The NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and with it comes the payoff of all the mock drafts, prospect research and discussions of landing spots. It's an exciting time as a football fan, filled with uncertainty and potential.
But rosters have already been tweaked this offseason by the free agency period, and one thing that can slip through the cracks is what our draft expectations are, and what the actual outcomes could mean for rosters as they currently sit. There are buying opportunities in dynasty leagues, and it's a useful thing to track for redraft as well, because not all veteran ADPs adjust as quickly post-Draft as they should.
So what would those outcomes mean for the current rosters? And who are some names to target now and in the immediate aftermath of the draft, depending on outcome? One situation I won't be mentioning is the Texans pass-catchers, which is a group I'd previously thought would be influenced by a high pick. After the trade of a second-rounder for Brandin Cooks on the back of Randall Cobb getting $18 million guaranteed, it's harder to envision them adding another high-profile piece. Of course, like most people, I have no idea what Bill O'Brien might do next.
But here are 23 other questions to monitor during and after the Draft.
1. What if the Rams don't draft a RB?
The Brandin Cooks trade gave the Rams a much-needed second-round pick, but it only brought them to six total picks in the 2020 Draft. They have other needs, and are in a cap crunch, so my current expectation is they'll go forward with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson as their main two backs, with 2018 sixth-rounder John Kelly as their potential No. 3.
If that's the case, expect both Henderson and Brown to shoot up boards. You'd think they already would have after Todd Gurley's release, but they've been very affordable in recent drafts. Henderson had an impressive collegiate production record and kept Cowboys' backup Tony Pollard in a reserve role at Memphis where Henderson dominated the backfield, and the Rams traded up just last year to bring him in as a third-round pick. Brown, meanwhile, turns 27 next month, so his long-term upside pales in comparison to Henderson.
2. What if the Steelers add a high-profile back?
James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell seems like an adequate backfield, but there have been substantial rumblings that Pittsburgh is in the market for an early running back. In fairness, Conner was a fourth-round pick who was thrust into a prominent role by Le'Veon Bell's holdout, and while he was fantastic in 2018, he was banged up through 2019 and thus his track record may not be quite as appealing to Pittsburgh as it is to Fantasy managers. If the Steelers do target one of the top backs in the class, Conner's value would plummet.
3. What if Miami doesn't take an early back?
The Dolphins are another popular landing spot for early running backs, but as their roster stands, it's Jordan Howard and a lot of guys who underwhelmed in 2019. Howard has never been much of a pass-catcher, so his upside is limited, but he's still just 25 and averaged 259 carries, 1,123 rushing yards and eight rushing scores across three seasons with the Bears before his one-year stint with the Eagles.
If the Dolphins don't take someone to clearly challenge him, expect Howard's stock to rise post-draft.
4. What will the Falcons do at running back?
After letting Devonta Freeman go, Atlanta emerged as perhaps the top Fantasy landing spot for a 2020 rookie back. That changed quickly when Gurley became available and they pounced.
Also still just 25 but with an arthritic knee problem, Gurley's future value hinges considerably on the draft. If Atlanta takes a prominent name, Gurley will look like he's headed for a committee as a stop-gap solution to Atlanta's future plans. If they don't, there's an argument to be made they will give Gurley a chance to be a multi-year starter.
5. What if the Chiefs don't pick a RB?
Kansas City was another popular landing spot, but the under-the-radar signing of DeAndre Washington seemed to indicate the Chiefs might be content with what they have. Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson are all still on the roster, with Damien Williams being the current presumptive starter after his second-straight impressive late-season performance in 2019. Given there are legitimate arguments for each of the other three backs on the roster, if Kansas City is indeed set with that group, Damien Williams will again be a controversial name all throughout Fantasy draft season.
6. Could Austin Ekeler find himself in another timeshare?
There are reasons to think that's possible, especially given the Chargers didn't balk at Gordon's holdout demands last year. But they did offer him a decent contract, and there's at least some possibility they look to the 2020 Draft as an opportunity to replace his role and keep Ekeler's relatively unchanged. That doesn't seem to be what early drafters are expecting.
