Two weeks ago, I took a retrospective look at the 2015 rookie class for the first round of the 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft Do Over and now I’m back for the second round.
While this class features immediate superstars in Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley, the production and dynasty value endures a steep drop after that elite pair. We have clearly been spoiled by the multiple stars that emerged from the class of 2014 and are experiencing a letdown with this rookie crop. While that is understandable after what we all experienced last season, we must also remember how important it is to have patience with these players.
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2.01 – David Johnson, RB ARZ
After the first round was released, Cardinals’ rookie running back David Johnson was the most asked about player as many expected him to crack the top 12. For me, he came up just short, though I’ve been very impressed by his talent this season. Johnson has shown a burst and has produced some big plays in limited opportunities. It’s those limited chances that have me concerned about his dynasty value. When Arizona running back Andre Ellington was tearing things up as a rookie, the coaching staff was stubborn with him, limiting his touches and now the same seems to be happening with Johnson. Of course, the rejuvenated Chris Johnson has a lot to do with that too. Johnson won’t last long in Arizona, even though there are rumors of a contract extension for him, and I see the rookie Johnson gaining value in the coming months.
2.02 – Tyler Lockett, WR SEA
Another player who has put up some highlight reel plays is Seattle wide receiver and return man Tyler Lockett, who has already scored a touchdown as a receiver as well as both a punt returner and kickoff returner, a rare feat. Also like Johnson, I have concerns with how Lockett’s situation could limit his fantasy production, and therefore, dynasty value. The Seahawks and Russell Wilson like to spread the ball around and even the most talented pass catcher of the group is not guaranteed targets, as we’ve seen with tight end Jimmy Graham this year. Still, I love Lockett’s playmaking ability and would spend a second rounder on him, especially in leagues rewarding points for return yardage and touchdowns.
2.03 – Phillip Dorsett, WR IND
There were high hopes for Colts’ first round pick Phillip Dorsett, who climbed as high as the mid first round of rookie picks after he was the surprise choice of Indianapolis on Day One of the draft. Dorsett has had a rough start to his career though, battling some common rookie mistakes, a talented depth chart and now injuries. Like some of the receivers I still had pegged as first rounders, I still have high expectations for Dorsett in the Colts’ offense, especially with the changes they are making on the coaching staff. A talented, young wide receiver paired with Andrew Luck is well worth a second round rookie pick.
2.04 – Matt Jones, RB WAS
One of the surprises of the season has been Redskins’ running back Matt Jones, who has all but taken the starting job away from Alfred Morris. With Morris set to be a free agent following the season, Jones was a trendy late round rookie draft pick with an eye on 2016, but Jones didn’t waste any time in claiming a big chunk of the Redskins’ backfield and if it wasn’t for an injury he’s been dealing with, he could have been even higher on this list. There’s no reason to think Morris will be back in Washington next season, meaning Jones could have this job all to himself, hopefully with an upgrade at quarterback, and maybe even at head coach.
2.05 – Karlos Williams, RB BUF
The story is very similar for Bills’ back Karlos Williams, who somehow overcame an unknown injury or illness, which kept him out of action for much of the pre-season, to beat out both Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown to be the primary backup for LeSean McCoy. With McCoy battling injuries of his own earlier in the season, Williams got a chance and played well. His value skyrocketed quickly! Unfortunately, he suffered a severe concussion just as McCoy was set to return and has been out of action the past few weeks. With McCoy again playing well, Williams’ value is in flux, but he’s shown, at least in limited opportunity, he can be an NFL starter.
2.06 – Jameis Winston, QB TB
It’s become very taboo to select a quarterback with a high pick, be it in startup drafts or the rookie variety. I can understand why, with players like Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Josh McCown and Brian Hoyer routinely among the weekly top scorers at the position, but a player who is drafted above all other rookies in the NFL Draft deserves a little credit, at least. Quarterback Jameis Winston got off to a rough start and has had some games that make fantasy owners and Buccaneers’ fan shake their heads in disbelief. With Winston’s game, expect the bad mistakes to continue, but hopefully be limited. Also though, expect Winston to continue to throw the ball all over the field as Tampa frequently trails their opponents. With big targets like Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, there’s a lot to like about Winston’s future in the league.
