2020 Rookie Check Up

Author: Chris Wolf (@CKWolf21)

As Dynasty players, we are obsessed with potential. We measure it in college performance, breakout age, workout measurables, draft stock and finally – usage. Let’s take a quick look at where some notable rookies have progressed from draft to training camp(ish) to actual gameday usage. Their stats through two weeks are listed below their names.

Joe Burrow – QB – CIN ($9.05M)

  • 509 Pass Yards
  • 3 TDs
  • 1 INT
  • 65 Rush Yards
  • 1 TD

Burrow has been running for his life behind a seemingly annual disappointment of an offensive line. A lesser rookie QB may have fared much worse with what he’s had to work with, but Burrow is an elite competitor. His pocket presence is miles ahead of where most rookies would be, and he has thus far proven that he has the ability to place the ball into tight windows of coverage.

His 97 attempts through two weeks is absolutely insane but their ground game’s ineptitude has led to Burrow putting the games on his back. He and A.J. Green look like they are worlds apart right now in the chemistry department, but he has shown a solid rapport with Tyler Boyd and his tight ends.

Justin Herbert – QB – LAC ($6.64M)

  • 311 Pass Yards
  • 1 TD
  • 1 INT
  • 18 Rush Yards
  • 1 TD

Herbert did not get into the game week 1 but we were able to get a glimpse of his talent this past Sunday. It was one of the strangest Sunday’s in recent memory so why not throw a rookie QB in against the reigning Super Bowl champs on a moment’s notice? The Chargers “leaned” on their impressive run game, but they did not shy away from calling the promising rookie’s number when they needed him.

His 33 pass attempts resulted in 22 completions, 1 passing score and an ill-advised INT that was thrown across his body. It was a solid debut for the big-armed rookie that hasn’t even taken reps with the first team offense.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB – KC ($2.7M)

  • 176 Rush Yards
  • 1 TD
  • 6 Receptions
  • 32 Yards

CEH put on an absolute show on opening night against the Texans rushing 25 times for 138 yards and one TD. He usage shifted towards the receiving game in week two against the Chargers aggressive front. He saw 8 targets in week 2 compared to just 2 in week one. This was a likely mixture of Darrel Williams exiting the game and Mahomes playing mostly hurry-up in the second half. He will see better days on the ground but probably after next week when they clash with the Ravens.

Jonathan Taylor – RB – IND ($1.96M)

  • 123 Rush Yards
  • 1 TD
  • 8 Receptions
  • 76 Receiving Yards

Taylor was immediately put to test when Marlon Mack went down early in week one. He didn’t find much room to run against an underrated Jacksonville front seven, but he was able to secure all 6 of his targets for 67 yards. Week 2’s performance with 28 touches showed that he is the every down back that he was billed to be. He completely dominated the touches over Nyheim Hines (28-1) and he is locked into the RB1 situation for the rest of the season.

James Robinson – RB – JAX ($763K)

  • 164 Rush Yards
  • 1 TD
  • 4 Receptions
  • 46 Receiving Yards

Of course, we knew that at this point, James Robinson would have more rushing yards than Jonathan Taylor. With back to back games of exactly 16 carries each, Robinson has been given the workhorse role in this new look Jaguars offense. With 35 total touches through two weeks, he provides the usage you are looking for on your Dynasty Owner team to be a competent RB2 or Flex. The only true concern is game script going forward since the Jags figure to be playing catch up quite a bit in 2020.

J.K. Dobbins – RB – BAL ($1.4M)

  • 70 Rush Yards
  • 2 TDs
  • 1 Reception
  • 13 Receiving Yards

This one is a bit maddening. It would be scary if the Ravens unleashed Dobbins but this three headed monster that they have as a backfield rotation will truly limit his potential until he’s needed to take over a game. In week 1 he scored twice on seven touches. In week 2 he ran for 48 yards on only two carries and caught his only target for 13 yards. You can only hope that Baltimore is keeping their prized rookie fresh for the long haul but man, the possibilities in this offense.

Jerry Jeudy – WR- DEN ($3.79M)

  • 8 Receptions
  • 15 Targets
  • 118 Yards
  • 0 TDs

Jeudy has recorded 4 receptions in each of his first two games and has seen a team-high 15 targets. The targets should remain the same with Courtland Sutton now being out for the season. With Jeff Driskel stepping in for Drew Lock (shoulder), Jeudy’s usage did not take a hit. He and Noah Fant are destined to be the go-to recipients when the Broncos have to throw the ball. In this run-first offense, expectations should be tempered for Jeudy, but he is now the unquestioned WR1 on his team.