7. Was Gordon's link to Buffalo a sign that Devin Singletary's role is in jeopardy?
One of the more confusing storylines for Fantasy managers of the 2020 free agency period was the link between Melvin Gordon and the Bills. Frank Gore was a nuisance for Singletary's value in 2019, and Josh Allen's rushing didn't do him any favors. If Buffalo does lend credence to those discussions by instead drafting a second back, Singletary's upside would take a further hit.
8. What is with the Seahawks and running backs?
Similar to the Steelers, the Seahawks are a team that seem set at running back, and yet there are discussions they are looking to draft another one. Chris Carson would take a hit if Seattle brings in another back, but it would really be the final word on whether Rashaad Penny will ever look like the former first-round pick he is.
9. Who will join Ronald Jones in Tampa's backfield?
Bruce Arians didn't mince words last season regarding Jones' pass-blocking, and Tampa Bay is one of the more likely destinations for a 2020 rookie after Peyton Barber left for Washington. They'll want to protect Tom Brady, so they'll be looking to add a back who is better in pass protection. If they add someone with three-down upside, Jones may not get the chance to build on what was quietly an efficient 2019.
10. What if the Eagles draft a first-round WR?
A popular landing spot in mocks, the Eagles make sense for an early wide receiver after injuries left them thin by the end of 2019 and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside failed to impress in his rookie year. But unless a deal gets swung, both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson have enough dead money left on their deals to ensure they will likely be back for 2020.
Still, an early receiver could slide into Nelson Agholor's vacated slot role and would likely impact Dallas Goedert and perhaps Zach Ertz. If they don't, Jeffery and Jackson become better risk/reward bets at cheap price tags.
11. Who will the Jets draft at wide receiver?
The Jets lost Robby Anderson this offseason, and while they replaced him with Breshad Perriman, they continue to have one of the thinnest pass-catching groups in the league. As of now, we're looking at Jamison Crowder, Perriman and Chris Herndon as the main core of that group, but they seem certain to add an incoming rookie.
The big question, though, is whether they'll address that position at No. 11 or go another route like offensive line. If they do nab a wide receiver, we'll be talking about a rookie with the potential for 100-plus targets. If they don't and wait until later to address the position, Crowder, Perriman and Herndon will all look a little better for 2020.
12. What if the Raiders draft a first-round WR?
Agholor landed in Las Vegas, where no Raider wide receiver is garnering much attention in early 2020 drafts. Darren Waller led the Raiders in targets in 2019, but he lost some work when Hunter Renfrow came on late. With the addition of Jason Witten also figuring into the mix for short-area targets, there's a lot of uncertainty here. Add in that Las Vegas is a candidate to add a top-tier wide receiver prospect, and it's not clear how the opportunity could look for Waller, Renfrow, Agholor and Tyrell Williams. Even at discounted prices outside Waller, I've been avoiding the situation altogether.
13. What if the Broncos add a first-round WR?
Courtland Sutton came on in 2019 and looks like a legitimate star as a future No. 1, and Noah Fant had flashes of his potential at the tight end position. But behind them, Denver's depth chart is barren, and that's why they've been mocked as a popular landing spot for a first-round receiver.
Who that player is will have a significant impact on our expectations, and one name I'm seeing a lot is Henry Ruggs. He is a burner but wasn't wildly productive at Alabama for a variety of reasons, and while he'd fit in great as a field-stretcher, adding him would probably be a positive for Fant in opening up targets underneath.
14. Will Washington add another receiving option?
Washington has a stable of running backs, but little else is clear about their offense. Dwayne Haskins is the presumptive starter, but that isn't set in stone. We know Terry McLaurin will be the No. 1, but behind him there are question marks at both wide receiver and tight end.
Steven Sims would be a big winner if Washington doesn't draft a receiver in the high-leverage rounds, and Kelvin Harmon would become a potential sleeper. Meanwhile, after Jordan Reed's departure, Jeremy Sprinkle is the least-heralded presumptive starting tight end in football right now, and even in a thin class a rookie could step into a prominent role there.
