Rookie Preview

Tue May 5 2:22pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Edwards-Helaire is top rookie


There is nothing more exciting than a rookie. There is a lot of unknown but the potential is always there for big things. Fantasy owners love to find that next big thing, so rookies are normally a hot item come draft day. Just remember, rookies don’t always pan out in year one. 

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but if you look at last year, there are only a handful of real impactful rookies. Kyler Murray was the top fantasy rookie, finishing sixth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He was the only rookie quarterback to score in the top 20 in scoring, though, with Daniel Jones finishing 21st overall in quarterback scoring. 

The running back position had just one rookie back, Miles Sanders, finish in the top 20. Sanders was 15th overall in fantasy running back scoring. Josh Jacobs was the next best rookie back, finishing 21st overall in running back scoring.  

A.J. Brown was top rookie receiver last year, ranking 22nd overall in receiver scoring. So he was the best rookie receiver and was just a low-end No. 2 for fantasy teams. Other rookies of note were D.K. Metcalf (29th), Terry McLaurin (30th) and Deebo Samuel (31st). These receivers were mainly No. 3 or fill-in plays for fantasy teams. 

The tight end position was really impacted by just one rookie, Noah Fant. He was 14th overall in fantasy tight end scoring. Fant had a few big games but was nothing more than a spot play for fantasy teams in year one.

So as you can see, rookies don’t always make a huge impact their first year in the league. Just temper your expectations some when it comes to rookies. Loading your team with rookies is usually a recipe for disaster. 

With that said, here is a position-by-position look at the rookie class for the coming season. We’ll start with the quarterback spot. . . . .

ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS

  1. Joe Burrow, Bengals
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
  3. Justin Herbert, Chargers
  4. Jalen Hurts, Eagles
  5. Jacob Eason, Colts

Burrow is the clear top rookie quarterback, getting picked first overall by the Bengals. He’ll start from day one and has a chance to have some big games in this offense. His value is probably better down the road as the Bengals improve the team around him, especially their offensive line. For now, Burrow is likely a spot starter for fantasy teams. He won’t be consistent enough at the loaded quarterback position to be worth using every week for fantasy teams. 

The rest of the quarterbacks carry a lot more question marks. We aren’t sure there is another rookie that opens the season as the starter for their team. Tagovailoa and Herbert might start at some point this year, but that likely doesn’t happen right away. And Hurts might be a guy that gets playing time but more so in a Taysom Hill-type role for the Eagles. Overall, Burrow might be the only rookie that makes a fantasy impact in year one.

ROOKIE RUNNING BACKS

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
  2. D’Andre Swift, Lions
  3. Cam Akers, Rams
  4. Jonathan Taylor, Colts
  5. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Bucs
  6. J.K. Dobbins, Ravens 
  7. Zack Moss, Bills
  8. Antonio Gibson, Redskins
  9. Anthony McFarland Jr., Steelers
  10. A.J. Dillon, Packers

The running back spot has some rookies that have a good chance to make an impact this year. Edwards-Helaire is the most exciting of the group. He has a great chance to start in the Chiefs explosive offense and get plenty of weekly work. His ceiling is the highest of any rookie back. Edwards-Helaire could be a low-end No. 1 back before the season is out. 

Swift and Akers are two more backs with some competition to start, but should be the starter’s on their respective teams to open the season. And both look like good fits for the offenses they play, giving them some good fantasy upside. Both have a chance to be dependable No. 2 backs. 

Taylor is similar to the previous two backs mentioned but probably has the toughest competition for carries, which is why he landed behind those two. Marlon Mack had a 1,000-yard season last year, so don’t discount him to still get work this year. Taylor and Mack might be in more of a timeshare than the other two guys. 

Vaughn is another back similar to Taylor with decent competition for carries but his talent level isn't quite that of Taylor. Vaughn could very well start for the Bucs but this offense isn't quite built to run. Ronald Jones also performed well down the stretch last year, so he isn't going to just move out of the way for Vaughn. 