CeeDee Lamb – WR – DAL ($3.5M)

  • 11 Receptions
  • 15 Targets
  • 165 Yards
  • 0 TDs

Lamb looks like a true #1 receiver on a team that already has two #1 receivers. His physicality and body control are just ridiculous for someone at this stage of their professional career. His 9.7 yards after catch in week two demonstrates just how physical the former Oklahoma Sooner really is. He will maintain his role in the slot and his snaps are sure to keep increasing due to the loss of Blake Jarwin from week 1. You can safely play him as a solid flex option in this high-powered offense.

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The Aftermath of the First Virtual NFL Draft

Author: Chris Wolf

The first virtual draft is a wrap. It went over with minimal glitches and I want to say we were pleasantly surprised by the in-home reactions and view into NFL front offices (or basements). We all know that the NFL is a copycat league and it has never been more evident as what we saw this past weekend. Several teams chased the KC all-speed model and a few crafted their drafts after the Ravens and 49’ers run heavy schemes.

On the surface, there were winners and losers on draft weekend. At first glance, the Ravens, Cowboys and Vikings appeared to come away with an impressive rookie haul. Then we have the Green Bay Packers. You have to think that the double schalaking they received from San Francisco last year led them to draft components of a run heavy strategy.

Only time will tell how the rookie projects will assimilate to their new teams but, we can have fun projecting their success in their new landing spots. Speaking only of skilled positions related to our Dynasty Owner leagues, let’s get a bird’s eye view of some of the newest crop of NFL players that may help your team in 2020-2021.

* 2020 ​estimated​ cap charges according to overthecap.com are in parenthesis after their names*

Pick 1.01 Joe Burrow ($6,580,000) CIN ​- Andy Dalton’s recent release carves the path for this Heisman winner to start day 1. Needless to say, he should be an early to mid first round pick for your dynasty team.

Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb ​- Draft ‘em. All three are 1st round dynasty rookie values.

Pick 1.21 Jalen Reagor ($2,412,850) PHI –​ Great fit for a great offense. He could see immediate playing time if the Eagles move on from either Alshon Jeffery or Desean Jackson.

Pick 1.22 Justin Jefferson ($2,385,965) MIN –​ This NFL ready rookie steps into a great starting opportunity with the Vikings. He’ll most likely be the first rookie wide receiver taken redraft leagues and he’s a sure-fire first round pick in dynasty drafts.

Pick 1.32 Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($1,967,559) KC –​ The top running back selected in the NFL’s best offense. This should be your 1.01 or 1.02 in Rookie Drafts. Don’t overthink this.

Pick 2.1 Tee Higgins ($1,579,410) CIN -​ In a crowded wide receiver room, it would take moving AJ Green for Higgins to attempt to have any 2020 value. This may be a draft and stash pick for you this year.

Pick 2.2 Michael Pittman Jr ($1,565,970) IND -​ The Colt’s pulled off a very impressive draft to plug the holes in their offense. They collectively gushed over Pittman Jr liking him to Vincent Jackson. He should step in as an immediate starter opposite the aging T.Y. Hilton.

Pick 2.3 D’Andre Swift ($1,552,530) DET -​ It’s really hard to trust the Detroit Lions rushing attack but Swift is a rare athlete that may be able to thrive in any environment. They used an early 2nd round pick on him and he should see plenty of touches year 1.

Pick 2.9 Jonathan Taylor ($1,423,480) IND – This is unfair. The best pure runner in the draft is going to the team with the best overall offensive line. He’ll most likely be the 1.02 selection in your rookie draft.

Pick 2.17 Chase Claypool ($1,203,000) PIT – There are many varying opinions on this athletic freak. The one thing we do know is, he can allow JuJu to work back into the slot where he excelled in 2017 and 2018. Take note that Claypool is a big bodied receiver that the Steelers used their first pick on.

Pick 2.20 Cam Akers ($1,122,371) LAR – ESPN’s Todd McShay considers Akers the “most underrated running back in the class”. He’s a complete back with outstanding speed that could benefit from a hopefully improved L.A. Rams Offense. He’s used to running behind bad offensive lines so he should feel right at home here.

Pick 2.23 J.K. Dobbins ($1,041,716) BAL – The Ravens want to dominate the ground game to open their improved passing attack. They went out to draft one of the best in this year’s class to compliment the NFL’s MVP. He has the opportunity to be a dominant player in this offense.

