Looking at all the rookie running backs, it’s former LSU stud Clyde Edwards-Helaire who has the best opportunity to perform. Not only is he the first running back off the board, and with Damien Williams declaring out due to the Coronavirus, he has nobody standing in his way. Edwards-Helaire has struggled with his blocking but will be used heavily in the passing game and near the goal line.
Dynasty Spin: Edwards-Helaire should be the first selection in rookie drafts and a late first-round or early second-rounder in start-ups.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor’s future is much brighter than his rookie season. His teammate Marlon Mack isn’t going to disappear, and they will make more of a “one-two punch” as offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni pointed out. Throw in the CoronaVirus and the apparent delay due to no pre-season games and limited practices, it slows Taylor’s growth. Taylor offers little in the passing game and has a similar running style as Mack.
Dynasty Spin: Even though Marlon Mack’s contract expires in 2020, it doesn’t mean they won’t sign him to return. This puts a considerable limitation on Taylor’s value, as does his lack of receiving skill. He is currently the second running back off the board in rookie drafts and a late second round to early third-rounder in start-up leagues.
Cam Akers is a complete and underrated running back coming out of Florida State. A good mixture of size and tremendous speed. He can run between-the-tackles and with great instincts. Akers won’t push many piles but has good balance and will fight for yards after contact. Which he will receive a lot of with the bad Rams offensive line. Akers will battle in pass protection. Akers could outdistance himself from Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Still, Sean McVay has recently said he wants a running game by committee.
Dynasty Spin: Akers is among the three to five running backs going after Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. It just depends on your fancy where he goes among D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins. Akers is going as a late fourth round to early fifth-round selection in start-ups.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/uAGOH9cpGug
D’Andre Swift is going to get there in a hurry. He has excellent burst and top-end speed. Swift does most of his damage taking the ball around the end, but can also be valid between the tackles. He is a complete back with great vision and solid route runner. Swift is excellent in pass protection. He just needs to hang onto the ball and will battle Kerryon Johnson for volume, but this should be Swift’s backfield for a significant portion of it.
Dynasty Spin: Swift is typically the third to fifth running back off the board in rookie drafts. He should be considered anywhere between a late third to an early fourth-rounder in start-ups.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn has functional lateral mobility. He will make defenders miss in the hole and is decisive when running between the tackles. Vaughn will rip off yards in chunks when hitting the seam. He will run hard and has a good balance upon contact. Vaughn won’t bull-doze defenders or a short-yardage back. Vaughn runs precise routes. He will need to battle Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Dare Ogunbowale for volume in a high passing offense.
Dynasty Spin: It’s challenging to see Vaughn as a bell-cow in this offense. Jones is signed through the 2021 season, and he is showing enough life to sustain that contract. Both can complement each other. Jones is more of a touchdown guy for the Bucs, and Vaughn is the PPR. Vaughn is going in the first round in rookie leagues, and around a late 7th round or early 8th rounder in start-ups.
JK Dobbins is surrounded by talent at the running back position in 2020. Still, he should see more clarity moving into 2021 with Melvin Ingram and Gus Edwards, most likely departing by the start of 2021. Dobbins has quick feet with a great burst through the hole. He is elusive in the open-field and will destroy arm tackles. A great pass protector only allowing four in 140 opportunities. He doesn’t catch the ball well.
Dynasty Spin: Dobbins’ ceiling will always be capped by Lamar Jackson’s running ability, and he doesn’t appear to be a bell-cow. He will need to work on his receiving game, but is in a great offense and should have plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points. Dobbins draft capital has been up and down between Cam Akers and D’Andre Swift. He is a first-round selection in rookie leagues and going around a late third to an early fourth-rounder in start-ups.
Zack Moss is a power back with great determination and the balance to pick up extra yards. He will continue running after the first contact, and his playing speed is faster than his time. Moss, for a more massive back, has good hands and is obviously tough to bring down. He has a low-center-of-gravity and deceptive jump cuts. A willing pass blocker with the size and strength to hold his ground.
Dynasty Spin: Moss is coming off an injury and will have to share time with Devin Singletary and, therefore, will be limited for volume. Moss is slated to play the Frank Gore role. Gore in 2019 rushed 166 times for 599 yards and two scores in 16 games played. Moss is going either before A.J. Dillon or right after in rookie drafts, making him the seventh or eighth running back off the board. In start-ups, he is going around the 9th or 10th round.
