The writing team here at 5 Yard Rush are knee deep into draft season. As you draft, certain themes emerge. You begin to realise which players you are naturally drawn to, and the ones you are avoiding. Strategies are tested out and perfected, trends emerge. The gang have collaborated to put together their take for the year ahead. First up is our safe takes for 2020.
Tom Scott @downthemannyrd
Take 1) Austin Ekeler will have his best year yet
Ekeler is RB9 according to his ADP (18.2). His stock improves further in PPR leagues. Don’t be surprised if he leapfrogs his peers in the third tier of running backs in this format. In a full PPR league, Ekeler is surely a safer bet than Cleveland Browns back Nick Chubb or the Bengals’ Joe Mixon.
Last year, Ekeler managed a mediocre 557 rushing yards in 16 games, but an eye-catching 993 yards through the air. Most impressive in Ekeler’s haul of 1,500 yards was that he was sharing a backfield with Melvin Gordon for 12 games. Only Christian McCaffrey beat Ekeler’s total receptions all year, which is why he is the undisputed 1.01 in almost all fantasy formats.
Expect Ekeler’s workload to explode in 2020, with the outgoing Gordon replaced in the Los Angeles backfield with 4th round draft pick Joshua Kelley. Kelley will most certainly contribute to the LA running game as his rookie deal progresses, but the Chargers will surely lean on Ekeler for this year at least.
Kelley enjoyed back-to-back 1,100+ yard seasons at UCLA before entering the NFL. In those two years, just 264 of his 2,303 total yards came in the passing game. If he is the supporting back for LA next year, it is unlikely that he will eat into Ekeler’s receptions.
Austin Ekeler was RB4 in PPR leagues (and RB7 in non-PPR format) at the end of the 2019 season. His increased workload, coupled with the replacement of Gordon with Kelley, will lead to increased productivity this time out.
Rob Cowsill @CowsillRob
Take 2) Joe Burrow will pick up over 4,000 total yards in 2020
It was a year on the rise for Joe Burrow. A college championship. A Heisman trophy. The #1 pick.
He is the latest in a line of quarterbacks to be taken in the premier position of the draft – the 9th in the last 12 years. But how many of them pulled themselves up after an unremarkable Junior year to achieve what Burrow did in his final year of college? This man showed grit, he knows determination. He got the payout – and he will continue to prove that golden year will be more than just that.
In fact, Burrow’s final year stats were better than any other final season from a QB1 in the last decade. Burrow racked up 5,671 yards over the course of that championship winning season. That’s nearly 1,000 more than Jared Goff in second place (4,714 yards). He also saw an accuracy rating of 76.3% in this final season – 5% better than Andrew Luck (71.3%). He threw more touchdowns than any other QB. Baker Mayfield and Goff lie in joint second with 43. Burrow threw 60. 2010 first round pick Sam Bradford didn’t throw any interceptions in his final year, but he only played 3 games before being drafted. Burrow and Mayfield are second only in name with 6. His throwing stats are transcendent.
And, in the championship game against Clemson – the pinnacle of pressure in Joe’s life so far – he cleaned house: 463 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. This was against the second best college team in the country. It will be good for the Bengals to have such a calm and collected head behind the line when the going gets tough.
Burrow rests at QB17 on PPR ADP charts. That puts him around players like Daniel Jones and fellow Number 1 pick Baker Mayfield.
Using standard Sleeper scoring, predictions suggest he will throw 3858 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 Interceptions. Burrow is also predicted to pick up 3 touchdowns from 255 rushing yards. This gives him a predicted score of 256.8 points and a rank of QB18. So the ADP seems to be in line with this score.
Incidentally, last year’s #1 overall pick Kyler Murray threw for 3,722 yards in his rookie season at the Arizona Cardinals. He threw 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but his rushing yards were where it really mattered. The 544 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns he got pushed his final rank up to QB6.
Burrow doesn’t possess the same rushing prowess as Murray or Cam Newton (another No.1 pick). The latter two have built their game on being able to add that extra offensive dimension. However Joe still rushed for over 368 yards and 5 touchdowns in his final season – he has shown he can move when he needs to. If he can keep this in his repertoire, there’s no reason he could combine that with his passing yards to get over 4,000 in 2020. This could really bump his final rank – maybe even push him towards a top 12 finish.
