Coming into the 2019 college football season, there was no debate on who the number one overall pick was going to be in the NFL Draft in Las Vegas. It was Tua Tagovailoa and he was going to the 0-16 Miami Dolphins. You can make an argument that there was no debate on the top at each position, with Jerry Jeudy and D’Andre Swift taking the top spots in preseason rankings. Now that things have changed a bit and we are in the early(ish) stages of the 2020 NFL Draft process, I think it’s time to give you some preliminary top-five rankings at each position that will be relevant to fantasy football next season (spoiler: they aren’t the consensus among draft moguls). Now, don’t forget that this list is prior to the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and Pro Days. These rankings are surely going to change, and I promise to get them to you when they do. Let’s dive in.
(Image from Bleacher Report)
Joe Burrow, LSU – I mean, come on. I can confidently say that Joe Burrow just posted the greatest college football quarterback season in the history of the game. He was electric. He was outstanding. He has every physical tool you can ask for. Sure, the sample size is slightly small. And sure, there is a chance he is a product of the LSU system. But this guy is no Mitch Trubisky. He’s going to come into the league with a better skill set than any quarterback since probably Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. He should be the first quarterback off the board in rookie drafts, with no hesitation.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – word on Tua is that he is going to be healthy by April, not just in the later stages of his recovery. This is huge. Coming into the season, there was really no debate that he has all of the tools to be a successful starting quarterback in the National Football League. The only question was injury-focused, as he has ultimately struggled to stay healthy in his 2.5 years at Alabama. He is accurate, has great arm strength, and has plus pocket awareness. He could be Sam Bradford, but he could also be the best player to quarterback the Dolphins since Dan Marino.
Jordan Love, Utah State – see, this is where the contents of the above spoiler start to emerge. Most draft analysts have Justin Herbert slotted here. He is 6’6″, 237 lbs and an athletic freak. He has the potential to be a better version of Josh Allen. But I have another spoiler for you: he’s not even in my top-five quarterbacks. Jordan Love is an interesting prospect. He was dominant (dominant!) in 2018. He threw for 32 touchdowns, only 6 interceptions, and had a rating of 158.3. Then his coach left. And his weapons dissipated. And his line went downhill. He struggled pretty mightily in 2019, throwing for 12 less touchdowns and 11 more interceptions – but I don’t buy it. I think Love is too damn accurate to fail in the NFL. Maybe it’s a mechanics issue or maybe it’s the reasons I just mentioned, but I think Love has potential to be special in the NFL.
Jacob Eason, Washington – there was a time when Jake Fromm, Justin Fields, and Jacob Eason all sat in the quarterback room at Georgia (and the worst of the three was the one that stayed). Jacob Eason sure had to be patient. He sat behind Fromm in 2017, had to sit the 2018 season out, and then emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the country in 2019. He threw 23 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions, and the thing that really separates him from the next guy is his size. Sure, I just said that Herbert’s size doesn’t matter to me, but that’s because what I see out of Herbert is just inability to competently process defenses. Eason’s arm talent is very close to elite, and with that adjective, I can confidently say he compares well to Joe Flacco.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma – this guy has the most potential to rise in my personal rankings and here’s why:
Guess who that second guy is. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with Brussel Milson. Hurts is unquestionably the best leader in this draft class, and metrics like that are always undervalued. I mean, shoot, Russell Wilson fell to the third round and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Maybe Hurts does, too, but that doesn’t stop me from putting him in my preliminary top-five.
(Image from USA Today)
D’Andre Swift, Georgia – this guy is actually quite high on my overall big board, especially for a running back. He is explosive. He has incredibly speed. He’s elusive. He has all the tools to be a great three-down back in today’s NFL. He reminds me of a young LeSean McCoy, but that seems like quite the pedestal to put him on. Bottom line is that, in the right situation (a RB-needy team rather than entry into a committee), he has immediate RB2-upside.
