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2020 Fantasy Football: Valuing The Rookies


With the 2020 fantasy football season on the horizon, fantasy owners may find it difficult to calculate the appropriate strategy for a season that will become unpredictable. For the incoming rookie class, the 2020 campaign will be unlike any other.

Here, we discuss where the 2020 fantasy football rookies should be valued in a 12-man, PPR re-draft league:

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, Kansas City Chiefs) – 1st-2nd Round

With Damien Williams opting out from the 2020 season, there seems to be a lot of excitement around Edwards-Helaire. During his final season at LSU, he compiled 1,867 scrimmage yards and 17 total touchdowns. Despite the risk of selecting a rookie running back in the early rounds, Edwards-Helaire is expected to be worth it.

With a somewhat difficult schedule this season, Edwards-Helaire will prove to be a headache at times for fantasy owners. Still, in PPR re-draft leagues, it’s important to remember that he totaled 55 receptions in his junior season. In 2019, there were only eight NFL players at the running back position that totaled more than that figure.

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Jonathan Taylor (RB, Indianapolis Colts) – 4th Round

Three rounds later, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor becomes an intriguing option. During his three-year tenure at Wisconsin, he managed to total 926 rushing attempts. As a result, he found the end zone on 55 occasions.

With Marlon Mack and Nyhiem Hines still in the backfield, it will take time for the Colts to assign Taylor as a three-down back. Still, Mack has missed eight games across the last three seasons and has only had one season (2019) with 1,000+ rushing yards.

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Cam Akers (RB, Los Angeles Rams) – 5th Round

For the first time since 2014, the Los Angeles Rams will need to rely on someone other than Todd Gurley in their backfield. Even with Darrell Henderson in the backfield, Akers should expected to earn plenty of reps en route to being considered a viable fantasy option.

However, without knowing the true breakdown of what the Rams backfield looks like for the 2020 season, selecting Akers as anything more than an RB3 becomes an inherent risk. In his junior season at Florida State, Akers totaled a career-high 1,144 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

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D’Andre Swift (RB, Detroit Lions) – 6th Round

With Kerryon Johnson missing 14 games across his first two NFL seasons, the Detroit Lions are currently without a durable three-down back. After selecting Swift with the 35th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he could be a sleeper entering the new season.

During his three-year career at Georgia, Swift totaled 6.6 yards per carry. In similarity to Akers though, it’s difficult to reach on a rookie running back in an offense that has yet to release details on plans for their backfield moving forward.

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J.K. Dobbins (RB, Baltimore Ravens)- 8th Round

The standout talent from Ohio State has potential in dynasty leagues, but has found himself within one of the most crammed backfields in the NFL. With Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill in the depth chart, it will be difficult for Dobbins to receive an exciting amount of playing time for fantasy owners.

At his particular value in fantasy, the option of reaching on a different backup with previous experience seems like a more logical move. Names such as James White, Phillip Lindsay, and Tevin Coleman come to mind.

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CeeDee Lamb (WR, Dallas Cowboys) – 8th Round

As the top rated wide receiver of the 2020 Draft class, it’s difficult not to get excited about Lamb’s potential. During his time at Oklahoma, he found the end zone on 32 occasions across three seasons. However, with a new head coach in Mike McCarthy, the question becomes how many times Dallas will be forced to throw the ball when trailing this season.

Last season, the Cowboys produced two top-24 fantasy wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. With Randall Cobb and Jason Witten out of Dallas, there are a total of 166 targets up for grabs. Lamb has a bright future, but should be considered a WR3/4 during his rookie campaign.

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Jerry Jeudy (WR, Denver Broncos) – 9th Round

Once the first rookie wide receiver goes off the board, others will likely follow not too far behind. Jeudy has high expectations based on his excellent career at Alabama, but the Broncos aren’t necessarily a high-volume passing offense.

Still, not many expected for Courtland Sutton to break out for 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns during his sophomore season. At his ceiling, Jeudy could emerge as a WR3 for fantasy owners.

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Henry Ruggs III (WR, Las Vegas Raiders) – 11th Round

After selecting Henry Ruggs III as the first wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft, where does he stand as a fantasy option? He is already named as the starting slot receiver for Las Vegas entering his rookie season, but the last time a Raiders receiver ecliped 1,000+ receiving yards was the 2016 campaign; a year in which Amari Cooper (1,153) and Michael Crabtree (1,003) did so.

Ruggs is an intriguing option as a late round selection in fantasy. He is only competing with Tyrell Williams for reps, and Williams hasn’t managed to surpass 750+ receiving yards in each of the last three seasons. At the right price, Ruggs could be a valuable part to a fantasy championship.

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Joe Burrow (QB, Cincinnati Bengals) – 12th Round

After all the anticipation, the Cincinnati Bengals finally landed the quarterback they desired in Joe Burrow. With the surrounding hype, there is legitimate reason to be excited about Burrow as a fantasy quarterback.

The Bengals were the eighth-worst team in the NFL in points allowed, and were the third-worst when it came to points per game. As a result, it’s expected that Burrow and the offense will be forced to throw more often than not. This trend has been ongoing in the NFL for quite some time, and is part of the reason that has made Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston valuable fantasy quarterbacks in the past.

With an offense that will have the return of A.J. Green, fantasy owners should be confident in playing Burrow during favorable matchups. However, be sure to keep an eye for other sleepers in case things don’t pan out.

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