Antonio Gibson is going to play running back after being used as both a wide receiver and a runner. He shows a burst through the hole and after the catch. Gibson has excellent top-end speed, which makes him dangerous in space. He will pick up yards after the contact. Gibson didn’t carry the ball much at Memphis, only 33 carries, but Gibson demonstrates instincts and patience. He doesn’t have much ability at running routes but can be used to move around the formation. Gibson is electric and can be a huge playmaker for Washington.
Dynasty Spin: It is difficult to pinpoint precisely where Gibson fits in for this offense. At running back, Washington already has Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Peyton Barber, and J.D. McKissic. Therefore, what is his volume? How will he be used? Gibson is an exciting playmaker. He is going in the late second round in rookie drafts and as a late 12 round or early 13th round selection in start-ups.
Anthony McFarland has terrific acceleration and can elude tackles, and he does have a home run capability. He is a nightmare for defenders in space. McFarland can take the ball around the corner and has an intense burst through the hole. A tough runner who will battle for yards after contact. McFarland is a threat after the catch. He will need to run lower to the ground but holds well in pass protection. McFarland will have his work cut out for him to garner volume. The Steelers don’t regularly use multiple backs, and James Conner is the starter. Throw in competition from Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Trey Edmunds, and perhaps Wendell Smallwood.
Dynasty Spin: Conner has had difficulty staying healthy and is a free agent after this season. Conner’s possibility of moving on will open up a slot for McFarland going into the future, but will he ever be a bell-cow? McFarland is going in the late second round to early third in rookie drafts and in the 15th to 16th round in start-ups.
A.J. Dillon is a bulldozer and ran for over 1,100 yards in each of his past three seasons at Boston College. He is an in-between tackle runner. Dillon moves well for his size and has an insane contact balance. A train full-steam ahead is an adequate description of Dillon. He has a thick lower body and will pick up big yards when Dillon hits the seam. Dillon did have a lot of carries at BCU and will absorb a lot of contacts, so wear and tear is a concern. He also has to battle Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams for volume.
Dynasty Spin: Dillon could find more chances at volume in 2021 as 2020 is the last year on both Williams’ and Jones’ contract. Therefore, the door is open for Dillon to be the bell-cow unless Green Bay signs Jones to an extension. Dillon is going in the late second round or early third in rookie drafts. He is a late 12th round selection or early 13th in start-ups.
Darrynton Evans is explosive with fantastic top-end speed. He has burst through the hole and is instinctive in the open-field. Evans is a zone runner with great one-cut ability. Evans is average when it comes to being elusive and contact balance. He does have great vision and is patient. A threat after the catch and has experience at wide receiver. Evans has one significant roadblock ahead of him in Derrick Henry, but he makes a beautiful complimentary piece.
Dynasty Spin: Henry signed his extension. A four-year deal worth $50 million, therefore, Evans is regulated to back up duties or only a third-down role. He is an exciting player. Unfortunately, there is just a limited volume. Evans is going at the start of the third round in rookie leagues and early 14th to 15th round in startups.
Lynn Bowden is a jack of all trades but master of none. He is a playmaker and tough enough to fight for the extra yards. Bowden is elusive but lacks the focus that led him to dropped passes. He will, at times, carry the ball recklessly. Bowden took over at quarterback during the second half of 2019 at Kentucky. He has good vision but isn’t much of a threat downfield as he is after the catch. Not a large catch radius.
Dynasty Spin: Where does Bowden fit, and what is his role? If the Raiders ran the “Wildcat,” he would have significant value, but for the most part, he seems to be more of a Taysom Hill than a player that can garner fantasy points. He is going in the fourth round in rookie drafts and nearly undrafted in start-ups.
Jerry Jeudy is the best route running rookie. He does have a thin frame, so he might find it challenging to find room to run against press coverage. Jeudy does have the speed to win on deep routes and nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. Jeudy will drop a few he shouldn’t, and without facing much press coverage at Alabama, it is unknown how well he can beat it. He will find the soft spots in zone coverage and will help his quarterback locate him during scramble drills. Jeudy has excellent body control. His competition will mostly be with tight end Noah Fant.
Dynasty Spin: Jeudy should fit in nicely with Courtland Sutton and give Drew Lock another option to throw the ball to. The passing offense was atrocious last season, and that should change with Jeudy now in the fold. Look for Jeudy to run the short to intermediate routes and be a stud if he can beat press coverage. Jeudy is going in the first round in rookie drafts and late third to early fourth in start-ups.
