While the settings and feel aren’t familiar, the hype and excitement surrounding the 2020 NFL Draft are recognizable from a mile away.
Fantasy football draft season may not be close to hitting its crescendo, but hardcore gamers have been selecting players prior to the conclusion of bowl season. Join us for real-time analysis the NFL draft’s opening round’s impact on fantasy football plans for 2020.
1) QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: He’ll have a reasonably talented stable of weapons around him for being a No. 1 overall choice. Typically, the cupboard is barren in this situation. A.J. Green returns to health after missing 2019, and Tyler Boyd has shown to be quite capable in his own right. Speed isn’t a problem with John Ross, and even Auden Tate flashed potential a season ago. The offensive line is slowly rebuilding its way back to respectability, and a healthy return of last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams, will play a major role in this process. RBs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are both assets in the passing game, as well, and stability in the backfield will go a long way in protecting Burrow. The toughest thing working against him is the uncertainty of the offseason and whether he’ll have any semblance of a conventional training camp. In the absolute best-case scenario, Burrow is a low-tier fantasy QB2 as a rookie. He’s best left on the wire in single-year leagues, though.
5) QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: The hip injury has been deemed 100 percent healthy, but that doesn’t mean Miami won’t rest Tua to begin his NFL career. Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start from the onset. Either way, Tagovailoa will have no offseason, in all likelihood, to get ready. He has some fantasy potential in 2020 due to his mobility, accuracy and experience as a high-level starter in the toughest conference in college football. Unfortunately, none of that matters if he’s on the pine. Draft him as a QB1 gamble in dynasty leagues, but trusting him to stay healthy year in and out is a leap of faith some owners may not be willing to make. His single-year value is as a QB3 or waiver addition. There just isn’t a lot working in his favor in Year 1.
6) QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers: Philip Rivers’ replacement is the massive Oregon standout with a lively arm. Herbert can make all of the throws and has enough mobility to make plays out of nothing. There are plenty of weapons in this offense, and the only thing working against Herbert starting on Day 1 is the pandemic. Tyrod Taylor could be the opening starter for the Bolts, but it is only a matter of time before he returns to where he belongs. Herbert is brilliant (4.0-point-plus GPA in biology) and should have no trouble digesting the playbook, but not having the physical reps with his teammates is a hurdle working against his fantasy football value. Draft him late as a late-round flier backup option in 2020-only leagues, and up his stock if there is a training camp that comes with any normalcy. In dynasty setups, Herbert has rock-solid No. 1 quarterback worth.
12) WR Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders: Jon Gruden gets his version of Tyreek Hill, and it came at the potential expense of passing on both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb — more in the mold of true No. 1 receivers. Al Davis would be proud. A 4.27-second 40 time has Ruggs in rare company, and defenses have to put two sets of eyes on him at all times. Ruggs gives Derek Carr a home run waiting to happen, which also makes the rest of the offense that much more dangerous. In 2020, look for the Raiders to do everything to get Ruggs involved early and often. He is an intriguing WR3 candidate in fantasy drafts but is safer as a flex or No. 4, depending on the league size. No offseason is less of a concern for a player of his skill set and position.
15) WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos: Quarterback Drew Lock gets immediate help via arguably the best receiver in the draft, and it didn’t require trading up. The Broncos had to address the position to complement Courtland Sutton and give their young gunslinger another weapon. Last year, remember, a first-rounder was spent on tight end Noah Fant. The Alabama receiver is likely to see most of his work from the slot, where he’s a lineup nightmare for most defensive backs. Jeudy’s speed (4.4) and athletic traits make him a WR3 with crazy upside in his rookie year. The lack of an offseason should hinder his development early in the year, so understand what kind of trajectory you’re likely getting for the fantasy investment. He’s an elite dynasty prospect and should be drafted as such in those setups.
17) WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones had no one to restrain him while hunkered down in his bunker. In Jerr-ah’s defense, Lamb is a beast and immediately will make an impact in this offense, likely playing from the slot. He did considerable damage from that spot in college, although he primarily played outside. Lamb also serves as insurance for Amari Cooper, who is no stranger to the injury bug and is basically playing on a glorified two-year deal. Lamb’s Year 1 fantasy returns are going to be suppressed by the talent around him. His long-range outlook is way more exciting, and fantasy footballers should draft accordingly. In 2020 leagues, Lamb is a hit-or-miss matchup play, whereas his dynasty value is WR1 territory.
21) WR Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles: It wasn’t so much a question of if the Eagles would draft a wideout in Round 1 but rather which one it would be … Reagor is a big play in the making every time he touches the ball. However, he has inconsistent hands, which can be a problem for a guy whose primary job is catching the ball. There will be opportunities for Reagor to make an immediate contribution, regardless of what happens with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. If all three are on the field at once, it will be tough to contain. Reagor has exciting traits but could be used sparingly, and that’s a dicey proposition for fantasy purposes. What how this one plays out for the summer months before making a strong decision either way, yet Reagor is at least worthy of a selection as a late flier. He has WR2 potential in the long run.
22) WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings: The trade of Stefon Diggs meant wide receiver went from strength to necessity in a hurry. Jefferson was late to come into his own, but he surely made up for it in 2019. Adam Thielen gets a sidekick who is going to catch a bunch of passes in this Gary Kubiak-run offense. The West Coast system will look to utilize Jefferson’s skills after the catch via crossing routes and intermediate designs. While the entire receiver position was pushed down the board a few spots from what most expected, Jefferson landed in an ideal situation for Year 1 fantasy contributions. He’s in position to become a strong WR3 or better for PPR lineups, and the sky is the limit when looking at his long-haul prospects.
25) WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers: Entering the draft with Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne as the top two wideouts, the position was an absolute priority for the Niners. Aiyuk brings a weapon after the catch and the ability to take the ball down the field from Jimmy Garoppolo. The intermediate and tough yards figure to go Samuel’s way, but it’s the rookie whose ability following the grab will make him an early-season asset in this offense. The opportunities will be there, and that’s about as much as a gamer can ask of a rookie wide receiver. Aiyuk offers fantasy roster depth with the hope for becoming a matchup play in 2020.
26) QB Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers: Green Bay appears to have found Aaron Rodgers’ replacement, and while it may work out — Love is a worthy QB1 gamble in full-retention keeper leagues — there’s nothing here to see in 2020 fantasy football. There is no guarantee we’ll see Love for a few seasons yet. This one feels like a wasted opportunity to put talent on the field that could help both Rodgers and fantasy football owners right now.
32) RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs: The round opens and closes with an LSU Tiger. The bowling ball of a running back will provide a fine one-two punch with Damien Williams. It’s entirely realistic the rookie finds himself in a more prominent role if Williams cannot stay healthy again. Regardless, Edwards-Helaire is likely to see meaningful work from Week 1 on and could prove to be a touchdown machine when given the chance. Draft him as a No. 3 back with regular flex playability in mind.