15. Will the Ravens add another receiver?
Marquise Brown was fantastic as a rookie, and Mark Andrews is locked into a big Fantasy role as the primary tight end. But 2019 fourth-rounder Miles Boykin is a name to watch if Baltimore doesn't add another receiver.
16. Will Dede Westbrook ever break out?
Westbrook is already 26 and has yet to post even 750 receiving yards in a season. As things stand, he would still have a prominent role in Jacksonville's 2020 passing game, and there would be room for him to have a career season alongside D.J. Chark.
But if Jacksonville adds a prominent receiver in the draft, Westbrook's value would take a substantial hit, and he'd start to look like a guy without a clear path to ever being a significant Fantasy contributor.
17. What if the 49ers don't take a wide receiver early?
Deebo Samuel was electric down the stretch in 2019, and his role seems secure even if the 49ers replace the departed Emmanuel Sanders in the draft. But if the 49ers don't take one of the top options, Samuel's value could skyrocket, and it would be a big boost to Jalen Hurd's profile as a 2020 sleeper.
18. What if the Rams don't replace Brandin Cooks?
As I mentioned above, the Rams are without much draft capital, and have plenty of holes to fill. If they don't replace Brandin Cooks, expect Josh Reynolds to see a significant post-draft boost in his ADP. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee all will as well.
19. Could the Packers wait at the position?
One of my favorite sleepers in the early 2020 offseason has been Allen Lazard, as the former Iowa State star was an impressive producer in college and quickly became a favorite of Aaron Rodgers in 2019. After seeing his first targets of the season in Week 6, Lazard closed the year with 35 catches for 477 yards in 11 games. That's nothing to write home about, but Green Bay also brought in Devin Funchess this offseason, and while they've been mocked as a landing spot for a ton of early wide receivers, a scenario where they don't address the position as highly as many anticipate could make Lazard and Funchess popular late-round options come August.
20. How will the Vikings replace Stefon Diggs?
Diggs' usage made for one of the oddest stat lines in 2019, as he failed to reach 100 targets despite a ridiculous 12.0 yards per target and Adam Thielen's injury troubles. Thielen looks to be in for a big role in 2020, but how big can his target numbers be in one of the run-heaviest offenses in the league?
Put differently, if Minnesota to addresses the wide receiver position in the first or second round, could someone like Jalen Reagor — my preferred Fantasy option for that landing spot — see 80-plus targets in Diggs' place? Given the volume constraints in the 2019 offense with Thielen hurt, that outcome would likely mean the Vikings won't have enough pass attempts to go around once again.
21. What if the Colts draft an early wide receiver?
With T.Y. Hilton banged up throughout much of 2019, the Colts had one of the most balanced passing games in terms of targets. Hilton should be good to go as the No. 1 option for Philip Rivers in 2020, but behind him there are a lot of questions between Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal and Jack Doyle.
Eric Ebron is gone, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Colts add one of the available move tight ends like Hunter Bryant or size/speed freak Albert Okwuegbunam. But their Devin Funchess signing last offseason — which obviously didn't work out as planned — suggested a desire for depth at wide receiver, too. If they do add a top wideout, there might not be enough volume for any one option behind Hilton.
22. What if the Patriots don't take an early QB?
The biggest storyline of the 2020 offseason was Tom Brady's departure from New England, and we still don't know who will be under center for the Patriots in Week 1. Jordan Love is a popular mock draft option for New England in the first round, and any first-round quarterback would presumably contend to start right away.
But if the Patriots don't select a quarterback in the first two days, that would say a lot about 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham. He would still have a ways to go given the available quarterbacks and a potential camp battle with Brian Hoyer, but we'd certainly have to start considering how big a part he is in their long-term plans.
23. What if the Jaguars draft a QB in the first three rounds?
Gardner Minshew had a reasonably successful rookie season, and Jacksonville subsequently traded away Nick Foles this offseason in a sign of confidence in the second-year player. But Jacksonville's lack of additional movement on the quarterback market suggests they'll be adding to the position in the draft.
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