Most of the rookies landed in spectacular spots. Some are in alien territory. The Astronauts break down the winners and the losers following the NFL Draft.
Biggest Post-Draft Riser
JetPack Galileo: Baker Mayfield has it all now. All of his weapons are Pro Bowlers. Adding Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills will unlock the mayhem. After struggling without Joe Thomas, the former #1 overall pick can now enter QB1 range this season. Wheels are up.
Matt Thornton: Raheem Mostert. Pre-draft there were worries that the 49ers may be interested in drafting a RB, but they actually ended up trading one away with Matt Breida going to the Dolphins. That means Mostert will have a great chance of leading the exciting Kyle Shanahan backfield next season, with the addition of Trent Williams also helping his cause.
Nick Penticoff: Matt Breida. I don't think Jordan Howard is that good and I think Matt Breida could be the lead back so long that he can stay healthy. Not only is he explosive but he is dangerous as a pass-catcher as well.
Biggest Fantasy Faller
JetPack Galileo: Aaron Jones. No matter what way you cut it, the addition of AJ Dillon is a killer for Jones' value. It doesn't matter that he was the best player on the team last season. It doesn't matter that his efficiency INCREASED with more volume last year. It doesn't matter that he offers elite flexibility in the redzone. He's not going to get the touches he needs to be the LaDainian Tomlinson that he is. LaFleur will platoon his backs with the same flavor as Shanahan's 2019 49ers and fantasy players will be stuck playing RB Roulette.
Matt Thornton: Marlon Mack. Jonathan Taylor arriving in Indy is a crushing blow to Marlon Mack's fantasy value. He was a 4th round pick who, despite outperforming his draft stock, can be hit or miss at times. While it could be a timeshare with Taylor to start the season, expect Taylor to take over as the year progresses. The fact that Mack is a UFA in 2021 signals his time in Indy may be over soon enough.
Nick Penticoff: Darrell Henderson. In all honesty, I don't want any part of the Rams backfield. Arguably their largest weakness last season was the offensive line and they failed to address it until the seventh round of the draft. Per PFF the Rams had the 31st ranked offensive line last season.
Parker McDonald: Breaks my heart as a someone has multiple shares, but it's Michael Gallup. He went from a locked high end WR2 to now a low end WR3. Barring injury, it will be the Lamb and Cooper show. He could maybe see some relevance if Lamb doesn't adjust to the offense due to the lack of being on the field due to the restrictions right now. With Cooper's contract the Cowboys could be free of him in tow years, which would open the door again for Gallup. If the Cowboys ended up moving the receiver he would be back to WR2 status, pending his landing spot.
Alex Edwards: Kerryon Johnson didn't just get replaced by a more talented running back in the second round with Detroit drafting D'Andre Swift, but they also took another running back who specializes in receiving with taking Jason Huntley in the 5th. The combination of adding two new running backs and Kerryon's history of injuries in his first two season makes it look like he is going to have limited chances going forward.
Rookie Bust Watch
Nick Penticoff: Lions RB D'Andre Swift. Patricia loves RBBC and Kerryon Johnson is no slouch. If Kerryon can stay on the field I don't really want any part of this backfield.
Alex Edwards: Raiders WR Henry Ruggs may have been the 1st round pick for the Raiders this year but they also added another two receivers, Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards. Ruggs will get his opportunities to show he is the WR1 in that corp but watch out for Bryan Edwards to take that role if Ruggs doesn't step up to the occasion.
Matt Thornton: D'Andre Swift. This isn't a case of thinking Swift isn't good enough, talent-wise a case can be made that he's the best RB in this 2020 rookie class, it's the landing spot that is the issue. He is most likely going to end up in a committee with Kerryon Johnson, who when on the field has looked dangerous.
Parker McDonald: Henry Ruggs III. Why the Raiders took Ruggs over Jeudy and Lamb is beyond me, but this spot is an instant bust watch for me. Derek Carr doens't throw the ball more than five yards down the field and the Raiders grabbed two more receivers (Lynn Bowden Jr. & Bryan Edwards) to address their wide receiver need. Not to mention the Raiders having Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams on the roster already. If you are looking for a relevant wideout here it's going to be Renfrow or Bowden Jr. not Ruggs.
Kev White: Broncos WR K.J. Hamler. When the Broncos took Hamler at pick 46 overall, it was a shocker to me! The Broncos figure to be a team that will be more run-heavy than most & already took Jeudy in round 1. I think Hamler plays the Z-stretch type role in 11 personnel, a low volume role with high volatility. At 5'11, 178 lbs - I don't see him being a fantasy asset, especially stuck behind two young studs in Sutton & Jeudy, I'm out!
