News & Analysis

2020 NFL Draft Day 2 fantasy football recap

Day 2 of the NFL Draft delivered a number of key picks for fantasy football purposes, with 25 skill position players coming off the board. Of course, there were some surprises along the way, and some of these picks have the potential to drastically alter the fantasy football landscape. We already have all of that factored in to our fully updated 2020 fantasy football rankings and 2020 fantasy football projections. Let’s break down fantasy football impact of all 25 of these picks.

Running Back

Day 2 is typically the wheelhouse of the NFL Draft when it comes to fantasy running backs, and yesterday certainly didn’t disappoint. After just one running back was selected in the first round (Clyde Edwards-Helaire), we saw eight selected in Rounds 2 and 3. 

The Detroit Lions got the action started at pick 35 with D’Andre Swift out of Georgia. Of course, this pick really throws into question Kerryon Johnson’s fantasy outlook. We anticipate the Lions to open the season with some form of a committee in their backfield, but ultimately Swift is the more talented back. He’ll likely assume the lead role as the season goes on. That means RB2-plus potential for Swift in 2020.

Like Swift, Jonathan Taylor landed on a depth chart with an established fantasy RB2 in Indianapolis. Marlon Mack is de facto early down back with Nyheim Hines serving as the pass game specialist. Taylor is arguably the best early-down back in this year’s class, which makes this pick a clear indictment of Mack. I expect Taylor to blow by Mack on this depth chart, but Hines' role in the passing game puts a cap on Taylor’s fantasy ceiling. That said, he figures to be squarely in the RB2 conversation.

Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (23) rushes with the football during the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I speculated for the last two months on the PFF Fantasy Football Podcast that the Rams would select a running back on Day 2, and that’s exactly what they did with Florida State product Cam Akers. It was wishful thinking that the Rams would enter the season with Darrell Henderson as their lead back, and this pick means he’ll assume a change-of-pace role. While Akers isn’t of Todd Gurley’s college pedigree, he’s still a solid back with a three-down skill set who immediate slots in as the lead runner in LA. Akers has very real RB2 appeal.

The Baltimore Ravens also got in the mix with J.K. Dobbins at pick 55. Dobbins isn’t as likely to be the lead as the first three backs off the board, but he does still have an appealing dynasty outlook as the heir apparent to Mark Ingram in Baltimore’s run-friendly offense. Likewise, A.J. Dillon could be poised to take the lead in Green Bay if/when the Packers move on from Aaron Jones.

One of the most polarizing picks on Day 2 came at No. 76 overall when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The Bucs fanbase may not be sold on the pick, but for fantasy purposes this is a very intriguing selection. Vaughn was the biggest fantasy mover of the day, as he figures to compete with Ronald Jones right out of the gate for lead back duties. While he’s far from a lock to earn the job, Vaughn is now a first-round rookie pick and figures to be among the RB3s for redraft leagues.

The outlook isn’t as optimistic for Zack Moss, who went to the Bills at 86 overall, but this selection certainly puts a damper on Devin Singletary’s outlook. Once considered a potential RB2 in redraft, Singletary now slides back into more of a flex option with Moss assuming the Frank Gore role in the Bills offense. Tennessee also got in the mix with Darrynton Evans at pick 93. Evans is a change-of-pace back who has very little impact on Derrick Henry’s workload.

Wide Receiver

Teams continued to load up at wide receiver, with the Bengals getting the action started on Day 2 with Tee Higgins at pick 33. Higgins will start his career buried on the Cincinnati depth chart, but you have to figure he’s being considered as the long-term replacement for A.J. Green. Getting paired up with Joe Burrow isn’t a bad thing for Higgins’ dynasty outlook.

The Colts followed up this pick with Michael Pittman Jr. at 34 overall. Wideout was a huge need for Indy and they get a solid option in Pittman. There’s a very really chance that he earns a significant role in Year 1 on the Colts’ thin depth chart, but he’s unlikely to be a viable fantasy option early on. The same can be said for Laviska Shenault Jr., who went to the Jags at 42. Shenault is a short and intermediate target who can body up against defenders. He won’t be a fantasy stud this year, but I like his chances of surfacing as a long-term PPR option.