The rest of the backs on this list are in tougher situations to garner a bunch of playing time. All should play and a few might emerge to get double-digit touches per week, but for now, expect erratic production in their current roles.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS

  1. Justin Jefferson, Vikings
  2. Denzel Mims, Jets
  3. Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
  4. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
  5. Henry Ruggs, Raiders
  6. Jalen Reagor, Eagles
  7. Bryan Edwards, Raiders
  8. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
  9. Tee Higgins, Bengals
  10. Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers

The receiver class was loaded this year. Many called this the most talented rookie class in several years, so don’t be surprised if many of these guys make an impact their rookie seasons. A lot of the value for these talented players comes down to landing spot. And for us, Jefferson landed in a great spot to make a big impact as a rookie. He should start for the Vikings from day one and should get plenty of weekly targets. He also is a very talented player, which helps his case even more to be the top rookie receiver.

Mims is another player that fits the same category as Jefferson. Mims might not be the most talented player in this class, but he could actually lead the Jets in targets as a rookie. He has a chance to post big numbers.

Jeudy, Pittman, Ruggs and Reagor also are rookies that should come in and start right away. These guys might have a little more competition for work, though, which puts them down the list a little more. All are talented players with a high ceiling. It wouldn’t surprise if any one of them makes a strong push to be the top rookie receiver in the game. 

Lamb might have the most talent of any of the receivers in this draft, but he has Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott to compete with for targets. He did not land in a great spot to have a big rookie season. His future is very bright, though. 

One player to keep an eye on that made this list is Edwards. He went a little later than most of these guys on this list, but his potential is high. He is a big receiver that won’t get pushed around in coverage and should start from day one. He could be the surprise of this rookie receiver class.  

ROOKIE TIGHT ENDS

  1. Devin Asiasi, Patriots
  2. Cole Kmet, Bears
  3. Dalton Keene, Patriots
  4. Josiah Deguara, Packers
  5. Adam Trautman, Saints

The tight end spot is probably the least exciting of the rookie class. Kmet is the most talented of the group, but he landed with the Bears. Chicago already has a veteran tight end on the roster, Jimmy Graham, and several other options at tight end for Kmet to compete with for targets and playing time. Plus, Kmet lands with a team that has quarterback questions. He still might be worth some spot starts for fantasy teams but that is about it for now.

Our top rookie tight end for this year is Asiasi. He takes over as the starter for the Patriots and should get plenty of chances to produce in an offense that likes to use the tight end. Plus, New England has some questions at receiver, which could open the door for more targets at the tight end spot. 

So in closing, the rookie class has some promise this year, especially the receiver spot. Just remember, there aren’t a lot of rookies that become big-time fantasy players in year one. Proceed with caution!

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Anthony Barr Sep 21 3:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that linebacker Anthony Barr (pectoral) suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the Week 2 loss to the Colts and will be placed on Injured Reserve. The first-round pick out of UCLA in 2014 didn't accumulate any stats on Sunday before suffering the injury, one that will keep him out for the rest of the 2020 season. The Vikings are already reeling at 0-2 to start the season with losses to the Packers and Colts, and their defense can't be trusted right now in fantasy leagues, especially after losing Barr in the middle of the field.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Sep 21 3:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's (ankle) high ankle sprain isn't severe. Garoppolo will be week-to-week and has a chance of playing in Week 3 against the Giants. He was on his way to a big game against the Jets before the injury, throwing for 131 yards and two touchdowns, but this is some good news for a team that also lost running back Raheem Mostert (knee) and All-Pro pass-rusher Nick Bosa (knee) in the same game. However, the Jimmy G should be expected to hand the ball off plenty against New York this Sunday if he is cleared to make the start. Consider Garoppolo a shaky QB2 option in superflex leagues heading into Week 3 matchups. If he can't play, Nick Mullens will make the start.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Sep 21 3:40pm ET

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (knee) will officially miss the rest of the 2020 season after an MRI exam confirmed a torn ACL in his right knee. With Barkley missing the rest of the year, the Giants are bringing in veteran free-agent running back Devonta Freeman for a workout. As of now, expect Wayne Gallman to see early down carries in this backfield, with Dion Lewis serving as the third-down back. This could be a season-ender for Barkley's fantasy managers as well, with the running back coming off the board second overall in a lot of leagues. Lewis will be worth a pickup in PPR leagues, but this backfield would become even more unpredictable if the team were to sign Freeman.

