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. . . . .
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
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.
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
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
July 5th: Tightend Preview
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the team have no scheduled talks ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign contract extensions. Things can change with a quick phone call, but there has not been urgency to get a deal done. It has been reported the Cowboys offered Prescott a five-year deal, but Prescott's side would prefer a four-year deal with options. Prescott is scheduled to make $31.4 million under the tag this season, but may look elsewhere if he is allowed to test the market next winter. Prescott would be just the third quarterback to play a season under the franchise tag and the previous two- Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins- signed with different teams after their seasons. Prescott's dynasty value would be less certain without a guarantee of playing in Dallas's high-octane offense.
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams is expected to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. According to Ian Rapoport, the two sides are on the same page that Williams will play under the tag ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. The hope is he excels in a new system and becomes a big part of New York's future after they traded for the former first-rounder in the middle of last season. Williams is an excellent run defender, but doesn't provide much IDP value as he has just 17.5 career sacks since entering the league in 2015.
Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) was informed that his agent, Kristin Campbell, has terminated their relationship Sunday, July 12.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman still looks to be holding out for more money than his market value is dictating at the moment. He might have to wait for an injury to sign, but he'll be a potential RB3 in fantasy when he does.
Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the team are reportedly 'not close' to agreeing to a contract extension as of Sunday, July 12, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News via a source. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement or Prescott will be forced to play the 2020 season under the $31.4 million franchise tag he signed recently.
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman has allowed a completion rate of 47 percent to receivers in his coverage since 2010 - the best mark in the NFL over that span per Pro Football Focus.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was recently ranked as the 11th best at his position by an anonymous NFL offensive coach. The coach would go on to state that the 24-year-old "doesn't look as strong anymore. Feels like he's about 60 to 70 percent of what he was." Elliott was quick to dismiss these comments, but some fantasy managers may pay attention to these remarks, especially if they are drafting after the selections of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. The fifth-year back did have one of the most productive years as a professional in 2019, finishing with 1,357 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns off of 301 attempts. He also added 54 catches for 420 yards and two additional scores. While those numbers don't indicate a downward trend, the former Buckeye will be without the guidance of former head coach Jason Garrett in 2020, who is now the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.
San Francisco 49ers CB Jamar Taylor has a chance to make the final roster because he has experience at outside cornerback as well as slot cornerback and plays on special teams, in the opinion of NinersWire's Kyle Madson.
Free-agent DEs Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks), Everson Griffen (Vikings) and DE Markus Golden (Giants) likely will not receive interest from the New York Jets because the team wants to move their unspent salary cap space to next season, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has plenty of hype entering the 2020 campaign and should continue to be the No. 1 fantasy selection in the majority of fantasy drafts heading into September. However, according to a poll conducted by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, more than 50 percent of league executives view Saquon Barkley as the top back in the league. As claimed by one anonymous AFC executive, McCaffrey is "not as sturdy as Saquon. Not the same speed-and-power combo." While this declaration may not hinder fantasy managers from taking McCaffrey first overall in drafts, it could give many something to think about.
New England Patriots RB Sony Michel (foot) is no longer wearing a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot.
Fantasy Spin: Michel will be ready for training camp and should receive most of the carries this season but will have to share snaps with several other backs. He should be considered at least a No. 3 running back in fantasy leagues.
Free-agent WR Terrelle Pryor (Jaguars) said he is looking to play in 2020 and has talked with five teams this offseason. He said he would like to play for the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.
It remains unknown if Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green will sign his franchise tag or agree to a long-term deal before the NFL deadline for contract extensions Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET, according to multiple sources.
The Dallas Cowboys remain optimistic that QB Dak Prescott will accept their best contract extension offer before the NFL deadline Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET. However, multiple league sources believe that no long-term deal will be completed by the deadline because he has already signed his franchise tag tender.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault Jr. will compete with veteran WR Chris Conley during training camp to be the team's No. 2 receiver behind WR DJ Chark.
Fantasy Spin: Shenault is fully recovered from core muscle surgery and is expected to play an integral role in the Jacksonville offense this season. He has a great deal of upside and is worthy of consideration as a WR5 option in this year's fantasy drafts.
Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) could show interest in the Philadelphia Eagles because he wants to join a winning team, according to 710 ESPN's John Clayton.
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Rodney Gunter and DE Dawuane Smoot could receive some snaps at defensive tackle this upcoming season.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) reached a settlement with the New England Patriots regarding the compensation grievance Brown filed against the team.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry isn't expecting a long-term contract extension before the deadline of Wednesday, July 15, so he expects to play the 2020 season under the $10.6 million franchise tag. The 25-year-old doesn't seem to be too worried about it, though, and he's focused on the 2020 season. He views this year as a prove-it deal because he hasn't played a full season in his four-year career due to injuries. Henry spent May and June working out with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and recently had throwing sessions with Tyrod Taylor. Henry had career highs with 55 catches and 652 receiving yards in 2019. Among tight ends, Henry has the best passer rating when targeted at 132.3 since 2016. He's surely a top-10 fantasy tight end, but injuries and a downgrade at QB limit his overall ceiling.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Friday that they fined wide receiver DeSean Jackson "for conduct detrimental to the team," which included controversial posts on Instagram and sharing an image of a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler earlier this week. Jackson has since offered multiple apologies, but he "must also commit to supporting his words with actions" in order to remain with the team. The 33-year-old missed all but three games in 2019 because of an injury and is now desperately trying to repair his image before the season. If healthy, D-Jax should be the team's primary deep threat, but as usual, he'll be a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell had a "great talk" with disgruntled All-Pro safety Jamal Adams on Thursday and came away with the impression that Adams wants to stay in New York if he gets a new contract. Bell doesn't oppose Adams' hard-line stance in negotiations. Adams formally requested a trade last month and has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He's making $3.6 million in 2020 and $9.9 million in 2021 under the fifth-year team option. Adams is believed to be looking to become the highest-paid safety in the league, and the Jets continue to say they want to make him a "Jet for life," but they aren't putting a timetable on it. Bell doesn't want Adams to be traded and doesn't think he will. Adams hasn't had a ton of interceptions, but his ability to play the run and rush the passer makes him unique and the top overall IDP defensive back.