downside of his game is his inconsistency at times and how he didn’t always show up in big games. PFN Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline echoes these thoughts in his scouting report of Herbert:
“Herbert has been highly rated by scouts the past two seasons and has top-10 ability. And while he possesses the physical skills to be a starter at the next level, Herbert’s inability to consistently play at a high level and come through during important moments is troubling.”
I see Herbert going at number six to the Chargers if they do not pull off the trade and move up in the NFL draft. Likewise, I also think he will be the third quarterback taken in dynasty football rookie drafts as well.
The other possible quarterback who is in the mix and gaining momentum is Jordan Love of Utah State. When watching his film, you see two different quarterbacks, depending on whether you’re watching his 2018 season or 2019. In 2018, he looked like a starting NFL caliber quarterback who showed off solid command of the offense as well as the ability to make the correct read. Fast forward to 2019, and it appears at first glance like he took a step back in his development.
His completion percentage dropped from 64% to 61.9% while attempting 53 more passes. His yards dropped from 3,567 to 3,402, and his touchdown to interception numbers took a massive drop from 32TDs and 6INTs to 20TDs and 17INTs.
The issue was 2019 was a season of change all around Love, which needs to be factored in. His head coach, Matt Wells, left for Texas Tech. He lost his running back, Darwin Thompson, to the Kansas City Chiefs. He also was without his four top receivers (Ron’Quavion Tarver, Aaren Vaughns, Jordan Nathan, and Jalen Greene). On top of all of this, he lost his tight end, Dax Raymond. It is no wonder that his 2019 season took a step back when put into context.
There are signs that point to Love being a top 10 pick in the NFL draft according to some of the latest mocks and rumblings around the league. As for dynasty, there has been a bit of a debate going on that former Oklahoma and Alabama QB Jalen Hurts should be the QB4 in rookie drafts. For both players, a redshirt year in the NFL behind a veteran to learn the ropes could be the best thing for their long-term development.
How high does the NFL have Henry Ruggs III in their ranks?
Of all of the topics discussed, this has been the most heated between the NFL Draft community and the fantasy community.
There is no question that Henry Ruggs III from Alabama is an exceptional talent. He has incendiary speed that just can’t be taught. Defenses continuously have to roll coverage over to his side of the field because if he gets behind someone, he is gone. That is not something stats will show you. Even in a class as loaded with talent such as this, some NFL analysts have Ruggs as their top WR.
Henry Ruggs is WR1 for me.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) February 18, 2020
One thing for sure is that Ruggs will be selected within the top 15 picks of the 2020 NFL Draft, and dynasty players need to take note of that. We always want to see draft capital invested in our players because it shows teams believe in them and will give them every opportunity to shine.
For me, Ruggs sits at WR6 in my rookie rankings. I was initially in the camp that was out on him, but this offseason has made me rethink my stance. While I don’t think he is the best wide receiver in this group, if he falls to the right value, I believe it is tough to pass up his potential.
One quote that sticks in my head when thinking of Ruggs and dynasty is, “If you are going to miss, miss fast.”
Will we see a record number of WRs taken in the first round?
History could be made this year thanks to a star-studded wide receiver class. Since 2000, five or more wide receivers have been drafted in the first round nine different times with the last time being in 2015. The 2004 class saw the current record of wide receivers go in the first round with seven drafted—most notably the Larry Fitzgerald at number three overall out of the University of Pittsburgh.
It is not a stretch to say this class could be historic, as we could possibly see at least eight taken in the first with several going early in the second.
Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III are locks to go inside the top-15. Behind them, there are players such as Tee Higgins from Clemson and NFL Combine winners Denzel Mims and Justin Jefferson. After that group, you have a bunch of guys who teams could fall in love with like Laviska Shenault Jr., Michael Pittman, Brandon Aiyuk, Bryan Edwards, and Chase Claypool.
Some of them will fall short of the first round but will go quickly as the draft progresses. Safe to say if you have a need on your dynasty roster for a wide receiver, this class is the perfect time to reload the position.
Which running backs will go to the best fantasy landing spots?
Even though this class has some amazing talent, such as Jonathon Taylor and D’Andre Swift, it is hard to see any of them getting a first-round selection. While a productive running back in dynasty football is critical, the NFL does not put the same emphasis on the position.
One of the downsides of free agency was we saw some of the ideal landing spots taken by veterans. Most notably, the Atlanta Falcons when they signed Todd Gurley. However, there are still places running backs can go to that will have instant fantasy relevance.
Teams such as the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have holes at the position, and a player could walk in and get a shot at the starting job.
Another we have to consider is the Kansas City Chiefs. If they select someone like J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, or even Clyde Edwards-Helaire, they would instantly vault up rookie draft boards to a top pick.
Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, and Seattle Seahawks need to be watched as well. While all three do have a starting-caliber running back, they all have question marks with either depth or health entering 2020. David Johnson has not been the same since his 2016 breakout, James Conner can’t stay on the field, and Chris Carson fractured his hip in Week 16.
If any of these teams take one of the top fantasy prospects, look for them to go quick in 2020 rookie drafts as well and in the early rounds come August.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 and @PFNDynasty to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our Fantasy Football section for more coverage.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.