2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft Rankings (#1.01-1.12)
Here’s my first reaction, top 12 ranked prospects after consuming a weekend’s worth of NFL Draft data. It’s a fluid top 12 list because there are more clusters of talent on NFL depth charts, especially at WR, than ever before. Trying to predict how the touch counts will go, who will win jobs, etc., out of the gates in 2020…up for a lot of debate that I’m still debating.
I know this – we have to choose a lane and drive in it. Every player has a ‘but what about…?’ question that can be asked. There are rare few players with no ‘but what about…?’ issues. We have to make a call to endorse a player or just ‘punt’ on a player because there is too much risk to pay the price vs. the many ‘but what about…?’ issues I might have on a player. You can get quite stuck in the ‘but what about…?’ scenarios for most of these rookies.
We start our ranking list with the top 12, and it’s all offense for a reason – so you can see where the top WR’s names are at right away. There are a couple IDPs who will pop in ahead of offensive players, but you’ll see them enter in tomorrow. For today, I wanted to display/debate the top 12 offensive players. Tomorrow, you will see the top 20 commentaries, and how the top IDP changes this ranking.
The big board of the Dynasty Rookie Draft, the spreadsheet version we use, which has expanded player info with the commentary and is something that you can download – that first sheet availability/access will be on Wed. 4/29 or Thu. 4/30. Ultimately all the player rankings and commentaries will be there all offseason – and not in these solo posts. We’re just starting the proceedings with this article style post. By end of this week everything will be in the sortable, downloadable, PDF-able display (more detail on that/how/where when it’s up and running).
OK, the top 12 (version 1.0)…
1a) RB Jonathan Taylor, IND
The most talented RB prospect in CFB. Potentially, one of the best OR ‘the best’ of the past few years. Proven talent/domination in college. High-end measurables. Better than given credit hands (like Fournette). ‘Plus sized’ RB. He’s a machine.
How fast does he start for Indy?
Well, Marlon Mack is a free agent after this season. The worst-case scenario is that Taylor trades touches for a while in 2020 with Mack before the obvious is undeniable – Taylor is a million times better than Mack, and that’s not a full slam at Mack. 2020 is probably Taylor starting off as a 2nd-RB and working his way up to ‘the guy’…then Mack walks in free agency and Taylor is ‘the man’ fully in 2021.
Best case scenario – Taylor is so obvious, so dominant in August 2020 that he is the lead in a split role by Week 1 and then is the lead with Mack offering relief touches and Taylor goes on to be the Rookie of the Year.
The one fly in the Taylor ointment – the fumbles. They aren’t as crazy as advertised given his touch counts in college. They also can be fixed. You can’t fix/make a 220+ pound RB run a 4.39 40-time, but you can fix fumble issues…if they really exist. It is the one concern…outside of that, we should be talking about his greatness.
Taylor has a lot of miles on him/a lot of touches in college, but it’s a touch overblown on that chatter as well…he had about 200-300 more touches than your McCaffrey’s, Zeke’s, Derrick Henry’s, etc. in their college careers. Taylor had three seasons of dominance where other top NFL backs had two in college and then they bolted.
The talent is here with Taylor. The situation is solid…and, don’t forget, this is a top O-Line and playing in a dome and better weather in conference than most. 2020 could be up and down touches/activity but 2021+ should be world domination.
1b) RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City
The Brian Westbrook Andy Reid has been looking for. He’s got him. The Kareem Hunt getting stolen away from him replacement RB.
If it were Alex Smith at QB, not Patrick Mahomes…this would be more of a mildly exciting event – but working with Mahomes, in that offense…it’s predicted gold.
The only real question is – how long will the full starting role take for him to grab? Will they give Damien Williams a chance to be the starter (in name only) at first? I think CEH might be starting Week 1. You don’t take a guy 1st-round and tap dance around your intentions.
You could argue that Edwards-Helaire isn’t as talented as Jonathan Taylor (and that’s true), but you could argue CEH makes up that gap by being in the way better FF situation initially.
At this stage of the rookie draft, I think there is a big drop off in value…not necessarily in talent…but in value. Going forward the picks start to have more ‘risks’ and more ‘but what about…?’ confusion. The talent for some is in question. Others the talent is fine, but the situation is messy. I’m exploring trades away on my 1.03-1.04+ (depending upon Swift) rookie picks to acquire existing/non-rookie players that we’ve already got to see in action last preseason/regular season, guys who are a year further in experience with the team.
3) RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit
Not my cup of tea as a player…I think there are flaws in his run game that are going to make him seem like a weak consideration compared to Taylor-CEH when we look back historically.
However, I know people love him. I know he is ‘OK’/not a full bust. I know he is going to be forced a role/touches. He’s is not going to be devoid of value. The analysts love him…thus the fans love him, thus the fantasy owners love him. His great value (today) is how beloved he is…he has nice asset value.
I expect he’ll be in a split role with Kerryon Johnson, and the entire summer people will be saying ‘He’s the Lions’ Alvin Kamara’, which will keep his value jacked up.
If I had pick #1.03 and I had to make the pick and Taylor-CEH are gone, I pick Swift and then look to trade him while the value is inflated on the ‘rookie shine’…Rookie Derangement Syndrome. He’s arguably going to go 1.01-1.02 in most DRD’s in April/May.
People love Swift without question…as well they do on CEH, and mostly love Jonathan Taylor. Those three RBs are going to go in some order of 1-2-3 in all non-Superflex leagues Dynasty Rookie Draft. Now, from 1-2-3 on…there’s another drop-off. I don’t love Swift, but I know he has great value. Starting at 1.04 (in non-Superflex) there is a big drop in DRD value here. Again, I’m trading 1.04 (and packaged up with other things as needed) through the rest of the top 12 offensive players if I can…seeking the real/non-rookie/existing players I want.
4a) WR CeeDee Lamb, DAL
Sure, he lands onto a roster of WR talent and it’s hard to see how he could breakthrough quick enough to matter for fantasy 2020. I think the same. I’m also looking at the abject worship of him, and that it will only get hotter as time goes on. People will write poems all season about getting Lamb the ball more and how Dallas should trade Michael Gallup and ditch Amari Cooper. Lamb’s value is in the fact that he won’t lose value.
All my favorite WRs will lose value as the new car/rookie smell wears off in August and October and February, etc. But Lamb’s value will hold or go higher over time even if he’s barely touching the ball. You can’t hurt his value because NFL people, and thus the fans, will be sacrificing livestock to him for years…pining away for him to be ‘the man’. Poor performance by Lamb will be excused. Good performance will be made to seem GREAT/AWESOME/UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN.
I’m not a believer that Lamb is great, but I am a believer that every person in football analysis, thus everyone in any fantasy league, will think that he is great – so Lamb has more value even if he’s quiet/and backup than if/when Edwards-Mims-Claypool-Duvernay are soaring. It’s crazy, but it’s true. The love for Lamb is delusional…I’ll acknowledge it and buy it to sell it.
4b) QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati
In a sea of ‘OK’ and ‘good’ and a few ‘possibly great’ prospects in 2020…it’s easy to blow past the one easy scouting assessment of the group – Joe Burrow is THE elite prospect/talent in this draft. If Burrow flops in the NFL, then they should just cancel CFB seasons forever or I’m just going to never watch any tape or pay attention to any outputs that occur in college. Burrow HAS TO BE an elite talent. He’s the most ‘sure thing’ talent that I’m sure of in 2020. However…
What’s a great ‘rookie’/young QB worth in Dynasty/Fantasy terms in their rookie/early years? Baker was a predicted great talent by us and had a nice, but choppy, rookie campaign…and then a sophomore flop. Kyler was the apple of our eye, and he was choppy but a top 10 QB in fantasy…but not FF-awesome. Is Burrow going to walk in…in this organization, and flourish?
How much damage will the totally inept Bengals organization and management have on Burrow’s upside? In the end, the Bengals added mediocre players on defense in free agency and in the draft – they gave Burrow ZERO help on the O-Line and little-to-nothing at WR or RB (depth). Number of LSU players they added in the draft or as UDFAs to make him comfortable – zero. I get the feeling the Bengals have absolutely no plan at all and that getting Burrow is just the random nature of NFL Draft order – they got lucky, made the obvious pick, and haven’t a clue otherwise.
All that being said, we have to respect Burrow’s greatness as a factor…that it may trump bad surroundings, even if manifesting as racking major garbage time numbers. Whatever happens, this is not a slam dunk greatness ahead…but you have to think greatness prevails at some point. Even if it is with Carolina O-C Joe Brady being hired in 2021 or 2022.
6) RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore
I like Dobbins as a talent. Our computer models say he’s the 2nd-best RB talent in this draft. I want to like him more for fantasy, but there are too many things to overcome early on for him…
Mark Ingram’s contract has two more years.
Lamar Jackson takes a fair share of rushing TDs.
