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Draft Guide Preview

RBs & TEs The Rotoworld Staff Is Split On

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: August 13, 2020, 2:27 pm ET

In the Rotoworld Draft Guide, you’ll find the personal rankings of each of our staff writers. It only costs $3.99 per month to unlock, and you’ll get a lot more than rankings with a subscription -- player profiles, team previews, sleepers/busts, projections, and exclusive columns. Obviously I’m biased, but it’s a deal. 

Today I’m going through some of the RBs and TEs that our writers are split on. The QBs and WRs version of this column is here. It’s a good exercise to see which storylines are most uncertain. For a lot of players on these lists, it’s a combination of injuries and changes of scenery that cause the most debate, but in the end, we’re talking about a difference of a half dozen or so spots in positional ranks so we’re really just splitting hairs at this point into our offseason research.

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

High: John Daigle (RB5), Hayden Winks (RB5), Josh Norris (RB6)

Low: Nick Mensio (RB15), Patrick Daugherty (RB12)

There’s always a big degree of uncertainty surrounding rookies, and it’s magnified when their Average Draft Position (ADP) means we have to draft them over already established fantasy assets. In Edwards-Helaire’s case, that means using a first-round pick now that Damien Williams is out. Andy Reid turned Brian Westbrook into a perennial top-five fantasy back before, and that was Edwards-Helaire’s comp coming out of LSU. With his first-round draft capital, we all are expecting a decent-sized workload, but Daigle, Norris, and I believe that means closer to 300 touches, not 250.
 

Aaron Jones

High: Patrick Daugherty (RB7), Nick Mensio (RB10)

Low: Josh Norris (RB14), John Daigle (RB14), Hayden Winks (RB14)

Rotoworld has been high on Jones’ abilities for years, and he finally got his time to shine last season, particularly when Jamaal Williams was in-and-out of the lineup. Jones has three-down potential, and he plays in an above-average offense, but there’s some concern about his goal-line workload. Jones already was a negative touchdown regression candidate after scoring 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019, and he now has to keep 247-pound second-round RB A.J. Dillon on the sideline. If he does hold him off, Jones will repeat as an RB1. If he doesn’t, Jones will be more of a high-end RB2.
 

David Johnson

High: Patrick Daugherty (RB15), Nick Mensio (RB16)

Low: Hayden Winks (RB24), Josh Norris (RB21)

There’s a lot going on with Johnson, but it boils down to these questions: Is he still good? If not, will it matter? Bill O’Brien certainly thinks Johnson has something left in the tank despite his sub-4.0 yards per carry average over the last three seasons. I’m obviously less convinced, but I do admit there’s a chance O’Brien won’t care just because he has to prove that trading for him was smart. If he keeps his job all year long, Johnson will blow out my RB24 ranking, especially so if he turns a corner in a new system.

 

Tevin Coleman

High: Hayden Winks (RB31), John Daigle (RB33)

Low: Patrick Daugherty (RB41), Nick Mensio (RB41)

Everyone seems to be on team “Kyle Shanahan uses a committee” (even though that’s not the case as I outlined in this Shanahan RB history column), but few have actually moved Coleman up to where he should be drafted if that was the case. I simply want to be above consensus on all 49ers players (minus Deebo Samuel) and that includes Coleman. If Raheem Mostert holds off Coleman, he’s at least a strong insurance asset to store on the bench. If Coleman earns starts, I think he can pay off RB3 value. Of course, Coleman has disappointed in gimme opportunities, so I understand the hesitation to be as aggressive as Daigle and I are.
 

Jordan Howard

High: Nick Mensio (RB31), John Daigle (RB32)

Low: Josh Norris (RB47), Hayden Winks (RB45), Patrick Daugherty (RB43)

Howard’s upside is limited by the Dolphins’ offense in general and his own skill set as a bruising back, particularly in PPR leagues. Where there’s debate within Rotoworld is if there’s any value in drafting Howard near his ADP given his low upside. With Matt Breida (and maybe Patrick Laird) taking on passing-down responsibilities, Howard will have to luck into touchdowns to be a flex option. Maybe the Dolphins Offense is slightly better than expected, but Norris, Daugherty, and I are okay betting against that. Daigle and Mensio argue that those negatives are already priced in.
 

Hunter Henry

High: Patrick Daugherty (TE6), Nick Mensio (TE7)

Low: Josh Norris (TE11), Hayden Winks (TE11), John Daigle (TE10)

Henry falls into the large third tier of tight ends where we’re essentially taking fliers on low-end TE1 prospects. With Henry, Daugherty and Mensio are getting someone who is clearly talented and established, plus has something to prove while playing in a contract year. Even last year, he averaged 54 yards per game while maintaining a strong 8.6 yards per target. On the flip side, Henry has only played 41-of-64 possible games through four years and presumably gets a downgrade at quarterback going from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor and/or Justin Herbert. I think Henry provides some level of floor, but I’m personally aiming higher with riskier tight ends like Tyler Higbee and Hayden Hurst.

 

Hayden Hurst

High: John Daigle (TE8), Hayden Winks (TE8), Josh Norris (TE9)

Low: Nick Mensio (TE16), Patrick Daugherty (TE15)

It’s not a surprise to see Mensio and Daugherty taking the opposite side of Hurst, precisely for the same reasons we just laid out with Henry. Unlike the Chargers tight end, Hurst is completely unknown as a talent and has never produced at the NFL level despite being a first-rounder. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s total dust. It just means he could be. What Daigle, Norris, and I are betting on with Hurst is volume in this Falcons Offense that I project to finish first in pass attempts. If Hurst can play well, there’s a ceiling to be had.
 

Jonnu Smith

High: Nick Mensio (TE10), Josh Norris (TE14)

Low: John Daigle (TE22), Patrick Daugherty (TE20)

Jonnu is an interesting TE2 option because he’s an absolute beast athletically. He had a few plays after the catch and at the catch point that were eye opening last season. Where there’s debate is surrounding his projected target totals. I wanted to be higher on Smith, but I couldn’t find enough targets in the Titans run-heavy offense to make it work. Of course, if he’s as talented as what some believe, the targets will come. I’m just trying to limit expectations in an offense that scored a touchdown on 76% of their red zone trips last season. That’s absurd and will 100% not repeat in 2020.

 

Blake Jarwin

High: Hayden Winks (TE15), John Daigle (TE16)

Low: Patrick Daugherty (TE21), Nick Mensio (TE21)

The Jarwin debate is similar to the Hurst one. Neither of them have been more than a No. 2 tight end in their young NFL careers, but they’ve flashed enough to believe that they can hold their own in a No. 1 role and more importantly, they’re attached to good offenses. For Jarwin, it’s crowded at receiver and with Ezekiel Elliott, but Dallas quietly has the second-most available targets from last season with Jason Witten and Randall Cobb out. All of us have Jarwin in the TE2 tier. It’s just a matter of risk preference between us.

 

Chris Herndon

High: John Daigle (TE17), Nick Mensio (TE18), Josh Norris (TE18)

Low: Patrick Daugherty (TE22), Hayden Winks (TE22)

Was Herndon’s 39-502-4 rookie season a mirage? What the heck happened in 2020 when Herndon recorded one catch? Will it even matter if he’s good in this Jets Offense? These are the obvious questions with Herndon. For me, I see the opportunity, particularly with the Jets projected to win fewer than six games this year. If Herndon is good, he’ll be targeted and could even emerge as a top-15 tight end weekly. I’m just hedging and favoring tight ends who either produced last season or are attached to better offenses. This fourth tier of tight ends is deep, however, so any late-round Herndon investment is reasonable.