Fantasy Football

Zach Evans Fantasy Forecast 2023

Zach Evans

Zach Evans Fantasy Forecast 2023

Zach Evans was selected in the 6th round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. I have a long-standing rule that HC Sean McVay is not to be trusted whenever he speaks about who his RB1 is, so this should be interesting.

Recruiting and Collegiate Background

Zach Evans was a 5-star (out of a possible 5) recruit from North Shore High School in Houston, Texas. He was heavily recruited as a teenager, and his recruitment and experiences in college are quite the story. 

North Shore High School won back-to-back state titles in 2018 when Evans was a junior, and then again in 2019 when he was a senior. However, Evans didn’t get to play in that game, and the reasons are not clear. North Shore’s statement was that he violated team rules regarding cell phones. I know a thing or two about high school sports, and they don’t suspend athletes from championship games unless the student has done something egregious. Typically it’s something that is quite public on the Internet, which ends up forcing the hands of the school. Because he was a minor, whatever happened has not been disclosed, but it certainly affected his recruiting.

Being a 5-star recruit, Evans was pursued by some big-time programs as early as his sophomore season. Just to name drop a few, there were offers from LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Miami, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, the list goes on and on. There were reports and expectations out there that Evans would commit to Georgia, but in January of 2020, the Bulldogs released him from his letter of intent. It wasn’t until May 11, 2020, that Evans committed to TCU. At that point, there were but two remaining offers: TCU and Ole Miss.

Zach Evans and Kendre Miller were part of the same RB stable at TCU for two years. Due to a turf toe injury, Evans’ sophomore season was cut short. At the end of the season, Evans transferred, with questionable communication, to the other school that had offered him a spot, Ole Miss. Why did he transfer? Was it because he lost his starting gig to Kendre Miller? Was it off-the-field trouble? Was it because TCU just parted ways with HC Gary Patterson? Evans claims that he wanted stiffer competition, and if true, props to him.

In his junior season, Evans had 144 carries, 936 yards, and 9 TDs for the Rebels. He added 12 grabs for 119 yards and a TD. When his collegiate career was all said and done, Evans had a career average of 6.9 yards per carry.

Statistical and Athletic Notes

Below are the notes I made for Zach Evans prior to this year’s draft:

  • Transferred to Ole Miss for junior season after losing out to Kendre Miller
  • Decisive runner with quick bursts, able to achieve top speed quickly
  • Can cut through tackles, at times with ease
  • Can bounce outside and elude Dbacks on the perimeter
  • Is a home run threat whenever he touches the football
  • Has had issues with fumbling
  • Can sometimes be a non factor in games
  • Unproven as a receiver and pass blocker
  • Injuries/durability are concerns
  • Missed combine with hamstring issue, did do pro day

Pro Day:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.51
  • 20 yard shuttle: 4.26
  • 3 Cone Drill: 7.08 seconds

Landing Spot

Yuck. Figuring out the Rams backfield has been a source of personal frustration for some time. Ever since Toddy Gurley, I feel that the RB1 for the Rams changes from month to month, if not week to week. HC Sean McVay has changed his tune about his RB1 multiple times over the past few seasons, so I’m not crazy about the landing spot for Zach Evans. If you’re the Rams though, why not take a chance in the 6th round on a former 5 star recruit?

The Good

The Rams aren’t bad at football. Yeah, they have injury history and drafted a player with injury history, but hey that’s football. As much as I am not a fan, McVay has a nice track record as a head coach. Darrell Henderson is gone. Cam Akers does have a significant injury history of his own, and last November there were reports out there that Rams and Akers wanted to part ways. The path to RB1 status for Zach Evans in year one is not out of the realm of possibilities. Likely? No. Possibly? Yes.

The Bad

The Rams are in decline. Their starting QB’s best days could be behind him, and their offensive line is not as good as in years past. Their WR1 suffered a season-ending injury toward the end of 2022 on a meaningless play, so his best years might be behind him as well. Many of the players from their Super Bowl team a couple of seasons ago are gone or older. This may not be the best offense for any RB. Also, Kyren Williams is still in this backfield and has a year in this organization that Evans does not have. Lastly, Zeke Elliott or Dal Cook could end up on this team.

2023 Redraft Outlook

I might be wrong about this, but I think Zach Evans’ ADP of 192 is going to rise over the summer. If I rub my crystal ball, here is what I see:

  • Reports are issued over the summer about how good Evans looks in camp.
  • McVay personally tells the media how much they like the rookie and plan to integrate him into the offense.
  • Some fantasy analysts go so far as to say that he will be RB1 over Cam Akers.

However, if his ADP remains in the 190 range, I might take a late round shot on him. He did finish with a career collegiate average of 6.9 YPC and did transfer to a school with arguably tougher competition. If we can believe that much of Zach Evans’ issues was immaturity and that he has overcome them, then 190 ADP is a bargain. I would 100% draft him if I had Cam Akers on my team, but I highly doubt I will go this route in 2023. When I delve deeper into the Rams this summer, I will keep an open mind, but this is already triggering some Rams PTSD for me.

Dynasty Outlook

I don’t want it to sound like I am slandering Zach Evans because let’s face it, I don’t know him. That being said, there are red flags a plenty surrounding this rookie:

  • Suspended from a high school state championship game for “cell phone” use.
  • A redacted letter of intent from Georgia.
  • A late commitment to a school of arguably less prestige than the multitude of programs who originally sought his services.
  • Injuries kept him off the field as a collegiate sophomore and the NFL Combine.
  • Transferred during junior year after being beat for a starting role by a lesser-scored recruit.
  • Way in which transfer happened was questionable and deemed classless by some.
  • Fell all the way to the 6th round of the draft.

Sorry, that’s about 5 too many red flags for me, and quite the bevy of things that Evans will have to overcome in order to have a stellar NFL career. I will monitor what the public thinks of him though because I always love a nice bargain, but between questionable character issues and injury history, not to mention RB shelf life in the NFL, I’m unlikely to go here in dynasty.

Fun Fact

Zach Evans is a self-taught origami artist and has an arm covered with tattoos, each with its own meaning.

 

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