2018 Dynasty Startup Round 2 – Young Running Backs Rising
The RotoViz 2018 dynasty startup mock is in full swing. We’ll look at this draft from almost every direction imaginable, including an explanation of player selection from the drafters, draft strategy, pick value, and more. While we work through the final 20 rounds, we can use the RotoViz Screener to build statistical profiles for the talents coming off the board in Round 2. The first round saw elite receiving talents Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown battle Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell for supremacy.
13. Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski’s target volume has remained steady, and he remains an integral part of the New England passing attack. He’s accounted for over 20 percent of the Patriots target market share in all but three seasons.1 Gronkowski is likely going to be the most valuable TE in fantasy football until Tom Brady retires.
14. A.J. Green
Coming off a season where he saw approximately nine targets per game, 2017 is Green’s worst season in the NFL. Despite receiving a robust 29 percent of the targets, Green posted career lows in receiving yards per game and PPR points per game. Additionally, his 2017 receiving fantasy points over expectation2 were well below the marks posted over the course of his career. Despite underperforming his volume, Green ended the season as a top-10 WR in PPR formats. Assuming the Bengals offense takes a step forward next season, Green’s fantasy production should return to 2015 or 2016 levels.
15. Kareem Hunt
Spencer Ware suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, thrusting Hunt into the starter’s role. As a rookie, Hunt proved to be more than capable of running the football. More importantly, he was a reliable producer in the receiving game. Hunt was among the top-10 RBs in rushing expected points (ruEP) and among the top 15 in receiving expected points (reEP). Hunt’s rookie season was comparable to several elite RBs, including Matt Forte.
16. Stefon Diggs
While Diggs was overshadowed by the emergence of Adam Thielen, he quietly took a step forward as a receiver. Although a drop in Diggs’ target market share impacted his raw production totals, he posted almost 3.0 reFPOE per game. More worrying is that Diggs suffered another groin injury, a similar injury to the one that forced him to miss time in 2016. Diggs’ injuries have thus far depressed his fantasy potential, and if he can stay healthy for a full season, he could be a first-round pick this time next year.
17. Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper’s dynasty valuation took a huge hit in 2017, his worst season in the NFL. In addition to missing two games, Cooper saw large declines in volume (reEP) and efficiency (reFPOE). The Raiders may release Michael Crabtree this offseason, opening up a majority of the target share for Cooper. One of just 10 players to ever post 180/2700/15 by age 23, he should bounce back next season.
18. Melvin Gordon
After a disastrous rookie campaign, Melvin Gordon has slowly become one of the best RBs in the NFL. Gordon was an elite prospect and an undervalued dynasty asset before his breakout. Gordon rewarded owners who decided to take a chance on his hidden upside in 2016, posting career highs in all rushing categories. He also saw an increase in his receiving game usage after Danny Woodhead suffered a season-ending injury. While Gordon has never been the most efficient RB at running the football, his consistent usage in the passing game gives him a sky-high ceiling.
19. Leonard Fournette
Fournette was drafted to be the workhorse for the Jacksonville Jaguars and immediately earned the bulk of the rushing work. He saw moderate usage in the passing game and performed well when targeted by Blake Bortles. For Fournette to ascend into the elite tier of RBs, the Jaguars will need to incorporate him more fully. Hopefully, Fournette can avoid the fate that befell several of his comparable rookie RBs.
20. Brandin Cooks
Despite seeing fewer targets per game, Cooks saw an increase in his target market share after moving to New England.3 Additionally, Cooks posted his worst reFPOE numbers since his rookie season. Although Danny Amendola is set to hit free agency, Cooks still faces target competition from Gronkowski and the other WRs on the Patriots. However, Cooks has posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and will turn 25 next season. Hopefully, a full offseason with the Patriots will propel him back into low-end WR1 status.
21. Derrick Henry
This may be a little too high for Henry, but we’ll let John Lapinski explain his selection in the upcoming Controversial Picks article.
Henry has gained 1,507 yards from scrimmage and scored 11 TDs through two seasons. In 2017 he ranked No. 16 in per play efficiency among runners with at least 100 carries.
22. Dalvin Cook
Sadly, Cook’s season was cut short due to injury, but in the four games he was active, he produced like an elite RB. Cook saw 68 percent of the Vikings carries and was starting to see some usage in the passing game. Cook has 20 touch per game upside and should continue to be peppered with targets going forward. However, Cook’s history of injuries are something to take into account when drafting him this high. Take the small sample presented above with a grain of salt, especially since we need to see more before we can write off his pre-draft red flags.
23. Christian McCaffrey
For McCaffrey, the pros and cons are almost the same. Despite being woefully inefficient at rushing the ball, McCaffrey finished the season as the RB10 in PPR. He’s barely been involved in the running game but still posted 3.7 expected rushing points per game. More heartening for McCaffrey is the outsize usage he sees in the receiving game. His current role is akin to that of a hybrid WR/RB, granting him a very high floor. If he earns an increase in his rushing role, the ceiling for McCaffrey is sky high.
24. Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill is only 23-years old and is coming off a WR1 season. He built upon his 2016 with a stellar 2017, producing elite fantasy numbers on only 21 percent of the target market share. His reFPOE rose to 4.8 per game, and his full season numbers (71.4 reFPOE) represented the high-water mark among all WRs. Although there is worry regarding Hill sustaining his production, it’s unlikely the Chiefs add another WR in free agency. With Patrick Mahomes set to take over under center, the offense may evolve into an even better fit for Hill’s skillset.