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Rookies

Late Round Rookie Dart Throws

While the 2019 class may lack the upper echelon talent dynasty owners search for, the class may provide value in the later rounds. These players may not provide long-lasting production but could offer savvy owners with 2019 production. Whether your rookie draft has already ended, or your league drafts later in the offseason, these are my late round rookie targets. To be considered “late round” I am using players with a third round Average Draft Position (ADP) or later in rookie drafts.

Diontae Johnson, PIT. ADP-26

The Steelers surprised many when they selected Diontae Johnson with the second pick in the third round. The Toledo product saw a dip in production in 2018 but was still efficient finishing 39th in Yards per route run.  His drop rate was a bit on the high side at 12.5%. Many of his drops were caused when contact occurred due to his smaller frame. Johnson did most of his damage from the slot where he accumulated 15 receptions (30% of total receptions). He lines up both in the slot and as an outside receiver and could be a weapon at both positions, but in the NFL he may be best suited in a slot role. When watching Johnson on film he appears to skate around the field and looks very explosive despite not testing well at the combine. If defenders’ whiff in press coverage, Johnson makes them pay and consistently gets open on Go routes. He is a player I believe could be used in a Tyreek Hill role. Johnson steps into a great situation in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a whopping 207 vacated targets between the Antonio Brown and Jesse James departures. Johnson will battle James Washington and Donte Moncrief for a share of these targets.

Darwin Thompson, KCC. ADP-27

Darwin Thompson landed in a great spot in KC, which is a team desperate for playmakers suddenly. Thompson is the most elusive back in this class and can string together moves with ease. He shows a great jump cut, hurdle, powerful lower body, and great instincts with the ball. Thompson also displays great contact balance, becoming slippery when hit, and tends to bounce off contact. He can work himself out of tight quarters and I labeled him as Houdini. In many ways, he reminds me of Giovanni Bernard.  The major knock on Thompson is his size or lack thereof. Listed at 5’8”, 198, Darwin is likely suit as a third down back, which is an area he can excel. Thompson caught an impressive 23 balls last season, exhibiting great hands. Because of his size, Thompson struggles in short yardage situations, and when tackled tends to absorb huge hits.  If starter Damien Williams were to go down, Thompson would be the back to own and not the plodder Carlos Hyde.  

Dexter Williams, GB. ADP-32

            The former Notre Dame running back was drafted with the 21st pick in the 6th round. In many ways, Williams compares favorably to Aaron Jones. Williams and Jones ran nearly identical 40 times, and draft pedigrees are within a round.  Aaron Jones was drafted at 5.39, slightly ahead of where Williams went this year.

Williams is likely behind Jamaal Williams on current depth charts, but I fully expect Dexter to pass the between the tackle grinder with relative ease. Aaron Jones will get the opportunity to run with the lead job, but we cannot forget that Williams is the first back drafted by newly anointed head Coach, Matt LaFleur. LaFleur tends to run a zone blocking scheme which fits Williams strength. If Jones were to miss time Williams could step in and be a reliable fantasy option right away.

Ryquell Armstead, JAC. ADP-35

RyQuell is a player I have been interested since the pre-draft process. I expect Armstead to see some work in his rookie year and could provide an early return for dynasty owners. I recently wrote a scouting report on Armstead, so I am not going to go into great detail. The article can be found here.

Bruce Anderson, TB. ADP-NA

YearTeamGRushYdsYd/RushTDsRecYdsYd/RecTDs
2015NDakSt 15905035.628556.91
2016NDakSt 9382536.714389.50
2017NDakSt 1523412165.212815619.53
2018NDakSt 111249247.591219916.63
Career 5048628966.0243244814.07

            Surprisingly the Buccaneers chose not to spend draft capital on a running back in 2019. Maybe they were still embarrassed about the Ronald Jones pick the prior year. That leaves Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, and undrafted Bruce Anderson to fight for the lead back spot. I expect Jones to emerge from this group, but with the cost of free, I find myself grabbing Anderson where I can. At North Dakota State, Anderson showed off a mean stiff arm and good vision. On film, Anderson flashed speed but tested slow with a 4.63 40 time. I attribute this to playing lesser competition. Anderson amassed 32 career receptions which are the same as Ronald Jones in his career. Anderson could be the best pass catching back on the roster, demonstrating good hands and ball tracking skills. While definitely not a long-term option, Anderson could provide value if he wins the job or receives significant carries in 2019.

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