After covering all of the offensive skill players selected on Thursday and Friday, we are going to do a different type of recap for the final four rounds that went down on Saturday. The final day of the draft is filled with our favorite intriguing deeper cuts, but unfortunately, the hit rate for the players taken with Rounds 4-7 draft capital also carries the longest odds of finding fantasy relevancy and long term NFL careers.
Day 3 Hit Rates
Just 36.6% of Day 3 picks get second NFL contracts and just 16.4% of those players get that second contract with the team that drafted them.
For fantasy, over the past 10 years, just 18.9% (31-of-164 backs) of the Day 3 running backs have had one RB3-plus season in PPR points per game with just 14.6% having an RB2-plus season and 6.7% having a top-12 scoring season in points per game.
Of the 190 wide receivers selected on Day 3 over the same span, just 12 (6.3%) have had a WR3 or better scoring campaign per game, just seven (3.7%) have reached that WR2-plus status and just three (Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs) have had a WR1 scoring season per game so far. The end of the draft is not rich with key fantasy contributors, so we are only going to touch on the highlights (as well as a few lowlights) from the final day of the draft.
Running Backs Joining a Rotation
Of the backs that were selected on Saturday, Anthony McFarland and Joshua Kelley are the two backs that stand out as potentially having a path to a year one role without an injury.
McFarland had a tale of two seasons while at Maryland. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, he was electric with 1,107 yards on just 138 touches (8.0 YPT). In that season, he was anchored by back-to-back 200-yard rushing games, with the latter coming in a game versus Ohio State where he had 21 carries for 298 yards and two touchdowns. This past season, he took a step back, posting just 740 yards on 131 touches (5.6 YPT) with just two 100-yard rushing games. If given a runway, he can fly, positing the fifth-best speed score in this class by running a 4.44 at 208 pounds.
Landing Pittsburgh, McFarland is a much better change of pace back than Benny Snell, who offers little in the receiving game, and much more explosive runner than pass-catching maven Jaylen Samuels. Backing up James Conner has had some opportunity. Over the past two seasons, Conner has missed nine games outright due to injury and playing fewer than 40% of the team snaps in 10 of his 23 games active. Conner is also entering 2020 in the final season of his rookie contract.
Kelley transferred to UCLA for the 2018 season in which he posted 1,436 yards on 252 touches (5.7 YPT) and 12 touchdowns while catching 27 passes in 11 games. In 2019, he took a slight step back, tallying 1,131 yards on 240 touches (4.7 YPT) with just 11 catches out of the backfield in 11 games. Kelley (5’11”, 212) did test well at the combine, ranking fourth among workout backs with a 63rd percentile physical profile.
That added size is something that the Chargers were always going to be looking to add to their roster after letting Melvin Gordon leave via free agency this offseason.
Austin Ekeler’s touches have gone up from 74 to 145 to 224 over his three seasons in the league while also averaging over 10.0 yards per catch in all three seasons. Anthony Lynn has seemed reluctant to lean into Ekeler (5’10”, 200 pounds) as an alpha back when a bigger body is available. In six games without Gordon the past two years, Ekeler has carried 96 times for 349 yards (3.6 YPC) versus his 5.4 yards per tote when in a combo role over the past two seasons. With Justin Jackson also being a lighter back (199 pounds) the Chargers were a candidate to add a bigger body to the picture. Kelley allows Ekeler to still be used in an Alvin Kamara-type fashion while he is a threat for scoring opportunities and a major thorn for Jackson’s status at being the 1B option in the Charger backfield.
Miami Adds Matt Breida
No team got less production from their backfield in 2019 than the Dolphins. Miami backs collectively ranked dead last in touches (22.9) and yards from scrimmage (89.4) per game while averaging 3.9 yards per touch and scoring five total touchdowns. Miami was expected to a back in the draft, but they opted to trade for that player over selecting a back with a draft pick. Sending a fifth-round pick the 49ers in exchange for Breida, they have a 1-2 punch with Jordan Howard as a power back and Breida as the roadrunner.
