This year, most rookie mock drafts are mostly all the same. One team selects Saquon Barkley, then everyone else picks who they think will be the best player within a large group of ten or eleven players. Sure, the order may change slightly from draft to draft, but the overall theme of everyone taking the “best player available” is a constant throughout any draft and this year is certainly no exception as we seemingly have one true dynasty pillar at the top and a large group of players in similar tiers right below him.
What exactly does best player available mean, though? Is it the player with the highest ceiling? Maybe it’s the player with the highest floor? Perhaps it’s a combination of the two? Barkley, for example, is thought by the masses to have both the highest ceiling AND highest floor of this entire draft – I don’t disagree one bit. So instead, I took to the DLF Voxer chat and proposed the following unique mock draft: A Rookie BUST Mock Draft.
The idea behind this is simple – select the player who, at their current rookie ADP, is in your opinion most likely to bust. The idea of selecting the player at their given their ADP is crucial. Yes, Auden Tate may be likely to bust, but no one would really care because of his fourth-round rookie ADP. I asked the group to consider this a Superflex valuation so we could possibly get a quarterback or two in here as well. The results are shared below, along with the comments made when the picks occurred – I’ll add my own thoughts on the picks as well.
1.01 = Rashaad Penny, RB SEA
Reason: “I don’t believe Seattle will feed Penny like people think, plus he’s horrible in pass protection.”
My thoughts: I was honestly a little surprised to see Penny go at the 1.01, but thinking about it more, this pick makes some sense. There are legitimate questions about his competition level in college as he’s coming into the NFL from a small school and really only had one year of elite college production. He’s also going to a team that hasn’t run the ball well since Marshawn Lynch departed and has a whole host of other red flags, including their poor offensive line and a recent history of getting their running backs injured. Penny has a lot of upside as a potential three-down back in this class, but going occasionally at the 1.02 in rookie drafts, he’s high up in this rookie bust mock draft based on the risk that comes with that high price tag.
1.02 = Sony Michel, RB NE
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Reason: “#PatriotsRBs – I don’t think he sees 200 carries.”
My thoughts: Michel also profiles well as a bust in this class and I’m not surprised to see him go high in this exercise. He’s been hyped up as the next Alvin Kamara ever since the College Football Playoff and his price tag has reflected that as he’s been going anywhere between 1.02 and 1.07 in early rookie drafts. For a pass-catching specialist, he only caught nine passes last year, which was fewer than Derrius Guice. Combine this with a lack of elite college production, a skeptical landing spot and major fumbling problems, and you unsurprisingly find Michel near the top of the rookie bust mock draft.
1.03 = Calvin Ridley, WR ATL
Reason: “24 years old. Slight build. Lacks elite athleticism.”
My thoughts: Ridley has been scrutinized all off-season by a lot of fantasy analysts as they question all the reasons mentioned above. He’s a very old prospect, doesn’t have outstanding size and was one of the worst athletes at this year’s combine, registering a seventh percentile SPARQ score. Despite all these questions, Ridley still went in the first round in the NFL draft to my favorite landing spot for a receiver this year. There are other players I would have put before him in this rookie bust mock draft, but I can admit he has all the questions needed to slot in as a top three pick.
1.04 = Josh Allen, QB BUF
Reason: “Not only a very divisive player pre-draft but then landed with the worst wide receiver corps in the game.”
My thoughts: I pretty much agree with everything stated above. Josh Allen is probably the consensus player amongst all of the football world most likely to bust in this year’s class. The likely reason he didn’t go higher in this exercise is that dynasty owners are baking in his apparent downside into his ADP, with Allen generally falling in the second round, even in Superflex drafts. Buffalo has a lot of work to do in the coming years to make this selection worthwhile.
1.05 = Nick Chubb, RB CLE
Reason: “The Cleveland Browns.”
My thoughts: Short, sweet, to the point and honestly hard to argue. The Browns have made so many questionable moves and have been so inept over the past decade that, if that continues, it’s hard to see how Chubb could be worthy of a top five pick in rookie drafts. Factor in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson in year one (and potentially more) as well as questions about durability and passing down work, and Chubb profiles as a potential bust from this year’s class given his ADP.
1.06 = Courtland Sutton, WR DEN
Reason: “The prototypical physical traits we always fall for in wide receivers, but he has a long way to go.”
My thoughts: I think that sums up the story with Sutton quite well. His profile is very reminiscent of Devante Parker, without the higher draft capital. Dating back to last year, Sutton was a popular projection at the 1.02 spot in this year’s rookie drafts. He’s slipped since then and now finds himself on a crowded, albeit old, depth chart in front of him. You may have to wait two years for any sort of production, and even then you may not even know what you have in Sutton. He’ll always be 6’3”, at least.
