2020 Dynasty Rookie Rankings 3.0
By Cody Smith
The NFL draft has wrapped up and this year’s crop of rookies know where they will be playing in the 2020 NFL season.
There have been some shakeups to the rankings thanks to official landing spots of the players being known, including one specific player rising from 1.07 to 1.01 from the last version of the rankings.
As always, this will be three rounds worth of rookies for fantasy owners to keep an eye on.
There will be a fourth version of these rankings coming sometime between training camp and the preseason with some final tweaks, so keep your eyes open for that.
For now, here are my early thoughts on the 2020 rookie class now that we know who they’ll be playing for.
*Note: Please remember these are dynasty rankings which may not reflect where these players are drafted in redraft leagues.
1.01. Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB, Kansas City Chiefs – 5’7, 207lbs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) takes a huge jump after landing in a great spot with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first running back taken in the draft with the final pick of the first round. This shows just how much some scouts like him, to take him as the top running back over other options such as D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins. It also speaks volumes for the Chiefs to use such a high draft capital on CEH despite having needs elsewhere and having Damien Williams still on the roster following his blistering hot postseason performance where he scored six touchdowns in a three-game span that helped lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory. Nonetheless, the entire organization is excited, as Brett Veach, Andy Reid and even Patrick Mahomes all wanted CEH on the roster. Comparisons have already been made to Brian Westbrook who came into an Andy Reid led offense with similar measurables. This is certainly a possibility for the young LSU back.
1.02. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Baltimore Ravens – 5’9, 209lbs
Dobbins receives a slight bump after falling deep into the second round of the NFL draft and ending up on one of the best offenses in the league. Dobbins will all but certainly be behind Mark Ingram on the team’s initial depth chart, but with Ingram at 30-years-old and potentially in the final year of his contract (team option following 2020,) this will be Dobbins' backfield for many years to come. Dobbins fell into the Ravens' lap with the 55th pick in the draft and will now be playing beside NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s rushing ability should certainly help open running lanes for Ohio State’s all-time single season rushing champion, and with Ingram coming off of an 1,000 yard season himself, that could represent a per-season floor for this talented runner once he gets full reign of the backfield.
1.03. CeeDee Lamb – WR, Dallas Cowboys – 6-2, 198lbs
Lamb falls one spot but remains my WR1 following the NFL draft. Lamb slid past a few possible suitors early in the draft and was eventually taken by the Dallas Cowboys at pick 17. In what seems as though it could have been a strategy move, the Cowboys scooped up Lamb – overlooking other needs – in an attempt to stop the star receiver from dropping to the division rival Eagles (much like the Eagles did in 2018 with their selection of Dallas Goedert one pick before the Cowboys.) Lamb immediately slots in at either the No. two or No. three receiver for the Cowboys and adds yet another weapon to Mike McCarthy’s offense along with the new $100 million man Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Zeke Elliott. Lamb should have an immediate impact of some kind and has the talent to eventually become a superstar receiver for many years to come.
1.04. D’Andre Swift – RB, Detroit Lions – 5’8, 212lbs
I’ve seen Swift dropped a lot farther than this around the industry and I don’t quite get it. If folks don’t like the landing spot due to potential competition from Kerryon Johnson, I don’t think that should be an issue. Swift is still the most well-rounded running back in this class, and Johnson’s inability to stay healthy should have him on the hot seat. Swift should quickly find a role in the Detroit offense and will be the best running back the Lions have had in years. Swift’s load management throughout college should work to his advantage in the NFL, as he has significantly less wear and tear than other backs in this draft class.
1.05. Henry Ruggs III – WR, Las Vegas Raiders – 5’11, 188lbs
Ruggs was initially in my top-10, then slipped to 11 due to some strong combine performances from other wide receivers, but after being the first wide receiver off the board in the draft, he rockets back up into the top-five. Ruggs lands in a nice spot in Las Vegas where he is instantly the best wide receiver on the team. He’ll be a start-able asset right out of the gates with his break-neck speed. Ruggs can make plays out of the slot, and can also be a deep threat for Derek Carr, who – believe it or not - is an accomplished deep passer as he had the third-best deep accuracy percentage in the league from 2016-2018.
1.06. Jerry Jeudy – WR, Denver Broncos – 6’1, 193lbs
Jeudy comes in just behind his collegiate teammate after being drafted by the Denver Broncos. Jeudy joins a young offense led by Drew Lock and will likely be the No. two receiver behind third year wideout Courtland Sutton. Jeudy should help balance out the pass game in Denver. After the team traded Emmanuel Sanders to San Francisco in the middle of last season, rookie tight end Noah Fant became the second-best pass catcher on the team. Jeudy should be able to fill that void and then some.