From RotoBaller

Seattle Seahawks Sep 21 3:40pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks fear that outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (knee) tore his ACL in the Sunday night win over the Patriots, according to a source. Irvin will undergo more tests to confirm. The 32-year-old veteran isn't on the IDP radar at this point in his career, but he brings veteran leadership to this Seattle defense. He's had five combined tackles in two starts in 2020. The Seahawks Defense should be avoided for now, regardless of Irvin's status moving forward, as they've allowed 986 offensive yards to the Falcons and Patriots in the first two weeks of the season. Rookie first-rounder Jordyn Brooks will see more playing time if Irvin is lost for the season.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Sep 21 3:30pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain in the Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers and is expected to miss four to six weeks. With is expected timetable, the Panthers could decide to place him on Injured Reserve, from which he can return in three weeks. This is obviously a huge blow for fantasy managers, as McCaffrey was taken first overall in the vast majority of fantasy drafts. Mike Davis, McCaffrey's backup, will be a hot pickup off the waiver wire heading into Week 3. Expect Trenton Cannon to work as his direct backup for however long McCaffrey is sidelined.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Barr Sep 21 3:23pm ET

Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony Barr (pectoral) suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 and will not play again this season, according to head coach Mike Zimmer.

From TheHuddle

Dwayne Haskins Sep 21 3:20pm ET

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said that offensive guard Brandon Scherff (knee) will miss a couple of weeks. The three-time Pro Bowl right guard is playing on the franchise tag this year for $15 million, and this injury doesn't help his chances of signing a long-term contract extension with the team after this season, but it's much better than a season-ending injury. The 28-year-old is considered to be one of the best guards in the league, so losing him for any amount of time is bad news for the offensive line, the running game and quarterback Dwayne Haskins as they head into a Week 3 matchup with the Browns.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Sep 21 3:20pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (knee) tore his ACL in the Week 2 loss to the Steelers and will miss the rest of the 2020 season, according to a source. It's a brutal injury for Sutton and the Broncos just as he returned to action after missing the season-opening loss to the Titans with a shoulder injury. Denver also lost quarterback Drew Lock (shoulder) for a few weeks, so it'll be Jeff Driskel under center moving forward throwing to rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick and tight end Noah Fant, who has become the best fantasy asset on this team through two weeks. Sutton was in play as a strong WR2 this year after a breakout 2019 performance.

From RotoBaller

Parris Campbell Sep 21 3:10pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (knee) suffered a PCL injury in the Week 2 win over the Vikings that is expected to keep him out indefinitely, according to a source. With all the season-ending injuries that popped up in Week 2 across the league, you might say that Campbell dodged a bullet here after being carted off the field. Campbell has plenty of potential, but he only played in seven games in his rookie season due to injury. In what was a run-first offense against the Jets, rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal should be in on three-receiver sets next to T.Y. Hilton for as long as Campbell is out. Pittman has more upside in the long term, but Pascal shouldn't be overlooked in the short term in deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Tavon Young Sep 21 3:03pm ET

Baltimore Ravens CB Tavon Young (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2 and will miss the remainder of the season.