1.07 = Lamar Jackson, QB BAL
Reason: “Jackson is very talented but he’s a high variance prospect. Once he becomes the starter, he may not be afforded the time to develop that he would benefit from.”
My thoughts: Many people point to Lamar Jackson’s rushing ability as a key reason why he’ll be a good fantasy quarterback. In fact, most people use the phrase, “better fantasy player than real life player” when describing Jackson. This is a risky proposition to make, especially considering the position he plays. If Lamar doesn’t show development early, it’s certainly possible he doesn’t get the chance to. This isn’t a comparison to their playing styles, but the last two quarterbacks to go at the tail end of round one were Teddy Bridgewater and Paxton Lynch.
1.08 = Dante Pettis, WR SF
Reason: “Struggles with consistency and separation.”
My thoughts: Pettis was easily the biggest winner during the NFL Draft, skyrocketing up rookie draft boards accordingly. There’s a chance the dynasty community overlooked Pettis early on in the draft process. There’s also a chance he isn’t actually very good and the 49ers reached massively. Playing with Jimmy Garoppolo is certainly a plus, but will he be good enough to beat out Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jerick McKinnon, and George Kittle for targets? There’s a good chance he doesn’t.
1.09 = Royce Freeman, RB DEN
Reason: “Third rounder with Devontae Booker to deal with. Questionable quarterback future on the team and aging veteran receivers. There are more questions than we’re addressing.”
My thoughts: Freeman is generally considered by rookie drafters towards the end of first big tier of running backs in this class, and there are definitely concerns to consider when taking him over wide receiver or quarterback prospects like Christian Kirk or Josh Rosen (in Superflex). As the last of the “big eight” running backs in the class to be selected, Freeman lacks burst and has a lot of tread on the tires from four full years at Oregon. The Broncos may seem like a good team on paper, but there’s a real chance they’re picking in the top ten again next year if Case Keenum reverts back to his old form. The opportunities may be limited.
1.10 = Ronald Jones II, RB TB
Reason: “A dynamic but undersized running back who is electric in space. I feel like we’ve seen this show before and it’s a hard path to follow to reach its land of promise. Without a strong history of pass-catching, Rojo could have an even harder time than most who have tried to transverse it.”
My thoughts: I’ve been pretty adamantly opposed to taking Ronald Jones in the middle to high first round of rookie drafts all off-season. Then, he went to my favorite landing spot for running backs this year and forced me to re-consider. In the end, my opinion of Jones as a prospect still hasn’t changed, but the landing spot is likely why he doesn’t appear higher on the list. For all the reasons mentioned above, I think he’s more Felix Jones than Jamaal Charles, who continues to be the most over-used comparison in all of fantasy football.
1.11 = Kalen Ballage, RB MIA
Reason: “He’s a skilled pass catcher but extremely raw as a running back and enters a backfield with Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore. Without a playcaller scheming him into space and designing ways to maximize his strengths, his upside is limited and his floor is low.”
My thoughts: I actually don’t mind Ballage as a late second round pick in rookie drafts, but I agree wholeheartedly in the notion he could be worthless at this time next year. He’s the definition of a high ceiling, low floor prospect and his ADP is fairly reflective of that. Still, second round picks are valuable assets to your dynasty teams and you should be aware that you could be wasting one by picking Ballage. He comes in towards the end of this rookie bust mock draft, but he made the list nonetheless.
1.12 = Derrius Guice, RB WAS
Reason: “Though considered in a tier of his own before the NFL Draft, his slide, combined with questions about his three-down potential make him a risky borderline consensus 1.02 rookie pick.”
My thoughts: Guice is not very likely to bust completely out of the league in his rookie deal, but questions about how dominant of a running back he can be are substantiated and should certainly play into his overall valuation. As a top three pick in the vast majority of rookie drafts, Guice should be providing you with multiple RB1 years to prove that valuation true. There’s a strong chance he doesn’t given both the concerns about him as a prospect and his place on a seemingly sub-par Washington team.
This year’s rookie class has the potential to be one for the record books, and it’s often easy to get caught up in the tantalizing upside each player has. This rookie bust mock draft hopefully sheds light onto the concerns Team DLF has with each of these players, given their perceived risk and current ADPs.
Having your first round dynasty pick bust is one of the worst feelings as an owner and it can set you back for years. It’s happened to me and everyone out there who has been involved in dynasty leagues for any amount of time. Hopefully none of these concerns manifest themselves with these players and we turn out to have eight new RB1s, five new QB1s, and six new WR1s from this class. The problem is history has shown us that’s simply not likely and we should plan accordingly and use our rookie draft picks wisely.
Who do you think is the most like to bust this year given their ADP? Who belongs/doesn’t belong in this draft? Let me know @FFzinger or below in the comments!