2.07 – Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
Many of the same points can be said for Titans’ Marcus Mariota, who was selected second in the NFL Draft behind Winston. Mariota has played well early in the season and most would say he’s outplayed his counterpart in south Florida, as he clearly did in week one. I’d opt for Winston ahead of Mariota for just a couple of reasons though. First, Mariota does not have the same type of supporting cast, with Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker currently representing his best options in the passing game. The other concern I have is the recent coaching change the Titans made. While most would think this would be good news for Mariota and all members of the Titans, there is the concern that a new head coach would want to start fresh and bring in his own players and/or system. I obviously don’t expect Tennessee to give up on Mariota after one season, but there is a very good chance he’ll be learning a brand new offense in his first full off-season as a professional.
2.08 – Jaelen Strong, WR HOU
For many of the rookie wide receivers, we haven’t seen much of them due to injuries. That is not the case in Houston, where Jaelen Strong has simply failed to consistently crack the rotation, mostly thanks to shaky hands resulting in multiple dropped passes. Strong has really only seen significant action in one game when the Texans were decimated with injuries. I’m sure you remember the Thursday night game when Strong caught his two of his three receptions on the season, both going for touchdowns. After that performance, I was sure Strong would have a larger role going forward, but he continues to ride the pine in favor of Keith Mumphery and others. I still like Strong’s talent and could see him being the WR2 in the Houston offense going forward, but he clearly must overcome these drops and earn the trust of the coaching staff.
2.09 – Devin Funchess, WR CAR
In Carolina, the Panthers are dealing with a very similar story from their rookie receiver, Devin Funchess, though he is probably even more frustrating for both Panthers’ coaching staff and dynasty owners, considering the opportunity he had with the season long injury suffered by Kelvin Benjamin. After Benjamin went down with a torn ACL, many expected a repeat of last season where the big-bodied rookie stepped in and became Cam Newton’s top receiver. That hasn’t been the case though as players like Ted Ginn and Corey Brown have become starters while Funchess is on the sideline. Much like Strong, I believe in the talent of Funchess, but he has a lot of room for improvement, and his dynasty value has taken a hit.
2.10 – Tevin Coleman, RB ATL
Unlike some of the other players in this range of the draft who have lost value due to their poor play, Falcons’ running back Tevin Coleman has simply been a victim of the phenomenon that is Devonta Freeman. Coleman won the starting job out of training camp, though everyone expected this to be a committee attack, with Freeman seeing plenty of touches in this offense, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. What we didn’t expect happened once Coleman suffered a minor injury. With Coleman out of action, Freeman took his place as the starter and never looked back. Not only did he earn the starting job for Atlanta, he’s become the near consensus RB in dynasty in less than two months. None of this is really a knock on Coleman’s game and I still expect him to play a role in this offense going forward, it just won’t be the committee we all expected prior to the season. I consider Coleman one of the top “buy low” players in the league.
2.11 – Maxx Williams, TE BAL
The Baltimore Ravens are desperate for talented pass catchers. They tried to fill the void by drafting receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams in the 2015 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Perriman has not been a factor thanks to a leg injury and, like most rookie tight ends, Williams has struggled to adjust to the NFL offense. I have some very high hopes for Williams though and his situation reminds me of another tight end in the AFC North, Tyler Eifert. As a rookie, many overvalued Eifert and he couldn’t overtake Jermaine Gresham to crack the starting lineup. Despite a ho hum rookie season, Eifert became a hot target in the off-season prior to his second year and by all accounts, was headed for a big sophomore season before suffering an injury that cost him the rest of the season. In addition to his draft pedigree and talent, Eifert also saw his value climb as he was expected to be one of the top options in the Bengals’ passing game. The same expectation will be placed on Williams as his role should grow in 2016.
2.12 – David Cobb, RB TEN
This was a tough choice for the final spot, but I opted for the unknown that is Titans’ running back David Cobb, who has yet to play this season due to an injury. Cobb is set to return to the field soon and considering the current state of the Tennessee backfield, could quickly rise the depth chart. Second year back Bishop Sankey has basically been phased out and the team has been relying on former undrafted free agent Antonio Andrews. New head coach Mike Mularkey gave Andrews a vote of confidence this week, saying he’d the workhorse back for the remainder of the season. That sounds good for Andrews and bad for all other Titans’ backs, but that has been Andrews’ role the past few weeks and has resulted in average play. I view Cobb as the most talented back on the team and with the coaching staff trying to keep their jobs, they will not play favorites. I expect Cobb to earn increased carries as the season goes along, increasing his dynasty value along the way.
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No Thomas Rawls?!?
Gotta agree on Rawls. He has performed better than Lynch when given the opportunity and I think he is the future in Seattle.
I feel like we’ve seen this movie before… 😉