The 2020 NFL Draft’s Day 1 is in the books, and there are plenty of players who will make great fantasy football additions still on the board.
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 second day’s impact on fantasy football plans for 2020.
33) WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals: No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow gets a new target in the lanky Higgins. His body control is exceptional, and few receivers have a catch radius to match Higgins’. While he lacks the breakaway speed, Higgins can catch the ball anywhere, in any situation, with the best of them. He will have the difficulty of learning an NFL offense without OTAs and possibly no training camp, which is tougher for a receiver. Having A.J. Green to mentor him is a huge plus. Higgins may struggle to see the field as more than a situational player in 2020, barring a personnel change or injury, although the future beyond his rookie year positions him as a potential low-tier WR1 in fantasy.
34) WR Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts: Pittman has Mike Evans-like traits and joins an offense that desperately needs help for T.Y. Hilton. The son of 11-year NFL running back Michael Pittman, the younger comes into the pros as one of the most decorated receivers in USC history. Philip Rivers gains a dangerous threat in the red zone, and the Colts now have another talented second-rounder (Parris Campbell last year) to fill out the top three wideouts. Pittman’s skill set profiles as a reception hog at the next level, suggesting crazy upside in PPR leagues as soon as 2021. His rookie year may be rocky, given the lack of an organized offseason, but don’t write him off. Pittman Jr. has late-round flier value as a rook.
35) RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions: The Motor City gets the top back in the draft and one whose explosiveness is going to make an immediate impact in this offense. He’ll mix in with Kerryon Johnson, but it may be only a matter of time before Swift takes over one way or another. KJ has missed 12 games in the last two years and doesn’t offer the dynamic traits of Swift. Running back is among the easiest positions to learn in the NFL, and Swift’s pass-catching talents allow him to be utilized as a satellite player until he gets the nuances down. Darrell Bevell’s offense has produced several elite fantasy seasons at the position through the years, and Swift’s dynamic ways will have the veteran play-caller scheming up new plays. PPR gamers will find more value in the Georgia star — who has basically no mileage on the engine. Swift is an RB3 or flex in 2020, and he has potential for much more with Johnson’s injury history.
41) RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts: This one is sort of maddening from a fantasy football perspective. We saw flashes of Marlon Mack being a strong fantasy option last year, despite the clear setback at quarterback after Andrew Luck retired. Philip Rivers, in theory, would have helped keep defenses out of the box to allow Mack to run wild behind this dominant line. Instead, now gamers will have a potential three-headed frustration. Third-down back Nyheim Hines is a non-factor in the running game, yet he’ll still see meaningful touches through the air. The two-down work is likely to be spread between Taylor and Mack — unless the veteran gets moved. Taylor is extremely bright, which lends to picking up the offense in a hurry, and has the talent to match, rushing for more than 2,000 yards twice for the Wisconsin Badgers. Behind this line, who knows how he’d fare if given the full carry count. Add another backfield of weekly guesswork to the tally…
42) WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars: The mustache gets another talented playmaker in the passing game. Jacksonville added veteran tight end Tyler Eifert as a safety blanket, and last year’s breakout receiver, D.J. Chark, returns as the No. 1 option. Dede Westbrook and now Shenault help with big-play ability. The Colorado rookie can take it the distance any single time he puts his hands on the rock, and there’s little doubt the Jags will throw him into the fire. Shenault is probably going to be a “low-volume, occasional flash” weapon for fantasy as a rookie, though, especially if the offseason continues as expected.
43) TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears: This one is somewhat intriguing, but more over the long haul than in 2020. The offensive system is quite favorable for the position, and there are enough weapons that Kmet won’t be asked to do too much right away with Jimmy Graham set to start. Tight ends rarely stand out as rookies, and no offseason activities in sight only make it tougher for him to overcome the odds. Kmet is a great inline tight end prospect and has the chops as a receiver to develop into a starting fantasy fixture learning behind Graham. Keep him on the wire in single-year leagues but roll out the red carpet for dynasty formats.
46) WR KJ Hamler, Denver Broncos: John Elway is giving the passing game an overhaul and brought in Hamler as an explosive slot option. The first-round pick of Jerry Jeudy complements Courtland Sutton, and Hamler complements the both of them in a much-needed fashion. The 5-foot-9, 176-pounder from Penn State is a vertical asset for the strong-armed Drew Lock. As with almost all of the rookie receivers, Hamler’s production should be stunted by a lack of an offseason program. Expect special teams to be in his immediate future. He is a fringe option in 2020 drafts but has long-term worth as a potential WR3 or flex.
49) WR Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers: Few receivers sport the combination of size and speed found in the Notre Dame product. At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, only Calvin Johnson ran a faster official 40 time among receivers of this stature. Ben Roethlisberger is expected to be back at full strength, and the offense needs a big-bodied target — the speed is a nice bonus. Claypool’s frame makes for an easy target in jump-ball situations around the end zone, which is likely how he’ll make his mark as a rookie. There probably will be too much inconsistency in targets coming his way to trust him in fantasy football in 2020, however. The future could see Claypool posting WR2 numbers sooner than later.
52) RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams: Underrated in his combo skill set, the Florida State product has plenty of size (5-foot-10, 217 pounds) and enough speed to get the job done in the pros. He’s instinctive and damaging after the catch in the aerial game. Akers should challenge immediately for the starting job, and there is an entire Sean McVay playbook worth of creative opportunities even if he comes off of the bench. No Todd Gurley means the only true competition (so far) for touches is 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson, whose rookie season was nothing but an utter disappointment. Malcolm Brown is the closest thing to an established back of the lot. Akers easily could become one of the best fantasy football rookies in this prime situation. Should he outright win the job, think RB2 all day long.
53) QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles: In a conventional situation, Hurts is unlikely to matter as a rookie behind a $100 million quarterback. However, in Philly, with the creativeness of the coaching staff and fragility of starting signal-caller Carson Wentz, all things are that much closer to possible. Hurts ran for 20 touchdowns last year and tossed more than 30 others. He was a starter for Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma — there’s serious talent here, but few players are as hard of workers. Hurts could be utilized as a trick-play specialist out of the gates — fun to watch, but it does little for fantasy purposes. Avoid him in 2020 drafts that span only the single year.
55) RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens: In a backfield in which Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson are the featured options, one has to wonder where enough touches to matter in fantasy will be found for the Ohio State standout rusher. Dobbins isn’t much of a threat as a receiver, which is where we’re more likely to see Justice Hill see an increased role as a sophomore. This pick is 99 percent for the future. Ingram turns 31 in December and can’t do it forever. Count on seeing Dobbins mixed in as a spell throughout 2020, which will lead to a few stat lines that command attention. There true unknown is if the Ravens give Dobbins a nearly even share of the handles to preserve Ingram for a postseason run. Safely, Dobbins is best drafted as a handcuff to Ingram and is poised to be an RB1 when his time comes.
57) WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams: The son of 13-year NFL veteran, and current New York Jets wide receivers coach, Shawn Jefferson, the Florida rookie enters a great situation in an explosive offensive system. The younger Jefferson is a polished route runner with quality hands, but deep speed isn’t his strongest suit. It doesn’t much matter, because Jared Goff can count on Jefferson being exactly where he needs to be in this timing-based passing game. He has excellent feel for exploiting zone coverage, and there will be an opportunity under a creative coach who is not afraid to play inexperienced weapons. Jefferson, however, is a late-round flier in deep leagues as a rookie, partially due to the pandemic situation and also because of the talent around him in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and Josh Reynolds.
59) WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets: It was no secret New York needed help on the outside and an offensive tackle … two rounds in, both boxes get checked. Sam Darnold gets a 4.38-second 40 guy to replace Robby Anderson, and Mims (6-foot-3, 207 pounds) has a big enough frame to contend in the red zone. Mims has one glaring problem working against him: Coming out of Baylor’s system, it takes time in the NFL, and the current outlook of the offseason program hampers players in his situation more than most rookie receivers. Opportunities in this weak receiving corps will exist, but it may be late in the year before he is ready to fully seize them.
62) RB A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers: Two picks, no receiving help for Aaron Rodgers … and there’s a good argument the addition of Dillon doesn’t help him much, either. At least not this year. With Aaron Jones coming off of a monster season and Jamaal Williams finding his groove in limited action, where does Dillon fit into plans in 2020? He’s a battering ram, so there’s always the chance of work around the stripe. Both Jones and Williams are set to become free agents next year, indicating this is a forward-thinking selection — something that feels wasteful given the short life of the position. At any rate, Dillon isn’t an immediate fantasy contributor, barring an injury or two helping his cause.
66) WR/RB Antonio Gibson, Washington Redskins: A multi-tool, Gibson can play running back and receiver. This offense needs him to be more of the latter, and he could be utilized in ways like Curtis Samuel was under the Ron Rivera regime in Carolina. There’s too much uncertainty here to get excited in fantasy circles. Gibson has an explosive nature that will eventually show through, but it is going to take some time in all likelihood. Avoid him in 2020 redraft leagues.
76) RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The new-look Bucs offense gets an upgrade at running back, pairing Vaughn with Ronald Jones. The Vanderbilt rookie stands 5-foot-10, 214 pounds, offering a quality blend of size and quickness. Vaughn is a bit of a rhythm runner who can create chunk plays between the tackles. Tampa’s line is solid, and the passing game could be elite, taking pressure off of the Vaughn. There’s plenty to like about his prospects as a Year 1 fantasy football performer, and Vaughn’s initial valuation is somewhere in the RB3 range with considerable upside. After all, it’s not like Jones has been anything close to special through two seasons.
80) WR/RB Lynn Bowden Jr., Las Vegas Raiders: A do-everything at Kentucky, including a quarterback when needed, this, combined with Bowden’s open-field elusiveness, will give Gruden ample incentive to scheme up plays specific to the rookie’s talents. This is a situation where he’s poised to make a bigger difference in real football than fake, and gamers should consider Bowden nothing more than a waiver target if something breaks his way.
81) WR Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders: The South Carolina product comes with quality size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) and enough speed to challenge down the field. Despite making some impressive catches, Edwards has suspect hands in terms of consistently securing the easier ones. He won’t be asked to do too much right away, so there’s time to refine his skills and deploy Edwards’ zone-eating traits in time.
86) RB Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary gets a fantastic complement to his style of play with the 5-foot-9, 223-pound Moss. The Utah back runs hard and is tough to bring down upon first contact. The breakaway game belongs to Singletary, but the well-balanced Moss could be more productive with the right matchups, because his offers lend more to closing out a win. He should be an immediate contributor in fantasy, albeit inconsistent, and there’s elevated value here in non-PPR formats. Josh Allen’s running ability also depresses Moss’ potential around the end zone. Moss is a low-end weekly flex consideration but better drafted as depth.
91) TE Devin Asiasi, New England Patriots: The Michigan transfer turned UCLA Bruin has a pretty good opportunity ahead. The Patriots needed more talent in the passing game entering the draft, and that is exactly what Asiasi brings to the table. He’s more of a hybrid and can flex out wide arguably better than play the tradition “Y” role in the NFL. The quarterback situation tends to favor tight ends. No offense activities will hamper Asiasi more than most skill guys as rookie tight ends rarely stand out in fantasy.
92) WR Devin Duvernay, Baltimore Ravens: Over the past few drafts, it’s obvious the Ravens are determined to build the fastest offense in the NFL. Duvernay is a stocky slot receiver who is built like a running back but has long-distance speed. He can play on the outside, and he’ll be given a few go routes as a rookie. The offense has considerable talent in place and several ways to attack, which hampers Duvernay’s early-career outlook. Remember his name for 2021 or ’22.
93) RB Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans: He’s basically the opposite of Derrick Henry — on the edge of undersized in the NFL (5-foot-10, 203 pounds) but a dangerous speed threat. Evans will spell the big guy when needed and can be worked in as a change-up back. Draft him as a handcuff in 2020 and bump Evans up a notch in keeper drafts since Henry could walk after this season.
94) TE Josiah Deguara, Green Bay Packers: Perhaps not the offensive help Aaron Rodgers had in mind, but Deguara is a downfield weapon at the position and has the stats to back it up. At Cincinnati, he was moved all around and this should trend into his time with Matt LaFleur. Expect plenty of creative ways to induce mismatches over the middle. That said, it may be a few years before Deguara is a reliable fantasy football commodity.
101) TE Dalton Keene, New England Patriots: Two tight ends in the round for the Pats shows they’re serious about infusing some talent into the position. Keene is a poor man’s George Kittle — tougher than nails, versatile as can be, and athletic enough to make some noise across all three levels of the route tree. In a running theme, tight ends tend to struggle early in their careers when it comes to making a dent in fantasy football action. This offseason will make it even tougher on Keene’s chances of 2020 success.
105) TE Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints: A small-school (Dayton) prospect with big-time talent, Trautman is positioned to learn the ropes over the next year or so before having any realistic chance of making a fantasy contributions of note. Tuck his name away for 2021 and beyond.