With our What to Remember, Rookie Roundups, Sleeper Breakout & Bust and Player Profiles all behind us, it’s time to take a step back and take our foot off the gas… or not. This week is fantasy football draft week, though you could argue that every week is draft week. We start off by taking a look, round-by-round, and sorting out the biggest boom-bust picks (early in your fantasy football draft these are the riskiest picks, but they become the high-upside guys later on) as well as the safest picks, the floor picks. We started with the first three rounds of your fantasy football drafts yesterday, so we continue today with rounds four through six by taking at some of the boom-bust, high-upside picks in rounds four through six.
Riskiest Pick, Round 4 – Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons (RB19, #40 overall)
There’s a real downside to Todd Gurley: he sits out the year because he’s dissatisfied with the COVID-19 safety protocols. He’s the biggest player to express concerns with the course the league is taking, and given that the Miami Marlins are now fielding a local softball team due to coronavirus, it’s unlikely that Gurley looks at the NFL protocols excitedly. If he opts out, the Falcons and Devonta Freeman likely go crawling back to each other for 2020. Gurley also has a secondary downside which I will not harp on for the 500th time: his arthritic knee will cause him problems. The only question is when.
Gurley isn’t the Todd Gurley we know and love; he ranked 40th in juke rate, 22nd in evaded tackles, and 42nd in breakaway run rate. Still, Gurley could produce at an RB2 level all season due to the Falcons’ need to put all their touches into one running back. There isn’t anyone behind him to challenge him into taking fewer than 300 touches this year. The sky is the limit with Gurley, but the floor is also through the basement.
Riskiest Pick, Round 5 – Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (QB4, #58 overall)
All of Kyler Murray’s draft price is projection. 100% of it. We did this last year with Baker Mayfield, with him creeping into the top-five quarterbacks thanks entirely to fantasy football hype. All the parallels are there. Hotshot but unproven play-caller, check. Sophomore season, growing from the prior season, check. Superstar wide receiver addition, check. Star running back addition, check. A terrible offensive line, check check check. Kyler Murray is an exceptional player, so he could overcome all of this. But will he return QB4 value? That’s where I question his upside. He’s going, on average, one pick above Russell Wilson, who’s done this for nearly a decade.
Kyler Murray could end the season as the QB1, which is well within his range of possibilities for the year. Unfortunately, given the situation in Arizona, he could also crater down to backend starting quarterback numbers. We saw it last year with Baker Mayfield to the point that he ended up on the waiver wire. While Murray is a better prospect than Mayfield was, I still question the wisdom of taking him in the fifth round, before guys with similar upside who have already done the deed of being top-three (Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson).
Riskiest Pick, Round 6 – A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (WR28, #66 overall)
We saw A.J. Green’s downside last season, when he strung fantasy football owners along all year before finally the Bengals threw him on IR at the end of the year. That’s, you know, worst-case scenario. A.J. Green is one of the most talented wide receivers in football, but injuries derailed his 2018 and 2019 seasons. If he can overcome these problems, he is an annual 130-target guy. It’s hard to get 130 targets and not have any sort of upside, so A.J. Green, despite the issues, goes within the first seventy picks.
There’s also the Joe Burrow Factor, and I don’t mean that in a positive light. Since 2010, fourteen first-round QBs threw at least 450 passes. Their #1 option generally did not fare all that well. Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne turned in the only WR1 seasons, and Jarvis Landry and Mike Evans turned in WR2 seasons. The average finish for the #1 wide receiver option for first-round rookie QBs is WR38. That’s a significant downside for Green even if he stays healthy.