As the calendar begins to lean towards the summer, that tells fantasy owners to ramp up their preparations for the upcoming season. But what is on tap first for many is the rookie draft. We've been through the scouting combine, the NFL Draft has come and gone, and we know where these rookies will be playing in 2020. The all-important landing spot has caused some repercussions in the rankings for these players. We have seen some players move up the board, while others have found their appeal take a bit of a hit.
Of course, we see the top of the rankings board filled with the players we were expecting to see land in fantasy friendly spots (i.e. Jonathan Taylor, CeeDee Lamb, and Jerry Jeudy). But what we saw with the 2020 NFL Draft was front offices placing more of an emphasis on depth at the skill positions and fit within their schemes. Not many were expecting to see Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the first running back off the board, but his fit within the Kansas City Chiefs offense is natural and now has him as one of the top players off the board in rookie drafts. This can not go overlooked as you prepare for drafts. Rookie drafts, and dynasty in general, owners must have an eye towards the future as well as trying to compete to win now.
With my rookie rankings now updated, it is time to look at the players that have moved up the board that you should be targeting in drafts. And of course, we must look at a few of the names that have slipped due to their landing spot and that you might need to avoid as your drafts begin to unfold.
Brandon's Updated Dynasty Rookie Rankings
Dynasty Rookie Risers
Antonio Gibson (RB, WAS)
Gibson is someone I have been high on throughout the process and has caught the eye of many fantasy owners with his selection to the Redskins. A player that was going overlooked before the NFL Draft, Gibson now finds himself firmly as a prospect to target in the second round of rookie drafts.
He can play at either running back or receiver in certain packages for the team that lost pass-catching threat, Chris Thompson, to the Jaguars. His explosive potential (12 TD on 71 touches in 2019) will undoubtedly be utilized by the Redskins. In what could be a busy backfield in 2020 (Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, and Bryce Love), Gibson could make plays with limited touches and carve out a role as a flex play in PPR formats.
Joshua Kelley (RB, LAC)
Another player that was a little below the radar before the NFL Draft, Kelley's selection to the Chargers is an intriguing landing spot. The team will likely feature Austin Ekeler in the backfield, leaving Kelley to compete with Justin Jackson as the compliment. Although the team does like Jackson, Kelley will be more adept to fill the Melvin Gordon III role.
A very productive back in college (1,000 yards and 12 scores in back to back seasons), Kelley does not shy away from contact and could come away with a short-yardage/goal-line back role early on. If he can come away with a consistent amount of touches in this offense early on, he will be well worth the second-round price tag that he currently has.
Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND)
Pittman was the recipient of a fantastic landing spot coming out of the draft. He fills the role of a big-bodied receiver that the Colts have been desperately needing. He could develop a quick rapport with Philip Rivers, which could bode well for his scoring potential. But once Rivers is out of the picture the learning curve could take hold once again.
The big statistical jump for Pittman in 2019 (101 receptions for 1,269 yards and 11 TD) could be a sign of things to come as he should quickly take hold of the WR2 spot for the Colts. He is another player that has landed solidly into the second round of rookie drafts and holds a potentially high ceiling for fantasy owners.
Bryan Edwards (WR, LV)
Edwards is a player that was seeing a rise in his draft stock throughout the offseason. His selection to the Raiders cemented that rise as he could quickly become an integral part of the Raiders passing game. Coming in and competing against the likes of Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and fellow rookie Henry Ruggs III, Edwards' ability should allow him to stake a claim on a starting job early in his career.
The downside for Edwards could be the play of Derek Carr, but with the number of weapons now at his disposal, it will be a make-or-break season for Carr. Edwards could become a player that produces despite the situation, much like A.J. Brown a season ago. He is a fringe second-round pick at the moment but has the skillset and potential to produce with the top names in this year's class.
Dynasty Rookie Fallers
Laviska Shenault (WR, JAX)
This is a bit of a downgrade for Shenault based on the landing spot. The Jaguars do not boast one of the league's premier passing attacks and he will be competing for usage with plenty of other receivers. Also, Shenault's attributes would be better utilized with a coaching staff that uses a more creative offensive scheme.
Instead, he will be at the mercy of a run-based attack, which will limit the scoring potential. Before the draft, I had Shenault as a fringe first/second pick. But with this landing spot, he drops down just a bit.
Zack Moss (RB, BUF)
It pains me to say this with Moss, but his landing spot with the Bills is one that could prove to be problematic. One of my top backs in the pre-draft process, Moss now finds himself in a committee backfield with rising talent Devin Singletary. The plan will be for the two of them to be a "thunder and lightning" duo, but Moss has the talent to be a three-down back in his own right.
There is some thought that this is more of an indictment on the Bills' thoughts on Singletary's ability to handle a heavy workload, but we saw this offense do very well down the stretch featuring him. Moss will file into the Frank Gore role in this offense, limiting his PPR potential. He is still a second-round prospect in rookie drafts, but that comes down from what should have been a first-round pick.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, CLE)
One of the darlings from the scouting combine, Peoples-Jones was quickly shooting up pre-draft rankings boards. But he was still only valued as a Day 3 pick in the draft and was selected by the Browns.
The path to targets will be a tough one for him as time on the field will be sparse. His skillset leaves him limited and could likely be looking at a reserve role in the league during his stint. Someone that just a month ago was sneaking into the second round of rookie drafts, Peoples-Jones now likely falls out of the third round with the limited upside.
Cole Kmet (TE, CHI)
Kmet was largely considered the top tight end heading into the NFL Draft. But although the landing spot with the Bears seems intriguing, it will ultimately limit his upside. The Bears tend to underutilize the position from a fantasy standpoint with only two notable performances over the last six years (Trey Burton in 2018 and Martellus Bennett in 2014).
Kmet can buck the trend for this team but will be playing behind Jimmy Graham in 2020 and the offense could need an overhaul after next season. It's feasible that the Bears stunt his growth and progression at the next level, capping his fantasy potential. A player that could have been a fringe second-round pick now finds himself as a prospect floating around the end of the third or into the fourth in rookie drafts.
More Fantasy Football Analysis
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