On a side note, only one other #1 overall pick from the last decade has also won a college championship and the Heisman trophy. And recently, he got picked up by the Patriots…
Take 3) You can stream a top 5 QB, a top 6 TE, a top 10 Kicker and D/ST
You can’t make a safe take in Fantasy Football without it being mild af! Streaming is the Lemon & Herb of safe takes in Fantasy Football. Streaming the singular positions is now as much as important as taking a Quarterback late in standard redraft leagues is. We’ve all known about streaming for a while now but last season Murf blew the doors off the team bus with his ‘I Streamed a Stream’ series. After his much-heralded success, he created the PAS metric. Points Against Streaming is outlined in the Fantasy Football Playbook, so in order to better understand how it works you’ll need to go and grab a copy in the store (link here). However, what I can tell you is what streaming can do for your Fantasy team. All the streaming in the model is done with an availability threshold of 30% owned or less. Whilst other waiver wire articles tell you to grab dudes who are 70% owned and above, you will get none of that nonsense here, Rush Nation. We know you play in decent leagues with sharp players who own the better Fantasy Football assets.
Murf streamed the Quarterback two on the year last year only scoring fewer points than Lamar Jackson. This was done with players who were owned by less than 30% of Fantasy players. This proves that the Quarterback can be streamed easily on a week to week basis.
In this case, it could have been an even better finish for Murf as he picked up Darren Waller in week one and streamed him in week two as he was below the threshold still. To prove the theory correct, he dropped Waller when his ownership passed 30%. Had he kept him until he cooled off later in the season he would have finished inside the top three for Tight End streaming easily. In single Tight End leagues only 10-14 of league starters are in play, so the position becomes stream-able with ease. Match-ups become key like when streaming in general and unless you strike gold with a late rounder like Mark Andrews, drafting anyone other than the top three seems redundant (in one Tight End leagues anyway).
D/ST & Kickers
In most leagues, the scoring between the top players in these positions and those at 12th is almost a scratch. The difference between the 1st placed Kicker and the 12th placed Kicker was 2.6 points per game. This can be negated by streaming a Kicker each week with a good match-up. The same can be said for a D/ST. Each year the D/ST one changes significantly and picking them in the draft is pure luck. Streaming the best match-ups weekly for a D/ST will result in the most juice squeezed from the proverbial lemon. The citrusy D/ST, doesn’t that sound delicious.
As I said, to fully take advantage of the PAS Metric you need to understand it and t do so requires you getting a copy of the Fantasy Football Playbook. Now get Streaming and let’s go win those ships.
If this was too mild a take for you wait till i drop my A-Bomb of a hot take, it’ll blow those socks clean off.
Take 4) Robert Woods will be a WR1 in 2020 (Injury permitting)
Robert Woods is the value buy of the 2020 season. Since people like myself, Gary Haddow and others have been banging the drum for Robert Woods, he has gone up 17 spots in ADP. In May, he was a comfortable mid to late 5th rounder. Now he sits in the middle of the 4th. This trajectory was followed by Chris Godwin last year. He had a career year, went to Pro Bowl, and became a WR1. You can count on Woods to do the same.
The one thing about ADP, is it’s similar to bookmaker odds on Horse Racing. The smart people keep buying, bring the price in. This means players vault up boards. Robert Woods will be a 3rd rounder by the last 2 weeks of fantasy drafts. It is already trending that way. Even then, I’m still buying.
Last season, Robert Woods was the WR14. He scored 2 Touchdowns all season. With just one more Touchdown, he would have been a WR12. 2 Touchdowns, less than 6 points off a Wide Receiver top 12 spot. That’s food for thought.
He played almost 93% of snaps, had a 23.4% target share in the offence, with 12.6 yards per reception. His 2 receiving Touchdowns were the fewest of any player who had 100+ targets. Therefore, on the same volume, he is due positive Touchdown regression to around 6-7 Touchdowns this season. Brandin Cooks had 79 targets last year and Gurley 49 targets. Granted, all of these will not go to Woods. However, with Kupp at close to his maximum target amount, there is room for Woods to take another 20-30 targets, maybe more, and have an even more productive year.
Hold tight for spicy hot takes coming next.