An explosive player, Breida has averaged 5.5 yards per touch over his first three years in the league. His biggest hang-up has been getting a full-allotment of touches at 5’10”, 190 pounds and as a byproduct, not catching enough passes or scoring touchdowns. Even last year when he was the headpin for the 49ers early in the season, the team opted to call up Jeffery Wilson to handle the goal-line work. One thing Howard has excelled at so far in the NFL is finding the end zone. Howard has scored 32 times on 57 career games and had seven scores in nine games played a year ago.
Where he does struggle is in the passing game, opening the door for Breida to expand that element of his game. The move does not elevate Breida to full RB2 status, but it gives him an immediate pulse as a FLEX option with the upside to be more outside of being buried on the San Francisco roster like he was to close 2019. Breida is an unrestricted free agent after the season, so his dynasty stock only takes a small jump forward.
The Packers Bypass Wide Receiver… Again
The Packers know what they have at the top in Davante Adams, who is under contract through 2021. Behind him is a different story. After Adams led the team with 83 receptions in just 12 games played, the next highest players on the roster in terms of receptions were Aaron Jones (49), Jamaal Williams (39) and Jimmy Graham (38). Over a four-game stretch with Adams absent in 2019, Jones led the team with 22 catches with the highest wide receiver (Allen Lazard) checking in with 12 receptions during those games.
The team went out and added Devin Funchess on a one-year deal, but for no tangible commitment. Given their exposed depth behind Adams a year ago, the Packers were a popular destination for not one, but multiple wide receivers. Instead, the Packers made nine total draft selections with no additions to their receiving unit. Perhaps the Packers are in the hunt for a veteran wideout via trade or in the secondary free agent market, but them bypassing wide receiver altogether in the draft was a surprise.
Every year there are prospects that fall in the draft and 2020 was no different. At running back, no back slid further than expectations that Eno Benjamin. He was mercifully drafted in the seventh round at pick 222 as the 16th running back off the board. Benjamin was plenty productive with the most career receptions (82) among backs in this class. He was a true workhorse at Arizona State, handling 335 touches and 295 touches over the past two seasons. Benjamin accounted for 80.3% of his team non-QB rushing attempts and 83.6% of those rushing yards, the tops in this class while he also led in percentage of team receptions (18.0%).
Benjamin went from 195 pounds at the Senior Bowl up to 207 pounds at the combine to show that he can add weight without sacrificing a ton of athleticism. Arizona is at least a positive offensive situation to keep Benjamin lukewarm, but his slide in the draft was much further than anticipated.
At wide receiver, the league had been hinting to us that they may not like Tyler Johnson as much as the analytics community and that proved true. Johnson was the 20th wide receiver selected, drafted by the Buccaneers at pick 161 in the fifth round. In 2019, Johnson had 86-1,318-13 receiving while leading all wideouts in this class in yards per team pass attempt in 2019 (4.08). In 2019, Johnson was the only wide receiver to account for 40% of all of his team’s receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He did that while playing alongside a highly touted prospect is Rashod Bateman.
But Johnson never declared early after a strong 2018 and is receiving little to no recognition among the scouting community and those wired into the NFL perception of him. With his best position projected to play as a big slot receiver, Johnson appears to be roadblocked by Chris Godwin.
This was not a great tight end class, but Hunter Bryant going undrafted was not expected. As early as two months ago, Bryant had second-round buzz. But medical issues surrounding Bryant’s knee popped up post combine and he wasn’t touched on Saturday. The same went for Thaddeus Moss. Moss was unable to provide any athletic testing at the combine due to having a Jones Fracture in his right foot (Moss was quickly signed by Washington).
Forced to go the undrafted free agent route, both Bryant and Moss fall into a low bucket of probability of working out next level. Over the past 10 years, there have been just 20 seasons in which an undrafted tight end produced a TE24 or better season in points per game with just eight top-12 seasons in points per game.