2020 NFL Draft: Arrow pointing down for Aaron Rodgers, Ronald Jones, rest of Fantasy’s biggest losers

It’s a lot more fun writing about winners coming out of the NFL Draft than it is the players who saw their Fantasy appeal take a hit. After all, the draft is supposed to be the most optimistic time of the year — the NFL just got a huge injection of 255 sure-fire superstars, just ask fans of all 32 NFL teams!

However, the truth is, football is a zero-sum game, and for every winner there has to be a loser. Let’s call it “Towers’ First Rule of Fantasy Football Motion.” I wrote about who came out of the draft smelling of roses earlier Saturday, picking 23 players who see the arrow pointing up on their Fantasy value. Here, we’ve got the other side of the coin: 19 players who come out of the NFL Draft in a worse spot than they were in before. 

QB Losers

Aaron Rodgers

Look, I don’t want to doubt Rodgers, who might be the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. But … he’s not that guy anymore, and he hasn’t been that guy in at least three years — arguably five! Rodgers, who is tied for the career lead in touchdown percentage (among quarterbacks who debuted after 1963, at least) at 6.0%, hasn’t been above a 4.6% mark in either of his past two seasons. He has only been above average in yards per attempt twice in the past five seasons and is coming off a pedestrian 7.0 mark. He can’t be counted on to just elevate mediocre talent, but the Packers seem to have no interest in upgrading his passing game weapons. That could be seen as a vote of confidence in Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, except the Packers made no significant moves to upgrade the receiving corps a year ago, either. I’m deeply confused by the Packers approach in the draft — which included an heir apparent to Rodgers, despite the latter being under contract at a significant cap hit through at least 2022, and a third running back with their first two picks — but I don’t know how you could argue it was good for Rodgers. His team is letting him down in the twilight of his career, and it’s going to make it hard to get back to the ranks of the Fantasy elite.

Jalen Hurts

Truth be told, I’m despondent about this one. Hurts is exactly the kind of quarterback we should want to get playing time for Fantasy, thanks to his ability to rack up prodigious numbers on the ground. He’s not Lamar Jackson, but he’s probably the closest thing we’ve seen — including the questions about his passing abilities despite elite production in college. Maybe he is a fatally flawed prospect, but we probably won’t get a chance to find out, with the Eagles drafting him as a backup and, presumably, gadget player. Carson Wentz has a long history of injuries, but the Eagles aren’t likely to move on from him soon, so Hurts’ upside is as an injury fill in for the next three years, at least. That’s a significant disappointment.

RB Losers

Marlon Mack, Kerryon Johnson, Darrell Henderson, Ronald Jones, Devin Singletary, Damien Williams

Not all six of these backs will lose their jobs (or presumed jobs, in Jones’ and Henderson’s case), but all now face significant challenges to their Fantasy relevance. Let’s go one-by-one, in order of how likely they are to lose their jobs:

  • Henderson never really had his job, and with the Rams snagging the dynamic Cam Akers, he may not ever have it. It was a rough rookie season for Henderson after the Rams traded up to draft him a year ago, and with Akers around, it may never happen for him. He does have the skills to be a factor in the passing game, but his chances of ever being a true must-start Fantasy option are approaching zero.
  • Like Henderson, it’s hard to say Jones ever really had this job for 2020. The Buccaneers were always going to target someone to challenge him after a 2019 season filled with equal parts promise and disappointment as the coaching staff soured on him from time to time. Jones is still just 22 — he’s actually three months younger than Ke’Shawn Vaughn, funny enough — but he’s in for a real fight come training camp.
  • Williams might actually be most likely to lose his job, which is sort of a bummer, because he really was worth the hype last season when healthy. The only reason I have him as less likely than Jones or Henderson to lose his job is because he was that good when healthy. However, with the Chiefs making Clyde Edwards-Helaire the only first-round running back, it seems inevitable he’ll be the starter sooner rather than later. Williams, Henderson and Jones can’t go off the board until the second half of drafts at this point.
  • Mack is a free agent after the 2020 season, so the writing was on the wall as soon as the Colts took Jonathan Taylor in the second round. Mack hasn’t done much to justify losing his job, but he also isn’t a difference maker — not like Taylor was in college. I assume Mack will enter camp as the starter, but Taylor might just snatch it from him before Week 1. Mack’s value could change dramatically by the time we’re drafting, but for now, he can’t be viewed as a Fantasy starter.
  • Johnson is still just 22, so even despite the injuries he has suffered, I’m not quite ready to write him off yet. It’s entirely possible D’Andre Swift shows up in camp and runs away with the job, but it also seems possible Johnson could show enough in camp to keep a significant portion of the work.
  • The Bills decision to draft Zack Moss with Devin Singletary on the roster is a bit of a puzzler. Singletary was excellent as a rookie once he got on the field regularly, but his Fantasy ceiling was seemingly already limited because Josh Allen soaks up so much work in the red zone and doesn’t target his running backs often. Moss doesn’t seem to make sense as a situational replacement for Singletary, so I’ll assume he’s going to be more of a strict backup, but that’s just another hit to Singletary’s ceiling.

