Fantasy Football Rookies Rankings 2020

Following the NFL Draft Combine, it’s now officially time for NFL Draft analysis. Analysts like Mel Kiper Jr. and Matt Miller will observe who has the best arm talent between Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow. Simultaneously, analysts like Bucky Brooks will identify the best fits for players like Isaiah Simmons or Javon Kinlaw. However, one aspect of the draft process that never gets emphasized is the fantasy value for skill positions. Even though there are usually only a handful of rookies that are ever productive in fantasy football, Lineups.com has identified the 12 of the most likely prospects to excel for your team. Stay updated with our full fantasy football rankings tables with stats, ADP and auction value.

RB D’Andre Swift – Georgia

ADP: 98

dandre swiftAs we inch closer to April’s NFL Draft, D’Andre Swift looks likely to be the first running back selected overall. While at the University of Georgia, Swift was able to accumulate 2,885 rushing yards, 6.6 yards per carry and an impressive 20 touchdowns. Although Swift was also useful in the receiving game where he hauled in 73 catches for 666 yards and five scores. This bodes well for Swift at the next level, where dual-threat RBs are more valuable, especially in fantasy football.

Forecast: If Swift were to be drafted by the Dolphins, he would almost certainly gain the starting job. Their running back situation was so bad that 37-year-old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing yardage. Considering Miami will draft a rookie QB, they will probably lean on Swift immediately to take some pressure off their emerging franchise QB. Therefore, he would have a high likelihood of accumulating 1,000+ yards from scrimmage.

WR Jerry Jeudy – Alabama

ADP: 138
jerry jeudy
Jerry Jeudy’s stellar route-running skills and ability to gain significant yardage after the catch will likely make him the first receiver selected in the draft. During his last two seasons at Alabama, Jeudy was able to record 1,000+ receiving yards and 10+ TDs in consecutive seasons. In addition, he averaged 17.2 yards per catch and 7.3 yards after the catch in his three seasons at Alabama.

Forecast: Due to Jerry Jeudy’s innate ability to gain separation from defenders, before and after the catch, he will likely become a team’s no. 1 wideout early next season. His presence as a deep-threat will put him in a great position to generate big plays that will boost fantasy football teams. If he were drafted by a team like the Jets or Cardinals, he could have a fantasy season similar to A.J. Brown.

RB J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State

ADP: 102
jk dobbins
Similar to D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins excelled at Ohio State as a jack-of-all-trades running back. Dobbins has the combination of speed, elusiveness, and toughness necessary to be an every-down back in the NFL. After running for 1,000+ rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, Dobbins erupted for over 2,000 yards on the ground, 21 TDs, and 6.7 yards per carry in 2019.

Forecast: Dobbins’ skill-set will most likely make him a starter by the end of the season. As of right now, he is projected to head to the Kansas City Chiefs, who lack a definite no. 1 RB who excels as a rusher, receiver, and blocker. His impeccable vision and ability to shed contact will make him difficult to tackle behind the line of scrimmage at the next level. Plus, his receiving skills will make especially valuable in PPR leagues given that he hauled in 71 catches for 645 yards during his time at Ohio State. It might take multiple weeks, but once Dobbins gets the lions’ share of touches, he projects to be a borderline RB2.

WR Ceedee Lamb – Oklahoma

ADP: 139

ceedee lambIf not for Jerry Jeudy’s route running skills, Ceedee Lamb would be the best receiver in this draft class. Nevertheless, Lamb has the best contested-catch skills of all the receivers in this draft class. No matter how tightly a defender is covering him, he can utilize his large catch radius to haul in any reception. And good luck trying to bring him down after the catch considering that over 50% of his receiving yardage came after the catch.

Forecast: Ceedee Lamb has an enormous upside at the next level. Many analysts have projected Ceedee Lamb to head to the Cardinals, where he would rejoin his college QB, Kyler Murray. The combination of Kyler’s arm strength and Lamb’s catch radius could make him a tremendous deep threat in the NFL. Although, even if Lamb is drafted other teams, it is safe to project him as a great sleeper pick in 2020.

QB Joe Burrow – Louisiana State

ADP: 70
joe burrow
It might come as a surprise to see Joe Burrow so low on this list since he is coming off arguably the best collegiate QB season ever. However, his ranking on this list speaks to the upside of players like Swift, rather than indictments against Burrow. Last season, Burrow was able to exhibit one of the best and most accurate seasons for a collegiate quarterback in the Pro Football Focus era.

Forecast: Despite initial reports that questioned whether Burrow would be the Bengals’ first draft pick, Burrow’s interview with Cincy most likely cemented him as their next franchise QB. Even though the Bengals are riddled with dysfunction, the recent success of rookie QBs, like Kyler Murray, indicates that Burrow can overcome this turmoil. Given Burrow’s stellar accuracy and deep passing skills, he could become a high-end QB3, with QB2 upside.

RB Zack Moss – Utah

ADP: 156
utah utesUtah running back, Zach Moss is probably the most overlooked player in this draft class. Despite running for 1,000+ yards and 5.0+ yards per carry for three straight years, Moss has been left outside the first round in most mock drafts. Moss’ darkhorse status is especially puzzling, considering that he has also flashed potential value as a receiving back. During his tenure at Utah, Moss hauled in 66 catches for 685 yards and three touchdowns.

Forecast: While these box score stats show that Moss is productive and dependable back, his value goes even further. No rusher was more dominant against contact than Moss. Last season, Moss had the third-highest single-season broken tackle per attempt average of any running back that Pro Football Focus has ever analyzed. Incredibly, nearly 74% of Zach Moss’s total rushing yardage came after contact, which equates to over 1,000 yards after contact. This is great for Moss because yards after contact are one of the best indicators of future fantasy success. It might take half a season, but Moss could be the best fantasy investment of all rookies.

