Forgotten Players From The 2020 NFL Draft
Corey Buschlen / @FootballStock
Every year we get Rookie fever, they are the new shiny toys of the fantasy world that we get to talk about all winter and spring. When the toe hits leather weeks 1-16, if they are not performing or not on the field, we forget about them and banish them to roster clutter status in dynasty leagues.
(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas)
The darling of April and May dynasty twitter has seen a steep, steep fall in his value ever since Twitter hot take artists declared him to be the second coming of James White for Tom Brady’s offense in Tampa. Here is why I believe he will bounce back in 2021:
1. Coaching Tendencies:
I am a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan for full disclosure and Bruce Arians much like a lot of old-school coaches around the league, does not trust rookies until about the ¾ points of their rookie seasons. You can amplify this tendency even more when you consider the limited off-season in 2020 and 0 preseason games. As much as Bruce was candid about Rojo being the starting running back for Tampa, Vaughn could have carved out a role but was not able to due to limited reps impacted by Covid-19.
2. Past Examples:
David Johnson in 2015 and Ronald Jones in 2019 are good examples to draw on. In 2015 David Johnson was not fully integrated into the Cardinals offense until both Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson were sidelined with injury despite playing well with his limited opportunities averaging 12.6 yards per catch before week 11 when CJ2K was injured. Ronald Jones experienced a similarly slow start in his sophomore season, despite being clearly the better runner, Jones didn’t see a significant snap share until week 9 following Tampa’s bye week.
3. Vacated Production:
Leonard Fournette & LeSean McCoy are both free agents, as of now “Playoff Lenny” may be playing so well he prices himself out for the Buccaneers. LeSean McCoy is clearly washed up and will most definitely be gone. That vacates 107 rushing attempts in the offense and more importantly 66 targets (56% of the total targets to the position).
Vaughn now with a full offseason should be poised to step in and absorb that volume as we all know, for as good of a runner a Rojo is, he cannot catch the ball consistently. Should make for a great 1-2 punch in Vaughn’s second season.
(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)
What was a down tight end class giving us a few gems in Cole Kmet and Harrison Bryant. He may have gotten low volume, but Adam Trautman ranked top 6 in yards per target as a rookie TE. Why did he “underperform” as a rookie.
Here is the thing with the New Orleans Saints, they have one of the best rosters in the league so Trautman was not asked to do much as a rookie from a small school in Dayton. They also have a good veteran tight end in Jared Cook not to mention a playmaker in Taysom Hill, who primarily lines up at tight end.
2. Raw talent from a small school with a limited offseason.
This should turn around in 2021 because:
- Jared Cook is an Unrestricted free agent, and the New Orleans Saints have -$95 million in cap space, so they will undoubtedly let him walk. They probably drafted Trautman looking ahead to this.
- Trautman is a talented young tight end with 3rd round draft capital.
- Most importantly, Drew Brees is highly likely to retire and due to their limited cap space, the Saints will likely let Jameis Winston walk. Taysom Hill suddenly is left as the only QB under contract in 2021 and therefore, not available to be used as a tight end.
(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)
Some organizations are smarter than others, I think we would all agree. In my opinion, there are very few smarter organizations than the Indianapolis Colts, from General Manager Chris Ballard to Head Coach Frank Reich, this team knows how to build it the right way. This matters tremendously because I trust their evaluations of Quarterbacks.
In his “redshirt season”, Jacob Eason was completely forgotten about, when just a year ago there were rumors that the Buccaneers might take this guy at the back of round 1. GM Chris Ballard had this to say about Eason a few days ago:
This team does not just waste fourth-round picks, I think they have a legitimate plan in mind for him, and here is the predicament they face:
1. Phillip Rivers, for those who do not know, just retired after only 1 year with the Colts.
2. Jacoby Brissett is an unrestricted free agent who may have a decent market, considering he is played decently well and New England has a QB opening also.
3. The Colts are not a flashy organization who is likely to trade up for a 1st round quarterback or ship picks to the Eagles for Carson Wentz.
Because of this, these are the two options I would consider most likely for the Colts to solve their QB situation:
- They resign Jacoby Brissett as a bridge QB and let Jacob Eason compete for the starting job.
- Coax Andrew Luck out of retirement.
Either way, the point of this is that there is an opportunity for a strong-armed QB with plenty of raw talent to impress the coaching staff and potentially even be a starter next season. That warrants more dynasty attention than he has been getting.
(Photo Credit: Raj Mehta, USA Today)
Probably the easiest guy to forget on this entire list due to his athletic testing at the 2020 NFL Combine but this dudes no joke. Cephus recorded some impressive metrics his rookie season:
· 10.0 yards per target (#13 at WR)
· 17.4 yards per reception (#5 at WR)
· 2.11 yards of separation (#11 at WR)
· 4.62 yards in average cushion given by defenders (#1 at WR)
· 14.5 average depth of target (#10 at WR)
Maybe Jeff Okudah was on to something when he said Cephus was the best receiver he guarded in college. What you love to see out of rookie WRs is efficiency, when their number is called, do they make a play, yes or no? Cephus much like many of the guys on this list are “buy-lows” because of projected opportunity:
1) Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola & Mo Sanu are set to be unrestricted free agents, and if all 4 left that would vacate 239 targets and 2,096 receiving yards, just a massive amount of vacated production to be filled.
2) The more likely outcome is 2 or 3 of these guys are out the door, with Golladay being franchise-tagged or something along those lines.
Cephus as an efficient rookie will be inline to see an increased role his sophomore year, especially if most of these guys leave and are replaced with less productive receivers or rookies. Cephus could be a viable number 2 receiver in this offense by week 1 and is currently extremely undervalued, go get him.
Showed some talent and Josh Reynolds is an unrestricted free agent. Van will slide into the #3 role immediately with upside for more should anything happen to Woods or Kupp.
Anthony McFarland Jr.
Did not show much his rookie season, but James Conner is a free agent and Pittsburgh may opt to give Anthony McFarland Jr. a bigger role his second season as a compliment to either Benny Snell or a back they may bring in.
Looks incredible every time he gets an opportunity; the issue is that he is currently WR5 in the depth chart. There is a possibility that Godwin and Antonio Brown leave in free agency (say if Tampa wins the Super Bowl), in that case, Tyler Johnson would be thrust into a great role. For now, he is a very talented piece to have for your taxi squad that could pay off like Chris Godwin did.
Kenyan Drake is an unrestricted free agent, Eno was a 7th round pick who I thought should have gone higher in the draft. He has some upside if Arizona opted to roll with Edmunds and Eno in 2021 but they will probably add a piece either in free agency or the draft.