1.07. Justin Jefferson – WR, Minnesota Vikings – 6’1, 202lbs
Jefferson is one of the few players that have been consistently moving up these rankings. Jefferson started as my 1.11, improved to 1.09 following the combine and is now 1.07 after being drafted in the opening round of the draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Jefferson will obviously fill the void created by the trade of Stefon Diggs to Buffalo. Jefferson is much like Diggs physically who measures in at 6-foot, 194 lbs. Jefferson led the country with 111 receptions for LSU last season playing mostly out of the slot, but prior to 2019, Jefferson was an outside receiver, so his skill set should allow Minnesota to use him however they see fit. Jefferson should have an immediate impact as the WR2 on this team behind Adam Theilen.
1.08. Jalen Reagor – WR, Philadelphia Eagles – 5’11, 206lbs
Reagor was a surprise pick by the Eagles, especially with Jefferson still on the board at the time. Nonetheless, the Eagles should have gotten a great future asset. Philadelphia’s receiving corps was decimated in 2019, having to rely on Greg Ward Jr. and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the top options in some games. Reagor is a nice step toward adding depth to the team and should eventually replace DeSean Jackson as the team’s top speed threat. Reagor may be the team’s third wide receiver to start the season but should anything happen to either of the oft-injured Jackson or Alshon Jeffrey, Reagor will be put in the spotlight right away. Reagor should also be used as a kick/punt returner, adding additional value.
1.09. Cam Akers – RB, Los Angeles Rams – 5’10, 217lbs
Akers was another surprise pick for me, as the Rams decided to pass on J.K. Dobbins to take him in the mid-second round of the draft. This may be low for Akers, as the Rams are actually a nice fit for him. He’ll replace Todd Gurley and is actually a touch faster (4.47 to 4.50 in the 40) and a touch stronger (20 to 17 in bench press reps) than Gurley. My biggest question mark for Akers is will he be able to beat out Darrell Henderson as a true No. one in this backfield? Just a year ago, the Rams traded up to acquire Henderson in the draft. I believe worst case scenario for Akers is a split of RB1 duties with Henderson or Malcolm Brown, which should still give him a bit of immediate fantasy value.
1.10. Ke’Shawn Vaughn – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 5’10, 214lbs
Vaughn continues his trudge up the rankings after landing in one of the best situations for a running back in this draft. An early-mid second round pick in the mock draft 1.0, Vaughn has continued to rise up the board with a solid combine and now a nice landing spot. Vaughn finds himself in the new-look Tampa offense with Tom Brady at QB and a ton of receiving weapons. One thing Brady likes to do is use his pass-catching running backs. Vaughn isn’t a prolific pass catcher, but there is potential for the young addition to the offense. He’ll have to battle with Ronald Jones as the starting running back, and Bruce Arians doesn’t like to overuse his rookie running backs (see David Johnson.) However, I can see Vaughn eventually taking over as the top option in Tampa.
1.11. Jonathan Taylor – RB, Indianapolis Colts – 5’10, 226lbs
Taylor takes the biggest hit of the first round for me. I just do not like this landing spot for him. Taylor lands in an offense where Marlon Mack just finished as the RB20 in 2019 and notched his first 1,000-yard season. Mack is still on the roster, so I can’t see an immediate impact. This is a contract year for Mack, so I can’t imagine he is brought back, and Taylor will take over the offense in the 2021 season. I still see a lot of holes in Taylor’s game that I don’t like despite him flashing at the combine. Taylor was not a great pass catcher in college, and he also had fumbling problems, losing 15 fumbles over the course of three seasons. Taylor’s near 1,000 touches in college also raise a red flag to me. How much more of a beating will he be able to take, especially against NFL players. I’m sorry, but I see Taylor as more of a Montee Ball than a Melvin Gordon as far as ex-Wisconsin running backs go.
1.12. Joe Burrow – QB, Cincinnati Bengals – 6’3, 221lb
Burrow looks like he will be the Bengals' starter in Week One after the team cut Andy Dalton. If this is the case and he makes an immediate impact from day one, I could see him being worth a first-round dynasty pick. Burrow will have quite a few weapons from the jump with veteran receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd along with young additions such as Auden Tate, John Ross III and Tee Higgins. He’ll also be able to rely on running back Joe Mixon who is a nice pass-catching back. Burrow will be a must-play in two-QB and superflex leagues.