From TheHuddle

Indianapolis Colts Sep 21 2:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts safety Malik Hooker (Achilles) suffered a torn Achilles in the Week 2 win over the Vikings and will miss the rest of the season, according to a source. The first-round pick in 2017 has been injury prone in his career, which is why the team didn't pick up his fifth-year option. Hooker will finish the season with seven tackles (five solo) in two games. His absence for the rest of the season will surely weaken the Colts secondary, but their defense is still worth a play in Week 3 against a Jets offense that is among the worst in the league through two weeks.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Sep 21 2:50pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that wide receiver Chris Godwin (head) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and will play in Week 3 against the Broncos. Godwin will return to action after missing the Week 2 win over the Panthers. The 24-year-old got off to a good start in Week 1 with six catches on seven targets for 79 yards in the loss to the Saints. Against a Denver secondary that will be missing cornerback A.J. Bouye, Godwin has clear WR1 potential in his return to the field. His return will make Scotty Miller a much less interesting flex option in deeper leagues, especially after he had only two receptions for 11 yards with Godwin inactive in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Sep 21 2:40pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are meeting with free-agent pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah with the expectation that they will sign him after he goes through COVID-19 testing. Ansah has visited with the team twice, but the sides never agreed to a deal. With pass-rushers Nick Bosa (knee) and Solomon Thomas (knee) both suffering serious injuries in Week 2, the Niners are looking for reinforcements on the defensive line. The 31-year-old former first-round pick of the Lions in 2013 had 2.5 sacks in 11 games (one start) with the Seahawks last year and has had trouble staying on the field in his seven-year career. He could provide some much-needed depth, but Ansah won't be on the IDP radar. San Fran's defense is still worth starting in fantasy, but they'll lose some of that high-end potential with Bosa injured.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Sep 21 2:40pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) is believed to be dealing with turf toe after getting injured in the Week 2 loss to the Bears, according to a source. Shepard will undergo an MRI exam on Monday, but this is an injury that typically requires a wide receiver to miss some time. With running back Saquon Barkley (knee) done for the year with an ACL tear, the G-Men lost two of their best offensive weapons in the same game. Fantasy managers of Shepard should be planning on him missing multiple weeks. Darius Slayton, Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram will be the team's top three receiving options for quarterback Daniel Jones if Shepard misses time.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Sep 21 2:33pm ET

New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring) appears to be questionable at best to return in Week 3 versus the Indianapolis Colts after sitting out Week 2 with a hamstring injury, according to comments made by head coach Adam Gase on Monday, Sept. 21.

From TheHuddle

Davontae Harris Sep 21 2:33pm ET

Denver Broncos CB Davontae Harris (hamstring) is expected to miss a week or two with a hamstring injury, according to head coach Vic Fangio.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Garoppolo Sep 21 2:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) suffered a high ankle sprain in the Week 2 win over the Jets, and he didn't play at all in the second half. The injury will keep Garoppolo off the field for at least one game and probably more. He was 14-for-16 in the game with 131 yards passing and two touchdowns before the injury, so it ruined what could have been a really good game for him. Already a low-ceiling QB2 in a run-first offense, Jimmy G can obviously be avoided for a few weeks in superflex leagues. Nick Mullens replaced Garoppolo in the second half on Sunday and should get the starts moving forward, but he doesn't have much fantasy appeal as more of a game manager under center.

From RotoBaller

Bruce Irvin Sep 21 2:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin (knee) likely suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2 and will likely miss the rest of the season, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Ansah Sep 21 2:13pm ET

Free-agent DE Ziggy Ansah is reportedly on the verge of signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, Sept. 21, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

From TheHuddle

Tyrod Taylor Sep 21 2:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest) was released from the hospital late Sunday night after dealing with chest pain. His chest issue will be evaluated throughout the week, and head coach Anthony Lynn said that Taylor will remain the team's starter if he's fully healthy. The Chargers probably won't rush Taylor back after rookie Justin Herbert looked very solid in his NFL debut in the overtime loss to the Chiefs in Week 2. Lynn has been very loyal to Taylor, but even though Herbert had some rookie mistakes on Sunday, he probably presents the team with more upside right now. Keep a close eye on Taylor's status this week. If Taylor can't go for Week 3, the rookie signal-caller would become an attractive QB2 in superflex leagues in a great matchup with Carolina.

From RotoBaller