Draft Day Decisions pt. 2
In part one, we looked at who we are taking at the 1.01, the second tier of wideouts, and the three tight ends following Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle. This group of players may not be as interesting as the last, but they are all still just as important when things get hectic come draft day. For my full rankings, you can find them at this random site (updated weekly), but for an in depth look at multiple players, look no further than this piece below.
Aaron Jones - Green Bay Packers - RB14, Pick 28
Aaron Jones may be the most talented of the bunch, but his situation is littered with concerns.
Firstly, he's currently dealing with a hamstring issue, an ailment we have seen linger over long periods, as it did with both Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette last season. Sure, it's still early, as we're over a month out from Week 1, but with a new coaching staff in town, it's critical that Jones gets work early and often with the first team, learning how the new offense will operate. I'm sure when he's up to speed, he will have no issue taking over the team's starting role, but the fact that Notre Dame rookie, Dexter Williams, is getting run with the ones right now may hinder AJ's development.
I mean, it's not that is something we haven't seen in Green Bay. Just looking at last season, he was by far in a way the best back that roster had to offer, yet he only managed to top a 40% snap share after Week 8. He was dealing with a suspension early in the season, a situation that likely didn't put him in the team's good graces, but when active, he showed consistent efficiency and production. Despite this, he had to work continuously to secure the lead back role, and when he did, proved he was among the league's best when it came to compiling stats in all areas of the field.
Follwoing Week 8, Jones eclipsed a 60% snap share in five of seven games and put up ridiculous rushing AND receiving stats. To put his dominance into perspective, his 16 game pace over that seven week span was 222/1,216/12 on the ground and 66 targets for a 50/377/2 receiving line. There's no question he deserves 15+ touches per game, but year in and year out, the Packers do everything in their power to limit #33.
What should instill confidence, though, is that last year in a partial season, Aaron Jones not only out touched Jamaal Williams at every level of the red zone (18 to 14 inside the 20; 8 to 6 inside the 10; 4 to 2 inside the 5), he also had more 3rd down opportunites than both JWill and Ty Montgomery. With Jones easily being the best pass catching back among the Williams brothers and himself, third down duties should be a lock, and with the ability he has shown to find the endzone, goal line duties will likely fall in his lap.
Everything sounds great, right? Well, they kind of are. He is one of very few backs that profiles to have a 3-down role while also being the goal line option, and even fewer have this opportunity on a team as good as the Green Bay Packers. There are many red flags, though, enough for me to move him to the end of this tier so long as his hamstring woes are up in the air.
He has been injured in both of his professional seasons, dealing with multiple MCL sprains, and despite being a seemingly elite talent, has yet to garner the respect he deserves. Sure, the Dexter Williams pick was likely an attempt to add depth, but we have seen Jones lose work to far less talented runners *cough* Jamaal Williams *cough*, so I'm not sure he will begin the season as a true workhorse, a trend we have come to expect in GB. As for his knee sprains, I'm no doctor, but I can only imagine those ailments, paired with his current hamstring setback, only add to the riskiness that is taken on if/when you decide to draft him. If healthy, I don't think it's beyond his range of outcomes to end the year as a top 5 back in all formats, but his injury history MUST be taken into consideration when debating between he and the other two backs in this "tier", and since the other two have similar ceilings, yet aren't currently dealing with injury setbacks, I think it's fair to rank Jones as the third musketeer.
Marlon Mack - Indianapolis Colts - RB16, Pick 31
Marlon Mack is a favorite around these parts. How often can you find a lead back, running behind a top five offensive line, on one of the league's best offenses, in the third round? Answer: Never.
We saw last year how much the Colts believed in MM, not only during the regular season, but also in the postseason and offseason. After his return, from week six on, Mack averaged 18.3 touches per game, while Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins combined for just 9.9 over that span. That trend continued into the playoffs, where in the two games the Colts played, Mack outtouched both backfieldmates 35 to 5. If that wasn't enough evidence, just look at what they did in the offseason: nothing. Everyone was hoping Le'Veon Bell would land in Indiana, not just because of the opportunity he would have behind that elite line, but also because they had the cap space necessary to do so. Indy said "fuck all that" and ran with Eminem, just another feather in his cap as to how much commitment the team has shown towards him.