JK Dobbins, Ohio State – Ezekiel Elliott had a total of 58 receptions in his three years at Ohio State. He was drafted #4 overall and is regarded as one of the best fantasy running backs in football. JK Dobbins – you know, the guy whose hands have been questioned for a very long time – had 71 receptions in his three years at Ohio State. He very well could be the number one running back selected in the 2020 draft and he’s in immediate contention for a top-twelve slot.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – all of you “you’re too low on JT” truthers can rejoice – he made my top-five. When I watch Jonathan Taylor, I think of Adrian Peterson. When I think of Adrian Peterson, I think of how dominant running backs could be in that version of the NFL. When I look at Jonathan Taylor, I see little red bricks attached to his arms. His hands are just.. bad. And in today’s NFL, that doesn’t translate super well to fantasy running back production, and only rarely translates to NFL production. I think he’s going to be good, but I don’t think he’s going to be an elite option for fantasy football, and that’s why he’s all the way down here.
(Image from ESPN)
Zack Moss, Utah – here’s where you will all start to think I am just.. really crazy. While Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Cam Akers are still pretty highly-regarded in my head, when I watch Zack Moss, I am shocked he isn’t talked about more often. He averaged 5.5 YPC or better each of the last three seasons. He caught enough passes to where I am comfortable with his hands. He’s got great vision and he’s pretty elusive. He just makes it into this spot over the aforementioned two, but in the right scenario, he could be a decent bench stash in fantasy football in 2020.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU – I’ll tell you what. This feels low. And as I’m typing this, I’m considering moving him into the fourth spot. When I watch CEH, I feel as though I’m watching a knockoff Ladainian Tomlinson. I need to watch more, but his route running may be more refined than every back in the NFL today. He’s the perfect Austin Ekeler… if Austin Ekeler ran with extreme power and force. While CEH ran behind a dominant line, I still view him as a fantasy asset in 2020.
(Image from Roll Tide Wire)
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama – I’m not entirely sure why so many people have cooled off of Jeudy. Sure, he uses his body to catch the ball sometimes. And sure, his production wasn’t out of this world in 2019. But that doesn’t necessarily matter. He’s going to be open for one lucky NFL quarterback on nearly every down in 2020, and that makes him the best and most fantasy-relevant wide receiver in this class. He may be more Calvin Ridley than Julio Jones, but I sure was happy with Ridley this season (and he could still end up more Julio).
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma – I’m not sure it’s possible to watch CeeDee play and not think “that’s a little bit slower version of Odell Beckham, Jr.” I hope CeeDee doesn’t get caught spanking cops anytime soon, because he is a top-fifteen NFL Draft pick and he should be extremely relevant in fantasy football starting in 2020.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama – this guy quite literally has Tyreek Hill speed. He has a solid route tree, surefire hands, and he has the potential to light up the league in his first season in the league, which would be great for your fantasy teams.
Tee Higgins, Clemson – up until the last two games, I had Higgins slotted into my WR3. I have previously stated that Higgins and Ruggs are as much 2A and 2B as Lamb and Jeudy are 1A and 1B. What separates Ruggs from Higgins is… separation (see what I did there). Higgins may struggle to get open in the pros, while Ruggs should be sliding behind defenses the first day of camp.
Laviska Shenault, Jr., Colorado – I can never really decided on this spot. What Justin Jefferson did this season was incredible, but the reason Shenault gets the nod is simply playmaking ability. Sure, Justin Jefferson can run defenders over all day, but can he get around them? Shenault definitely can. He’s everything that Cordarrelle Patterson was supposed to be – or maybe he is the Taysom Hill of wideouts. I’ll take that.
(Image from Sports Illustrated)
Cole Kmet, Notre Dame – young Jason Witten. Potential to be Gronk-ian. Really no weakness. All descriptors for Cole Kmet, the beast of a man who decided to declare early and mess up first round rookie drafts. He’s the real deal. He is worth a high investment. Take away the rookie tight end stigma because he is going to be a force from the jump.
Brycen Hopkins, Purdue – the only other first-round grade I was able to give to tight ends goes to Hopkins. He reminds me a lot of Evan Engram. Or David Njoku if he was living up to his potential. Hopkins has great hands and is extremely athletic. Hopkins and the aforementioned predecessor will be drafted in redraft leagues – and they deserve it.
Hunter Bryant, Washington – I think Bryant may have a better chance at rookie year success than Hopkins (though I know Hopkins is more dynamic as a pass catcher) simply because Bryant will not be taken off the field when in perceived rushing downs. He’s a better blocker than everyone in the class except Kmet and he has solid hands. I wouldn’t draft him in anything other than dynasty rookie drafts, but he is an intriguing prospect. Honorable Mentions: Harrison Bryant, FAU; Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri.
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Until next time!