WATCH: Calvin Ridley or DJ Moore in dynasty?
A more overlooked part of the draft is how it affects veterans. It’s a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of what a team is thinking in actions rather than mere words. Last week, I hit on nine vets whose 2018 projection rose in the wake of the draft. Here are eight vets whose outlook has taken a hit.
Corey Coleman, WR, BrownsColeman was one of the best prospects in the 2016 class. He had an 89th percentile College Dominator score (via PlayerProfiler.com) while going 74-1,363-20 as a junior at Baylor and is a special athlete (94th percentile SPARQ score). However, frustrating injuries, inept coaching and poor quarterback play has left Coleman out in the cold in Cleveland. Josh Gordon is off suspension, target magnet Jarvis Landry was added via trade (plus given a $75 million extension), tight end David Njoku drips with upside in the passing game and the Browns used a fourth-round pick on elite talent Antonio Callaway. The reason Callaway dropped in the draft was because of off-field concerns such as failed drug tests and credit card fraud — it had nothing to do with ability. Beat writers already are suggesting Callaway could push Coleman for the No. 3 WR job.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, PanthersMcCaffrey finished 12th among all running backs in PPR points per game last season, and it’s going to be difficult for him to improve on that finish. Washed-up Jonathan Stewart (Pro Football Focus’ No. 53 RB among 60 qualifiers last season) was replaced by C.J. Anderson (PFF’s No. 9 RB). Anderson will at least get the work Stewart did, which was 13.2 carries per game plus 12 carries inside the 5-yard line. McCaffrey, inefficient and undersized as a runner, got just 7.3 carries per game and a grand total of two rushes from inside the 5-yard line. McCaffrey will continue to be featured as a receiver, but first-round WR D.J. Moore excels in the same area of the field CMC does, and Greg Olsen postponed his retirement. The floor here in DraftKings’ full-PPR format remains high, but the ceiling is capped due to a limited rushing share, non-existent red-zone rushing share and Moore’s presence.
Carlos Hyde, RB, BrownsWhen Hyde first signed a $15 million deal with the Browns in March, he was set up nicely. The Browns have an underrated offensive line, the quarterback play was a lock to improve under Tyrod Taylor, Taylor’s rushing ability opens up extra rushing lanes and the Browns’ offense as a whole projected to score a ton more points. But then the Browns used the No. 35 overall pick on wildly productive and freakishly athletic Nick Chubb. Don’t be surprised to see a three-man committee a lot with Hyde, Chubb and Duke Johnson all getting work out of the backfield.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, CowboysIt’s difficult for running backs to sustain elite production in a full-PPR format when they lack pass-game work. It’s also hard when your team projects near the bottom of the league in plays per game. So the Cowboys’ draft-day decision to trade a sixth-round pick for Tavon Austin and subsequent plan to play him at running back was bad news. Elliott, who only averaged 2.6 catches per game last season and 2.1 as a rookie, is unlikely to take a step forward there without pass-down work. Add in a lack of overall offensive talent and a no longer dominant offensive line, and we have a lowered weekly floor for Zeke. I’d take David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley ahead of Elliott in season-long formats right now.
Rex Burkhead, RB, PatriotsThe Patriots, one of the most value-conscious teams in the league and one that consistently looks to trade down, stood pat at No. 31 overall. And they took — gasp — a running back. It’s a wildly out-of-character move for Bill Belichick and speaks to how much he likes playmaking back Sony Michel. So Burkhead goes from competing against James White, Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill to competing against White and Michel. Look for one of Gillislee or Hill to get cut, and the other to be buried on the bench. The highly productive Burkhead certainly still will have a role, but his path to 15 touches per game has been blocked. I talked more about Michel when I ranked all the rookies for the upcoming season.
Geronimo Allison, WR, PackersThe WR3 role in Green Bay consistently has held spots of value in the Aaron Rodgers era. James Jones (2015), Davante Adams (2014), Jarrett Boykin (2013), Jordy Nelson (2012) are some examples. The job should have extra focus this season with slot man Randall Cobb coming off three straight disappointing seasons. Allison, who went 6-122-0 with Rodgers in Week 2 of last season, entered the draft as the frontrunner, but the Packers weren’t going to stand pat. They took J’Mon Moore in the fourth round, Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth and mercurial Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth. Moore’s locker was placed between Adams and Cobb in the locker room. The Packers also have been linked to free agent Dez Bryant. Allison has an uphill battle on his hands now.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, FalconsSanu was quietly an inexpensive floor play often on DraftKings last year, playing on 78 percent of the snaps and getting at least six targets in 9-of-15 games. He also recorded 12 red-zone targets — not too far off from Julio Jones’ 19. But gadgety No. 3 wideout Taylor Gabriel, who saw just 3.1 targets per game last season, has been replaced by first-rounder Calvin Ridley. Although Ridley’s lack of athleticism is concerning, he comes into the league as a polished 23-year-old with three years of solid production at a high collegiate level. Expect him to earn 4-6 targets per game as he capitalizes on the single coverage generated by Julio and takes share away from Sanu.
Chris Carson, RB, SeahawksBy Seattle’s run-game standards, Carson was productive last season. As a seventh-round rookie he earned the starting role by Week 2 and finished with a 49-208-0 rush line plus 7-59-1 receiving line. Of course, Carson lasted just four games before severely fracturing his ankle/leg. So the Seahawks, desperate for durability and production at the position, reached for Rashad Penny at No. 27 overall. Carson is fully recovered from his injury, but he returns as a strict backup to Penny.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.