In the second edition of this series I will be examining some of the rookies who lost the most value over the course of the NFL draft – the fallers. This could be due to draft capital, team fit, or a combination of both. Oftentimes players the fantasy community has long coveted aren’t thought of as highly by NFL scouts. Players like Kelvin Harmon can go 1.01 in a January rookie draft (that really happened back in 2019), only to fall to the sixth round of the NFL draft. Although the fantasy community has been right over the NFL in the past, I find draft capital to be a great indicator of fantasy value. If you loved Isaiah Spiller before the draft that is absolutely fine, as he can still provide fantasy value. However, it is important to take the draft position of a player into context, and adjust your rankings accordingly. Where Spiller might have been a first round pick before, he is now a much better selection in the third round of rookie drafts. In this article I will further examine Spiller, as well as other fallers in fantasy value in the NFL draft.
The 2022 QB Class
It’s safe to just lump all of the guys together outside of Kenny Pickett. It was an absolute disaster for the likes of Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral, and Sam Howell. Each player fell significantly farther than what was expected. Going from potentially being viewed as franchise Quarterbacks, to mid round fliers. There are only a handful of starting quarterbacks in this league that don’t have first round draft capital. Any Quarterback drafted after day one can be viewed as somewhat of a long shot. Without significant investment in these players, teams won’t be afraid to select a coveted rookie in next year’s draft if they wind up with a high draft pick. It should be noted that each of these Quarterbacks mentioned do have a path to playing time. The signal callers ahead of them leave something to be desired in their performance. Poor play or an injury could vault any of these players into a starting situation. This is unlikely this season though, and these players should be viewed simply as developmental prospects. I wouldn’t be willing to draft any of these Quarterbacks before the mid second round of Superflex drafts due to lack of immediate playing time.
Pierre Strong Jr.
One of my favorite prospects before the draft, the Patriots once again are set on ruining their player’s fantasy value. Strong is set to compete with Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and James White in New England for playing time. Like the Steelers with receivers, the Patriots have a reputation for taking running backs on day two of the draft. Bill Belichick has shown that he prefers to use 3-4 running backs in a rotation, and enjoys riding the hot hand. This has been a complaint for a long time from fantasy managers, as it is nearly impossible to choose which RB is going to get volume on a particular day. This will be further exacerbated by the drafting of Strong. It wouldn’t surprise me to see any one of these running backs lead the Patriots backfield in fantasy points. I prefer to stay clear all together, as none are likely to be able to provide consistent value in fantasy leagues.
This fall could be seen before the draft, but I don’t think anyone quite expected Spiller to fall as far as he did. The pre-combine RB1 according to some, Spiller fell all the way to the fourth round after poor athletic testing. He finds himself also sharing a backfield with Austin Ekeler, who figures to assume his usual heavy workload for the Chargers. It is a tough situation for the former Texas A&M Running Back, but all is not lost. The Chargers will be one of the best offenses in the league, and Ekeler has shown a tendency to get banged up over the course of the season. If he were to get a chance to start he could get a major boost in value. Overall though the poor draft capital makes him a faller in this rookie class. Spiller goes from potentially the rookie RB3, to a player I’m more comfortable taking in the late 2nd or early 3rd round.
I’m throwing in Walker here not as a massive faller (I’ve taken him as high as 1.02 in rookie drafts), but his landing spot wasn’t great. Great offenses have been statistically proven to produce higher scoring fantasy Running Backs. The Seattle Seahawks will not be that this season. With Drew Lock or Geno Smith being the current projected starter, the Seahawks don’t figure to have a very good offense this year. The combination of not being on the field l, and the lack of touchdown opportunities will hurt Walker’s near term production. Not to mention Rashaad Penny, who finished the year on fire in the last five games of the year. If I’m contending I’m still drafting him as the 1.02 over the coveted Wide Receivers, but his upside is much more capped with the Seahawks. If Seattle were to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield it would be immense for Walker’s 2022 production.
Pickens is one of the most exciting receiving prospects in this class, but the landing spot leaves something to be desired. Pittsburgh yet again invests a second day pick on a Wide Receiver. Pickens joins Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth in a crowded Steelers receiving room. The offense also is likely to run through Najee Harris, in what figures to be a low volume passing attack led by Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett. No matter who wins the job they are unlikely to be able to support more than a couple consistent fantasy weapons. Pickens talent is undeniable, but in the short term he is unlikely to garner target volume. However, the team seems very unhappy with Chase Claypool and some of his antics. If he were to be traded this off-season Pickens would find himself in a much better fantasy situation.
The landing spot isn’t the issue so much as the draft capital spent on Bell. As someone who was a big fan of Bell coming out of college, it was disappointing to see him go at the end of the third round. Many seemingly less talented receivers were taken above him, as he was the 16th receiver drafted. Although I have him much higher in my fantasy rankings, it is concerning that the NFL was willing to let him fall so far. There are clear questions with how his game will translate to the NFL, and he did himself no favors at the NFL combine. Ultimately his lack of athletic ability could prevent him from being a difference maker at the next level. I’ve seen him go in the early second round of many rookie drafts, and this is far too steep a price for me.
Thank you for reading and happy drafting everyone. If you like this article shoot me a follow on Twitter @Dynasty_Analyst. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles from our great Dynasty team, coming soon. Remember to tune into the 5 Yard Dynasty livestream every Tuesday at 8 pm (GMT).