Jalen Reagor is a smaller receiver who has good top-end speed. He is quick and has the balance to keep on his feet after contact. Reagor will break tackles but lacks the frame to consistently win 50-50 balls downfield. He will threaten defenses vertically. Reagor doesn’t have much room to garner volume with both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Still, neither of these receivers have remained healthy long enough to be a considerable threat. It is unclear if JJ Arcega-Whiteside can turn it around in season two. Also, Philadelphia drafted John Hightower and Quez Watkins.
Dynasty Spin: Reagor does have 2020 value, but he delivers more in the long-term. There is just too much surrounding him to be very effective unless there is an injury or two. He will have a solid quarterback in Carson Wentz, throwing him the ball and should be the number one receiver entering the 2021 season. Reagor is going in the first round in rookie drafts and in the early fifth in start-ups.
CeeDee Lamb is a beast. He is one of the strongest wide receivers in the draft class and creates yards after the catch, breaking tackles on a routine basis. Lamb will make the contested/acrobatic catch with ease. He is a good route runner and can break off press coverage, even though he didn’t see that coverage a lot at the college level. Lamb will leverage his stems and can set up defensive backs. He isn’t the fastest of wideouts but has excellent instincts with stop-start techniques. There is now a crowd at wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and now Lamb.
Dynasty Spin: With the Cowboys selection of Lamb, it’s a clear case of drafting talent over need. Unfortunately for Lamb, Cooper is locked up through 2021 when they have an out for the 2022 season. The same for Gallup. Until then, it’s going to be difficult for Lamb to get any volume to make him worth the draft price he is going. In rookie drafts, he is being selected in the first round as one of the top wide receivers off the board. In start-ups, he is going in the fourth round.
Michael Pittman Jr
Michael Pittman has excellent size and a reliable pass catcher. His top-end speed is average, but it is also deceptive. Pittman will pick up yards after initial contact. He is a tough runner but doesn’t have a second gear. However, Pittman has enough to threaten vertically and is capable of bringing down over-the-shoulder throws. He does lack a trump card but plays to his size with great size and length. Pittman makes a great compliment to T.Y. Hilton. He will also have to fight for volume with Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal.
Dynasty Spin: Pittman gives the Colts a massive weapon near the goal line and an excellent target downfield for Philip Rivers. However, Rivers is at the end of his career, and there is no firm starter waiting in the wings. Indianapolis drafted Jacob Eason, but he isn’t confirmed to take over once Rivers leaves. Pittman can be the number one receiver once Hilton departs, but until then, he will be their number two. Pittman is going in the late first-round or early second-round in rookie drafts and 8th round in start-ups.
Brandon Aiyuk is an average route runner with a great burst to separate himself from coverage. He will dominate man-to-man defenses and is always a threat to hit the home run. Aiyuk is still raw and learning the position and will need to refine his route running. He is on the shorter side and needs to be more consistent catching the ball, but he tracks the ball well and has excellent body control. Aiyuk is a fast enough threat on his vertical routes and is a benefit on special teams.
Dynasty Spin: Aiyuk’s role will be what fans saw of Emmanuel Sanders. A player that will go deep and exploit the defense that is encroaching on the run. It may be more with the Deebo Samuel injury, but that is in flux. Outside of that, there isn’t much competition facing Aiyuk. He is going as a late second to early third-round selection in rookie leagues while going in the ninth to tenth round in start-ups.
Henry Ruggs III
Henry Ruggs has elite speed and will be the fastest receiver on the field, in most competitions. He will need to develop his route running but has home run capability once the ball is in his hands. Ruggs transitions upfield with ease and is muscularly strong. He will be tested on press coverage and has good strength in his hands as he only dropped the ball once in 2019. Ruggs’ will need to compete with Tyrell Williams, but Ruggs should win. The offense scheme is probably what is worrisome for Ruggs. How will he be used, and can Derek Carr be productive with him?
Dynasty Spin: Ruggs’ speed is super-human, but so was John Ross and many other wide receivers who have not performed to expectations. However, it doesn’t mean that Ruggs won’t be a stud. The Raiders’ conservative offense is a bit worrisome, and can Carr utilize Ruggs in a way to maximize his talents? There is a massive ceiling for him if it all works. Ruggs is going as a late first-round receiver in rookie leagues and as a seventh-rounder in start-ups.
