Debating the 1.01 in Rookie Drafts (Fantasy Football)

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The NFL Draft has come and gone, and it is officially rookie draft season in dynasty leagues. We’ve been discussing ideal landing spots, grinding the tape, and projecting these 2020 rookies for what feels like three months, and now that these rookies have a home, it’s time to add them to your dynasty roster via the rookie draft.

New to dynasty? No problem! Check out this great introduction article and be sure to read up on the 2020 rookie profiles here on the site. For further reference, the writing staff and hosts completed a 3-round rookie mock draft just last week. Check out those results here.

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you own the 1.01 in your rookie draft. Maybe you had a bad season in 2019 or maybe you traded for the right to draft first in your rookie draft. Whatever the case may be, you’ve got a serious question to answer: Who are you going to draft at the 1.01? I’ll break down the options, assuming this is a non-superflex format.

Throughout the dynasty community, there are two names you will see atop rookie rankings the most often: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. Who should you take? And what is the potential range of outcomes for both? Let’s dive in.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

College: LSU
NFL Draft Selection:
Round 1, Pick 32 overall
Average Draft Position: 1.50

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a.k.a. CEH, is by far the best pass-catching running back in the 2020 rookie class. In Joe Brady’s system at LSU, he caught 55 balls in 2019 and displayed dynamic playmaking ability in the passing game out of the backfield. When lined up in space against a linebacker, CEH is deadly on option routes and wheel routes, making him his QB’s best friend.

CEH is perfect for Andy Reid‘s system in Kansas City. When he asked his QB, Patrick Mahomes, who he wanted to play alongside him in his backfield, his answer was CEH. Why? Because of his pass-catching ability and athleticism, which Reid stated was better than Brian Westbrook, who Reid coached in Philadelphia from 2002-2009.

The draft capital invested in Edwards-Helaire means something. It means a lot actually. Running backs taken in the first round of the NFL Draft tend to have more opportunity earlier in their careers, leading to more fantasy football success.

CEH’s draft pedigree and landing spot on arguably the best offense in football is enticing if you own the 1.01. His skill set matches perfectly with what the Reid wants out of his running back – a guy who can produce on the ground and through the air. Take a look at this data from notable starting RBs in Reid’s system.

Player / Year Targets Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TD
Brian Westbrook / 2006 111 77 699 4
Brian Westbrook / 2007 125 90 771 5
Brian Westbrook / 2008 77 54 402 5
LeSean McCoy / 2010 90 78 592 2
Jamaal Charles / 2013 104 70 693 7
Spencer Ware & Charandrick West / 2016 76 61 635 4
Kareem Hunt / 2017 63 53 455 3

As we’ve seen him do with other great pass-catching backs, Reid is going to get the ball in CEH’s hands in the passing game, making him an extremely valuable PPR asset. Considering that Chiefs offense has ranked #1 and #2 in back to back season in terms of points per game, CEH should have immediate TD upside as well given the ability for Mahomes to move the ball down the field with ease.

Other RBs on the depth chart / Contract Situation / Age:
Damien Williams / signed through 2020 / 28
Darwin Thompson / signed through 2022 / 23
Darrel Williams / signed through 2020 / 25

For 2020, the only RB that could take work from CEH is Damien Williams, who to be fair, has been extremely productive over the past year for the Chiefs. Dating back to 2018, when Williams got at least 14 touches here are his fantasy points in each game (half PPR): 27.3, 21.5, 23.9, 30.1, 15.5, 19.8, 11.4, 16.7, 29.4, 25.8, 17.4, 27.3. Williams has been everything the Chiefs have wanted him to be and more – is there a chance he cuts into CEH’s workload in 2020? Possibly, but Williams is 28 and an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. We may not see CEH’s true ceiling until 2021.

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Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

College: Wisconsin
NFL Draft Selection
: Round 2, Pick 41 overall; *Colts traded up to select Taylor
Average Draft Position: 1.60

Jonathan Taylor is probably the best pure runner of the football in this class. He’s fluid through the line of scrimmage, runs with power and agility, and he can hit the home run, posting a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Taylor put up back to back 2,000-yard rushing seasons at Wisconsin and almost put up three straight, missing the 2K mark by 23 yards in 2017. The guy is a workhorse through and through and profiles as a back who can tote the rock 275+ times in a season if his team chooses to employ him that way.

What’s intriguing about Taylor is that the Colts, who already had Marlon Mack in their backfield, traded up in the second round to select Taylor. Marlon Mack has been effective for the Colts during his time in the NFL, posting a career 4.4 YPC average and in the past two seasons as the lead back, he’s finished with 8 and 9 rushing TD. Mack has been good, but he lacks the ceiling that Jonathan Taylor possesses. His running style fits perfectly behind Indianapolis’ offensive line.

According to Football Outsiders, the Colts’ offensive line ranked 12th and 4th in each of the past two seasons in run blocking. Similarly, Pro Football Focus graded the Colts’ line as third-best in the NFL in 2019. Quintin Nelson, PFF’s 2nd highest-graded guard in the entire league, has been dominant as a run blocker, and the idea of Jonathan Taylor running behind Nelson for years to come is intriguing.

Taylor is as dominant on the ground as we’ve seen from a running back in recent years, but he lacks the pass-catching ability that CEH possesses. It’s not that Taylor can’t catch the football. After all, he did catch 26 passes last year in college. According to PFF, however, Taylor dropped eight of a possible 50 catchable targets. If he can clean up the pass-catching just a little bit, Taylor could be unstoppable at the RB position.

Other RBs on the depth chart / Contract Situation / Age:
Marlon Mack / signed through 2020 / 24
Nyheim Hines / signed through 2021 / 23
Jordan Wilkins / signed through 2021 / 25

Taylor finds himself on an interesting depth chart for 2020. In 2021 and beyond, there is little to no concern that Taylor is going to be the dude in Indy. However, he finds himself playing alongside a good running back in Marlon Mack and an excellent pass-catching back in Nyheim Hines. Mack, who was a great pass catcher in college at South Florida could see more passing work as Taylor takes control of the backfield in 2020. Regardless of who is catching the football, it’s going to be an important aspect of the Colts offense with Philip Rivers at the helm. Each of the past three seasons, Rivers has targeted the RB position at a higher rate than the year prior. If Taylor gets used in the passing game, he could push for top 10 RB upside in fantasy, but as mentioned, he has two other good pass-catching backs with him on the roster.

Conclusion

Fortunately, if you own a top-2 rookie pick this year, you honestly can’t go wrong. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor are both excellent fantasy options given their talents and their situation. Both of these guys landed in situations that fit their skill set perfectly. Clyde Edwards-Helaire probably has the higher PPR upside, but Taylor is the better runner of the football, making him the preferred play in non-PPR formats. Either way, your fantasy team just got a whole lot better with the 1.01.

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