Oct 25, 2019; Boulder, CO, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (6) pulls in a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Denver clearly had a plan to bolster their wide receiver corps in this year’s draft, selecting Jerry Jeudy in Round 1 and following that up with K.J. Hamler at pick 46. Hamler is undersized, but extremely fast and figures to leapfrog DaeSean Hamilton on the depth chart. Unfortunately, with Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Hamler doesn’t offer a lot of immediate fantasy appeal.

It seems like an annual ritual that the Steelers select a wideout on Day 2, and we got that yet again this year with Chase Claypool at pick 49. While some view him as a tight end convert, Claypool’s pre-draft testing suggests he should stick at wideout. With his speed, perhaps this pick is an indicator of where the organization stands with James Washington. Time will tell on that one.

The Rams entered the draft with one of the thinnest wide receiver depth charts with essentially just three players in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds. So it’s no surprise they address the position in Round 2 with Van Jefferson out of Florida. Jefferson wasn’t the most impressive player in this year’s class, as he failed to register a single season with over a 20% dominator rating at the college level. That metric isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it doesn’t bode well for success at the NFL level.

Perhaps one of the best values of the day came at pick 59 when the Jets selected Denzel Mims out of Baylor. There was some chatter that Mims could be a first-round pick, so this could end up being a bit of a steal. Mims has an impressive size-speed combo and gives Sam Darnold a much-needed boost in the wide receiver corps. Jamison Crowder is locked in as the slot, but Mims could slot in opposite Breshad Perriman on the outside in three-wide sets.

Nov 9, 2019; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Denzel Mims (5) catches a pass against TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Jeff Gladney (12) in overtime at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Baylor won 29-23 in triple overtime. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’re seeing more and more position versatile players who fit an offensive weapon mold, and two of them came off the board in the third round in Antonio Gibson to Washington and Lynn Bowden Jr. to the Raiders. Gibson’s landing spot suggests he’ll be designated as a wideout given how many running backs the Redskins already have in-house. However, Bowden was actually announce by Roger Goodell as a running back, so there’ a chance get gets that designation for fantasy. Both players are very appealing from a football standpoint, but we’ll need to learn more about their expected roles in order to give a better fantasy evaluation.

Vegas followed up their Bowden pick with one of my favorite dynasty wideouts in Bryan Edwards and pick 81. Edwards doesn’t pop in any one area, but he had an impressive career at South Carolina and is just a rock solid receiver. The Ravens took the final receiver of the day in Devin Duvernay. A slot receiver, Duvernay figures to be the long-term replacement for Willie Snead.

Quarterback/Tight End

Surprisingly, there was just one quarterback selected on Day 2, and that player is Jalen Hurts to the Eagles at pick 53. This selection certainly caused and uproar in the Philly fanbase, but I don’t think this is an attempt to replace Carson Wentz. Instead, Philly gets a hyper-athletic backup who could also offer a Taysom Hill skill set. However, as far as landing spots go, this one wasn’t a good one for Hurts’ long-tern fantasy outlook.

It was also an unexpected evening at tight end. Things were fairly chalky at the top, as Cole Kmet was the first tight end selected in the draft at pick 43. But things went a bit off the rails from there with the next three tight ends being Devin Asiasi to the Pats at 91, Josaiah Deguara to the Packers at 94 and Dalton Keene also to the Pats at 101. 

Oct 12, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Cole Kmet (84) breaks a tackle to score a touchdown in the firs half against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with Kmet. With Jimmy Graham currently on the roster, I don’t expect to see much of Kmet in 2020. But he’s obviously their long-term plan. Tentatively, he’s the No. 1 dynasty tight end in the class, however it looks like there will be no rookie tight ends on the redraft radar this year.

As for those next three picks, none of those players were inside my top 10 fantasy tight ends in my pre-draft rookie rankings. Interestingly, two of them went to the Patriots. A decade ago, New England hit with two tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but it’s hard to envision that happening with this duo. As for Deguara, he’s more of an H-back, so don’t panic if you own dynasty shares of Jace Sternberger.

The good news is the day did end with one of the top tight ends landing in a good spot, as the Saints traded up to pick 105 to select Adam Trautman. My favorite tight end in the class, Trautman has similarities to Dallas Goedert. And, like Goedert, he’ll step into a depth chart with an established starter in Jared Cook. Trautman won’t be a fantasy factor in 2020, but those in deep dynasty leagues will want to stash him away for the next few seasons.

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