Which rookies are going to help your fantasy football team right away?
The 2020 NFL Draft was flush with talent from the college ranks, and several of those rookies will have a chance to contribute on fantasy football teams right away. Sporting News breaks down the top 25 fantasy football rookies in standard re-draft leagues for 2020.
It’s all about who gets the chance to play early:
2020 Top 25 fantasy rookies
1. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit
Swift likely will start in a committee with Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough, but Matt Patricia will end up trusting the Georgia running back and use him in a similar role as Bill Belichick does with Sony Michel. Swift might be inconsistent from week to week early in the season, but there’s a good chance he leads all rookies in rushing yards in 2020.
2. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis
Marlon Mack returns as a 1,000-yard rusher, but there’s a chance for the Wisconsin star to work into at least a timeshare behind an offensive line that can be dominant when healthy. Taylor had back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons in college and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City
There’s a risk of over-hype here, given Edwards-Helaire was hand-picked by Patrick Mahomes II and fantasy owners might expect too much too soon. But Andy Reid loves backs who can catch the ball. Edwards-Helaire had 55 receptions last season for the Tigers. He will be a good fit in PPR leagues in the Chiefs’ offense.
4. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore
Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson both rushed for 1,000 yards in Baltimore last season, and Dobbins is a workhorse who had 301 carries last season for the Buckeyes. He should be able to carve out a role in an explosive Ravens offense, and that could make him a flex option early in the season.
5. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati
The Bengals have their quarterback, and he can produce in Zac Taylor’s offense with a supporting cast that includes A.J. Green, Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd. Burrow will have growing pains behind the offensive line, but there is the potential for a rookie season similar to Baker Mayfield’s in Cleveland in 2018. Burrow should be an immediate play in two-quarterback leagues.
6. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver
Jeudy is the most complete receiver in this draft, and his polished route-running will make him another legit option for Drew Lock in the Broncos’ passing game. He should get enough opportunities with Courtland Sutton in the receiving corps as well, making him the best bet among the rookies to get 1,000 yards next year.
7. Cam Akers, RB, L.A. Rams
The former five-star recruit could turn into a draft-day steal in Sean McVay’s offense. For all of Florida State’s inconsistencies the last three seasons, Akers still averaged 4.9 yards per carry for his career. He scored 14 rushing touchdowns in 2019. That’s where his value could be early.
8. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas
Lamb steps into a great situation as a slot receiver in an offense that already features Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Lamb should see favorable coverage as a result, and he will develop into a WR3 with Dak Prescott. Lamb should be a consistent week-to-week producer as a result.
9. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas
Ruggs ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and the Raiders surprised by making him the No. 1 receiver taken in the draft. Ruggs, however, will have to become a more consistent route-runner at the next level. He will have a couple monster games because of that home run potential, but will be a WR4 to start.
10. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota
Jefferson had an outstanding season in the slot for LSU in 2019, and he fills a need for the Vikings with the loss of Stefon Diggs. Jefferson should get enough targets from Kirk Cousins to be a WR4, with the potential to work into a role as an every-week starter by the fantasy playoffs.
11. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco
Deebo Samuel carved out a role in the 49ers’ offense with 802 receiving yards; the potential for Aiyuk to have a similar season is there. He averaged 18.3 yards per catch with eight touchdowns with the Sun Devils in 2019, and he should be NFL-ready after learning from Herm Edwards.
12. Zach Moss, RB, Buffalo
Moss was a tough inside runner for Utah, and he is a potential value rookie with upside. The challenge will be fighting for carries with Devin Singletary, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie last season. Moss won’t cost as much as the first-tier rookie running backs, but he’s worth the late-round stash.
13. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh
This was the second-round steal of the draft. Pittsburgh got another receiver to work into the rotation with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Claypool should get enough one-on-ones downfield to make some plays. Claypool might start out in a specialized role, but he might be even more valuable in the red zone early.
14. Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia
The Eagles grabbed Reagor in the first round, and there’s some appeal based on his ability in the return game. Reagor averaged 15.2 yards per catch at TCU with an inconsistent quarterback situation. Philadelphia will make use of his talent. He will be a WR4 or WR5 to start.
15. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati
Burrow and Higgins worked out this offseason, and the Clemson receiver comes from a pipeline that has produced some excellent downfield targets. Higgins will have to fight with John Ross III and Auden Tate for that third receiver spot. If Higgins can win that training camp battle, then his fantasy value will take off.
16. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Tampa Bay
Vaughn was one of the most underrated backs in the SEC at Vanderbilt, where he put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He’s behind Ronald Jones II on the depth chart, but Vaughn could work into that rotation. He becomes an interesting late-round stash knowing the opportunity to work in a Tom Brady-led offense is there.
17. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis
Pittman might have more value in PPR leagues in his first few seasons, but he takes some of the pressure off T.Y. Hilton and should develop into a reliable target with Philip Rivers, who has worked with young receivers throughout his career. Pittman is a late-round investment worth making.
18. Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago
Kmet is the best tight end on the board, and he should be a safety valve for the quarterback who wins the Bears’ starting job. He will have to learn from Jimmy Graham, which might take away too many targets as a rookie to be an every-week play. That said, we won’t be surprised if Kmet out-produces Graham.
19. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami
The Dolphins made the right call by drafting Tagovailoa, but there’s a decent chance he starts the season as the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa could start at some point if he shows there are no lingering effects from last year’s devastating season-ending hip injury. It will be wait-and-see until then.
20. Justin Herbert, QB, L.A. Chargers
Herbert has a better chance to start as a rookie, but the Chargers might ease him into action if he’s not ready in training camp. He brings a big arm and can make plays in the running game, but he would be a late-round flier at best in standard leagues.
21. Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Las Vegas
Bowden was one of the most exciting players in college football as a receiver who was pressed into quarterback duty at Kentucky. There will be comparisons to Randall Cobb, but Bowden is his own player. The question is whether he will get enough touches in Las Vegas’ offense as a rookie to be an every-week play. Do not over-draft here.
22. AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay
The Packers grabbed Dillon in the second round, another pick that was questioned after taking Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first. Dillon will not take Aaron Jones’ job, but LaFleur could spread the wealth with Jones, Williams. Dillon scored 38 touchdowns at Boston College and could be a valuable closer inside the red zone. Jones owners will want to invest in the handcuff.
23. Anthony McFarland, RB, Pittsburgh
McFarland averaged 6.7 yards per carry the last two seasons at Maryland. He can hit the big run, but it will take time to climb up the depth chart with James Conner and Benny Snell. McFarland could start the season on the waiver wire, but do not keep him too far out of view.
24. KJ Hamler, WR, Denver
Hamler was an exciting playmaker at Penn State, and he will have immediate value in leagues that reward return yardage. Hamler averaged 16.9 yards per catch the last two seasons and can be a hit-or-miss scorer as a rookie.
25. Devin Duvernay, WR, Baltimore
Duvernay had 106 catches for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns with the Longhorns in 2019. He’s a reliable pass-catcher, and that’s good news in an offense that comes with Jackson’s creativity. Duvernay is a late-round stash who could become a flex option in deeper leagues.
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