2.01. Brandon Aiyuk – WR, San Francisco 49ers – 6’0, 205lbs
Aiyuk joins an ideal situation in San Francisco where a team who has just been to the Super Bowl is looking to add some depth to their receiving corps. After losing Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints, the 49ers were left with Deebo Samuel and not much else worth talking about at the receiver position. Aiyuk ought to immediately slot into the WR2 role but will also compete with tight end George Kittle for targets on a team that runs the ball a lot. He should be the team’s third-best pass catcher in 2020 and supply some fantasy value.
2.02. Michael Pittman Jr. – WR, Indianapolis Colts – 6’4, 223lbs
I knew some individuals such as Pittman Jr. and Chase Claypool were ranked too low in the last rankings, but a strong landing spot for Pittman Jr. launches him up 18 spots from the 2.0 rankings. Pittman Jr. lands with the Indianapolis Colts’ new look offense led by Philip Rivers. Rivers is a gun slinger that has made a few receivers look good over the years. Pittman Jr. is a spitting image to Mike Williams as its related to size, and the two put up remarkably similar stats in their senior collegiate seasons where Pittman Jr. went 101-1275-11 for USC and Williams went 98-1361-11 for Clemson. I would expect Pittman Jr. to be used similarly in this offense to Williams' past few seasons in Los Angeles. He should be the team’s No. two receiver from the get-go.
2.03. Tee Higgins – WR, Cincinnati Bengals – 6’4, 216lbs
Higgins has been falling down my board after starting as my 1.06. He missed the combine which dropped him to 1.08 and then was the seventh receiver taken when he was picked as the first pick of the second round of the draft. Higgins finds himself in a full wide receiver room, as the Bengals are bringing back A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, plus Auden Tate played a big role for the offense in 2019 and you can’t forget how explosive John Ross III was before getting hurt last season. Higgins will also be working with fellow rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. All this combined puts Higgins in a sticky situation to begin his career. He may need some time to develop and move up the depth chart before he becomes a reliable fantasy option.
2.04. Zack Moss – RB, Buffalo Bills – 5’9, 223lbs
Moss receives a small bump up the rankings after landing in Buffalo along side Devin Singletary. The pick by the Bills may have surprised some with Singletary coming off a stellar rookie season where he ran for 775 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Singletary is not a lead back though, he was not drafted as one, and when forced into the role late in the season, his efficiency went down. Enter Moss, who should slide right into the Frank Gore role from last year as a “lead rusher” with Singletary in the change-of -pace role. Gore was good early in the season, even notching a 100-yard rushing game against the Patriots defense in Week Four. Look for Moss to have some similar production.
2.05. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Miami Dolphins – 6’0, 217lbs
Tua comes with some risk here, but I believe the fact that NFL scouts and executives were confident enough to take Tua at fifth overall in the draft, means that he is healthy and the concerns for his hip are relatively low. Perhaps the best pure passer in the draft, Tua may not start Week One for the Dolphins as the team has retained Ryan Fitz-magic for another year, but it may not be a long wait for the rookie. Should Fitz falter, Tua may get his fair share of snaps in his rookie season. A future franchise QB will be a steal for your team in the second round of this draft. If you have an aging QB, I’d consider taking a flyer on Tua and seeing what happens.
2.06. KJ Hamler – WR, Denver Broncos – 5’9, 178lbs
Hamler is the second Denver receiver to go in this mock behind Jerry Jeudy. As stated earlier, Denver needed wide receivers in this draft after Courtland Sutton was left to do most of the work himself in 2019. Denver delivered and got a speed threat in Hamler who can stretch the field. Unfortunately, Hamler did not post a 40-time at the combine as he was nursing an injury, but reportedly ran a 4.27 while training for the combine. If this report is true, Hamler would tie Ruggs as the fastest player in this year’s draft. Hamler’s size is the only concern, as he runs great routes and can use quickness and speed to get open. As a third option on a freshly loaded Denver offense, I like his chances to succeed.
2.07. Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – 6’1, 227lbs
Shenault slides down a bit after landing in a shaky situation in Jacksonville. The Jags seem to be a work-in-progress on the offensive side of the ball, as they’ll apparently lean on second-year sixth round pick Gardner Minshew as the starting quarterback. As far as competition for targets go, D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook will be the main competition with Chris Conley and newly acquired tight end Tyler Eifert in the pecking order as well. Shenault is often injured and a real boom-or-bust prospect. I’m just not quite sure Jacksonville is a place I can see him booming.
