Conlin Postma @ConlinFF
One common reaction from a fan when their team drafts a rookie when they already have an established veteran is, “WHAT THE F*** ARE WE DOING!” I bet the veterans have the same reaction, too. Now you have veterans like Aaron Jones, Marlon Mack, Tyrell Williams, and Damien Williams, all competing with rookies. For fantasy players, these rookies can leave a sour taste in your mouth. It is too early to tell what effect the incoming rookies will have on their teams.
For instance, the Chiefs could want to split carries between Damien Williams and their first-round pick, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That can all change, and Edwards-Helaire becomes the full-time starter, and Williams gets six touches per game. On the other hand, it can be vice versa, and CEH barely sees the field, and Williams gets all the first-team reps.
This article will highlight six veterans whose value decreased after the draft. I not only will be highlighting the impact of the rookies, but also some free agency signings. An example would be the Indianapolis Colts signing Philip Rivers. He loves to throw to his running backs, and that is good news to Nyheim Hines and not Marlon Mack. Below lists out the six veterans that I believe suffered the biggest hits to their value heading into the 2020 season.
After a break out year and what was an MVP type performance in the Super Bowl, Kansas City chose Clyde Edwards-Helaire with their 32nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. This hurts Williams’ value due to the uncertainty of how involved Edwards-Helaire will be in the offense. Damien Williams established himself as the Chiefs’ full-time starter from Week Nine on, in just five games (missed Weeks 13 to 15). In those five weeks, he carried the ball 63 times for 398 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He proved his worth in the receiving game, too. Damien caught 13 out of 15 passes for 98 yards and one score.
Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach said in an interview with Pro Football Talk, “I certainly think it’s going to be a shared load. Damien has been in this offense for a long time and certainly has shown what he can do on that playoff run. The guy’s a really good pass protector [and] can catch the football. I mean, both these guys can run and catch and certainly Damien will come in as the starting running back, and Clyde will have to come in here and compete for playing time, which we think he’ll do. But I think it will be a one-two punch.”
Not only did Vegas take Henry Ruggs III with their 12th overall pick, but they drafted two other wideouts and signed Nelson Agholor. This is the worst-case scenario for Tyrell Williams. Last season, Hunter Renfrow saw more targets than Williams even though he played less than 300 snaps. The Alabama rookie is coming into the offense as the possible new deep threat and a third option to quarterback, Derek Carr. It doesn’t help that the last three seasons; Tyrell has underperformed. Never surpassing 44 catches or 70 targets is a big red flag. Now with three rookies and Agholor in Las Vegas, Williams could be cut or traded in a crowded depth chart.
Missing a combined 14 games over his first two seasons is a strong reason for the Lions to draft another back. Detroit selected former Georgia running back, D’Andre Swift, with their 35th pick. It will be interesting to see how these two players mesh because Swift is a better pass catcher. In 2019, Kerryon caught ten passes in eight appearances. During his three-year tenure with the Bulldogs, D’Andre racked up 73 receptions in 43 games. One startling fact that needs to be looked at is the lack of touchdowns Kerryon has scored. Each of his two seasons, he has only scored three rushing touchdowns. This is a major red flag! If Johnson isn’t able to stay healthy and unreliable in the passing game, Swift could quickly become the full-time starter in Detroit.
It seems like this is a make or break season for the 31-year-old receiver. He was hit with the Franchise Tag, but now with Clemson wide receiver, Tee Higgins, added to the roster he could be coming for A.J. Green’s spot. Green has been dealing with multiple injuries over the last four seasons, missing 29 games during that period. Due to his absence, Tyler Boyd has shown potential, and John Ross has had flashes of success.
There is no reason to doubt Green’s past success. From 2013 to 2017, the ten-year vet had more than 1,000 yards in four out of five seasons. Higgins is the same height as Green as they both stand 6’4 and weigh around 214 lbs. The similar size between the receivers shows Cincinnati is hopeful on potentially having another A.J. Green in their future. With a current rebuild underway, Green’s inability to stay on the field, and Tee Higgins in the mix, A.J. Green is on his last leg.
It was already a headache dealing with Jamaal Williams getting reps, but now second-round pick, A.J. Dillon is in the mix. One of the bright spots for Green Bay last season was their running game. Williams and Aaron Jones combined for a total of 343 carries and 88 receptions on 113 targets. A reason for the 431 total touches was due to Davante Adams being injured and inconsistency at the receiver position. There is a high probability Jones will regress from his 19 combined touchdowns due to the rookie’s arrival and Adams being fully healthy. As a 247 lbs. back, Dillon could come in at the goal line and quickly rack up six touchdowns as a between the tackles hammer. At the end of the season, A.J. Dillon could have about 130 touches while Jamaal Williams secures 115, and Aaron Jones leads the backfield with 210.
A 1,000-yard campaign wasn’t good enough for the Colts to go all-in on Mack. He was already losing touches to Nyheim Hines, but Indy drafting Wisconsin back, Jonathan Taylor, will lead to fewer touches. As I stated previously, Hines was involved in the offense as their main pass-catching back and was second on the team in receptions with 44. Philip Rivers peppered Austin Ekeler with 108 targets last season, and Hines could see a significant increase from his 58 targets last year. That spells doom for Mack’s potential and time on the field. Now let’s talk about Taylor.
At Wisconsin, he totaled 6,174 on 926 carries in three years. He has established him as a pure starting running back. One common factor between Mack and Taylor is their lack of usage in the passing game. Mack has 52 catches in three seasons, and Taylor had 42 catches in three seasons as well. Last season, Mack finished with the ninth most carries, 11th most yards, but was 20th in Half-PPR scoring formats. Mack’s value took a hit with River’s arrival, now factor in Taylor, and that is a bigger hit to Mack’s value.