This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
Every target or carry going to a rookie is one that isn't going to a veteran. Maybe that's too obvious to be worth stating, but I'll say it anyway to drive home a point. The 2019 rookie class gave us WR talent far better than what the draft capital suggested, and we're now in the midst of a 2020 draft where 11 of the top-50 picks were WRs. The infusion of talent should be good news for a bunch of quarterbacks, but it's less promising if you're an aging wideout hoping to cling to glory for a few more years.
We've already taken a look at how the first round of the draft will impact veterans around the league, and now it's time to see how things shake out from Day 2:
Day 2 Winners
QB Drew Lock Denver Broncos
John Elway may not know how to pick a young quarterback, but he sure knows how to treat one. Already boasting a solid O-line and promising talent at running back and tight end, the Broncos went ahead and used their first two draft picks on wide receivers — Jerry Jeudy (15th overall) and KJ Hamler (46th). Denver even picked up LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round, nabbing a potential starter for what appeared to be the one weak spot on the line. Lock might be good or he might be bad, but if it's the latter it won't be because he didn't get a fair shake.
QB Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders devoted three of their first four picks to pass catchers, adding speed demon Henry Ruggs at No. 12 overall, versatile weapon Lynn Bowden at No. 80, and 6-foot-3 possession receiver Bryan Edwards at No. 81. The Raiders may not have a classic No. 1, but the three rookies plus Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow should make for a strong position group. Meanwhile, guys like Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones and Keelan Doss may end up battling for a single roster spot in Vegas.
RB Todd Gurley Atlanta Falcons
With Gurley on a one-year contract, there was some thought the Falcons might pick up a running back on Day 2. Well, it didn't happen, and the Falcons aren't exactly loaded with resources to add more talent, as they're scheduled for only three picks on Day 3 and are estimated to have $2.2 million in cap space (29th in the league). Gurley should be an RB2 on volume alone, with RB1 upside if it turns out he still has juice.
RB Jordan Howard Miami Dolphins
Miami made three picks in the first round, two in the second and one in the third. None of those players were running backs, while two were offensive linemen. The Dolphins could take a look at Devonta Freeman or try to trade for a running back in the coming months, but it's at least looking good for Howard so far.
RB Justin Jackson Los Angeles Chargers
I mention Jackson rather than Austin Ekeler because I've been taking Ekeler's lead role for granted all offseason. The Chargers could still add some competition for Jackson's secondary role on Day 3, but they actually exited Day 2 without drafting any players, having previously traded up for LB Kenneth Murray at No. 23 overall. Trading up for an off-ball linebacker with coverage issues is a great move if your primary goal is to troll the analytics mob, but you don't need to be a data scientist to understand why it's suboptimal strategy in the modern NFL.
RB Le'Veon Bell New York Jets
RB Chris Carson Seattle Seahawks
RB Miles Sanders Philadelphia Eagles
RB James Conner Pittsburgh Steelers
RB David Montgomery Chicago Bears
I think you get the idea here. The Jets, Seahawks, Eagles, Steelers and Bears all could've made a case for selecting a running back on Day 2, but none actually did so. We can also view this as a modest win for guys like Rashaad Penny (knee), Travis Homer, Boston Scott, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and Tarik Cohen.
These guys did get competition, but we pretty much knew it was going to happen, so it's better for them to see their teams adding Ke'Shawn Vaughn (TB, 76th overall) and Zack Moss (BUF, 86th) rather than superior prospects like J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers. I'm actually a big fan of Moss, but that doesn't mean he'll get significantly more work than Frank Gore did in the second half of last season.
Consider it a minor miracle that Miami has made it through two days of the draft without selecting a single player that takes handoffs or catches passes. The team has extra picks in the first and second rounds of the 2021 draft to address the shortcoming at a later date, but that's not a problem for the 2020 fantasy outlooks for Parker and Gesicki. It's less clear who else might benefit, as Preston Williams is coming back from an ACL tear and Albert Wilson could still be a cap casualty.
WR Jamison Crowder New York Jets
The Jets used a second-round pick on Baylor wideout Denzel Mims, who actually has a lot in common with recent free-agent addition Breshad Perriman. Both players can help keep safeties honest without actually competing for the routes and targets Crowder relies on.
Day 2 Losers
QB Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
From a fantasy standpoint, Rodgers grades out as a "loser" because the Packers could use pass-catching help and didn't acquire any until they took Cincinnati TE Josiah Deguara at No. 94 overall. From a real-life standpoint, Rodgers has to be annoyed that the team used its first three picks on a backup QB (Jordan Love), a depth RB (AJ Dillon) and a player at the position (TE) that arguably has the steepest learning curve.
RB Kerryon Johnson Detroit Lions
There's really no way to put a positive spin on the Lions drafting D'Andre Swift at No. 35 overall. Sure, every team wants to have multiple starting-quality running backs, but there's no way you draft one this early if you have confidence in Johnson staying healthy and productive. While he looked sharp as a rookie and won't turn 23 until this summer, Johnson sunk to 3.6 YPC in 2019 and already has 14 missed games on his NFL ledger. This should be a legit battle for the Week 1 lead role.
