3 Players with the Most to Lose on NFL Draft Night

By Kyle Dvorchak
Kyle Dvorchak The NFL Draft is the most reliable way for franchises to gain long-term value and build (or rebuild) their teams. The building blocks of dynasties rarely come from anywhere else and the 2020 draft is speculated to be one of the best in recent memory. While many NFL teams may see a boon in value after the draft, fantasy teams and players are going to be nervously watching, hoping their up-and-coming studs don't get the Tre Mason treatment. Who is most at risk?

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

Courtland Sutton Denver BroncosCourtland Sutton broke out all over the place last season with 72 receptions for 1,112 yards and six scores. He even snuck in three rush attempts for an extra 17 yards. Based on his college metrics coming out of SMU, this type of explosion was inevitable. Sutton came in at 6'3" and weighed 218 pounds. He ran a 4.54 Forty-Yard Dash which gave him an 84th-percentile Speed Score (this metric adjusts speed based on a player's size). On top of being a larger receiver, he recorded the third-fastest 3 Cone Drill (6.57) at the combine. He has all of the makings of an alpha receiver and proved that with his 2019, Pro Bowl campaign.

However, Denver appears ready to give second-year quarterback Drew Lock the reigns and they know he'll need a good supporting cast to succeed. In 2019, Emmanuel Sanders recorded the second-most yards for a Denver receiver with 367. He played seven games before being traded. That puts the Broncos firmly in the conversation for a receiver with the 15th overall pick. Normally, a first-round rookie wouldn't decimate the value of a young, proven wideout but this class of receivers isn't your typical class. If Henry Ruggs III is taken before 15-rumors currently peg the Jets to snag him at 11-the Broncos are likely locked into a stud prospect in Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb.

The best-case scenario is the Ruggs falls to the Broncos. Ruggs never commanded a high or even middling target share while at Alabama and may even help the receivers he plays with by clearing out space while flying down the field. An excerpt from John Laub's breakdown of Ruggs:

Never recorded a 1,000-yard season on campus. Lack of diverse route tree on resume. Needs to improve hand technique. Physical corners in press coverage present a challenge. Polished and poised prospect entering the league. Strategic chess piece in aerial assault: Challenges secondaries deep, opening up intermediate routes and middle of the field.

If your blue-chip dynasty asset is at risk of facing a new threat for targets via the draft, Ruggs is the perfect red herring and may even provide a small buy window if he is drafted by a team with an established receiver.

Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, RBs, Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle backfield ended the season in shambled with both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both suffering season-ending injuries-Carson a hip injury that should not cost him much of the currently non-existent offseason and Penny an ACL tear that may cause him to miss games in 2020. Carson is only at a significant risk of seeing his fantasy value tank if the Seahawks take a running back early in the draft. He's already been down this road once with Penny being drafted at the end of the first round two years ago. Since then, Carson has carried the ball 525 times at over 4.5 yards per carry through 29 games. He's earned the trust of Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer and that the touches that come with that. If Seattle takes a Round 1 or Round 2 back (which is possible), Carson may be threatened. Otherwise, he'll at least get the first crack at the starting role in Week 1.

Penny, who could start the season on the PUP list, would be much more threatened by a quality Day 3 back. This running back class is deep and filled with backs Seattle could use (someone to catch passes out of the backfield) and backs that fit their style (aggressive between the tackles bangers). The Seahawks were already reportedly done waiting on Penny as his usage bottomed out in Week 7 when he was healthy but only played two snaps. Rumors of a trade cropped up shortly after.

Chris Carson is a free agent after 2020 and the Seahawks clearly have little faith in Penny as a talent. They also need to add a backup regardless of what they think of Penny because of his injury. If they use the 27th overall pick on a player like Jonathan Taylor, both of their current running backs would see their value ruined. Unfortunately for both backs, Seattle has two second-round picks in a loaded class. That means neither running back will be safe even if the first round passes without Seattle nabbing a back. Carson could survive a 4th or 5th round back but Penny really needs his team to hold out hope on him and take a back no earlier than the final round of the draft to retain what little fantasy value he still has.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay

Ronald Jones is coming off a modestly successful sophomore season. He topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage by adding an impressive 309 receiving yards to his 724 on the ground. That receiving total is more than he recorded in three seasons of college ball. Despite improving in his second NFL season at the age of 22, Jones is just barely inside the top-100 players by Dynasty ADP. This likely because the collective fantasy conscience is baking in some risk of the Bucs selecting a running back in the draft. Not only is that a safe hedge, but it's also not being considered nearly enough.

Head coach Bruce Arians has already talked about adding a running back via the draft and many are speculating that could happen in the first round, specifically with three-down back D'Andre Swift. On top of his comments, Arians routinely voiced his displeasure with Jones-specifically his pass-blocking ability-by benching the young back periodically. That would instantly tank Jones' value but even a pass-catching back, which Arians specifically tabbed as a need for the team, would prevent Jones from ever hitting his upside If that back can do more than catch passes (most backs can), they would eat into Jones role even more than then now-departed Peyton Barber did last year (154 carries).

Arians has said in a number of ways that Jones' ceiling is as a committee-back. Listen to him and get out from under Jones', even if that means selling low.