So now that he's their unquestioned lead-back, what does that entail? Well, in just 12 games last season, he had the 11th most red zone rushes (36, paced out to 16 games = 48; would have ranked 4th) and 7th most carries inside the five (12, paced out to 16 games = 16; would have ranked 2nd). Basically, he is going to be getting the ball in high value situations. Goal line work is obviously a massive indicator of touchdown upside, but what about passing down work? If he overtook this aspect, Mack would be an unquestioned top-10 back. Though it isn't a lock that he secures this role, I do have an idea as to what the Colts may do to get Marlon more involved.
Look at who they drafted this season. No, not Rock Ya-Sin (top 5 name of all time). Parris Campbell. Why do I think he will benefit MM? Well, in college, Parris was used heavily at/around the line of scrimmage, which is where Hines derived a ton of his snaps/usage in 2018. Coach Frank Reich already came out and said Hines' role would be scaled back with this addition, which leads me to believe more opportunities may be opened for Mack on 3rd downs (and other passing down situations). It's not like Mack is a liability in the passing game, as he topped 20 receptions twice during his time at USF (78th percentile college target share) and thus far in the NFL has averaged 8.6 yards per reception. This potential could entice the coaching staff to leave Mack out there on passing-downs to help give the team a threat of a rushing presence while Campbell lines up in the slot, giving the offense the best of both worlds. IF this comes to fruition, Mack's target numbers will inevitably improve, adding to the ultra-safe floor he already boasts.
Not to plug the draftguide here, but I'm plugging the draftguide. I looked into the top 5 offensive lines over the past 10 seasons (50 team sample) and calculated where the team's lead back ended at the end of the season. In half PPR, a runningback playing behind what PFF ranks as a top five offensive line ended at an average of the RB13.98, or in other words, a very high-end RB2. With the Colts' line ranking inside the top-five heading into 2019 (as graded by Pro Football Focus), it just provides another reason as to why/how Mack has one of the highest floors among the position.
I will say, if Andrew Luck's injury persists, I would move Mack to the bottom of this tier. The last time Brissett was at the helm, the squad really struggled, but it should also be remembered that the Colts' offensive line and defense was nowhere near the level of play that they boast now. Because of this, I wouldn't expect Mack's role and production to suffer all that much, but since his red zone rushing stats would likely suffer from losing Luck, I'd have to move him to the end of this tier.
Kerryon Johnson - Detroit Lions - RB17, Pick 36
While the Packers have shown very little commitment to Aaron Jones, the Lions made a move this offseason that solidifies their trust in KJ being their unquestioned lead-back: the cutting of Theo Riddick.
Last year, Theo was on the field for 38.5% of the team's snaps and amassed 74 targets, 20 of which came on third down. This role should be snatched up by Kerryon as soon as yesterday, seeing as their only other backs of note are C.J. Anderson and unproven rookie back Ty Johnson (37th percentile college target share). This role as the team's pass-catching back gives him a very solid floor, as he has shown he can produce when the ball is in his hands. Just looking at what he did last season when given an opportunity, it's hard to not be impressed by his output.
These numbers almost mirror Joe Mixon's 2018 season (1,464 YFS, 9 TDs, 43 receptions), a year in which he finished as the RB10.
With KJ already on pace for 61 receptions last year while sharing the field with Theo, I don't think this pace (pictured above) is unreasonable. You may think these receiving numbers should be even higher, but I'd temper expectations a bit because of the additions of Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson. Either way, Johnson should end the season in the ballpark of 60-65 receptions, a pinnacle only a few backs hit in 2018.
