If you are an offensive player taken in the first round of the NFL draft, you expect to contribute in your first NFL season. Any new offensive player who has secured snaps due to their draft status will force a reshuffling around the new player. Projecting that reshuffle is an important step in evaluating the fantasy football landscape for the 2020 season.
Below, we’ll go through the fantasy impact for each offensive player selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals, 1st overall
With no starting quarterback to compete with in 2020, Burrow will start from Day 1. His fantasy appeal isn’t great the first season of his career, but he does have enough playmakers around him to flash fantasy viability year one. The better fantasy news is for A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, who should see an uptick in catchable passes along with touchdown opportunities. Joe Mixon was a workhorse in the second half of last year, but with not much passing game to take pressure off him, his efficiency and touchdown numbers were poor. A better overall offense should help Mixon up his fantasy points even if his touches don’t get a boost.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins, 5th overall
If Tagovailoa hadn’t dislocated his hip, he would be right up there with Joe Burrow as a possibility at first overall. His injury history made drafting him a concern, but to start his career there shouldn’t be much of a concern and the Dolphins will want to get him out there by Week 1. He has good upside as a runner and passer, but his team is very young and coronavirus will slow down their time to gel. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a good facilitator for Devante Parker last season, but Tagovailoa is much more accurate and could quickly get on the same page with his new quarterback. Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams both have good upside as well, and should enjoy seeing passes for Tua.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers, 6th overall
Herbert has one of the best arms in the draft and should be able to get the ball to deep threat Mike Williams, but it will be tough to replace the short to medium accuracy that Phillip Rivers gave to Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen. I also expect the Chargers offense gets more conservative with a strong defense and rookie quarterback. And we can’t be 100 percent sure Herbert starts Week 1, though he should. In the end, we can’t expect any Chargers fantasy player to get a boost from last season’s opportunities.
Henry Ruggs, Las Vegas Raiders, 12th overall
Ruggs was expected to go off as the third or even fourth wide receiver, but the ghost of Al David slipped in with Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden to guide their mouse over the speedster Ruggs. Ruggs lands in a spot where he will start Week 1. Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller will likely see their targets fall a little, but Ruggs isn’t going to be a player who commands 120 targets in his first season. He’ll likely stretch the field and get some manufactured touches and quick slant so he can showcase his speed. He’ll be a boom or bust fantasy receiver while Waller should remain a strong tight end. Williams likely takes the biggest hit while Derek Carr gets a bump, but probably not a big enough bump to make him a Top 10 fantasy receiver this season.
Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos, 15th overall
Jeudy should help Courtland Sutton find more space deep, as defenses will need to keep tabs on Jeudy and his tremendous ability all over the field, but this is great news for Drew Lock, who is still a question mark for fantasy, but now has three strong targets. We will likely start seeing plenty of Lock sleeper articles coming out and for good reason. He has the arm to get the ball to Jeudy and Sutton and a line that should give him time. If he can build on a strong last few games in 2019, he has good upside in Denver.
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys, 17th overall
Wow. Jerry Jones had CeeDee Lamb fall into his lap and he rightfully said, thank you. His presence will turn Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin back into pumpkins, but Amari Cooper should be fine as the team’s No. 1 while Dak Prescott gets another insanely good target. Lamb was the top receiver in a deep class according to many and now he’s got a very good quarterback throwing his way. How those targets get sorted is hard to predict at this point, so putting your fantasy eggs into Dak’s basket is the recommended move.
Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles, 21st overall
Reagor was a surprise selection, as Justin Jefferson was ahead of him on most draft boards, but receivers didn’t go quite as planned in this draft as it is. Reagor has a ton of upside, but the Eagles also like to spread targets around and Reagor is still raw and won’t command a huge target percentage his rookie year. I’d expect Zach Ertz to remain the No. 1 target and still be a Top-3 tight end, but after that, the targets are going to be spread all over the place. Truly, the only winner here is Carson Wentz, who gets a player who can leap out of the building and quickly become a strong red zone target.
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings, 22nd overall
Trading disgruntled Stefon Diggs to the Bills made this pick necessary if the Vikings were to continue playing their offense close to what it was last season. Jefferson isn’t going to be Diggs in year one, but he is a close approximation, as he’s a great route runner and can beat man coverage deep. His presence helps Kirk Cousins stay a fantasy contender. Irv Smith likely takes a hit, as he was set up for more work with Diggs gone. Adam Thielen will remain the No. 1 receiver and a good fantasy receiver while Jefferson’s numbers will be more inconsistent on a team that has a good defense and likes to run the ball.
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers, 25th overall
Brandon Aiyuk is a yards after the catch monster, which is right up Kyle Shanahan’s alley. Aiyuk will have competition for targets, but with Emmanuel Sanders out of town, there will be targets available. George Kittle remains the No. 1 receiver and Deebo Samuel should continue to be a starter, but that No. 3 target is up for grabs and Aiyuk has a good chance to grab the job. This hurts Samuel the most for fantasy as there aren’t going to be enough targets to keep multiple receivers as consistent fantasy players.
Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers, 26th overall
The Packers drafted their quarterback of the future, but when that future starts will dictate when Jordan Love becomes a fantasy name to watch for. For now, he’ll just piss off Aaron Rodgers and maybe fire him up enough to do some damage this year.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs, 32nd overall
The Chiefs offense was already great and now they add a first round running back who will be yet another good target for Patrick Mahomes. Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson are the big fantasy losers here while Mahomes gets the biggest bump. Edwards-Helaire will need to beat out Williams but when he does, his fantasy upside will be huge.