Lamar Jackson isn’t a big thrower of the ball to his RBs.
Gus Edwards plays a role.
Dobbins is going to be nice when he’s the clear lead…but we may not see that until 2022. The deal/waiting factor crushes his value. Banking on an Ingram injury is your best hope.
We’re about to hit the CFM-fave WR stretch of my DRD rankings. Note a couple of things…
-- You may disagree with my order of my top WRs…hell, I might disagree with it every week of the offseason. I’ve changed them around multiple times in just the first two days post-NFL Draft. I won’t argue whatever order you want to put Claypool-Pittman-Mims-Duvernay-Edwards.
-- You could likely trade 1.06-1.09 for Diontae Johnson, Parris Campbell, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, McLaurin, Marquise, etc. Point being – the WRs from a year ago are falling in value because they don’t have the ‘new car smell’ the rookies do. And a year from now, all our enthusiasm for Claypool-Pittman-Mims-Duvernay-Edwards will be reduced as the world begins to love the 2021 fresh faces.
As I’ve been saying for months – there is a WR glut, an economic inflation hitting the NFL. Too many good/great WRs…and nowhere for them to go and shine without competition for touches. Every rookie WR seems to land in places with 1-2-3 other great options for the QBs to throw to. The WR market is like the current crude oil market – so much oil there aren’t enough tankers to hold it right now. Don’t fall in love with rookie WRs/don’t overvalue them.
-- These rookie WRs are likely going to have little/no offseason time with their QBs/team due to COVID…to further stunt their growth/fast start hopes. Love these rookies but have patience to buy them in October or next January when the price drops. Be smart.
I love this WR group. It’s incredible…I just see the WR glut/mess they are entering the league into and I don’t want to waste energy fighting the issue to find the one guy that kinda breaks through.
-- If I have to make the 1.05+ pick, I will…but I’d rather explore trades – especially 1.05-1.10 for the people wanting to get Cam Akers OR the ‘people’ will chase Lamb-Jeudy-Jefferson-Ruggs ahead of all my beloved WRs. The late 1st/early 2nd (in 12-team) is where you can get ‘my (and hopefully ‘your’) top rated WRs.
Trade a 1.05 for a 2.01-2.05 and ___ asset. Do Belichick things…drop in the draft and gain assets and still take the things you wanted mid-1st-round but drafting it 2nd+ round.
7) WR Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas
Bryan Edwards is arguably the most talented all-around, professional WR in this draft…a modern-day Andre Johnson…a more athletic Michael Thomas. I can’t swear to it because I don’t have his 40 times/three-cone, etc., due to no Combine/Pro Day, but he may be just as fast/faster and as/more agile than Andre Johnson, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams type WRs.
Edwards’s new teammate, Henry Ruggs, is not a #1 WR…he’s a deep ball distraction. Tyrell Williams is a #2 WR…and is not long for the Las Vegas world (thus a million WRs drafted by LV this year). Edwards is a #1 type WR on a team with no #1 type WR in his way. He’s the best WR option for Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota…his fantasy problem is having to work with Carr/Mariota. I assume that will change in a year, but in 2020 him working with Carr (or Mariota) would be fine by me. He’s going to be their BFF receiver.
*Note – Edwards (and Ruggs) really helps Darren Waller. Last year, Waller was being covered by shutdown corners because LV’s WRs sucked/Waller was so good. Waller is now free to beat LBs and not dealing with top DBs covering him as much as in 2019.
Of the top talent WRs – Claypool, Mims, Pittman, Edwards, Duvernay…Edwards has the fastest, clearest path to be his team’s #1 WR day one. His QBs being limited helps get him a lot of cheap/easy targets.
8) RB A.J. Dillon, Green Bay
I guess the Packers don’t see Aaron Jones as a three-down workhorse back either? All early 2019 they kept trying to push Jamaal Williams over him, but Williams couldn’t take advantage/would get hurt and then Jones got hot and became a 2019 star…but Jones is going to fall now with AJD arriving.
Aaron Jones is a free agent at the end of this year, and I assume GB is positioning to let him play out his 2020 or trade him…the bottom line being they are not going to get hijacked by him for a contract ransom that has brought many teams payroll crashing – paying mediocre RBs big money because they had one sweet season (Gurley, D. Johnson, Devonta, etc.).
