Now that the 2020 NFL Draft has concluded, we know all of the landing spots for the incoming rookie class. Team fit is an important aspect when it comes to evaluating players for fantasy football. Not only that, but the amount of draft capital invested tells us how important these rookies will likely be for their new teams. In order to bring context to all of this, here is Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Kyle Part 1.
Over the course of this two-part series, I will be ranking my top 25 rookies for dynasty fantasy football leagues. Conventional roster and scoring settings will be used. That means starting only 1 QB per week, while needed a minimum of 2 or 3 RB and WR spots in lineups.
RB – Jonathan Taylor – IND
After the NFL combine, Jonathan Taylor became my RB #1 for this rookie class. Post-NFL Draft, Taylor not only remained there in my dynasty rankings but solidified his place as the top overall rookie in 2020. Outside of any fantasy format where you can start multiple quarterbacks, running back is the most important position to target in rookie drafts. In the right situation, they can produce weekly starting-caliber production right from day one. That is because most receivers need time to develop chemistry with their quarterbacks, and have to adjust to playing veteran NFL cornerbacks.
Meanwhile, a running back’s production is arguably more dependant on offensive line play. Therefore, the jump to the next level is a lot easier for a running back as long they are able to run behind a great offensive line. And what a line that blocks for Taylor. Not only quality, but the Colts offensive line is young. Behind this unit, Taylor should get to showcase his speed and athleticism. Meanwhile, his excellent footwork will help Taylor maneuver well any time the line protection does break down.
Taylor is in a very rare happy medium of a great offensive line without a clear path to a franchise quarterback. This could lead to Indianapolis deciding to employ a run-heavy approach for the foreseeable future. Perhaps even the entire length of Taylor’s rookie contract. Speaking of rookie contracts, Marlon Mack is entering the final year of his. Taylor is the superior talented should be starting games as a rookie. With the chance at workhorse role in his near future, Jonathan Taylor is my dynasty rookie #1.
RB – Clyde Edwards-Helaire – KC
This was always going to be the landing spot we all gravitated towards. While I had Clyde Edwards-Helaire as my rookie RB #5 throughout the pre-draft process, he jumps up to #2 because of the team that drafted him. The Chiefs offense has arguably been the best unit in the NFL over the previous two seasons. And there appear to be no signs of slowing down.
Arguably, Edwards-Helaire’s best traits are his route running and pass-catching ability. By selecting him as the first running back in the 2020 draft, Kansas City is telling us that they have a plan for Edwards-Helaire. Perhaps he will become the rare back whose passing-game production is as consistent as his running floor. Either way, the overall offensive potential of the Chiefs offense would maintain Edwards-Helaire as an upper-tier running back if he ever became a 3-down workhorse. Considering his draft capital, that seems very likely as early as next season.
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RB – D’Andre Swift – DET
D’Andre Swift ranked as RB #1 in my initial film analysis. However, the results from both the combine and the draft have dropped him to RB #3. The deciding factor for Swift to remain in the top 3, ia the likelihood of a heavy workload in his first season. Personally, I have never been a believer in Kerryon Johnson. While he has some impressive athletic traits, I never felt that he represented the entire package of a workhorse back. In my evaluations of the players, I believe that Swift is a better interior runner, a better outside runner and most of all, a better pass-catcher than Johnson. The Lions can easily put Swift in any situation right from the get-go. I expect them to do so often even during Swift’s rookie season.
RB – J.K Dobbins – BAL
On the contrary, I predict that J.K. Dobbins will take longer to establish a workhorse role than the other top tier running backs. Even with his age, Mark Ingram may be the most talented veteran running back on any of the teams with a top 4 rookie RB. It is likely that Dobbins will wait longer than D’Andre Swift to achieve a significant carry count. Those two rookies were 1-2 in my film grades. Throughout this NFL Draft process, Dobbins and Swift have been closely connected. An expected year one spike in value for Swift is all the separates them now. However, even with an expected slow start to his NFL career, Dobbins is talented enough to remain among the top four rookies.
RB – Cam Akers – LAR
My first five first-year players are all running back. As explained earlier, the transition from college to the NFL appears to be easier for that position than say wide receiver. Pre-draft, Cam Akers was firmly entrenched as part of the top 5 running backs. Nothing has changed, as everyone in that group landed with teams that should give them ample opportunities within the next two seasons. Akers may not even have to wait that long. He enters the NFL with more experience running in a zone scheme that his new teammate Darrell Henderson. Akers should fit right into the Rams lead back role, right away. Unlike the others in this top 5, Akers needs to improve his footwork in order to maximize production on his opportunities. However, he does demonstrate excellent burst and contact balance. I believe he is certainly worthy of being drafted before any rookie wide receiver.
