If you are drafting this weekend, you don’t have the luxury of waiting to see what happens with holdouts, injuries, position battles, or potential breakout candidates. You have to make a call on when to select those players based upon the imperfect information we have as of today. The goal of this article is to update you on the absolute latest information you need to know and help figure out where these players should be drafted as of this weekend.
We will go position-by-position to look at some of the toughest decisions you will have to face in drafts this weekend, including:
-When to draft Andrew Luck
-What to make of the early preseason returns on new offenses in Arizona, Baltimore, New York, and elsewhere
-How to attack the Kansas City, Seattle, and Miami backfields
-When the reward outweighs the risk on holdouts Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon III (and their backups)
-The mid-round and late-round wide receivers who you should move up your board
-The latest intel on the breakout candidates at tight end
This article is geared specifically to 12-team best ball leagues on DRAFT and uses DRAFT ADP from the last 48 hours. However, the information and most of the draft strategy discussed should be just as pertinent to any season-long draft taking place this weekend.
When to Draft Andrew Luck
We will have an answer on whether Andrew Luck (ADP: 89) will open the season as the Week 1 starter for the Colts by August 25th according to head coach Frank Reich. "Ideally, the more time you have the better. But by the end of the third preseason game (August 24th), I think we just have to know something," Reich said. "We have to be able to make the call and move from there, whether we’re full speed with Andrew or not after that third preseason game. Or at that point, are we going to go with Jacoby (Brissett). So we’ll make that decision when that time comes."
Anyone drafting between now and August 25th is going to have a tough call to make with limited information because so much is currently unknown regarding what exact injury Luck is dealing with and when he might return. His ADP has fallen 20 spots in recent weeks, so the injury news is being priced in already and the only question is whether it is fully priced in yet or if Luck should be falling deeper into drafts.
Our own Jene Bramel broke down what is known and what is still unknown on Wednesday.
Andrew Luck: More Questions than Answers— Jene Bramel (@JeneBramel) August 14, 2019
Colts still aren't confident in diagnosis, Luck wasn't comfortable at last practice two weeks ago, descriptions of condition and plan remain confusing.
Tough to project a healthy Luck for Week 1.
More here ~https://t.co/qgoXYQcmq4
Dr. Bramel's bottom line:
Consider Luck questionable -- at best -- for Week 1. While I don't believe we're seeing a reprise of 2017, when Luck went quiet and eventually missed an entire year while rehabbing a shoulder injury, it will be difficult to confidently project a timetable for his return until we see him return to practice or hear him clarify his own status.
This is a situation where it makes sense to try to calculate risk versus reward through the lens of projected points per game instead of just looking at the fact that Luck’s ADP was QB3 prior to the injury. Our David Dodds projects Luck for 19.3 PPG (DRAFT scoring). He has Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger each projected to score between 17.8 and 18.7 PPG. If you draft Luck over one of these aforementioned quarterbacks and Luck ends up being fine, you project to come out 0.6 to 1.5 PPG ahead in the bargain. Approximately 1.0 PPG is something, but it also isn’t much of a potential reward considering what feels like an ever-growing level of risk that Luck misses regular-season games. The lingering injury also negatively impacts Luck’s fantasy ceiling due to the potential he will be less mobile and the fact he has barely practiced over the past three months.
If drafting this weekend, there are 12 other quarterbacks whose fantasy potential excites me enough to pass on Luck’s considerable upside. The time to stop Luck’s fall (if he slides) should be different for every drafter. Slot him in on your draft board behind the last quarterback you feel has elite upside and ahead of the next tier.
Young quarterbacks in new offenses
We have to take any information gleaned from preseason action with a major grain of salt. However, when we are trying to figure out which young quarterbacks are most likely to take a leap forward, every data point helps. This is especially true when trying to figure out what these players will look like in new offensive systems. Let’s look at the early returns:
Sam Darnold (ADP: 161) has seen his ADP start to creep up, which is understandable. He looks like the highest-upside option outside of the first 12 rounds based on the strength of back-to-back impressive preseason performances. He is worth targeting a round early. The early returns on Darnold could also potentially impact overall draft strategy. There is less of a desire to lock in a QB2 in the 10th or 11th-round range with Darnold lurking as an attractive option a few rounds later.