2.08. Chase Claypool – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – 6’4, 238lbs.
Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson; all these guys have been drafted and developed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, so when the team takes a shot at a wide receiver, it always piques my interest. Claypool’s impressive combine had the Steelers spending a second round pick on him. He was the 49th player off the board, even earlier than recently drafted receivers such as Johnson (2019, 66th overall), Washington (2018, 60th overall) or Smith-Schuster (2017, 62nd overall.) He’ll be buried on the depth chart behind these three to start his career unless he makes the transition to tight end. Even there he will have to contend with Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald for targets. Claypool is a stash-able asset should he break out like most Steelers wideouts do.
2.09. Justin Herbert – QB, Los Angeles Chargers – 6’6, 236lbs.
Herbert lands in Los Angeles where he will more than likely start his NFL career backing up Tyrod Taylor, much like Baker Mayfield in 2018. Anthony Lynn says Taylor is his guy, but we’ve seen how this has gone before. Herbert will eventually get some reps this season. You don’t draft a QB with a top-10 pick just to sit him for his entire first season. It may take a few games, but Herbert will eventually take the reigns of this offense and should be a franchise quarterback for many years.
2.10. Cole Kmet – TE, Chicago Bears – 6’6, 262 lbs.
After seeing how the NFL draft went down, Kmet is the lone tight end that I have any interest in drafting. Kmet was the first tight end taken and the only tight end taken in the first 90 picks of the draft. Kmet finds himself on a roster that is literally chock full of tight ends. After the draft, the team had ten tight ends on the roster including Jimmy Graham, Adam Shaheen and Demetrius Harris just to name a few. Kmet will definitely not make an impact from the start. No tight end ever does. It will surely take him time to develop, but he is the best of a less than ideal tight end crop.
2.11. A.J. Dillon – RB, Green Bay Packers – 6’0, 247lbs.
Dillon’s strong combine pushed him up team’s draft boards, as he was the sixth running back selected. Dillon ends up in a surprise location with Green Bay, as Aaron Jones is coming off the best season of his career. Does this mean Green Bay is looking to move on from Jones, or do they simply want a change of pace back to spell Jones that they hope to be an upgrade from Jamaal Williams? That is yet to be seen, but for now Dillon will be a change of pace back on a solid offense and is worth a shot in the late second.
2.12. Darrynton Evans – RB, Tennessee Titans – 5’10, 203lbs
This is Evans’ first appearance on these rankings, and it comes after being drafted by the Titans in the third round of the draft. Evans lands in a great situation where he will be the backup running back on a run-first team. I would expect him to take the role of Dion Lewis – who departed in free agency to the New York Giants - right away, which provides some limited fantasy value.
3.01. Devin Duvernay – WR, Baltimore Ravens – 5’10, 200lbs.
Duvernay also finds himself on this list for the first time after landing in Baltimore. Landing on one of the best offenses in football is certainly a plus, but Duvernay is a talented receiver. He’s a speedster that ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine. Baltimore is a run-first team which doesn’t bode extremely well for Duvernay. He is also buried on the depth chart a bit, slotting in as the WR3 at best behind Hollywood Brown and Willie Snead. Tight ends are also big competitions for targets in the Baltimore offense as Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle should take away their fair share of Duvernay’s opportunities. In short, he won’t make an immediate impact, but has real WR2 upside.
3.02. Denzel Mims – WR, New York Jets – 6’3, 215lbs.
The good news for Mims was that he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft with the 59th overall pick. The bad news is that he was the 13th wide receiver selected which lowers his draft stock some. Mims should see some action right away as the third wide receiver behind Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder, and if Perriman’s breakout last season turns out to be a fluke, Mims could see meaningful action even sooner than anticipated. Mims has the size and speed to fill in nicely for the departed Robby Anderson, but we’ll see how he is used as a rookie in the Adam Gase offense, an offense that tends to sucks all of the talent out of its players.
3.03. Van Jefferson – WR, Los Angeles Rams – 6’1, 200lbs
Jefferson was taken fairly high in the draft, going two picks before Mims as the 12th wide receiver taken. Jefferson takes Brandin Cooks’ spot on the roster but may not take his spot in the receiver rotation. It sounds like the Rams want to take a solid look at Josh Reynolds as a No. three receiver behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods which would push Jefferson back to the fourth receiver on the team. He may only have an impact right away if there is an injury, but if that happens to be the case, or the Reynolds' experiment fails, there is a solid chance that Jefferson could make an impact in a pass-happy offense.