RB Jonathan Taylor – Wisconsin

ADP: 170
jonathan taylor
Similar to Moss, Jonathan Taylor has been undervalued by most draft analysts. Throughout his three years at Wisconsin, Taylor averaged 2,000+ rushing yards per season and 6.0+ yards per carry. Moreover, he was able to amass 55 total touchdowns during his time as a Badger. Although even more impressive, Taylor was able to generate 30 explosive runs according to PFF.

Forecast: Taylor is one of the more risky prospects from this draft class. On the bright side, his strength and vision will ensure that Taylor could be a possible RB3 by the midpoint of the season. However, his lack of receiving skills, coupled with his fumbling issue, will limit his upside in PPR leagues. As of right now, Taylor’s ceiling looks to be similar to Josh Jacobs’ 2019 season, but fantasy owners should be cautious of him early in the season.

WR Tee Higgins – Clemson

ADP: 187
tee higgins
Last season, Tee Higgins proved to be one of the best receivers in college football, despite playing on a team stocked with top tier receiver talent. During his last two seasons at Clemson, Higgins was able to average 1,051.5 yards and 12.5 touchdowns per year. Also, Higgins was able to average a depth of target of 16.11, which was one of the highest in this draft class. This is terrific considering that the 2020 Draft class is one of the best receiving classes in recent history.

Forecast: According to our recent mock draft, Higgins is likely to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Higgins is the type of receiver the Bills need because he is a big-frame wideout with a large catch radius and tremendous contested catch-ability. This indicates that Higgins will likely be a reliable wideout for Josh Allen, with good upside in fantasy football. Due to the Bills’ run-first system, Higgins is likely to have some significant duds, but he can definitely eclipse WR5 status before the season ends.

WR Laviska Shenault Jr. – Colorado

ADP: 190
lavish shenault
Laviska Shenault is one of the most versatile prospects in this draft. While he was playing at Colorado, he lined up all over the field; on the outside, in the slot, and even in the backfield. Even though his stats aren’t the best, they fail to illustrate just how high Shenault’s ceiling is. The 6’2” junior wideout from Colorado has the physical tools necessary to dominate shorter corners on the outside, along with the speed and shiftiness to excel in the slot as well.

Forecast: Shenault’s versatility is great for fantasy projections. His ability to line up at both WR and RB will maximize his fantasy value, especially as a flex option. Moreover, his willingness to play all over the field indicates that he could see playing time early on, especially in a creative offense like Green Bay or San Francisco. Considering that Shenault is likely to be picked outside the top 20 picks, he could likely be off the radar for most fantasy owners. If you can scoop Shenault in the last rounds of fantasy drafts, he could very much be a great draft steal, like Zack Moss.

QB Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama

ADP: 177
tua tagovailoa
Throughout his time at the University of Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa is the most consistently productive QB in this draft class. Despite suffering a significant hip injury last season, Tagovailoa was able to accumulate nearly 7,500 passing yards. Additionally, he was able to post an 87:11 TD: INT ratio, while rushing for 340 yards and 9 rushing TDs. Even better, Tagovailoa threw a touchdown on over 10% of his passes, which indicates that he is always a threat for a big play.

Forecast: Tua Tagovailoa could very likely become the next franchise QB for the Miami Dolphins or Detroit Lions. As a result, Tagovailoa is definitely the risk-reward draft pick on this list. On the one hand, he could become slated as the starting QB for the Dolphins before the pre-season even starts. However, if he were selected by the Lions, Tua would likely play behind Matthew Stafford for the foreseeable future. Although regardless of where he ends up, Tua would be surrounded by a talented receiving corps headlined by Kenny Golladay or DeVante Parker. Given his success at Alabama with a great receiving corps, his fantasy value would skyrocket if he successfully gains the starting role.

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Louisiana State

ADP: Undrafted
lsu tigersOf all the running backs in this draft class, none of them improved their draft stock more than Clyde Edwards-Helaire did in 2019. After failing to generate 800+ yards from scrimmage throughout his first two seasons, Edwards-Helaire exploded for 1,867 total yards and 17 touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, he also forced 84 combined missed tackles while averaging 3.65 yards after contact per attempt in 2019.

Forecast: Edwards-Helaire is likely to be a mid-round draft pick in the 2020 draft. For most positional groups, this would significantly decrease his fantasy value. Although running backs, like Alvin Kamara and Aaron Jones, have proven that rookie running backs can excel regardless of which round they’re drafted. He has a lower ceiling than most rookies in this draft class, but given his receiving skills, he could be a safe rookie to scoop from the waiver wire list.

WR Henry Ruggs – Alabama

ADP: Undrafted
henry ruggs III
After running a 4.28 40-yard dash during the combine, Ruggs completely validated himself as a tremendous deep threat. Even though he never eclipsed 1,000 yards in any season at Alabama, this was mostly because he was a part of the most talented receiving corps in college. Despite playing with Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, and Jaylen Waddle, Ruggs put up 700+ yards in consecutive seasons.

Forecast: Similar to Shenault, Ruggs will likely fall outside the top 20 picks due to the vast amount of talent in this draft class. Although whoever selects Ruggs will benefit from his knack for finding the end zone. Throughout his career with the Crimson Tide, Ruggs scored a touchdown on nearly 25% of his catches. If this productivity and efficiency carry over to the NFL, Ruggs will benefit his fantasy owners as a great flex option.

  
I am a junior at Morehouse College, majoring in economics. I have experience as a data analyst at Pro Football Focus and as a football scouting intern at Fanteractive.com. I enjoy scouting and analyzing NCAAF and NFL games, especially quarterback and running back play.

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