Pick 2.27 Denzel Mims ($987,945) NYJ – Mims has the opportunity for a high volume role in his first year. 100 or more targets is not an unreasonable projection.

Pick 3.12 Ke’Shawn Vaughn ($864,720) TB – 7.9 ypc behind a sub-par offensive line at Vanderbilt. He offers good balance and vision to a stacked offense led by Tom Brady.

Pick 3.17 Bryan Edwards ($853,174) LVR – A much needed weapon for Derek Carr. What he lacks in top-end speed, he makes up for with his instinctive route running. Could compete for heavy targets early.

Pick 3.22 Zack Moss ($838,605) BUF – Already assigned the Frank Gore role by coaches in the Bills offense. This could lead to plenty of goal line work for an up and coming offense. Injuries are a concern for this dynamic back.

Pick 3.29 Darrynton Evans ($829,416) TEN – Evans is a home run threat that should find a niche as a complimentary back in a run-first offense. More of a compliment than a handcuff to Derek Henry.

Pick 4.18 Anthony McFarland ($790,608) PIT – His arrival breathes much needed life into the Steeler’s running back room. He’s a tough runner with good hands that could have an opportunity at some point in year one. 8-10 touches per game is a reasonable assumption.

Pick 4.36 Antonio Gandy-Golden ($733,600) WSH – A long strider with good hands will compete for snaps with sophomore Kelvin Harmon opposite rookie standout Terry McLaurin.

Pick 5.16 Tyler Johnson ($688,600) TB – A great value in round 5 of a loaded WR class. He’s a polished route runner that could push Scotty Miller and Justin Watson for the 3rd WR role in Tampa.

Pick 6.8 Donovan Peoples-Jones ($656,650) CLE – It’s not often that you find a year one contributor in later rounds but Peoples-Jones may surprise people this year. He’s talented enough to push for a role in 3 WR sets in what projects to be a much improved offense.

Other rookies such as Laviska Shenault Jr, Brandon Aiyuk, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and KJ Hamler are good players who may find first year value but they are in a bit murkier situations. The goal is to win every year and slot players for future roles behind those with clearer projected outcomes.

The rookies included on this list have the possibility of making an impact on their teams during their rookie campaign and all should be viewed as top 20 players at their respective positions. Draft them with confidence and hopefully a few will contribute to your team sooner than later.

Chris Wolf is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

Salary Cap Room for Draft Picks

Author: Steven Van Tassell

One great question that keeps coming up is – “How much salary cap room do I need to have for draft picks?”  The short answer is: “It depends”. That answer isn’t very helpful so it’s time to dive into some 2020 draft pick research, look back at last year’s draft, and give a (somewhat) better answer to that question for all of our Dynasty Owners.

Unless you traded away all three of your 2020 Dynasty Owner draft picks, you’ll need a minimum of three roster spots and $1.53 million in salary cap room. That will get your Dynasty Owner team three rookies on minimum salary contracts of $510,000 in 2020 to add to your team’s roster. Depending on your situation, your team could need more cap room and roster spots if you traded for a draft pick and less if you traded away a draft pick.

However, say you wanted the top three picks in the NFL draft and skill position players (QB, RB, WR, TE) were selected as the top three players, your Dynasty Owner team would need almost $26.4 million in salary cap room. The 2020 rookie salary for the top pick will be $9.154 million, it’s $8.735 million for the second pick and $8.469 million for the third pick. That’s a total of $26.36 million, or $24.83 million more than the minimum.

Let’s take a look at some realistic scenarios based on current mock draft projections. We’ll use NFL.com as our source for projections of when players will be drafted (http://www.nfl.com/draft/2020/mock-drafts). After that, we’ll check out some “real world” examples from 2019.

2020 NFL Mock Draft Projections

While it is possible for a Dynasty Owner to draft the top three skill position players in their Dynasty Owner rookie draft, based on current projections, you’d be adding three QBs to your roster. Joe Burrow is projected as the #1 pick and either Tau Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are projected to go as the #5 and #6 picks – depending on which mock draft expert you believe. If you don’t need three QBs, then you’ll likely be spending less than the $26.36 million.