The downside, though? Goal line work. In 2018, Blount outcarried KJ inside the five yard line 11 to two. Sure, C.J. Anderson isn't the same size as Lagarrette Blount, but he has the potential to steal some of these valuable looks, especially since he will likely act as a "refresher" to Johnson after a long drive. This potential hindrance may impact KJ's TD upside, which is why I'd rank him last in this tier, despite likely being the best real-life talent among the group. I just think the Colts and Packers offenses are worlds above the Lions, and both other backs in this grouping, if healthy, have a floor of double digit scores, whereas that may be the ceiling for Johnson. If the Lions do show a commitment to KJ on the goal line in the preseason (if this occasion arises), though, it would be hard not to move him up, as he has less competition behind him than Jones and would then have a more complete role than Mack.
Chris Godwin - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR20, Pick 51
The hype around Godwin is getting out of control, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's unwarranted. The guy's an athletic freak, and in the role he is projected to play this season, he could very well be a mismatch all year long.
Bruce Arians has come out and said, explicitly, that he wants Chris Godwin to player in the "Larry Fitzgerald" role for the Buccaneers. What does this mean, exactly? Well, other than him being able to face slot corners for 16 weeks, he will also be on the receiving end of a lot more accurate passes. See, last season when Godwin played > 70% of the teams snaps (7 times), his year-long statistics would have paced out to a 46/709/9 receiving line, pretty pedestrian, right? Well, what if I also told you that this pace would have amounted to 126 targets? You'd be all in. The reason for this woeful catch rate wasn't because of Godwin, the guy only had two drops the entire year. Instead, it could be boiled down to poor QB play, as just 72.6% of his targets were deemed catchable, the 78th best mark in te league. Yuck.
Looking at CG's 11.9 aDOT, it should be a window into why his targets were so innacurate and just how much more valuable his role in the slot could be. Larry Fitzgerald, during his time under Arians, had an aDOT of 9.02, almost three yards less than Godwin in 2018. So, where can we look to see projected target accuracy for CG in 2019? Maybe Adam Humphries, whose mark landed at 6.7 to end the year. Though his aDOT was still a bit off from Fitz's, it was closer to Larry's than Godwin's was, so it could be an indication of the accuracy Chris will likely see running from the slot, and boy oh boy is it good news. AH's catchable target percentage came in at 86.5%, the 13th highest percentage in the league, meaning that although Godwin's aDOT will suffer, the increased volume he is set to see without DJax and Hump will be greater and more accurate than what he was exposed to last year.
So, with all this being said, where do I see CG's target total ending up in 2019. Honestly, 120 isn't too far off. He saw 95 last year, even with Jackson and Adam accumulating 179 looks, and although they'll need to implement a 3rd WR and account for a full season of O.J., 25 additional looks isn't out of the question. Their defense hasn't gotten much better, their running game is a complete joke, and with Arians calling the shots, they will likely remain one of the pass-happiest teams in 2019. If their passing volume remains the same, it would require Godwin to see a 19.2% target share to total 120 targets, and although that's a major improvement from his 13.3% from 2018, it isn't out of the question since he is now the unquestioned #2, taking on a role that will create mismatches week in and week out.
I honestly see CG as a more athletic Cooper Kupp this season. We saw just how valuable Kupp was over the past two season because of his size and red zone usage, and that should be what's expected from #12 in 2019. Last year, he was the Bucs' most targeted red zone weapons (16 targets inside the 20) despite playing the 3rd most snaps among the WR core, and even out targeted Mike Evans inside the 10 yard line 11 to six. If this role persists, and his 19.2% target share comes to fruition, CG has legitimate 75+ reception, 1,000+ yard, and 8+ TD upside in what should be one of the league's most pass heavy offenses. His floor may be the highest among this tier while his ceiling is that of a top-ten receiver. The hype has run wild, but I'm not so sure that even at this point, he's being priced where he should.
Tyler Lockett - Seattle Seahawks - WR21, Pick 56
If there's one player in this tier I've been in love with all offseason, it's Tyler Lockett. Not only did he have an incredible 2018, he is now set to be the Seahawks' #1 wide receiver with the departure of Doug Baldwin. Not only does that move open up 72 targets, it also allowed TL to move into the slot, making him a matchup nightmare against slower nickel corners.
Lockett already proved he could win on the outside this past season, catching the third most deep balls (14) on just the 29th most deep targets (18). This is a function of both Russell Wilson being an extremely accurate quarterback, along with Lockett being #goodatfootball. Sure, these deep balls are great and all, but if his volume doesn't increase, we will have nothing more than a boom/bust FLEX option. Well, I'm here to let y'all know that there should be increased opportunity for TL in 2019.
Last year, Russell Wilson threw the ball just 427 times, 126 less than the year prior and 119 less than 2016. Sure, this could have been a philosophy change in Seattle, reverting back to their run-heavy, defensive, ways, but this strategy likely won't work for them in 2019. Not only did they lose Earl Thomas, Frank Clark is now out of town, and their replacement for him in the draft, L.J. Collier, is dealing with a leg injury. They also brought in Ezekiel Ansah, but he hasn't registered a full season since 2015 and is currently not a lock to start Week 1. Because of their rebuilding defensive unit, along with Seattle facing NFC West opponents six times (all three teams are expected to be at least average offensive units), throwing the ball a bit more may have to become a necessity.
The declining defensive play isn't the only indication that Seattle will up their pass attempts in 2019; their investment in a few rookie wideouts should also be taken into consideration. We all know about D.K. Metcalf, but they also added former Mountaineer Gary Jennings Jr. in the 4th round, another freak athlete who can add a new dimension to this offense. I'm not so sure they'd invest 2nd and 4th round capital on receivers, not to mention $140 million in their QB, to throw less than 30x/game again.
If they hit 480 attempts on the season (a total Wilson hadn't fell below since 2014 before this past season), it would only require a 20.8% target share for TL to amass 100 looks. This number isn't all too high considering he saw a 17.% share in 2018 despite being the team's #2 behind Baldwin. On these 100 looks, what exactly could be expected?
Lockett's career catch percentage of 70.3% is pretty high, but considering he posted an 81.4% mark in 2018, it isn't unreasonable he matches his career average next season. With a little bit of math, we can see a 70.4% catch percentage on 100 targets translates to 70 receptions (rounding down from 70.4 to make things easier). From there, we can factor in his career yards per reception, 14.3, to get a total of 1,001 yards. Only 18 wideouts last year hit both marks (70+ receptions and 1,000+ yards), and to be honest, this may be TL's floor (considering these numbers were calculated from a fairly low target total and career average yards/reception and catch %, since he has greatly improved as a player year in and year out). Along with this 70 catch, 1,000 yard output, we can also expect somewhere in the ballpark of six scores. Yes, touchdowns are nearly impossible to predict, but with RW's career 6.0% TD rate and Lockett's standing at 6.9%, 100 targets should easily net at least six scores, especially when considering he well consistently get open deep, where Wilson thrives (4th most deep attempts in 2018, 77.8% of Lockett's deep balls were catchable).
With everything put into consideration, it's really hard to see Lockett fall short of his 2018 production (outside of the TD area). Though his tugs may regress, his overall increase in receptions and yardage will likely provide a much safer week to week floor, one where you won't need a touchdown in order to have him finish inside the top-24. Though I am hopeful that all of these aforementioned scenarios play out, I wouldn't be surprised if Brian Schottenheimer is stubborn and limits Wilson once again, and if this becomes a reality, Lockett may be nothing more than a volatile FLEX play. Because this is still in the cards, I just can't put him ahead of a guy like Godwin, who, although is the unquestioned #2 in his respective offense, will be playing for a team that we KNOW will throw the ball 35+ times a game, rather than one we speculate may flirt with 30.
Calvin Ridley - Atlanta Falcons - WR23, Pick 60
The player I'm least high on in this tier is 2018's WR19, Calvin Ridley. He put up a fantastic season a year ago, topping the 800 yard mark and doing what Julio never could - hitting double digit scores - but his extreme inconsistencies make me hesitant in taking a shot at him in 2019.
If you look at how he began his career, you can see he got hot straight off the jump, scoring six times in his first four games. In that three game span (Week 2-4), he put up 40.3% of his production for the entire season playing against the Panthers, Saints, and Bengals, some of the worst pass defenses in the league a year ago. Ridley's scoring came in bunches, but that could come down to the fact that he only played on 60.8% of the Falcons' snaps, a percentage that should increase heading into his Sophomore season.
My only concern, though, is that even if he increases his snap share, what exactly does that mean for his volume? The Falcons' pass percentage increased by 9% from 2017 to 2018, likely due to the loss of lead-back Devonta Freeman, along with a defense obliterated by the injury bug. Sure, Dirk Koetter is now back in town, an indication that they may still want to chuck it, but with Freeman back in the mix, along with a healthier defensive unit, I'm not so sure we can expect a 65% pass ratio (3rd highest in the NFL) again, meaning Ridley's target ceiling isn't as high as we may expect. He will likely top the century mark in targets, since he was just eight below that threshold as a rookie, but it would take a 19.7% target share (based on last year's volume) for him to eclipse 120, which isn't all too likely since it would be a 4.5% jump from 2018 and Atlanta hasn't lost any players of note in the passing game.
Because his target total is capped, I'd have to rank him behind both Boyd and Godwin, two players that look to see at least 120 targets in 2019. Ridley and Lockett should end up around the same total by year's end, but what makes me side with Lockett is the fact that he's his team's unquestioned #1, whereas Ridley is at least 2nd in line for looks. This may not seem all too important since their raw target numbers will be extremely similar, but the type of targets TL is set to see will be more valuable than Calvin's. Lockett had 14 catchable deep balls last year in comparison to Rildey's seven, and Calvin was also fourth on the team in red zone looks, a ranking which should hold constant with Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and now even Devonta Freeman in the fold.
Altogether, do I think I'd avoid Ridley in 2019. Well, if he's being taken ahead of guys like Tyler Boyd come draft day, then yes, especially with his current injury situation. Though this does give me concern, I don't think it should be much of an issue if it clears up before the start of the season. If he enters the year at 100%, I still think Ridley's the type of player that could put up 65 receptions for 1,000 yards, but with his touchdown numbers drastically taking a hit (scored 6.4 more TDs than expected in 2018) and weekly inconsistency looming large, I'd feel the least comfortable taking him among this grouping.
Tyler Boyd - Cincinnati Bengals - WR25, Pick 64
With the ankle injury A.J. Green recently suffered, Tyler Boyd is now becoming a favorite in the fantasy community. He showed last season that his college production was no fluke, as he topped 1,000 yards and put up 7 scores while having many things working against him.
Not only was A.J. Green injured for a good bit of the year, but Boyd was also tasked with catching passes from Jeff Driskel down the stretch. No matter the situation, Boyd produced, a testament to how good of a player he truly is. Over the first half of the season, when both Green and Dalton were active and playing, Boyd was the WR12 in fantasy (and Green was WR7), proving that he could be one of the most dominant secondary options in the league. Then, in the three game stretch when Green was out and Dalton played, Boyd up an impressive 4.7/73.7/0.3 per game average, which, when paced out to a full 16, translates to 79 receptions for 1,179 yards and 5 scores. This further proved the narrative of a #2 wide receiver struggling due to taking on opposing squad's #1 corners false, as Boyd topped 65 receiving yards in all three games, showing a blend of consistency and upside. Then, after Dalton missed time, Boyd put up 97 yards in one game and a TD in another with JD at the helm (in a three game span). The only game he didn't impress with Driskel slinging the rock was when the Bengals faced the Chargers and Boyd lined up across from Desmond King, a player who amassed the 3rd most slots in the snap and earned a 91.1 coverage grade by PFF. I say all this to say, whether or not A.J. Green plays, or maybe even Dalton for that matter, Boyd will be one of the most consistent producers at the position because one, he's a target hog, and two, he's really, really, REALLY, good.
Along with his consistency, Boyd also has the potential to hit double digit scores for more than one reason. Firstly, when you look at who the Bengals targeted inside the 20 last season, you'll notice that John Ross actually out targeted TB in that area of the field. Wild, right? Well, what's even crazier is that on Boyd's relatively limited attempts, he still ended the season with the 17th most red zone receptions, further proving he can produce wherever he's utilized. This disparity between usage and production should be narrowed, meaning his RZ targets should increase (especially with A.J. Green injured). Even if this isn't the reason for his RZ usage to increase, there's another aspect to consider: Zac Taylor. Taylor comes from the world renowned Sean McVay coaching tree, an offense that used a similar skilled and sized player, Cooper Kupp, out of the slot and heavily in the redzone. Boyd and Kupp share many of the same traits and characteristics, most notably their size (Boyd: 6'1 197; Kupp: 6'2 204) and ability to take advantage of mismatches out of the slot, so if/when Taylor realizes this, TB's usage inside the 20 should improve.
Due to his extremely high floor, paired with a decent enough ceiling, he would rank only behind Godwin for me in this tier. His floor may be a bit safer than CG's, but with the Bucs' offense being so pass heavy and Godwin already proving to be heavily used inside the 20, his ceiling is a bit higher than Boyd's.
Jared Cook - New Orleans Saints - TE7, Pick 59
Of these three tight ends, Jared Cook may be the safest. Sure, his touchdown upside is somewhat capped, as he has topped five scores just once, and even his yardage output never surpassed 700 before last season, but if you're looking fr a consistent week to week producer at the position, JC may be the last tight end available to bring that kind of value.
Now, there are a few things working against him, namely his inconsistencies throughout his career. Last year was the first time he has ever finished as a top ten tight end, though he has had two other finishes as the TE12, so thrice has he landed in the TE1 category. Last season's incredible display likely boiled down to the departure of Amari Cooper and the Raiders having zero other weapons, leading to a 19% target share (5th highest among tight ends). Will this lofty percentage carry over into New Orleans? No chance, but that doesn't mean he can't still provide a weekly floor.
Over the past three years, New Orleans topped out at a 17% target share to the tight end position, never ranking inside the top 20 in this category, but ask yourself, who did they have at tight end that would warrant looks? Three seasons ago their TE1 was Coby Fleener, a player that was always a year away from being a year away, and last year boasted the 59 year old Ben Watson. Yes, Cook isn't much younger, but at this point of his career, he is still a great athlete and roughly 18x the player Watson is. Even if Cook's target share tops out at 15%, that would still translate to 78 looks (based on 2018 volume), which would have ranked 11th last year. This may not seem like a large number, but when considering Watson had an 82.6 catchable target percentage when Brees looked his way, that would mean just about 65 balls would be true targets for Cook. Let's say he drops five balls, one less than last season, that would mean he would put up 60 receptions, just eight less than in 2018. Unless his yards per reception spike, then his yardage would suffer, but keep in mind the Saints are an extremely efficient offense, meaning Cook may have more scoring opportunities. Looking at 2018, New Orleans had 4.2 red zone scoring attempts per game (3rd most), outshining Oakland's 2.7 (27th most). If his touchdown numbers just increase by one...ONE...and we take his 60 catches and multiply it by his career average YPR, his statline would translate to 60/774/7, or 149 half-PPR fantasy points (would have ranked 6th last season).
This may be a tad optimistic, but even though he is moving from being his team's number one to likely the third man in town, I'll take an asset in the New Orleans' offense over one in Oakland any day. His yardage consistency is what really sets him apart because even if he fails to score, he has value, something that can't be said with the next two players.
Eric Ebron - Indianapolis Colts - TE8, Pick 66
Admittedly, I'm a bit higher on Ebron than I should be. Looking at what he did in 2018, it's almost impossible for him to repeat that level of dominance.
44% of EE's fantasy points came from his touchdowns, showing just how big that part of his game was, and had the 3rd most TD receptions at the position...EVER. Outlier? Yes, but potential to hit double digit scores again? Absolutely.
