• Bobby Reynolds

Be Patient with These NFL Rookies

Before your rookie draft, ask yourself if you're rebuilding or contending. The answer will dictate your strategy.

Maxx Crosby
Photo courtesy of coltswire.usatoday.com

One key I am seeing to determine whether people have successful rookie drafts in 2020 is their ability to gauge whether they are a pretender or a contender. This has such a huge impact on which players they need to be targeting for their dynasty teams. During this time in our world, where it seems like we are inundated with nothing but time, take a little time to analyze which type of team you are. I recently had the 1.01 and the 1.03 in a league that is super competitive, full of active members, frantic waiver wire adds, and trades a plenty. I knew last year what type of team I was about week 8. I was very much a pretender. I was not going to make the playoffs, and even if I did, my stint was going to be a short one. So my choices early in the draft had to be precise. Being that I was a pretender, I knew that I had time to wait. I was not trying to add a piece or two to try and compete for a title in 2020. I know that some picks in 2020 will have a different shelf life than others. That's the reason why I decided to grab Jonathan Taylor over Clyde Edwards-Helaire at 1.01. Immediately post NFL Draft, I felt Edwards-Helaire was the clear 1.01 in every league, and he very well may prove me wrong. But, the more I looked into Taylor and the Colts' setup, I believe Taylor is going to be a better long term producer, but that won’t really start until 2021 (maybe later). There is no doubt in my mind that Edwards-Helaire will lead rookies in scoring for 2020. With the quarterback he has been paired with, along with his pass catching ability, he will help propel teams one or two pieces away to a playoff run. Taylor amazes me with his college runs and overall ability. Looking at Taylor’s size, athleticism, college durability, and more than anything, the Colts' make-up, he was undeniably the 1.01 for my team. Taylor moving from a power run scheme in Wisconsin to the same type of offense in Indy didn’t hurt things either. The Colts are running out an older Phillip Rivers for the time being to lead their 2020 squad. They still have Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines in their backfield. But time is temporary. The additions of Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman to follow up an aging T.Y. Hilton showed me that Chris Ballard and the team are preparing for the future. And the future will be Taylor, not Mack or Hines! It is only a matter of time. With the 1.03, I went J.K. Dobbins for the same reasons. Mark Ingram is on the north side of 30 and the only real player in the way of serious Dobbins time. Pair Dobbins with an ascendant talent in Lamar Jackson and his one-move-and-gone type running style will be electric. Also, for those concerned about my knock on Edwards-Helaire, don’t worry. He'll be tremendous in 2020, as well. But I think he lacks more in his running and pass protection than a lot of scouts were letting on. Sure, ask the 2018 MVP and Super Bowl champ Patrick Mahomes who he wants as his running back, and his response is dangerous for fantasy teams. But that doesn’t mean he was the best talent out of the draft. I also believe that Mahomes' 50 touchdowns two years ago still shows us that Kansas City is a pass-first team. Players I also considered with this sit-and-wait mentality were Van Jefferson, Isaiah Simmons, and Chase Claypool. Jefferson still has a lingering Lisfranc injury that will hinder him a bit for 2020. But what happens if the Rams don't re-sign Cooper Kupp? If that happens, and with Robert Woods getting a year older, Jefferson would slide into an electric offense coached by Sean McVay.

Why is Simmons on here? Well, he is in Arizona with Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell. Both linebackers are older than 26, which tells me Simmons is the future. Maybe not necessarily the present, but his talent will be undeniable in 2021.

And I love the potential of Claypool. His route running and blocking need some polishing, but the Steelers draft superstars. The 6’4", 240 lb wide receiver is going to shine. Will he be used in the slot? Will he play over James Washington or Diontae Johnson? Or will he be rolled out as their starting tight end? Maybe the bigger question remaining is: What does Big Ben look like this year? Claypool is a freak athlete and the Steelers wide receiving coaches will figure it out. But it may take some time. Other players considered for my sit and wait categories were: Tee Higgins, Jerry Jeudy, Jordan Brooks, A.J. Dillon, Dee Jay Dallas, and Kyle Dugger. So, before you go hog wild on players for 2020, take some time and consider your existing roster. Are you a contender or a pretender? Once you know, go dominate your draft!

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