Based on the Spotrac NFL draft tracker (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/draft/round-1/), those three players will probably be paid the following amounts at the listed mock draft selection spot:

  • Joe Burrow (#1 pick) – $9.154 million
  • Tua Tagovailoa (#5 pick) – $7.631 million
  • Justin Herbert (#6 pick) – $6.68 million

In total, that’s $23.465 million if you grabbed the top three skill position players likely to be drafted in the 2020 NFL draft. However, since very few Dynasty Owner teams probably need (or want) three rookie QBs, it seems that $23.5 million in cap room is really the highest possible amount that Dynasty Owners need to have available to draft rookies. More likely, the best that a Dynasty Owner will do is be able to draft the top QB, RB and WR.

Based on the mock drafts, the following players are projected as the top position players taken in the 2020 draft:

  • Joe Burrow (#1 pick) – $9.154 million
  • Ceedee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy (#11 pick) – $4.586 million
  • D’Andre Swift (#26 pick) – $3.025 million

The top QB, RB and WR are likely to cost a Dynasty Owner around $6.7 million less than the three QBs as the total for Burrow, Lamb/Jeudy and Swift is projected at $16.766 million. In reality, that’s the upper range a Dynasty Owner should keep on hand after the amnesty period is over to give himself room to draft three top rookies. So, unless everyone in your Dynasty Owner league is close against the salary cap, someone is likely to have enough room to take one of those top guys, so most Dynasty Owners can get away with less than the nearly $17 million mentioned above.

Examples from 2019 to Emulate for Your 2020 Cap Floor

For Dynasty Owners who like their team, but still have three draft picks and don’t want to restrict themselves to all rookies on minimum contracts, what’s a reasonable floor of salary cap space that you should have on hand?  Since about 10 skill positions are projected (on average) to be drafted in the first round, you could in theory draft a first round NFL draft pick (think WR N’Keal Harry who was the 32nd pick in the 2019 NFL draft), a mid-second or third round pick (one of the several WRs taken in that range in 2019 include A.J. Brown, Mecole Hardman, Parris Campbell, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside or RB Miles Sanders) and a fifth, sixth or seventh round pick (such as Hunter Renfrow, Darius Slayton, Gardner Minshew or Darwin Thompson). The most expensive of these grouping would have cost you only about $4.65 million in 2019, so to be safe, you’d need $5 million of salary cap room in 2020 to get the following players (# draft pick):

  • N’Keal Harry (First Round – #32 pick) – $2.525 million
  • A.J. Brown (Second Round – #51 pick) – $1.413 million
  • Hunter Renfrow (Fifth Round – #149 pick) – $708,987

While that’s three WRs, it’s still not a bad draft haul for less than $5 million. If you took one guy from three different positions, say Minshew at QB (sixth round), Josh Jacobs at RB (first round) and D.K. Metcalf at WR (second round), you would have spent a little bit more ($4.81 million):

  • Josh Jacobs (First Round – #24 pick) – $2.983 million
  • D.K. Metcalf (Second Round – #64 pick) – $1.146 million
  • Gardner Minshew II (Sixth Round – #178 pick) – $677,721

Without running more scenarios, it appears that $5 million is a good amount to have on hand to get a nice haul of rookies. It can be done for less if you need to and are able to mine the draft for some quality late round picks. A good draft last year would have been possible for only $2.533 million and netted a Dynasty Owner the following players:

  • D.K. Metcalf (Second Round – #64 pick) – $1.146 million
  • Hunter Renfrow (Fifth Round – #149 pick) – $708,987
  • Gardner Minshew II (Sixth Round – #178 pick) – $677,721

The 2020 salaries will be slightly higher, and the picks won’t be the exact same selections, but based on these results, it looks possible to have a good 2020 Dynasty Owner draft for around $2.5 to $3 million.

Conclusions

It depends is actually the correct answer here as, everything depends on your roster and draft picks stash. If you need more good players and have cleared enough salary cap room and others in your league are cap strapped, then you could pick up three of the top skill position players taken in the 2020 NFL draft. You’ll possibly need as much as $26.4 million, but more realistically about $16.8 million.

It’s possible to have a great draft for less – just look at 2019 when a savvy Dynasty Owner could have picked three quality players up for as little as $2.533 to $4.81 million. That’s more like $3 million to $5 million in 2020 draft salaries, but it shows any amount can be the “right” amount of salary cap room. Don’t forget about all of the great Dynasty Owner specific podcasts you can listen to and watch. The YouTube Live podcast from last Thursday with special guest Christopher Harris and the one from the previous Friday were really great and highly recommended. We also have message board debates and Twitter posts that you can check out.  All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!  After all, what else do you have to do now!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner