The NFL Draft, in theory, will start on Thursday, April 23. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the event some call the world’s biggest pomp-and-circumstance conference call, will test the limits of that theory. The draft is basically going to be Roger Goodell reading names off a card in an empty room, or so it seems. There will be no bro-hugs, no pictures with Roj, and there shouldn’t be any cutaways to draft parties. Maybe to get some excitement up for the broadcast, the NFL should call the Falcons? Either way, it’s time to start wondering who will go where in the NFL draft. We will go division-by-division to determine the needs for each squad to best help 2020 fantasy football teams. Picks information will come from Sporting News. First up: The NFC West
2020 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wishlist: Arizona Cardinals
Picks: #8 (round 1), #72 (round 3), #144 (round 4), #131 (round 4, from Houston), #202 (round 6, from New England), #222 (round 7)
The Cardinals do not have a second-round pick but don’t shed any tears for them, they turned the albatross David Johnson and that second-round pick into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. They acquired DeAndre Hopkins for a basketful of scraps and jettisoned the messier part of their RB platoon in the same move. As such, they don’t have much of a need for offensive weaponry. In fact, they have too many wide receivers now. They spent a second-round pick on Andy Isabella and a fourth-round pick on Hakeem Butler last year, to go with Christian Kirk and the immortal Larry Fitzgerald. They have a lot!
For short-term fantasy football purposes, I’ll never suggest someone take a tight end. Rookie tight ends never produce. And I mean, never. T.J. Hockenson had people thinking he bucked that trend, but how’d that work out for you? The Cardinals also already have a more-than-competent backup in Chase Edmonds, so there’s really only one place to go. The Cardinals need to improve their offensive line if they want to get out of the basement of what suddenly might be the hardest division in football. Pro Football Focus ranked them as just the twenty-second best line last year, and the fourth-worst run-blocking line.
2020 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wishlist: Los Angeles Rams
Running Back, Offensive Linemen
Picks: #52 (round 2), #84 (round 3), #104 (round 3, compensatory), #126 (round 4), #199 (round 6), #234 (round 7)
The Rams cut Todd Gurley just before they owed him $10 million for this season. That leaves the running back duties in the hands of both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. Henderson appears to be the heir apparent to Gurley in L.A., but he received just limited run last year (and was mostly ineffective, turning 43 touches into just 184 yards). The Rams don’t have a lot of high draft capital, so it’s likely they pick up a mid-round back in a deep class, to push Henderson and Brown. Ideally, they get a guy who sets aside both Henderson and Brown and retakes the extremely valuable touches vacated by Todd Gurley’s departure. Anthony McFarland tested poorly at the combine, but might prove to be a late-round steal that works his way up the depth chart.
The Rams offensive line was one of the worst in the league last season. They did a lot of shuffling due to injury and ineffectiveness, but nobody on that line got any younger. The anchor, Andrew Whitworth, is nearly 40-years-old. The Rams have much greater needs overall, so it’s unlikely this gets addressed, but we need to get Jared Goff more protection. The Rams have plenty of pass-catching weapons, especially considering their tight end room finally contributed last season.
2020 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wishlist: San Francisco 49ers
Picks: #13 (round 1, from Indianapolis), #31 (round 1), #156 (round 5), #210 (round 6), #217 (round 7), #245 (round 7)
There are no typos in that draft picklist. The 49ers have two firsts, then do not have another selection until the fifth round. The #13 pick is the jewel of the DeForest Buckner trade. It’s unlikely they move back from there unless someone knocks their socks off. It’s likely that the #31 turns into a second-rounder and a late-third or early-fourth as someone moves up to secure the coveted fifth-year-option on a first-round selection. That having been said, they don’t need a lot. That tends to happen when you play in the Super Bowl and are one of the best teams in the NFL.
The running back room is as dense as they come, and the Niners boast one of the best young tight ends in the NFL with George Kittle. Their offensive line is good enough, and not a priority (they’ll also get starting center Weston Richburg, who tore his ACL last season, back, which creates lots of depth). That really leaves one position of weakness: wide receiver.
The 49ers desperately need to flesh out their WR room. They have Deebo Samuel who led the league in WR rushing as a rookie, but not much behind him. Jalen Hurd, 2019 third-round pick, and one-time undue hype prospect Trent Taylor, are both rumored to exist. Marquise Goodwin is likely a cap casualty, and Dante Pettis is getting his last chance to escape Kyle Shanahan’s dog house this offseason. The Niners added Travis Benjamin, but the only bright spot behind Samuel is Kendrick Bourne, an undrafted free agent who will return in 2020. The 49ers knocked on the door of football glory, and by adding a top-flight wide receiver in this class, like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, the 49ers could provide Jimmy Garoppolo with the weapons to become fantasy football relevant, or remove enough coverage from Deebo Samuel to increase his fantasy football value.
2020 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wishlist: Seattle Seahawks
Picks: #27 (round 1), #59 (round 2), #76 (round 3), #117 (round 4), #139 (round 4, compensatory), #161 (round 5), #194 (round 6)
The Seahawks would do well to add a running back, as well. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are on their respective shelves with significant injuries. Carson broke his hip, and Penny tore his ACL. Both did this late in the season, which led to the Seahawks’ downfall. Luckily for them, they still made the playoffs and drew the Philadelphia Eagles, allowing them to moonwalk to the next round. I wouldn’t recommend spending any sort of significant capital on the running back room, since one or both of the incumbents will be back in 2021 at the latest, meaning a one-year mercenary can fill in fine for 2020 fantasy football purposes.
The wide receiver room is good enough. D.K. Metcalf is a star in the making, and Tyler Lockett could cede WR1 duties to him in 2020, making Lockett one of the best WR2s in the NFL. There’s plenty of varied depth behind them, and the team doesn’t throw too much anyway. The tight end room once again has a question mark with an injured Will Dissly and a 500-year-old Greg Olsen. But, once again, I don’t care about rookie tight ends for fantasy football. If you want to argue with me about it, feel free, but already know that you’re wrong.
That leaves the massive, annual Seattle bugaboo: the offensive line. Always a mess, always half a second away from getting Russell Wilson killed. If we want more and better fantasy football production out of Seattle, we need them to beef up the big boys up front, though losing Germain Ifedi is already an upgrade along the line.
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