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 as well as the safest picks, the floor picks. These guys aren’t the ones in your fantasy football draft who are likely to set the world on fire, but they are the ones likely to stick around your roster the longest. We’re getting to the middle rounds of your draft, which are just as key as the first six rounds. Which guys in rounds seven through nine are the safest picks?
Safest Pick, Round 7 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta (QB8, #76 overall)
I know I seem insane calling someone who is the gold standard of yearly quarterback instability a “safe pick.” I know that Ryan can’t stay consistent with his yearly finishes, finishing #19, #2, #15, #2, and #10 in the last five seasons. Still, last year’s down year for Matt Ryan mostly came on the back of luck. PlayerProfiler.com measures interceptable passes, and if you look at Ryan’s interceptable pass to interception conversion ratio (the percentage of interceptable passes that become picks), his interceptable passes became interceptions 87.5% of the time (league average is 51%). And it wasn’t like he was throwing ducks out there, his bad pass rate ranked second-lowest in the NFL last year, behind Carson Wentz and just ahead of Patrick Mahomes.
Matt Ryan also has one of the best one-two punches in the league, and reliable supporting weapons behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. He’s due for a big year in 2020, back to around his QB2 numbers from 2018, and 2016. He’s one of the safest plays in the league, and given the rest of the round is upside tight ends, questionable running backs, and guys we hope to have break out this year, Ryan represents a nice, safe pillow for your draft picks to land on.
Safest Pick, Round 8 – Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay (RB35, #94 overall)
If you told me a month ago I would call RoJo the safest pick in round 8, I would have called you insane. The writing was on the wall: Ke’Shawn Vaughn was coming for his job, Tom Brady needs a pass-catching back, and the pass blocking, oh the pass blocking (!), that would keep him off the field. Fast forward to today. Ke’Shawn Vaughn has COVID-19, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to not put on pads until August 16, and the first live-action that Vaughn faces will be week one against the Saints.
The latest reports out of Tampa Bay state that Vaughn will start as a pure backup and Dare Ogunbowale will stay the third-down back. I’m not worried about Dare destroying RoJo’s fantasy value, as Ogunbowale was the third-down guy last year, RoJo competed with Peyton Barber and was still an RB2 at season’s end. Opportunities are the name of the game for safe running back floors, and I don’t see a world where Jones has his opportunities challenged anytime soon. He’s going as an RB3 right now and is all systems go for me in my fantasy football draft queue this year.
Safest Pick, Round 9 – Marvin Jones Jr, Detroit Lions (WR39, #102 overall)
Since 2017, Marvin Jones has 21 top-36 weeks out of 36 starts. That gives you a near-60% chance of having a good week out of Marvin Jones anytime you slot him in. Maladies derailed his last two seasons, but when he is available, he is a really good and safe fantasy football draft option for your flex spot. Marvin Jones is a solid, high-ceiling contributor who is unlikely to completely tank your fantasy week. He also has massive boom weeks in his repertoire, like his 93-yard, four-touchdown game last season. He isn’t just a boom player. MJJ performed as a low-end WR3 for the rest of the year after that game, as well, pacing out to 73 catches for 896 yards and nine touchdowns after his giant performance. Jones has also been a top-30 wide receiver or better in points per game each of the last three seasons.