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Veterans That May Be Impacted By The NFL Draft

Most of the fun fantasy-centered NFL Draft speculation so far has focused on who will go where, and what teams need offensively. But in this feature, we go deeper. How will potential rookie selections late this month affect players on existing rosters?

This year’s class is very deep in top-level WRs, and we could see four QBs and at least one RB, maybe two drafted in the first round. Many earlier selections will certainly have a significant impact on notable players who are already on NFL rosters and have legitimate fantasy appeal.

We will examine how some of the most significant skill position choices in the NFL Draft can affect current pros in seasonal, best ball, and dynasty formats.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


High-Profile Risers/Fallers

Ravens: Lamar Jackson He led all players in fantasy points and the NFL in TD passes without a true No. 1 WR. At No. 28, the Ravens could be in the mix for one of the better big WRs that fall there, possibly a Higgins or maybe Chase Claypool. Either would be a promising complement to Marquise Brown and would further solidify my take that Jackson is worth a mid to late first-round pick in 2020 fantasy drafts. Claypool could also be available on Day Two of the draft.

Texans: Deshaun Watson The Texans do not have a pick until No. 40 and if they cannot land a WR like Pittman to hopefully replace DeAndre Hopkins, Watson will be looking at a very thin WR crew to work with in 2020. His footing as a top-five fantasy QB may be shaky.

Houston Texans WR depth chart via ESPN.com 

UPDATE: The acquisition of Brandin Cooks patches a hole, but the loss of Hopkins still is a formidable hole to fill. Fuller and Stills cannot be counted on as regular complements to Cooks. The passing game is still missing a true target to be a primary chain mover.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers/Allen Lazard -  The Packers may take the best WR available with their 30th selection. Another quality option such as Tee Higgins or Laviska Shenault can only boost the sagging fantasy appeal of Rodgers, who finished as QB9 in 2019. Lazard flashed some promise late last year (3-103-1 in Week 13, 4-69-1 in Week 17) but his late-round fantasy appeal will take a hit if the Pack land a WR with the first pick.

Falcons: Todd Gurley II - The Falcons may likely identify a potential RB of the future after addressing defense at the beginning of the draft. Gurley only signed a one-year deal with the Falcons and his future outlook is obviously shaky. Pay attention to see if and when the Falcons take an RB on day two of the draft, as you may want to take a shot on that player in your rookie dynasty draft.

Eagles: Alshon Jeffery/DeSean Jackson/Carson Wentz - The Eagles cannot count on either WR to stay healthy. Jackson is a speed type who will turn 34 late in the 2020 season. Philadelphia will likely tab a wideout with one of their first two picks. Henry Ruggs III would seem to ideally fit the need if he slips to the 21st pick. He could be an instant impact performer and can only help a healthy Carson Wentz maintain a spot as a top-10 fantasy QB. Jackson would become even less of an appealing late best-ball pick if Ruggs is tabbed to fill his role. Jeffery could benefit from playing with another notable offensive threat when available.

Vikings: Adam Thielen/Kirk Cousins - It appears the best way for Minnesota to effectively replace Stefon Diggs is to use possibly their 22nd or 25th pick on one of the top wide receivers available. That could be Ruggs or Higgins, or possibly Justin Jefferson, who has seen his stock rise. If Minnesota does not draft an impact WR, Thielen’s consistency could be impacted by facing a lot of defensive attention. Cousins finished as fantasy QB15 last year and won’t be drafted as a starter on a run-first team. But his appeal in two-QB leagues will be lowered more if Diggs’ spot is not filled with a potential quality contributor.

Buccaneers: Tom Brady/Ronald Jones II – Brady can be helped by the support of a quality running game, which Jameis Winston never had in Tampa Bay. Brady looks like a high-end fantasy QB2 to start fantasy draft season. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs take an RB after the first round but early enough to give Jones some true competition for quality playing time.

