6 Second-Year RBs and WRs to Consider on Draft Day
With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, this season's new rookies have become the focus of attention around the NFL. On fantasy draft day, however, it's important not to lose sight of last season's rookies, many of whom now have a full year of NFL playing experience under their belts and are likely to be more valuable to your fantasy team.
This article will highlight a handful of second-year RBs and WRs who could play a key part in your march to a fantasy championship this season.
We will focus on value plays at each position. The top-six second-year RBs—Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, and Joe Mixon—all of whom we highlighted in last year's rookie success model—are great options for your redraft teams, but they are all valued fairly close to where we think they should be drafted. (In PPR leagues, McCaffrey is the biggest exception: He's going five spots after where we'd take him.) Likewise, at WR, the top second-year player, JuJu Smith-Schuster, appears to be fairly valued. We will need to look at the later-round options to find values in this group.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans
The wide receiver ranked the highest last year by our rookie success model, Corey Davis, had much of his first season derailed by injury. But in the games that he played (including the playoffs), he gave every indication of becoming the Titans' No. 1 WR. He has both the athleticism and the history of production, both in college and now in the NFL, to be the No.1 WR on his team.
With the days of "exotic smash mouth" behind them, the Titans passing offense looks poised for improvement this season. Furthermore, with the Titans facing the second-toughest schedule of rushing defenses, per Warren Sharp, versus an easier-than-average schedule of passing defenses, they will likely need to emphasize throwing the ball more than usual. I expect the bulk of that receiving work to be taken by Davis.
He looks like a safe option in the eighth round.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
Currently going as the 31st RB off the board, Marlon Mack is one of the lowest-ranked RBs in the league who sits atop his team's depth chart at the position. Part of the pessimism around Mack seems to be due to new competition from Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. However, with both players taken on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft (in rounds four and five, respectively), neither one has the sort of draft capital that will automatically push them in front of Mack.
Some of the pessimism on Mack seems due to a perception of his size being better suited to a third-down role. However, neither Hines nor Wilkins are substantially bigger. In fact, Hines, who drafters seem to like the most, is 15 pounds lighter than Mack, and Wilkins who is about the same weight, is both slower and over a year older than Mack.
Mack's production in his first season also seems underappreciated. Between rushing and passing, he amassed almost 600 yards last season, which is substantial for a first-year player. The statistical model now gives him a 60 percent chance of having a top-24 season in the next three years. He appears undervalued in the ninth round.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears
Tarik Cohen very quietly finished 33rd overall in PPR scoring last season. With that level of production, the statistical models remain fairly confident that Cohen will have a top-24 finish in the next three seasons, giving him odds of two out of three.
Like Mack, Cohen is another great Zero-RB target. His role as a third-down back and gadget player gives him a safe floor of production, but his upside may be even higher than Mack's. New coach Matt Nagy, previously of the Chiefs, has compared Cohen to Tyreek Hill—last season's No. 9 scoring WR. Also, new offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, formerly the head coach of Oregon, is looking to include more college spread concepts, which seems well suited to getting the best from Cohen. Overall, Cohen's ceiling appears very high in this new offense.
Mack and Cohen are two of my favorite options in the ninth round of the draft. Ideally, I'd love to get both of them, but if I have to make a choice, I'd do so based on how many RBs I have already. If I have two or three good options already, then I'd taken Cohen, who has the higher upside, whereas if I'm still lacking in solid starters, I'd grab Mack. (Also, keep in mind that of the two, Cohen is probably more likely to still be there in the 10th round.)
Continue reading to see which other second-year running backs and wide receivers Kevin believes are worth targeting in your 2018 fantasy drafts.
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