Over Andrew Luck's past two healthy seasons, his tight ends have accounted for 47% of his touchdown passes. With Luck's passing TD over/under currently set at 32.5 (per DraftKings), that would mean we could expect roughly 15.3 of his TDs will go a tight end's way. These numbers aren't an exact science, but it gives an idea as to what we may see come to fruition in 2019. Yes, Jack Doyle will eat into some of these, and even Mo Alie-Cox could earn more snaps, but I don't think Ebron being on the receiving end of eight of these balls is unrealistic, especially when considering how much he was used inside the 20 last year.
Not only did Eric Ebron dominate the Colts in targets inside the 20 (with 21), he also ranked 10th in this category in the entire NFL (and was the third TE behind only Ertz  and Kelce ). As a cherry on top, EE also had the second highest contested catch rate (44.4% on 27 targets) despite dealing with drops, showing Luck had the trust in him in situations where the DB was draped all over him. Where is a part of the field where this occurs most frequently? In the endzone, and as we have already seen, Luck will be looking EE's way in and around that area.
As for his yardage and reception floors, they are kind of unknown. With Doyle healthy, Campbell and Funchess in town, and the Colts moving towards a run heavier approach (pass rate fell to 57% from week six through the rest of the season (when Mack was healthy), there are so many factors to consider. I'd definitely expect his target share to fall from 17.4%, but with there being 104 vacated targets (according to Player Profiler), it may not need to drop all too far for the other new faces in town and players returning from injury to eat. Let's say, for fun, his target share hits 13%; this would translate to 83 looks. On his 63.3% career catch percentage and 11.2 yards per reception, his statline would then work out to 83 targets for 53/596/8 (the TD total was established earlier). This line would produce 133.5 half-PPR fantasy points, aka the TE6 in 2018. If you already read the writeup for Cook, you'd notice that this fantasy finish would be identical, but Cook's total points, and likely overall consistency, would outshine that of Ebron. Because of both factors, and with Andrew Luck's health up in the air, I'd have to side with Cook in this spot, but I still believe Ebron is a draftable player at his ADP since he allows you to avoid the deep, dark, pits of TE streaming.
Vance McDonald - Pittsburgh Steelers - TE9, Pick 71
Last, and certainly least, Vance McDonald. I don't even want to talk about this guy, but I'm a man of the people so I will (credit to me).
What has Vance ever done to warrant being picked...not even as the TE9...but picked at all? He has never played a full season, legitimately racking up more injuries (13) than career TDs (12)
On top of his injuries, he literally has never been productive outside of last season. Sure, this may be due to him not being on the field, but shouldn't that be factored in? He has topped 30 receptions ONCE, 400 yards ONCE, and never scored more than four TDs. Even last year, the best season of his long career, on a weekly basis, he was unusable. Vance topped 50 yards just three times and posted double digit points four times, basically making him an unpredictable streaming option, which isn't ideal whatsoever. He did produce in the spot he was an auto start, playing against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers, totaling a 4/112/1 statline and pulling off one of the meanest stiff arms of all time. On that one play, Vance put up 12.3% of his end-of-season yardage total, and in the game as a whole, accounted for 18.4% of his end-of-year yards. Sure, having big games is great, but when it singlehandedly carries your entire production, it isn't ideal.
As for why he's being picked so highly, it's because of the loss of AB and Jesse James. The team is left with 207 vacated targets, but keep in mind they brought in Donte Moncrief (90 targets in 2018), drafted Diontae Johnson in the third round, have James Washington on the doorstep of earning a starting job, are talking up Jaylen Samuels as having an increased role, and threw the ball an ungodly amount in 2018 (Ben had 114 more attempts in 2018 than 2017). With all of this accounted for, it isn't a given that McDonald's volume increases to the point that he has a safe weekly floor, and even if it does, what are the chances he hold up with a larger role?
No matter how you look at it, there isn't much working for Vance. Yes, he's athletic, yes, he's large, and yes, he's on the Steelers, but all of these things were true last season, a year where he played the most games of his career and ended 2018 as the TE10. Where he stands, he is being taken at his absolute ceiling, and I'd much rather incest in a guy like T.J Hockenson a million picks later, or just stream the position with veterans like Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen. I'm personally staying far, far away from McDonald, and you should too if you're trying to maintain your figure.