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 reaching the double-digit rounds of the draft, the guys you need to hold your roster together to help it from shaking apart if you took a ton of swings on upside guys early in your fantasy football draft.
These guys aren’t likely to make your fantasy football draft room stand up and take notice on draft day, but they could be the difference between a win or a loss in a bye week or if a player goes down with injury. To be honest, I am not a fan of going safe late in drafts; WR40 hamstrings you to hang onto a guy, but if you go risk-reward late in your fantasy football draft, you can have WR4.
Safest Pick, Round 10 – Mike Williams, L.A. Chargers (WR42, #109 overall)
It’s hard to look at the QB situation in L.A. and call Williams a “safe” pick, but he has a lot going for him for a guy going outside the top-100 picks. There are some things bubbling under the surface to get excited about with Williams. First, he has the draft pedigree; he was a top-ten pick in the 2017 draft. He was mostly ineffective his rookie year, but he had ten touchdowns in 2018 and 1,001 yards last season. I am reminded of early-career Mike Evans, a big play guy who had 12 touchdowns in his first year, 1,200 yards his second year, then put it all together in his third year.
Williams is a little behind schedule to do that, but only 25 players hit 1,000 receiving yards last year including Mike Williams. Also, only nine guys have at least 10 touchdowns in either 2018 or 2019… including Mike Williams. Williams’ efficiency has also grown, going from 15.4 yards per reception in 2018 to 20.4 YPR in 2019. Williams did all this with just 156 targets over the last couple of years. Keenan Allen’s efficiency has started to slip, which means it might be Williams’ year to ascend, target-wise. If so, he is a massive breakout candidate for 2020. He’s already reached rarified air, so even if he doesn’t break out, he isn’t going to be lower than his WR42 draft price.
Safest Pick, Round 11 – Sterling Shepard, N.Y. Giants (WR46, #124 overall)
Sterling Shepard missed the whole middle portion of the season last year, which drove down his final stat line. He ended the year with just 57 catches and 576 yards… but that was in ten games. If you’re in a PPR or half-PPR league, he is a slam dunk safe pick in round eleven here. He had at least five catches in eight of those ten games and had no fewer than 6 targets in any game last year. He was a safe play because of that target load all year long, with his target volume and safe yardage floor. The Giants’ receiving room is crowded, but when Shepard was healthy, he was atop that room. He isn’t going to be a superstar but will slide in as a nice weekly option, given the floor presented to him.
Safest Pick, Round 12 – Jamison Crowder, N.Y. Jets (WR49, #136 overall)
Rounder 12 has a lot of risky picks in it, from handcuffs like Tony Pollard to upside picks like Dallas Goedert, Justin Jefferson and Jonnu Smith. There’s also whatever you want to call what Sammy Watkins does this year. But Jamison Crowder calmly and patiently sits in the middle of this chaos waiting to improve your fantasy football roster.
Crowder is quietly one of the more consistently-targeted wide receivers in the league. He’s entering his sixth year in the league, and if you take out his rookie year, he averages 107 targets per 16 games. He turns these into 69 catches for 816 yards and 5 touchdowns. While that is a nice stat line, it isn’t something that will blow the doors off, which is why he ends up so low. This year, he gets a chance to top his career-high 122 targets and 78 catches from last year.
The Jets should have Sam Darnold all year (unless he catches rickets or consumption or solar madness), which means his targets will be better. He’s also contending with a bust WR in Breshad Perriman and a rookie WR in Denzel Mims for targets. He is a nice glue guy to have late in your draft if you spent it trying to hit home run after home run with your single-digit round picks.
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