Seahawks: Chris Carson/Rashaad Penny -  Seattle cannot count on either of their top-two RBs to stay healthy and available. The Seahawks often trade down to stockpile more picks, too. Anchoring the offense with a dependable ground game is essential to the offense and quality depth is needed too. If the Seahawks take an RB in the first few rounds the selected player could have dynasty rookie draft value and will be a name to remember for instant depth at the very least. The earlier one is drafted, the better chance the new RB could have to compete for quality carries. Pete Carroll always prefers to create competition and may not shy away from creating it at RB.

49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo - Sanders is gone and it is readily apparent that the Niners need more at WR around the rising Deebo Samuel. At No. 13 in the first round, San Francisco could be in a good position to draft one of the top-two wideouts, Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. Garoppolo had three 28-point fantasy games between Weeks 9 and 14 last season. With a deeper receiving crew he could become a more consistently productive fantasy QB and see his value and ownership rise. He finished as the fantasy QB14 last year. Another true receiving weapon can only help the 49ers finish the Super Bowl job they did not last season.

Garoppolo Game Log via NFL.com - column headers are week, opponent, passing yards, TD, INT, rushing yards, TD, fumbles lost, fantasy points 


Late-Round Risers/Fallers

Jets: Sam Darnold At No. 11, New York can be in a prime position to add Jeudy or Lamb, and either pick will excite the suffering fan base and elevate the appeal of Darnold in two-QB leagues and make him seem closer to becoming an impact player soon in dynasty leagues. The Jets are not any more successful than the Browns and need to invigorate their following and continue to build around their QB.

Saints: Emmanuel Sanders – The Saints may have found their long-sought-after WR2 with Sanders, but there has to be some concern about how much he has left at age 33. There has been some speculation that the Saints could go with a WR as early as their first pick, and a prospect like Shenault, who has been linked to New Orleans in some mocks, would seem to threaten Sanders’ fantasy value in the short term. If the Saints do not address the position on day one, though, Sanders will be a tempting fantasy WR3 pick in 2020.

Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger/James Washington/Diontae Johnson – Pittsburgh may ideally see Washington and Johnson as depth options. The Steelers don’t have a pick until No. 49, but if they take a WR like Michael Pittman Jr. or Van Jefferson, then Washington and Johnson may see their fantasy outlooks as WR4 types take an extra hit. A returning Roethlisberger would benefit, though, with a deep receiving crew to utilize and possibly regain fantasy starting status.

Jaguars: Gardner Minshew II At No. 9, the Jaguars could make a play for Jeudy or Lamb, or could wait until No. 20 to get one of the other top WRs on the board, such as Ruggs or Jefferson. D.J. Chark Jr. needs a true quality complement and Minshew could see his value rise, especially in two QB leagues, with a true impact WR.

Broncos: Drew Lock -  I am a Lock fan, as I think he has some Brett Favre in him. He strikes me as a confident gunslinger type. If Jeudy or Lamb drop, Denver has to take one of them, or they could be very happy with Jefferson or Ruggs. With any one of those pairing with the fast-rising Courtland Sutton, I am very enthusiastic about rostering Lock in two-QB and dynasty leagues.

Dolphins: Jordan Howard Miami signed the former Bear and Eagle in the offseason but it’s understandable if they would not be comfortable with him as a lead RB. Several mocks have Miami taking an RB in the first round, with either the second or third of their first-round picks at No. 18 or 26. The Dolphins could opt for D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor, firing a torpedo at Howard’s outlook. But if they take an RB later on, Howard could end up in a timeshare. Taking Howard inside the first 10 rounds of a best-ball league before the NFL Draft is indeed a risk.

Patriots: Jarrett Stidham -  By NFL Draft day, we will know for sure just how much confidence Bill Belichick truly has in Stidham as his QB of the present and future. If the Pats pass on Jordan Love/Jake Fromm with the 23rd pick, then you have to start taking Stidham much more seriously in all fantasy formats. Belichick knows more than we all do. If the Patriots pass on a QB in the first round then I want a late flier on Stidham in a yearly league, on my roster as a top QB3 in two-QB formats, and as a lock on my dynasty team.


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