News & Analysis

NFL Combine Day 4 fantasy football takeaways

For fantasy football purposes, the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is a wrap. The players have been measured, interviewed and tested on the field. And yes, I know there are still defensive players to test over the weekend, so don’t “at” me, IDP crowd. For most fantasy football leagues, we have all the information we’re going to get before the pro days kick off. The last piece of the puzzle came on Friday night with the on-field testing for running backs. So, let’s wrap up this year’s festivities with four big takeaways from Day 4 of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. 

Jonathan Taylor put on a show

The prolific runner out of Wisconsin was the star of Friday night’s on-field testing events. Taylor ripped off a 4.39 40-yard dash time and was among the fastest running backs in the three-cone (7.01) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.24). At 5-foot-10 and 226 pounds, Taylor’s 40 time ranks in the 99th percentile for weight-adjusted speed, putting him on par with the stellar combine performance we saw from Saquon Barkley

Heading into the Combine, there was some debate as to which running back should be atop the pre-draft rookie rankings. We had D’Andre Swift just a tick ahead of Taylor, but only by a razor-thin margin. And while Swift didn’t necessarily disappoint on Friday, his 4.48 40 ranked in the 80th percentile.

Combine results really shouldn’t produce major shifts in fantasy rankings. However, we can use them to make small movements on our boards, and this is one of those instances. Given Taylor’s standout performance, he’ll be the new No. 1 running back when our updated rookie rankings come out in March. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire disappoints in the 40

It wasn’t all stellar on Friday night, as the former LSU back ran a sluggish 4.60 40-yard dash, which ranks in just the 35th percentile for weight-adjusted speed. To be fair, Edwards-Helaire did jump a 39.5-inch vertical and 123 inches in the broad. Both of those marks were among the top at the position, with Edwards-Helaire tying for third in the vertical and ninth in the broad jump. Still, this was not the result many had hoped to see out of Edwards-Helaire.

Like pretty much everyone from LSU, Edwards-Helaire is coming off a massive 2019 campaign. Heading into the Combine, we had him in the top tier of our rookie rankings for fantasy purposes at No. 5. And while this performance certainly doesn’t help his cause, it also isn’t a death knell to his fantasy stock. He’ll likely remain at five in our updated rankings next month.

Keep an eye on A.J. Dillon

It’s hard to not notice Dillon in person, as the former Boston College back checks in at a rock-solid 6-foot, 247 pounds. He also told reporters at his interview that he’s just over 7% body fat. So yeah, he’s a specimen. Better yet, Dillon did precisely what he needed to do in the on-field testing events, clocking in at 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, which ranked in the 97th percentile. He also jumped position-bests in the vertical (41.0) and broad jump (131).  

Sometimes we get to the Combine and a player’s testing numbers don’t match what we saw from them on the field, but that isn’t the case with Dillon. He may be a bigger back, but Dillon’s results highlight his athleticism. The results align with what he showed at Boston College, and they specifically showed that he isn’t just a battering ram. Dillon forced 80 missed tackles last season and averaged a healthy 3.48 yards after contact per attempt. Given his size and athletic profile, there’s a chance we see Dillon make an immediate fantasy impact in 2020.

Two deep names to know: Darrynton Evans and Raymond Calais

Every year we see players improve their stock at the Combine, and that certainly is the case for Evans and Calais. Both players made their mark in the 40-yard dash, with Evans posting the second-fastest time at 4.41 and Calais right behind him at 4.42. The duo also ranked top-10 in the vertical, with Evans also producing the sixth-best mark in the broad.

Evans played a three-down role for Appalachian State, scoring a combined 23 touchdowns as a runner and receiver last season. However, questions loomed heading into the Combine as to whether or not NFL teams would view him as a three-down back. Evans is on the thin side at 5-foot-10, 203 pounds, but the fact that he tested out in the 86th percentile for weight-adjusted speed bodes well for him. He’s a Day 3 prospect to keep an eye on.

As for Calais, there’s no debating his role. At 5-foot-8, 188 pounds, he has the profile of a third-down back. While that isn’t necessarily optimal for his long-term fantasy stock, Calais did show the ability to make the spectacular look routine with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Similar to Darwin Thompson from last year’s rookie class, Calais’ explosive ability could ultimately help him surface on the fantasy radar.

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