2020 Rookie Class Overview Post Draft Fantasy Style Pt2
Considered by many to be the best crop of talent at the position since the historic 2013 class, the list of exceptional talent on display here was breathtaking. Though it can be argued who the top player was based upon skillset preferences, there are several players considered to be in the top-tier. Six wideouts went as first-round selections, seven in the second round and another four in the third. Buckle up folks, the following names will be Fantasy stars for the next decade.
Depending on which scout you speak with, Jerry Jeudy was either the top receiver at the position or second behind CeeDee Lamb. Often compared to Antonio Brown (prior to going insane) for his precision route running, speed and exceptional hands, Jeudy was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 15th overall pick. He offers a nice compliment to Courtland Sutton as a possession-based receiver akin to the Calvin Ridley/Julio Jones combination for the Atlanta Falcons. The Broncos passing offense ranked 28th in the NFL last year and was in desperate need of playmakers for Drew Lock to utilize. Expect Jeudy to be peppered with targets and have a nice weekly floor for Fantasy purposes each week. His elusiveness in the open field will lead to some big games early on. I'm willing to draft him immediately as a lower-end WR2 in PPR formats.
The Las Vegas Raiders (it still feels odd typing that) caused a splash by making Henry Ruggs III the first wideout taken in the draft at 12th overall. Hearkening back to the days when Al Davis simply selected the fastest player available at the time, Ruggs fits the Raider mentality beautifully. The fastest receiver in the draft had an outside chance of breaking the all-time 40-yard dash record at the Combine - though he ultimately fell short of the accomplishment, he still posted a sub-4.30 second time. Speed is the name of his game, yet Ruggs is built with the body frame of a larger player. He is a willing blocker down the field and akin to Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, Ruggs is fully capable of taking a bubble screen the distance each and every time. Speed wideouts have a checkered history of production, so I'd be more open to selecting Ruggs in best-ball or standard formats due to the boom-or-bust nature of his game. He immediately becomes the WR1 in Las Vegas when the season starts - expect Jon Gruden to get him involved early in each game. Ruggs is a mid-tier WR2 in standard formats, and upside WR3 in PPR.
Good luck tackling this next player. The Dallas Cowboys had CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps with the 17th pick in the draft, and even though the team had greater needs elsewhere they thought that the value was simply too good to pass up. Fantasy owners looking to add Lamb need to seriously question how much the weekly game plan will feature his services, given the receiving threats of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott. Lamb can produce with limited touches for sure, but the Cowboys landing spot severely hampers his overall upside for the immediate future. Cooper and Gallup are both signed long-term in Dallas, so even if Lamb were to surpass Gallup on the depth chart, it is difficult to envision his touches being consistent enough to count on him as more than a WR3.
The Philadelphia Eagles desperately needed help at the wide receiver position and opted to use their first-round selection to acquire Jalen Reagor, a pick that was initially questioned by many. This isn't to suggest that Reagor isn't talented, but few had him within the top five at the position in their rankings. At 5'11 and 206 lbs., Reagor is a Brandin Cooks clone who will consistently beat defenders with his straight-line speed. Criticized for having a smaller catch radius and the ability to out-muscle defenders down the field, Reagor will need to find his niche quickly in the city of brotherly love. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to envision him out producing Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson due to their checkered injury history, but Reagor will still play third fiddle at best behind both of the Eagles tight ends that propel the offense. I currently view him as a FLEX option that I'm willing to take a shot on for the first few weeks of the season.
Following the decision to trade Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason for a first-round selection, the Minnesota Vikings chose to fill his presence with Justin Jefferson, my fourth-ranked wideout entering the Draft. His size (6'1, 202 lbs.) and speed afford him the ability to either play outside or in the slot if need be, and his body control and hands are truly elite. Though he isn't the fastest at the position he is plenty sure handed, and in many ways his skillset reminds me of a young Michael Thomas. Diggs absence left nearly 100 targets up for grabs, and I expect Jefferson to gobble up each and every one of them. The success of Minnesota's ground game will lead to plenty of single coverage for Jefferson to exploit, and I think that he is a truly intriguing player for Gary Kubiak to use. Adam Thielen also prefers to work out of the slot, so it will be interesting to see how the team lines up both players in 2020. Jefferson is a low-end WR2 in my rankings for next season.
San Francisco had a stellar draft, and adding Brandon Aiyuk at the end of the first round was the start of several great selections. Forming an excellent trio of destruction alongside George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, it is expected that Aiyuk will immediately catapult both Jalen Hurd and Dante Pettis. Aiyuk is above-average in all aspects from speed, size and athleticism, so it will be curious to see where San Francisco features him. An asset in the special teams return game, Aiyuk will added further value for his Fantasy owners that participate in leagues that reward points for punt/kick return yardage. Considered by some to be a one-year standout at Arizona State, Aiyuk has a world of upside on a team ripe with coaches that can't wait to use him. He starts off the season clustered in my FLEX rankings with the potential to move up the board as his touches increase.
I'll briefly touch on Tee Higgins, who was taken atop the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Higgins has a massive 6'4 frame and huge catch radius, and relies upon his size to continually outmuscle smaller defenders down the field. A master of contested catches, Higgins doesn't have the twitch skills that many of the aforementioned players do, and is more of a downfield, vertical threat than anything. Similar to CeeDee Lamb, I wish that Higgins was selected by another team that would afford him more chances initially, as the Bengals have a bevy of receiving threats already. As a flier, he's still interesting to me long term, but I can't envision Higgins being in my lineup until midseason at the earliest.
Finding himself on the polar opposite spectrum, I adore the fact that Michael Pittman Jr. wound up an Indianapolis Colt. New quarterback Philip Rivers has a phenomenal track record of finding bigger bodied receivers down the field, and I envision Pittman to be the second coming of Vincent Jackson. A tough, physical receiver who specializes in back-shoulder throws and YAC, Pittman fills a void that the Colts were looking to fill opposite T.Y. Hilton for YEARS. He doesn't carry quite the same name recognition of others on this list, but I fully expect him to be a Fantasy asset out of the gate. It won't be difficult to surpass Zach Pascal instantly, and Pittman will be a sought-after blanket for Rivers to rely upon. All aboard the hype train.
I could easily preview another ten players at the position, but for the sake of brevity I'll just touch upon my favorite of the next tier briefly. I'll admit that this is definitely a homer standpoint, but I can't wait to see Chase Claypool on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Possessing similar size to Pittman above, Claypool has a wealth of talent, size and speed. He was inconsistent with dropped passes at Notre Dame, but if he can improve his concentration and work with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when able, I envision him as a more dynamic Martavis Bryant. He's a sneaky late-round bench pick with upside.
I can't stand lazy analysis, but there is certainly statistical merit to the notion that rookie tight ends hardly ever produce. That truth coupled with the lack of overall talent in the 2020 crop of players leads this section to being short and sweet.
Of the tight ends in this class, Cole Kmet of Notre Dame was in a tier by himself, and was the only one selected in the first two rounds of the draft. Kmet was selected by the Chicago Bears, and I believe after a quick glance of the depth chart that he is the team's fourteenth TE. Sigh. (Really though, he's their 10th on the roster). Kidding aside, Kmet has drawn comparisons to fellow-Domer Kyle Rudolph for his size and speed. He will join recently signed Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris on the squad. Though he has more pure skill than either at this point in their careers, the Bears don't intrigue me in the slightest. As a dynasty player to flag, I can get behind. Anything more than that - no.
Of the other tight ends drafted in 2020, Devin Asiasi is the other player worth touching on. The New England Patriots traded up with the Las Vegas Raiders, sending the 100th, 139th and 172nd picks to take Asiasi 91st overall. It goes without saying that the team has a lack of overall offensive talent and targets that need to go somewhere, so Asiasi has a clear path to playing time. To get onto the field he will need to dramatically improve his blocking skills, as he is currently a glorified receiver. It is no secret that Josh McDaniels values tight ends that can create mismatches with linebackers and safeties in the seam, and if given the chance, Asiasi will be a mismatch. That said, the Patriots will continue to game plan according to the opponent, so finding any semblance of consistency is truly grasping at straws. The Patriots also selected Dalton Keene in the third round, but he projects more as a blocking specialist than true weapon.
My favorite tight end in this class was Adam Trautman from Dayton, who was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the third round. A massive target for quarterbacks at 6'5 and 255 lbs., Trautman has the size to box out opponents on 50/50 passes, and can break tackles after the catch. He will undoubtedly start the season behind Jared Cook, but given Cook's injury propensity and the team's ability to get the ball in the hands of true playmakers, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him have a strong second half of 2020 if he finds the field on a semi-regular basis. Still a FLEX flier to be sure, but color me intrigued.