The 2020 DO NOT DRAFT List Addendum; Four Additional Fades

by The “Mad Chatter” Ryan MK · Draft Strategy

We hear it all the time on the RotoUnderworld airwaves: fantasy football doesn’t have to be hard. While some decisions can be difficult, the path of logic and numbers brings simplicity. Each year, there are a handful of highly-touted players that fail to live up to their draft position. In hindsight, explanations can be found rather easily. If only there were ways to predict these sorts of explanations.

For all intents and purposes, there are ways these explanations can be uncovered before the season begins. By looking closely at advanced analytics and depth charts, the view becomes clearer; the truth a bit closer. The issues that present themselves during the season are made aware beforehand; as though foretold through a crystal ball. The DO NOT DRAFT list is that crystal ball. Presented here are additional fades, one at each position, that didn’t make the original list.

QB – Daniel Jones (FFPC ADP: 112.57)

The New York Giants surprised many by selecting Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. While it may have shocked some, the Giants needed an upgrade behind veteran Eli Manning, and questions surrounded the entirety of the quarterback class after No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. However, Jones’ ADP reveals that many overvalue the young signal caller.

Jones has good size at 6-5, 221-pounds, but also showed he has some athleticism. His 4.81 (61st-percentile among qualified quarterbacks) 40-Yard Dash and 11.41 (57th-percentile) Agility Score are both above average. His 118.3 (83rd-percentile) Burst Score was more impressive. Jones also scored high on the Wonderlic test and has a tremendous 19.3 (86th-percentile) Breakout Age.

Daniel Jones 2019 Efficiency Metrics

The issue with Jones is that “above average” might be his ceiling. Through 13 games in his rookie year, he ranked No. 28 in True Completion Percentage and No. 29 in True Passer Rating. His Red Zone Completion Percentage and Deep Ball Completion Percentage also rank near league bottom. His +10.0 (No. 11) Production Premium is a bright spot and there’s rushing upside to his game, though not as much as some would think. In 2019, Jones racked up 45 (No. 15) carries for 279 yards (No. 7), though most of his rushing production came outside of the red zone. That can change in 2020 if he receives more designed quarterback runs, but that’s a risky assumption, even with the offense being sure to improve on its efficiency.

The ADP is the smoking gun here with the young quarterback. Jones is currently drafted ahead of names such as Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. In dynasty leagues, it’s understandable to go with youth over a Brees or a Brady who have but a year or two left in the tank. Drafting Jones ahead of Ryan, a consistent producer, or the resurgent Newton, is where the logic falls apart.

RB – Austin Ekeler (ADP 17.79)

Austin Ekeler was the darling of the 2019 fantasy season. After being drafted in the later rounds, he finished as the No. 7 back with 217 fantasy points. He finished the year with a position-leading +54.5 Production Premium and a 28.0-percent (No. 7) Dominator Rating. There are concerns with Ekeler, however, the first being draft position. He’s currently being drafted in the third round as the No. 13 running back off the board per FFPC ADP data. He’s being taken above rookies Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift; as well as 2019’s third-leading rusher, Aaron Jones. This is egregious and absurd in all formats. Ekeler is no slouch, but the hype train needs to tap the brakes a bit.

During the first four weeks of the 2019 season, Ekeler enjoyed Melvin Gordon‘s absence, registering 10-plus carries in three of the four games. From Week 5 on, he exceeded 10 carries only once. Gordon seeing a big workload was likely due to his inevitable departure during the offseason, but Ekeler’s contract bears reviewing. The extension puts him behind Leonard Fournette (on the last year of his rookie deal), and ahead of Duke Johnson and Giovani Bernard. Not exactly a vote of confidence.

Check out Austin Ekeler’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

In 2019, Ekeler ranked outside the top-20 in Breakaway Runs and Juke Rate. He registered 4.0 (No. 34) True Yards Per Carry. Even worse was his 1.04 (No. 52) Yards Created Per Touch. The new quarterback room of Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert, combined with the abnormal training camp, adds to a growing list of concerns.

The optimism behind Ekeler, and the reason for rostering him, is his receiving skills out of the backfield. He ranked No. 2 in Targets Per Game (6.8), receptions (92) and receiving yards (993) in 2019. The issue is his struggles running the ball effectively, raising questions about his ability to be a three-down back. Meaning Ekeler’s teammates, Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley, will see far more action than most expect.

WR- JuJu Smith-Schuster (ADP: 38.96)

Juju Smith-Schuster; yet another hype train that is way out of control. While there are aspects of his player profile to like, there are an abundance of red flags. Similar to Austin Ekeler, the draft price is too costly given the talent and circumstance. His Best Comparable Player is DeAndre Hopkins, but unlike the former Texan, Smith-Schuster couldn’t produce with lackluster quarterback play last year.

Though he battled with injury in 2019, Smith-Schuster wasn’t good when he was on the field. The combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges was horrific to be sure, but JuJu’s production and efficiency were incomparable to 2018. Fellow wideout Diontae Johnson fared better with the same quarterback play, boasting a +2.8 (No. 40) Production Premium compared to Smith-Schuster’s -3.3 (No. 52) mark.

JuJu Smith-Schuster 2019 Efficiency Metrics

Ben Roethlisberger‘s return has many excited for Smith-Schuster’s potential this year, but it’s fair to question how much gas Big Ben has left in the tank. Roethlisberger is no Tom Brady, and shouldn’t be expected to play into his forties. Not to mention, Pittsburgh seems lukewarm to the idea of a contract extension with the receiver. JuJu’s future is uncertain.

In addition to the multiple red flags, a reexamination of the wideout’s player profile gives pause. Despite his above average Speed Score and Agility Score, Smith-Schuster’s 4.54 (52nd-percentile) 40-Yard Dash time is average, as is his 31.9-percent (56th-percentile) College Dominator Rating and 14.7 (49th-percentile) College YPR. It’s fair to wonder if the 2018 version of Smith-Schuster will ever be seen again.

TE – Tyler Higbee (ADP 66.93)

This might be the most ludicrous selection on the list. The Tyler Higbee hype train conductor might want to hop off before it’s too late. Going as the TE7 in the sixth round, those who select Higbee are passing on names such as Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith and Irv Smith. How in fantasy hell did this happen?

To begin with, Higbee’s player profile isn’t all that impressive. His clocked a 4.80 (45th-percentile) 40-Yard Dash and his 95.8 (50th-percentile) Speed Score is average. Though he registered a 20.8-percent (67th-percentile) College Dominator Rating with 14.8 (75th-percentile) College YPR, his 22.7 (8th-percentile) Breakout Age is atrocious. When looking at the spark for Higbee’s hype, Weeks 13 through 17 of last season, there is an obvious factor; Gerald Everett‘s absence.

While Higbee turned heads at the end of the season, Everett had a few big games himself when healthy. His player profile reveals an athletic stud, with upper-percentile marks across the board. His 31.7-percent College Dominator Rating falls in the 90th-percentile. Coach Sean McVay admitted this offseason that Everett needs to be more involved, despite what the other guy did. Ignore the Higbee hoopla and grab Everett in the later rounds.