Mark Ingram

Ingram’s job seems safe for 2020, at least — the biggest losers from the Ravens decision to draft J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State in the second round are Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, who should fall off Fantasy radars. But it also puts at least a little cloud over Ingram, especially after this season. He was already a regression candidate after scoring so many touchdowns as a receiver last season, and now he might have some competition for touches from Dobbins. If that competition comes in the red zone, it could make Ingram awfully hard to trust even as an RB2.

Aaron Jones

Like I said in the Rodgers section, I have no idea what the Packers were thinking, but it can’t be good news for Jones, who is being viewed as a borderline elite Fantasy running back for 2020. Jones was a great Fantasy option in 2019, but it always seemed unlikely he would score another 19 touchdowns, and that looks even less likely with the addition of AJ Dillon from Boston College. Dillon is a gigantic back at 247 pounds, and while he might displace Jamaal Williams first, if the big, strong runner also pushes for some of the goal-line work, that would definitely cost Jones. I view Jones as more of a second rounder now, and one who might frustrate you on a weekly basis with his reliance on touchdowns.

WR Losers

CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper

Every target Lamb takes next season won’t necessarily come from Cooper and Gallup, as the Cowboys have 107 targets departing their roster this offseason. However, Randall Cobb, the No. 3 receiver a year ago, had just 83 targets in spite of Gallup missing two games due to knee surgery and Cooper getting two or fewer targets in three other games. Either Lamb is going to be relegated to a similar role to what Cobb had, or Cooper and Gallup are going to take a big hit. That’s a shame, because both could have been starting Fantasy options in 2020. That could still happen, but it looks less likely not than it did before the draft, with Cooper looking more like a No. 2 option and Gallup and Lamb both settling in as No. 4s.

Courtland Sutton (and Noah Fant)

It always seemed likely the Broncos would add some help in the receiving game to give Drew Lock a better chance to succeed. However, it was legitimately surprising to see them take two wide receivers with their first two picks. Jeudy figures to play opposite Sutton on the outside, while Hamler will slide into the slot, so these picks won’t force Sutton or Fant off the field. However, they do create more competition for targets on what already figures to be a more run-heavy team. If Lock takes a big step forward that could mitigate some of the issues, but the ultimate ceilings for Sutton and Fant (No. 1 options at WR and TE, respectively) both just took a hit.

Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery was always a risk to make an impact in 2020 after he underwent foot surgery and then reportedly asked for a trade to kick off the offseason, but the draft really shows how little the Eagles seem to be expecting from him. Jalen Reagor is the biggest weapon the Eagles added, but with depth picks like John Hightower and Quez Watkins, the Eagles really stocked up on speedy playmakers. If Jeffery is healthy and still on the roster come Week 1, he could still be the top option for Carson Wentz after Zach Ertz, but it doesn’t seem like the Eagles are holding their breath.

Jamison Crowder

Even as he was receiving 122 targets, Crowder was a pretty boring Fantasy option, and the Jets decision to add Denzel Mims in the second-round doesn’t make him look any more enticing. Mims doesn’t impact Crowder’s role much, but if all he does it take Robby Anderson’s departed targets, Crowder’s ceiling is probably just his 2019. And who really wants to pay for that.

TE Losers

Darren Waller

Waller was a winner coming out of the first round, even after the Raiders took Henry Ruggs as the first wide receiver off the board. After all, Ruggs is more of a downfield threat, so Waller didn’t necessarily face too much competition for targets. Then the Raiders opted to take two more pass catchers in the third round, both of whom could be more of a threat to Waller’s short and intermediate role. Given how much Waller’s value was impacted by Hunter Renfrow’s emergence as the season went on, this much competition can’t be good news. He’s falling back to the pack at tight end.

Jack Doyle

Between the addition of Michael Pittman Jr. in the draft and Trey Burton in free agency just before the draft, competition for targets in Indianapolis just got a lot more serious. The Colts can still use multiple tight ends, as they have in the past, but if Pittman emerges as the legitimate No. 2 receiver they’ve never really had during Doyle’s time with the team, Doyle seems likely to fade into obscurity. He just isn’t a big enough playmaker to be Fantasy relevant without a significant workload. 

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