3.04. Bryan Edwards – WR, Las Vegas Raiders – 6’3, 212lbs
Edwards joins the Las Vegas offense that drafted three wide receivers in the first three rounds. Edwards was the last of those chosen but should still supply a big impact. Measuring similar to Tyrell Williams, this guy could be the future big and physical receiver on the Las Vegas offense. Williams has three years left on a four-year deal but missed some time last season and has often times been dinged up throughout his career. It may take some time, but Edwards has potential to be a solid receiver in the Las Vegas offense.
3.05. Antonio Gibson – RB/WR, Washington – 6’0, 228lbs.
Gibson is a dual threat offensive weapon that can be used as a running back or a wide receiver. He had 94 touches for Memphis last season and scored 13 times. He’ll be listed as a running back and may be used in the backfield for pass catching duties. He can also easily end up in the slot, as Washington is a lot deeper at running back than wide receiver. It depends how Riverboat Ron decides to use him, but Gibson could be a good weapon to stash.
3.06. Jordan Love – QB, Green Bay Packers – 6’4, 224lbs.
Love ended up in an awkward position when Green Bay made a questionable move and traded up into the first round to select Love. Behind Aaron Rodgers, Love won’t sniff the field for at least two years, but if/when the Packers decide to move on from Rodgers he will be waiting in the wings. The Packers may not have as good of an offense as they had back when they were perennial Super Bowl contenders with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in their primes, but the team has a chance to build for a few seasons before Love makes a significant impact.
3.07. Tyler Johnson – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6’1, 206lbs.
Johnson landed in a nice spot, but the Buccaneers pass-catching depth is incredible. Currently ahead of Johnson on the depth chart would for sure be Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Scotty Miller and Justin Watson also have experience in the offense and that’s not to mention the tight end trio of Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Its going to take time for Johnson to find his place in this offense but the potential is there.
3.08. Antonio Gandy-Golden – WR, Washington – 6’4, 223lbs.
Gandy-Golden unfortunately keeps falling in my rankings. Originally listed as the 2.03, Gandy-Golden slipped nearly all the way to the fifth round of the NFL draft before being scooped up by Washington. In Washington he’ll have a shot to make an impact, but the team has a ton of young talent on the roster, especially at the wide receiver position. Terry McLaurin, Trey Quinn and Steven Sims Jr. will all certainly be ahead of Gandy-Golden. It also doesn’t help much that Washington doesn’t really have a clear QB1. That battle should come down between incumbent Dwayne Haskins and newcomer (and former Ron Rivera draft pick) Kyle Allen in camp.
3.09. Anthony McFarland Jr. – RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – 5’8, 208lbs.
McFarland joins the crowded Pittsburgh backfield, but there is a glimmer of hope for the rookie. James Conner doesn’t seem like he is the long-term answer in the backfield and Jaylen Samuels is nothing more than a pass-catching back. Benny Snell enters his second year but struggled to just 3.9 yards-per-carry when he had opportunities with Conner and Samuels both sidelined to injuries. A lot needs to happen, but if things pan out right, McFarland can have fantasy value.
3.10. La’Mical Perine – RB, New York Jets – 5’11, 216lbs.
Perine joins the New York Jets where he should immediately become the Jets second string back behind Le’Veon Bell. This position does not produce any immediate fantasy value, but with Gase and Bell’s seemingly ongoing feud, and a team option to get out of his contract following the 2020 season, anything could happen. You could be grabbing a 2021 starting running back late in this draft.
3.11. Deejay Dallas – RB, Seattle Seahawks – 5’10, 217lbs
Dallas didn’t pop at the combine and it cost his draft stock as he fell to the late fourth round as the 14th running back selected. He was picked by Seattle where he looks to be the fourth running back on the depth chart behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer. I think Dallas has a shot to beat out Homer, and there will be opportunities for him to get carries this season. Carson and Penny are both coming off season-ending injuries in 2019. Should there be any setbacks, it could knock one or both off track. You can also look at Carson’s fumbling issues as a chance for Dallas to creep his way into the starting running back rotation. It’s a long shot, but so is everyone this late in drafts.
3.12. Joshua Kelley – RB, Los Angeles Chargers – 5’11, 212lbs
Kelley ends up on the Chargers where he will struggle to get touches in 2020. He’ll slot in behind Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson on the depth chart, a duo that proved they can produce during Melvin Gordon’s 2019 holdout. However, Jackson will be a restricted free agent following 2020 and Kelley looks like a potential replacement behind the newly extended Ekeler.