WR – CeeDee Lamb – DAL
WR – Jerry Jeudy – DEN
Speaking of wide receivers, we finally arrive at that position. Throughout this draft process, I have had two wide receivers in the top tier. The NFL Draft did not provide much clarity as those two particular players went two picks apart. CeeDee Lamb checks all the athletic and production boxes, while some say Jerry Jeudy is the best route runner coming into the NFL in the last decade. Two very different prospects who should both enjoy productive careers in the pros.
Both Lamb and Jeudy ended up in receiving corps that can be called crowded. Eventually, both of these talented players should become key pieces to their respective offenses, so they are difficult to differentiate. I lean towards Lamb because I predict that the Cowboys offense will provide more scoring opportunities than the Broncos. While Drew Lock impressed at the end of his rookie season, I still prefer a wide receiver that is tied to Dak Prescott, even if his long term future has not yet secured. Perhaps the most sticking difference between the two teams is the offensive line. According to Football Outsiders Offensive Line Rankings, Dallas ranked 2nd in pass-protection, while Denver came in at 25th. Overall, I’d rather have the Cowboys WR.
WR – Justin Jefferson – MIN
Entering the 2019 season, it would have been crazy to suggest Justin Jefferson as a 1st-round rookie pick in dynasty drafts. However, after a magical season at LSU, Jefferson proved that not only is we one of the best slot receivers in the class, but near the top of the WR position overall. The Vikings certainly noticed as they used a first-round selection to draft him (it was the pick they got in the Stefon Diggs trade). Jefferson has a tremendous opportunity to compete for the starting wide receiver job this year in Minnesota. Frankly, I view him as the favorite to land the gig. In 2020, I can see Jefferson outscoring both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. While I am not ranking Jefferson above them, in my mind, he joins them in the top tier of rookie wide receivers.
WR – Jalen Reagor – PHI
After Justin Jefferson, there is a tier break fo me. Yes, I have Jalen Reagor one spot behind Jefferson, but there is a sizable difference in my desire to draft them. Reagor leads the group of rookie wide receivers who could become productive yet inconsistent week-to-week. He is expected to play the deep-threat role in the Eagles offense. While that can lead to some monster fantasy points, there can be matchups where a 1 or 2 catch game from Reagor kills your chances. Still, he was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by a team with a need at wide receiver. Alos, Reagor will have a quarterback who is young a capable of hitting him deep. For that, he is solidified as my rookie WR #4 overall.
WR – Tee Higgins – CIN
The first pick of the second round of the NFL Draft would go in the first round of a rookie dynasty draft for me. While I have concerns about Tee Higgins and his ability to separate, he does possess some impressive athletic traits. Most of all, his contested catch ability could lead to Higgins becoming a dangerous red-zone weapon. There is uncertainty regarding A.J. Green‘s future with the Bengals. Without him, there is no one to stand in the way of Higgins ascension as the top perimeter receiver in Cincinnati. Potentially, Higgins could evolve as a #1 receiver alongside his fellow rookie at quarterback.
QB – Joe Burrow – CIN
Speaking of that rookie quarterback, this is as far as I am willing to let Joe Burrow fall. Yes, I know that quarterbacks are devalued in this type of format where you can only start one per week. However, for fantasy football purposes, I have Burrow has a tier above all others at his position.
First, he is the unquestioned starter heading into his rookie season. That means immediate production, which is not guaranteed for other rookie quarterbacks. Furthermore, I like the surrounding talent on offense, while playing with a sub-par defense that will force the Bengals to throw often in order to stay in games. Finally, Burrow’s mobility, both in and out of the pocket, is noteworthy. As a rookie, and one who makes good decisions, I could see Burrow running with the football rather than throw into double coverage. Taking what the defense gives him could lead to an elevated rushing total for the rookie.
In a Superflex or 2 QB format, I would strongly consider Burrow as the #1 overall pick, even if quarterback wasn’t a particular need. That speaks to the value of quarterbacks in formats where you can start 2 per week at the position. In 1 QB formats, I still believe in Burrow enough to take him in the 1st-round of a rookie draft.
WR – Henry Ruggs – LV
My rookie WR #6 overall was actually the first receiver chosen during the NFL draft. However, the difference between Henry Ruggs and the five wide receivers I have already mentioned is the quarterback situation. Every other wide receiver is the article has at least short-term stability at the most important offensive position. Between Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, it is difficult to get a read on who will be throwing passes for the Raiders in 2020. Given the nature of Ruggs’ potential role as a deep threat, that could be challenging for the rookie receiver. Neither quarterback is among the elite arm talents in the league. Also, if training camp reps are split or even shortened, Ruggs could risk not developing proper chemistry with either.
However, the talent is undeniable with Ruggs. Even with less than ideal scenarios surrounding him, I would still select Ruggs in the first-round of a dynasty rookie draft.
Thank you for reading Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Kyle Part 1. The rest of the top 25 fantasy football rookies will be discussed in part 2. Be sure to stay connected to that as well as more great sports content from Full Press Coverage.