RB Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts
Mack is coming off back-to-back seasons with more than 75 rushing yards per game, but that's probably a testament to the Colts' offensive line more so than their running back's ability. While this may have come as a surprise to some, anyone that read my Dynasty Watch article in early March would've known that the Colts weren't committed to Mack (shameless plug!). First, Jim Irsay said the team wasn't discussing a contract extension with the 24-year-old running back. Then, the Colts went ahead and drafted Jonathan Taylor, who is bigger, faster and stronger than Mack. A trade would make sense here, as I don't know why Mack would get more than a handful of carries per game unless Taylor completely embarrasses himself in training camp (which is unlikely).
The Rams added to their backfield earlier than I'd expected, grabbing FSU product Cam Akers with the 52nd overall pick. Maybe the Rams really love Akers, or maybe they view RB as one of the bigger needs on a roster full of holes. Either way, it's bad news for anyone counting on Henderson or Brown to break out in 2020.
As a Ravens fan, I was perfectly happy with the team's backfield, so I didn't love the selection of JK Dobbins at 55th overall even though he seems like a top-50 talent. Upon further review, I can understand the thinking, as Edwards has strictly been used as a between-the-tackles grinder and Hill barely saw any snaps outside of garbage time as a rookie. Dobbins should be an instant upgrade behind Ingram, who happens to be 30 years old with only $500k in guarantees remaining on his three-year contract. I still think Ingram is the better pick for redraft leagues, but Dobbins has massive dynasty appeal as Lamar Jackson's future accomplice. It doesn't hurt that Dobbins got a ton of experience running zone-read at Ohio State.
Jones is locked in as the starter and a safe bet for 15 touches per game, but the near-certainty of touchdown regression becomes even scarier after the Packers used a second-round pick on 247-pound manimal AJ Dillon. The BC product is an even bigger problem for Williams, whose appeal as a mid/late-round fantasy pick largely stems from the possibility of handling a three-down role in the event of a Jones injury (see: Weeks 15-16 of 2018). Now, the Packers likely would split work between Williams and Dillon if their starter were to miss games.
And, just in case you're wondering... Packers RBs accounted for 57 percent of the team's rushing/receiving TDs in 2019, while league-average was 36 percent. Translation: Jones could lose more than half of his TDs from last year even if he plays 16 games again.
WR DaeSean Hamilton Denver Broncos
Just in case you haven't given up on Hamilton already, it's hard to see where he fits on a team with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. The best Hamilton can hope for is a shot to battle Hamler for slot reps in an offense where Jeudy could slide inside when the Broncos actually want to throw passes to that position.
WR Zach Pascal Indianapolis Colts
Pascal had a few big games last year but also pulled a disappearing act on multiple occasions when we thought he would be the No. 1 receiver. The Colts may have found a more reliable big guy in USC WR Michael Pittman, the No. 34 overall pick. A wideout trio of Pittman, T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell sounds promising, though obviously it entails a lot of projection for the young guys.
WR Dede Westbrook Jacksonville Jaguars
An NFL team could do worse than Westbrook, DJ Chark and Chris Conley as the starting wide receivers, with Keelan Cole coming off the bench. Of course, a team also could do a lot better, and No. 42 overall pick Laviska Shenault offers a real ceiling, unlike Westbrook and Conley. It's also worth mentioning that all besides Chark and Shenault are entering contract seasons.
The selection of 238-pound wideout Chase Claypool at No. 49 overall makes sense in the context of a Pittsburgh roster that doesn't have many holes. Washington and Johnson still have 2020 breakout potential, but the long-term downside scenario takes a hit with Claypool looming in the background, while the upside scenario looks a bit less pretty if the rookie poaches red-zone snaps early on. There won't necessarily be another chance waiting in 2021 if Johnson or Washington fails to get it done this year.
WR Josh Reynolds Los Angeles Rams
Reynolds is boring and mediocre, and there was already a popular line of thinking that the Rams would become far more reliant on multi-TE formations in 2020. Any interest I might've had in Reynolds required him to be a lock for the No. 3 receiver role, a job that could entail as few as three targets per game or as many as seven. Count me all the way out now that Reynolds faces competition in the form of Florida WR Van Jefferson, the 57th overall pick Friday night.
I wonder if the Raiders would've released Williams if he'd been healthy enough for them to do so before his 2020 base salary became guaranteed in February? Either way, he now has a guaranteed $11 million salary for 2021, but nothing in the way of assurances thereafter. While it isn't exactly clear how the Raiders will use Lynn Bowden, we know that Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards will challenge for snaps and targets that might otherwise go to Williams. It's less clear how all of this impacts playing time for slot specialist Renfrow, but at the very least we have to acknowledge that his target-share ceiling takes a hit.