Dillon will instantly be the hammer in the rotation of RBs in 2020…5-10 carries, goal line work, etc. Not much in the passing game. In 2021, he may be the full lead back with Jones long gone. This is a 2021+ play that might not be much or might surprise in 2020. Dillon is more talented than Aaron Jones…the question is, when will he take over and what are you willing to pay (draft) to wait?
If he were taken in the 4th-round of the NFL Draft…that’s one story. But taken in the 2nd-round? That’s a message of what Green Bay is thinking about the player (Dillon) and the current situation (Jones). It’s a big endorsement.
9) RB Joshua Kelley, LA Chargers
Anthony Lynn has been telling anyone who will listen (which is a chore, so it’s understandable if you don’t) that he is splitting his backfield – a lightning and thunder approach. His 2020 plan will be to split Austin Ekeler with either Josh Kelley or Justin Jackson, and I’d bet A LOT on Kelley to win that battle.
Joshua Kelley is a pros pro, a tough guy grinder the way Lynn wants them. He’s likely to be the 10-15 carry a game guy here with limited PPR activity, but maybe enough to be an RB2 in 2020.
In 2020, not long term, but just looking at 2020…you could try to guess which rookie WR will matter or you could go for a split role RB getting good enough touches to be an RB2-3 for you right away…with an upside that he just becomes ‘the man’ (the bulk of workload) and is a strong RB2. Kelley has RB2 potential, quickly. A way more talented RB prospect than given credit.
10) WR Jalen Reagor, PHI
I like Reagor as a talent. I have some concerns on his upside/just how good-great he can be, but overall I see the potential to be good…not necessarily ‘great’. However, what I love is the situation he landed in – an instant starter and potential pitch-and-catch main option for Carson Wentz. The Eagles had a mess at WR going into the draft and drafted/traded for more messes during the draft…except Reagor. He may have had the best ‘landing’ of all the top WRs. If only Devin Duvernay could have landed here instead of Reagor…
11) WR Denzel Mims, NY Jets
At any given point in this early ranking process, I could have Mims as the top WR over all my other great WR options…or he may sink to 2nd-3rd-4th (and back and forth).
The upside = He’s the most talented WR on the Jets day one he walks into the building.
The downside = He’s got noodle-armed Sam Darnold to work with, a guy who brought down Robby Anderson to a nobody for FF. He will play in the windy, outdoor, colder conditions more than you’d like for his style.
Which side will win? Mims’ penchant for ‘go getting’ errant passes deep or Darnold’s inability to put them near Mims…and Mims is not a possession WR working over the middle, etc., as much He will do that some, but he’s more of a medium-deep elite with a QB who is terrible medium-deep.
I want to believe Mims’ talent and ‘go get it’ skills will win out, but I have little faith in Darnold (since day one) and I know Darnold will be there another 2-3 years before anyone admits the mistake.
You want to go with Mims as the top WR for the DRD, post-Draft…I won’t complain. You want to shy away for the ‘reasons’, I can’t blame you. The way that a very talented Robby Anderson died with Darnold has me spooked here. The weak Jets WR depth chart otherwise has me pumped for Mims.
12) WR Michael Pittman, Indianapolis
Let’s say, for a moment, that Bryan Edwards and Michael Pittman are similarly good/great WR prospects. Little different-styled, but let’s just put them as near-equals… Who do you like better in the Dynasty Rookie Draft?
If you prefer one or the other, for any reason…gut reaction, fan of them on your favorite college team, or they are going to your favorite NFL team – pull the trigger for what you want between them. No wrong answers here. No super rocket science definitive answer.
How I’d try to decide between them? Pittman has to get by T.Y. Hilton for top target honors, and that ain’t happening in 2020. Edwards can blow past Tyrell Williams and everyone else (and share top honors with Waller) to be his QB’s BFF. Edge to Edwards in 2020 impact. Both play in a dome. Pittman in a better weather conference overall. Pittman has Parris Campbell to worry about for targets (but they help each other when TYH goes). Edwards is more pitch-and-catch with the QB. Pittman more medium-deep. Pittman doesn’t know who his QB will be in 2021, but Edwards might not either.
For fantasy, I give the edge to Edwards with these two similar, very talented WRs.
Surprised not to see Claypool or Duvernay yet? Me too. I started with Claypool as my top 1-2 WR and the more I considered each WR case, the further Claypool got pushed down…and out of the top 12, initially. How far did he fall? What’s up with Duvernay? Why isn’t Cam Akers in the ‘draft-to-trade’ top group of valuation? Find out tomorrow! Hell, tomorrow they could all be in the top 5...it’s a crazy year for the WR talent glut.