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Fantasy Index Weekly

Experts League Tidbits

Rookie RBs, WRs go cheap

This is the week we hold our annual Experts Draft and Experts Auction, to get them into our annual preseason magazines. It's a time of late nights, steals and reaches involving industry professionals and contest winners.

I'm not going to spoil the entire competitions, but here are a few notes on how things turned out.

Age, injury or suspension concerns. These various mysteries or uncertainties, at least, pushed a lot of traditional first-rounders later than they've gone in the past. So it's a good year if you're a believer in big names avoiding suspension, or in former superstars bouncing back from down years. In the Draft, Alvin Kamara (possible suspension) was a second-round pick. Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott were both third-rounders. Deshaun Watson was a ninth-round pick, as the 11th quarterback drafted. All of those players might be big values, if things break right and people are underestimating them.

Similar story in the Auction on those running backs. All were priced in the 13th-16th range. Potential values (or wasted money, depending on what your expectation is). Watson was the 17th-priciest quarterback, so a little less optimism. No one really knows what suspension he's going to receive this year.

Rookie running backs. In the Auction, Breece Hall was the 21st-most expensive running back, which seems like a pretty reasonable deal for the first rookie drafted. In the Draft, he was selected with the last pick of the third round, as the 20th running back selected. So if you think Hall is going to immediately step in as a top-10 to 15 runner, you should be happy about what it will cost to get him in many leagues this year.

The other popular rookie running backs -- Ken Walker, Dameon Pierce, James Cook, Tyler Allgeier -- were all seventh- to ninth-round picks. Not a huge degree of optimism, but potential for all to pay off if they're early starters on their respective teams.

Rookie wide receivers. Six wide receivers were selected in the top 18 picks of the NFL Draft, but it doesn't look like anybody is willing to bet on any of them putting up the kind of rookie numbers as Justin Jefferson and JaMarr Chase have the last two years. Nearly all of them went for just $3-$5, or less, in the Auction (out of a $200 salary cap). Second-rounder Christian Watson went for $7, I suppose on the lure of playing with Aaron Rodgers (and I expect that purchase to be criticized in the post-Auction discussion).

In the Draft, Drake London (pictured) was selected at the end of the eighth round, and was the 42nd wide receiver taken. Not a sizable investment for Atlanta's potential top wideout. It was the end of the 10th before any other rookie wide receivers came off the board.

Unemployed or injury uncertainty. There were values, perhaps, in some players who don't yet have teams, or are coming off serious injuries, or both. In the Draft, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and Will Fuller were all selected in Rounds 15-19. James Robinson, coming off a torn Achilles, was a ninth-rounder. Robinson went for a fairly modest $6 in the Auction. Among those wide receivers, Jones went for $2, Fuller just $1. Beckham wasn't purchased.

Full results coming in our preseason magazine, available in late June/early July.

--Andy Richardson

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