Justin Jefferson is a reliable pass-catcher with a massive catch radius. Jefferson runs consistent routes. He rarely faced press coverage in the slot. He will also run a faster time than his tape represents. Jefferson does find holes in coverage and demonstrates reasonable body control. He will catch the ball in stride with average burst after the catch. He can threaten vertically, but there is concern about his separation skills on the outside. Jefferson is instinctive.
Dynasty Spin: Jefferson won’t have competition outside of Adam Thielen as the Minnesota Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. However, he will be the number two receiver in an offense that runs more than throws. Also, can Kirk Cousins carry more than one receiver to fantasy relevance? Another question is the role for Jefferson, will he be in the slot, wing, both? Even with these unknowns, Jefferson should be a solid WR2/3 for many dynasty teams. He is currently going in the late first round in rookie drafts and in the sixth round in start-ups.
Denzel Mims will take the top off coverage and can stack defenders when running vertical routes. He has a rare blend of size, length, and top-end speed. Mims will run hard and can break tackles after the catch. When in the red zone, his size, frame, and body control makes him a threat. Mims makes great circus-style catches but is raw and will struggle with drops. His route running needs to improve, but dominates cornerbacks and will win the 50/50 challenges.
Dynasty Spin: Mims does not have much competition in front of him. Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder are his most significant threats. Therefore, it will be entirely on him and his cohesion with Sam Darnold to make a career. Mims is going in the late first or early second in rookie leagues while going in the ninth round in start-ups.
Tee Higgins offers a big target and an outstanding catching radius. At Clemson, he was averaging 18.1 yards per catch. Higgins has good playing speed and is good at running vertical routes. His routes are not very explosive, but he makes sound judgments when running them. Higgins makes good separation and can be deceptive after the catch. He is tall and lanky, which will help him win the 50/50 balls. Unfortunately, Higgins has to battle a slew of other receivers for volume. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross. Even role players Auden Tate and Alex Erickson could be disruptive.
Dynasty Spin: Even though Higgins has to battle his way through for volume in 2020, this should clear up for him in 2021. Green and Ross will most likely be gone, leaving Higgins and Boyd as the future wide receiving tandem. Joe Burrow will also be crucial to Higgins’ growth. At this point, Higgins is going in the 8th round in start-ups and the late first or early second in rookie leagues
Laviska Shenault Jr
Laviska Shenault is a versatile weapon who has excellent size, but times at a below-average speed and has average length. Shenault is capable of moving around the line of scrimmage to create favorable matchups. He is a threat with the ball in his hands, and the Jaguars will also use him in running plays. Shenault needs to get better at running routes but tracks the ball well. There are injury concerns. He has the size to win against corners, safeties, and linebackers. He did have a mediocre combine, but that isn’t a death knell.
Dynasty Spin: Shenault and Chark make a good pair of wide receivers that can stretch the field. Shenault will also be used like the 49ers used Deebo Samuel for added benefit. However, he is in a limited production role as Jacksonville is a primarily running team until further notice. Shenault is going late in the second round in rookie leagues and the 10th round in start-ups.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/XsZO5msmQUs
Antonio Gandy-Golden is a big target who can make the highlight type catches. He is a natural hands catcher with top-end speed. He does have long strides and can make one-on-one catches downfield. Gandy-Golden plays up to his size and attacks the football. He lacks burst and separation skills but has excellent yards after the catch ability. Gandy-Golden comes from the small school of Liberty, so the competition was not top-notch.
Dynasty Spin: Gandy-Golden should be in competition to start right away with Terry McLaurin flanking the other side of the line of scrimmage. He will also have a volume competition with Steven Sims and Trey Quinn. Gandy-Golden will also have to hope Dwayne Haskins can be better in his second season at the helm. He is going in the third round in rookie leagues and the 18th round in start-ups.
Bryan Edwards is a smooth route runner who is a big receiver with average length. Edwards does have top-end speed and locates pockets in the zone. He will run hard after the catch but lacks a second gear. Edwards will need to get better at catching passes at a more consistent level. Edwards will make the highlight-reel catch and has good instincts. Edwards stock plummeted due to a foot injury. Still, he can beat press coverage and has excellent separation skills after the catch. Edwards does have competition with Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow, and Henry Ruggs for volume consumption.
Dynasty Spin: Williams is tied in with the Raiders until 2022, but Las Vegas has an out after the 2020 season. Agholor is an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this year, and Renfrow is more of the slot option. Therefore, Edwards should have more clearance to eat after this year is over. He is going as a second or third round option in rookie drafts and as a late fourth to an early fifth in start-ups.
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NFL Draft Day is Here!!
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