Safest 2nd Round Rookie Pick
Nick Penticoff: 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk. Kyle Shanahan is the best offensive mind in the game and with the draft capital he will make sure he puts Aiyuk in a position to succeed.
Alex Edwards: Jets WR Denzel Mims went later than many thought falling to the New York Jets at the 59th pick. His landing spot puts him on a team who lacks a definitive WR1. Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are solid wide receivers but don't look to be guys that will be the focus of an offenses passing game. Mims projects to possibly be that guy and at the very least should be the Jets WR2 by the second half of the 2020 season.
Matt Thornton: 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk. The 49ers traded up to grab Aiyuk with the 25th pick in the NFL draft, as he was one of Shanahan's top targets entering the draft. This desire to get Aiyuk shows that San Fran have big ideas for Aiyuk straight away as he will immediately slot into WR2 on the depth chart.
Kev White: Colts WR Michael Pittman. Destined to be a starting X receiver on the Colts, Pittman will receive immediate opportunity for targets in his rookie season. In rookie drafts, you should be looking for volume & opportunity to provide early success & increase value of your asset in the short term. Pittman is a safe selection tied to a QB that can use his big frame & contested catches ability in Philip Rivers.
Best Mid-Round Value
JetPack Galileo: Chargers RB Joshua Kelley will have every opportunity to steal valuable touches in the Los Angeles backfield. While Austin Ekeler has definitely secured our trust, Kelley is talented enough to give Justin Jackson a run for his money. Using the Melvin Gordon's 2019 workload as a corollary, Kelley and Jackson could be battling for ~13 carries a game.
Matt Thornton: Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas. Drafted by Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round with pick 144. He enters a backfield with 2 RBs, in Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, who suffered serious injuries at the end of the 2019 season. With Penny likely out for the first half of next season, Dallas has a great chance to timeshare with Carson to begin the season, with an opportunity to take over should things go his way.
Nick Penticoff: Raiders WR Bryan Edwards and Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn. I think that Bryan Edwards has a realistic shot at being the WR1 in Las Vegas and Vaughn will also get a crack at a starting gig in one of the best offenses, on paper, in the league.
Parker McDonald: Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Peyton Barber is gone and Ronald Jones II hasn't locked up the position. Ogunbowale is a talented receiving back but is more of a third-down back and TJ Logan isn't a threat at all. Vaughn is a better prospect than Barber was coming out of college, and was drafted under Arians, whereas Jones was already part of the package when Arians arrived.
Kev White: Joshua Kelley. Selected by the Chargers in round 4, Kelley will have an immediate opportunity to be an early down back, on a team likely to have positive rush gamescripts & even possibility of goal-line work. Kelley has the solid frame at 5'11, 212 lbs - where he can beat his competition in Justin Jackson & carve out a role as a rookie, making him a value in rookie drafts.
Deep Rookie Sleeper
Matt Thornton: Chargers WR Joe Reed is an interesting prospect who was a return specialist in college and a very versatile player who can line up all over the field. Drafted in the 5th round by LAC, he has a good chance of making an impact with their weak depth chart at WR.
Nick Penticoff: Vikings WR Quartney Davis and Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas. Davis signed as an UDFA with the Vikings and he was a stud in college. DeeJay could end up taking over and becoming the lead back in Seattle.
Parker McDonald: Browns WR Donovan People-Jones. I'm shocked he fell as far as he did, but I do like where he landed. He should instantly take over the WR3 role in Cleveland, and with Beckham Jr. possibly on the trade block it only cements Peoples-Jones further in the offense.
Alex Edwards: Cardinals RB Eno Benjamin fell all the way to the 6th round which was much later than I was expecting. He landed with the Arizona Cardinals whose offense he will fit quite well on. He is stuck behind Kenyan Drake though, who is going into his age 26 season but only resigned for one year, then will be a UFA again in 2021. If Eno can show his worth with his limited opportunities, he may be able to make Drake exposable with the Cardinals wanting to go cheaper and earn his way as the starter going forward.
Kev White: Eagles RB Michael Warren. Despite going undrafted, Warren lands in a prime spot to first of all make the roster, but also contribute in his rookie season. The Eagles have had recent success with another undrafted RB in Corey Clement & with Elijah Holyfield as the Eagles RB3 - I would feel confident Warren can challenge & overtake him, landing him on the roster & making him a deep sleeper.