The 2020 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, which means it’s time to start looking at the fantasy football rookie rankings for dynasty leagues. Last week’s virtual event brought in several new faces that should make a fantasy impact, regardless of format. Note that this list was made using a presumed one-quarterback, half-PPR dynasty format. Needless to say, if you’re in a two-quarterback dynasty league, guys like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are going to be a little higher on your personal list.
2020 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings
Tier One: Alone at the Top
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City
This is a no-brainer. Any running back receiving snaps in Kansas City’s offense is going to be a major fantasy star, and Clyde Edward-Helaire should have full control of the backfield. Head coach Andy Reid prefers to use one bellcow running back but couldn’t do it last year thanks to the lack of talent at the position. Edwards-Helaire should play all three downs and receive plenty of touches in the NFL’s most explosive offense. He’s the clear 1.01 in any dynasty format and will probably finish the season as a top-12 running back.
Tier Two: Star Talent/Immediate Starters
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia
Running back success has more to do with scheme than talent, and J.K. Dobbins finds himself in one of the best situations out there. Mark Ingram isn’t getting any younger, and the analytically-driven Ravens wouldn’t draft a running back early if they weren’t going to use him. Baltimore’s offense will regress a bit from a season ago, but it will still be a run-heavy attack with plenty of scoring opportunities.
Jonathan Taylor is considerably more talented than Marlon Mack and should earn the starting job sooner rather than later. Philip Rivers loves targeting running backs in the passing game, but the long-term uncertainty at quarterback keeps Taylor from being second on this list. Cam Akers probably has the highest odds of starting for Los Angeles, but this offense isn’t quite as great as it used to be. The good news is that Sean McVay likes to use a workhorse back, so Akers should be a week-in, week-out fantasy play if he can win the job.
CeeDee Lamb might start off as the third option in Dallas, but head coach Mike McCarthy loves to throw the ball. That shouldn’t change with this loaded supporting cast and Lamb could easily pass Michael Gallup on the depth chart. It’s worth noting that Amari Cooper’s new contract doesn’t carry any guaranteed money after 2021, so Lamb has a fantastic long-term outlook.
Jerry Jeudy is as talented as they come, and he’ll certainly demand a large share of targets. However, the presence of Courtland Sutton combined with the quarterback uncertainty of Drew Lock pushes him to WR2 among the rookies. Jalen Reagor is in a perfect situation with a good quarterback in Carson Wentz, a smart offensive mind in Doug Pederson, and literally no other receivers to challenge for targets.
Tier Three: Path to Stardom
Henry Ruggs, WR, Las Vegas
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami
Henry Ruggs is more talented than Reagor, but his situation pushes him down this list. Ruggs excels at making plays down the field, and his speed combined with Derek Carr’s conservative style of play is a match made in hell. This connection will take time to develop, and the Raiders are probably going to begin their quarterback search anew in 2021. Ultimately, there’s just too much risk to justify too early of a pick on Ruggs.
Justin Jefferson should receive a decent amount of targets in Minnesota, but he’ll never pass Adam Theilen on the depth chart. Additionally, he works out of the slot, which isn’t great for per-target fantasy production. The Vikings want to be a running team, so he probably won’t see the high workload that makes other slot targets around the league so valuable. D’Andre Swift is a phenomenal talent that is going to be splitting snaps with another talented back in Kerryon Johnson. Additionally, Matthew Stafford isn’t getting any younger and the Lions will probably fire Matt Patricia if Detroit has another underwhelming campaign.
Joe Burrow is actually in a pretty decent situation. The Bengals have a solid receiving core in Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, and Tee Higgins, a great running back in Joe Mixon, and are getting tons of help on the offensive line. He won’t challenge Patrick Mahomes for QB1 any time soon, but he has a clear path to being a solid fantasy starter. The Dolphins did a fantastic job rebuilding through the draft and free agency and Tua Tagovailoa should be successful when on the field. That said, the Dolphins won’t hesitate to start Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the season, and Tua has a long history of injuries.
Tier Four: Role Players
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati
Denzel Mims, WR, New York
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco
Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo
Laviska Shenault, WR, Jacksonville
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Tampa Bay
Michael Pittman is a great talent and has a clear path to playing time opposite T.Y. Hilton. He’ll still need to beat out 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell, and the short-term nature of Philip Rivers adds another layer of uncertainty. Tee Higgins is going to start his career behind A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, and he’ll only be as good as the untested Joe Burrow allows him to be.
Denzel Mims is the de-facto guy in a pretty underwhelming offense led by an objectively bad head coach in Adam Gase. Brandon Aiyuk might struggle to find targets out of the gate, but he’s a deadly weapon in the open field, and nobody’s better at scheming guys open than Kyle Shanahan. Zack Moss probably won’t beat out Devin Singletary but should still see a decent chunk of the workload, based on comments out of Buffalo. Laviska Shenault is a solid gadget player with good potential, but everything about Jacksonville is a fantasy nightmare for a young receiver. Ke’Shawn Vaughn isn’t the pass-catching back Tampa Bay needed and will probably spend the early portion of his career backing up Ronald Jones.
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings – Tier Five: Worth a Shot
Anthony McFarland, RB, Pittsburgh
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington
Bryan Edwards, WR, Las Vegas
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Devin Asiasi, TE, New England Patriots
Pittsburgh’s running back situation is absolutely fascinating. James Conner, Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland all have a decent shot for the job, and whoever the winner is will carry some fantasy relevance. However, it’s hard to get too excited about an offense led by a 38-year old coming off an arm injury. Justin Herbert wasn’t my favorite prospect by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s worth a shot for the quarterback-needy team.
Antonio Gibson is a plug-and-play replacement for Chris Thompson. Thompson never carried too much fantasy value, and it’s hard to imagine Gibson doing much of anything with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback. Bryan Edwards would be a more exciting selection if the Raiders didn’t take Henry Ruggs earlier in the draft. Joshua Kelley figures to be the thunder to Austin Ekeler’s lightning, although he’ll probably be more Justin Jefferson than Melvin Gordon.
Cole Kmet might be the consensus TE1 in rookie drafts, but Devin Asiasi has a clearer path to playing time. Jarrett Stidham can’t be less reliable than Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, and Chicago could clear house if they have another bad season in 2020. Even if Stidham is bad, Bill Belichick isn’t going anywhere.
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